Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit - We Are The Mighty
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Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit

When the Air Force tells its pilots to “aim high,” they sure as heck mean it. In a bid to offset its persistent pilot retention woes, the Air Force is reportedly offering its aviators a bonus of up to $420,000 to stay in uniform.

The payments are to be doled out over time or in lump sums, and vary in their value according to different types of aircraft. For example: bomber, fighter, special operations, air mobility, and combat search and rescue fixed-wing pilots can receive an additional $25,000 annually for contracts lasting five to seven years, and up to $35,000 annually for contract lengths of eight to 12 years.

Those pilots also have the option to receive a lump sum payment of $100,000 for the five-to-seven-year contracts and $200,000 for the eight-to-12-year contracts.

Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit
F-35A Lightning II pilots from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings are met by family and friends as they return home on May 10, 2020, after a six-month deployment to the Middle East. Photo by R. Nial Bradshaw/US Air Force, courtesy of DVIDS.

Remotely piloted aircraft pilots can receive the same benefits, except they can only opt for a $100,000 lump sum payout for contract lengths of eight to 12 years. Combat search and rescue rotary-wing pilots are set to receive annual bonus payments of $15,000 for contracts lasting five to seven years, and up to $25,000 annually for contract lengths of eight to 12 years.

The stress of more than two decades of constant combat deployments has spurred many Air Force pilots to hang up their spurs, so to speak, and head for the airlines or other civilian careers. In March 2020, the Air Force reported that it was 2,100 pilots short of the 21,000 required to execute the National Defense Strategy.

In its fiscal year 2021 budget request to Congress, the Air Force described its crop of pilots as “a force that remains inspired to serve, but are nevertheless stressed by nearly two decades of sustained combat.”

The bonuses are intended to keep pilots in the Air Force. However, with the commercial airline industry in turmoil from the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of pilots looking to leave the service may already be set to decrease in the coming years. Nevertheless, the diminished pull of the commercial aviation economy could be offset if the tempo of military operations ticks up again in the coming years.

Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit
US Air Force Lt. Col. Frederick M. Wilmer III, a KC-10 Extender pilot with the 76th Air Refueling Squadron, 514th Air Mobility Wing, has apple cider poured on him by his daughter, Samantha, after completing his final flight at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., May 18, 2018. Photo by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen/US Air Force, courtesy of DVIDS.

“Retention of these valued aviators remains at risk should operational demands continue to outpace our available force structure, shifting the burden of a high operations tempo onto our already stressed aircrew,” the Air Force budget document added.

To make up the pilot shortfall, the Air Force is also looking to add more pilots; the service’s stated goal is to train 1,480 new aircrew annually by 2024.

“Increasing production of new aviators remains the most significant lever we have to arrest aircrew shortages,” the Air Force stated.

To ramp up its pilot “production,” the Air Force is experimenting with an expedited pilot training curriculum for certain types of aircraft.

The Accelerated Path to Wings program trains transport pilots in about seven months, as opposed to the traditional 12-month undergraduate pilot training program. The expedited curriculum cuts flight time in the T-6 Texan II aircraft — which includes training in aerobatics and other skills that aren’t necessarily essential to pilots of large transport aircraft. Rather, Accelerated Path to Wings student pilots perform all their training in the T-1A Jayhawk.

The Air Force is also experimenting with “augmented reality training” to accelerate the pilot training curriculum and cut down on costs.

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

Intel

World War II’s top general had no previous combat experience

In his 38 years of service before becoming the Supreme Commander of the Allied forces during World War II, Dwight D. Eisenhower had never been in combat.


It was never his plan to avoid combat; in fact, he was considering giving up his commission because he thought he’d hit the glass ceiling of his military career. He felt like he was being held back, but in actuality, he was being groomed. In 1941, he was unproven, but he had the recommendation of great men such as Pershing, Conner, MacArthur, and Krueger, who believed he would make a good commander.

This American Heroes Channel video shows Eisenhower’s rise to the top commanding spot during World War II.

Watch:

American Heroes Channel

Intel

Biden signs sweeping new law allowing VA to vaccinate all veterans, spouses

President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed into law a sweeping new measure that supercharges the Department of Veterans Affairs‘ ability to vaccinate millions of Americans.

The Save Lives Act will allow the VA to vaccinate all veterans, veteran spouses, caregivers and Civilian Health and Medical Program recipients, regardless of their VA eligibility.

Read Next: Veterans, Military Families Could Lead the Way in Making America Civil Again, Groups Say

However, patients enrolled in VA care will get priority. About half of all 18 million living U.S. veterans are enrolled in VA care, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“This new law expands options for where veterans and their families can receive the COVID-19 vaccine, ensuring that every veteran, spouse, and caregiver will have access to the protection they need from VA,” Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., the chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee said in a statement. “This bipartisan bill follows through on our shared goal of getting more shots into the arms of as many veterans as possible.”Advertisement

As of Wednesday, the VA has fully vaccinated more than 1.5 million people, including veterans and employees. Previously, only veterans enrolled in VA could get vaccinated.

The bill’s signing comes during a massive concerted effort from the Biden administration to give vaccine access to as many Americans as possible, with the goal of the country starting to return to relative normalcy by Independence Day.

“COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on all American including veterans and their families,” Veterans of Foreign Wars National Legislative Director Pat Murray said in a statement. “The end may be near, but we will not come out of this until everybody possible has vaccinations.”

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

Articles

DARPA Is Making A Real Life Terminator (Seriously)

The fantasy world of Skynet and the T-100 is inching closer to reality with DARPA’s Atlas program.


Also Read: The 7 Coolest High-Tech Projects The Military Is Currently Working On

Based on Boston Dynamics’ PETMAN humanoid robot, ATLAS will most likely go through an I, Robot puberty stage before reaching Terminator adulthood. The robot is being developed with some of the most advanced robotics research and development organizations in the world through DARPA’s Robotic Challenge. The competition’s goal is to develop robots capable of assisting humans in responding to natural and man-made disasters, according to DARPA.

Inspired by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, a robot like ATLAS could mitigate future accidents by sending in a machine where it would otherwise be hazardous to humans. Like in I, Robot, these humanoids should be capable of opening doors, move debris, turn valves, and perform other human tasks.

Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit
I, Robot (Photo: IMDb)

The fact these robots are being developed to provide relief has done little to mollify the concerns over the threat of killer robots. “At the end of the day people need to remember what the D in DARPA stands for. It stands for Defense,” said Peter Singer, in an interview with NPR. Singer is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century:

Singer argues that if researchers build a robot that can drive cars, climb a ladder and operate a jackhammer that they can also be used for war. “That means that that robot can manipulate an AK-47,” Singer told NPR.

The challenge finals will take place from June 5-6, 2015 at Fairplex in Pomona, California where robots will be judged on their ability to perform semi-autonomous tasks. The winning team will receive a $2 million prize; runner-up will be awarded $1 million and $500,000 for third place.

Here’s a short of video of the robot’s current capabilities:

NOW: This Is The Vehicle Lamborghini Designed For The Military

AND: Here’s Video Of The US Navy Testing A ‘Game-Changing’ New Missile

Articles

North Korea snubs the US and returns to China’s warm embrace

The year 2020 was a good year for almost no one, especially anyone in North Korea. Despite overtures from the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, reconciliation between North and South Korea never materialized. Rapprochement with the U.S. never fully took hold, either. 

Then the global COVID-19 pandemic hit. North Korea needed help, and for a country like the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, there’s only one game in town: China. 

According to the Korean Central News Agency, the DPRK’s state-run and only media outlet, North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un marked the 60th Anniversary of its mutual defense treaty with a warm message.

Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit
“China, we’re still cool… right…?” (Wikimedia Commons)

He told Chinese Leader Xi Jinping that his government is taking a “fixed stand” to “ceaselessly develop the friendly and cooperative relations” between his government and that of China, according to KCNA. 

The Chinese president responded like anyone who’s dealing with a stage-5 clinger, acknowledging that his country and North Korea have “always supported each other,” according to Chinese state-run media agency Xinhua. 

Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit

“The world has recently seen accelerating changes unprecedented over the past century… I wish to lead bilateral relations to unceasingly rise to new levels to the benefit of the two countries and their peoples.”

Translation: “We have always supported North Korea for whatever reason and we like their money, so we’ll keep on until they collapse under their own weight.”

For North Korea, its relationship with China is essentially a lifeline in times of crisis. Despite claims of self-sufficiency, the DPRK relies heavily on Chinese aid and support. North Korea has been hit particularly hard in recent years by crippling U.S. sanctions. 

Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit

Although the country has released no information on how hard it was hit by the coronavirus, experts believe the pandemic only exacerbated the desperation inside the world’s last Stalinist communist state. 

Relations between the two communist countries date back to the 1930s and the mutual war against Japanese occupation. After World War II, the North was bisected from the South by the Soviet Union. When the People’s Republic of China was finally established in 1949, the two officially established diplomatic relations. 

Western Allies occupied South Korea. During the Korean War, Chinese soldiers intervened on the side of North Korea in order to maintain the North’s presence as a buffer against western aggression on its Yalu River border. Keeping western troops from having a foothold on its doorstep is China’s primary national security concern with North Korea. 

Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit
“This Kim Jong Un is a real pain in my ass. You’ve got my back if we annex them, right?” (Wikimedia Commons)

Although the United States maintains a deterrent presence in South Korea, especially along the demilitarized border with North Korea, China does not deploy troops to North Korea. 

In 1961, the two countries signed the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, promising to again go to war together in case either one was attacked from the outside. North Korea was not always the worldwide pariah state it is today. Under the protection and aid of the Soviet Union, the North flourished. When the USSR collapsed in the early 1990s, North Korea’s decline began in full. 

The North has suffered from food shortages, widespread famine and crippling sanctions since 1994. With the rise of its nuclear weapons program, those sanctions have only increased and its reliance on China has become more important than ever. 

Feature image: Screen capture from YouTube

Intel

Women of the Jihad: An inside look at the female fighters of ISIS

Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit


The so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is notorious for its cruel treatment of women, subjecting female citizens to stringent dress codes, curfews, and corporal punishment.

Women who live under ISIS-enforced Sharia law cannot wear makeup, color or travel without a male chaperone. Burqas are also required, and refusal to conform to dress code can result in torture for both the woman in question and her husband.

Frontline writes:

When ISIS seized large swathes of territory in Iraq last year, the United Nations reported that the group “attacked and killed female doctors, lawyers, among other professionals.” Women doctors who weren’t killed were told to abide by the strict dress code while working, and were threatened with the destruction of their homes when they went on strike. The U.N. also received reports of female politicians and community leaders subjected to abduction, torture and murder.

Despite the terrorist organization’s heinous violence towards females, however, many women are flocking to serve alongside their husbands under ISIL by monitoring and punishing other women under Sharia law.

In Frontline’s recently released documentary, “Escaping ISIS,” women who formerly upheld the jihad recount their duties as agents of ISIL.

“The first thing we’d do is take her and whip her,” Umm Abaid, a former female ISIL fighter, told Frontline. “Then we’d take her clothes and replace them with clothes required by Sharia law. Then we would take her husband’s money to pay for the clothes. Then we’d whip him as well.”

The documentary focuses on both the women who rally behind ISIL’s cause and those who were forced into the organization as wives or slaves of terrorist leaders — using undercover footage and victim testimony to paint a haunting picture of what life “behind the veil” is truly like.

“Escaping ISIS” premieres Tuesday, July 14, at 10 p.m. EST both on-air and on FRONTLINE’s website.

To see the documentary trailer, click here.

NOW: ISIS fighter with a GoPro camera films himself getting shot

OR: This 25-year-old mom left her three kids behind to fight ISIS

Intel

Thailand Has An Aircraft Carrier With No Aircraft

Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit
Photo: PH3 Alex C. Witte/US Navy


For a brief period in the late 1990s, Thailand was the only country in southeast Asia that possessed one of the ultimate symbols of military strength: an aircraft carrier.

Its carrier, the HTMS Chakri Naruebet, was meant to be a point of pride for Thailand and symbolize the developing country’s power.

Also Read: 37 Awesome Photos Of Life On A US Navy Carrier

Then the late 1990s Asian financial crisis hit Thailand. Bangkok’s grand plans for its carrier were significantly hobbled. Commissioned in 1997, the same year the financial crisis struck the country, the Chakri Naruebet — which means “Sovereign of the Chakri dynasty,” the Thai monarchy’s ruling family — was mostly consigned to sitting in port due to lack of funding.

Now, according to The Motley Fool, Asia has plenty of aircraft carriers, as China, India, Japan, and South Korea all have carriers of different sizes. Not wanting to be left out, Singapore is on its way to constructing a carrier too.

All this competition has only made Thailand’s once-proud carrier look like a bizarre reminder of the country’s dysfunction, rather than the symbol of growing prestige that it was intended to be.

According to The Diplomat, Thailand’s AV-8S Matador (Harrier) accompanying jet fleet was withdrawn from service in 2006, leaving Bangkok with an aircraft carrier without aircraft. Thailand experienced a military coup that same year, along with a second one in 2014.

Thailand ordered its aircraft carrier from Spain in 1992. The vessel was commissioned five years later, in 1997

Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit
Photo: Wikimedia

Almost immediately, Thailand ran into budget constraints. The Chakri Naruebet was put to port for the better part of each month and in 2006 its associated air wing was withdrawn. The Harriers are now over 30 years old.

Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit
Photo: PH3 Alex C. Witte/US Navy

Even while operational, the carrier has been outclassed by the larger vessels of India and China, not to mention the US’s super carrier fleet pictured below. It’s now the smallest functioning aircraft carrier in the world.

Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit
Photo: PH3 Alex C. Witte/US Navy

The Chakri Naruebet was built to carry 9 Harrier aircraft and 14 helicopters, with a 605-person crew. Some of those planes are decades old, and the carrier reportedly doesn’t have a functioning anti-aircraft defense system.

Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit
Photo: Wikimedia

Still, despite its shortcomings, the Chakri Naruebet has proved useful in humanitarian missions. The Diplomat notes that the carrier was used after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami as well as in rescue operations after flooding in Thailand in 2010 and 2011.

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

Intel

This video shows how the nuke warfare classic ‘Dr. Strangelove’ was made

Long before 1987’s Full Metal Jacket, Stanley Kubrick had another military hit, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. The 1964 political satire pokes fun at the possibility of a nuclear conflict between the Soviet Union and U.S. during the Cold War.


In the late 1950s, Kubrick became so concerned about the possibility of nuclear war that he read over 50 books on the subject. One of those books was Peter George’s Red Alert, which a friend had recommended. Mesmerized by the novel, he purchased the rights and began developing a reality-based thriller called Edge of Doom based on Red Alert.

But as he wrote the lighter side of armageddon emerged.  “He kept coming across various aspects of the story that weren’t tragic but were comic,” said film critic Alexander Walker. “For example, if a man learns of nuclear annihilation in his office, the result is a documentary. When he’s in his living room, it’s a social drama. When he’s in the bathroom, it’s a comedy.”

Kubrick chose the latter, and the result is Dr. Strangelove. The film holds the record for being the 24th greatest comedic film of all time on Total Film magazine and has a 99 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

This video is an interesting look into how the movie was made. Watch:

Articles

11 Killer photos of jets in full afterburner

Check out these shots of jets turning pounds and pounds of fuel into speed when the pilots push the throttles into afterburner.


An F/A-18C launches off of Cat 3 with both GE F-404 motors in full burner.

Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit
Interesting to note that Hornet pilots take the cat shot with their right hand gripping the canopy rail and not on the stick. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

An Air Force F-16 launches out of Aviano, Italy at night with it’s single GE F-110 engine in full afterburner.

Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit
(Photo: DVIDS)

An F-22 Raptor makes a high-G pass at an airshow with it’s Pratt and Whitney F-119 engines at full power.

Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit
The F-119 is designed to allow the Raptor to reach supersonic speeds without afterburner. (Photo: Air Force)

And F-15 Eagle launches with both Pratt and Whitney F-100s in full afterburner.

Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit
(Photo: USAF)

An F/A-18C Hornet raises the gear and starts a left hand clearing turn off the cat with vapes streaming off of the wingtips and both GE F-404s at full blower.

Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

They didn’t call the F-14 the ‘big fighter’ for nothing. Here a Tomcat rages down Cat 1 with it’s Pratt and Whitney TF-30s at Zone 5 (full power).

Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit
Later Tomcat models used the GE F-110, which was generally considered a more powerful and reliable engine. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

A B-1 ‘Lancer’ (better known as “The Bone” — B+one . . . get it?) turns at sunset with all four GE F-110s (same engine used on models of the F-16 and F-14) in full afterburner.

Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit
The B-1 was designed for Cold War-era missions where pre-stealth conventional wisdom was to come into a target low and fast. (Photo: USAF)

An F-111B zorches over the water with wings swept aft and Pratt and Whitney TF-30 engines at full power.

Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit
While the TF-30 had compressor stall issues with the F-14 it worked well for the F-111. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

Another shot of an F-14A Tomcat on the cat in afterburner.

Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit
Pilots would start cat shots with throttles at the Zone 2 setting and then push them forward to Zone 5 as the jet accelerated toward the carrier’s bow. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

A MiG-25 starts its takeoff roll with both Tumansky R-15B-300s at full power.

Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit
The Foxbat is a scream machine, speed-wise, and has been clocked hauling at over Mach 3.

The F-35B Lightning II isn’t designed for speed as much as forward quarter lethality and survivability; but it’s single Pratt and Whitney F-135 does create a nice burner plume in this gorgeous sunset shot.

Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit
(Photo: Lockheed Martin)

Intel

Here’s why North Korea freaks out when the US and South Korea play war games

The U.S. and South Korean military just reminded North Korea why it should behave.


Filmed in mid-August at Seungjin Training Field, South Korea, during Integrated Live Fire Exercise 2015, this video shows the massive firepower and capabilities of the allied forces. Needless to say, the ground game looks equally as devastating as the air game. There are South Korean F-15Ks and KF-16s strike fighters dropping bombs, AH-64 and MD500 helicopters firing rockets and tanks blowing stuff up among other aircrafts and ground forces.

The video shows what North Korea is up against should the fighting between both nations commence.

Watch:

NOW: Here’s the kind of damage North Korea could do if it went to war  

OR: I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 47 years

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Watch one of the baddest A-10 pilots ever land after being hit by a missile

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.”

Watch:

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.

Feature image: Screen capture from YouTube.

Intel

Brad Pitt is starring as Gen. Stanley McChrystal in ‘War Machine’

Ready your Netflix queue because Brad Pitt is bringing “War Machine” — a new feature film directed by David Michod — to your favorite online streaming service.


Pitt will star as a badass military general inspired by real-life Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who formerly commanded American and international forces in Afghanistan.

The $30 million Netflix feature is based on journalist Michael Hastings’ best-selling book “The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan.” Pitt will be playing a four-star general whose “lethal reputation and impeccable track record vaults him to command the American war in Afghanistan,” Netflix said in press release.

Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos told Deadline:

“War Machine is a rip-roaring, behind-the-facade tale of modern war decision-makers, from the corridors of power to the distant regions of America’s ambitions.”

So for Pitt, a little less “Fury” and a little more “Inglorious Bastards.” We can dig it.

Read the full story at Deadline

DON’T MISS: Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time

Intel

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine

For close to seven years, the Russian military has been supplying separatist forces in Ukraine with weapons and supplies that has only prolonged the conflict in the country. Now, the Russians are ratcheting up tensions in the area by massing a large army along its border with Ukraine. 

With members of the G-7 calling on the Russians to de-escalate the situation by moving some troops, Russia is standing firm telling the world, they’re only responding to NATO provocations, specifically, the movement of American ships into the Black Sea. Russia has warned the U.S. Navy not to enter those waters.

Ukraine is not currently a member of the NATO alliance, so any Russian attack on the country would not provoke a military response from NATO members. The last country to join the alliance was North Macedonia, and its membership took more than 20 years to achieve. 

Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit
Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commander of U.S. Army Europe, discusses training with soldiers from the Ukrainian national guard’s 3029th Regiment May 18, 2015, as part of Fearless Guardian in Yavoriv, Ukraine. Paratroopers from the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade are in Ukraine for the first of several planned rotations to train Ukraine’s newly-formed national guard over a period of six months. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alexander Skripnichuk, 13th Public Affairs Detachment.)

The United States often sends its ship into the Black Sea, but the potential deployment of two more vessels came when the Russians sent 10 of its ships into the area. The American movement was confirmed by Turkish officials, who are notified of all American movement into the Black Sea within 14 days due to the terms of the Montreaux Convention. The two warships are scheduled to stay there for a month.

Russian officials claimed their ships were moving into the area for a training exercise. The ground forces on its border with Ukraine are the most deployed to the area since Russia’s 2014 invasion and annexation of the Crimea Peninsula.

Ukraine has been fighting the separatist movement in the area ever since. In March 2021, four Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the fighting. Shortly after, the United States began to operate reconnaissance patrols in nearby international airspace.

While the Russians aren’t currently posed for any offensive movements, the size and presence of the force so close to the border is causing international alarm. The new warships are a symbol of support for Ukraine from the Biden Administration. Some say the move by the Russians is a challenge to that support. 

Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit
A Ukrainian army engineer clears a mock room after his team used explosives to breach the door during training with Canadian and U.S. Army engineers to build their breaching skills, enabling them to teach those skills to Ukrainian army units who will rotate through the combat training center at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center, near Yavoriv, Ukraine, on Feb. 23. (Photo by Sgt. Anthony Jones, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team)

“The escalation of tensions in the southeast of Ukraine justifies the measures Russia is taking,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Bloomberg. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the Russian troops are there to protect Russian sovereignty and the United States has no reason to be there. 

“Questions are being asked about what Russia is doing on the border with Ukraine,” Lavrov said. “The answer is very simple. We live there, it’s our country. But what is the United States doing thousands of kilometers from its own territory with its warships and troops in Ukraine?”

A large-scale invasion on the level of Crimea or the 2008 Russian invasion of South Ossetia would be out of character for Russia’s recent military movements, which normally include small scale special operations or unconventional operations, like cyber attacks. But it’s not totally unprecedented, as recent events have shown. 

Russia does not easily deploy its troops out of country. Aside from the two previous invasion, Russia’s only current overseas deployment of ground troops is in Syria, which also relies on private contractors.

The presence of any large formation of ground troops along with naval warships conducting exercises is enough for anyone to take notice, especially so close to NATO’s doorstep. The deployments have increased the appeals by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to ramp up efforts to fast-track Ukraine’s progress to full NATO membership. 

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