US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants - We Are The Mighty
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US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants
A paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team passes before the rising sun during a patrol into a village May 4, 2012, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. The equipment on his back is used to block remotely detonated improvised explosive devices. | US Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod


On Wednesday, the US Army announced the creation of the Rapid Capabilities Office to “expedite critical technologies to the field in an effort to counter urgent and emerging threats.”

Essentially that means the Army now has an office with the authority to fast track technologies through the hulking, bloated, wasteful defense acquisition system that tried and failed three times to pick out something as simple as a new handgun.

Even vital systems can take 10 years to reach the field, which has greatly hamstrung the Army and made their tactics stale, predictable, and therefore vulnerable.

“Russia goes into the Ukraine and Russia goes into Syria [and] we realize that they’ve been watching us and learning from us and adapting. So we see some areas where we want to have a more pronounced ‘overmatch,”‘ Army Secretary Eric Fanning told Bloomberg News in an interview.

Fanning told Bloomberg’s Anthony Capaccio that the office would focus on “improvements to cyber operations, electronic warfare, survivability and GPS-enabled positioning, navigation and timing.”

As Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work said of the US armed forces in 2015, “our greatest advantage is the vibrant technological community in the United States, and the vibrant technological communities in our defense industrial base.”

However, as Daniel Gouré, Ph.D., of the Lexington Institute points out, with the current lag between technology’s inception to its deployment on the front lines, adversaries like Russia and China could gain technological supremacy over the US in as little as five years.

“There’s no denying we have a troubled acquisition past,” Fanning told Bloomberg. “We are bringing all elements of the Army together,” he said of the Rapid Capabilities Office.

“We’re serious about keeping our edge, so we need to make changes in how we get soldiers the technology they need,” Fanning said in a US Army release. “The Army Rapid Capabilities Office is a major step forward, allowing us to prioritize cross-domain, integrated capabilities in order to confront emerging threats and advance America’s military dominance.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is how a Marine amphibious vehicle caught fire during training in CA

An amphibious vehicle hit a gas line sparking a fire that injured 14 Marines and a sailor during a training exercise at a California base earlier this week, a US military official said Sept. 15.


The vehicle got stuck and as it tried to get free, it hit the gas line, said the official who was not authorized to discuss the incident publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Marines from the 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, and 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion and a Navy corpsman were conducting a combat readiness evaluation as part of their battalion training at about 9:30 a.m. Sept. 13 when the amphibious vehicle ignited in an inland area of Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego, said Marine 1st Lt. Paul Gainey.

The troops were sent to area hospitals, including eight who were rushed to a burn center. On Sept. 13, five were listed in critical condition. The Marine Corps has declined to release information on their conditions since then, citing privacy concerns.

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants
An Assault Amphibious Vehicle. USMC photo by Lance Cpl. Immanuel Johnson.

The command is investigating the cause of the incident. Gainey said he had no further information to release.

The armored vehicle is used to carry troops and their equipment from Navy ships onto land. It resembles a tank and travels through water before coming ashore. It has been used in the Marine Corps since the 1970s.

In 2013, a 21-year-old Camp Pendleton Marine died and four others were injured when ordnance ignited an amphibious assault vehicle during a training exercise at Marine Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, in the California desert.

The Marine Corps has since developed a safer mine clearing system for its amphibious assault vehicles.

Articles

6 separation beards and what they say about your personality

Being clean shaven every day in the military is an absolute must — unless you’re a special forces operator and are allowed to grow out a manly beard. Every morning, men (and some women) wake up during with a 5 o’clock shadow that is required to disappear before morning muster.


But the day you signed your DD-214 and no longer fall under the rules and regulations of shaving, it’s time to grow out that impressive separation beard — just because you can.

Not every beard is right for the individual. With several types of styles to choose from, it’s necessary to grow one that fits your specific personality. Don’t worry, we’re here to help you pick one out that fits your unique look.

Also Read: The Army may allow all soldiers to sport ‘operator beards’

1. The Mountain Man

Not to be mistaken for the “Homeless Man,” this style says “I work my ass for a living, but it’s usually somewhere outside in the cold.” It’s popular for keeping your face warm and catching food crumbs.

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants
You may take his life, but you’ll never take his separation beard!

2.  The Chuck Norris

One of our favorites, this traditional style relays to the world that not only can you be rugged, but you take enough time to trim up. This typically looks good enough to step into the boardroom for a presentation, then head right out to the gun range.

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants
Chuck Norris doesn’t shave — he orders his beard to stop growing.

3. The “I’m not too worried about it”

This unique look informs the world you’re just chilling, you’re in no hurry, and whatever happens, happens.

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants

Related: This Air Force fighter ace was the inspiration for ‘Mustache March’

4. The Galifianakis

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants

Named after the talent actor-comedian Zack Galifianakis, this ensures your fellow man that you’re a hard worker, but you know how to crack a good joke and don’t take life too seriously.

5. The Fuzz

Not everyone can grow a full separation beard — some of us grow them in thin-to-thick patches.

This doesn’t inform the world you have low testosterone (the male’s dominant hormone) because it isn’t a facial hair growth factor — dihydrotestosterone is the chemical that promotes thick beard growth and unfortunately is linked to hair loss. Bummer!

We still respect your commitment.

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants
You get points for trying.

6. The Shaggy

A fashionable look for those who received their separation paperwork and ran straight to the bar, leaving their razor or clipper behind in the barracks.

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants

Did we leave any out? Comment below.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Exclusive interview with Pearl Harbor National Memorial Superintendent Scott Burch

Scott Burch has been Acting Superintendent of Pearl Harbor National Memorial since August, 2020. In this role, Burch oversees the stewardship of the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial and other historic resources associated with the history of World War II in the Pacific from the events leading to the December 7, 1941 attack on Oah’u, to peace and reconciliation.

Before arriving at Pearl Harbor National Memorial Burch had been serving as the Superintendent of the National Park of American Samoa since 2015, where he led a diverse staff of 50. Previously, he served at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon and at Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska. Some projects and programs he has worked on in parks include expansion of the visitor center and drawing indigenous villages together on conservation issues in American Samoa and working with local tribes on water rights in the American West. He has spent much of his life working to improve diversity and including as many voices as possible on a wide variety of issues.

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants

WATM: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today. As we approach this national day of remembrance for the lives lost during the second world war, tourists are wondering if you’re open on the anniversary and if so, what precautions is the museum taking against the pandemic?

Thank you for having me today, we are open on the anniversary. It’s going to be a little different this year and most of that is based on the pandemic. We’re delaying our opening time to allow for the safety of our veterans that we will be hosting on the morning of December 7th. Our plan is to have a virtual event that will be live streamed.

It will be very much like the usual ceremony with a ship passing in review, we’ll have a missing man fly over, echo taps, and great speakers. The only people on site will be the speakers themselves as they’re being filmed and live streamed on our social media page. We’re not even going to invite the veterans this year because of concern of that high-risk population. So, what we’ve offered them is the opportunity to take their families out on the memorial that morning on their own personal tour of the memorial.

Five of them have taken us up on that offer. So, we’ll run one group at a time to keep them separate and then once we’re finished with that, we plan on opening the park itself to the public at about 1230. =

WATM: Safeguarding our nation’s history is an immense privilege and commitment. When did you realize your passion for the Pearl Harbor National Memorial needed to be turned into action?

For me personally, the Arizona memorial has been important to me my entire life. I grew up here just up the hill. My first experience in life is the shrine room in the memorial. So this place has a very special place in my heart. As I’ve gone down the path of life, I feel lucky that it has led me back here to home, where I literally feel like I belong. 

I’ve known that my passion needed action from my very first days and my very first memories. It was just a matter of time to be able to finally come back and give back what it has given me my whole life. 

WATM: What is something about the history of the battle that most people don’t know?

I’m glad you’ve asked that question, Ruddy. Our real focus for our ceremony and the events we’re having is to try to share a very diverse story about what we serve and protect — to include as many stories as we can. One of the interesting things that I think is not well known, the attack on December 7th, 1941 which is very well known and changed the world forever after World War II, one of the sad stories is that that battle lead a series of events that lead to the mass incarceration of over 120,000 Japanese in the United States. Including over 2,000 in Hawaii based solely on their race.

As wisemen say ‘if you don’t learn from history, you’re likely going to make the same mistakes again.’

I think it is a better place because we’ve learned from things like that. I think it’s important to share and celebrate our success in coming so far from those things. Not only as a nation with our world international relations but as humans.

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants

WATM: Americans love to conserve the heritage that has shaped our way of life. How can people who cannot travel to Hawaii support the mission of the Pearl Harbor National Memorial? 

The best way to support our mission, preserving and protecting this special place, is to learn more about it. That is one of the big reasons the National Park Service is so happy to be involved in preserving and protecting the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. 

There are the usual ways to learn about this place: our website, social media, and lots of ways to engage even though you cannot get to Hawaii. This weekend, starting tomorrow, is a real special opportunity. 

We have a virtual program called Beyond Pearl Harbor: Untold Stories of WWII.

There are three components to the programs – Live sessions, film festival, and education videos. They all can be found on this website: www.pacifichistoricparks.org/virtualprograms

It will kick off at 1600 HST December 7th, 2020 for the duration of the weekend.

When I arrived in this job one big personal goal, I had was to make Pearl Harbor National Memorial more relevant to more people. This program is part of that work. On one level its designed to be a jump start to our virtual Dec 7th event, but it has developed a life of its own. Pacific Historic Parks is hosting it on their website and have been instrumental in helping us work on the new messages we hope to share this year.

There are 9 facebook live programs:

Articles

8 photos of the terrifying knife hand in action

All military service members dread the ominous  “knife hand” when being addressed by a superior as it usually means they are being corrected or some sort of discipline is soon to follow. Below are the 8 images designed to awaken your greatest fears:


1. Recruits discover them quickly

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants
Photo: Cpl. Octavia Davis/USMC

 

2. A loud verbal correction often maximizes the effect

 

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Andre N. McIntyre/Navy

3. The knife hand extends across all branches of service

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants

 

4. What better way to correct a trainee’s salute?

 

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants
Photo: Alan Boedeker/US Air Force

 

5. They come in handy while testifying before Congress

 

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants
Photo: Sgt. Marionne T. Mangrum/USMC

 

6. A four-star version is exceptionally attention-getting

 

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants
Marine Corps

 

7. Even “poolies” can get a taste of the ominous gesture

 

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants
Photo: Sgt. Jose Nava/USMC

 

8. There are knife hands and then there are the Merhle from ‘The Walking Dead’ version

 

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants

MIGHTY TRENDING

This soldier recounts celebrating Halloween in Baghdad with a toga party

John Daniel was an Army infantryman who remembers his Iraq deployment as long, hard, and constantly on the move.


Though is unit suffered its share of casualties, miraculously there were no fatalities. So to celebrate a KIA-free deployment, he and his men snuck some bootleg hooch and had a toga party.

Daniel has many tattoos — from a Roman helmet atop modern combat boots to his staff sergeant’s favorite phrase “Pain and Repetition.” He points to the one on his shoulder with particular pride. It reads: “The Real 1%ers.”

“We’re the ones in America who will stand up to fight and defend our country,” Daniel explains.

Daniel’s story is part of a video series presented by We Are The Mighty. War Ink: 11 for 11 features 11 combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan using tattoos to tell their stories on and off the battlefield. Each week for the next 11 weeks, a different tattooed veteran will share his or her story.

Do you have a tattoo that tells the story of your war experiences? Post a photo of it at We Are The Mighty’s Facebook page with the hashtag #WeAreTheMightyInk. WATM will be teeing up the coolest and most intense ones through Veteran’s Day.

Video Credit: Rebecca Murga and Karen Kraft

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why the Army’s powerful new tanks might be drones

Next Generation Combat Vehicle

The Army is now seeking to finesse a careful and combat-relevant balance between upgrading the current Abrams and Bradley to the maximum degree while also recognizing limitations and beginning conceptual work on a new platform called Next-Generation Combat Vehicle.


While the Army is only now in the early stages of concept development for this technology, Maj. Gen. David Bassett, Program Executive Officer, Ground Combat Systems, told Scout Warrior that it may indeed evolve into a family of vehicles.

A fleet of similarly engineered vehicles would be designed to allow each vehicle to be tailored and distinct, while simultaneously improving maintenance, logistics, and sustainment by using many common parts; the objective would, of course, be to lower long-term lifecycle costs and extend the service life of the vehicles. However, of potentially much greater significance, similar engineering, vehicle structures, and configurations could definitely expedite upgrades across the fleet as enabled by new technology. This could include new sensors, sights, electronics, force tracking systems, and a range of C4ISR technology.

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants
M1A1 Abrams firing its massive main cannon. (Photo from USMC)

Many Army comments have indicated that the configuration of the new vehicles may resemble hull forms of an Abrams, Mobile Protected Firepower vehicle, Bradley, or even elements of a Stryker vehicle. However, it is without question that, whatever NGCV evolves into, it will be built to consistently accommodate the best emerging technologies available.

For instance, Army developers explained that some early developmental work inolved assessing lighter weight armor and hull materials able to provide the same protection as the current vehicle at a much lower weight.

“We could look at some novel material, such as lightweight tracks or a hull replacement,” Lt. Col. Justin Shell, the Army’s product manager for Abrams, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

Key parameters for the NGCV will, among other things, include building a lighter-weight, more mobile and deployable vehicle. Weight, speed, and mobility characteristics are deemed essential for a tank’s ability to support infantry units, mechanized armored units, and dismounted soldiers by virtue of being able to cross bridges, rigorous terrain, and other combat areas less accessible to existing 70-ton Abrams tanks.

Bassett explained that specific cross-functional team leads have begun to explore concepts and early requirements for the NGCV effort to, among other things, look for common, cross-fleet technologies and build in flexibility.

“Cross functional teams are defining the art of the possible as we look at what technologies are available,” Bassett said in an interview with Scout Warrior. “We could change some assumptions. We want to give the Army some flexibility.”

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants
The M2 Bradley has seen a lot of desert miles. (National War College Military Image Collection)

One possibility now receiving some attention, Army senior leaders say, is that the NGCV may implement a lightweight 120mm cannon previously developed for one of the Manned-Ground Vehicles developed for the now-cancelled Future Combat Systems program. The vehicle, called the Mounted Combat System, was built with a two-ton 120mm cannon roughly one-half the weight of the current Abrams cannon.

The Army’s MCS program developed and test-fired a super lightweight 120mm cannon, called the XM360, able to fire existing and emerging next-generation tank rounds.

The MCS was to have had a crew of two, a .50 caliber machine gun, and a 40mm automatic grenade launcher.

The Army’s recent Combat Vehicle Modernization Strategy specifically mentions the value of adapting the XM360 for future use.

“Next-Generation Large Caliber Cannon Technology. The XM360 next-generation 120mm tank cannon integrated with the AAHS will provide the M1 Abrams a capability to fire the next generation of high-energy and smart-tank ammunition at beyond line-of-sight (LOS) ranges. The XM360 could also incorporate remote control operation technologies to allow its integration on autonomous vehicles and vehicles with reduced crew size. For lighter weight vehicles, recoil limitations are overcome by incorporating the larger caliber rarefaction wave gun technology while providing guided, stabilized LOS, course-corrected LOS, and beyond LOS accuracy.”

Special new technology was needed for the XM360 in order to allow a lighter-weight cannon and muzzle to accommodate the blast from a powerful 120mm tank round.

Elements of the XM360 include a combined thermal and environmental shroud, blast deflector, a composite-built overwrapped gun, tube-modular gun-mount, independent recoil brakes, gas-charged recuperators, and a multi-slug slide block breech with an electric actuator, Army MCS developmental documents describe.

Read More: This new, more deadly version of the M1 Abrams tank is on its way to the fight

Abrams Robotic Wingmen

While not specifically referring to a T-14 Armata’s unmanned turret or Russian plans for an autonomous capability, Basset did say it is conceivable that future armored vehicles may indeed include an unmanned turret as well as various level of autonomy, tele-operation, and manned-unmanned teaming. The prospect of integrating “autonomous vehicles” into future armored platforms is, as noted above, also specified in the Army’s Combat Vehicle Modernization strategy.

Accordingly, Basset also emphasized that the future NGCV vehicles will be designed to incorporate advanced digital signal processing and machine-learning, such as AI technologies.

Computer algorithms enabling autonomous combat functions are progressing at an alarming rate, inspiring Army and General Dynamics Land Systems developers to explore the prospect of future manned-unmanned collaboration with tank platforms. It is certainly within the realm of the technically feasible for a future tank to simultaneously control a small fleet of unmanned robotic “wing man” vehicles designed to penetrate enemy lines while minimizing risk to soldiers, transporting ammunition, or performing long-range reconnaissance and scout missions.

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants
CINCU, Romania – Tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles from 1st Battalion, 163rd Infantry Regiment, Montana Army National Guard, take up defensive while participating in Exercise Saber Guardian 16 at the Romanian Land Force Combat Training Center. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Corey Baltos, 24th Press Camp Headquarters).

“The Chief has stated that all future vehicles will be tele-operated. We take those things into account and we’re are going to get some great experimentation in this area,” Bassett said. “There are things you can do in a next-gen vehicle which you cannot do in a current vehicle due to physical requirements.”

Levels of autonomy for air vehicles, in particular, have progressed to a very advanced degree – in part because there are, quite naturally, fewer obstacles in the air precluding autonomous navigation. GPS-enabled waypoint technology already facilitates both ground and air autonomous movement; however, developing algorithms for land-based autonomous navigation is far more challenging given that a vehicle will need to quickly adjust to a fast-moving, dynamic, and quickly-changing ground combat environment.

“There is a dramatic difference in size, weight, and power performance if you make something tele-operated,” Bassett said.

Articles

A 93-year-old WW2 vet just showed what compassion in victory looks like

Deep within the mountains of Gifu Prefecture, in a small farming village hidden away from the fast-paced city life, the family of a fallen Japanese soldier eagerly waited for the return of a precious heirloom. For the first time in 73 years, the Yasue family can finally receive closure for the brother that never came home from war.


World War II veteran Marvin Strombo traveled 10,000 miles from his quiet home in Montana to the land of the rising sun to personally return a Japanese flag he had taken from Sadao Yasue during the Battle of Saipan in June 1944.

The USMC veteran carried the flag with him decades after his time serving as a scout sniper with 6th Marine Regiment, Second Marine Division. He cared for the flag meticulously and never once forgot the promise he made to Yasue as he took the flag from him in the midst of war.

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants
USMC photo by Sgt. N.W. Huertas

As a young corporal, Strombo looked up from his position on the battlefield, he noticed he became separated from his squad behind enemy lines. As he started heading in the direction of the squad’s rally point, he came across a Japanese soldier that lay motionless on the ground.

“I remember walking up to him,” said Strombo. “He was laying on his back, slightly more turned to one side. There were no visible wounds and it made it look almost as if he was just asleep. I could see the corner of the flag folded up against his heart. As I reached for it, my body didn’t let me grab it at first. I knew it meant a lot to him but I knew if I left it there someone else might come by and take it. The flag could be lost forever. I made myself promise him, that one day, I would give back the flag after the war was over.”

As years went on, Strombo kept true to his promise to one day deliver the heirloom. It was not until the fateful day he acquainted himself with the Obon Society of Astoria, Oregon, that he found a way to Yasue’s family.

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants
USMC photo by Sgt. N.W. Huertas

Through the coordination of the Obon Society, both families received the opportunity to meet face-to-face to bring what remained of the Yasue home.

Sadao’s younger brother, Tatsuya Yasue, said his brother was a young man with a future to live. When Sadao was called upon to go to war, his family gave him this flag as a symbol of good fortune to bring him back to them. Getting this flag back means more to them than just receiving an heirloom. It’s like bringing Sadao’s spirit back home.

Tatsuya was accompanied by his elder sister Sayoko Furuta and younger sister Miyako Yasue to formally accept the flag. As Tatsuya spoke about what his brother meant to not only his family, but the other members of the community, he reminisced over the last moments he had with him before his departure.

Tatsuya said his family received permission to see Sadao one last time, so they went to him. He came down from his living quarters and sat with them in the grass, just talking. When they were told they had five more minutes, Sadao turned to his family and told them that it seemed like they were sending him to somewhere in the Pacific. He told them he probably wasn’t coming back and to make sure they took good care of their parents. That was the last time Tatsuya ever spoke to his brother.

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants
Soldiers at the battle of Saipan. Photo from US National Archives.

As Strombo and Yasue exchanged this simple piece of cloth from one pair of hands to the next, Strombo said he felt a sense of relief knowing that after all these years, he was able to keep the promise he made on the battlegrounds of Saipan.

The reunion also held more emotional pull as it took place during the Obon holiday, a time where Japanese families travel back to their place of origin to spend time with loved ones.

Although Strombo never fought alongside Yasue, he regarded him almost as a brother. They were both young men fighting a war far from home. He felt an obligation to see his brother make it home, back to his family, as he had made it back to his own. Strombo stayed true to his word and honored the genuine Marine spirit to never leave a man behind.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Green Berets remember first mission in Afghanistan after 9/11 (Part I)

The movie 12 Strong arrives in theaters Jan. 19 and tells the harrowing story of the first U.S. Special Forces mission in Afghanistan following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The following recounts the events of the Green Berets’ first mission in Afghanistan, as they sought to destroy the Taliban regime and deny Al-Qaeda sanctuary in that country.


The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania sent shockwaves throughout the world. While the tragedy prompted responses of love and comfort, it also inspired a sense of resolve and retribution. In fact, the sun hadn’t even set on the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center when the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. military, and U.S. Army Special Operations Command began planning a response. They would rain fire on the terrorists who had claimed the lives of thousands of innocent Americans, and on the brutal regime in Afghanistan that had sheltered them.

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants
Now-Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brad Fowers poses with Afghan fighters and warlords who opposed the Taliban. Fowers served on one of the first Special Forces detachments from the U.S. Army Special Operations Command’s 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) to arrive in Afghanistan following 9-11. Their mission was to destroy the Taliban regime and deny Al-Qaeda sanctuary in Afghanistan. They scouted bomb targets and teamed with local resistance groups. (Photo courtesy of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brad Fowers)

Task Force Dagger

It was soon clear that the initial operation, named Task Force Dagger, would involve bomb drops and small teams of special operators who would link up with local warlords and resistance fighters known collectively as the Northern Alliance. The task force would train and supply the Afghans, coordinating between the U.S. and the various ethnic groups — many of which were historic enemies of one another.

The Army’s 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) eagerly took on the mission, despite little available intelligence on Afghanistan, and despite the fact that few Soldiers could speak Dari or Pashtun. The task force picked up a few phrases pretty quickly and worked using three-way translations with other languages they already knew, such as Arabic, Farsi, and Russian.

“You had all of the emotions going on from 9-11,” remembered Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brad Fowers, then a junior weapons sergeant on Operational Detachment A 574. It would be his first combat deployment, and his team wound up escorting future President Hamid Karzai into the country. “There was a lot of emotions, excitement, amazement. It was an extreme honor. Looking back on it now, it’s humbling. … It was a very privileged moment in our history to see how things unfolded and what so many are capable of doing.”

Also Read: ’12 Strong’ showcases the best of America’s fighting spirit

“We went carrying what we believed to be the hopes of the American people with us,” added Lt. Gen. John F. Mulholland, former USASOC commander, in a speech. In September 2001, he served as the 5th Special Forces Group (A) commander. “If there was any fear that we had, it was that we would be worthy of the American people … the people of New York, the people of Washington, the people of Pennsylvania, the people of our great country and all those … who lost people that day. So that was with us constantly, the fear that we would not be worthy of the American people.”

Knuckle-whitening flight

After almost two weeks of bombings, which kicked off Oct. 7, 2001, the first insertion was set for mid-October. As with any covert, nighttime flying operation, the dangerous mission was assigned to the Night Stalkers of the 160th Special Operations Regiment (Airborne), “the finest aviators in the world, bar none” according to Mulholland.

But the mission to insert the Green Berets into Afghanistan, flying from Uzbekistan over the Hindu Kush mountains — which could reach up to 20,000 feet and caused altitude sickness — was something else. The weather, sandstorms, and a black cloud of rain, hail, snow, and ice was so bad it delayed the first insertion by two days until Oct. 19 — an eternity for men who pledge to always arrive at their destination on time, plus or minus 30 seconds. The weather could change from one mile to the next, from elevation to elevation, and continuously caused problems throughout Task Force Dagger.

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants
Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Baker of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) poses in front of De Oppresso Liber, or the Horse Soldier, a 16-foot bronze statue honoring the work of Special Forces Soldiers in Afghanistan at the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom in the last months of 2001. As a flight engineer on a 160th SOAR MH-47 Chinook, Baker helped transport the first Special Forces teams into Afghanistan through horrible weather and in some of the most challenging flying conditions in history. (U.S. Army Special Operations Command photo by Cheryle Rivas)

“Just imagine flying when you can’t see three feet in front of you for a couple of hours, landing or hoping the weather would clear so you could refuel, and then flying through the mountains all the while getting shot at and hoping our (landing zone) was clear,” recalled Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Baker, now of the SOAR’s Special Operations Training Battalion. Fifteen years ago, he was a young, brand-new flight engineer on his first combat mission.

I was proud and scared. … There was a lot of stuff going on. There was bad weather. A lot of people compared those first missions to Lt. Col. (James) Doolittle in World War II because we were doing stuff no one had ever done before. … We had a mission to make sure these Soldiers got in. … It was my first time ever getting shot at. That’s a pretty vivid memory. … It was war. I don’t think I’ve ever been any closer to my fellow brothers-in-arms than I was then. All we had was each other.
MIGHTY TRENDING

Veterans are finding jobs in flooring and tile installation

Flooring installer jobs can be great for transitioning veterans who are interested in a hands-on career. There are many opportunities to enter this line of work for those who want to. There are many advantages as well.

These jobs may not be for you if you do not like to work with your hands or to build stuff. The pay is above the median, but it is not as high as some other occupations and the pay potential at the top end can also be limited. The work might not be consistent either, like with many other types of construction occupations, employment is sensitive to the fluctuations of the economy.

On the one hand, workers may experience periods of unemployment when the overall level of construction falls. On the other hand, additional workers may be needed in some areas during peak periods of building activity.


Flooring installers and tile and marble setters lay and finish carpet, wood, vinyl, and tile. Flooring installers and tile and marble setters lay the materials that improve the look and feel of homes, offices, restaurants, and other buildings. Although flooring and tile are usually installed after most of the construction for a project has been completed and the work area is mostly clean and uncluttered, some materials and tasks may be messy.

The work environment should be considered like a construction area even if it may not be. Some examples of these jobs are carpet installers, carpet tile installers, floor sanders and finishers, floor layers, and tile and marble setters.

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants

The pay is in line with to slightly above the national average for all jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the median annual wage for flooring installers and tile and marble setters was ,250 in May 2017. This is roughly .25 per hour. The lowest 10 percent earned less than ,590, and the highest 10 percent earned more than ,990. Workers involved in construction of buildings tended to make more than workers who work in building finishing, manufacturing, or home stores.

The job outlook is strong. Employment of flooring installers and tile and marble setters is projected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. The construction of new housing units will be the primary source of flooring and tile and marble installation work over the next decade. As the housing industry continues to recover, more flooring installers will be hired to work on these units. In addition, more flooring installers and tile and marble setters will be needed for remodeling and replacement projects in existing homes.

There are relatively few obstacles to becoming a flooring installer. Flooring installers and tile and marble setters typically learn their trade on the job, sometimes starting as a helper. Some learn through an apprenticeship.

There are no specific education requirements for someone to become a flooring installer or tile and marble setter. A high school diploma or equivalent is preferred for those entering an apprenticeship program. An apprenticeship program may include mathematics, building code requirements, safety and first-aid practices, and blueprint reading. After completing an apprenticeship program, flooring installers and tile and marble setters are considered to be journey workers and may perform duties on their own.

To be successful as one you should have strong attention to detail, good strength and stamina, math skills, and good interpersonal skills for interacting with customers and clients.You should also be self-motivated and punctual. These are all basic skills necessary to successfully serve at any level in the military as well.

This article originally appeared on G.I. Jobs. Follow @GIJobsMagazine on Twitter.

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Coast Guard commandant warns of cruise missile-equipped Russian icebreakers

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft has one very clear message: The country needs more icebreakers.


Zukunft reiterated that point time and again during an Aug. 24 speech to members of the Alaska policy nonprofit Commonwealth North in Anchorage.

He recalled a conversation he had with then-National Security Advisor Susan Rice when Rice asked him what President Barack Obama should highlight shortly before the president’s extended trip to Alaska in late August 2015.

“I said (to Rice) we are an Arctic nation. We have not made the right investments and we do not have the strategic assets to be an Arctic nation and that translates to icebreakers and that’s almost exactly what President Obama said when he came up here,” Zukunft said.

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants
US Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

“Fast forward — it’s Jan. 20, 2017, and I’m sitting next to President Trump and as they’re parading by he says, ‘So, you got everything you need?’ I said, ‘I don’t. The last administration, they made a statement but they didn’t show me the money. I need icebreakers.’ (Trump said) ‘How many?’ ‘Six.’ ‘You got it.’

“You never miss an opportunity,” Zukunft quipped.

It’s well documented in Alaska that the US has “one-and-a-half” operable icebreakers. That is, the heavy icebreaker Polar Star and the medium icebreaker Healy, which are in the Coast Guard’s fleet. A sister ship to the Polar Star, the Polar Sea remains inactive after an engine failure in 2010.

Zukunft noted Russia’s current fleet of 41 icebreakers to emphasize how far behind he feels the US is in preparing for increased military and commercial activity in the Arctic as sea ice continues to retreat — a message Alaska’s congressional delegation stresses as well.

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants
USCGC Healy. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

“We are the only military service that’s truly focused on what’s happening in the Arctic and what happens in the Arctic does not happen in isolation,” Zukunft said.

He added that Russia is on track to deliver two more cruise missile-equipped icebreakers in 2020.

“I’m not real comfortable with them right on our back step coming through the Bering Strait and operating in this domain when we have nothing to counter it with,” he said.

The Coast Guard’s 2017 budget included a $150 million request to fund a new medium icebreaker, which Zukunft characterized as a “down payment” on the vessel expected to cost about $780 million, according to an Aug. 15 Congressional Research Service report on the progress of adding to the country’s icebreaking fleet.

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants
Photo from United Sates European Command.

For years it was estimated that new heavy icebreakers would cost in the neighborhood of $1 billion each, but those estimates have been revised down as the benefits of lessons learned through construction of the initial vessel and ordering multiple icebreakers from the same shipyard are further examined.

The CRS report now estimates the first heavy icebreaker will cost about $980 million to build, but by the fourth that price tag would go down to about $690 million for an average per-vessel cost of about $790 million. That is on par with the cost for a single new medium icebreaker.

Zukunft said the Coast Guard is working with five shipyards on an accelerated timeline to get the first icebreaker by 2023, but how it will be fully funded is still unclear.

“We have great bipartisan support but who is going to write the check?” he said, adding that aside from Russia and China, the United States’ economy is larger than that of the other 18 nations with icebreakers combined.

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants
The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, a heavy icebreaker homeported in Seattle. USCG photo by Petty Officer 1st Class George Degener.

The Obama administration first proposed a high-level funding plan for new icebreakers in 2013 that has not been advanced outside of small appropriations.

“Our GDP (gross domestic product) is at least five times that of Russia and we’re telling ourselves we can’t afford it,” Zukunft continued. “Now this is just an issue of political will and not having the strategic forbearance to say this is an investment that we must have.”

He also advocated for the US finally signing onto the United Nations Law of the Sea treaty, which lays out the broad ground rules for what nations control off their coasts and how they interact in international waters.

Not signing onto the Law of the Sea, which was opened in 1982, leaves the US little say as other nations further study and potentially exploit the Arctic waters that are opening, he said.

“We are in the same club as Yemen; we are in the Star Wars bar of misfits of countries that have not ratified the Law of the Sea convention,” Zukunft said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why Iran stopped messing with the US Navy under Trump

Iran’s navy made a point of harassing and humiliating the US Navy in 2016 after then-President Barack Obama had sealed the Iran deal, but since August 2017, the US Navy says things have changed.


“It seems like they’ve absolutely made a conscious decision to give us more space,” Navy Cmdr. William Urban recently said. “That is definitely a change in their behavior.”

Iran would charge US Navy ships with fast attack craft, buzz fighter jets with drones, and even shine lasers at helicopters operating at sea during Obama’s presidency.

But the worst, most embarrassing incident occurred in January 2016, when Iran’s navy seized two US Navy riverine boats and the 10 sailors on board after the ship wandered into Iranian waters due to mechanical issues. They broadcast footage of the sailors, crying, in detention, on television across the country. Iran later announced plans to build a monument commemorating the event.

Also read: The US Navy had 90 seconds to defend itself when Iranian-backed militants fired on them off Yemen

Later that year, Iranian ships conducted “unsafe and unprofessional” and often taunting maneuvers around US Navy ships in the Persian Gulf five times in about a month.

In September of that same year, Trump addressed Iran while on the campaign trail. “When they circle our beautiful destroyers with their little boats and they make gestures at our people that they shouldn’t be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water,” Trump said.

Shortly after Trump’s election, the incidents noticeably stopped, despite Trump’s open hostility towards Iran, compared to Obama’s attempts to appease them.

What happened?

US Army weapons acquisition just got a much-needed kick in the pants
Iran’s fast attack craft, the type repeatedly used to harass US Navy ships. (Photo by Fars News Agency via USNI News)

The US Navy “openly acknowledged there was a shift that happened roughly around the time we had our political transition,” Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Business Insider. “There was a status quo and the status quo changed.”

According to Schanzer, the Trump administration gave no official warning to Iran over the naval incidents, but instead, “the unpredictability of Trump has made Iran more reticent to test American red lines.”

Related: Iran threatened the US Navy again

Compared to the US Navy, the best on earth, Iran’s navy just treads water. Iranians, even the hardliners, must know their small attack craft can’t pose a meaningful threat to US ships, and even if they could, US retaliation would devastate the forces.

Instead, rushing US ships and putting them on the defensive, as well as capturing sailors, works mainly for propaganda purposes for Iran, whose authoritarian regime controls the media and pushes a heavily anti-US agenda.

With Trump similarly focused on optics and pledging to revitalize the US military, Iran may have pivoted towards quietly pursuing its foreign policy goals, rather than making a scene that Trump could react to violently.

More: The US Navy unloaded on the Iranians in the most explosive surface fight since WWII

“There’s another side of this,” said Schanzer. “They understood that there was a change in the rules of the risk/reward calculus, but they also seem to understand that there was less of a policy with regard to their regional activity from Yemen to Iraq to Syria.”

So while Iran has dropped the very visible, US-centric naval run-ins, it’s picked up on recruiting militias, deploying its armed forces to Syria, and supplying anti-US and anti-Israel militant groups.

“They realize if they want to actually achieve their objectives across the Middle East, they needed to dial back on the harassment that would needlessly provoke the US,” Schanzer said.

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Vets First helped this former airman build her spiritual home

“It is neither your title nor your name that defines you, but what is written on your heart.”


Rene Locklear White has held many titles: lieutenant colonel; Air Force veteran; wife; mother; Native American religious leader.

But none of these things define her.

Serving as a space satellite surveillance officer, White says, “I spent 22 years in the Air Force. Proudly. Happily.”

That pride and that happiness are what define her more than anything.

With her husband, Chris “Comeswithclouds” White, White runs Sanctuary on the Trail, a Native American Christian church in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The church has five key areas of focus this year, the Spirit Speaks Forum, arts and culture advancement, disaster relief, human rights advocacy, and veteran wellness.

The focus on veteran wellness doesn’t jut apply to spiritual wellness, but to physical wellness. Together, the Whites work with veterans to understand their benefits and to get wounded warrior care for themselves and their families.

Comeswithclouds built their house with his son, Jacob, and the home is a beautiful reflection of who they are.

“We can honor nature and be a part of it, all the time,” White said. “The house is built, but now we’re.. building the community,” Comeswithclouds noted.

Currently, the family hosts Ceremony at their home, inviting members and strangers alike to experience the land in its purest, untouched state. The way Native Americans thousands of years before them did.

For more information, visit Sanctuaryonthetrail.org.

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