The beleaguered F-35 program has yet another problem on its hands. Actually, make that 719 problems.
A recent report from the Pentagon’s internal watchdog reveals that the next gen fighter jet is plagued with hundreds of issues. The Defense Department’s Inspector General conducted a series of quality assurance assessments that found the Joint Program Office and Defense Contract Management Agency performed “inadequate oversight,” failing to adhere to widely adopted quality management protocols while losing control of contractors that have already sunk an estimated$400 billion taxpayer dollars into what is the most expensive weapons system ever developed by the U.S. government.
Read more. [Image: Daniel Hughes/U.S. Air Force/Reuters]
When Boomer was lost on the battlefield in Taji, Iraq, his brothers in arms gave him a funeral. The tribute involved a 21-gun salute, and the awarding of both a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star Medal. All in recognition, according to a soldier who has worked with Boomer’s comrades, of Boomer’s heroism and of the many lives he had saved on the battlefield.
It was a funeral that was typical in every way but one: Boomer was a machine. He was a MARCbot, an inexpensive robot designed to seek out and disarm explosives. He — Boomer was, apparently, a he — saved soldiers’ lives as he tooled his way into dangerous zones, taking one for the team in the most selfless way possible. The tributes in Taji, be they figurative (the Bronze Star) or more literal (the firearmed salute), recognized all this. “Some people got upset about it,” the soldier recalls of Boomer’s improvised funeral, ”but those little bastards can develop a personality, and they save so many lives.”
The little bastards do save lives. Their personalities, however, aren’t so much developed as they’re imposed by their human minders. In the heat of battle, and in the chaos of war zones, soldiers, it seems, tend to humanize their robotic aides. They develop emotional attachments to the machines that put themselves in harm’s way so the humans don’t have to.
Read more. [Image: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Bobby J. Segovia/Wikimedia Commons]
The sexual-assault epidemic plaguing the Armed Forces is rooted in a hypermasculine ethos that fosters predation.
Recently, one of the Joint Chiefs said privately that he was open to the idea of taking sexual assault cases out of the military chain-of-command, a proposed reform to the military justice system that has gained significant bipartisan support in Congress. The issue of sexual assault in the military, the officer said, had become too much of a distraction.
When the Senate Armed Services Committee held its first full hearing on military sexual assault in a decade last June, however, that same officer joined a rare, four-star picket line that the Joint Chiefs formed in unified opposition to removing such cases from the chain-of-command. Military leaders had not so openly pushed back against their civilian masters since opposing President Bill Clinton’s 1993 proposal to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in uniform, a reform which they successfully watered down into “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
The problem is not that the Joint Chiefs refuse to take the scourge of sexual assault in military ranks seriously. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, has three daughters who have served in the U.S. Army. You bet he takes the problem seriously. And yet Dempsey testified that preserving the commander’s authority to instill “good order and discipline” in the face of such charges was essential. “Reducing command responsibility could adversely affect the ability of the commander to enforce professional standards and ultimately, to accomplish the mission,” he said.
When asked why so many senior officers were so adamantly opposed to taking sexual assault out of the military chain-of-command — where many victims understandably fear they cannot get a fair and impartial hearing — another recently retired flag officer was blunt in his assessment: “Because they all fear the slippery slope,” he said.
Read more. [Image: J. Scott Applewhite/AP]
The Pentagon’s decision to end its ban on women-in-combat — a change announced, formally, this afternoon — is simply a decision whose time, in many, many ways, has come. But it is also, importantly, a decision that technological advances have made easier: more sensible, more practical, more impermeable to objection. While some will still make social and cultural arguments against women serving on the front lines — most of which will boil down to the idea that it’s hard for “bands of brothers" to coalesce when sisters are part of the equation — most other objections are now, or will soon be, preempted. And that’s in part because of technology.
Read more. [Image: David Kamm, U.S. Army Natick Soldier RD&E Center]
Their industry rewards intimacy, often driving photographers closer to the sharp edge of conflict. But after capturing those last breaths and cities laid waste by violence, these photographers are left to scroll through the day’s shots before wiring the most gripping images to newsrooms around the world.
Some photographers try to lose themselves in the technical elements of their images: the exposures and f-stops, saturation and white balance. These aspects allow a modicum of control. The most successful are praised and rewarded for their work. The events that shock their humanity, serve as fuel for their professional career. But sometimes, when trauma weighs too heavily — when those recorded moments become too ‘decisive’ — photographers internalize what they’ve seen. Like soldiers, photographers can carry these wars home
Read more. [Images: Ashley Gilbertson]
On December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy launched a surprise attack on the United States, bombing warships and military targets in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. More than 350 Japanese aircraft attacked the naval base in two waves, strafing targets, dropping armor-piercing bombs, and launching torpedoes toward U.S. battleships and cruisers. The U.S. forces were unprepared, waking to the sounds of explosions and scrambling to defend themselves. The entire preemptive attack lasted only 90 minutes, and in that time, the Japanese sunk four battleships and two destroyers, pummeled 188 aircraft, and damaged even more buildings, ships and airplanes. (Two of the battleships were later raised and returned to service.) Some 2,400 Americans were killed in the attack; another 1,250 were injured, and a huge shock was dealt to United States. After the attack, Japan officially declared war on the United States. The next day President Roosevelt delivered his famous “infamy” speech, and signed a formal declaration of war against the Empire of Japan. Within days, Nazi Germany and the Kingdom of Italy also declared war on the United States, and the U.S. reciprocated soon after. (This entry is Part 7 of a weekly 20-part retrospective of World War II)
See more. [Images: AP, U.S. Navy]
December 4th is National Cookie Day!
U.S. Marine Corps CPL. Victor Medrano prepares chocolate chip cookies for the crew of the aircraft carrier USS NIMITZ (CVN 68). Nimitz is deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch, 01/29/1998
Almost anyone is capable of cheating, given the right circumstances. The trick is to avoid compromising situations in the first place.
Read more. [Image: Christopher Berkey/AP Images]
A week ago today, superstorm Sandy powered ashore, making landfall in the U.S. and wreaking havoc across the northeast. Damage estimates now reach as high as $50 billion, which would make Sandy the second-costliest Atlantic hurricane in history. At least 113 lives were lost across 10 states, and more than 1 million people are still without power across New York and New Jersey. Where the damage was worst, aid workers, National Guardsmen, soldiers, and groups of civilian volunteers arrived, bringing supplies, beginning cleanup, providing what was needed — in many cases, neighbor helping neighbor. Collected here are images of Sandy recovery from just the past weekend, showing what has been accomplished so far and the massive amount of work that remains to be done. See also the earlier entry: Hurricane Sandy: After Landfall.
See more. [Images: AP, Reuters, Getty]