How long should you stay in your defense contractor position? - We Are The Mighty
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How long should you stay in your defense contractor position?

How long should you stay in your defense contractor position?
Image: Wikimedia


Gone are the days that company loyalty is valued above all other aspects of the employer/employee relationship. Mega corporations and fast-changing needs have created an atmosphere of turnover, especially among some of the leading defense contractors. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but can lead to active employee involvement in creating their own opportunities for success and advancement. It can essentially put you in the driver’s seat of your career in a way that didn’t exist in the past. We see many pros and cons of defense contracting, but it always boils down to what is most important for you.

Defense contractors rank high in this field of expectation. I’m not saying that the executives exit stage left quickly, but technical in-the-weeds employees don’t come with lifetime assignment labels, and they shouldn’t. The very nature of contracting involves short- and long-term work. Now defense contractors often maintain a set of continuously renewed contract work, but this does not necessarily mean definitive eternal employment. If you read our post about defense contractor positions for veterans the following information should help you decide on your length of contracting.

With all that said, how long you should stay in your position depends on a couple of things.

  1. What are your goals?

Did you take a defense contract position because it was a dream to work with X employer? Perhaps you want to work on aircraft and the contractor gets you closer. Or was it the pay?

All and any of these reasons are completely reasonable. You have to consider what term of employment with the defense contractor gets you closer to your goals.

  1. Have you used or do you plan to use company education benefits?

Many companies, especially defense contractors, have wonderful education benefits. However, usually these require a specific amount of time with the company following the completion of the class. This varies from six months to two years. If you are working on a degree and plan to take continuous classes using the company benefits, pay close attention to these policies. If you leave before the policy tenure is completed, you may find yourself owing the company for any expenses they paid on your behalf.

  1. Has another opportunity opened up?

Perhaps you’ve received an offer from another company or a government position has opened up and you are wondering, “Is it in bad taste to leave now?” Whatever amount of time you have under your belt, I recommend pursuing discretely any opportunity that gets you closer to your goals or interests. Remember, opportunities are just that, and can fail to actualize. Considering them and giving them your professional due diligence is never a bad thing. If it does actualize and you find yourself with an offer on the table, it may have taken a considerable amount of time to get that far and you’ll already be in a respectable position of tenure.

As a general rule, I suggest committing to at least two years to any employer, one year if the position wasn’t quite what you thought it would be and six months in difficult situations (problematic team integrations for example). In any situation, a hostile work environment is never worth your time and only you can be the one to make that sort of determination.

Take a close look at your goals, consider the pros and cons of defense contracting positions, but most of all trust your gut instinct. Any employer should value you and the work you do just as much as you value them.

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How one military spouse is changing the face of employment at Amazon

Five years ago, Amazon committed to employing 25,000 military spouses and veterans in the United States by 2021. As of February 2021, they employ over 40,000. One military spouse is helping them go even further.

Beth Conlin is the Senior Program Manager for Military Spouses for Amazon. It isn’t just a job for her — it’s more personal than that. It’s a calling. As the spouse to Army Lieutenant Colonel Shaun Conlin, the employment struggle has been a part of her life for a very long time. 

“Early in my career, I would remove my wedding ring and remove locations from my resume. I’d say he [my husband] worked in logistics,” Conlin said with a laugh. “For me, my career is the thing that drives me….When we moved to Germany in 2013 and I had to quit due to SOFA [Status of Forces Agreement] I was just dumbfounded. How could an external factor that had nothing to do with what I did take away my economic opportunity, my professional development and a big part of my identity?”

How long should you stay in your defense contractor position?
Beth and her husband reunited after a deployment

This experience led Conlin to advocate for all military spouses. She eventually created a small business that essentially developed and built employment opportunities for military spouses. Five years later, she was back in the states and approached Blue Star Families to partner in effort to support the issue. They offered her a job instead. 

She soon recognized how pivotal her new role at BSF was. “It was the first time that it hit me that it mattered. We PCSed from DC to Georgia and I didn’t have to quit,” Conlin explained. 

Her continued engagement with the civilian and military change makers led to her employment with Amazon in 2020. “Through a series of my own advocacy work and nonprofit work, I met my now-boss at a working group… I was talking about military spouses and the employment I had built and he was like, ‘Wait a minute, can you come do that at Amazon?’” Conlin shared. 

How long should you stay in your defense contractor position?
Beth (left) moderating the Blue Star Families Survey

Her role within the global product and services company is extensive. “I build programs to connect military spouses to employment and I also build educational programs internally to help our recruiters and hiring managers understand the value of hiring military spouses,” Conlin explained. She also developed the platform which allows military spouse employees to flag their profile when they have orders for an upcoming PCS, allowing the internal hiring teams to find new roles for the spouse at the new duty station. 

Conlin also does a lot of work within community engagement, working alongside prominent nonprofit organizations serving the military community. She frequently briefs the White House and Department of Defense on military spouse employment needs and concerns. “The conversation is definitely shifting. Companies now encourage you to self-identify as a military spouse,” Conlin said. 

How long should you stay in your defense contractor position?
Beth and her husband, Lieutenant Colonel Shaun Conlin at an event

When she was asked to name her favorite part about working for Amazon, it was too hard to pick just one. “Amazon encourages you to fail fast. They want you to be curious, creative and innovative when you solve problems. If you’ve gotten it wrong, find out quickly and move on. That allows me to experiment with a variety of solutions,” Conlin explained. She also loves the customer obsession Amazon stands behind and the collective support and family vibe the company embodies every day. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States in 2020, military spouses were the foundation of resiliency for Amazon as a whole. “They put their collective arms around the rest of Amazon and said, ‘We know how to thrive in uncertainty. Just follow us,” Conlin shared. The value we add is intentionally recognized by what we bring to the workforce.”

May 7, 2021 is Military Spouse Appreciation Day. At Amazon, they’ve been celebrating all week long. The company focused on the intersectionality of military spouses, creating an internal campaign called, “What’s your and?”

“A lot of us are military spouses and parents, and, and, and,” Conlin explained. “It was incredible to openly share what that means for us — especially after hiding that for so long.”

Conlin was honest in saying she could never have imagined her journey of tackling military spouse employment unfolding the way it did. It’s an evolution she’s proud of, and with her new role deep in the trenches of the issue for Amazon, she’s grateful. “It is more than just a job, it is a problem that is solvable and it is really really inspiring to be with a company that believes it’s solvable too.”

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This is how triple-ace Robin Olds achieved his perfect victory over Vietnam

On January 2, 1967, U.S. Air Force F-4C Phantoms lured North Vietnamese MiG-21s into the kind of air-to-air dogfight they usually tried to avoid. The mission, called “Operation Bolo,” was an aerial trap designed by Colonel Robin Olds, a fighter ace and veteran who started his combat flying career during World War II. In spite of the fact that Bolo was flown in the some of the most heavily defended airspace ever attacked by U.S. forces, it wound up being one of the most successful deception operations in American military history.


Olds took command of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base in 1966. The unit he took over was short on aggression and initiative. Olds, then 44 years old, brought in another Air Force pioneer, Col. Daniel “Chappie” James, another World War II veteran and one of the Tuskegee Airmen, as his director of operations.  The command team, which would come to be known as “Blackman and Robin,” completely changed the culture of the 8th TFW. They were ready to take the war to the Vietnamese.

How long should you stay in your defense contractor position?

After taking command of the 8th, Olds lost three F-4C aircraft to intercepting Mig-21s. He was frustrated with target restrictions from Washington and frustrated with the battlespace over North Vietnam. Ground observers and early warning radar provided by the Soviet Union would warn the VPAF what was coming. By the time attacking aircraft crossed the Red River, the MiGs were waiting for them. Olds wanted to use this tactic to his advantage.

How long should you stay in your defense contractor position?

MiGs were in the air anytime U.S. aircraft were in the area.  Two to four MiGs would remain near the enemy’s base at Phuc Yen, while the rest attacked the bomber force along one intercept point on the southern side of the Red River and the other northeast of Thai Nguyen. The MiGs would attack the F-105 formations all along their route and generally avoid the F-4s.

How long should you stay in your defense contractor position?
A right underside view of two Soviet MiG-21 Fishbed fighter aircraft in flight.

In response, Olds designed Bolo, the first offensive fighter sweep of the Vietnam War. Convinced of the superiority of U.S. pilots in air-to-air combat, he wanted to trick the North Vietnamese to read flights of F-4Cs as the slower, bulkier F-105s. Once the MiGs were in the air, the F-4s would break formation and attack on their own terms. To fool the radar and ground observers, the F-4s would fly in a 105 formation while using Thud call signs.

The SAM threat was mitigated by new ECM anti-radar pods. The jamming pods reduced the rate of SAM kills on F-105s to near zero, but the F-4s were still vulnerable because the pods didn’t fit on the F-4 bomb racks. Olds’ NCOs in the 8th TFW’s fabrication shop spent 36 hours fashioning makeshift replacement panels before Bolo so the F-4s could carry them. This was the first time F-4s ever carried the countermeasure.

Seven flights of F-4Cs would come in from Ubon in the West while seven more came in from Da Nang Air Base in South Vietnam. The Ubon forces, led by Olds, would stay in a Thud formation until the last possible second. The Da Nang fighters covered all available airfields to keep the MiGs from landing (they were no longer be targetable on the ground due to orders from Washington) and keep them from making an escape to China.

Olds’ flight used the sign “Olds.” Chappie used the sign “Ford” because one of the planners thought Fords were “big, black, and fun.” The rest were “Rambler,” “Lincoln,” “Tempest,” “Plymouth,” and “Vespa.” They would arrive in the engagement area four minutes apart.

How long should you stay in your defense contractor position?
Olds at Ubon RTAFB

January 2, 1967 was an overcast day. Olds led the first flight into the area. At first there seemed to be no response, which would be devastating. The Americans could only attack MiGs in the air. But Olds didn’t know the cloud cover kept the MiGs on the ground for an extra fifteen minutes. With three minutes until Ford Flight’s arrival, Olds flight made a turn Northwest when MiGs started to come up from the cloud cover.

“Ok, Wolfpack! Go get ’em!” Olds roared.

The MiGs were trying a vise maneuver that blew up in their faces when the U.S. fighters left formation. The Americans took down seven  of the sixteen MiG-21s in the VPAF inventory without losing any Phantoms. Bolo was the worst single day for the Vietnam People’s Air Force. The operation’s success led to Seventh Air Force launching a similar operation three days later, mimicking a recon mission. Of the four MiG intercepting that ruse, two were shot down. VPAF fighters were grounded for several months for retraining.

Colonel Olds would score his fourth MiG kill in Vietnam on May 4, 1967, bringing his total to sixteen and making him a triple ace. He flew his last mission in Vietnam on September 23, 1967.

How long should you stay in your defense contractor position?

 

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Jordan soldier to be charged for killing American trainers

A government official says a Jordanian soldier faces murder charges in the shooting deaths of three US military trainers at a Jordanian air base.


He says the soldier will be tried by a military court, starting June 7th. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters.

The US Army Green Berets were killed November 4 at the Al-Jafr air base in southern Jordan. They came under fire as their convoy entered the base.

How long should you stay in your defense contractor position?
US Army photo by Rachel Larue/Arlington National Cemetery

Jordanian officials initially said the trainers sparked the shooting by disobeying orders from Jordanian soldiers.

The slain Americans were 27-year-old Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Lewellen, of Kirksville, Missouri; 30-year-old Staff Sgt. Kevin J. McEnroe of Tucson, Arizona; and 27-year-old Staff Sgt. James F. Moriarty of Kerrville, Texas.

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German pilots revolted against their leadership in World War II

The idea of “revolting” against your Nazi leadership as an airman in the Luftwaffe seems like a great way to get a bullet in the head, but that’s what happened to the German air force toward the end of World War II. 

At the beginning of the war, German pilots were among the best in the world, flying some of the best planes available at the time. The Luftwaffe was a critical component of the German blitzkrieg and the strategy owed much of its success to the men in the air. Poland, France, the Netherlands and Belgium all quickly fell due to Luftwaffe dominance.

Its failure to achieve victory over the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain wasn’t exactly a death knell for the Germans’ air component, but it wasn’t a good sign. By the end of the war, the German air force was completely overwhelmed by Allied air power. They began to lose good pilots and experience shortages of ammo, fuel, oil and lubricants. The Allies’ bombing campaign crippled their supplies, manufacturing and transportation ability. 

How long should you stay in your defense contractor position?
Gun camera film shows tracer ammunition from a Supermarine Spitfire Mark I, hitting a Heinkel He 111, a German bomber, during the Battle of Britain (Imperial War Museum)

If the bombing campaign seems like something that might have been stopped by the Luftwaffe itself, that’s because it could have, but there was a cancer growing inside the German air force, almost from the birth of the Luftwaffe: Hermann Goering. 

Much of the trouble the Luftwaffe began to experience as time went on could be blamed on Goering. Goering began to fill the upper echelons of the air force with yes-men who were loyal to him personally, rather than promoting based on ability. When the fighting actually started, the Luftwaffe was more than capable, notching some 70,000 aerial victories over the course of the war. As time went on, the needs of the air force became more and more short-sighted. 

The Luftwaffe’s plan for the defense of the Reich began to take its toll on the number of fighters in its arsenal. Replacing those losses didn’t become a priority for the Germans until 1944 — far too late to make a difference. The German air force’s last gasp of breath came with an effort to re-establish its superiority during the Battle of the Bulge in January 1945, but it was put down as fast as the bulge itself. 

That’s when the “Fighter Pilots Revolt” happened. That same month after the failure in Western Europe, the best fighter pilots (still living) in the Luftwaffe wanted Goering removed and replaced by fighter pilot Adolf Galland.

How long should you stay in your defense contractor position?
Adolf Galland (Bundesarchiv)

Galland was known among the German pilots for his opposition to Goering orders from Messerschmitt Bf-109 pilots during the Battle of Britain. Goering wanted the fighters to fly close support missions for German bombers, while pilots like Galland wanted to support them from a higher altitude. 

This higher altitude tactic made for the Bf-109 fighter. Above a certain altitude, it was just a more capable plane than the Spitfires the British were flying. Goering refused. Since then, Galland had risen to become General of Fighters and the rift between Marshal Goering and Gen. Galland only grew and intensified. Operation Bodenplatte, the operation flown during the Battle of the Bulge to destroy Allied air forces on the ground, led to an explosion in the resentment of Goering. 

How long should you stay in your defense contractor position?
A German Bf 109 in 1940 (Imperial War Museum)

Galland called a meeting of the Luftwaffe leadership, where Goering was presented a list of demands from his airmen. They believed Goering had needlessly wasted lives and aircraft on bad missions and operations. They wanted him replaced. Goering, of course, protested, and did everything he could to squash the revolt. Goering won in the end. 

Gen. Galland was relieved of his command and other so-called mutineers were sent to the skies over the front lines in Italy and elsewhere, where many died. Hitler intervened and allowed Galland to take command of a new squadron of Me-262 jet fighters. But the war was only months from ending and the Me-262 didn’t make much of a difference in that outcome.  

Feature image: Bundesarchiv

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Sangin falls to the Taliban

The Taliban captured a key district center in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province on Thursday while in the country’s north, an officer turned his rifle on sleeping colleagues, killing nine policemen, officials said.


The fall of Sangin district, once considered the deadliest battlefield for British and U.S. troops in Afghanistan, comes amid the insurgents’ year-long push to expand their footprint in the Taliban heartland of Helmand.

The British who took over southern Helmand in 2006 were headquartered at Camp Sebastian, which at its peak was the center for 137 bases in Helmand. Most of Britain’s more than 400 military deaths occurred in Helmand province — in Sangin alone, Britain lost 104 soldiers.

Since the withdrawal of foreign NATO combat troops from Afghanistan at the end of 2014, and with only a smaller, U.S.-led advise and training mission left behind, Sangin has been seen as a major tests of whether Afghan security forces can hold off advancing Taliban fighters.

Also read: US forces are quickly cutting off ISIS’ only escape route in Syria

The district’s police chief, Mohammad Rasoul, said the Taliban overran Sangin center early on Thursday morning.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, also issued a statement claiming the Taliban capture of Sangin.

Speaking to The Associated Press over the phone from several kilometers (miles) away from the district center, Rasoul said the district headquarters had been poorly protected and that at the time of the Taliban siege, only eight policemen and 30 Afghan soldiers were on duty.

Afghan security forces were now amassing nearby for a full-scale counter-attack in a bid to retake Sangin, Rasoul added, though he did not say when the assault would occur and how many forces would be involved.

“We are preparing our reinforcements to recapture the district,” Rasoul said.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the Afghan military would seek the help of international coalition forces in the area.

NATO spokesman William Salvin said in a statement that Afghan troops remained in Sangin district but had relocated several kilometers (miles) outside the district center. He said the relocation was necessitated because of the extensive damage to the district center by the Taliban.

In Kabul, a lawmaker from Sangin, Mohammad Hashim Alokzai, urged the military to move quickly to retake the district, saying its fall could have devastating consequences for Helmand, where the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah has in the past months also come under constant and heavy attack by the Taliban.

“The seizure of Sangin is a major tactical triumph for the Taliban,” Michael Kugelman, senior associate for South Asia at the U.S.-based Wilson Center, said Thursday. The insurgent group “has taken over a major urban space in one of its major stronghold provinces, amplifying the major threat that the group poses to Afghanistan nearly 16 years after it was removed from power.”

Sangin is also one of the biggest opium markets in Afghanistan, which saw over 4,800 metric tons produced countrywide in 2016 — more than all other opium-producing countries combined, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes. Efforts at poppy eradication in Afghanistan have been severely restricted because of the insecurity in the southern and eastern regions of the country, where the bulk of the crop is grown.

Opium, which is used to make heroin, is a major source of income for the insurgents and the Taliban levy taxes on opium that moves through its territory.

“It’s hard to overestimate the significance of Helmand — it’s strategically located near Pakistan, it’s a bastion of the opium trade,” said Kugelman. “Perhaps the biggest reason why the British focused so much on Sangin is that they had invested so much over the years in trying to stabilize the place — and had suffered many combat deaths in the process.”

In northern Kunduz province, police spokesman Mafuz Akbari said the insider attack on Thursday that claimed the lives on nine policemen took place at a security post and that the assailant escaped under the cover of darkness.

Afghanistan has seen a spike in so-called insider attacks. In such incidents, attackers who turn their rifles and kill colleagues usually end up stealing their weapons and fleeing the scene to join insurgents.

Akbari said the assailant had gone over to the Taliban. He also claimed that the attacker and the Taliban gathered the bodies of the dead policemen and set them on fire.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahed claimed responsibility for the attack, but denied that a policeman had been involved or that the Taliban had burned the bodies of the policemen.

The conflicting accounts could not be immediately reconciled. The region is remote and not accessible to reporters.

Afghan forces have come under intensified pressure by insurgents in both Helmand and Kunduz.

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The Navy just developed invisible armor that is easy to fix

When most people think armor, they think of thick steel, ceramic or Kevlar. It stops (or mitigates) the harm that incoming rounds can do, but there’s one big problem: You can’t see a friggin’ thing if you’re behind it.


This is no a small problem. Put it this way, in “Clausewitzian Friction and Future War,” Erich Hartmann, who scored 352 kills in World War II, was reported to have believed that 80 percent of his victims never knew he was there. Project Red Baron, also known as the Ault Report, backed that assessment up based on engagements in the Vietnam War.

Bulletproof glass exists, but it can be heavy. When it is hit, though, the impact looks a lot like your windshield after it catches a rock kicked up by an 18-wheeler on the interstate.

That also applies in firefights on the ground – and according to a FoxNews.com report, the Navy has made it a little easier to maintain situational awareness while still being able to stop a bullet. The report notes that the Navy’s new armor, based on thermoplastic elastomers, still maintains its transparency despite being hit by bullets.

How long should you stay in your defense contractor position?
Current bullet-resistant glass after ballistic tests during the IDET 2007 fair in Brno. The good news is the bullets were stopped. The bad news: You can’t see through the window. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

In a Department of Defense release, Dr. Mike Roland said, “Because of the dissipative properties of the elastomer, the damage due to a projectile strike is limited to the impact locus. This means that the affect on visibility is almost inconsequential, and multi-hit protection is achieved.”

That is not the only benefit of this new armor. This new material can also be repaired in the field very quickly using nothing more than a hot plate like that used to cook Ramen noodles in a dorm room – or in the barracks.

How long should you stay in your defense contractor position?
Photo: YouTube/CrashZone

“Heating the material above the softening point, around 100 degrees Celsius, melts the small crystallites, enabling the fracture surfaces to meld together and reform via diffusion,” Dr. Roland explained.

Not only will this capability save money by avoid the need to have replacement armor available, this also helps reduce the logistical burden on the supply chain, particularly in remote operating locations that were very common in Afghanistan during the Global War on Terror.

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The mastermind of the Paris attacks was killed in a raid

The suspected mastermind of the Paris attacks that killed 129 people was killed in a massive police raid north of Paris Wednesday.


How long should you stay in your defense contractor position?
Photo: Dabiq

The raid was conducted by over 100 police officers and soldiers who rushed into an apartment building in Saint-Denis and attacked the apartment at 4:16 a.m., according to the Washington Post. The reinforced door stayed close, triggering a seven-hour siege.

How long should you stay in your defense contractor position?
French police in Paris in 2005. Photo: Wikipedia/BrokenSphere

Abdelhamid Abaaoud had previously bragged that he could not be caught by Western intelligence agencies and police after he evaded Belgian police.

“Allah blinded their vision and I was able to leave… despite being chased after by so many intelligence agencies,” he told Dabiq, an ISIS magazine.

“All this proves that a Muslim should not fear the bloated image of the crusader intelligence,” he added. “My name and picture were all over the news yet I was able to stay in their homeland, plan operations against them, and leave safely when doing so became necessary.”

Apparently, Abaaoud’s luck ran out. Abaaoud’s cousin also died in the raid when she detonated a suicide device, according to Fox News.

The raid came after French police received a tip from a waiter. The raid was part of a larger effort to prevent a potential follow-up attack aimed at Paris’s financial district, French officials told The Washington Post.

One police dog was killed in the raid, a 7-year-old named Diesel.

France’s military and police forces were already fighting the international terror organization before Friday’s Paris attacks, but have launched an increased number of police raids and military airstrikes since they suffered the worst attack on their territory since World War II.

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Nigerian Air Force takes out Boko Haram leaders

How long should you stay in your defense contractor position?
Nigerian Air Force Alpha Jet loaded up for a strike mission. (Photo: Nigerian Air Force)


The Nigerian Air Force carried out an air strike on Friday that bagged some of the top leaders of Boko Haram. The Nigerian military announced the deaths late Monday on their Twitter feed.

The Nigerian military announced the deaths late Monday on their Twitter feed. The military statement confirmed that Abubakar Mubi, Malam Nuhu and Malam Hamman were among the dead in the “most unprecedented and spectacular air raid” on the village of Taye in the Sambisa forest. The military’s statement also claimed that Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Nigerian terrorist group responsible for an attack that resulted in the kidnapping of over 300 schoolgirls from Chibok and for selling them into slavery, was fatally wounded. Shekau’s death has been reported before, only to be disproven by video appearances.

The military’s statement also claimed that Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Nigerian terrorist group responsible for an attack that resulted in the kidnapping of over 300 schoolgirls from Chibok and for selling them into slavery, was fatally wounded. Shekau’s death has been reported before, only to be disproven by video appearances.

A photo released by the Nigerian military with their statement on the air strike showed pilots in a briefing in front of a Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet of the 75th Strike Group. This multi-role aircraft serves in both the light attack and training roles, and can carry up to 5,500 pounds of bombs and missiles, including the BL755 cluster bomb and the AGM-65 Maverick. It has a top speed of 540 knots, and a range of roughly 380 miles. The plane also serves in the air forces of France, Thailand, Belgium, Cameroon, Togo, Qatar, Portugal, and Morocco. The plane has been retired by Germany and the Ivory Coast.

Nigerian Alpha Jets have been the primary strike weapon against Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden.” Nigeria also has Chengdu J-7 Fishbed interceptors and Areo L-39 Albatross trainers in service, but the former are primarily used for air defense (replacing Russian-build MiG-21 Fishbeds in 2009) and the latter planes have a very limited bomb load (roughly 600 pounds).

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Here’s how the Army is assisting Iraqi forces in the fight for Mosul

Although the U.S. mission in Iraq is often referred to as one of advising and assisting, only about 25 percent of the 101st Airborne Division‘s 2nd Brigade Combat Team was doing that during its deployment to Iraq, which concluded in January, the brigade’s commander said at the Pentagon May 3 during a media roundtable discussion of the deployment.


Army Col. Brett Sylvia, the brigade’s commander, told reporters that the other 75 percent of his Task Force Strike soldiers were engaged in route clearance, expedited communications, air and ground coordination, and logistics, which enabled Iraq to build up its forces up and get to their tactical assembly area for the push into eastern Mosul, which began Oct. 17 as part of the effort to liberate Iraq’s second-largest city from the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

When Task Force Strike arrived in Iraq in April 2016, the Air Force was delivering all the precision strike capability to the Iraqis fighting ISIS, Sylvia said. Over the course of the deployment, Task Force Strike soldiers augmented much of that strike capability with their own artillery and unmanned aerial vehicle assets. About 6,000 artillery rounds were fired, he added.

How long should you stay in your defense contractor position?
Army Col. Brett Sylvia, commander of the 101st Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, conducts a key leader engagement with Iraqi forces on advancements into Mosul at Tactical Assembly Area Filfayl, Iraq, Nov. 26, 2016. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Christopher Brecht)

Sylvia said he was pleased with the authorities the U.S. commanders on the ground were given to call for fire to enable the Iraqi ground forces to move forward. In March 2016, the month before the task force arrived in Iraq, the authority was granted not only to the general in charge of the operation, but also for colonels, lieutenant colonels, and in at least one case, a captain near the front of the fighting, he explained.

Also read: Islamic State terrorists launched a chemical attack in Mosul

Although the Iraqis did the fighting, some limited situations arose when U.S. soldiers accompanied them to provide “niche capability,” Sylvia said. For example, he said, soldiers accompanied an Iraqi battalion on a bridge-building mission on the Tigris River, where the enemy had blown up the bridge. The soldiers advised them on establishing area security as the U.S.-made bridge was erected, he told reporters.

Militia fighters not attached to the Iraqi army who also were fighting ISIS were pretty much segregated from Iraqi forces, Sylvia said. U.S. forces were aware of their location and movements, he added, but did not interact with them in any way.

Threat From Above

It’s been some time since the U.S. faced a threat from the sky, Sylvia said. During the battle for Mosul, UAVs began appearing in the air in and around the city, and it was quickly determined that they did not belong to friendly forces.

In one day alone, 12 appeared, he noted — mostly quadcopters operated by Wi-Fi with about 45 minutes of flight time.

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A private drone with imaging capabilities, similar to those acquired by enemy combatants. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

At first, he said, the enemy used them for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and to obtain video for use as propaganda on social media sites.

Over time, Sylvia said, the enemy managed to mount 40 mm grenades on the UAVs and drop them. It was primitive, such as when World War I pilots tossed bombs out of their airplanes by hand, he said. It’s not precision bombing, but it’s more effective than their indiscriminate bombing, the colonel told reporters.

Over time, U.S. forces employed countermeasures that stopped or slowed their flight, enabling Iraqi ground forces to shoot them out of the sky, he said, noting that the new threat from the air led to dusting off old manuals on how to respond to threats from the air with countermeasures such as camouflage.

Best Day in Iraq

Sylvia said he clearly recalls his best day in Iraq. It was Christmas Day, and Iraqi forces, who are Muslim, invited him and his soldiers to a Christian church just outside Mosul to attend services. ISIS had gutted the church, but the Iraqis had rebuilt it with their own money.

“It was a powerful symbol, and was amazing,” he said of the visit to the church, adding that he hopes the relationship forged with the Iraqis will be enduring.

Task Force Strike returned to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in January, replaced in Iraq by the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team.

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Today in military history: Battle of Lake Erie

On Sep. 10, 1813, Oliver Hazard Perry became the first commander in history to defeat a British naval squadron – and he did it on Lake Erie during the War of 1812.

Captain Perry commanded a fleet of nine American ships on the Great Lakes. And the battle wasn’t just for Lake Erie, though the winner would control the entire lake – whichever side won would have control over what is today the American Northwest.

The two sides fought like mad men for hours on end and victory wasn’t assured for anyone. 

Perry’s Flagship, the Lawrence, was completely wrecked during the fighting so Perry took command of the Niagara and sailed right into the British with raking fire that forced the British to strike their flags and surrender.

The battle killed 27 Americans and 40 British — but the Brits were forced out of Detroit and out of Lake Erie. 

After the battle, Perry sent a message to General William Henry Harrison with his now-famous declaration of victory, “We have met the enemy and they are ours.”

Despite the eventual British dominance on the Great Lakes, control of the massive bodies of water swung back and forth throughout the war, and was probably the theater where the Americans saw much of their success. Delivering blows to the vaunted Royal Navy was great for U.S. morale and terrible for British morale. American Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry constructed a fleet of ships just to challenge British dominance on the lakes. 

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Trijicon got in trouble for putting bible verses on their scopes

Trijicon is one of the premiere optics manufacturers for the U.S. military. Its magnified rifle optic, the Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight, is the official medium-distance engagement optic of the U.S. Marine Corps and Special Operations Forces. However, the company found itself in hot water for placing bible verses on optics sold to the military.

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Marines in Fallujah with Trijicon ACOGs atop their M16A4 rifles (U.S. Marine Corps)

Founded by South African and devout Christian Glyn Bindon, Trijicon was originally founded as Armson USA in 1981. The company was the sole U.S. importer and distributor of the Armson OEG. Manufactured in South Africa, the Armson OEG was an occluded-type gunsight. It used tritium and fiber optics to illuminate its reticle. In 1985, Bindon reorganized the company as Trijicon and began manufacturing night sights for pistols. Two years later, Trijicon introduced the ACOG for use by the U.S. military.

The ACOGs were widely distributed across the military. It wasn’t until 2010 that ABC News reported on the placement of Bible verses in the serial numbers of sights sold to the U.S. military. Bindon, who was killed in a plane crash in 2003, applied the practice to all Trijicon products since the company’s founding. However, the inscription of religious passages on products sold to and used by the government was contested by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

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The Marines’ M27 IAR standard-issue optic is a Trijicon ACOG variant (U.S. Marine Corps)

Despite the controversy, the military did not discontinue use of Trijicon optics. “This situation is not unlike the situation with U.S. currency,” said CENTCOM spokesman, Air Force Maj. John Redfield. “Are we going to stop using money because the bills have ‘In God We Trust’ on them? As long as the sights meet the combat needs of troops, they’ll continue to be used.”

Indeed, Trijicon sights were and continue to be regarded as top-tier optics. The British Ministry of Defence and New Zealand Special Air Service also purchased Trijicon sights without knowing about the Bible verses. Similarly, both nations continued to use the sights.

On January 22, 2010, just two days after the ABC News story broke, Trijicon announced that it would halt the practice of engraving Bible verses on optics sold to the government. The company also offered to provide modification kits to remove existing engravings on sights already delivered to the military. However, Trijicon products sold to the civilian market continue Bindon’s prescribed practice of including Bible verses in the product serial number. Given the optical nature of the products, all of the Bible verses engraved on Trijicon sights reference illumination.

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The ACOG is part of the Special Operations Peculiar MODification kit (U.S. Navy)

The controversy did not affect Trijicon’s standing as a government contractor. In 2020, Trijicon won a Marine Corps contract to supply its Variable Combat Optical Gunsight as the Corps’ new Squad Combat Optic.


Feature image: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Michael Jefferson Estillomo

Articles

17 surreal photos of the US Navy at night

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Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Airman Zach Byrd directs a CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter assigned to the Purple Foxes of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 364 (Reinforced) during nighttime flight operations aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20). | US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Elizabeth Merriam


The US Navy is the dominant force on the world’s oceans.

Helping to support open trade lanes, tackle piracy, and providing humanitarian missions are all part and parcel of the Navy’s mission in addition to its obvious military role. These massive responsibilities require that the Navy must be always ready to act.

Below, we’ve shared some of our favorite photos of the US Navy operating at night.

Boatswain’s Mate Seaman Clayton Jackson, from Minneapolis, guides an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the “Dragon Whales” of Sea Combat Squadron 28 during a night vertical replenishment aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea.

An MV-22 Osprey assigned to the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 166 takes off during flight operations aboard the amphibious-assault ship USS Boxer.

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US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian Jeffries

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the third Mobile User Objective System satellite for the US Navy creates a light trail as it lifts off, January 20, 2015

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US Navy/United Launch Alliance

Aircraft land aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise during nighttime flight operations in the Arabian Sea.

Weapons Department Sailors on a sponson fire a .50-caliber machine gun and flares during a night gun shoot for tiger-cruise participants watching from the hangar bay aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.

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US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James R. Evans

An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the Swordsmen of Strike Fighter Squadron 32 lands on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

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US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class J. Alexander Delgado

An SH-60 Sea Hawk helicopter is seen from the well deck of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown as the ship transits the East China Sea.

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US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Lindahl

Sailors recover combat rubber raiding craft with Marines assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit during night operations in the well deck of the forward-deployed amphibious-assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard.

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US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Adam D. Wainwright

The Phalanx close-in weapons system is fired aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens during a weapons test at sea.

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US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Paul Kelly

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Kevin Williams directs an F/A-18C Hornet from the Warhawks of Strike Fighter Squadron 97 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis.

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US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth Abbate

A 25 mm machine gun fires during a live-fire exercise aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall.

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US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chelsea Mandello

CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters assigned to the Evil Eyes of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 163 refuel on the flight deck aboard the amphibious-assault ship USS Boxer during night-flight operations.

An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Knighthawks of Strike Fighter Squadron 136 prepares to launch from catapult two during night-flight operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise.

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US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jared M. King

A student at the Aviation Survival Training Center ascends on a hoist during a simulated night exercise as part of an aircrew refresher course in Jacksonville, Florida.

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US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Todd Frantom

Sailors observe from the primary flight-control tower as an F/A-18 Hornet lands aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.

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US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dylan McCord

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Airman Zach Byrd directs a CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter assigned to the Purple Foxes of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364 during nighttime flight operations aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay.

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US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Elizabeth Merriam

An E-2C Hawkeye assigned to Carrier Air Wing 1 sits on the flight deck of USS Enterprise at night. Enterprise is deployed to the US 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater-security cooperation efforts, and support missions as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

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US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brooks B. Patton Jr.

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