Tag: us military

Janet: The U.S. Military’s Secret Airline that Flies to Area 51

Othman Mekhloufi | @othmanmekhloufi

At the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, there exists a highly classified airline with a fleet of passenger aircraft that the military owns. It commenced operations in 1972 and was operated by defense contractors that played a key role in the development of nuclear weapons. The airline currently operates out of a private terminal, and the public knows very little about it. They, however, unofficially refer to it as “Janet”. This is because “Janet” is the callsign that the pilots use to identify their aircraft over air traffic radio.

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The U.S. Military Wants to Build Space Lasers

Othman Mekhloufi | @othmanmekhloufi

The Pentagon has asked for $304 million in the 2020 budget to fund research and development for space-based lasers, neutral particle beams, and advanced missile defense. DefenseOne reported that two studies are currently being conducted by American defense officials regarding these space-based weapons. These two studies aim to develop a space-based weapon capable of disabling enemy ballistic missiles moments after launch.

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You and I Paid for Bombs That Hit a Hospital Yesterday

Ryan Lau | @RyanLau71R

This Tuesday, a horrifying but unsurprising announcement came from Yemen. Once again, a Saudi drone strike missed its target, this time blowing up part of a hospital. The blast killed seven people, of whom four were children. Among the dead are a health worker and the worker’s two kids.

In related news, the United States continued to help the Saudis with air force training. We’re supplying them with arms, training, and in some cases, ground troops that fought on the side of Al Qaeda. With the terrorist group’s own fighters joining a Saudi coalition and fighting alongside the United States, it’s clear that we are indeed on the same side as the terrorists in this particular battle. Moreover, an ever-increasing amount of information is proving that we fund the Saudis militarily and sell them weapons, but they don’t always actually pay us what they owe, leaving burdens on Americans. Moreover, the Department of Defense has failed to collect payments for plane fuel, placing even more wartime expenses on taxpayers. They continue to strike targets that we advise against, but we continue to aid and train them. In fact, I pay them personally.

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Trump Lifts Requirement to Report Civilian Victims of Drone Strikes

Indri Schaelicke | @ISchaelicke

President Trump issued an executive order Wednesday that revoked a requirement for intelligence and military officials to declare certain unclassified information about foreign drone strikes.

Former President Barack Obama first established this policy via executive order. The order mandated that intelligence officials provide an “unclassified summary of the number of strikes” as well as “assessments of combatant and non-combatant deaths resulting from those strikes” each year.

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The Murderous Military Uses Call of Duty for Target Practice

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

Undeniably, the United States has a culture of violence. From its sky-high rates of sexual assault to violent acts on TV, American society fetishizes aggression. In fact, by the time an American turns 18, they will have seen 200,000 violent acts on TV. However, these examples pale in comparison to one of the deadliest organizations in the history of the world: the United States military.

Since 1945, our armed forces have directly killed at least 20 million people in 37 countries. This astounding figure shows a true world atrocity. Nonetheless, the military continues to adapt and grow stronger, learning new ways to kill. Moreover, it learns new ways to convince people to kill and die for it. A long-standing example of this is the concept of American exceptionalism and patriotism. As time passes by, though, they create more intuitive ways of doing so. A recent example actually perpetuates the violence already present in American culture. In the past couple of years, the military has used Call of Duty and other violent video games in order to desensitize soldiers to killing, making it easier for them to do so in battle.

Murder Training

Since the turn of the century, violent video games have become a major category of entertainment, especially in America. From Grand Theft Auto to Halo, shooting games are widely popular among a diverse audience, young and old. Unfortunately for Middle Eastern civilians, the trend has spread to the military.

The United States military strongly encourages all combat units to participate in games like Call of Duty. Their several varying reasons for such are each about as reasonable as a full invasion of Canada.

A Simulation of Real Combat Experiences

One Iraq War veteran described the experiences of Black Ops 2 as “intensive and highly realistic approaches to tactical combat”. Presumably, the former soldier has held both a gaming controller and a gun, and also witnessed both reality and a digital world. The two are vastly different, and it is disturbing that someone who holds a gun for the United States does not think so.

However similar the decisions may be, a video game simulation can never mirror the weight of having to kill another human being. Pressing the R button on a controller simply does not equate in any way to stopping a beating heart. Such equivalencies may belong in sci-fi works like Ender’s Game, but not the real world. Terrifyingly, though, this soldier is not alone in his belief.

It Desensitizes Soldiers to Violence

In 2012, Brock Bastian and several other psychologists ran a study on the effects of violent video games on the brain. Unsurprisingly, they found a deeply chilling result: the games could actually desensitize soldiers and other people to real-world violence. By simply pressing buttons on a controller, these people reacted less to the suffering of other people.

To the military, this is an ominously great gift. Of course, the very goal of the organization, every time it goes overseas, is to kill enemies for American interests. That is a simple fact of how militaries work. Even though we created many of the enemies, such fact is often irrelevant. In order to carry out their goals, the armed forces require people willing to kill and die for them.

What better way is there to draw these people and ensure their participation than by crippling the parts of their brains that feel for other human beings? From a strategic standpoint, the move is brilliant, as it inevitably will reduce rates of disobedience and deserting. Yet, from a position of morality, the move is nearly as awful as the military actions themselves. To rob a man or woman of morals and feeling is to rob that person of their meaning and being. From an institution with the blood of 20 million in 70 years on its hands, I expect nothing less.

A Mindset Without a Call of Duty

Recently, The Conversation interviewed a number of soldiers and veterans about Call of Duty and other violent video games and their service. Many of them reported the importance of remaining “in the mindset of a soldier” while they were not currently on a call of duty. The argument here falls apart both morally and practically.

When a doctor goes home, he or she (most likely) does not run MRIs on his or her family. Yet, upon returning to work, even after a vacation, that doctor does not lose abilities. If knowledge as deeply complex and difficult as how to be a doctor does not vanish with time away, why would that be true of a soldier? It takes little skill to be one in relation to a doctor. Yet, doctors can take time off without staying in the doctor mindset and still return to duty.

The only way this could be necessary for soldiers, then, is if the job requires doing something that the normal human psyche would oppose, like killing. But of course, that is exactly what being a soldier entails. Yet, this argument still backfires morally. If being a soldier violates basic human nature and decency, why should anyone reinforce it with continued violence?

Surely, Call of Duty and other violent video games are having detrimental effects on American soldiers. By desensitizing troops to violence and making poor simulations of combat, the games make a dangerous promise: to add to that 20 million, the next time American boots touch some foreign sand.


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