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These are the Air Force’s 10 most expensive planes to operate

1. E-4 Nightwatch

These are the Air Force’s 10 most expensive planes to operate


Who knew the President’s mobile command post was an E-4? With all the latest and greatest gear to keep flying in the midst of all-out nuclear war and all its top secret countermeasures, it should come as no surprise that each of the Air Force’s four converted 747s cost $159,529 per hour to fly.

2. B-2 Spirit

These are the Air Force’s 10 most expensive planes to operate
A KC-135 Stratotanker from Altus Air Force Base, Okla., refuels a B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber from Whiteman AFB, Mo., during a refueling training mission (U.S. Air Force photo)

The B-2 literally costs more than its weight in gold. The Air Force’s 20 B-2 bombers run along a similar price tag: $130,159 per hour.

3. C-5 Galaxy

These are the Air Force’s 10 most expensive planes to operate
Ground crews unload a U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from a U.S. Air Force C-5 Galaxy transport aircraft at Bagram Airfield, in Parwan province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Henry Chan)

The largest of the USAF cargo haulers, the C-5 can carry two Abrams tanks, ten armored fighting vehicles, a chinook helicopter, an F-16, or an A-10 and only costs $100,941 an hour to get the stuff to the fight.

4. OC-135 Open Skies

These are the Air Force’s 10 most expensive planes to operate
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kyle Kindig, left, and U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Riley Neads, right, operate air cannons from deicing trucks to blow snow off of an OC-135 Open Skies (U.S. Air Force photo by Delanie Stafford)

This plane was designed to keep tabs on the armed forces belonging to the 2002 signatories of the Open Skies Treaty, which was is designed to enhance mutual understanding and confidence by giving all participants, regardless of size, a direct role in gathering information about military forces and activities of concern to them. At $99,722 an hour, it’s one expensive overwatch.

5. E-8C Joint STARS

These are the Air Force’s 10 most expensive planes to operate
An E-8C Joint STARS from the 116th Air Control Wing, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., pulls away, May 1, 2012 after refueling from a KC-135 Stratotanker with the 459th Air Refueling Wing (U.S. Air Force photo)

The airborne battle platform costs $70,780 to keep flying. The E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, or Joint STARS, is an airborne battle management, command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform. Its primary mission is to provide theater ground and air commanders with ground surveillance to support attack operations and targeting that contributes to the delay, disruption and destruction of enemy forces.

6. B-52 Stratofortress

These are the Air Force’s 10 most expensive planes to operate
A B-52 Stratofortress deployed to RAF Fairdford, England from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., prepares to air refuel with a KC-135 Stratotanker from RAF Mildenhall (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christine Griffiths)

Squeaking in just under the JSTARS cost, The B-52 BUFF (look it up) runs $70,388 per flying hour.

7. F-35A Lightning II

These are the Air Force’s 10 most expensive planes to operate
A 33rd Fighter Wing F-35A Lightning II powers down on the Duke Field flightline for the first time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Sam King)

Despite its ballooning development costs, the F-35 isn’t as expensive to fly as one might think, at only $67,550 an hour. (And that fact is one of the airplane’s selling points.)

8. CV-22 Osprey

These are the Air Force’s 10 most expensive planes to operate
A 71st Special Operations Squadron CV-22 Osprey receives fuel from a 522 SOS, MC-130J Combat Shadow II aircraft, over the skies of New Mexico.

The USAF’s special operations tiltrotor will run you $63,792 per hour.

9. B-1B Lancer

These are the Air Force’s 10 most expensive planes to operate
A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer aircraft banks away after receiving fuel from a KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft, not shown, during a mission over Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Andy Dunaway/Released)

The B-1 makes up sixty percent of the Air Force’s bomber fleet and runs $61,027 per flying hour.

10. F-22 Raptor

These are the Air Force’s 10 most expensive planes to operate
A F-22 Raptors from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., fly off the wing of a KC-135 Stratotanker on their way to Iraq. The F-22s are supporting the U.S. lead coalition against Da’esh. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Perry Aston)

The “best combat plane in the world” only cost $58,059 an hour to fly. Small price to pay for the best.

Honorable Mention: A-10 Thunderbolt II (aka “Warthog”)

These are the Air Force’s 10 most expensive planes to operate
An A-10 Thunderbolt II, from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., approaches the boom of a KC-135 Stratotanker from McConnell Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo byAirman 1st Class Colby L. Hardin)

The BRRRRRT costs a measly (by comparison, anyway) $19,051.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This is why the US doesn’t use the metric system

In 1793, noted French scientist Joseph Dombey departed Le Havre, France bound for Philadelphia. His mission was to meet with Thomas Jefferson and give him two of the rarest items on Earth. Unfortunately for Dombey, fate had other intentions and storms pushed the ship he was aboard well of course. And so it was that around the time he was supposed to deliver his precious cargo to Jefferson, he found himself instead at the mercy of British pirates. Being French in this situation wasn’t exactly ideal, so at first he attempted to pass himself off as Spanish, but his accent gave him away. Dombey was eventually taken to the small Caribbean island of Montserrat where he ultimately died before he could be ransomed.

So what was the precious cargo he was to have delivered as a gift to the United States? Two small copper items (of which only six sets existed on Earth at the time) — standards representing a meter and a grave, the latter better known today as a kilogram.


At the time, the United States, having already become one of the first nations in the world to adopt a decimal, base ten system for currency was strongly considering doing the same with the system of weights and measures to get rid of the hodgepodge of British weights and measures system mixed with others also commonly used throughout the young nation. Thus, with the initial strong support of then Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, and thanks to a desire to continue to strengthen ties between France and the United States, adoption of the new French metric system seemed close at hand. Along with a trade agreement concerning grain export to France, Dombey was to deliver the meter and grave standards and attempt to argue the system’s merits to Congress who, at the time, were quite open to adopting these units of measure.

These are the Air Force’s 10 most expensive planes to operate

Thomas Jefferson.

(Rembrandt Peale)

Of course we all know how this turned out — Dombey never got a chance to make his arguments and thanks to concerns about whether the metric system would even stick around at all in France, combined with the fact that trade between Britain and the U.S. would be hindered by such a change, the U.S. eventually decided to abandon efforts to adopt the metric system and mostly stuck with the British system, though the U.S. Customary Units and what would become the Imperial System would soon diverge in the following decades.

But as more and more nations came to adopt this new system of weights and measures, the U.S. slowly began to follow suit. Fast-forwarding to 1866 and with the Metric Act the U.S. officially sanctioned the use of the metric system “in all contracts, dealings or court proceedings” and provided each state with standard metric weights and measures. In 1875, the United States was one of just 17 nations to sign the “Treaty of the Metre” establishing, among other things, the International Bureau of Weights and Measure to govern this system.

Fast forward a little under a century later and the full switch seemed inevitable in the United States after the 1968 Metric Study Act. This ended up being a three year study looking at the feasibility of switching the United States to the metric system. The result? a report titled A Metric America: “A Decision Whose Time Has Come”recommending the change and that it could be reasonably done in as little as 10 years.

Unfortunately, the public was largely either apathetic or strongly opposed to making the switch. (According to a Gallup poll at the time, 45% were against it.) This was nothing new, however. A huge percentage of the time a given people of a nation have been asked by their government to switch to the International System of Units, the general public of those nations were largely against it, even France itself, who went back and forth for decades on the issue, contributing to the United States’ hesitation to adopt it in the early going. Brazil actually experienced a genuine uprising when the government forced the change in the late 19th century. Over a half century later, British citizens still stubbornly cling to many of the old measurements in their day to day lives, though have otherwise adopted SI units.

These are the Air Force’s 10 most expensive planes to operate

So why did all these governments frequently go against the will of their people? Arguments for the economic benefits simply won out — as in so many matters of government, what businesses want, businesses often get. So the governments ignored the will of the general public and did it anyway.

But in the U.S. the situation was different. Not having the pressure from being bordered and economically as bound to one’s neighbors as in Europe, and being one of the world’s foremost economic powerhouses itself, the immediately economic benefit didn’t seem so clear. For example, California alone — one of 50 states — if it were its own nation would have the 5th largest economy in the world. Texas and New York state aren’t far behind when compared to nation’s of the worlds economies at 10th and 13th respectively, let alone the other 47 states.

Seeing lesser readily apparent economic benefit, and not having the same geographic pressures as in Europe, in the 1970s many big businesses and unions were in strong opposition to the change, citing the cost of making the switch and, on the latter side, unions worried that such a change would make it easier to move jobs that formerly used customary units oversees, given that now such product could more easily be purchased from abroad.

Swayed, when the 1975 Metric Conversion Act was signed by President Gerald Ford, it had largely lost its teeth. While it did establish a board whose job it was to facilitate the nation’s conversion and put forth various recommendations, the act did not have an official timeline and made the switch voluntary.

Nevertheless, contrary to popular belief, in the decades since, the United States actually has largely switched to the metric system, just the general public (both domestic and international) seem largely ignorant of this. The U.S. military almost exclusively uses the metric system. Since the early 1990s, the Federal government has largely been converted, and the majority of big businesses have made the switch in one form or another wherever possible. In fact, with the passage of the Metric Conversion Act of 1988, the metric system became the “preferred system of weights and measures for United States trade and commerce”.

In the medical field and pharmaceuticals. the metric system is also used almost exclusively. In fact, since the Mendenhall Order of 1893, even the units of measure used by the layperson in the U.S., the yard, foot, inch, and pound, have all been officially defined by the meter and kilogram.

Speaking of the general public side, nobody in the U.S. blinks an eye about food labels containing both metric and customary units (required thanks to the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, with the majority of states since also allowing metric only). The gram is commonly used to measure everything from the amount of flour to add in a recipe to how much marijuana one buys from a shop or, where it’s still illegal, their local dealer. And if you were to ask someone to pick up a two liter of Dr. Pepper or how a person did running a 10K, most everyone in the United States would know exactly what you are talking about. Beyond this, you’d be hard pressed to find a ruler in the United States that doesn’t include both inches and centimeters and their common divisors.

Further, in school, both customary units and the metric system are taught. Yes, while Americans may generally have little practical need to learn a second language, most are, at least for a time, reasonably fluent in two very different systems of measurement.

As with languages unpracticed, however, once out of school, many lose their sense of the latter from lack of use and concrete perspective. It’s one thing to know what 100 and 0 degrees Celsius refers to with respect to water, it’s a whole different matter to “get” what temperature you might want to put on a jacket for. However, students who go on to more advanced science classes quickly pick up this perspective as they become more familiar and, thus, the scientists of America aren’t at the slightest disadvantage here, also contrary to what is often stated in arguments as to why the U.S. should make the switch a bit more official than it already is. All students that go along that path become just as familiar as their European brethren, if a little later in life.

These are the Air Force’s 10 most expensive planes to operate

(Photo by Tamarcus Brown)

This all brings us around to why the United States hasn’t made the switch to the metric system more official than it already is. Primarily three reasons — cost, human psychology, and, at least on the general public side, little readily apparent practical reason to do so.

As to cost, while there has never been a definitive study showing how much it would cost the United States to make the switch official and universal, general estimates range even upwards of a trillion dollars all things considered. Why so high?

To begin with, we’ll discuss a relatively small example in road signs. Installing street signs is an incredibly expensive affair in many places for a variety of reasons. For instance, in 2011 the Washington State Department of Transportation claimed it costs anywhere from ,000 to ,000 PER SIGN, though they later clarified those were worst case and most expensive scenarios and sometimes the signs and installation can ring in ONLY around ,000. Bronlea Mishler of the DOT explains,

Installing a sign along a highway isn’t quite as simple as pounding some posts into a ground and bolting on a sign — that’s why the cost is so variable. There are two ways to replace a sign. One way allows us to install it under old rules; the second way requires us to follow new federal standards… The old rules apply if we are just fixing something, not building something new. Installing a sign alongside the road counts as fixing something — basically, just giving drivers more information. If we install a sign on the side of the road, it would cost: ,000 to make the sign, buy the beams and rivets; ,000 for two steel posts and concrete; ,000 to clear brush and other landscape work before and after installation; ,000 for maintenance crews to set up traffic cones, work vehicles, program highway signs and spend the evening doing the work. Total: ,000…. The new rules apply if we’re doing a new construction project. Costs would be higher because we would have to bring everything up to the current highway code. These often involve putting up a sign bridge, a steel structure that spans the entire freeway to hold up multiple signs. Typical costs include: ,600 to make the sign, buy the beams and rivets because the sign must be bigger; ,000 for the sign bridge. Total: ,600.

WSDOT Deputy Regional Administrator Bill Vleck also stated, beyond many of these signs needing to be special ordered on a 1-off variety (think a highway sign with city name and distance marker) and often being much larger than most sign makers make, drastically increasing cost, some of the seemingly exorbitant costs are due to special features of the signs few know about. For instance, Vleck states, “If there’s an auto accident, if a car hits that sign post and there’s any kind of injury involved, the state is going to be liable, so we’re looking potentially at a multi-million dollar settlement in those kind of situations… [So] it would have to be a breakaway type sign post, and it has to be specially fabricated so that if a car hits that sign, it reacts appropriately and doesn’t come down and basically take out the occupants.”

For your reference here, in 1995, it was estimated that approximately 6 million signs would need changed on federal and state roads. On top of that, it was noted that approximately just shy of 3 million of the nations about 4.2 million miles (6.8 million km) of public roads are actual local, with an uncertain number of signs in those regions that would need changed.

That said, the rather obscene costs quoted by the aforementioned Washington State DOT would likely be grossly overestimated on a project such as this, with prices massively reduced if special laws were passed to remove much of the red tape, and given the extreme bulk orders that would be called for here, including for the signs themselves and contracts to dedicated crews to make this happen as fast as possible.

For example, in 1995, Alabama estimated they could swap out all the signs on federal highways for a mere per sign (0 today) on average.

These are the Air Force’s 10 most expensive planes to operate

(Photo by Ludovic Charlet)

Perhaps a better rubric would be in looking at Canada’s switch, swapping out around a quarter of a million signs on their then 300,000 miles (482,000 km) or so of road. The total reported cost? Only a little over million (about million today) or around 4 per sign in today’s dollars.

Extrapolating that out to the minimum 6 million signs would then run approximately id=”listicle-2635564449″.5 billion + whatever additional signs need swapped out on the 3/4 of the rest of the roads not accounted for in that 6 million sign estimate. Not an insignificant sum, but also relatively trivial for the U.S. taxpayer to cover at about per person + some uncertain amount for the local road signs that need changed.

Moving on to far greater expenses — industry and wider infrastructure.

While it’s impossible to accurately estimate the cost of such a change to American businesses as a whole, we do get a small glimpse of the issue when looking at a NASA report studying the feasibility of swapping the shuttle program to full metric. They determined the price tag would be a whopping 0 million for that project alone at the time, so decided it wasn’t worth the cost for little practical benefit… Now extrapolate that out to the approximately 28 million businesses in the United States, their software, their records, their labels, machinery, employee training, etc. needing switched like some sort of Y2K event on steroids. Thus, while it’s impossible to know for sure, many posit the cost could swell into the hundreds of billions of dollars, if not even creep into the trillion territory — in theory at least.

At this point, even the most ardent supporter of the metric system in the United States may be rethinking whether it would be worth it to make the switch more official than it already is. But don’t fret metric supporters the world over!

To begin with, the raw cost of making the switch doesn’t actually tell the whole story here. In fact, it tells a false story — while the gross total of making the change would be astronomical, it turns out the net cost likely wouldn’t be much, or anything at all.

You see, beyond it noted that, for example, on average Australian businesses saw a 9-14% boost directly attributed to the switch when they made it, back in the United States when companies like IBM, GM, Ford and others spent the money to make the change, they universally found that they made a profit from doing this. This was largely from being able to reduce warehouse space, equipment needs, streamline production, lower necessary inventories, as well as taking the opportunity to, at the same time, remove inefficiencies that had crept into their respective businesses with regard to these systems. They were also able to more uniformly manage their businesses abroad and domestic to the same standards and systems. As a very small example, GM reported they were able to reduce its number of fan belts they had to manufacture and stock from about 900 sizes to 100 thanks to everything that went into the switch.

In some cases the businesses also noted new international markets opening up, both in sales and ability to more easily, and often more cheaply, acquire product abroad. All of this resulted in a net profit extremely quickly from investing the money into making the switch.

These are the Air Force’s 10 most expensive planes to operate

(Photo by Fleur Treurniet)

As you might expect from these types of benefits, an estimated 30% of businesses in the United States have largely already switched to metric.

Granted, these are generally larger companies and various small businesses dealing mostly locally might not see such a benefit. However, with the increasing globalization of supply chains, many small businesses would likely still see some benefit.

Unfortunately, particularly when it comes to construction, that general industry has lagged well behind others in switching, and, as you might imagine, the existing infrastructure of the nation from roads to bridges to homes to drill bits to screws to the architectural plans for all of it being based on customary units would not be cheap to change and it isn’t clear here what the net cost would be. However, as in all of this, the cost could potentially be mitigated via a slow phaseout approach with grandfathering allowed, similar to what other nations did, though in most cases on a vastly smaller scale than would be seen in the United States.

All this said, we here at TodayIFoundOut would like to posit that what the international community actually finds irksome about the United States not using the metric system is not United States businesses who deal abroad or United States scientists or even the government — all of which largely use the metric system and all of which have little bearing on what Pierre sitting in his mother’s basement in France is doing at a given moment.

No, what upsets Pierre is that the U.S. general populace does not use the metric system in their day to day lives. Why is this irksome? Beyond just the human drive for uniformity amongst one’s community, in this case of the global variety, because English websites the world over, keen to get some of those sweet, sweet U.S. advertising dollars, cater to the U.S. audience and use the units that said audience is more familiar with, those not familiar are often left to Google a conversion to the units they are familiar with. The alternative is for said websites to include both, but that often makes for a break in the flow of the content, something we here at TodayIFoundOut regularly wrestle with finding a proper balance with.

This brings us around to the human side of the argument. To begin with, while the United States would unequivocally see many benefits to joining the rest of the world in some good old fashioned metric lovin’, as you might expect given the lack of immediately obvious benefit to the layperson, few among the American public see much point. After all, what does it really matter if a road sign is in kilometers or miles, or if one’s house is measured in square feet or square meters?

While some cite the benefits of ease of conversion to other units in a given system, in day to day life, this is almost never a thing that’s cumbersome in the slightest. If it was, Americans would be clamoring to make the change. The argument that ease of conversion between units should be a primary driver for the public to want the change simply doesn’t hold water in an era where, on the extremely rare occasion people actually need to make such a precise conversion in day to day life, they have little more than to say “Hey Google”. And in most cases, even that isn’t necessary when you’re reasonably familiar with a given system.

These are the Air Force’s 10 most expensive planes to operate

(Photo by Makarios Tang)

Perhaps a poignant example of how, when you’re familiar, a non base 10 system of measure really isn’t that complicated to deal with in day to day matters, consider that the world still uses 1000 milliseconds in a second, 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, and 24 hours in a day. What few realize about this is that the original metric system actually attempted to simplify this as well, dividing the day into 10 hours, with 100 minutes in each hour, etc. Unfortunately, most people didn’t see the benefit in switching when also factoring in having to swap out their existing clocks. Nobody has much seen a need to fix the issue since, not even the most ardent champion of the metric system for its ease of conversions compared with imperial or customary units.

And while you might still be lamenting the stubbornness of Americans for not seeing the genuine benefits to themselves that would likely be realized here, we should point out that virtually every nation in the world that uses the metric system has holdover units still relatively commonly used among laypeople that aren’t metric, for simple reasons of not seeing a reason to stop, from calories to horsepower to knots to lightyears and many more. Or how about, have you ever flown on a plane almost anywhere in the world? Congratulations, you’ve in all liklehood unwittingly been supporting the use of something other than the metric system. You see, the pilots aboard, from French to American, use a feet based, Flight Level, system for their altitude, and knots to measure their speed. Just two standards that, much like the American public and their road signs, nobody has seen much practical reason to change.

Now to more concrete human psychology for not making the switch, which has gradually been converting more and more Americans from general apathy to the anti-switch crowd as the decades pass — when one group of humans tells another group what to do, occasionally using terms like “idiot units” and starting flame wars in comments of every website or video posted on the web that uses or discusses said units- you will universally get resistance if not outright hostility in response. This is not an American thing, as so often is purported- this is a human thing.

Try forcing the French government to mandate by law that French is dead and English is now to be universal spoken for the sake of better international trade, economics, and relations. You might argue that in a not insignificant percentage of the world English is already the standard in such international business dealings, but that is really little different than the current situation in business in the U.S. concerning the metric system. What we’re talking about is how the general populace of France would react if the government mandated such a change, and even more so if outside nations were pressuring it. Again, it’s not an American thing — it’s a human thing.

Beyond that, as anyone whose ever done anything online is well aware of — humans hate change. Loathe it. Make any change to, say, a format or style of video, no matter how small, and rest assured no matter if the change is unequivocally vastly superior and the audience universally comes to agree with that, a not insignificant number of one’s audience will complain, sometimes vehemently, at first. More directly we see this again and again throughout the history of various nations making the change to SI. Again, resistance of change is not an American thing — it’s a human thing.

These are the Air Force’s 10 most expensive planes to operate

(Photo by patricia serna)

But fret not world. You see, slowly but surely the United States has been converting to metric and, for most practical purposes for those outside of the United States, other than having to see it on websites (which, again, we posit is the real driver of people’s ire the world over), the switch has already been made. So much so that at this stage while the cars made in America may say miles per hour on the speedometer, the makers of those cars are using metric to measure and build the things. The very military that defends American’s right to use “Freedom Units” has long since largely converted to the un-free variety.

In the end, money talks, and, for much the same reason other big holdouts like the UK ultimately gave in, as American businesses who have interest in dealing internationally continue to make the switch, they are seeing to it that the metric system more and more creeps into the daily lives of Americans. This will only continue until the inevitable complete adoption. Slowly but surely America is inching towards metric, largely without anyone domestic or abroad noticing.

Want to make the switch take longer? Continue calling them “idiot units”, a mildly humorous statement from a certain point of view given that it takes more brainpower to use customary units than metric, making the latter far more tailored to idiots. And continue to start flame wars in comments comprising mostly of personal attacks rather than using the many and very legitimate and rational arguments that exist as to why it would be of benefit for the people of the United States to make the switch. In the end, we all know there is no better way to convince someone to do something than making the whole thing a religious war, with you on one side and they on the other…

This article originally appeared on Today I Found Out. Follow @TodayIFoundOut on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

How medically-discharged vets can get a disability rating boost

Hardeep Grewal was a 29-year-old Air Force computer operations specialist suffering a mild case of pneumonia when he deployed to Saudi Arabia and a series of other Southwest Asian countries in 2003.

The staff sergeant stayed ill and returned to the United States “looking like a scare crow,” he said. He was diagnosed with asthma, which would require two medications daily for the rest of his life. By December 2004, Grewal was medically discharged with a 10 percent disability rating and a small severance payment.


The Air Force physical evaluation board “lowballed me,” he recalled in a phone conversation on April 25, 2018, from his Northern Virginia home. “They were trying to get rid of people” from a specialty that, after offering an attractive reenlistment bonus, quickly became overmanned.

Grewal promptly applied to the Department of Veterans Affairs for disability compensation and his initial VA rating was set at 30 percent. Full VA payments were delayed until Grewal’s Air Force severance was recouped.

Twelve years later, in August 2016, he got a letter inviting him to have his military disability rating reviewed by a special board Congress created solely to determine whether veterans like him, discharged for conditions rated 20 percent disabling or less from Sept. 11, 2001, to Dec. 31, 2009, were treated fairly.

“I waited like almost two months to apply because I didn’t know if somebody was pulling my leg,” Grewal said. “I talked to a lot of people, including a friend at Langley Air Force Base, to find out if it was legit. He said other service members he knew who had gotten out were saying, ‘Yeah, it’s legit. You can look it up.’ “

Grewal had to wait 18 months but he received his decision letter from the Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR) in April 2018. It recommends to the Air Force Secretary that Grewal’s discharge with severance pay be recharacterized to permanent disability retirement, effective the date of his prior medical separation.

If, as expected, the Air Force approves a revised disability rating to 30 percent back to December 2004, Grewal will receive retroactive disability retirement, become eligible for TRICARE health insurance and begin to enjoy other privileges of “retiree” status including access to discount shopping on base.

These are the Air Force’s 10 most expensive planes to operate

Congress ordered that the PDBR established as part of the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act after a mountain of evidence surfaced that service branches had been low-balling disability ratings given to thousands of service members medically separated over a nine-year period through recent wars.

The PDBR began accepting applications in January 2009. So far only 19,000 veterans have applied from pool of 71,000 known to be eligible for at least a disability rating review. All of them were medically-discharged with disability ratings of 20 percent or less sometime during the qualifying period.

A bump in rating to 30 percent or higher bestows retiree status including a tax-free disability retirement and TRICARE eligibility. And yet only 27 percent of veterans believed eligible for a rating review have applied. Indeed, applications to the PDBR have slowed to a trickle of 40 to 50 per month.

For this column, Greg Johnson, director of the PDRB, provided written responses to two dozen questions on the board’s operations. Overall, he explained, 42 percent of applicants receive a recommendation that their original rating be upgraded. Their service branch has the final say on whether a recommendation is approved but in almost every instance they have been.

To date, 47 percent of Army veterans who applied got a recommendation for upgrade, and 18 percent saw their rating increased to at least 30 percent to qualify for disability retirement.

For the Navy Department, which includes Sailors and Marines, 34 percent of applicants received upgrade recommendations and 17 percent gained retiree status. For Air Force applicants the approval rate also has been 34 percent, but 21 percent airmen got a revised rating high enough to qualify for disability retirement.

The top three medical conditions triggering favorable recommendations are mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress, back ailments and arthritis.

These are the Air Force’s 10 most expensive planes to operate

As Grewal learned, decisions are not made quickly. The current wait, on average, is eight to 12 months, Johnson said. But that is faster than the 18-to-24-month wait that was routine in earlier years.

Also, veterans need not fear that a new review will result in a rating downgrade. The law establishing the PDBR doesn’t allow for it.

Once received, applications are scanned into the PDBR data base and the board requests from the service branch a copy of their physical evaluation board case file. Also, PDBR retrieves from VA the veteran’s treatment records and all documents associated with a VA disability rating decision.

After paperwork is gathered, a PDBR panel of one medical officer and two non-medical officers, military or civilian, reviews the original rating decision. All panelists are the rank of colonel or lieutenant colonel (for Navy, captain or commander) or their civilian equivalents. The board has 34 voting members plus support staff, which is more than PDBR had in its early years, Johnson said.

The wait for a decision is long because of the time it takes to retrieve records, the thoroughness of the review and the complexity of the cases, Johnson said.

About 70 percent of applicants have been Army, 20 percent Navy or Marine Corps veterans, 10 percent Air Force and less than one percent Coast Guard.

PDBR notification letters have been sent to eligible veterans at last-known addresses at least twice and include applications and pre-stamped return envelopes. Grewal said he had moved four times since leaving service which might be why he never heard of the board before the notification letter reach him in 2016.

At some point Congress could set a deadline for the board to cease operations but it hasn’t yet. The board advises veterans, however, to apply as soon as they can. The longer they wait, it notes on its website, “the more difficult it may be to gather required medical evidence from your VA rating process, your service treatment record or other in-service sources [needed] to assess your claim.”

If an eligible veteran is incapacitated or deceased, a surviving spouse, next of kin or legal representative also can request the PDBR review.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @military.com on Twitter.

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The Air Force just bolted on a bunch of boneyard parts to get its Galaxies up in the air

On July 17, Air Mobility Command chief Gen. Carlton Everhart ordered all 18 of the Air Force’s C-5 cargo planes at Dover Air Force Base to halt operations and undergo inspections after two of the aircraft had landing-gear malfunctions in less than a 60 day period.


Two days later, Everhart extended the stand-down to all 56 of the Air Force’s C-5s, ordering them all to undergo maintenance assessments.

The ball-screw assembly on the C-5 Galaxy, the largest plane in the Air Force, was causing problems with the landing gear’s extension and retraction, according to Air Force Times.

The C-5’s nose landing gear uses two ball-screw drive assemblies working together to extend and retract, according to the Air Force. If one of the assemblies doesn’t work, the gear can’t operate. (The Dover stand-down came a little over a year after the C-5M Super Galaxies stationed there achieved the highest departure-reliability rate in their history.)

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USAF photo by Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Baker

Inspections revealed that the parts needed to fix the malfunctions are no longer made. But, Everhart told Air Force Times, maintenance personnel were able to get the needed parts from the aircraft “boneyard” belonging to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson, Arizona.

As of September 1, 38 of the Air Force’s 56 C-5s were back in service. By Sept. 4, three of them had been sent to support hurricane relief efforts in Houston.

“Returning the C-5 to service so quickly is a maintainer success story. I can’t say enough about our maintainers’ ingenuity, hard work, and pride,” Everhart told Air Force Times, adding that his command was looking at adaptive techniques, like 3D-printing, to supply parts and predictive maintenance to catch malfunctions before they happen.

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The Air Force’s “boneyard” in Arizona (there is more than one “boneyard“) provides long-term storage for a wide array of mothballed or unused aircraft — more than 3,800 as of mid-2016. Though they languish under the desert sun, low humidity in the air and low acid levels in the soil make it a good place to keep aircraft.

It’s not unusual for the Air Force to pull parts, or even entire planes, from the sprawling facility.

In summer 2016, the Marine Corps announced that it planned to refurbish 23 F/A-18C Hornets stored at the base in response to a shortage of usable aircraft. In October 2016, after a 19-month restoration process, the Air Force returned to service a B-52H Stratofortress bomber that had been mothballed at Davis-Monthan.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Russia’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ is the story from Mordor’s point of view

The Lord of the Rings saga is a gripping tale of teamwork, magic, and the triumph of good over evil against all odds… if you’re degenerate, decadent capitalist swine. The problem with the Lord of the Rings, in Russia’s view, is that history is written by the victors, Mordor might have been misunderstood, and it could have prospered if it weren’t for the external meddling of men, elves, and dwarves.


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“Look, Sauron had a lot of good ideas.”

In 1999, Russian author Kirill Eskov penned, The Last Ringbearer, a version of the Lord of the Rings written from the view of Sauron’s forces. This alternative view of the saga features a lot of common historical ideas from the real Earth’s 20th Century applied to the fictional universe created by Tolkien, a departure from the Hobbit propaganda the Deep State (aka dwarves) would have you believe.

Eskov writes his novel under the premise that history is written by the victors, and a novel written by the vanquished would present an entirely different view of Tolkien’s creation. The Last Ringbearer is meant to counter Hobbit Propaganda that wants you to think that Gandalf and elves are anything but thieves and war criminals.

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The Last Ringbearer actually accuses Gandalf of “crafting the Final Solution to the Mordorian problem.”

While readers of the Lord of the Rings were led to believe Mordor is an evil place, desolate and dedicated to the destruction of the world of men, The Last Ringbearer wants you to know the glorious world of Mordor was filled with engineers and artisans on the brink of a new industrial revolution, whose beauty was cut down in its prime by the imperialist pigs led by the Elves allied with the Elvish puppet Aragorn.

After the forces of Middle Earth slaughter orc civilians during an invasion of the land of Mordor, two orcs fleeing the elvish onslaught rescue a Gondorian noble who was sentenced to die for opposing the massacres of civilians. Together, they work to free the land of men from Elvish magic.

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As if I needed any more proof Cate Blanchett is the root of all evil.

The book has never been officially translated into English, although amateur translations are available on the internet. The reason for this being the Tolkien estate is very protective of his work and will sue Eskov all the way to Vladivostok if given the opportunity. All kidding aside, it would be an interesting exercise for us all to consider our favorite stories and even real-world events from the point of view of the losers – maybe we would come to understand why some people are the way they are and accept them a little more.

Except Saruman. No one likes a turncoat.

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How the ‘old guys’ should prep for Navy SEAL training

People well beyond their teens seek military service. There are age limits in the military for a reason, but even for the SEAL training program, the window to attend Basic Underwater Demolition / SEAL Training (BUD/S) is from 17-28 years. I’ve been asked this question frequently; from people in the age bracket as well as many beyond the age limit who would need age waivers in order to join the Navy and enter the SEAL Training program.


Does age really matter?

In my opinion, age does matter but not necessarily in the way many people think. Typically, the reason why people do not finish SEAL training is they were underprepared — that has nothing to do with age. If you look at reasons why people quit or fail the course there is a laundry list of reasons: too cold, too uncomfortable (wet and sandy), too much running, too much swimming / pool confidence, too much PT / load bearing events (boats / logs / rucks), too much negative feedback, too much everything. BUD/S will expose a weakness quickly and if you are not prepared for that, it can be overwhelming. If someone says they did not make it because they were “too old” then the entire recruiting system is wrong and the Navy should change the age limits. People in their late twenties and early thirties (and even older) have made it to and through BUD/S before. The age limits are fine.

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Senior Chief Navy Diver Seth Weeman, top middle, an instructor assigned to Naval Special Warfare Center, observes Second Phase Basic Underwater and Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) candidates.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd class Megan Anuci)

In my opinion, the 17-18 year old candidates have a harder time than the older candidates. (see Perfect Storm for Failure) Maturity goes a long way with this type of training and a few years of preparation will help tremendously in your ability to handle the daily work load and physical standards of each phase. Even some candidates on the younger side of the age bracket are still growing and susceptible to many running overuse injuries at a higher rate than others.

What should the older candidate do before and during BUD/S?

Recovery — It is a small difference, but the 18 year old body will naturally recover faster than a body a decade or older, so recovery has to be the number one goal every day for the older BUD/S student. But to be honest, recovery is critical for ALL BUD/S students. Actively pursuing recovery from a tough day / week of training needs to be accomplished by all students in order to be successful no matter what the age. This means good food, hydration, healthy snacks, rest on weekends, good sleep nightly (when available), stretching, foam rolling, compression garments, massage tools and wound / joint care will all help the active student attending any selection program.In my opinion, the 17-18 year old candidates have a harder time than the older candidates. (see Perfect Storm for Failure) Maturity goes a long way with this type of training and a few years of preparation will help tremendously in your ability to handle the daily work load and physical standards of each phase. Even some candidates on the younger side of the age bracket are still growing and susceptible to many running overuse injuries at a higher rate than others.

Performance — No matter what your age is, there is a fitness standard, tactical skills standard, and a military standard you have to meet. Well, “exceeding the standard should be the standard” and mindset of any BUD/S student in preparing and attending SEAL Training – young or old. There is no age performance drop at BUD/S, just one standard for all students to meet.

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First Phase Basic Underwater Demolition/SEALs (BUD/S) candidates use teamwork to perform physical training exercises with a 600 pound log.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Shauntae Hinkle-Lymas)

Injuries — Another thing to consider is that injuries happen at BUD/S to all students – all ages. Knowing how to play with pain is part of the game for all successful students. But being able to discern aches / pains from real injuries requires some maturity. Seeking medical advice before it gets so bad that you fail events is something you need to understand and be open to.

Misconception — I think many people who are not in their teens feel they “missed the boat” on joining the military. The human body is far more capable at getting into better physical conditioning (all areas) 10-15 years passed 20 years old or less. There is not a doubt in my mind that someone in their late 20’s and early 30’s can attend BUD/S and crush it – as many people have and still do today. It just requires thorough preparation, focused mindset on goal accomplishment, and getting it done. Remembering how many hurdles you had to jump through just to get the opportunity to serve in the military, qualify for Special Ops training, and years of preparation should be a constant in your head. There will be days that make you question your abilities, but you have to keep pushing yourself forward IF you really want it.

A quick word about age waivers (over 28 years old)

Age waivers are available on a case by case basis. An applicant has to stand out in many areas in order to even get the process of age waivers to move up the chain of command from the recruiter’s office. Here is a short list of ways to stand out among the crowd.

1. Physical Test Scores: PST scores have to be above average in order to be taken seriously: 8 Minute 500yd. swim, 100 pushups, 100 situps, 20 pullups, 9-minute 1.5 mile run. Scores in this area and a recruiter will likely take you seriously and take the time to move the waiver up the chain of command.

2. Work History: What have you been doing for the last decade? What skillset / trade do you bring to the table? Are you a leader / entrepreneur? Have extensive travel history? Speak foreign languages?

3. Collegiate History: It may have been a while since college or you may have advanced degrees that will help you stand out amongst other enlisted candidates. Most SEAL enlisted have college degrees, many played sports, and some have advanced degrees.

4. Who you know: Sometimes a letter of recommendation from current Navy SEALs or higher ranking officials can go a long way to helping people decide if you are worth the chance of giving the age waiver.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @military.com on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The first US casualty of the Gulf War was a downed pilot

U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Scott Speicher was flying his F/A-18 Hornet 100 miles west of Baghdad on Jan. 17, 1991. It was just minutes into the first night of Operation Desert Storm, the U.S.-led coalition’s offensive to expel the Iraqi Army from Kuwait. Speicher’s plane was shot down that night – but by what?

He was the first American combat casualty in the war.


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Speicher was listed as missing in action, presumed taken prisoner by the Iraqi Army, after being briefly listed as killed. The Pentagon didn’t actually know. The military didn’t even really know how Speicher’s Hornet had been taken down. The Navy’s initial conclusion was that Speicher was taken down by a land-based surface-to-air missile and maintained that throughout the next decade. But other American pilots operating in the area that night reported the presence of an Iraqi MiG-25.

That Foxbat’s pilot was Lt. Zuhair Dawoud, who managed to evade a large formation of attacking American planes, singling out Speicher’s Hornet and firing a R-40D missile that exploded directly beneath Speicher’s cockpit. With the plane shredded, Speicher bailed out as Dawoud turned to find another target. Speicher did not survive long.

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3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines patrol the Haditha Triad in Iraq’s Anbar Province. It was the 3/3 Marines who found Speicher’s remains.

The pilots in the air that night knew Speicher was taken down by the MiG-25 Foxbat. His aircraft crashed 48 miles south of Qadessiya, where the wreckage remained. According to War Is Boring, the Hornet’s digital recorder was recovered from Iraq in 1995 and confirmed the missile hit. The CIA would not confirm Speicher’s death until 2001, and even then his body had still not been recovered.

Even after the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, the U.S. military was not able to determine Speicher’s fate. Eventually, they found that he was never captured by the Iraqis but rather was buried by Bedouins who found his body after the shootdown. Marines occupying Anbar Province in 2008 found his remains and sent them back to the U.S. They were positively identified by his jawbone.

MUSIC

Listen to the US Army’s bluegrass cover band

Military members and veterans had a field day when they discovered the Air Force’s Max Impact Band and their highly produced music video but it turns out the Army has a few touring bands of its own – all part of the United States Army Field Band.


The Army fields a number of official touring bands, all comprised of active soldiers. But the members of the U.S. Army’s Field Band are considered “The Musical Ambassadors of the Army,” going around to play for civilians and military installations alike. The unit has four touring sub-bands: The Concert Band, The Soldiers’ Chorus, the Jazz Ambassadors, and the Six-String Soldiers — its bluegrass-country cover band.

The “Six-String Soldiers” were “The Volunteers” — a rock cover band — until a few short years ago; they now no longer perform rock music (but you can still listen to their old cover songs on their SoundCloud page).

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(U.S. Army photo)

The Volunteers seamlessly transitioned between rock, pop, and country music from all decades. The band was as old as the concept of an all-volunteer force, formed in 1981, just a few years after the draft disappeared from daily American life. Like most cover bands (presumably), The Volunteers wanted to one day perform their own original material for audiences. They never got the chance, but the Six String Soldiers keep their spirit alive and well.

These days you can find all of the Army’s versatile musical soldiers performing on military bases, at VA hospitals, music festivals, and special events. They aren’t limited to the military-veteran community – that’s the whole point of their mission. They want to reach out to the public and show the diversity and vast scope of the U.S. Army.

Give a listen to The Six-String Soldiers cover Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel” in the video below.

Articles

Patton once sent 300 men to rescue his son-in-law from a Nazi prison

In March 1945, Capt. Abraham Baum, a 23-year-old Army officer fighting in Europe, was summoned to the tent of Gen. George S. Patton for a special assignment.


“What the hell am I doing here?” Baum remembered thinking to himself.

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Abraham Baum, thinking the same things many have thought during their service.

Ostensibly, Patton was worried that once Americans invaded greater Germany from the West, the fleeing Nazis would massacre Allied POWs in prison camps. It just so happened that one of those prisoners was Lt. Col. John K. Waters, the general’s son-in-law. With Patton’s army just 60 miles from the camp, the threat must have weighed heavily on his mind.

Waters was captured by the Nazis near Sidi Bou Zid, Tunisia in 1943. He would remain in Nazi hands for much of the duration of World War II, until his legendary father-in-law’s Third Army entered Germany – but he would not be rescued by Baum’s task force.

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Gen. John Waters in 1966

Baum’s orders were to take 300 men 50 miles behind enemy lines to liberate the prison camp near Hammelburg. No one knew the exact location of the camp or how many prisoners were held there.

But the rescue mission turned into a disaster.

The sight of 303 men, 16 tanks, 28 half-tracks, and 13 other vehicles rumbling through western Germany probably came as quite a shock to the locals. Historian John Toland, in an interview with Baum for World War II Magazine, said the hysteria caused by the Task Force caused the Wehrmacht to “throw a huge number of troops at a pint-sized threat.”

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(Map by Gene Thorp)

Task Force Baum met more and more resistance as it drove deeper into Germany. When the column reached Hammelburg, they were ambushed and lost the initiative. By the time Baum reached the gates of the camp, the defenders were ready, despite being outnumbered.

For two hours, the camp commander tried to hold off Baum’s forces. When he finally issued the surrender order, Waters was shot in the stomach by a German soldier who didn’t get the memo. Worse still, Baum was slowly being surrounded as the Germans moved in on his force.

As the column moved back toward allied lines, it was attacked and harried in force by elements of the Wehrmacht they defeated on the way in. Baum’s men fought alongside liberated POWs and on damaged vehicles as they struggled to fight their way out of German territory. Baum himself was injured (shot in the groin), captured, and hospitalized.

Task Force Baum was almost completely annihilated. According to historian Charles Whiting, only 20 of Baum’s original men made it back to the Allied lines and 100 were captured by the Germans. 130 are completely missing in action.

In the end, Baum did catch up with Waters. Abe Baum’s POW hospital bed was just a few down the row from Waters’. They both remained there until the 14th Armored Division captured Hammelburg. Waters would stay in the Army, eventually becoming a four-star general.

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The 14th Armored, crashing through the gates of the POW camp near Hammelburg.

Patton, heavily criticized by his superiors for the risky move, was unwavering. He denied knowing that Waters was at the camp and maintained that he was worried the POWs would be executed. Patton awarded Baum the Distinguished Service Cross, which the General pinned on Baum personally. Patton would be dead within a year.

Baum and Waters became close friends, even though Baum’s Army days were numbered. Baum advised the Israelis during their 1948 War of Independence but ultimately returned to his family’s business. He died in 2013, buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is what Russia has to address to thaw relations with the US

The new U.S. national security adviser has told Russia’s U.S. ambassador that Moscow must address U.S. concerns on election meddling, the “reckless” nerve-agent attack in Britain, and the situations in Ukraine and Syria before relations can substantially improve.

A White House statement on April 19, 2018, said John Bolton, who took over from H.R. McMaster on April 9, 2018, made the remarks in a meeting with Russia’s ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov.


“At the first meeting between the two in their current roles, they discussed the state of the relationships between the United States and Russia,” the statement said.

“Ambassador Bolton reiterated that it is in the interest of both the United States and Russia to have better relations, but that this will require addressing our concerns regarding Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, the reckless use of chemical weapons in the United Kingdom, and the situations in Ukraine and Syria,” it added.

Several global issues have raised tensions between Washington and Moscow despite President Donald Trump’s stated goal of improving relations between the two countries.

The U.S. intelligence community has accused Russia of a widespread cyberhacking-and-propaganda campaign aimed at influencing the 2016 presidential election vote.

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Donald Trump campaigning for president.
(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

The United States and Europe have slapped sanctions on Russia for its 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The U.S. military has assailed Russia for its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and says it holds Moscow responsible for an alleged chemical weapons attack.

Meanwhile, the United States has said it supports Britain in a dispute with Russia over the March 4, 2018 poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury. Britain has blamed Russia for the attack.

Moscow has denied it interfered in the U.S. election, said it had nothing to do with the Skripal poisonings, and claimed the allegations of a chemical attack in Syria are false.

The 69-year-old Bolton, a former UN ambassador, has served as a hawkish voice in Republican foreign-policy circles for decades. Among his more controversial stands, he has advocated for preemptive military strikes against North Korea and war with Iran.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

Articles

History’s 4 wildest benders by senior officers

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Photo: morberg/CC2.0


Sometimes the hardest drinking sailors and soldiers are the ones supposed to be keeping everyone else in check. Here are four times when officers led the barroom charge:

1. The guy in charge of 450 nukes got too drunk for the Russians in Moscow.

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Photo: US Air Force

It takes a lot too be considered too drunk in Moscow, but Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael Carey took a trip there in Jul. 2013 and managed it. Among other incidents during the trip, he allegedly went to a Mexican restaurant to meet two suspicious foreign women, got extremely drunk, and tried to convince the restaurant band to let him play with them. Carey was later fired from his position.

2. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant (may have) drunkenly rode through Army camps.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Mathew B. Brady

The famously-alcoholic Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was in a steamship on the Yazoo River in 1863 when he ran into journalist Sylvanus Cadwallader. Cadwallader later described working with Grant’s security detail and aides to unsuccessfully stop his drinking by confining the general to his wardroom.

Grant reportedly escaped to the shore and then to another ship, finding alcohol in both locations. He later drunkenly led the newspaperman and others on a chase through a federal army encampment, kicking up campfires and strewing equipment in his wake. Historians have cast doubt on the story though, pointing to other accounts that said sickness confined Grant to his room on the trip.

3. A Confederate general got so drunk during a battle that he couldn’t attack.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Kurz Allison

Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Cheatham’s drunken escapades would be tame if it weren’t for the setting. He drank to excess and rode his horse, whooping and hollering until he fell off. Not a big deal, except that he did it in front of his men while he was supposed to be leading them into battle.

At Stone River, this resulted in Cheatham’s two brigades being late to the attack, allowing Union Forces on the run to regroup and re-establish their lines. The recovered Union forces later managed a stunning artillery barrage that caused 2,000-3,000 casualties in four hours.

4. A Navy admiral was fired for drunkenly wandering a Florida hotel naked.

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Photo: US Navy

Rear Adm. David Baucom was one of the Navy’s top logistics officers until he was fired for wandering around a Florida hotel naked and drunk on Apr. 7, 2015 during a conference.

Baucom had been drinking heavily the night before, continuing until he banged his head on a stool, peed his pants, and had to be escorted back to his room. He woke naked and attempted to enter his bathroom but used the wrong door, exiting the room and becoming trapped outside. Two female hotel guests spotted him looking for a towel to cover up with before a peer got him back to his room.

Articles

This Syrian cosmonaut went from general to rebel to refugee

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The Syrian spaceman who became a refugee from Guardian News Media Ltd.


As a colonel in the Syrian Air Force, Muhammed Faris joined a Soviet mission to the space station Mir in 1987. He was the first (and only) Syrian in space. The Soviets awarded Faris its Order of Lenin and Hero of the Soviet Union medals upon his return. After going back home to Syria, the cosmonaut rejoined Syria’s Air Force under dictator Hafiz al-Asad, father of current dictator, Bashar al-Asad.

Eventually, Faris became a general, but when the uprisings in Syria started, he and his wife joined the opposition protests in Damascus. As the regime got more brutal, he decided to flee to Turkey the next year.

“It was a choice,” he told the Daily Sabah, a Turkish newspaper. “Instead of living there as a ‘hero’ while my people were suffering, I preferred to live in tough conditions in exile with my honor.” Today he lives in Istanbul with his wife and children.

Despite receiving the highest awards the Soviet Union could give, Faris openly criticized the Russian intervention in his home country. He wants Western leaders to recognize that the only way to end the violence and stem the flow of refugees is to oust Asad.

“I tell Europe if you don’t want refugees, then you should help us get rid of this regime,” he told The Associated Press.

Russia and Syria have a long history of cooperation, extending way back to the founding of modern Syria after World War II. Russia supported Syrian independence from France. Since then, the Russians have provided the various Syrian regimes with aid and military assistance. This aid continued throughout the Cold War and through the elder Asad’s regime.

The Russian intervention in the Syrian Civil War has reportedly killed more civilians than ISIS fighters, while refugees continue to pour out of Syria. So far, Syria has 7.6 million people displaced internally with untold millions fleeing to other countries.

“My dream is to sit in my country with my garden and see children play outside without the fear of bombs,” Faris told The Guardian. “We will see it, I know we will see it.”
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South Korea’s Marines are almost as scary as the Americans’

The United States Marine Corps has long lived by Mattis’ motto of “no better friend, no worse enemy.” They make for very scary opponents, able to defeat enemies who greatly outnumber them — just ask the Chinese about the Chosin Reservoir; they know who really won that battle.


But the Republic of Korea Marine Corps is almost as scary to foes as the United States Marine Corps, and for good reason. While the United States Marine Corps has been around for 242 years, the South Korean Marines have only been around since 1949. That’s 68 years. Not bad, but still a mere one-seventh of the time the American leathernecks have been kicking ass.

South Korean Marines saw action in Vietnam when their 2nd Marine Brigade was deployed alongside two divisions from the Republic of Korea Army. During the war, a company of South Korean Marines was attacked by three battalions of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops. When the fighting was finished, the South Korean Marines had triumphed, losing only 15, a small fraction of the 306 enemy troops killed.

U.S. Army studies of the South Korean forces that fought in Vietnam noted that the South Korean troops in general, including their Marines, had taken great steps forward since the Korean War. They even seized more weapons than American units did in similar operations.

 

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Republic of Korea Marines provide security after they dismount a CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter during the two-day culmination of Exercise Key Resolve/Foal Eagle 2008 at Rodriguez Live Fire Complex in South Korea March 8, 2008. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Freddy G. Cantu)

After the Vietnam War, the South Koreans turned to their Marine Corps to establish a special unit to retaliate against North Korean commando attacks. This unit’s motto translates, roughly, to “kill them all, let God sort it out.”

Today, the South Korean Marines are looking to modernize their force. On November 23, 2010, North Korean forces shelled Yeonpyeong Island. As a result, South Korean Marines are getting new return-firepower, like the K9 howitzer. To learn more about this elite fighting force, check out the video below:

(Warthog Defense | YouTube)

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