This is how JTACs stay sharp - We Are The Mighty
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This is how JTACs stay sharp

We all know troops on the ground love their air support — especially from planes like the A-10 Thunderbolt II.


But those planes need to know what to hit. How does that happen?

Well, the Air Force’s Joint Terminal Attack Controllers are who make that happen. JTACs are members of what are known as Tactical Air Control Parties, and their task is to coordinate air support for ground units. Becoming a JTAC isn’t easy. Business Insider has a look at the process of how someone goes from civilian on the street to becoming one of these elite personnel.

In 2015, the Army and Air Force formalized the embedding of Air Force JTACs in Army units down to the company level. These personnel aren’t just good at bringing down firepower, they can even advise ground commanders on how to handle cyberspace operations.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
U.S. Air Force Combat Control JTACs from the 21st Special Tactics Squadron call for close air support from a A-10 Thunderbolt II while attending the Air Force’s JTAC Advanced Instructor Course (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth)

But it’s not just train, deploy, and be done. There’s always a need to refresh skills, and there are always new perspectives. So, recently, some JTACs with the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing were joined by JTACs from the Royal Air Force. The cross-training helps, primarily by breaking down communications barriers.

“Since we’re going to be working together, we need to practice together before we go do that in the real world,” RAF Flight Sergeant Simon Ballard said. The RAF controllers are familiar with the U.S. Air Force, particularly the A-10s, which they praise effusively.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
A Joint Terminal Attack Controller with U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command communicates with a Navy MH-60S helicopter during takeoff as part of Carrier Airwing training conducted by the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center aboard Naval Air Station Fallon, Nev., April 7, 2011. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Kyle McNally, released)

“While I was a JTAC in Afghanistan, the vast majority of our aircraft were U.S. aircraft,” British Squadron Leader Neil Beeston said.

The ultimate benefit to this cross-training, though, is that the stakes are lower. Master Sgt. Francisco Corona told the Air Force News Service, “I’d rather integrate in (training) where we can make mistakes and learn from them instead of making mistakes in a deployed location.”

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Here’s how to beat fatigue in your next PT test

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Private First Class Shawndel Hunter, Delta Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, does a pushup at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. | US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tyler Viglione


When taking a physical fitness test (PFT), you may recall giving all you have to max out the pushups, only to stop half-way up, shaking violently. No matter how hard you try in the next few seconds of the test, you are not going to get another pushup. That is muscle fatigue.

Also read: A retired Navy SEAL commander breaks down his morning fitness routine that starts at 4:30

Here is a question about how to avoid muscle fatigue during fitness tests.

Stew – it does not matter on what exercise I am on, I can never keep going until the entire two minutes of the PFT is complete. On a good day, I might manage 1:30 of pushups or situps. I usually just shake and drop to my knees uncontrollably. Don’t even ask how my bad days look. I would really like to score better on the PT test. I am a runner so the 1.5 mile run in 7 min mile pace is no problem. Jake

Jake – There are a few things that could be contributing to your fatigue or lack of muscle endurance (aka stamina) during the pushups and sit-up test.

1. Lack of Training

You need to up your training volume. I highly recommend doing pushups, sit-ups, pullups, and other core exercise (planks, etc.) three days a week. For example, if you have never done 100 pushups or sit-ups in an entire workout, you will never get 100 reps in two minutes. Try to build up over time to 2-3 times your goal maximum score during a workout. For instance, if your goal pushups max is 50 in 2 minutes, shoot for 100-150 during a normal workout. (See workout ideas for every OTHER day: PT Pyramid, PT SuperSet, Max Rep Sets). Also, stretch out your sets to 1-2 minutes in length on Max Rep Set Days.

2. Pace Yourself

Too many times people start out way too fast on these exercises only to burn out in the first minute. Pacing your running makes sense to you, right? You do not start the run in a sprint of your first lap (1/4 mile) — you have a set pace. The same holds true for exercises like sit-ups. Too many people start off in the first 30 seconds getting 30-35 sit-ups and fail to match that in the next 1:30. If you are stuck at 60 due to this, you can increase your score near overnight by dropping your pace to 20 reps in the first 30 seconds and push closer to 80 reps in 2 minutes. For pushups — that is a different animal, as you have gravity slowly eating away at your reps the slower you go. I recommend you let gravity take you down and exert fast on the up movement. Don’t waste energy going down when gravity will do that for free. Keep working your pace in the workouts and you will find that you have the stamina to go the full 2 minutes after a few weeks.

3. Fuel and Fatigue

Half of fatigue is in your mind, as your brain will tell you that you are finished before you really are. The other half of fatigue is in your fuel. Did you eat well the day before or the morning of the fitness test? Are you hydrated? Having your body well fueled will help you with PT tests — that means nutritious foods. However, when you start to shake at the end of your pushup timed set, you are going to waste a lot of energy fast, as that is a central nervous system breakdown (or the beginning of it). It is actually best to call it quits and not try to get that last pushup in, versus staying there and shaking for 10-15 seconds. You have to remember that you still have to do the 1.5 mile run next, and you will need that energy your body just dumped failing at pushups.

Practice taking the fitness test once every week or two just so you can also mentally say to yourself, “this is just another workout.” Getting rid of some of the PFT Anxiety might help you perform a little better as well. Eat well and workout regularly, so that 1-2 minute sets become easy instead of an impossibility. Check out the PFT Bible if you are interested in a program that is specifically designed for the most common PFT in the world.

Stew Smith works as a presenter and editorial board member with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He has also written hundreds of articles onMilitary.com’s Fitness Center that focus on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

Military Life

6 reasons why beach assaults actually suck

The very essence of being a Marine Infantryman is being amphibious — it’s the reason we exist as a Marine Corps. However, the last two wars have been fought on land, so it’s understandable that beach assaults have taken a back seat in terms of training goals.


But, with the Marine Corps moving into a peacetime and with sights being set on near-peer rivals, amphibious assault training has resurfaced as pivotal.

Plenty of Marines are excited by this — as they should be — but beach assaults are just one more thing to add to the long list of reasons why the infantry is affectionately called, “the suck.”

Related: Marines want to swarm enemy defenses with hundreds of small boats

1. Sitting in an amphibious assault vehicle for hours.

Have you ever wanted to just lock yourself in a dark, metal box that floats on the ocean for hours? If you answered, “yes,” then you’ll love beach assaults. You get locked inside an AAV while you’re taken from ship to shore. Not only is it really dark and hot, it’s also terribly boring.

 

This is how JTACs stay sharp
These vehicles are extremely cramped. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Nathaniel Castillo, 1st Marine Division Combat Camera)

2. Diesel fumes.

Remember that thing about being locked in the metal box? Well, that metal box burns diesel and the fumes make their way into where you and your buddies are waiting. Essentially, you just sit there and inhale the fumes until you reach the shore.

3. Your gear gets soaked.

This isn’t true for absolutely everyone as some AAVs are pretty good about staying air-tight, but these are old vehicles and they’re prone to mechanical shortcomings. As many Marines will tell you, be sure to waterproof your gear because, between ship and shore, you’ll often end up in ankle-deep water.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Good luck turning that gear back in after this. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kyle Carlstrom)

4. The blinding sunlight.

If your assault happens during the day, the moment the ramp drops and you run outside, your eyes are going to have to adjust from the dark, dank interior of the AAV to unrelenting sunlight. For a few seconds, as you run to your position in the attack, you’ll be nearly blind.

5. Your rifle gets extremely dirty.

Between the salt water, sand, and any oil leaks, your rifle is going to get crapped on. Hopefully, you either lubed it up prior to leaving the ship or you did so while sweating your ass off in a cloud of diesel smoke. There’s no way you’ll keep it clean, but this will at least ensure you can shoot your rifle.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Once the attack is over, prepare your anus as the armory rejects your rifle like never before.  (U.S. Marine Corps photo by MCIPAC Combat Camera Lance Cpl. Sergio Ramirez Romero)

Also read: 5 things service members hate on that are actually useful

6. Sand. Sand everywhere.

It’s rough, it’s coarse, and it gets everywhere. Sand will not only get in every small space on your rifle, it’s going to get into everything you have. Every crack in your gear, uniform, and body. You’re going to have sand in places that didn’t even touch the beach. Once you get back to ship, you’ll have to deep clean everything — including yourself.

Articles

The cast of ‘Star Trek’ goes to the White House to say thanks to troops and families

On July 19, the stars of Paramount’s “Star Trek Beyond” joined First Lady Michelle Obama in hosting more than 100 service members, veterans and their families for an advance screening of the upcoming film.


The screening was a part of the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces initiative. The cast dropped in as part of their publicity blitz for the movie’s July 21 premiere. This was an exceptional screening for the cast, as the Star Trek franchise has always held members of the military and their families in high esteem.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Have you ever seen anyone so happy?

The previous Star Trek film, “Star Trek Into Darkness” was dedicated to The Mission Continues, an organization dedicated to helping troops as they return home from war. It featured cameos from several veterans dressed as Starfleet officers in the film’s final scenes. Members of the cast also showed the first film of the Star Trek reboot series to active-duty service members in Kuwait.

At the White House, Chris Pine, Simon Pegg, and Karl Urban were humble in their brief introductions to the film and the First Lady. The actors joked that the veterans made better actors than the Hollywood stars.

This is how JTACs stay sharp

In her remarks at the screening, the First Lady highlighted the important role that military families — especially the children of service members — play in allowing active duty servicemen and women to do their jobs. She ended with the Vulcan salute and a heartfelt “May the force be with you!” (wrong movie, of course) to the delight of the crowd.

 

For the cast, the screening was a small way to thank service members and their families. They also seemed a little star struck themselves; Urban interrupted Pine’s speech with an excited “We just met the first lady!” Pine referred to them as “a bunch of 8-year-olds” while touring the White House.

Pine, Pegg and Urban stuck around after the showing for photo ops and to say thank you to the veterans and their families.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Simon Pegg with Coast Guard veteran and WATM contributor Mary-Elizabeth Pratt

“Star Trek Beyond” premieres in the U.S. on July 21.

Articles

What you need to know about other-than-honorable discharges

This is how JTACs stay sharp
G.I. Jobs


Unfortunately, all too often I am asked what members should do if they are discharged with something besides an honorable discharge (like general, other-than-honorable, etc.). First, let us address the different types of discharges:

Honorable Discharge

If a military service member received a good or excellent rating for their service time by exceeding standards for performance and personal conduct, they will be discharged from the military honorably. An honorable military discharge is a form of administrative discharge.

General Discharge

If a service member’s performance is satisfactory but the individual failed to meet all expectations of conduct for military members, the discharge is considered a general discharge. To receive a general discharge from the military, there has to be some form of nonjudicial punishment to correct unacceptable military behavior. A general military discharge is a form of administrative discharge. 

Other-Than-Honorable Conditions Discharge

The most severe type of military administrative discharge is the other-than-honorable conditions. Some examples of actions that could lead to an other-than-honorable discharge include security violations, use of violence, conviction by a civilian court with a sentence including prison time, or being found guilty of adultery in a divorce hearing (this list is not a definitive list; these are only examples). In most cases, veterans who receive an other-than-honorable discharge cannot re-enlist in the Armed Forces or reserves, except under very rare circumstances. Veterans benefits are not usually available to those discharged through this type of discharge.

Bad Conduct Discharge (BCD)

The bad conduct discharge is only passed on to enlisted military members and is given by a court-martial due to punishment for bad conduct. A bad conduct discharge is often preceded by time in military prison. Virtually all veteran’s benefits are forfeited if discharged due to bad conduct. 

Dishonorable Discharge

If the military considers a service member’s actions to be reprehensible, the general court-martial can determine if a dishonorable discharge is in order. Murder and sexual assault are examples of situations which would result in a dishonorable discharge. If someone is dishonorably discharged from the military, they are not allowed to own firearms, according to U.S. federal law. Military members who receive a dishonorable discharge forfeit all military and veterans benefits and may have a difficult time finding work in the civilian sector.

Officer Discharge

Commissioned officers cannot receive bad conduct discharges or a dishonorable discharge, nor can they be reduced in rank by a court-martial. If an officer is discharged by a general court-martial, they receive a dismissal notice, which is the same as a dishonorable discharge.

Now, what does one do when they exit the service and are looking for a position?

Typically the simple answer is to not bring up the type of discharge that was given: employers don’t often know to ask this and the type of discharge should be used as a reference only. Due to legal issues surrounding Equal Employment Opportunities and related laws, one should be cautious in the interview process regardless. It is generally illegal to ask which type of discharge a military veteran received, unless it is to ask whether or not an applicant received an honorable or general discharge (veteran’s preference is a different story). You can compare this to asking if one is a U.S. citizen in the interview process.

Employers should note that even if the veteran did not receive one of these types of discharges, it doesn’t necessarily mean they were discharged for poor conduct (it could have been a medical discharge or other administrative discharge). Typical questions include branch of military service, the period of service, rank at time of separation, type of training, leadership, work experience, qualifications and certifications. Not discharge.

If an employer asks for a DD-214 and they notice the type of discharge:

The member must be prepared to answer the questions. They should have their “elevator pitch” about their career progression, and be prepared to provide references of character if needed. Note that government positions are more likely to ask for your DD-214 and inquire further on this area than a typical civilian employee.

There are various situations where you may be eligible to apply to have your military discharge upgraded. You must apply to have your discharge upgraded by downloading DD Form 293 – Application for the Review of Discharge or Dismissal from the Armed Forces, submit the form to the Discharge Review Board within 15 years of your discharge and WAIT. If your discharge was over 15 years ago, you must request a change to your military records. 

The short answer here is to not get yourself in a position where you are receiving a discharge that is unfavorable (despite medical or other conditions). If this does happen to you, then it is best to seek positions where it is not the priority item to be asked, and really think about those roles outside the government where you would benefit. Also note that if drugs or convictions were involved, this does add an extra layer to your career endeavor.

No matter how you exit the military, take the industry leading readiness quiz to see how prepared you are for civilian life. Transition Readiness Quiz.

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How and why the Stryker would be the ultimate pillbox at Verdun

The Battle of Verdun lasted for nearly ten months in 1916 and according to some estimates, resulted in almost 950,000 casualties. In essence, it was perhaps the epitome of the trench warfare that dominated World War I.


Indeed, trench warfare really didn’t end until the emergence of the early tanks at the Battle of the Somme. Could some of America’s most modern armored fighting vehicles do better? Specifically, the Stryker family of wheeled armored fighting vehicles.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
M1126 Stryker Infantry Combat Vehicle. (U.S. Army photo)

At first glance, the Strykers seem very capable of punching through the trenches. With add-on armor, the Stryker can resist RPGs. They have a top speed of just over 62 miles per hour, according to army-recognition.com. The fire from a MG 08 would just bounce off a Stryker that didn’t have the add-on armor. But that misses one problem: Sheer numbers on the German side.

The Germans committed over a million troops to the battle. The Stryker Brigade would have roughly 4,500 troops and 300 vehicles, most of which are M1126 Infantry Combat Vehicles. The vehicles couldn’t roam in the enemy rear — resupply would be very difficult at best. But those vehicles have technology that would enable them to decisively rout the German offensives.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
A look at the Kongsberg M151 Protector Remote Weapon Station. (U.S. Army photo)

The key to what the Stryker would use, would not be in mobility, but in the M151 Protector Remote Weapons Station. The Strykers primarily use the M2 heavy machine gun and Mk 19 automatic grenade launcher. These outclass the MG 08 by a significant margin. Furthermore, they can be fired from within the Stryker, which negates one of Germany’s most powerful weapons in 1916: poison gas.

This is the second advantage the Stryker would have. The NBC protection capabilities in the Strykers would enable the defense to hold despite German chemical weapons. In essence, rather than facing incapacitated – or dead – defenders, the German troops would be going across “no man’s land” into mission-capable defenders.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
The Stryker’s remote weapon system and NBC protection would make it a formidable presence on a World War I battlefield. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sandra M. Palumbo) (Released)

Worse for them, the M2 heavy machine gun and the Mk 19 automatic grenade launcher would tear massed infantry attacks apart. The optics of the Protector remote weapons stations would allow the Americans to pick out the guys with flamethrowers first. In essence, the Strykers would be able to bleed the Germans dry.

It gets worse for the Germans when the inevitable counter-attack comes. The same optics what would let a Stryker gunner pick out a machine gun position and take it out. Here, the M1128 Mobile Gun Systems and M1134 Anti-Tank Guided Missile Vehicles would also come into play, destroying bunkers. The M1129 Stryker Mortar Carrier Vehicles would be able to lay down a lot of smoke and high-explosive warheads on targets.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
The 105mm main gun would be a formidable bunker buster. (U.S. Army photo)

In essence, the Stryker would drastically alter Verdun, not by its mobility, but by virtue of being a poison gas-proof pillbox.

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Was John Lennon a military wannabe?

Thirty-five years ago today John Lennon was murdered by Mark David Chapman — an avid Beatles fan — in the entryway of the Dakota apartments located in New York City’s Upper Westside.  In tribute social media is lighting up with interpretations of Lennon’s message of peace that came in various forms during his artistic career, most famously in his songs “Imagine” and “War is Over (if You Want It).”


But John Lennon was born in England in 1940, the early part of World War II.  His father was a merchant seaman, always gone on convoy runs, and — like the rest of his fellow countrymen, Lennon learned to hate the Luffewaffe and love the RAF as he watched airplanes fly overhead and heeded the wail of air raid sirens. He may have preached peace, but there’s no denying he understood the value of a strong national defense. His success was a product of it. Ironically enough, The Beatles honed their musical presentation — the one they would use to wow America on the Ed Sullivan Show a few years later — in the clubs of Hamburg, Germany, which had been a major industrial hub of the Third Reich a mere 17 years or so earlier.

There are several pieces of evidence of Lennon’s military inclinations.  When we was a teenager he was a member of the Air Training Corps (sort of a British version of the Civil Air Patrol) according to a report by NME.

In 1966 Lennon played the role of Private Gripweed in “How I Won the War,” directed by Lennon’s good friend Richard Lester:

The Beatles movie “Help” (also directed by Richard Lester) had a few references to warfare including an all out war scene in an open field involving British infantry and armored units.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
(GIF: Battle scene from the movie ‘Help!’)

And don’t forget the Lennon-penned Beatles’ song “Revolution,” that included the lyrics “when you talk about destruction, don’t you know that you can count me out . . . in.”

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Why I’m thrilled Brie Larson will play Captain Marvel

Look, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is really lighting my fires when it comes to their female superheroes.

When Marvel Studios announced they would be bringing Captain Marvel to the big screen, I was thrilled. I was also immediately invested and my expectations shot through the roof.


This is how JTACs stay sharp
Heyyyyy Valkyrie…
(Thor: Ragnarok by Marvel Studios)

The reasons why are threefold:

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1. This movie is for *me*

I am the target demographic for this film, and I have been ever since my 8-year-old self cuddled up with nerdy/amazing hero novels, like The Rowan or The Song of the Lioness. I have been devouring epics featuring female heroes for as long as I can remember.

So have all the other women out there thirsting for heroes that look like them. Seeing representation on film and television empowers the people who are watching. This is why it’s so important and exciting to have women and people of color finally stepping into hero roles.

This is how JTACs stay sharp

Full Metal Obsession.

(Warner Bros.)

2. I know the military world

I joined the military after 9/11 (probably as a result of the aforementioned hero literature). I wanted to literally fight evil. I was an Air Force captain, much like ol’ Captain Marvel herself. As a result, I’m very critical of how military women are portrayed in TV and film.

Edge of Tomorrow got it right. My list of who got it so, so wrong is too bitter to share here, but if your character wore a push-up bra, then you’re on it.

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Yeah, she played Envy. Amazing, right?

3. I know the casting world

I’m an actor and filmmaker. I understand that Hollywood has to take some artistic liberties. I understand that a big name means selling-power for a film. I also understand the work it takes to bring a character to life.

I’d literally stab someone for love the chance to play a role like Captain Marvel — whoever they cast better make me so delighted to watch that I forget my debilitating FOMO about not playing the part myself.

Well guess what, Marvel? YOU NAILED IT.

Brie Larson has been on my radar since the effing fantastic Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

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She’s been on the world’s radar since her Oscar-winning performance in Room. Larson is the kind of actor who effortlessly morphs into a world. She is extremely natural on-camera.

Also, she’s just cool.

In the comics, Carol Danvers is an Air Force officer whose DNA fuses with a Kree, giving her superhuman powers. I don’t know how the MCU will bring her story to life, but I’ve got my fingers crossed that screenwriter Anna Boden will take a cue from comic writer Kelly Sue DeConnick who pitched “…Carol Danvers as Chuck Yeager.”

Obviously, the filmmakers are keeping pretty tight-lipped about the upcoming 2019 film, but Larson has been sharing little peeks at her training along the way, including work with the actual U.S. Air Force.

www.instagram.com

This is a good sign — whenever there is a military film, my first question is who are the service members involved? (FWIW: I always prefer for the answer to be veterans who have transitioned out of the military and into professional careers in the entertainment industry)

Larson has also shared a glimpse at her physical training for the role.

Pull-ups take me back to jump school. Good times….

I believe that she could be powerful. I believe that she could be a leader.

Larson is lovely, but her looks don’t define her. She doesn’t need to be glamorous (though she surely can be when she wants to). This is the same mindset that women in the military have. There’s a comfort level with sacrificing some femininity for the mission. That’s what Hollywood gets wrong so often when they hyper-sexualize their military roles.

But not this time. Marvel crushed it with Larson, and I cannot wait to see this film.

I’m also going to lose my mind if we catch a glimpse of her in Avengers: Infinity War.

Articles

This botched air strike on Lebanon changed Naval Aviation forever

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A-7E Corsair II aircraft line the bow of the aircraft carrier USS Independence (CV 62) about the time of the air strike against Syrian gun emplacements in Lebanon. (Photo: U.S. Navy)


American air power going against targets in the Middle East didn’t start with Operation Enduring Freedom or even Desert Storm. The first significant strike was conducted in December of 1983 by carrier-based assets against Syrian anti-aircraft positions in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, and it was in many respects a disaster, one that radically changed the way the U.S. Navy conducted strike warfare.

The Bekaa Valley strike was supposed to be in direct retaliation for the Beirut barracks bombing that killed 241 Marines on October 23, but the mission was delayed for months by lawmakers in Washington and the operational planners at the European Command in Germany. Finally Syrians firing SAMs at F-14 reconnaissance flights over Lebanon compelled decision-makers to action.

The strike planning process was cumbersome and not tactically agile.  Pentagon and EUCOM higher-ups made the call on strike composition, weapons loadouts, ingress and egress routes, and times on target. As a result, aviators who would ultimately fly the mission had little say in how it would be carried out.

The 28-plane strike package launched from two carriers – Kennedy and Independence (both decommissioned now) – on the morning of December 4, which proved to be the perfectly wrong time as the metrological conditions made it hard for the attack aircraft to see their targets (remember, these were the days before smart bombs, when pilots had to actually maneuver their airplanes toward the ground and pickle their bombs with a high level of skill). At the same time the weather and sun angle highlighted the American airplanes in the sky for Syrian anti-aircraft gunners. The strike package also flew toward their targets along the same route, which made it easy for gunners to train their weapons.

The Syrians managed to shoot down two A-7E Corsairs and an A-6E Intruder.  One of the A-7 pilots and the A-6 pilot were killed.  The other A-7 pilot – who also happened to be the Air Wing commander aboard the Independence – managed to get his jet over the Mediterranean before he ejected.  He was picked up by Lebanese fisherman and eventually returned to the Americans unharmed.

The A-6 bombardier/navigator, Lt. Robert Goodman, was captured by Syrian troops and taken as a hostage. The month-long stalemate between governments on his release was finally broken by Jesse Jackson, who took an interest in the young aviator because he was an African-American.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Lt. Robert Goodman in the back of a car with a Syrian soldier after being shot down during an air strike against targets in Lebanon. (AP photo)

As a result of this fiasco the U.S. Navy established the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center at the air station in Fallon, Nevada, basically taking a page from the Top Gun playbook a decade or so earlier when that school was created to fix the problem of fighters getting shot out of the skies over North Vietnam because of inferior tactics. The staff at NSAWC studied better ways of getting bombs on target while surviving intense SAM environments, and their research yielded more thorough mission planning processes (including streamlining strike coordination up and down the chain of command), off-axis attack profiles, and the improved use of jammers to better suppress the SAM threat.

Although times have changed in recent years with the advent of stealth technology and precision-guided munitions, many of the lessons learned from Bekaa Valley are still relevant today.

Now: Top secret files detail how drone strikes target terrorists — and how they go wrong 

Articles

5 fairy tales as told by your platoon sergeant

Platoon sergeants aren’t just managers and leaders, they’re also mentors — proxy parents even.


But they’re (in)famously gruff about it. After all, they didn’t father any of these kids, and they didn’t pick them either. And their primary job isn’t to turn them into beautiful snowflakes but honed weapons.

So, below are 5 classic fairy tales as recited by cigar-chomping and dip-spewing platoon sergeants:

1. Red Riding Hood Learns to Secure Her Logistics Chain

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Photo: Public Domain

So, this little girl was getting ready for a trip to her grandma’s house. Red Riding Hood started by doing a map recon and checking with the intel bubbas to see what was going on along her route. After she heard about the increase in wolf-related activity in the area, she requested additional assets like a drone for overwatch and more ammunition for the mass-casualty producing weapons systems.

When a wolf attempted to hit her basket carriers and then fled, she had her drone operator follow the wolf to the cave. Red and her squad conducted a dynamic entry into the cave and eliminated the threat. Now, they conduct regular presence patrols to deter future wolves from operating in their area of operations.

2. Goldilocks and the Three Tangos

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Photo: Israeli Defense Forces

Goldilocks was moving tactically through the forest when she spotted a large wooden structure with a single point of ingress/egress. Since she wasn’t an idiot, she didn’t just burst inside to try out the beds. Instead, she practiced tactical patience and established an observation post.

After tracking patterns of life for a few days, she was certain that the structure housed three bears of various sizes. In her head, she rehearsed the battle dozens of times before engaging. When the dust settled from the firefight, she found herself in possession of a defendable combat outpost deep in the woods.

3. Hansel and Gretel Learn About SERE

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Photo: Public Domain. Cartoon bubbles by WATM Logan Nye

When two privates were led by their evil stepmother to play deep in the woods, they brought a compass and map. The stepmother then attempted to abandon them in the forest. Since they knew their stride counts and checked their azimuth often, the kids were able to quickly move back to their home.

Near the house, the kids prepared a number of traps normally used to hunt game for food. These traps were positioned on areas the stepmother was known to frequent and the kids waited. When she trapped herself in a snare near the river, the kids bundled her up and sent her to a black site hidden under a candy cottage. The HUMINT guys got valuable information about witch operations and everyone else lived happily ever after.

4. Jack Gives the Army Instant Cover and Concealment

This is how JTACs stay sharp
GIF: YouTube/loverhole

Jack was a pretty forgettable little science nerd in his high school but he went on to join DARPA and invented some techno-wizardry-magical device that allowed soldiers to plant a single bean and create a towering observation post from which to cover the surrounding battlefield.

So soldiers began tossing these things all over the place to create forests overnight. Then, they’d slip into one of the beanstalks to get eyes on roads and other important battlefield objectives. The height of the stalks ensured them a clear line of sight for miles and since they could be grown overnight, troops could plant their own cover and concealment ahead of major operations.

5. The Three Little Pigs Use Concentrated Combat Power

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Photo: Public Domain

Three little pigs were preparing for an imminent invasion by a big, bad wolf when one proposed that each pig should fall back to their own home, the senior pig got pissed. “What are you, some kind of dumb boot!?” he asked. “We should concentrate our forces in the most defensible territory we have.”

That pig led his brothers to his house made of brick where they took shelter behind the thick walls. When the wolf arrived, the oldest pig engaged him from a second-floor window while his brothers maneuvered behind the enemy. Then, the pigs established fire superiority and cut the wolf down.

If you have your own platoon sergeant fairytale, share it with us on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #PltSgtFairyTales.

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Why George Takei loves the country that betrayed him

These days, the general public knows George Takei for two things: his role as one of the most hilarious people on social media, and his role as Starfleet veteran Hikaru Sulu.


But there’s a lot more to the man. Born in 1937, he grew up at an interesting time for Japanese-Americans.

This is how JTACs stay sharp

“When Pearl Harbor was bombed,” Takei said in a recent TED talk, “young Japanese-Americans, like all young Americans, rushed to their draft board to volunteer to fight for our country. That act of patriotism was answered with a slap in the face. We were denied service, and categorized as enemy non-alien.”

His grandparents immigrated to the United States from Japan. His mother and father met in Los Angeles, where Takei was born. Now 78, he was four years old on December 7, 1941, when the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and took the U.S. into World War II. 110,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast were rounded up and put into ten internment camps for the duration of the war. This was by all counts an unlawful imprisonment of American citizens. No one was excluded, including the Japanese-American being imprisoned in the Life photo below.

This is how JTACs stay sharp

Takei goes on to describe the Japanese-Americans conscripted from the internment camps and their two-pronged fight in the war – the fight against the enemy and their fight for recognition as proud American citizens.

“…the astounding thing,” Takei says, “is that thousands of young Japanese-American men and women again went from behind those barbed-wire fences, put on the same uniform as that of our guards, leaving their families in imprisonment, to fight for this country… They said that they were going to fight not only to get their families out from behind those barbed-wire fences, but because they cherished the very ideal of what our government stands for.”

He refers to the U.S. Army’s 442d Regimental Combat Team. Sent to Europe in 1944, the 442d boasted over 9,000 Purple Hearts, 8 Presidential Unit Citations, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, 560 Silver Stars, and 21 Medals of Honor. For a unit of just over 3,000 troops, they also had the extremely high casualty rate of 93%. They are best known for their actions against Nazi General Albert Kesselring’s Gothic Line in Italy, which Takei describes in his talk.

This is how JTACs stay sharp

“They are my heroes and my father is my hero, who understood democracy and guided me through it. They gave me a legacy, and with that legacy comes a responsibility, and I am dedicated to making my country an even better America, to making our government an even truer democracy, and because of the heroes that I have and the struggles that we’ve gone through, I can stand before you as a gay Japanese-American, but even more than that, I am a proud American.”

Now: This Vietnam-era wounder warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’ 

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4 things to know when your milspouse is deployed during tax season

This is how JTACs stay sharp


Can you believe it is that time of year again? Tax season is here and it is usually the last thing you want to deal with, especially if your spouse is deployed. Deployment comes with stressors of its own; don’t let your taxes be one of them. As military families, we know that we often face special circumstances with our taxes. If you don’t know where to start, and are in need of some guidance, here are 4 things you should consider before filing your taxes.

1. Work with Your Legal Office

Did you forget to get a special power of attorney in order to file your taxes? Don’t worry! Your base legal office can help. They provide not only services to prepare a special power of attorney, but many other tax services as well. First thing you will need to do is find your legal office on a nearby military installation. Using the Armed Forces Legal Assistance website, enter your zip code and the distance you are willing to travel, you will find the locations of the nearest legal offices near you.

You will want to call ahead to ensure, however most of these services are available at legal assistance offices:

Wills, testamentary trusts, and estate planning

Domestic relations, including divorce, legal separation, annulment, custody, and paternity

Adoption and name changes

Taxes, including basic advice and assistance on Federal, State, and local taxes — see below for more details on this!

Landlord-tenant relations, including review of personal leases and communication and correspondence

Servicemembers Civil Relief Act advice and assistance

So once you find your office, give them a call and schedule an appointment. Also, don’t forget to ask them what documents to bring with you; you wouldn’t want to make a wasted trip!

2. If You Need Help Filing Your Taxes Get It

If you need help getting your taxes filed, your legal office has a Voluntary Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) that can help. Make sure to call and check with your legal center to see if this service is available at your installation. The VITA will help you file your taxes free of charge, but you will want to make sure to go as early in the day as possible in order to avoid long lines. If you have decided to go to a private tax preparer, make sure they are familiar filing returns for service members and their dependents. Or you can always file your taxes yourself for free using the Military One Source website. I personally have been using this service for years and it works great for me and my family’s needs.

3. Get The Other Things You Need

Whether you have decided to file with a professional, or do them yourself at home, there are still quite a few things you will need to ensure you have before you get started. A tax professional will let you know what to bring, but be sure to keep the following at hand and ready when filing:

• Military ID

• All W-2 and 1099 forms

• Social Security cards for all family members

• Deductions and credit information

• Bank account and routing numbers

• Receipts for child care expenses

• Last year’s tax return

• Special power of attorney authorizing you to do business on behalf of the deployed service member. If you don’t have this, call that legal office!

4. Give Yourself Plenty of Time

Lastly, but perhaps the most important thing to remember, ensure you give yourself enough time. Federal income taxes need to be filed no later than April 15, 2016, unless you qualify for an extension such as the Combat zone and hazardous duty extensions. If you or your spouse are serving in a combat zone or are receiving hostile fire or imminent danger pay, the deadline for filing income taxes is 180 days after your last day in the combat zone or hazardous duty area. The IRS has a list available of the combat zones. So make sure you have everything you need and make those appointments in time.

Content provided courtesy of USAA.

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22 photos inside ‘Dustoff’ — the Army’s life-saving medevac crews

Army soldiers count on the elite medics assigned to air ambulance crews to pull them out of combat when they are wounded. These crews, called, “Dustoff,” fly unarmed choppers into combat and provide medical care to patients en route to US field hospitals. This air medical evacuation saves lives and bolsters the confidence of soldiers in the field.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Photo: US Army Sgt. Travis Zielinski


When the terrain is too rough for even a helicopter to land, hoists are used to lower medics or raise patients.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Rasheen A. Douglas

US Army Dustoff crews typically consist of a pilot, copilot, flight medic, and crew chief. Some teams, especially those on the newer UH-72A aircraft, will have a firefighter/paramedic in place of the crew chief unless a hoist operation is expected.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Photo: Department of Defense

Flight medics will train other soldiers on how to properly transfer patients to a medevac helicopter.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Ashley Moreno

When possible, the crew chief or flight medic will leave the bird to approach the patient, taking over care and supervising the move to the chopper.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Ashley Reed

This training is sometimes done with foreign militaries to ensure that, should the need arise in combat, the US and other militaries will be able to move patients together. Here, Republic of Korea soldiers train with US medics.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Lou Rosales

Medics going down on a hoist are supported by the crew chief, an aviation soldier who maintains the aircraft and specializes in the equipment on the bird.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Photo: US Army National Guard Sgt. Harley Jelis

Of course, not all injuries happen during calm weather in sunny climes. Medevac soldiers train to perform their job in harsh weather.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Photo: U.S. Army

The crews also train to rescue wounded soldiers at any hour, day or night.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Photo: Department of Defense

Some medevac pilots even train to land on ships for when that is the closest or best equipped hospital to treat a patient.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Photo: Department of Defense

Dustoff crews also care for service members who aren’t human. The most common of these patients are the military working dogs.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Photo: US Army

The Dustoff helicopters are launched when a “nine line” is called. When this specially formatted radio call goes out, medevac crews sprint to ready the choppers and take off.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Photo: US Marine Corps

The medevac is eagerly awaited by the troops on the ground who request it.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Photo: US Navy HMC Josh Ives

The flight medics can provide a lot of care even as they move a casualty in the air. Most patients will get a saline lock or an intravenous drip to replace fluids.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Paul Peterson

Flight medics have to deal with turbulence, loud noises, and possible attacks from the ground while they treat their patients.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Photo: US Army

Another challenge flight medics often face is providing treatment in low light or no light conditions.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Photo: Department of Defense

No light conditions require the use of NVGs, or night vision goggles.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Photo: US Army Sgt. Duncan Brennan

Medical evacuation helicopters also face challenges while picking up their patients. The tactical situation can be dangerous where these birds operate.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Photo: Department of Defense

Ground soldiers have to secure the landing zone.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Photo: US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Justin M. Mason

When the medevac bird returns to the base, the casualty is rushed into the hospital so they can be treated.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod

If a soldier’s injuries are severe enough, they’ll be stabilized and prepped again for transport to hospitals outside of the deployment zone.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Photo: Department of Defense

The mission of those under the Dustoff call sign can be challenging, but it provides great comfort to the troops on the ground.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Photo: Georgian Army National Guard Maj. Will Cox

 

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