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Army details future ‘tactical’ war network

If a forward-operating Army Reconnaissance unit consisting of dismounted soldiers, tactical vehicles and hand-held drones were separated from a larger armored formation across mountainous terrain – and unexpectedly collided with heavily armed enemy fighters — its survival would depend almost entirely upon an operational “tactical” war network.

This network would need to be resilient and mobile amid the intensity of war and operate as a collection of hardened “nodes” seamlessly meshed together into a secure, interoperable communications network. This could consist of radios, satellites, cellular nodes, cyber systems and some air-ground data links. Preparing for scenarios such as this forms the inspirational basis for the Army’s current vision for a “mobile” Integrated Tactical Network (ITN).

The Army is now preparing to field its ITN to the 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division as an experimental effort en route to fielding the system in 2021.

An integrated, self-healing network of this kind can, in concept, be distilled into a single combat objective — keeping soldiers alive. Should one node be destroyed by enemy attack, it can quickly be replaced by other elements of the network.

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“ITN systems will allow commanders to choose from different communication options (such as military radios, military satellite communications, commercial cellular networks) depending on what environment they are in,” Paul Meheny, Director of Communications, Program Executive Office C3T, told Warrior in a statement.

While many networking lessons were learned during the ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Army leaders emphasize that a new integrated network is more necessary than ever, given the sophistication of potential major adversaries. In effect, the network will provide a backbone, or what could even be called a lifeline, for ground war forces immersed in massive warfare against a great power adversary. It is precisely with this in mind that the Army is now conducting a wide range of live-fire exercises replicating the exact scenarios soldiers would face in war.

Technology is now evolving beyond the combat limitations encountered when fixed, stove-piped and somewhat disparate communications elements share information in war. With ITN, communications can now be more fully synergized more effectively into one resilient, mobile war network. This, among other things, enables soldiers, combat vehicles, fixed command and control centers and even air assets in a joint fight to seamlessly share critical war information in real-time – while on the move.

For several years now, the Army’s emerging network and battle command systems have been able to do some of this to varying degrees. The Army ITN effort seeks to build upon this and transition to a new, breakthrough phase in network development. For example, some of the existing systems the Army intends to integrate with, build upon and potentially replace include a GPS-enabled force-tracking technology called Joint Battle Command Platform (JBC-P), software-programmable radio, a radio-satcom network called Warfighter Information Network – Tactical, a moving digital battlefield-oriented mapping system called Command Post of the Future and an intelligence database known as Tactical Ground Reporting System, or TIGR.

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Dr. Bruce Jette, Assistant Secretary of the Army — Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, recently told reporters that the Army’s emerging network builds upon and moves beyond technologies proven over the last 15 years of ground war.

“The capabilities we’ve developed and understood in an operational environment were laid with the foundation of WIN-T using a mix of satellite and terrestrial communication, different sized pipes and different sized server stacks in different locations so that we could manage a loss of connectivity and still retain control over data because these things are linked together. All of that was developed in much of what we experienced in Iraq and Afghanistan…and now we’ve moved it over to being able to do that on the move,” told reporters.

Advancing a secure network in this fashion is not without challenges; the prospect of GPS interference, electronic warfare jamming or cyber intrusions will all require a network to adapt in a “self-healing” fashion with built-in redundancy and an ability to shift from one communications system to another as required. As the Army’s Acquisition Executive, Jette manages the Army’s effort to engineer technical “interfaces” between the new and existing technologies comprising the ITN.

“It is always difficult to interoperate with different systems, particularly because we always have legacy systems. We can’t just swap them out…we have to get them to work together. We look for backward compatibility in many of the approaches as we migrate from older systems into newer systems,” Jette said.

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Much of the current command and control architecture provides the conceptual and technical apparatus for the emerging ITN network, it also has some limitations which the Army is addressing. Overall, Army developers say the current individual systems need to interoperate more fully. For instance, JBC-P can offer crucial friendly and enemy force position location data, using icons on a digital map. Newer satellite throughput has greatly reduced latency of this system, allowing it to refresh quickly so soldiers on-the-move can track fast-changing details.

What if JBC-P could instantly interoperate with radio, cellular or computer networks interchangeably alongside its reliance upon GPS? What if it were seamlessly connected with otherwise separated combat intelligence systems in real-time? What if it functioned more fully as just one node on a larger integrated communications apparatus?

While some of this happens to a limited degree already in certain circumstances, the Army’s ITN is being engineered to assure and advance a system of this kind to a new level of security, functionality and lethality. For example, a faster, more seamless and secure interface between JBC-P and its companion intelligence database TIGR would greatly improve operational effectiveness. TIGR’s database details moments of relevance or risk along a particular route, along with other critical intel. TIGR can inform forces on-the-move where previous attacks or IEDs might have existed. Other elements of somewhat stovepiped networking nodes include airspace deconfliction and a fires node called Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS).

Army weapons developers say many of the current technologies may ultimately be replaced, yet they are designed to address those essential missions necessary for real-time combat attack and defense. In particular, Jette referred to both artificial intelligence and current experimentation with software-programmable radio as key developmental areas already informing the trajectory of the ITN. Unlike the Army’s previously pursued Joint Tactical Radio System, the current software programmable approach is almost entirely different; it is based upon commercial networks and commercial waveforms; the shift, beginning several years back, is intended to keep pace with rapidly emerging commercial applications which can keep pace with new technology and new threats.

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Software-programmable radio, particularly new systems referred to by Jette, offer what might be described as an indispensable combat advantage. Each radio can operate as its own router, or node, within an ad-hoc terrestrial network to transmit voice, data and even video using high-bandwidth waveforms. This offers a combat advantage of being able to share information across a mobile network without needing to rely on a fixed infrastructure. However, at times these networks can be limited by line-of-sight connectivity, and, like any radio, they can emit a signature detectable by an enemy or run the risk of being “jammed or hacked.” Hardening networks such as these, using state of the art commercial and government technologies such as encryption, offers a two-fold advantage; it not only protects an operational network but can also share sensitive data with other transport systems such as satellite or cellular networks while being less vulnerable.

Jette also referenced AI as an areas of focus regarding ITN development. AI could potentially process vast volumes of data transmitted as IP packets of information, traveling through high-bandwidth waveforms. Once data arrives at its intended destination, information must, in many cases, be decrypted, organized and processed quickly to inform decision-makers of fast-changing combat dynamics. This, it seems clear, is an area wherein evolving adaptations of AI could be quite impactful. Using AI and advanced algorithms, incoming data could instantly be compared against volumes of existing data to draw parallels, perform analysis and organize time-sensitive information. The faster commanders can receive processed information, the more quickly they can make time-sensitive decisions.

Multi-pronged networks can also function to better defend against an increasingly wide array of attack methods, such as attempted cyber-intrusions or Electronic Warfare. When it comes to various command and control nodes and a corresponding need to improve safeguards against modern EW attacks, industry and government developers have been working on directional antennae able to emit narrow beams in a particular direction, away from an enemy location(General Dynamics Mission Systems worked on this with several transport layer communications systems, such as WIN-T.)

By narrowing or directing signal beams, command and control systems on-the-move can emit a much less detectable electronic signature. Naturally, the moment a device begins to transmit a signal broadly, it then potentially becomes detectable by enemy sensors. This is one of many reasons why an interoperable, multi-faceted network can massively change the equation when it comes to increasing survivability in combat. For example, should radio comms become too dangerous, information could then instantly transfer to other elements of the network, such as SatCom, cellular or cyber connectivity.

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Finally, the most cutting edge current networks could quickly become obsolete, or even useless, if they are not engineered for continued modernization. Therefore, by pursuing technical strategies related to the often-overused term “open architecture,” Army developers are now using the most advanced engineering techniques to build systems with common standards, such that they can quickly accommodate new technology.

When it comes to identifying the key method for rapid technical progress, Army leaders point to one thing — soldiers. Live Fire demos, experiments and warfare scenarios seek to harness soldier feedback as a way to prepare the network for major war.

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“The Army’s first responsibility will always be to soldiers in combat. That will never change. We continue to focus on many ways experiments with new technologies can help in theater,” Gen. John Murray, Commanding General of Army Futures Command, recently told reporters.

Westlake Legal Group armyafghanistanhelicopter Army details future 'tactical' war network Warrior Maven Kris Osborn fox-news/tech/topics/us-army fox-news/tech/topics/innovation fox-news/tech/topics/armed-forces fnc/tech fnc article 47d2f048-7295-5c80-ae10-ac69ce90596e   Westlake Legal Group armyafghanistanhelicopter Army details future 'tactical' war network Warrior Maven Kris Osborn fox-news/tech/topics/us-army fox-news/tech/topics/innovation fox-news/tech/topics/armed-forces fnc/tech fnc article 47d2f048-7295-5c80-ae10-ac69ce90596e

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General orders ethics review of special forces community after criminal allegations against troops

Westlake Legal Group AP19224773957280 General orders ethics review of special forces community after criminal allegations against troops Louis Casiano fox-news/us/military fox-news/tech/topics/us-navy fox-news/tech/topics/us-marines fox-news/tech/topics/us-army fox news fnc/us fnc article 8b6062d6-77f1-5fee-9de4-45af1e37cdb5

The head of the U.S. Special Operations Command is ordering a top-to-bottom study of the military’s special forces community amid a rash of alleged misconduct that has focused attention on the normally secretive world of America’s elite fighting forces.

Army Gen. Richard Clarke said the review will focus on how special operators are recruited, educated and trained and how units address ethics failures. He said “recent incidents have called our culture and ethics into question and threaten the trust placed in us.”

Ken McGraw, a Special Operations Command spokesman, said the review was ordered Friday and is expected to be completed in November. The inquiry will see two teams created.

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The first will comprise military leaders — with some in the Special Operations Command — who will form an advisory panel. The second will be a review panel made up of members of the various military branches of the command.

The review panel will go out and gather information from the various operations units –  which includes the Army Rangers, Green Berets, Army Delta units, Navy SEAL teams and special warfare units, and Marine and Air Force special operators.

To retain an independent view, members of the Army Special Operations Command may gather information on the Navy SEALs, McGraw said. The review panel will then turn over its reports to the advisory panel.

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The inquiry comes at a time when America’s special operations units have made headlines for all the wrong reasons. In July, a SEAL platoon from SEAL Team 7 was ordered back to the U.S. from Iraq amid charges of drinking and sexual assault. In a statement, the SOC said there had been a “deterioration of good order and discipline.”

In early July, Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher was acquitted of killing a teenage ISIS militant in Iraq. He was found guilty of taking a picture with a corpse. Two Navy SEALs and Marine Raiders are also accused of hazing an Army Green Beret to death during a deployment in Africa.

Ex-Green Beret Maj. Matthew Golsteyn is expected to be tried in the killing of an unarmed suspected Taliban bombmaker in Afghanistan almost a decade ago.

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The review will be the second ordered by Special Operations Command leadership this year. Former Gen. Tony Thomas ordered an internal review before he retired in March.

McGraw said the advisory panel will take the results from Thomas’ review into consideration.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Westlake Legal Group AP19224773957280 General orders ethics review of special forces community after criminal allegations against troops Louis Casiano fox-news/us/military fox-news/tech/topics/us-navy fox-news/tech/topics/us-marines fox-news/tech/topics/us-army fox news fnc/us fnc article 8b6062d6-77f1-5fee-9de4-45af1e37cdb5   Westlake Legal Group AP19224773957280 General orders ethics review of special forces community after criminal allegations against troops Louis Casiano fox-news/us/military fox-news/tech/topics/us-navy fox-news/tech/topics/us-marines fox-news/tech/topics/us-army fox news fnc/us fnc article 8b6062d6-77f1-5fee-9de4-45af1e37cdb5

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More than 1,000 people attend Michigan funeral for Vietnam veteran

Hundreds of people showed up at a Michigan funeral Wednesday to mourn a Vietnam War veteran who passed away with no surviving family members.

Friends of Wayne Lee Wilson anticipated that only a few people would pay their respects, but the Brown Funeral Home in Niles changed that by posting Wilson’s obituary on Facebook and inviting the public to pay their respects.

FUNERAL FOR VIETNAM WAR VET, 77, WHO DIED ALONE, DRAWS HUNDREDS OF MOURNERS

“Dignitaries have funerals like this,” Wilson’s close friend Charlotte Andrews told the Detroit Free Press. “Who would have thought that a simple man with simple ideas and a simple way of life would have been able to have such an enormous amount of people to be able to send him off?”

Westlake Legal Group AP19199480263211 More than 1,000 people attend Michigan funeral for Vietnam veteran Louis Casiano fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/michigan fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military fox-news/tech/topics/us-army fox news fnc/us fnc article 795db98b-ea21-553c-be5c-82a82a7c48fe

U.S. Army members carry a folded flag along with the remains of Vietnam War veteran Wayne Wilson during the memorial service in Niles Wednesday. (Emil Lippe/Kalamazoo Gazette via AP)

Wilson died May 28 with no close family members, so his friends arranged for him to be buried with military honors. Wilson served in the Army from 1971 to 1977 and was wounded during his military service.

“We found out that this particular veteran does not have any family; and as color guard, we honor every veteran,” said Petra Bernard of the Osceola American Legion Post 308. “Every veteran deserves to have their military rights, so we made sure that we came out here to pay our respects to this soldier.”

Wilson often wore his service medals, flew a flag on his motorized scooter and would place flags at the graves of deceased veterans in Silverbrook Cemetery, where he was ultimately laid to rest, according to to the Free Press. People around Niles often called him “Sarge.”

Westlake Legal Group AP19199098111090 More than 1,000 people attend Michigan funeral for Vietnam veteran Louis Casiano fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/michigan fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military fox-news/tech/topics/us-army fox news fnc/us fnc article 795db98b-ea21-553c-be5c-82a82a7c48fe

Flags, flowers and letters alike lie near the remains of Wayne Wilson at the conclusion of the memorial service at the Silverbrook Cemetery in Niles, Mich., Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Emil Lippe/Kalamazoo Gazette via AP)

Mourners came from several states away to honor him.

“It said on Facebook he didn’t have any family. He does have family,” Ohio resident Kenneth Creech told WNDU-TV. “Everybody that stepped foot in Vietnam is a brother.”

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In brief remarks, Niles Mayor Nick Shelton thanked Wilson and others like him.

“General George S. Patton Jr. said it best: ‘It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived,'” Shelton said. “Thank God for Wayne Wilson and thank you all for being a part of his legacy.”

Westlake Legal Group AP19199480263211 More than 1,000 people attend Michigan funeral for Vietnam veteran Louis Casiano fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/michigan fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military fox-news/tech/topics/us-army fox news fnc/us fnc article 795db98b-ea21-553c-be5c-82a82a7c48fe   Westlake Legal Group AP19199480263211 More than 1,000 people attend Michigan funeral for Vietnam veteran Louis Casiano fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/michigan fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military fox-news/tech/topics/us-army fox news fnc/us fnc article 795db98b-ea21-553c-be5c-82a82a7c48fe

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10 incredible technologies developed for D-Day

Westlake Legal Group ArmyLST 10 incredible technologies developed for D-Day Peter Suciu fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/tech/topics/us-army fox-news/science/archaeology/history fox-news/science/archaeology/culture fox-news/columns/digging-history fox news fnc/science fnc article 709c1d14-658f-5dda-bda1-8385c3efda87

https://a57.foxnews.com/static.foxnews.com/foxnews.com/content/uploads/2019/06/918/516/HigginsBoatGettyImages2019.jpg?ve=1&tl=1

LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle Personnel) – Known as the “Higgins Boat” after its inventor Andrew Higgins, these were made of plywood and could operate in just 18-inches of water. The boats would also carry up to 36 men ashore, and after the beaches were secured played a crucial role in keeping the men supplied. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was so impressed that years later he said, “Andrew Higgins is the man who won the war for us.” This photo shows a Czech hedgehog anti-tank obstacle and a Higgins boat used during Operation Overlord on D-Day, seen outside Normandy Victory Museum in La Fourchette near Carentan on, June 1, 2019, in La Fourchette, Carentan, Normandy, France.

Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

https://a57.foxnews.com/static.foxnews.com/foxnews.com/content/uploads/2019/06/918/516/HigginsBoatGettyImages2019.jpg?ve=1&tl=1

Westlake Legal Group ArmyLST 10 incredible technologies developed for D-Day Peter Suciu fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/tech/topics/us-army fox-news/science/archaeology/history fox-news/science/archaeology/culture fox-news/columns/digging-history fox news fnc/science fnc article 709c1d14-658f-5dda-bda1-8385c3efda87   Westlake Legal Group ArmyLST 10 incredible technologies developed for D-Day Peter Suciu fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/tech/topics/us-army fox-news/science/archaeology/history fox-news/science/archaeology/culture fox-news/columns/digging-history fox news fnc/science fnc article 709c1d14-658f-5dda-bda1-8385c3efda87

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What it’s like to fire the 30mm cannon that arms the Stryker armored vehicle

It looked like streaming balls of fire lighting up the air, accompanied by a very loud noise, smoke and the sight of a large fiery explosion on the other side of a desert canyon.

The backward thrust was very powerful, throwing me back what felt like several feet. All this seemed to happen at once, when I first tried to fire an M230LF Lightweight 30mm Cannon Chain Gun, an extremely lethal rapid fire gun now arming the Army’s armored Stryker vehicle. The weapon represents a new adaptation of the 30mm Chain Gun now arming the Apache attack helicopter.

This weapon is not a rifle, shotgun or small arm in any way – it is a combat-vehicle mounted war cannon engineered to take out enemy vehicles, convoys or troop concentrations. It was, by far, the largest and strongest gun I had ever fired. I was shocked by what seemed to be its destructive power. It did not just “hit” or “go through” a target – it exploded it, yet with precision targeting, placing multiple fast-moving Chain Gun rounds through the same target hole, one after the other.

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“It is a lightweight application. You can mount it on any vehicle that has a turret ring adapter. It acquires targets through an operator behind the weapons system. It has reverse acting hydraulic brakes similar to what you would find on an ATV or motorcycle. The gunner releases the brake system and acquires the target,” Vince Virga, product engineer, Nobles, told me at the range – while showing me how to safely man and fire the cannon.

Once my instructor showed me how to flip off the safety switch and arm the weapon, I was left to myself to mount what might be called a “not-so-impressive” attempt to fire the weapon; My first two shots, at a desert firing range in Kingman, Ariz., were way off. I was surprised by how heavy the gun was. The firing took place at a Northrop Grumman-sponsored Bushmaster Users Conference in the Arizona desert intended to test, assess and demonstrate some of the latest emerging weapons, ammunition and combat tactics.

I used two horizontal grip handles move the sights onto the target; I had to use a lot of force to move the gun. That is because I fired a land-based 30mm; in combat vehicles, the weapon is often controlled by a Remote Weapons Station which rotates the gun with less human force. Targeting skill, however, is crucial to an effective 30mm cannon attack – as I saw when inside a Stryker vehicle watching a gunner line up and fire the weapon – obliterating a ground-robot drone target moving across the desert firing range.

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“I release a switch and send a signal to the Remote Weapons System. I release my dead man’s switch and cue the gun,” Willie Gabbard, Stryker gunner, Northrop Grumman, told me while sitting inside a Stryker at the gunner’s station.

The concept with the weapon is, naturally, to bring much more firepower and wider ammunition options than the .50-cal machine guns or Mk19 grenade launchers now arming many combat vehicles.

“The M230LF has better target effects against light-skinned armored vehicles. We are designing a multi-function proximity fuse to give you an air burst type capability,” Clay Bringhurst, VP Sales, Strategic Development, Nobles, told me at the firing range. “What Northrop has done is put a longer barrel on it they’ve linked to the ammunition so it could be used on a ground platform.”

MARINE CORPS FIRES WEAPONS AT ITS NEW AMPHIBIOUS COMBAT VEHICLE

Chain Guns, which can fire an ammo “belt” draw power from an external source instead of diverting energy from the cartridge to fire ammunition in a loop.

The gun looked like a horizontal rectangle mounted on a metal stand, to replicate a firing configuration from a combat vehicle, I imagine. There were what looked like binoculars – two eye holes in the rear of the gun to look through. When I looked through, the white-circle target, placed among shrubs growing on a brown hill, looked clear, magnified and much closer than it was. I saw a while cross through the sights, indicating the desired “hit” spot. After tanking several hits, I managed to put a round through the white circle target. Target was not far away – maybe a few hundred meters – and frankly, it can be hard to miss short-range targets, it seems, with an automatic gun with these kinds of targeting and firing technologies.

“The M230LF is not much heavier than a .50 caliber machine gun, but adds a lot more firepower and also is easily integrated on to remote weapons stations. Additionally, the M230LF can easily be ‘man-fired’ also,” Jarrod Krull, Northrop Communications Manager, told me.

AIR FORCE TO TEST FIRE FIGHTER JET-CONFIGURED LASER WEAPONS POD FROM THE GROUND

I had to sit on a stool to approach the weapon. I was required to wear earplugs and body armor. My instructor told me to press my chest against the mount so as not to be literally thrown back by the force of the cannon. The force of the shot is intense, particularly when it rapid-fires multiple rounds in succession like a machine gun. The 30mm rounds, shooting out of the gun with rapid fire look like small balls of fire flying after one another out of the end of the cannon. Then, faster than the eye can see, the fireballs disappear. I saw about three or four in a row, traveling one after the other with a small bit of space between them.

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Emerging applications of the 30mm cannon Bushmaster Chain Gun align with the Army’s broader push to pivot toward preparing for great power war. While the battle-tested .50-cal is not going anywhere soon, a heavier, longer-range cannon equipped with a wider range of ammunition, is better suited for attacking enemy armored vehicles, troop concentrations and other targets likely to make up part of a heavy mechanized force.

More Weapons and Technology –WARRIORMAVEN (CLICK HERE)

Westlake Legal Group OsbornCannon4 What it's like to fire the 30mm cannon that arms the Stryker armored vehicle Warrior Maven Kris Osborn fox-news/tech/topics/us-army fox-news/tech/topics/innovation fox-news/tech/topics/armed-forces fnc/tech fnc article 5f72993b-42f3-59bc-b8de-a714085b4553   Westlake Legal Group OsbornCannon4 What it's like to fire the 30mm cannon that arms the Stryker armored vehicle Warrior Maven Kris Osborn fox-news/tech/topics/us-army fox-news/tech/topics/innovation fox-news/tech/topics/armed-forces fnc/tech fnc article 5f72993b-42f3-59bc-b8de-a714085b4553

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Army fast-tracks enemy drone-destroying weapon

Westlake Legal Group army-fast-tracks-enemy-drone-destroying-weapon Army fast-tracks enemy drone-destroying weapon Warrior Maven Kris Osborn fox-news/tech/topics/us-army fnc/tech fnc article 15cfc678-596b-54c4-8164-698e3bcd0ef1

The U.S. Army’s Rapid Equipping Force is fast-tracking new technology to war that can track, jam and destroy attacking enemy drones as a way to respond to an explosive amount of new combat threats,

The systems, called “Drone Busters,” use Electronic Warfare (EW) to interfere with the GPS signal or Command and Control technology of enemy drones, disabling them or throwing them off course.

“We are assisting currently deployed and front line forces to disrupt and deter drone operations on a much larger scale,” Col. Joe Bookard, Director of the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force, told Warrior in an interview.

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The Drone Busters use various currently available technical innovations to help counter individual or massive swarming drone attacks.

“Typically with a remote control item, it emits and transmits a signal. We can interfere with the control system of a device using a bunch of radio frequencies to source and disrupt,” Bookard said.

Westlake Legal Group army-ref-image Army fast-tracks enemy drone-destroying weapon Warrior Maven Kris Osborn fox-news/tech/topics/us-army fnc/tech fnc article 15cfc678-596b-54c4-8164-698e3bcd0ef1

A soldier uses the Drone Defender to counter enemy drones. (Courtesy of U.S. Army) (U.S. Army)

Quadcopters, fixed-wing drones and other unmanned aerial systems have been exploding onto the international market, making it easier for enemies to either equip them with cameras or even turn them into weapons themselves, packed with explosives.

The REF is supporting an Operational Needs Statement from the warzone, specifying a need to quickly respond to drone attacks. The REF usually finds and harnesses Commercial-off-the-Shelf technology to, unlike the traditional acquisition process, fast-track combat-ready systems to the front line to meet an immediate or pressing need.

“We’ve been on the leading edge of providing immediate material solutions for globally employed forces for years – supporting operations,” Bookard added.

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As a so-called “non-kinetic” solution, EW weapons bring a number of advantages; they can reduce excessive destruction or collateral damage and also, in some cases, help disguise the location from which the counterattack is coming.

Part of the REF’s unmanned systems approach also includes acquiring and deploying mini nano-drones for forward surveillance missions. These, among other things, keep soldiers alive as they can get “eyes” in a building or over a hill without having to place soldiers in harm’s way.

Westlake Legal Group army-ref-image-2 Army fast-tracks enemy drone-destroying weapon Warrior Maven Kris Osborn fox-news/tech/topics/us-army fnc/tech fnc article 15cfc678-596b-54c4-8164-698e3bcd0ef1

Soldiers conduct training with the Instanteye quadcopter. (Courtesy U.S. Army)

“At one point you would use a soldier to clear a room, now we can launch drones to take a look into a room,” Bookard explained.

The REF process is, by design, intended to be quick and easy; commanders in need of a particular combat-need work with the REF to draft what’s called a “10-liner” capabilities requirements document to lay the foundation for the delivery of a needed system.

While the REF is known for having delivered a wide range of technologies and weapons to Iraq and Afghanistan over the years of ground wars, the organization has been shifting its emphasis toward addressing great power competition. Major force threats are now just as pressing as terrorist or insurgent threats, creating a scenario requiring the REF to harness new sets of technologies. In recent years, the Army has shifted its focus from Central Command to Army Pacific and Army Europe.

“As we develop the Army of the future, there are some types of technology that will better assist our war efforts,” Bookard said.

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Pentagon pursues commercial cloud for mobile devices

Westlake Legal Group us-army-soldiers Pentagon pursues commercial cloud for mobile devices Warrior Maven Kris Osborn fox-news/tech/topics/us-army fnc/tech fnc e63d21d8-58eb-52d7-b1f9-fddd697c8e1b article

If a U.S. Army infantry unit, engaged in massive mechanized warfare, were suddenly ambushed by a large number of enemy fighters attacking from multiple angles — location information or intelligence about air support would hinge almost entirely upon timely access to information.

This would be of particular relevance to dispersed, mobile, dismounted units in combat relying to a large extent upon hand-held devices… or small boats, fighter jets and other combat “nodes” needing access to vital secret information while in transit.

Given all these variables, what would it mean to have instantaneous access to secure commercial cloud technology during heavy combat? At the tip of the spear? Most of all, could there be a technology able to perform this cloud-centered data-sharing function — while reliably maintaining the security of classified information?

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“Pushing capability into cloud infrastructure, if done securely, will make where you are or whether you are in transit less important but will enable analytics to create a better understanding as to what is happening in real time and also enable better information sharing,” (Ret.) Lt. Gen. Alan Lynn, Vice President of Engineering, Cisco — and former Defense Information Systems Agency, DISA director — told Warrior Maven.

Significantly, when Lynn was leading DISA several years ago, he explained this phenomenon succinctly by telling reporters – “it used to be that you needed a secure briefcase to transport secret information.” At the time, Lynn was addressing a joint DISA-Army program called “Unified Capabilities” intended to bring cloud-enabled SIPRNet to mobile devices.

Changing intelligence information often requires ground troops, ships attacking fighter jet change targets while en route to an objective? What would it mean to the combat scenario if, on a hand-held device, tablet or other portable systems, every warfighter could instantly access secret intelligence using commercially-developed, yet secure cloud computing applications? Moreover, what about the possibility of having newly gathered, yet secret information of importance to a combat operation securely uploaded to the cloud for others to access?

These kinds of scenarios, all too familiar to a US military hardened by 15-years of a ground war, has inspired the creation of an emerging cloud-migration technical system — called “Mission Mobility.” The technology, which now involves a consortium of silicon valley major developers to include Cisco, Apple, Verizon, Samsung and Amazon, is moving quickly to simultaneously enable widespread cloud access across mobile devices while ensuring the security of secret information. While still in its early phases, “Mission Mobility” developers are amid ongoing discussions with the US military services and members of Congress regarding the potential impact of the effort.

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The Air Force is among those now showing a decided interest this kind of technology. Air Force officials tell Warrior that, as of February 2019, The Air Force has moved dozens of applications and systems, including the Air Force Portal, to a commercial cloud — thus reducing infrastructure and power requirements.

“From a combat operations vantage point, getting to the cloud means the Air Force is less impacted by points of failure. Having our industry partners host Air Force systems and applications in the cloud offers a high rate of availability, visibility, security, and scalability,” Maj. William “Bryan” Lewis, Air Force spokesman, told Warrior. “The opportunity to take advantage of cloud-native services will lead to enhanced analytics and artificial intelligence capabilities through improved enterprise data sharing.”

Native applications, developed for a particular platform or devices or an individual device, allow for rapid technical upgrades and an advanced User Interface (UI) with specifically engineered apps. Many of these can function on a device in the absence of a web browser or internet connectivity, due. So-called “Hybrid” apps can both leverage the best commercial technology built into Native apps, yet also at times connect when needed to a web browser enabling cloud connectivity. Native apps are compatible with a device’s hardware, a circumstance which allows for a broader range of activity on a device when compared to web-based apps. When it comes to cloud migration, “Mission Mobility” seeks to combine the advantages of commercially-engineered Native apps, with secure, web-enabled cloud experience.

Data linked to a Native app is stored on the device itself. Web-enabled apps, by contrast, stores data on the cloud. “Mission Mobility” seeks to do both, by blending standardized security protocols with next-generation, commercial technology into a secure, web-based cloud experience.

An interesting 2018 essay in a publication called the DEV IT Journal – offers the following detail:

“Native apps are developed using their own development platforms for iOS and Android such as Java(Android), Objective-C(iOS), and Visual C++ (Windows mobile), whereas, the mobile cloud apps are written in HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript along with server-side languages and web-application frameworks such as PHP, Rails or Python.”

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While all the US military services, and the US intelligence community, are now migrating to cloud systems at lightning speed …… an ability to enable widespread cross-platform secure access to mobile devices used by forward units on the move in combat, represents yet another developmental frontier. Also, despite its known advantages, cloud migration is also characterized by a two-fold trajectory — or something which could be called somewhat of a paradox; while commercial cloud can bring networks unprecedented advantages and enable fast technical upgrades, quick access and more ubiquitous reach, it can also potentially increase vulnerability. Mission Mobility seeks to resolve this problem, by engineering devices and networks with new algorithms, specific coding, strengthened encryption, standardized IP protocol standards and virtualized security.

“Gaining access without security would be considered a failure – you cannot just protect the end devices, you have to protect the cloud itself and the end devices that connect to the cloud. Devices and applications are only as secure as the underlying pieces and parts are secure,” Ashit Vora, Vice President, Acumen Security, told Warrior Maven.

The issue of cloud security is taken up in a 2017 essay in The Journal of International Technology and Information Management, which specifies some of vulnerabilities woven into the cloud experience.

The essay, titled “Cloud Computing Technology: Leveraging the Power of the Internet to Improve Business Performance,” describes it this way:

“The cloud infrastructure is always, to a certain degree, an open and shared resource. Therefore, it is major targets for cyber attackers. Cloud computing systems and services are subject to malicious attacks from both insiders and outsiders. Side-channel attacks, identity hijacking, and distribution of malicious code have all been observed. Therefore, management of security in cloud environments needs to be carefully analyzed and maintained.”“

Recognizing these phenomena, developers of “Mission Mobility” seek to bring new security dimensions to the equation. To do this, “Mission Mobility” aligns cloud-enabled web interfaces and Native apps with DoD and NSA security standards. Chris Gorman, COO & Founder of Monkton, explained that Mission Mobility uses dual-encryption on all data transmissions to help accomplish this. This Native-app, web-based synthesized approach is referred to as a “Hybrid” in that it utilizes the technical advantages of upgradeable Native apps while leveraging web-based mobile cloud technology as well, Gorman explained.

“It boils down to what algorithms you are using to secure the protocol. Certain protocols are better than others for communication,” Vora added.

Vora explained that a variety of different protocols could work, such as Secure Socket Layer, Transport Security Layer or MACsec. “Hybrid” approaches are intended to optimize benefits of the cloud by, for instance, allowing tablets, smartphones and other devices to access the same sensitive documents and information — at the same time. Increased virtualization is fundamental to this, as it affords software upgrades, patches and new security applications to have a more ubiquitous impact.

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“Mandatory standards are delivered by running a virtualization,” Sean Frazier, Federal CISO, Duo Security Business Unit, Cisco, told Warrior.

“Mission Mobility” developers — which also include smaller developers such as a division of Cisco called Duo Security, Monkton, Acumen Security and others — seek to break new ground by extending more secure cloud availability with mobile devices. As opposed to sending insecure attachments or documents through a web-based cloud- technology, Mission Mobility “networks” secure cloud access across a range of otherwise incompatible devices, using a common web interface. Web-based cloud applications are not new, as things like webmail have been drawing from if for years. “Mission Mobility” seeks to expand this and bring networked data-sharing across a much wider sphere of applications while taking new steps forward when it comes to standards and security.

“Mission Mobility is a first of its kind avenue, where people are going to the same web interface. Hundreds of thousands of devices know how to code – none of them address security for organizations that need serious security for their data – that is the big differential,” Frazier explained.

“Mission Mobility” is now networking its cloud-access formula with military devices, intended to draw from “Software Development Kits” (SDK) to increase security for the cloud environment, secure the devices themselves and – of great significance – secure communication between the two. `

These mobile cloud parameters, intended to manifest with “Mission Mobility,” are anticipated in a 2015 essay in the “International Journal of Computer Science Issues.”

The essay, titled “A New Secure Mobile Cloud Architecture” writes:

“Basically the security issues in mobile cloud computing is associated with (1) security issues in the cloud, (2) security of the mobile device and (3) the security of the communication channel between the cloud resources and the mobile device.”

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Bronze Star recipient killed helping stranded motorist change tire in Virginia

An Army colonel and Bronze Star recipient who served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan died for injuries sustained while helping a stranded motorist in Virginia last week, a report said.

Col. Gregory S. Townsend, 46, who joined the Army in 1996, was changing another driver’s tire on a freeway south of Richmond Thursday when the vehicle fell on him, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. He was airlifted to the hospital where he died on Monday, the Army said.

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Townsend had deployed to Afghanistan in 2003 and 2009 and to Afghanistan in 2009. He was assigned most recently as a commander at the U.S. Army Quartermaster School at Fort Lee, according to the report.

“The loss of Col. Greg Townsend is devastating for his family and the Army. He was a dedicated leader and the most genuine man you could meet,” Brig. Gen. Douglas M. McBride Jr., of the Quartermaster School, said.

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Along with the Bronze Star, Townsend had also received the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Staff Commendation Medal and an Army Commendation Medal, the paper reported.

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Army and Air Force draft new combined ‘war attack plan’

Westlake Legal Group army-and-air-force-draft-new-combined-war-attack-plan Army and Air Force draft new combined 'war attack plan' Warrior Maven Kris Osborn fox-news/tech/topics/us-army fox-news/tech/topics/us-air-force fox-news/tech/topics/innovation fox-news/tech/topics/armed-forces fnc/tech fnc c0ba375e-51f6-5908-a508-4608f674bd0d article

The Army and the Air Force are crafting a new combined air-ground combat attack strategy to improve warfare networks, perform long-range sensing of targets, strike enemies more effectively and strengthen defenses across multiple domains in real-time.

The Army-Air Force collaboration, called “Multi-Domain Operations,” has included in-depth joint-service wargames; it is ultimately aimed at developing new doctrine, service leaders explained.

A new Army-Air Force collaborative war strategy is, broadly speaking, discussed in terms of being a modern, or new iteration of the Cold War-era “AirLand Battle” strategy.

AirLand Battle, which envisioned air-ground warfare synergy to counter a Soviet threat on the European continent, was intended to provide air cover for advancing land attack units confronting a larger Soviet Army.

Flying in close proximity land forces, air assets were intended to attack advancing ground units, weaken supply lines or destroy troop fortifications, clearing the way for offensive operations. While these objectives are of course still important, the currently emerging Air-Land cross-domain doctrine is based upon the reality that modern air and ground forces are more dispersed – and therefore more threatening. Ground forces are now more vulnerable to longer-range air and missile strikes, drone attacks and guided weapons able to strike from high-altitudes.

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This new concept, when it comes to technical application, involves a fundamental shift toward using information itself as a principal weapon in warfare operations. The tactical use of information to organize and enable effective combat involves a range of tactics — such as using air-assets as “nodes” across a larger air-ground combat scheme, firing ground weapons to attack enemy air defenses and leveraging the altitude and range of surveillance aircraft to pinpoint targets for land-based attacks.

“Will a sensor identifying target be land-based, air, or space? The longer the range, the less likely it will be a land-based sensor,” a senior Army official told Warrior in an interview earlier this year- referring to the emerging doctrinal effort.

Much of the collaborative activity, the senior official described, involves the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command and the Air Force’s Air Combat Command. As part of the joint effort to pursue these aims, the Army Fires Center of Excellence has implemented a joint fires certification element.

Of course, the Army and the Air Force already have a history of successful warfare integration, including air-ground coordination in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. US Special Forces, the Air Force Special Tactics Squadron and strategically placed Joint Tactical Air Controllers have long identified ground-target coordinates for air attacks, often using land-based laser rangefinders to “paint” targets for fighter jets.

The emerging Army-Air Force approach seeks to move well beyond these existing tactics to extend the range, power and “multi-domain” effectiveness of combat operations, to include cyber, space and electromagnetic domains.

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While explaining some specifics of the Air Force contribution to this initiative, retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula said establishing a dispersed, multi-domain, inter-service warfare network presents a “difficult concept for an enemy to attack.”

This concept, placing information itself as indispensable connective tissue to networked cross-domain warfare, is further developed by Deptula in a Mitchell Institute policy paper called “Evolving Technologies and Warfare in the 21st Century: Introducing the “Combat Cloud.”

The essence of the combat cloud, the paper explains, resides in the concept that each system or platform in a warfare scenario is itself a “node” across a wide-spanning combat network.

“The ‘combat cloud’ inverts the paradigm of combined arms warfare— making information the focal point, not operational domains. This concept represents an evolution where individually networked platforms—in any domain—transform into a “system of systems” enterprise,” the paper writes.

For example, many land weapons such as Guided Multiple-Launch Rocket Systems, and artillery often max out at ranges of 70-to-90 km in many cases. The land-fired High Mobility Rocket System (HIMARS) is reported to have a maximum range of up to 300 km. However, having a 300 km range for HIMARS does not mean targets can be properly identified or targeted at that distance.

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Many fighter jets, bombers, drones and surveillance planes, however, can travel as far as 500 nautical miles in some cases without needing to refuel. These ranges for air platforms, when networked or integrated with land-weapons, can exponentially increase the sphere of potential air-ground attacks and reconnaissance missions. The vision with this, Deptula explained, is to form an expanded “self-healing” warfare network.

“If an enemy takes out a few aircraft, the information is already re-routed to the rest of the elements,” Deptula said in an interview with Warrior earlier this year.

Within this conceptual framework, the “combat cloud” can use dispersed, long-range air assets as “sensor nodes” operating in tandem with land weapons.

The Army’s developing a Long-Range Precision Fires weapon engineered to hit targets as far away as 500 km. It is a land weapon being engineered to support this concept and expand the Army’s strike range; this appears to offer an example of how land weapons could potentially be given targets over great distances by “networked” air platforms. Along these lines, senior Army weapons developers often refer to LRPF as a high-priority program now being accelerated.

A vastly expanded air-ground attack network, Deptula added, could very well extend to include weapons engagement authority implemented by air nodes at great distances. A more dispersed attack scheme, fortified by long-range weapons and sensors, can hold previously inaccessible targets at risk. An airborne F-35 fighter could, for instance, use its drone-like sensors to acquire a target seemingly out of reach for land-launched missiles and provide the Army weapons with target specifics. Even further, an F-35 might be engineered to cue or even launch ground weapons at a target it identifies. Deptula cited this example in terms of Air Force-Navy synergy.

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“If an F-35 detects an enemy missile launch before an Aegis cruiser, the F-35 could engage and launch the interceptor missile that comes off of that Aegis cruiser,” he explained. “We can’t do this yet today, but this is where we need to be doing collective thinking about this vision as a common vision.”

— From the Mitchell Institute Policy Paper

“… individual platforms are evolving from a “stove piped,” parochial service alignment, to a loosely federated “joint and combined” construct today, and eventually into a highly integrated enterprise that collaboratively leverages the broad exchange of information. Desired effects will increasingly be attained through the interaction of multiple systems, each one sharing information and empowering one another for a common purpose.…” Given the fast-growing need for these kinds of expanded attack options, the military is working with industry on a range of technical ways to bring broader, cross-domain networks to fruition. One aerospace firm, called MAG Aerospace, is working with the Air Force, Air Force Special Operations Command, the Air Force Research Lab and various Army entities to explore next generation networking systems able to connect soldier-wearable, airborne and vehicle-based ISR systems.

“This includes leveraging commercial Very Low Earth Orbit (vLEO) satellite broadband communications pioneered by industry and the AFRL,” Chad Vuyovich, Director of MAG’s AFSOC Programs, told Warrior Maven.

In a manner analogous to Deptula’s description of “self-healing” networks, Vuyovich said low latency, high-bandwidth vLEO technologies will similarly form “self-healing, ad hoc” networks.

“These are globally accessible and will interface with military unique, private 4G/5G, and other standard Wi-Fi networks. Data will be passed and processed across multiple internet protocol over radio (IPOR) data networks and global constellations,” Vuyovich said.

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All of this military planning takes place within the often-discussed context of “great power competition,” “near-peer threats,” and preparations for “major power warfare.”

With this in mind, senior US officials have consistently cited concerns about advanced Russian tactics and technologies used during its attacks in Ukraine – with a specific mind to cross-domain, air-ground attacks.

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“In Ukraine, we saw the pairing of drones with artillery to use drones as spotters. Their organizational structure and tactics were a wakeup call for us to start looking at that in a more serious way,” Gen. John M. Murray, Commanding General of Army Futures Command, told reporters last Fall at the Association of the United States Army Annual Symposium.

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What happened when I fired my first ‘sniper shot’

Westlake Legal Group what-happened-when-i-fired-my-first-sniper-shot What happened when I fired my first 'sniper shot' Warrior Maven Kris Osborn fox-news/tech/topics/us-army fnc/tech fnc f7371871-4615-5fa9-b3c3-bff1c892aba0 article

My shoulder was pressed firmly against the end or “stock” of the rifle, my index finger extended horizontally just above the trigger as I lay flat on the ground and tried to align my right eye directly through the targeting sight — all as I for the very first time, tried to fire a US military M107A1 sniper rifle at a small target roughly 200 yards away.

While being closely coached by an expert sniper from Barrett, the gun’s maker, I attempted to align my eye directly through the scope in a direct, linear fashion. I found that if my view shifted ever so slightly from one side to the other, I lost the target picture and saw only black. This, I understand, is a technical design set up to deliberately ensure the person looking through the scope can only see if he or she is exactly aligned with a straight-ahead view at the target.

Then, while being instructed by the expert, I struggled to line up what looked like a thin black cross targeting line, or “reticle” through the scope – with a small blue target circle hidden between bushes in a desert firing range about 200-yards away. The targeting scope itself shows what looks like a narrowly configured, intensely magnified picture of a circular area of the terrain ahead, with a “reticle” crossing straight through the eye view. The intent, as I understood, is to precisely align the center of the cross with the intended target and pull the trigger — to achieve precision destruction. Snipers rotate a small circular device attached to the weapon’s sight – and “click” one way or another – as it is called – to align the crosshairs with the target and adjust the reticle for wind, range or elevation changes.

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The desert firing area was set up as part of a massive live-fire weapons demonstration in rural Northwestern Arizona – called the Bushmaster User Conference 2019, sponsored by Bushmaster cannon-maker Northrop Grumman. The sniper rifles were a small part of a large collection of weapons including emerging 50mm cannons, lightweight 30mm cannons and other weapons, many of them mounted onto armored combat vehicles.

As for the sniper rifle, it was nearly five-feet long at 57 inches, with a cylinder-like suppressor at the end and a weight of about 28-pounds. Barrett is now under contract to deliver M107A1 .50-Cal Long Range Sniper Rifle systems to the US Army in an $8 million deal which includes scopes, suppressors and square parts kits. Barrett information on the gun specifies as having a “lightweight aluminum upper receiver with integral optics” Barrett data further describes the weapon as having a “barrel with a fully chrome-lined chamber and bore, 10-round steel magazine with cartridge witness indicators and anti-corrosive coating.”

Taking the Shot

My expert sniper coach was Bryan James, Senior Vice President of Sales, Barrett; he told me to lay flat, spread my legs apart, widen my elbows and firmly press the stock against my shoulder to steady the shot and prepare for a “jolt” or recoil after the weapon fires.

Before I tried a shot, I first looked through the Spotter’s Scope, a magnified view of the target area with numbers around what looked like a black semi-circle to account for a variety of interwoven key factors — such as wind speed, location, angle and other variables likely to impact the accuracy of the shot. Then, I was ready to fire.

While unknown to me as I attempted my first ever sniper shot, the Barrett M107A1 is considered a large sniper rifle which fires a .50-cal bullet. The larger bullet can, of course, destroy an individual enemy fighter, yet the .50-cal sniper bullet is primarily designed to destroy or disable thin skinned enemy vehicles and small structures or fortifications. As one former Army weapons expert explained it to me, the M107A1 is the kind of weapon which could be used to hit, destroy or disable the engine of an enemy vehicle.

Just before taking off the safety, arming the rifle and moving my finger down onto the trigger, I worked to move the reticle right on the target. I saw that the crosshairs were a little below the target, so I tried to lift up the barrel of the gun to squarely place the center of the cross right on the “blue circle” target in the desert bushes. The blue circle target was lodged on the upward slope of what looked like a large valley, making it difficult to know what was precisely level or straight across from the hill where I was taking aim.

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After struggling to slowly pull the shot up just a little, I tried to stay as steady as possible – and pulled the trigger. In what seemed like an instant, or milliseconds, the stock of the gun slammed back into my shoulder and I saw smoke in the bushes a few football fields away. While I heard the round exit the weapon, I must say the firing was actually not very loud at all — thus the impact of the suppressor.

A bit stunned, I lifted my head back from the rifle and had absolutely no idea if I had hit anything – let alone the target. At that moment, Bryan told me I had blasted a hole right through the center of the target. Exact hit! My one and only first sniper rifle shot of all time. I was delighted and very impressed with my coach.I decided I would not make another attempt, so as to retain a perfect (if very lucky and well coached) record.

However, before I praise myself too profusely, there are several factors to consider. First and foremost, the Barrett M107A1 — a famous sniper rifle used regularly by the US military — can hit ranges with great precision out to 2,000 meters. My hit was only 200 yards. Hardly any comparison. Furthermore, from what I understand, longer shots require a much greater degree of adjustment when it comes to difficult, fast-changing factors such as wind speed, target movement, range and even a need to factor in the rotation of the earth in some cases.

After hitting what any actual sniper would consider an easy shot, I left the scene with a vastly increased appreciation for the expertise, focus and dedication necessary to perform high-level wartime sniper missions. Not only do trained snipers hit targets precisely at nearly 10-times the distance of my shot, but they track and destroy moving targets as well — all while not giving away their position. I came to more fully understand why many regard a sniper’s mission as requiring physical, mathematical and mental excellence.

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