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The latest news from Robert Johnson on Business Insider

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    M249 FUNKER530 aiming shot muzzle flash fire

    Everyone carries stuff with them to work. Some of it we can forget and go without; other things like a cellphone, we go back for, because we just can't go through the day without it.

    What troops on the ground in Afghanistan can't go without is the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW).

    Check out this SAW gunner in action >

    Every day is routine for deployed U.S. troops. They pull duty, maintain their gear, and they go on patrol — day in and day out — until all hell breaks loose and a world of insurgents are trying to kill them.

    When that happens, the SAW can effectively blanket an area with up to 120 rounds per minute. That's two 5.56mm bullets slipping from the barrel every second — fed from a 200 round belt — inside a quick-change drum.

    U.S. troops call it a "Wall of Steel" that has saved more American lives than they can count.

    When it works.

    The SAW is flawed: Parts break off, it's hard to clean, it jams, and like all machine guns it overheats to the point of uselessness, and changing the barrel isn't always an option.

    But like an old cellphone we keep until the plan renews, the SAW is what U.S. troops have until something better comes along.

    The following slides are from a firefight with a U.S. Army unit at Combat Outpost Charkh in Afghanistan, and some infrared shots at an indoor range.

    Like most attacks, this one begins suddenly and the soldier wearing the helmet camera quickly lifts his SAW to fire from behind this wall

    Despite being loved for its lethal firepower the SAW is no joy to lug around — it weighs 22 pounds with its 200 round ammo drum attached. "A hell of a lot of weight to move around when the s*** gets thick," one infantryman commented.

    Most SAW gunners carry 600 rounds, and in this Afghan firefight against an unknown number of insurgents, that isn't enough

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    While the U.S. geared up for the second presidential debate last Tuesday, a building sat pulsing with computers, electronic surveillance, and security systems in the Utah high desert.

    The unoccupied site was awaiting the test of a weapon the Pentagon requested four years ago to the day on 16 October, 2008.  

    The Counter-Electronics High Power Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP), led by Boeing's Phantom works, promised to change the face of contemporary warfare, and its test was a complete success.

    CHAMP flew over the Utah Test and Training Range last Tuesday, discharging a burst of High Power Microwaves onto the test site and brought down the compound's entire spectrum of electronic systems, apparently without producing any other damage at all. Even the camera recording the test was shut down.

    Struggling to contain his enthusiasm, Boeing's Keith Coleman says, "We hit every target we wanted to. Today we made science fiction into science fact."


    Coleman spoke from a Boeing video (below) that shows the results of the test, inside the computer filled building. Flying over the largest testing range in the country, CHAMPS took out seven different targets before self-destructing over empty desert.

    While James Dodd, VP of Advanced Boeing Aircraft says he hopes to implement the CHAMP sooner rather than later, it's just one weapon in a growing arsenal meant to take down increasingly sophisticated foreign radar systems.

    Passive radar is being heavily marketed abroad as the system to use if a country wants to identify U.S. stealth planes including the forthcoming F-35. The passive system evaluates a wide spectrum of anomalies to track a jet, but a burst from CHAMPS, or the new active electronically scanned array (AESA) will render that threat useless.

    Expect CHAMP or AESA or another radar jamming device on any missions involving those terribly expensive F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

    Now: See why every US aircraft carrier has a Ouija board >

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    USS Gerald R. Ford

    The USS Gerald R. Ford is the most expensive weapon ever created and will run about $11.5 billion, with three ships costing about $40.2 billion.

    Even given these generous estimates, the Navy figures that the USS Gerald R. Ford could cost as much as $1.1 billion more than planned, making it far and away the service's most expensive warship.

    See the Ford >

    Tony Capaccio at Bloomberg reports the Ford's rising costs were first noticed in August when planners understood their worst-case assessment would put the carrier at about 21 percent over its target cost (via Hampton Roads).

    Currently being assembled in Newport News, Virginia, the Ford-class will replace the Nimitz-class carriers and will include an array of new technology.

    With fewer crew and the most modern equipment, the Navy hopes to reduce the cost of future carriers while an improved design of the ship's "island" will allow more sorties to be flown per day than before.

    The Ford is expected to hit the water in 2015, with a 10 carrier fleet hoped for by 2040.

    A 2004 artist's rendition of the USS Gerald R. Ford, three years before construction began in 2007. A wide open deck will allow more planes to take off and land than previous carriers.

    This layout from Northrop Grumman provides an idea of the carrier's layout

    The F/A-18 Super Hornets will be a regular fixture on the Ford and have been in service since 1995

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Paul Rieckhoff

    From the cosmic bustle of Grand Central Station, to the aloof expanse of Madison Ave and the not diminutive security guard running our IDs in the lobby of his building, getting to Paul Rieckhoff wasn't exactly easy.

    Rieckhoff is the Founder and Executive Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), what could be the most important organization available to the 2.4 million veterans of both those wars.

    After calling to announce us, the guard sent us to the bank of elevators in the building where IAVA occupies the better part of a floor in one of New York's finer zip codes.

    The interview with Rieckhoff that BI Military & Defense reporter Geoff Ingersoll and I were headed to, was the result of a back-and-forth with IAVA public relations trying to find a slot in the founder's busy schedule.

    On the ride to the 10th floor we wondered if the fame and recognition IAVA, and Rieckhoff himself, had received in the eight years since they opened their doors had changed him or the people who worked there. Two former enlisted guys talking about meeting a former officer.

    IAVAWe were laughing at what power and fame could do, when the elevator opened upon a carpeted hallway and IAVA's New York headquarters.

    A former Army infantry officer who volunteered for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, before starting IAVA the following year, Rieckhoff marches out to meet us a few minutes after we arrive.

    He introduces himself with a smile, while the kind of handshakes you imagine three former military guys giving one another cement the occasion.

    Paul, it was immediately Paul as the question about fame was quickly dismissed, led us beyond the receptionist's desk, past a line of cubicles on one side and offices on the other. The walls are painted a unique blend of yellow-green, not exactly Manhattan contemporary, but not any color the military ever dreamed of either.

    The staff is spread around the floor and he introduces us around, stopping at a bank of computers monitored by a couple of 20-something women who get up to say hello. The duo are part of a team monitoring social media for veterans in crisis and answering a suicide hotline. 

    The computers are manned 12 hours a day and while the effort is only in its infancy and not publicized, the IAVApair have already handled 10 cases from across the country. Ten instances where veterans had every intention of killing themselves, and no one else to turn to.

    It's a sharp reminder that so far this year, more U.S. servicemembers have committed suicide than have been killed in combat.

    Letting the team get back to work we say goodbye, passing a billboard filled with thank you cards and notes to IAVA and to Paul himself, before settling into his office to talk. Rieckhoff eases his tall athletic frame into a green chair across from us, and runs a hand over his shaved head, before explaining IAVA's beginnings.

    Rieckhoff says didn't intend to start IAVA, he just kept helping his soldier's following that 2004 discharge and as the need for help grew, so did his efforts. "You know how it is," he says. "One guy comes to you and says I'm having a hard time getting whatever, education benefits ... " He trails off and leans back in his chair across from us, a folded American flag on the wall next to him, "You do what you can to help him. But the challenges facing returning vets was far greater than we realized."

    And those obstacles will continue to grow as vets face higher unemployment, higher rates of incarceration, and suffer staggering numbers of suicides.

    IAVA"IAVA," Rieckhoff explains, "allows an opportunity for America to give back to its veterans."

    And right now, it is.

    IAVA received $45 million in donated support last year, including the office space, $1 million in interview attire from JC Penny, airline flights and underwriters to name but a few instances.

    That sponsorship allows IAVA to offer counseling, job placement, career counseling, community, and a lobbying team in D.C. that helps forge and refine legislation aimed at the new veteran community. It's a big responsibility, that no one in these offices takes lightly, including the boss.

    Rieckhoff looks to Vietnam activists like Jan Scruggs and Bobby Muller for advice and guidance on what he's doing for today's homecoming troops. Of all they've told him, one bit of advice resonates loudest and seems to drive the long hours and non-stop schedule.

    "Those guys make a point of reminding me that people won't care about us forever," Rieckhoff says leaning forward and dropping his arms to his knees, making him seem smaller.

    "At some point our cause will be just another part of history," he pauses. "It's IAVA's goal to create the foundation that history will be built on." he laughs and shrugs his shoulders. "I mean, whatever helps our vets get what they need."

    IAVA currently has 200,000 members, and with 1 million veterans now navigating the backed-up tangled path to a college degree on the GI Bill, more are joining every day.

    Membership is free and comes with a long list of benefits. Former Iraq and Afghanistan servicemembers only need go to IAVA's website, upload their DD 214 discharge papers, and await their membership number to take advantage of all IAVA offers.

    In the meantime they can check out the Rucksack's free giveaways, or use one of the most popular GI Bill calculators on the web, to calculate their education benefits.

    Look for IAVA's membership to continue growing and if you're in New York for Veteran's Day stop by the Flatiron building at sunrise and join them in the NYC veteran's day parade.

    Now: See the guy who gave up his lucrative career to help vets find work >

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    When DARPA, the Air Force, NASABoeing, and Pratt & Whitney got together to unscramble the the riddle behind scramjet technology, it's unlikely they ever considered failure, until now.

    The five companies sent three X-51A Waveriders shooting above the Pacific in the last two years and while the first effort in 2010 showed promise, the other two were undeniable failures.

    It must be disappointing because in 2010 things went off without a hitch. The Waverider was strapped to the belly of a B-52, dropped, powered up its solid-rocket boosters and made the full transition to scramjet-powered flight.

    While the X-51 Waverider, an unmanned hypersonic scramjet is supposed to tear through the sky at 4,000 miles per hour and promise an untold richness for future flight, this current effort looks like a flop.

    W.J. Hennigan from the Los Angeles Times talked to Robert A. Mercier, deputy for technology in the high speed systems division at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Ohio who said: "Since the Wright brothers, we have examined how to make aircraft better and faster. Hypersonic flight is one of those areas that is a potential frontier for aeronautics. I believe we're standing in the door waiting to go into that arena."

    Scramjet technology forces combustion to occur when airflow surpasses the speed of sound and hydrogen is injected into the flow, allowing for theoretical speeds of Mach 20.

    That's what was hoped for during DARPA's Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 test flight last year, as well. Unfortunately, that widely watched test ended in failure after the craft's skin peeled away from its body and the flight was terminated before any record breaking speeds could be reached.

    The X-51's final flight is scheduled for late spring 2013 or early summer.

    X-51 waverider

    X-51 waverider

    X-51 Waverider

    Now, check out the 20 most powerful ships on the seas, the world's Aircraft Carriers >

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    With Britain questioning the legality of a strike on Iran, denying the U.S. access to pivotal airbases, and the U.S. presidential election just days away, we wanted to re-examine how extensive an endeavor a strike on Iran would be. 

    Washington D.C. foreign policy think tank the Center For Strategic & International Studies took a long hard look at what it really means to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions, what it would take, and what it could lead to in a report last month authored by the renowned Anthony Cordesman.

    The speculation that Israel can go it alone against Tehran remains, but the specifics of what's required by a US attack to put the nuclear program in the dust is outlined in detail. At least 16 F-18s, and 10 B-2 bombers carrying 30,000 pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator bombs, would initially be required by US forces. The U.S. fleet of B-2s called for here are largely stationed in the U.S. and though aerial refueling is common, where those tankers may fly from is limited.

    Iran's retaliation would be another story entirely with a massive incoming missile salvo directed about the entire region. When that happens a full ballistic missile war could ensue with untold US space, air, sea, and land elements coming into play.

    Some illustrations of the possible outcomes are below.




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    Black Brant Missile

    In the 67 years since the first nuclear weapon was used, there is only one time the so-called nuclear briefcases were broken out and opened up, and on January 25, 1995 they nearly launched Russia's nuclear arsenal at the United States.

    When Norwegian Kolbjørn Adolfsen gave the nod to send a Black Brant rocket from the Andøya Rocket Range off the northwest coast of Norway to study the aurora borealis, he wasn't concerned at all.

    Sure the Brant is a large, four-stage rocket that would fly to 930 miles above the earth near Russia, but he'd contacted the proper Kremlin authorities and hadn't given the flight a second thought.

    What Adolfsen didn't know when he left the rocket base shortly after the missile was launched, is that the Brant's radar signature looks just like a U.S. sub-launched Trident missile.

    The radar operators at Russia's Olenegorsk early warning station promptly reported the incoming missile to their superiors, but not a soul on duty within the military had been notified of Adolfsen's plans.

    The officers at Olenegork believed it could be the first leg of a U.S. nuclear attack.

    Four years after the Berlin Wall came down and Russia was in the throes of change, stable systems had been demolished and replacements had yet to fall into place. One thing that had gotten only more developed since 1991, however, was the Kremlin's mistrust of the United States.

    So as the Brant streaked its way near Russian airspace, military officers had to decide if this was an electro-magnetic pulse attack that would disable their radar and allow for a full on American attack, and what they should do about it.

    The matter was decided when the Brant separated, dropped one of its engines, and fired up another. The radar signature now looked so much like a multiple re-entry vehicle (MRV), a missile carrying multiple nuclear warheads, that military officers no longer had any doubt.

    There were now five minutes during which the missile's trajectory would be un-tracked by Russian radar, and when it could strike Moscow; a slice of time that was devoted to deciding whether to launch a counterattack.

    Boris Yeltsin was alerted, and immediately given the Cheget, the "nuclear briefcase" that connects senior officials while they decide whether or not to launch Russia's nuclear weapons. Nuclear submarine commanders were ordered to full battle alert and told to stand by.

    Apparently Yeltsin doubted the U.S. would launch a surreptitious attack and within five minutes, Russian radar came back confirming the missile was heading harmlessly out to sea.

    Russian citizens didn't find about about the incident for weeks, and of course it's been reported in the U.S. news since. But the event never achieved the renown of the Cuban Missile Crisis, though it seems to have brought us even closer to the brink of nuclear war. 

    We thought it an interesting enough story to tell again.

    Now: Step aboard the Navy's $2.4 billion Virginia-class nuclear submarine >

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    When you're hunkered down behind a thin sliver of cover taking heavy fire, there is no more reassuring sound than the twin engines of the A-10 Thunderbolt screaming in from the distance.

    Check out the A-10 >

    That's what you think anyway, until you hear the 30mm Gatling gun that pounds out 3,500 rounds per minute at the guys trying to kill you.

    Then you know the most reassuring sound you'll ever hear.

    The A-10 is an old plane that continues to provide massive air support to ground troops, both with that cannon, and with missiles that can take out a main battle tank in a single shot.

    We looked at the A-10 over the summer, with it's distinctive shape, and historic time in service and decided it was time for another look.

    Sometimes old really is good. 

    The A-10 Thunderbolt II was introduced to service in the disco-driven year of 1977 — two years after Vietnam officially ended

    Troops on the ground refer to the A-10 as the "Warthog" or "Hog"

    What the 'Hog' lacks in pretty lines and smooth curves it makes up for in sheer determination and toughness and may suffer extreme damage while still holding to the skies

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Iran's military has 545,000 active personnel and some of the most advanced military technology of anyone out there.

    The thing is, the United States gave them a lot of it.

    See the weapons >

    Granted, it wasn't the modern Iran that  we stocked up with some of the hottest tech of the time, but the pre-revolutionary country that, at one point, was a key ally of the United States in the Middle East. 

    Still, Iran has developed their own military industrial complex to develop, maintain, and upgrade military resources. 

    And they've gotten pretty good at it.

    So ignoring their possible but unconfirmed nuclear program, we run down all the military toys that we found the Iranians are playing with. 

    Decades of United Nations embargo and a bunch of advanced Soviet and American tech laying around meant that Iran got busy, designing original weapons systems. We'll take a look at that stuff for the first time here. 

    The AH-1J SeaCobra

    The United States sold 202 of these helicopters to Iran from 1975-1978. As of right now, only around fifty remain in service.

    Iran used the helicopters with disputed success in the Iran-Iraq War. 

    The AH-1W, a similar aircraft, remains a cornerstone of the U.S. Marine Corps' attack helicopter fleet. 

    The attack helicopter carries a crew of two, a max speed of 219 mph, and a service ceiling of 10,500 feet. It's 53 feet long.

    Iran has also built an upgrade the Panha 2091, from AH-1J aircraft. Their efficacy is unknown. 


    The RIM-66 Surface to Air Missile

    A naval missile system designed by the United States and exported to multiple nations, these rockets pack a punch.

    Entering into service in 1967 and made by Raytheon, this guided missile system can travel at three-and-a-half times the speed of sound and have an operational range of up to 90 nautical miles. 

    The rockets are 15 feet long. 

    The Iran Navy has these installed on a number of missile boats and frigates.

    The S-300 missile system

    This one is unconfirmed, but Iran claims that they have them and the sources are plausible. 

    And if they do have the S-300, that's a pretty big deal. 

    Iran claimed they had inked a contract with Russia on some of the systems, which the Russians categorically deny. 

    They may have gotten some from Gaddafi. They may have scored some from Croatia or Belarus, or some parts from Russia. They have made the Bavar 373 system, which Iran claims has the same capabilities as the S-300. 

    Still, this system would be quite a get. 

    NATO called it the S-10 Gladiator. The Soviets developed in the 1970s, and it's been continually upgraded until the cessation of production in 2011. 

    It's one of the most potent anti-aircraft missile systems in the field today.

    There are even variations that have been designed to intercept ballistic missiles. The radar system can track 100 targets at once, and can simultaneously engage 12 of them. 

    The 23 foot missiles used weigh two tons and have a range of between 56 and 93 miles. They travel at six times the speed of sound. The missile system has never been used in combat as yet, but NATO has trained for that eventuality

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Mosquito Drone Mock Up

    Sightings of insect-sized micro drones have been occurring for years, but combined with the direction of genome sequencing outlined in this Atlantic piece — the pair make for a deadly possible mix.

    Even back in 2007, when Vanessa Alarcon was a college student attending an anti-war protest in Washington, D.C. she heard someone shout, "Oh my God, look at those."

    "I look up and I'm like, 'What the hell is that?'" she told The Washington Post. "They looked like dragonflies or little helicopters. But I mean, those are not insects," she continued.

    A lawyer there at the time confirmed they looked like dragonflies, but that they "definitely weren't insects".

    And he's probably right. In 2006 Flight International reported that the CIA had been developing micro UAVs as far back as the 1970s and had a mock-up in its Langley headquarters since 2003.

    While we can go on listing roachbots, swarming nano drones, and synchronized MIT robots — private trader and former software engineer Alan Lovejoy points out that the future of nano drones could become even more unsettling.

    Lovejoy found this CGI mock up of a mosquito drone equipped with the 'ability' to take DNA samples or possible inject objects beneath the skin.

    According to Lovejoy:

    Such a device could be controlled from a great distance and is equipped with a camera, microphone. It could land on you and then use its needle to take a DNA sample with the pain of a mosquito bite. Or it could inject a micro RFID tracking device under your skin.

    It could land on you and stay, so that you take it with you into your home. Or it could fly into a building through a window. There are well-funded research projects working on such devices with such capabilities.

    Assuming all that to be possible: the Atlantic article paints a complimentary addition.

    The trio of authors Andrew Hessel, Marc Goodman, and Steven Kotler outline futuristic human genome work that evolves from the very real 2008 GE $100 million breast cancer challenge.

    In the group's scenario a bunch of brilliant freelancers receive bids to design personalized virus' offering customized cures for the sick.

    Say you get pancreatic cancer, instead of chemo' — the first step in treatment will be decoding your genome — which costs about $1,000 right now and takes a couple of days. An eternity when you're rife with cancer, no doubt, but a far cry from the two years and $300 million it required less than a decade-and-a-half ago.

    But imagine, the three writers ask: it's 2015, and with information about the disease and your exclusive genome sequence, tomorrow's virologists will have only a simple design problem on their hands.

    The problem will be freelanced out for bids, like a brochure design on Elance, and the winning design will be a formula that'll rid your body of the cancer.

    All of this is pretty plausible, if not a bit short on the timeline, but imagine the request for proposal of your pancreatic cancer cure was something else.

    Imagine it was the genome of a particular African leader recruiting children to fight his wars, and that his DNA had been high-jacked in 2009 at the UN by order of Hillary Clinton.

    Same scenario applies. The request for a drug tailored to that particular genome is accepted. It's paid for and forwarded to an online bio-marketplace and then sent to a synthesis start-up that turns "the 5,984 base-pair blueprint into actual genetic material."

    And here is where the future of drones and the future of virology could intersect.

    A few days later tablets are delivered to a group that dissolves them and injects the liquid into a handful of micro-drones. The group releases the drones and lands them on and infects people in the African leader's circle of advisors or family.

    The micro drones drift onto their skin while their sleeping or otherwise engaged, insert the mix, and fly off.

    The infected come down with flu like symptoms, coughs and sneezes that release billions of harmless virus particles — but in the vicinity of the African leader — the particles change.

    Once the virus particles are exposed to his very specific DNA sequence it unlocks a secondary function, in the Atlantic piece the target is the U.S. president via sneezing Harvard students, but the effect would be the same. In that case it was a "fast-acting neuro-destructive disease that produced memory loss and, eventually, death."

    Same for the African leader, though the symptoms could be tailored an infinite number of ways. Designed to reflect a uniquely local affliction like Dengue Fever, or to appear like symptoms of a genetic condition.

    The drone and bio-technologies are approaching the point where something like this is theoretically possible, even if for now, it's only imagination. 

    The Atlantic piece called Hacking the President DNA is great and I highly recommend reading it here if the topic interests you. The writers also mention how prominent leaders go to great lengths to keep their genetic material secure and limit the possibility of their genome being decoded and offered up to the highest bidder.

    Now: See how close to nuclear war the world came in 1995 > 

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    Manhattan VA

    Anticipating Hurricane Sandy's arrival the Manhattan Campus of the VA NY Harbor Healthcare System has ordered all its patients evacuated from the facility at 423 East 23rd Street.

    In addition, all NY Harbor campuses will be closed tomorrow. Sandy is supposed to reach land tomorrow and Mayor Bloomberg has ordered everyone in a NYC 'Zone A'  to evacuate.

    By comparison the VA only did a partial evacuation during Hurricane Irene in August 2011.

    From the VA website:

    Due to the path of Hurricane Sandy, VA New York Harbor Healthcare System has begun an evacuation of all patients at the Manhattan hospital facility, located at 423 East 23 Street.

    Family members may call 212-686-7500 and dial 0 for questions about loved ones’ locations. All clinics and CBOCs at all NY Harbor campuses will be closed tomorrow. If you have questions about an appointment, call Centralized Scheduling at 1-877-877-9267.

    Remember to keep an emergency supply kit on hand. It's important to prepare your family for unexpected disasters & emergencies. For a list of things to do to secure your home & keep family safe, visit

    Thank you & stay safe.

    See the latest map and Sandy news >

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    When the Artillery School of Practice founded in 1824 at Ft. Monroe, Va. grew inadequate for the expanding nation's needs, the United States Army Command and General Staff College was built in Ft. Leavenworth, Ka.

    A 130-year-old postgraduate institution, it's made up of several smaller schools like the Combined Arms Center (CAC).

    The CAC provides training materials like the presentation from which these slides were taken. Meant for all Army Major's moving on to Lt. Colonel, these three slides make the unusual move of slamming a former U.S. President.

    The slide talks about the "risks of a leader who is too optimistic," along with a picture of Bush giving his notorious "Mission Accomplished" speech in 2003.

    The risks include "not planning accurately for the future, not taking steps to mitigate risk, and diminish something tragic."

    The third slide immediately follows, with a different image overlaid where the Bush picture had been.

    CAC Presentation



    Now: See how close the world came to nuclear war in 1995 >

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    HMS BountyBountyOne of the world's most famous ships, the HMS Bounty is a victim of Hurricane Sandy.

    Initially the ship was reported to be "intact and upright" but subsequent reports say it has sunk.

    The Bounty departed Connecticut last week and was underway to Florida, making efforts to sidestep the large hurricane moving up from the south.

    According to a picture posted from the ship October 25, "Bounty has departed New London CT...Next Port of Call...St. Petersburg, Florida.
    Bounty will be sailing due East out to sea before heading South to avoid the brunt of Hurricane Sandy."

    Unfortunately, the ship succumbed to what initial reports are saying were 18-foot-seas, when the Bounty's Captain ordered everyone aboard to abandon ship.

    According to WSAV 3, an NBC station out of Savannah, Ga. 14 of the 16 member crew have so far been rescued.

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    tomb unknown sandy

    To serve as a Sentinel at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery is considered one of the greatest honors in the military. The tomb itself has been under continuous guard, every second of every day, since 1948.

    Tomb Sentinel is a volunteer position that accepts fewer than 20 percent of all applicants, and of those only a small percentage go on to become actual Tomb Guards. The high attrition rate makes it the second least awarded US military decoration after the Army Astronaut Badge.

    This is not the first time guards have experienced a hurricane. In 2003, for the first time in American history, the sentinels, as the post marchers are called, were given the choice to seek shelter away from Hurricane Isabel. They did not. The choice was given them again in 2011, when Irene stormed ashore. And again, they did not leave their post.

    Today, the sentinels face Hurricane Sandy. The winds may reach 120 mph, and the sentinels have the option to take refuge in a safe house, the "trophy room," which overlooks the tombs.

    Our guess is that they'll remain on post throughout. 

    This photo was posted to the First Army's Division East Facebook page today, with a graph stating that the guards are still on post in weather conditions surrounding Hurricane Sandy.

    The picture has gone viral, and while the photographer points out it was taken in September, the guards are standing there right now.


    The Sentinels Creed:

    My dedication to this sacred duty is total and wholehearted. In the responsibility bestowed on me never will I falter. And with dignity and perseverance my standard will remain perfection. Through the years of diligence and praise and the discomfort of the elements, I will walk my tour in humble reverence to the best of my ability. It is he who commands the respect I protect. His bravery that made us so proud. Surrounded by well meaning crowds by day alone in the thoughtful peace of night, this soldier will in honored glory rest under my eternal vigilance.

    Now: See how close the world came to nuclear war in 1995 >

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    East Village Flooding

    Superstorm Sandy had a devastating impact on New York City.

    (For coverage of storm damage from Jamaica to Canada, click here >)

    At least 10 New Yorkers died, with more fatalities expected.

    New Yorkers face 3-4 days without full power and 4-5 days without subways, according to Mayor Michael BloombergLaGuardia Airport is extremely damaged and will remain closed at least another day, while JFK may open tomorrow.

    Eighty homes were destroyed by fire in Breezy Point, QueensCentral Park is a messStuyvesant Town is a mess. A construction crane collapsed from a Midtown building, and the front fell off a building in Chelsea.

    And there's absolutely incredible flooding.

    A lone pedestrian stand with his scooter near a message about superstorm Sandy in New York's Times Square, early Tuesday

    A construction crane atop a $1.5 billion luxury high-rise in midtown Manhattan dangles precariously after collapsing in high winds Monday

    Firefighters look up at the facade of a four-story building on 14th Street and 8th Avenue that collapsed onto the sidewalk Monday

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    After spending the day watching Sandy on the news yesterday, most of us here in Manhattan's West 70s were left feeling fortunate. Aside from a few gusts of wind, and a smattering of rain, we didn't see too much weather at all.

    Judging from the news this morning it was obvious the storm was far worse than we could see from our windows here, so I went out as the sun came up to see what Sandy wrought.

    From Central Park West, through the park, down to midtown, to see that dangling crane at One57, and up along the East River it's an interesting cross-section of what had happened throughout the night.

    At 7:00 a.m. Tuesday morning it looked like Manhattan's Upper West Side might have been spared major damage

    But along Central Park here on 68th St. this scaffolding lost some wood that tore down the street

    This piece struck the light post with so much force it ripped the wood around the base

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    With Sandy gone, and the worst of the damage assessed, all eyes are looking up to the twisted crane atop One57 — 1,000 feet above the ground.

    Mayor Bloomberg in his press conference yesterday promised that experts would strap the crane to the adjoining building at the first opportunity. Bloomberg insisted this would make the crane a "non-issue" and allow the city to wait for experts that could properly remove and replace it. 

    The New York Times reports a "double gust" of wind twisted the crane backward from its unique hurricane ready position and sent it to its current condition.

    Channel 4 reports it could take four to six weeks for another tower crane to be raised and bring the broken crane down. In the meantime local residents and workers have been evacuated, and steam lines beneath the street shut down.

    The following pictures were taken Tuesday as the wind blew and rain fell. If anyone has a suggestion of a spot to shoot pictures at height, from a local building that has upper access, please shoot me an email and I'll head over there when workers attempt to strap the crane to One57's frame.

    One 57 Crane

    One57 Crane

    One57 Crane

    One57 Crane

    One57 Crane

    Now: Tour Sandy's damage on New York's Upper West Side >

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    Sandy 2012 Downtown

    Last night we sent two reporters, Robert Johnson and Dan Goodman, into the darkness of lower Manhattan to see the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

    Around 220,000 homes and businesses are without power in Manhattan, primarily below 36th Street. Much of this area is in pitch darkness, interrupted by the occasional generator-powered light, headlights, and flashlights.

    It's a strange and eerie scene, especially because last night was Halloween.

    Robert Johnson went downtown by bike. He was moving a lot faster than miles of cars in gridlock.

    At 34th Street he crossed to the area with no power.

    Where the National Guard is on patrol

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    Once free of the confines of storm stricken Manhattan, it doesn't take long to realize that traveling through New Jersey presents its own daunting set of problems.

    The first line of cars stretched along the highway for miles raises more questions than concerns, until it becomes clear that the three mile string of vehicles are all waiting for gasoline to continue on their way.

    Eighty percent of New Jersey stations don't even have gas, while police guard closed stations and open stations alike. At one set of pumps we saw a driver who pulled in from from desperation, cutting in front of the line. Drivers near the pumps piled from their cars threatening violence and when we left, the newcomer still sat in his car, windows rolled up, head on his hand — waiting.

    Some stations were expecting fuel deliveries today, others had capped purchases hoping not to run out.

    Reserve tanks in the area were drained before Sandy to avoid an environmental disaster. The Arthur Kill waterway is closed for major oil spill cleanup, which means no deliveries will be coming from the port in Bayonne. Many terminals themselves are without power and the extent of damage is yet unknown.

    Residents told us over-and-over today, generally with a shake of the head and a look into the distance: "This is like nothing I've ever seen."

    New Jersey After Sandy

    New Jersey Sandy

    New Jersey Sandy

    New Jersey Sandy

    New Jersey Sandy

    Now: Step into the darkened streets of lower Manhattan >

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    gas, shortage, lines, long, waiting, prices, aftermath, new jersey, sky, american flag, sandy, nj, 2012, bi, dng

    With New Jersey slowly starting to pull itself back together, life there remains far from normal.

    Damages to businesses could reach $30 billion and over 2 million New Jersey homes and business remain without power (that means the actual number of people affected is bigger).

    Click here to go straight to the photos >

    We headed out there to see how the state is doing post-Sandy and while things are getting better there remain sharp contrasts in the areas affected. Some face limited damage and have power or are near people with power. Those areas are calmer with people gathering at charging stations or malls or going to friends' homes.

    However, other parts of the state like Lake Ferry and Moonachie are still submerged in water. Many there are struggling with the permanent loss of property and mementos and are slowly getting back on their feet and reorganizing their lives. 

    One of the first things we noticed when we got to New Jersey were the incredible gas lines, the state is running out of gas and people are getting desperate. Police are on hand to maintain order. 

    We traveled through Bergen County, into Lake Ferry and Moonachie and then down to Hoboken and will be sharing out findings over the coming days.

    Our first stop, after a gas station, was Garden State Plaza, where the mall has opened to allow people to charge phones and devices. 

    We've never seen a mall like this. 

    The first thing you notice when you get to New Jersey are the gas lines.

    Some stretch for more than 2-3 miles.

    In that front red car, Shari Howard got lucky, she pulled into the line at an exit point (there was no way to drive to the end) and was able to get up to the pump in only 10 minutes. She had traveled down from badly damaged Greenwood Lake, NY to visit family.

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