6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon - We Are The Mighty
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6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon

What’s not to like about chaplains, right? They hold good conversations, are generally nice, and most keep some extra hygiene products and pogey bait around for troops who wander by the chapel. Oh, they also perform religious services and counsel service members in need.


Some of them have distinguished themselves by going far beyond their earthly call of duty. Despite not being allowed to carry weapons, these six chaplains risked their lives to save others.

1. Chaplain Capodanno ignored his amputation and ran into machine gun fire to recover the wounded.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
Photo: US Navy

Navy Reserve Lt. (Chaplain) Vincent R. Capodonna was in a company command post Sept. 4, 1967, in Vietnam when he learned a platoon was being overrun. He ran to the battle and began delivering last rites and treating the wounded, continuing even when a mortar round took off part of his right hand.

He refused medical treatment and tried to save a wounded corpsman under heavy machine gun fire, but was gunned down in the attempt. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

2. Chaplain Newman gave away his armor, assisted the wounded, and held religious services ahead of the front line.

In March of 1953, Lt. j.g. (Chaplain) Thomas A. Newman, Jr. was supporting series of assaults in Korea. He continuously exposed himself to enemy fire while assisting stretcher bearers. When he came across a Marine whose vest was damaged, Newman gave up his own and continued working on the front line. Throughout the mission, he was known for holding services ahead of the front lines. He received the Silver Star and the Bronze Star.

3. Chaplain Watters repeatedly walked into the enemy’s field of fire to recover wounded soldiers.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
Photo: US Army

Army Reserve Maj. (Chaplain) Charles J. Watters was moving with a company of the 173rd Airborne Brigade when they came under fire from a Vietnamese battalion. During the ensuing battle, he frequently left the outer perimeter to recover wounded soldiers, distribute food, water, and medical supplies, and administer last rites. On one trip to assist the wounded, he was injured and killed. He posthumously received the Medal of Honor.

4. Chaplain Kapaun interrupted an execution after staying with the American wounded despite facing certain capture.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
Army Capt. (Chaplain) Emil Kapaun performs Mass in the field, Oct. 7, 1950. Photo: US Army Col. Raymond Skeehan

When a battalion of cavalry found themselves nearly surrounded and vastly outnumbered by attacking Chinese forces on Nov. 1 1950, they still managed to rebuff the first assault. But when they realized they couldn’t possibly withstand another assault, they ordered the retreat of all able-bodied men.

Army Capt. (Chaplain) Emil J. Kapaun elected to stay with the wounded. The Chinese soon broke through the beleaguered defensive line and began fighting hand-to-hand through the camp. Kapaun found a wounded Chinese officer and convinced him to negotiate the safe surrender of American troops. After Kapaun was captured, he shoved a Chinese soldier preparing to execute an American, saving the American’s life. Kapaun died in captivity and received the Medal of Honor for his actions.

5. Chaplain Liteky evacuated wounded, directed helicopters, and shielded soldiers in Vietnam.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
Capt. (Chaplain) Charles Liteky receives his Medal of Honor from President Lyndon Johnson. Photo: White House Photograph Office

Capt. (Chaplain) Charles J. Liteky was accompanying a company in the 199th Infantry Brigade in Vietnam on Dec. 6, 1967 when the company found itself in a fight with an enemy battalion. Under heavy enemy fire, Liteky began crawling around the battlefield to recover the wounded. He personally carried over 20 men to the helicopters and directed medevac birds as they ferried wounded out. He received the Medal of Honor, but later renounced it.

6. Chaplain Holder searched enemy held territory for wounded and dead Americans.

Soldiers with the 19th Infantry Regiment in Nov. 1950 were desperately looking for soldiers lost during a heavy enemy assault in the Korean War. Volunteer patrols repeatedly pushed to the unit’s former positions to find the wounded and killed Americans. Capt. (Chaplain) J. M. Holder joined many of the patrols and continued searching even while under heavy enemy fire, according to his Silver Star citation.

NOW: 9 American heroes who received France’s Legion of Honor

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The US military took these incredible photos in just one week-long period

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

An F-16 Fighting Falcon, from the 354th Fighter Wing, sits on the flightline on March 25, 2015, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The 354th FW mission is “To prepare aviation forces for combat, deploy Airmen in support of global operations and enable the staging of forces.”

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
Photo: Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel/US Air Force

Twelve Air Force KC-135 Stratotankers, from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron, taxi onto the runway during Exercise Forceful Tiger on Kadena Air Base, Japan, April 1, 2015. During the aerial exercise, the Stratotankers delivered 800,000 pounds of fuel to approximately 50 aircraft.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
Photo: Staff Sgt. Marcus Morris/US Air Force

NAVY

PACIFIC OCEAN (March 30, 2015) An EA-18G Growler from the Wizards of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 133 launches from aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) during carrier qualifications. The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group is undergoing a tailored ship’s training availability and final evolution problem, assessing their ability to conduct combat missions, support functions and survive complex casualty control situations.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ignacio D. Perez/US Navy

WATERS EAST OF THE KOREAN PENINSULA (April 1, 2015) Landing Craft Utility (LCU) 1631, assigned to Naval Beach Unit (NBU) 7, lowers its ramp inside the well deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20). Sailors and Marines from the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (31st MEU) are participating in the Korean Marine Exchange Program with the Republic of Korea marine corps and navy.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Scott Barnes/US Navy

ARMY

A Soldier assigned to 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, re-arms an OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopter during aerial gunnery at Camp Lejeune, N.C. Training Area, March 21, 2015.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
Photo: US Army

Paratroopers assigned to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, practice a forced-entry parachute assault on Malemute drop zone at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, March 18, 2015, as part of a larger tactical field exercise. The Soldiers are part of the Army’s only Pacific airborne brigade with the ability to rapidly deploy worldwide, and are trained to conduct military operations in austere conditions.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
Photo: Alejandro Pena/US Army

MARINE CORPS

SIERRA DEL RATIN, Spain – U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Charles Detz III, a machine-gunner with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa, fires a tracer round from an M240B during a live-fire training exercise in Sierra Del Retin, Spain, March 24, 2015. Marines stationed at Moron Air Base utilized the Spanish training facility to conduct a variety of training missions to maintain their infantryman skills.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
Photo: Lance Cpl. Christopher Mendoza/US Marine Corps

POHANG, South Korea – Republic of Korea and U.S. Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicles use smoke screens during a beach raid during a combined amphibious landing at Pohang, South Korea, March 30, 2015. The Korean Marine Exchange Program demonstrates the unique ability of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit to arrive in theater via amphibious shipping, along with ROK Regimental Landing Team to form an amphibious Combined Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
Photo: Staff Sgt. Joseph Digirolamo/US Marine Corps

COAST GUARD

POHANG, South Korea – Republic of Korea and U.S. Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicles use smoke screens during a beach raid during a combined amphibious landing at Pohang, South Korea, March 30, 2015. The Korean Marine Exchange Program demonstrates the unique ability of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit to arrive in theater via amphibious shipping, along with ROK Regimental Landing Team to form an amphibious Combined Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
Photos: Petty Officer 1st Class Phillip Null/US Coast Guard

POHANG, South Korea – Republic of Korea and U.S. Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicles use smoke screens during a beach raid during a combined amphibious landing at Pohang, South Korea, March 30, 2015. The Korean Marine Exchange Program demonstrates the unique ability of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit to arrive in theater via amphibious shipping, along with ROK Regimental Landing Team to form an amphibious Combined Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
Photo: Petty Officer 3rd Class Logan Kellogg/US Coast Guard

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The first Marine F-35 squadron is gearing up for a Pacific deployment

Since relocating from Yuma, Arizona, to Iwakuni, Japan, in January, the Marine Corps’ first squadron of F-35B Joint Strike Fighters has been hard at work ironing out the basics of operations in the Pacific, from streamlining supply chains to practicing “hot reloads” and rapid ground refueling from a KC-130.


In fall 2017, the unit — Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 — will deploy aboard the amphibious assault ship Wasp with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.

And the squadron is well aware that a sea deployment in the tense Pacific could well entail responding to a regional crisis or a combat contingency, Lt. Col. Richard Rusnok, the squadron’s commanding officer, told Military.com in an interview this month.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
DOD Photo by Levingston M Lewis

“When I was a young guy in [AV-8B] Harrier land in 2003, several MEUs … were in a normal deployment and something happened, and they ended up in a bigger picture,” Rusnok said, referring to MEU-based combat units dispatched to Iraq to assist with ground operations during the invasion. “That’s something that could really happen. Given the small numbers of F-35s that are out there, I think [combatant commanders] are going to look at that and say, ‘I’ve got six airplanes out on the MEU. I could do something with them.’ ”

VFMA-121 has hit milestones not just for the Marine Corps, but for the entire Defense Department since late 2012, when it became the first squadron to activate with the 5th-generation fighter.

The unit’s reception in the Iwakuni community has been warm, Rusnok said. Iwakuni Mayor Yoshihiko Fukuda attended the March change-of-command ceremony for the unit, and an aviation day at the air station drew a crowd of 210,000, with locals surrounding a displayed F-35B “six or seven deep,” he said.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
Photo by USMC

While the squadron has not begun shipboard training, set to happen later this summer, it’s already preparing for the upcoming MEU deployment in practical ways, standing up and proving out logistics capabilities and supply chains for the F-35 in the Pacific.

Working Out Supply Chains

Rusnok noted that, in the space of months, the Joint Strike Fighter program went from being based almost solely in the continental United States to having aircraft in Israel, Italy, and Japan, among other locations.

“That’s such an incredibly complicated, such an exponential growth in geography that it’s almost hard to fathom, if you rewind back several years, to see we’re this far along,” he said. “What we’ve done, I think, at Iwakuni is to break down some of these barriers and find out how that airplane is supportable in the Asia-Pacific region.”

The squadron has worked with the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Program Office and aircraft maker Lockheed Martin to find faster ways to ship gear and replacement parts, and to send broken parts back to the United States to repair. With a global supply chain and a relatively small number of active aircraft, sometimes a plane in need of a part at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona must get it shipped from Iwakuni, and vice versa.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
DOD Photo by Lance Cpl. Emmanuel Necoechea

“Iwakuni is distinctly different from CONUS-based units, not only because of the tyranny of distance in the Pacific region, but we also have a wide variety of places we could potentially go,” Rusnok said. “Expeditionary maintenance logistics are incredibly important to what we do.”

Fighting Skills

The squadron got to hone its fighting skills earlier this month at Northern Edge, a 12-day training exercise at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

The exercise included the Air Force’s 5th-generation F-22 Raptor, as well as numerous fourth-generation fighters, including the F/A-18 Super Hornet, the F-15 Eagle and the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

In the exercise, the largest VFMA-121 has participated in since moving forward to Iwakuni, the F-35s were able to drill on joint operations in the Western Pacific, focusing on aerial interdiction, strike warfare, air-to-air, and offensive counter-air missions.

Rusnok said the F-35’s kill ratio from the exercise was not immediately available, though one of the missions he flew racked up eight kills and zero losses, he said, a fairly indicative statistic.

But he doesn’t particularly like to talk about those stats.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
DOD Photo by Ryan Kierkegaard

“Everyone likes to focus on that air-to-air piece. It robs that statistic out of a bigger scenario,” he said. “You never hear about the surface-to-air kills we got, the enemy systems degraded. There’s a bigger picture.”

The exercise, Rusnok said, also tested the F-35’s ability to create a “God’s-eye view” of the battlespace, with its ability to network and transmit information. Northern Edge showed, he said, that the capability remained strong, even in a dense radio frequency environment that hindered transmissions.

“Where other air systems have problems, we’re able to cut through that so easily,” he said. “Our ability to resist that kind of attack on the electromagnetic spectrum is huge.”

Testing Maintenance Software

The squadron also brought with it a deployable version of its Autonomic Logistics Information System, a software designed to revolutionize F-35 maintenance that has been hampered by production and upgrade delays. A 2016 Government Accountability Office report questioned whether ALIS was truly able to deploy in practice, citing a lack of redundancy in the system.

“Every time we deploy this airplane, we make a decision whether to deploy ALIS or leave it home,” Rusnok said.

In this case, he said, the squadron worked with the Air Force to make necessary modifications to host the ALIS deployable operating unit, hardware that travels with the squadron when connectivity is an issue. Overall, Rusnok said, the system worked well during the exercise, and preparing to use it offered insights on its future use.

“Let’s say we’re going to an Air Force base in Country X — we know those facilities are now compatible with ALIS,” he said. “Maybe we can take advantage of this and put it in our playbook as something we can do, optimize to really cut down on that logistics footprint.”

Now back in Japan, the squadron has already begun early preparations for its upcoming deployment, conducting rapid ground refueling tests using the KC-130 Hercules and practicing “hot reloads” in which the aircraft receives new ordnance while the pilot remains in the cockpit.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
KC-130 Hercules. DOD Photo by Senior Airman Tyler Woodward.

The unit’s pre-deployment preparations will likely provide insights for units that come after. The next F-35B deployment, aboard the amphibious assault ship Essex, will come months after VFMA-121 deploys to the Pacific and is expected to take the Corps’ second F-35 squadron, VFMA-211, to the Middle East.

“Come the fall, we’re going to have all the pieces in place so we can effectively deploy the squadron,” Rusnok said.

Articles

The Air Force seems to have persuaded Congress to pay up for the A-10

A bit of budgetary gamesmanship by the US Air Force earlier this month seems to have paid off, as the House Armed Services Committee has allotted money to keep the vaunted A-10 Thunderbolt in the air, according to Defense News.


The committee chairman’s draft of the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act includes $103 million for an unfunded requirement related to the A-10 that the Air Force included in its budget request.

The $103 million, plus $20 million from this fiscal year, will go toward restarting production of A-10 wings to upgrade 110 of the Air Force’s 283 Thunderbolts.

Defense experts told CNN earlier this month that the Air Force’s inclusion of the A-10 wing money in its unfunded requirements was likely a ploy to get Congress to add money for the venerable Thunderbolt on top of the money apportioned for the service branch’s budget request.

Members of the House Armed Service Committee looked likely to approve money for the A-10, which is popular among both service members and elected officials like committee member Rep. Marth McSally, herself a former A-10 pilot, and Sen. John McCain.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
Photo courtesy of USAF

McSally noted during a hearing earlier this month that the Air Force had committed to retaining just six of its nine squadrons of A-10s and pressed Air Force officials to outline their plans for the fleet.

The Air Force currently plans to keep the A-10 in service over the next five years at minimum, after which point the fleet will need some maintenance. US Air Combat Command chief Gen. Mike Holmes told Defense News this month that without new wings, those 110 A-10s would have to go out of service, though he did say the Air Force had some leeway with its resources.

“When their current wings expire, we have some flexibility in the depot; we have some old wings that can be repaired or rejuvenated to go on,” he told Defense News. “We can work through that, so there’s some flex in there.”

The Air Force has been looking at whether and how to retire the A-10 for some time, amid pushback from elected officials and increased demand for close air support against ISIS, in which the A-10 specializes.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
US A-10s and F-16s | US Air Force photo

The five-year cushion described by Holmes gives the service more time to evaluate the aircraft and whether to replace it with F-35s or another aircraft.

The National Defense Authorization Act only approves a total amount of funding, Defense News notes, which means others in the House and Senate could choose to direct those funds to projects other than the A-10’s refurbishment.

The Air Force’s priorities may change as well.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told Defense News that the service had a defense strategy review in progress, after which the service life of the A-10 — which has been in the air since 1975 — could be extended. Though, Wilson said, the Air Force has a number of platforms that need upgrades.

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Here is how Russia could shoot down a North Korean missile

North Korea’s latest missile test, carried out this past weekend, ended about sixty miles off the Russian coast. Russia is not happy about the test, as one might imagine. In fact, they may get angry. Of course, we should note that Putin has options aside from sending Kim Jong-un a letter telling him how angry Moscow is.


Russia has long pushed the development of surface-to-air missiles, and the Soviets put that system on the map in 1960 by downing the Lockheed U-2 flown by Francis Gary Powers. In one sense, Russia needs to have good air defenses since their fighters tend to come out second-best when tangling with American or Western designs.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
A USAF Lockheed U-2 Dragon Lady. When Russia shot one down in 1960 with a SA-2 Guideline, it proved the surface-to-air missile was a factor in warfare. | U.S. Air Force photo

So, what options does Russia have to shoot down a North Korean missile? Quite a few – and it can be hard to tell them apart.

1. SA-10 Grumble

This is probably the oldest of Russia’s area-defense systems capable of downing a ballistic missile. Like the Patriot, it was initially intended to provide air defense for important targets by shooting down the strike aircraft. It eventually began to cover the tactical ballistic missile threat as well – much as the Patriot made that evolution.

According to GlobalSecurity.org, the baseline SA-10, or S-300PMU, now exported to a number of countries (including Iran), had a maximum range of 124 miles. A navalized version of this missile, the SA-N-6, is used on the Kirov and Slava-class cruisers.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
The SA-10 Grumble system. (DOD image)

2. SA-12 Gladiator

The Russians consider the SA-12 to be a member of the S-300 family. While the S-300 was initially designed to handle planes, the SA-12 was targeted more towards the MGM-52 Lance. Designation-Systems.net notes that the Lance’s W70 warhead could deliver up to a 100-kiloton yield. That could ruin your whole day.

But the development of a conventional cluster munition warhead for the Lance really bothered the Russians, who expected to see a many as 400 Lances launched in the early stages of a war in Europe. GlobalSecurity.org credits the SA-12 with a range of about 62 miles – not as long a reach as the SA-10 but more than enough to take out an incoming missile before it can do harm.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
The SA-12 Gladiator system at an arms expo. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

3. SA-20 Gargoyle

This is an improved version of the SA-10, according to GlobalSecurity.org. It has the same maximum range as the SA-10 version (about 124 miles), but there is a capability to engage faster targets than the baseline SA-10, which usually translates into neutralizing ballistic missiles launched from further away.

The system, also uses several types of missiles — including in the 9M96 family (9M96E1 and 9M96E2) that are smaller than baseline SA-10 missiles. Like the SA-10, there is a naval version, called the SA-N-20, which is on the Pyotr Velikiy and China’s Type 51C destroyers.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
The SA-20 Gargoyle – an improved version of the SA-10. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

4. SA-21 Growler

This is also known as the S-400. The system made headlines when it deployed to Syria after Turkey shot down a Su-24 Fencer jet. The system is often compared to the American Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, but unlike THAAD, it is also capable of hitting aircraft and cruise missiles. GlobalSecurity.org credits the SA-21 with a range of about 250 miles.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
Launch vehicle for the SA-21, which has a range of about 250 miles. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

5. SA-23 Giant

What the SA-20 is to the SA-10, the SA-23 is to the SA-12. This is a substantially improved version of the SA-12, and is intended to deal with longer-range ballistic missiles than the MGM-52 that the SA-12 was intended to take out. The SA-23, also known as the Antey 2500, has a range of 124 miles according to GlobalSecurity.org.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
SA-23 launch vehicles. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Russia’s born-of-necessity work on surface-to-air missiles has lead to some very capable options in air defense. The real scary part is that Russia has been willing to export those systems – and that could mean they will face American pilots sooner rather than later.

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This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes

The Marine Corps is most famous for stripping away one’s individuality at boot camp and spitting recruits out 13 weeks later as Marines, formed into bands of brothers (and sisters).


But those bonds were tested when some of its strongest, toughest competitors battled one other in the second-annual High-Intensity Tactical Training Tactical Athlete Championship. When the dust settled after the fourth day of competition, the top male and female Marines were crowned “Ultimate Tactical Athlete.”

Sgt. Calie Jacobsen chewed up the final obstacle course event and took the top prize among 13 women who competed along 19 men to vie for bragging rights in the Aug. 15-18 service-wide competition at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in San Diego, California.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
A Marine performs pushups with a pack during the 2nd Annual Tactical Athlete Championship aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, Aug. 17. The competition was a part of the Marine Corps’ High Intensity Tactical Training program and tested the strengths and abilities of Marines from different installations around the Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Liah Kitchen/Released)

Jacobsen, 23, a nondestructive inspection technician at Miramar, spent eight weeks preparing for the championship and held the lead going into the final event, the obstacle course. The other women wouldn’t make that easy, but it was her strongest event. “I wasn’t planning on winning. I just wanted to go out there and do good,” she said. “The females definitely were at a higher level than I was expecting to see.”

Jacobsen and the male winner, Cpl. Ethan Mawhinney, each received a championship belt and 53-pound kettle bell.

Mawhinney, a 22-year-old from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, beat 18 other male Marines in his second shot at the service championship. He placed sixth last year in the inaugural contest. “I trained a lot harder for the prelims this year,” said the Marine air-ground task force planner from Camp Allen, Virginia. Winning “was surreal. I had left last year really hoping to take the title.”

HITT is like CrossFit, but for and by Marines. That means using brute strength, endurance and determination to survive tactical battles against fellow Marines on the athletic field, in the water and on the paintball battlefield.

“Competition was tough,” said Lance Cpl. Isaac Namowicz, an admin clerk with Marine Security Guard headquarters and this year’s Quantico Marine Corps Base, Virginia, HITT champ. “There’s a lot of passion.”

Marines traded tips and even encouraged each other during the championship, but each had a mission: Win. “You’re a brother, but at the same time, you are trying to beat everyone,” Mawhinney admitted. That included the male 2015 Ultimate Tactical Athlete, Cpl. Joshua Boozer.

Boozer, ammo tech with 1st Tank Battalion at the Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif., was champ this year at his home base but met his match at Miramar.

“It’s not easy competition,” he said, catching his breath after enduring the “500 Yard Power Shuffle” where competitors did nearly a dozen events including tire flips, box jumps, dummy carry, weighted sled pull and push and a variety of weight lifts — on a sweltering athletic field. It was the longest event, time-wise.

The Marine Corps organized its first HITT competition last year, held at Twentynine Palms. Like last year, Marines learned events’ details at the start of the competition, so they didn’t really know what they’d face.

Ryan Massimo, the Corps’ HITT program manager and event coordinator, said the intent is to include some base-specific events – this year’s “Maneuver Under Fire” took place at Miramar’s paintball park – with physical challenges that reflect the strength and conditioning program. Last year, the run up and down the desert base’s hills while lugging heavy items made “sugar cookies” of a weakened competitor.

This year’s championship included a timed water event, the “Amphibious Tactical Challenge.” Competitors in boots and utes swam multiple laps bearing their pack and rubber rifle, and then they traversed the pool, diving and ducking with a pack under markers before cranking out 10 (men) or 5 (women) pushups wearing the pack. “It did definitely throw a curve ball for some people,” Mawhinney said.

Namowicz said he struggled in the pool.

“I was not expecting all that weight. It felt like cinder blocks,” he said. “My upper body was getting tired.”

At times, he’d talk to himself as he pushed weighted sleds or carried 35-pound ammo cans and 120-pound dummies in the sweltering heat. “I just kept saying, ‘Finish this.’ You have people in the stands pushing you, and it just keeps you motivated,” he said. “You just want to be done.”

Jacobsen hadn’t real plans to become competitive until the Miramar HITT Center coordinator encouraged her to the local HITT combine challenge. “I didn’t know how big it was, that it was Marine Corps-wide,” said the Nebraska native. “We just went in unassuming.”

And she finished first among the women, getting the ticket to compete against other installation winners for the championship.

She’s a HITT convert. The isolation workout she previously did for weightlifting “isn’t applicable to everyday life,” she said. Interval training demands endurance and strength and “is a lot more applicable to everyday life. That’s definitely changed my mindset.”

Thin crowds watched this year’s competition, but Jacobsen said she was glad to see her station commander and sergeant major on the sidelines. “It’s an awesome event, and it needs to be more widely broadcast,” she said.

It’s certainly not as well-known as the military’s most famous tactical-physical competition, the “Best Ranger.”

The 60-hour event at Fort Benning, Georgia, pits Army Rangers against each other in two-man teams to test their skills, including land navigation, small-arms firing, obstacles and, in true Ranger style, parachuting.

Not to be outdone, Marines run the less-known but still grueling and gung-ho “Recon Challenge” at Camp Pendleton, California. After a predawn swim in the Pacific, two-man Marine Recon and Marine Raider (and Navy recon corpsmen) teams run in boots-and-utes with rucksack and weapon, enduring a nonstop series of grueling events in the pool, on the range and along Pendleton’s roller-coaster scrubby hills.

A close parallel to the HITT championship may be the Army’s “Best Warrior” competition, a four-day contest where soldiers complete tactical challenges, written exams and fitness events in more battlefield-like environments. The top 10 soldiers and 10 noncommissioned officers who’ve bested their local competitors will vie for the title at this year’s contest, to be held Sept. 26-Oct. 3 at Fort A.P. Hill, Virgina. The Army National Guard held its own contest on June 22 at Joint Base Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Events included a 14-mile ruck march.

The Air Force’s 1st Air Support Operations Group put airmen through grueling individual challenges and 22 events over a week in July for “Cascade Challenge 2016.”

The contest, held at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska this year included navigating the wild Alaskan forests with body armor and 50-pound rucksack.

The Navy takes a different tack in sailor competition. Its surface fleet of destroyer, cruiser and frigate crews each year showcase their athletic and professional naval skills during “Surface Line Week.” Sailors went toe-to-toe in firefighting drills, valve packing, welding, small-arms shooting, sailing and stretcher-bearer races. Team events include dodgeball and soccer, so fun is the operative word.

East Coast units this year even raced off in a cardboard boat regatta.

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Navy to fire 150Kw ship laser weapon from destroyers, carriers

The U.S. Navy is moving at warp speed to develop lasers with more lethality, precision and power sources as a way to destroy attacking missiles, drones aircraft and other threats.


“We’re doing a lot more with lasers,” Rear Adm. Ronald Boxall, director, Surface Warfare Division, said earlier this month at the annual Surface Naval Association national symposium.

The Navy plans to fire a 150-kw weapon off a test ship within a year, he said. “Then a year later, we’ll have that on a carrier or a destroyer or both.”

Related: The real purpose behind China’s mysterious J-20 combat jet

That’s quite a jump from the kw AN/SEQ-3(XN-1) Laser Weapon System (LaWS), which deployed in 2014 on the amphibious transport dock USS Ponce.

And the kind of power needed to power such a weapon won’t come with a simple flip of a switch.

“The Navy will be looking at ships’ servers to provide three times that much power,” says Donald Klick, director of business development, for DRS Power and Control Technologies. “To be putting out 150 kws, they (the laser systems) will be consuming 450 kws.”

That is more than most currently operational ships are designed to accommodate, at least when they are conducting other tasks. “Few power systems onboard ships can support sustained usage of a high-powered laser without additional energy storage,” noted a recent Naval Postgraduate School paper titled “Power Systems and Energy Storage Modeling for Directed Energy Weapons”.

The paper said, “The new DDG-1000 may have enough electrical energy, but other platforms … may require some type of ‘energy magazine.’ This magazine stores energy for on-demand usage by the laser. It can be made up of batteries, capacitors, or flywheels, and would recharge between laser pulses. The energy magazine should allow for sustained usage against a swarm of targets in an engagement lasting up to twenty minutes.

The ship’s integrated power system, which includes its electric propulsion, helps generate up to 78 megawatts of on-board electrical power, something seen as key to the future when it comes to ship technologies and the application of anticipated future weapons systems such as laser weapons and rail guns. The ship’s electric drive uses two main turbine generations with two auxiliary turbine generators which power up two 35-megawatt advanced induction motors, developers explained.

Ideally, it would charge up as fast as it discharges, allowing for indefinite use (as long as there is ship’s fuel to expend). Low maintenance, high safety, and long lifespan are other desirable characteristics.

DRS Power and Control Technologies is one of the companies which is developing a specialized energy source. “We have enough for well over 100 shots before we go to recharge,” DRS’s Klick said during a break at SNA, pointing out there’s even a mode for continuous recharge. “If you’ve got power this kind of power, you don’t go Winchester.”

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
The Laser Weapon System (LaWS) aboard USS Ponce. | US Navy photo

The DRS system uses a Li-Ion battery subsystem designed and provided by Lithiumstart housed in three distributed steel, welded cabinets that are 48″ x 66″ x 100″ – although they are modular, Klick says, and can be arranged for a tailored fit. Each cabinet contains 18 drawers with 480 Li-Ion phosphate cells in each drawer.

The redundant power modules can provide 465 k each for a total of 930 kw. It can hold that full-power mark for about three minutes, Klick says – although most “lases” are normally of relatively short duration.

An at-sea demonstration of the magazine is slated for 2018, Klick says, mostly with the 150-kw laser being developed by Northrop Grumman for the Office of Naval Research.

The system still must go through rigorous Navy certification testing, Klick says.

He also sees the energy magazine as a candidate for other U.S. military units. “We’re looking at Air Force Special Forces on a C-130. You have to strike a car, but you’re worried about collateral damage. With that pinpoint accuracy, you don’t have to worry about collateral damage. You can just cause a car to stop running. There’s a lot more capability.”

Long-Term Effort

The Navy has already been working with Northrop Grumman on a three-year deal to develop a ship-board laser weapon engineered to quickly incinerate enemy drones, small boats, aircraft, ships and missiles, service officials told Scout Warrior.

“This system employs multi-spectral target detection and track capabilities as well as an advanced off-axis beam director with improved fiber laser technologies to provide extended target engagement ranges. Improvements of high power fiber lasers used to form the laser beam enable the increased power levels and extended range capabilities. Lessons learned, operating procedures, updated hardware and software derived from previous systems will be incorporated in this demonstration,” Dr. Tom Beutner, director of the Air Warfare and Weapons branch, Office of Naval Research, told Scout Warrior in a written statement at the time of the contract announcement.

A previously established 12-month, $53-million deal between Northrop and the Office of Naval Research will develop a Laser Weapon System Demonstrator through three phases; the phases include an initial design phase, ground-testing phase and then weapons testing at sea aboard a Navy Self Defense test ship, a Northrop statement said.

“The company will design, produce, integrate, and support the shipboard testing of a 150-kilowatt-class solid state (electric) laser weapon system,” the Northrop statement added. “The contract could grow to a total value of $91 million over 34 months if ONR exercises all of its contract options.”

Office of Naval Research officials told Scout Warrior an aim of the developmental program is to engineer a prototype weapons for further analysis.

“The possibilities can become integrated prototypes — and the prototypes become reality when they become acquisition programs,” an ONR official said.

It is not yet clear when this weapon might be operational but the intention seems to be to arm surface ships such as destroyers, cruisers and possibly even carriers or an LCS with inexpensive offensive or defensive laser weapons technology.

“It is way too early to determine if this system will ever become operational. Northrop Grumman has been funded to set-up a demo to “demonstrate” the capabilities to senior leadership, who will then determine whether it is an asset worth further funding and turning into a program of record,” a Navy official told Scout Warrior.

Both Navy and Northrop Grumman officials often talk about the cost advantages of firing laser weapons to incinerate incoming enemy attacks or destroy enemy targets without having to expend an interceptor missile worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Navy officials describe this as getting ahead of the cost curve.

“For about the price of a gallon of diesel fuel per shot, we’re offering the Navy a high-precision defensive approach that will protect not only its sailors, but also its wallet,” said Guy Renard, director and program manager, directed energy, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.

As mentioned, the Navy has already deployed one laser system, called the Laser Weapons System, or LaWS, which has been operational for months.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
A rendering of the weapon system in action. | Boeing

LaWS uses heat energy from lasers to disable or destroy targets fast, slow, stationary and moving targets. The system has successfully incinerated UAVs and other targets in tests shots, and has been operational aboard an amphibious transport dock in the Persian Gulf, the USS Ponce.

The scalable weapon is designed to destroy threats for about $59-cents per shot, an amount that is exponentially lower that the hundreds of thousands or millions needed to fire an interceptor missile such as the Standard Missile-2, Navy officials explained.

While at sea, sailors have been using the LaWS for targeting and training exercises every day and the weapon has even been used to disable and destroy some targets, service officials said.

Navy sailors and engineers have discovered some unanticipated intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance value from the laser weapons system by using its long-range telescope to scan for targets as well, Navy officials said.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) during first at-sea tests and trials in the Atlantic. | U.S. Navy

Laser weapons are expected to figure prominently in the Navy’s future plans in several respects. New Navy platforms such as the high-tech destroyer, the DDG 1000 or USS Zumwalt, is engineered with an electric drive propulsion system and extra on-board electrical power called an Integraed Power System. This system is in part designed to power-up ship electrical systems and accommodate emerging future weapons systems such as lasers and rail guns.

“Laser weapons provide deep magazines, low cost per shot, and precision engagement capabilities with variable effects that range from dazzling to structural defeat against asymmetric threats that are facing the US Naval force,”  Beutner added.

In addition, laser weapons integrate fully into the Navy’s emerging “distributed lethality” strategy aimed at better arming the surface fleet with a wide array of offensive and defensive weapons.

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USS Mahan fires warning shots at Iranian vessels

The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG 72) fired warning shots at a group of Iranian vessels in the Persian Gulf on Jan. 8. The incident comes less than two weeks before President-elect Donald Trump takes office.


According to Reuters, the shots were fired after the Iranian vessels ignored requests by radio to slow down as they approached the American warship and came within 900 yards.

Similar harassment took place this past summer, with Iranian speedboats making close passes to USS Nitze (DDG 94) and USS Squall (PC 7), which also fired warning shots.

Iran also threatened U.S. Navy aircraft in September. In November, Iranian speedboats pointed weapons at a U.S. Navy helicopter.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
The Flight II Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG 72). (U.S. Navy photo)

Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen fired on U.S. Navy vessels using Iranian-built Noor anti-ship missiles this past October. The destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) defeated three attacks in the space of a week, and USS Nitze carried out a retaliatory strike on radar sites. This past September, while campaigning for the White House, Trump vowed that Iranian vessels harassing U.S. Navy forces would be “shot out of the water.”

The Iranian vessels were described in the Reuters report as “fast attack vessels.” These vessels, sometimes called “Boghammers,” are speedboats with a variety of weapons, including rocket launchers and heavy machine guns.

According to “Combat Fleets of the World,” Iran has over 180 of these vessels. During the Iran-Iraq War, they were used to attack oil tankers.

A July, 1988 skirmish between those speedboats and the cruiser USS Vincennes and the frigates USS Sides and USS Elmer Montgomery lead to the downing of an Airbus passenger jet.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
Iranian fast-attack boats during a naval exercise in 2015. | Wikimedia photo by Sayyed Shahaboddin Vajedi

The USS Mahan is the first of seven Flight II Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. These ships have a five-inch gun, a 29-cell Mk 41 VLS forward, a 61-cell Mk 41 VLS aft, Mk 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems, and two quad Mk 141 launchers for the RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile.

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The 8 best war cries in military history

When fighting in close quarters combat, the posture which gives a warrior the best advantage is a necessary advantage. What better way to intimidate an enemy than throwing him off balance with an aggressive auditory clash to make him quake in his boots?


6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
Even if your enemy is yoga.

Yelling as foreplay to a physical altercation is as old as War itself. Persian warriors in the epic Shahnameh had voices “like an enraged elephant” and howled “like a drum beat.” In the Iliad, one character is literally named “Diomedes of the Loud War Cry.”

It’s now scientifically proven that screaming during physical activity increases energy and power and anecdotal evidence throughout history shows it has a significant effect on both sides of a battle. With that in mind, here are history’s most legendary battle cries.

1. “Uukhai!” – The Mongols

The Mongols controlled one of the largest empires in history, they were really good at winning battles, and even better at just killing people. They defy expectation. The Mongol war cry was a something that amounted to both a cheer and a prayer, like “Amen” mixed with “Hooray.”

Mongol War cries And also “murder.”

2. “Tulta munille!” – Finland

The Finns were notoriously aggressive against the equally anti-Semitic Russians and this battle cry, meaning “Fire at their balls!” was representative of that zeal. For the record, Finland fielded many Jewish troops and had the only field Synagogues on the entire Eastern Front.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
See: Finnish Ball Rifle

Finland calls World War II the “Continuation War” because it was already at war with the Soviet Union well before the greater European war broke out in 1940. Finland fought with Nazi Germany against the Russians, but was never a member of the Axis Tripartite Pact.

3. “Currahee” – U.S. Army 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne

Mount Currahee looms like Mordor over Camp Toccoa, Georgia. The 1,740-foot high foothill is named after the Cherokee word for “Stands Alone,” which would make the Airborne troopers’ use of this phrase an almost self-fulfilling prophesy (see: Battered Bastards of Bastogne).

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
Easy Company at Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest residence. You could live to be 1,000 years old and still not be this cool.

As part of their training, the Paratroopers of the 101st would hike and run up and down the hill. When it came to jumping into combat, the rest of the 101st shouted “Geronimo” while Col. Robert Sink had his regiment shout “Currahee” to make them stand out.

4. “Uurah!” – Soviet Union

A kind of “Hooray,” Russian troops shouted this in battle for more than 300 years. Where it originated is of debate, likely borrowed from the Ottoman Empire’s “Vur Ha!” (meaning “Strike”). Russians definitely made it their own. Even as Imperial Russia gave way to the Soviet Union, the Red Army was still capable of an intimidating shout as they turned the Nazi Wehrmacht back from the Soviet frontier.

5. Deseperta Ferro! – Almogavars (Catholic Spain)

Catholic troops reconquering the Iberian Peninsula (where Spain and Portugal are today) from the Muslim Moors shouted this Catalan (the language of the area in and around Barcelona) phrase. It translates to the badass “Awaken the Iron!” – which they shouted as they beat their swords on rocks in predawn raids, to keep the rust off them.

It’s is probably pretty intimidating to the enemy as they watched thousands of Spanish troops who came to kill them shout AWAKEN THE IRON! over and over as their swords created sparks from hitting rocks.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
The Middle Ages were an angry, bearded time.

6. “Tenno Heika Banzai” – Japan

Roughly translated to “Long Live the Emperor,” this was shouted by Japanese soldiers rushing into battle (and civilians as an expression of joy). It became notorious in World War II’s Pacific Theater, when the Japanese would mount their fearsome “Banzai Charges,” human wave attacks they made as final efforts to die with honor.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
Actual frame of Japanese troops in a Banzai charge at Guadalcanal… with a sword.

The Japanese Kamikaze pilot is said to have shouted this while flying into U.S. warships as well. The act itself stems from the Bushido tradition of the Samurai —  that it is better to die than to accept a defeat.

7. The Rebel Yell – Confederate States of America

Union Army veteran and journalist Ambrose Bierce called it “the ugliest sound that any mortal ever heard—even a mortal exhausted and unnerved by two days of hard fighting, without sleep, without rest, without food and without hope.”

Historian Shelby Foote said any Union soldier who heard it and said he wasn’t scared by it had probably never actually heard it. Confederate forces  let out this banshee scream during engagements to unnerve the enemy, and were even judged by their officers on how good their Rebel Yell was.

8. “Dieu et Mon Droit” – England

King Edward III shouted this French phrase (“God and My Right”) at the 1346 Battle of Crecy, one of three decisive battle of the Hundred Years War. This battle is known as the beginning of the end of the Age of Chivalry, as infantry became the focus of the English Army (and armed peasants would kill knights who became incapacitated during the battle). “Dieu et Mon Droit” is now the motto of the English Monarchy and appears on the Royal Coat of Arms.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon

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Here are the US troops that are fighting on the ground (and in the air) for Mosul

Iraqi security forces began the effort to liberate the northern Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Oct. 17, with a combined force of Kurdish Peshmerga to the east aided by coalition troops from Germany, Canada and the U.S.


Obama Administration officials have admitted that American troops are “in harm’s way” despite being in “support” roles. So, which units are actually there?

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
A Marine assigned to Task Force Taqaddum (TF TQ) escorts Command Sgt. Maj. Benjamin Jones, Command Sgt. Maj. of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, during his visit to Al Taqaddum Air Base, Iraq, September 2016. The mission of Operation Inherent Resolve is to defeat Da’esh in Iraq and Syria by supporting the Government of Iraq with trainers, advisors and fire support, to include aerial strikes and artillery fire. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ethan Hutchinson/Released)

Perhaps the most obvious are the Air Force, Navy, and Marine aviation units flying missions against ISIS. One notable unit taking part is the Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group. The carrier’s air wing includes two squadrons of F/A-18E Super Hornets (VFA-86 “Sidewinders” and VFA-105 “Gunslingers”), one of F/A-18C Hornets (VFA-131 “Wildcats”), and one of F/A-18F Super Hornets (VFA-32 “Swordsmen”).

Other aircraft have taken part, including the A-10 Thunderbolt (courtesy of the 190th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, 124th Fighter Wing), the B-52H Stratofortress (From the 96th Expeditionary Bomber Squadron), and the F-15E Strike Eagle (from the 4th Fighter Wing).

On the ground, the major United States forces have been the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command, usually consisting of a medium tilt-rotor squadron with MV-22 Ospreys and a company of Marines. These units also can have attached air assets, including the V-22 Osprey, the AV-8B+ Harrier, and the AH-1Z Viper.

A battalion from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), the Screaming Eagles, is also on the ground, slated to be replaced by troops from the 1st Infantry Division. The United States Army has also sent AH-64 Apache gunships to the theater.

Naturally, there are also special operations forces, including the Green Berets, SEALs and British SAS. It can also be safely assumed that Air Force Combat Controllers are also on the scene.

The Green Berets will likely be helping Iraqi security forces, advising Peshmerga troops and helping direct coalition air support. These units have in the past also carried out direct action missions. In 2015, one such mission, a prison break, lead to one of three American KIAs — a member of the United States Army’s Special Forces Operational Detachment – Delta, better known as Delta Force, Master Sergeant Joseph Wheeler.

The other two American KIAs are Special Warfare Operator First Class Charles Keating IV, who was killed in a firefight with ISIS thugs, and Marine Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin, who was killed in a rocket attack on a base used by coalition forces.

The fight for Mosul is continuing, with the word at this writing indicating that the Iraqi advance has slowed.

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Here’s how bad the Air Force’s pilot shortage really is

Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II is commander of Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.


Our nation expects a great deal from its military, but it comes at a cost. Air Mobility Command — the organization responsible for airlift, aerial refueling, aeromedical evacuation, and enroute support — is constantly faced with challenges testing the resilience of our airmen.

Whether airdropping combat supplies, fueling fighters and bombers on the way to destroy terrorist camps, or aiding natural disaster victims around the world, Mobility airmen perform the mission with professionalism and at great personal risk and sacrifice.

I’m painfully aware our airmen have been subject to high operations demand for quite some time. Most are tired, as are their families. They do what we ask them to do, and they are always there, conducting the mission professionally, selflessly and with great effect.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
Capt. Michael Kerschbaum, a KC-135 Stratotanker pilot and 1st Lt. Renn Nishimoto, a pilot with the 203rd Air Refueling Squadron, taxi a KC-135 to the runway at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. | U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Allen

However, a concern is how much longer they can sustain the pace and whether they will leave our Air Force.

The manning shortage extends beyond fighter pilots. What happens when we face a potential exodus of mobility skill and talent? Consider approximately 1,600 mobility pilots are eligible to leave the military in the next four-plus years. We are already more than 300 total force mobility pilots short of what we need today.

Commercial airlines are projected to be short 16,000 pilots by 2020. The math demonstrates the challenge is not looming, it is here. The time to find solutions is now.

A Pilot Shortage

This is a national problem with real security implications. As a result of new safety regulations, increased experience requirements, and attrition through commercial airline pilot retirement, experienced aviators are in high demand.

Mobility pilots are some of the best in the world and represent a lucrative talent pool for the civilian industry. As a natural feeder system for the airlines, we lose talent as civilian airlines’ needs increase.

This comes at a time when our airmen are feeling the strain. Consider aerial refueling tanker pilots as an example. These professionals flew nearly 31,000 tanker missions in support of operations in Iraq and Syria alone. We ask them to do this with a 60-year-old KC-135 Stratotanker or vintage KC-10 Extender aircraft, relying on the strong backs and tremendous pride and skill of our maintainers.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
An F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, assigned to Detachment 1, 138th Fighter Wing, dons his helmet in preparation of a barnstorming performance for reporters, Feb. 1, 2017, in Houston. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Tech. Sgt. Drew A. Egnoske)

Many yearn for newer equipment; consistent work schedules; family, personal time; and a homestead. Many believe that commercial pilot life offers the potential to achieve balance.

The need for skilled military and civilian pilots will put us in an unfortunate and natural competition with our industry partners — not a good position for either party.

Pilots departing is a problem, but if they don’t consider serving in the Reserves and Guard, that problem becomes a crisis. If our airmen don’t continue to serve with our total force partners, the active force will face additional strain.

Productive dialogue can help us find great opportunities amidst the challenges, but it requires industry, academia, and airman ingenuity.

Recently, I sat down with some of our airline partners to begin this discussion, and I am confident that this is a start toward better understanding and a collaborative approach to improving circumstances.

We are focused not only on the pilot shortage challenges, but also addressing aircraft maintainer shortages.

Air Mobility Command never fails to deliver rapid global mobility anywhere, anytime. The mobility mission is similar to an offensive line in football. When the capability isn’t there, everyone notices, and scoring — or, in our case, striking a target, delivering relief or helping to save a life — wouldn’t occur.

The value of mobility airmen to national defense is critical.

This issue calls for a national dialogue and understanding before strain becomes breakage, and national objectives and security are at risk.

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This Red Flag is going to be incredible

F-22 Raptor fighter jets from Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, have joined combat air forces from across the nation for the joint, full-spectrum readiness exercise Red Flag 17-3.


Ten F-22s from the 95th Fighter Squadron are joining the exercise alongside Marine Corps F-35B and Air Force F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighters.

This is a first in Red Flag history that both variants of F-35 will take part in the exercise, officials said. The F-35B is the short-takeoff and vertical-landing version of the jet, and the F-35A has conventional takeoff and landing capabilities.

Other aircraft such as B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit bombers, E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control aircraft, F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters, and more will also be featured and will each play an important role in the exercise theater, officials said.

The F-22 is designed to project air dominance rapidly and at great distances.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
USAF photo by Master Sgt. Burt Traynor

“We’re primarily an escort role,” said Air Force Capt. Brady Amack, 95th Fighter Squadron pilot. “We integrate with other aircraft, whether they’re fourth or fifth generation, and ensure they’re able to execute their mission. The amount of experience we get is huge. There is no other area, really, where we can train with so many different types of aircraft in such a large area.”

Higher Level of Training

By gathering these diverse units together, the exercise facilitates readiness training on a higher level, as each unit rings specific expertise and talents to the table, officials said. Red Flag teaches them to work together as they would in the field, possibly for the first time, before facing an actual threat, they added.

Red Flag 17-3 is exclusively reserved for U.S. military forces, which allows for specific training when coordinating fifth-generation assets, exercise officials noted, adding that Tyndall’s Raptors will be able to learn from working with both F-35 units taking part.

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
Photo courtesy of US Navy

Both aircrafts’ stealth capabilities, advanced avionics, communication and sensory capabilities help augment the capabilities of the other aircraft, Amack said.
“Working with the F-35s brings a different skill set to the fifth-generation world,” he added. “Having a more diverse group of low-observable assets has allowed us to do great things.”

The mission of the Red Flag exercise overall is to maximize the combat readiness and survivability of participants by providing a realistic training environment and a preflight and post-flight training forum that encourages a free exchange of ideas.

The 95th Fighter Squadron benefits by learning how to completely integrate into multi-aircraft units and gaining experience from intense sorties, officials said.

“Since Red Flag 17-3, in particular, is U.S. only, we get to take the opportunity to take things to the next level,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Mark Sadler, 414th Combat Training Squadron commander.

“This Red Flag alone gives us our singular largest fifth-generation footprint, which allows us to learn as we continue to build new ideas. As we look to be innovative and solve problems, we’ll only increase our readiness by getting smarter as a force and as joint warfighters.”
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Israel recently buried Ran Ronen, an ace few ever heard of

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


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

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
An Israeli Mirage III at a museum. Giora Epstein scored the first of his 17 kills, a Su-7, in a Mirage III. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

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

6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon
A U.S. Air Force McDonnell Douglas EF-4C Phantom II aircraft (s/n 63-7474) of the 67th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 18th Tactical Fighter Wing over North Vietnam in December 1972. | U.S. Air Force photo

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

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