This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

Born of national duress in 1942, Marine Corps Air Station El Toro became a mission critical base on the West Coast of the United States. It served as a launch point for three major wars. It was often the final destination for Marines killed in Vietnam. In the 1990s, it was designated for closure, and its runways went silent for good in 1999. Since then, most of the grounds have been transformed into Orange County Great Park, a massive system of trails, sports fields and recreation. Land surrounding the base has been developed into luxury homes. While most of the base has been demolished, some buildings remain. These haunting images were made over several months, beginning Fall 2019. History still lives here, along with the ghosts of leathernecks spanning six decades of service and sacrifice. Shot on location from September 2019 through June 2020.


MIGHTY SURVIVAL

U.S. Air Force relief mission to COVID-19 crisis in Italy begins from Ramstein AB

USAF C-130s Flew Self-Contained Care Unit to Aviano Air Base in Italy on Friday.


The U.S. Air Force has deployed a C-130J Hercules transport from the 86th Airlift Wing from Ramstein Air Base in Germany to Italy’s Aviano Air Base in the ongoing coronavirus relief mission. The U.S. aircraft arrived on Mar. 20, 2020, and joins other relief aircraft in the region, including a number of Russian Aerospace Forces Il-76 transports that departed Russia earlier today.

Photos released by the USAF show Airmen from the 721st Aerial Port Squadron loading pallets of medical equipment on board a Lockheed C-130J Super Hercules transport.

Part of the cargo deployed to Italy in the U.S. relief mission is the En-Route Patient Staging System, or “ERPSS”. The system can support the medical transport of up to 40 patients in a 24-hour period. It is equipped with 10 patient staging beds for treatment of patients.

Commander of U.S. Air Force, Europe (USAFE-AFAFRICA), General Jeff “Cobra” Harrigian, told reporters, “The COVID-19 pandemic requires that we work with our allies and partners to [meet] the challenges together. This effort demonstrates our mutual support as we team together in response to this public health crisis. We are working closely with our Italian friends, the U.S. Department of State, and U.S. European Command (EUCOM) to ensure we provide the right equipment in a safe and timely manner. It’s our privilege to support the Italian response, and our continued commitment reflects the values of the American people to provide to whenever and wherever it is needed.”

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

A USAF Airman assigned to the 721st Aerial Port Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, loads pallets of medical supplies and equipment onboard a C-130J Super Hercules in preparation for relief flights to Aviano Air Base in Italy on March 20, 2020 in support of the COVID-19 relief effort.

(Photo: USAF Airman 1st Class John R. Wright)

The 86th Airlift Wing received one of their most recent, new C-130J Super Hercules transports from Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company in Marietta, Georgia in early December, 2017. The C-130J Super Hercules is the most advanced version of the celebrated C-130, which first flew over 65 years ago in 1956. The C-130J is the only version of the C-130 that remains in production today. The aircraft features a fuselage that is 15-feet longer than previous versions of the C-130. The aircraft is also designed to work with advanced loading/unloading equipment for specialty palletized cargo like the En-Route Patient Staging System.

The aid from the U.S. military several days ago, and Russia’s air force beginning today, along with missions from China, Cuba and other nations, support the Italian government’s escalating response to the COVID-19 crisis. The Italian government has deployed troops in some areas to monitor quarantine and help slow the spread of the deadly disease.

This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

US Marines take the Humvee’s replacement out for a spin

Multiple units on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton have started to introduce the new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle to their Marines by teaching them the basic operations of one of the Marine Corps’ newest ground vehicles.

“The JLTV is a lot more capable than the Humvee,” said Mario Marin, the JLTV lead instructor with the I Marine Expeditionary Force JLTV Operator New Equipment Training course. “The ability for the driver to actually manipulate the system itself, using what’s called a MUX panel, a multi-plex panel, or the driver smart display. The driver has, at his finger tip, a lot of control of the vehicle. It has a lot of technological advances that the Humvee does not, and that is just your basic JLTV.”


The JLTV is meant to replace the Humvee all across the Department of Defense. The JLTV is equipped with more highly evolved technology compared to the basic equipment of a Humvee.

The JLTV is mechanically reliable, maintainable with on-board diagnostics, all terrain mobile, and equipped to link into current and future tactical data nets.

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

US Marine Lance Cpl. Xavier Puente, a mortarman with Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, listens to an instructor during the I Marine Expeditionary Force Joint Light Tactical Vehicle Operator New Equipment Training course in 13 Area on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Oct. 16, 2019.

(US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Alison Dostie)

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

US Marines familiarize themselves with the inside of a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle during the I Marine Expeditionary Force JLTV Operator New Equipment Training course in 13 Area on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Oct. 16, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Alison Dostie)

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

US Marines take notes in a class during the I Marine Expeditionary Force Joint Light Tactical Vehicle Operator New Equipment Training course in 13 Area on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Oct. 16, 2019.

(US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Alison Dostie)

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

US Marine Pfc. Nailey Riviere, a motor vehicle operator with Combat Logistics Battalion 15, 1st Marine Logistics Group, loosens a bolt on the wheel of a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle during the I Marine Expeditionary Force JLTV Operator New Equipment Training course in 13 Area on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Oct. 16, 2019.

(US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Alison Dostie)

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

US Marines conduct cone skill drills during the I Marine Expeditionary Force Joint Light Tactical Vehicle Operator New Equipment Training course in 13 Area on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Oct. 17, 2019.

(US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Alison Dostie)

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

US Marines conduct cone skill drills during the I Marine Expeditionary Force Joint Light Tactical Vehicle Operator New Equipment Training course in 13 Area on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Oct. 17, 2019.

(US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Alison Dostie)

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

US Marines drive Joint Light Tactical Vehicles at White Beach as part of the I Marine Expeditionary Force JLTV Operator New Equipment Training course on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Oct. 24, 2019.

(Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Drake Nickels)

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

US Marines drive a Joint Light Tactical Vehicles through the water at White Beach as part of the I Marine Expeditionary Force JLTV Operator New Equipment Training course on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Oct. 24, 2019.

(Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Drake Nickels)

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

A US Marine parks a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle at White Beach as part of the I Marine Expeditionary Force JLTV Operator New Equipment Training course on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, October 24, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Drake Nickels)

“This license is better than any other license that I’ve had,” said Cpl. Devonte Jacobs, a motor vehicle operator with 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. “This vehicle is capable of doing a lot more than any other vehicle, and it will help Marines become better.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Air Force might get its first female combat TACP

The U.S. Air Force is hopeful it could have its first female battlefield airman spring 2019.

In written testimony before the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on personnel, Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, said one woman is making her way through the grueling challenges of Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) training.

“Currently, we have one female in Tactical Air Control Party training with a potential graduation date later this spring,” he said.

“To date, 10 female airmen have entered into special warfare training, but none have yet to qualify and graduate,” Kelly added.


Attrition is high in this elite training pipeline, ranging between 40 and 90 percent across the specialties.

“Consequently, we do not foresee large numbers of females in operational units in the near term,” Kelly said.

Since the Defense Department opened combat career fields to women in December 2015, few female airmen have qualified for Air Force special warfare training. Some have self-eliminated or sustained an injury; others have not met the standards of a particular program.

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

A Tactical Air Control Party Airman with the New Jersey Air National Guard’s 227th Air Support Operations Squadron scans the training area for targets on Warren Grove Range, N.J., Jan. 31, 2019.

(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Matt Hecht)

Recently, a female candidate entered the pararescue (PJ) training pipeline, but was injured during the first week of training and had to drop out, Air Education and Training Command (AETC) officials told Military.com in January 2019.

The woman is expected “to return at a later date to try again,” AETC spokeswoman Jennifer Gonzalez said January 2019.

“We are fully committed to the integration of women into combat positions, [and] have increased targeted marketing to further attract female recruits,” Kelly said.

The service has placed a female cadre within these training units, he added.

The Air Force has had a tough time attracting candidates for special operations, particularly in the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and survival, evasion, resistance and escape (SERE) pipelines. Kelly said the service missed its recruiting goals for these specialties in three of the last four months.

While the service missed those goals, Kelly said special warfare overall has seen early successes through its new recruiting squadron. The service established its first Special Operations Recruiting Squadron in 2018 to find next-generation combat airmen.

“This past year, we established a new training group and new recruiting squadrons focused on critical warfighting career fields, such as special warfare airmen,” Kelly said.

Recruiters and mentors train the candidates in a step-by-step, streamlined program to get a better sense of what type of airmen are needed for the next dynamic conflict.

“The Air Force is committed to improving how we recruit and prepare airmen to succeed,” Kelly said.

This story will be updated.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Pentagon is making up to 5 million masks available for the coronavirus fight

To support ongoing domestic efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus, which causes the illness COVID-19, the US military will provide millions of masks to support civilian public health agencies and other responders, Pentagon leadership said Tuesday.


“The Department of Defense will make available up to 5 million N95 respirator masks and other personal protective equipment from our own strategic reserves to Health and Human Services for distribution,” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said.

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

“The first 1 million masks will be made available immediately,” he added.

“The Pentagon will be providing 5 million respirator masks and 2,000 specialized ventilators to aid in our whole of America Coronavirus response. This critical equipment will keep our health care providers safe as they care for patients,” Vice President Mike Pence said on Twitter.

COVID-19 has spread to more than 5,800 people and killed nearly 100 people in the US. As the illness spreads domestically, masks and other protective equipment are becoming harder to find.

Additional support measures include providing up to 2,000 deployable ventilators to HHS and making 14 certified coronavirus testing labs available to test non-DoD personnel. “We hope this will provide excess capacity to the civilian population,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said.

He added that the Pentagon is also looking at the activation of National Guard and Reserve units to assist states as needed. The National Guard is already assisting in 22 states.

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USNS Comfort at Naval Station Norfolk after a five-month deployment, November 15, 2019.

US Navy

The military is preparing its hospital ships for possible deployment to assist during the crisis, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The US Navy has two hospital ships available, the USNS Comfort in Norfolk, Virginia, and the USNS Mercy in San Diego.

“The Comfort is undergoing maintenance, and the Mercy is at port.” Esper told reporters Tuesday, revealing that the Department of Defense has already given Navy orders “to lean forward in terms of getting them ready to deploy.”

The defense secretary explained that US military assets like hospital ships and field hospitals are designed for trauma response rather than matters like infectious diseases, so these assets would likely be used to take the pressure off civilian medical facilities with regard to trauma care.

Esper also said that the Army Corps of Engineers could be made available to assist states in need but suggested there might be more effective options.

The secretary stressed to reporters that “if we can dramatically reduce the spread of the virus over the next 15 days, together we can help restore public health and the economy and hasten a return to our normal way of life.”

Update: This post has been updated to include the vice president’s tweet, as well as clarify that the masks are going to HHS to support civilian public health agencies and other responders.

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

Military Life

7 reasons why enlisted love ‘Mustang’ officers

There are many different routes to becoming an officer within the U.S. Armed Forces. Military academies and ROTC programs are common, but only one in-road immediately garners respect, admiration, and loyalty — we’re talking about Mustang officers. A ‘Mustang’ is a prior-service officer who did their time before jumping from the green side (enlisted) to the gold side (officers).


You can often point them out in a crowd. They’re a bit older than most butterbars, they already have that sharp-as-a-KA-BAR glare, and they’re probably a bit hungover.

Now, this isn’t meant to bash officers who were not previously enlisted. In fact, this list is meant to spotlight the reasons why Mustangs get more love and what all officers will eventually learn with time. Mustangs just have a head start.

1. They don’t need to be taught the small stuff.

There are a lot of minor details in military life that you simply can’t learn from books. The most important difference between a Mustang and a fresh officer is learning the constant give-and-take that comes with leadership.

There is an extremely fine line between earning respect through leading by example and being a knowledgable leader. If an officer hides in their office, they alienate their troops. If they put their nose in troops’ business, they’re micromanaging to the point of exhaustion. Each officer must forge their own path. Mustangs just have a better understanding of what it’s like to deal with officers of both types.

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing
An officer’s thoughts should only lead to one place: deployments. (Photo by Senior Airman Justyn Freeman)

2. They’ve made the same dumb mistakes as the lower enlisted.

One aspect of leadership that no leader wants to deal with is learning someone you’re in charge of messed up. Troops are a direct reflection of the officers over them and when it’s found out that a subordinate “goofed,” the chain of command asks just one question to the officer: “What’s wrong with your Joe?”

Fresh officers tend to drop the hammer — either because they don’t know the proper response or they believe it’ll set an example. Despite being former NCOs, Mustangs will wield the hammer to the appropriate level to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Oftentimes, it can just be as simple as letting the NCO smoke the problems out of the subordinate.

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing
An officer’s pen is mighty, but it’s not always the answer. (Photo by Sgt. Jermaine Baker)

3. They take on more important tasks than their peers.

An officer’s reputation depends entirely on the actions of their troops. Good officers have faith in their troops and maintain focus on what’s important — building skills needed for warfighting and doing the menial tasks that just need to get done — instead of chasing the tasks that net them a shiny new award.

There are no specific right answers to finding a good task balance for your troops but there definitely is a wrong answer: forgetting to factor morale into this equation. Mustangs just tend to watch their own lane and put themselves in the boots they once wore.

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing
Spoiler alert: the correct balance doesn’t include practicing drill and ceremony every day. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Tyler Pender)

4. They don’t mind getting their hands dirty with their troops.

Rank has its privileges. If the officer needs to do their own work, they’ll stay in their lane. If the only hold up is the Joes’ dirty work, officers have the choice of “supervising” the NCOs supervising the troops, or they can lead by example, get their hands dirty, and earn a bit more trust (once again, consider alienation versus micromanaging).

Mustangs have swept their fair share of motor pools and they’ve filled their fair share of sandbags. They can dive back into that world every now and then without getting labelled as a micromanager.

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing
No Private will ever complain about an extra hand filling sandbags. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Carl Greenwell)

5. They would never say something as stupid as, “well, Sergeant Major, technically, I outrank you!”

Yes, as with all formalities and regulations, the dumb butterbar is technically correct. The proper response from an E-9 isn’t to immediately open a can of whoop-ass on the unfortunate soul, but rather to turn to their officer equivalent with a deadpan look and ask them to unf*ck that officer before they do.

A Mustang knows that NCOs often have a battle-buddy that outranks them…

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing
…by a lot. (Photo by Alejandro Pena)

6. They aren’t sour if they aren’t saluted.

There’s a time and place for saluting. Of course, it shows the proper respect to officers, but even officers get tired of “chopping logs” when they have to salute every three seconds.

If a Mustang knows their troops respect them, they don’t need a hand raised to their eyebrow to prove it. They’ll still expect the salute for formality’s sake, but they know it’s not the end of the world should a troop forego one. Plus, you’ll never see a Mustang get worked up when they’re not saluted in a combat zone.

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing
For one very specific reason… (Photo by Sgt. Conner Robbins)

7. Their heads aren’t up their asses.

Let’s face it: Everyone who becomes an officer has their own idea of leadership and hopes to etch their name into military history books — but there are steps they must take. Every officer they read about in books was once a young lieutenant. It takes time. It takes making mistakes. It takes years to learn your own leadership style. No one ever comes out of the gate and immediately changes the world.

Relax. Stay humble. Everything can be summed up with the phrase, “trust is a two-way street.” Mustangs trust their troops and the troops will make sure their name is remembered fondly.

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia wants Canada to hand over files on ex-Nazi death squad interpreter

Russia says it has asked Canada to hand over case files on a 95-year-old former Nazi death-squad member to help Moscow investigate the mass murder of children at a Soviet orphanage during World War II.


Helmut Oberlander, who was born in Ukraine and became a German citizen during the war, lives in Canada.

He obtained Canadian citizenship in 1960 and courts have repeatedly ruled Oberlander’s citizenship should be revoked because he lied about his participation in a Nazi death squad during the war. In December Canada’s Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal on the government’s decision to strip him of his passport, bringing him a step closer to actual deportation from Canada.

Russia’s Investigation Committee announced on February 14 that it wanted Canada’s case and legal files on Oberlander, saying it was checking his possible involvement in a 1942 “genocide” at an orphanage in the Sea of Azov town of Yeysk.

The committee said in a statement that a death squad equipped with “mobile gas chambers” was deployed in 1942 and 1943 to the German-occupied Krasnodar region.

“As a result of one such operation, on October 9 and 10, 1942, a mass murder of children at the Yeysk orphanage was committed,” it added.

At the time, Oberlander served as a translator for the Nazis’ mobile killing squads, the committee said.

Oberlander has said he was forced to join one of the squads at the age of 17 and did not take part in any atrocities.

Last year, Russian investigators said they had opened a probe into suspected genocide after declassified documents in the Krasnodar region revealed that the bodies of 214 disabled foster children who had fled the Crimean Peninsula for nearby Yeysk were found after Nazi forces were driven out of the area.

MIGHTY FIT

Olympian Army spouse becomes Titan for the Central Region

Chantae McMillian Langhorst is an Army spouse of two years, currently stationed in Georgia while her husband trains to be a helicopter pilot. She’s also a mama to one-year-old Otto, Olympic athlete and just won the coveted title of “Titan” for the central region on NBC’s the Titan Games, hosted by “The Rock” Dwayne Johnson.

She’s just a little busy.


Even before her husband decided to join the Army, Langhorst’s life was already deeply rooted in the military. Both of her parents were in the Army when they met, while stationed overseas in Germany. They would go on to serve and retire after 20 years each. Langhorst shared that she absolutely believes being a military kid helped her become more adaptable and independent. She knows those experiences served her well and helped mold her into the person and competitive athlete that she is today.

Langhorst graduated from Rolla High School in Missouri as a track and field athlete. She was also selected as a Nike All American. She received a scholarship to the University of Nebraska and began competing in the heptathlon. During her time in college, she received the coveted title of All-American five times while competing. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in art, she was approached by a coach who suggested she continue competing.

This time, in the Olympics.

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

“One of the best times of my life was learning about myself, how hard I could work and being able to dig deep and figure things out,” said Langhorst. In 2011 while training to compete in the Olympics, she suffered a devastating injury to her patellar-tendon in her knee during a high jump. Although she would never want to go back to that time in her life, Langhorst believes pushing through to heal from that injury to qualify for the Olympics made her a stronger athlete in the end.

Despite that injury, she made the U.S. Olympic team. Although Langhorst didn’t medal, she credits making it to the London 2012 Summer Olympics was one of the greatest achievements of her life.

In 2014, she found herself in Ohio training for the 2016 Olympics. Langhorst became a track and field coach at the University of Dayton. She also met her future husband, who was a sports trainer at the time. In 2015, she was selected for ESPN’s famous body issue. Although she didn’t make it past the trials for the 2016 Olympics, she didn’t give up. Langhorst began exploring the winter Olympics but stopped once she was faced with a surprise.

She was pregnant with little Otto.

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

Langhorst’s husband had begun the process of joining the Army and knowing that little Otto was on the way, they were even more excited for their new journey. They married in 2018 and he went off to Army training in 2019. After his graduation, they were stationed in Fort Rucker, Alabama, where he began helicopter pilot training. Then, Langhorst received an interesting phone call.

The Titan Games wanted her to try out.

They flew her out to Los Angeles in January of 2020 for a combine. A few days later, she was told she made the cut and would need to get to Atlanta to start filming. For 20 straight days she was involved in competitions twice a day and filming 12 hours a day. Langhorst describes it as an amazing experience but also exhausting. She also shared that there wasn’t much food. “I look so shredded on TV because I was eating like a bird,” she said laughing.

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

Langhorst became a Titan, swiftly eliminating her competition in the first episode.

“I hope I can inspire people,” she shared. Langhorst said that she understands how easy it is to get lost in being a military spouse and putting the service member’s career before your own. She found herself doing it before that call from The Titan Games. “Spouses need to know that they can still achieve a lot – even with a kid,” she explained. Langhorst said that having Otto gave her more purpose and the fuel to work even harder to make him proud.

These days, Langhorst is training for the Olympics again with the goal of medaling. Even with her super athletic abilities and tunnel vision goals, she’s absolutely human. She loves donuts, although she doesn’t indulge often. Fun fact: She loves training barefoot. Langhorst is also an artist who loves to paint and still searches for four-leaf clovers, something she always did with her dad who passed a few years ago. Now when she finds one, she feels him with her.

Langhorst has come a long way from the young girl who had her goals written on her bedroom ceiling. She hopes that her story of persistence and drive will encourage others to live their purpose. Langhorst has achieved so much in her life already, but she isn’t done yet. She’s just getting started.

To learn more about Langhorst, check out her website. You can also follow her on Instagram and Facebook as she takes you on her journey to the Olympic trials.
MIGHTY TRENDING

Pirates attack and rob Italian ship in the Gulf of Mexico

A pirate attack on an Italian ship in the Gulf of Mexico that left two sailors wounded isn’t the first such incident, and with Mexico struggling to address rising insecurity, it’s not likely to be the last.

About eight armed pirates arrived in two small ships and boarded the vessel, an Italian-flagged supply ship named Remas, in the evening on Nov. 11, 2019, and robbed the crew, according to reports about the incident.

The ship was being operated by the Italian firm Micoperi, which services offshore oil platforms. The incident took place about 12 miles off the coast of Ciudad del Carmen in the state of Campeche in southeast Mexico.


The Mexican navy said Nov. 12, 2019, that two of the roughly 35 people on board were wounded — one shot in the leg and another struck in the head.

The navy said it sent a fast boat to the site of the attack late on Nov. 11, 2019. The sailors were taken to a private clinic for treatment, according to local media.

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

Ciudad del Carmen, Mexico.

(Photo by Jonathan Alegria)

The incident is only the latest attack on oil infrastructure and extraction operations in the Gulf of Mexico.

“They’re starting to attack ships that are transporting petroleum for Pemex” and providing other services, said Mike Vigil, former chief of international operations for the US Drug Enforcement Administration. “Now I presume this is going to be the wave of the future. They are going to be attacking more and more tankers.”

Thieves, sometimes disguised as fishermen, typically arrive in small boats with powerful outboard motors, quickly boarding platforms or other ships to take valuables from crew and other equipment, which is often resold ashore.

Mexico’s state oil firm, known as Pemex, has acknowledged the threat, and together with the navy has said it would increase security efforts. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said in March 2019 that the navy would establish a permanent operation at the port of Dos Bocas, Tabasco, his home state, to confront the pirates.

Nevertheless, there have been reports of hundreds of robberies of this kind.

Pemex documents obtained by the newspaper Milenio showed that 197 such robberies took place in 2018, the most out of the past three years and a 310% increase over the 48 attacks in 2016. Those robberies cost the firm at least .5 million between 2016 and 2018, according to the documents.

The waters at the southern end of the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Campeche and neighboring Tabasco state — where Pemex operates more than 100 platforms — are the most affected.

‘Wave of the future’

The rise in theft from fuel platforms in the Gulf mirrors the increase in fuel theft from pipelines and Pemex facilities on the ground. The number of unauthorized taps discovered on fuel lines nearly quintupled between 2011 and 2016.

The theft has cost the Mexican government billions of dollars and is sometimes deadly for the thieves and others at the scene.

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

Drill vessel prepares for drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico, July 9, 2010.

(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Tiffany Carvalho)

Cracking down on fuel theft was one of Lopez Obrador’s first security initiatives after taking office in December 2018. The president declared victory in spring 2019, saying his administration had reduced fuel theft by 95% and defeated theives.

That response included deploying troops and federal police to pipelines and other high-theft areas, but that alienated some communities, and security forces have struggled to strike a balance between providing security and allowing the industry to operate. In some areas, violence has risen even as fuel theft declined.

“The military is providing more security to the pipelines, but it will be difficult to provide security to vessels shipping petroleum,” Vigil said, noting that government still needs to respond to violence rising throughout Mexico and that the military doesn’t have the training or resources to effectively pursue pirates in the Gulf. “I have to assume it’s going to become more and more dangerous for Pemex transports [and] transport ships.”

Fuel theft on land is not always the work of organized crime. At times, local residents have tapped pipelines to access fuel for their own use or for resale. Stealing fuel and other hardware at sea is harder but still lucrative, meaning it’s likely to continue and grow as an area of interest for cartels and other criminal groups.

“Not everybody uses drugs, but everybody uses gas,” Vigil said. “It is evolving. It’s going to be the wave of the future. There’s so much money involved”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 items every barracks room should have

The phrase, “proper prior planning prevents piss-poor performance” can be applied to all areas of your life. Preparation is often the difference between being comfortable and being miserable, especially if you’re on active duty in the barracks. Living on base has its challenges, but if you take a few extra steps, you can insure your leave is approved on time, all uniforms are ready for any inspection, and you’re sitting pretty while everyone who lives off base is frantically fighting traffic.


This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

1. Clothing steamer

Local dry cleaners are likely a little out of reach and aren’t open when you need them to be. This makes a clothing steamer an essential in every barracks room. Grab a portable steamer from your nearest Walmart to ensure your uniforms are wrinkle-free at all times — plus, you’ll save some money by doing it yourself.

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

2. Printer with scanner

Bureaucracy sucks — especially when it ends up with the company office telling you to update something that the S1 should have already done, and now it’s affecting your leave approval. Here’s a rule to live by: When handling important paperwork, scan it, e-mail it, and print a physical back-up.

Print out proof of updates, classes, courses, MCI, and anything else that you have been tasked to do digitally. The machine isn’t going to stop turning for you; when you need physical proof that something’s been done, don’t rely on the company office to have a printer in working order.

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

3. Rechargeable batteries

Rechargeable batteries are good for your wallet and the environment. They’re an investment that pays off almost immediately because you’re going to use them in everything from console controllers to that wireless mouse for your laptop. You won’t have to go to the store at 0300 because you ignored the low-battery light for a week.

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

4. Cleaning supplies

Your future self will thank you for having a fully-stocked cabinet of cleaning supplies when the time comes to clean up that crime scene of a mess after a night of partying.

Plus, the most common form of corporal punishment is forced cleaning. Whole units have been known to attack the nearest PX at the same time when getting set straight — if you’ve got everything you need already, you’ll be finished by the time your neighbors hit the checkout line.

5. Extra food

There will be days when going for a run with the LT results in missing mess hall hours. Most mess halls have a rule that states a troop cannot be served if they are filthy or in a PT uniform.

By keeping a reserve of breakfast staples in your barracks room, you can still enjoy a satisfying meal even when the Big Green Weenie is hungry for seconds. Cereal and microwavable foods are a way better alternative to that forgotten MRE that’s been sitting at the bottom of your pack since the last field op.

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

6. A Nerf gun

BB and air soft guns are banned on most military installations, but don’t worry, there’s a loophole: the Nerf gun. They’re essentially harmless, ricochets don’t damage government property, and they’re a must for those times when the leadership has gone home. Glide into best bro’s room with a sweet combat stance and hook him up with your mastery of marksmanship. Exercise that trigger discipline and economy of rounds as you enthusiastically shout politically incorrect phrases at your best friend.

Technically, it’s training and you’re a motivated troop keeping your team from becoming complacent.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Navy awards contract for long-awaited ‘Stingray’

The Navy awarded a contract to The Boeing Co. Aug. 30, 2018, for the MQ-25A Stingray, the first operational carrier-based unmanned refueling aircraft.

This fixed-price-incentive-firm-target contract with a ceiling price of $805.3 million provides for the design, development, fabrication, test, delivery, and support of four MQ-25A unmanned air vehicles, including integration into the carrier air wing for an initial operational capability by 2024.


“MQ-25A is a hallmark acquisition program,” said Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition James F. Geurts. “This program is a great example of how the acquisition and requirements communities work hand in hand to rapidly deliver capabilities to our sailors and Marines in the fleet.”

When operational, MQ-25 will improve the performance, efficiency, and safety of the carrier air wing and provide longer range and greater persistence tanking capability to execute missions that otherwise could not be performed.

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

MQ-25A Stingray.

(Boeing photo)

“This is a historic day,” said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson. “We will look back on this day and recognize that this event represents a dramatic shift in the way we define warfighting requirements, work with industry, integrate unmanned and manned aircraft, and improve the lethality of the airwing — all at relevant speed. Everyone who helped achieve this milestone should be proud we’re here. But we have a lot more to do. It’s not the time to take our foot off the gas. Let’s keep charging.”

The award is the culmination of a competitive source selection process supported by personnel from Naval Air Systems Command and the Unmanned Carrier Aviation program office (PMA-268) at Patuxent River.

MQ-25 is an accelerated acquisition program that expedites decisions that will enable rapid actions with less overhead. The intent is to significantly reduce development timelines from contract award to initial operational capability by five to six years. By reducing the number of key performance parameters to mission tanking and carrier suitability, industry has increased flexibility to rapidly design a system that meets those requirements.

This article originally appeared on the United States Navy. Follow @USNavy on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

US military is America’s heaviest drinking profession

“This comes as a surprise,” said no one, ever, of a new analysis that finds military members drink alcohol more than workers in any other job.

A review of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s survey data from 2013 through 2017 by a behavioral health company has found that troops spend more days a year consuming alcohol than people in any other industry.

They also binge-drink more, imbibing at least four or five alcoholic beverages a day in one sitting at least 41 days a year, the most of any occupation. That’s the CDC’s definition of binge-drinking, depending on gender. The military personnel surveyed said they binge-drank about a third of the days they consumed alcohol.


Analyzing responses from 27,000 people in 25 industries, Delphi Behavioral Health Group, a Florida-based substance use treatment company, found that members of the military reported drinking alcohol 130 days out of the year, followed by miners, 112 days per year, and construction workers, 106 days. Miners were also second in binge-drinking, doing so 38 days out of the year, and construction workers were third, at 33 days.

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

(U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

At the low end of the spectrum, health care and social assistance workers had a drink roughly 68 days per year.

For those who track the Pentagon’s yearly behavioral health surveys and media reports of arrests of service members for crimes ranging from misdemeanors to cases of sexual assault and even murder, the findings support what has been known for decades: the services have a drinking problem, and according to the Delphi report, it appears to be worsening.

The report noted that military personnel in 2014 reported drinking fewer than 100 drinks per year. Now, that number tops 130.

“People in the armed forces typically have ranked the highest every year since 2014,” said Ryan Serpico, Delphi’s lead researcher. “It’s shocking, but not shocking … [These results] enforce what we already know, but again, they shine a light on this, saying it’s a problem and we need to do something about it.”

The study was based on the CDC’s National Health Interview Surveys from 2013 through 2017, the latest year data was available. As with any study based on survey results, however, it comes with some caveats, including potential bias from respondents who chose to participate and their ability to accurately describe their drinking behaviors the previous years.

Also, of the nearly 27,000 survey participants, only 81 said they were in the military. So the findings could simply reflect the habits of 81 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who like to drink. A lot.

“I don’t know how the CDC executed the surveys,” Serpico said, “but when it comes to sample size number, we typically look for 26 respondents in order to make any judgements on the data.”

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Adam Dublinske)

Still, the findings echo the results of a survey frequently conducted by Rand Corp., a Washington-based think tank, for the Defense Department called the Health-Related Behavior Survey, or HRBS. While results from the 2018 survey have not been published, the 2015 survey found that 30 percent of troops reported being binge drinkers, and one in three service members met criteria that indicated they engaged in “hazardous drinking or possible alcohol use disorder.”

According to the 2015 HRBS, the percentage of these behaviors was highest in the Marine Corps, where hazardous drinking — described as drinking that results in negative consequences like risky behavior, missed work days or serious personal problems — was reported by nearly half the service.

The Air Force had the lowest percentages of these drinking issues, according to the survey.

Excessive drinking has been estimated to cost the Defense Department id=”listicle-2634691247″.1 billion per year in lost productivity and medical treatment. It also is thought to result in the loss of roughly 320,000 work days a year and lead to roughly 34,400 arrests per year.

Despite the impact of alcohol use, however, 68% of active duty troops said they perceived the military culture of being supportive of drinking, and 42% said their supervisor doesn’t discourage alcohol use, according to the HRBS.

Bri Godwin, a media relations associate with Delphi, said there appears to be acceptance of excessive drinking in the military but added that service members can take control of their habits — and those of others — by being mindful.

“There needs to be a conversation on drinking and how much it affects you or someone else. Are you mindful of the consequences — how is it affecting you mentally, physically and financially. You have to do a personal inventory, see how it’s affecting you and determine what you need to do to fix it,” she said.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

The ridiculous way British sailors were ordered to stop U-boats in WW1

In the opening days of WW1, Unterseeboots, better known simply as U-boats, proved to be a potent and constant threat to Allied ships, with one U-boat identified as SM U-9 infamously killing nearly 1,500 British sailors in less than an hour by sinking three armoured British cruisers on Sept. 22, 1914. That same U-boat would go on to sink over a dozen British ships during its naval career, with targets ranging from small fishing boats caught in open water to the Edgar-class protected cruiser, HMS Hawke.


This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

The Edgar-class protected cruiser, HMS Hawke.

The reason for the U-boat success in the early going of the war was, in part, due to the fact that when they were submerged they were undetectable by technology of the day.

Another factor that played into German hands is that the Allies, especially the British, consistently downplayed the danger posed by submarines and their value in combat. In fact, at first British Naval brass simply refused to acknowledge that U-boats were sinking ships. For example, the aforementioned actions of U-boat SM U-9 were initially attributed to mines.

In short, British Naval officers had little faith in the potential of submarines and wrote them off as a mere fascination that had no real potential in combat beyond novelty. Thus, they did little at first to try to come up with viable ways to combat them.

Things got real, however, when U-boats like SM U-9 began targeting British supply ships, almost bringing the country to its knees when it found itself unable to secure even basic provisions for its citizens and factories.

A solution was needed. But how to take out a target that is capable of disappearing at will?

It was quickly noted that one weakness of the U-boat was that it needed to use its periscope to mark its target before attacking. This presented a brief, but exploitable window of opportunity to attack the craft in some way. But how?

Up until the introduction of depth charges in 1916, while mines and large nets were utilized to protect certain areas with some minor effect, the conclusion of the Admiralty Submarine Attack Committee was that the best thing to do was simply for ships to either run away from or try to ram the U-boats when the periscope was spotted.

Naturally, beyond risking damage to your own vessel, getting closer to the thing that’s about to shoot you with an otherwise somewhat unreliably accurate torpedo isn’t ideal, nor is necessarily trying to run away when you’re already a marked target. However, it is at least noted that with the periscope up, U-boats couldn’t go faster than about 6 knots and, as stated, torpedoes of the age weren’t terribly accurate or reliable so the more distance you could get between you and the U-boat the better. In the end, these two methods weren’t totally ineffective, but a better solution was still needed.

This haunting photo essay shows MCAS El Toro 20 years after closing

German submarine, U-9, on return Wilhelmshaven, Germany.

(Illustration by Willy Stöwer)

This all got the wheels turning among the military think tanks, with the result being some rather humorous proposals as to how to solve the U-boat problem, with particular emphasis put on somehow taking out the periscope. After all, without the periscope, the U-boat’s only way to target a foe would be to completely surface, making it a relatively easy target for more traditional and accurate weaponry. With proper escorts for the supply ships, this could easily solve the U-boat problem.

But how to take out the periscope?

A suggestion by the British Board of Invention and Research was to train seagulls to fly at the periscopes, which would both make the presence of the periscope more apparent and potentially obscure the vision of the person looking through the periscope long enough to take action… To do this, it was suggested that they feed seagulls in certain regions they wanted protected through periscope like devices.

Next up, there was a suggestion to simply put a type of paint in the water with the hopes that it would get on the periscope lens, blinding the operator.

Going back to animals, a sea lion trainer called Joseph Woodward was hired to look into the possibility of training sea lions to detect U-boats and then hopefully alert the British of their presence. Unfortunately it isn’t known whether this method was effective, though the Royal Society does note that the training of at least some sea lions was performed. We presume given that the program wasn’t expanded beyond trials that it wasn’t terribly effective or perhaps not practical.

As you might imagine, none of these methods went anywhere. But this brings us to the rather absurd method that does seem to have been put into practice.

In the early days of the war, sailors were put on small patrol boats, all equipped with the latest and greatest in anti-submarine technology — large hammers and bags.

They were thus instructed that if they saw a periscope popping up to the surface, they were to try to get close to it, then have one person place a bag over the periscope while another got their Whack-A-Mole on in an attempt to destroy it, hopefully all before any target could be identified and a torpedo launched.

Exactly how effective this tactic is isn’t clear but we do know that it was popular enough for at least one senior officer aboard the HMS Exmouth to enlist the help of burly blacksmiths with extra large hammers to patrol with sailors aboard the smaller boats. With their amazing hammering abilities, both in strength and blow accuracy, presumably it was hoped they’d do a better job than your average sailor at quickly taking out a periscope.

Of course, as more sophisticated technologies were developed, this tactic, sadly, became obsolete. But never forget for a brief, but glorious time in history, there was a guy who could claim his job was to hunt submarines with a giant hammer, no doubt giving a cry of “For Asgard!!!” before smiting his foe.

This article originally appeared on Today I Found Out. Follow @TodayIFoundOut on Twitter.

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