WASHINGTON – Dramatic new drone video of the Niger ambush that killed four American soldiers shows U.S. forces desperately trying to escape and fighting for their lives after friendly Nigerien forces mistook them for the enemy. It describes how the fleeing troops set up a quick defensive location on the edge of a swamp and -- thinking they were soon to die -- wrote messages home to their loved ones. The video, released by the Pentagon with explanatory narration, includes more than 10 minutes of drone footage, file tape and animation that wasn't made public last week when the military released a portion of the final report on the October attack. The video depicts for the first time the harrowing hours as troops held off their enemy and waited for rescue. There were 46 U.S. and Nigerien troops out on the initial mission in the west African nation, going after but failing to find a high-value militant, then collecting intelligence at a site where the insurgent had been.
The Army is now crafting early requirements for what is expected to be a new attack helicopter -- beyond the Apache -- with superior weapons, speed, maneuverability, sensor technology and vastly-improved close-combat attack capability. "We know that in the future we are going to need to have a lethal capability, which drives us to a future attack reconnaissance platform. The Apache is the world's greatest but there will come a time when we look at leap ahead technology," Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville told a small group of reporters. A future attack-reconnaissance helicopter, now in its conceptual phase, is a key part of a wide-spanning, multi-aircraft Army Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program. FVL seeks a family of next-generation aircraft to begin emerging in the 2030s, consisting of attack, utility and heavy-class air assets.
About a dozen Google employees are resigning in protest over the tech giant's involvement in Project Maven, a controversial military program that uses artificial intelligence, Gizmodo reports. Project Maven, which harnesses AI to improve drone targeting, has been a source of concern for a number of Google employees. Last month, over 3,100 Google workers signed a letter to the company's CEO Sundar Pichai asking him to pull the tech giant out of the project. Announced last year, Project Maven is designed to swiftly pull important data from vast quantities of imagery. The tech news website cites an internal Google document containing written accounts from many of the employees that details their decisions to leave.
Film director Michael Anderson is seen in this undated photo. LONDON – British director Michael Anderson, whose films included war epic "The Dam Busters" and sci-fi classic "Logan's Run," has died at age 98. Anderson's family said Sunday that he died of heart disease April 25 in Canada, at his home on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. Born into a theatrical family in London in 1920, Anderson served in the army during World War II and made his feature debut in 1949 with "Private Angelo," co-directed by Peter Ustinov. His 1955 adventure "The Dam Busters" told the story of a daring wartime bombing raid on Germany's industrial heartland. Its visual flair and stirring score helped make it one of Britain's best-loved war films, and its thrilling climax helped inspire the attack on the Death Star in the first "Star Wars" movie.
The head of the U.S. military's Special Operations Command said Wednesday that Air Force gunships, needed to provide close air support for American commandos and U.S.-backed rebel fighters in Syria, were being "jammed" by "adversaries." Calling the electronic warfare environment in Syria "the most aggressive" on earth, Air Force Gen. Tony Thomas told an intelligence conference in Tampa that adversaries "are testing us every day, knocking our communications down, disabling our AC-130s, etc." Thomas' remarks, which were first reported by the website The Drive, come on the heels of reports that Russian forces are jamming U.S. surveillance drones flying over the war-torn nation. An Air Force AC-130 gunship was among the U.S. military aircraft used to kill dozens of Russian mercenaries in Syria in early February. The Pentagon said the mercenaries attacked an outpost manned by American commandos and U.S.-backed fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), comprising Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters. Wednesday was not the first time General Thomas has been so forthcoming about Syria in a public setting.
AGADEZ, Niger – On the scorching edge of the Sahara Desert, the U.S. Air Force is building a base for armed drones, the newest front in America's battle against the growing extremist threat in Africa's vast Sahel region. Niger Air Base 201 is expected to be functional early next year. The base, a few miles outside Agadez and built at the request of Niger's government, will eventually house fighter jets and MQ-9 drones transferred from the capital Niamey. The drones, with surveillance and added striking capabilities, will have a range enabling them to reach a number of West and North African countries. Few knew of the American military's presence in this desperately poor, remote West African country until October, when an ambush by Islamic State group-linked extremists killed four U.S. soldiers and five Nigeriens.
SpaceX is developing a reusable rocket-spaceship system called the BFR to help make Mars settlement economically feasible. Humanity's brutal and bellicose past provides ample justification for pursuing settlements on the moon and Mars, Elon Musk says. The billionaire entrepreneur has long stressed that he founded SpaceX in 2002 primarily to help make humanity a multiplanet species -- a giant leap that would render us much less vulnerable to extinction. Human civilization faces many grave threats over the long haul, from asteroid strikes and climate change to artificial intelligence run amok, Musk has said over the years. And he recently highlighted our well-documented inability to get along with each other as another frightening factor.
Military officials say no civilians appear to be injured in the strike. A U.S. drone strike killed a "high ranking" official in the Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb terror cell in Libya on Saturday, the Pentagon disclosed Wednesday. Musa Abu Dawud was one of two AQIM terrorists killed in the airstrike in southwest Libya near the city of Ubari in the Sahara desert. "Dawud trained AQIM recruits in Libya for attack operations in the region. He provided critical logistics support, funding and weapons to AQIM, enabling the terrorist group to threaten and attack U.S. and Western interests in the region," U.S. military's Africa Command said in a statement.
SANAA, Yemen – Yemeni tribal leaders say a suspected U.S. drone strike has killed seven alleged al-Qaida operatives in the central Marib province. They said Thursday's strike hit a house believed to have been used by the militants. The U.S. is believed to have carried out at least five drone strikes in Yemen since the beginning of March. The tribal leaders spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, as the Yemen affiliate is known, has long been seen as the global network's most dangerous branch.