7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians - We Are The Mighty
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7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians

Most of the time, people have the best intentions when they’re talking to a veteran.


“By and large, at this stage in history, the American people are very, very supportive of veterans,” Brandon Trama, a former US Army Special Operations Detachment Commander, CivCom grad, and associate at Castleton Commodities International, told Business Insider.

Indeed, according to Gallup, the majority of civilians view each of the five branches either very or somewhat favorably.

“I’ve encountered numerous people when I transitioned who were willing to help me out, whether it was buy me a cup of coffee, give me thoughts on their career path, or put me in front of other people who may be able to point me in the direction of other opportunities,” Trama said.

But, according to the Pew Research Center, fewer Americans now have family ties to those who served.

And despite the good intentions of many civilians, there’s still a growing gap between the military and civilian worlds. So it’s important for civilians to remember that there’s a difference between reverence and understanding.

Business Insider spoke with veterans from several different branches of the military about transitioning back to civilian careers.

Here’s what they said they wished civilians would understand — and, in some cases, refrain from saying:

1. ‘We all owe you’

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians

The military is widely held in esteem in the U.S. A whopping 72% of Americans have confidence in the institution, according to Gallup — compare that with the 16% of folks who have confidence in Congress.

But quite a few of the veterans Business Insider spoke with asserted that well-intentioned adulation can go too far.

Some advised civilians against overdoing it when thanking veterans for their service. These veterans also warned fellow ex-service members from letting any praise go to their heads.

“Stop thinking people owe you something,” Omari Broussard, who spent 20 years in the Navy, told Business Insider. “Nobody owes you anything.”

The New York Times reported that some veterans view being thanked for their service as “shallow, disconnected, a reflexive offering from people who, while meaning well, have no clue what soldiers did over there or what motivated them to go.”

According to Broussard, it’s best for veterans — especially those who recently left the service — to not take the praise to heart, especially at work.

“When you get out, you’ve got to compete with the best,” the founder of counter-ambush training class 10X Defense and author of “Immediate Action Marketing” said. “Go get it. That may require you doing a lot more work than you think you need to do.”

2. ‘Do you have any friends that died?’

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians

Probing and ill-advised questions from civilians can make many veterans feel dehumanized and othered.

“People will ask me plainly, ‘Do you have any friends that died?'” Garrett Unclebach, who served as a Navy SEAL for six years, told Business Insider. “And then the second question they’ll ask me is, ‘You ever kill anybody?’ Two super inappropriate questions to ask people.”

Unclebach said people should remember they don’t necessarily have a full grasp on the issues an individual veteran is facing.

“People talk about PTSD and they don’t really understand it so I would tell you that some guys who have it are embarrassed by it,” the VP of business development at construction firm Bellator Construction said. “Everyone needs an opportunity to be human and be vulnerable.”

3. ‘I don’t really understand how your ability to go fight is going to add value to my organization’

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians

Edelman Intelligence’s study of 1,000 employers found that 76% want to hire more veterans — but only 38% said veterans obtain skills in the military that “are easily transferable to the private or public sector.”

Phil Gilreath, who served as a Marine officer for nearly 10 years, said this is a potential “stigma” veterans face in the business world.

“In reality, over 95% of what we do is kind of planning and operations and logistics,” he told Business Insider. “That absolutely translates to the corporate world, not to mention the things that aren’t necessarily quantitative, such as your leadership experience, your ability to operate in a dynamic, stressful environment that’s ever-changing.”

Gilreath is now director of operations at storage space startup Clutter and was previously a fellow at the Honor Foundation, a group that specifically helps Navy SEALs transition to civilian life.

He said veterans must enter the civilian world prepared to explain and demonstrate how exactly their skills cross over.

Evan Roth, an HBX CORe alum and former US Air Force captain who now works for GE Aviation, agrees.

“Not only does this involve creating a résumé that has readable — no strange acronyms — skill sets and experience, but also learning how to talk to companies in a way that demonstrates value,” Roth said. “Many members never practice how to give a 15-second ‘elevator pitch’ about how they can be valuable to a company, or in an interview they’ll tell a three minute ‘war story’ without tying it back to how this could be useful in the civilian world.”

4. ‘What the heck are you talking about?’

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians

Many branches of the military rely upon specific jargon and acronyms to get things done.

Randy Kelley, who served as a Navy SEAL sniper for 11 years, said this means things can get lost in translation for recent veterans.

“Just like in any other cross-cultural situation, it’s going to create a little bit of animosity, and create the division that sometimes can actually hurt the military guy,” the founder of wellness startup Dasein Institute told Business Insider. “They have to stop speaking to civilians like they understand what a PRT is. All these different things that were important to them in their last career are no longer relevant.”

He said it’s best for veterans to drop such phraseology in a civilian setting, and for civilian employers to understand where veterans are coming from.

“Veterans have to take the time to learn the jargon of the new environment and drop military acronyms,” Kayla Williams, a US army veteran who now works as the director of the Center for Women Veterans at the Department of Veterans Affairs, told Business Insider.

But, in the case of recent vets, it’s better to be understanding and ask for clarification, rather than just writing someone off because they’re still relying upon a military style of communications.

5. ‘You must want to go back into security-related work’

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians

Not all veterans automatically want to work for a defense contractor.

James Byrne, who served as a US Navy SEAL officer for 26 years, said it’s important not to encourage veterans to “mentally lock themselves into the belief” that their skills only transfer to security-related industry.

When he first returned to civilian work, he said some well-intentioned civilians encouraged him to pursue a gig as a security guard at Walmart — simply because they couldn’t envision his abilities translating elsewhere. Today, he’s the director of sales and business development at solar tech company Envision Solar

“The sky’s the limit,” he told Business Insider. “You’re only stopped by your imagination of what you can do and what you can work with your network and yourself and your education and your soft skills and hard skills. There’s no limit to what you can do and how you can do it.”

6. ‘You must be glad to be back’

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians
How did she even see him?

The process of leaving the military can be disorienting for some veterans. It’s patronizing to assume someone is in a better place just because they’re no longer in the service.

Former US Marine Corps rifleman and Victor App founder Greg Jumes told Business Insider he struggled with addiction and lived out of his car for a time after he left the military.

“When you get out, you’re surrounded by a group of people and you don’t know what the hell their deal is,” he said. “You just kind of feel all over the place and that kind of brings you back into a state of isolation.”

He said it’s crucial for military servicemembers interested in leaving to plan ahead.

“You have to plan,” he said. “You have to find where you should be moving to. You have to start networking before you get out.”

7. ‘You must have gone through so much’

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians

Never assume you have an idea of what a veteran’s experience was like.

“The narrative that has been established for returning veterans has been unhelpful,” retired Green Beret Scott Mann, who served in the Army for 23 years, told Business Insider. “The narrative has been ‘the island of misfit toys.’ We’re broken.”

Today, Mann runs a leadership training organization MannUp and the Heroes Journey, a non-profit devoted to helping veterans transition. He said it’s harmful to have a perception of veterans as “damaged goods.”

“That could not be further from the truth, in most cases,” he said. “There are cases where some people need care for the rest of their lives. Most of the veteran population are high functioning and we actually need them in our communities and businesses leading in the front, putting those skills into play.”

Remember, there’s a ton of diversity when it comes to the experiences military servicemembers have across the five branches — and even within those branches.

“What I did in the Navy is probably unlike with the other 99% of people did in the Navy,” Charles Mantranga, Navy veteran and implementation manager at tech firm Exitus Technologies, told Business Insider. “It’s pretty hard for people to understand it, really.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

How this soldier is finding his dream job through the US Army

Sit across the table from Spc. Sergo Dzamashvili for just a few seconds and you’ll see a basic outline emerge fairly quickly. His manners and easy smile, the way he leans forward when he talks, and — not least of all, of course — his affection for Starbucks Doubleshot energy drinks make him the typical — almost archetypal — 30-year-old soldier; busy, eager, and always ready for the next task, the next challenge. But dig a little deeper and you will see, quite clearly, the details that color the world inside that simple sketch. To map the entire terrain, however, you’ll need to travel some 15,000 miles.

“I always wanted to be a soldier,” says Dzamashvili, sitting in the offices of the 21st Signal Brigade on a warm September morning. “When I was a kid that was always something I thought would be cool, being a soldier for the American Army.”


Those words, and indeed his affinity for the Army and America as a whole, are repeated so often and with such calm conviction that he could almost double as a motivational speaker; one specializing, perhaps, in writing simple daily mantras for busy professionals to read on their daily commutes. Instead, Dzamashvili is a board-certified medical doctor who enlisted in the Army just last year, in early 2018. It’s a commitment, he says, that doubles as a gift to the country that gave him opportunities he never would have had in his native Georgia — a tiny, still-emerging country located at the intersection of Western Asia and Eastern Europe.

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians

U.S. Army Spc. Sergo Dzamashvili speaks with a coworker at his desk located in the offices of the 21st Signal Brigade.

(Photo by Mr. Ramin A. Khalili)

“Honestly,” says Dzamashvili, “the reason I wanted to become an American soldier is because America has given my family everything.”

The first 5,000 miles

“When I was born in Georgia,” says Dzamashvili, reaching back to the late 1980s, “it was still part of the U.S.S.R. This was just before the U.S.S.R. split up, and so there was instability and there was upheaval … there was an ongoing fight for power.”

It was that atmosphere of decline that Dzamashvili’s father, Konstantin, sought to flee when he reached out to a friend living in Chicago for help in the early 1990s. Political and cultural strife in the country of — at the time — barely more than four million people had led to the breakdown of living conditions and, in some cases, the basic application of law. And so Konstantin, a neurologist by trade, was hoping America could provide safety for his wife, son, and young twin daughters.

“My father was waiting in breadlines for hours just to feed the family,” says Dzamashvili. “So when he came here, it was for a better life.”

But that opportunity came with a catch. In order to pay for his family’s move to America, Konstantin had to travel to the U.S. alone first in order to save up enough money. He wound up bunking with that same buddy in Chicago for a year —eventually re-starting his medical career at 40-years old — before bringing the rest of the family to Illinois.

Says Dzamashvili of his father, “He was out there for a year, alone, while we were still in Georgia, until he had passed all his boards and started his residency program, which would then fund us coming over here.”

And so at age five, Sergo was finally in the place he wanted to be all along … for a little while, at least.

Return to Georgia

For Sergo, it all started with his grandfather — his father’s father. He was the catalyst, the inception point. He passed away when Konstantin was in his late teens and so Sergo never got a chance to meet him, but he did have pictures — volumes of mementos from Georgia.

“I would always hear stories about his bravery,” says Sergo, “about what kind of man he was. From early on, I was always intrigued — the way he was standing there in his [military] uniform with all these medals.”

Those pictures, coupled with Sergo’s newfound affinity for the United States, stuck with him during his formative years and carried through to his entrance into medical school — which he ultimately chose to attend at David Tvildiani Medical University back in Georgia.

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians

U.S. Army Spc. Sergo Dzamashvili (foreground, right) conducts Army Warrior Tasks (AWT) drills during the 21st Signal Brigade Best Warrior Competition 2019.

(US Army photo by Sgt. Raul Pacheco)

The decision to both leave home (to leave again, in a manner of speaking) and reconnect with family roots was daunting to say the least, as Georgia had been rife with the same political instability from Dzamashvili’s youth up until pro-democratic forces rose to power in the mid-2000s. The tiny, burgeoning country was still — much like Sergo at the time — moving through its adolescent years.

There was contrasting comfort, however, in the medical training itself. Turns out Dzamashvili’s chosen university not only came highly recommended from family friends practicing medicine in Chicago, it was designed specifically to cater to regional students who wanted to ultimately enter U.S.-based medical professions. To that end, all university textbooks were written in English and, further, the overall cost of schooling was substantially less than a U.S.-based medical education — all perks unavailable to his father just a decade-or-so earlier. Ironically, Georgia would eventually, in 2014, become home to the U.S. Army Medical Research Directorate-Georgia, a subordinate command of the USAMRDC’s Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

“Going back to Georgia really brought me that perspective,” says Dzamashvili. “There was a long time where my family wouldn’t go back, even though we had a chance to go back in the 90s.”

Just twelve years after touching down in America’s Heartland — and just a few years after becoming an American citizen — Sergo was back on a plane at age 17 for a new and different journey.

Homecoming, part II

When you ask him how Georgians speak — ask about the language they use, the way they talk, the casual slang terms they use, even — Dzamashvili is quick to make it clear that Georgia is a singular and unique entity; a hard-fought identity that he clearly still respects.

“Georgians have their own language,” he says quickly, almost as a sly-but-gentle rebuke to those who think the country may still be hindered by its turbulent past in any way. “They have their own alphabet, everything — and so I had to re-learn how to read and write, essentially, when I went back for school.”

Dzamashvili’s university stay would last for six years until his graduation in 2013; at which point he’d not only navigated the rigors of initial medical training, but had reached a poignant understanding of the country of his birth (“people there are very hospitable,” he says), gained a greater understanding of the government’s democratic efforts (“I see hope,” he says), and, with regards to cultural differences, had also determined that Georgia had substantial culinary shortcomings as compared to the U.S. (“I did miss burritos over there,” he says).

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians

U.S. Army Spc. Sergo Dzamashvili assigned to HHC, 21st Signal Brigade, conducts M9 weapons qualification as part of the 21st Signal Brigade Best Warrior Competition 2019.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Raul Pacheco)

Touching back down in Illinois, Dzamashvili eventually passed his medical board examinations, shadowed professional doctors, and even performed clinical research at Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital. But when it came time for residency training, instead of waiting a year to attend either Loyola University of Chicago or the University of Illinois at Chicago, he opted for a different path: the U.S. Army.

“Screw waiting,” says Dzamashvili of his mindset at the time. “I’m going to join the Army. I was always told the fastest way to get into the Army was to just go and enlist anyways, so that didn’t bother me to go enlist for a couple of years as long as I got into the medical field.”

Desire, meet destiny

Now, after thirty years and medical training efforts on two different continents, Sergo Dzamashvili is both a medical doctor and a member of the U.S. Army; his first assignment is here at Fort Detrick. His unique qualifications have bred an understandable eagerness to move forward — a chomping at the bit, of sorts — as, indeed, he’s already started the process of entering the Army’s medical occupation; taking the steps required to become a physician. But if you think the man who’s waited nearly three decades to realize his dream is put off by a little time in the waiting room, then you don’t know Sergo.

“My ultimate goal is to practice medicine in the Army,” says Dzamashvili. “That’s what I want, to give back. I’d like to serve for at least eight years, to give back that entire time in service.”

Just how long it will take to reach that goal is yet to be seen, though it should come as no surprise that Dzamashvili has already attempted to plot the arc of his military medical career even before his training has been completed. Even now, serving as a Human Resources Specialist in the S-1 Office until his next assignment, he finds in each day’s shift what so many others would gladly welcome into their own lives: a sense of purpose, the feeling of belonging, and the satisfaction of a job that truly has meaning.

In the end — if these kinds of stories can have an end — the service career of Sergo Dzamashvili is, in reality, just beginning. It would be an exaggeration, perhaps, to say that Dzamashvili has already lived multiple lives; though it wouldn’t be such a stretch to say that’s the truth, either. In any capacity, his life’s work as currently constructed already stands as an impressive feat; a soldier coupling the desire to serve America with the talent required to make a lasting impact.

Not too bad for a typical 30-year-old.

Says Dzamashvili, “If there’s nothing else I do in my life, I can always say I was a soldier. That’s the way I look at it. If there’s nothing else that I accomplish, I will always know that I served my country.”

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The time Special Forces combat divers recovered 26 Americans from the floor of the Pacific Ocean

One of the first-ever Special Forces underwater operations wasn’t targeted against an enemy. Rather, it was to assist in the search and recovery of 26 Americans who had perished in a freak aircraft collision.

On March 7, 1958, a United States Marine Corps (USMC) R4Q (C-119) “Flying Boxcar” transport and a United States Navy (USN) AD-6 Skyraider fighter were returning to Okinawa-Naha Air Force Base (AFB) after a mission in the Philippines. As they prepared for their final approach to the base, the weather suddenly turned to rain, seriously limiting visibility. The pilots, thus, decided to make an instrument landing. At that crucial moment, however, the Navy Skyraider lost its communication with both the USMC transport and with the control tower. The Marine pilots frantically tried to reach their Navy colleague on the radio, to no avail. Moments later, the Skyraider smashed into the fuselage of the R4Q, turning both aircraft into a fireball of debris and human flesh.


After the aircraft were lost from the radar, the call went out to the standby Search-and-Rescue (SAR) crews. SAR planes and helicopters from Naha AFB and other bases scrambled into action and scoured the cold Pacific Ocean for traces of the wreckage with hopes of finding survivors. After days of futilely combing the ocean, the search was called off.

In the end, the wreckage of both aircraft was discovered on the floor of the Pacific about three miles offshore. Faced with a delicate and complex recovery effort, the Marine Corps and Navy turned to the Green Berets of the 1st Special Forces Group (SFG). Dive operational detachments were then assigned to the task. In the end, after Herculean efforts, they managed to recover all 26 bodies.

In the wake of their success, the Commanding General of the IX Corps sent a letter to the 1st SFG. “In times of such tragedy and sorrow, it is most gratifying to know that local military personnel and organizations, as exemplified by the First Special Forces Group (Airborne), may be relied upon to render promptly such outstanding professional assistance,” he wrote. “I am confident that the parents, wives and loved ones of the deceased share my deep appreciation and sincere thanks for [your] outstanding contribution…to the successful accomplishment of the search and salvage operation.”

Tragically, a number of the Green Berets who participated in the recovery operations would be killed in action in Vietnam a few years later.

The year 1958 was a bad one for the C-119. In total, an astounding five aircraft were lost due to accidents, with a total loss of life of 34 service members. But the venerable Flying Boxcar continues to serve in numerous capacities in the U.S. military.

This article originally appeared on SOFREP. Follow @sofrepofficial on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Gaza fires hundreds of missiles at Israel in latest war

Palestinian terror groups claimed responsibility for firing more than 100 rockets and mortars from Gaza into Israel from May 29 to May 30, 2018, in the worst bombardment seen since the 2014 Gaza war referred to as Operation Protective Edge.

Israel’s Channel 10 estimated that more than 115 rockets and missiles were launched from Gaza into Israel after the first sirens were heard near the Gaza border at 6 p.m. on May 29, 2018. Other estimates listed the number as high as 130.


Despite the heavy barrage, no civilian casualties have been reported on the Israeli side as its Iron Dome missile defense system shot down many of the projectiles. Israel’s Defense Forces (IDF) said three of its soldiers were wounded by mortar fragments on Tuesday, Haaretz reported.

The IDF said on Twitter that it struck 25 military targets in Gaza in retaliation for the increased fire.

“The IDF is prepared for a variety of scenarios and is determined to act against terror operatives.,” the IDF said.

Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks claiming it was in response to Israel’s killing of over 100 Palestinians participating in sometimes violent protests along its border since March 30, 2018.

“Qassam and Jerusalem Brigades (the groups’ armed wings) announce joint responsibility for bombarding (Israel’s) military installations and settlements near Gaza with dozens of rocket shells throughout the day,” the groups said in a joint statement, according to Reuters.

Israel also imposed a naval blockade on Gaza on May 29, 2018, and stopped a boat with 17 Gazan protesters from reaching Israel, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Israel’s Defense Ministry said on May 30, 2018, it believed the fighting had come to an end. Hamas said it had agreed on a ceasefire with help from Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza Haaretz reported.

Israel said it would be willing to respect the ceasefire, with Egypt acting as a moderating force. However an Israeli official told Haaretz that Israel was prepared to ramp up its retaliatory attacks if rocket launches resume.

The Gaza border has been the site of mass protests aimed at lifting Israel and Egypt’s blockade on the Gaza Strip which has been in place since 2014.

Rocket launches from were common during Israel’s war with Gaza in 2014. The 7-week war saw 73 deaths on the Israeli side and over 2,000 deaths on the Palestinian side, according to various estimates by Israel, the UN and Hamas.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Articles

F-35 forward deploys to Bulgaria

Two F-35A Lightning IIs and about 20 supporting Airmen arrived at Graf Ignatievo Air Base April 28 from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England.


The F-35As are participating in the first training deployment to Europe. The aircraft and total force Airmen are from the 34th Fighter Squadron, 388th Fighter Wing, and the Air Force Reserve’s 466th Fighter Squadron, 419th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

“The United States and Bulgaria have a strong and enduring relationship,” said Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, the Third Air Force commander, during a press event after the arrival. “We routinely train through joint and combined initiatives like Operation Atlantic Resolve and in flying exercises like Thracian Eagle, Thracian Summer and Thracian Star. Our commitment to Bulgaria is but an example of our unwavering support to all allied nations.”

Similar to the aircraft’s visit to Estonia on April 25, this training deployment has been planned for some time and was conducted in close coordination with Bulgarian allies. It gives F-35A pilots the opportunity to engage in familiarization training within the European theater while reassuring allies and partners of U.S. dedication to the enduring peace and stability of the region.

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians
U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw

“I have to say that for us, this makes us very proud,” said Maj. Gen. Tsanko Stoykov, the Bulgarian Air Force commander. “Our efforts have been appreciated and we are trusted as a reliable ally and it immensely contributes to the development of the bilateral relations between our two counties and our two air forces.”

This is the first overseas flying training deployment of the U.S. Air Force’s F-35As. The deployment provides support to bolster the security of NATO allies and partners in Europe while demonstrating the U.S. commitment to regional and global security.

Related: Israel’s F-35s may have already flown a combat mission against Russian air defenses in Syria

“We are grateful to our Bulgarian friends for their support in making today possible,” Clark said. “Your cooperation helps prepare the F-35 for its invaluable contribution to our alliance. We look forward to many more years of our shared commitment and partnership.”

This training deployment signifies an important milestone and natural progression of the Joint Strike Fighter Program, allowing the U.S. to further demonstrate the operational capabilities of the aircraft. It also assists in refining the beddown requirements for the F-35A at RAF Lakenheath in order to enhance Europe’s ability to host the future capabilities of the Air Force and coalition team. Also, it helps to integrate with NATO’s infrastructure and enhance fifth-generation aircraft interoperability.

The aircraft and Airmen began arriving in Europe on April 15, and are scheduled to remain in Bulgaria for a brief period of time before returning to RAF Lakenheath to continue their training deployment.

The KC-135 is from 459th Air Refueling Wing, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, and is providing refueling support for the deployment to Bulgaria.

Lists

8 heroic pilots who flew into Hell to save ground troops

Very little can tip the battle like great air support can, but it takes brave pilots willing to fly into the worst of enemy fire. The pilots below heard the calls for assistance and decided there was nothing that would stop them from saving guys on the ground.


1. Capt. Scott Campbell earned three Distinguished Flying Crosses in just four days

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians
Photo: Courtesy US Air Force

Capt. Scott Campbell was over Takur Ghar, Afghanistan, flying his first combat mission on March 4, 2002.

A group of SEALs had been hit during an infiltration and were stranded on a mountaintop. The Rangers sent to get them were also shot down. The next day, Campbell and another A-10 were sent to the area to provide air support for the troops in contact. Nine years later, then-Col. Campbell described it to an Air Force journalist.

“Troops in contact’ was being screamed over the radio by everyone. We didn’t have anyone telling us who needed help the most, so we had to listen to the radio and whoever was screaming the loudest or sounded like was in the most dire need was who we would support first. For our first real combat mission, it was pretty hairy. It was a good feeling to know that you’re helping these guys break contact with the enemy.”

Campbell began engaging targets with his own weapons and directed the attacks by other air assets. His flight delivered six bombs, 500 incendiary rounds, and an unspecified number of rockets during the 11-hour engagement and was credited with 200 to 300 enemy kills, according to his award citations.

On March 6, he coordinated air assets during a capture and extraction of an Al-Qaeda leader, netting his second award. The next day, Campbell was sent to a firefight in progress during an icy thunderstorm and took over control of air assets, dropped six bombs, and fired 550 rounds from his 30mm cannon, for which he was recognized a third time.

2. Capt. Kim N. Campbell flew into the teeth of anti-air missiles to save ground troops

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians
Photo: Courtesy US Air Force

Air Force A-10 pilot Capt. Kim N. Campbell was assigned to attack a group of tanks being used as a command post in Baghdad on April 7, 2003. That mission was put on hold when a forward air controller with ground forces requested immediate assistance. When Campbell and her wingman arrived on station, they saw friendly troops under heavy fire.

Flying low to avoid the cloud cover, the A-10s began firing rockets and 30mm cannon fire into the Iraqi elements, saving the ground forces but exposing themselves to enemy fire. Campbell’s plane was hit by a missile and suffered a total failure of the hydraulics. She had to fly the A-10 using manual controls, but managed to land and park the jet. She was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

3. Chief Warrant Officer 3 Steven T. Wells flew through the streets of Sadr City under enemy RPG fire.

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians
Photo: US Army

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Steven Wells watched his sister Kiowa helicopter get struck by an RPG on Aug. 8, 2004, and go down hard over Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq. Wells immediately circled back to check on the crew and was engaged by heavy enemy fire. Wells began engaging enemy formations attempting to reach the downed crew, fighting from an altitude of less than 200 feet.

He also made repeated attempts to land despite obstructions on the ground and in the air. He finally manage to reach the ground by cutting engine power to the helicopter blades and using autorotation to reach the ground, landing with less than 10 feet of clearance around the helicopter blades.

Wells also flew his helicopter between the aircrew and enemy fire three times to act as a shield, according to his Silver Star citation. The downed aircrew made it to friendly forces and were evacuated.

4. Chief Warrant Officer 3 Christopher P. Palumbo tried to rejoin the fight after taking 50 hits to his airframe.

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians
Photo: US Army Sgt. Taresha Neal Joiner

On April 11, 2005, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Christopher P. Palumbo piloted a Blackhawk helicopter and dropped off Special Forces soldiers near an insurgent position that had attacked coalition forces in Afghanistan. The enemy force was much larger than anticipated and the troops took two casualties. The ground was too steep for the helicopter to land and pick up the soldiers, so Palumbo and his crew began flying the helicopter between the ground forces and the enemy, taking numerous hits while doing so.

Only after both his fuel cell and his crew chief were hit by some of the more than 50 rounds that struck the bird did Palumbo finally return to base. After dropping his crew chief at the hospital, the pilot refueled, rearmed, and tried to rejoin the fight. His bird gave out though and began spraying gas before it got off the ground. Another bird successfully retrieved the wounded later that day. Palumbo received the Silver Star for his work.

5. Chief Warrant Officer James Woolley ignored the RPG in his Chinook and kept taking on passengers.

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians
Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Clay Lancaster

In 2009, Chief Warrant Officer James Woolley flew his Chinook into western Afghanistan for a casualty evacuation. They were forced to take evasive action during the approach, but Woolley pressed on to the landing zone.

On the ground, the helicopter immediately started taking fire while five wounded service members were loaded onto the bird. Less than a minute after the helicopter landed, an RPG entered through the nose of the aircraft, passed between the pilots, struck the flight engineer in the back of his helmet, and fell to the ground without detonating. Woolley kept the helicopter on the ground until the wounded could be loaded anyway. After taking that load of soldiers to base, he determined the helicopter was still flyable and returned to the battle to pick up another load of casualties.

He was awarded a Silver Star in 2010 for his efforts.

6. Capt. Jeremiah “Bull” Parvin and 1st Lt. Aaron Cavazos saved a surrounded group of Marines.

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians
Photo: US Air Force Airman 1st Class Ceaira Tinsley

The two A-10 pilots were flying in Afghanistan in 2008 when they got a call to fly 300 miles to Baghdis Province, Afghanistan. Special Operations Marines were in a heavy firefight with insurgents and the air support in the area, two F/A-18 Hornets, couldn’t get below the cloud cover safely to support. The A-10s flew with their own tanker to the fight and began a four-hour support mission, fighting from below 400 feet while under night vision.

The A-10s expended nearly all of their ammunition to get the insurgents off the 17 Marines who had been cornered in a building before the A-10s arrived. One aircraft left with about 100 rounds left in his plane. He took off with 1,350 cannon rounds as well as bombs and rockets. The pilots were awarded Distinguished Flying Crosses in separate ceremonies.

7. Lt. Col. Mike Morgan flew between small arms and RPG fire to protect engineers.

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians
Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo

Lt. Col. Mike Morgan was acting as the air mission commander for two OH-58 Kiowa helicopters when they were called to provide support to a route clearance patrol under fire near Kandahar City, Afghanistan, August 24, 2009.

The engineers of the RCP were hit by an IED and then immediately began taking heavy fire as part of an orchestrated ambush. When the OH-58s arrived, the engineers were taking effective fire from RPGs and small arms fire. Morgan piloted his aircraft through the enemy fire multiple times to engage the enemy, destroying their positions and allowing the friendly forces to withdraw. He was awarded the Silver Star in a joint ceremony with Chief Warrant Officer James Woolley, below.

8. Maj. Mike S. Caudle interrupted an Iraqi ambush.

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians
Photo: US Air Force Senior Airman Brett Clashman

Elements of the 3rd Infantry Division were approaching Baghdad and a flight of F-15E’s were redirected April 2, 2003, to provide armed reconnaissance of the route the ground troops would take. During the recon, a hidden Iraqi force suddenly ambushed the 3rd Inf. Div. soldiers while anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-air missiles targeted the jets.

Maj. Mike S, Caudle piloted his jet to cover his flight lead and the two jets began emergency close air support. Caudle and his flight lead began high-angle strafing and bomb runs. They hit the anti-air elements but also struck hard against the Iraqis attacking the ground troops. When the immediate threat was suppressed, the pilots dropped a couple of laser bombs near the friendly forces’ flanks, just to keep the enemy from getting any closer. Caudle received his second Distinguished Flying Cross for his efforts. His first was awarded for actions in Desert Storm.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The US just deployed more nuclear-capable bombers than normal to Guam

The U.S. deployed every type of strategic and nuclear-capable bomber to Guam amid soaring tensions between the Washington and Pyongyang in a move sure to rattle North Korea.


The B-1B Lancer bomber, the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, and the B-52H — the workhorse bomber that dropped tens of thousands of tons of munitions during the Vietnam War — will be in Guam, the Pentagon has confirmed to Business Insider.

North Korea can’t stand U.S. bomber deployments to Guam, where the U.S. hosts massive military bases in relative proximity to Pyongyang. North Korean media statements usually react strongly and issue threats in response to the U.S. flying B-1 training missions over the Korean Peninsula.

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians
A B-52G/H cruising above the clouds (Photo U.S. Air Force)

In statements, North Korea refers to the B-1 bomber as a nuclear asset, although the plane has been modified not to carry nuclear weapons as the result of an arms control pact with Russia. The B-2 and B-52 do have nuclear capability, and make up the air-launched component of the U.S.’s nuclear triad.

In August, North Korea threatened to fire intermediate-range Hwasong-12 missiles towards Guam, arcing them to fall just short of the island and instead in the sea. The U.S. responded by saying it would meet any attack on Guam with full force.

Recently, rumblings that North Korea is planning to launch a satellite and that the U.S. is planning to strike a North Korean launch have been making news.

Unlike in-ground nuclear silos and under-sea secretive submarines, the nuclear-capable bombers in the U.S. Air Force’s fleet enable the U.S. to signal its resolve and intentions during times of high tensions.

Also Read: The US just sent nearly 1M bombs and missiles to Guam — here’s why

While some may interpret the deployment of the nuclear-side of the bomber fleet as an escalation, the deployment is part of a mission called Continuous Bomber Presence, wherein the U.S. has maintained a bomber presence in the Pacific at all times to assure allies, enable readiness, and promote regional stability since 2004.

But it’s still rare to find all three in Guam at once. The three bombers first flew together in Guam in August 2016, and this deployment is the first time since that they’ve all been gathered together in the South Pacific.

Sending all three strategic bombers to Guam sends the strongest message bomber deployments could possibly spell out.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Warriors in their Own Words: The ‘Tunnel Rats’ of Vietnam

If fighting the well-defended Viet Cong on their home turf wasn’t dangerous enough, imagine having to crawl your way through a series of extremely tight and narrow underground tunnels to capture or kill them.

Such a terrifying prospect was reality for the brave “tunnel rats” of Vietnam, soldiers tasked with entering and clearing the makeshift tunnels dug by the VC in Vietnam. CW Bowman, Gerry Schooler and Art Tejeda spent days maneuvering through the tunnel complexes, clearing and destroying lethal booby-traps. Hear their stories:


In 1946, Viet Minh (a predecessor to Viet Cong) resistance fighters began digging the tunnels and bunkers throughout the countryside to combat the French, whom they would eventually defeat. By the time the Vietnam War broke out, the Viet Cong had over 100 miles of tunnels from which to spring deadly ambushes on American and South Vietnamese forces before vanishing. The numerous ‘spider holes,’ as the tunnel entrances were sometimes called, were conveniently located and well camouflaged — nearly impossible to detect.

Armed with only a flashlight, a single pistol, or maybe just a knife, a “tunnel rat” didn’t have much in the way of defense as they crawled in to clear these tunnels.

Here’s what you didn’t know about these courageous troops:

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians

Sgt. Ronald H. Payne, a “tunnel rat”, bravely searches a tunnel’s entrance during Vietnam War

1. The shorter the better

Many of the “tunnel rats” from Austraila, New Zealand, South Vietnam, and America volunteered for the dangerous position.

However, the brave troops that were picked for the job were commonly the shortest grunts in the platoon — for obvious reasons.

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians

2. Most “tunnel rat” dogs didn’t work out

It’s well-known that dogs are great at detecting IEDs in modern warfare, but they weren’t too good at sniffing out the many booby traps placed by the North Vietnamese around tunnel entrances.

3. Their rate of fire

If a soldier took enemy contact, their training taught them to adjust their rate of fire. Instead of firing multiple shots, the troop would commonly fire single shots, making use of echoes to confuse the enemy. After deafening shots rang out and reverberated off of tunnel walls, the enemy would left puzzled as to how many rounds they had left.

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians

4. To wear a gas mask or not to wear a gas mask…

When entering a tunnel, many troops decided against wearing gas masks as they obstructed breathing and vision. Although crawling into a wall of gas was a possibility, many “tunnel rats” chose to take their chances.

Check out Simple History‘s video below to learn more about the dangerous job these brave tunnel rats had.

www.youtube.com

MIGHTY FIT

How to build arms that never quit

I’ll just burst this bubble right off the bat here. Big arms, although socially desirable, are completely unwieldy in any pursuit except for bodybuilding.

I’m telling you now that you don’t ever have to do another biceps curl in your life if you don’t want to. I’m also telling you that you can do biceps curls as often and as long as you need to as long as they don’t impact your main goals.


7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians

Holding a rifle and maintaining a good site picture is really tiring. You want arms that can hold your rifle without adding unnecessary extra weight.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Samantha A. Barajas)

The actual purpose of arms

The purpose of your arms is to translate power from your larger and stronger muscles that are towards the center of your body.

This being the case, the way we should train arms is in a way which supports the larger muscle groups.

The tapered look is what true athleticism looks like. Take, for instance, strongman competitors, the strongest humans on Earth. Their arms are not exceptionally large in comparison to the rest of their bodies. Their arms get gradually more narrow the further they get from their core.

This is how all functional things are made. Airplanes’ wings taper out, as do the musculature of fish until they get to the fin of course. This reduces drag in the water while still giving a nice push at the end. This is the same reason the best swimmers have long thin limbs and big hands and feet.

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians

This guy sinks just like hammers and sickles do in water and just like communism did in the USSR. (How is this even a picture in 2019?)

(Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash)

The pursuit of huge biceps

There is no pursuit that requires large arms in comparison to the rest of the body, except aesthetic pursuits like bodybuilding.

Even arm wrestling, the quintessential arm strength sport, is all about using the arm as a lever that sends power from your legs and core into your opponent’s hand.

The idea of an “arm” day is laughable to me. Here’s why.

When I was going through a particular portion of my Marine Corps Training, I found myself with a group of Marines who were in a waiting period for their next school to start.

Because Training Command was on the same base as my peers and me, they decided to use us as a “test” unit. They wanted to see what type of training Marines could endure and how it translated to their follow on schools and injury resistance in general.

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians

Treading water is hard in a full kit. It’s even harder when your arms are fighting against you while treading.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Hernan Vidana)

Basically, it was let’s “fugg” with these guys in the name of “research.”

So I found myself doing a lot of weird “training” with a bunch of alpha males. Every day was some type of ego trip in one way or another.

A good portion of my peers at this time were quite muscular. Some of them were the type to ensure they finished every gym session with 10 sets of biceps curls.

They had big arms.

We did a lot of pool workouts in this training cycle….I’ll give you one guess which body type had to be revived the most often…

When it comes to swimming, large biceps are the opposite of those arm floaties that kids wear. Imagine how much harder it would be to tread water with rocks strapped to your upper arms.

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians

This is the whole body approach to training arms.

(Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash)

How to train arms like a freakin’ genius

The way workouts should be setup is as follows:

  1. Main/Compound lifts- squat, bench, deadlift
  2. Ancillary lifts- rows, Romanian deadlifts, lat pull-down, DB presses
  3. Accessory lifts- biceps, triceps, calves

The compound lifts are giving the majority of our muscular stimulation and truly teaching the body how to move as a unit in an anatomically correct way.

The ancillary lifts give our main muscle groups another look (from a different angle, rep range, etc.). They directly contribute to strength gains in the main lifts and also contribute to making the body a cohesive unit of power development.

The accessory lifts are there to bring up body parts that may be limiting the main movements or that the trainee may want to give some extra stimulation. Other common accessory muscle groups are the forearms, obliques, or neck.

Because isolated arm exercises are primarily accessory lifts, they should receive the lowest amount of priority in the gym. This means if you are strapped for time you skip these. DON’T skip squatting or deadlifting and jump to these because you prefer them.

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians

You can get those curls in….after you hit the big ticket items.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Donald Holbert)

The biceps are a pulling muscle. You get all the biceps stimulation you need from rows, lat pull-downs, and pull-ups. The triceps are a pushing muscle. You get all the triceps stimulation you need from pressing, benching, and push-ups.

The above being the case, I fully respect the allure of the arm pump and the feel of a tight t-shirt. That’s why I don’t avoid them altogether when writing a training plan. They are for your mind, not for your body.

It is important to work out for both the mind and the body. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing or if you don’t see/feel results, you are significantly less likely to continue training.

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians
Articles

Army to deploy Armored Brigade Combat Teams to Europe

To address the potential Russian threat, the Army will start rotating Armored Brigade Combat Teams to Europe, starting next year.


According to a report by the Army Times, the first unit to handle a rotation will come from the 4th Infantry Division, based at Fort Carson, Colorado. The European rotation will join Armored Brigade Combat Team rotations in South Korea and Kuwait.

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians
(PHC D. W. HOLMES II, U.S. Navy)

The Army also announced that a brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division based at Fort Stewart in Georgia, will be converted from an Infantry Brigade Combat Team to an Armored Brigade Combat Team.

An Armored Brigade Combat Team with the 1st Armored Division will also be moved from training duties to the active rotation. The deployments to Europe, South Korea, and Kuwait are for nine months.

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians
A U.S. Army Bradley during a training exercise. (Photo by Private 1st Class James Dutkavich)

At present, there are only nine Armored Brigade Combat Teams in the Active Army, with five more in the National Guard. The conversion of the 3rd Infantry Division’s brigade will make it ten active Armored Brigade Combat Teams.

The only U.S. Army unit permanently deployed to Europe is the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, a Stryker unit. Earlier this year, the Army received the first M1296 Dragoon, a Stryker modified with the Mk 46 Bushmaster II 30mm chain gun.

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians
The first prototype Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle outfitted with a 30mm cannon was delivered Thursday to the Army. (Photo Credit: Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems)

An Armored Brigade Combat Team has three battalions, each with two companies of M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks and two companied of mechanized infantry that each have 14 M2A3 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles.

The brigade also has a reconnaissance squadron with three troops of 12 M3A3 Bradley Cavalry Fighting Vehicles each.

The Army had to withdraw its Armored Brigade Combat Teams from Europe five years ago due to budget cuts caused by sequestration. A 2015 Army Times report outlined that the cuts reduced the number of brigade combat teams from 45 in 2012 to 30.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

As U.S. moves to exit Afghanistan, rivals prepare to swoop in

The U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 was backed by most countries in the region, who shared the goal of ousting the extremist Taliban regime and eliminating the allied Al-Qaeda terrorist network.

The governments in Tehran, Moscow, and Islamabad readily helped the United States fight the extremist groups.


Iran provided crucial intelligence to support U.S. special forces and CIA teams orchestrating the invasion.

Russia supplied Soviet-era maps and intelligence and later allowed the U.S. military to send supplies to Afghanistan through its territory.

Even Pakistan, the chief backer of the Taliban, offered its assistance in helping hunt down Al-Qaeda militants and became the main supply line for NATO forces.

But in the intervening 19 years, the regional consensus favoring the U.S. troops in Afghanistan has eroded.

Though the U.S. military swiftly overthrew the Taliban and eliminated Al-Qaeda safe havens in Afghanistan, many feel it got bogged down in mission creep.

Meanwhile, Washington’s ties with many regional players — including Pakistan, Iran, and Russia — became toxic.

With U.S. forces scheduled to exit Afghanistan next year as part of a framework peace deal with the Taliban, Washington’s rivals see an opportunity to step in and expand their footprint in the war-torn country.

Those efforts have intensified since the United States and the Taliban signed a deal in February aimed at negotiating an end to the war, which began way back in 2001.

Under that agreement, U.S. forces will withdraw from Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban, which has pledged to negotiate a permanent cease-fire and power-sharing deal with the Kabul government.

The delayed intra-Afghan peace talks are expected to be complex and protracted, and will likely take years.

Impatient to end the costly and unpopular war, President Donald Trump is considering fast-tracking the exit of American troops ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November, according to U.S. media reports.

Experts say that in the absence of a peace deal, a U.S. military withdrawal could ignite a free-for-all that involves regional powers pursuing often competing interests in Afghanistan.

“The stage has already been set, with many key actors — including Russia and Iran — increasing their ties with both the Afghan state and the Taliban,” says Michael Kugelman, South Asia senior associate at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.

“The objective is to develop more influence and generate more leverage with key actors across the board, so that they will be in a better position to pursue and achieve their goals in a post-America Afghanistan — a place we can expect to be increasingly unstable and complex.”

Iran, Pakistan, and Russia — with long histories of meddling in the country — are hedging their bets. The three countries have sought to improve their relations with the Western-backed government in Kabul, while also reaching out to the Taliban in case it gains a role in a future Afghan government.

Islamabad has retained its long-standing ties with the Taliban and shelters the group’s leadership, while Tehran and Moscow have been tacitly working to bolster their ties with the militants, with the goal of expanding their own strategic interests in Afghanistan.

‘Make The Taliban Even Stronger’

Pakistan has long been accused of playing a double game in Afghanistan, sheltering and aiding the Taliban while receiving billions in U.S. aid to clamp down on the militants.

Pakistan’s ties to the Taliban date back to the 1990s, when it provided arms, training, and intelligence to the militants. Islamabad was one of only three countries to recognize the Taliban government when it took power in Afghanistan in 1996. After the regime’s fall in 2001, many Taliban leaders took shelter inside Pakistan.

Observers say Pakistan sees the Taliban as an insurance policy for reaching its long-standing strategic goals in Afghanistan — installing a pro-Pakistan government in Kabul and limiting the influence of its archrival India, which has close ties to Kabul.

Experts say Pakistan stands to be the biggest beneficiary of a U.S. military pullout from Afghanistan.

“If a withdrawal leads to a peace process that results in a settlement, then Pakistan would benefit as this would likely entail the Taliban holding a fair share of power,” says Kugelman. “If the peace process collapses and the U.S. withdrawal ushers in a period of extended destabilization, Pakistan would still benefit because it would make the Taliban even stronger.”

‘Buffer Zone’

Iran has supported its traditional allies in Afghanistan — the Shi’ite Hazara minority and the Persian-speaking ethnic Tajiks — while recently establishing contacts with the Taliban, a predominately Pashtun group.

Iran and the Taliban were on the verge of war in 1998 — when the group controlled most of Afghanistan — after the deaths of eight Iranian diplomats in the Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif.

Tehran backed the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance before the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. But in recent years the Islamic republic and the Taliban have forged closer ties, with militant leaders even visiting Tehran.

The relationship between Shi’ite-majority Iran and the Taliban, a fundamentalist Sunni group, is complex. Iran officially opposes the Taliban, but experts say it provides some military support to the mainstream Taliban and even rival breakaway factions.

Analysts say that while Iran does not want the Taliban to return to power, Tehran is looking to maintain influence with the group as a hedge in case the Taliban becomes a political player in Afghanistan or it forcibly seizes control of the country.

“These initiatives serve the purpose of securing Iran’s sphere of influence in Afghanistan and perhaps even creating a buffer zone on Afghan soil to protect parts of Iran’s eastern borders from infiltration by forces hostile to Iran,” says Ali Alfoneh, a senior fellow at The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.

‘A Great Power’

For more than a decade after the U.S.-led invasion, Russian President Vladimir Putin praised Washington for taking on the “burden” of fighting terrorism in Afghanistan and urged it to “carry it to the end.”

But since 2014, the Kremlin has attempted to undermine the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, fueled by Moscow’s desire to be an international power broker and its rivalry with the West in Ukraine and Syria, where Russia joined Iran in supporting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Moscow said it has established contacts with the Taliban in recent years because of the common threat posed by the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Afghanistan. Washington has accused Russia of arming the Taliban, which it denies.

In the past two years, Moscow has hosted two international conferences on the Afghan peace process, inviting Taliban leaders and Afghan opposition members.

Earlier this month, U.S. media reported that a Russian military intelligence unit had offered secret bounties to the Taliban if they killed U.S. or NATO-member troops in Afghanistan.

Moscow and the Taliban have denied the reports, which are based on U.S. intelligence assessments. But the revelations have served to highlight Moscow’s murky dealings in Afghanistan.

“Russia’s interests in Afghanistan are twofold: to avoid an explosion of chaos on the borders of what it considers its sphere of influence, and to use it as an opportunity to demonstrate and assert its claim to be a great power,” says Mark Galeotti, a Russia analyst and a senior associate fellow at the British-based Royal United Services Institute.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Why the Navy can’t just get rid of this aircraft carrier

The Navy needs to start saving money, and one of the ways it wants to do that is by retiring one of its old Nimitz-class carriers, the USS Harry S. Truman, rather than just overhauling the ship. The Truman is barely halfway through its lifespan. It began its service in 1998, is scheduled for a nuclear refueling in 2024, and set to serve for at least 50 years.

But the plan to retire the carrier is already facing opposition from Congress, despite saving billions of dollars and ensuring the construction of two new Ford-class carriers.


7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians

The USS Gerald R. Ford.

Congressional leaders were “blindsided” by the Navy’s decision, especially considering a number of seapower doctrines the move will break, including the minimum force law (yes, it’s a law, 10 U.S. Code § 5062) of maintaining at least 11 aircraft carriers and a call for an increase to 12 carriers. Resistance to the Navy’s plan is already mounting among members of Congress, despite the backing of acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford.

The arguments for the retirement of the Truman include a – billion savings over the next few decades, increased employment for the building of two new Ford-class carriers, and a 12-carrier Navy. Former seapower subcommittee chairman Rep. Rob Wittman questioned the move as it relates to the Navy’s plan of providing two carriers constantly on station with three more able to surge forward.

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians

The USS John C. Stennis, the 7th Nimitz-class carrier in the Persian Gulf.

Retiring the Truman would keep the total force of carriers below the number required for several years, which is what lawmakers are currently concerned about most. The Navy would have a difficult time with its global power projection abilities. Still, Gen. Dunford argued about the wisdom of refueling a 25-year-old ship vs. investing in new technologies that would allow for greater projection of global power and the use of new technologies, such as unmanned vehicles.

But Congress has to deal with the monetary issues of having already purchased the Truman’s new reactor cores and the feasibility of new technologies to be integrated into the Navy’s maritime strike capabilities.

“I don’t think the president’s going to turn to the secretary of defense and say, ‘where are my unmanned surface vessels’ when a conflict breaks out in the world,” said Rep. Elaine Luria. “They’re going to turn and ask, ‘where are my aircraft carriers?'”

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The F-22 Raptor almost had a stealth bomber sibling

The night sky is an inky black and the soldiers on the ground barely give it a passing glance. Their radar scopes are clear; no enemies inbound. The first sign that they receive of the American strike is the bombs falling on key strategic targets. Precision small-diameter bombs fall within inches of substations, radar sites, bunkers and anti-aircraft batteries.

The runway is also cratered by American bombs, but a few fighter planes manage to scramble into the air. Their pilots frantically check their radar for the unseen attackers—nothing. Suddenly, a volley of radar-guided AIM-120C AMRAAMs tears through the formation of fighters and erupts in an airborne spectacle of fire and twisted metal. The light from the fireball reflects the faintest glint of light on the visors of the American pilots as they turn their F-22 Raptors and FB-22 Strike Raptors for home.


Following the success of their F-22 Raptor stealth fighter, Lockheed Martin conducted a study in 2001 to determine the feasibility of developing a bomber platform from it. While the F-22 was designed as an air superiority fighter, it still maintained a degree of ground attack ability which Lockheed Martin hoped to exploit. If they could leverage the design and capabilities of the existing airframe, the cost of developing the new bomber would be significantly reduced.

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians

The F-22 Raptor air superiority fighter (Photo by Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin developed a number of bomber concepts based on the F-22. Much of the Raptor’s avionics were retained and structural redesigns were focused on the fuselage and wings. An initial concept aimed to increase payload capacity by lengthening and widening the fuselage. However, this came with a penalty of a 25-30% increase in weight, materials and development costs. Instead, further concepts retained the same fuselage as the F-22 and bore elongated delta shape wings which allowed the concept bomber to carry more fuel and wing-mounted weapons.

With the new wings, the FB-22 Strike Raptor would have been able to carry up to 30-35 250-pound GBU-39 small diameter precision-guided bombs versus the F-22 Raptor’s payload capacity of eight such bombs. Unlike the F-22, the FB-22 would also have been able to carry bombs weighing up to 5,000 pounds. With weapons stored internally, the FB-22 would have had a maximum combat load of 15,000 pounds. With additional weapons mounted on the wings, the FB-22 would have lost some of its stealth capability but carry up to 30,000 pounds of weapons.

Its increased fuel capacity gave the Strike Raptor a range of 1,600 miles, nearly triple the F-22’s range of 600 miles, and could have been extended further with the addition of external fuel tanks. With this increased range, the FB-22 would have replaced the Air Force’s F-15E Strike Eagle and taken over some of the missions of the B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit bombers. In October 2002, Air Force Magazine reported that the FB-22 would have a combat effectiveness comparable to a B-2 Spirit armed with 2,000-pound bombs.

In order to power this larger airframe, the F-22’s Pratt Whitney F119-PW-100 engines would have been replaced with the Pratt Whitney F135s which now power the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. Though early concepts featured no tailplanes, later concepts incorporated twin tailplanes. Additionally, since the Strike Raptor was meant to complement the F-22 with its ground-attack capability, dogfighting capability was not a priority and the thrust vectoring technology of the F-22 was omitted from the FB-22 concept. According to Flight International magazine, the FB-22 would have had a top speed of Mach 1.92.

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians

The F-35’s F135 engine, developed from the F-22’s F119, gives it enough thrust to perform short takeoffs and vertical landings. The FB-22 would have had two of these engines. (Photo by Lockheed Martin)

In February 2003, Secretary of the Air Force James Roche reported to the House Armed Services Committee that he envisioned a strike force of 150 FB-22s, along with 60 B-1s, 21 B-2s, and 381 F-22s. Following this vision, in 2004, Lockheed Martin officially presented the FB-22 Strike Raptor concept to the Air Force. The concept met the Air Force requirement for a potential strategic bomber as an interim solution and would be operational by 2018.

Additionally, since it was developed from the existing F-22, the cost of fully developing the FB-22 was estimated to be 75% less than the cost of developing an entirely new bomber. Air Force Magazine also reported that the FB-22’s stealth capabilities had been increased, adding externally mounted detachable and faceted weapons pods that could carry weapons on the wings without sacrificing stealth.
7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians

What might have been (Credit Bandai Namco Entertainment)

Unfortunately, following the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, the FB-22 Strike Raptor project was cancelled. The DoD wanted a bomber with greater range and the Strike Raptor would be developed no further. However, disappointed aviation fans still have the opportunity to fly the FB-22 and experience the “next-generation stealth bomber that could have been” in the popular hybrid arcade-style flight simulator Ace Combat. The FB-22 is featured as a flyable aircraft in Ace Combat 5, Ace Combat X, Ace Combat Joint Assault, and Ace Combat Infinity.

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians

An FB-22 at full afterburner in Ace Combat Infinity (Credit Bandai Namco Entertainment)

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