Tag Archives: US Army

US Army used deadly viruses in Europe exercises…

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German newspaper Bild found that the US military used deadly anthrax spores in chemical weapons defense training on a military base in Germany.

In an article with the headline “US Army operated biological weapons in Germany,” Berlin daily Bild revealed that the US military used deadly live anthrax spores in military exercises.

The investigation revealed that several of the US military exercises on German soil involved “incidents” in which live anthrax spores were released. The incidents took place in the town of Landstuhl, near France, Luxembourg and the Ramstein military base. The US military previously sent live anthrax spores to South Korea.

The German defense ministry told the newspaper that the spores were not sent to any German military laboratories. The US military previously admitted that since 2005 it sent anthrax spores to South Korea, Australia and Canada, but not Germany.

“According to current information, Bundeswehr servicemen were not put in danger,” the German defense ministry claimed in an inquiry to Bild.

The spores were supposed to be neutralized at the Dugway Proving Ground in the US state of Utah before being sent to the exercises, but the incident made “some spores even more active,” according to the newspaper.

Pentagon knew about former Army doctor’s macabre training techniques for 10 years…

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The Pentagon knew about a former Army doctor’s macabre training techniques 10 years ago – techniques which led to his license recently being suspended – but continued to hire him to train troops in battlefield medicine.

Dr. John Henry Hagmann allegedly gave trainees drugs and liquor and had them perform disturbing procedures on one another. The Virginia Board of Medicine suspended Hagmann’s medical license earlier this year.

In 2005, the commander of US Special Forces became so alarmed by what his aides observed during one of Hagmann’s training courses that the commander ordered all such private training halted, according to interviews and military documents reviewed by Reuters.

In his order, General Bryan Brown wrote that aides witnessed “potentially hazardous physiological demonstrations” performed on US troops.

Not long after, a Navy captain banned Hagmann from his base, disturbed that the doctor was giving drugs to some trainees so that other students could observe the effects, Reuters reported.

“I refused to let him into my facilities,” said Efren Saenz, a now-retired Navy officer who led a field medical training battalion at Camp Johnson from 2006 to 2009.

Still, the government continued to contract with Hagmann, paying him at least $10.5 million in federal contracts since 2007 through his company, Deployment Medicine International (DMI).

David Morehouse, DMI’s vice president for operations from 2005 to 2011, emailed the Virginia Board of Medicine shortly after Hagmann’s license was suspended.

“Thank you for doing this, for finally stopping this heinous physician who places so many people at risk, and has done so without penalty for decades,” Morehouse wrote in the email, which was obtained by Reuters.

Hagmann often required that those who took or helped teach his courses sign non-disclosure agreements, Reuters reported.

Spokespeople for the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Army and Special Operations told Reuters that the training techniques described in the Virginia medical board’s report are not appropriate battlefield-trauma training.

Hagmann is expected to appear on Friday in front of the Virginia medical board, which will consider whether to revoke his medical license.

The board alleges that in 2012 and 2013, Hagmann induced shock by withdrawing the blood of students, provided trainees with the hypnotic drug ketamine, performed penile nerve blocks and instructed troops to insert catheters into one another’s genitals. He is also accused of conducting rectal exams for his own sexual gratification.

Hagmann has maintained that he violated no rules and harmed no one, and said his training techniques comply with standard practices for training medical students.

US Army to train Paraguay troops amid militarization concerns…

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Analysts are worried about Washington’s growing military presence in the region. Special United States army forces will arrive in Paraguay this month to train local soldiers as part of a bilateral agreement between the two countries, in what some analysts call a step towards U.S. militarization of the region. The U.S. trainers from the North Carolina National Guard were given the green light by Paraguay’s Chamber of Senators this week to bring in equipment, weapons and ammunition to be used in joint exercises. The announcement comes as some analysts raise concerns about the presence of the U.S. forces in Paraguay – where recently a new Emergency Operations Center has also been established in the north of the country under the control of the U.S. military. The area known as the Gran Chaco region, which is rich in hydrocarbons, particularly oil, has also been a point of contention between neighbors, particularly between Paraguay and Bolivia during the Chaco War (1928-1935). According to Pablo Ruiz, a member of the Observers of the School of the Americas, Washington is “militarizing” the region in a strategic manner to take over the area’s natural resources. “Their geopolitical interests that have to do with access to resources,” such as “oil, freshwater, biodiversity or minerals,” said Ruiz, reported Resumen Latino Americano. This is essential “to continue to maintain U.S. rule” of the region, says the academic.

The Latin American countries such as Colombia, Chile, Peru, Panama and Paraguay have long felt U.S. pressures for “continued militarization,” says the academic. The U.S. training forces are scheduled to arrive in Paraguay on May 31 and June 1, and will remain in the country for the entire month of June.

An ‘eye in the sky’ is coming to America’s East Coast…

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In a few days, the U.S. Army will position in the skies over Maryland two billion-dollar blimps capable of monitoring activity in an area the size of Texas.

The launching of the massive, $1.4 billion-per-piece airships will mark the culmination of an 18-year-long project billed as a measure of defense against cruise missiles. As a nifty bonus, the twin sentinels, which will float in place at a height of 10,000 feet, close to an interstate and 45 miles northeast of Washington D.C., will be able to spot and track cars, trucks and boats hundreds of miles away.

Dan Froomkin at The Intercept reports that “[a]rmy officials claim they have no interest in monitoring anything other than missiles, or maybe boats.” But the project, known as JLENS (“Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System) and built by Raytheon, “can detect plenty more than that.” One blimp provides ” omnipresent high-resolution 360-degree radar coverage up to 340 miles in any direction,” while the other “can focus on specific threats and provide targeting information” (whatever that means.)

“Aerostats like JLENS aren’t limited to radar,” Froomkin continues. “If equipped with extremely high-resolution video cameras, they can see and record everything for miles, with extraordinary detail. In Kabul, for example, residents are used to seeing the U.S. military’s tethered aerostat—called the Persistent Ground Surveillance system—hovering above the city, capturing video of daily life below.”

The ACLU’s Jay Stanley is not convinced that the Americans beneath JLENS won’t eventually be subject to the surveillance imposed on the people of Kabul. “I’m sure that the people who are giving us these assurances mean everything they say, but the nature of government programs and government agencies is that things tend to expand and privacy protections tend to shrink,” Stanley told Froomkin. “If we’re going to have massive blimps hovering over civilian areas, or within radar-shot of civilian areas, then we need some very ironclad checks and balances that will provide confidence that there’s no domestic surveillance going on.”

Ed Herlik, a former Air Force officer and technology analyst with an enthusiasm for airships, confirmed that blimps are “wonderful for staring at things.” The psychological effect of a massive, unmoving blimp is a boon to officials seeking to pacify agitated citizens, Froomkin says. “If you put a camera in a sky over an area where you expect a lot of unrest, the area will calm down,” Herlik added.

Cryptic language found in Raytheon’s contract by a researcher with the advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) does not ease anxiety over the potential abuse of JLENS. After it becomes active, the contract said, the project will be evaluated based on its “potential to grow to accommodate new and/or alternative missions.”

Again, the Army insists there will be no cameras on JLENS. But in a test last year, Froomkin reports, “Raytheon equipped one of the blimps with an MTS-B Multi-Spectral Targeting System that provides both day and night imaging, laser designation, and laser illumination capabilities.” The result of that test was that JLENS operators could “watch live feed of trucks, trains and cars from dozens of miles away.” They also spied Raytheon employees “simulate planting a roadside improvised explosive device.”

Returning to the program’s impact on the majority of the population, Ginger McCall, associate director of EPIC, commented, “There’s something inherently suspect for the public to look up in the sky and see this surveillance device hanging there. … It’s the definition of persistent surveillance.”

US Army withheld promise from Germany that Ebola virus wouldn’t be weaponized…

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The United States has withheld assurances from Germany that the Ebola virus – among other related diseases – would not be weaponized in the event of Germany exporting it to the US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases.

German MFA Deputy Head of Division for Export Control Markus Klinger provided a paper to the US consulate’s Economics Office (Econoff), “seeking additional assurances related to a proposed export of extremely dangerous pathogens.”

Germany subsequently made two follow-up requests and clarifications to the Army, according to the unclassified Wikileaks cable.

“This matter concerns the complete genome of viruses such as the Zaire Ebola virus, the Lake Victoria Marburg virus, the Machupo virus and the Lassa virus, which are absolutely among the most dangerous pathogens in the world,” the request notes.

The Zaire Ebola virus was the same strain of Ebola virus which has been rampaging through West Africa in recent months.

“The delivery would place the recipient in the position of being able to create replicating recombinant infectious species of these viruses,” the cable notes.

However, it also points out that Germany has in place an “exceptionally restrictive policy,” adding that approval would not be granted to the export until US assurance was provided.

“A decision about the export has not yet been made. Given the foregoing, we would appreciate confirmation that the end use certificate really is from the Department of the Army and of the accuracy of the data contained therein,” the document stated.

There is no follow-up document available to confirm whether the US Army eventually provided Germany with the necessary guarantees.

Bioweapons were outlawed in the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972 and was signed and ratified by 179 signatories, including Germany, the US and Russia.

It dictates that signatories, “under all circumstances the use of bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons is effectively prohibited by the Convention” and “the determination of States parties to condemn any use of biological agents or toxins other than for peaceful purposes, by anyone at any time.”

U.S. Army unveils creepy helmets…

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If the U.S. Army greenlights a radical new helmet design, its soldiers may have a harder time winning hearts and minds overseas. Quite simply, the thing is frightening—think motocross storm trooper.

Functionally, however, the helmet unveiled Tuesday marks a major advance. The same features that make it look so fierce—a full face mask and eye shield—filter out chemical attacks and biological pathogens. The screen over the eyes will populate with real-time data, like a sort of G.I. Google Glass.

The real masterstroke is a lightweight fan that cools the head and runs off batteries attached to a soldier’s hip or back. The next version will “sense,” using body sensors, when the fan needs to turn itself on, according to the Army’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center.

Helmets are a fairly hot and controversial design category these days, as scientists increasingly find that even mild brain trauma may be more harmful than previously thought. Both the U.S. military and the National Football League have been putting sensors in helmets to flag potentially serious impacts.

The Army said recently that, among other findings, its headgear has traditionally been great at stopping shrapnel but less effective at handling blunt impact and shock waves from explosions. Plus, old brain-buckets such as this one were terrible at displaying data.

Army R&D units have been developing a new kind of padding that is essentially a cluster of glass “microspheres” that break to absorb impacts. That technology—as well as the Mad Max helmet unveiled today—may not see action for a while. The Pentagon is in the midst of outfitting all its soldiers with a new “enhanced combat helmet,” which replaces Kevlar from Dupont (DD) with lighter polyethylene fibers from 3M (MMM). Those cost Uncle Sam about $1,000 each, but they don’t stop chemical attacks or check e-mail.

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US army builds fake city to train at…

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The US army has built a fake city designed to be used during combat training exercises.

The 300 acre ‘town’ includes a five story embassy, a bank, a school, an underground subway and train station, a mosque, a football stadium, and a helicopter landing zone.

Located in Virginia, the realistic subway station comes complete with subway carriages and the train station has real train carriages.

The subway carriages even carry the same logo as the carriages in Washington DC

There are also bridges and several other structures which can be transformed into different scenarios.

The $96 million is designed to meticulously “replicate complex operational environments and develop solutions”.

The U.S. army’s Army Asymmetric Warfare Group opened the training centre last month.

The unit was created in 2004 to help combat terrorism and reduce the vulnerabilities of the army to emerging threats.

Colonel John P. Petkosek, the commander of the group said of the new training city :

“This is the place where we can be creative, where we can come up with solutions for problems that we don’t even know we have yet,”

“This is where we’ll look at solutions for the future–material solutions and non-material solutions…anything from how you’re going to operate in a subterranean environment to how you dismount a Humvee to avoid an IED strike.

“The things that we do here at this facility will have a direct and lasting impact on our entire army.”

It has taken six years for the site to be developed, including two years of construction.