7 things you actually miss from deployment - We Are The Mighty
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7 things you actually miss from deployment

Vets know the feeling. You get back to civilian life or maybe just get a cushy posting stateside where all you have to do is show up from 9 to 5. At first, you love waking up late, working out when you want, and driving a vehicle with an AM/FM/XM radio instead of VHF/UHF.


Then, you get too many notes from the homeowners’ association about the exact distance of the mailbox from the curb. Or maybe a low-level supervisor at work won’t stop calling you into the office to talk about your use of “adult language.”

7 things you actually miss from deployment

Deployed life isn’t easy, but there are some things about life in the sandbox that really is better than life in the U.S. Here are 7 things you probably miss from deployment:

1. Your buddies are always around

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Photo: New York Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Muncy

Want to see a movie with your friends? Just kick their cots to wake them up. Have to go on a long patrol? At least your buds are going to be in the wedge with you.

Of course, it sucks waking up to the one guy who farts in his sleep every two hours. And listening to the pitch-deaf dude who always sings is annoying. Especially when he does it on the radio. During guard shift.

2.  There’s a constant routine

7 things you actually miss from deployment
So, we’re patrolling this road again, huh? Alright. Photo: US Army Spc. Elisha Dawkins

While troops complain about the “Groundhog’s Day” effect, it’s sometimes nice to know where you need to be every morning without having to worry about schedules and commutes. You just wake up, slip on a fresh-ish uniform, and walk from the sleeping tent to the office of briefing tent.

Speaking of which …

3. There’s no traffic

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Photo: US Army Sgt. Terrance Payton

Don’t act like you don’t sit in traffic and miss the days you could just walk to and from work. Well, except those of you who were drivers on deployment. There isn’t a city in America with traffic as uncomfortable as a slow convoy conducted through a dust storm while wearing body armor in the desert heat.

This is especially true when the mechanics are having trouble keeping the air conditioners working with all the dust.

4. Common services are free

7 things you actually miss from deployment
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jonathan Wright

When deployed soldiers need to hit the gym, grab some energy drinks or food, or do laundry, that’s all free on the base. On larger bases, there may even be third-country nationals contracted to do the laundry for them.

Of course, the gym is equipped like a prison and the food sucks, but still. You get it for free.

5. You can carry your weapon everywhere and no one thinks it’s weird

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Photo: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. James L. Harper Jr

Troops, especially soldiers and Marines, are taught early and often that they are supposed to be carrying their weapon. Sure, it’s something else to clean and carry, but it’s also a comforting presence.

You only need it because of the dudes who want to kill you, but it’s nice to walk around strapped without getting odd looks.

6. You never have to worry about what to wear

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Photo: US Marine Corps

If you’re headed to do cardio or hanging out after hitting the showers, wear PTs. Anything else calls for cammies. And that’s the entire wardrobe.

7. Everything is simpler

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Photo: US Army Spc. Olanrewaju Akinwunmi

Outside of work and making sure to call home on Skype every once in a while, there’s really not much to worry about on deployment. There are no electrical or water bills, no parking tickets, and no homeowners’ associations.

Granted, the work stress is horrible; constant and bone-crushingly horrible. Also, it’s dangerous. And there is the constant drone of the generator and yells of the sergeants major.

Meh, maybe being stateside isn’t so bad after all.

Articles

WATM Podcast: What if the US took on the rest of the world?


Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher | Spotify

Just imagine the shocking scenario where the U.S. angered China, Russia, Iran, and its traditional allies like the UK and France. Now imagine if these countries formed a unified coalition to attack the U.S. How long would the U.S. be able to hold them off? Which tactics would it deploy? What role will its citizens play?

In this debut episode of the WATM podcast, the boys of the editorial team discuss how this idea might play out.

The podcast is hosted by bunch of vets who live and breathe all things weapons, tactics, and mil-tech. Here’s who they are:

Selected links and show notes from the episode

• Reader comments on the WATM Facebook page

• VICE article: We asked a military expert if all the world’s armies could shut down the US

• How long the US military would last in a war against the rest of the world

• IMDb: Red Dawn (1984)

• The top 10 militaries in the world, ranked [9:20]

• Russia’s only carrier is a floating hell for the crew [9:45]

• China’s new carrier will be an updated version of its first one [10:20]

• Here is why the US is the most powerful country that has ever existed [12:35]

• Swamp Fox Memorial: The legend of the Swamp Fox (General Francis Marion is credited as the Father of Guerilla Warfare) [18:35]

• Mining Everyday Technologies to Anticipate Possibilities:

DARPA’s “Improv” effort asks the innovation community to identify commercial products and processes that could yield unanticipated threats [19:35]

• This was the most powerful explosion ever . . . by a lot [22:15]

• These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had [34:00]

• Cracked article: 6 Powerful Groups You Didn’t Know Have Post-Apocalypse Plans

If The USA Falls, Wyoming Will Pick Up The Pieces [31:10]

• America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end [32:15]

• For fun: Articles about the F-35 [36:00]

Music license by Jingle Punks

  • Drum March
  • Beat Meat
Articles

The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Payday Friday. (Read these memes until your direct deposit goes through.)


1. SGT Snuggles recommends a surprising strategy.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Also, not time for MREs. Time for biscuits.

2. Desert camouflage uniform, woodland camo makeup.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Those are going to clash on the red carpet.

SEE ALSO: 6 reasons why Camp Pendleton is the best base in the Marine Corps

3. Best sleep a vet can get.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Keep lots of copies. You don’t want to be caught without one.

 4. The future is coming … (via Sh-t My LPO Says)

7 things you actually miss from deployment
… but it may be less exciting than you expected.

5. Wait, the Air Force is now getting Lunchables? (via Air Force Memes and Humor)

7 things you actually miss from deployment
What are they complaining about?

6. How toxic could it be? (via Sh-t My LPO Says)

7 things you actually miss from deployment

7. “Your pay inquiry has been added to the queue.” (via Air Force Memes and Humor)

7 things you actually miss from deployment

8. They’re armored, 42 MPH death dealers.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Worst case scenario, you need two tanks.

9. Lucky timing.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Four seconds later and you would’ve had to run back inside.

10. If this were true, Snuggle would win the fabric softener wars.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Rumor says that washing a Marine in this will turn them into a sailor.

11. There is the official way and there’s the expedient way. (via Sh-t My LPO Says)

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Sometimes, the expedient way is better. Sometimes it isn’t.

 12. Military police take their games seriously.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Don’t step into the yard unless you’re really ready to play.

13. You don’t just show up ready.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
You have to build muscle memory.

NOW: The top 10 militaries in the world, ranked

AND: ‘The Marine’ packs a record number of technical errors into the first five minutes

Articles

These full-bird colonels are amped about vertical lift aircraft

The Army, the Marine Corps, and the Special Operations Command are working together in an ambitious drive to develop leap-ahead capabilities for future vertical lift aircraft that will provide greater range, speed, lethality, and survivability, but also have the maximum degree of commonality in platforms and systems to reduce cost and enhance sustainability.


7 things you actually miss from deployment
A USMC V-22 Osprey lands aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1). (Photo: U.S. Navy)

The three colonels managing that complex effort say they believe they can do a better job of maximizing commonality and limiting cost than the tri-service F-35, or Joint Strike Fighter, program that continues to struggle with technology challenges, cost growth, and fractured schedules.

Appearing at a Center for Strategic and International Studies’ forum on future vertical lift (FVL) on Dec. 9, the three officers stated slightly different platform requirements for the future aircraft.

The Army and SOCOM are primarily interested in filling air lift and air assault missions currently performed by the different variants of the H-60 Black Hawks, according to Col. Erskine Bentley, the future vertical lift program manager at Army Training and Doctrine Command, and Army Col. David Phillips, program executive for rotary wing requirements at SOCOM.

Bentley described the Army’s focus as “primarily the utility mission,” which includes aerial medical evacuation and air assault, or “the ability to assault light forces and their equipment.”

SOCOM’s air lift missions tend to be long-range covert insertion and extraction of special operations units.

Marine Col. John Barranco, the rotary requirements branch head, expressed a need for both troop transport and attack capabilities as successors to the Corps’ current UH-1Y Venom and AH-1Z Viper helicopters. That did not include replacing the tilt-rotor MV-22 Ospreys, which already has speed and range far greater than those two.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom flies during an exercise. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps)

But all three emphasized the primary focus of their FVL effort was more speed, range, power, and survivability than the current generation of helicopters. They emphasized that those enhanced capabilities were needed to overcome the emerging anti-access, area-denial defensive capabilities being fielded by “near-peer competitors,” which usually refers to Russia and China.

Bentley said greater “reach, speed, and power” would enable the Army to “conduct strategic deployment” from outside the combat theater, and immediately go into tactical operations on arrival.

Greater speed and reach, combined with additional protective systems, enhances survivability and “coupled with light-weight sensor systems, increases the lethality of Army aviation,” he said.

Barranco, noted that the Marines are fielding the “fifth generation” F-35B strike fighter, while their vertical lift aircraft, with the exception of the Osprey, are little better than the helicopters used in Vietnam. But, due to “the threat picture, the anti-access, area-denial, from a variety of near peer competitors,” he said, “there is a need across the joint force to leverage technology to develop a new, more capable aircraft.”

Phillips said the improved capabilities, and the open architecture systems were essential to “stay ahead of the environment,” which was his term for the threat.

The CSIS moderator, Andrew Hunter, challenged the officers on how they could achieve the high commonality for their different missions in light of the record of the Joint Strike Fighter program, which has been “challenged” and has had “less commonality than expected.”

7 things you actually miss from deployment
The F-35 was developed under a unique joint program office, while the FVL effort is under the established Army program office. (Photo by Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen. (Cropped))

All three emphasized the time they have spent on confirming the key common requirements. Bentley said within each of those requirements was “trade space” that would allow each service to take from one capability to enhance another.

Barranco agreed, saying “every requirement is in a range of capabilitie,” so they could trade some speed or range for more troops. The Marine also stressed how they all needed the high commonality to enable them to get what they need within “the fiscally constrained environment,” which he predicted would not change.

In addition to reducing the procurement costs, commonality also would enhance sustainability by allowing common supply of spare parts and even cross-service maintenance, they said.

Although the individual platforms may be different, Barranco cited the example of the Marines’ new H-1s, which have 85 percent commonality in engine and mission systems, despite the significant difference in airframe and missions. 

Commonality also would be easier with open architecture in systems that would make it easier and cheaper to modify some performances, they said.

As the program lead, Bentley said the goal was to develop and test prototype aircraft in the 2020s and begin full rate production in the 2030s, when current vertical lift aircraft were due to retire.

Articles

Here are the best military photos of the week

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


AIR FORCE:

F-22A Raptors with the 94th Fighter Squadron drop joint direct attack munitions during the 95th anniversary of when Gen. William Billy Mitchell bombed the Ostfriesland, a captured German warship, at Langley Air Force Base, Va., July 21, 2016. Mitchell and the 1st Provisional Air Brigade demonstrated to the world the superiority of airpower by sinking the reputedly unsinkable Ostfriesland.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II

Members of the Alaska Air National Guard’s 210th, 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons and 176th Security Forces Squadron, along with the 163rd SFS from the California Air National Guard, participated in a mass casualty exercise on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, July 20, 2016. During the exercise, the rescue operators located, assessed, treated and evacuated numerous casualties while engaging and eliminating multiple attacks from opposition forces.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
U.S. Air National Guard photo/Staff Sgt. Edward Eagerton

ARMY:

A CH-47 Chinook helicopter crews conduct mass casualty evacuation during a training mission at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Operations Group, JRTC and Fort Polk, La., July 23, 2016. The aviation units from the New York Army National Guard and Maryland National Guard joined more than 5,000 Soldiers for a training rotation aimed at increasing readiness and support capabilities to the homeland when needed.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
U.S. National Guard photo by Capt. Amy Hanna

A crew chief, assigned to the Arizona National Guard, directs German Bundeswehr soldiers off a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter to an assembly area during Operation Stalwart Strike III, a Polish, Hungarian, German and U.S. exercise conducted by Kosovo Forces at Camp Vrelo, Kosovo, July 27.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
U.S. Army photo by Capt. Casey Martin

NAVY:

PACIFIC OCEAN (July 31, 2016) The nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) conducts helicopter operations at sunset during Rim of the Pacific 2016. Twenty-six nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft, and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 30 to Aug. 4, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2016 is the 25th exercise in the series that began in 1971.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jason Noble

ARABIAN GULF (July 31, 2016) – A pilot performs pre-flight checks on an F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the Wildcats of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 131 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike). Ike and its Carrier Strike Group are deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class J. Alexander Delgado

MARINE CORPS:

Marines from 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division, attached to Australian 1st Armoured Regiment, 1st Brigade, help support their M-88A2 Hercules Armoured Recovery Vehicle during Exercise Hamel in Cultana Training Area, South Australia, Australia, July 3-12, 2016. Exercise Hamel is a trilateral training exercise with Australian, New Zealand, and U.S. forces to enhance cooperation, trust, and friendship.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Mandaline Hatch

An unlucky Marine sits under a tarp to keep dry from the rain at Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii July 15, 2016. Marines with III Marine Expeditionary Force are participating in Rim of the Pacific 2016, a multinational military exercise, from June 29 to Aug. 4 in and around the Hawaiian Islands.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Isaac Ibarra

COAST GUARD:

Piper has made it to Grand Haven, Michigan for the Coast Guard Festival!

7 things you actually miss from deployment
U.S. Coast Guard photo

The last 41-foot UTB to be retired from service welcomes visitors to Grand Haven, Michigan.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
U.S. Coast Guard photo

Articles

6 Tips For Being The Perfect Wingman

 


7 things you actually miss from deployment

Dating in the military is tough. There are rules against fraternization: no dating within your unit, no public displays of affection, and no dating of subordinate. On top of all of these rules, troops work long hours and have myriad duty responsibilities, so there’s very little time to get off base and meet someone.

So when liberty arrives, service members have to maximize their chances. This is where the a good wingman can come in handy.

Also Read: 13 Tips For Dating On A US Navy Ship

Being the perfect wingman is more than just accompanying your buddy for a night out in town. It takes dedication, humility, and a sixth sense. Here are six tips for being the perfect wingman:

1. Never let your buddy feel stupid.

funny gifs

Your job is to keep your buddy feeling good about himself no matter what.

2. Know when to bail your buddy from danger.

You do whatever it takes to save your buddy from making a mistake.

3. Never outshine your buddy.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Photo: wing-manning.tumblr.com

Remember, you’re the wingman, not the lead. Your job is to play the support role.

4. Know when to give your buddy space.

Here’s where the sixth sense comes into play.

5. If he or she is happy, you’re happy.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Zachary S. Welch/US Navy

You stand back and keep an eye on your buddy the remainder of the night.

6. Be there if your buddy happens to crash and burn.

7 things you actually miss from deployment

Learn from your buddy. Next time, it’s his or her turn to be the wingman.

NOW: 5 Signs You’ve Been In The Barracks Way Too Long

OR: 17 Signs That You Might Be A Military Aviator

Articles

This guy allegedly sold $1M worth of military equipment to China and Russia

More than $1 million in weapons parts and sensitive military equipment was stolen out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and sold in a vast black market, some of it to foreign buyers through eBay, according to testimony at a federal trial this week.


The equipment — some of it re-sold to buyers in Russia, China, Mexico, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine — included machine gun and rifle parts, body armor, helmets, gun sights, generators, medical equipment, and more.

John Roberts, of Clarksville, Tennessee, is being tried in Nashville on charges of wire fraud, conspiracy to steal and sell government property, and violating the Arms Export Control Act. Six soldiers and his civilian business partner made plea deals in exchange for their testimony.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Photo from DoD

Roberts, 27, testified Aug. 30 that he did not know the soldiers were bringing him stolen equipment, and said the military items he bought and sold were commonly found in surplus stores, on eBay, and in gun stores.

“I didn’t try to hide anything,” Roberts said Aug. 30. “That’s why I filed taxes on everything I sold on eBay. I thought it was OK.”

Roberts said the soldiers told him the equipment was legally purchased from other soldiers or that the Army was discarding the equipment. He also said he didn’t know that he needed to have a license to export certain items overseas.

But a former business partner, Cory Wilson, testified that he and Roberts would find soldiers selling military items through classified ads or on Facebook, and then ask them for more expensive and harder-to-find items. It was “fast easy money,” Wilson said. Wilson pleaded guilty to buying and selling stolen military equipment, wire fraud, and violating the Arms Export Control Act.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. Cherie A. Thurlby

The soldiers they targeted were often young and broke or needed money for drugs, Wilson said, so “there were a lot of items and good money to be made.”

Wilson and Roberts shared a warehouse in Clarksville where they stored the equipment, but Roberts said they were not sharing funds. Roberts said the two just had a shared interest in selling things on eBay.

Wilson said Roberts set up multiple accounts to sell the equipment on eBay. They removed packaging that identified it as government property and used fake descriptions on shipping labels to avoid suspicion, he said. Under questioning from Roberts’ defense attorney, David Cooper, Wilson acknowledged that he initially lied to investigators about knowing the equipment wasn’t allowed to be shipped overseas.

In 2014, the US Customs and Border Protection agency notified Roberts that it had seized a military flight helmet he tried to ship overseas. The Customs letter noted that he was required to have a license to export that item. Roberts said he didn’t remember reading that paragraph. Roberts also testified that he changed descriptions and values on shipping labels to minimize the risk of customs theft in other countries and to lower import taxes for the overseas buyers.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
USAF photo by Airman 1st Class Ryan Zeski.

Michael Barlow, a former Fort Campbell platoon sergeant who pleaded guilty to theft of government property and conspiracy, testified that they started small, but eventually escalated to truckloads of military equipment. He said Roberts even gave him a “Christmas list” of items he wanted the soldiers to steal in Afghanistan and bring back to the United States.

“They wanted more and more, mostly weapons parts,” Barlow testified.

Barlow said his company came home with five large cargo containers filled with equipment as the US military drew down troops and closed bases in Afghanistan. Barlow said he and other soldiers sometimes got $1,000 to $2,000 per truckload.

One non-commissioned officer was even charging civilian buyers $500 to come onto Fort Campbell to select items for purchase, Barlow said.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
M16 assault rifles. DoD photo by Capt. Raymond Geoffroy

Roberts said he was invited to come on the Fort Campbell military post to look at cargo containers belonging to Barlow’s unit. Roberts said he was told the containers needed to be cleaned out of “pretty used stuff,” and that he took some items. He said the transaction occurred in broad daylight in front of other soldiers.

The conspiracy allegedly continued from 2013 into 2016. Text messages between the soldiers and the civilians pointed to regular meet-ups to swap cash for ballistic plates, helmets, scopes, and gun sights, according to Chief Warrant Officer 2 Sarah Perry, an agent with the Army Criminal Investigation Command.

One sergeant, identified in court as “E5 Rick,” texted Roberts about going “hunting” while on duty, which meant he was breaking into cars to steal equipment, Perry testified on Aug. 29.

The Army identified about five surplus stores around Fort Campbell that were selling military equipment through backdoor deals, she said.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Paul Villanueva II.

Roberts’ defense attorney David Cooper asked Perry if she could prove that the equipment offered on eBay, or that Roberts had pictures of on his phone, was stolen from Fort Campbell. Perry said that in many cases she could not, because many of the stolen items did not have serial numbers, but were similar to items reported stolen.

Another former Fort Campbell soldier, Jonathan Wolford, testified on Aug. 30 that he and another soldier, Dustin Nelson, took about 70 boxes of weapons parts and other gear, some of it labeled with the name of their company, to Wilson and Roberts, who paid them $1,200. Wolford plead guilty to conspiracy to steal government property.

They were both in charge of their company’s arms supply room at the time, Wolford said, and started selling equipment that wasn’t listed in the company’s property books, including machine gun barrels, M4 rifle parts, pistol grips, buttstocks, and other items typically used to repair weapons.

Asked in court why he didn’t ask for more money, Wolford said, “I was making a little bit of money. I didn’t pay anything for it.”

Articles

Here are the best military photos of the week

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


AIR FORCE:

An F-16 Fighting Falcon releases a flare over Grand Bay Bombing and Gunnery Range at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., March 4, 2016. Multiple aircraft within Air Combat Command conducted joint aerial training that showcased tactical air and ground maneuvers as well as weapons capabilities.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian J. Valencia

A CV-22 Osprey deploys a tactical air control party onto the ground of Grand Bay Bombing and Gunnery Range at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., Mar. 4, 2016. Multiple aircraft within Air Combat Command conducted joint combat rescue and aerial training that showcased tactical air and ground maneuvers as well as weapons capabilities.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian J. Valencia

ARMY:

Soldiers assigned to 3rd BCT, 101st ABN DIV (AASLT), conduct air assault operations during a field training exercise at U.S. Army Fort Campbell, Ky., March 14, 2016. The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Soldiers partnered with UH-60 Black Hawk and CH-47 Chinook helicopter crews from 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division to prepare for their upcoming rotation to JRTC and Fort Polk, La.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Joel Salgado

A soldier, assigned to 25th Infantry Division, fires a M2 machine gun during an exercise at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, March 13, 2016.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
US Army photo

Soldiers assigned to the Louisiana National Guard, use a bridge erection boat to assist residents impacted by recent flooding near Ponchatoula, La., March 13, 2016

7 things you actually miss from deployment
U.S. Army photo courtesy of The National Guard

NAVY:

EAST SEA (March 16, 2016) Forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) conducts fueling operations with guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67). Bonhomme Richard is the flagship of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group and is participating in Exercise Ssang Yong 2016. SY16 is a biennial combined amphibious exercise conducted by forward-deployed forces with the Republic of Korea Navy and Marine Corps, Australian Army and Royal New Zealand Army Forces in order to strengthen interoperability and working relationships across a wide range of military operations from disaster relief to complex expeditionary operations.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeanette Mullinax

PACIFIC OCEAN (March 10, 2016) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82) patrols the eastern Pacific Ocean. Lassen is currently underway in support of Operation Martillo, a joint operation with the U.S. Coast Guard and partner nations within the 4th Fleet area of responsibility.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Huey D. Younger Jr.

ATLANTIC OCEAN (March 13, 2016) The guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56) fires its MK 45 5-inch lightweight gun during a weapons training exercise. San Jacinto is currently underway preparing for a future deployment.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ryan U. Kledzik

MARINE CORPS:

U.S. Marines with Golf Battery, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, and Republic of Korea Marines assigned to Bravo Battery, 11th Battalion, 1st ROK Division, conduct artillery fire missions at Sanseori, South Korea, as part of Exercise Ssang Yong 16, March 15, 2016. Ssang Yong is a biennial combined amphibious exercise conducted by U.S. forces with the Republic of Korea Navy and Marine Corps, Australian Army and Royal New Zealand Army forces in order to strengthen interoperability and working relationships across a wide range of military operations.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. Ismael Pena

A U.S. Navy Corpsman assigned to Field Medical Training Battalion East (FMTB-E), checks on members of his squad during a final exercise (FINEX) at Camp Johnson, N.C., March 1, 2016. FINEX is a culminating event at FMTB-E which transitions Sailors into the Fleet Marine Force.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. James R. Skelton

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Oliver Blair, a rifleman with 1st Battalion, 3d Marines – “The Lava Dogs” reads during exercise Ssang Yong 16 in South Korea, March 7, 2016. Ssang Yong is a biennial combined amphibious exercise conducted by forward deployed U.S. forces with the Republic of Korea Navy and Marine Corps, Australian Army and Royal New Zealand Army Forces in order to strengthen our interoperability and working relationships across a wide range of military operations – from disaster relief to complex expeditionary operations.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
U.S. Marine Corps photos by MCIPAC Combat Camera Lance Cpl. Sean M. Evans

COAST GUARD:

Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopters stand ready at Air Station Elizabeth City Wednesday, March 10, 2016. Air Station Elizabeth City helicopter crews were at Kill Devil Hills to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the Coast Guard’s aviation program with formation flights and a classic painting scheme.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Auxiliarist David Lau

Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews fly flight formations at the Wright Brothers National Memorial, Wednesday, March 10, 2016. Air Station Elizabeth City helicopter crews were at Kill Devil Hills to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the Coast Guard’s aviation program with formation flights and a classic painting scheme.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
U.S. Coast Guard illustration by Auxiliarist David Lau)

Articles

The Air Force made a $25 billion ‘oopsie’

In a report to Congress last year, the Air Force estimated the cost of the new Long Range Strike Bomber (LRSB) to be $33.1 billion for the next ten years. This year, that price ballooned to $58.2 billion.


7 things you actually miss from deployment

The amount of the gap is so large, it caught the attention of Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who immediately demanded answers from Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark Welsh. How does the Air Force explain the $25 billion error? It says the cost should have actually been $41.7 billion, but human error was the explanation for the discrepancy.

Welsh insists he was caught off guard as well. It was just a multi-billion dollar oopsie, people.

“We were surprised by the number when we saw it as well once it had been pointed out to us that it looked like the number had grown because we’ve been using the same number,” Welsh said.

The Air Force has a history of bait-and-switch budgeting when it comes to developing new aircraft. The Air Force’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is famously over budget (it’s the most expensive weapons program ever) and underperforming. The Air Force’s most recent fighter program, the dogfighting-optimized F-22 Raptor, produced 187 units between 1996 and 2011 at the cost of $157 million each. The Raptor wasn’t used in combat until 2014.

7 things you actually miss from deployment

The LSRB is estimated to cost $500 million per plane, with a total cost of $55 billion to replace the USAF’s 77 aging B-52 (first developed in 1955) and 21 B-2 (1989) bombers.

NOW: How Much Does An F-35 Really Cost?

OR: The F-35B Can Take Off Like An Olympic Ski Jumper Now 

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Here’s why Everybody hates Raymond (Mabus)

The Marine Corps recently released the summary of results of its Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force, a nine-month study to “better understand all aspects of gender integration while setting the conditions for successful policy implementation.” The study was the first step in implementing the order of former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to open combat roles to women across the Department of Defense.


7 things you actually miss from deployment
Col. Matthew G. St. Clair, the commanding officer of the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force, addresses Marines after an award ceremony. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders)

The results were not kind to the gender integrated unit in the study. Against the all-male combat units, the gender-integrated were outperformed in 69% of tasks evaluated, which the Marine Corps says were “basic infantry tasks.”

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, an outspoken proponent of gender integration in combat roles throughout all branches of the military, decried the results of the tests, implying the Marine Corps was biased toward women in the first place and that the results may be skewed because of it. He repeatedly denounced the conduct of the test on multiple occasions.

Mabus told the City Club of Cleveland “one of my concerns about it was, we didn’t do a very good job of screening people before the volunteering. One of the things that came out of this was there were no standards, zero, for most of these jobs. You just assumed that if somebody went through boot camp, a man went through boot camp, that they could do it.”

7 things you actually miss from deployment
(U.S. Navy photo by MCC Sam Shavers)

In an interview on NPR, Mabus said, “It started out with a fairly large component of the men thinking this is not a good idea and women will never be able to do this. When you start out with that mindset you’re almost presupposing the outcome.”

Results found women were more than twice as likely to be injured and ultimately compromise a unit’s combat effectiveness, Mabus said, were an “extrapolation based on injury rates, and I’m not sure that’s right.”

But Mabus is getting an earful from all sides. Enlisted Marines who took part in the exercise, male and female alike, had stong words for the Navy Secretary.

Sgt. Joe Frommling was a Marine monitor during the experiment. “What Mabus said went completely against what the command was saying the whole time,” he told the Washington Post. “They said, ‘Hey, no matter what your opinion is, go out there and give it your best and let the chips fall where they may.'” The same article quoted a female Marine, Sgt. Danielle Beck, who was insulted by Mabus’ saying the women probably should have had a “higher bar to cross” to join the task force.

“Every day we were training,” said Beck. “We didn’t know what we were going to expect when we got to Twentynine Palms, but the training that we did do got us physically ready and mentally in the mind-set for what were going to do.”

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Cpl. Jade Nichols, combat engineer, Engineer Platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force, provides security under the concealment of a smoke grenade during a field training exercise aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Paul S. Martinez/Released)

Marine Sgt. Maj. Justin LeHew, who was one of Marine Corps Training and Education Command top enlisted leaders for the experiment and a key figure in its implementation, wrote on his Facebook page Mabus’ comments are “counter to the interests of national security and unfair to the women who participated in this study. No one went in to this with the mentality that we did not want this to succeed no Marine, regardless of gender, would do that.”

LeHew’s comment carries some weight. He is known as “The Hero of Nasiriyah.” He received the Navy Cross for risking his life under heavy enemy fire to evacuate four soldiers and recover nine dead and wounded Marines following a 2003 ambush in Iraq. Since then many Marines “dished” about their experiences in the task force.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Sgt. Major Justin LeHew aboard a P781- RAM/RS Amphibious Assault Vehicle at Camp Shoup, Kuwait on March 17, 2003.

There has not yet been a response from the Marine Corps about Mabus’ remarks. When asked, the Marine Corps Headquarters Public Affairs Office said “obviously, the Marine Corps is not going to have a public policy dispute with the Secretary of the Navy.”

But someone in Congress is eager to pick a fight with Mabus, however.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), a former Marine officer and Iraq veteran, released a statement last Tuesday saying “Secretary Mabus is quickly proving that he’s a political hack … Mabus is not only insulting the Marine Corps as an institution, but he’s essentially telling Marines that their experience and judgment doesn’t matter.” Hunter then called for Mabus to resign.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Rep. Hunter on C-SPAN

The office of the Navy Secretary has not commented on individual statements, but previously said the Secretary’s comments “stand on their own.”

NOW: The Marine Corps says its not trying to keep female Marines out of combat

OR: 27 Gorgeous photos of life in the U.S. Navy

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Nate Boyer climbing Kilimanjaro with wounded warrior to help thousands get clean water

Just one day after Nate Boyer entered the Guinness World Record book for the longest football long snap, former Texas Longhorn, Seattle Seahawk, and U.S. Army Green Beret Nate Boyer embarks on a mission to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with disabled veteran Blake Watson to help 10,000 people gain access to clean water.


7 things you actually miss from deployment
Nate Boyer

The charity is called Waterboys. It was started by Chris Long, a former defensive end for the Rams who rallied NFL players to digging clean water wells in Tanzania,” Boyer says. “His initial goal was to find thirty-two players from thirty-two teams and to have thirty-two wells dug.”

The effort now has 21 NFL players involved, including the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson, the Steelers’ Lawrence Timmons, and the Eagles’ Sam Bradford, who currently has raised the most money for the campaign.

“Chris went out there a couple years ago and did Kilimanjaro himself,” Boyer recalls. “But he was leaving and he felt like he wanted to do more for those people. They walk five miles a day for clean water for their villages; they can cook and drink water and try to live healthy.”

Tanzania is currently suffering from a devastating water crisis. In a country where one-third of the land is semi-arid, access to clean, sanitary water is a daily struggle. Many of the country’s current wells are dug near toxic drainage systems and are contaminated by runoff. Water-borne illnesses, such as malaria and cholera, account for over half of the diseases affecting the population.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Aid agencies struggle to build clean water wells like this UN-built well in Tanzania. (UN photo)

“Long went out there last year and dedicated the first clean water well” says Boyer. “It’s pretty cool because the people, they come out of the woodwork for this thing. It’s a huge deal to them.”

That’s what brings Boyer to Kilimanjaro. When Long recruited him for the charity, Boyer was at the gym, working a stair climber machine, on the “Kilimanjaro” setting. Boyer spoke with Dave Vobora, who runs Dallas, Texas’ Performance Vault Inc., a sports performance training center for elite athletes and U.S. Special Forces.

“I told him I’m doing this climb and asked if he had anybody in mind that would be a good counterpart,” Boyer said. “I wanted to go with a guy who was going to spend the next four months working towards this goal and grinding. He’s like, ‘I got just the guy.'”

Vobora linked Boyer up with Marine veteran Blake Watson, a single leg amputee. During Watson’s first deployment he accidentally knelt down onto an IED. Watson lost his leg and his pulse rate went to zero on the helicopter during the flight to the hospital, but the medics were able to resuscitate him.

“I approached Blake and started explaining what we were doing, what I wanted to do with him and why,” Boyer remembers. “I talked about the clean water wells and before I could even finish my pitch he was like, ‘I’m in, dude. I’m in.’ He was excited about was not only the challenge and the climb and all that but what we would be doing for those people.”

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Watson training for Kilimanjaro

Blake struggled for three years with dependency, depression, and thoughts of suicide. With the help of others and his Marine mindset, he pulled himself out of a rut, started training again, and got back in shape. Got involved at this gym called Adaptive Training Foundation in Dallas, also run by Vobora. A gym for adaptive athletes, many of them amputees. They all have a goal they’re pursuing.

“It’s not just, ‘I want to work out. I want to get in shape,'” Boyer says. “It’s like, ‘I want to go climb Kilimanjaro,’ or ‘I want to be on the Paralympic bobsled team.’

Those wounded warriors led Boyer to another goal. The clean water initiative is important, but for Nate Boyer and Blake Watson, it’s also about inspiring veterans and current service members who might be struggling back home.

“We’re people of service. Whether we joined because we had no other options or because we wanted to serve our country, at the end of the day, we became men and women of service. If we don’t have that element in our life moving forward, working towards a mission, something bigger than us, then it’s really easy to get lost and feel like you’re never going to do anything as important as what you did when you served. That’s the impetus behind this whole thing.”

To help Boyer and Watson raise money and awareness for the people of Tanzania and American wounded warriors donate here. Donations will go toward digging more clean water wells for the people of an important U.S. friend and ally.

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Ken Burns’ epic ‘Vietnam’ documentary tackles war that ‘drove a stake into the heart of America’

When filmmaker Ken Burns and his collaborators previously tackled sprawling documentaries about the Civil War and World War II, their first obligation, he said, was to strip away the “barnacles of sentimentality” attached to both events.


That was never a problem with his latest military epic, “The Vietnam War.”

“No such sentimentality attaches itself to Vietnam,” Burns says. “So there’s a through line to the tragedy and the the essential horror and cruelty of war that is manifested everywhere.”

7 things you actually miss from deployment
A Viet Cong prisoner is interrogated at the A-109 Special Forces Detachment in Thuong Duc, 25 km west of Da Nang, 1967. Photo under Public Domain,

Covering 18 hours over 10 installments, the film recalls one of the most tragic chapters in American history — a conflict so divisive that, in the words of a soldier quoted in the film, it “drove a stake right into the heart of America.”

Ten years in the making, “The Vietnam War” (Sept. 17, 8pm, PBS) might be Burns’ greatest achievement yet in a career that dates back to 1981. It’s certainly his most complicated and challenging. To get to the heart of it all, he and co-director Lynn Novick relied on a wealth of archival materials, including stunningly revelatory audio recordings from inside the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations.

Most notably, they solicited accounts from more than 80 witnesses from all sides of the war’s vast social divide: soldiers who fought in the war and Americans who opposed it, as well as North and South Vietnamese combatants and civilians. It was what the filmmakers call a “bottom up” approach with a preference toward mostly ordinary people with incredible stories to tell, rather than the usual talking heads. John McCain, John Kerry, and Jane Fonda, for example, are not interviewed.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Members of the military police keep back protesters during their sit-in at the Mall Entrance to the Pentagon. Image from US Army.

Along the way, the filmmakers didn’t encounter as much reticence from their subjects as some might expect. Credit the passage of time.

“We generally found that there was enormous interest in having their story told,” Novick says. “They saw it as a chance to share experiences with the wider world that were very important to them and seminal, informative, and sometimes very, very painful.”

The result is a panoramic, immersive, intensely intimate and often heart-wrenching film experience that captures the human stories embedded within a war that claimed the lives of more than 58,000 Americans, and more than 3 million Vietnamese military personnel and civilians.

Burns, of course, realizes that many viewers will bring their “personal baggage” and hardened perspectives to the film. But he and Novick insist that they were intent on being as even-handed as possible.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Filmmaker Ken Burns. Wikimedia Commons photo from user David Hume Kennerly.

“There isn’t a single truth in the war,” Burns says. “In fact, there’s many truths that can coexist, and that might help to sort of take the fuel rods out of the division and polarization that was born in Vietnam that continues to this moment.”

The Vietnam conflict had long been on Burns’ cinematic to-do list. But early in his career he felt the wounds were too fresh. And when he finally did approach the subject, he went in thinking he knew a lot about it, only to immediately learn he didn’t.

“It was a daily humiliation,” he recalls. “And the humbleness that you have to assume in order to get through the next 10 years is just that — humbling. So we just kept our heads down and worked to get it right.”

According to Novick, one of the key discoveries they encountered along the way was the continual privately expressed skepticism from government officials that the US could prevail in the conflict, which was carried out under five presidents.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
President Lyndon B. Johnson greets American troops in Vietnam, 1966. Image fro US State Department.

“There never was a time when the people in our government who were pushing the war forward had total confidence that it was winnable,” she says. “You hear this drumbeat of doubt and lack of sureness that it can come out well, that we can accomplish our goals, that it’s sustainable. And that goes back to the earliest days of American involvement in Vietnam. … That was rather revelatory and devastating.”

It’s Burns’ hope that the film can open a national dialogue about Vietnam and get people to talk about it in a “calm way.” After all, so much of what occurred during the war resonates with the present: Images of mass protests across a deeply divided nation; a White House paranoid about leaks and at odds with the media; disagreements over American military strategy in far-off territories; acrimony over what defines patriotism…

“History doesn’t repeat itself. We’re not condemned to repeat what we don’t remember,” he says. “It’s that human nature never changes.”

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Army may use precision-guided rounds for its legendary Carl Gustaf weapon

Army and industry weapons developers are working with the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency to explore the feasibility of precision-guided rounds for a man-portable, anti-personnel and anti-armor weapon known as the Carl Gustaf, officials said.


Current innovations involve a cutting-edge technology program, called Massive Overmatch Assault Round or MOAR, aimed at exploring the prospect of precision guided rounds for the weapon.

While the shoulder-fired infantry and Special Operations weapon currently uses multiple rounds and advanced targeting technologies, using a precision “guided” round would enable the weapon to better destroy enemy targets on the move by having the technology to re-direct with advanced seeker technology.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
These guys are stoked. | US Army photo

“We are exploring different kinds of seekers to pursue precision engagement capabilities,” Malcolm Arvidsson, Product Director, Carl-Gustaf M4, Saab, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

The weapon, called the Multi-Role Anti-Armor, Anti-Personnel Weapons System, known as the Carl-Gustaf, was initially used by Special Operations Forces. Several years ago, it was ordered by the Army in response to an Operational Needs Statement from Afghanistan.

Related: US wants to issue special operators a new personal defense weapon

These innovations are still in early conceptual, research and testing phases. However, they are being pursued alongside a current Army effort to acquire an upgraded 84mm recoilless shoulder-fired Carl Gustaf weapon able to travel with dismounted infantry and destroy tanks, armored vehicles, groups of enemy fighters and even targets behind walls, Army and industry officials said.

Acquisition efforts for the weapon began when the Army was seeking to procure a direct fire, man-portable, anti-personnel and light structure weapon able, among other things, to respond to insurgent rocket-propelled grenade, or RPG, fire, service officials said.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
The Carl Gustaf get its name from the Swedish weapons production factory known as Carl Gustafs Stads Gevärsfaktori (“Rifle Factory of Carl Gustaf’s town”). | US Army photo

Designed to be lighter weight and more infantry-portable that a Javelin anti-tank missile, the Carl Gustaf is built to help maneuvering ground units attack a wide range of targets out to as far as 1,300 meters; its target set includes buildings, armored vehicles and enemy fighters in defilade hiding behind rocks or trees.

Following the weapon’s performance in Afghanistan with soldiers, Army weapons developers moved the weapon into a formal “program of record” and began to pursue an upgrade to the Carl Gustaf to include lighter weight materials such as titanium, Arvidsson said.

The upgraded M4 Carl-Gustaf, introduced in 2014, shortens the length and lowers the weight of the weapon to 15 pounds from the 22-pound previous M3 variant, he said. The first M3 variant of the weapon was introduced in the early 1990s.

“We use a steel that is half the weight and half the density. For the barrel, we have improved the lining pattern and added a more efficient carbon fiber wrapping,” Arvidsson added.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
US Army photo

The lighter weight weapon is, in many ways, ideal for counterinsurgency forces on the move on foot or in light vehicles in search of small groups of enemy fighters – one possible reason it was urgently requested for the mountainous Afghanistan where dismounted soldiers often traverse high-altitude, rigorous terrain.

At the same time, the anti-armor function of the weapon would enable infantry brigade combat teams to attack enemy vehicles in a mechanized, force-on-force kind of engagement.

The Carl-Gustaf is engineered with multipurpose rounds that can be used against armored vehicles and soft targets behind the walls. There are also pure anti-structure rounds to go through thick walls to defeat the targets behind a wall, Army and Saab developers explained.

The weapon fires High-Explosive air burst rounds, close combat rounds, and then the general support rounds, like the smoke and battlefield elimination, developers said.

Airburst rounds use programmable fuse to explode in the air at a precise location, thereby maximizing the weapon’s effect against enemy targets hiding, for example, behind a rock, tree or building.

Also read: This was the world’s longest-serving modern military rifle in active service

Air burst rounds can detonate in the air or in general proximity to a target. For instance, an airburst round could explode just above an enemy fighter seeking cover behind a rock or wall.

“I want to penetrate the target.  I want to kill a light armored vehicle.  I want to kill a structure.  I want to kill somebody behind the structure. With the gun, soldiers can decide how to affect the targets.  Really, that’s what the Carl-Gustaf brings to the battlefield is the ability to decide how they want to affect the battlefield — not call in air support and mark targets,” Wes Walters, Executive Vice President of Business Development, Land Domain, Saab North America, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

The Army is evaluating a wide range of new technologies for its newer M4 variant to include electro-optical sights with a thermal imager, magnification sights of durable-optical sights, Saab officials explained.

Sensors and sights on the weapon can use advanced computer algorithms to account for a variety of environmental conditions known to impact the trajectory or flight of a round. These factors include the propellant temperature, atmospheric conditions, biometric pressure and terrain inclination,

“There are a number of parameters that the sight can actually calculate to give you a much harder first round probability of hit,” Walters said.

Some weapons use a laser rangefinder which calculates the distance of an enemy object by computer algorithms combing the speed of light with the length of travel – to determine distance.

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