For nearly 10 years, the Army has been on the search for a replacement to the Beretta M9, which has been in the hands of soldiers since 1985.
In a press release, the Army announced they had awarded a $580 million contract to Sig Sauer for the Modular Handgun System, “including handguns, accessories and ammunition.”
1. The military already uses Sig Sauer weapons
The new contract is not the first time Sig Sauer has outfitted members of the armed forces. After losing the Army bid to the Beretta M9 in 1984, the SIG-Sauer P226 was adapted by the Navy SEALs as the MK25 to replace the 9 mm SW M39 pistols. The MK25 was built with corrosion-resistant parts, a necessary requirement when serving a SEAL.
Additionally, though the Army has widely issued the M9 to most soldiers, Military Police and members of the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) often use the SIG-Sauer P228, a smaller version of the P226, known for its compact style and designated as the M11.
The Coast Guard adapted the SIG-Sauer P229R DAK after their M9’s bit the dust in 2004. As many Coast Guardsmen carry and use weapons on a daily basis while policing the nation’s borders, the wear and tear on the handgun took a toll quicker than the other branches. Because the USCG falls under the Department of Homeland Security, the branch was able to use non-Geneva compliant JHP ammunition with a non-NATO standard caliber (40SW).
2. The P320 was named ‘Handgun of the Year’ by an NRA magazine
The P320 is rumored to be the handgun the Army will model their version after. One of the biggest complaints by soldiers about the M9 is its grip size, which is a significant problem for small-handed users. The P320 handgun can be ordered with changeable grips, which would accommodate all soldiers and can changed without incident in the field.
The Sig Sauer P320 was recognized in June 2016 as the Handgun of the Year by the National Rifle Association publication ‘American Rifleman.’ If the Army has chosen to model its next signature weapon after the SIG-Sauer P320 handgun, the upgrades, accessories, and features are numerous, and will provide soldiers a much more modern and up-to-date feel than the current M9.
3. Sig Sauer beat out nine other bids for the lucrative contract
The Army is poised to expand its numbers as the incoming presidential administration has indicated a larger military is on the horizon, a good sign for the pistol company. The $580 million contract extends through 2027 and includes the cost of weapons, ammunition, and accessories. The win showed Sig Sauer coming out ahead of other prestigious gun makers, including Glock, Beretta and Smith Wesson.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law that will soften the punishment for some hate crimes amid concerns over prison terms handed down to people for “liking” or reposting memes on the Internet.
The legislation, signed by Putin on Dec. 28, 2018, will remove the possibility of a prison sentence for first-time offenders found to have incited ethnic, religious, and other forms of hatred and discord in public, including in the media or on the Internet.
The legislation is the result of a rare climbdown by President Vladimir Putin, who proposed it amid a wave of potentially image-damaging concern over the arrests and imprisonment of Russians for publicly questioning religious dogmas or posting, reporting, or “liking” memes or comments that authorities say incited hatred.
Under the legislation, first-time offenders will face administrative instead of criminal prosecution, meaning they would be fined, do community service, or be jailed for up to 15 days.
Russian President Vladimir Putin.
A person who is deemed to have committed a second, similar offense within a year will then face criminal prosecution and the possibility of two to five years in prison.
But all offenders, including those found guilty for the first time, will still face up to six years in prison if their incitement to hatred involves violence, the threat of violence, the use of their official position, or is committed by a group, the bill says.
Putin proposed the change in early October 2018, following a string of cases in which Russians were charged for publishing material — sometimes satirical or seen by many as harmless — on social networks such as VKontakte and Facebook.
The bill was approved by lawmakers in both chambers of parliament, the State Duma and the Federation Council.
Reaction to the new legislation has been mixed, with Kremlin critics warning that the government will still retain many tools for suppressing dissent and limiting free speech.
On Oct. 2, 2018, Putin signed a law toughening punishment for those who refuse to remove information from the Internet deemed illegal by a court.
The Marine Corps has punished two aviators who flew their aircraft deliberately to draw a giant penis in the skies over California’s Salton Sea.
The Oct. 23, 2018 incident resulted in the West Coast Marine Corps training squadron launching an investigation into the flight pattern of a T-34C aircraft from Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101.
“Two Marine Corps aviators were administratively disciplined following the completion of an investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding an Oct. 23, 2018 irregular flight pattern that resulted in an obscene image,” said Maj. Josef Patterson, a spokesman for the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.
Patterson did not reveal details of the disciplinary action taken against the Marines. “The aviators retained their wings and will continue service to their country as valued members of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing,” he said.
The flight pattern was originally spotted about 120 miles outside San Diego by @AircraftSpots, which monitors military air movements on Twitter.
Drawing phallic images seem to be a pattern in military aviation.
During the 69th’s deployment to Al Udeid Air Force Base, Qatar, between September 2017 and April 2018, penis drawings were repeatedly created by members of the unit and were captured as screengrabs for a compact disc montage that was played at the end of the deployment.
An investigation was launched after the CD was turned into Air Force officials.
The details of their punishment were not released, but the two were allowed to keep their aviator status.
The aviators were assigned to Electronic Attack Squadron 130 and flew an EA-18G Growler aircraft to draw an image of male genitalia in the sky. Witnesses captured the image on cellphone cameras and posted it on social media.
— Military.com’s Gina Harkins, Oriana Pawlyk and Hope Hodge Seck contributed to this report.
The first casualty of a U.S. troop’s military service is usually his wisdom teeth. It’s as if the U.S. military secretly runs on some kind of wisdom tooth-based fuel.
There are many supposed reasons for the mass extraction of otherwise normal wisdom teeth, but we can all be glad they don’t get sold into, say, dentures or something.
But travel back in time a couple hundred years and they certainly could have.
By 1815, the British Empire’s acquisition of a steady source of sugar coming from its Caribbean colonies created an embarrassing source of tooth decay – and a huge market for dentures.
Both were only for the wealthy.
In the earliest days of oral care on the British Isles, “everyone dabbled in dentistry,” according to a BBC interview with the British Dental Association. And replacement teeth were made from a variety of material, including ivory and porcelain — each with its own set of pros and cons.
The best dentures, however, used real extracted teeth. As the demand for dentures grew, so did the demand for ones made with real teeth. To get a full set of real teeth, someone had to lose a full set of real teeth, and who would give up their teeth?
Someone who doesn’t need them anymore, of course.
Good thing the British just finished fighting a huge war with Napoleonic France. The recent Battle of Waterloo gave British dentists a huge source of teeth whose owners didn’t need them anymore.
And that’s just what happened.
Everyone, according to the British Dental Association Museum — from locals to other troops to scavengers — would have been pulling dead soldiers’ teeth out for sale back home. The demand was that great.
They wouldn’t take all of the teeth. Molars would be left in place because they were too hard to take out and difficult to turn onto dentures.
Once back in Britain, the “Waterloo Teeth” (as they came to be called) were sold at a price that couldn’t be beat, considering the demand for real teeth and the scarcity of them. It provided those battlefield scavengers with plenty of incentive to grab a pair of pliers and head out to Waterloo.
The recipients had no idea their new dentures came from the dead men on the battlefield of France. All they knew is that they could now eat all the boiled food the British Isles could muster. Which is a lot.
US Marines arrived in Syria in March to support the effort to retake Raqqa with artillery fire.
The Marines, from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, came with M-777 Howitzers that can fire powerful 155 mm shells. The 11th MEU returned to the US in May, turning the operations over to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said they recaptured the city in mid-October, and, according to Army Sgt. Maj. John Wayne Troxell, the Marine fire supporting them was so intense that the barrels on two of the Howitzers burned out, making them unsafe to use.
Troxell, who is senior enlisted adviser to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, said last week that US-led coalition forces were firing on ISIS in Raqqa “every minute of every hour” in order to keep pressure on the terrorist group.
A U.S. Marine artillery unit in Syria. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Matthew Callahan)
“What we have seen is the minute we take the pressure off of ISIS they regenerate and come back in a hurry,” Troxell said, according to Military Times. “They are a very resilient enemy.”
The M-777 Howitzer is 7,500 pounds — 9,000 pounds lighter than its predecessor. It is highly maneuverable, and can be towed by 7-ton trucks or carried by MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft or by CH-53E Super Stallion or CH-47 Chinook helicopters. It can be put in place and readied to fire in less than three minutes.
Its sustained rate of fire is two rounds a minute, but it can fire four rounds a minute for up to two minutes, according to its manufacturer, BAE Systems. While it’s not clear how many rounds the Marine M-777s fired or the period over which they fired them, burning out two barrels underscores the intensity of the bombardment used against ISIS in and around Raqqa.
“I’ve never heard of it ― normally your gun goes back to depot for full reset well before that happens,” a former Army artillery officer told Military Times. “That’s a s—load of rounds though.”
A US Marine fires an M-777A2 Howitzer in Syria, June 1, 2017.Sgt. Matthew Callahan/US Marine Corps
The M-777’s maximum range is 18.6 miles (though it can fire Excalibur rounds accurately up to 25 miles, according to Military.com). Video that emerged this summer showed Marines firing 155 mm artillery shells with XM1156 Precision Guidance Kits, according to The Washington Post.
The kit is a type of fuse that turns the shell in to a semi-precision-guided munition that, on average, will hit within 100 feet of the target when fired from the M-777’s maximum range. The XM1156 has only appeared in combat a few times.
The number of rounds it takes to burn out a howitzer barrel depends on the range to the target as well as the level of charge used, which can vary based on weight of the shell and the distance it needs to be fired.
If the howitzers were being fired closer to their target, “the tube life might actually be extended some,” the former Army officer told Military Times. Open-source imagery reviewed this summer indicated that Marines were at one point within 10 miles of Raqqa.
The military is one of those work environments where it’s generally best to blend in. Sure, you want to stand out during promotion boards or advancement exams, but the rest of the time it’s best for troops to keep their heads down.
Unfortunately, some people are cursed with traits that make that impossible. Here are 7 things that are guaranteed to draw extra attention.
Too-tall or too-short, both will make someone stand out. In formation, everyone is right next to each other and outliers are super obvious. At ceremonies, many units are reorganized according to height so the unit has a more uniform appearance.
2. Being a know-it-all
This person wants to stand out, but they shouldn’t. Answering a direct question is no big deal, and offering an informed opinion every once in a while is great. But people who answer every question in a class don’t get the “team” idea behind the military. And the rest of the team hates them for it.
3. Coming from another country
The U.S. military is predictably full of Americans, but some foreign people do join.
A few English or South African troops may be able to skate by under the radar, but most foreigners get found out immediately. As if it wasn’t hard enough to adjust to military culture, this recruit has to adjust to American culture at the same time. Every time they mess something up, some squad-jokester-wannabe will make a comment about how it’s because they didn’t grow up in America.
4. Being from Texas
It’s like being foreign. Everyone has their favorite Texas jokes, Texas nicknames, and Texas memes. Once someone is outed as being a Texan, they will get saddled with all the Lone Star military stereotypes.
5. Having an accent
Yeah, soldiers who talk funny are going to get noticed. It’s funniest when they have to speak in front of the unit. They’re up there talking about how their squad helped them get promoted or earn an award and the formation just stands there smiling like they understand any of the words being said.
6. Possessing no rhythm
In the civilian world, bad rhythm just makes it harder to meet people at clubs and square dances. But rhythm is key to military life. Units march in rhythm, troops exercise in rhythm, and new tasks are taught “by the numbers” where students practice things like landing in a parachute in a set rhythm.
A service member with no rhythm sticks out and gets ridiculed. In basic training, it’s even worse since it draws the eyes of the dreaded training cadre.
7. Carrying a funny or famous last name
As a civilian, someone’s last name isn’t all that visible. It’s in email signatures, and that’s about it. But in the military, a person’s last name is their primary name. It’s on their shirts, it’s beneath any pictures of them, and it’s on most of their hats. Some people don’t know their buddy’s first name until they friend each other on Facebook.
So, when someone’s last name is “Nye,” everyone knows. And that person can’t walk into a room without someone singing the Bill Nye theme song.
There’s not a lot the volunteers and employees at Arlington National Cemetery won’t do for veterans and their families. Every Memorial Day, they adorn each gravesite with a flag of remembrance. The Arlington Ladies make sure no veteran is buried alone or forgotten. Now, you can add one more amazing volunteer to that list.
Recently 96-year-old George Boone was brought to the cemetery by an Honor Flight to see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He was a B-24 Liberator pilot who was shot down over Romania and held prisoner by the Nazis in 1943.
Boone also asked if he could stop by his wife’s grave. Alma Boone, his wife of 56 years, died in 2007 and was buried right there in Arlington. So of course they made time for this stop.
Unfortunately for the North Carolina World War II veteran, in their haste to get to the cemetery, they forgot to bring George Boone’s wheelchair. Where it was isn’t important – he thought he would have to just “see” her from a distance. That’s when an Arlington employee and one volunteer offered to carry Boone to his wife’s grave.
“I thought, ‘Carry me at my age, size and weight?'” Boone told Fox 5 DC. “I would like him to know how greatly I appreciate what he did. His kindness was overwhelming.”
Boone stood next to his wife, on a spot next to her where he will be interred one day. But he would not have been able to do it were it not for the generosity of the Arlington National Cemetery staff and volunteers.
Military spouses can be buried at Arlington, provided they meet certain criteria. Even though Alma Boone was not a member of the Armed Forces, she still met the criteria as George Boone’s wife to make Arlington her final resting place.
The employee and volunteer who helped George Boone see his wife wish to remain anonymous.
Picture yourself on a foot patrol in Afghanistan, one of the most dangerous countries in the world where the majority of the population hates the fact that you’re there.
Now, imagine you’re the “lead” of that foot patrol (typically the combat engineer who is looking for IEDs buried in the ground) and you spot a suspicious device ahead with a command wire sticking out of the dirt.
For most of us, it’s not a good idea to approach, especially if that wire trails off toward a nearby compound — it’s a freaking trap. But for troops serving in Afghanistan, it’s just another day at the office.
Although most IEDs are considered primitively built with limited resources, the grunts on the ground have a clever way of dealing with ’em: the combat scythe.
Famously known as an agricultural tool, ground pounders use them to conduct a “hands-on” inspection of a potential threat from up to 12-feet away. The operator will extend out the scythe and use its rounded tip to tug and drag out the device for an exam.
By deploying his trusty scythe, a troop can safely determine if that bump in the ground is indeed an IED and call for a controlled detonation of the affected area. Of course, if it’s a false alarm, then that foot patrol proceeds onward without fear.
Not every IED can be figured out with a solid poking, though. If that IED is trickier than usual, the patrol will call upon the services of Explosive Ordnance Disposal to access and, typically, blow the sh*t out of the device.
On the bright side, controlled detonations are pretty epic to watch. They’re allied forces’ way of telling the bad guys ,”Not today, f*cker.”
President Donald Trump’s administration was confident enough in reaching a deal with North Korean chairman Kim Jong Un at the summit in Vietnam that it had scheduled a signing ceremony for the two leaders.
Trump and Kim were due to take part in a 35-minute-long “Joint Agreement Signing Ceremony” after their lunch on Feb. 28, 2019, according to the White House’s public schedule.
The ceremony was abandoned when the White House announced an early end to the summit, with no deal between the countries.
Here’s what the schedule said. The first time for each event is local time in Vietnam, and the second is local time in Washington, DC.
President Donald J. Trump is greeted by Kim Jong Un on Feb. 27, 2019, at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi, for their second summit meeting.
(Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
11:55 a.m./11:55 p.m. THE PRESIDENT participates in a working lunch with the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Hanoi, Vietnam
2:05 p.m./2:05 a.m.THE PRESIDENT participates in a Joint Agreement Signing Ceremony with the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Hanoi, Vietnam
At 2:40 p.m. Trump was scheduled to leave the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, the five-star hotel where Trump and Kim met on Feb. 28, 2019, to return to the JW Marriott, where the US delegation is staying.
Instead, he got on Air Force One and flew home.
How the plan unraveled
The two leaders ended up skipping lunch, and Trump moved his press conference — first scheduled for 4 p.m. — two hours earlier.
The Washington Post’s David Nakamura, who traveled to Hanoi with the White House, said at 12:25 p.m. that a meeting between the US and North Korean delegations appeared to be running 30 minutes behind schedule, and that lunch appeared to be delayed.
At 12:35 p.m. a White House spokeswoman told reporters that “there has been a program change,” Nakamura said.
“No sign of US or DPRK delegations in the lunch room where table was set with menus and name cards on chairs,” he added, using an acronym for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or North Korea.
“They were willing to denuke a large portion that they want but we couldn’t give up all the sanctions for that,” Trump told reporters. He added that he could have signed a deal if he wanted to, but “we decided to walk” instead of run.
President Donald J. Trump is greeted by Kim Jong Un on Feb. 27, 2019, at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi, for their second summit meeting.
(Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, also said in a statement that Trump and Kim “had very good and constructive meetings” in Hanoi on Wednesday and Thursday.
“The two leaders discussed various ways to advance denuclearization and economic driven concepts,” she added. “No agreement was reached at this time, but their respective teams look forward to meeting in the future.”
Trump tweeted a video montage of his Vietnam trip on Feb. 27, 2019, thanking “our generous hosts” President Nguyen Phu Trong and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and “the wonderful people of Vietnam” for his stay. Kim does not appear in any of the footage.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Red Flag has become an icon of training exercises for pilots. No, it didn’t get the Hollywood-blockbuster treatment of Top Gun, but the main Operation Red Flag, located at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas, has, arguably, become the premiere exercise in recent years.
The original idea behind Red Flag was simple: During the Vietnam War, the Air Force realized that many of the pilots they lost were downed in their first ten missions over enemy territory. So, they realized if they could simulate a war and give a pilot their first ten “missions” in peacetime, the loss rate would go down. As the low loss rates of Desert Storm, Allied Force, and the War on Terror have shown, the idea’s worked pretty well over the years.
Other countries have also taken up the idea. Israel runs a version of Red Flag, called Blue Flag, in which American units have taken part — and have had nothing but rave reviews to share afterward. The Dutch have their own version of this exercise as well.
According to Scramble Magazine, the Royal Netherlands Air Force is going to host Frisian Flag 2018. The magazine also noted that Dutch F-16 Fighting Falcons will fly alongside planes from five NATO allies: France, Germany, Spain, Poland, and the United States of America.
France is sending a mix of Mirage 2000D and Rafale multi-role fighters, Germany will send some Eurofighter Typhoons, Poland is sending MiG-29 Fulcrums and F-16C Fighting Falcons, Spain is sending F/A-18 Hornets, while the United States is sending F-15C/D Eagles from the Oregon Air National Guard. The exercise will take place in the middle of April, with privately owned, German A-4N Skyhawks (formerly of the Israeli Defense Forces) flying as the aggressors.
It sounds like this Flag could be very interesting — but we’re going to recommend the pilots stay away from a certain locally-legal product.
The USS Enterprise aircraft carrier (CVN 65), also known as the “Big E,” was decommissioned at Newport News Shipbuilding on Feb. 3 after 55 years of service. Now, the question is: What is the Navy supposed to do with it?
The Navy has been trying to come up with an answer since 2012, when the ship returned to its home port Naval Base Norfolk for the last time, reports DOD Buzz.
Initially, the Navy planned to have the ship towed to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Bremerton, Wash., where the reactors would be removed and the rest of the ship would be recycled, but officials realized the ship is more than the workforce at the shipyard can handle.
The next move was to solicit bids from private commercial recycling operations to properly and effectively dispose of the aircraft carrier’s non-nuclear components, but officials from the Naval Sea Systems Command announced Monday it was canceling its request.
“The Navy has identified that it requires more information to determine the approach for the disposal of CVN 65, including the reactor plans, that is more technically executable, environmentally responsible and is an effective utilization of Navy resources,” explained NAVSEA spokesman William Couch, adding the Navy will be “taking no action at this time.”
Radioactivity, which is still a factor even after defueling, makes disposal difficult, but there are several options on the table right now.
The Navy could turn the USS Enterprise over to a commercial company for partial or full recycling. The former would involve the disposal of the non-nuclear components; the latter, however, would require the dismantling of the eight defueled reactor plants.
Another option is to place the carrier in “intermediate-term storage for a number of years” and put off recycling the ship. The Navy is still searching for a suitable location.
Environmental impact studies are being carried out for the various options.
“The Navy is taking these steps to ensure CVN 65 is recycled in a cost-effective and environmentally responsible manner,” Couch said. “Given the complexities of the issues involved in recycling CVN 65, the Navy remains committed to a fully open and public process for conducting the first-ever disposal of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.”
The USS Enterprise is a ship in a class of its own. It completed its last deployment in 2012 after sailing 81,000 miles over a 238-day deployment to the Persian Gulf.
Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact email@example.com.
Pennsylvania State Rep. Rick Saccone’s bill that would make it a misdemeanor for someone to benefit from lying about military service or receiving decorations or medals unanimously passed the state Senate on June 20th and now heads to Gov. Tom Wolfs desk to be signed into law.
House Bill 168, introduced by Saccone, R-Elizabeth Township, in January, bans anyone from economically benefiting from lying about their service or decorations. Violators could be charged with a third-degree misdemeanor for doing so.
“Our men and women of the armed forces and their families deserve the utmost respect and praise, and criminals who disguise themselves as illegitimate veterans demean our true American heroes,” Saccone said.
Some people have actually tried to make money by falsely claiming veteran status, said Saccone, an Air Force veteran and a 2018 US Senate candidate. They will now be brought to account.
Saccone said lying about military service or medals to make money is truly an insult and discredit to the men and women who have selflessly sacrifices their lives on the battlefield.
Saccone introduced the same legislation in May 2016, calling it the Stolen Valor Act. It unanimously passed the state House in June 2016, but did not advance out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
When the new legislative session started in January, Saccone re-introduced his bill and it passed the House 190-0 in April.
In 2013, Congress passed the federal Stolen Valor Act, which addressed those who might lie about having military decorations and medals, such as the Congressional Medal of Honor or Purple Heart, in order to obtain benefits.
Those convicted of violating the federal law can face fines and up to a year in jail.
During fiscal year 2018, which ended Sept. 30, 2018, the US Coast Guard intercepted just over 458,000 pounds of cocaine. That was the second most in a year on record, behind fiscal year 2017, when 493,000 pounds were seized, which topped the previous record of 443,000 pounds in fiscal year 2016.
“The Coast Guard has interdicted more than … 1.3 million pounds of illicit cocaine in the last three years, and that rolls up to be about $18 billion of wholesale value on American streets,” Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz said Nov. 15, 2018, aboard the cutter James, which was offloading nearly 38,000 pounds of cocaine seized in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
The pursuit of traffickers on the high seas, working with other US agencies and international partners, was part of what Schultz described as a “push-out-the-border strategy” to target the smuggling process at the point when the loads were the largest and most vulnerable.
US Coast Guardsmen board a narco sub as part of a drug seizure in early September 2016.
(US Coast Guard photo)
“We’re pushing our land border 1,500 miles deep into the ocean here a little bit, and that’s where we find the success taking large loads of cocaine down at sea,” Shultz said aboard the James, which seized more than 19,000 pounds of the cocaine offloaded on Nov. 15, 2018.
“When we take down drugs at sea it reduces the violence. It maximizes the impact. When these loads land in Mexico, in Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, they get distributed into very small loads, very hard to detect, and there’s associated violence,” he added.
But the Coast Guard can see much more than it can catch.
In the eastern Pacific Ocean, where about 85% of the cocaine smuggling between South America and the US takes place, “We have visibility on about 85% of that activity,” Schultz said. “Because of the capacity — the number of ships, the number of aircraft — [we act on] about 25% to 30% of that,” he added.
A suspected smuggler, who jumped from his burning vessel, is pulled aboard an interceptor boat from the USS Zephyr by members of the US Coast Guard and Navy in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean on April 7, 2018.
(US Coast Guard photo)
Schultz is not the first Coast Guard official to note the gap between what the service can see and what it can stop.
In September 2017, Adm. Charles Ray told senators that the service has “good intelligence on between 80% and 90% of these movements,” referring to trafficking in the eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean.
But “we only have the capacity to get after about 30% of those” shipments, added Ray, who is now the Coast Guard’s vice commandant.
The eastern Pacific Ocean from the west coast of South America to the Galapagos Islands and up to waters off western Mexico and the southwest US is an area about the size of the continental US, Ray said.
“On any given day we’ll have between six to 10 Coast Guard cutters down here,” he added. “If you imagine placing that on [an area the size of] the United States … it’s a capacity challenge.”
Schultz’s predecessor, now-retired Adm. Paul Zukunft, noted a similar gap.
The Coast Guard provides the “biggest bang for the buck,” Zukunft told The New York Times in summer 2017. “But our resources are limited.”
“As a result, we can’t catch all the drug smuggling we know about,” Zukunft added. “Just last year we had intelligence on nearly 580 possible shipments but couldn’t go intercept them because we didn’t have the ships or planes to go after them.”
Schultz acknowledged that with more resources the Coast Guard could stop more, but said the service was getting the most out of its assets and its partners — including the Defense and Homeland Security departments and other countries in the region.
“We have DoD support, we have partner-nation contributions … so it’s that team sport, but there is a conversation about capacity,” Schultz said. “More Coast Guard capability, more enablers like long-range surveillance airplanes and … we’d take more drugs off the water.”
“What I’m proud about is we’re putting every ounce of energy we’ve got into this fight.”
The Coast Guard cutter James interdicts a low-profile vessel in the eastern Pacific Ocean, Oct. 22, 2018.
(US Coast Guard photo)
Booming cocaine production in Colombia has kept a steady flow of drugs heading north. Smugglers use a variety of vessels, from simple outboard boats to commercial fishing vessels. The more frequent appearance of low-profile vessels, often called narco subs, points to traffickers’ increasing sophistication.
The Coast Guard has said it caught a record six narco subs in fiscal year 2016, which ended in September 2016. In September 2017, the service said it had seen a “resurgence” of such vessels, catching seven of them since June that year.
“We’re seeing more of these low-profile vessels; 40-plus feet long … it rides on the surface, multiple outboard engines, moves 18, 22 knots … and they can carry large loads of contraband,” Schultz told Business Insider in 2018.
Narco subs can cost id=”listicle-2620799501″ million to million but can carry multiton loads of cocaine worth tens of millions of dollars in the US.
Mike Vigil, former chief of international operations for the US Drug Enforcement Administration, estimated Colombian traffickers were building 100 narco subs a year and said the DEA believed at least 30% to 40% of drugs coming to the US were moving on those vessels, but authorities were likely only intercepting 5% of them.
A Coast Guard Cutter Stratton boarding team investigates a self-propelled semi-submersible interdicted in international waters off the coast of Central America, July 19, 2015.
(US Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class LaNola Stone)
The Coast Guard’s own estimate indicates that it can block only a sliver of the narcotics coming to the US by sea.
Asked what was needed to address the flow of narcotics, Ray in late 2017 pointed to the offshore-patrol-cutter program, which the Coast Guard has said will bridge the gap between national-security cutters like the James, which patrol open ocean, and fast-response cutters, which patrol closer to shore.
The first offshore-patrol cutter isn’t scheduled to be delivered until 2021.
Coast Guard officials have touted the capabilities of national-security cutters, like the James, which were introduced in 2008 and of which six are in service.
But the other cutters that seized drugs offloaded by the James on Nov. 15, 2018, were, on average, 41 years old, “and are increasingly more difficult to maintain and more costly to operate” Claire Grady, the Homeland Security Department’s chief of management, said on Nov. 15, 2018.
“For the Coast Guard to remain always ready to combat transnational crime and conduct its 10 other statutory missions,” Grady added, “it’s imperative to recapitalize its aging fleet.”
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.