America's transgender military ban to be phased out

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U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter released a statement today confirming that America's "current regulations regarding transgender service members are outdated and are causing uncertainty that distracts commanders from our core missions." Read the rest

Texans brace for Jade Helm 15, massive federal military exercise

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About half of Texans are concerned about Jade Helm 15, this week's federal military exercise across the American southwest. Many conspiracy theories advanced by right-wing groups have driven these concerns. Read the rest

End of the United States' "weaponized anthropology" program

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After eight years, the US army's $725 million Human Terrain System, a controversial social science program ostensibly established to help the military understand the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, but criticized as a tool for propaganda and psyops, has ended. At CounterPunch, San José State University anthropology professor Roberto J. González published a fascinating history and critique of the program. From CounterPunch:

HTS supporters frequently claimed that the program would increase cultural understanding between US forces and Iraqis and Afghans–and therefore reduce American and civilian casualties. The program’s leaders insisted that embedded social scientists were delivering sociocultural knowledge to commanders, but the reality was more complex. HTS personnel conducted a range of activities including data collection, intelligence gathering, and psychological operations. In at least one case, an HTS employee supported interrogations in Afghanistan (Weinberger 2011).

The program also served a more insidious function: It became a propaganda tool for convincing the American public–especially those with liberal tendencies–that the US-led occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan were benevolent missions in which smart, fresh-faced young college graduates were playing a role. It appeared to demonstrate how US forces were engaged in a kinder, gentler form of occupation. Department of Defense photos portrayed HTS personnel sitting on rugs while drinking tea with Afghan elders, or distributing sweets to euphoric Iraqi children. Here was a war that Americans could feel good about fighting.

"The Rise and Fall of the Human Terrain System"

Human Terrain System (Army.mil)

(photo: Spc. Jason A. Young / Army) Read the rest

America's broken promise to veterans who survived race-based chemical weapons testing in WWII

Three test subjects enter a gas chamber, which will fill with mustard gas, as part of the military's secret chemical warfare testing in March 1945.
Courtesy of Edgewood Arsenal
"It took all the skin off your hands," says former Army soldier Rollins Edwards. "Your hands just rotted."

Navy openly solicits for 0-day bugs to weaponize

A solicitation on FedBizOpps from the Navy asks security researchers to sell them their "vulnerability intelligence, exploit reports and operational exploit binaries affecting widely used and relied upon commercial software." Read the rest

Watch this cute missing dog reunite with her U.S. veteran owner after 5 years apart

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Praise pet microchipping!

Read the rest

Watch amazing robots fall over at the DARPA Robotics Challenge! (And see the winner.)

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They'll figure it out soon enough, and then what! THEN WHAT!

Meanwhile, South Korea's bipedal humanoid DRC-HUBOT (below), built by Team KAIST, won the US$2 million grand prize. Read the rest

Translation: once they learn the truth, techies hate and fear us

US Defense Secretary: Snowden Caused Tensions With Techies Read the rest

Interactive tour of nuclear arsenals since WWII

Explore how many nukes there are in the world, and where they are, courtesy of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists' interactive Nuclear Notebook -- a useful way to discover whether some friendly superpower has stashed nukes in your harbour. Read the rest

VA boss caught lying about serving in the Special Forces

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald has apologized for lying to a veteran about serving in the Special Forces. (via Super Punch) Read the rest

Alan Turing's lost notes discovered as crumpled insulation in Bletchley Park huts

After the war ended, Churchill ordered all of Bletchley's work -- the computers, the notebooks -- destroyed, but some of Alan Turing's notes were discovered between the walls of Hut 6 during a recent renovation, and are now on display at Bletchley Park. Read the rest

Monstrous Regiment: the finest Discworld novel?

Monstrous Regiment, a book about gender, war, identity, strategy and tactics, can be enjoyed without reading any of the other marvellous books in the Discworld series.

Stross's Merchant Princes books in omnibus editions

Charlie Stross's "Merchant Princes" series-- a sly, action-packed romp that blends heroic fantasy, military science fiction, economics, politics, and alternate worlds -- originally published as six mass-market paperbacks, is now available in three handy trade-paperbacks. Read the rest

What military gear did the Pentagon give to America's cops?

Michael from Muckrock says, "After months of legal wrangling, MuckRock has finally received the complete list of military gear given to local police departments under the Pentagon's 1033 program, including bomb disposal robots, infrared gun sights, small aircraft and rocket launchers." Read the rest

Pretend cities to fool bombers through history

Starting with a fake Paris built to lure Kaiser Bill's incendiary bombs, through to the pretend industrial towns used in WWII England to divert 900 tonnes of munitions, to the pretend airbases built in the Pacific Northwest and through to the Viet Cong's pretend villages to disguise tunnel complexes. Read the rest

UK military slang from Afghanistan

"ALLY Term for a battlefield fashionista - desirables include having a beard, using a different rifle, carrying vast amounts of ammunition, being dusty and having obscene amounts of tattoos and hair. Special forces are automatically Ally." Read the rest

Database of military surplus equipment sold to US police forces

Kyle writes, "The US Department of Defense has a specific program to provide: "surplus DoD military equipment to state and local civilian law enforcement agencies for use in counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism operations, and to enhance officer safety" (Excess Property Program, or 1033 Program). This equipment can account for things like planes and helicopters, grenade launchers and assault rifles. Read the rest

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