Article I Section 8 of the United States Constitution grants Congress the power to “make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces.”[i] With this grant of power, Congress created the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) exercised through the creation of American Military Courts-Martial.[ii]
Unbeknownst to many Americans, military personnel are held to laws that are not founded on the traditional common law system. Soldiers can be punished for behavior that has little to no consequence in normal civilian society. Conduct such as adultery, dueling, and “conduct unbecoming of a gentleman or an officer” are all punishable crimes in a military court-martial.[iii]
The court-martial process is also one unparalleled by the common law justice system taught in American law schools. Many scholars are concerned that the UCMJ affords soldiers less due process rights than a typical civilian in a federal or state court.[iv] Among these “reduced rights” are limited safeguards against command bias and the potential for false conviction through what is known as “unlawful command influence.” The system is extremely hierarchical in the sense that all panel members of the court-martial “jury” are under the control of the commander.[v] This system leads critics to believe that the panel members will choose to convict the defendant based on the knowledge that the commander brought the charges against him and thus wanted the accused to be convicted.
The massive railgun that needs just one sailor to operate it relies on the electromagnetic energy of the Lorentz force—the combination of electric and magnetic forces on a point charge—for power.
The Navy likes the weapon for several reasons, not the least of which it has a range of 100 miles and doesn’t require explosive warheads. That makes it far safer for sailors, and cheaper for taxpayers. According to the Navy, each 18-inch projectile costs about $25,000, compared to $500,000 to $1.5 million for conventional missiles.
“[It] will give our adversaries a huge moment of pause to go: ‘Do I even want to go engage a naval ship?’” Rear Admiral Matt Klunder told reporters. “Because you are going to lose. You could throw anything at us, frankly, and the fact that we now can shoot a number of these rounds at a very affordable cost, it’s my opinion that they don’t win.”
The Navy’s been talking about using railguns for the past ten years. The Office of Naval Research launched a prototype program in 2005, with an initial investment of $250 million committed through 2011. The Navy anticipates spending about that much more by 2017.
The other consideration not mentioned in the article is that the A-10 sits in a space that will become the domain of drones in the not too distant future.
The Defense Department decision to retire an Air Force plane built specifically to support ground forces has ignited a firestorm of criticism from the airmen whose job is to embed with Army ground forces and spot enemy targets. Meanwhile, one top Air Force commander is defending his service’s decision to eliminate the A-10 Warthog, despite acknowledging the aircraft’s value.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in February announced his intention to retire 343 Warthogs, saying the aircraft “is a 40-year-old single-purpose airplane originally designed to kill enemy tanks on a Cold War battlefield. It cannot survive or operate effectively where there are more advanced aircraft or air defenses.”
Lt. Gen. Mike Hostage, U.S. Air Forces Central Command commander, stands in front of a B-2 Stealth Bomber at Whiteman Air Force Base in Mo. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Carlin Leslie
The military commander responsible for ensuring that the Air Force is prepared and capable of winning future wars said the move was unfortunate, but unavoidable in a tightening fiscal environment.
Nina Burleigh, Rolling Stone: Obama vs. the Hawks: How Obama Has Fought the War Machine
Seven months since that hot August afternoon, the Syrians, after fits and starts, have handed off over 500 metric tons of deadly chemicals, nearly 46 percent of their stock, and the deadline for the rest to be destroyed comes at the end of April. Which looks like a better outcome than a prolonged bombing campaign, but conventional Beltway wisdom is that Obama fumbled in August, angered the Saudis and Israelis, and “damaged American credibility,” as The Wall Street Journal put it.
On the Senate floor in February, McCain stood before photographs of dead Syrian children, predicting a future president would have to “apologize” for Obama’s inaction. “What haunts me even more than the horror unfolding before our eyes in Syria is the thought that we will continue to do nothing about it,” McCain said.
Worst of all, by Washington insider standards, Obama theoretically diminished his own power by asking for congressional authorization. In D.C., it’s an axiom that you never willingly give away any kind of power, especially executive power, and especially when it comes to military strikes.
But many of those who shared the president’s reticence were the very men and women who would have been in charge of putting themselves and their people on the line: the military. In a letter to the House Foreign Affairs Committee two days before the chemical attack, Joint Chiefs Chairman Dempsey expressed grave concern over establishing a no-fly zone, warning that any military action could spiral out of control and lead to American boots on the ground. “There’s a broad naiveté in the political class in foreign-policy issues,” retired Lt. Gen. Gregory S. Newbold complained to The Washington Post regarding a potential strike on Syria. Beltway thinking, he said, reflects a “scary simplicity about the effects that employing American military power can achieve.”
Let us be grateful for the wars we have avoided by electing Obama instead of McCain to the Presidency.
The ships will join five US warships already stationed in Japan by 2017.
Mr Hagel made the announcement during a visit to Tokyo as part of efforts to counter recent missile tests by North Korea.
He also addressed territorial disputes between China and its neighbours, saying Chinese authorities should have “respect for their neighbours”.
In February Mr Hagel had already announced the expansion of its missile defence capabilities in Asia, with an additional radar planned in Japan that could track any missile launched from North Korea.
As the Ukrainian crisis unfolded over the past month, Russia’s military staged unprecedented maneuvers all along the Ukrainian frontier that experts say showed a new level of speed, agility, and tactical integration among the different branches of the armed forces. In early March, Russian special forces surprised observers again by mounting a lighting fast operation that effectively seized the Crimean peninsula, virtually without casualties, despite the fact that some 18,000 Ukrainian troops were stationed in the region.
There seems little doubt that the West is rattled. On Wednesday NATO commander General Philip Breedlove warned that some 40,000 Russian troops deployed near the border could roll over eastern Ukraine in “between 3 and 5 days,” even though experts say that Russian military doctrine would call for a force of at least 100,000 to accomplish that task. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted Thursday that such rhetoric was over-hyped, and that Russian troops were being gradually withdrawn from Ukrainian border areas. He added, though, that Russia had the right to post troops anywhere on its own territory.
The operation to seize Crimea, which began just over a month ago, offered a dramatic illustration of the Russian Army’s new capabilities. In the space of a few hours on March 1, hundreds of Russian special forces - bearing no identifying insignia - landed in Crimea and fanned out across the peninsula, seizing road junctions, airports, railroad terminals, administrative buildings, and also keeping Ukrainian military personnel bottled up on scores of bases around the territory. Journalists covering that operation focused on the Kremlin’s fairly transparent lie that those “little green men” weren’t actually Russian soldiers.
“The fact is that US and NATO intelligence were completely outwitted,” Mr. Baranets says. “There was a cover operation, in which Russia had mobilized about 150,000 men from the Baltic to the Urals for war games, and all [Western] attention was focused on that. The true objective was hidden in the shadow of those exercises.”
There is still a war on.
A BRITISH sniper killed five Taliban insurgents and a would-be suicide bomber in Afghanistan with one bullet, the British Ministry of Defence says.
The 20-year-old marksman, a lance corporal in the Coldstream Guards, hit the trigger switch of the device from 930 metres away, causing the bomb to explode.
The blast killed the would-be bomber and five men around him, a Defence spokesman said.
The incident in December in Kakaran, southern Afghanistan, has been disclosed as Britain prepares to leave from the country by the end of the year.
Lieutenant Colonel Richard Slack, commanding officer of 9/12 Royal Lancers, told The Daily Telegraph the unnamed shooter also prevented another major attack as a second suicide vest packed with explosives was found nearby.
“They were in contact and he was moving to a firing position. The sniper engaged him and the guy exploded. There was a pause on the radio and the sniper said, ‘I think I’ve just shot a suicide bomber’. The rest of them were killed in the blast.”
FORT STEWART, Ga. — Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III spent Thursday and Friday at Fort Stewart, observing training and talking to Soldiers about the future of the Army.
Changes are coming to the Army by way of a refined budget, fewer deployments and an overall reset and evaluation of our Soldier assets. These were some of the topics discussed during Chandler’s visit to the home of the 3rd Infantry Division.
“The first thing Soldiers need to recognize is we’ll be transitioning from an Army of execution, deployments into combat zones, to an Army of preparation where we’ll be doing a lot more training at posts, camps and stations and our training centers in order to meet the needs of the nation,” Chandler said.
What this boils down to is a smaller, more fit and capable force working with a smaller budget to maintain the nation’s security goals, he said.
The plan to accomplish these goals is ultimately through quality leaders training and retaining the best Soldiers the nation has to offer. To meet that goal, physical standards are being developed at Fort Stewart and elsewhere to set the bar for Soldiers. Gone are the days of “good enough.”
Russia has been preparing for this contingency for years - which comes as a surprise to no one who had been following the situation closely. While there have been howls from corners of Congress that the US intelligence community failed to see this coming, Russian contingency planning over Crimea has been known to the US government for at least seven years.
A Dec. 7, 2006 cable from the US Embassy in Kiev, leaked to Wikileaks by former US soldier Chelsea Manning, outlined the ways in which Russia - alarmed by NATO expansion to the east and afraid of Ukraine possibly joining the European Union - was setting the table in Crimea. Ukraine’s so-called Orange Revolution, which brought a government to power that looked west more than east, had happened just two years prior.
Russia had been busy in the meantime.
There are in fact some things that members of Congress can agree on. With a vote of 97-0, the Senate unanimously approved a set of changes to the military’s sexual assault policies late on Monday night. The bipartisan bill composed by Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Deb Fischer (R-NE), ends the time-old practice of using a “good soldier defense” in cases of assault. Here’s the AP:
The new legislation would change the military rules of evidence to prohibit the accused from using good military character as an element of his defense in court-martial proceedings unless it was directly relevant to the alleged crime. The “good soldier defense” could encompass a defendant’s military record of reliability, dependability, professionalism and reputation as an individual who could be counted on in war and peacetime.
McCaskill described it as “the ridiculous notion that how well one flies a plane should have anything to do with whether they committed a crime.”