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Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos

The personnel chiefs for the Navyand Marine Corps revealed Tuesday that both services are considering updating their policies to require mandatory processing for administrative separation for troops found to have engaged in abusive social media activity, a move that would make online violations akin to drug use and sexual assault.


Lt. Gen. Mark Brilakis, Marine Corps deputy commandant for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, told Military.com that a task force organized to address the aftermath of a social media scandal implicating Marines is considering the option.

Related: Why we need chivalry in the Marine Corps

The scandal centers on a private Facebook page called Marines United, where hundreds of active-duty troops and reservists apparently viewed and exchanged nude and compromising photos of female service members without their consent. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service probe into the illicit activity has since expanded beyond the page to other groups and users, NCIS officials said last week.

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos
Marines in Helmand province, Afghanistan. | US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Mark Fayloga

“There is mandatory processing for administrative separation in a number of different cases. Use of drugs requires mandatory administrative processing, sexual harassment requires mandatory administrative processing, sexual assault requires mandatory administrative processing,” Brilakis said, following a congressional hearing on military social media policies on Capitol Hill.

“We are considering whether events wrapped up in Marines United, those things, would rise to the level where the commandant would recommend or direct me to begin mandatory administrative processing for separation,” he said.

Processing does not guarantee that an individual will be separated from the service, but it does direct that the relevant commander begin a review, and an administrative board review the case of the service member in question. Such a move would require a change to the Marine Corps separations manual, Brilakis said.

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos
The amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima sails past the Statue of Liberty as it enters New York Harbor, November 10, 2016, before Veterans Week NYC 2016, which honors the service of all US veterans. About 1,000 sailors and more than 100 Marines from the ship planned to participate in events throughout the city, including the Veterans Day parade. | US Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Carla Giglio

The Navy, which organized a senior leader working group in the wake of the scandal, is considering a similar step, Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke told the House Armed Services subcommittee on personnel Tuesday.

“We are reviewing the [Uniform Code of Military Justice] and Navy policy governing mandatory administrative separation to ensure they are adequate,” he said.

The fact that both services are considering such a move, reserved for violations for which the military has a zero-tolerance policy, underscores how seriously the military is now addressing the problem of social media harassment and the pressure from lawmakers to produce results fast.

Also read: Mattis makes a statement about Marine ‘misconduct’

Similar policies implemented in the 1980s to combat drug use in the services resulted in a huge reduction. According to Defense Department statistics, 47 percent of troops were found to have used drugs in 1973, compared to just 3 percent by 1995. More recently, the military has worked to apply the same approach to sexual harassment and assault, though the results to date have been more muted.

The policy reviews come as multiple lawmakers express outrage at service members’ alleged behavior and call for decisive action.

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, a freshman Democrat from New Hampshire, called on the military to boot offenders, reading aloud from an enlistment document that states troops will be subject to separation if their behavior falls short of military standards.

“I don’t know why we have to debate and you tell them at the very beginning and you sign off saying their behaviors are unacceptable,” she said. “I don’t understand why we have to then pursue many various avenues. Do you still have the power to throw them out if it’s very clear they can’t do this?”

Brilakis, however, emphasized that everyone in uniform deserves due process and will continue to receive it.

“Whether it be through an administrative procedure or a military justice procedure, there are processes,” he said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Military prepared to counter Russia and China

Russia and China are near-peer competitors and the United States must benchmark military capabilities against these possible threats, Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford said at Duke University on Nov. 5, 2018.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told a standing room only audience that the two-plus-three strategy gives civilian and military leaders the framework they need to prioritize personnel and resources.

The rise of China and Russia represent the return of great power competition and the American military must respond to this challenge. But the United States still is concerned about North Korea, Iran and violent extremism, he said.


This does not limit officials, he said. The best guess is that these threats are most likely, but there could be other threats that rise and must be addressed.

Preparing against challenges

“Our assumption is if we prepare against one or some combination of those challenges, then we’ll have the right inventory of capabilities to deal with the unexpected,” the general said. “But clearly, as we do our planning we think of the unexpected in addition to these five challenges.”

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks with Peter Feaver, a professor of political science and public policy at Duke University, during a discussion with students in Duke’s Program in American Grand Strategy in Durham, N.C., Nov. 5, 2018.

(DOD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

He said ensuring overmatch against these threats is not easy and the sources of strength for the U.S. military is what nations concentrate their capabilities on. In the U.S. case, one source of strength is the network of allies and friends around the world. This helps another source of strength and that is the ability to deploy forces and capabilities anywhere in the world and then sustain that effort.

Both Russia and China have developed capabilities that would negate some of these advantages, the chairman said. Russia is doing its level best to chip away at the North Atlantic alliance. China is trying to separate the United States from allies in the Pacific region, like Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines.

What complicates this is two new domains of defense: space and cyberspace. Russia and China are developing combat capabilities in both domains and the United States has to defend these areas, the general said.

This is not a return to the Cold War, Dunford told Peter Feaver, a professor of political science and the founder of the Duke Program on American Grand Strategy. “Competition doesn’t have to be conflict,” the general said, “but we now have two states that actually … can challenge our ability to project power and challenge us in all domains.”

This does not mean that Russia or China are enemies of the United States, Dunford said, and he stressed that American diplomats need to continue engaging the countries. But, as a military leader, the chairman said he has to deal with capabilities, not intents.

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at Duke University, during a discussion with students in Duke’s Program in American Grand Strategy in Durham, N.C., Nov. 5, 2018.

(DOD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

In Europe he tells his Russian counterpart that “what you’re seeing in our posture, what you’re seeing the increased forces that we have put in Europe, what you’re seeing in the path of capability development that we are on is in order to deter a conflict, not to fight,” the general said.

These developments are “largely reacting to what we have seen over the last 10 years, which is a significant increase in the development of [Russian] maritime capability, modernizing their nuclear enterprise, cyberspace, and space capabilities and in the land domain,” he said.

Dunford added, “Over all domains, Russia has made a concerted effort to increase their capabilities, and we are responding to them.”

The challenges are different in the Indo-Pacific region, he said. The U.S. goal is to follow the rule of law that has benefitted the region since the end of World War II. The U.S. government would like to see China acquiescing to these rules and not trying to replace them.

“In order for us to have a free and open Indo-Pacific, in order to have China comply with international law and standards as they exist or seek to change them in a legitimate venue, what it will take is a collected multilateral response,” Dunford said. “One of the things we work on very hard is to develop a group of like-minded nations that will seek to have a coherent, collective response to violations of international law.”

He added, “To the extent that we are able to do that, we will be able to manage the situation in the Pacific peacefully.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Defense. Follow @DeptofDefense on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The ‘bizarre story’ of how Russia’s most advanced air defense system was ‘lost’

China became the first foreign buyer of Russia’s S-400 in 2014, but the delivery of the air-defense system, considered one of the most advanced the world, was marred when a ship carrying it encountered a storm in early 2018.

According to the CEO of Russian defense firm Rostec, the components damaged were more important than first known.

At the IDEX defense conference in the United Arab Emirates February 2019, Sergey Chemezov said that the gear damaged in the storm included the 40N6E, which is the export version of S-400’s 40N6 missile, according to Stephen Trimble, defense editor at Aviation Week.


The 40N6 is the longest-range interceptor of the S-400’s three missiles. The export version of the missile can reach just under 400 kilometers, or roughly 250 miles. The system also comes with a command-and-control system, a radar system, and a launcher.

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos

Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system.

(Flickr photo by Dmitriy Fomin)

While the delivery of the S-400 to China had previously been confirmed, whether the 40N6E was included was not known for sure, which led Trimble to ask Chemezov about it, expecting to get a standard “no comment,” he said on the most recent episode of Aviation Week’s Check 6 podcast.

“He not only confirmed it. He also told us this sort of bizarre story about the fate that befell [the missile] on its way … to China,” Trimble said.

Chemezov made clear that the missiles “were on a ship, and the ship got hit by a bad storm, and … ultimately all the missiles were lost. He didn’t explain exactly how they were lost, but he said that they all have to be replaced and that they are now building the replacements for the missile, because of either damage sustained in the storm, or they were just destroyed in the storm somehow.”

Reports of the damage emerged not long after the delivery started in early January 2018.

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos

An S-400 radar unit.

(Russian Ministry of Defense)

Maritime trackers monitoring ships’ automatic identification systems did notice a vessel that left St. Petersburg with an AIS code indicating it had explosives aboard, Trimble said. That ship hit a storm in the English Channel and returned to port.

Russian state media outlet Tass said in January 2019 that “part of the equipment included in the first shipment” to China had been “damaged by a storm and returned to Russia.”

Around the same time, Russian news agency RIA quoted the spokeswoman for Russia’s military and technical cooperation service as saying parts of the S-400 systems on their way to China were damaged in a storm at sea. The spokeswoman described the components as “secondary” without giving any details.

But the S-400’s missiles are an essential component — the 40N6 even more so.

The revelation “was a very surprising development in this story of this export and completely unexpected,” Trimble said. “I can’t really think of something like this ever happening before, because it’s not just any missile. This is probably one of the most important, strategically, weapon systems in the world right now, and this is the most powerful effector, or missile, within that system.”

“Those missiles now may be at the bottom of the English Channel, which is just an incredible twist in the whole story,” Trimble added.

In May 2018, China received its first regimental set of the S-400 when the third and final ship arrived with “the equipment not damaged during a December storm in the English Channel and the damaged equipment after repairs,” a diplomatic source told Tass at the time.

An S-400 regiment consists of two battalions. Each battalion has two batteries. A standard battery has four transporter erector launchers, each with four launch tubes, as well as fire-control radar systems and a command module. Reports about how many regimental sets China was to get vary from two to six.

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos

Russian S-400 air-defense missile systems.

The South China Morning Post said in the final days of December 2018 that the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force tested the S-400 in November, shooting down a “simulated ballistic target” moving at the supersonic speed of nearly 2 miles a second at a range of nearly 150 miles.

The S-400 and Russia’s efforts to sell it abroad have become a point of contention with the US.

In September 2018, the US hit China with sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, which is meant to punish Russia over its interventions abroad and interference in the 2016 US election.

But other US allies have expressed interest in the S-400, complicating matters for Washington. Despite warnings that the US would rescind F-35 deliveries and that the system wouldn’t work with NATO weapons, Turkey has forged ahead with an S-400 buy, saying in February 2018 that the purchase was a done deal.

India has also agreed to buy the S-400, though Chemezov said New Delhi has yet to make an advance payment, which “was a bit of a surprise,” Trimble said. Buying the S-400 could open India to US sanctions, though there is a wavier process in the CAATSA legislation that could be applied to Delhi.

And despite the Trump administration’s wooing of Saudi Arabia — which includes White House senior adviser Jared Kushner personally negotiating a discount with the Lockheed Martin CEO for the firm’s Terminal High Altitude Air Defense system — the Kingdom is reportedly still interested in the S-400.

“Chemezov refused to talk about the S-400 and Saudi Arabia, and he was very blunt about why,” Trimble said. “He said that if we talk about these kinds of deals, that gets our potential customers in a lot of trouble with the US government, so what we’re doing is negotiating silently, which isn’t a very silent way of negotiating, but that was how he put it.”

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

Articles

This is the story behind a Delta Force operator’s heroism in ISIS battle

The first American service member to die while fighting ISIS “fearlessly exposed himself” to heavy small arms fire during a raid on a militant prison complex in October 2015, according to the citation for his Silver Star award.


The award for Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler, a team leader with the Army’s elite Delta Force, was released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from Business Insider.

The Army released few details of the circumstances of Wheeler’s death in 2015, and the Pentagon’s website listing valor awards was quietly updated to reflect a Silver Star award, which he received posthumously the following month.

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos
Master Sergeant Joshua L. Wheeler’s award. Image courtesy of DoD.

Wheeler, 39, was part of a raid at a prison in Hawijah, Iraq on Oct. 22, 2015 that was carried out by US-backed Kurdish forces. The mission saved roughly 70 prisoners the US feared would be executed the next day, according to The Washington Post.

Though the citation gives a broad overview of Wheeler’s heroism, it does not delve into specifics. Still, it said, “Wheeler fearlessly exposed himself to heavy small arms fire from barricaded enemy positions. His selfless actions were critical in achieving the initiative during the most dangerous portion of the raid.”

It also said that Wheeler’s actions saved the lives of the partner force, better known as the Kurdish Peshmerga. He was killed at some point during the raid by small arms fire. Three Kurdish soldiers were wounded.

“This is someone who saw the team that he was advising and assisting coming under attack,” then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter told reporters the day after his death. “And he rushed to … to help them and made it possible for them to be effective. And in doing that, lost his own life. That’s why I’m proud of him.”

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos
Master Sergeant Joshua L. Wheeler’s citation. Image courtesy of DoD.

Wheeler was the first US service member killed in action against the self-proclaimed Islamic State, challenging the narrative put forth by the Obama administration that American troops would not be put on the ground in Iraq or Syria.

The 20-year Army veteran had deployed a whopping 14 times over his career, first as a Ranger, then later as a Special Forces soldier assigned to US Special Operations Command. In addition to receiving the Silver Star and Purple Heart after his death, Wheeler was the recipient of 11 Bronze Star medals — four for valor in combat — the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal (also for valor), and many others.

So far, there have been 10 US deaths attributed to hostile fire in the campaign against ISIS, known as Operation Inherent Resolve. Another 48 troops have been wounded in action.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

Preserving liberty while harnessing the power of data in the age of COVID-19

As COVID-19 spreads across the planet, humanity faces a difficult and deadly trial. Here in the U.S., the best science available predicts hundreds of thousands of Americans will contract the disease. Government officials have already reported that thousands of patients with COVID-19 have died and projected that between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans will eventually die from the virus.

Facing this grim diagnosis will bring out the best in the American people. Character is displayed under pressure. We’re under pressure, and America’s character is strong. We have the discipline and determination to do what is right for our families and communities, even when it is difficult. We have the caring and compassion to help those who are suffering. We have ingenious entrepreneurs and innovative tools – including the ability to gather and process large amounts of data.


And we have the wisdom to know that our character must guide how we use tools, including data-gathering tools, to help us overcome this monumental challenge.

Countries around the world are combatting the spread of coronavirus by collecting and using the location of peoples’ smartphones. This government use of location data – i.e., surveillance – appears to be a powerful tool in the fight against the disease, but also raises a host of privacy concerns. The U.S. shouldn’t blindly copy other countries’ practices. Instead, we can and should find ways to harness the power of big data to protect public health while also protecting the rights of all Americans.

Governments use location data to combat COVID-19 in two ways. They use it for “contact tracing,” to identify all the people a sick person has encountered. Most do this by assembling a massive database of the movements of every person, sick or healthy. South Korea has been especially aggressive on this front, collecting data from infected citizens’ credit cards, GPS systems, and cellphones to determine their location and interactions with other citizens. Singapore has created an app that collects information about nearby phones over Bluetooth, focusing on who the user has been near, rather than where. No comprehensive database of locations is required.

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos

The other purpose for which countries are using location data is to enforce social distancing or quarantine requirements. The South Korean government mandates that quarantined individuals download an app that tracks their location, enabling the government to detect when individuals break their quarantine restrictions. Governments in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Russia also use smartphone apps, geofencing, and facial-recognition technology to enforce quarantine restrictions on individuals.

While we don’t have comprehensive data on the effectiveness of these various approaches, it does appear that digital surveillance can help governments “flatten the curve” and slow the spread of COVID-19.

But when governments use these tools, they do so at the cost of their citizens’ privacy. This tradeoff is not surprising. Because information about people is useful for many purposes, tradeoffs between privacy and other values are common. Privacy values often clash with openness, competition, and innovation. But rarely are the tradeoffs so dramatic.

Calibrating these tradeoffs in advance is difficult. There is evidence that existing U.S. privacy laws hindered the use of valuable medical information, slowing the initial response to the virus. Specifically, university researchers in Washington state were delayed by weeks in their efforts to repurpose already-gathered patient data to study the growing COVID-19 pandemic. This is one reason laws that restrict private sector use of data should allow beneficial uses, including using data to improve health and save lives.

But even when fighting real, tangible harms like death and disease, unwarranted government surveillance without due process unacceptably threatens liberty. That’s why our Constitution and our values limit what government can do even when pursuing important goals. These privacy-protecting institutions are our country’s antibodies against government overreach and abuse.

Fortunately, we don’t have to give up our liberties to use big data tools in the fight against COVID-19. Rather than assemble giant databases of personal information like South Korea or China has, U.S. government public health experts should use anonymized location data not linked to individuals. Such data can help researchers assess how well populations are practicing social distancing, identify hotspots of activity that raise the risk of spreading the disease, and study how the disease has spread. (Reports indicate that health officials are already using anonymized mobile advertising data for these purposes and some private companies are offering free-to-use tools to help decisionmakers). We should also explore decentralized approaches to contact tracing, like the Singaporean app. Civic-minded individuals who want to volunteer their data for research purposes should be encouraged to do so, perhaps through public education campaigns.

In any case, U.S. health officials must protect our privacy by ensuring that any data collected for use in this current health crisis isn’t repurposed for other government uses. And both businesses and governments involved in this effort must tell the public how data is being collected, shared, and used.

The U.S. has the world’s best innovators in using data to improve Americans’ lives. We can, and should, empower those innovators to fight the spread of COVID-19 consistent with our strong American values and character.

This article originally appeared on Real Clear Defense. Follow @RCDefense on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

10 details you should know about the Bergdahl case

On Oct. 16, 2017, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl pleaded guilty to Desertion and Misbehavior Before the Enemy.


Following the plea, a military judge has heard testimony from numerous witnesses who either knew Bergdahl or were involved in the search to find him. Soon the military judge is expected to issue Bergdahl’s sentence based on his actions, his time in captivity and the impact on the soldiers who spent weeks searching across Afghanistan. We are the Mighty has been in the courtroom since the plea and has heard many details that haven’t been released before.

Here’s a list of ten things you should know before the Judge issues his sentence.

10. Bergdahl was a waiver Soldier

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos
Bowe Bergdahl.

Bergdahl entered the Army in 2008 with a waiver after being discharged from the Coast Guard nearly two years earlier. The Army has yet to confirm if his waiver was related to mental health issues, but upon his release from captivity, Bergdahl was diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder. Some symptoms of this disorder include difficulty adjusting to social situations and a distrust of others. During the pre-trial hearings, the Army did rule that despite his diagnosis, Bergdahl did understand his actions when he walked away from his post in 2009.

9. He was described as “Squared Away”

During the trial testimony, some fellow soldiers — including his former leaders — have described Bergdahl as “squared away.” Numerous witnesses have said Bergdahl was always in the designated uniform, on time and in the right place. During his free time, he even read field manuals and philosophy books. This is one of the most interesting turns in the case and begs the question: “How did Bergdahl go from a squared away soldier to a deserter?”

Also read: This is why Bowe Bergdahl says he pleaded guilty

8. He deployed late

While the rest of Bergdahl’s unit, 4th Brigade 25th ID, deployed to Afghanistan in early 2009, he stayed behind with a staph infection. After recovering, Bergdahl finally deployed as an individual augment and was with his Platoon in Afghanistan for less than two months before he walked off.  When asked by the military judge during the trial if he knew that his service in Afghanistan was important, Bergdahl responded, “At the time, it was hard for me to understand.”

7. There were some red flags

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos
Bowe Bergdahl in a photo after his capture by Taliban insurgents. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

In the days and weeks before he walked off, Bergdahl displayed some behavior that might have seemed normal until strung together by investigators, revealing that he may have planned his desertion in advance.

First, he sent his computer home, which to many other soldiers would been weird since writing emails and watching movies is a great way to pass the down time of deployment.

Second, he went to finance and asked for a cash advance before he rotated back to his outpost and subsequently walked off.

Lastly, he left all his serialized gear (weapon, night vision, etc.) at his outpost. One soldier testified that when he found the gear in a neat pile he knew Bergdahl had left on his own.

6. His outpost was “Hell on Earth”

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos
Observation post Mest-Malak, where Bergdahl was stationed before leaving his post. (Photo from Reddit user OnlyBoweKnows.)

Bergdahl’s platoon was assigned to OP Mest, a small checkpoint in Paktika province close to the Pakistani border. OP Mest guarded a road intersection and was located literally right next to the village of Mest. The outpost was built in a dry river bed that often flooded during the spring rains. As a result of the poor weather and living conditions, many soldiers in the Platoon suffered from bad cases of dysentery. Additionally, the outpost was built over an Afghan cemetery; some soldiers even found bones as they were digging their fighting positions.

5. His platoon searched for 10 days straight

After Bergdahl was found missing, the other soldiers in his platoon took it upon themselves to find him.

In the first few hours and days, the platoon conducted a nearly constant rotation of patrols in the area to try and find Bergdahl. At one point, they stretched themselves so thin that only a Fire Team of three was left at the outpost to man the radio. Many of the soldiers describe the initial days of searching as a “complete hell.”

After 10 days, the platoon was allowed to rest and refit. Many soldiers had to buy new socks and uniforms that had literally rotted of their bodies. According to the Army lawyers, the official search for Bergdahl would last another 45 days.

4. SEAL Team 6 went after Bergdahl and the enemy killed their dog

During the first week of the search, SEAL Team 6 was ordered to find Bergdahl given their unique and specialized training in hostage recovery missions. When one of the SEALs testified at the trial, he remembered saying that “someone is going to get hurt or killed looking for this kid.” A few nights later, the SEALs raided a house where they suspected Bergdahl was being held. During the mission one of the SEALs was shot 7 times and his military working dog was killed by the enemy.

Related: Bowe Bergdahl just apologized to those hurt searching for him

3. The Afghan elections ended the search

The summer of 2009 was a critical point in the war in Afghanistan. The Afghan elections were scheduled for August and a major mission of U.S. forces was to protect the polling sites from attack and corruption. When Bergdahl walked off in late June, the timing couldn’t have been worse.

For weeks, thousands of soldiers across Afghanistan were ordered to shift their focus from counterinsurgency missions to search recovery operations to find Bergdahl. So many soldiers were flooded into the area where Bergdahl went missing that the Commanders on the ground created a second unit to coordinate the search effort.

By August, the focus shifted away from Bergdahl to the elections and the future of Afghanistan.

2. He’s been an Intel source since his return

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos
A clip from a video released during Bergdahl’s captivity.

When Bergdahl returned to U.S. forces in 2014, he was immediately questioned about his time in captivity. During the trial, some of intelligence officers testified that Bergdahl was a “gold mine” of information.

Bergdahl’s intelligence value has been defined in two ways. First, a DOD representative of the group that runs Survival, Evasion, Resistance Escape (SERE) school stated that Bergdahl’s detailed description of his captivity will help “prepare forces in the future.” Secondly, the lead intelligence analyst who follows the Haqqani Network, the group that held Bergdahl for nearly 5 years, told the military judge that the information from the debrief helped “build [an understanding] of the capture network like it’s never been done before.”

1. His charges were reduced before he pleaded guilty

The Army initially charged Bergdahl with Desertion and Misbehavior Before the Enemy during Combat Operations in Afghanistan. However, after months of arguments by the lawyers on both sides, Bergdahl finally pleaded guilty to Desertion and Misbehavior Before the Enemy during guard duty at OP Mest and a possible convoy patrol scheduled for the following day.

While this change may seem minor, the distinction is critical during the sentencing phase of the trial. The military judge will now only consider Bergdahl’s actions for the first few hours before he was captured by the enemy instead of the nearly five years Bergdahl was missing.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This could be the Army’s next rifle — and it’s totally awesome

The U.S. Army’s chief of staff recently made a bold promise that future soldiers will be armed with weapons capable of delivering far greater lethality than any existing small arms.


“Our next individual and squad combat weapon will come in with a 10X improvement over any existing current system in the world, and that will be critical,” Gen. Mark Milley told an audience at AUSA 2017 on Oct. 10.

Milley’s pledge to “significantly increase investments” in a leap-ahead small arms technology appeared low in the story I wrote for Military.com since soldier lethality was the lowest of the Army’s top six modernization priorities.

As Milley was speaking, Textron Systems officials were showing off their new Intermediate Case-Telescoped Carbine, chambered for 6.5mm on the AUSA exhibition floor.

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos
Textron Systems booth at AUSA on October 10, 2017 (Image, Textron Facebook)

The working prototype has evolved out Textron’s light and medium machine guns that fire 5.56mm and 7.62mm case-telescoped ammunition developed under the Lightweight Small Arms Technology program.

Over the last decade, the Army has invested millions in the development of the program, which has now been rebranded to Textron’s Case-Telescoped Weapons and Ammunition.

Textron’s cased-telescoped ammunition relies on a plastic case rather than a brass one to hold the propellant and the projectile, like a conventional shotgun shell.

The ICTC is a closed bolt, forward feed, gas piston operated weapon, weighing 8.3 pounds. The 6.5mm case-telescoped ammunition weighs 35 percent less and offers 30 percent more lethality than 7.62mm x 51mm brass ammunition, Textron officials maintain.

“I think the most important thing is what we have been able to do with the intermediate caliber, the 6.5mm in this case,” Wayne Prender, vice president of Textron’s Control Surface Systems Unmanned Systems told Military.com. “We are able to not only provide a weight reduction … and all the things that come with it – we are also able to provide increased lethality because of the ability to use a more appropriate round.”

Textron officials maintain they are using a low-drag “representative” 6.5mm bullet while U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, or ARDEC, is developing the actual projectile.

“We actually used three different bullet shapes and we scaled it,” said Paul Shipley, program manager for of Unmanned Systems. “We scaled 5.56mm up, we scaled 7.62mm down and took a low-drag shape and ran that between the two” to create the 125 grain 6.5mm bullet that’s slightly longer than the Army’s new 130 grain M80A1 Enhanced Performance Round.

Textron officials maintain that the new round retains more energy at 1,200 meters than the M80A1. At that distance, the 6.5mm has an impact-energy of 300 foot pounds compared to the M80A1 which comes in at about 230 foot pounds of energy, Textron officials maintain.

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos
The 5.56mm M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round. Army photo from Todd Mozes.

“The increased lethality we are referring to has to do with the energy down range,” Shipley said. “You can take whatever kind of bullet you want, compare them and it’s going to have increased energy down range.”

Lethality has always been a vague concept. Is it the amount of foot pounds of energy at the target? Or is it the terminal performance, or the size of the wound channel, it creates after it penetrates an enemy soldier?

It’s hard to predict how much performance will change if and when ARDEC creates a 6.5mm projectile that meets the Army’s needs.

A lot can be done to predict performance with computer modeling, but ultimately there is no way of knowing how a conceptual bullet will perform until it is live-fire tested thousands of times under multiple conditions, according to a source with intimate knowledge of military ballistics testing.

The Army has also spent years developing its current M855A1 5.56mm and M80A1 7.62mm Enhanced Performance Rounds. After many failures, the service came up with a copper-jacketed round composed of a solid copper slug that sits behind a steel penetrator tip designed to defeat battlefield barriers and remain effective enough to kill or incapacitate.

Is the Army going to throw all of that away, invest millions of dollars to redesign its ammunition-making infrastructure to switch to case-telescoped ammunition?

“What they’ve got in stockpile does what it does, and they know that is not good enough anymore, so they are faced with that choice,” Shipley said.

The Army has not come to a definitive conclusion on a future caliber, but it has been very open about its waning trust in the 5.56mm round.

In late May, Milley revealed to Congress that the M4 Carbine’s M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round cannot penetrate modern enemy body armor plates similar to the U.S. military-issue rifle plates such as the Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert, or ESAPI.

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos
A group of 7.62mm rounds are staged in a UH-1Y Huey during Northern Strike 17 at the Combat Readiness Training Center Alpena, Mich., Aug. 10, 1017. Northern Strike is a joint exercise hosted by the Michigan Air National Guard that emphasizes on close air support and joint fire support to enhance combat readiness. Photo by Lance Cpl. Cody Ohira

In August, the service launched a competition to find an Intermediate Service Combat Rifle chambered 7.62mm NATO. The Army intended to purchase up to 50,000 new 7.62mm rifles to meet the requirement, according to the solicitation, but sources say that the service has already backed away from that endeavor.

Textron’s 6.5mm case-telescoped carbine certainly looks like the leap-ahead, small-arms tech that the Army is searching for to arm its future soldiers.

Then again, the Army’s imagination was also captured in the late 1990s by the Objective Individual Combat Weapon, or XM29.

Remember that? It featured a 20mm airburst weapon mounted on top of a 5.56mm carbine. XM29 had an advanced fire-control system that could program 20mm shells to burst at specific distances. At 18 pounds, it proved to be too heavy and bulky for the battlefield.

Textron officials maintain that case-telescoped carbine can be customized to whatever the Army wants.

“It’s configurable,” Shipley said. “The technology that is inside is what counts.”

Articles

How the Marine Corps has created Christmas spirit since 1947

You’ve seen them before at this time of year — United States Marines in their full dress blues standing near bins full of toys with the signature logo of the Toys for Tots program.  And you’ve definitely seen this commercial:


Just two years after the end of World War II, a Marine Corps Reserve officer named Maj. Bill Hendricks wanted to donate a Raggedy Ann doll his wife had made to a charity in the Los Angeles area, but he couldn’t find one that met what he had in mind.

What he did find were thousands of children who needed toys.

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos
A seven-year-old gives an electronic toy game to a Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. for the Toys for Tots campaign on board Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi, Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 3rd Class Matthew Schwarz)

So Hendricks, who was also the Public Relations Director for Warner Brothers Studios, and his wife were joined by his commanding officer and fellow Marines on a mission to collect between 5,000 and 7,000 toys to give to needy kids on Christmas Day. With that the Toys for Tots program was born.

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos
U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Denis Licona, left, and Gunnery Sgt. Jarod Duke, help open a gift for a boy during a community relations event, at a school for underprivileged children. Marines and Sailors donated gifts to 60 children as part of the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Christmas Drive. (Photo by Daniela Muto |Released)

“That first year we delivered the toys ourselves,” Hendricks told said in an interview before his 1992 death. “We were winding up the campaign on Christmas Eve, delivering toys right up to midnight. A master sergeant and I went to a place where three kids were waiting up for us. I can still see their faces. After leaving the toys, one of the children followed us out to the car and said, ‘Thank you very much.’ That ‘thank you’ was worth the effort.”

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos

The first run was so successful, the USMC expanded it to a nationwide effort the next year. Every Marine Corps Reserve site worked with the local community to collect and distribute millions of toys.

In the years following, the Marines received star-studded help from the likes of Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin. The logo was designed by Walt Disney himself.

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos

Now the effort is augmented by the nonprofit Toys for Tots Foundation, which expanded the number of toys collected to 16 million worth an estimated $243 million every year. The foundation regularly receives four-star ratings from Charity navigator and in 2003 was on Forbes’ Top Ten Children’s Charities.

To request toys or donate to Toys for Tots, visit their website.
MIGHTY TRENDING

These are the 10 best places for veterans to live in 2017

A lot of factors go in to a veteran’s post-military life. Where they choose to live when they get out of the service is important for many reasons. Veterans Affairs hospitals in some areas of the country are overcrowded and have a hard time giving fast, quality care. Access to decent schools and a quality education for the vets to use their GI bill benefits are another factor.


Analysts from WalletHub looked at 100 American cities and judged them based on four criteria: employment, economy, quality of life, and health. For each of those areas of study, the analysts looked at a number of weighted metrics, including skilled jobs, veteran unemployment rates, housing affordability, median veteran income, VA facilities, the quality of those facilities, and more.

These 10 cities may or may not surprise you, but they’re definitely worth a look!

10. Austin, Texas

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This should surprise no one. Austin is a city that has been coming up in conversation for more than twenty years. From its proximity to the military bases in Texas, to its active nightlife and vibrant social scene (not to mention the SXSW Festival that comes around every year), Austin is the place to be for everyone — not just veterans.

9. Colorado Springs, Colorado

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Also the home of the Air Force Academy (this is not a photo of the Academy).

In the proverbial shadow of Pike’s Peak, Colorado Springs is the second most populous city in Colorado. It is consistently ranked as one of the top spots to live in America, not just for vets. Also, apropos of nothing, marijuana is totally legal here.

8. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos
Here’s a statue of the mayor. Probably.

Virginia Beach offers more for the avid outdoor veteran than just the beach. Nearby Back Bay Wildlife Refuge offers kayaking, birdwatching, and hiking, among other activities. Even the thriving downtown entertainment offers more for vets than it did even just a few years ago.

7. Raleigh, North Carolina

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Everyone drives way too fast though.

“The City of Oaks” has a vast array of schools, public and private, along with nearby Chapel Hill and Durham. It also boasts a world-class technical research park that houses IBM, Cisco, Sony Ericsson, and Lenovo.

6. Plano, Texas

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Really?

Yes, really. Plano and the greater Dallas area are proud handlers of U.S. military tradition. The (relatively) nearby presence of Sheppard Air Force Base, NAS Fort Worth, and JRB Carswell ensure there will be a great infrastructure for veterans who stick around the area.

5. Tampa, Florida

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Everything is prettier at sunset.

Tampa was the top bootlegging and rumrunning towns during prohibition. Tampa has been big on the military since Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders staged their visit to Cuba from here. On that note, Tampa is also the only place to visit Cuba in the mainland U.S. Yeah, check out José Marti Park.

4. Fremont, California

Freemont is a young city, an amalgamation of five other cities that came together in 1956. But if you’re going to be in the San Francisco area, Fremont is the furthest south you can still hop on the BART.

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos
Or you can take a hot rod. Freemont has an awesome car show every year. Bring your A-game.

3. Seattle, Washington

I’m not sure this one needs an explanation. Seattle is home to Boeing, Starbucks, Microsoft, Amazon, and more. It’s probably more difficult to get a job at that fish market where they throw fish at each other.

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos
Dare to follow your dreams, though.

2. San Diego, California

The town that brings you Navy SEALs might have just stolen Amazon from Seattle. So they might be up a level on this list next year.

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos
See if you can find all 127 SEALs hidden in this photo.

1. Boise, Idaho

Boise being in the top ten might have surprised you, but it didn’t surprise anyone in Boise. The residents enjoy a high quality of life, which includes the Greenbelt – a 25-mile long strip of wildlife habitats and bike paths along the Boise River.

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos
Boise!

Articles

The Army is taking social security numbers off of dog tags, but no worries: China has them on file

After more than 40 years without a change, Army dog tags will have the Social Security numbers replaced with a random 10-digit Department of Defense identification number.


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Photo: US Army Human Resources Command Daniela Vestal

The change comes six months after the Office of Personnel Management admitted that 21.5 million people, mostly federal and military employees, had their Social Security Numbers stolen by Chinese hackers. The OPM and the DoD established a service for monitoring the credit of people affected by the hack.

The new DoD identification numbers are being slowly implemented across the military as an attempt to prevent identity theft. The numbers are randomly generated as they are assigned.

New ID cards already carry the DoD number instead of a Social Security number and TRICARE is switching soon, according to an Army spokesman.

No Chinese hackers were available to comment on how this will affect their bulk data collections. It will certainly reduce their ability to collect them one at a time.

Learn more about the change at Army.mil.

MIGHTY TRENDING

There are an estimated 10,000 spies in Washington DC

Of the more than 700,000 residents of the capital of the United States, 10,000 of those are actively working in the interests of a foreign power. The city is filled with federal employees, military personnel, contractors, and more who are actively working for the United States government, and some are working to betray its biggest secrets to the highest bidder.

It’s an estimate from the DC-based international spy museum – and it’s an estimate with which the FBI agrees.


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If only it were this easy.

“It’s unprecedented — the threat from our foreign adversaries, specifically China on the economic espionage and the espionage front,” Brian Dugan, Assistant Special Agent in Charge for Counterintelligence with the FBI’s Washington Field Office told DC-based WTOP news.

According to the FBI, spies are no longer the stuff of Cold War-era dead drops, foreign embassy personnel, and conversations in remote parks. For much of the modern era, a spy was an undercover diplomat or other embassy staffer. No more. Now you can believe they are students, colleagues, and even that friend of yours who joined your kickball team on the National Mall. Anyone can be a spy.

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos

Ever watch “The Americans”? That sh*t was crazy.

There are 175 foreign embassies and other diplomatic buildings in the DC area. In those work tens of thousands of people with links to foreign powers. This doesn’t even cover the numbers of foreign exchange students, international business people, and visiting professors that come to the city every year – not to mention the number of Americans recruited by spies to act on their government’s behalf (whether they know it or not).

The worst part is that spies these days are so skilled at their craft, we may never realize what they’re doing at all, and if we do, it will be much too late to stop them.

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos

It would be super helpful if they wore their foreign military uniforms all the time.

“Everybody in the espionage business is working undercover. So if they’re in Washington, they’re either in an embassy or they’re a businessman and you can’t tell them apart because they never acknowledge what they’re doing.” said Robert Baer, who was a covert CIA operative for decades. “And they’re good, so they leave no trace of their communications.”

He says the dark web, alone with advanced encryption algorithms means a disciplined, cautious spy may never get caught by the FBI for selling the secrets that come with their everyday work, be it in government, military, defense contractors, or otherwise.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How civilian experiences help reservists keep the goods flowing

The 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, enables rapid global mobility with a diverse group of airmen and soldiers from all walks of life.

With a mission to expedite global reach through its air mobility control center, strategic airlift maintenance, and aerial port operations, the 8th EAMS enables the warfighter by incorporating a wide range of experience brought to the theater by its personnel.

Moving passengers and cargo at the largest military aerial port in U.S. Central Command requires deliberate action through close partnerships. 1st Lt. Benjamin Schneider, 295th Ordnance Company, U.S. Army Reserve, leads a team of 16 soldiers, under tactical control of the 8th EAMS, in moving sensitive munitions to support operations throughout the theater.


Schneider integrates his civilian professional experience to galvanize logistics operations at Al Udeid AB.

“Working for Amazon Logistics has given me the skills and knowledge of how to effectively allocate the resources of my team to complete any ammunition movement, and eliminate any process shortcomings and dead space, to more efficiently complete any mission,” Schneider said, adding that his experience working for Amazon “has also provided me the ability to better manage the supply of munitions and communicate that supply need more effectively to any required party.”

As a leader in the 8th EAMS, he leverages his soldiers’ ordnance and transportation expertise to partner with aerial port airmen to ensure seamless interoperability to load mobility aircraft.

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos

1st Lt. Benjamin Schneider, 295th Ordnance Company, U.S. Army Reserve, inspects a pallet at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.

(US Air Force photo)

“Being able to work alongside the Air Force in a joint environment has opened my eyes to the logistical capabilities of each branch of the military,” said Schneider. “Being able to not only move ammunition and other resources by land, but by air and sea as well, has given me a true understanding of how important integrating different organizations together can provide a more well-rounded and complete unit.”

Schneider noted that the “knowledge that I have gained working alongside the Air Force, and learning from many of their leadership, will be brought forward into my civilian career to help grow my own organization.”

Tech. Sgt. Janet Lindsay, an 8th EAMS special cargo handler, directly partners with Schneider’s soldiers.

Lindsay, an Air Force Reservist, directly supports the warfighter as a special cargo handler lead at the aerial port, by integrating her civilian leadership experience as a teacher and now as a principal at Paris Elementary School in Paris, Idaho.

“As a teacher, I spent years teaching and building relationships with students, understanding that everyone’s learning style is unique; through this experience I was able to effectively and positively teach each student to achieve personal success,” said Lindsay. “Now as the principal the same techniques are not only applied to my faculty and staff, but directly into my leadership role in the Air Force.”

At Al Udeid AB, Lindsay guides her airmen to safely execute the mission while overcoming extreme heat and constant demands to move warfighters and their assets to the fight. In July 2018 alone, the 8th EAMS moved more than 1,100 tons of special cargo. Lindsay noted that “individual accountability and discipline play an important role whether on campus, district, or military level. The overall mission success depends squarely on team work and dedication.”

The 8th EAMS heavily relies upon its diverse Total Force airmen from the Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard, and active duty components to optimize air mobility operations.

After Lindsay and her fellow aerial porters load the cargo and passengers, the task of launching and repairing mobility aircraft falls on the shoulders of Royal Canadian Air Force Maj. Marcelo Plada, 8th EAMS maintenance operations officer.

Plada is assigned to Joint Base Lewis McChord where he is responsible for all C-17 Globemaster III maintenance activities as part of an exchange program. He was selected by Canada’s Aerospace Engineering Officer Council to attend the Air Force’s Accelerated Aircraft Maintenance Officer Course at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. He was then assigned to the 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron where he transitioned from learning and assisting to eventually being expected to function effectively as the maintenance operations officer.

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos

A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III T-1.

“The exchange program has allowed me to grow my aircraft maintenance management skills. I never would have had the opportunity to work at such a high warfighting level if I had stayed in Canada,” said Plada. “The exposure gained at (JB Lewis-McChord) and on my deployment with the Air Force is unprecedented for my AERE trade. It is tremendously beneficial for both the Royal Canadian Air Force and AERE community.”

This experience is leveraged while deployed as Plada oversees the maintenance for all C-5 Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster III, and commercial aircraft at Al Udeid AB. As a coalition member and leader in the 8th EAMS, Plada integrates his knowledge and perspective to receive, repair, and launch Air Mobility Command’s strategic airlift fleet.

“This opportunity gives us a unique firsthand experience into a high operational tempo deployed environment that very few AEREs have ever been or can be a part of,” said Plada. “Now my future looks a lot brighter as I will be able to bring extensive firsthand experience in one of our country’s most important strategic airlift aircraft back to our flying community.”

The diversity of the 8th EAMS, as reflected by its joint, coalition, and total force squadron members, directly enables the squadron’s mission to expedite global reach. Whether it is a soldier moving ammunition, an Air Force reservist processing special cargo, or a coalition airman leading aircraft repairs, the 8th EAMS moves with precision to support the warfighter through dedication and teamwork.

This article originally appeared on the United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How the ‘Pizza MRE’ will make every lower-enlisted happy

A good MRE goes a long way for troops deployed or in the field. Sure, it’s not a home-cooked meal, but everything on this year’s official MRE menu looks amazing.


In every Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE), there are a few good items to trade. Generally, the worse the entree is, the better the extras that come with it are. Troops who get tossed the dreaded egg-and-cheese-omelet meal at least eat something decent — it comes with Poptarts. If you get something amazing, like the beef stew, then the sides are kind of garbage — like powdered mashed potatoes. This diversity in quality has given rise to a well-understood bartering system between troops.

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This kept troops from ratf*cking a box of MREs to take the good ones and leaving the awful ones for troops who didn’t. (Photo by Master Sgt. Jeff Lowry)

Things are looking good for hungry troops. Not only is the long-awaited “Pizza MRE” officially coming, the least-liked items are now gone, too. According to troop reviews, the “Pizza MRE” is outstanding. In fact, there aren’t any good ones and bad ones anymore — they all seem great.

There was a hold on the “Pizza MRE” for a few years. The Defense Logistics Agency, the minds doing the science behind each MRE, needed to find a way to keep each one edible after months of shelf storage. In earlier editions, the crust would start going brown — not rotten, but discolored. Apparently, all it took was adding some rosemary extract and now they’re completely shelf-safe.

To simulate the three-year lifecycle, they placed the boxes in a lab at 100 degrees for six months. Everything seems fine, troops love it, and now it’s ready to get stolen out of every MRE box shipped out. This year’s menu also replaces Asian-style beef strips, which were only good for the accompanying peanut butter and jelly, with beef goulash. The Italian Sausage also now comes with some beef jerky.

Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos
What a time to be alive! (Photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)

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