Sexual assault charges filed against former Scott Air Force Base commander

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE • A former commander at Scott Air Force Base faces sexual assault charges months after he was ousted from command. Col. John O. Howard was charged with two counts of cruelty and maltreatment, two counts of sexual assault, one count …

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Both occupants survive small plane crash Monday west of Edwards Air Force Base, officials say

A small plane crashed Monday morning about 15 miles west of Edwards Air Force Base and both people onboard survived, according to an official with Mojave’s National Test Pilot School. Test pilot instructor Allen Petersen said the plane was not a National …

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2 Air Force wings to re-enact D-Day on social media

CHARLESTON, S.C. - D-Day will stand for “Digital Day” this year as two Air Force wings use social media Tuesday and Wednesday as if the turning point of World War II is happening in real time, 74 years after Allied troops stormed French beaches and began to sweep toward Germany.

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Want to fight cybercrime? Wichita may be in your future

“We could create a place that’s attractive for IT companies – maybe not the extent of Seattle or Silicon Valley, but a regional magnet,” said Col. Joe Jabara, vice wing commander for the 184th Intelligence Wing of the Kansas Air National Guard at McConnell Air Force Base.

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Why the Air Force Thinks It Can Turn Gamers Into Its Next Top Guns

In late May, the U.S. Air Force announced its intention to release an advanced video game simulation. The theory is that the game, if successful, will be an effective recruitment tool among high school students.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because the U.S. Army already did the exact same thing with a game called “America’s Army,” launched in 2002. That one was for a while relatively popular, but as a recruitment tool there’s little doubt it failed. Indeed, it was panned early and often for claiming to offer a realistic soldiering experience while glamorizing it as an exciting and largely consequence-free adventure. The game, of course, never showed the tedium or the dark side of military service in conflict—but what proper recruitment propaganda ever does?

Not content to merely copy a failed program, the so-far untitled Air Force game seeks to combine the allure of video games with the Orwellian realities of modern “big data” applications that the government is so fond of. In this case, officials have suggested they are literally going to monitor players to spot particularly talented ones they can recruit.

Call it recruitment recon.

As an example, imagine that the Air Force identifies a player who is particularly good at controlling the game’s simulated planes, so they offer him/her a $100,000 signing bonus to sign up for the real thing. But isn’t it possible that video game talent might not translate into real-life skills in combat? Incredibly, that seems to have been lost on the USAF.

Which is why this could be an even bigger disaster than the “America’s Army” folly—and much more expensive, too. While the Army’s gambit cost millions to design, it at least had a limited return on investment. The Air Force is prepared to throw major bonuses at good video game players on the notion that, like the 1984 movie The Last Starfighter, that’s where you’re going to find real talent.

The reason this makes sense to the Air Force (but nobody else) is because, with the advent of drone operations (i.e. remote control targeting), a number of people actually are employed in joystick-based warfare. It’s not clear whether the game will feature a drone operator mode (based in some outpost in the Nevada desert), as it seems to be focused on advanced warplanes in the heat of battle, not blowing up Pakistani wedding parties from thousands of miles away. This should come as no surprise because the life of an actual drone operator is reportedly pretty miserable, and the point of the Air Force’s game is to get kids to play so you can collect all sorts of data from them.

So far, Air Force officials aren’t providing a lot of specifics, just ambitions. They’ve also avoided estimating what the program will cost. Creating a game advanced enough to reliably attract an audience gets more expensive every year. At this point just developing a game can be counted on to cost a minimum of $100 million, to say nothing of all of the server and metadata processing costs, and the costs associated with marketing the game.

This is precisely why high-end video games don’t attempt to survive as advertising platforms. The cost of developing games has grown precipitously over the years, and players are focused on playing. They don’t want to be sold anything—not by companies, not by Uncle Sam.

This is why using a war simulation video game as a marketing tool is a terrible idea. Even in the highly unlikely event that the U.S. Air Force actually does make a popular video game, that doesn’t mean its fan base is going to be inclined toward military service, let alone suited to it. This is what happens when you combine lofty recruitment goals with a bottomless pit of taxpayer money: the military is encouraged to make reckless attempts to engage the public. The Air Force now appears to be lining up one of the most reckless of blunders yet.

Jason Ditz is news editor at Antiwar.com, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the cause of non-interventionism. His work has appeared in Forbes, the Toronto Star, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Providence Journal, the Daily Caller, the American Conservative, the Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.

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Ronald Gray: Air Force lawyers file brief in Supreme Court case of former Bragg soldier

A former Fort Bragg soldier and convicted serial killer with a case before the Supreme Court has found an ally in a group of Air Force lawyers hoping to help end gridlock in the military justice system. Ronald A. Gray, who committed a series of murders and …

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Main Gate at Beale Air Force Base Closed Indefinitely

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE (CBS13) – The main entrance gate at Beale Air Force Base will be closed indefinitely. The military will close the Schneider Gate on May 31st in order to address safety and security concerns. The Facebook post also says the geographic …

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