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Armed Forces

For the F, that was to be fast, highly maneuverable, and deadly in air-to-air combat. The A needed to be heavily armored, so it could absorb opposing fire; designed to fly as slowly as possible over the battlefield, rather than as rapidly, so that it could stay in range to do damage rather than roaring through; and built around one very powerful gun. There are physical devices that seem the pure expression of a function. The Eames chair, a classic No. The A, generally known not as the Thunderbolt but as the Warthog, fills that role in the modern military.

It is rugged; it is inexpensive; it can shred enemy tanks and convoys by firing up to 70 rounds a second of armor-piercing, inch-long depleted-uranium shells. The weapon in whose name the A is being phased out is its opposite in almost every way. In automotive terms, it would be a Lamborghini rather than a pickup truck or a flying tank.

In air-travel terms, the first-class sleeper compartment on Singapore Airlines rather than advance-purchase Economy Plus or even business class on United. These comparisons seem ridiculous, but they are fair. The A shows the pattern. According to figures from the aircraft analyst Richard L. A Predator drone costs about two-thirds as much. The simplicity of design allows it to spend more of its time flying instead of being in the shop. An aircraft that was intended to be inexpensive, adaptable, and reliable has become the most expensive in history, and among the hardest to keep out of the shop.

The federal official who made the project a symbol of a new, transparent, rigorously data-dependent approach to awarding contracts ended up serving time in federal prison for corruption involving projects with Boeing.

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For the record, the Pentagon and the lead contractors stoutly defend the plane and say that its teething problems will be over soon—and that anyway, it is the plane of the future, and the A is an aging relic of the past. We have posted reports here on the A, pro and con, so you can see whether you are convinced. In theory, the F would show common purpose among the military services, since the Air Force, the Navy, and the Marine Corps would all get their own custom-tailored versions of the plane.

In fact, a plane designed to do many contradictory things—to be strong enough to survive Navy aircraft-carrier landings, yet light and maneuverable enough to excel as an Air Force dogfighter, and meanwhile able to take off and land straight up and down, like a helicopter, to reach marines in tight combat circumstances—has unsurprisingly done none of them as well as promised. In theory, the F was meant to knit U. In fact, the delays, cost overruns, and mechanical problems of the airplane have made it a contentious political issue in customer countries from Canada and Holland to Italy and Australia.

The country where the airplane has least been a public issue is the United States. Neither man mentioned the F, and I am still looking for evidence that President Obama has talked about it in any of his speeches. In other countries, the F can be cast as another annoying American intrusion. Here, it is protected by supplier contracts that have been spread as broadly as possible. Cost overruns sound bad if someone else is getting the extra money.

They can be good if they are creating business for your company or jobs in your congressional district. In the late s, a coalition of so-called cheap hawks in Congress tried to cut funding for the B-2 bomber. They got nowhere after it became clear that work for the project was being carried out in 46 states and no fewer than congressional districts of total.

The difference between then and now is that in , Northrop, the main contractor for the plane, had to release previously classified data to demonstrate how broadly the dollars were being spread. Whatever its technical challenges, the F is a triumph of political engineering, and on a global scale. For a piquant illustration of the difference that political engineering can make, consider the case of Bernie Sanders—former Socialist mayor of Burlington, current Independent senator from Vermont, possible candidate from the left in the next presidential race.

In principle, he thinks the F is a bad choice. As Vermont goes, so goes the nation. The next big project the Air Force is considering is the Long Range Strike Bomber, a successor to the B-1 and B-2 whose specifications include an ability to do bombing runs deep into China. A step so wildly reckless that the U. Politicians say that national security is their first and most sacred duty, but they do not act as if this is so. The most recent defense budget passed the House Armed Services Committee by a vote of 61 to zero, with similarly one-sided debate before the vote.

This is the same House of Representatives that cannot pass a long-term Highway Trust Fund bill that both parties support. He and others said that this deference was one reason so little serious oversight of the military took place. Hammes, a retired Marine Corps colonel who has a doctorate in modern history from Oxford, told me that instead of applying critical judgment to military programs, or even regarding national defense as any kind of sacred duty, politicians have come to view it simply as a teat. Hart did so I was part of the group, along with Andrew J.

Every White House is swamped with recommendations and requests, and it responds only to those it considers most urgent—which defense reform obviously was not. Romney pointed out that the Navy had fewer ships than it did before World War I. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. J im Webb is a decorated Vietnam veteran, an author, a former Democratic senator, and a likely presidential candidate. Webb meant that ambitious officers notice how many of their mentors and predecessors move after retirement into board positions, consultancies, or operational roles with defense contractors.

Of course, the modern military advertises itself as a place where young people who have lacked the chance or money for higher education can develop valuable skills, plus earn GI Bill benefits for post-service studies. The harshest ones came not from people who mistrusted the military but from those who, like Webb, had devoted much of their lives to it. Of course it was the most revered American warrior of the 20th century, Dwight D.

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Eisenhower, who warned most urgently that business and politics would corrupt the military, and vice versa. Everyone has heard of this speech. Not enough people have actually read it and been exposed to what would now be considered its dangerously antimilitary views. E very institution has problems, and at every stage of U. But because so small a sliver of the population has a direct stake in the consequences of military action, the normal democratic feedbacks do not work.

Nagl told me. Nagl is a West Point graduate and Rhodes Scholar who was a combat commander in Iraq and has written two influential books about the modern military. He left the Army as a lieutenant colonel and now, in his late 40s, is the head of the Haverford prep school, near Philadelphia. The American public is completely willing to let this professional class of volunteers serve where they should, for wise purpose. This gives the president much greater freedom of action to make decisions in the national interest, with troops who will salute sharply and do what needs to be done.

I like and respect Nagl, but I completely disagree. Bacevich himself fought in Vietnam; his son was killed in Iraq. Mike Mullen thinks that one way to reengage Americans with the military is to shrink the active-duty force, a process already under way. They would have to be inconvenienced. That would bring America in. And we are paying dearly for that.

The vast majority of Americans outside the military can be triply cynical in their attitude toward it. Charles J. Dunlap Jr. The more exasperated Americans grew about economic and social problems, the more relieved they were when competent men in uniform, led by General Thomas E.

Brutus, finally stepped in to take control. Part of the reason for the takeover, Dunlap explained, was that the military had grown so separate from mainstream culture and currents that it viewed the rest of society as a foreign territory to occupy and administer. What is that situation? People within that military tribe can feel both above and below the messy civilian reality of America. Below, in the burdens placed upon them, and the inattention to the lives, limbs, and opportunities they have lost.

Above, in being able to withstand hardships that would break their hipster or slacker contemporaries. Gabbard was strongly against it; some of the Republican veterans were for it—but all of them made arguments based on firsthand observation of what had worked and failed. You should find a way, yourself, to serve. For all the differences in their emphases and conclusions, these young veterans are alike in all taking the military seriously, rather than just revering it.

The vast majority of Americans will never share their experiences. But we can learn from that seriousness, and view military policy as deserving at least the attention we give to taxes or schools. What might that mean, in specific? Here is a start. Three of the recommendations were about the way the country as a whole should engage with its armed forces.

They were:. Barack Obama, busy on other fronts, had no time for this. The rest of us should make time, if we hope to choose our wars more wisely, and win them. To read more about the arguments for and against the F, see this list of articles and official statements compiled by James Fallows. Physical-education programs were designed to encourage health and fitness, but they may be counterproductive.

The president of the United States reportedly sought the help of a foreign government against an American citizen who might challenge him for his office. This is the single most important revelation in a scoop by The Wall Street Journal , and if it is true, then President Donald Trump should be impeached and removed from office immediately. Until now, there was room for reasonable disagreement over impeachment as both a matter of politics and a matter of tactics.

The Mueller report revealed despicably unpatriotic behavior by Trump and his minions, but it did not trigger a political judgment with a majority of Americans that it warranted impeachment. The Democrats, for their part, remained unwilling to risk their new majority in Congress on a move destined to fail in a Republican-controlled Senate. A term that once described a vital tradition within the Christian faith now means something else entirely. Once a month or so Tommy Kidd and I get together for lunch at our favorite taco joint.

And more often that not, we end up talking about our complicated relationship with American evangelical Christianity.

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Because the future of that movement, which is our movement, matters to us—and, we think, matters to America. Very different things, one might think, and in some ways one would be right. And yet both of our traditions are closely connected, if in different ways, to evangelicalism. They are, for lack of a more specific term, readers. That why is consequential—leisure reading has been linked to a range of good academic and professional outcomes—as well as difficult to fully explain.

But a chief factor seems to be the household one is born into, and the culture of reading that parents create within it. The country is offering citizenship to Jews whose families it expelled in the 15th century. Jews had lived on the Iberian Peninsula for more than 1, years, producing philosophers, poets, diplomats, physicians, scholars, translators, and merchants.

Historians still debate the number of Jews expelled; some estimate 40,, others , or more. Those who fled sought exile in places that would have them—Italy, North Africa, the Netherlands, and eventually the Ottoman empire. Many continued to speak Ladino, a variant of 15th-century Spanish, and treasure elements of Spanish culture.

Tens of thousands stayed, but converted, and remained vulnerable to the perils of the Inquisition. How many Jews were killed remains unclear, but a widely accepted estimate is 2, people during the first two decades of the Inquisition, with thousands more tortured and killed throughout its full course. To be a parent is to be compromised. The organized pathologies of adults, including yours—sometimes known as politics—find a way to infect the world of children. Only they can save themselves. To hear more feature stories, see our full list or get the Audm iPhone app. Our son underwent his first school interview soon after turning 2.

An admissions officer at a private school with brand-new, beautifully and sustainably constructed art and dance studios gave him a piece of paper and crayons. While she questioned my wife and me about our work, our son drew a yellow circle over a green squiggle. During the campaign, I received a phone call from an influential political journalist and author, who was soliciting my thoughts on Donald Trump.

Bush administrations and the George W. Bush White House. Farhad Yusef-Zadeh was observing the center of the Milky Way galaxy in radio waves, looking for the presence of faint stars, when he saw it: a spindly structure giving off its own radio emissions. The filament-like feature was probably a glitch in the telescope, or something clouding the field of view, he decided.

But the mystery filament kept showing up, and soon Yusef-Zadeh found others. What the astronomer had mistaken for an imperfection turned out to be an entire population of cosmic structures at the heart of the galaxy. The menagerie of filaments is clustered around the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy.

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Documents filed in anticipation of its public offering revealed a pattern of behavior from its founder and chief executive, Adam Neumann, that fits somewhere on the spectrum between highly eccentric and vaguely Caligulan. You were writing with your left hand! After alleging that her ex-husband, Ryan Adams, derailed her career, the singer released her first single in a decade to address the feeling of losing control. Amanda Leigh Moore was 6 years old when she told her family that she was going to be a singer, and the dream came true faster than even the most encouraging parents could have hoped.

Under the name Mandy Moore, over the course of a decade, she released six albums.

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Army colonel Robert Tonsetic, explains that unconventional warfare was a major part of the War of Independence. Tonsetic begins by noting that special forces have a long tradition in America, dating back to King Philip's War of , when the Plymouth Colony formed "an experimental company of men who would train and operate using Native American tactics to attack Indian war parties, and raid their camps in the dense forests and swamps.

Thus there were already instances of special ops by the time of the American Revolution. Soon after hostilities began, Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys —a band of Vermont irregulars—used small boats to cross Lake Champlain and seize Fort Ticonderoga in a coup de main in Washington created his special forces. Knowlton's Rangers , under the command of Lieutenant Colonel William Knowlton, was an elite unit designed for reconnaissance and espionage missions. Nathan Hale, hung by the British for spying, was a member. Today there is a Knowlton Award for outstanding military intelligence work.

Tonsetic also examines partisan warfare by bands of American irregulars in New Jersey and the South that wreaked havoc with British supply convoys and couriers.

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Much like Viet Cong guerrillas ruined attempts by Saigon to control the South Vietnamese countryside, so did American partisans undermine British political control and eliminate Loyalist sympathizers. These bands could be quite deadly in a fire fight, as British Major Ferguson's Loyalist militia discovered when they were wiped out at King's Mountain, South Carolina in October The Americans conducted special operations at sea, as well as on land. In February , the fledgling U. Navy launched America's first amphibious assault—on the island of New Providence in the Bahamas.

A force of marines and sailors attempted to seize a British stockpile of precious gunpowder. The operation was fumbled, allowing the quick-thinking British defenders to spirit away the gunpowder to another island. But it showed the aggressive spirit of the emerging nation. Then there were the "Whaleboat Wars," in which Continental troops and partisans used small boats to capture British officers and destroy British shipping, such as the thirteen-boat raid on Sag Harbor, Long Island in May that destroyed thirteen ships and numerous supplies.

John Paul Jones also makes an appearance as a special operator, as he and his warship Ranger stalked British shipping and raided British ports. He caused the British government and Royal Navy great embarrassment, though on occasion he also embarrassed himself, for example, when he raided Scotland to capture Lord Selkirk and trade him for American prisoners.

The Lord wasn't home, but his wife and children were. When American officers demanded the family silver, "Lady Selkirk judiciously complied with the demands. When the servants had filled the sacks, she coolly asked for a receipt, and offered the two Americans a glass of wine before they departed with the silver. The entire episode lasted about 15 minutes. The same thing happened to U. Special Forces during the Son Tay raid, where the raiders successfully reached a North Vietnamese prison camp, but found that the American POWs had been moved to another location.