military

Pentagon intensifies focus on missile defense reliability after North Korea’s long-range advances

North Korea’s ballistic missile test is shining an intense spotlight on the Pentagon’s missile defenses, systems installed to protect South Korea and now the U.S. mainland. Recent results have been promising, but U.S. officials acknowledge that Pyongyang’s stunning advances this month are providing a real-world test much sooner than they had expected. The Pentagon has been touting the viability of the country’s ballistic missile systems following the apparent successful test by the regime of Kim Jong-un of a long-range missile on July 4, saying the constellation of missile interceptors and weapons now in place are fully capable of blocking any threat to American shores from Pyongyang or elsewhere. The need for reliability of the missile defense systems, including the new Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense battery installed in South Korea, soared amid calculations that the North has tested what could be its first intercontinental ballistic missile. In what Pentagon officials insisted was a previously planned exercise, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency revealed Tuesday that a THAAD system based in Alaska successfully tracked and shot down a simulated intermediate-range ballistic missile that closely resembles the ones Pyongyang is developing. The test was the first of its kind for the system against an incoming intermediate-range missile, which analysts say is harder to hit than shorter-range missiles. “This test further demonstrates the capabilities of the THAAD weapon system and its ability to intercept and destroy ballistic missile threats,” Lt. Gen. Samuel A. Greaves, director of the Missile Defense Agency, said in a statement. Sen. Dan Sullivan, an Alaska Republican whose state suddenly finds itself potentially in range of Pyongyang’s deadliest weapons, praised the test. He said it “provided further confirmation that we have the capability to defend our bases, our troops and our allies in places like Japan, South Korea and Guam against rogue nations like North Korea.” But any test falls far short of real-world conditions, when the enemy doesn’t reveal in advance where and when the missile will be launched or its intended target. “Missile defense, even if it worked perfectly, is not a get-out-of-jail-free card,” Laura Grego, a senior scientist for the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told the Bloomberg news service. Missile defense systems, critics note, can’t afford to have a single failure against powerful payloads likely to be loaded onto an ICBM. “The homeland missile defense system doesn’t work perfectly and hasn’t demonstrated a real-world capability,” Ms. Grego said. Even before the July 4 test, the Pentagon was poised to invest billions of dollars to boost its anti-missile technology as part of President Trump’s first defense budget. Aside from additional funding, Defense Department officials are spearheading an overhaul of missile defense strategies and tactics. In one of his first acts as Pentagon chief, Defense Secretary James Mattis initiated a departmentwide review of missile defense operations in May. The review, led by Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O. Work and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Paul J. Selva, will “identify ways to strengthen missile defense capabilities, rebalance homeland and theater defense priorities, and provide the necessary policy and strategy framework for the nation’s missile defense systems,” Pentagon press secretary Dana White said. The administration’s newfound focus on the network of land- and sea-based interceptor weapons and associated sensors comes on the heels of the first successful test of the Pentagon’s premier missile interceptor system in May. The game-changer in the debate was the successful July 4 test of the Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile, which flew higher and farther than any previous North Korean long-range missile shots, theoretically placing the entire state of Alaska within range of Pyongyang’s new class of ballistic missiles.

Trump stopping to pick up Marine’s hat blown away by wind is president’s latest viral moment

The latest President Trump moment lighting up the twitterspehere isn’t a social gaffe nor an awkward moment with another world leader. Instead, it’s video of the president retrieving a Marine’s hat that was blown off the service member’s head as he guards Marine One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, where the president arrived Saturday on Air Force One after attending the G-20 summit in Germany. As Trump approaches Marine One, he bends down to pick up the hat and places it back on the Marine’s head and pats him on his arm. But the wind immediately blows the hat away again, prompting the president to chase the hat down. As Trump boards Marine One, he gives the hat to another military official, who places it on the Marine’s head.

If you’ve not seen this video yet, click on the text above.  This shows the contrast between Trump and his predecessor, Obama…who would NEVER have done something like that.  He had Marines hold umbrellas over his head, and had them carry around hors d’oeuvres at state functions (no joke!).  Trump has great respect for those of us who have served in uniform, and this shows it.  Awesome!!    🙂

Space Warfare: America could soon have a new branch of the military protecting outer space

Members of Congress have laid the groundwork for the U.S Air Force to establish a new branch of the military, known as a Space Corps, by January of 2019. The proposal came from Congressmen Mike Rogers, R-Ala., and Jim Cooper. D-Tenn., the top representatives of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, which oversees military space operations. They introduced the legislation into the House Armed Services Committee National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Tuesday. According to a joint statement by Rogers and Cooper, the Space Corps would reorganize the national security space enterprise “to ensure prioritization of the space domain by creating a U.S. Space Corps as a separate military service within the Department of the Air Force and under the civilian leadership of the Secretary of the Air Force.” “There is bipartisan acknowledgement that the strategic advantages we derive from our national security space systems are eroding,” the statement said, “We are convinced that the Department of Defense is unable to take the measures necessary to address these challenges effectively and decisively, or even recognize the nature and scale of its problems.” Rogers told Space News “As I’ve been chairing this subcommittee for the last four years, we have seen time and again that our ability to meet new challenges in space is lethargic at best.” Space would fall under the command of its own chief, equal in rank to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, who would sit on the Joint Chiefs of Staff and answer to the Secretary of the Air Force. But Air Force leaders are rejecting the plan. “The Pentagon is complicated enough,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told reporters following her testimony in front of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. “This will make it more complex, add more boxes to the organization chart and cost more money. If I had more money, I would put it into lethality, not bureaucracy.”

This is a follow up to an earlier we posted (scroll down about 14 articles).  The good Secretary isn’t wrong..  However well intentioned, it DOES seem like the creation of another bureaucracy is in the works.  As many of you know, here at The Daily Buzz we’ve been advocating the need for more funding of both our civilian (i.e. NASA) AND military space programs (i.e. Air Force Space Command & the U.S. Army’s Space & Missile Defense Command or “SMDC”).  But, such funding should be done so wisely, and not wasted on growing the size and scope of bloated, inefficient, bureaucratic government.  Anyway, to read the rest of this article, click on the text above.

Canadian Sniper Smashes Record, Kills Islamic State Fighter from over Two Miles Away

A Canadian soldier has broken the world record for the longest sniper kill in history, taking out an Islamic State militant from over two miles away. The sniper, who serves as a gun specialist in the elite Joint Task Force 2 operation in Iraq, achieved the feat by shooting an assailant from a high rise building over a distance of 3,450 meters, approximately 2.14 miles. It took around 10 seconds to reach its target and was later verified by both video footage. “The shot in question actually disrupted an Islamic State attack on Iraqi security forces,” an anonymous military source told the Canadian Globe and Mail. “Instead of dropping a bomb that could potentially kill civilians in the area, it is a very precise application of force and because it was so far way, the bad guys didn’t have a clue what was happening.” British sniper Craig Harrison previously held the world record, acquired when, in 2009, he killed two Taliban insurgents with a 338 Lapua Magnum rifle from a range of 2,475 meters. Before him, the record was also held by a Canadian, Corporal Rob Furlong, who in 2002 successfully neutralized a target from 2,430 meters using a McMillan Tac-50. “Hard data on this. It isn’t an opinion. It isn’t an approximation. There is a second location with eyes on with all the right equipment to capture exactly what the shot was,” another military source said, who also spoke under anonymity due to the classified nature of Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2) operations. JTF2 remains an elite special operations force of the Canadian Armed Forces, who primarily focus on counterterrorism, sniper operations, and personnel recovery. Due to the classified nature of their work, the Canadian government rarely comments on their operations. Canadian forces have been present in Iraq since 2014 as part of the war against ISIS. They are mainly tasked with training the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently ordering the number of special forces involved in training missions from 69 to 207. Although more focused on America, ISIS has previously called for attacks in Canada, with a number of terrorist incidents taking place in recent years. In October 2014, Martin Couture-Rouleau and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau drove a car into civilians and killed a soldier at the Canadian National War Memorial after they were prevented from traveling to Syria to join ISIS.

Outstanding!!  Congrats to this Canadian soldier for setting this record, and for taking down an ISIS maggot in the process.  Excellent!!   🙂

House Defense Panel Would Create Space Force

A House Armed Services panel intends to create a new fighting force called Space Corps within the Air Force to improve the U.S. military’s ability to address threats in space, according to a summary of the Strategic Forces panel’s forthcoming fiscal 2018 mark. “There is bipartisan acknowledgement that the strategic advantages we derive from our national security space systems are eroding,” said a joint statement from Mike D. Rogers of Alabama and Jim Cooper of Tennessee, the panel’s chairman and ranking Democrat, respectively. “We are convinced that the Department of Defense is unable to take the measures necessary to address these challenges effectively and decisively, or even recognize the nature and scale of its problems. Thus, Congress has to step in.” The Space Corps, they added, would be “a separate military service responsible for national security space programs for which the Air Force is today responsible.” The panel intends to mark up its portion of the sweeping defense policy measure on Thursday. Its mark also would establish U.S. Space Command as a four-star position under U.S. Strategic Command. The measure would bar the Pentagon from buying satellite services if there is a threat that they could be compromised by cyber vulnerabilities or because they are launched by or contained parts from adversary nations. The subcommittee also would authorize $705 million for missile defense systems in Israel that U.S. companies would develop or produce in conjunction with the Israelis. The panel would institute oversight mechanisms to ensure a capable nuclear command and control infrastructure. It would support several Missile Defense Agency priorities that were not formally part of the budget request but that were included on the agency’s first-ever unfunded priorities list, submitted to Congress earlier this month. These include requirement that the agency begin developing a new system of missile-tracking satellites and procure 24 additional interceptors for Theater High Altitude Area Defense batteries.

While it’s encouraging that the House is wanting to make Space a priority for our Dept of Defense (DoD), the devil is in the details..    They need to ensure that they get quality input from both the U.S. Air Force’s Space Command as well as the U.S. Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC).  As someone who spent a couple years in SMDC, I’m intimately aware of how important it is that we get such input and cooperation from BOTH agencies and military branches.  Definitely something to keep an eye on…

Musk’s SpaceX Joins the Military

Not long ago, SpaceX founder Elon Musk cracked what he once labeled a monopoly for Defense Department space launches, successfully breaking into a business that was dominated by United Launch Alliance LLC. The DOD’s appetite for space access is voracious, given the myriad reconnaissance, defense, and communications roles there, coupled with a future where conflicts are almost certain to involve space assets. Musk’s 2014 lawsuit against the government was settled out of court, and the Pentagon certified SpaceX, also known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp., as a suitable supplier of military space launches. SpaceX’s first gig for the military was in May when it launched a satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office. But in a quite public sense, Musk and the government this summer will test the theory that cheaper space launches are suitable for sensitive military missions. In August, SpaceX will carry one of the Pentagon’s premiere yet highly classified platforms into orbit. The X-37B spy craft, an unmanned miniature version of the Space Shuttle, logs missions that are well over a year in length. The most recent X-37B sojourn ended in May after more than 700 days circling the Earth. Boeing has built two of the craft, with the first launched in 2010. The August blastoff will be the program’s fifth flight. One major reason for SpaceX’s appeal to Pentagon brass: sticker price. With its launches starting around $61 million, Musk’s company has been able to undercut its more established rival. United Launch Alliance, a Centennial, Colo.-based joint venture of Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp., boasts an unblemished record of more than 100 launches, but it’s still working to bring its cost below $100 million. It plans to do so by 2019.

Russian jet intercepts US bomber over Baltic Sea

A U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber flying a “routine mission” in international airspace over the Baltic Sea was intercepted by a Russian jet on Tuesday, a Pentagon spokesman said. The U.S. bomber was still up in the air Tuesday afternoon and the crew had not been debriefed about the incident, meaning it was not yet known exactly how close the Russian Su-27 fighter jet came to the U.S. plane, Capt. Jeff Davis said. The bomber was deployed to the U.K. from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana earlier this month, U.S. European Command told Fox News. The “vast majority” of Russian intercepts with U.S. forces are safe and professional, Davis said. But Tuesday’s intercept is just the latest example of aggressive Russian actions aimed at the U.S. military and homeland. In May, a pair of Russian Bear Bombers entered Alaska’s “air defense zone” escorted by two Russian jets. That instance followed several consecutive nights in April when Russian spy planes and bombers buzzed Alaskan airspace. In February, The Russian spy ship Viktor Leonov traversed the U.S. East Coast and approached a Navy submarine base in Connecticut. There have also been several instances of Russian jets buzzing Navy ships at sea. The U.S. bomber intercepted Tuesday arrived days ago in the region to take part in the annual Baltic training operation called “Baltops.” There are 14 allied countries participating in the annual military exercise which includes 6,000 personal, 50 aircraft, 56 ships and submarines. The exercise also includes live fire training. Some ships will be sailing from Poland to Germany.