bankbryan + military   98

These Women Are the Last Thing Standing Between You and Nuclear War
"Both missileers—they always work in teams of two, the capsule they occupy emblazoned with the words 'no-lone zone'—would open a safe located between their workstations. It's secured with two padlocks, one fastened on by each missileer at the beginning of the shift, the combinations known only to the owner. Inside is a code that the incoming encrypted message must match. But there's an A-side and a B-side and neither missileer knows both; they must be put together like opposite sides of an equation. It's all part of Two-Person Control—a system that ensures a rogue missileer can't start World War III on her own. 'It is a very precise method,' Barrington explains. 'It's not haphazard. It is exacting. Missileers have to know all kinds of rules. They have to know it cold.'"
a:Danielle-McNally  p:Marie-Claire  d:2017.09.08  w:3000  nuclear-weapons  military  process  Cold-War  from instapaper
september 2017 by bankbryan
The Risk of Nuclear War with North Korea
"Outside the Administration, the more people I talked to, the more I heard a strong case for some level of diplomatic contact. When Obama dispatched James Clapper to Pyongyang, in 2014, to negotiate the release of two prisoners, Clapper discovered that North Korea had misread the purpose of the trip. The government had presumed that he was coming in part to open a new phase in the relationship. 'They were bitterly disappointed,' he said. Clapper’s visit convinced him that the absence of diplomatic contact is creating a dangerous gulf of misperception. 'I was blown away by the siege mentality—the paranoia—that prevails among the leadership of North Korea. When we sabre-rattle, when we fly B-1s accompanied by jet escorts from the Republic of Korea and Japan, it makes us feel good, it reassures the allies, but what we don’t factor in is the impact on the North Koreans.' Clapper went on, 'I think that what we should do is consider seriously, in consultation with South Korea, establishing an interest section in Pyongyang much like we had in Havana for decades, to deal with a government that we didn’t recognize. If we had a permanent presence in Pyongyang, I wonder whether the outcome of the tragedy of Otto Warmbier might have been avoided. Secondly, it would provide on-scene insight into what is actually going on in North Korea—intelligence.'"
a:Evan-Osnos  p:The-New-Yorker★★  d:2017.09.18  w:14000  nuclear-weapons  war  North-Korea  history  diplomacy  military  Donald-Trump  2000-election  from twitter
september 2017 by bankbryan
Each Game of Thrones character's season 7 strategy, ranked by political science
"Later in the season, after losing most of her main allies, she became obsessed with winning Jon’s loyalty — leading to the precise opposite problem. She put her dragons at too much risk, sending them to rescue Jon in a situation where the enemy’s military capability was not well known. She managed to save Jon and win his loyalty, just as Lyall’s theory would predict — but also handed a weapon of mass destruction to a power bent on literally extinguishing all human life. This was revisionism at its most incompetent."
a:Zack-Beauchamp★  p:Vox★★  d:2017.08.28  w:3500  list  Game-of-Thrones  politics  military  strategy  power  from instapaper
august 2017 by bankbryan
The World's Five Military Empires
"Despite talk of American decline, the U.S. still is the world's only superpower – if by that you mean: the country with by far the biggest military footprint throughout the world. The United States spent $611 billion on its defence in 2016. According to this map, that kind of money buys you a military presence on every inhabited continent of the world. According to SIPER, the U.S. has 587 bases in a total of 42 other countries, in addition to 4,154 bases on its own territory, plus 114 bases in U.S. overseas territories."
a:Frank-Jacobs★  p:Strange-Maps★  d:2017.07.10  w:1000  map  military  USA  UK  Russia  France  China 
july 2017 by bankbryan
Tracking US Navy nuclear submarines using publicly available information
"I do not want anyone to think the transponders on these subs are being used naively or in any incompetent fashion by the US Navy, or they're 'forgetting' that they turn them on and off; all of this is extremely well known by the commanding officer of the submarine and the rest of the crew. The decisions related to who to tell or not tell in the public sphere are solely made at the Pentagon. Submarines are stealthy by nature, and have the capability to remain hidden for an extended trip into hostile waters; that these submarines are turning up on AIS indicates the US Navy feels it doesn't have to hide these particular submarines at these specific times. You'll notice very few SSBN 'Boomers' on the list, since they do not show up very often at all; their areas of operation are more secret than the attack submarines. I presume this difference is directly related to their vital role in the nuclear triad; they must stay hidden."
a:Steffan-Watkins  p:Vessel-of-Interest  d:2017.06.09  w:500  military  security  nuclear-weapons  strategy  from iphone
june 2017 by bankbryan
The difference between Oath of Office, Oath of Enlistment
"Article 90 of the UCMJ states that service members are only obligated to obey lawful orders. This gives authority to small unit leaders and even riflemen to use their judgment to serve honorably and disobey orders when they do not uphold the moral standards of our service. Not only does this act as a safeguard to corruption and abuse of power, but it also develops a sense of responsibility and leadership at all levels of command. If this is the case, however, then why is the distinction made between the two oaths when both enlisted and officers are not obligated to follow unlawful orders according to the UCMJ? Officers, especially at higher ranks, have a unique position of authority and influence within the organization that could be taken advantage of for political gain. Swearing loyalty to the Constitution instead of the president or any other person means that officials cannot manipulate officers in order to gain control over the military and become dictators."
a:Marco-Valenzuela  p:Marine-Corps-Base-Quantico  d:2015.07.30  w:500  military  law  government  from twitter
january 2017 by bankbryan
How Japan has almost eradicated gun crime
"Japanese police officers rarely use guns and put much greater emphasis on martial arts - all are expected to become a black belt in judo. They spend more time practising kendo (fighting with bamboo swords) than learning how to use firearms. 'The response to violence is never violence, it's always to de-escalate it. Only six shots were fired by Japanese police nationwide [in 2015],' says journalist Anthony Berteaux. 'What most Japanese police will do is get huge futons and essentially roll up a person who is being violent or drunk into a little burrito and carry them back to the station to calm them down.'"
a:Harry-Low  p:BBC-News-Magazine  d:2017.01.06  w:1000  guns  crime  Japan  law-enforcement  military  culture  from instapaper
january 2017 by bankbryan
‘We’re the Only Plane in the Sky’
"Karl Rove: There was acrimony. President Bush doesn’t raise his voice. He doesn’t pound the desk. But as we made it across the Florida peninsula, they [Andy Card and Tom Gould] kept raising objections [about returning to Washington]. At one point, Cheney and Rumsfeld called [and advised against returning to Washington].
Ari Fleischer: Andy took the side of the Secret Service. Looking back, it’s pretty obvious that you don’t put Air Force One down at a known, predictable location when the attack’s still unfolding. You preserve the office of the president. It was pretty straightforward.
Dave Wilkinson: He fought with us tooth and nail all day to go back to Washington. We basically refused to take him back. The way we look at is that by federal law, the Secret Service has to protect the president. The wishes of that person that day are secondary to what the law expects of us. Theoretically it’s not his call, it’s our call."
a:Garrett-M-Graff  p:Politico-Magazine  d:2016.09.09  w:16500  oral-history  9/11  George-W-Bush  terrorism  war  aviation  security  military  from instapaper
december 2016 by bankbryan
Fighting authoritarianism: 20 lessons from the 20th century
"17. Watch out for the paramilitaries. When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching around with torches and pictures of a Leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-Leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the game is over.
18. Be reflective if you must be armed. If you carry a weapon in public service, God bless you and keep you. But know that evils of the past involved policemen and soldiers finding themselves, one day, doing irregular things. Be ready to say no."
a:Timothy-Snyder  p:kottke.org★★  d:2016.11.15  w:1000  list  instructional  government  politics  language  terrorism  social-interaction  privacy  weapons  military  law-enforcement  journalism  media  travel  from instapaper
december 2016 by bankbryan
Food for Fighters: The Science Behind Feeding America’s Troops
"According to Oleksyk, hurdle technology — a means of eliminating pathogens which may contribute to food spoilage — was vital to the pizza entrée’s successful creation. Several elements comprise this technology, including controlling water activity and temperature: because contrary to popular belief, no preservatives, additives, or chemicals are ever used to produce MREs. Instead, Oleksyk says the pizza MRE contains the same ingredients you would use at home to make pizza: flour, sugar, yeast, salt, water, cheese and pepperoni. The only difference is the ratios, for which her team combines ingredients to control the water content and moisture in the food."
a:Tiffany-Leigh  p:Eater★★  d:2016.11.02  w:1500  food  military  history  nutrition  from instapaper
november 2016 by bankbryan
The man who seduced the 7th fleet
"The investigation has mushroomed partly because Glenn Defense was a pillar of U.S. maritime operations for a quarter-century.The 7th Fleet depended on the firm more than any other to refuel and resupply its vessels. Over time, Francis became so skilled at cultivating Navy informants that it was a challenge to juggle them all. On a near-daily basis, they pelted him with demands for money, prostitutes, hotel rooms and plane tickets. 'The Soviets couldn’t have penetrated us better than Leonard Francis,' said a retired Navy officer who worked closely with Francis and spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid reprisal. 'He’s got people skills that are off the scale. He can hook you so fast that you don’t see it coming. . . . At one time he had infiltrated the entire leadership line. The KGB could not have done what he did.'"
a:Craig-Whitlock  p:The-Washington-Post★★  d:2016.05.27  w:7500  military  corruption  sex  prostitution  from instapaper
september 2016 by bankbryan
A Tangled Web of Alliances
"America’s defense pacts, along with those of the rest of the world, are shown as lines in the map below. The pacts include bilateral agreements from one country to another, as well as large multilateral agreements between many countries (for example, NATO)."
a:Max-Galka★  p:Metrocosm★  d:2016.08.29  visualization  international-relations  war  military 
august 2016 by bankbryan
In Donald Trump’s Rise, Allies See New American Approach
"'Russia’s enthusiasm about Trump seems to be predicated on the assumption that he may actually withdraw forces from Europe,' said Matthew Rojansky, the director of the Kennan Institute, a Washington research group focused on Russia. That is exactly the fear of others in a region where NATO is the only bulwark against Russia and where some people doubt that an American president would really commit forces to protect them in times of conflict. After Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, 'a lot of Latvians woke up and said, "Thank God we are in NATO,", said Lolita Cigane, a member of the Latvian Parliament."
a:David-E-Sanger  a:Jim-Yardley  p:The-New-York-Times★★  d:2016.05.05  w:1500  Donald-Trump  2016-election  military  Russia  Cold-War  international-relations  foreign-policy  from instapaper
june 2016 by bankbryan
The shirtless monument climb at the Naval Academy is America’s best spectator sport
"On Monday afternoon several hundred Navy plebes worked together to scale a 21-foot obelisk slicked with lard on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. It is a thrilling event."
a:Dan-Zak  p:The-Washington-Post★★  d:2016.05.23  w:500  photograph  military  climbing  from twitter
may 2016 by bankbryan
The Things That Carried Him
"The Army Chief of Staff ordered that not only must a general officer attend every funeral of every soldier killed in action, but also that a general officer must greet every plane landing at Dover with dead soldiers in its hold. This is because the return of the dead to American soil is viewed as more than just another leg in their journey; it also serves to remind the corps of generals of the personal cost of war."
a:Chris-Jones★★  p:Esquire★★  d:2008.05  w:17000  death  military  Afghanistan  Iraq  process  from instapaper
may 2016 by bankbryan
The most important foreign news story this week was about Russian tax policy
"The Russian state, as it currently exists, is not quite as precarious as the late-1980s Soviet Union, but it's pretty precarious, and what stability it has is expensive. Vladimir Putin maintains power through a combination of popular and elite support; the elites support him in part because he keeps them rich and powerful, and the public supports him because he delivers (they feel) stability and protection. He also keeps the Russian state together in part by giving vast amounts of government money to regional governments in Russia's territory in the Caucasus, such as Chechnya, preventing those regions from rebelling or attempting to break away, as they have in the past. All of those things cost money: The elites are accustomed to Versailles-level wealth, the public relies on large (but rapidly shrinking) social services to keep their communities from completely collapsing as the economy shrinks, and everyone believes they need the powerful Russian military to defend from terrorists and from a West that is seen as bent on Russia's destruction. If this oil tax goes through — and Moscow may feel it has no choice, simply to survive year to year — and the Russian economy declines long term as a result, then this status quo simply can't last."
a:Max-Fisher  p:Vox★★  d:2016.03.25  w:1500  Russia  taxes  energy  military  power  from instapaper
april 2016 by bankbryan
Area 51.
"One day you wake up on your birthday in a pitch black, unmarked airplane hangar. 'What? This isn’t the airplane hangar I went to sleep in last night,' you say, then the lights flick on and there’s streamers, cake, and hundreds of government agents wishing you the happiest of birthdays."
a:Keaton-Patti★  p:McSweeney's★★★  d:2016.02.24  w:1000  satire  government  conspiracy  military  aviation  film  from twitter
february 2016 by bankbryan
Trump’s 19th Century Foreign Policy
"In sum, Trump believes that America gets a raw deal from the liberal international order it helped to create and has led since World War II. He has three key arguments that he returns to time and again over the past 30 years. He is deeply unhappy with America’s military alliances and feels the United States is overcommitted around the world. He feels that America is disadvantaged by the global economy. And he is sympathetic to authoritarian strongmen. Trump seeks nothing less than ending the U.S.-led liberal order and freeing America from its international commitments."
a:Thomas-Wright  p:Politico-Magazine  d:2016.01.20  w:1000  2016-election  history  World-War-II  foreign-policy  military  international-trade  Donald-Trump  from instapaper
february 2016 by bankbryan
Inside Gitmo: America's Shame
"There have been allegations that the government read the 9/11 defense attorneys' e-mails and listened in on attorney-client conferences through a device disguised as a smoke detector. (In a lengthy response, the Department of Defense denied all of these allegations.) During one recent set of 9/11 hearings, an attorney for one of the defendants said she couldn't advise her client of his rights 'because I frankly don't know what they are.' The judge didn't seem to be sure either. It's these sort of absurdities that make you wonder if the military commissions, and Guantanamo overall, is by now nothing more than an elaborate theater piece. 'If Abraham Lincoln rode down there on a unicorn, I don't think I'd even think twice,' says Navy Cmdr. Brian Mizer, a military defense attorney best known for representing Osama bin Laden's driver, Salim Hamdan, before the military commissions in 2008. 'It's become such a toxic farce. The people there are just following orders, and their orders are to ride it out until it collapses.'"
a:Janet-Reitman  p:Rolling-Stone★★  d:2015.12.30  w:9000  terrorism  9/11  military  security  law  torture  manifesto  from iphone
february 2016 by bankbryan
The Refragmentation
"Though strictly speaking World War II lasted less than 4 years for the US, its effects lasted longer. Wars make central governments more powerful, and World War II was an extreme case of this. In the US, as in all the other Allied countries, the federal government was slow to give up the new powers it had acquired. Indeed, in some respects the war didn't end in 1945; the enemy just switched to the Soviet Union. In tax rates, federal power, defense spending, conscription, and nationalism the decades after the war looked more like wartime than prewar peacetime. And the social effects lasted too. The kid pulled into the army from behind a mule team in West Virginia didn't simply go back to the farm afterward. Something else was waiting for him, something that looked a lot like the army."
a:Paul-Graham★★★  p:Paul-Graham★★★  d:2016.01  w:7000  history  work  military  business  startups  economics  war  regulation  culture  wages  from instapaper
february 2016 by bankbryan
The Machiavelli of Maryland
"The peculiar type of counter-intuition he offers seems to have never been more in demand. His provocative public persona only contributes to the sense, among the many world leaders, military commanders and others who purchase his services, that with Luttwak they are not dealing with a business school graduate tapping into a database, but something more deliciously old-fashioned. Luttwak sweats savoir faire. He projects the image of a wise man in intimate contact with a deeper, hidden level of reality. Listening to Luttwak discuss his clients, one has the impression that he is passed around from government to government like some pleasurable, illicit stimulant."
a:Thomas-Meaney  p:The-Guardian★★  d:2015.12.09  w:7000  profile  strategy  military  war  negotiation  terrorism  9/11  from instapaper
february 2016 by bankbryan
The Long and Winding History of Encryption
"The irony was that this card was given to the traveler. It wasn’t given to him in a sealed envelope, no. He could see it and it was supposedly perfectly innocent. He was then to go to Paris and present himself to the Count of Vergennes, and the Count of Vergennes would probably spend two minutes with him, but would immediately turn around and either analyze the card or have someone on his staff analyze it, and if necessary, send a policeman after him, depending on the type of business or information that was available. If you had a wealthy merchant—it would be indicated that way—then they would actually try to delay his return to his home country, by hook and by crook, because the longer such a wealthy person would stay in Paris, the more money he would spend. If the gentleman had a police record back home, then that was an indication to really keep an eye on him."
a:Kaveh-Waddell  a:Gerhard-Strasser  p:The-Atlantic★★  d:2016.01.13  w:2500  interview  history  encryption  communication  military  travel  from instapaper
january 2016 by bankbryan
How Do You Train a Dog to Sniff Bombs?
"Alongside closed circuit televisions, trucks, and metal detectors, bomb dogs are eligible to be purchased with funds from anti-terrorism grants like the $587 million a year Urban Areas Security Initiative. But bomb dogs—with their high cost and need for handlers and regular training—can’t be ubiquitous. That requires a machine, which is why scientists keep working on devices that can identify explosives as reliably as a dog’s nose. Researchers have developed machines that can identify several common explosives. But they will not replace bomb dogs anytime soon. The company with the most developed product on the market recently told the New York Times, 'We see our technology as complementary' to dogs."
p:Priceonomics★★  d:2015.12.31  w:2500  dogs  military  Iran  Afghanistan  security  terrorism  from instapaper
january 2016 by bankbryan
War Plan Red
"The war office and the Pentagon do what they did today: they needed contingency plans. So they drew up War Plan Red, which was the total elimination of what was designated as “red” on the map. The idea was really to put Britain out of the way once and for all. The United States figured that the UK could amass 12.5 million men in Canada in 40 days, so the United States needed to be able to fight that. The US thought it would be a war of long duration, so it would involve ships. The plan is very detailed, with every road accounted for.
TMN: What about the Canadian plan? Was it just as detailed?
Kevin: The two plans were really kind of the same plan. I’d say that they’re almost mirror images, so maybe we each identified the soft spots along the border. But if you take the Canadian plan, which was drawn up first, and flip it over, it’s more or less the American plan."
a:Angela-Chen  a:Kevin-Lippert  p:The-Morning-News★★  d:2015.11.11  w:2500  interview  history  military  United-States  Canada  planning  from twitter
january 2016 by bankbryan
One Degree of Separation in the Forever War
"'The chances of a story like this happening to somebody are actually high. In a community this small, it is almost a certainty,' Watts said, regarding Yuri’s coincidence. 'But none of that should take away the meaning. The meaning is something you create on top of the randomness.' The war is a perpetual motion machine. Many of the 51,000 are from elite flying and special operations units, are lucky to have lasted so long without serious injury. Why push it? Why go back to the war? The answer is in the question. You go back because your comrades are going. Your comrades go because you go. It’s hard to get off the ride because, after years of war, when you get that mission to go rescue the wounded, to relieve a squad in a firefight, to respond to a helicopter crash, to clear an IED, you can expect, mathematically, to be saving a friend. Or a friend’s friend. Or a friend’s brother."
a:Brian-Castner  p:VICE/Motherboard★  d:2015.11.11  w:6500  military  war  family 
january 2016 by bankbryan
Kerry Thanks Iran for Quick Release of U.S. Sailors
"Also playing a role was the strong relationship that has developed between Mr. Kerry and the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, during negotiations on the nuclear deal, Mr. Taraghi said. 'John Kerry and Zarif were on the phone during the past hours, and this helped the problem to be resolved quickly due to their direct contact,' he said. Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff, said that it was too early to draw 'big lessons' from the episode, but that it was clear the rapport Mr. Kerry has developed with Mr. Zarif was crucial to resolving it. 'Secretary Kerry’s aggressive and early engagement in this, and open channel that he had and he has with his foreign minister counterpart is important,' Mr. McDonough said on Wednesday at a breakfast with reporters in Washington. 'I do think that the open lines of communication, which are relatively new, are extraordinarily important.'"
a:Thomas-Erdbrink  a:Helene-Cooper  p:The-New-York-Times★★  d:2016.01.13  w:1500  military  Iran  John-Kerry  diplomacy  nuclear-weapons  international-relations  from iphone
january 2016 by bankbryan
The Israeli Army Unit That Recruits Teens With Autism
"The organizers of Ro’im Rachok are currently working on plans to expand beyond Unit 9900. Future applicants will be able to train for additional intelligence units of the IDF, in roles like quality assurance, programming, and information sorting. This growth, they believe, will help the program continue its secondary mission of integrating people with autism into mainstream Israeli society. 'When the whole neighborhood suddenly sees their neighbor, a boy on the autism spectrum, coming home on Friday in uniform,' Selanikyo says, 'and hears that they can also continue in these fields into civilian work—it naturally has an enormous influence.'"
a:Shira-Rubin  p:The-Atlantic★★  d:2016.01.06  w:1500  military  Israel  autism  work  from instapaper
january 2016 by bankbryan
In Unit Stalked by Suicide, Veterans Try to Save One Another
"Members of the battalion say what they brought home from combat is more complex than just PTSD. Many regret things they did — or failed to do. Some feel betrayed that the deep sacrifices made in combat seem to have achieved little. Others cannot reconcile the stark intensity of war with home’s mannered expectations, leaving them alienated among family and friends. It is not just symptoms like sleeplessness or flashbacks, but an injury to their sense of self. 'Something happens over there,' said Mr. Havniear, whose best friend from the battalion tried suicide by cutting his wrists after returning home, but survived. 'You wake up a primal part of your brain you are not supposed to listen to, and it becomes a part of you. I shot an old woman. I shot her on purpose because she was running at us with an RPG. You see someone blown in half, or you carry a foot. You can try, but it is hard to get away from that.'"
a:Dave-Philipps  p:The-New-York-Times★★  d:2015.09.19  w:7500  suicide  depression  war  Afghanistan  military  social-media  from instapaper
december 2015 by bankbryan
WarGames for real: How one 1983 exercise nearly triggered WWIII
“It didn’t help much that President Reagan had essentially given the US Navy and Air Force carte blanche ability to screw with the Soviets’ heads. Soon after being sworn in, Reagan signed off on a series of psychological warfare operations against the Soviet Union. The Air Force flew bombers up over the North Pole and out of bases in Europe and Asia to come close to Soviet airspace then turn off just as they approached the border. The Navy staged multiple operations and exercises in places where the fleet had never gone before, all in close proximity to major Soviet military and industrial sites. In the summer of 1981, the aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower and an accompanying force of 82 US, Canadian, Norwegian, and British ships used a combination of deceptive lighting and other practices, radio silence, and electronic warfare to sneak through what is known as the Greenland-Iceland-United Kingdom (GIUK) gap and into the North Sea. The initiative even took advantage of cloud cover to evade Soviet satellites. When Soviet maritime patrol planes finally found them, the carrier’s fighter wing staged simulated attacks on the 'Bear' patrol planes as they were performing in-flight refueling.”
a:Sean-Gallagher★  p:Ars-Technica★★  d:2015.11.25  w:5000  Cold-War  military  nuclear-weapons  from instapaper
december 2015 by bankbryan
Telecoms, Manufacturers Delaying Critical Patches for Classified Military Smartphones
"The problem arose because the military is now getting its cell phones from the same carriers and manufacturers that serve civilians. Several of them, including Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, have been slow to address the Stagefright vulnerabilities in the older model Android phones that are used by nearly 1,000 military officials and officers to discuss classified matters. While the federal government at large has a choice between those carriers, Verizon is the military’s carrier of choice within the United States. Civilian customers simply upgrade their phones when a patch is released, but military users must wait until the Pentagon clears the fix. In the fast-breaking world of hacking, such delays can be an eternity."
a:Jeff-Larson  p:ProPublica  d:2015.11.09  w:1000  military  mobile  security  Android  from twitter
november 2015 by bankbryan
The Killing of Osama bin Laden
"After they killed bin Laden, ‘the Seals were just there, some with physical injuries from the crash, waiting for the relief chopper,’ the retired official said. ‘Twenty tense minutes. The Black Hawk is still burning. There are no city lights. No electricity. No police. No fire trucks. They have no prisoners.’ Bin Laden’s wives and children were left for the ISI to interrogate and relocate. ‘Despite all the talk,’ the retired official continued, there were ‘no garbage bags full of computers and storage devices. The guys just stuffed some books and papers they found in his room in their backpacks. The Seals weren’t there because they thought bin Laden was running a command centre for al-Qaida operations, as the White House would later tell the media. And they were not intelligence experts gathering information inside that house.’ On a normal assault mission, the retired official said, there would be no waiting around if a chopper went down. ‘The Seals would have finished the mission, thrown off their guns and gear, and jammed into the remaining Black Hawk and di-di-maued’ – Vietnamese slang for leaving in a rush – ‘out of there, with guys hanging out of the doors. They would not have blown the chopper – no commo gear is worth a dozen lives – unless they knew they were safe. Instead they stood around outside the compound, waiting for the bus to arrive.’ Pasha and Kayani had delivered on all their promises."
a:Seymour-M-Hersh  p:London-Review-of-Books★★  d:2015.05.21  w:10000  conspiracy  Barack-Obama  Pakistan  terrorism  military  intelligence-gathering  deception  from instapaper
july 2015 by bankbryan
Sale of U.S. Arms Fuels the Wars of Arab States
"The United States has long put restrictions on the types of weapons that American defense firms can sell to Arab nations, meant to ensure that Israel keeps a military advantage against its traditional adversaries in the region. But because Israel and the Arab states are now in a de facto alliance against Iran, the Obama administration has been far more willing to allow the sale of advanced weapons in the Persian Gulf, with few public objections from Israel. 'When you look at it, Israel’s strategic calculation is a simple one,' said Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The gulf countries 'do not represent a meaningful threat' to Israel, he said. 'They do represent a meaningful counterbalance to Iran.'"
a:Mark-Mazzetti  a:Helene-Cooper  p:The-New-York-Times★★  d:2015.04.18  w:1500  weapons  ISIS  military  Qatar  from instapaper
july 2015 by bankbryan
The Islamic State’s Best Weapon Was Born in the USA
"Although the attack on Ramadi included the use of at least one M113 armored personnel carrier, the Humvee is by far the Islamic State’s favorite U.S. military vehicle when it comes to creating suicide vehicle bombs. Having captured an estimated 2,300 Humvees during the seizure of Mosul alone, the Islamic State has an almost inexhaustible supply of the vehicles. 'It’s pretty obvious to me that they are not what we would call "supply-constrained" here,' Sweetser said. 'They have large numbers that they are able to mass at the time and place of their choosing.'"
a:Seán-D-Naylor  p:Foreign-Policy★  d:2015.06.04  w:2000  military  weapons  ISIS  Iraq  from instapaper
june 2015 by bankbryan
Send In The Weathermen
"In 2008, in response to demand for SOWTs and a rash of weather-related accidents, the Air Force quietly created career field 1WXOS, the first official class of commando weathermen. The field has allowed Air Force Special Operations Command to expand recruiting, signing kids as young as 17 and then sending them through a new two-year training pipeline, the longest in the Department of Defense. SOWTs were on the ground ahead of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, according to military sources, and their work has helped nail pirates, free hostages and respond to humanitarian disasters. Overall, their ranks have tripled in recent years, with more growth expected. No position in the Air Force is a higher priority for recruiters. 'In special operations most of the failures have weather as a causal effect,' said Rip Coleman, a former director of environmental services for Joint Special Operations Command. 'The weather is going to make or break a mission before it even takes off,' added Dusty Lee, a recruiting, accessions and selection superintendent for Air Force Special Tactics, the branch equivalent of the Navy SEALs and Army Special Forces. 'There are never enough of us.'"
a:Tony-Dokoupil  p:NBC-News  d:2015.02  w:6500  military  war  weather  history 
april 2015 by bankbryan
Why Sherman was right to burn Atlanta
"What Southern romanticists like Leigh will never get—because it’s their very nature not to get it, just as a paranoid schizophrenic can never get that no one is persecuting him—is that Sherman’s whole military enterprise was an attempt to *stop* the slaughter by slapping the South into adulthood. From way before the war, when Sherman was a professor at a military academy in Louisiana, his attitude toward the South’s Planter culture was like a fond uncle watching his idiot nephew stumbling into a fast car, planning to drive drunk into the nearest tree. Sherman tried to tell these idiots, over and over, that they were stupid and deluded. He wasn’t even going to debate the non-existent justice of their cause like Grant, who rightly called the Confederacy 'the worst cause for which men ever fought.' Sherman, who was a much more analytical, intellectual man than Grant, focused on the fact that the South—the white, wealthy South, that is; the only one that mattered—was wrong. About everything. Every damn thing in the world. But most of all about its childishly romantic notions about war."
a:Gary-Brecher  p:PandoDaily/The-War-Nerd  d:2014.11.20  w:3500  war  American-South  history  military  from instapaper
february 2015 by bankbryan
Resetting the score
"The Dreadnought created a problem. The Royal Navy had been funded since 1889 on the 'Two Power' rule - that it would not only be the strongest in the world but that it would also be stronger than the next two largest navies combined. Hence, the day before the Dreadnought was launched it had 32 battleships where Germany had 11 - a huge lead. The day after, it effectively only had one. It had to start again. The naval supremacy question was reset. This is rather what the iPhone did, to both the mobile business and the entire consumer technology industry. All the existing parameters and entrenched advantages went away and the whole market was reset to zero."
a:Benedict-Evans  p:Benedict-Evans  d:2015.01.13  w:500  history  military  technology  iPhone 
january 2015 by bankbryan
Sorry, The Presidential Salute Isn't A Real Thing
"Here’s the issue: There’s no regulation that stipulates presidents must salute the troops. In fact, for the first 192 years of our republic, it didn’t happen. None of the first 38 commanders in chief did it. And some of those dudes had some serious military experience. Eisenhower? Grant? I mean, Teddy Roosevelt was a war hero. Surely he felt compelled to click his heels together and cut a perfect knife-handed salute when he passed a uniform service member, right? Wrong. It was literally something that Ronald Reagan made up one day."
a:Brian-Adam-Jones  p:Task-&-Purpose  d:2014.09.24  w:1000  history  military  Barack-Obama  George-W-Bush  from twitter
september 2014 by bankbryan
House Democrat Unveils Bill To Demilitarize Local Police
"Our main streets should be a place for business, families, and relaxation, not tanks and M16s. Unfortunately, our local police are quickly beginning to resemble paramilitary forces. Before another small town's police force gets a $700,000 gift from the Defense Department that it can't maintain or manage, it behooves us to reign in the Pentagon's 1033 program and revisit the merits of a militarized America."
a:Sahil-Kapur  p:Talking-Points-Memo  d:2014.08.14  w:500  law-enforcement  military  weapons  Ferguson  from twitter
august 2014 by bankbryan
We Must Demilitarize the Police
"When you couple this militarization of law enforcement with an erosion of civil liberties and due process that allows the police to become judge and jury—national security letters, no-knock searches, broad general warrants, pre-conviction forfeiture—we begin to have a very serious problem on our hands. Given these developments, it is almost impossible for many Americans not to feel like their government is targeting them. Given the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it is impossible for African-Americans not to feel like their government is particularly targeting them."
a:Rand-Paul  p:TIME★  d:2014.08.14  w:10000  law-enforcement  Ferguson  military  race  weapons  from twitter
august 2014 by bankbryan
Enough is enough in Ferguson
"The governor needs to either step in and *ensure* — not urge — that law enforcement do its job properly, or else to appeal to the federal government to come in and take charge. Obama and his team are, with good reason, reluctant to see the president involved in highly racialized controversies. But what happened last night on the streets of Missouri was a national disgrace."
a:Matthew-Yglesias★★  p:Vox★★  d:2014.08.14  w:1000  Ferguson  law-enforcement  race  weapons  military  from twitter
august 2014 by bankbryan
The Skills of Leonardo da Vinci
"In time of peace I believe I can give as complete satisfaction as any other in the field of architecture, and the construction of both public and private buildings, and in conducting water from one place to another. Also I can execute sculpture in marble, bronze and clay. Likewise in painting, I can do everything possible as well as any other, whosoever he may be."
a:Leonardo-da-Vinci  p:Letters-of-Note★★  d:2012.03.28  w:1000  letter  work  military  engineering  art  war 
june 2014 by bankbryan
The Twisted History of Jungle Juice
"Depending on the 'distiller,' the resulting beverage ranged from a fermented brew tinted golden-green from swamp water to a pale, 100-proof distillate. In any iteration, it was a ferociously potent liquid that, though less classy, was not unlike the punches of our lawn parties. It was a mixture vastly greater than the sum of its parts, consumed in quantity, drunk down quickly and with purpose. In what Anderson declares one of 'the American service man’s greatest contributions,' jungle juice was born. Today, the drink is likewise slack with its rules: No grain alcohol? Gin works. No gin? Use vodka. Underage license forbids you from buying vodka? The contents of your parents’ liquor cabinet will, in fact, work. The last thing jungle juice wants is to disappoint you. It tastes like turpentine shot through with sugar, but it exists, like the jungle juice of the 1940s, to serve you. *Step on up,* it says, *drag a solo cup through me. Drink me. Be merry.*"
a:Kenzi-Wilbur  p:Punch  d:2014.04.03  w:1000  alcohol  military  history  from twitter
june 2014 by bankbryan
Gears of war: When mechanical analog computers ruled the waves
"In the days of the ancient Greeks, data entry was performed by turning a wheel. In more modern analog computers, variables from sensor data such as speed, direction, wind speed, and other factors were passed by electromechanical connections—synchro signals from gyrocompasses and gyroscopic 'stable verticals,' tracking systems, and speed sensors. Constants, like passing time, were input by special constant-speed electrical motors. Connecting all the shafts together to turn them into a continuous set of calculation outputs is a collection of gears, cams, racks, pins, and other mechanical elements that translate motion into math through geometric and trigonometric principles. This is also done through 'hard-coded' functions that store the results of more complex calculations in their precisely machined shapes. Working together, these parts instantaneously calculate a very precise answer to a very specific set of questions. When assembled precisely, analog computers can be much more accurate than digital computers on these types of questions. Because they use physical rather than digital inputs and outputs, they can represent curves and other geometric elements of calculations with an infinite level of resolution (though the precision of those calculations is based on how well their parts are machined, and loss from friction and slippage). There are no least significant digits dropped, and answers are continuous rather than dependent on 'for-next' clock-driven computing cycles."
a:Sean-Gallagher★  p:Ars-Technica★★  d:2014.03.17  w:3500  weapons  hardware  programming  math  military  history  World-War-II  from twitter
may 2014 by bankbryan
Amazing Military Infographics
"If you want to develop an architecture, *this* is your framework—an abstraction specifically designed for manufacturing abstractions. Take some time with that graphic. After a while you realize that this image could be used *anywhere* in *any* paper or presentation and *make perfect sense*. This is a graphic that defines a way of describing anything that has ever existed and everything that has ever happened, in any situation. The United States Military is operating at a conceptual level beyond every other school of thought except perhaps academic philosophy, because it has a much larger budget."
a:Paul-Ford★★★  p:The-Message★★  d:2014.05.15  w:1000  military  graphic-design  from iphone
may 2014 by bankbryan
The History of Invisibility and the Future of Camouflage
"In the late 1970s, though, the Army introduced a new type of pattern called 'dual texture,' an early forerunner to the 'digital' camo we know today. Dual-tex used perfect squares of color to mimic two patterns at once: one smaller, and one larger, effective at multiple distances. It was an early forerunner to digital camo, but it wasn't until the 1990s that camo developed on computers emerged—and, with it, a renaissance in the scientific study of camo. An army officer named Timothy O'Neill, 'the grandfather of modern camo,' pioneered the genre with his small squares of color that were able to trick the eye into seeing a camouflaged soldier or truck as part of the background of a scene. Why did pixels do a better job that traditional blobs? Because pixels are better at mimicking fractal patterns—which our eyes interpret as white noise. By looking less like figurative 'nature,' digital camo gives our eyes nothing to fixate on."
a:Kelsey-Campbell-Dollaghan  p:Gizmodo★  d:2014.01.27  w:2000  clothing  military  history  future  war  nature  color  from instapaper
march 2014 by bankbryan
The Hidden Man
"At the airport, they watched soldiers embracing their families, saying goodbye. Hill and Snyder were hunkered under an escalator. 'Like little rats, hiding,' Hill would say. He climbed on an airliner with 300 other soldiers. His life would be in their hands, in a land where many people wanted them dead. 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' had been in the news again, as Congress debated its repeal. A jokester grabbed the intercom and announced the in-flight movie would be 'Brokeback Mountain.' The line provoked raucous laughs. Hill's throat went dry. When the plane door closed, it felt like the shutting of a tomb, leaving him with 'one of the sickest, emptiest feelings you can have.'"
a:Christopher-Goffard  p:Los-Angeles-Times  d:2013.12.29  w:3000  military  gay  Iraq  YouTube  2012-election  relationships 
march 2014 by bankbryan
The Most Honored Photograph
"Once they started flying their plane on difficult photoreconnaissance missions, they made some modifications. Even among the men of a combat air station, the Eager Beavers became known as gun nuts. They replaced all of the light 30 caliber machine guns in the plane with heavier 50 caliber weapons. Then the 50 caliber machine guns were replaced with double 50 caliber guns. Zeamer had another pair of machine guns mounted to the front of the plane so he could remotely fire them like a fighter pilot. And the crew kept extra machine guns stored in the plane, just in case one of their other guns jammed or malfunctioned. As odd as all this sounds, the South Pacific theatre in the early days of World War II was a chaotic area scattered over thousands of miles with very little equipment. Having a plane with an apparently nutty crew who volunteered for every awful mission not surprisingly made the commanding officers look the other way."
a:Roger-Cicala  p:Lens-Rentals-Blog  d:2013.10.29  w:2000  photography  photograph  war  story  World-War-II  military  from instapaper
december 2013 by bankbryan
A Game of Shark and Minnow
"What China has done with Mischief, Scarborough and now with Ayungin is what the journalist Robert Haddick described, writing in Foreign Policy, as 'salami slicing' or 'the slow accumulation of actions, none of which is a casus belli, but which add up over time to a major strategic change.' Huang Jing, the director of the Center on Asia and Globalization at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore, noted that in all of these conflicts — Scarborough, Ayungin — China insists on sending its civilian maritime force, which is theoretically unarmed. This has a powerful double significance: first, that the Chinese don’t want to start a war, even though in many ways they are playing the aggressor; and second, that they view any matter in the South China Sea as an internal affair. As Huang put it: 'What China is doing is putting both hands behind its back and using its big belly to push you out, to dare you to hit first. And this has been quite effective.'"
a:Jeff-Himmelman  p:The-New-York-Times-Magazine★★  d:2013.10.27  w:7500  China  diplomacy  military  Barack-Obama  foreign-policy  international-law  from instapaper
december 2013 by bankbryan
Shades of Green
"Of course, the most widely discussed topic is our impending return home. I’ve done this a couple of times, and from my experience, the reintegration process is best described from the point of view of ordering a coffee at Starbucks.
Phase 1: You stand patiently in line, happy to be around people who have showered at least once in the last twenty-four hours. You order an Orange Mocha Frappuccino from the girl behind the counter, just glad to be talking to someone who doesn’t have to shave.
Phase 2: You’re standing in line behind a businessman and a soccer mom who are complaining that there isn’t enough foam on their Orange Mocha Frappuccinos, and it takes all your willpower not to strangle them and scream about how you just spent seven months in the filth with a bunch of Georgians tiptoeing around IEDs so that they could enjoy their mornings with a five-dollar beverage made from the beans picked by some kid in Guatemala.
Phase 3: You’re complaining that there’s not enough foam in your Orange Mocha Frappuccino."
a:Michael-Christman  p:Columbia-Magazine  d:2013.10  w:3500  war  military  Afghanistan  Starbucks  from instapaper
november 2013 by bankbryan
Lost in a symptom: The Nation on marijuana reform
"Mandatory minimum sentences and the elimination of federal parole, three-time-loser laws and draconian sentencing matrices were all well and good when the presumed targets were the underclass, the feared drug gangs of inner city America. Only in the past decade — as prison populations have soared, methamphetamine has entrenched itself among whites in the American West, and the shrugging economy has sent more and more of the white working-class and underclass to the corner — have white folk been swept in greater numbers into the national dragnet, resulting in growing disenchantment with the drug war across the racial spectrum. Yet even still, for many white families, marijuana remains the singular and most obvious point of vulnerability to America’s obsession with drug prohibition. Eliminate the drug war’s most fundamental perceived threat to the white midde class and the air is going to rush out of the growing national opposition with the drug war so fast that our heads will spin."
a:David-Simon★★  p:The-Audacity-of-Despair★★  d:2013.11.01  w:1500  race  military  recreational-drugs 
november 2013 by bankbryan
How do soldiers tell their assault rifles apart, when deployed?
"The first priority is locating your weapon. The military will literally shut down an installation to find an errant weapon. There is no stone they will not turn over, no length to which you will not be driven to find that weapon. They will recall everyone who was in your location for the last day, line them up, and read off serial numbers until they find it. I've seen people practically holding hands as they walk through the woods looking for a lost weapon. I've seen entire Battalions placed on lockdown and forced to stay in their location into the wee hours of the morning, and they would still be there if the weapon were not located."
p:Quora★★  d:2013.09  weapons  military 
october 2013 by bankbryan
How well do soldiers sleep during war?
"Every war at some point looks like this. Every single one for just a little while. A very small percentage ever go on so long that we see actual investments into permanent living conditions are built up."
p:Quora★★  d:2013.09  war  sleep  military  infrastructure  Iraq 
october 2013 by bankbryan
Sleep-Away Camp for Postmodern Cowboys
"Most countries send their elite teams to the Warrior Competition — the Malaysian special forces, the French Commandos Parachutistes de l’Air — but the United States often sends infantry regulars. Several Special Ops veterans said they wouldn’t risk tipping their capabilities. 'Even when we train guys, you never teach them all the tricks,' one said. 'Who knows? We might be back fighting them in a couple of years.'"
a:Josh-Eells  p:The-New-York-Times-Magazine★★  d:2013.07.19  w:5000  military  Iraq  Afghanistan  war  weapons  from instapaper
september 2013 by bankbryan
The Sequester Will Lift, Not Cut, Defense Costs
"When the weapons market contracted after the Cold War, 'people were really walking away from defense,' Aboulafia says. 'Now, it’s very difficult to say you’re going to walk away from the biggest government procurement budget in the world in times like these.' Businesses may crumble before they can branch out. Aboulafia describes the corporate attitude toward government spending as, 'I just can’t quit you.' The suppliers also struggle to serve diverse military programs, because advanced weapons require long qualification processes in which companies must prove they can deliver the goods up to spec. If they can’t walk away and they can’t find more clients, companies may have little recourse but to raise prices to keep up with overhead costs. 'We’re seeing people take fewer risks and, therefore, their costs are higher, and those costs are passed upward,' Aboulafia says. This caution affects suppliers at every level."
a:Sara-Sorcher  p:National-Journal  d:2013.07.25  w:3500  government  military  weapons  from instapaper
september 2013 by bankbryan
The Case For And Against Intervening In Syria
"FOR:
- Will put thousands of honest, diligent American Tomahawk cruise missiles back to work
- Have plenty of money, a fresh, rested military—why not?
- Chance for Obama to put an exclamation point on an already great year
- It’s been a while since we did one of these things"
p:The-Onion★★  d:2013.08.30  w:500  list  satire  war  military  Syria 
september 2013 by bankbryan
Shot Down
"The six men and one woman, all of them admirals, who gathered in a dimly lit room at the Navy Personnel Command in Millington, Tennessee, at 8:20 am on October 25, 2011, and reviewed every page of Captain Timothy Dorsey’s record, decided he was admiral material. All the way. One member of the selection board was a former aviator, with 4,440 hours of flying time, who did a tour on the Saratoga. Another had flown multiple tours in the F-14, and had finished his training only five years before Dorsey joined his own squadron. There was only one flag billet available for reserve intelligence officers. They saw no reason why Dorsey shouldn’t have it. This wasn’t a purely subjective judgment. Written instructions given to all members of a selection board state that they can’t vote down the promotion of an officer who, save for one misstep, might have a promising career and be considered the 'best qualified' among those up for promotion. 'While the Navy is, and will remain, a service of the highest standards and strict accountability, we do not embrace blind adherence to a zero-defect mentality,' the guidance states. 'All of us have made mistakes in the past; the test is of the character and resilience of the individual and his or her ability to learn and grow from that experience.'"
a:Shane-Harris  p:Washingtonian★★  d:2013  w:8500  military  leadership  story 
august 2013 by bankbryan
When an Army of Artists Fooled Hitler
"Deception has long been a part of war, the Trojan Horse being perhaps the most famous example. But what set the 23rd troops apart, says Beyer, is the way they integrated so many different strategies to create a multimedia roadshow capable of being packed up for another show the next night. To shore up potential holes in the line, the unit would set up its inflatable tanks and roll in the giant speakers with a 15-mile range to give the impression that a huge army was amassing. Coupled with decoy radio transmissions, the deceptions proved largely successful. Their fake observation planes were so convincing, American pilots tried to land in the field next to them. Because the men had to keep their true purpose a secret, they regularly pretended to be other units. They’d mark their trucks with chalk or sew fake badges to throw off potential spies in the cities where they spent time off duty."
a:Leah-Binkovitz  p:Smithsonian-Magazine★  d:2013.05.21  w:1000  World-War-II  military  art  deception  from instapaper
july 2013 by bankbryan
Mountain Lab: An Interview with Scott McGuire
"I live in a place just down the road from here called McGee Canyon. It’s a beautiful canyon. I was going for a trail run the other morning; it was relatively early, about 7:30 in the morning, and I see these kids walking toward me. The guy is in jeans, Vans, his hat’s cocked off to the side; he’s got a hoodie, a t-shirt. It’s got some outdoor qualities to it, but it’s got some hip graphics. Kind of unshaven. He could just as easily have been walking down the street in the Mission District. His girlfriend’s in Toms shoes with knee-high, super bright-colored stockings, board shorts, a hoodie, big sunglasses, a hat. A very, very unlikely couple to see walking down this trail at sunrise. It was kind of surprising. I actually stopped running and I said, 'Hey, where are you guys from?' They’re from Los Angeles. What they’d done is they’d taken their iPhones and they’d decided to go for a hike up to a place and take some Instagrams of waterfalls and flowers with their phones to share with their friends. So, are they hikers? I mean, she’s hiking in a pair of Toms and knee-highs, which are not really hiking products. But this is a generation who don’t see why they can’t leave the trail, go to town, have lunch, and go to the skate park and skate all afternoon, and not change gear. But the outdoor industry is having a hard time reconciling that."
a:Geoff-Manaugh★★  a:Nicola-Twilley★  a:Scott-McGuire  p:Venue★  d:2012.06  w:9000  interview  clothing  design  military  sports  hiking  from instapaper
july 2013 by bankbryan
In the Box: A Tour Through the Simulated Battlefields of the U.S. Army National Training Center
"This 120-person strong insurgent troop is drawn from the base's own Blackhorse Regiment, a division of the U.S. Army that exists solely to provide opposition. Whatever the war, the 11th Armored is always the pretend enemy. According to Ferrell, their current role as Afghan rebels is widely envied: they receive specialized training (for example, in building IEDs) and are held to ‘reduced grooming standards,’ while their mission is simply to ‘stay alive and wreak havoc.’ If they die during a NTC simulation, they have to shave and go back on detail on the base, Ferrell added, so the incentive to evade their American opponents is strong. In addition to the in-house enemy regiment, there is an entire 2,200-person logistics corps dedicated to rotating units in and out of Fort Irwin and equipping them for training. Every ordnance the United States military has, with the exception of biological and chemical weapons, is used during NTC simulations, Ferrell told us. What's more, in the interests of realism (and expense be damned), troops train using their own equipment, which means that bringing in, for example, the 10th Mountain Division (on rotation during our visit), also means transporting their tanks and helicopters from their home base at Fort Drum, New York, to California, and back again."
a:Geoff-Manaugh★★  a:Nicola-Twilley★  p:Venue★  d:2012.09  w:2500  military  war  Iraq  Afghanistan 
july 2013 by bankbryan
A Rocket to Nowhere
"Future archaeologists trying to understand what the Shuttle was for are going to have a mess on their hands. Why was such a powerful rocket used only to reach very low orbits, where air resistance and debris would limit the useful lifetime of a satellite to a few years? Why was there both a big cargo bay and a big crew compartment? What kind of missions would require people to assist in deploying a large payload? Why was the Shuttle intentionally crippled so that it could not land on autopilot? Why go through all the trouble to give the Shuttle large wings if it has no jet engines and the glide characteristics of a brick? Why build such complex, adjustable main engines and then rely on the equivalent of two giant firecrackers to provide most of the takeoff thrust? Why use a glass thermal protection system, rather than a low-tech ablative shield? And having chosen such a fragile method of heat protection, why on earth mount the orbiter on the side of the rocket, where things will fall on it during launch? Taken on its own merits, the Shuttle gives the impression of a vehicle designed to be launched repeatedly to near-Earth orbit, tended by five to seven passengers with little concern for their personal safety, and requiring extravagant care and preparation before each flight, with an almost fetishistic emphasis on reuse. Clearly this primitive space plane must have been a sacred artifact, used in religious rituals to deliver sacrifice to a sky god."
a:Maciej-Ceglowski★★★  p:Idle-Words★★★  d:2005.08.03  w:4000  space  engineering  military  history  Cold-War  Russia  safety  from twitter
july 2013 by bankbryan
With 10 patterns, U.S. military branches out on camouflage front
"The Navy spent more than $435,000 on three new designs. One was a blue-and-gray pattern, to be worn aboard ships. Sailors worried that it would hide them at the one time they would want to be found. 'You fall in the damn water and you’re wearing water-colored camouflage. What the hell is that?' said one active-duty petty officer. 'It’s not logical at all to have water-colored uniforms.' For the desert, the Navy came up with another design, a tan pattern that resembled the Marines’ desert pattern. Except theirs had a small USS Constitution embedded in the pattern. To the Marines, the Navy pattern was still too close a copy. After the Marines objected, the Navy decreed that its new desert uniform would be given only to a select few: Navy SEALs and other personnel serving with them. The rest of the Navy personnel who might serve in the desert — more than 50,000 of them — were issued a different camouflage pattern. The Pentagon’s long and expensive search for new camouflage uniforms had previously defied logic. Now it would defy camouflage itself. It ended with U.S. service members wearing green in the desert."
a:David-A-Fahrenthold  p:The-Washington-Post★★  d:2013.05.08  w:1500  military  clothing  government  efficiency  Afghanistan  color  from instapaper
july 2013 by bankbryan
The Thin Red Line
"The intervention seemed to offer two lessons. The first was that the United States had become the indispensable nation, at least when it came to stopping a humanitarian disaster of the kind that occurred in Bosnia. 'Only the United States can do this kind of enormous operation,' James P. Rubin, a Clinton-era official at the State Department who was involved in deliberations about the Balkans, said. 'It’s not that we do it ourselves. It’s that we gather the world together to do it, parcel out the roles, make sure everybody takes certain responsibilities—the Germans do police, the French do reconstruction. If the United States doesn’t do it, then it doesn’t get done.' The second lesson was that, in terms of domestic politics, there wasn’t much to be gained from intervening in foreign countries, and there was plenty to lose if an intervention went awry. For Gary Bass, a Princeton professor who has written about humanitarian intervention, the remarkable thing about Clinton’s taking action in Bosnia was that he did it at all. Bass’s general rule is that every time a President sends troops to save lives overseas he risks political disaster; if he stays out, even in the face of calamity, there is little downside. Clinton’s reputation suffered when an American helicopter was shot down in Somalia, and eighteen soldiers were killed, but it was undiminished when he stood by during the Rwandan genocide, in which eight hundred thousand people died. In Bosnia, he got little credit for the lives he saved. 'The political price is always heavily slanted against intervention when there is no core national-security interest involved,' Bass said."
a:Dexter-Filkins★  p:The-New-Yorker★★  d:2013.05.13  w:8500  politics  military  Barack-Obama  foreign-policy  from instapaper
july 2013 by bankbryan
Americans' Confidence in Congress Falls to Lowest on Record
"Americans' confidence in Congress as an institution is down to 10%, ranking the legislative body last on a list of 16 societal institutions for the fourth straight year. This is the lowest level of confidence Gallup has found, not only for Congress, but for any institution on record. Americans remain most confident in the military, at 76%."
a:Elizabeth-Mendes  a:Joy-Wilke  p:Gallup-Politics  d:2013.06.13  w:500  government  military  politics  from twitter
june 2013 by bankbryan
The end of sleep?
"As soon as we close our eyes for sleep, a large proportion of available energy is freed up. Just as most planes must be grounded to refuel, we must be asleep to restore our brains for the next day. A radical sleep technology would permit the equivalent of aerial refuelling, which extends the range of a single flight (or waking day). Such attempts are likely to meet with powerful resistance from a culture that assumes that ‘natural’ is ‘optimal’. Perceptions of what is within normal range dictate what sort of human performance enhancement is medically acceptable, above which ethics review boards get cagey. Never mind that these bell curves have shifted radically throughout history. Never mind that if we are to speak of maintaining natural sleep patterns, that ship sailed as soon as artificial light turned every indoor environment into a perpetual mid-afternoon in May. Our contemporary sleep habits are not in any sense natural and ancestral human sleeping patterns would be very difficult to integrate into modern life."
a:Jessa-Gamble  p:Aeon★★  d:2013.04.13  w:4000  sleep  future  military  history  from instapaper
june 2013 by bankbryan
The terahertz revolution and local security
"What we celebrate in this column has always been the empowerment through technology of ordinary people. The personal computer changed our culture, pushing technology to the edges of society, changing forever the balance of power. This can be seen in the decline of milspec. Remember that term? It referred to electronic components made to military specifications which were better than anything you or I could buy or could even afford to buy. The military got the good stuff and through industry being forced to build that good stuff the rest of us over time began to get better components and products, too. Milspec today is for most purposes gone, killed by an acceleration of technical progress that improved the quality of components faster than the military could revise its specifications. That and military applications ceased to be volume leaders for electronic components so the tail (the PC) eventually came to wag that semiconductor dog."
a:Mark-Stephens★★  p:I-Cringely★★  d:2013.04.17  w:1000  security  military  technology  terrorism 
april 2013 by bankbryan
That’s Not A Droid, That’s My Girlfriend
"Thanks to their Shinto beliefs, the Japanese have fewer cultural barriers standing in the way of forming close emotional bonds with machines. But as robots become smarter and better looking, he says many more people of other cultures will become ensnared. 'I think the thing is that we already develop bonding with not very intelligent beings. As a kid you might have kept a pet hamster or pet mouse. They’re not actually so intelligent. But I think that a kid can even cry when the hamster dies,' he says. 'I'm not a biologist. I don't know why we developed empathy but I’m sure there’s an important evolutionary reason why we developed empathy. That empathy doesn’t just stop at human beings. We can develop empathy for small creatures and animals. I don’t think the leap is very far where you can develop empathy for robots.'"
a:Aubrey-Belford  p:The-Global-Mail  d:2013.02.21  w:4500  robots  animals  love  relationships  Japan  future  military  history  artificial-intelligence  from instapaper
april 2013 by bankbryan
How to Start a Battalion (in Five Easy Lessons)
"We in the Middle East have always had a strong appetite for factionalism. Some attribute it to individualism, others blame the nature of our political development or our tribalism. Some even blame the weather. We call it *tasharthum* and we loathe it: we hold it as the main reason for all our losses and defeats, from al-Andalus to Palestine. Yet we love it and bask in it and excel at it, and if there is one thing we appreciate it is a faction that splinters into smaller factions. Yet even by the measure of previous civil wars in the Middle East, the Syrians seem to have reached new heights. After all, the Palestinians in their heyday had only a dozen or so factions, and the Lebanese, God bless them, pretending it was ideology that divided them, never exceeded thirty different factions."
a:Ghaith-Abdul-Ahad  p:London-Review-of-Books★★  d:2013.02.21  w:4000  military  logistics  Arab-Spring  from instapaper
march 2013 by bankbryan
The Shooter
"The group discussed what would happen if they were surrounded by Pakistani troops. 'We would surrender. The original plan was to have Vice-President Biden fly to Islamabad and negotiate our release with Pakistan's president. This is hearsay, but I understand Obama said, Hell no. My guys are not surrendering. What do we need to rain hell on the Pakistani military? That was the one time in my life I was thinking, I am fucking voting for this guy. I had a picture of him lying in bed at night, thinking, You're not fucking with my guys. Like, he's thinking about us. We got word that we'd be scrambling jets on the border to back us up.'"
a:Phil-Bronstein  p:Esquire★★  d:2013.02.11  w:15500  military  family  9/11  Barack-Obama  Iraq  Afghanistan  Pakistan  from instapaper
march 2013 by bankbryan
The Force
"The United States, separated from much of the world by two oceans and bordered by allies, is, by dint of geography, among the best-protected countries on earth. Nevertheless, six decades after V-J Day nearly three hundred thousand American troops are stationed overseas, including fifty-five thousand in Germany, thirty-five thousand in Japan, and ten thousand in Italy. Much of the money that the federal government spends on 'defense' involves neither securing the nation’s borders nor protecting its citizens. Instead, the U.S. military enforces American foreign policy."
a:Jill-Lepore★  p:The-New-Yorker★★  d:2013.01.28  w:4500  military  war  World-War-II  foreign-policy  Cold-War  from instapaper
february 2013 by bankbryan
Amazing tale of a desperate WWII pilot’s encounter with a German flying ace
"'If I ever see or hear of you shooting at a man in a parachute,' Roedel said, 'I will shoot you down myself. You follow the rules of war for you — not for your enemy. You fight by rules to keep your humanity.' Roedel was not alone in this philosophy, and not just among the Germans. Most of these young men now at war — American, British, German — had grown up on the stories of the great World War I fighter pilots: the American Eddie Rickenbacker and Manfred von Richthofen, the German Red Baron. These were men who fought by a code, who would look each other in the eye mid-air, who would never strafe an enemy plane that was already going down. They had been taught that they very well might survive the war and, if they did, they needed to know that they had fought with honor and as much humanity as possible. It would be the only way they would ever be able to live with themselves."
a:Maureen-Callahan  p:New-York-Post  d:2012.12.09  w:2000  war  World-War-II  military  ethics  from instapaper
january 2013 by bankbryan
The Expendables
"The Legion’s radical composition, its physical isolation, and its very lack of patriotic purpose turned out to be the attributes that have molded it into an unusually resolute fighting force. An idea grew up inside the Legion that meaningless sacrifice is itself a virtue—if tinged perhaps by tragedy. A sort of nihilism took hold. In 1883, in Algeria, a general named François de Négrier, addressing a group of legionnaires who were leaving to fight the Chinese in Indochina, said, in loose translation, 'You! Legionnaires! You are soldiers meant to die, and I am sending you to the place where you can do it!' Apparently the legionnaires admired him. In any case, he was right."
a:William-Langewiesche★★★  p:Vanity-Fair★★  d:2012.12  w:8000  military  France  language  war  from instapaper
december 2012 by bankbryan
General Failure
"If George Marshall, the superlative Army chief of staff during World War II, came back today to run the Army, the first thing he would likely insist upon is accountability. And that would produce more-adaptive leaders, a necessity in the post–Cold War, post-9/11 world. Almost certainly, Marshall would also restore the sense that the needs of the nation should come before the needs of the individual or even the service. No one should get to be a general because it is his or her turn. Leading soldiers is a privilege. Our military should abide by the belief that the lives of soldiers are more important than the careers of officers—and that winning wars is more important than either. This fundamental truth is all that needs to be expressed to justify a policy of rapid relief."
a:Thomas-E-Ricks  p:The-Atlantic★★  d:2012.11  w:7000  World-War-II  military  leadership  Iraq  bureaucracy  Cold-War  from instapaper
november 2012 by bankbryan
The Pirate Latitudes
"A warship coming at you is supposed to present an intimidating sight. But it was as if the pirates inhabited a different dimension from that of the governments confronting them. With nothing but a group of French nationals as a shield, they were enjoying meals, going back and forth between ship and shore, and negotiating directly with the Saadés in Marseille, as if the French Navy did not even exist. The pattern was unusually frustrating to French authorities, as more recent piracy cases have been to American, Russian, and Chinese authorities. It raised disturbing questions about the relevance of governments and the exercise of power. More specifically, a suspicion crept in that these pirates knew exactly what they were doing, and that they understood the forces at play with more sophistication than had been assumed."
a:William-Langewiesche★★★  p:Vanity-Fair★★  d:2009.04  w:11000  military  France  power  law  food  travel  cruise-ships  from instapaper
november 2012 by bankbryan
The Checkpoint
"The checkpoint soldier who believes that there is an important difference between treating someone as a dangerous suspect or as an innocent civilian—and that he is prevented from acting on this belief—must pick by default. He is like the game show contestant who wants the box with the $1,000 rather than the empty box, but all he can do is pick a box and hope the consequences of his action will correspond to his wishes. The game show case and the checkpoint differ, however, in a crucial way: in the game show case, the tension dissolves as the consequences are revealed; at the checkpoint, the soldier rarely learns whether his actions have saved lives or burdened them. Thus the tension quickly accumulates as the soldier picks by default hundreds of times every eight-hour shift. Most of the soldier’s actions have severe moral implications—he knows this much. But he remains ignorant of them. The tension becomes unbearable, indeed, unfathomable. To be sure, as soldiers arrive at the checkpoint, they might care about the difference between innocent and hostile Palestinians very much or not at all. However, the more often soldiers pick, the larger is the pressure toward moral indifference. That the soldier’s power exceeds any rule does not render him powerful but, rather, destroys him. Being 'above the law' drains the soldier of his defining principles."
a:Oded-Na’aman★★  p:Boston-Review  d:2012.07  w:5500  military  law  war  terrorism  from instapaper
october 2012 by bankbryan
The Single Most Important Object in the Global Economy
"The pallet is one of those things that, once you start to look for it, you see everywhere: Clustered in stacks near freight depots and distribution centers (where they are targets for theft), holding pyramids of Coke in an 'endcap display' at your local big-box retailer, providing gritty atmosphere in movies, forming the dramatic stage-setting for wartime boondoggles (news accounts of the Iraqi scandal seemed obsessed with the fact the money was delivered on pallets, as if to underscore the sheer mass of the currency), being broken up for a beach bonfire somewhere, even repurposed into innovative modern architecture. Trebilcock likens the industry to the slogan once used by the company BASF: 'At BASF, we don't make a lot of the products you buy. We make a lot of the products you buy better.' At parties he’ll tell people who ask what he does: 'Without a pallet, most of what you and I eat or wear or sit on or whatnot would not have gotten to us as easily or inexpensively as it got to us.'"
a:Tom-Vanderbilt★★  p:Slate★★  d:2012.08.14  w:2500  logistics  World-War-II  military  retail  container-shipping  from instapaper
october 2012 by bankbryan
The Distant Executioner
"You shoot one man, you terrify a thousand. That was the theory outside of Afghanistan. Through generations of warfare, it’s what sniping was largely about. By hiding in open sight and shooting precisely, snipers killed enemy officers, sowed fear in enemy ranks, and covered their own army’s retreats. Sometimes they went out to kill opposing snipers, because artillery was an ineffectual response, but rarely did they go off on assassination missions or do Hollywood things, as is generally thought. Sniping was defensive in nature. The British historian Martin Pegler—who is the pre-eminent authority on the subject—recently made that point to me in northern France near the inn called Orchard Farm that he runs with his wife on the World War I battlefields of the Somme. Walking among the remnants of the trenches there, where in 1916 half a million soldiers uselessly died, Pegler said, 'What decides wars is what starts them—politics. For the purpose of winning, snipers are irrelevant. But they are also probably the most powerful soldiers face-to-face in battle. Their power is psychological. It greatly magnifies their effect.'"
a:William-Langewiesche★★★  p:Vanity-Fair★★  d:2010.02  w:10000  war  death  military  from instapaper
october 2012 by bankbryan
A Day Job Waiting for a Kill Shot a World Away
"Colonel Brenton acknowledges the peculiar new disconnect of fighting a telewar with a joystick and a throttle from his padded seat in American suburbia. When he was deployed in Iraq, 'you land and there’s no more weapons on your F-16, people have an idea of what you were just involved with.' Now he steps out of a dark room of video screens, his adrenaline still surging after squeezing the trigger, and commutes home past fast-food restaurants and convenience stores to help with homework — but always alone with what he has done. 'It’s a strange feeling,' he said. 'No one in my immediate environment is aware of anything that occurred.'"
a:Elisabeth-Bumiller  p:The-New-York-Times★★  d:2012.07.29  w:1500  military  drones  aviation  weapons  from instapaper
september 2012 by bankbryan
Standardized Hand Signals For Close Range Engagement (C.R.E.) Operations
“Please god let me meet someone around whom I don’t have to act normal.”
(@ahouseindc is excited to begin using this in bars)
reference  military  communication 
september 2012 by bankbryan
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Shooter
"We've arrived in a strange emotional clime when our popular entertainment frequently depicts torture as briskly effective rather than literally the worst thing one human being can do to another — yea verily, worse even than killing. Inflicting pain and suffering on a captive human being because one person feels like it and the other can't stop it … is this not what we're told awaits sinners in hell? Is this not the domain of Satan?"
a:Tom-Bissell★  p:Grantland★★  d:2012.07.12  w:3500  games  violence  military 
august 2012 by bankbryan
From Bench to Bunker
"What Chapman found in his study immediately excited him: When subjects viewed any stimulus, there was a quick change in brain activity, the size of which depended on how bright the stimulus was. But when subjects were shown a number, crucial to performing the task before them, the EEG registered a huge spike in brain activity about 300 milliseconds after the stimulus appeared. When a plus sign was shown instead of a number, the spike was notably smaller. That simple task had revealed something profound: a clear EEG marker of the perception and processing of information relevant to a decision. Samuel Sutton, in a series of experiments published in 1965 in the journal Science, continued to explore that class of responses, focusing specifically on the spike that occurred 300 milliseconds after the stimulus. Eventually, that spike was named the P300 response. Since those early findings, the P300 has been used to study almost every conceivable topic in neurology and neuroscience: decision-making, consciousness, Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, and, quite prominently, as a brain-computer interface to allow paralyzed people to spell using EEG."
a:Jon-Bardin  p:The-Chronicle-of-Higher-Education  d:2012.07.09  w:3500  military  science  biology  ethics  intelligence-gathering 
august 2012 by bankbryan
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