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Posts tagged ‘Pentagon’

Russian Forces Push Beyond Crimea Before Referendum.


Ukraine said Russian forces tried to push deeper into its territory and the Kremlin strengthened its rhetoric, threatening to escalate the worst diplomatic standoff between Moscow and the West since the Cold War.

By Saturday afternoon, The New York Times reports, Russian troops moved beyond the Crimean border and overtook a gas plant just beyond the regional border of Crimea.

Meanwhile, Russian troops entered the Kherson region on the Azov Sea from the Crimea peninsula they already occupy, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations, Yuriy Sergeyev, told reporters Saturday at the United Nations in New York. The Foreign Ministry in Kiev issued a statement protesting the seizure by Russian soldiers of the village of Strilkove.

The incursion raises tensions before the Black Sea Crimean region holds a referendum Sunday on joining Russia. While the European Union and the U.S. are threatening to tighten sanctions against Russia if it doesn’t pull back, President Vladimir Putin has said ethnic Russians in the region need protection from “extremists.”

“Russia now takes it as a fact that they’ve picked off Crimea and is sending more soldiers and provocateurs into Ukraine to test the waters and see how much further they can go,” Joerg Forbrig, a senior program officer at the Berlin bureau of the German Marshall Fund of the U.S., said in a phone interview.

As many as 130 Russian soldiers are in Strilkove, digging trenches and doing “other engineering work,” said Oleh Slobodyan, a spokesman for Border Guard Service. They have three armored personnel carriers and are in control of a Ukrainian natural gas pumping station, he said. There have been no military confrontations between Ukraine and Russia so far, he said.

The UN Security Council met Saturday in New York where Russia vetoed a resolution proposed by the U.S. that stressed the need for political dialogue. Thirteen members of the Security Council backed the resolution and China abstained.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said the vote shows Russia is “isolated, alone, wrong.” Chinese Ambassador to UN Liu Jieyi said the resolution would have resulted “in confrontation and further complicate the situation.” He said respecting “sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states” is a “fundamental” in China’s foreign policy.

U.S. officials who monitor social media say the number of posts on Twitter, Facebook and other public Internet sites about possible Russian incursions into eastern Ukraine and a growing number of unidentified men who appear to be Russians with military or police training is rising sharply Saturday.

The officials were quick to add that the trend doesn’t mean any Russian action is imminent and that the accuracy and origin of such posts are difficult to verify quickly. Nevertheless, one of the officials called the trend worrisome.

Clashes erupted Friday in Ukraine’s second-biggest city, Kharkiv, near Russia’s border, where a shootout left two dead and a policeman injured. Russian troops massed just inside Russia’s border nearby for exercises, stirring concerns of a Kremlin move to annex eastern Ukraine. Russia said it’s examining numerous requests for protection received from people living in Ukraine.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who met Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov without a breakthrough, warned Russia would face consequences if it failed to change course.

Russia moved more forces into Crimea, bringing the total to about 22,000 soldiers as of Friday evening, Ukrainian Defense Minister Ihor Tenyukh said in a website statement. The troops “may be used for an offensive,” he said.

Lavrov expressed outrage over March 13 clashes in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk in which one person was killed and 17 injured, according to the regional government.

“Militants came to Donetsk from other regions and started fighting with demonstrators,” Lavrov said.

Putin is driven by deep geopolitical goals and isn’t likely to fear the consequences of sanctions by Western nations, Eugene Rumer, director of the Russia and Eurasia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington policy group, said in a telephone interview.

After watching the North Atlantic Treaty Organization expand and the U.S. build ties with former Soviet Union countries, Russians feel they “have every reason to push back and expand their ‘sphere of privileged interests,’” Rumer said.

“The confrontation has reached a new level,” acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov said in a website statement late Friday. “Either the new young democracy wins, or a totalitarian curtain falls on Ukraine.”

Putin’s government contends ethnic Russians in Crimea are at risk after the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych, an assertion that Ukraine’s new leaders deny. The Kremlin supports Crimea’s recently appointed administration, which organized Sunday’s referendum.

Crimean Premier Sergei Aksenov told reporters in the region’s capital, Simferopol, that the peninsula may become part of Russia next week, though full integration may take a year. Turnout is expected to be more than 80 percent, he said.

“Preparations are already under way to incorporate Crimea into Russia,” Sergei Markov, a Kremlin adviser and vice rector of the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics in Moscow, said in a telephone interview from Sevastopol on Saturday.

Russian lawmakers are scheduled to consider legislation March 21 that would allow Russia to incorporate parts of countries where the central authority isn’t functioning and local residents want to secede, he said.

The bill isn’t needed to make Crimea part of Russia because the region already declared independence from Kiev, according to Markov. It would allow for the annexation of parts of eastern Ukraine, though Russia would only want to do that if it’s sure “we are welcomed with flowers,” he said.

Russian stocks posted the biggest weekly drop since May 2012, with the Micex Index sliding 7.6 percent to 1,237.43 Friday, the lowest level since May 2012. Russia’s 10-year bond fell for a sixth day, driving up the yield by 38 basis points to 9.79 percent, the highest level since 2009. The ruble weakened 0.2 percent to 43.0570 against Bank Rossii’s target basket of dollars and euros Friday in Moscow. Gold climbed to the highest in sixth months.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index of U.S. stocks fell 2 percent this week to 1,841.13, erasing its gains for the year. The UX index of Ukrainian stocks was down 7.1 percent for the week. Even so, Ukrainian Eurobonds and the hryvnia rebounded after Lavrov said Russia had no invasion plans.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will travel to NATO members Poland and Lithuania on March 17, the day after the Crimea vote, for talks on Ukraine, according to a White House statement. The Pentagon said this week that it would send 12 F-16 aircraft to Poland as a sign of U.S. commitment to defend allies in the region, and the U.S. sent six fighter jets to Lithuania last week.

EU foreign ministers, who meet March 17, the day after the Crimea vote, are poised to impose asset freezes and visa bans on people and “entities” involved in Russia’s seizure of the peninsula, an EU official said. The next stage of sanctions would be weighed at a summit at the end of next week.

Forbrig said that visa bans and other political moves aimed at Russia won’t deter Putin.

“If Putin sees the EU sanctions as not strong enough, he may view them as a green light to go further,” Forbrig said.

“We have to get to the material base of Putin’s regime through economic and trade measures that both target his revenue directly and have a snowball effect of scaring off investors and fueling capital flight out of Russia,” he said.

Bloomberg contributed to this report. 

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Newsmax Wires

China F-35: Secrets Stolen From US Show Up in Its Stealth Fighter.


China obtained F-35 secrets through an extensive cyber spy operation carried out in 2007 against U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin, U.S. officials and defense analysts said, and they have shown up China’s new stealth fighter jet.

Codenamed Operation Byzantine Hades, the multiyear cyber-espionage operation yielded sensitive technology about the United States’ latest fighter jet which in turn was incorporated into the development of China’s new J-20 fighter, the Washington Times reported.

According to Defense officials, a Chinese military unit known as the Technical Reconnaissance Bureau (TRF), located in the nation’s Chengdu province, was behind the cyber-espionage. Once the data had been acquired, the TRF is said to have transferred it to the state-run Aviation Industry Corp. of China, which then used that stolen data in building the J-20 fighter jet, the Washington Free Beaconreported.

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Having started 10 years ago, the F-35 development program is a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon that has cost $392 billion, making it the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program ever. The program’s original price tag was $233 billion; however it ballooned due to delays brought on by cost overruns.

Referred to as a “fifth-generation” warplane, the F-35 fighter jet will be replacing the popular F-16 and more than a dozen other warplanes that are currently in use by the United States and foreign governments around the world.

As of late 2013, the U.S. partner countries of Britain, Canada, Australia, Norway, the Netherlands, Italy, Turkey and Denmark, Israel, and Japan have already ordered F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin.

Also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35 is said to be the most technically-advanced plane in the United States’ arsenal with 7.5 million lines of computer code controlling its weapons system, which is triple the amount of coding currently used in the top Air Force fighter, the Government Accountability Office told The Wall Street Journal.

“You’ve seen significant improvements in Chinese military capabilities through their willingness to spend, their acquisitions of advanced Russian weapons, and from their cyber-espionage campaign,” James A. Lewis, a cyber-policy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told The Washington Post. “Ten years ago, I used to call the [People's Liberation Army] the world’s largest open-air military museum. I can’t say that now.”

In addition to the apparent cyber theft of secrets pertaining to the F-35′s development, China has also reportedly accessed other U.S. weapons systems, including the Patriot missile system, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, and the Army’s ballistic missile interceptor program.

Editor’s Note: ObamaCare Is Here. Are You Prepared?

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Michael Mullins

Pentagon Spends Thousands to Study Putin’s Body Language.


The Pentagon has been shelling out $300,000 a year to study the body language of Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders, reports said.

The Pentagon said Friday,  confirming a report first published by USA Today, none of the studies played a role in U.S. decisions regarding Russia, The Hill reported.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel “has not read these reports,” Rear Adm. John Kirby said, The Hill reported. “I can tell you for sure that they have not informed any policy decisions by the Department of Defense.”

“The reports are given right to the Office of Net Assessment. As I understand it, that is where they stayed.”

The Hill reported the Office of Net Assessment is a think tank within the Pentagon that’s been run by Andrew Marshall for four decades. It used to report directly to the Defense secretary.

Kirby said Hagel “was interested” in initial press reports of the body language study, and “asked some questions about it this morning, and I suspect he’ll be asking more questions about it,” The Hill reported.

The Pentagon spokesman said the body language program dates back to the State Department in the mid-1990s, and was taken over by the Pentagon around 2003.
He said there’s no plans to make the studies public.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Cathy Burke

9-11 Investigators Never Learned About FBI, CIA al-Qaida Mole.


al-Qaida operatives in Bosnia killed an FBI mole who met with Osama bin Laden and provided intelligence on al-Qaida after suspecting he was with the CIA, but the man’s death came several years before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorism attacks and the FBI did not report the informant’s existence to investigators.

The dead informant, was a Los Angeles-based “driver and confidante” of “Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, the cleric in prison for masterminding the first attempt on the World Trade Center in 1993, NBC News reported Thursday.

Because the mole died at least six years before the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Congressional investigators or the 9/11 Commission never learned about the Sudanese man.

NBC reported the news of the mole’s death one day after it reported the man’s existence, saying the informant had been been recruited by the FBI years ago and had even met with bin Laden a full eight years prior to the Sept. 11 attacks.

The mole revealed a great deal of information to the FBI, including revealing a plan that helped stop a bin Laden plan to destroy a Masonic lodge in Los Angeles in the mid-1990s, according to courtroom testimony by Ed Curran, who was the assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s L.A. office then.

Sources told NBC the informant was recruited in 1993 after learning he was a known associate of the Blind Sheikh, who had been an FBI target since 1990 when follower El Sayyid Nosair, shot and killed radical Rabbi Meir Kahane in a Manhattan hotel.

The Sheikh moved to Los Angeles, where the future mole lived and became his driver.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service tipped off the FBI about the driver, and the federal agency learned that he was on a terrorism watch list. INS tried to deport him, and his status as a potential terrorist made it difficult to move him. Jordan took him and put him jail for three months, and eventually, the driver ended up in Yemen, where the FBI recruited him.

The first World Trade Center attack also occurred at about time, when a truck filled with explosives detonated in an underground garage on Feb. 26, 1993.

FBI agent Bassem Youssef, the bureau’s highest-ranking Arabic speaker, approached the informant as a friend, saying he could reunite the man with his family in California.After several meetings with Youssef and other agents, he agreed to provide information and started talking about al Qaeda.

The man also provided about a dozen U.S. and Canadian passports, with the original photos being replaced with those of al-Qaida operatives.

The driver also met with bin Laden, who one Justice Department official said “was not that hard to get to” because he was not yet famous.

After the Blind Sheikh was arrested in 1993, the informant continued working with the FBI, but in 1994, a woman working for the CIA was able to convince him to work with the CIA.

The CIA sent him to Bosnia in 1994 or 1995, but the FBI didn’t know its informant was working for the other agency or why he disappeared.

Youssef started asking al-Qaida sources what had happened to the man, and learned that operatives in Bosnia killed him because they suspected he was working for the CIA.

The mole’s existence was actually first revealed in 2010, when Youssef sued the FBI, claiming discrimination and accusing the agency of passing him over for promotion.

Former FBI agent Ed Curran, in testimony during the discrimination trial, revealed Youssef developed the mole, reported The Washington Times during the trial.

“It was the only source I know in the bureau where we had a source right in al-Qaida, directly involved,” Curran testified, noting the mole was “tight, close” with al-Qaida leadership.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Sandy Fitzgerald

Hagel Calls for Urgent Crackdown on Military Scandals.


Concerned that ethical problems inside the military might run deeper than he realized, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered service leaders Wednesday to add urgency to their drive to ensure “moral character and moral courage” in a force emerging from more than a decade of war.

Almost a year into his tenure as Pentagon chief, Hagel had been worried by a string of ethics scandals that produced a wave of unwelcome publicity for the military. But in light of new disclosures this week, including the announcement of alleged cheating among senior sailors in the nuclear Navy, Hagel decided to push for a fuller accounting.

Last month the Air Force revealed it was investigating widespread cheating on proficiency tests among nuclear missile launch officers in Montana, and numerous senior officers in all branches of the armed forces have been caught in embarrassing episodes of personal misbehavior, inside and outside the nuclear force. The Air Force also is pursuing a drug use investigation.

At the same time, hundreds of soldiers and others are under criminal investigation in what the Army describes as a widespread scheme to take fraudulent payments and kickbacks from a National Guard recruiting program.

The steady drumbeat of one military ethics scandal after another has caused many to conclude that the misbehavior reflects more than routine lapses.

“He definitely sees this as a growing problem,” Hagel’s chief spokesman, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, told a Pentagon news conference Wednesday after Hagel met privately with the top uniformed and civilian officials of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

“And he’s concerned about the depth of it,” Kirby said. “I don’t think he could stand here and tell you that he has — that anybody has — the full grasp here, and what worries (Hagel) is that maybe he doesn’t have the full grasp of the depth of the issue, and he wants to better understand it.”

Hagel’s predecessor, Leon Panetta, had launched an effort to crack down on ethics failures more than a year ago, and the matter has been a top priority for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, for even longer.

Kirby said Hagel has come to realize that he needs to investigate as well.

“We don’t fully know right now what we’re grappling with here and how deep and serious it is,” Kirby said. “And I think, you know, for a leader at his level with the responsibilities that he carries every day, not knowing something like that is something to be concerned about. And he wants to know more.”

Hagel believes that the vast majority of military members are “brave, upright and honest,” and he is encouraged by efforts already under way to curb misconduct, including sexual assaults, Kirby said.

But Hagel told the service leaders Wednesday that he “also believes there must be more urgency behind these efforts” and that all Pentagon leaders must “put renewed emphasis on developing moral character and moral courage in our force.”

Kirby was asked whether Hagel believes ethics lapses are a symptom of over-use of the military for the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“He believes that that is a factor that should be looked at,” the spokesman said.

A significant portion of the concern about military misbehavior is aimed at two segments of the nuclear force: the Air Force’s land-based nuclear missile corps, and the Navy’s training program for operators of nuclear reactors used as propulsion systems for submarines and aircraft carriers. Neither of those fields was directly involved in significant ways in either of the wars since 2001.

The Navy announced on Tuesday that it had opened an investigation into cheating allegations against about 30 senior sailors representing about one-fifth of its instructors at a Charleston, S.C.,-based school for naval nuclear power reactor operators.

Unlike an Air Force cheating probe that has implicated nearly 100 officers responsible for land-based nuclear missiles that stand ready for short-notice launch, those implicated in the Navy investigation have no responsibility for nuclear weapons.

The Navy said its implicated sailors are accused of having cheated on written tests they must pass to be certified as instructors at the nuclear propulsion school. A number of them are alleged to have transmitted test information to other instructors from their home computers, which if verified would be a violation of restrictions on the use and transmission of classified information.

The matter is being probed by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

Separately, Kirby announced that the Pentagon has picked two retired officers to lead an independent review of personnel problems inside the Air Force and Navy nuclear forces. They are Larry Welsh, a former Air Force chief of staff, and John Harvey, a retired Navy admiral and nuclear-trained surface warfare officer.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

Obama’s New DHS Chief: Amnesty for Illegals ‘Matter of National Security’.


Image: Obama's New DHS Chief: Amnesty for Illegals 'Matter of National Security'

The new Homeland Security secretary says an earned path to citizenship for the roughly 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally is a matter of national security.

It was the first time Jeh Johnson, who had little experience with immigration policy before he was appointed, had outlined his approach on the subject.

The Defense Department’s former top lawyer, who worked on U.S. drone policies and helped end the Pentagon’s ban on gays in the military, said offering a path to citizenship would encourage such immigrants “to come out of the shadow, to be accountable, to participate in the American experience.”

In his speech last week at the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Johnson said the vast majority of immigrants here illegally have been in the country for more than 10 years and offering a path to citizenship is “a matter (of) who we are as Americans.”

Johnson was sworn in as the fourth Homeland Security secretary late last year. While he has been making visits to the Mexican border and meeting with immigration enforcement officials, he had yet to give specifics on his immigration views until this speech.

Johnson was considered well-versed in matters of security, but many questioned his credentials on immigration.

During his Senate confirmation hearing last year, Johnson listed “common-sense immigration reform” among the top priorities of the department but did not provide any details.

Johnson’s brief remarks on immigration mirror those of his predecessor and President Barack Obama.

Obama and congressional Democrats have long pushed for a sweeping immigration bill that would, among other things, create a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally who don’t pose a threat to national security or public safety. Last year, the Democratic-controlled Senate passed a bill that also included a provision to nearly double the size of the Border Patrol.

Republicans have objected to allowing immigrants to gain citizenship before the border is secured.

Johnson did not address how he planned to direct immigration enforcement efforts.

In the absence of viable immigration legislation in Congress, Obama has approved a series of policy directives that largely have shielded various groups of immigrants from deportation. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, announced shortly before the 2012 presidential election, is the most significant and allows many young immigrants who arrived in the United States as children to apply for a work permit and a two-year reprieve from deportation.

Republican lawmakers have decried the programs as back-door amnesty and have asked Johnson to commit to enforcing immigration laws as they exist, including deporting immigrants in the country illegally.
© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

US Ready to Assist Russia in Olympic Security.


Image: US Ready to Assist Russia in Olympic SecurityFisht Olympic Stadium is seen in the Olympic Park at the Adler district of Sochi on Jan. 20.

The U.S. military said on Monday that air and naval assets, including two ships in the Black Sea, would be made available if needed during the Sochi Winter Olympics in support of Russia, which faces militant threats to disrupt the Games.

The Pentagon said U.S. military commanders were “conducting prudent planning and preparations” should American support be required during the Winter Olympics.

“The United States has offered its full support to the Russian government as it conducts security preparations for the Winter Olympics,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.

“Air and naval assets, to include two Navy ships in the Black Sea, will be available if requested for all manner of contingencies in support of – and in consultation with – the Russian government.”

The Pentagon statement came the same day that two men said by Islamist militants to have carried out suicide attacks in south Russia appeared in a video donning explosive belts and warning Russian President Vladimir Putin to expect a “present” at the Sochi Winter Olympics from fighters following after them.

Reuters reported on Sunday that U.S. military and intelligence officials have been studying contingency plans for evacuating Americans from the games in case of a crisis.

But U.S. officials have concluded there would be major obstacles to mounting a large-scale effort by the military or other U.S. government resources to evacuate Americans from Sochi, said a source familiar with Obama administration debates.

The most formidable roadblock U.S. officials have discussed regarding contingency plans for Sochi is that Russian authorities have historically been reluctant to allow foreign military forces, especially those of the United States, on Russian territory.

The State Department has warned Americans planning to attend the games to be vigilant about their security because of potential terrorist threats.

Owing to Sochi’s location and the formidable security measures Russian authorities have put in place at the site, most U.S. intelligence experts say any attacks during the Olympics are most likely to occur at places other than Sochi.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

China Tests High-Speed Missile Designed to Evade US Defenses.


China’s military last week launched the first test flight of an ultra-high speed missile vehicle intended to deliver warheads that could get through U.S. missile defenses.

According to unnamed Pentagon officials, the test of the new hypersonic glide vehicle, also known as WU-14, was carried out on Jan. 9 and marks a major advancement in China’s secret missile programs, The Washington Free Beacon reports.

The Pentagon has confirmed the test, but declined to give further details.

“We routinely monitor foreign defense activities and we are aware of this test,” Marine Corps Lt. Col. Jeffrey Pool, a spokesman, told the Free Beacon.

“However, we don’t comment on our intelligence or assessments of foreign weapon systems. We encourage greater transparency [by China] regarding their defense investments and objectives to avoid miscalculation,” he added.

The weapon appears to have been designed to be launched on one of China’s intercontinental ballistic missiles which then moves at speeds of up to 10 times the speed of sound near space on its way to its target.

Hypersonic weapons use cutting edge technology and could mark an advantage for China to compensate for its overall weaker military, challenging the current capabilities of U.S. missile defenses.

“With the integration of strategic analysis and planning into technical research, China’s pursuit of hypersonic and high-precision weaponry promises to be faster and more focused than that associated with its previous [anti-satellite] and [ballistic missile defense] related research and programs,” Lora Saalman, a specialist on Chinese strategic systems with the Carnegie Endowment, told The Washington Times. 

“This recent test is a manifestation of this trend,” she said. And in a recent speech, Saalman said that hypersonics and precision guidance “are growth areas within China in terms of what they are intending to do with their military,” the Times reports.

The United States has its own hypersonic program, and Russia recently admitted that it, too, was developing hypersonic weapons. Experts predict it will be the next chapter in the international arms race, akin to the development in the 1950s of atomic weapons.
“If there is a great power war in this century, it will not begin with the sound of explosions on the ground and in the sky, but rather with the bursting of kinetic energy and the flashing of laser light in the silence of outer space,” Ian Easton, a researcher, said in a report published by the Project 2049 Institute, according to the Times.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Melanie Batley

Pentagon’s DARPA Laying Framework For Creating A Robotic Army.


At a NASCAR racetrack in Miami earlier this month, teams from NASA, Google, and 14 other groups of engineering gurus put cutting-edge robots through some challenging paces. The aim was to see how well the robots could tackle tasks that may sound simple, but are tricky for non-humans – including, say, climbing a ladder, unscrewing a hose from a spigot, navigating over rubble, and steering a car.

darpa-pentagon-robotic-army-google-boston-dynamics-rise-machines-matrix

“It’s not going to be man versus machine or machine overtaking man. It’s not going to be an ‘us’ versus ‘them,’ ” he adds. “It’s going to be a ‘we.’ ”

The contest was dreamed up by the Pentagon’s futuristic experimentation arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and senior defense officials were watching it carefully – well aware that the Pentagon is growing increasingly reliant on robotics.

The Defense Department will become even more reliant on such devices in the decades to come. That’s the conclusion of a new blueprint quietly released by the Pentagon this week, which offers some telling clues about the future of unmanned systems – in other words, drones and robots.

The study, the Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap, is meant to provide the Pentagon with a “technological vision” for the next 25 years – a vision that will be “critical to future success” of the US military, according to its authors.

Obama’s Private Army from Now The End Begins on Vimeo.

“Over the past decade, the qualities and types of unmanned systems acquired by the military departments have grown, and their capabilities have become integral to warfighter operations,” the study notes. “The size, sophistication, and cost of the unmanned systems portfolio have grown to rival traditional manned systems.”

In the future, the ideal robots will be able to take on “the ‘four D’s’ – jobs that are dirty, dangerous, dull, and difficult” for the US military, says Michael Toscano, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International in Arlington, Va.

The DARPA competition, for example, was inspired by the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, when workers risked radiation poisoning to try to shut off a key valve.

The US Army and Marine Corps have for years used robots to dismantle roadside bombs inAmerica’s wars, and the DOD is developing pack robots like BigDog – designed by Boston Dynamics, a firm recently purchased by Google – to haul soldiers’ gear in the steep and rocky mountains of Afghanistan.

The Pentagon’s unmanned systems road map signals that the Pentagon will continue to deepen its forays into robotics and artificial intelligence for use on land, in the air, and at sea.

The Navy wants more unmanned underwater vehicles to act as small scouting submarines, able to perform tasks like US port security, enemy port scouting, and the surveying of depths that humans simply can’t reach.

The Air Force wants stealth drones that can operate not only in places like Afghanistan, where the Taliban has no planes or missile systems that could pose a threat to US aircraft, but also in “contested environments,” above countries that do have sophisticated air defense systems.

Within all the services, one considerable engineering challenge for unmanned systems is in the cyber realm: making sure encryption is good enough for protecting data streams that are crucial to the operations of drones and robots.

The ultimate goal is to increase the “persistence, protection, and endurance” of military robots, which will in turn “decrease physical and cognitive workloads on our warfighters, while increasing their combat capabilities,” the Pentagon report notes. “The end state is an affordable, modernized force as a manned-unmanned team with improved movement and maneuver, protection, intelligence, and sustainment.”

Back at the NASCAR speedway, the 16 robot teams completed the tasks with varying degrees of success and were scored on a point system. The eight winners, which included teams from Google – including Google’s new purchase, Boston Dynamics – will come together again next December for a $2 million prize.

In the US military of 2014 and beyond – and in the commercial realms – there is likely to be “more of an interaction between man and artificial intelligence and robotics,” Mr. Toscano says. “There’s a high probability that it’ll be a relationship of man and machine collaboratively living and working together.”

This might include sending robots into burning forests that would risk the lives of human firefighters and even using robotic animals like moose that could infiltrate a herd to help monitor migration patterns.“These are magical things,” Toscano says. “This is imagination.”

Google’s purchase last month of Boston Dynamics, the company that makes BigDog and other military robots, shows how commercial companies are increasingly believing in the power of robotics to drive innovations. “Companies like Google always go after the cream of the crop – the big thinkers – in search of where the next great invention is going to come from,” Toscano notes.

“It’s not going to be man versus machine or machine overtaking man. It’s not going to be an ‘us’ versus ‘them,’ ” he adds. “It’s going to be a ‘we.’ ” source – CS Monitor.

by NTEB News Desk

Vacationing Obama Signs Bipartisan Budget Deal.


President Barack Obama on Thursday signed a compromise budget that reduces the risk of another government shutdown and a defense bill that cracks down on sexual assault in the military and smooths the path for transferring detainees from the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The two-year budget agreement, negotiated by Congress earlier this month, and the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2104 were among seven pieces of legislation signed by Obama, who is vacationing with his family in Hawaii.

The Senate passed the budget deal on Dec. 18 to ease automatic spending cuts and reduce the risk of a government shutdown. It was negotiated by Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington and Paul Ryan, Republican from Wisconsin, who is chairman of the House Budget Committee.

Obama at that time praised the measure — the first budget agreed to by a divided Congress since 2009 — saying it was “a good first step away from the shortsighted, crisis-driven decision-making that has only served to act as a drag on our economy.” He did not comment further on Thursday.

The Senate approved the annual defense policy bill on Dec. 20, one of its final actions before leaving for the Christmas break.

The act authorizes a Pentagon base budget of $526.8 billion in the 2014 fiscal year. That amount will have to be reconciled early in the new year with the $498 billion agreed to in the budget deal.

The wide-ranging bill also included several measures to reform the way the military justice system responds to sexual assaults among members of the military and boosts the Pentagon’s ability to help destroy Syria’s chemical weapons.

The bill also makes it easier for the White House to transfer prisoners from the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to countries willing to accept them.

The budget accord set federal government spending levels for two years. It ended, at least for the time being, three years of bitter bipartisan warfare over spending, taxes and Obama’s healthcare law that twice brought the nation to the brink of defaulting on its debt.

Widely viewed as a modest deal, it blunts the effect of automatic “sequestration” spending cuts by allowing spending to rise by $63 billion over scheduled levels in fiscal 2014 and 2015.

The accord was hailed as a welcome but rare example of bipartisan compromise and came after Congress’ approval ratings sank to historic lows because of seemingly never-ending brinkmanship over spending and taxes.

The deal avoids raising taxes, an important goal for Republicans, and provides more funding for education and other domestic programs championed by Democrats.

It raises revenues by increasing airport security fees, trimming federal retirement benefits and curtailing some military pensions.

However, the pact omits an extension of long-term unemployment benefits favored by Obama. A projected 1.3 million people will lose extended unemployment benefits when they expire on Saturday.

It also leaves for lawmakers to work out an increase in the federal debt ceiling, which, if left unchanged at its current $16.7 trillion level, could again put the United States at risk of default.

The deal was seen by conservative Republicans as a missed opportunity to make significant cuts to the federal budget deficit, which was $680.3 billion in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30. It has since narrowed in absolute terms and as a percentage of the economy as employment rises.

Congress now has the task of slicing the more than $1.012 trillion pie to determine funding levels for individual government programs.

Without new spending authority, the federal government could partially shut down on Jan. 15, as it did for 16 days in October when Republicans sought to tie spending legislation to delays or cutbacks in the president’s signature Affordable Care Act healthcare law, also known as Obamacare.

The administration has warned Congress that the government could run out of borrowing authority as soon as February if lawmakers do not raise the debt limit.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

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