House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes - We Are The Mighty
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House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes
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The House and Senate, in passing separate versions of the fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, haven’t yet agreed on the size of the next military pay raise, or how to reform health care or housing allowances, or whether to require all 18-year-old women to register with Selective Service to be part of a conscription pool in future major wars.

Ironing out these disparities, and many more consequential to military personnel, retirees and family members, will now fall to a House-Senate conference committee comprised of armed services committee members.

The committees’ professional staffs will negotiate many decisions in advance, on guidance from chairmen Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Max Thornberry (R-Texas), and senior Democrats Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.) and Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.). But the principals will need to engage behind closed doors on larger and more controversial topics to produce a single bill that either avoids or challenges a threatened veto from President Obama.

To achieve compromise, conferees will need to shed the political posturing routine in election years and make hard choices based on real budget ceilings. The House, for example, had refused to support another military pay raise cap in 2017 and deferred TRICARE fee increases to future generations of service members. Yet it only authorized funding for seven months of wartime operations next year in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

Here are some of the tough decisions to be negotiated:

Pay Raise – The House bill supports a 2.1 percent January raise to match wage growth in the private sector. The Senate voted to cap the raise, for a fourth consecutive year, at 1.6 percent. A long-shot floor amendment from McCain to add $18 billion in defense spending authority, including several hundred million to support a larger pay raise, was defeated.

Basic Allowance for Housing – The Senate supports two substantial BAH “reforms.” It would dampen payments stateside to members, married or now, who share housing off base. It would cap payments to the lesser of what individuals actually pay to rent or the local BAH maximum for their rank and family status. House is silent on these. The White House opposes them.

TRICARE Reforms – The Senate embraces a portion of TRICARE fee increases that the administration proposed for working age retirees. It also incentivizes the fee system so patients pay less for services critical to maintaining their health and they pay more for incidental health services. Senate initiatives also emphasize improving access and quality of care.

The House rejects almost all higher fees and co-pays intended to drive patients, particularly retirees, back into managed care and military facilities. Both bills would narrow TRICARE options down to managed care and a preferred provider organization. But the House would require all current TRICARE Standard users to enroll annually to help better manage costs and resources. The House, however, would subject only new entrants to the military on or after Jan. 1, 2018, to higher TRICARE enrollment fees.

Female Draft Registration – Without debate on the topic, the Senate voted to require all women attaining the age of 18 on or after Jan. 1, 2018, to register with Selective Service. The House voted to strike similar language from its own defense authorization bill, leaving the issue to be fought behind closed doors of the conference committee.

The two defense policy bills, HR 4909 and S 2943, are aligned on some other important, even surprising benefit changes. These include:

Commissary Reform — The Senate approved the same sweeping changes endorsed by the House to modernize commissary operations. They include a pilot program to replace the cost-plus-five-percent pricing formula with variable pricing across local markets. Both chambers also endorse allowing the Defense Commissary Agency to offer its own brand products to generate more profits and enhance patron savings, and to convert commissaries to non-appropriated fund activities like exchanges.

DeCA is to calculate and set a baseline level of savings that patrons now enjoy and maintain it. Meanwhile, a new Defense Resale Business Optimization Board will be formed to oversee the reforms including the streamlining of commissary and exchange operations to gain efficiencies.

The Senate rejected McCain’s push to privatize up to five base grocery stores for two years to test whether a commercial grocer could operate base stores at a profit and still offer deep discount. McCain hopes privatization over time ends the need for DeCA with its $1.4 billion annual appropriation. Defense officials estimate the approved reforms will cut commissary funding by about $400 million a year over their first fives years.

Meanwhile, DoD last week gave Congress a promised report on prospects for making commissaries and exchanges “budget neutral” or self-sustaining. It concludes that budget neutrality is unattainable without gutting the benefit. This helped to weakened support for a privatization test.

Ending Former Spouse Windfalls — Another issue the House and Senate agree on is modifying how the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act calculates retirement pay for sharing as marital property in divorce settlements. Current law allows courts to divide final retired pay, even if it was bolstered more years served and promotions gained after divorce. Congress agrees this creates a windfall for ex-spouses that should be eliminated, but only for divorce finalized after the bill becomes law.

The former spouse law (Sec. 1408, 10 U.S.C.) will be changed so retired pay to be divided is based on a member’s rank and years of service at time of divorce, plus cumulative military pay raises up through retirement.

This is the first substantive change to the USFSPA in at least a decade. It surprised the former spouse support group EX-POSE, which calls it unfair to future ex-spouses who might sacrifice their own careers to raise children or to accommodate the frequent moves that are part of service life.

ABA Therapy Rates Restored – Both bills direct the Department of Defense to restore higher TRICARE reimbursement rates paid through last March for applied behavioral analysis therapy for children with autism. The change is to take effect when the bill is signed. Though appreciative of the rollback, family advocates worry that months more of delay could see more ABA therapists decide to drop or to refuse to accept more military children.

popular

Why you should stop chugging so many energy drinks

We’ve all seen them before. The cans, small shots, and uniquely packaged energy drinks that promise to give you an energy boost during the most important parts of your day. At first glance, it seems like a great idea: chug it down and get reinvigorated for the day. But, if you go beyond wanting to simply stay alert and begin to overindulge, you could wind up doing some serious harm to your body.


 

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes
Spc. Kyle Lauth, assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, sips an energy drink before a dismounted patrol through the Hussainiyah town of the Istaqlal Qada district northeast of Baghdad, Dec. 29, 2008. (Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class JB Jaso)

Energy drinks became the beverage of choice for many service members during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research analyzed data collected during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2010 and found nearly 45 percent of deployed service members consumed at least one energy drink daily. Nearly 14 percent reported drinking three or more per day.

Related: Here are 5 healthy habits to work into your busy military lifestyle

Many of the most popular energy drinks are heavily marketed to young people, including military members. The marketing is sexy, the packaging is slick, the flavors are sweet like fruit drinks children crave, and the beverages are readily available on military bases and down range.

But, there are real reasons to avoid overusing energy drinks.

Energy drinks can cause drastic side effects

Energy drinks are loaded with caffeine, and too much of it isn’t good for you. Dr. Patricia Deuster, professor and director of the Consortium for Health and Military Performance at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, warns service members to avoid consuming more than 200 mg of caffeine every four hours. That means service members should add up the caffeine in their energy drinks, plus any other caffeinated beverages they may drink, like coffee and soft drinks.

“If it’s got more than 200 mg of caffeine, don’t use it,” cautions Deuster.

Deuster also warns female service members to be cautious about using energy drinks, noting the amount of caffeine you ingest relative to body weight is an issue for women. “Women get a higher concentration [of caffeine] since they tend to be smaller,” she said.

“Doctors don’t know what the effects of [energy drink] ingredients are in larger doses,” Deuster noted. “I don’t think anybody has an answer to the long term effects question.”

High amounts of caffeine can lead to increased blood pressure, panic attacks, heart palpitations, anxiety, dehydration, insomnia, and even bowel irritability when energy drinks are mixed with alcohol.

What is clear is consumers need to be more aware about what they’re putting in their bodies when it comes to energy drinks.

Energy drinks can activate your sweet tooth

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes
Service members should use caution when consuming energy drinks due to their potential health risks. Most drinks average about 200 calories, which can lead to weight gain. (Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Heather Johnson)

Energy drinks are loaded with sugar. Some cans pack a punch of 27 grams of sugar — two thirds of the recommended daily maximum for men, and 2 grams more than the maximum doctors recommend for women. Some service members can double or even triple that if they drink more than one energy drink per day.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend keeping your intake of added sugars to less than 10 percent of your total daily calories.

They can make you pack on the pounds

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes
Spc. Kevin Alexander of 138th Quartermaster Company grabs an energy drink at the Camp Atterbury Post Exchange. Most energy drinks contain anywhere from 70 to 200 milligrams of caffeine. The daily recommended intake of caffeine is no more than 300 milligrams. (Army photo by Sgt. David Bruce)

All of that extra sugar can cause your blood sugar to increase. Even the sugar-free versions of energy drinks can lead to weight gain, as research suggests artificial sweeteners may raise blood sugar, too.

Your body can also begin storing fat, especially if you’re unable to increase physical activity.

Energy drinks + alcohol = a dangerous cocktail

Energy drinks have become popular mixers for alcohol, raising concerns for health experts.

“A lot of the young people mix energy drinks with alcoholic beverages, then you’ve got a wide awake drunk,” says Deuster.

The CDC warns that when alcoholic beverages are mixed with energy drinks, the caffeine stimulant can mask the effects of the alcohol, which is a depressant. Often, the person drinking doesn’t even realize that they’re actually drunk. According to the CDC, that means people who mix alcohol with energy drinks are three times more likely to binge drink than those who don’t mix alcohol with energy drinks. Experts warn motor skills can be affected and some people engage in riskier behaviors while under the influence of alcohol and energy drinks. Additionally, both caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, which can cause dehydration if you’re not careful.

Some companies sell pre-mixed alcoholic energy drinks which have the same sweet or tart flavors as standard energy drinks. As the Army notes, the alcohol content in these beverages can be significantly higher than what’s found in beer.

These energy drinks with alcohol may appeal to underage drinkers because they’re cheaper than hard liquor and they’re marketed with a message that the drinker can last all day or all night long. The sugary nature of the beverages also makes drinkers feel they can imbibe longer than if they were having harder alcohol.

Energy drinks can ruin your good night’s sleep

Deuster raises concerns about a problem in the military with energy drinks and sleep. And, the data back up those concerns. While service members may initially use energy drinks to make up for a lack of sleep, overuse can lead to a harmful cycle. Excess consumption of energy drinks can cause sleep problems and hamper performance.

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes
Marines and sailors with Regimental Combat Team 8 sleep during a C-17 Globemaster III flight from Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan, to Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. (Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Clayton Vonderahe)

 

Dr. Nancy J. Wesensten, from the Center for Military Psychiatry and Neurosciences Research, tells Army Medicine that research on caffeine shows that it can be effective if used properly. However, Wesensten notes “because caffeine impairs sleep, individuals should stop all caffeine consumption at least 6 hours prior to scheduled sleep. Otherwise, sleep could be impaired without the person even being aware of it.”

As caffeine is the major ingredient in energy drinks, the CDC reports service members who drink three or more of the drinks per day were significantly more likely to report sleeping fewer than four hours per night. They were also more likely to report disrupted sleep and other illnesses. Lack of sleep can impact memory and a service member’s ability to pay attention when it matters most. Research indicates service members who drank three or more energy drinks each day also had difficulty staying awake during briefings or on guard duty.

The Army’s Performance Triad offer tips on how to get a better night’s sleep, including controlling light and temperature, as well as leaders ensuring service members have time for quality sleep.

You really don’t know what’s in them

These drinks are not regulated as dietary supplements. While the cans have nutrition labels, many do not list supplement information.

 

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes
The Human Performance Resource Center cautions energy drink users to be aware of the drink’s ingredients. (Operation Supplement Safety graphic)

 

One area that’s concerning to Deuster is the ingredient taurine. The chemical compound is an amino acid found in animal tissue. Many manufacturers purport the ingredient will enhance mental and physical performance. Researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center report little is actually is known about taurine’s neuroendocrine effects.

So, what should service members use instead of energy drinks?

 

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes
Dehydration is caused by not drinking enough water. The amount of water necessary to keep someone hydrated depends greatly on the weather, the amount of physical activity, and an individual’s physical fitness level. The symptoms of dehydration include lethargy, headaches and lack of energy. (Army photo by Sgt. Timothy R. Koster)

Deuster keeps it simple: “Good old water.” Appealing to service members’ frugality, she adds,

“If you want to save money, drink water.”

Follow the Department of Defense on Facebook and Twitter!

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Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DOD website.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This downed Russian pilot in Syria refused to be taken alive

The pilot of a stricken Sukhoi Su-25 “Frogfoot” close-air support plane blew himself up with a grenade rather than be captured by an affiliate of the radical Islamic terrorist group, al-Qaeda. The action now has Russian Air Force Major Roman Filipov up to receive the Hero of Russia award.


According to a report by the Daily Mirror, Filipov had briefly engaged the terrorists with a Stechkin machine pistol, killing two of them, before realizing he was about to be captured. He then defiantly shouted, “This is for my guys!” and pulled the pin on the grenade.

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes
A Stechkin machine pistol, similar to the one carried by Major Kilipov. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Andrew Butko)

TheDrive.com reported that the Su-25 had been shot down by a man-portable, surface-to-air missile. Though the exact type of missile is unknown, it was likely one of several types.

Last year, the economic and political instability in Venezuela resulted in advanced Russian-made SA-24 “Grinch” surface-to-air missiles appearing on the black market. TheAviationist.com reported that the missile in question might have also been a Chinese-made FN-6 surface-to-air missile. The FN-6, which entered service in 1999, has a maximum range of about 3.25 nautical miles and a top speed of almost 1,300 kilometers per hour. It has infra-red guidance and is man-portable.

These shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles are also known as man-portable air-defense systems, or MANPADS.

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes
Two Su-25 Frogfoot ground attack aircraft. (Russian Ministry of Defense photo)

This is not the first time that the Su-25 has faced the MANPADS threat. During the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, the United States sent the FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-air missile to Afghan rebels. Russia lost almost 450 aircraft during that conflict, with the Stinger getting credit for a number of those kills.

According to MilitaryFactory.com, the Su-25 Frogfoot entered service in 1981. In addition to Afghanistan, it also saw action in the Iran-Iraq War and the Second Chechen War, among other conflicts.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This basic military technique can save lives in a crisis

In November 2018, I completed a grueling three-day training for journalists and aid workers heading into countries with tenuous security situations and war zones.

I learned a ton during the training — what worst-case scenarios look like, how to avoid them, and, perhaps most important, how I might act when it hits the fan. But the most important thing I picked up was an easy-to-learn tactic anyone could use.

Held at a nondescript warehouse in suburban Maryland, the training was led by Global Journalist Security, an organization founded in 2011 to help people going to dangerous places acquire what it calls the “physical, digital, and emotional aspects of self-protection.”


It was founded by Frank Smyth, a veteran journalist who has covered conflicts in El Salvador, Colombia, Rwanda, and Iraq, where he was held in captivity for nearly three weeks in 1991.

I had some vague idea of what I was getting myself into. I’m traveling to Egypt, Nigeria, and Ethiopia over the next couple of months, and fellow journalists had recommended the course as preparation for the worst-case scenarios: kidnappings, terrorist attacks, active-shooter situations, and war zones. How a three-day course in suburban Maryland could credibly do that was anybody’s guess.

Training prepares people not to freeze or panic in worst-case scenarios

The chief trainers Paul Burton and Shane Bell, a former British Army sergeant and a former Australian Armed Forces elite commando respectively, are experts at putting people in distressed mindsets. The two have accompanied journalists and aid workers in the world’s most dangerous places, been kidnapped, and negotiated kidnapping releases. They know what they’re talking about.

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes

Female war correspondents during World War II.

Over the course of the training, Bell, Burton, and the rest of the GJS team thrust attendees — yours truly, included — into simulations designed to trigger your adrenaline.

“You want to give people skills to stay in the moment and not freeze or go into panic mode,” Smyth told Columbia Journalism Review in 2013. “Some people will forget to yell, ‘Hey, she’s being dragged away — we have to help her!’ [The training] plants seeds, things to remember.”

I had to save a fellow aid worker from an “arterial puncture wound” that was squirting a fountain of (very real-looking) “blood” from a gaping “flesh wound.” Hooded actors interrupted PowerPoint presentations firing blanks into the class as we scrambled to find cover and escape. There was a kidnapping during which I was told to “slither like the American snake that I am.” And finally we were put through a final course across fields and hiking trails designed to mimic a war zone with grenades thrown, artillery shelling, landmines, and snipers.

My 13-year-old self thought it was pretty wicked. My 28-year-old self was shook. By the end, I was praying I would never have to use any of it, particularly after I “died” in the first active-shooter scenario.

But that scenario came before I learned the most valuable skill Burton, Bell, and company imparted upon us: tactical breathing.

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes

U.S. Army Spc. Chad Moore, a combat medic assigned to 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Dustin Biven)

Combat troops, police officers, and first responders are trained in tactical breathing

Tactical, or combat, breathing is a technique taught by the military, the police, and first-responders. And there’s increasing scientific evidence to back up the practice.

The idea behind it is simple: When you enter high-stress situations, your sympathetic nervous system throws your body into overdrive. Adrenaline kicks in, your body starts to shake, and your mind races to solve the problem.

It doesn’t just happen in war zones. If you hate public speaking, it’s likely to happen before you get onstage. If you’re nervous about an important exam, it may kick in as the timer starts.

What Burton and Bell hammered home is that you can’t prevent this response. It’s instinctual. Your brain’s three options are fight, flight, or freeze. And while you may know enough about yourself to know how you’ll react when you have to make the big speech, you probably have no idea what your reaction will be during an active-shooter situation or in a war zone.

Usually, in that state, you aren’t thinking logically, if you are thinking at all. Flubbing the speech may not be a big deal, but if you enter that state in a war zone, it could get you killed.

Tactical breathing overrides that stress response by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, slowing down your heart rate and calming you down so you can make a rational decision.

It works like this: Breathe in for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, and exhale for four seconds. Repeat as necessary until your heart rate slows and your mind calms. Yes, it is very similar to yogic meditation breathing.

Once your mind calms, you can make a rational decision about whether it is best to keep hiding or whether you need to run, rather than flailing in panic.

It’s sad to say, but with 307 mass shootings in the US alone this year, that’s information anyone could use. Not just war correspondents.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Here’s how to be NASA’s guest at the next SpaceX rocket launch

Social media users are invited to register to attend the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon spacecraft from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. This launch, currently targeted for June 29, 2018, will be the next commercial cargo resupply services mission to the International Space Station.

If your passion is to communicate and engage the world via social media, then this is the event for you! Seize the opportunity to be on the front line to blog, tweet or Instagram everything about SpaceX’s 15th mission to the space station. In addition to supplies and equipment, the Dragon spacecraft will deliver scientific investigations in the areas of biology and biotechnology, Earth and space science, physical sciences, and technology development and demonstrations.


A maximum of 40 social media users will be selected to attend this two-day event on June 28 – 29, 2018, and will be given access similar to news media.

NASA Social participants will have the opportunity to:

  • View a launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket
  • Speak with researchers about investigations heading to the orbiting microgravity laboratory
  • Tour NASA facilities at Kennedy Space Center
  • Speak with representatives from NASA and SpaceX
  • View and take photographs of the Falcon 9 rocket at Space Launch Complex 40
  • Meet fellow space enthusiasts who are active on social media

NASA Social registration for the CRS-15 launch opens on this page on May 30 and the deadline to apply is on June 6, 2018, at 12:00 p.m. EDT. All social applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

APPLY NOW

Do I need to have a social media account to register?
Yes. This event is designed for people who:

  • Actively use multiple social networking platforms and tools to disseminate information to a unique audience.
  • Regularly produce new content that features multimedia elements.
  • Have the potential to reach a large number of people using digital platforms.
  • Reach a unique audience, separate and distinctive from traditional news media and/or NASA audiences.
  • Must have an established history of posting content on social media platforms.
  • Have previous postings that are highly visible, respected and widely recognized.

Users on all social networks are encouraged to use the hashtag #NASASocial and #Dragon. Updates and information about the event will be shared on Twitter via @NASASocial and @NASAKennedy, and via posts to Facebook and Instagram.

How do I register?
Registration for this event opens May 30, 2018, and closes at 12:00 p.m. EDT on June 6, 2018. Registration is for one person only (you) and is non-transferable. Each individual wishing to attend must register separately. Each application will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Can I register if I am not a U.S. citizen?
Because of the security deadlines, registration is limited to U.S. citizens. If you have a valid permanent resident card, you will be processed as a U.S. citizen.

When will I know if I am selected?
After registrations have been received and processed, an email with confirmation information and additional instructions will be sent to those selected. We expect to send the first notifications on June 12, 2018, and waitlist notifications on June 15, 2018.

What are NASA Social credentials?
All social applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Those chosen must prove through the registration process they meet specific engagement criteria.

If you do not make the registration list for this NASA Social, you still can attend the launch offsite and participate in the conversation online. Find out about ways to experience a launch at http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/launchingrockets/viewing.html.

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes
(NASA photo)

What are the registration requirements?
Registration indicates your intent to travel to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and attend the two-day event in person. You are responsible for your own expenses for travel, accommodation, food and other amenities.

Some events and participants scheduled to appear at the event are subject to change without notice. NASA is not responsible for loss or damage incurred as a result of attending. NASA, moreover, is not responsible for loss or damage incurred if the event is canceled with limited or no notice. Please plan accordingly.

Kennedy is a government facility. Those who are selected will need to complete an additional registration step to receive clearance to enter the secure areas.

IMPORTANT: To be admitted, you will need to provide two forms of unexpired government-issued identification; one must be a photo ID and match the name provided on the registration. Those without proper identification cannot be admitted. For a complete list of acceptable forms of ID, please visit: http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/i-9_poster_acceptable_documents_2014_04_23.pdf

All registrants must be at least 18 years old.

What if the launch date changes?
Hundreds of different factors can cause a scheduled launch date to change multiple times. The launch date will not be official until after the Flight Readiness Review. If the launch date changes prior to then, NASA may adjust the date of the NASA Social accordingly to coincide with the new target launch date. NASA will notify registrants of any changes by email.

If the launch is postponed, attendees will be invited to attend a later launch date. NASA cannot accommodate attendees for delays beyond 72 hours.

NASA Social attendees are responsible for any additional costs they incur related to any launch delay. We strongly encourage participants to make travel arrangements that are refundable and/or flexible.

What if I cannot come to the Kennedy Space Center?
If you cannot come to the Kennedy Space Center and attend in person, you should not register for the NASA Social. You can follow the conversation using the #NASASocial hashtag on Twitter. You can watch the launch on NASA Television, www.nasa.gov/live. NASA will provide regular launch and mission updates on @NASA and @NASAKennedy.

If you cannot make this NASA Social, don’t worry; NASA is planning many other Socials in the near future at various locations! Check back on http://www.nasa.gov/social for updates.

APPLY NOW

This article originally appeared on NASA. Follow @NASA on Twitter.

Articles

Here’s what the US military’s future helicopter fleet could look like

In what the participants call a “unique” collaboration, government agencies and aerospace corporations are working together to develop advanced platforms and technologies for vertical lift that are intended to replace virtually all the current rotary wing and tilt-rotor aircraft being used by the four U.S. military services.


The results of those efforts are likely to also influence future civilian and international vertical lift programs.

The ultimate goal is to produce a family of vertical lift aircraft that can serve as transports for personnel and cargo and perform attack, scout, search and rescue, anti-submarine and anti-surface ship missions from land or sea at speeds and ranges far exceeding existing capabilities.

During a forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., Sept. 23, the industry and government representatives said the focus was on achieving the maximum commonality of aircraft components and open architecture in mission systems to reduce production and sustainment costs and promote interoperability among individual aircraft and services.

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes
The Sikorsky X-2. (Courtesy photo)

The coalition of talent is working on two separate but closely related programs: Future Vertical Lift and Joint Multi-role Technology Demonstration, which are managed by the Army with participation by the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force.

Under the FVL part of the effort, Bell Helicopter is working on an advanced tilt-rotor aircraft called the V-280 Valor, which advances the technologies produced for the V-22 Ospreys that are operated by the Marines and Air Force Special Operations Command and in the future by the Navy.

For FVL, Boeing-Sikorsky team is building a “coaxial” helicopter called the SB-1 Defiant, which uses counter-rotating rotors for vertical operations and a rear-mounted propeller for high-speed level flight. It builds on technology demonstrated by Sikorsky’s X-2 that hit speeds of 260 knots, or 300 miles an hour.

At CSIS, Chris Van Buiten, vice president of Sikorsky Innovations, and Vince Tobin, VP for advanced tilt-rotor systems at Bell, said their aircraft will fly next year in preparation for a competitive “fly off” for the FVL program.

Both of those firms, Rockwell Collins and other companies are participating in the JMR program, which is focused on developing a new generation of mission systems and avionics that would go into any future vertical lift aircraft and, the panelist said, could be retrofitted into some of the legacy platforms that are likely to remain in service for decades.

The Rockwell Collins officials said the advanced computer systems being developed in the JMR effort would allow the future vertical lift platforms to be “optionally manned,” meaning they could be operated as unmanned systems as well as flown by humans.

Bell has also introduced an unmanned tilt-rotor proposal, the V-247 Vigilant, with a folding wing and rotor for the Marines.

Dan Bailey, program director of JMR/FVL for the Army, said the technology demonstration program is expected to culminate in 2020, and will “set the conditions for the future” as they seek to replace all the military’s vertical lift systems over decades.

The FVL competition for the air frame should conclude in 2019, he said.

Bailey said the vertical lift “airframe designs we have today are very limited on what we can get out of them.” And the ability to increase efficiency in those platforms “is limited.”

“We need new platforms,” he said.

Bailey and the others stressed the importance of pushing open architecture capabilities in the systems developed under JMR. Open architecture generally means the software within mission systems and other aircraft avionics is independent of the hardware. That allows rapid and relatively inexpensive changes in the systems as technology improves or mission requirements change.

Bailey said the FVL/JMR program provides the ability to partner with industry “that is unique” and will allow the government “to do this efficiently.”

To meet the multi-service requirements of the FVL program, Van Buiten and Tobin said their aircraft could be produced with the rotor and wing folding capabilities that the Navy and Marines require for shipboard operations.

Articles

This organization matches homeless pets with vets who need them

Every day, countless men and women who served in the armed forces return home from war with wounds that are invisible — most never reach out to seek help.


As new mental health treatments are developed, many don’t want to be placed on a cocktail of medication they can’t pronounce and put them in a fog. That’s where an organization called Mutual Rescue can help.

David Whitman and Carol Novello created a national animal-welfare initiative that aims to connect loving and homeless pets with people who are in need of specialized care.

“Even before he was my cat, before he even knew me that well, Scout saved my life,” said Josh Marino, an Iraq war vet. “He put me on a different path. He gave me the confidence to try to come back from all the adversity that I was feeling.”

Check out Mutual Rescue‘s video for Josh Scout’s uplifting story of how animals can rescue their owners.

(Mutual Rescue, YouTube)

Related: SOCOM wants drugs to turn its K9s into super dogs

MIGHTY HISTORY

The Coast Guard combat missions of Operation Iraqi Freedom

As in so many American conflicts, Coast Guard units and personnel in Operation Iraqi Freedom or OIF, performed several missions; including escort duty, force protection, maritime interdiction operations or MIO, and aids-to-navigation, or ATON, work. From the very outset of Middle East operations, the Coast Guard’s training and experience in these and other maritime activities played a vital role in OIF.


Late in 2002, Coast Guard headquarters alerted various units in the service’s Pacific Area and Atlantic Area about possible deployment to the Middle East. From November 2002 through January 2003, these units began activation, training and planning activities for an expected deployment in early 2003. In January, Pacific Area’s first major units deployed to the Arabian Gulf, including the high-endurance cutter Boutwell and ocean-going buoy tender Walnut. Both of these vessels had to cross the Pacific and Indian oceans to arrive at the Arabian Gulf and begin operations. Their responsibilities would include MIO and Walnut, in conjunction with members of the Coast Guard’s National Strike Force, would lead potential oil spill containment operations.

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes

Port Security Unit 309’s port security boat underway.

(U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Atlantic Area provided many units of its own, sending the high-endurance cutter Dallas to the Mediterranean to support and escort Military Sealift Command shipping and Coalition battle groups in that theater of operations. Atlantic Area sent four 110-foot patrol boats (WPBs) to Italy together with support personnel and termed their base of operations “Patrol Forces Mediterranean” or PATFORMED, and it sent four WPBs to the Arabian Gulf with a Bahrain-based command called “Patrol Forces Southwest Asia,” PATFORSWA.

The service also activated Port Security Units and law enforcement boarding teams, LEDETs, which had proven successful in the Gulf War in 1990. Atlantic Area sent PSU 309 from Port Clinton, Ohio, to Italy to support PATFORMED while Pacific Area sent PSU 311 from San Pedro, California, and PSU 313 from Tacoma, Washington, to Kuwait to protect the Kuwait Naval Base and the commercial port of Shuaiba, respectively. LEDET personnel initially served aboard the WPBs and then switched to Navy patrol craft to perform MIO operations.

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes

Coast Guard Cutter Adak, a 110-foot patrol boat, interdicts a local dhow in the Northern Arabian Gulf.

(U.S. Coast Guard photo)

At 8 p.m. on March 19, Coalition forces launched Operation Iraqi Freedom. When hostilities commenced, all Coast Guard units were manned and ready. On March 20, personnel from PSU 311 and PSU 313 helped secure Iraq’s offshore oil terminals thereby preventing environmental damage and ensuring the flow of oil for a post-war Iraqi government. On March 21, littoral combat operations began and the WPB Adak served picket duty farther north than any other Coalition unit along the Khor Abd Allah Waterway. Adak captured the first Iraqi maritime prisoners of the war whose patrol boat had been destroyed upstream by an AC-130 gunship. On that same day, Adak participated in the capture of two Iraqi tugs and a mine-laying barge that had been modified to plant its deadly cargo in the waters of the Northern Arabian Gulf.

Once initial naval operations ceased, Coast Guard units began securing port facilities and waterways for the shipment of humanitarian aid to Iraq. On March 24, PSU 311 personnel deployed to the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr and, four days later, the WPB Wrangell led the first humanitarian aid shipment to that port facility. In addition to their primary mission of boarding vessels in the Northern Arabian Gulf, Coast Guard LEDETs secured the Iraqi shoreline from caches of weapons and munitions. Buoy tender Walnut, whose original mission included environmental protection from sabotaged oil facilities, surveyed and completely restored aids to navigation for the shipping lane leading to Iraq’s ports.

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes

Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Bruckenthal, a damage controlman, made the ultimate sacrifice during a boarding operation as member of a Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment team.

(U.S. Coast Guard photo)

On May 1, President George Bush declared an end to combat operations in Iraq. However, in less than a year the Coast Guard suffered its first and only death associated with OIF. On April 24, 2004, terrorists navigated three small vessels armed with explosives toward Iraq’s oil terminals. During this attack, the Navy patrol craft Firebolt intercepted one of the watercraft and members of LEDET 403 and Navy crew members proceeded toward the vessel in a rigid-hull inflatable boat or RHIB. Terrorists aboard the small vessel detonated its explosive cargo as the RHIB approached, overturning the boat and killing LEDET member Nathan Bruckenthal and two Navy crew members. Serving in his second tour of duty in Iraq, Bruckenthal had already received the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and Combat Action Ribbon. He posthumously received the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal and Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal. He was the first Coast Guardsman killed in combat since the Vietnam War and was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.

In OIF, the Coast Guard demonstrated the importance of a naval force experienced in shallow-water operations, MIO, port security and ATON work. The PSUs performed their port security duties efficiently in spite of their units being divided between three separate port facilities and two oil terminals. The WPBs operated for countless hours without maintenance in waters too shallow for Navy assets and served as the Coalition fleet’s workhorses in boarding, escort and force protection duties. The personnel of PATFORMED and PSU 309 demonstrated that Coast Guard units could serve in areas, such as the Mediterranean, lacking any form of Coast Guard infrastructure. PATFORSWA performed its mission effectively even though it was the first support detachment established by the Coast Guard. Fortunately, Walnut never had to employ its oil spill capability, but proved indispensable for MIO operations and ATON work on the Khor Abd Allah Waterway. Cutters Dallas and Boutwell provided much-needed logistical support, force protection and MIO operations. OIF was just one of the many combat operations fought by the Coast Guard since 1790 and its heroes are among the many members of the long blue line.

This article originally appeared on the United States Coast Guard. Follow @USCG on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The NRA helped promote this deadly Russian sniper rifle

The Army released a report in late 2016 that centered on the Russian threat in Ukraine and detailed how the capabilities of Russian snipers have grown, thanks in small part to a deadly new Russian sniper rifle, the ORSIS T-5000.

And it just so happens that the National Rifle Association once helped promote the T-5000, according to Mother Jones.


In 2015, the NRA sent a delegation to Moscow, where they toured the facilities at ORSIS (the Russian company that makes the sniper rifle), test-fired the T-5000 and were even included in an ORSIS promotional video, Mother Jones reported.

The delegation included NRA board member Peter Brownell, NRA donor Joe Gregory, former NRA President David Keene, and former Milwaukee County Sheriff and Trump supporter David Clarke, Mother Jones and The Daily Beast reported.

The delegation also met with Dmitry Rogozin, who had been sanctioned by the Obama administration over the invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, during the trip, which was also partially paid for by a Russian gun-rights organization called the Right to Bear Arms, Mother Jones reported.


Rozogin was Russia’s deputy prime minister who oversaw the defense sector at the time, but was not retained by Russian Prime Minister-designate Dmitry Medvedev in Putin’s new administration, Reuters reported on May 7, 2018.

The US Army report from 2016 described the T-5000 as “one of the most capable bolt action sniper rifles in the world.”

A former Soviet Spetsnaz special forces operator, Marco Vorobiev, said the gun “can compete with any custom-built bolt action precision rifle out there,” according to Popular Mechanics.

“It is well designed and built in small batches,” he said. “More of a custom rifle than mass produced.”

The T-5000 fires a .338 Lapua Magnum round, which is an 8.6 or 8.58x70mm round, that can hit targets up to 2,000 yards away, Popular Mechanics reported.

A .338 Lapua Magnum round is more than two times more powerful than a 7.62x54R round, The National Interest reported in December, adding that there’s no known body armor in the field that can stop the round.

The T-5000 has reportedly been used by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine, Iraqi special forces operators, and has been spotted being used by Chinese troops and Vietnamese law enforcement officers, Popular Mechanics and thefirearmblog.com reported.

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes
A Russian-backed separatist in Ukraine with the T-5000.

The Russian military is also beginning to field the T-5000, and it has even been tested with Russia’s “Ratnik” program, which is a futuristic combat system that includes modernized body armor, a helmet with night vision and thermal imaging, and more, The National Interest and Popular Mechanics reported.

The rifle, however, has had problems opening the bolt, The National Interest reported.

Still, the T-5000’s range has helped Russian forces in Ukraine “fix Ukrainian tactical formations by employing sniper teams en masse,” the 2016 Army report said.

The sniper teams “layer their assets in roughly three ranks with spacing determined by range of weapons systems and the terrain” with the “final rank [consisting] of highly trained snipers” with the best equipment, the report said.

They then “channelize movement of tactical formations and then direct artillery fire on prioritized targets.”

“Several sniper teams will work together to corral an enemy formation into a target area making delivery of indirect fire easy and devastating,” the report said. “Russian snipers also channelize units into ambushes and obstacles such minefields or armored checkpoints.”

The “capabilities of a sniper in a Russian contingent is far more advanced than the precision shooters U.S. formations have encountered over the last 15 years,” the report said.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes of 2018

Here at We Are The Mighty, we pride ourselves on finding the best military memes every week, curating them, and delivering them to you in an easily digestible format. We source from plenty of heavy-hitting meme pages that we spotlight every week, but we also found some great stuff from up-and-coming meme pages churning out content.

This one goes out to these guys. We couldn’t have had an amazing year without your work in making and collecting the best the Internet has to offer.

Today, we’re going to give everyone the best of the year, broken down by best of the month and, ultimately, the best of the year. Think of it as an award show or whatever. The winner earns a crisp high five.


House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

February – Maybe Gunny Hartman should have just called Pyle a pretty little snowflake and everything could have gone differently.

The best part about this meme is that we received a bunch of hate from people who didn’t get the joke or look at the bottom right corner…

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes

(Meme via Air Force Nation Humor)

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes

(Meme via Private News Network)

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes

(Meme via Lost in the Sauce)

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes

(Meme via The Lonely Operator)

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes

(Meme via Untied Status Marin Crops)

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes

(Meme via Smokepit Fairytales)

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes

(Meme via Airman Underground)

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes

Technically, Disgruntled Vets wins. You can come collect your high five whenever, dude.

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

MIGHTY TRENDING

Putin surprises Japan with offer of unconditional peace

Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed signing a World War II peace treaty with Japan by the end of 2018 “without preconditions.”

Putin made the surprise offer in public, sitting next to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on a stage at an economic forum in the Russian city of Vladivostok on Sept. 12, 2018.

After Abe pressed Putin on the subject of a treaty and a solution to the decades-long dispute over a group of islands claimed by both countries, Putin said: “An idea has just come into my head.”

“Shinzo said, ‘Let’s change our approaches.’ Let’s! Let’s conclude a peace agreement — not now but by the end of the year, without any preconditions,” Putin said.

He said issues that are in dispute could be resolved later, and that the pact could specify that the sides are determined to reach mutually acceptable agreements.


There was no immediate response from Abe, whose country has sought the return of the islands that lie northeast of Hokkaido since the war.

A treaty without preconditions would leave Russia in control of the disputed islands, which Russia calls the Southern Kuriles and Japan calls the Northern Territories.

Soviet forces occupied the islands at the end of World War II, and the territorial dispute has prevented Moscow and Tokyo from formally ending hostilities in the war.

Russian and Japanese Foreign Ministry officials said that work on a future agreement would continue as usual, and a Japanese official made clear that Tokyo wants an agreement on possession of the islands before it will sign a peace treaty.

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes

Location of the Kuril Islands in the Western Pacific between Japan and the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia.


“The government will continue its negotiations on the basic principle that we will sign a peace treaty after resolving the issue of the attribution of the four Northern Islands,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters. “This stance hasn’t changed.”

In Moscow, Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov told Russian news agencies that Putin’s announcement would not require any changes to the current format of negotiations.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said later in the day that Putin and Abe had not had a chance to discuss the proposal.

Russian commentator Georgy Kunadze, a former deputy foreign minister, told Ekho Moskvy radio that he believes Putin was “trolling” Abe and “does not expect anything” to result from the proposal.

The quest for the return of the islands is an emotive issue in Japan, and Kunadze suggested that Abe would never accept a deal that would be political suicide.

In years of talks, Russian officials have repeatedly signaled that Japan could not hope for a swift solution and hinted that the best way to get closer to a deal was to invest in the sparsely populated, windswept islands and engage in other areas of economic cooperation.

Meeting Abe on the sidelines of the forum in Vladivostok two days earlier, Putin had told the Japanese prime minister that “it would be naive to think that it can be resolved quickly.”

In his remarks on Sept. 12, 2018, Putin said concluding a pact would create a better atmosphere and enable Russia and Japan to “continue to resolve all outstanding issues like friends.”

“It seems to me that this would facilitate the solution of all problems, which we have not been able to solve over the past 70 years.”

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

The real-world air combat origins of ‘The Last Jedi’

This article contains spoilers. If you have not seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi yet, you may find it better to stop reading this article here and come back later.


Avoiding spoilers? Try this: 15 Star Wars memes we can all relate to

Hurtling toward the villain nation’s massive fortified Armageddon machine the hero-pilot has one chance, and one chance only, at hitting his target. Victory will mean one man will save his people, failure could mean a war that may lead to destruction of the planet. It is all or nothing, and this audacious attack could determine mankind’s survival.

It’s not a scene from writer/director Rian Johnson’s new film, Star Wars: The Last Jedi. That narrative is a dramatization of the real-world Operation Opera, the daring June 7, 1981 Israeli air raid on a nuclear reactor and atomic weapons fuel manufacturing facility at the Osirak nuclear reactor outside, Iraq.

This is just one example of art imitating air combat history in the new Hollywood blockbuster that hit theaters this past weekend and of nearly every previous film in the Star Wars series. Almost every intergalactic battle scene in the Star Wars films borrows heavily from actual air combat history. And if you are a fan of air combat history, some of the scenes in Star Wars: The Last Jedi may feel familiar.

Director Rian Johnson and the visual effects in The Last Jedi opened with a classic piece of air combat doctrine that has been seen many times in modern air combat. An attacking aircraft poses as performing one mission to deceive an enemy, act as a decoy and buy time before a secondary attack is launched. If this time-proven set of tactics sounds familiar, it is.

You may be recall the real-world tactics of “Wild Weasel” SAM suppression missions flown in Vietnam and Iraq. It may also bring memories of “Operation Bolo”, the audacious January 2, 1967 attack meant to destroy North Vietnam’s air force flown by USAF Colonel Robin Olds. Col. Olds’ F-4 Phantoms behaved like defenseless B-52 F-105 bombers over North Vietnam as decoys to lure enemy MiG-21s into attacking. When they did, Col. Olds’ fighters sprung their trap.

Another tactic shown in The Last Jedi was forcing an enemy, in this case the fictional First Order, to commit all of their air defense assets to an initial feint attack, thus revealing their sensors and depleting their ammunition before a larger, secondary attack is launched on the main objective. In the opening scene of The Last Jedi, one X-wing fighter distracts and delays the giant enemy First Order battle spacecraft until it can effectively fly inside and below its defenses, then opens an initial attack, suppressing defenses and paving the way for the main rebel attack force.

Visual effects throughout The Last Jedi include inspiration from real world air combat of every era and from other air combat movies. It’s widely known that Luke Skywalker’s strike mission against the Death Star in the original Star Wars, where he pilots his X-wing fighter down a narrow mechanical canyon for a precision strike on the gigantic Death Star, was inspired in part by the 1964 Walter Grauman and Cecil Ford film about WWII Royal Air Force Mosquito pilots, “633 Squadron.” The cockpit of the Millennium Falcon spacecraft was inspired to the WWII B-29 bomber.

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B-29 Cockpit. (Image Public Domain)

It is also rumored that George Lucas may have had inspiration from either visiting or seeing images from low flying training areas like the Mach Loop in Wales and especially the now-famous R-2508 complex now referred to even by the military as either the “Jedi Transition” or “Star Wars canyon” in Death Valley, California just outside the Nellis Test and Training Range.

Despite Director Rian Johnson’s often accurate inspirations from air and space combat, he does take liberal license with physics and reality in the The Last Jedi. Gravity is selective in the film. Gravity bombs fall down in space where there is no gravity. Spacecrafts fly in a symmetrical up and down orientation nonexistent in space, and combatants pass from space with no atmosphere into pressurized spacecraft.

Some of the characters in The Last Jedi need a refresher from their officer training as well, as specific orders from commanders are executed selectively- and often disobeyed entirely. In the real world that offense that would lead flight officers a stint in the brig- look at how much hot water Iceman and Goose got themselves into in Top Gun just for buzzing the tower. Further departure from reality is seen with the gun-like weapons (as well as the above mentioned gravity bombs) used in place of long range stand-off weapons.

But at the risk of being that annoying guy in the theater pointing out technical inaccuracies, these are the elements of fiction that separate meaty fantasy from the admittedly more accurate, and “dryer” plot lines of, for instance, a Tom Clancy story unfolding in a more rigid version of the real world.

Rian Johnson must have watched plenty of video of F-22 Raptor and Sukhoi Su-35 displays since the opening space-combat sequence in The Last Jedi shows X-Wing combat pilot Poe Dameron execute a very Sukhoi-esque horizontal tail slide to evade a pair of attacking First Order fighters.

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F-22 vs Su-35s We Are The Mighty | Lockheed Martin | Creative Commons

The cockpits in the X-Wing fighters are a mix of new technology including advanced weapons sights and side stick controls and old tech like toggle switches that somehow seem more visually dramatic to flip than using a touchscreen like the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Speaking of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and its advanced onboard situational awareness and networking system, the BB-8 droid that accompanies X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron on his missions is really a mix of the F-35s advanced avionics including the Multifunction Advanced Datalink (MADL), the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar and the Distributed Aperture System (DAS). These systems run aircraft diagnostics, keep the pilot informed about the aircraft health and tactical environment and help facilitate communications and systems operation through several command systems, in the case of the BB-8 droid on the X-Wing fighter, mostly using voice actuation.

Finally, if the large rebel bomber formation in the stunning opening battle scene in The Last Jedi feels visually familiar then you may liken it to footage and tales from the mass WWII bomber attacks over Germany and Japan by the allies, especially B-17 and B-24 strikes over Germany. The lumbering, mostly defenseless bomber stream attacks in tight formation under cover from X-Wing fighter escort, and suffers heavy losses. The bombers even feature a ball gun turret at the bottom of the spacecraft exactly like the one under a B-17 Flying Fortress.

Also Read: 15 Star Wars memes we can all relate to

Ball turret gunner Paige Tico becomes one of the first sacrificial heroes of The Last Jedi when she risks her life to release a huge stick of bombs in the last-ditch bomb run by the only surviving bomber in the opening attack on the First Order spacecraft. Paige Tico’s sister, Rose Tico, goes on to become a predominant hero of the film after she loses her sister in the heroic opening bombing raid.

You may also sense that the giant First Order Dreadnought Mandator-IV-class warship in “The Last Jedi” felt familiar. Design supervisor for The Last Jedi, Kevin Jenkins, revealed that inspiration for the Dreadnought warship came from several sources that included the WWII Japanese battleship Yamato. The Dreadnought was armed with two enormous orbital autocannons for large-scale bombardments and 24 point-defense remotely aimed anti-aircraft cannons on its dorsal surface. Dreadnought is also an enormous space gunnery platform at 7,669 meters long, that is more than 25,162.8 feet in length. Imagine a strategic attack space aircraft five miles long.

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes

All great fiction, including science fiction, is rooted in inspiration from the factual world, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi borrows significantly from the real world of air combat technology, tactics and history to weave a thrilling and visually sensational experience. In this way this film, and in fact, the entire Star Wars franchise, lives as a fitting and inspiring ode to air combat past, present and future and serves to inspire tomorrow’s real-world Jedi warriors.

Articles

The US military took these incredible photos this week

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


AIR FORCE:

Staff Sgt. Andre Hayes, a 374th Civil Engineer Squadron journeyman, holds his daughter during the holiday tree lighting ceremony at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Nov. 24, 2015. The lighting of the tree signals the beginning of the holiday season.

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes
Photo by Airman 1st Class Delano Scott/USAF

Members of Florida Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 265th Air Defense Artillery Regiment play members from Florida Air National Guard’s 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron in a friendly “Turkey Bowl” football game at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Nov. 26, 2015. The Army National Guard team won the game 42-35. The 1-265th is from Palm Coast, Fla., and the 290th JCSS are stationed at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.

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Photo: USAF

Members from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron perform prefight checks before leaving to refuel F-16 Fighting Falcons from the Royal Norwegian Air Force and the Republic of Singapore air force over Southwest Asia in support of Operation Inherent Resolve Dec.1, 2015.

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes
Photo by Tech. Sgt. Nathan Lipscomb/USAF

ARMY:

A soldier, assigned to the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, fires an M240B machine gun while conducting battle drills, part of Operation Atantlic Resolve, at Pabrade Training Area, Lithuania, Dec. 2, 2015.

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes
Photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Behlin/US Army

A soldier, assigned to the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, conducts airborne operations during the U.S. Army Civil Affairs Psychological Operations Command (Airborne)’s Operation Toy Drop at Drop Zone Nijmegen on Fort Bragg, N.C., Dec. 3, 2015.

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes
Photo by Pfc. Darion Gibson/US Army

A soldier, assigned to 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, conducts a team live-fire training event at Fort Bragg, N.C., Dec. 3, 2015.

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes
Photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Freeman/US Army

NAVY:

Burial at sea: WATERS SOUTH OF JAPAN (Nov. 28, 2015) Cmdr. Joseph Coffey, a chaplain aboard the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), leads a prayer during a burial-at-sea ceremony. Ronald Reagan and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ryan McFarlane/USN

Replenishment-at-sea: WATERS SOUTH OF JAPAN (Dec. 1, 2015) Sailors organize cargo pendants on the flight deck of the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) during an ammunition offload with Military Sealift Command dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Wally Schirra (T-AKE 8). Ronald Reagan and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, provide a combat ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan Burke/USN

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Dec. 1, 2015) Sailors exercise in the seaside gym aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). Dwight D. Eisenhower is currently underway with embarked Carrier Air Wing 3 conducting the Tailored Ship’s Training Availability (TSTA) and Final Evaluation Problem (FEP) phase of their pre-deployment schedule.

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Casey S. Trietsch/USN

MARINE CORPS:

Cpl. Taylor Giffard, a ground signals operator with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command, acts as an opposition force during a mission readiness exercise for 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, Nov. 24, 2015.

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes
Photo by Sgt. Owen Kimbrel/USMC

On the prowl: Cpl. Marvin M. Ernest, a power plant mechanic assigned to Marine Tactical Electronic Squadron 2, performs a turn-around inspection on an EA-6B Prowler on Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, Dec. 1, 2015.

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes
Photo by Lance Cpl. Jered T. Stone/USMC

COAST GUARD:

Chief Petty Officer Ty Aweau, a rescue swimmer at U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Diego, jumps into the beautiful southern California water from his MH-60 helicopter during training.

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes
Photo by Petty Officer Rob Simpson/USCG

Petty Officer 1st Class Daryk Brekke offloads toys from an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter at Kalaeloa Airport in Oahu, Hawaii, as part of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. The USCG works with Marine Corps Recruiting every year to deliver presents to disadvantaged children for the holidays.

House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes
Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Tara Molle/USCG

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