A Ranger describes what being a 'towed jumper' is actually like - We Are The Mighty
Articles

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like

Airborne soldiers have some particular fears that most other troops don’t have to worry about. Total malfunctions of the parachute like a “cigarette roll” can cause them to hurtle into the earth at terminal velocity while mid-air entanglements can leave them with broken bones or worse.


One of their most unique fears is that of becoming a “towed jumper,” something that happens when their chute fails to separate from their static line and they are literally towed behind the plane like the pet dog from “National Lampoon’s Vacation.”

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like
Brian Hanson, a U.S. Army Ranger, bounces against the skin of a C-17 over the skies of Fort Benning, Georgia. (Go90 No Sh*t There I Was screenshot)

(Younger readers should not Google that reference. Instead, just imagine the worst possible version of parasailing.)

For Army Ranger Spc. Brian Hanson, the nightmare became a reality during a training jump under the stars of Fort Benning, Georgia. He and the rest of his company were under strict orders to conduct the perfect nighttime jump, to include not losing any gear.

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like
Brian Hanson, a U.S. Army Ranger, tries to keep his gear together while flapping in the wind like a dog’s jowls. (Go90 No Sh*t There I Was screenshot)

But Hanson’s chute failed to separate and he became a towed jumper.

This left Hanson flying through the night sky as he fervently tried to keep all of his gear as close as possible despite the wind rushing over him while he dangled 1,200 feet above the surface of Benning. Watch the video above to learn how he made peace with these developments as well as the moment when he realized he was truly screwed.

Watch more No Sh*t There I Was:

Why it sucks to report to the ‘Good Idea Fairy’

This is why the military shouldn’t completely outlaw hazing

That time Linda Hamilton asked a Marine to the ball

This is a perfect example of how ridiculous boot camp is

MIGHTY TRENDING

U.S. threatens stronger response to Syrian chemical weapons

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser issued a crystal clear warning to Syria on Sept. 10, 2018, stressing that if the Syrian regime uses chemical weapons again, it will face a “much stronger” response than before.

“We’ve tried to convey the message in recent days that if there’s a third use of chemical weapons, the response will be much stronger,” White House National Security Adviser John Bolton said Sept. 10, 2018, “I can say we have been in consultations with the British and the French who have joined us in the second strike, and they also agree that another use of chemical weapons will result in a much stronger response.”


The United Nations has accused Syria of launching dozens of chemical weapons attacks using both sarin and chlorine gas, and in response to two particularly devastating incidents, the US used military force to persuade the Syrian regime to adhere to acceptable warfighting methods.

The US first struck Syria on April 7, 2017, striking the Shayrat Airbase in Syria with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from the Mediterranean Sea in response to the use of chemical weapons (sarin) at Khan Shaykhun just three days earlier.

The chemical weapons attack, attributed to the Syrian regime, reportedly killed more than 70 people and injured over 550 more, at the time making it the deadliest such attack of the Syrian civil war since the chemical weapons attack in Ghouta four years prior.

The devastating attack just a few months into Trump’s presidency reportedly led the president to call Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and demand the assassination of the Syrian leadership. “Let’s f—ing kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the f—ing lot of them,” Trump told Mattis, according to an excerpt from Bob Woodward’s new book “Fear: Trump in the White House” the subject of much debate and controversy.

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like

President Donald Trump and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.

(Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique Pineiro)

The president, Mattis, and the Pentagon have all denied that the conversations detailed in the book ever took place.

Almost one year after the first incident, the Syrian regime allegedly launched a second major chemical weapons assault on a suburb in Damascus, killing dozens of people in Douma. The US, supported by Britain and France, conducted coordinated strikes on Syria’s chemical weapons facilities, crippling but not eliminating the regime’s chemical weapons capabilities.

The strikes came from both sea and air, whereas the previous strikes were launched by two destroyers.

Syrian, Russian, and pro-regime forces are now massing around Idlib, the last rebel stronghold in Syria, and the US government has intelligence that the Syrian government may again use chemical weapons. The Pentagon has already begun preparing military options should the president decide to respond militarily to any use of chemical weapons in the Idlib offensive.

“The president expects us to have military options in the event that chemical weapons are used,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford said Sept. 8, 2018, “We have provided updates to him on the development of those military options.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders warned that the US will respond “swiftly and appropriately” should Assad use chemical weapons against the Syrian people, and Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning explained Sept. 10, 2018, that “the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated by the US or the coalition.”

“As you have seen in the past, any use of chemical weapons has resulted in a very swift response by the United States and our coalition partners. We have communicated that to Damascus, and we hope that they adhere to it.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

How this one-handed Seahawk proves anything is possible

Seattle Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin was born with amniotic band syndrome, a fetal congenital disorder that affected his left hand in utero. By age four, he was in so much pain he wanted to cut the appendage off himself. He did have the hand amputated – but still grew up doing everything a young boy from Florida would do, including playing football.

But Griffin didn’t just play football, he excelled at it. He and his brother played football together their whole lives, including at the University of Central Florida, where Shaquem was named 2016 American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year and the 2018 Peach Bowl MVP. The league watched as the talented one-handed linebacker went up for the 2018 NFL Draft – and was picked up in the third round.

One-handed athletes everywhere rejoiced.


It’s not a PR stunt. The one-handed Griffin is a talented back, and his missing hand doesn’t cause him to miss a beat. In the NFL combine, he performed 20 reps on the bench press wearing a prosthesis and ran the fastest 40-yard dash for a linebacker since the NFL started tracking the numbers.

When the Seahawks drafted him, he signed a four-year deal worth .8 million.

The spotlight on Griffin was almost unbearable but, luckily for him, his brother Shaquill is still playing right along with him, playing cornerback for Seattle. While the team itself may not have the record they hoped for, the two brothers are having quite a season themselves, and Shaquem is an inspiration for everyone who might have been told they couldn’t do the same.

The six-foot, 227-pound rookie linebacker is now a shining example for not only children with a similar issue, but anyone missing an appendage or anyone in a circumstance that might otherwise keep them from competing at the highest levels.

The boy in the video is 11-year-old Daniel Carrillo, a California boy who was born without his right hand, a result of the same affliction Shaquem Griffin had when was born. He cried tears of joy as he opened his gift in time for the Seahawks play the 49ers on Dec. 2, 2018. Carillo is a junior Spartan, and wants to play high school football to be a Spartan. He wants to then go on to Michigan State – the Spartans – to play. He has NFL dreams, of first being a player and then a coach. Now he knows it’s possible.

Carillo knows he’s going to the 49ers-Seahawks game. What he doesn’t know is that he’s going to meet Shaquem Griffin – on the field.

Who says athletes can’t be heroes anymore?

Articles

Israel recently buried Ran Ronen, an ace few ever heard of

Early last month, Israel buried an ace who had seven kills — more than twice as many as John Glenn — and hundreds of operational missions under his belt. He was known as Ran Ronen.


According to a report by the Jerusalem Post, Ronen, whose real name was Ran Pekker, was buried on Dec. 4, 2016, following his death after a long struggle with blood cancer. Ronen was best known for flying the Mirage III and F-4 Phantom during the Six-Day War, the War of Attrition, and the Yom Kippur War.

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like
An Israeli Mirage III at a museum. Giora Epstein scored the first of his 17 kills, a Su-7, in a Mirage III. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Ronen notably gained publicity from the History Channel series Dogfights, providing interviews in two episodes, “Dogfights of the Middle East” and “Desert Aces.” In the former, he described his involvement in both escorting a defecting MiG-21 to Israel and his involvement in the attack on Ghardaka Air Base in Egypt. The latter episode, best known for relating Giora Epstein’s legendary 1-vs.-11 fight, featured Ronen’s encounter with a Jordanian Hawker Hunter.

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like
A U.S. Air Force McDonnell Douglas EF-4C Phantom II aircraft (s/n 63-7474) of the 67th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 18th Tactical Fighter Wing over North Vietnam in December 1972. | U.S. Air Force photo

Ronen later became a diplomat and founded the Zahala project for youth, according to a web site outlining the reasons he received the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism in 2008.

Below are the Dogfights episodes Ronen appears in. His missions are discussed from 13:12 to 32:12 in the first video, and in the first 12:30 in the second video.

Articles

This is the White House plan to play ‘chicken’ with Beijing in the South China Sea

President Donald Trump approved a plan to check Beijing over its continued militarization of and actions in the South China Sea.


Over the last few years, China has ambitiously built up islands on reefs and atolls in the South China Sea and militarized them with radar outposts, military-grade runways, and shelters for missile defenses.

Military analysts believe China hopes to expand its air defense and identification zone into the western Pacific and build a blue-water navy to rival the US’s, but six other countries also lay claim to parts of the region.

In 2016, an international court at The Hague deemed China’s maritime claims unlawful and excessive, but China rejected the ruling outright and has continued to build military installations and unilaterally declare no-fly and no-sail zones.

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like
US Navy and Republic of Singapore ships in the South China Sea. US Coast Guard photo by Public Affairs Specialist 3rd Class Angela Henderson

When a country makes an excessive naval claim, the US Navy challenges it by sailing its ships, usually destroyers, close to the disputed territory or through the disputed waters as a way of ensuring freedom of navigation for all. In 2016, the US challenged the excessive claims of 22 nations — China’s claims in the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in annual shipping passes, were the most prominent.

China has responded forcefully to US incursions into the region, telling the US the moves were provocative and that they must ask permission, which doesn’t align with international law or UN conventions.

“China’s military will resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security, and regional peace and stability,” China’s Foreign Ministry said in response to US bombers flying in the region.

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like
China’s sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning. | PLA

Under former US President Barack Obama, the US suspended freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea from 2012 to 2015. In 2016, the US made just three such challenges. So far, under Trump, the US has made three challenges already.

“You have a definite return to normal,” said chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White

“This administration has definitely given the authority back to the people who are in the best position to execute those authorities, so it’s a return to normal,” she said.

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like
The conflicting claims on territory in the South China Sea. Graphic from naturalflow Flickr

Freedom of navigation operations work best when they’re routine in nature and don’t make news.

They serve to help the US establish the facts in the water, but in the South China Sea, those facts all indicate Chinese control.

When Chinese military jets fly armed over head, when Chinese navy ships patrol the waters, and when Chinese construction crews lay down the framework for a network of military bases in the South China Sea, the US’s allies in the region notice.

An increased US Navy presence in the area won’t turn back time and unpave runways, but it could send a message to allies that the US has their back and won’t back away from checking Beijing.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Increasing Air Force readiness with science, technology, and innovation

Gen. Arnold W. Bunch Jr. is the commander of Air Force Materiel Command, headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He handles installation and mission support, discovery and development, test and evaluation, life cycle management services and sustainment of every major Air Force weapon system. The command employs approximately 80,000 people and manages $60 billion of budget authority.

AFMC delivers war-winning expeditionary capabilities to the warfighter through development and transition of technology, professional acquisition management, exacting test and evaluation and world-class sustainment of all Air Force weapon systems.


There are eight AFMC host bases: Arnold AFB, Tennessee; Edwards AFB, California; Eglin AFB, Florida; Hanscom AFB, Massachusetts; Hill AFB, Utah; Robins AFB, Georgia; Tinker AFB, Oklahoma and Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. In addition, the command operates associate units on several non-AFMC bases.

During an interview with Airman magazine, Bunch discussed AFMC’s mission and responsibilities and the roles of science, technology and innovation in increasing Air Force readiness.

Airman magazine: Air Force Materiel Command is a large and diverse command which a lot of Airmen may not understand. Can you talk about the mission of the command?

Gen. Bunch: I would say we are the most diverse (major command) that there is in the Air Force. When you consider the demographics, we are very diverse. AFMC has huge mission diversity as well. What I want to tell the Airmen is, we touch everything that they touch on a day-to-day basis. When a system comes into the Air Force, we do a lot of the (science and technology) research upfront and early. That work is done through the research lab. We do a lot of the acquisition planning either through the Nuclear Weapons Center or through the Life Cycle Management Center and that starts the acquisition process. We test systems and we do all the activities to get it into the Air Force. Then we sustain the system for the long term through the sustainment center, all the way to the point that we get rid of it or retire it and put it at (Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group) in some cases.

So, from the beginning all the way to the end of any system we have within the Air Force, AFMC plays a key role. Underlying all that and at the foundation is the work the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center.

The AFIMSC takes care of all facilities modernization and restoration. They also take care of contracting, security forces, housing privatization, dormitories and military construction. They take care of these things on our installations day-to-day to make sure that our facilities are up to date so that we can project power anywhere in the world.

So our mission diversity ranges from every mission system across the Air Force that we create, develop, test and maintain from the very beginning of the program all the way to the very end of a program’s life to support for the nuclear enterprise, and installation and mission support.. AFMC is involved in all of it, so it’s a very diverse mission.

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like

Gen. Arnold Bunch Jr., Commander, Air Force Materiel Command, talks with members of the 412th Medical Group during his visit to Edwards Air Force Base, California, Oct. 18.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Giancarlo Casem)

Airman magazine: You talk about the importance of AFMC people. What is AFMC doing to attract top talent, develop and keep the workforce?

Gen. Bunch: Our Airmen, and when I use Airmen, I’m talking about military and civilian. I don’t distinguish within this command. We, more than any other command with (more than) 60,000 civilians, we are Airmen all focused on the Air Force mission. They are our most valuable resource and they are what make this organization tick. They’re the ones that get it done every day and execute their wartime mission each day.

We are trying to speed up the process of bringing the right people in and who we can recruit. We’ve actually taken some steps to speed that process up, to make it go quicker. We’re also doing some unique things where we’re doing job fairs to try to get at the right people. We’re using acquisition workforce development funds to pay off student loans to attract high quality, high caliber people in the skill sets we need. And what I’ve asked the team to start looking at is how do we communicate this so that we can keep people?

We had a lady who worked in the Air Force Test Center in May who retired after 68 years of service. We have 21 or 22 year-old young men and women coming in and I’ve got folks that have worked in the organization for 68 years. How you communicate across that diverse spectrum and how you motivate them all to keep going forward and how do you reward and award. Those are the things that we’re asking our people to take a look at and to help us drive our retention numbers the way we need them to go.

Since October of last year, we’ve seen about an 11% drop in the time to hire civilians. We’re not where we want to be, we’ve got to get better, but it’s a step in the right direction and something that I feel comfortable saying to the workforce. We know we’ve got to do better and we’re working at it.

Congress has been very helpful by giving us some additional authorities and we’re utilizing those authorities to try to go faster.

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein congratulates Gen. Arnold W. Bunch, Jr. after assuming command of Air Force Materiel Command commander, shake hands during an assumption of command ceremony inside the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, May 31, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Wesley Farnsworth)

Airman magazine: The (Former Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson) and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein) have called out the “Air Force We Need.” Can you please describe the “AFMC We Need” initiative? What are some focus areas and objectives?

Gen. Bunch: We have the National Defense Strategy that came out that everyone’s focused on and (the Air Force) came out with the “Air Force We Need.” When I came into the job, what I wanted to do was define what do we, as AFMC, need to be to support the National Defense Strategy and to support where the chief and secretary want to go with the “Air Force We Need.”

I didn’t have any preconceived ideas of what we wanted it to be. I wanted to tap into our most valuable resource, our Airmen. They’re the ones that are executing the mission each day. So we wanted to, as Gen. Goldfein says, “squint with our ears” and listen to our men and women about what’s impeding their ability to get the mission done and what do they think it means to speed things up, go at the speed of relevance. So, we formed a team. We sent them out. They did a lot of surveys. We got a lot of results back in and a lot of great ideas that we’re now trying to review and see how we want to implement the suggestions or what we can put in place to move forward.

One of the books I’ve read about leadership is “Primal Leadership.” In the book there is a quote about, “None of us is as smart as all of us.” So, what I wanted to do was capture the essence of what the men and women believe in the organization and then glean through those comments to figure out what we need to get after. So we’re excited about going forward.

Airman magazine: The “AFMC We Need” addressed broad areas across the command. What are some of the challenges identified?

Gen. Bunch: We did do some external interviews and I would say they’re kind of consistent. One of the things is we’ve got to do a better job of communicating our impact and what our mission is. Some of our folks didn’t understand what we do, internally and externally, so we’ve got to do a better job at communicating some of that. A couple other challenges identified were facilities, infrastructure and information technology.

We’re telling people they’re coming to work in this remarkable organization, but they’re having tremendous impacts on a day-to-day basis with how our information technology systems work and it’s causing limitations. So those will be some of the initial challenges that we are going to focus on.

Another challenge we are going to focus on and we are starting to take some actions in is leadership training. Our people want their supervisors to be better leaders.

Last month, we had a senior leader conference where we talked about that with all our center and installation commanders. One of the things we’re trying to find out is who are the “no” people. The goal is to stop some of those noes and see what we can do to get to “yes” to move forward as an organization so we’re better prepared to support the future.

One of the installation commanders gave me a sign and I’ve got it in the office. I asked everybody at the senior leader conference to sign it. It says, “Find out where no lives and kill it.”

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like

Capt. Joshua Lee talks with Gen. Arnold Bunch, Air Force Materiel Command commander, about unmanned aerial systems Oct. 15 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The commander visited Air Force Research Lab Munitions Directorate’s newest networking test and design facility during an early stop on his two-day tour of the base.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

Airman magazine: You have stated the AFMC has to be better at anticipating Air Force needs. How will AFMC do this?

Gen. Bunch: We have to think forward. We have to think about the future. We can’t get caught up in what is Air Combat Command or Air Mobility Command or Global Strike Command asking for today. We need to focus our science and technology to go forward. (The Air Force) put out the Science and Technology 2030 strategy. We’re building an implementation plan to get after that. How do we create a competitive environment with what we’re doing within the research laboratory so that we are pushing ourselves and we’re scanning that horizon for what’s out there for the future. That’s one way that we can do that.

We also need to capitalize on a lot of what’s going on with commercial industry to get innovative ideas from outside that we may not have thought of. So we’re supporting the pitch days that (Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Acquisitions, Technology and Logistics) implemented in small business innovative research.

We’re supporting the stand-up of consortiums so that we can get good ideas in and see what people can do. So, there are a lot of activities we as AFMC need to work on. We need to continue to look at industry strategies for how they’re doing business and how they develop software. We need to look at how can we do those things in a more responsive manner and change how we hire the workforce and how we recruit and retain them.

We’ve got to get a more operational tie and more linkage with what we’re doing across AFMC, and with the other major commands. How are they employing some of their aircraft? How are they doing their communication? What do we need to do? What can we glean from within to find answers? We need to make our ties stronger.

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like

Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen W. Wilson, left, and Dr. William Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, center, discuss the April 20 TechStars Autonomous Technology Accelerator for the Air Force Demo Day at the Westin Hotel in Boston with John Beatty, right, executive director of the Massachusetts Military Task Force. Ten startup companies pitched their ideas to potential investors and Air Force senior leaders during the event, which is a partnership between Techstars and AFWERX.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Linda LaBonte Britt)

Airman magazine: How is AFMC utilizing partnerships with commercial tech companies and academia to have a better understanding and mine those advanced capabilities that may be on the horizon?

Gen. Bunch: So there are a couple of different areas that I’ll focus on. We’re working right now and we’ve got some good partnerships with Delta, Tech Ops, and Georgia Tech Research Institute on what we’re doing for condition based maintenance. We’re looking at what the commercial industry is applying in managing their large fleets of aircraft. Also what can we do with machine learning or artificial intelligence so that we can be more predictive for when some of our systems may be going to fail and help us keep the supply lines primed with repair parts. To me, we have great partnerships with a lot of great ideas that we can employ and we’re working down that path together, so that’s good.

We’ve got to get rapid. That’s all part of the Rapid Sustainment Office that we stood up with Lt. Gen. Robert McMurry as the program executive officer. The RSO team is looking at condition based maintenance, additive manufacturing or 3D printing and are there technologies out there we can use and capitalize on. We’re starting to make grounds in those areas. So those are a few of the ideas that are coming from the commercial end that we can utilize.

Airman magazine: You’ve said our peer adversaries are developing new capabilities modernizing existing capabilities, eroding our tech advantage. Please describe how AFMC is responding to the need for speed?

Gen. Bunch: There are a lot of different things we can do to get at that need for speed. But what we also want to make sure of is while we’re speeding, we’re doing it with discipline. We need to go fast, but we also need to put the disciplines in place so that we’re thinking our way through some of those systems and some of the decisions we’re making so that we are looking long term as well as immediate. We’re looking at, can I get a technology to the field faster? That means a viable product that we would evolve over time versus going for the solution that would take 10 years and a lot more effort. Can I give you something that gets me on that path in two years that you would be able to utilize in the field and be able to move out with.

So that’s one area that we’re looking at. Can I turn things faster and build over time? Another one that we’re continuing to focus on is open mission systems. If we can get open mission systems architecture into our weapons systems and into our designs, we can then bring in new technologies as technology evolves or the threat changes, because those are two things that are never going to slow down. They’re going to change. But by having open mission system architecture, we can piecemeal in parts over time as the technology and the threat changes so that we can adapt more quickly. We shouldn’t have to test systems as long. We should be able to be cyber secure. Those are a couple examples of things that we can immediately get after.

A good example of that is R-EGI, our Resilient Embedded GPS/Inertial Navigation System. That’s a program that we’re running out of the Life Cycle Management Center and it’s to get after having a resilient position navigation and timing solution over time. If that becomes threatened, what we have is an enhanced GPS/INS, most folks know. We fly it in all of our aircraft. It’s common with us, the Navy, the Army; it’s in all platforms. It’s something that’s almost universal. What we’re doing in this effort is trying to build open mission system architecture design so if I needed to inject new software or I needed to add a new component, I could evolve that over time as the threat changes and we could be more resilient.

Another good example is we’re using and trying to push to digital engineering and a digital enterprise. Right now, the ground based strategic deterrent team is doing a good job with some model-based systems engineering. We want to digitize and become a more digital enterprise with what we’re doing within AFMC. In digital we can change things in a more rapid manner and do things on a computer and look at options and look into digital areas before we ever start doing some of the other advances. It should eliminate some of our trial and error.

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like

The Air Force Research Laboratory’s AgilePod is shown mounted on the wing of the Textron Aviation Defense’s Scorpion Light Attack/ISR jet. The AgilePod is an Air Force-trademarked, multi-intelligence reconfigurable pod that enables flight-line operators to customize sensor packages based on specific mission needs. A fit check in late December 2017 provided an opportunity to demonstrate the ability of the pod to rapidly integrate onto a new platform with short notice, highlighting the benefits of Sensor Open Systems Architecture.

(U.S. Air Force photo by David Dixon)

Airman magazine: In fall of 2017, the secretary challenged us to develop a new Air Force ST Strategy for 2030. That document is now published. From your perspective, what are a few of the key takeaways?

Gen. Bunch: Really, it’s about competition and how do I create competition within what we do, within our research laboratory and our ST so that we’re continuing to push the bounds. I think that’s one of the key ingredients. How do we as an enterprise capitalize on the various basic research activities that may be out there so that we’re pushing the envelope and we’re looking at things and going, “That has great promise, I need to continue to work in that area.” Or, “That’s not making the progress I need. I need to off ramp that and I need to go another way.” So I think that one is really important.

The other one is we have science and technology dollars and how do I, over time, take those and shrink the investments so that they’re more focused in game changer technologies that I’m going to put out in the field. How do we capitalize on that knowledge base and how do we drive to where we’re transitioning game-changing technologies and we’re getting them into the field and capitalizing on that transition. I think those are two of the key things that we’re really looking at.

Airman magazine: How are AFMC and AFRL going to support the execution of the strategy?

Gen. Bunch: So there are a lot of activities already underway. Right now, we’re working with AFWIC, Air Force Warfighting Integration Capability, and we’re working with Dr. Roper’s team to come up with an implementation strategy. So that’s in the works. We are also trying to make some changes so that we can handle our money with a little more flexibility, so that we can shift and put our focus where the dollars need to be for those bigger projects.

So we’ve got a great partnership right now. The team is working with me on a regular basis. Our team’s trying to set in place processes to review where our tech focus areas are so we can make the right investments. They’re looking at what we want to do in basic research. They’re looking at what we want to do at the next level and then what we’re doing in our advanced research, where we’re getting to the prototyping and how do we focus.

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like

A Republic of Singapore air force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft tactical aircraft maintainer assigned to the 425th Fighter Squadron, Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, performs a launch inspection June 10, 2019, on the flightline at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. The 425th FS is at Tyndall to take part in a Combat Archer exercise.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailee A. Darbasie)

Airman magazine: Is the Tyndall AFB rebuild an opportunity to take the Base of the Future off the drawing board and make Tyndall a proof of concept for new tech?

Gen. Bunch: We are looking at new technology for Tyndall. Tyndall, as devastating as that was, thank goodness we had a great team doing a lot of great work so that the damages were material damages to things that we can replace and it wasn’t to our Airmen and their families. That’s our number one focus, their safety. But now as we recover, we do have an opportunity to look at what would we want the base to look like for the future. How would we want the information technology system set up so that it’s more efficient? How would we set in the power lines? How would we build the buildings? We are looking at Tyndall as an example of what we may be able to do for the future.

We’ve actually had AFWERX bring in some outside companies to come in and pitch their ideas. So we’re trying to move as quickly as we can to get everything moving forward, to get the mission back to normalcy. We’re also looking at what would we do different now that we can make changes and we can look at the mission from a different perspective. How would we make it better when we rebuild it? How is it more resilient? How do we have a better information technology network? How do we design everything–from are we going to put anything above ground or are we going to put it all underground now that we have the time to be able to do that so that it’s safer and more secure and less likely to be damaged in the future. Those are all things that we’re looking at as we go forward.


Airman magazine: How does AFMC support the Air Force as a hub for innovation?

Gen. Bunch: Innovation’s been a foundation of what we’ve been as an Air Force from the very beginning. And it’s interesting, we have more than 80,000 people within AFMC and you ask them all what innovation means, you’d probably get 80,000-plus different definitions. And I’m good with that. Innovation can mean some groundbreaking revolutionary thing that we’ve never done or it could mean changing a process so that we can go faster because we’ve employed what the Sustainment Center uses which is the ‘art of the possible.’

I’m good with all of it. What we have to create, and I think we are doing a better job of it, is an environment where a good idea can come in. What I want to make sure, as the commander, is that our people understand I’m willing to let them try things. And I’m not talking crazy risks, but if they want to try a new idea or process, I’m okay with that. If it works, that’s great and if it doesn’t work, then we’ll learn from it and we’ll move on. So innovation can take many, many forms. I want people to come in with their good ideas and I want to capitalize on their innovative spirit. That is what we as an Air Force were founded upon.

We also tie in with AFWERX; the Pitch Days to me are innovative. We’re going to be doing an AFMC internal pitch day where we can pitch our own good ideas, not just try to capitalize on what industry does or what venture capitalists are doing. So we’re trying to actually harness those good ideas to go forward.

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like

Dr. Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, welcomed event attendees during the Air Force Space Pitch Day, Nov. 5, 2019, San Francisco, Calif. Air Force Space Pitch Day is a two-day event demonstrating the department’s willingness and ability to work with non-traditional start-ups.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Van De Ha)

Airman magazine: With declining mission capable rates and an aging fleet with an average 28 years of service, what do these numbers mean and do MCRs equate to Air Force readiness rates?

Gen. Bunch: So readiness depends on where you sit as to what you believe the right metric is. The one we’re driving right now, we’re trying to increase, is aircraft availability. That’s one that we’re really focused on with our legacy fleets. And there are multiple factors that play into that. One of the things that we’re finding is, we have, in some cases, a shrinking industrial base. And that’s one that we’ve got to focus on to help grow that industrial base.

What we want to do is make sure that the people who are operating the systems have as much up time as they can so they’re as ready as possible to do their mission. That takes research. How would I go do this? It could take reverse engineering. How do I reverse engineer this component that there’s no longer a vendor for and create it? So we either build it ourselves or we put the drawings out to get it manufactured.

The fact we are flying aircraft as old as they are with the mission capable rates that we have today is because of the Airmen working in the Sustainment Center and the focus of our maintainers out on the line who can keep these legacy aircraft up and running.

At an average age of 28 years, the fact that we keep mobility aircraft taking off and landing, delivering supplies and equipment every two minutes is amazing work by a lot of different people. We’re ready, but we’ve got to continue to try to up that game and continue to try to improve.

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like

An F-16 jet engine in max power during a test in the 576th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron’s hush house engine facility at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, June 5, 2019. The shop is responsible for performing organizational level maintenance on more than 200 engines per year. The shop’s maintenance tasks include engine inspections, external engine component removal and replacement, repairs, and troubleshooting during flight line and test cell operations.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Alex R. Lloyd)

Airman magazine: Can you identify some of the success stories throughout AFMC in new technologies like additive manufacturing, 3D printing and data analytics to improve readiness and decrease maintenance downtimes?

Gen. Bunch: We had a meeting last month where we were looking at engines. I’ll just use that as one example. We started looking at the performance of the engines over time and as we reviewed data and did the analytics, we started doing scheduled replacements of engines. So we could pull them off at the time that was of our choosing versus downtime required because the engine went too far.

What this allows us to do is control when we do maintenance. It allows us to prime the pump in the supply system so we get the right parts at the right time. That’s just one example that I can say from a data analytics perspective where we are really already seeing some great progress. We’re using condition based maintenance and algorithms right now with the C-5 Galaxy. We’re doing it in some cases in the B-1 bomber and we’re looking at growing it into the KC-135 fleet. So we’re trying to take some of those lessons learned in technologies and capabilities that others are using and apply it into our inventory and we’re starting to see some benefits.

We really want to get to the point if we’re going to send an aircraft down range and it’s going to have something fail in five days and the deployment is for 10 days, let’s fix it before we deploy it. If we can get to that point, we’ll really increase our aircraft availability and our ability to generate sorties and improve the mission dramatically.

On additive manufacturing, that one’s one that’s more challenging. A lot of people look at 3D printing as that’s really something easy to do. When you start talking about airworthiness that becomes a little more challenging. There are components we can build that are not airworthy components, and we’ve already got approval to do those parts. We have innovation centers at each of our three logistics complexes and they can do some of those. We save money and get the mission done in a timelier manner.

So we’re demonstrating some of those. It’ll take more time to get to where we can do a lot of airworthy parts. We’re working on that. We must get the engineers involved and get them the analysis.

We are seeing a lot of ground being made in additive manufacturing and in condition based maintenance. And then the other one, we’re taking technologies like cold spray, which is a repair technique, and we’re actually employing that in some of our depots so that we can minimize the downtime.

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like

Airmen from the 90th Missile Maintenance Squadron prepare a reentry system for removal from a launch facility, Feb. 2, 2018, in the F. E. Warren Air Force Base missile complex. The 90th MMXS is the only squadron on F. E. Warren allowed to transport warheads from the missile complex back to base. Missile maintenance teams perform periodic maintenance to maintain the on-alert status for launch facilities, ensuring the success of the nuclear deterrence mission.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Braydon Williams)

Airman magazine: Would you talk about AFMC’s support to the nuclear enterprise from both a sustainment and modernization perspective?

Gen. Bunch: Maj. Gen. Shaun Morris is our Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center (AFNWC) commander and his team is doing an outstanding job making sure that our nuclear deterrent is solid and that there is never a question that if they are called are they going to be able to respond. And that goes across the full spectrum.

The Minuteman-III program was built many, many years ago with a short lifespan; well we’re still maintaining them. We’re going to be maintaining them until the 2030 timeframe. We’ve stood up depot maintenance now on our Minuteman-III system, which was never intended to have a depot capability, but we’re doing that so we can sustain it and ensure that it’s reliable if ever called upon to do its mission.

AFNWC is on the front edge of making sure that our nuclear deterrent is really a nuclear deterrent and it’s credible and it’s safe and secure and it can answer the nation’s call.

The other part of the nuclear mission is the air leg; we have to make sure that we’re doing what we need to sustain our bomber force. AFMC is key in making sure that the force is supportable, sustainable, with upgrades where needed, while making sure all the activity we’re doing in the depot is supporting the mission.

Airman magazine: Could you talk about agile software development and the way we buy and develop software and how does this relate to Agile DevOps and cyber protection for all of our weapon systems?

Gen. Bunch: Software is everywhere. We’re going to have to change our mindset about software. The way that industry does it is they’ll modify and continue to push updates on a more regular basis. I don’t ever think we’ll get to the point we’re doing what industry does with our systems, but we have to get into a more Agile mindset. That’s a challenge for a lot of the way we’ve done business. It’s not just that you have to bring in coders and create an environment where they can develop Agile methods, that’s part of it, but you also have to change the culture of the men and women that are working on this because it’s not the way they’ve historically done it.

You’re developing. You’re testing. You’re fielding. You’re correcting deficiencies and it goes on and on. That is a culture change for AFMC and the men and women that are doing the acquisition. It’s also a culture change for all of the test community and anybody involved. It’s a culture change with how you handle your dollars. One of the things that I’ve been a proponent of is the need for money that has not binned by a specific definition of sustainment, development, or production. If you’re really doing Agile or secure DevOps, those money lines are blurry. We need colorless money so that we’re not hindered by some of the rule sets on how the money gets moved around.

So it’s a big change. We’ve got to be able to change that culture. The other thing is you have to be able to attract and recruit software developers. We have to capitalize on that skill set. And a lot of what we’re doing right now, we’re actually bringing in Airmen who just have a propensity and a love for doing software development and we’re putting them to work and they love it. We also have to capitalize on our own capabilities along the way, but it’s one that we’ll have to re-look at how we bring in manpower.

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like

Pilot Training Next instructor, U.S. Air Force Capt. Orion Kellogg, discuses a future PTN version 3 student’s virtual reality flight with members of NASA as part of a collaborative research agreement between Air Education and Training Command and NASA October 22, 2019, at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, TX. The goal of the agreement is to help both AETC and NASA collect physiological and cognitive data and leverage each organization’s knowledge and skills to maximize learning potential for individual students.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Sean M. Worrell)

Airman magazine: With the advancements in AI/VR, how do you see the Air Force further capitalizing on technology to equip Airmen with quality training through simulation scenarios?

Gen. Bunch: AI and VR, those are big areas that we’re going to continue to look at. The best example right now is one that our Air Education and Training Command started with Pilot Training Next. What they’re really doing is they’re capitalizing off of the gaming industry and artificial intelligence to understand and to personalize the training they’re doing for each individual student.

The way they’re building Pilot Training Next allows the student pilots to learn in a simulated immersive AI and VR environment with an individualized training methodology, which really speeds up the learning process.

I think you’re going to see more growing in that area. We’re looking at trying to apply that for maintenance. We’re also looking at other avenues to try to capitalize so we’re better able to train the workforce in a timelier manner.

Airman magazine: You have a lot of experience in your resume in the test community. How do you see the community evolving for the speed of relevancy?

Gen. Bunch: So there are a lot of initiatives here. One of the things we did in my previous job was take the test community leadership to Silicon Valley to expose them to how commercial industry tests software. The goal was to figure out what can we change within our initiatives to be able to test software more quickly to support Agile development ops, secure DevOps and to push things out into the field faster.

That’s now something we’re working on. We’re changing our philosophy. We’re working with the operational test community to set that up. Another area that we’re looking at is how do we combine more developmental tests and operational tests earlier in the process? Gen. Mike Holmes [Commander, Air Combat Command] and I have kicked off an initiative to look at that. We’re looking at how we could combine our developmental tests and our operational tests so that we’re getting more data quicker. We can streamline the amount of testing. We can save costs. We can get things into the field more readily.

There are a lot of great strides going on at the Air Force Test Center with Maj. Gen. Chris Azzano about how do we test things in a more rapid manner. He’s asking the questions: How do we not over test? How do we use digital enterprise, model-based systems engineering? How can we utilize that digital enterprise to get after some of that testing so that we don’t have to do everything in open air and repeat things?

The worst answer you can give me is, “Gen. Bunch, we got to test this much because that’s how we’ve always done it.” That is not a good answer. So anybody out there, that’s not a good answer to give me. There are certain things we’ve got to go test. We want to make sure that it’s safe for the Airmen we’re putting in harm’s way. We want to make sure that they have a good product. But we are making a lot of strides at relooking at how we do our test enterprise.

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like

Staff Sgt. Ruth Elliot, 412th Medical Group, takes a selfie with Gen. Arnold Bunch, Commander, Air Force Materiel Command, at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Oct. 18. Elliot was a presented a commander’s coin by the AFMC commander.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Giancarlo Casem)

Airman magazine: What has been some of the most rewarding part of your career?

Gen. Bunch: From what I’ve done in the military, I go back to all I’ve ever really wanted to be was a commander and work for Airmen. I firmly believe in servant leadership and that the commander works for everybody in the organization. Right now I work for more than 80,000 men and women within AFMC, the Airmen making the mission happen every day and doing all the hard work. Getting to talk with them, getting to watch them grow and feeding off of their energy is the most rewarding thing I get to do every day.

If you listen to some of our young Airmen when they talk about the great things they’re doing or you watch them respond in a time of crisis with what they do, if that doesn’t put a smile on your face and make it great to put the uniform on every day then you probably got a problem and it may be time for you to go find something else to do.

To me, just the interactions with the our people and watching our Airmen succeed and watching them do the mission every day with the passion they do is just remarkable for me.

Airman magazine: What would you like to say directly to the Airmen of AFMC?

Gen. Bunch: So for the Airmen of AFMC, thanks for what you do each and every day, your wartime mission makes us successful. Remember that what we’re doing is critical to the war fighter and remember that we are the most important major command within the Air Force. If we’re going to achieve the National Defense Strategy and if we’re going to drive to the Air Force We Need, we’re the ones that have to succeed. If we don’t succeed then the Air Force can’t succeed. Remember, the programs and systems we’re working to sustain and test is to make sure America’s most valued treasure, our sons and daughters we send into harm’s way, have the technological advantage they need to do their mission supporting our nation’s defense and to come home safely.

This article originally appeared on Airman Magazine. Follow @AirmanMagazine on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This timeline shows how the Niger operation went down

An attack in Niger that left four American Green Berets and five Nigerien soldiers dead earlier this month has sparked a nationwide debate over how the Trump administration has handled the incident.


During a condolence call with Myeshia Johnson, the widow of one of the men who was killed, President Donald Trump reportedly told her that her husband “knew what he signed up for.” Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson of Florida, a friend of Johnson’s family who listened to the call on speakerphone, called Trump’s remarks “insensitive.”

Also read: This is the general demanding answers for the families of the soldiers who died in Niger

In response, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly called Wilson an “empty barrel,” and said he was appalled that the congresswoman shared what she heard on that call. Trump fired off several tweets calling Wilson “wacky” and disagreeing with the widow’s impression of the call.

As the feuding continued, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford held a press conference at the Pentagon on Monday addressing reports that the Trump administration was withholding information about what really happened in Niger.

Here’s what we know about how the attack unfolded, according to Dunford’s timeline:

October 3: A reconnaissance mission

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like
A U.S. Army Special Forces weapons sergeant observes as a Nigerien soldier bounds forward while practicing buddy team movement drills during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 11, 2017. Flintlock is a Special Operations Forces exercise geared toward building interoperability between African and western partner nations. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros)

Dunford said 12 members of the US Special Operations Task Force joined 30 Nigerien forces on a reconnaissance mission from Niamey, Niger’s capital city, to an area near the remote village of Tongo Tongo.

October 4: The day of the attack

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like
Tongo Tongo in Niger. (image Google Maps)

US soldiers and the Nigerien troops met with local leaders to try to gather intelligence information, Dunford said. Some of the soldiers stayed behind to guard their vehicles, a US defense official told CNN.

As the meeting came to a close, the soldiers became suspicious when the village leadership started stalling and delaying their departure.

When US troops started walking back to their vehicles mid-morning, they were attacked by approximately 50 militants. Dunford said the enemy was likely from an ISIS-affiliated group of local tribal fighters.

The militants fired on the US-Nigerien patrol team with small arms, machine guns, and rocket-propelled grenades. This apparently caught the Americans and Nigeriens by surprise.

One hour later: US troops request reinforcements

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like
A French Mirage fighter aircraft drops flares as it performs a high-speed pass during the French live fire demonstration near Arta Plage, Djibouti, Jan. 14, 2017. The Mirage and other fighter aircraft use flares as a countermeasure against incoming heat-seeking missiles. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by: Staff Sgt. Christian Jadot)

An hour into the firefight, the American soldiers asked for support to thwart the attack.

Dunford said a drone arrived overhead “within minutes,” although it was only sent to gather intelligence. French Mirage fighter jets capable of striking enemy targets arrived at the scene “within an hour.”

Later that afternoon, French attack helicopters arrived along with a Nigerien quick reaction force as well.

Sgt. La David Johnson was somehow separated from the rest of his unit. US military officials were not able to explain how or when exactly that happened.

“This [attack] was sophisticated,” an intelligence official told ABC News. “Our guys not only got hit hard, but got hit in-depth.”

Responding to questions about why the US troops didn’t request reinforcements sooner, Dunford said he wouldn’t judge why it took them an hour to ask for backup.

“I’ve been in these situations myself where you’re confronted with enemy contact, [and] your initial assessment is you can deal with that contact with the resources that you have,” he said. “At some point in the firefight, they concluded they then needed support, and so they called for additional support.”

That night: US soldiers evacuated

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like
Members of the 82nd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron and French military board a French SA-330 Puma helicopter during air-to-water qualification training near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Oct. 17, 2013. The U.S. and French members conducted this operation to enhance communication and build a stronger relationship to ensure Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa members are continually ready to support military operations in East Africa to defeat violent extremist organizations.

French military Super Puma helicopters evacuated US soldiers who were wounded during the firefight to Niamey.

Three soldiers killed in action were also evacuated: Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright. One soldier, Sgt. Johnson, was still missing.

October 6: Johnson’s body is finally discovered

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like
Sergeant La David Johnson and three other soldiers were killed in action in Niger on Oct. 4, 2017.

Dunford said US officials continue to investigate how Johnson separated from the team and why it took 36 hours to recover his body.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis, meanwhile, has insisted that Johnson was not “left behind.”

“The US military does not leave our troops behind, and I would just ask you not question the actions of the troops who were caught in the firefight and question whether or not they did everything they could in order to bring everyone out at once,” he said.

An intelligence official told ABC News that Johnson’s locator beacon was giving unclear reports, and he seemed to be moving.

“Johnson’s equipment might have been taken,” the official said. “From what we now know, it didn’t seem like he was kidnapped and killed. He was somehow physically removed from where the combat took place.”

That same day, the Pentagon identified the three other soldiers who were killed.

October 7: Johnson’s body is returned to Dover Air Force Base in Maryland

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like
Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright (left), Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson (center), and Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black. Photos from US Army.

October 16: Trump first addresses the incident publicly

During a press conference at the White House, CNN asked Trump why it took so long for him to come out with a statement about what happened in Niger.

“If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls,” Trump responded. “A lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate.”

Obama administration officials pushed back hard on that claim, calling it false.

That exchange was the first time Trump addressed the Niger ambush publicly.

Tuesday, October 17 to Monday, October 23: The condolence call controversy

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like

Trump, Kelly, and Wilson exchanged barbs last week, disagreeing over what the president said during his condolence call with Myeshia Johnson, Sgt. Johnson’s widow.

The Gold Star widow broke her silence on Monday, saying that Trump had trouble remembering her husband’s name and told her that “he knew what he signed up for.” Johnson said she cried after she got off the phone.

After the interview aired, Trump tweeted, “I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!”

“If my husband is out here fighting for our country, and he risked his life for our country, why can’t you remember his name? That’s what made me upset and cry even more,” she told “Good Morning America.”

October 23: Dunford outlines key details in the attack

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like
Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks with reporters about recent military operations in Niger Oct. 23, 2017, at the Pentagon. DoD photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley

In a 45-minute briefing on Monday, Dunford acknowledged that many looming questions about the attack are still unanswered.

Questions he’s hoping the military’s investigation can uncover include:

  1. “Did the mission of US forces change during the operation?”
  2. “Did our forces have adequate intelligence, equipment and training?”
  3. “Was there a pre-mission assessment of the threat in the area accurate?”
  4. “How did US forces become separated during the engagement, specifically Sgt. Johnson?”
  5. “And why did they take time to find and recover Sgt. Johnson?”

“These are all fair questions that the investigation is designed to identify,” he said.

(Featured image: Nigerian army soldiers shoot targets under 60mm illumination mortar rounds as a part of Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 9, 2017. Department of Defense photo.)

Military Life

Everything you need to know about the Merchant Marine

There is another maritime “service” you may not have heard much about, yet, the United States Merchant Marine is arguably incredibly important to the Armed Forces. They also help keep America’s economy moving. But what exactly is this?


6. It is civilian-manned ships

Merchant Mariners are not part of the military. Now, some of them run a number of ships that support the U.S. Navy, like the Henry J. Kaiser-class replenishment oilers and Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ships, as well as the sealift vessels like the Bob Hope-class vehicle cargo chips.

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) receives fuel from the fleet replenishment oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204). The oiler is manned by merchant mariners. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kelsey L. Adams/Released)

5. The United States Merchant Marine is small

The total civilian merchant fleet of the Untied States is 393 vessels, according to the CIA World Factbook. It ranks 27th in the world, behind Russia (11th with 1,143 merchant ships) and China (2nd, with 4,052 merchant ships). This includes privately-owned ships, as well as those owned by the federal government.

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like
The Maersk Alabama is one of only 84 container ships in the U.S. Merchant Marine. (U.S. Navy photo)

4. The United States has a special agency for the Merchant Marine

The United States Maritime Administration, under the Department of Transportation, handles programs that administer and finance the United States Merchant Marine. This includes supporting the United States Maritime Service, which helps to train officers and crew on merchant ships.

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like
Seal of the Maritime Administration (Department of Transportation graphic)

3. You can become an officer by going to one of seven “maritime academies”

To become the captain of a merchant ship, your best route would be to attend a “maritime academy.” There are seven of them located across the country: The United States Merchant Marine Academy, the California State University Maritime Academy, the Great Lakes Maritime Academy, the Maine Maritime Academy, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, the State University of New York Maritime College, and the Texas AM Maritime Academy.

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like
An aerial view of the United States Merchant Marine Academy. (United States Merchant Marine Academy photo)

2. A lot of famous people were in the Merchant Marine

Some very familiar names have served in the Merchant Marine at one point or another. While today’s most famous merchant mariner is Richard Phillips, former captain of the Maersk Alabama, others include filmmaker Oliver Stone, writers Louis L’Amour and Jack Vance, as well as playwright and screenwriter David Mamet.

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like
Capt. Richard Phillips, former Captain of the container ship MV Maersk Alabama, publicly thanks Sailors assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) for his dramatic rescue at sea. On Easter Sunday, April 12, 2009, Navy SEALs positioned on the fantail of the Bainbridge opened fire and killed three of the pirates who were holding Phillips hostage. (U.S. Navy photo)

1. There is a merchant mariner’s equivalent to the Medal of Honor

While merchant mariners cannot receive the Medal of Honor or other military decorations, valor doesn’t go unrecognized. The Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal is awarded by the Department of Transportation to those who show “outstanding conduct or service in the line of duty.” A list of awardees from World War II can be seen here.

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like
Front and back views of the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal. (DOD graphic)

Articles

Here is the Marine Corps’ 2018 warplane wish list

The Marine Corps has asked Congress for $3.2 billion to buy warplanes and other equipment that did not make President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2018 defense budget plan, according to a copy of the request obtained by CQ Roll Call.

Gen. Robert Neller, the Marine Corps commandant, signed off on the “unfunded priorities list” and service officials sent it to lawmakers within the last week.


It appears to be the first of four such lists due soon on Capitol Hill – one each from the Marine Corps, Navy, Army and Air Force – which together will add up to multiple billions of dollars. This is an annual ritual for the Pentagon and Congress as the budget and appropriations are ironed out.

The most expensive item on the Marine Corps list is $877 million for six F-35 fighter jets. The jet is being built for all the services.

The Marine Corps wish list includes a request for $617 million for four F-35Bs, a version designed to take off and land vertically, and $260 million for two F-35Cs, the jet’s aircraft carrier variant.

The Air Force and Navy may also seek additional F-35s in their forthcoming wish lists.

Other aircraft on the Marine Corps list include:

  • $356 million for four KC-130J Hercules propeller planes, which can either refuel other aircraft or perform assault missions
  • $288 million for two CH-53K King Stallion logistics helicopters
  • $228 million for two C-40A Clipper jets, the military version of the Boeing 737 airliner, which can carry passengers or cargo

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like
A Marine prepares an AH-1Z Viper for storage at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Japan, Dec. 2, 2016. Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 267 conducted aerial live-fire training utilizing the AH-1Z Viper for the first time in Okinawa. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Steven Tran/Released)

  • $221 million for seven AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters
  • $181 million for two MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, which are capable of ferrying Marines and supplies
  • $67 million for four UC-12W Huron propeller planes, which are small, multi-mission aircraft

The Marine Corps is also seeking $312 million for five ship-to-shore connectors, which are air-cushion landing craft for carrying Marines ashore in amphibious assaults.

The service also wants boosts in a variety of ammunition programs as well as several buildings to be constructed on Marine Corps bases.

The lists have effectively become addenda to the formal budget request each year. Sometimes called “wish lists,” they provide military justifications to lawmakers interested in adding to the defense budget items the White House did not request. To the extent Congress funds items on the lists, it must increase the total amount for the Pentagon or cut other programs to offset the expense.

This year, the lists take on an added dimension. Trump made “rebuilding” the military a cornerstone of his campaign. While his new budget would increase spending on keeping existing assets in ready condition, it does not provide much increase in the procurement or other accounts that would need to rise to support a significant buildup.

Defense hawks in Congress have criticized Trump’s request as inadequate, and they will use the wish lists to bolster their argument.

Articles

3 Marines face charges in Parris Island hazing scandal

Three Marines will stand trial on charges of hazing and mistreating recruits at Parris Island, South Carolina, and a fourth may also face charges, Marine officials announced Tuesday.


Staff Sgts. Matthew Bacchus and Jose Lucena-Martinez and Sgt. Riley Gress face charges of violation of a lawful general order and false official statement. Bacchus and Gress were also charged with cruelty and maltreatment. They all will receive special courts-martial, an intermediate-level trial for those facing sentences of 12 months’ confinement or less.

Also read: This is what happens when your father was your drill instructor’s drill instructor

Another staff sergeant, who has not been named, faces an Article 32 investigative hearing for alleged false official statement, cruelty and maltreatment, and failure to obey a lawful order. The result of that hearing will determine whether he will face charges. The news was first reported Tuesday by Marine Corps Times.

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like

The charges for the three Marines are the result of a year-long probe revealing a pattern of hazing and abuse at 3rd Recruit Training Battalion that ultimately was found to have contributed to the March suicide death of 20-year-old recruit Raheel Siddiqui.

Marine Corps Training and Education Command spokesman Capt. Joshua Pena said in a release Tuesday that the charges and allegations against the four Marines were not associated with Siddiqui’s death, however. This may indicate that more charges have yet to be finalized; in all, 20 Marine drill instructors and officers with oversight of 3rd Recruit Training Battalion were identified for possible legal and administrative action in light of the hazing.

The investigation into Siddiqui’s death led to more investigations, revealing, among other things, that a drill instructor had hazed another Muslim recruit by repeatedly throwing him into an industrial dryer and turning it on; and that drill instructors had attempted to cover up recruits’ hazing-related cases of muscle breakdown, or rhabdomyolysis, which forced them to drop out of training.

Service records for the three Marines being charged show they were all experienced and decorated troops.

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like
The title Marine and the coveted Eagle, Globe and Anchor emblem is earned only by those who are imbued with the Corps’ core values. | US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Vanessa Austin)

Bacchus, a fixed-wing aircraft mechanic by trade, had previously deployed to Afghanistan and had earned a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and three Good Conduct Medals.

Lucena-Martinez, a food service specialist, had deployed with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and participated in the relief effort for the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. He had also received a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and three Good Conduct Medals.

Gress, a motor vehicle operator, deployed twice to Afghanistan in 2013 and 2014, and also had been awarded a NAM and two Good Conduct Medals, according to his records.

“From the beginning, we have taken these allegations of misconduct very seriously,” Maj. Gen. James W. Lukeman, commanding general of Training and Education Command, said in a statement.

“As proceedings move forward, we will continue to maintain the integrity of the legal process while remaining transparent,” Lukeman added. “The Marine Corps Recruit Depots Parris Island and San Diego transform the best of our nation’s young men and women into U.S. Marines. The safety of our recruits and the integrity of the Marine Corps recruit training program remain our priority.”

To date, no hearings or arraignments for the Marines have been scheduled, officials said.

popular

5 tips to make your next military ball a disaster

With your next military ball around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about how you can ruin the whole event. With a few ill-timed drinks and a flair for the dramatic, your entire night can go up in flames, so long as you try hard enough!


Jot down these disastrous effects for a quick way to turn any military ball terrible.

Talk smack!

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like
“Your gunny’s wife is sooooo pretty. Don’t you think? You do, don’t you?!”

That one guy who made everyone mad? Or the investigation that’s ongoing and hush-hush? Now is the perfect time to bring it up. Loudly. Ask for all the juiciest gossip and pass it along to the high ups. Be sure to sprinkle your own opinions and conspiracy theories for maximum effect.

Who’s calling JAG? Get the press involved. WTF Moments will be in the know if you have anything to say about it!

Wear the wrong kind of undergarments

We’re talking a too-small strapless bra that cuts off circulation, layers of Spanx that require you to get completely naked for a bathroom break. Maybe one of those pasties that comes unstuck right in the middle of your main course. Get creative! The worse the fit and function, the rockier your night will fare! Dresses with heavy sequins or glitter that trails your every move are also among top contenders.

Drink ’til you drop

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like
Shots are ALWAYS a good idea. Always. (U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

Chug a lug! Nothing screams “disaster” quite like throwing up after on your spouse’s boss. Extra points if you can get a few of them with your booze-soaked contents. Where’s the general at, anyway? Take shots — the louder you are about it, the better. Shots! Shots! Shots! Don’t forget to make your way up to the grog, either. Your night will not be complete without it, obviously.

Rub ALL the pregnant bellies

See those sober ladies watching you with wide eyes? It’s because they want you to rub their growing bellies for good luck. They won’t say it, but it’s all they can think about. Talking to each in-utero babe will bring added wonder to your night of joy. Unsure if it’s a baby in there? Better rub that belly anyway! How else would the night remain as one of the worst of all time?!

Help yourself to the desserts

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like
I mean, you gotta soak that alcohol up with something (Photo by Taylor Deas-Melesh on Unsplash)

Did you know that when you arrive, dessert is already on the table? Get there first, and you can have your pick of the lot. Or better yet, you can just have it all! Be sure to stack up dirty dishes and to discuss — loudly — how good it was to finish dessert for the table. Leave the napkin for later, though; chocolate on the face will help complete your overall vibe.

Ready to have your worst military ball yet? Best of luck to all who stand in your path — in fact, it’s best to push them out of the way — especially as you run to the stage for an impromptu speech. Stiff arms out and spirit in your heart.

Godspeed on this terrible endeavor.

And as always, ‘Merica!

Feature image: Photo by Michael Discenza on Unsplash

Articles

9 Must-Watch Post-9/11 Documentaries

DoD’s embed program and other mechanisms have given journalists and filmmakers substantial access to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, so it’s no surprise that those conflicts have been some of the best documented in history. Here is WATM’s list of 11 post 9-11 documentaries that did the best at capturing what really happened:


The Hornet’s Nest

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBt-GTfgLh4

A father-son journalism team embedded on what was supposed to be a three-day raid but ended up being nine days of intense fighting by the 101st Airborne.

Restrepo

A group of paratroopers is deployed to the Korengal Valley, one of the most dangerous spots in Afghanistan, for 15 months. During that time, they fight smugglers and insurgents, attempt to win over the locals, and try to save themselves. A camera crew followa them for much of the deployment, documenting their interactions with Afghans and the deep love the men have for each other.

Armadillo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ta5tT0d86A8

A group of Danish cavalry soldiers deploy on a six-month tour of Helmand and a Danish filmmaker goes with them. The film includes a lot of the tedium of a soldier’s life as well as a raid where the soldiers find themselves within a few meters of a Taliban machine gun team.

Hell and Back Again

Nominated for a Best Documentary Feature Academy Award, this film tells the story of a Marine injured in Afghanistan who, after returning to the states, struggles with his post traumatic stress disorder and a badly broken leg. “Hell and Back Again” gives a visceral look at how hard it can be for wounded troops to return to civilian life.

Drone

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i43vSC-dTC0

This is a very critical look at the American drone program. Drone explains the factors that make drones so popular with troops while also looking at the moral burdens on drone operators and emotional pain of those who’ve lost family members to drone strikes.

The War Tapes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32L-yuqpEqEw=560h=315

Directed by Deborah Scranton and shot by National Guard soldiers over the course of their training and deployment to Iraq, the documentary focuses on three men with very different views on the war and their commander in chief. This film is arguably the best in terms of capturing the burdens on the modern-day citizen soldier.

Taxi to the Dark Side

An in-depth look at torture during the opening years of the War on Terror, including the decisions made by the Bush administration. It covers Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and the leadership (or absence of it) that governed actions in two prisons. Made by the son of a former Navy interrogator, the film went on to win an Academy Award.

No End In Sight

Although “No End In Sight” was released in 2007, the film concentrates on Iraq in the first year after the invasion. It features interviews with White House and State Department officials who were frustrated with missteps that fueled the growing insurgency and caused extra misery for both Iraqi citizens and the U.S. troops assigned to police them.

The Ground Truth

“The Ground Truth” follows a group of Marines and soldiers from the point they’re recruited and then on to their experiences in war. Troops tell their stories in their own words from their initial training through deployments and struggles once they get home.

Articles

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit

Not all staff non-commissioned officers are created equal.


Across branches and job descriptions, most senior enlisted leaders develop their own unique personalities and leadership styles. But that doesn’t mean they don’t sometimes fall into certain archetypes, from “drill instructor” to “guidance counselor.”

In just about every unit, you’ll find these personality types for SNCO’s.

1. The drill instructor

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHNTufCZmH4

Paying close attention to details and quick to correct even the slightest mistake, “the drill instructor” maintains order through fear, respect, and constantly demanding maximum effort. They are so passionate about maintaining order and discipline that they may be willing to lose their bearing to achieve it, as demonstrated by the sergeant major in the video above who demanded a Marine veteran take off the drill instructor campaign cover during a protest.

2. The career cruiser

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like

Also known as “retired on active duty,” these are the SNCO’s on the backend of their career who are just skating by. With only a year or two left until their retirement date, the “career cruiser” is working hard to not work hard. Basically, they do just enough to get by and punch the clock until they can get out.

3. The cool parent

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like

They view each and every one of their troops not just as subordinates but as their extended family and are very protective of each and every one of them. They give their personal number to all of their junior ranking troops so that if they ever find themselves in a questionable situation or need a ride at 0300 on a Saturday morning, they should feel comfortable knowing “the cool parent” will be there to help them out.

4. The guidance counselor

Most troops are young and inexperienced in not only their military careers but in life in general. These SNCO’s are always finding ways to give personal and group mentorship every chance they get, whether they need it or not. “The guidance counselor” helps junior troops advance in life and in their careers while keeping them motivated and mission-ready.

5. The super motivator

Their tone, posture, speed, intensity, and character is always a cut above the rest. No matter what your mood or level of motivation, after every interaction you have with this SNCO, you leave feeling more dedicated and proud to be wearing the uniform and your role in the unit’s mission.

6. The warrior-leader

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like

Not one for talking, they are found doing. They have impeccable fitness, the highest qualifications scores, the highest standard of military bearing, and always mission ready, even while off duty. They exude confidence and their track record demands respect. Not one to shy from making tough decisions, they will always be found leading their men by example, like Sgt. Maj. Brad Kasal (pictured above), who earned a Navy Cross for his heroic actions in Fallujah.

7. The all-in-one

The SNCO that embodies all of the leadership traits. They are able to maximize the efforts and morale of everyone in their command, and are looked upon by their peers for guidance as masters in developing new leaders.  Everyone, from commanders to the most junior ranks, can count on them to make sound decisions and always have their best interests at heart.

NOW: This Green Beret’s heroism was so incredible that Ronald Reagan said it was hard to believe

Do Not Sell My Personal Information