The Air Force made a $25 billion 'oopsie' - We Are The Mighty
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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.


The Air Force made a $25 billion ‘oopsie’

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.

The Air Force made a $25 billion ‘oopsie’

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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This sniper rifle company is trying to lighten the M240 medium machine gun

Let’s face it, today’s soldiers and Marines have a lot weighing on them.


Between gear, ammo, and weapons, some are carrying over 100 pounds. But how do you reduce that burden?

Barrett Firearms, which created the mighty M82A1 and M107 .50-caliber sniper rifles, has managed to do just that by improving the M240 medium machine gun. Now, the M240 is based on the FN MAG, which is is a classic machine gun used by many NATO allies.

This gun even replaced the M-60, which was the backbone of squad firepower for the U.S. military through Vietnam and Desert Storm.

The Air Force made a $25 billion ‘oopsie’
Lance Corporal Kendall S. Boyd (left) and PFC Ryan J. Jones (right), combat engineers, Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, hone their machine gunnery skills by firing the M240G medium machine gun in 2004. Note the rivets on the receiver. (USMC photo)

The question comes: How do you improve a machine gun used by just about all of the Western world? The Army has developed the M240L, which uses titanium to lighten the gun, but they kept the riveted design, albeit with a 5-pound weight reduction.

However, Barrett managed make its 240LW medium machine gun five and half pounds lighter than the M240B without the use of exotic materials. The secret was in how they made the receiver. Barrett machined the receiver from forgings and welded them together, according to a brochure handed out at the National Defense Industry Association’s 2017 Armament Systems Forum.

The Air Force made a $25 billion ‘oopsie’
This is the receiver of the Barrett 240LW – note that there are no rivets. (Photo from Barrett.net)

Not only did this reduce the number of components from 64 to two, it also helped take about five and half pounds off the machine gun. The change also has boosted the reliability of the gun – by removing the rivets – which can be shaken loose by firing thousands of rounds.

There’s also less metal, due to the fact that there is no need to overlap the metal components.

Will the 240LW make an impact with the United States military? That remains to be seen, but it does show how Barrett manages to be very innovative when it comes to designing – or improving – small arms.

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This is the new super fighter from Russia

While the F-35 got a lot of attention for its debut at the Paris Air Show, the Russians were quietly promoting one of their upcoming attractions.


According to a report from DefenseTech,org, the  MiG-35 “Fulcrum F” is slated to make its big debut at the MAKS international air show in Russia in July 2017.

The plane has been in development since 2007, when an initial prototype flew at an air show in Bangalore, India. MiG claims that this fighter has also been developed for very austere operation conditions.

The Air Force made a $25 billion ‘oopsie’
The MiG-35 is an upgraded version of the MiG-29. (Photo from migavia.ru)

“It can take off from a very short lane, take off and land on unprepared airfields, and can be stored without a hangar for a period of a few months,” MiG publicist Anastasia Kravchenko said through an interpreter. “And it’s important and we consider this to be somewhat of a record, if needed, the engines of the MiG-35 could be swapped in the conditions of active operations within the framework of 58 minutes.”

The MiG-35 is an evolution of the MiG-29, a lightweight multi-role fighter that has been in service since 1983 with the Russians. Photos released by MiG show that the MiG-35 has eight under-wing hardpoints for air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles, bombs, rockets, and other ordnance.

The Air Force made a $25 billion ‘oopsie’
Hardpoints for days. (Photo from migavia.ru)

By comparison, MilitaryFactory.com notes that the MiG-29 has six under-wing hardpoints. The MiG-29 was widely exported, and notably saw combat with Iraq, Syria, Eritrea, and Yugoslavia. Other countries that acquire the MiG-29 include Peru, India, North Korea, Algeria, Cuba, and Myanmar.

MilitaryFactory.com reports that the MiG-35 has a top speed of 1,491 miles per hour, can fly up to 1,243 miles, and can climb 65,000 feet in a minute. The MiG-35 has been ordered by Egypt in addition to the Russian Air Force, with China, Peru, and Vietnam all rumored to be potential export customers.

The Air Force made a $25 billion ‘oopsie’
The MiG-35 at the MAKS air show in 2007. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

You can see what the hype is about in the video below.

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‘The War Comes Home: The New Battlefront’ profiles new ways to treat PTS

Did you know that every 65 minutes a veteran takes their own life? Or that over 30 percent of all veterans have considered suicide?  And that more US personnel have died by suicide since the war in Afghanistan began than have died fighting there?


One week changes everything.  Save A Warrior (SAW) is the original warrior-led conversation that provides a well-grounded and commonsense week-long healing experience for active duty military, veterans, and first responders who are struggling with post-traumatic stress (PTS).  On Tuesday, May 24 at 7:00 pm, a nationwide screening of award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien’s acclaimed documentary “The War Comes Home: The New Battlefront” will be shown in movie theaters around the country.  

This moving film follows the journeys of Delon Beckett and Garrett Combs, two young men who came home from war, and their personal battles of the wars that came home with them.  For both veterans, within months of returning, their relationships were crumbling, their children were frightened of their rages, and suicide became a choice they both thought could be a solution for their anguish.

The Air Force made a $25 billion ‘oopsie’

These two men are not alone. One in five veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, or severe depression, cited in a Rand Corporation study.  Post-traumatic stress is a significant predictor of suicide among all veterans. Almost 8,000 veterans of all U.S. wars commit suicide each year, and more than 22 veterans take their own lives each day, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The film chronicles their experiences and powerful transformations as they make their way through the Save A Warrior program (www.saveawarrior.org).  SAW is an innovative program founded and led by Jake Clark, a U.S. Army veteran, and former Secret Service, LAPD, and FBI.  The intensive week-long residential program includes equine therapy, training in Warrior Meditation, and physically and emotionally demanding trust exercises. Warriors access their own internal adaptive mechanisms and experience profound life-changing transformations.

The Air Force made a $25 billion ‘oopsie’

Two months following their participation in SAW, both men appear remarkably changed as they describe the progress they have made.  Combs speaks optimistically about pursuing his career dreams and becoming a better father; Beckett talks about reconnecting with his children and pours the alcohol down the drain that he had grown dependent upon to medicate his pain.

“The War Comes Home: The New Battleground” is produced by Soledad O’Brien‘s Starfish Media Group.  The nationwide Fathom Event will be shown only on Tuesday, May 24 at 7:00pm at nearly 300 theaters across the country.  For tickets visit FathomEvents.com.

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The Navy just established four new ratings

The Navy announced Wednesday the establishment of four new ratings for active duty Sailors, yeoman submarine (YNS), logistics specialist submarine (LSS), culinary specialist submarine (CSS) and fire controlman Aegis (FCA) in NAVADMIN 021/17.


The Air Force made a $25 billion ‘oopsie’
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan T. Erickson)

This realignment was made to improve management of ship manning and personnel inventory for both the Surface and Submarine ratings.

The new ratings will be effective:

– Sept. 2, 2017, for E-6

– Oct. 17, 2017, for E-7 through E-9

– Nov. 28, 2017, for E-1 through E-5

Sailors serving as Aegis fire controlman and yeoman, logistics specialist, culinary specialist submarine Sailors will be converted to their applicable service ratings by enlisted community managers with no action needed from the member.

The new ratings are for active duty Sailors and billets and will not be applied to the reserve component. Additionally, there will be no changes to Sea/Shore flow resulting from the new ratings.

An advancement exam will be created for each new service rating. The first E-7 exam for these ratings will be given in January 2018. For E-4, E-5 and E-6 exams for these new ratings will be given in March 2018.

More information and complete details can be found in NAVADMIN 021/17 found at www.npc.navy.mil.

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Here’s how the team behind ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ made reloading cool

Professional pain-factory John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is back for a sequel. And once again, there’s a whole cadre of well-dressed people who want him dead.


In anticipation of the film’s release on Feb. 10, We Are The Mighty talked to director Chad Stahelski and stunt coordinator and Army vet J.J. Perry about John Wick’s gunplay style, and how they made mag changes cool.

Watch the trailer for “John Wick: Chapter 2” here.

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Navy study recommends smaller, more agile carriers

The Pentagon and the U.S. Navy must increase submarines, strengthen the surface fleet size and build new smaller, more agile carrier-type ships — as as part of a broader effort to rethink the way it constructs the American fleet for future conflicts and operations, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment (CSBA) contends in a just-released report.


“Today’s approach of using large, high-end platforms such as aircraft carriers to support the whole range of naval operations will not be effective at providing the prompt, survivable, high-capacity firepower that might be required to deter aggression in the South or East China Seas,” CSBA says in its report, CSBA “Restoring American Seapower, A New Fleet Architecture for The United States Navy,” released Feb. 9.

Related: Chinese play chicken with a US P-3 Orion over South China Sea

The CSBA does not recommend the U.S. abandon its carrier-centric force altogether, but says the Navy needs to focus more on submarines and calls for a resurgence of the surface fleet. The report also calls for a new smaller carrier-sized ship.

“It may be better to rely upon submarines and surface combatants as the primary instruments of deterrence and reassurance and deploy aircraft carriers from the open ocean where they can maneuver to engage the enemy once aggression occurs,” CSBA says.

While the study does not call for a decrease in the current numbers of carriers, it does maintain that smaller, more maneuverable type carriers might make certain high-risk missions more plausible in light of emerging threats such as long-range anti-ship missiles and enemy coastal defenses.

The report cites growing international naval competition as a reason for altered strategy.

The Air Force made a $25 billion ‘oopsie’
China’s sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning. | PLA

“Today the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) Navy (PLAN) boasts the second largest fleet in the world, with a large portion of ships built in the last decade. The PLA includes a rapidly modernizing air force in addition to a Rocket Force (formerly the Second Artillery Corps) that deploys a wide array of conventional land-attack and anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBM) as well as the country’s nuclear arsenal,” CSBA notes.

“Combined with China’s long-range surveillance network of satellites and shore-based radars and sensors, these forces create a formidable reconnaissance-strike complex that can threaten U.S. and allied forces on or above the water hundreds of miles from China’s borders,” the report says.

The old nuclear trump card may come up short now, too.

“An American nuclear response would likely further damage the international and political systems upon which American prosperity depends,” CSBA says.

“Therefore, adversaries may no longer find U.S. nuclear deterrence to be credible in these situations, making effective conventional deterrence necessary.”

A return, the CSBA says, to the “deny-and-punish” approach used during the Cold War to deterrence will increase America’s reliance on forward-postured forces—particularly naval forces.

“American aircraft, troops, ships, sensors, and weapons would need to be postured in proximity to a likely area of confrontation,” CSBA says. “The United States, and U.S. naval forces in particular, will need to return to their Cold War deterrence concept of denying an aggressor’s success or immediately punishing the aggressor to compel it to stop. Compared to the Cold War, however, naval forces in the 2030s will face a more challenging threat environment and more constrained timelines. They will have to adopt new operational approaches to deter under these conditions.”

The Air Force made a $25 billion ‘oopsie’
The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65), the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, steams alongside the French aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle (R 91). One of these carriers could launch aircraft equipped with a long-range nuclear-tipped missile – and it isn’t the Big E. (US Navy photo)

But, CSBA says, the current strategy remains focused on “efficiently sustaining forward presence rather than posturing and preparing forces to deter and respond to great power aggression.”

A new course will require more than just altered thinking.

And some others are on board. For example, in a recent white paper, Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, recommends a “$640 billion base national defense budget (including Department of Energy nuclear activities) in Fiscal Year 2018, which is $54 billion above (former) President Obama’s planned budget. Over five years, this plan represents a $430 billion increase above current plans/”

McCain says, “These recommendations should be regarded as reasoned estimates.

Today, the U.S. Navy is 274 ships. This was already short of the joint force requirement of 308 ships. And that was before the Chief of Naval Operations announced that the Navy should grow to 355 ships to address the growing fleet sizes and capabilities of our adversaries.”

Whatever the right fleet size ultimately is, McCain says, the “key objective for the next five years is the same: The Navy must ramp up shipbuilding. It is unrealistic to deliver 81 ships by 2022.”

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The first American shots in WW1 were actually fired in Guam

After receiving information that war was near, German Vice-Adm. Maximilian Von Spee sent a message to his Imperial navy colleagues in the Pacific to rally up for a fight.


Spee was aboard the SMS Scharnhorst docked near the Pacific island of Pohnpei when he sent his message to Tsingtao,  at the time the administrative center for the German Pacific colonies.

The battle damaged German ship SMS Cormoran geared up and was ordered to disrupt enemy supply lines. But after months at sea and under constant pressure by the Japanese, the Cormoran began running low on coal and needed a safe place to dock.

The Cormoran reached Apra Harbor in Guam — which had recently become a U.S. protectorate — on Dec. 14, 1914, hoping for some aid by the neutral Americans there.

Related: Here’s why flamethrowers were so deadly on the battlefield for both sides

The Air Force made a $25 billion ‘oopsie’
The Naval officer stationed in Guam sitting with the natives. (Source: The Great War/YouTube/Screenshot)

Interestingly, until the 1950s, Guam’s governor’s office was held by American naval officers.

Guam’s Gov. William Maxwell initially refused to help the Germans because America wanted to stay neutral in the war, but since the Cormoran nearly was out of fuel, the ship wouldn’t leave.

The two sides finally came to an agreement and the German could stay but must live under restriction. The Cormoran’s crew had to stow their weapons on the ship, and the firing pins of the 10.5 cm guns had to be removed from service.

The Air Force made a $25 billion ‘oopsie’
The Germans were allowed to live on the ship or could stay in these tents featured in the image above. (Source: The Great War/YouTube/Screenshot)

Letting the Germans live on the island was extremely risky as the small amount of Americans were now outnumbered.

But during the time the Germans inhabited the small island alongside their soon to be American enemy, there weren’t any known reports of violent incidents — but that peace wouldn’t last forever.

Also Read: The Browning Automatic Rifle cut down enemies from WWI to Vietnam

In 1916, Guam’s new governor received a message that the US just entered the war. A small group of Marines assembled and demanded the German’s surrender right away. When the Germans refused, the Marines fired two warning shots across the Cormoran’s bow.

The warning shots were fired just two hours after the US entered the Great War, thus making history as the first shots fired by Americans at their new German enemy happened in Guam.

Check out The Great War‘s video to learn about this incredible story.

(The Great War, YouTube)
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Suing the president and other forms of military professional suicide

The headlines lit up today with the news that Army Captain Nathan Michael Smith (sounds like a cross between a Revolutionary War icon and a Christian pop music star) has sued President Barack Obama, who also happens to be Smith’s commander-in-chief, because he believes that the war against ISIS is unconstitutional and illegal.


“To honor my oath, I am asking the court to tell the president that he must get proper authority from Congress, under the War Powers Resolution, to wage the war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria,” Smith wrote.

As reported by The New York Times, the White House has countered that its position is legitimate because the Islamic State used to be a Qaeda affiliate in Iraq during the Iraq War.

Regardless of how this plays out on other fronts, one thing is for sure: Smith, an intelligence officer currently stationed in Kuwait, won’t be making major. There are few things those sitting in offices along the nice part of the E Ring in the Pentagon hate more than a smarty-pants zealot junior officer getting all constitutional-law on them and making them look like they don’t have any control over their people.

So, basically, Smith has just committed professional suicide, which got us here at WATM thinking about a few other effective means to terminate active duty pronto:

1. Snort heroin but claim you ate a couple of poppy seed bagels

The Air Force made a $25 billion ‘oopsie’

This one’s good because you’ll most certainly pop positive on your command’s next whizz quiz, and you’ll be processed for an “other than honorable” discharge, which — depending on your legal team — can show you the door in a hurry. The beauty of the poppy seed excuse is it induces just the right amount of doubt that you’ll be thrown out without all the associated ick of being a scumbag druggie . . . just some of it.

2. Have classified information found in your home

The Air Force made a $25 billion ‘oopsie’

This happens to aviators more than any other warfare specialty. Here’s the usual scenario: A pilot packs his flight gear, including his kneeboard, after his last hop in a squadron right before a PCS move. He fails to notice that a couple of the briefing cards clipped to his kneeboard are labeled “SECRET NOFORN.” During the move one of the packers stumbles across the card, and she winds up showing it to one of her neighbors at the apartment complex who happens to work at the local NCIS office.

Or these days you can have secret stuff found in your private email account . . .

Nice knowing you, Classified Breach Maverick.

3. Have a messy breakup with someone under you in the chain of command

The Air Force made a $25 billion ‘oopsie’

Notice we didn’t say “have an intimate relationship with someone under you in the chain of command.” Relationships aren’t the problem. Breakups are. So if you’re already involved with someone doing things that you shouldn’t be, keep it going. And if you can’t keep it going, creep away with the attention of a GI easing out of a German minefield (cause if you don’t it’s not your legs that are going to get blown off).

“Hell hath no fury . . .” and your CO will see that you’re thrown out in a hurry, but only after your photo is splashed on the front page of Military Times.

4. Talk to the press without running it by your PAO

The Air Force made a $25 billion ‘oopsie’
(Photo: U.S. Army)

He who dies with the most Facebook friends wins, right? Well, there’s no better way to get people to think you’re all kinds of awesome than getting quoted in the paper or having your face on the news. And speak your mind about foreign policy and national security; it’s a free country.

Actually, if you do this you’ll be hammered after your CO gets a call from the guy or girl in the chain of command above him. And let’s just say you’re next eval or fitrep won’t be the vehicle that launches you to the next rank, more like one that launches you out the door.

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Army Reserve captain killed in mass shooting at Orlando nightclub

The Air Force made a $25 billion ‘oopsie’
Antonio Davon Brown, a 29-year-old captain in the U.S. Army Reserve, was one of 49 people who was killed in the shooting. | Photo courtesy Texas AM University


A U.S. Army Reserve officer was among those killed in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Antonio Davon Brown, 29, was a captain in the Army Reserve and slain in the attack Sunday at an Orlando nightclub, Cynthia Smith, a spokeswoman at the Defense Department, confirmed in an interview with Military.com.

The Pentagon plans to release more details about Brown’s service record on Tuesday, according to Smith.

Brown was a member of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) while a student at Florida AM University.

“We are especially saddened by the news that one of the victims was part of the FAMU family,” the university said in a statement.

“29-year-old Antonio Davon Brown was a criminal justice major from Cocoa Beach, Florida and a member of ROTC during his time on the Hill. He graduated from FAMU in 2008 and is being remembered fondly by classmates and fellow alumni on social media. We will continue to update you about plans for a memorial or service of remembrance for alumnus Brown,” it said.

“In the meantime, the Florida AM University community stands with the entire Orlando community in the wake of tragedy,” the university said. “Our thoughts, and prayers for peace, are with everyone in central Florida and across this nation.”

The gunman was identified as Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, a 29-year-old U.S. citizen and Muslim who lived in Fort Pierce, Florida, and whose parents were of Afghan origin. While he was apparently acting alone, he had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.

The incident was the deadliest mass shooting in American history, with at least 50 individuals confirmed dead, including the gunman, who was killed in a shootout with police, and another 53 injured. Several remain critically injured.

The shooting began around 2 a.m. Sunday morning at a packed Orlando nightclub called Pulse, which caters to the lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender, or LBGT, community and lasted until around 5 a.m., when a SWAT team raided the building.

The shooting is also the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001, when al-Qaeda militants crashed airliners into the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon near Washington, D.C., and a field in Pennsylvania, killing nearly 3,000 people.

One Twitter user said she and Brown served in the same ROTC class and that he served tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I can hardly breathe,” she tweeted. “I never thought any one of us from Class of 08 would die young. We all came back from war safely.

“He killed my friend, my battle buddy,” she said of the shooter. “CPT Antonio Brown survived Iraq and Afghanistan to die like this.”

She went on to describe an incident during her senior year. After she was unsuspectingly dropped from her parents’ health insurance, she got sick with the flu and passed out during class. Brown and his roommate carried her to his car and drove her four hours from Tallahassee to Fort Stewart, Georgia, so she could receive treatment from the Army.

“Antonio saved my life when no one else could be bothered to care,” she said.

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This World War I ace went on to survive two plane crashes and 22 days lost at sea

Capt. Edward Rickenbacker was a hero of World War I who earned the title, “Ace of Aces,” a French Croix de Guerre, and a Medal of Honor despite joining the flying corps at 27, two years over the then-maximum age of 25.


The Air Force made a $25 billion ‘oopsie’
Photo: National Archives and Records Administration

After the close of the Great War, the former race-car driver got into business. At first, it was automobiles and racing but he returned to aviation and ran Eastern Air Lines. In Feb. 1941, he was riding on one of the company’s planes when it crashed on a hill near Atlanta.

Rickenbacker was severely injured in the crash. His pelvic bone, a leg, and multiple ribs were broken and an eyelid was torn.

The Air Force made a $25 billion ‘oopsie’
Edward Rickenbacker escorts a lady off one of his Eastern Air Lines planes in 1935. Photo: Public Domain/Harris Ewing via Wikipedia

In spite of his injuries and the fact he was pinned down by a dead body and the wreckage, he took control of the situation and sent a group to call for help. He kept everyone safe and calm for the nine hours it took for rescue workers to arrive and get him out of the wreckage.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t done with plane crashes. In 1942 Rickenbacker had mostly recovered from his earlier crash, though he continued to limp. The Army Air Force asked the aviation pioneer, then 52 years old, to consult on operations in the Pacific theater.

With a $1 a day salary, he set out for a tour of the Pacific. He first visited Hawaii en route to bases from Australia to Guadalcanal. On a B-17 with 7 other men, Rickenbacker departed Hawaii for Canton Island, but the B-17 got lost en route.

The Air Force made a $25 billion ‘oopsie’
A B-17 like the one Edward Rickenbacker crash-landed in. Photo: Tony Hisgett via Wikipedia

No one is quite sure how the B-17 got off course, though the navigator later suggested the octant may have been jarred during an aborted takeoff attempt. Regardless of how it happened, the B-17 found searched for Canton Island for hours without ever finding it and was eventually forced to ditch at sea.

Rickenbacker again took command, even though he was technically outranked by a colonel who was accompanying him as an aide. Floating in the ocean on three smalls rafts, the Army airmen were subjected to extreme cold at night and blistering heat in the day.

Rickenbacker oversaw the distribution of the four oranges the men managed to escape the sinking plane with, making them last six days. They had stored water for the crash landing, but it was lost in their hasty evacuation of the plane.

The eight men caught a small break two days later when Rickenbacker, who was sleeping with his hat protecting his face from the sun, woke up and realized that a sea gull was sitting on his head.

He managed to grab the gull and wring its neck. The men ate everything but the feathers and intestines raw, even the bones. The intestines were used as bait, allowing them to catch a few fish.

The audio is a bit hard to make out, but Rickenbacker told the story of the sea gull capture himself at a press conference:

(Note: The video erroneously identifies Rickenbacker as an admiral. He actually left the Army as a major but preferred to be referred to as a captain, the last rank he held in combat.)

That night, they got a second break when a storm hit. They spread all the fabric they could across the raft, socks, shirts, and handkerchiefs, and continuously wrung them out over a bucket, collecting a small quantity of water.

Despite these small successes, Sgt. Alexander Kaczmarczyk died on the 13th day. He had been returning to Australia after recovering from illness and had drank a large quantity of seawater on the escape from the plane. The added toll being soaked with sea water and exposed to extreme temperatures for nearly two weeks overcame him.

A few days later, on the 17th day, the group spotted a scout plane flying about 5 miles away. Efforts to flag it down failed, as did attempt to flag down the next six planes that appeared over the the two days after that.

Tired of waiting for rescue and believing that their chances would be better if they split up, two rafts left the flotilla, leaving Rickenbacker alone with two sick survivors.

Luckily, the plan worked. One raft found land where the natives and an English missionary nursed them while waiting on doctors to arrive. The other dispatched raft was spotted by a Navy patrol plane who picked them up. The survivors told the Navy where to look for Rickenbacker’s raft.

A Kingfisher plane then found Rickenbacker’s raft using the information from the other survivors and delivered Rickenbacker and another man to a Navy PT boat where they drank pineapple juice, soup, and water en route to an island medical facility.

One survivor, too sick to be moved, remained on the plane which delivered him to the same island.

Rickenbacker had lost 40 pounds, developed a number of sores from the salt water, and was severely dehydrated, but he spent only two weeks recovering in a Navy hospital before insisting on completing his mission.

He visited Australia, New Guinea, Guadalcanal, and Samoa, riding to each destination in planes at night while he slept, apparently unconcerned about the possibility of a third crash. When he arrived in Washington and spoke to Secretary of War Henry Stimson, he added into his report some suggestion for how to improve the survival kits installed in planes.

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Pentagon expects ISIS to use mustard gas in Mosul fight

The Air Force made a $25 billion ‘oopsie’
U.S. Army Soldiers put their gas masks on for a simulated chemical attack during a training mission near Camp Ramadi, Iraq, Sept. 25, 2007. | U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Andrew D. Pendracki


The Islamic State is “dead set” on using chemical weapons attacks, including sulfur-mustard gas, to endanger U.S. troops and blunt or delay the long-planned offensive to retake Mosul in northwestern Iraq, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday.

“I think we can fully expect, as this road toward Mosul progresses, ISIL is likely to try to use it again,” Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said, using another acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. “They are dead set on it.”

Also read: What the alleged mustard gas attack on US troops in Iraq could mean

Last week, ISIS fighters fired an artillery shell near U.S. troops at the Qayyarah West airfield, about 40 miles southeast of Mosul, that was initially suspected of having traces of sulfur-mustard blistering agent. There were no deaths or injuries in the incident.

In a briefing from Baghdad to the Pentagon last Friday, Army Col. John Dorrian, the spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said that first test of an oily substance on shell fragments was positive, a second test was negative, and a third was inconclusive.

“We have no conclusive evidence” that mustard gas was used, Dorrian said. He said more tests were being conducted.

However, Kurdish peshmerga forces participating in the “shaping operations” for the Mosul offensive said last year that ISIS fired mortar shells suspected of containing mustard gas at their positions about 20 miles east of the Qayyarah airfield. ISIS is also suspected of using chlorine gas in Syria.

Earlier this month, U.S. and coalition aircraft carried out strikes against a former pharmaceutical factory in Mosul that ISIS was suspected of having turned into a chemical weapons complex.

At the Pentagon, Davis said ISIS “would love to use chemical weapons against us and against the Iraqis as they move forward, and we are making every effort to make sure we are ready for it.”

U.S. troops in Iraq have access to gas masks and Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) gear to protect against chemical attacks.

The Air Force made a $25 billion ‘oopsie’
A U.S. Soldier with the 76th Army Reserve Operational Response Command decontaminates a vehicle after a simulated chemical weapons attack during a base defense drill in Camp Taji, Iraq, July 23, 2016. | U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Daniel Johnson

In the 2003 invasion of Iraq, troops carried masks and MOPP suits with them at all times and frequently had to don them as alarms went off on the possibility that chemical weapons were in the area.

Later U.S. inspections and reports found that Iraq had stopped producing and stockpiling weapons of mass destruction before the invasion.

“We fully recognize that this is something that ISIL has done before,” Davis said of the possibility of chemical attacks. “They have done it many times, at least a couple of dozen that we know of, where they have launched crude, makeshift munitions that are filled with this mustard agent.”

“That is not something we view as militarily significant, but obviously it is further evidence that ISIL knows no boundaries when it comes to their conduct on the battlefield,” he said.

In addition to U.S. troops having access to gas masks and MOPP gear, Davis said the U.S. has distributed more than 50,000 kits of personal protective gear for Iraqi and Kurdish forces.

In the Mosul offensive, American advisers are expected to move closer to the battlefront. The Defense Department has authorized U.S. commanders to place advisers with the Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish peshmerga at the battalion level.

In his briefing last Friday, Dorrian said eight to 12 brigades of the Iraqi Security Forces were “ready to go” against Mosul, where ISIS has had nearly two years to build up defenses. The U.S. estimates that the group “no longer is able to mass enough forces to stop the advance” on the city, and its fighters are experiencing “flagging morale” from the loss of territory and the unrelenting coalition airstrikes, Dorrian said.

U.S. airstrikes recently destroyed an estimated 29 ISIS boats on the Tigris River and also blew up a bridge over which the group’s vehicles were attempting to escape, he said.

To defend Mosul, ISIS has built “intricate defenses,” including elaborate tunnel networks and interconnected layers of improvised explosive devices along likely “avenues of approach” to the city, Dorrian said.

The U.S. has also seen reports that ISIS has dug trenches and filled them with oil to be set on fire once the offensive begins. “They’ve built a hell on earth around themselves,” he said.

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In a surprising twist, US agrees with Russia over Ukraine

The US on Sept. 6 offered cautious optimism for Russia’s call to deploy a United Nations peacekeeping force in Ukraine while disagreeing with Moscow over its scope.


A State Department official told Anadolu Agency in emailed comments that the option is “worth exploring” in order to protect civilians and as a possible means to restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sept. 5 that Moscow will call on the UN Security Council to send peacekeepers to eastern Ukraine, where fighting has raged between government forces and Russia-backed separatist rebels.

The Air Force made a $25 billion ‘oopsie’
Photo from Moscow Kremlin.

Putin insisted during remarks to reporters that the peacekeepers be deployed between government forces and rebel-controlled areas in Ukraine’s east.

But Washington and Kiev worry that deploying the peacekeeping force solely along a line dividing the warring parties would help cement the rebels’ territorial claims.

The State Department official, who spoke on condition that she not be named, said if UN forces are deployed, they should have a broad mandate that would include all Ukrainian territory up to and including the Russian border “in order to avoid deepening or institutionalizing the divisions inside Ukraine.”

The Air Force made a $25 billion ‘oopsie’
Pro-Russian rebels shoot in the air at funeral of a fellow fighter killed in a battle for Marinka near Donetsk. Eastern Ukraine, 6 June, 2015. Photo by Mstyslav Chernov

“Our goals are simple: restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity and protect Ukrainians no matter what their religion, ethnicity, or language,” she said.

The US has long accused Russia of fomenting separatist violence in eastern Ukraine, including arming and training rebel groups fighting government forces.

More than 10,000 people have died in the fighting since it began in 2014, according to the UN.

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