By Jennifer Rizzo
Future unmanned ships could be retrofitted with missile-firing systems following successful prototype tests, but how long before the technology can be deployed remains a question, U.S. Navy officials say.
Six long-range missiles were fired during three days of testing last month, marking the first time missiles have been fired from any unmanned ship.
The seafaring drone, called the NUWC-4, is a smaller craft developed to defend against a potential attack of ships swarming toward naval vessels, according to the Navy. Terrorists and pirates have been known to use these tactics.
The "project was developed in response to recent world events involving swarms of small attack craft, as well as threat assessments outlined in recent studies conducted by the Naval Warfare Development Command," said NAVSEA Special Warfare Program Manager Capt. Thomas D. Gajewski. "Technology demonstrated in this project can provide a capability to combat terrorists who use small low-cost vehicles as weapons platforms."
The USS Wasp has anchored about five miles off the coast of New York and New Jersey and is bringing aboard a number of helicopters and about 250 Marines in case they are needed, according to Navy spokesman Lt Cdr Chris Servello.
The ship is now visible to those on land as opposed to earlier Navy reporting that said the ship would remain over the horizon.
There is still no official request by either the NY or NJ governor to the federal government for the Navy's assistance. The other two ships should arrive in the next day.
Military cargo jets flew power trucks and crews from California to New York on Thursday to assist with Superstorm Sandy recovery in hard-hit states.
The move by the Air Force came as three U.S. Navy ships neared the coast of New York and New Jersey where they would be ready to help, if asked by those state governments.
The steps compliment thousands of National Guard troops activated throughout the mid-Atlantic to deal with flooding, massive power outages and debris cleanup from the deadly storm that swept through the region on Monday.
Sixty-nine vehicles belonging to Southern California Edison were flown from the West Coast to New York's Stewart Air National Guard Base on five C-5 Galaxys and 12 C-17 Globemaster jets.
Those areas have already been getting help from power companies closer to New York, but the cargo flights meant the trucks could get to the heart of the region in a matter of hours.
By Jennifer Rizzo
The U.S. military is continuing to provide support in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, focusing particularly on pumping water out of flooded areas and restoring power.
In New York, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working to deploy 100 high-volume water pumps, supplementing 100 units provided by the Defense Department.
More than 200 power generators have been set up in New York and New Jersey. They will be deployed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as needed.
According to the Pentagon, approximately 10,000 National Guard forces have been activated to support these states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia.
By Jennifer Rizzo
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates evoked laughter during the unveiling of his official portrait Monday, but said his time heading up the military was the most important job in a long career in Washington.
“As America's Secretary of Defense during two wars was the singular honor and highest calling of my professional life,” Gates said at the Pentagon
Sending troops to war weighed on him every day, he said, so much so that he worried his devotion to protect them was clouding his judgment.
“Towards the end of my time in office, I could barely speak to the troops or about them without becoming over, without being overcome with emotion,” Gates said.
These feelings he says played a role in his decision to retire.
Gates began his role as Defense Secretary in 2006 under President George W. Bush. When President Barack Obama was elected in 2008 Gates stayed on in his role, despite plans of retiring—something he jokingly said he had current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to thank for.
By Jennifer Rizzo
A military appeals court decided Thursday that accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan can be forcibly shaved, despite his assertion that his religion requires he wear a beard.
Siding with the judge overseeing the trial, Col. Gregory Gross, the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not allow Hasan to wear a beard during his upcoming court martial, as Hasan did not prove his beard was an expression of a sincerely held religious belief.
"We agree with the military judge's conclusion that petitioner's wearing of the beard denigrates the dignity, order, and decorum of the court-martial and is disruptive under the current posture of the case," the decision says.
Even if Hasan did wear the beard out of a sincere religious belief, the decision found that "compelling" government interests justified the judge's order for Hasan to be shaved.
Thousands of US troops arrive in Israel to begin a joint military exercise with Israeli forces, testing the country's missile defense systems. In all, the exercise will involve 3,500 US troops at a cost of $30 million. They'll be training over three weeks, in parts of Israel, Europe and the Mediterranean. Chris Lawrence reports on whether this exercise is sending a message to Iran on the strength of ties between the U.S. and Israel.
By Jennifer Rizzo
President Barack Obama's campaign has received almost double the amount of military donations that Mitt Romney's campaign has, according to data collected by a research group that tracks money and lobbying in U.S. politics.
It's a clue, perhaps, into who the military is rooting for in this presidential election. Obama has received more than $530,000 in campaign contributions from individual military donors, while Romney has taken in more than $280,000 in donations from individuals involved with the military.
Obama's lead in military donations comes despite hundreds of billions in cuts to the Defense Department and the Republican ticket blaming him for a potential half-trillion dollars more in cuts if Congress can't agree on a deficit deal.
The Center for Responsive Politics compiled the information using data reported to the Federal Election Commission and includes donations greater than $200 from both military and civilian employees of the nation's defense sector.
The group also looked at military donations given to former Republican candidate Ron Paul, who has advocated for a smaller military and bringing troops home from bases in countries like Germany and South Korea. Paul, too, received more military donations than Romney, totaling almost $400,000.
By Jennifer Rizzo
The military's robotic beast of burden went out this week for another stroll, demonstrating advancements in the way it moves through real-world environments.
The LS3, first revealed in February, is designed to carry heavy loads for troops in the field - up to 400 pounds worth of equipment.
In the footage released by the Defense Department's research and development arm, two of the mule-like robots can be seen navigating hilly terrain with relative ease, sidestepping rocks and getting up from a sitting position.
The new and improved version of the LS3 is roughly 10 times quieter than what was seen earlier this year and has the ability to "easily transition" between speeds ranging from 1 to 7 mph, "showing the versatility needed to accompany dismounted units in various terrains," said Army Lt. Col. Joe Hitt, a program manager for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
By Jennifer Rizzo
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States waged the "war on terror," a continued combat campaign that has lasted more than a decade. Thousands of Americans have been killed and almost 50,000 troops have been wounded in the wars waged in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Perhaps the most lethal uses of force by insurgents have been improvised explosive devices. Blast injuries from these bombs including the loss of limbs, traumatic brain injury, and severe burns are prolific among wounded troops.
But service members are surviving these extreme injuries that would have proved fatal decades earlier. A warrior wounded in battle now has a 50% better chance of surviving than in any previous war, according to the Defense Department, which credits some of this advancement with improved body armor, better doctor and medic training, and an efficient and timely evacuation system. According to the Air Force the military for example is able to get a wounded service member back to the United States in three days or less if needed, compared to the 10 days it took during the Gulf War and the 45 days it took during the Vietnam War.
Just like in preceding wars, medical research has churned out advancements to better heal the wounded and prevent more from dying on the battlefield.
The fastest robot ever, dubbed "Cheetah," just zoomed past its own speed record and surpassed the fastest known human dash, clocking 28.3 mph during a treadmill test.
Cheetah's previous record speed was 18 mph, according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the military's research-and-development arm.
Usain Bolt set the world record for human speed when he reached 27.28 mph for a 20-meter split during a 100-meter sprint, according to the International Association of Athletics Federations. While reveling in the record, the research agency threw Bolt a bone, admitting the Cheetah had a slight advantage as it ran on a treadmill.
The agency has worked with Boston Dynamics on the Cheetah to create legged robots that "don't sacrifice speed for mobility on rough terrain," it said.
The high-speed running bot will be tested on natural terrain next year.
If Cheetah the bot, however, were to meet the animal it was designed after, there is no question which would win in a race.
Real cheetahs can run faster than any other land animal, regularly clocking as fast as 60 mph in short bursts. Their robotic cousin still has a way to go to beat that pace.