The United States Postal Service is intrinsically linked with the military. Military mail operates as an extension of the USPS and the postal service is one of the largest employers of veterans in the country with over 97,000 as of 2020. What many people may be surprised to learn is that the iconic right-hand drive mail trucks used by the USPS was manufactured by Grumman (now Northrop Grumman), the same defense contractor that made iconic Navy fighter planes like the F6F Hellcat and the F-14 Tomcat. However, the postal fleet of Grumman Life Long Vehicles have exceeded their service life. On February 23, 2021, the USPS announced that Oshkosh Defense had been awarded the design and manufacture contract for the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle to replace the LLV. “[It’s] the most dramatic modernization of the USPS fleet in three decades.”
The Grumman LLV was manufactured from 1987 to 1994 and was intended to have a lifespan of 24 years. Built at Grumman’s Montgomery, Pennsylvania plant, over 140,000 LLVs are in service with the USPS. The truck has also been exported and is used by Canada Post. Despite their intended lifespan, the majority of LLVs have been in use for over 27 years due to a service life extension program in 2009. The USPS has introduced vehicles to augment the LLV like the Dodge Caravan Cargo minivan, but a dedicated replacement was needed.
The NGDV contract includes an initial $482 million investment and calls for the delivery of 165,000 U.S.-built vehicles over a 10-year period with the first deliveries in 2023. Oshkosh Defense is no stranger to government contracts. The company currently supplies the majority of the military’s wheeled vehicles. These include the FMTV, HEMTT, JLTV (the Humvee replacement), and M-ATV, just to name a few. Like the improvements that these vehicles featured over older military vehicles, the NGDV promises to feature a number of improvements over the LLV.
Designed to meet 21st century needs, the NGDV will be larger, taller, and include airbags and air conditioning. It will also be equipped with back-up cameras, a forward collision warning system, automatic front and rear braking, and blind spot detectors. The NGDV will remain right-hand drive, but will feature an enlarged windscreen to improve visibility. These additions are huge improvements over the LLV and will greatly increase the safety and working conditions for the letter carriers that operate them.
Another issue with the LLV was its fuel efficiency. Despite an average EPA fuel economy of 17 mpg, the actual average fuel economy reported by the USPS is 10 mpg. This is due to the extensive stop-and-go nature of residential mail delivery. To address this, the NGDV will be available with two different engines. The first is a low-emission traditional internal combustion engine. The second is a battery-powered motor. To futureproof the NGDV, vehicles fitted with internal combustion engines will be able to be retrofitted with electric motors in the future. This will allow the USPS to slowly adapt its fleet as electric vehicle infrastructure grows while still meeting the needs of routes that electric vehicles wouldn’t be able to reach until then.
The LLV is expected to remain in service past the NGDV’s introduction in 2023. Total replacement of the LLV by the NGDV is not yet forecated. In the meantime, Oshkosh Defense is working to finalize the NGDV’s design and tool a dedicated assembly plant. If you’ve ever wanted a surplus Grumman product, but couldn’t afford an F-14, a retired LLV might be your best bet.
On February 2, 2020, the Air Force announced a new evaluation system for its senior enlisted airmen and officers. E-7 through E-9 and O-1 though O-6 personnel will be graded on 10 Airman Leadership Qualities focused on character and competence. According to the Air Force, the 10 ALQs are categorized under four major performance areas which coincide with both the major graded areas of the Air Force Unit Effectiveness Inspection program and the language used to describe expected performance factors provided to promotion boards. Arguably the most interesting aspect of the new form is that it is optional.
“We designed the addendum to be used in conjunction with the primary Airman Comprehensive Assessment form to serve as a guide for raters to help facilitate actionable discussions during feedback that incorporate the Airman leadership qualities,” said Air Force Talent Management Innovation Cell Director Col. Laura King. Following initial release, the service will collect and implement feedback from commanders to rework and finalize the ALQs and the evaluation system as a whole.
Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne Bass noted that the new system is in its infancy. “This is just the beginning stages of constructing a system that clearly defines the qualities we value and need in our Airmen,” Bass said. “The synergy between the officer and enlisted evaluation systems is a huge win for how we develop our Airmen to build the Air Force our nation needs.”
The four major performance areas and 10 ALQs of the new evaluation system are broken down as follows:
Executing the Mission
Job Proficiency: Demonstrates knowledge and professional skill in assigned duties, achieving positive results and impact in support of the mission.
Initiative: Assesses and takes independent or directed action to complete a task or mission that influences the mission or organization.
Adaptability: Adjusts to changing conditions, to include plans, information, processes, requirements and obstacles in accomplishing the mission.
Inclusion and Teamwork: Collaborates effectively with others to achieve an inclusive climate in pursuit of a common goal or to complete a task or mission.
Emotional Intelligence: Exercises self-awareness, manages their own emotions effectively; demonstrates an understanding of others’ emotions, and appropriately manages relationships.
Communication: Articulates information in a clear and timely manner, both verbally and non-verbally, through active listening and messaging tailored to the appropriate audience.
Stewardship: Demonstrates responsible management of assigned resources, which may include time, equipment, people, funds and/or facilities.
Accountability: Takes responsibility for the actions and behaviors of self and/or team; demonstrates reliability and transparency.
Improving the Unit
Decision Making: Makes well-informed, effective and timely decisions under one’s control that weigh constraints, risks, and benefits.
Innovation: Thinks creatively about different ways to solve problems, implements improvements and demonstrates calculated risk-taking.
As the Air Force revamps its evaluation system following these 10 ALQs, leaders are encouraged to “use it to the maximum extent practical” according to a service press release. That said, if you have to pester your leadership for an evaluation, try not to do it to such an extent that you wind up on their bad side.
Recently, the Navy announced that the expeditionary fast transport USNS Brunswick (T EPF 6) completed Pacific Partnership 2018 in Thailand. If you’re out of the know, you may be asking yourself why this operation is such a big deal. Well, believe it or not, this annual exercise has been going on for a dozen years now and it’s an essential part of being ready for the worst.
After the 2004 tsunami ravaged Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and several other neighboring countries in one of history’s worst-ever natural disasters, the United States deployed relief ships to provide humanitarian aid. This generated generated a lot of good will among affected nations and their allies. This matters a great deal — when you have a reservoir of good will among a population, you’re much less likely to find yourself embroiled in war.
USNS Mercy (T AH 19) taking part in Pacific Partnership 2018.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kelsey L. Adams)
At the time, the United States had a pair of hospital ships, USNS Mercy (T AH 19) and USNS Comfort (T AH 20), that hadn’t seen much use. Although these ships are slated for replacement, they still house much more advanced medical facilities than most countries can offer. Those aboard USNS Mercy rendered care for 108,000 patients between 2004 and 2005.
After supplying aid in the wake of a terrible disaster, the Navy began to make annual deployments. The Navy has also used the big-deck amphibious assault ships of the Tarawa and Wasp classes in these deployments.
A Navy corpsman gives a tour of the medical facilities on board USNS Mercy (T AH 19) during Pacific Partnership 2015.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mayra A. Conde)
During Pacific Partnership, not only does the Navy provide a lot of medical aid, they host disaster relief training exercises with partner nations, like Thailand. As the old saying goes, “you fight like you train.” The same can be said of providing disaster relief.
This exercise is not entirely a one-way street, however. During Pacific Partnership, in exchange for advanced training, the Navy gets a lot of knowledge about the terrain and personnel are given the opportunity to build relationships with their local counterparts.
Big-deck amphibious ships, like USS Essex (LHD 2), have also been used in Pacific Partnership deployments.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Adam Brock)
The operation isn’t exclusively for governments. Representatives from various non-governmental organizations also take part. These aren’t the normal passengers on Navy vessels, and having them aboard allows the Navy to practice operating as part of grand-scale, disaster-relief efforts.
At the end of the day, Pacific Partnership is one of the U.S. Military’s greatest chances to practice responding to a disaster. The fact that it generates good will and gets some nice press is just a bonus.
In an extensive joint operation, Mali’s armed forces, working with the French military, killed 100 jihadist terrorists and captured 20 more according to a statement released by the Malian military. “One hundred terrorists were neutralized, about 20 captured and several motorbikes and war equipment were seized” during the joint operation with France’s troops, which aims to root out Islamic jihadists in the arid Sahel region, the Malian army said on its website.
The army said the extended operation lasted from January 2nd to the 20th. It targeted areas along the border with Burkina Faso where jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS) control large remote areas of the desert. The national government has little influence in those areas and the jihadists regularly carry out raids on small army outposts and civilians.
“The purpose of this operation was to force the enemy out of its areas of refuge,” the Malian army added.
Mali has struggled with an insurgency since 2012 when Taureg separatists rebelled against the national government. Their insurgency was quickly hijacked by Islamic terrorist groups which saw an opening and seized the chance to spread their vision of an Islamic caliphate in the region as they were being squeezed in the Middle East.
Soon, the Islamist insurgency spread into the neighboring countries of Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad. The four countries, along with Mali, comprise the G5 Sahel group, which coordinates in battling the insurgency and promoting security in the region.
The tri-border region joining Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, known as the Liptako Gourma region, has become a hub for a range of security threats perpetrated by armed state and non-state religious and political groups. Such groups include criminal organizations, bandits, and kidnappers.
France, Mali’s former colonial ruler, came to the aid of the country by moving 4,100 troops into the West African nation in 2013. It pushed the insurgents, who were closing on the capital of Bamako, back into the country’s outlying regions. But the insurgents reorganized, regrouped, and have since continued to threaten security in the region. Read Next: French Airstrikes Kill Fifty al-Qaeda Jihadists in Mali
Last year, France sent an additional 1,000 troops into the country. It has also created the Special Operations Task Force – Takuba. The task force is comprised of special operations troops from Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. They advise, assist, and accompany troops from the G5 Sahel nations.
France is holding a summit of French and Sahel leaders in Chad in February, where the French are expected to announce a troop reduction. The French had held a similar meeting in France a year ago.
President Emmanuel Macron has publicly stated that he plans to “adjust French efforts.” Defense Minister Florence Parly has issued similar statements. It is expected that the French will at least withdraw the additional 1,000 troops that they had deployed last year.
Public sentiment in France is against the country’s long military commitment in Mali. So far, this year, five French soldiers have been killed by IEDs.
Doctors Without Borders, a humanitarian NGO, reported on its website that the deteriorating security situation has resulted in the massive forced displacement of the civilian population. Across Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger 1,930,482 people have been internally displaced and 851,338 have fled to other countries as of November 2020.
And the violence has spread south to Nigeria. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that almost three million people are displaced across the four countries, with more than two million people displaced in Nigeria alone.
Snipers are highly trained marksmen who can hit a target from incredible distances with high-powered rifles. Their craft requires training in camouflage, infiltration, reconnaissance, observation and more, making them feared in the field.
But at the end of the day it’s about who gets the job done. That’s right – snipers are ranked by confirmed kills.
After winding down their day at Mojave Viper, these bored Marines did what they do best (besides shooting things): Make fun of their leaders.
This Marine lance corporal made sure his brief was one worth remembering by parroting every dumb cliche from every safety, libo, and release brief ever. Check it out below, but be warned that there is a lot of profanity.
Once a war kicks off, it’s generally easy to recognize. But war planners want to know about these things ahead of time so they predict what might be coming. While moves like large military exercises on a border are a dead giveaway that an invasion might be imminent, smaller things can give intel analysts a clue as well.
Here are 6 surprisingly minor things that can predict a major conflict:
1. Industrial diamonds and mineral prices
Who knew diamonds could predict wars? Back when World War II was just a fight between Germany and Poland about whether Poland got to keep being a country, Hitler was promising everyone that it was a limited, one-time thing. But the other countries knew he was full of it because, among other things, diamond prices were climbing.
Industrial diamonds are ugly things used in heavy duty drills, grinders, and other machinery. They’re essential to properly machining large weapons of war and the price was high because Germany was buying a lot of them plus tons of metals, like enough to create a blitzkrieg-capable army. A short time later, that army was rolling across Dutch fields.
David E. Walker wrote “Adventure in Diamonds” about the rush by British and Japanese teams to secure Amsterdam’s diamond stocks during the German invasion.
2. Missing uniforms and other supplies
Another thing the Dutch found suspicious ahead of the Nazi invasion was a higher than normal disappearance rate of uniforms and other supplies. Some items always go missing and sometimes things really do fall off of trucks, but a sudden jump should get analysts worried.
When German paratroopers started landing in the Netherlands, some of them were wearing Dutch uniforms that had gone missing. Wearing an enemy’s uniform is a war crime, but that only matters if the side guilty parties are on loses. If your uniform is missing, it may be forgetfulness, or it may predict something scarier.
3. Suspicious demonstrations
One of the things Ukraine noticed before of the shadow invasion of the Donbas region was a sudden increase in Pro-Moscow agitation in the east of the country and apparent ties between the agitators and Russian propaganda outlets.
Russian special operators and soldiers now cross into the area from time-to-time to make sure separatists forces are able to resist Kiev’s military, keeping the nation off-balance and allowing Russia a generally free hand.
4. Increased tourism
A spike in tourism is usually just a good sign for the economy, but combined with any other indicators that a war is looming, it’s a decent bet that some of those tourists are spies.
When it comes to local conflicts, warlords and smaller armies are sometimes equipping their forces right before the fight. This drives up the costs of weapons, especially AK-47s. Intel analysts and concerned citizens can watch those prices and see if a brush fire war or uprising is likely.
For larger nations, observers watch the overall size of the arsenal. If Russia starts producing more cruise missiles than normal, they’re probably going to be firing some soon.
6. Computer activity
In the modern day, hacking is a tool of war that is sometimes used on its own or in conjunction with a kinetic attack. Either way, the cyber assault is usually preceded by the tests of cyber defenses and the collecting of information on targets.
U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Paul T. “PJ” Johnson is right up there with the best pilots to have ever flown the A-10. While serving as a captain during Operation Desert Storm, he was decorated with the Air Force Cross for leading the rescue mission of a downed Navy F-14 Tomcat pilot deep behind enemy lines.
Capt. Johnson was en route from another mission when he received the call to search for the F-14 crew that had been shot down the night before. During the next six hours, he lead the search through three aerial refuelings, one attack on a possible SCUD missile site, and three hours of going deeper into enemy territory than any A-10 had ever flown. When he finally spotted the survivor, an enemy vehicle was heading in his direction, which Johnson proceeded to destroy, thus securing the target.
The mission was successful and a first for the A-10. A few days later, Johnson’s skills were on full display when he was hit by an enemy missile while trying to take out a radar site. The explosion left a gaping hole on his right wing, which disabled one of the hydraulic systems. Still, he managed to fly back to safety.
This video shows how Johnson pulled through his “high pucker factor” experience, which he credits to a “wing and a prayer.”
Gen. Johnson received his commission in 1985 from Officer Training School, Lackland Air Force Base. He’s a command pilot with more than 3,000 hours on the A-10 and served as commander of the 75th Fighter Squadron, Pope AFB, N.C.; the 354th Operations Group, Eielson AFB, Alaska; the 355th Fighter Wing, Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona; and 451st Air Expeditionary Wing, Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. He’s retiring on July 01, 2016, according to his Air Force profile.
Two Belgian physicists have analyzed both Russia and Turkey’s stories surrounding the Russian Su-24 that was shot down by a Turkish F-16 on Nov. 24. Their conclusion is that both countries are making claims that are physically impossible.
Physicists Tom van Doorsslaere and Giovanni Lapenta checked into Turkey’s claims and concluded that two of them were likely false. They reject the claim that the jet spent 17 seconds in Turkish air space and that the Turkish military issued ten warnings to the Russian jet.
The physicists also assert that Russia’s map showing the route of their jet is also bogus because the course change claimed by Russia could not have been caused by the relatively small missile that hit it.
Designed by a former toy maker, the Black Hornet UAV fits in a human palm and weighs the same as three pieces of paper. But don’t be fooled by its size. It has impressive capabilities as a reconnaissance drone, which is why Special Forces and U.S. infantry have begun testing it.
The tiny drone feeds surprisingly clear video to the pilot from as far as kilometer away and can bear different sensors including thermal cameras for night assaults. The video is stored on the small user station on the operator’s belt, so enemies lucky enough to catch the Hornet will not be able to see what video the pilot has captured.
See this amazing little drone in action in this video:
Simo Häyhä, also known as “The White Death,” was a Finnish sniper who is credited with killing more than 500 enemy troops within 100 days during the Winter War against the Soviet Union between 1939 and 1940.
Häyhä accomplished this incredible feat with a Russian-made Mosin-Nagant M91 rifle and iron sights. He preferred the iron sights as opposed to the scope because it allowed him to shoot from a lower, less visible position. The sights also didn’t fog up in the cold or glare in the sun, which could give away his position, according to Special Forces Sniper Skills by Robert Stirling.
His career ended when he was shot in the face, blowing off part of his cheek and lower jaw. He survived the shot, becoming one of Finland’s most legendary heroes. He died in 2002 of natural causes.
From “Top Gun” to “Commando” to “Navy SEALs” and everything in between, the 1980s had a plenty of classic military movies. There were so many to love, but more often than not, cheesy special effects, “unlimited ammo,” and technical errors made these also quite funny for real service-members to watch.
In a video put together by BuzzFeed Video, Ranger Up‘s Nick Palmisciano and Article 15 Clothing‘s Mat Best and Jarred Taylor watched some military movies and offered colorful commentary. As you would expect, it’s pretty hilarious.