WATM teams with Grunt Style to bring morale-boosting apparel to the people - We Are The Mighty
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WATM teams with Grunt Style to bring morale-boosting apparel to the people

We Are The Mighty has teamed up with Grunt Style to launch a new online merch store. Grunt Style is a veteran-owned and operated clothing brand founded by Army veteran and drill sergeant Dan Alarik.


Started as a small custom t-shirt operation at Fort Benning, Grunt Style has evolved into a multi-million dollar business that employs nearly 70 veterans and embraces military themes and values in its company culture.

Here’s what happened when Grunt Style visited the WATM offices:

[shopify embed_type=”product” shop=”shop-wearethemighty.myshopify.com” product_handle=”watm-we-are-the-mighty” show=”all”]
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USS Mahan fires warning shots at Iranian vessels

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


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

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

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

WATM teams with Grunt Style to bring morale-boosting apparel to the people
The Flight II Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG 72). (U.S. Navy photo)

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

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

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

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

WATM teams with Grunt Style to bring morale-boosting apparel to the people
Iranian fast-attack boats during a naval exercise in 2015. | Wikimedia photo by Sayyed Shahaboddin Vajedi

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

For some vets, certifications are worth more than degrees

As a veteran, while I was active duty I had a hard time deciding where to focus my efforts to make myself competitive for a job after the service. I wanted to prepare for my future both in the military and as a civilian.

In the last couple years and following months leading up to transition, I was constantly debating the desire and effort to get either a master’s degree or get a professional certification. The difficulty I found was not that I wanted one or the other but that I was unsure what I wanted to do after transition and I wasn’t sure what would help me the most. I considered an MBA, MS in logistics or MS in Supply Chain Management, MA in operations or management etc. Then there was the factor of time available and time until I transitioned; neither of which I had a lot of.

When I talked to a mentor of mine I was advised to pursue the certifications rather than education. This surprised me, but it was good advice for my situation.


Here were some of the factors I was dealing with:

  1. I had a defined timeline. (less than 2 years)
  2. I wanted the best value for my effort and money with versatility. (I wanted to save my GI Bill for my kids)
  3. I didn’t yet know what I wanted to do for a career with enough specificity to invest in a master’s degree.
  4. I needed something to help me get a job/make me competitive in the job market and also demonstrate my skills to an employer.

For me the choice to pursue certifications was better than to pursue a masters and has been huge for me since I left active duty. This isn’t to say that certification is better than a master’s degree, but I think this is an overlooked opportunity for active duty before and during transition.

As I have coached individuals through this question over the past two years I start with a simple process.

  1. What field do you want to go into and what role do you want to have? *If you are unsure then look at a job posting to see what qualifications are required.
WATM teams with Grunt Style to bring morale-boosting apparel to the people

Ask the right questions

Knowing the type of industry and what position/type of work a person wants to hold/do helps frame and shape what qualifications, certifications, and education might be beneficial. Certain industries value certifications more than formal education. Things like IT/Software development tend to value certifications more (Security Plus, C++, ITIL, ACP, SCRUM). Areas like finance and business value more formal programs like MBA. Engineering and construction look for both (BS/MS degree and PE/PMP).

  1. What is your timeline? Various education programs have very different timelines to obtain. Master’s programs usually take about 2 years. Certifications are usually less depending on if there is a project associated or not.
  2. What is your budget? Formal education programs are typically much more expensive than certification programs.

As I began to look at the qualifications listed on jobs I was interested in two certifications stood out. Lean six sigma and PMP. Both of these I was able to earn and have funded by the military.

So what do you choose? Here are some pros and cons to each.

Certifications


Pros:

  • Affordability
  • Quick Timeline to obtain
  • Both narrow and broad application depending on which certification
  • Quicker return on investment
  • Often demonstrate education and experience
  • Cost may be reimbursed or covered by employer or military unit.

Cons:

  • Often Industry specific
  • Many require experience in a field (PE, PMP)
  • Not all instructional programs are quality (Flooded market)
  • Often require re-certification/maintenance

Formal degree 


Pros:

  • Often Required for upper movement in a corporation
  • Broad acceptance and application
  • More in depth learning and education
  • Costs may be reimbursed
  • No re-certification

Cons:

  • Long time to obtain
  • High costs
  • May be industry specific

The choice is not always easy but hopefully this provides some insights that have not previously been considered and a way to approach this decision.

I can tell you that for me my PMP certificate and the training I received was invaluable. I have used the training in my role as a Project Manager in a heavy rigging company and how as a consultant with a DOD firm. The best thing was that my military unit funded it as well as my lean six sigma certification.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Combat Controller receives Air Force Cross for valor in Afghanistan

Air Force Staff Sgt. Richard Hunter was accompanying a 50-man joint Special Forces team as they moved forward in Taliban-ridden Kunduz Province on Nov. 2, 2016.


As they snaked through an alleyway during the night mission in search of a high-value target in Boz Qandahari village, the U.S.-Afghan team came upon a barrier, “a large metal fence, that blocked the way, and it wasn’t supposed to be there,” according to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson.

That’s when the first enemy grenade was launched, and bullets started to spray during the ambush, said Wilson, who presented the Air Force Cross — second only to the Medal of Honor for valor in combat — to Hunter, a combat controller, on October 17 for his steadfast decisions and courage during the U.S. Army-led mission in Afghanistan.

Wilson said Hunter, assigned to 23rd Expeditionary Special Tactics Squadron, kept his position, never faltering as he called in “danger-close” airstrikes from AC-130 Spooky gunships and AH-64 Apache helicopters within 20 meters of their position.

WATM teams with Grunt Style to bring morale-boosting apparel to the people
Photo: US Army Spc. Glenn M. Anderson

Danger-close refers to strikes coming within 100 meters of friendly personnel. The firefight lasted for eight hours.

“What was truly extraordinary as I reviewed this story was the amazing precision and professionalism of the team,” she said, speaking before the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron; Air Force Special Operations Command commander Lt. Gen. Brad Webb; and the AFSOC community at Hurlburt Field, Florida.

Hunter managed to position himself between the insurgents and his team, “shielding the wounded with his body, while providing suppressive fire with his rifle,” according to the citation.

After clearing the compound, and taking cover with a few team members, Hunter exposed himself to gunfire again as he heard calls for help in the distance, “dragging a wounded teammate 30 meters to safety,” the citation states.

For the next four hours, the airstrikes kept coming from the AC-130 “Spooky 43” gunship crew and the helicopters, including multiple 105mm rounds within as little as 13 meters from his location.

WATM teams with Grunt Style to bring morale-boosting apparel to the people

“Doesn’t an insurgent fear, more than the sound of a jet fighter, the sound of an AC-130 gunship?” Wilson said.

In all, 1,787 munitions rained down on the enemy’s position, which included 31 “danger-close” engagements, the citation said. More than 50 lives were saved, and 27 Taliban fighters were killed.

“Every [Joint Terminal Attack Controller], aircraft commander and ground force commander knows the risk of a danger-close mission,” Wilson said.

“But 31 without a single fratricide [by friendly fire] on the ground is just astounding,” she said.

“Thanks to [Staff] Sgt. Hunter, and his efforts to always be closest to the enemy, to put himself in the rear when everyone else got out of the way. To make sure his team was safe. He risked his own life and put himself in position to maintain tally on the target,” Wilson said.

The secretary honored two Army Green Berets killed in action that day: Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Gloyer and Maj. Andrew Byers. Byers was posthumously awarded the Silver Star in February.

“Special operations is a force that we call when we really need the absolute best,” Wilson said.

She added, “There’s no better friend — and no worse enemy — than the United States special operations forces.”

Articles

How America’s automakers supplied the allies during World War II

When Isoroku Yamamoto warned that Japan had no chance to win World War II, he famously cited America’s industrial might. One of the biggest areas where that strength came into play was with the automotive industry.


As this video by Fiat Chrysler shows, the automakers did step up big when World War II hit. One notable example not covered in the video is that most of the Avengers were not built by Grumman, they were built by General Motors (and thus, they were called TBMs, as opposed to the TBF for the Grumman-built versions). GM also built a lot of Wildcats as the FM and FM-2.

WATM teams with Grunt Style to bring morale-boosting apparel to the people
Bofors 40mm anti-aircraft guns. (Screenshot from Fiat Chrysler video)

Chrysler, though, was very good at building tanks. First the M3 Lee (or Grant) was rolling off the assembly lines — in some cases before the factory was completely built! The Grant was eventually replaced by the M4 Sherman. They also built lots of trucks — including the half-ton and three-quarter-ton trucks that were ubiquitous in the military.

This video notes that Chrysler was responsible for about 25 percent of America’s tank production — more than all the tank production of Nazi Germany. What is also notable is that many designs that came to Chrysler were improved by its engineers.

WATM teams with Grunt Style to bring morale-boosting apparel to the people
Tank treads produced by Chrysler. (Screenshot from Fiat Chrysler video)

Check out the five-minute video from FCA America that explains the U.S. automakers’ amazing role in supplying the troops in World War II.

Articles

This presidential nominee’s campaign was tanked by a tank

In the 1988 presidential campaign, Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis, the Democratic nominee for President, had a problem: he needed to look credible as a commander-in-chief during a time when Democrats were being criticized for their defense policies.


Throughout the 1980s, the Reagan Administration had been pushing through a major peace-time military build-up.

According to CQ Researcher, a large portion of the Democrats in Congress had opposed that build-up in the 1984 elections. That caused the perception that the Democrats were being weak on defense, which led to Reagan’s 49-state landslide.

Dukakis had been among those who were critical of the buildup, the mainstays of which — the B-1B Lancer, the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine, and a host of other weapon systems – are in service today (with a few exceptions).

 

WATM teams with Grunt Style to bring morale-boosting apparel to the people
An E-2C Hawkeye early warning and control aircraft flies over the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zackary Alan Landers/Released)

Worse, according to a 2013 article in Politico, during the month of August, Dukakis had gone from leading Vice President George H.W. Bush by 17 points to trailing him, and one big reason was that 54 percent of Americans felt that then-Vice President Bush would do a better job on national security, while only 18 percent thought Dukakis would.

To counter that, Dukakis went on a swing that discussed defense, but one event was marked by defense workers jeering him. Then, he went on a visit to a General Dynamics plant in Michigan where he planned to ride in an M1 Abrams tank, a key part of the buildup that Democrats had criticized.

WATM teams with Grunt Style to bring morale-boosting apparel to the people
Aerial drone image of an M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank crew. (Dept. of Defense image)

 

However, to do the ride, Dukakis was told he had to wear protective headgear. He did so, and ended up sealing his fate.

Within a week, the photo of Dukakis in the helmet had become a joke (think Kushner in his vest), but the worst was to come when operatives with Bush’s campaign developed an attack ad. Using 11 seconds of footage, they highlighted Dukakis’s opposition to the Reagan buildup and foreign policy.

Dukakis, who had already been trailing, and already saw 25 percent of Americans less likely to vote for him, was now in freefall. He eventually lost the 1988 election by seven million votes.

You can see a video by Politico on the infamous tank ride below.

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NATO is ponying up more troops to help with the fight in Afghanistan

Two years after winding down its military operation in Afghanistan, NATO has agreed to send more troops to help train and work alongside Afghan security forces.


The move comes in response to a request from NATO commanders who say they need as many as 3,000 additional troops from the allies. That number does not include an expected contribution of roughly 4,000 American forces. They would be divided between the NATO training and advising the mission in Afghanistan, and America’s counterterrorism operations against the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and Islamic State militants.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the NATO defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels on June 29 that 15 countries “have already pledged additional contributions.” He expected more commitments to come.

Britain has said that it would contribute just under 100 troops in a noncombat role.

WATM teams with Grunt Style to bring morale-boosting apparel to the people
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis speaks with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. USAF Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley

“We’re in it for the long haul. It’s a democracy. It’s asked for our help and it’s important that Europe responds,” British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon told reporters. “Transnational terror groups operate in Afghanistan, are a threat to us in Western Europe.”

European nations and Canada have been waiting to hear what US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will offer or seek from them. US leaders have so far refused to publicly discuss troop numbers before completing a broader, updated war strategy.

Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in Afghanistan this week, meeting with commanders to gather details on what specific military capabilities they need to end what American officials say is a stalemate against the resurgent Taliban.

WATM teams with Grunt Style to bring morale-boosting apparel to the people
Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford. DoD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro

The expected deployment of more Americans is intended to bolster Afghan forces so they eventually can assume greater control of security.

Stoltenberg said the NATO increase does not mean the alliance will once again engage in combat operations against the Taliban and extremist groups. NATO wants “to help the Afghans fight” and take “full responsibility” for safeguarding the country.

He did acknowledge “there are many problems, and many challenges and many difficulties, and still uncertainty and violence in Afghanistan.”

Mohammad Radmanish, deputy spokesman for Afghanistan’s defense ministry, welcomed NATO’s decision and said Afghan troops were in need of “expert” training, heavy artillery, and a quality air force.

WATM teams with Grunt Style to bring morale-boosting apparel to the people
(USMC photo by Lance Cpl. Jorge A. Ortiz)

“We are on the front line in the fight against terrorism,” Radmanish said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press in Kabul, the Afghan capital.

But Afghan lawmaker Mohammad Zekria Sawda was skeptical. He said the offer of an additional 3,000 NATO troops was a “show,” and that NATO and the US were unable to bring peace to Afghanistan when they had more than 120,000 soldiers deployed against Taliban insurgents.

“Every day we are feeling more worry,” he said, “If they were really determined to bring peace they could do it,” Sawda said.

As the war drags on, Afghans have become increasingly disillusioned and even former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has questioned the international commitment to bringing peace.

Many Afghans, including Karzai, are convinced that the United States and NATO have the military ability to defeat the Taliban. But with the war raging 16 years after the Taliban were ousted, they accuse the West of seemingly wanting chaos over peace.

MIGHTY TRENDING

These soldiers fought off COVID-19 and still graduated basic training

Two of the U.S. Army newest soldiers recently earned bragging rights by completing Basic Combat Training after surviving bouts with the novel coronavirus.

Roughly eight weeks ago, 21-year-old Pvt. Carlos Mora and 36-year-old Spc. Juan Guajardo began suffering from COVID-19 symptoms while going through Basic Combat Training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.


“I woke up in the morning and felt horrible,” Mora said in a recent Army news release. “I had a high fever, and I had slight pain. I told the drill sergeants, and they took me to the hospital.”

Guajardo said he has no idea how he got the virus.

“I got a fever, really weak and I had aches,” he said. “I coughed a lot and, when I blew my nose, I had red spots. I went to the hospital, and they did the test. I was positive.”

Army leaders halted the shipment of recruits to BCT for two weeks in early April to beef up testing protocols at the training centers. The Center for Initial Military Training (CIMT) had already taken several aggressive steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 — ranging from multiple screenings to separating new arrivals at BCT from the main population during the first two weeks of training.

Despite the precautions, about 50 soldiers tested positive for the virus at Jackson in early April.

So far, there have been 6,118 cases of COVID-19 among uniformed members of the U.S. military. Of those, 3,460 service members have recovered and three have died, according to Pentagon figures released May 26.

Mora and Guajardo were both assigned to Jackson’s 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment, when they began feeling ill, according to the release.

It’s not clear how severely the virus affected Mora or Guajardo since the Army would not release specific details about their condition or individual treatment, citing patient-privacy restrictions under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Meg Reed, spokeswoman for CIMT, told Military.com.

“I wasn’t too bad. I was out of breath and had a cough,” Mora said in the release. “Others had it worse. It scared me because they were about my age too.”

Guarjardo said he was more worried about his mother, who was concerned that she hadn’t heard from him.

“She was very worried about me,” Guajardo said in the release. “She’s in Mexico, and it’s bad there. I’m scared for her, but she is staying inside and away from people.”

After two weeks, both Mora and Guajardo were feeling better and soon tested negative at Moncrief Army Health Clinic, according to the release.

Overall, both missed about three weeks of training, so they had to be reassigned to the 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment.

On May 14, Mora and Guajardo walked across Jackson’s Hilton Field with fellow BCT graduates in a ceremony that was streamed on Facebook for friends and family members, according to the release.

“It took me an extra week to breathe right again,” Mora said of his return to training. “I made it, though.”

Mora is scheduled to take advanced individual training at Fort Lee, Virginia, to become a wheeled vehicle mechanic.

Guajardo said he “really wanted to graduate with my old company,” but the Army Reserve soldier is looking forward to going to AIT at Fort Gordon, Georgia, to become an information technology specialist and “being able to talk to my family every day again,” the release states.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

U.S. Forces recover bodies from plane crash site in Afghanistan

Helicopter-borne U.S. forces have recovered the remains of the crew killed when a military aircraft went down in a Taliban-controlled area of Afghanistan’s Ghazni Province, according to U.S. and Afghan officials.

The Bombardier E-11A, used for military communications, went down in a snowy part of eastern Afghanistan on January 27.


Ghazni police chief Khaled Wardak said U.S. choppers landed at the site in the late afternoon and were reinforced by Afghan security forces on the ground during the operation. Earlier in the day, Afghan forces trying to reach the wreckage clashed with militants.

“Following the removal of the bodies, our forces have moved back to their bases. We don’t know where the foreigners have taken the bodies,” Wardak said.

Nasir Ahmad Faqiri, the head of the provincial council in Ghazni, confirmed the operation, saying the Americans took at least two bodies from the scene.

A U.S. defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that the remains of individuals from the aircraft had been recovered and said the military was in the process of identifying the remains. The Pentagon declined to comment.

The Pentagon only confirmed the aircraft belonged to U.S. forces, but dismissed Taliban claims it had been shot down. The military did not say how many people were aboard or if there were any casualties.

Earlier on January 28, coalition forces flew sorties over the site of the crashed jet with one aircraft firing flares as a crowd gathered nearby, according to witness reports.

WATM teams with Grunt Style to bring morale-boosting apparel to the people

Wardak said after the plane went down Afghan security forces tried to reach the wreckage late on January 27 when they were ambushed by the Taliban and pushed back.

Ghazni police spokesman Ahmad Khan Sirat confirmed the incident, adding that at least one person was killed in the fighting between Taliban and Afghan forces.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said Afghan forces backed by U.S. military support tried to capture the area around the wreckage.

He said Taliban fighters on the ground counted six bodies at the site of the crash.

Unidentified U.S. officials were quoted as saying the plane was carrying fewer than five people when it crashed.

The crash comes as the Taliban and United States have been in talks on ending the 18-year war in Afghanistan.

The two sides had been negotiating the deal for a year and were on the brink of an announcement in September 2019 when U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly declared the process “dead,” citing Taliban violence.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

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Bin Laden shooter Robert O’Neill threatened by ISIS as ‘number one target’

WATM teams with Grunt Style to bring morale-boosting apparel to the people


The former Navy SEAL who says he shot Osama bin Laden in a 2011 raid had his address made public while being named the “number one target” by a purported member of the ISIS terrorist group, Military Times reports.

After monitoring extremist chatrooms, the UK’s Daily Mirror reported a British ISIS member giving out the SEAL’s name and address to others, which has been shared by jihadis in recent days.

“I leave this info of Robert O’Neill for my brothers in America and Al Qaeda in the U.S., as a number one target to eventually hunt down and kill,” the ISIS supporter wrote.

Since O’Neill is no longer on active duty, the Defense Department told the Times it would likely not be opening an investigation. But the SEAL, who retired in 2012 as a senior chief petty officer, doesn’t appear to be worried.

“All soldiers who serve their country assume certain risks. It’s part of the deal,” O’Neill told The Daily Caller. “But I am alert, I am vigilant and I take precautions. My bigger concern is a lack of a clear strategy for containing and or neutralizing ISIS as a national security threat.”

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Defense budget spotlight: What do weapons really cost?

Editor’s note: With news of the Air Force potentially awarding the contract for the next-generation bomber and Congressional Republicans reaching an agreement with the White House on the defense budget, WATM presents a short primer by our friend Winslow Wheeler on how the Pentagon tends to complicate how much things actually cost.


WATM teams with Grunt Style to bring morale-boosting apparel to the people

On Wednesday March 25, 2009, an F-22 crashed near Edwards Air Force Base in California. Sadly, the pilot was killed. The news articles surrounding this event contained some strange assertions about the cost of the crashed airplane. Based on the price asserted in the Air Force’s “fact” sheet on the F-22 that was linked to a Pentagon news release on the crash, the press articles on the crash cited the cost per aircraft at $143 million.

It was incomplete, to put it charitably, but the media passed it on nevertheless. The extant “Selected Acquisition Report” (SAR) from the Defense Department is the definitive DOD data available to the public on the costs for the F-22. The SAR showed a “Current Estimate” for the F-22 program in “Then-Year” dollars of $64.540 billion. That $64.5 billion was for 184 aircraft.

Do the arithmetic: $64.540/184 = $350.1. Total program unit price for one F-22 calculates to $350 million per copy. So, where does the $143 million unit cost come from? Many will recognize that as the “flyaway” cost: the amount we pay today, just for the ongoing production costs of an F-22. (Note, however, the “flyaway” cost does not include the pilot, fuel and other consumables needed to fly the aircraft away.)

The SAR cost includes not just procurement costs, but research and development (RD) and some military construction, as well. At about the same time as the crash, a massive lobbying effort had started to buy more F-22s, to reverse Secretary of Defense Robert Gates impending announcement (in April 2009) that he wanted no more. F-22 advocates were asserting the aircraft could be had for this bargain $143 million unit price. That was, they argued, the “cost to go” for buying new models, which would not include the RD and other initially high production costs already sunk into the program.

Congressional appropriations bills and their accompanying reports are not user-friendly documents, but having plowed through them for decades, I know many of the places and methods that Appropriations Committee staff like to use to hide and obscure what Congress and the Pentagon are actually spending. Let’s check through the 2009 congressional appropriations for the F-22. Most – but not all – of the required information is contained in HR 2638, which contained the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2009.

In the “Joint Explanatory Statement” accompanying the bill, the House and Senate appropriators specified that $2.907 billion was to be appropriated for 20 F-22s in 2009. The math comes to just about what the Air Force said, $145 million per copy. So, what’s the problem?

Flipping down to the section on “modification of aircraft” we find another $327 million for the F-22 program. Switching over to the Research and Development section, we find another $607 million for the F-22 under the title “Operational System Development.” Some will know it is typical for DOD to provide “advance procurement” money in previous appropriations bills to support the subsequent year’s purchase.

In the case of the 2009 buy of 20 F-22’s, the previous 2008 appropriations act provided “advance procurement” for “long lead” F-22 items to enable the 2009 buy. The amount was $427 million.  Here’s the math: $2.907 + $.327 + $.607 + $.427 = $4.268 billion for 20 aircraft. That’s $213 million each.

Do not think these data represent an exceptional year. If you check any of the annual buys of F-22s, you will find the same pattern: in addition to the annual “procurement” amount, there is additional “modification,” RD” and advance procurement.

A few weeks later, F-22 advocate Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R–Ga., attempted to amend the 2010 DOD “authorization” bill coming out of the Senate Armed Services Committee to buy seven more F-22s for $1.75 billion, or $250 million each. The Chambliss effort, almost certainly worked out in close association with Lockheed Martin – a major F-22 plant is in Marietta, Ga. – surely sought to pay Lockheed the full amount to procure more aircraft: not $143 million each, but $250 million.

Clearly, Chambliss and Lockheed knew about some additional F-22 costs not included in my estimate of $213 million. The pathology of low-balling a weapon’s costs goes far beyond the F-22 example cited here; it is a basic tenet of bureaucratic behavior; it helps a program acquire support by top DOD management and Congress.

Understatement of cost does not occur in isolation in the Pentagon; it is accompanied by an overstatement of the performance the program will bring, and the schedule articulated will be unrealistically optimistic. Once the hook is set in the form of an approved program in the Pentagon (based on optimistic numbers) and an annual funding stream for it from Congress (based on local jobs and campaign contributions), the reality of actual cost, schedule and performance will come too late to generate anything but a few pesky newspaper articles.

(This post was excerpted from The Pentagon Labyrinth: 10 Short Essays to Help You Through It.)

WATM teams with Grunt Style to bring morale-boosting apparel to the people
About the author: Winslow T. Wheeler focuses on the defense budget, why some weapons work and others don’t, congressional oversight, and the politics of Pentagon spending. Before joining the Center for Defense Information in 2002, he worked on Capitol Hill for four U.S. Senators from both political parties and for the Government Accountability Office. At GAO and the Senate, Wheeler focused on Pentagon budget issues, weapons testing, the performance of U.S. systems in actual combat, and the U.S. strategic “triad” of nuclear weapons.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Homeless man’s funeral attended by hundreds of fellow vets who didn’t know him

Hundreds gathered at Iowa Veterans Home Cemetery to pay their respects to a once homeless Korean War Navy veteran named Charles ‘Chuck’ Lanam.  They didn’t know Lanam — and they didn’t know each other — but today on the burial hill the strangers came together as family.


“This man would have been buried on his own,” said Simon Conway, Des Moines resident and radio host at 1040 WHO. “There was literally nobody coming to this … this man had nobody, no family, no friends. There was no one to carry his casket, there was no one to give the flag to … no one to tell us about our grateful nation. Today, Chuck was laid to rest with full military honors and around 400 Iowans in attendance. We make a difference.”

See footage from the funeral here.

Lanam was born September 16, 1934 in Fairfield, Iowa. He was the son of Christopher and Marian (Byers).  He attended school in the Fairfield area. He served four years in U.S. Navy aboard USS Valley Forge during the Korean conflict. After retiring from the military, Lanam resided in Tennessee and Iowa and did electrical contracting. He never married. He was homeless for a number of years until February 2015, when moved into the Iowa Veterans Home. He remained there until he passed away.

This veteran, who never owned a computer, much less a had Facebook page, posthumously became a viral topic on the social media platform last week. Mitchell Family Funeral Home director Marty Mitchell reached out to his friends and community after Lanam’s death asking for their help in honoring this veteran’s life with this post

I’m sitting in my office right now and contemplating the rest of the week- and really struggling with one thing that I would like to open up and share with all of you- and no, not a joke, something real. On Monday, we are going to bury a man who served our country honorably, and probably before many of us were born. He has no family – absolutely no family, so our staff and the chaplain from IVH will gather on a quiet hillside at IVH and put this man to rest. No pallbearers, no mourners, no flowers, no one to even present a flag to saying his service was recognized. If you so desire and it’s in your hearts, we are having a service at 1:30 p.m. at the cemetery at IVH. Even though you did not know him, this man Charles Lanam, you are welcome to come and honor his life or serve as a pallbearer or even as important, send your prayers. Death equalizes us in the end, but before that time, appreciate that you do have a family. God bless you all my friends!

That request was shared over 1,700 times. It attracted Patriot Riders and members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. A suit was donated for Lanam to be buried in, and pallbearers volunteered. In response, Mitchell posted the following to his page:

“I truly think Mr. Lanam is smiling down at all of you for caring about him. He might be overwhelmed, but I do think he is happy. He now gets to rejoin his mom, his dad and his sister who went on before. Thanks to the Iowa Veterans Home for making his last years a home and family- a change he deserved from being homeless, and thanks for making his resting spot available. God bless all of you for focusing on what is important in life…”

Lanam’s coffin was draped in a flag with hundreds in attendance.  “Last Wednesday, I expected to be standing on a lonely hill overlooking the veteran’s zone with Marty and a few staff members saying a quiet farewell to Chuck today,” Chaplain Craig Nelson said before beginning the eulogy. “Instead, I find myself surrounded by those who were moved by his story and wanted to come out so he might not be laid to rest alone.”

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Why you should be using your VA Loan for investment properties

Have you ever had one of those lightbulb moments that flips your perspective upside down? I had one of those exactly five years ago while training to be a copilot on the mighty CH-53E at MCAS New River, NC. I still remember talking to my dad on the phone after the oncoming duty-stander reported late at night and turned over the watch with me. “I don’t care if the market crashes!” I proclaimed into the phone.

That was a powerful statement to say out loud and it felt especially good saying it to my dad, who was very conservative financially. Our family lived like royalty when my family lived in Ukraine for the better part of two decades, but coming back to the United States created all sorts of financial turmoil.

Of course, the somewhat hot-headed remark begged the question, “Well, why the hell don’t you?”

”Because we’ve been thinking about real estate investing all wrong,” I continued. “We shouldn’t rely on an unpredictable market to control our return on investment. I don’t care about appreciation anymore, I care about monthly income, or cash flow. From now on, we are going to look for properties that put money in our pockets every dang month.

You could almost hear the audible click over the phone line. A light bulb had just gone off.

The phone conversation continued for another hour or so before we finally hung up and decided to talk about real estate some more the next day.

Let me take a quick step back and make sure we are all on the same page here. The epiphany moment I had five years ago – I was so passionately trying to pass on to my dad over the phone – was simple, yet incredibly powerful. What I realized was what my family valued more even than a large heap of cash in my savings account was a consistent stream of income. To put it bluntly, I wanted to create streams of mini pensions through multiple rental properties to pay for all our regular expenses and then some. I wanted this because I wanted to be financially free.

Why did I ever think that buying a house and waiting for it to appreciate was the right way to invest? If that was the case, another 2008 real estate crash would surely ruin everything.

Realizing there was a different way to invest in real estate was almost nauseating because of how mad it made me for not understanding or learning about it earlier in life. My next thought was, “Why doesn’t EVERY eligible service member use their VA Loan then?” After all, as long as the rent was high enough to cover the mortgage, a dependable property manager, reasonable maintenance expenses, some reserves and still have some cash to spare (read: cash flow), this should be a no brainer. Right?!

Maybe it is because a lot of veterans are really turned off by the thought of a VA Loan — they think it’s a huge liability or just a boring thing to talk about, but nine times out of 10 it typically boils down to access to education and trusted professionals to help someone get their foot in the door. The reality is, it’s not just a few veterans . . . There are millions of veterans who have yet to use this incredible wealth-building benefit. In the military, we get used to working in fire teams and squads and it just makes sense for us to want a trusted team of Real Estate agents and Lenders that are all investment-minded and have a military background to work with. The secret weapon that a lot of these investment-minded agents and lenders have, is the understanding of what to look for when it comes to Military House Hacking (check this book out to learn more) and how to run the numbers quickly and efficiently when trying to filter out the homes with no future cashflow potential. Remember, the objective isn’t potential appreciation (that’s just a cherry on top!). The objective is to create a stream of income when it’s time to rent out your home.

Find an agent or lender here

About a year after that phone call with my dad, I partnered on my first rental home and first apartment complex. My life and the lives of my parents and siblings had changed forever. We were on track to create financial freedom and legacy wealth for generations to come WITHOUT worrying about the market crashing down on us. Sure, everything has its risks, but there was a particular comfort that came with the more education I immersed myself into. It seemed as though real estate was more transparent and without the smoke and mirrors. Still, it was a lot of information and not necessarily easy, but it felt so real and doable that I knew I was hooked for life. It was around that time, that I decided I had to start sharing these principles and little-known strategies with other military members and their families.

Register to watch the Military Real Estate Investing Masterclass

This article originally appeared on Active Duty Passive Income. Follow them on Facebook.

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