7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear - We Are The Mighty
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7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear

SAPI plates, hundreds of rounds of ammo, and as much water as you can haul is just a fraction of the gear our ground troops carry on their back as they move through their objectives every day.


Related: This is why grunt gear isn’t for the average man

Not too long ago, WATM ran a story featuring a TV show host who wanted to know what it felt like to carry the typical combat load a Vietnam War GI would haul. If you didn’t get a chance to see it, click here: This is why grunt gear isn’t for the average man

Many members of our loyal audience took the opportunity to chime in after reading the article and commented about what the heavy equipment they had to lug around during their time serving “in the suck” and here’s what they had to say.

1. The veteran grunt

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear

2. The motivated Corpsman

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear

3. The usual checklist of gear for this grunt was…

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear

 

Related: 8 things Marines love to carry other than their weapon

4. The proud and seasoned machine gunner

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear

5. Packing some major heat

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear

6. He’s down to do it all over again

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear

7. Ready for just about anything

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear

 

What gear did you carry? Comment below.

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6 ways the US could beef up its short-range air defense

According to DefenseNews.com, the Army is desperate to re-build its short-range air-defense capabilities. One big reason is the fact that Russia has become much more aggressive, making the need to deal with planes like the Su-25 Frogfoot close air support plane a distinct possibility.


So, here are some ideas on how America’s military can get some more surface-to-air punch.

Right now, the main system used by the Army for short-range air defense is the FIM-92 Stinger – used on the Avenger air-defense system and by grunts who carry it by hand.

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
The Air Defense Anti-Tank System (ADATS) is a dual-purpose short range surface-to-air and anti-tank missile system based on the M113A2 vehicle. The ADATS missile is a laser-guided supersonic missile with a range of 10 kilometres, with an electro-optical sensor with TV and Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR). The carrying vehicle also has a conventional two-dimensional radar with an effective range of over 25 kilometres. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

1. The MIM-146 ADATS

This system was looked at by the Army in the 1980s, but at the end of the Cold War it got cancelled. Designation-Systems.net notes that Canada did buy 34 systems.

With a speed of Mach 3, and a range of six miles, ADATS has more reach than the Stinger. Canada deployed it on a M113 chassis – the U.S. Army has lots of those – and also tested a new version on the LAV III, their version of the Stryker, according to the Rheinmetall Defense web site.

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
AMRAAMs mounted on a Humvee. Versions of this have been called HUMRAAM, CLAWS, or SLAMRAAM. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

2. NASAM and 3. HUMRAAM/CLAWS/SLAMRAAM

The AIM-120 AMRAAM has been a bedrock of American air-to-air capability for the last 25 years. However, Designation-Systems.net notes that Norway lead the way in developing a version used as a surface-to-air weapon.

The Marines tried out a Humvee-mounted version many called HUMRAAM, but was known as CLAWS, for Complimentary Low-Altitude Weapon System. Army-Technology.com reported that the United States Army was looking at a system, of its own called SLAMRAAM. It would seem to be a quick way to get systems in service.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4PXou0aGiE

4. C-RAM

While originally purchased to defense bases in Iraq and Afghanistan against mortars and rockets, C-RAM is based on the Mk 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon System, or “CIWS,” that was intended to kill missiles like the Russian AS-4 Kitchen. Aircraft and helicopters might not be a problem for the system to track, either.

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
The amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) conducts a live-fire exercise with the ship’s RIM 116 Rolling Airframe Missile weapon system. Bataan is underway conducting composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) with the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group in preparation for an upcoming deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Petty Officer Nicholas Frank Cottone)

5. RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile

Also a Navy point-defense missile system, the RIM-116 is another option for short-range air defense. According to a Navy fact sheet, it weighs about seven tons, has a 7.9-pound warhead, and is supersonic. Designation-Systems.net notes that it has a range of five nautical miles and infra-red guidance. This would be an excellent complement to the SLAMRAAM or CLAWS.

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
A MIM-115 Roland fired from Launch Complex 32. (DOD photo)

6. MIM-115 Roland

This is a missile that was widely used by adversaries and allies alike, including France and Germany and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Designation-Systems.net reported that the U.S. tried it out in the 1980s, but never really deployed it. Army-Technology.com adds that the latest version, the VT1, has what amounts to a range of just under seven miles and a speed of almost 2,800 mph. This is probably the most “off-the-shelf” system to purchase — and it would help our allies by lowering the per-unit cost.

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These pictures of Marines drinking Cobra blood are as grisly as you’d expect

Every year, the United States team with its Pacific allies for a military exercise in Thailand, Cobra Gold. Cobra Gold is the largest multinational military exercise in which the U.S. participates and has been an ongoing exercise for more than 30 years. In 2015, Cobra Gold included 26 nations, and for the first time, included China. The exercise smooths interoperability between nations in the region, especially when coordinating responses to a crisis, like Tsunamis and Typhoons.


The operation consists of a live fire exercise, a command post exercise, and (as with many military exercises) an operation to benefit the local population. There is also a jungle survival Training exercise where Thai Marines train U.S. troops to find water, which foods are safe to eat (scorpions!), and famously, demonstrate how they subdue a Cobra.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrmm1MZW4ak

After the jungle training, those in attendance are given the option to participate in the Thai custom of drinking the Cobra’s blood.

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
Royal Thai Marine Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Pairoj Prasansai, Recon Battalion, Marine Division demonstrates how to capture a cobra for U.S. Marines with Company A, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment during a jungle survival course in Ban Chan Krem, Chanthaburi province, Kingdom of Thailand, Feb. 17. The class was held to teach U.S. Marines basic jungle survival techniques as part of Exercise Cobra Gold 2013 (CG13). CG 13, in its 32nd iteration, is designed to advance regional security and ensure effective response to regional crises by exercising a robust multinational force from nations sharing common goals and security commitments in the Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Matthew Troyer/Released)

 

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
Royal Thai Marine Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Pairoj Prasansai, Recon Battalion, Marine Division demonstrates how to capture a cobra for U.S. Marines with Company A, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment during a jungle survival course in Ban Chan Krem, Chanthaburi province, Kingdom of Thailand, Feb. 17. The class was held to teach U.S. Marines basic jungle survival techniques as part of Exercise Cobra Gold 2013 (CG13). CG 13, in its 32nd iteration, is designed to advance regional security and ensure effective response to regional crises by exercising a robust multinational force from nations sharing common goals and security commitments in the Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Matthew Troyer/Released)

 

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
Royal Thai Marine Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Pairoj Prasansai, right, Recon Battalion, Marine Division feeds cobra blood, which can be a useful source of energy, to U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Jerry Clark, squad leader, 1st Squad, 1st Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment during a jungle survival course in Ban Chan Krem, Chanthaburi province, Kingdom of Thailand, Feb. 17. The class was held to teach U.S. Marines basic jungle survival techniques as part of Exercise Cobra Gold 2013 (CG13). CG 13, in its 32nd iteration, is designed to advance regional security and ensure effective response to regional crises by exercising a robust multinational force from nations sharing common goals and security commitments in the Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Matthew Troyer/Released)

 

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
A Marine with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit drinks the blood of a king cobra during a jungle survival class taught by Royal Thai Marines as a part of Cobra Gold 2013 here, Feb. 20. Drinking of the cobra blood is a survival technique used to maintain hydration and replenish nutrients while in the hot jungle. Cobra Gold demonstrates the resolve of the U.S. and participating nations to increase interoperability, and promote security and peace throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.

 

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
Cpl. Kyleigh M. Porter, from Montross, Va., eats a scorpion Feb. 8 in Ban Chan Krem, Thailand, during exercise Cobra Gold 2015. The Royal Thai Marines demonstrated several jungle survival tactics and asked for U.S. Marine volunteers to participate. Porter is a radio operator with Marine Air Support Squadron 2, Marine Air Control Group 18, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. (Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Isaac Ibarra/Released)

 

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
A Royal Thai Marine kisses a cobra’s head Feb. 8 at Ban Chan Krem, Thailand, during exercise Cobra Gold 2015. The Thai Marines demonstrated several survival techniques including how to capture a cobra and drink its blood. Drinking the snake’s blood is used as a last resort in case there is nothing else to drink. Other survival methods such as starting fires and how to eat spiders and scorpions were also taught. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Isaac Ibarra/Released)

 

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
Royal Thai Army Soldiers assigned to the 31st Infantry Regiment, Rapid Deployment Force, Kings Guard, demonstrate how to properly handle and neutralize a King Cobra snake to U.S. Army soldiers assigned to the 25th Infantry Division during a jungle training exercise on Camp 31-3, Lopburi, Thailand, Feb. 10, 2015. The training was conducted as a part of the joint training exercise Cobra Gold 2015. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Steven Hitchcock/Released)

 

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
Lance Cpl. Dakota Woodward, from Brandon, Florida, drinks cobra blood Feb. 8 during exercise Cobra Gold 2015. The Royal Thai Marines showed U.S. Marines various jungle survival methods. Drinking snake blood is used as a last resort in case there is nothing else to drink. Woodward is a distribution management specialist with Combat Logistics Regiment 35, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Isaac Ibarra/Released)

 

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Kurt Bellmont, platoon sergeant, 3rd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment feeds cobra blood cobra blood to his Marines, which can be a useful source of energy , to his Marines during a jungle survival course in Ban Chan Krem, Chanthaburi province, Kingdom of Thailand, Feb. 17. The class was held to teach U.S. Marines basic jungle survival techniques as part of Exercise Cobra Gold 2013 (CG13). CG 13, in its 32nd iteration, is designed to advance regional security and ensure effective response to regional crises by exercising a robust multinational force from nations sharing common goals and security commitments in the Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Matthew Troyer/Released)

 

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That time a group of officers got drunk and trashed Naval Aviation’s culture forever

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
It seemed like a good idea at the time, but this guy would grow to regret wearing this t-shirt.


The word “tailhook” didn’t always have a place in American pop culture infamy. There was a time when it simply referred to the piece of hardware under a Navy airplane that allowed it to stop by catching a wire strung across the aircraft carrier’s flight deck. And there was also a time when the Tailhook Association was regarded as the most relevant and professional not-for-profit among all of those that cater to the military community.  But that changed dramatically in the wake of the Tailhook Association’s convention in Las Vegas in 1991.

It’s no secret that military aviators are a type-A bunch, and in many ways Naval Aviators are the most spirited among them. And that spirit is what gave rise to the Tailhook Association in 1956 when a group of carrier-based flyers threw a keg into a bus and drove down to a beach in Baja where they told tall tales for a couple of days.  From there the association grew its membership and got more official, building a headquarters in San Diego and publishing a popular quarterly magazine titled The Hook.

As the years went on the Tailhook Association became increasingly known for one thing over all others: the annual convention in Las Vegas, commonly referred to as “Hook,” as in “are you going to Hook this year?” The convention, which was held at the Las Vegas Hilton, was known for two things: it’s professional panels and the parties in the suites on the third floor.

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear

Parties in the suites were hosted by various units like Top Gun and the Naval Air Training Command along with a rotating list of squadrons and competition was keen among them. Some featured drink specialties and signature food like “Cubi Dogs” and others went the risque route with leg shaving booths and even strippers. It was all viewed as innocent fun, the kind of offline frolicking that the members of the community had earned as a function of their achievements as skilled warfighters.

There’s a big difference between racy things that might happen between consenting adults and sexual battery, and in 1991 Hook crossed the line. The victory in Desert Storm combined with a record crowd caused an atmosphere on the third floor that was downright mean-spirited if not criminal.

Most of the reports of misdeeds centered around “The Gauntlet” on the third floor — the line of douchebags on either side of the hall who pawed passersby as they attempted to make their way between suites.  According to reports after the fact the harassment ranged from catcalling to full-up inappropriate touching and tearing off of undergarments. By 3 am in the morning no female was safe going anywhere near the third floor.

After the convention was over reports started to trickle out regarding the conduct of the bad actors on the third floor of the Hilton. Two things came together to trigger an internal investigation: A female admiral’s aide named Paula Coughlin was put off by her boss’ insensitive response to her claim that she’d been a victim of sexual battery, and she went to internal Navy authorities with an official complaint. At the same time, the head of the Tailhook Association gathered the Navy’s active duty aviation leadership to conduct an “after action” session that allowed the media to get wind of the animal acts that had happened.

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
Paula Coughlin, the JO who launched the investigation after her boss blew her off.

When it was all said and done, 83 women and seven men stated that they had been victims of sexual assault and harassment during Hook ’91. The ensuing investigation was overzealous and hamfisted and struck those on the inside as politically motivated, which caused squadrons to close ranks, which made the investigators and those above them resort to increasingly draconian measures.

Insiders labeled the effort a “witch hunt” as officials with a mandate to clean up the culture showed up to their spaces and told aviators to change their callsigns (no one was allowed to be called “Chunks” anymore, for instance; or if your last name was Dover your callsign couldn’t be “Ben”) and even a squadron was made to change its age-old and war-tested name from “The Pukin’ Dogs” to “The Dogs.”  (It was later changed back after the political winds lightened a bit.)

Flag officers had their careers ended for simply being in the Hilton never mind anywhere near the third floor.  COs were fired for having their charges present.  The perpetrators were never really found and punished, but most evidence pointed to flight students who’d never made a carrier landing and Marine aviators from a squadron that didn’t officially exist anymore because the model they flew was decommissioned. (Neither of those groups were really tailhookers, either.)

Meanwhile progressive lawmakers and other influencers used the scandal to forward their agendas. Female integration of carrier-based commands, including pilots and NFOs, was mandated at a great cost of both funds and focus. Many conservatives and retired officers alleged that in ending the careers of over 300 officers, the Clinton administration had gone far beyond punishing wrongdoers and had used the scandal as a pretext for carrying out a purge of the officer corps.

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
There’s a fine line between humor and sad truth.

Former Navy Secretary Jim Webb, speaking at the Naval Academy said, “When the Tailhook investigation began, and certain political elements used the incident to bring discredit on naval aviation as a whole, and then on the Navy writ large, one is entitled to ask… Who fought this? Who condemned it? When a whole generation of officers is asked to accept … the destruction of the careers of some of the finest aviators in the Navy based on hearsay, unsubstantiated allegations, in some cases after a full repudiation of anonymous charges that resemble the worst elements of McCarthyism … what admiral has had the courage to risk his own career by putting his stars on the table, and defending the integrity of the process and of its people?” (Wikipedia)

“The essence of that warrior culture has been severely diluted in this decade,” former Blue Angel’s commanding officer Bob Stumpf said, himself a victim of the scandal because he was there, not because he was guilty of any bad conduct. “Politically inspired social edicts enforced since Tailhook ’91 have rendered a ready room atmosphere so different now that it is nearly unrecognizable… Pilots are hampered in their ability to train as warriors by the policies of their senior leaders. They are faced with social experimentation and double standards in training. Experienced pilots are forced to qualify certain trainees who may or may not demonstrate established quality standards. This leads to distrust and resentment, two powerfully harmful factors in terms of unit morale, and thus military effectiveness.”

Former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman (a winged Naval Aviator as well) felt that the scandal had removed the necessary swagger and confidence from the navy’s aviation culture and replaced it with a focus on social issues. But current Navy leaders will say that gender integration has been a success and that Naval Aviation has never been more effective, and they point to things like the Tailhook Scandal and credit them with accelerating the changes for the better.

However the changes netted out, these days you won’t find a fighter pilot with the callsign “Puke” anywhere, and that’s a shame.

Now: The Army is kicking out a Green Beret who saved a child from being raped

 

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The Brit sniper and his record-breaking 1.5 mile kill shot

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear


Throughout the history of modern warfare, the record for longest confirmed sniper kill is one that has steadily gotten more and more extreme as technology has progressed. At the time of writing this, the holder of that record is British sniper Craig Harrison, who notably broke the previous record twice on the same day by hitting two enemy targets on two consecutive shots an astounding 2,474 metres away.

For our friends across the pond, that’s 8,116.8 feet or 1.54 miles or about 22.5 NFL football fields (including end zones) away. The shot was from such an extreme range that it took the bullet about three seconds to reach the target.

Corporal of Horse Craig Harrison made his record breaking shot in November of 2009 while stationed in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. Harrison personally didn’t find out about its record breaking nature until after he returned home in 2010. The distance from which he took the shot, which was measured and confirmed via GPS, amazed his superiors in the Ministry of Defence so much that they published the details of his shot almost as soon as he got back to the UK, and even granted him permission to give interviews about it to the world’s media.

If you’re wondering about the circumstances surrounding the shot, Harrison was providing cover fire for his commanding officer and members of the Afghan National Army, who’d been ambushed by two insurgents. According to Harrison, the insurgents were armed with a PKM machine-gun and had pinned down the soldiers, giving him only a short time to assess the situation and subsequently line up a shot to ruin the attackers’ day.

With a help from a spotter, Cliff O’Farrell, and 9 test shots to nail down the exact distance, Harrison lined up his shot and squeezed the trigger for a 10th time, firing a .338 Lapua Magnum round and striking the machine-gunner in the gut, killing him. The remaining insurgent, who wouldn’t have even heard the shot coming, reached out to take command of the now free machine-gun only to be hit by a second round launched by Harrison. With both insurgents down, Harrison pulled the trigger one more time to disable the machine-gun itself.

Thus, Harrison not only broke the previous record (7,972 feet set in 2002 in Afghanistan) held by Canadian Rob Furlong using a McMillan-Tac 50, but he made the shot essentially three times in a row without missing- hitting the two insurgents and their machine-gun. This means he technically broke the record twice within a few seconds of one another.

As if all that wasn’t impressive enough, the actual shots were noted as being about 3,000 feet beyond the L115A3 rifle’s effective range. Needless to say, as Harrison said, “Conditions were perfect, no wind, mild weather, clear visibility.”

Interestingly, despite the interviews he gave over the matter, we shouldn’t really know Harrison’s real name. Official Ministry of Defence rules state that the identities of snipers, regardless of interviews of this nature, should never be disclosed publicly, as they would quickly become prime targets. Harrison was well aware of this rule and reportedly only agreed to speak with the media about his record shot on the understanding that his identity wouldn’t be disclosed or that they’d give him a pseudonym.

However, for reasons that aren’t clear, the MoD never passed this restriction onto any of the media outlets Harrison spoke with and they all released stories crediting Harrison under his real name, with some sources even noting where he lived.

The police quickly warned Harrison and his family that they were in danger after the story was printed. To protect his wife, daughter, and himself, Harrison was left with no choice but to uproot his family, which in turn resulted in his wife losing her job and his daughter being pulled from school mid-year. We’re also guessing that for the following few months, Harrison ensured that his wife and daughter were always within 8000 feet of his location, just in case.

Understandably, Harrison got pretty upset about his identity being printed in the news when he was explicitly told it wouldn’t be. Thus, he asked the MoD for compensation for drawing a bullseye on his family’s backs and to cover moving expenses. He was later awarded £100,000 (about $156,000) for his trouble.

Bonus Facts:

  • Just a few weeks after making the longest kill shot in sniper history, Harrison was shot in the head while under enemy fire, but luckily his helmet took the brunt of the blow and the bullet did not penetrate his skull.  Shortly thereafter, he had both his arms broken when the vehicle he was travelling in drove over a roadside bomb. He not only managed to make a full recovery after this devastating injury, but insisted on being sent back to the front line as soon as he was fit, stating that the explosion hadn’t affected his “ability as a sniper”.
  • The spotter Harrison used to make the shot was a military  driver with no formal training in the spotting, making the shot that much more impressive.

References:

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Army JLTV armed with lethal 30mm cannon

Army and Marine Corps may add a more-lethal 30mm cannon to its new JLTV to improve lethality for the emerging high-tech platform and better prepare it for large-scale, mechanized force-on-force warfare.


The Army’s new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle is a new fast-moving armored vehicle engineered to take bullets, drive over roadside bombs and withstand major enemy attacks; the vehicle was conceived and engineered as a high-tech, more survivable replacement for large portions of its fleet of Humvees.

Also read: The US Army is testing a faster and more lethal variant of the Abrams tank

While the Army remains focused on being needed for counterinsurgency possibilities across the globe and hybrid-type wars involving groups of terrorists armed with conventional weapons and precision-guided missiles — the service is identifying, refining and integrating technologies, such as its emerging Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, with a specific mind to attacking enemies and protecting Soldiers in major-power war, service officials said.

As evidence of this approach, Lt. Gen. Michael Williamson, Military Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army, Acquisition, Logistics Technology, said the multi-year developmental effort of the new Humvee replacement has been focused on engineering a vehicle able to help the Army win wars against a large, near-peer adversary.

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
US Army photo

As part of this effort, the Army is looking at options to up-gun JLTV with more lethal weapons such as a 30mm cannon. JLTV maker Oshkosh recently unveiled a 30mm cannon-armed JLTV at the Association of the United States Army Annual Symposium last Fall.

In a special exclusive interview with Scout Warrior, Williamson pointed to some of the attributes of the Army’s new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, or JLTV, as a platform well-engineered for large-scale mechanized warfare. Communications technologies, sensors, computers and extra add-on armor protection are, by design, some of the attributes intended to allow the vehicle to network the battlefield and safely deliver Soldiers to a wide-range of large-scale combat engagements.

Several reports, from Breaking Defense and Military.com, have said that the Army is preparing to use its JLTV for missions previously slated for a Light Reconnaissance Vehicle, or LRV. The LRV mission sets, can be met by a better armed JLTV, allowing the Army to forgo construction of a new lightweight vehicle and therefore save money.

The Army has received the first 7 “test” vehicles from by Oshkosh Defense at different sites around the force.

A total of about 100 of the JLTV “production vehicles” will be provided to the Army and Marine Corps for testing over the next year, at a rate of about 10 per month, officials said. The vehicles will undergo maneuverability and automotive testing at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, and other sites around the country. In addition to testing at Yuma, the vehicles will undergo testing for cyber integration of command, control, communications and intelligence at the Electronics Proving Ground on Fort Huachuca, Arizona, an Army statement said.  The vehicles will also be tested for automotive performance at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland and the Cold Regions Test Center on Fort Greely, Alaska.

“It’s on schedule,” Scott Davis, program executive officer for combat support and combat service support, said in an article from Army.mil. “It’s doing everything we ever expected it to. It’s just incredible.”

JLTV-Prepared for Major Power War

Major, great-power war would likely present the need for massive air-ground coordination between drones, helicopters and ground vehicles, infantry and armored vehicle maneuver formations and long-range weapons and sensors. The idea is to be ready for enemies equipped with high-end, high-tech weapons such as long-range rocket, missile and air attack capabilities.

Williamson explained how the JLTV, for instance, is engineered with additional armor, speed, suspension, blast-protection and ground-clearance in order to withstand enemy fire, mines, IEDs and roadside bombs. These same protection technologies would also enable the vehicle to better withstand longer-range attacks from enemy armies far more capable than those encountered in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The vehicle is being built to, among other things, replace a large portion of the Army’s Humvee fleet.

The JLTV represents the next-generation of automotive technology in a number of key respects, such as the ability to design a light tactical, mobile vehicle with substantial protective ability to defend against a wide range of enemy attacks.

The vehicle is designed from the ground up to be mobile and operate with a level of underbody protection equivalent to the original MRAP-ATV (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected — All Terrain Vehicle) vehicle standards. Also, the vehicle is being designed with modular armor, so that when the armor is not needed we can take it off and bring the weight of the vehicle down to drive down the operating costs, Army officials have explained.

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
Oshkosh Defense

The modular armor approach gives the vehicle an A-kit and B-kit option, allowing the vehicle to integrate heavier armor should the war-threat require that.

With a curb weight of roughly 14,000 pounds, the JLTV will provide protection comparable to the 25,000-pound M-ATV, thus combining the mobility and transportability of a light vehicle with MRAP-level protection. The vehicle can reach speeds greater than 70-MPH.

The vehicle, made by Oshkosh Defense, is also built with a system called TAK-4i independent suspension designed to increase off-road mobility in rigorous terrain – a scenario quite likely should there be a major war. The JLTV is equipped with next-generation sensors and communications technologies to better enhance Soldiers’ knowledge of a surrounding, fast-moving dynamic combat situation.

TAK-4i can be described as Variable Ride-Height Suspension, explained as the ability to raise and lower the suspension to meet certain mission requirements such as the need to raise the suspension in high-threat areas and lower the suspension so that the vehicles can be transported by Maritime preposition force ships.

Also, the JLTV will be able to sling-load beneath a CH-53, C-130 or CH-47 under standard conditions. Sling-loading the vehicle beneath a large helicopter would give the Army an ability to conduct what they called Mounted Maneuver – an effort to reposition forces quickly on the battlefield in rough terrain which cannot be traversed another way.

Oshkosh, based in the Wisconsin city of the same name, last summer won a $6.7 billion Army contract to begin to produce about 17,000 of the light-duty JLTVs for the Army and Marine Corps beginning in the first quarter of fiscal 2016, which began Oct. 1.

The services plan to buy nearly 55,000 of the vehicles, including 49,100 for the Army and 5,500 for the Corps, to replace about a third of the Humvee fleets at an overall estimated cost of more than $24 billion, according to Army officials.

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
Oshkosh Defense

When compared with earlier light tactical vehicle models such as the HMMWV, the JLTV is being engineered with a much stronger, 250 to 360 Horsepower engine (Banks 6.6 liter diesel engine) and a 570-amp alternator able to generate up to 10 kilowatts of exportable power. In fact, due to the increase in need for on-board power, the vehicle includes the integration of a suite of C4ISR kits and networking technologies.

The JLTV, which can be armed with weapons such as a grenade launcher or .50-cal machine gun, has a central tire inflation system which is an on-the-fly system that can regulate tire pressure; the system can adjust tire pressure from higher pressures for higher speed conditions on flatter roads to much lower pressures in soft soil such as sand or mud, JLTV engineers explain.

Also, instead of having a belt-driven alternator, the vehicles are built with an integrated generating system that is sandwiched between the engine and transmission in order to increase efficiency.

Army Future Strategy

As a high-level leader for the Army’s weapons, vehicle and platform developmental efforts, Williamson explained that some technologies are specifically being engineered with a mind toward positioning the service for the prospect of massive great-power conflict; this would include combat with mechanized forces, armored vehicles, long-range precision weapons, helicopter air support and what’s called a Combined Arms Maneuver approach.

Combined Arms Maneuver tactics use a variety of combat assets, such as artillery, infantry and armored vehicles such as tanks, in a synchronized, integrated fashion to overwhelm, confuse and destroy enemies.

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
A Joint Light Tactical Vehicle production model is displayed by Oshkosh on the floor of the AUSA Annual Meeting and Exhibition in the Washington Convention Center Oct. 4, 2016. | US Army photo by Gary Sheftick

While the Army naturally does not expect or seek a particular conflict with near-peer nations like Russia and China, the service is indeed acutely aware of the rapid pace of their military modernization and aggressive activities.

As a result of its experience and skill with counterinsurgency fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army’s training, doctrine and weapons development is sharpening its focus on armored vehicles, long-range precision weapons and networking technologies to connect a force dispersed over a wide area of terrain.

Another key aspect of the Army’s future strategy is called Wide Area Security, an approached grounded in the recognition that large-scale mechanized forces will likely need to operate and maneuver across much wider swaths of terrain as has been the case in recent years. Having a dispersed force, fortified with long range sensors, armor protection, precision weapons and networking technologies, will strengthen the Army’s offensive approach and make its forces a more difficult, less aggregated target for enemies. This strategic emphasis also incorporates the need for combat forces to operate within and among populations as it seek to identify and eliminate enemies.

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Did the phone call for fire scene in ‘Heartbreak Ridge’ really happen?

While typically rooted in true events, war films often take “creative liberties” in the portrayal of military members and their exploits. Heartbreak Ridge is no exception, but there’s one famously far-fetched scene in the cult classic that may have actually happened.

The 1986 film depicts the efforts of Medal of Honor recipient and thoroughly crusty Gunnery Sgt. Tom Highway (Clint Eastwood) as he whips a group of undisciplined Marines into combat shape just in time for the 1983 invasion of Grenada. While Heartbreak Ridge is known for its over-the-top depictions, the scene where Gunny Highway finds himself in a jail cell for bar fighting and urinating on a police cruiser might be the most accurate depiction of a battle-hardened Marine staff NCO in history.

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
Gunny Highway stands trial for urinating on a police cruiser. Screenshot from Heartbreak Ridge. (Warner Bros.)

In the film’s depiction of Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada, there is no shortage of hip firing from the highly trained Recon Marines, who use almost no structure or tactical maneuvering. And at a climactic point in the battle, the pinned-down Marines use a house phone and credit card to make a collect call back to Fort Bragg to request air support. 

As unlikely as that last one seems, it may have actually happened. 

Operation Urgent Fury is infamous for the innumerable blunders and SNAFUs that occurred before and during the operation. The US military of the early ’80s was a largely untested force that was undergoing a large-scale downsizing and restructuring (stop me if this sounds eerily familiar). 

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
Gunnery Sgt. Highway whipping young Marines into shape. Screenshot from Heartbreak Ridge. (Warner Bros.)

President Ronald Reagan sent an initial force of 2,000 troops to rescue the nearly 1,000 Americans in Grenada at the time and settle the turmoil there, but the Pentagon ultimately had to send in roughly 4,000 additional military members to complete the operation. Short notice, bad planning and intel, and poor interservice communication plagued the operation.

US forces ultimately succeeded, and that was due, in no short part, to the boots on the ground doing what they do best — adapting and overcoming. Many stories are told from this operation, but none encapsulate the event and also the versatility of the American warrior quite as well as the legend of the American who called for indirect fire from a pay phone. 

As the tale goes, US service members were pinned down by enemy fire and were in dire need of artillery to gain the upper hand. Communication to any kind of support was cut off, spurring one quick-thinking soldier to action. The soldier allegedly took out his credit card and utilized the nearest pay phone to call Fort Bragg. The call was relayed through several channels and the necessary artillery was provided — saving the soldiers and winning the day.

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
War movie or Discover card ad? Mario Van Peebles as Cpl. Stitch Jones. Screenshot from Heartbreak Ridge. (Warner Bros.)

To date, there are a couple of different versions of this legend. One involves a Navy SEAL making the call from a governor’s mansion for air support from an AC-130. However, Marines claimed the fire came from a naval destroyer positioned just off the island. Another involves a member of the 82nd Airborne actually using a pay phone to call his wife back at Fort Bragg who then relayed the message to his command. 

We may never know what really went down, but the legend of the phone call for fire inspired screenwriter and Vietnam veteran James Carabatsos to incorporate the impromptu call in his script for Heartbreak Ridge

Now you know. And knowing is half the battle. 

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

Feature image: Warner Bros.

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The awesome A-10 video the Air Force doesn’t want you to see

The A-10 Warthog is the only aircraft built for a close air support (CAS) mission. It was literally designed around its distinctive 30mm gatling gun. The gun is more than 19 feet long and weighs more than 4,000 pounds. The distinctive sound made by the weapon (aka the BRRRRRRRRRT – created as rounds fire faster than the speed of sound), is music to the ears of the troops on the ground, so much so, the plane sometimes called “the grunt in the air.” A-10 pilots often find themselves providing support at Danger Close distances.


“They love this airplane,” says one Air Force A-10 pilot, referring to units on the ground. “They trust us. For them to trust to do that is very gratifying.”

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear

Recently, the John Q. Public blog, run by retired Air Force officer Tony Carr, came across a video he suspects was produced by the Air Force’s Combat Camera units, lauding the A-10, its crews, its pilots, and the capabilities of its support for ground troops.

“ComCam is perhaps alone in its possession of the unique combination of access and capability to create something this close to the mission with such superior production values,” Carr writes. “A ComCam airman risked mortal danger to make this film and tell this story, getting immersed in a firefight along the way (you’ll see him drop his camera and hear him discharge his weapon in the video).”

Combining ground combat footage with access to the aircrews who run and fly the Warthogs, Carr believes the video has “unmistakeable importance,” but wonders if the video is being suppressed by senior Air Force leaders for political reasons.

The controversy stems from the Air Force’s repeated attempts to retire this relatively young fleet of aircraft. The A-10 first appeared in the Air Force arsenal in 1972 and was used with great effect in Operation Desert Storm. Comparatively, the Air Force’s B-52 fleet was first introduced in 1955 and is still in service.

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear

“It’s not a political statement,” says a pilot in the theater. “I’m not saying air interdiction isn’t important … but the benefits [of close air support] are right there.”

The Air Force aims to replace the A-10 with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a trillion-dollar weapons system that is the most expensive in history, which is extremely over-budget and experiencing an uncanny number of development setbacks. While retiring the A-10 would save many billions of dollars annually, that money would likely go to further developing the F-35. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III says the F-35 is designed “for the whole battle space” and would replace the A-10’s CAS capabilities.

But politicos and ground troops are not buying it.

“When you’re talking to a 19-year-old man with a rifle, who’s scared on the other end of a radio,” another Air Force A-10 pilot says in the video. “You know he doesn’t care about fiscal constraints, ‘big picture’ Air Force policy, the next fancy weapons system coming down the pipeline. He cares about being saved right then and there.”

The heartfelt, informative A-10 video is below, and is worth a watch for anyone with an interest in the importance of close air support.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_L_TjXXx7eQ

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
Free to enter. 5 will win. Ends November 30, 2016

Humor

6 ways military life would be easier if it were like a video game

Young civilians often tend to equate life in the military with what they see in video games. By their very nature, video games are supposed to be fun and engaging. You often find yourself in the boots of an impossibly badass character, doing over the top things.


By contrast, life in the military usually involves sitting around, waiting to hear what the next training exercise will be. It’s definitely not the video-game-like experience some might expect.

We can’t blame you for using your imagination, though. In fact, these are some things about video games that would make real military service so much better.

6. The tutorial would be much shorter

At the beginning of nearly every game, you’re first taught how to play the game. Use the sticks to move around, press ‘X’ to jump, press ‘R2’ to shoot, and so on. In the real world, you spend 9 weeks in basic/boot camp, additional time learning your specific MOS, and then god-knows-how-much time before you actually deploy.

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
Your Colonel would never get on the radio to teach you how to climb a ladder… (Screenshot from Konami’s Metal Gear Solid)

5. Traveling would just be a load screen

One of the worst waits in the military is the moment you pack your duffle bag for the last time to leave the deployment. You wait to get the order to move to the larger FOBs, you wait to get the order to leave country to a larger airfield, and then you wait for the plane to finally touch down. At least in a video game, the load screens don’t last three weeks.

Every troop while they “hurry up and wait.” (Image via GIPHY)

4. Having a choice in gear would be nice

The most common talking point between someone who plays military video games and someone who actually knows the military is weapon selection. You’ll hear the, “Oh, did you get to use the (insert weapon issued by another country’s SpecOps)?”

Almost always, you’re assigned a weapon by your squad leader. One person is the grenadier, another the machine gunner. Everyone else is a rifleman. Rarely will you even interact with someone who has a sniper rifle, let alone use one.

If you’re wondering who gets the machine gun, it’s always the smallest person — because it’s funny. (Image via GIPHY)

3. Combat would be easy if the enemy was flagged for PvP

In massively multiplayer games, like World of Warcraft, you get to have fun duking it out with others in player-versus-player combat. For the most part, you’re always going to know who, exactly, is your enemy. Iraq and Afghanistan, on the other hand…

Also, looting stuff from the enemy is also generally frowned upon. (Image via GIPHY)

2. No need for medics!

Who needs an entire expertise that takes years of training when you can just step on top of a first aid kit or hide behind a rock until your screen stops glowing red?

You could get shot thirty times and get right back up to chainsaw someone in half a few seconds later.

Much simpler than changing your socks and taking a Motrin. (Image via GIPHY)

1. Changes from the developers usually make things easier

There’s no real rank structure in video games. Sure, you might have a guild leader or your e-sports team might have a captain, but the only words that come down the pipe to a gamer, generally, are patch notes. Games get patched to fix bugs, make the game more accessible, and usually have a positive impact on the overall game.

If you get word from the Big Military on something, it’s usually something dumb, like a change in the tattoo policy or a memo stating the uniforms you just bought are now obsolete.

If you think hearing your character got nerfed was bad, try hearing your deployment got extended. (Image via GIPHY)

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Here’s why it’s a good thing the US military is getting rid of the M14

The M14 is one of the worst DMRs in history, and should have never been adopted by the military.


That’s a powerful statement, but a mostly objective one.

While the M14’s design originated from what General Patton dubbed “The greatest battle implement ever devised” — the M1 Garand — by the 1950s it was already outdated. Military small arms development had seen unparalleled growth throughout World War II and this growth continued into the Cold War.

Listen to the WATM podcast to hear our veteran hosts and a weapons expert discuss the M14 and its replacement:

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While Russia was hurriedly developing its first true assault rifle, the AK-47, NATO was still hung up on the concept of a battle rifle. Though this makes perfect sense in retrospect.

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
Private 1st Class Carlos Rivera, a squad designated marksman with Alpha Company, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, scans his sector while providing security in the district of Spin Boldak, Afghanistan, July 30, 2012. (Photo: US Army)

Experience in WWII and the frozen hell of Korea hammered home the importance of increased firepower without sacrificing range, reliability or power. Hundreds of soldiers reported the smaller M1 Carbine and its light .30-caliber cartridge were ineffective against winter-coat-wearing Chinese and Korean human wave attacks, but the .30-06 M1 never suffered this problem. Interestingly, post-war investigations suggested the M1 Carbine’s light weight and high cyclic rate of fire were more responsible for this lack of stopping power than the cartridge itself — meaning, most soldiers simply missed their targets because of the gun’s recoil.

This is a lesson the Army forgot when it pressed a select-fire .308 rifle into service only a few years later.

Enter, the M14.

The one thing the M14 has going for it, is its method of operation. It’s a long-stroke, piston-driven action that’s very similar to the most prolific, assault rifle in history: the AK-47. Like the AK, the M14’s action can tolerate debris and fouling better than the direct-impingement M16. While the rifle’s hard-hitting 7.62x51mm NATO round is vastly superior to the M16’s 5.56mm at defeating light cover and the dense foliage found in South East Asian jungles, it also makes the rifle very tough to control.

On a side note, carrying a combat load of 7.62 isn’t much fun, and doesn’t offer the average infantryman nearly as much firepower as the same weight in 5.56 rounds.

But that’s not what makes the M14 so awful. It’s the design itself – especially for the role it has been shoehorned into: the Designated Marskman Rifle. The vaunted DMR bridges the gap between the M4 and dedicated sniping weapon systems like the M24. Infantrymen from every branch fielding a DMR in combat have nothing but praise for the guns’ performance in the vast expanses of Iraq and Afghanistan.

So, if soldiers love the gun, it must be pretty decent, right? Sure, so long as the rifle is clamped into a very heavy, expensive chassis and the soldier carrying it never drops it, or touches the handguards. Seriously, disturbing the gun’s bedding – the way it’s glued into a stock — doesn’t just shift point of impact, it reduces overall accuracy. Therein lies the biggest problem with the M14: accurizing the rifle and holding on to that accuracy.

Accuracy is a measure of consistency when it comes to rifles. Given that a DMR must, by definition, extend the effective range of a squad, its DMR needs to reliably hit targets beyond the reach of the infantryman’s standard rifle or carbine. Yet, according to military standards, acceptable accuracy from the M14 is 5.5 inches at 100 yards – a full inch larger than the M16’s standards. While the M14’s 7.62mm round is great for this, the gun is not.

Camp Perry shooters have long since abandoned the M14 because of the difficulty in accurizing the rifle compared to the M16 – and they aren’t alone. The Army noticed the problems and prohibitive costs associated with maintaining M14s in country, which lead to the solicitation of a replacement rifle to meet new specifications for the Semi-Automatic Sniper System program.

Funny thing, the Army decided the M16 was more accurate, and more easily tuned into a sniper rifle – except for the caliber. Which is why the M14 EBR’s replacement, the Mk-11, is built off an AR-10: the 7.62 big brother of the M16.

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
Cpl. Scott P. Ruggio, scout sniper, Scout Sniper platoon, Headquarters and Support Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, fires his MK-11 sniper rifle in the first stage of a three-day platoon competition in Djibouti March 25. (Photo: US Marine Corps)

In all fairness, the Global War on Terror presented a combat theater the U.S. military wasn’t prepared to fight in. Plus, the M14 wasn’t meant to be a sniper or DMR platform when it was developed in the 1950s. Even still, Armalite had been producing civilian and military AR-10 rifles since the late 1950s, and could have just as easily been pressed into service.

Better yet, since the AR-10 shares it’s method of operation with the M16, advancements on one could likely be applied to the other. And, the guns shares the same manual of arms, so no additional training is required for soldiers transitioning from one to the other.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

3 things Veterans should know about VA’s new electronic health record

VA is implementing its new electronic health record (EHR) system on Oct. 24 at initial sites in the Pacific Northwest. The implementation improves how clinicians store and manage patient information, including visits, test results, prescriptions and more. This will also mean some changes to how Veterans access their own health data online if their VA facility has changed to the new EHR.

Veterans who receive care at Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Spokane, Washington, and its community-based outpatient clinics in Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint, Idaho; Libby, Montana; and Wenatchee, Washington, will be the first in the nation to use VA’s new electronic health record and patient portal, My VA Health. As a complementary tool to VA’s existing My HealtheVet patient portal, My VA Health will allow Veterans to manage their appointments, prescription refills, medical records and communication with health care providers online.


Since full implementation of VA’s new EHR is expected to occur over a 10-year period ending in 2028, most Veterans will not see immediate changes to how they view their medical records online. VA will continue to support its current EHR systems, including My HealtheVet, throughout the transition period to ensure there is no interruption to the accessibility and delivery of care. Veterans can expect to learn more as their local facilities prepare to migrate to the new EHR.

In the meantime, here are three key things Veterans should know about VA’s Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM) program and My VA Health.

What is VA’s Electronic Health Record Modernization program, and how does it impact Veterans?

EHRM is an effort to unite VA, the Department of Defense (DOD), the U.S. Coast Guard and community care providers on a single interoperable health information platform. This modernized system will allow VA to continue providing a world-class health care experience for Veterans across all VA facilities.

The new system will replace the department’s current electronic health record, known as the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA), with a commercial, off-the-shelf solution developed by Cerner Corp.

The new EHR will create a paperless transition from receiving care as a service member through DOD to receiving care as a Veteran through VA. It will also support providers’ clinical decision-making by increasing their ability to make connections between a Veteran’s time on active duty and potential health issues later in life.

When will Veterans start using My VA Health?

Veterans will begin using the new My VA Health capabilities, accessible via VA.gov or My HealtheVet, when their local VA medical center or clinic transitions to the new EHR. Until then, Veterans will use only the existing My HealtheVet portal, which is also accessible via VA.gov. Mann-Grandstaff VAMC and its clinics are the first facilities introducing My VA Health to their patients.

Once My VA Health launches at a site, Veterans will be able use their current credentials to sign in to either My VA Health or My HealtheVet. This will ensure Veterans who have received care at more than one VA site have access to all of their records. For example, Veterans who receive care at Mann-Grandstaff VAMC and its four clinics will use My VA Health to manage their care from those sites and My HealtheVet to manage their health care from other VA and community sites. Historical records, including prior secure messages, will remain available on My HealtheVet.

Meanwhile, VA is working to make VA.gov the single place where Veterans can go for their health needs, so navigation between the two portals is not necessary. VA will provide resources to walk Veterans through these changes as EHRM deployment reaches their facilities.

How will Veterans at Mann-Grandstaff and its associated clinics access the patient portal?

Veterans will sign in as they do today, either through My HealtheVet or VA.gov, using any of the following accounts:

  • Premium DS Logon account
  • Premium My HealtheVet account
  • Verifiedme account

Once logged in, Veterans will be directed to My VA Health regarding care received at Mann-Grandstaff and its clinics and to My HealtheVet regarding care received at other VA locations. Veterans with basic or advanced My HealtheVet accounts can upgrade to a premium account using this guide.

Additionally, Veterans who receive care at Mann-Grandstaff VAMC and its associated clinics can visit this page for more information on My VA Health ahead of its introduction Oct. 24.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

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US Army says 500 soldiers will deploy to Afghanistan this summer

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
US Army photo


The U.S. Army on Tuesday announced 500 soldiers will deploy to Afghanistan this summer as part of a scheduled troop rotation.

The service in a release said the soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division Headquarters and Sustainment Brigade, based at Fort Hood, Texas, will replace the headquarters of the 10th Mountain Division at Bagram Airfield in the northeastern part of the country.

The unit will support Operation Freedom’s Sentinel at the location as the national support element, according to the statement.

“The 1st Cavalry Division has once again been called by our nation’s Army,” Maj. Gen. John C. Thomson, III, commander, 1st Cavalry Division, said in the release. “First Team troopers are trained, well-led, and ready to accomplish assigned missions in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.”

The Army had previously announced that about 1,000 others from the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, also based at Fort Hood, are also preparing to deploy to Afghanistan.

The soldiers were also expected to switch out with a number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and aren’t likely to change the overall American military presence in the country of about 9,800 service members.

At the time of the previous announcement, Lt. Col. Sunset Belinsky, a spokeswoman for the 1st Cavalry Division, said the regiment will probably deploy in May or June. Soldiers were returning from the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, and planned to take a week or two of family leave before heading overseas, she said.

Belinsky said at least some of the soldiers may join colleagues from the 10th Mountain Division in the southern part of the country, but added that planners were still “looking at the mission closely, so it may not be exactly there.”

The Defense Department announced in February that about 500 soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 87th Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Drum, New York, would be sent to Helmand Province to shore up an Afghan Army Corps battered by the Taliban.

In recent weeks, American F-16 fighter jets have “significantly increased pressure and the number of strikes” in eastern Nangarhar province bordering Pakistan, where fighters pledging allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, were believed to number 1,000-3,000, according to Army Brig. Gen. Wilson Shoffner, chief spokesman for U.S. Forces-Afghanistan.

President Barack Obama last year adjusted plans for U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan.

Rather than reduce the military footprint in the country to a nominal embassy presence in Kabul by the end of 2016, Obama said the U.S. will maintain 5,500 troops and a small number of bases, including at Bagram and Jalalabad in the east and Kandahar in the south into 2017 to continue the mission of training and providing support to Afghan security forces, according to the Pentagon.

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The Navy’s ‘first-of-its-kind’ stealthy destroyer is one step closer to activation

The Navy’s new “first-of-its-kind” stealthy destroyer will soon go to San Diego, Calif., where it will go through what’s called “ship activation” – a process of integrating the major systems and technologies on the ship leading up to an eventual live-fire exercise of its guns and missiles.


As part of this process, the Navy will eventually fire long-range precision guns and missiles from its lethal, stealthy new destroyer — in anticipation of its ultimate deployment on the open seas, service and industry officials explained.

The new Destroyer, called DDG 1000 or the future USS Zumwalt, is a 610-foot land and surface warfare attack ship designed with a stealthy, wave-piercing “tumblehome” hull.

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
The USS Zumwalt. | Raytheon

On Friday May 20, 2016,  the new ship was formally delivered to the Navy at Bath Iron Works in Portland, Maine.

“The shape of the superstructure and the arrangement of its antennas significantly reduce radar cross section, making the ship less visible to enemy radar at sea,” a Navy statement said.

“The US Navy accepted delivery of the most technically complex and advanced warship the world has ever seen,” Rear Adm. (select) James Downey, DDG 1000 Program Manager, said in a written statement.

Several reports have indicated that ships off the coast of Maine recently thought the DDG 1000 was a small fishing boat due to its stealthy design. That is precisely the intent of the ship – it seeks to penetrate enemy areas, delivery lethal attack while remaining undetected by enemy radar. The ship is engineered for both land attack and open water surface warfare, Navy officials explain.

“In the next phase, the Navy will be driving, connecting, integrating and proving the functionality of the ship systems such as the radar, sonar and gun. The Navy will test out the basics make sure the ship can work then by testing those components of the ship that actually make it a warship,” Wade Knudson, DDG 1000 Program Manager, Raytheon, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

“The Navy will be making sure that the propulsion system works to create the power to drive the ship at the speeds it is supposed to go.”

Ship delivery follows extensive tests, trials and demonstrations of the ship’s Hull, Mechanical, and Electrical systems including the ship’s boat handling, anchor and mooring systems as well as major demonstrations of the damage control, ballasting, navigation and communications systems, Navy officials said.

The ship is slated to be commissioned in Baltimore, Maryland Oct. 15.

“Zumwalt’s crew has diligently trained for months in preparation of this day and they are ready and excited to take charge of this ship on behalf of the US Navy,” Capt. James Kirk, commanding officer of the future Zumwalt, said in a written statement.

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
US Navy photo

DDG 1000 Weapons

The ship is engineered to fire Tomahawk missiles as well as torpedoes, Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile and a range of standard missiles such as the SM2, SM3 and SM6.

The ship also fires Vertical Launch Anti-Submarine Rockets, or ASROCs. ASROCs are 16-feet long with a 14-inch diameter; a rocket delivers the torpedo at very high speeds to a specific point in the water at which point it turns on its sensors and searches for an enemy submarine.

The first weapons to fire from the Mk 57 vertical launch tubes will be the ship defensive weapons called the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile and the Standard Missile 2, or SM-2.

The ship is also built with Mk 57 a vertical launch tubes which are engineered into the hull near the perimeter of the ship.

Called Peripheral Vertical Launch System, the tubes are integrated with the hull around the ship’s periphery in order to ensure that weapons can keep firing in the event of damage.  Instead of having all of the launch tubes in succession or near one another, the DDG 1000 has spread them out in order to mitigate risk in the event attack, developers said.

7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear
Artist’s rendering of the USS Zumwalt | U.S. Navy

In total, there are 80 launch tubes built into the hull of the DDG 1000; the Peripheral Vertical Launch System involves a collaborative effort between Raytheon and BAE Systems.

Also, the launchers are especially designed with software such that it can accommodate a wide range of weapons; the launchers can house one SM-2, SM-3 or SM-6, ASROCs and up to four ESSMs due to the missile’s smaller diameter, Knudson added.

“It has a common launcher to you can change the adapter or computer function which connects the ship to the missile,” he said.

The ship also has a 155mm long range, precision-capable gun called the Advanced Gun System made by BAE Systems. The weapon can, among other things, fire a munition called the Long-Range Land Attack Projectile which can strike target at ranges out to 64 nautical miles.

Most deck mounted 5-inch guns currently on Navy ships are limited to firing roughly 8-to-10 miles at targets within the horizon or what’s called line of sight. The Advanced Gun System, however, fires GPS-guided precision 155m rounds beyond-the-horizon at targets more than three times that distance.

New Sonar, Power Systems, Radar Technology

The DDG 1000 is unique in that it uses what’s called a dual-band sonar system; this includes both medium and high frequency sonar designed to detect both submarines as well as mines and incoming enemy fire. Most ships have only longer-range, lower frequency medium frequency sonar which provides an ability to detect submarines at long distances. Higher frequency brings a much more precise degree of detection, Knudson explained.

Sonar works by sending out an acoustic “ping” and then analyzing the return signal to process information through a receiver designed to help determine the shape, distance,  speed and dimensions of an object or threat.

“High frequency is better for detecting small objects. If you are only going after submarines, then medium frequency would be sufficient. You are going to find the submarine — then you would be able to fire one of the vertically launched ASROCs to engage that target,” Knudson said. “What makes this unique is that high-frequency enable mine detection and mine avoidance,” he added.

It makes sense that the DDG 1000 would be engineered detect mines because the destroyer is, in part, being developed for land-attack missions, an activity likely to bring the vessel closer to shore than previous destroyers might be prepared to sail. The ship is engineered with a more shallow-draft to better enable it to operate in shallower waters than most deep-water ships.

“It has a dome that is transparent to those acoustic waves. The acoustic signal detects sea life and submarines and then sends the signal back to the receiver which processes the information. Inside the bulb, ceramic tiles transmit the acoustic wave out through the water,” Knudson said.

The DDG 1000 is built with what’s called a total ship computing environment, meaning software and blade servers manage not just the weapons systems on the ship but also handle the radar and fire control software and various logistical items such as water, fuel, oil and power for the ship, Raytheon officials said.

The blade servers run seven million lines of code, officials explained.

Additionally, as a survivability enhancing measure, the total ship computing environment also ensures additional layers or redundancy to ensure that messages and information can be delivered across the ship in the event of attack, Raytheon officials said.

Many of the blade servers and other technical items are housed in structures called electronic modular enclosures, or EMEs. There are 16 EME’s built on each ship, each with more than 235 electronics cabinets. The structures are designed to safeguard much of the core electronics for the ship.

The ship’s integrated power system, which includes its electric propulsion, helps generate up to 78 megawatts of on-board electrical power, something seen as key to the future when it comes to ship technologies and the application of anticipated future weapons systems such as laser weapons and rail guns. The ship’s electric drive uses two main turbine generations with two auxiliary turbine generators which power up two 35-megawatt advanced induction motors, Knudson explained.

“The induction motors drive the propellers,” Knudson added.

The speed of the propellers is run through the total computing environment as part of the ship’s controls.

The DDG 1000 also has an AN/SPY-3 X-band multi-function radar which is described as volume-search capable, meaning it can detect threats at higher volumes than other comparable radar systems, Raytheon officials added.  The volume search capability, which can be added through software upgrades, enables the radar to detect a wider range of missile flight profiles, he added.

The ship will employ active and passive sensors along with its Multi-Function Radar capable of conducting area air surveillance, including over-land, throughout the extremely difficult and cluttered sea-land interface, Navy officials said.

As the first Zumwalt-class destroyer is delivered to the Navy, construction of the second is already underway at Bath Iron Works, Portland, Maine. The DDG 1001, the Michael Monsoor, is already more than 75-percent complete and fabrication of DDG 1002, the future Lyndon B. Johnson, is already underway, Navy officials said.

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