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The CIA designed a secret Hellfire missile that's basically a meteor filled with swords to minimize civilian casualties
In a joint effort to reduce the potential for civilian casualties resulting from U.S. air strikes, the Defense Department and Central Intelligence Agency have reportedly developed a specialized variant of the ubiquitous Hellfire missile that can best be described a 100-pound flying switchblade.
A fascinating report in the Wall Street Journal based on accounts from multiple current and former U.S. officials describes the R9X variant, covertly deployed against targets in Syria and Yemen since 2017, as a Hellfire with an inert warhead, essentially a rocket-powered update to the "Lazy Dog" bombs that U.S. soldiers would release at terminal velocity from aircraft above the battlefields of Korea and Vietnam.
The logic behind the R9X isn't that different from the other forms of kinetic bombardment pursued by the Pentagon in recent decades from the Lazy Dogs to the Navy's electromagnetic railgun and associated hypervelocity projective so viscerally lethal: you're hitting the enemy with something very hard and very dense, moving very fast.
But for the R9X, the moment before impact is where things get, uh, dicey. From the Wall Street Journal (emphasis ours):
A modified version of the well-known Hellfire missile, the weapon carries an inert warhead. Instead of exploding, it is designed to plunge more than 100 pounds of metal through the tops of cars and buildings to kill its target without harming individuals and property close by.
To the targeted person, it is as if a speeding anvil fell from the sky, the officials said. But this variant of the Hellfire missile, designated as the R9X, also comes equipped with a different kind of payload: a halo of six long blades that are stowed inside and then deploy through the skin of the missile seconds before impact, shredding anything in its tracks.
On the one hand, yes, inert aerial bombs are a relatively effective way to deal violence over a specific area and defeat armored vehicles without spraying innocent bystanders with fire, shrapnel, and debris.
On the other hand, though: this is basically like dropping a rocket-assisted meteor full of swords on someone.
Indeed, that's exactly what happened to Ahmad Hasan Abu Khayr al-Masri, the al Qaeda second-in-command who, according to the Wall Street Journal, the CIA allegedly targeted with an R9X in Syria's Idlib Province in February 2017. Here are some photos from the strike's aftermath, courtesy of former British Army officer-turned-digital investigator Nick Waters:
Fucking swords, man. Fucking swords.
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The command chief of the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, was removed from his position last month after his chain of command received evidence he disrespected his subordinates.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
The "suck it up and drive on" mentality permeated our years in the U.S. military and often led us to delay getting both physical and mental health care. As veterans, we now understand that engaging in effective care enables us not just to survive but to thrive. Crucially, the path to mental wellness, like any serious journey, isn't accomplished in a day — and just because you need additional or recurring mental health care doesn't mean your initial treatment failed.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has called on the security alliance's allies to maintain and strengthen their "unity," saying the organization is "the only guarantor of European and transatlantic security."
Stoltenberg told reporters on November 19 that NATO "has only grown stronger over the last 70 years" despite "differences" among the allies on issues such as trade, climate, the Iran nuclear deal, and the situation in northeastern Syria.
He was speaking at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels on the eve of a NATO foreign ministers meeting aimed at finalizing preparations for next month's summit in London.
WASHINGTON — More than $35 million of the roughly $400 million in aid to Ukraine that President Donald Trump delayed, sparking the impeachment inquiry, has not been released to the country, according to a Pentagon spending document obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
Instead, the defense funding for Ukraine remains in U.S. accounts, according to the document. It's not clear why the money hasn't been released, and members of Congress are demanding answers.
The admiral in charge of Navy special operators will decide whether to revoke the tridents for Eddie Gallagher and other SEALs involved in the Navy's failed attempt to prosecute Gallagher for murder, a defense official said Tuesday.
The New York Times' David Philipps first reported on Tuesday that the Navy could revoke the SEAL tridents for Gallagher as well as his former platoon commander Lt. Jacob Portier and two other SEALs: Lt. Cmdr. Robert Breisch and Lt. Thomas MacNeil.
The four SEALs will soon receive a letter that they have to appear before a board that will consider whether their tridents should be revoked, a defense official told Task & Purpose on condition of anonymity.