These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better - We Are The Mighty
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These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better

It is one of the sneakiest, most insidious things in warfare. It can creep up on you, and you’ll suddenly find out that you no longer can do all that you wanted to do. It’s called “virtual attrition,” and while it doesn’t make many headlines, it matters more to military operations than you’d think.


So, what exactly is “virtual attrition?” Well, plain old attrition is defined by the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary as “the act or process of weakening and gradually defeating an enemy through constant attacks and continued pressure over a long period of time.” In war, these are the planes that are shot down, the ships that are sunk, the tanks that go “jack in the box,” the troops that are killed. In other words, you lost them for good.

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better
An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the Salty Dogs of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 conducts a captive carry flight test of an AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM) at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. (U.S. Navy photo by Greg L. Davis/Released)

Virtual attrition, therefore involves “losing” the assets. Only it doesn’t involve actually destroying the asset. Here’s a couple of examples:

Scenario One: There is a factory complex in Bad Guy Land that you want to remove from the landscape. It will take 16 Joint Direct Attack Munitions to destroy. Now, four F/A-18E Super Hornets from one of the squadrons in the air wing of USS Enterprise can each carry four JDAMs, that should put enough bombs on target, right?

Well, not quite. You see, Mr. Sleazebag Swinemolestor, the dictator of Bad Guy Land, just got some brand new Russian S-300 missile systems (the SA-10 Grumble). He’s got one defending the factory complex you want to go away. He also got some brand new J-11 Flankers from China that he’s using to protect the place.

Now, sending planes into the teeth of air defenses doesn’t work out so well. We found that out the hard way in more than a couple wars.

So now, you may need some escorts. Well, we can add a couple more F/A-18Es with AGM-88 High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles and AGM-154A Joint Standoff Attack Weapons to deal with the S-300s, and two more loaded with a ton of AIM-120 AMRAAMs for the Flankers.

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better
Aviation Ordnancemen assigned to the Diamondbacks of Strike Fighter Squadron One Zero Two (VFA-102), load a CATM-88 High-Speed Anti-Radiation (HARM) missile on one of their squadrons F/A-18F Super Hornets aboard the conventionally powered aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63). The CATM-88 is an inert training version of the AGM-88 HARM missile, which is a supersonic air-to-surface tactical missile designed to seek and destroy enemy radar-equipped air defense systems. Kitty Hawk and embarked Carrier Air Wing Five (CVW-5) are currently conducting operations in the Western Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Photographers Mate 3rd Class Jonathan Chandler)

Only those four additional Super Hornets have to come from somewhere. On a carrier (or even a land base), there are only so many airframes. The S-300s and the Flankers just forced the United States to double the size of the “package” they are sending to service the target.

A carrier usually has 24 Super Hornets. Some will be down for maintenance. Some will be needed to provide air cover for the carrier or planes like the E-2 Hawkeye or EA-18 Growler. There will be other targets to hit, like bridges, air bases, headquarters buildings… you get the picture.

Now, you can’t hit all the targets you want to hit, because you need to not only make the factory go away, you need to make the defenses go away. You have lost the use of the planes as strike assets. In essence, other missions get shortchanged. That is one way virtual attrition works.

Scenario 2: China’s DF-21 has gotten a lot of hype as a threat. That ignores the fact that the RIM-161 SM-3 Standard Missile is already capable of defeating it. But the DF-21 still inflicts the “virtual attrition.”

Let’s assume that BadGuyLand’s dictator, the aforementioned Sleazebag Swinemolestor, has bought 30 DF-21s. Now, while the SM-3 has proven reliable (a success rate of about 90 percent in tests), the usual practice will be a “shoot-shoot look” approach — firing two missiles at each target, and looking to see if you got it. That is a quick way to eat up missiles, especially when you miss.

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better
An SM-3 Block 1B interceptor is launched from the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) during a Missile Defense Agency test and successfully intercepted a complex short-range ballistic missile target off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii. (U.S. Department of Defense photo/Released)

So now, the Enterprise’s escorts have to load more SM-3s into their Mark 41 Vertical Launch Systems. The problem being, of course, they only have 96 cells each. And if you are carrying more SM-3s, you have to take other missiles out, like BGM-109 Tomahawks, RIM-66 SM-2 Standard Missiles, and RUM-139 Vertical Launch ASROCs.

Now, you could fix this by adding the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (originally planned for a WESTPAC deployment), with her escorts, the Bunker Hill, the Winston S. Churchill, the Harmon Rabb, and the Cole. But that carrier group has to come from somewhere… so you now have to make up for that or pray that the region stays calm.

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better
The Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), steams in formation with ships from Carrier Strike Group Five (CSG 5) and the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) during Exercise Invincible Spirit. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Burke/Released)

The other alternative is to add more escorts. You could strip the Mac Taylor from anti-piracy duty off Somalia, or call in the John S. McCain from her Freedom of Navigation exercise in the South China Sea, or maybe even have the Dave Nolan detach from the replenishment ships. But then you take risks by pulling those ships from those missions.

In essence, virtual attrition means you have to pull in extra assets – and the assets you pull in, no matter how good they are, cannot be in two places at once. It is not spectacular. It doesn’t make headlines, but virtual attrition is a real problem that the military has to address.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

There’s a race going on for fastest military helicopter

Right now, the fastest military helicopter in the world is the U.S. Army’s Chinook, but the Army is looking at a new family of vertical lift helicopters, and both top contenders are much faster than the Chinook. But the U.S. isn’t the only major power looking for new helicopters, and Russia claims that its offering will be the fastest in the world.


These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better

Sikorsky’s X2 demonstrator flew for years, allowing company engineers to gain important experience now used on the SB-1 Defiant, a prototype for the Army, pictured above.

(Robert Sullivan)

Whoever wins will be well positioned to sell their hardware to allied militaries, including those countries that fall into both countries’ spheres of influence, like India or the Philippines.

America’s top contenders are the SB-1 Defiant from Sikorsky and the V-280 Valor. The SB-1 Defiant is part of a fairly new breed; the compound helicopter, which features a pusher propeller at the back of the bird instead of a normal tail rotor. The V-280 Valor, while impressive and capable of extreme speed (about 70 percent faster than a Chinook), is actually a tiltrotor, so we’re going to largely ignore it for the rest of this discussion.

So, on the U.S. side, that leaves the SB-1 Defiant and its projected speed of 287 mph, about 50 percent faster than the Chinook. To achieve this high rate, the Defiant will send up to 90 percent of its engine power to that pusher propeller at the back of the aircraft. Most helicopters generate forward movement by tilting their main rotor blades, requiring a lot of fuel and power for relatively little forward flight power. The Defiant would give buyers a huge advantage in speed and range.

But Russia, through the state-owned Rostec company, wants in on the action, too, but their program is nowhere near as far along as Sikorsky. They announced in February, 2018, that they would be creating an experimental helicopter that is supposed to debut in and conduct its first flight in 2019.

They have not released a name or design, but there are some recent hints as to how they might create a helicopter that could fly over 200 mph, enough to beat the Chinook.

First, in March, 2018, Rostec’s United Engine-building Corporation announced that it had started work on a next-generation engine for helicopters that it hoped to make 15 percent lighter than comparable engines. If Boeing were able to trim the weight of the Chinook’s engines by 15 percent, that would save the aircraft 250 pounds — that’s something, but far from enough to surpass the Defiant or Valor in a race.

But Rostec found another way to potentially increase the available power and longevity of engines. UEC says their new granular nickel alloy, VV725, represents a shift in materials science. Currently, most aircraft use 0.04 percent carbon or less because lots of carbon in the alloy makes it strong, but brittle.

VV725 contains 0.12 percent carbon; three times as much as standard offerings. Rostec and UEC think they’ve avoided the brittle problem by adding other materials, like hafnium and tantalum. If UEC’s numbers are right, the long-term strength of the aircraft will be raised 8 percent.

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better

A Ka-52, a derivative of the Ka-50 attack helicopter, flies at Torzhok Air Base in Russia. The helicopter has stacked rotor blades like the Sikorsky SB-1 Defiant, but no pusher propeller like the one that makes the Sikorsky Raider so fast.

(Airliners.net, Alex Beltyukov, CC BY-SA 3.0)

And, with the ability to increase engine strength while also reducing weight, they might have a chance at reaching 250 mph or faster. The Ka-50 has a maximum speed in level flight of 196 mph, and it has a similar main rotor blade to the SB-1 Defiant but no pusher propeller. Add the propeller with the upgraded engine, and that thing might outrun the Chinook.

But the SB-1 Defiant is scheduled to fly within weeks or months and could be adopted in the 2030s. Typically, it takes around 15 years from first flight to an aircraft entering service, military helicopters included. Russia’s Ka-50 first flew in 1982 but didn’t reach combat units until 1995. But the design of the Ka-50 began in early 1977. So, 18 years from original design work to the finished product.

That means that Russia’s offering will likely reach the market well after the SB-1 Defiant, so it needs to be able to outrun the Defiant — not the Chinook — to take the crown as the world’s fastest military helicopter. The Defiant is expected to hit 287 mph, largely thanks to Sikorsky’s more than 10 years of experience with the X2 Demonstrator, a push propeller aircraft that first flew in 2008.

Can Rostec, whose fastest helicopter is currently the Mi-35M with a top speed of about 208 mph, close the gap?

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better

A Russian Mil Mi-35M, the country’s fastest military helicopter.

(Anna Zvereva, CC BY-SA 2.0)

An important note is that the Mi-35M was originally created by the company Mil, the firm which made nearly all Soviet-era Russian helicopters. Not all of that company’s expertise survived its acquisition by Rostec.

So, it’s not impossible. Russia has built great helicopters in the past. But Russia is suffering from serious funding problems. And their most recent weapons acquisition programs were unimpressive. The much-hyped Su-57 created buyer’s remorse in India, and that country bailed on buying the jet, mostly because it was underpowered.

And Russia’s premier new tank, the T-14 Armata, might or might not be as capable as advertised, but Russia won’t buy it right now because they can’t afford it.

So, a new, revolutionary helicopter will be a big stretch, but not impossible. And with the high speed of the Ka-50, it’s easy to imagine Russia ripping off the SB-1 Defiant’s push propeller, provided they can keep their airframe stable with all that extra propulsion from the rear. The final outcome in the race will likely be apparent by the end of 2019 or 2020, but neither helicopter will be fielded by a military until 2030, if ever. So, you know, stay tuned.

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This is how the Coast Guard is getting stronger for coastal defense

The Coast Guard has been very busy recapitalizing its fleet. Many of its vessels, like the Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters and Reliance-class medium endurance cutters are quite old.


The Coast Guard has built six Bertholf-class cutters out of a planned class of nine to replace the 12 Hamilton-class ships. How nine vessels can be in 12 places at once is a mystery, but that’s a discussion for another time.

For their next step, the Coast Guard has been building what have been called the Sentinel-class cutters to replace 49 Island-class cutters built from 1985-1992.

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better
USCGC Matagorda (WPB 1303), one of eight Island-class cutters that were lengthened and modernized. She is now in mothballs. (USCG photo)

The Island-class cutters started out at 110 feet long, and were armed with a Mk 38 Bushmaster chain gun like the one used on the M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle, as well as a pair of M2 .50-caliber machine guns (“Ma Deuce”). They have a top speed of nearly 30 knots and a range of 3,300 miles. The Coast Guard had 49 of them, but an effort to lengthen and modernize them went bad, and eight vessels had to be mothballed.

The new cutters are 154 feet long. While the main gun is the same Mk 38 Bushmaster, a Sentinel-class cutter boasts four M2 heavy machine guns as a secondary battery – twice as many as an Island-class cutter. The cutter is slightly slower (28 knots) and has shorter range (2,900 miles), and can launch a Short-Range Prosecutor, essentially a rigid-hull inflatable boat.

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Jon-Paul Rios.

The Coast Guard plans to build 58 of the Sentinel-class cutters, replacing the Island-class cutters. According to a report by Military.com, the 24th Sentinel-class cutter, USCGC Oliver Barry (WPC 1124), will be commissioned this coming October in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The Coast Guard though, is planning to retire the Island-class cutter USCGC Kiska (WPB 1336), which is based at Hilo, without replacing it at the largest city on the easternmost of the Hawaiian Islands.

The Coast Guard is also planning to purchase the first nine of a planned 25-ship “Offshore Patrol Cutter” class. These vessels will replace not only the 14 ancient Reliance-class medium endurance cutters, but the 13 Bear-class medium endurance cutters as well.

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House vets panel subpoenas details on VA art purchases

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better
The VA campus in Palo Alto, CA | VA photo


The Republican majority on the House Veterans Affairs Committee pushed through a voice vote Wednesday to subpoena documents from the Department of Veterans Affairs on millions spent for artworks at VA facilities and huge cost overruns at a Denver-area hospital.

Also read: VA awards $300 million in grants to help end veteran homelessness

“It’s unfortunate that the VA’s continuing lack of transparency has led us to this decision” to move for the subpoenas, said Rep. Jeff Miller, a Florida Republican and the committee chairman.

“I am confident we are not receiving the whole picture from the department” on spending for art and ornamental furnishings, including $6.4 million at Palo Alto, California, facilities.

The committee also wants specifics on the costs for a new Aurora, Colorado, facility that ballooned to $1.7 billion, nearly three times the original estimate.

Rep. Mark Takano, a California Democrat and the ranking committee member, argued that the VA was already working to provide answers and warned that the subpoenas could expose whistleblowers. “Now you will be outing employees who were honest with investigators” on the artworks and the spending on the Aurora facility, Takano said.

In June, Deputy VA Secretary Sloan Gibson said, “We got a lot of things wrong” with construction of the Aurora facility, but releasing an internal VA investigation would be counterproductive.

“You end up chilling the whole investigative process,” Gibson said in a news conference at the construction site.

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better
House Veterans Affairs chairman Rep. Jeff Miller

The subpoenas ask for all information on VA art and ornamental furniture purchases since 2010. The VA’s response in the inquiry thus far has been “wholly incomplete,” Miller charged.

“We will not accept VA trying to pull the wool over the eyes of this committee and the American people for poor decision-making and waste of funds made on the part of the department,” Miller said.

“VA claims to have spent approximately $4.7 million on art nationwide from January 2010 to July 2016, yet the committee has already substantiated over $6.4 million spent during this period in the Palo Alto health care system alone,” he said.

Miller again singled out artworks at the Palo Alto Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center, described by the VA as one of five facilities nationwide designed to provide intensive rehabilitative care to veterans and service members with severe injuries to more than one organ system. Miller made similar complaints about Palo Alto nearly a year ago in a House floor speech.

Miller took issue with “Harbor,” a huge rock sculpture in a pool that its designers said was intended to evoke “a sense of transformation, rebuilding and self-investigation.”

When installation was included, it cost nearly $1 million “to put the rock up,” Miller told the committee.

Miller also complained about an artwork called “Horizon” on the walls of the Palo Alto facility’s parking garage.

“Horizon” spells out in Morse code the “With malice toward none …” quote from President Abraham Lincoln’s famous Second Inaugural address and a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, which says in part, “You must do the things you think you cannot do.”

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Today in military history: US Constitution ratified

On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the Constitution, establishing the document as the “supreme law of the land.”

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Post Revolutionary War, it quickly became apparent that the Articles of Confederation — America’s first national government wherein states acted together only for specific purposes — needed a makeover. Cue the Constitution of the United States, which created, among other things, a system of checks and balances for a more centralized federal government with the power of the union vested in the people.

The Constitutional Convention began in May of 1787, with delegates shuttered within the State House and sworn to secrecy so they could speak freely. By mid-June, they had decided to completely redesign the government. One of the biggest arguments was over congressional representation, which resulted in a compromise: the Senate would comprise two representatives from each state while the House of Representatives would give each state one representative for every 30,000 people. In this agreement, enslaved persons were counted as three-fifths of a person, even though they were stripped of their power or voice.

Ratification of the Constitution required nine out of the thirteen states’ approval, which took about six heated months to accomplish. 

The Constitution took effect in 1789. It has been amended 27 times to meet the needs of the nation, with the first 10 amendments making up the Bill of Rights. Fun fact: The United States Constitution is the oldest written constitution still in use in the world.

Featured Image: Washington as Statesman at the Constitutional Convention (Junius Brutus Stearns, 1810-1885).

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is how massive Navy ships get their fresh water

When ships deploy out to sea, it’s important they bring the fuel and spare parts they need. The ship’s crew also needs to be supplied. While food is often transferred to these ships, there’s also the pressing need for the crew to drink.


Although they’re surrounded by water, the ocean upon which these ships float isn’t exactly the best thing to drink. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration points out that if you drink sea water, you get more dehydrated and, ultimately, dehydration kills people. Drinking seawater brings about other health problems that can cause problems on board ship, specifically the head.

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better

It used to be that ships had to carry water that was safe for drinking. This made crossing oceans difficult to say the least. The sailing frigate USS Constitution (ex-IX 21), one of the original six frigates built for the United States Navy, had a crew of 450. Humans need to drink nearly a gallon of water a day, according to the Mayo Clinic, which, as you can imagine, meant carrying a lot of fresh water as cargo.

Well, today, making sure the sailors have plenty of fresh water for all their needs is much easier. The Navy can do this thanks to the Light Weight Purification System. It just takes one sailor to operate, and it can handle anything from sea water to fresh water. According to a Marine Corps document, this system can purify 75 gallons of water per hour.

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better
Seabees learn how to install nuclear, biological and chemical filters on the lightweight water purification system (LWPS) during training onboard Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Builder Wesley Harris)

The Navy, of course, has other systems that can handle larger amounts, but the Light Weight Purification System is very mobile, which becomes very useful for Marines on the front lines. Learn more about this system in the video below:

 

(Department of Defense | YouTube)
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Vet congressman wants this Green Beret’s recognition upgraded to the Medal of Honor

Sgt. 1st Class Earl Plumlee, a Green Beret in the U.S. Army’s 1st Special Forces Group, was presented the Silver Star for actions in Afghanistan in 2013. California Congressman Duncan Hunter, a Marine Corps veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, doesn’t think the Silver Star is enough for Plumlee and is appealing to Army Secretary Eric Fanning to review the award.


According to the Washington Post, Rep. Hunter believes McHugh downgraded Sgt. 1st Class Plumlee’s Medal of Honor because the Special Forces NCO faced a criminal investigation for illegally selling a rifle scope online.

Plumlee was nominated for the Medal of Honor for heroism in repelling a Taliban ambush. The nomination was downgraded to the Silver Star by then-interim SECARMY John McHugh with a recommendation from the Senior Army Decorations Board. The Silver Star is two levels below the Medal of Honor, which an Inspector General report deemed appropriate.

In August 2013, a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) touched off a complex Taliban attack on Forward Operating Base (FOB) Ghazni. The FOB is home to the Ghazni Provincial Reconstruction Team and a fortified NATO base housing about 1,400 people.

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better
Polish soldiers pull security near a breach in the perimeter wall following a complex attack on Forward Operating Base Ghazni, Aug. 28, 2013. Coalition partners, with the help of the Afghan National Army, defeated the Taliban attack. (Operational photo courtesy of Polish Land Forces)

The VBIED blew a hole in the perimeter wall. Insurgents dressed as Afghan National Army soldiers poured into the breach. Unfortunately for them, the other side of the wall contained the 1st Special Forces Group, including one Sgt. 1st Class Earl Plumlee.

Four operators, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Mark Colbert, Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Busic, then-Staff Sgt. Earl Plumlee, and Sgt. 1st Class Nate Abkemeier drove a truck to blast site as fast as possible. Once there, all dismounted from the truck and started returning fire.

While the others moved for cover, Plumlee walked right into Taliban attack. He hit one insurgent in the chest with a round from his sidearm and the man exploded – the fighters were all rigged with suicide vests.

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better
Left to right: Sergeant First Class Busic, Staff Sergeant Earl Plumlee, Chief Colbert, and Sergeant First Class Nate Abkemeier.

The fighters had the men surrounded. Busic recalls Plumlee killed four or five insurgents then moved back to Busic’s position to clear the rest. They searched the surrounding area for anything or anyone that might be part of the attack.

Plumlee even pulled a severely wounded soldier out of harm’s way, conducted proper first-aid, and directed an Army civilian and soldier to get the wounded to a surgical center.

“It was probably the proudest moment of my career,” Plumlee said at his Silver Star ceremony. “Just to be with those guys, at that time, on that day was just awesome.”

Four Afghan civilians, three police officers, 10 Taliban fighters, and one soldier, Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis, were killed in the attack. Ten Polish soldiers were also wounded. It could have been a lot worse. One Special Forces officer told the Army that Plumlee and the other special operators who rolled up on the attackers saved the base that day.

“It’s no exaggeration when I say they saved FOB Ghazni,” the Special Forces officer said. “If they would have arrived 10 seconds later than they did, the insurgents would have been in the more densely populated part of FOB Ghazni.”

Rep. Hunter requested that the Defense Department explain how it came to the conclusion to downgrade the award, to justify the Secretary of the Army’s authority to downgrade the award, and to determine if Plumlee’s criminal investigation was the reason for the downgrade. An Inspector General report on Hunter’s requests was obtained by Military Times.

“The review process… found that the nominee’s valorous actions did not meet the MOH criteria outlined in Army Regulation (AR) 600-8-22, “Military Awards,” dated June 24, 2013. By majority vote, the SADB recommended the SS.”

One member of the Senior Army Decorations Board told the IG that Plumlee was doing his job as an NCO and the standard to receive the Medal of Honor should be higher for someone of that rank.

“… a senior NCO, versus a private who would be seized by the moment and take extremely valorous and courageous action; there’s a difference between those two. One’s a leader. One’s a Soldier. And so when I looked at the circumstances and, although the battle was ferocious and unfortunately a couple members were killed, I just thought that it wasn’t a sufficient level for the Medal of Honor based off of the individual and the circumstances and that, I just felt there was an expectation of a leader who did a phenomenal job, that there was something more that [the nominee] needed to have done in order to, in my mind, to make a recommendation for a Medal of Honor.”

The board member specifically mentioned to the IG that even though Plumlee took out almost half of the attacking insurgents, that fact wasn’t in the eyewitness statements supporting Plumlee’s Medal of Honor award.

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better
SFC Earl D. Plumlee, assigned to 1st Special Forces Group (A), is presented the Silver Star Medal for his actions in Afghanistan at Joint Base Lewis-Mcchord, Washington on 1 May, 2015. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Codie Mendenhall).

Plumlee was nominated for the Medal of Honor three months after the battle. His nomination was even approved both the JSOC commander and by Marine Corps General Joseph F. Dunford, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan at the time. Dunford wrote that Plumlee’s actions “clearly meet the standard” for the Medal of Honor.

For now, Plumlee’s Silver Star award will stand. At their own Silver Star ceremony, Busic and Colbert told Stars and Stripes it wasn’t about the recognition anyway.

“We don’t do our job for awards or accolades,” he said. “We just do it to serve.”

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Here’s how you can help this veteran nonprofit go above and beyond in conservation

Land Rover has always been known for their gorgeous cars dominating rugged terrain. Now, they’re looking to make an impact beyond the highways: in marine and coastal conservation. The company is currently sponsoring a “Defender Above & Beyond Service Awards” for nonprofits to compete for a fully-customized Defender to help their organization go “Above & Beyond.” Five nonprofits remain in the “Marine and Coastal Conservation” category, and only one is veteran-owned and operated: FORCE BLUE.

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better

“Over the past year, there have been incredible displays of bravery and resilience,” Land Rover stated on their website. “As defenders and helpers in your own right, you have been pushed to your limits—only to discover how truly capable you are. We are inspired by your commitment to serving others. And we want to support you.

“For seven decades, Land Rover has been creating hard-working vehicles that are known worldwide for taking service workers on missions to help others. Now we are awarding seven customized Defender models to seven U.S. nonprofits that go Above & Beyond for their communities every day.

“We know that great things happen when a highly capable vehicle is driven by highly capable people.” FORCE BLUE is certainly run by capable people — Jim Ritterhoff and Rudy Reyes.

According to their website, the idea for FORCE BLUE grew out of a dive trip co-founders Ritterhoff and Reyes took to the Cayman Islands in Summer 2015 to meet up with their friend, Keith Sahm, General Manager of Sunset House, the oldest continuously operated dive resort in the Caribbean.

For Ritterhoff and Sahm, experienced recreational divers who’d been reef diving for decades, this was just another week in paradise. But for Reyes, a former Recon Marine who had struggled with PTS and depression since returning home from multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, the experience was nothing short of life changing.

“Here’s this trained combat diver,” Ritterhoff remembers. “One of the best, most highly skilled individuals you’ll ever encounter underwater. Yet he’s never seen a fish.”

For Reyes, like most SOF veterans, diving had never been about exploration or enjoyment. To him diving meant hauling 200 lbs. of gear underwater to destroy some potentially dangerous target in the dead of night. What Cayman offered was transformative.

Reyes immediately proposed scheduling another trip so that he could bring down more of his Recon brothers to experience what he just had. But after a few hours of discussion, the three men hatched a different plan. One that would include combat divers from all branches of service, along with marine scientists, conservationists and journalists.

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better

“We saw it as the ultimate win-win,” says Sahm. “An opportunity to do some good, not only for our veterans, but for the planet as well.”

“By starting a program that isn’t just about helping veterans or just about helping the marine environment, but about helping both, we’re really uniting two worlds.” Says Ritterhoff. Hopefully, FORCE BLUE will encourage each to look at the other with a bit more empathy and understanding.”

Help FORCE BLUE continue to go Above & Beyond by voting once a day, every day until May 3, here.

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This is what you need to know about the real WWII anti-tank sticky bomb

Remember that awesome scene in “Saving Private Ryan” where the paratroopers and Rangers make bombs out of their socks, stick them to tanks, and blow the treads off?


These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better
GIF: YouTube/SSSFCFILMSTUDIES

Well, the British and Germans actually had devices that did that, and no one had to take his socks off. Americans would have had to improvise to create the same effect, but there’s little sign that they did this regularly since even the best sticky bombs had some serious drawbacks.

The British had one of the first sticky bombs, the Number 74 Mk. 2. It was developed thanks to the efforts of British Maj. Millis Jefferis and a number of civilian collaborators. Their goal was to create a device which would help British infantry fight German tanks after most of the British Army’s anti-tank guns were lost at the evacuation of Dunkirk.

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better
Troops line up on the beaches in hopes of rescue at Dunkirk. (Photo: Imperial War Museum)

After a few failed prototypes, the British men settled on a design that consisted of a glass sphere filled with flexible explosives and wrapped in a sticky fabric of woven wood fibers. Infantrymen employed the device by throwing it with a handle that contained the fuse or swinging it against the tank.

The glass broke when the bomb hit the tank and deformed against the surface, allowing enough of the sticky fabric to attach for it to stay on the armor. When the handle was released, a five-second fuse would countdown to the detonation.

Obviously, getting within throwing and sticking distance of a tank is dangerous work. And, while the bomb was sent to the infantry in a case that prevented it from sticking to anything, it had to be thrown with the case removed. At times, this resulted in the bomb getting stuck to the thrower, killing them.

The Germans had their own design that used magnets instead of an adhesive, making them safer for the user. It also featured a shaped charge that allowed more of the explosive power to penetrate the armor.

But the German version featured the same major drawback that the British one did, the need for the infantryman to get within sticking distance of the tank.

Javelins and TOW missiles may be heavy, but they’re probably the better choice than running with bombs.

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Top secret files detail how drone strikes target terrorists — and how they go wrong

Newly unveiled British intelligence documents detail how the National Security Agency worked with its British counterpart when carrying out drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan and how they targeted terrorists, The New York Times reports.


The documents, released to the Guardian newspaper by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and shared with The New York Times, also detail how often those strikes go wrong.

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better

The documents also reveal that US forces conducted a strike in 2012 to kill a doctor, identified as Khadim Usamah, who the US believed was surgically inserting explosives into potential Al Qaeda operatives.

Britain’s military has carried out drone strikes in war zones in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, but the documents suggest that British intelligence also helped guide strikes by the US outside of those zones.

Drone attacks carried out by the US have been heavily criticized in the past, and prompted thousands to protest against their use. Critiques say that drone attacks are not specific enough and often end up killing a lot of civilians.

Outcries against the use of drones were renewed when President Barack Obama disclosed in April that two Western aid workers who were held hostage by Al Qaeda had been killed after a strike against the terrorist group in Pakistan.

Instances in which civilians have been killed and uncertainty about drones’ accuracy in hitting their target has led to increased public scrutiny of the use of drones. In the case of the hostages who were killed, intelligence officers were unaware they were present at the time of the strike.

Meanwhile, an Algerian terrorist who had been reported dead by the Pentagon after a strike appears to still be alive, according to the Times. And American officials only learned a few days after an attack in Yemen that they had killed the leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Officials argue that missiles fired from unmanned aircrafts are the most precise way to target terrorists. But for the shots to be as precise as possible, the documents highlight the importance of surveillance and eavesdropping in order to determine not only the exact location, but also whether everyone in a strike zone poses a threat. The documents also detail how that use of technology is flawed.

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better

The British Government Communications Headquarters’ (GCHQ) guide to targeting outlines the importance of identifying whether a phone is used by one or more people, as tracking smartphones is often used to identify a target. Because of the obvious flaw in targeting people only by the location of their smartphones, the agencies also try to identify terrorists by voice and physical appearance.

The guide also says that whether a call was terminated right after a strike is a good way of knowing whether it hit its target.

Amid a parliamentary investigation into whether the UK was part of unmanned aerial vehicle strikes (UAV) in Yemen, British defense minister Mark Francois said “UAV strikes against terrorist targets in Yemen are a matter for the Yemeni and US governments,” according to the Times.

But the new documents suggest that the country provided intelligence for different American strikes, including one in Yemen.

The NSA and CIA both declined to comment to the Times. But the GCHQ said in a statement that it expects “all states concerned to act in accordance with international law and take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties when conducting any form of military or counterterrorist operations.”

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

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Navy officer Edward King just took 10th place in Rio Olympic rowing finals

Navy officer Edward King and the rest of America’s Lightweight Men’s Four Rowing Team came in 10th in the Rio Olympics on Aug. 11.


King is a native of South Africa and a 2011 graduate of the Naval Academy. The school introduced him to rowing during his freshman year.

He had previously competed in cross country, tennis, basketball, and track. After academy graduation, he attended and graduated the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL course. He attended a few months of advanced training but was reassigned to the Navy’s information dominance community.

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better
Navy officer Edward King, right, speaks to reporters with his pairs partner on the U.S. Rowing Team, Robin Prendes. Prendes also competed on the Lightweight Men’s Four Team for Team USA. (Image: YouTube/US Rowing)

King was granted an extended leave of absence to concentrate on rowing and prepare for the Olympics in 2015.

The rowing team came in 10th in the world with a final time of 6:36.93, approximately 16 seconds behind the gold medal winners from Switzerland.

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better
A U.S. Naval Academy rowing team stays ahead of Harvard and Penn State during a 2014 competition. Olympian Edward King competed on the team until his 2011 graduation from the academy. (Image: YouTube/CommunityOrganizer1)

The Lightweight Men’s Four was King’s only Olympic event, but Marine Corps 2nd Lt. David Higgins, Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael McPhail, and Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Sanderson will compete in shooting events Aug. 12, while Naval Academy Cadet Regine Tugade will race in the 100-meter dash.

On Aug. 13, Air Force 1st Lt. Cale Simmons and Army 2nd Lt. Sam Kendricks will compete in the pole vault. Army specialists Shadrack Kipchirchir and Leonard Korir will compete against one another in the 10,000-meter race.

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Court tosses suit alleging sexual aggression at West Point

A former US Military Academy at West Point cadet who sought judicial relief from what she described as a sexually oppressive culture that included crude chants during campus marches was told Aug. 30 by an appeals court to seek help from Congress instead.


The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 ruling cited past court decisions, some decades old, in saying “civilian courts are ill-equipped” to second-guess military decisions regarding the discipline, supervision, and control of military members.

Circuit Judge Debra Ann Livingston wrote that the former cadet, identified only as Jane Doe, couldn’t pursue damages from two former superior officers she claimed ignored or condoned a sexually hostile culture before her alleged 2010 rape by another cadet. She requested and was granted an honorable discharge two years after entering West Point with 200 women in a class of 1,300 cadets. She later graduated from a civilian college.

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better
US Army photo by Stephen Standifird

In her 2013 lawsuit, the woman alleged that the men, a lieutenant general and a brigadier general, created a culture that marginalized female cadets, subjecting them to routine harassment and pressure to conform to male norms.

The 2nd Circuit said it did not “discount the seriousness” of the woman’s allegations nor their potential significance to West Point’s administration.

“As the Supreme Court has made clear, however, it is for Congress to determine whether affording a money damages remedy is appropriate for a claim of the sort that Doe asserts,” the court said.

Dissenting Circuit Judge Denny Chin said the lawsuit should proceed, noting West Point promotes itself as one of the nation’s top-ranked colleges.

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better
Circuit Judge Denny Chin. Wikimedia Commons photo from user Sue Kim.

“While West Point is indeed a military facility, it is quintessentially an educational institution,” Chin said. “When she was subjected to a pattern of discrimination, and when she was raped, she was not in military combat or acting as a soldier or performing military service. Rather, she was simply a student.”

The lawsuit sought unspecified damages, claiming West Point’s leaders failed to protect women or punish rapists after accepting women in 1976. It said West Point officials openly joked with male cadets about sexual exploits and faculty members routinely expressed sympathy with male cadets over a perceived lack of sexual opportunities, urging them to seize any chance.

Female cadets coped with a misogynistic culture that included cadets marching to sexually demeaning verses in view and earshot of faculty members and administrators, the lawsuit said.

It said West Point officials required mandatory annual sexually transmitted disease testing only for female cadets, saying diseases harmed women more than men and it was the responsibility of women to prevent their spread.

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better
Photo by Mike Strasser, US Military Academy Public Affairs

A spokeswoman for lawyers for the officers declined comment. West Point didn’t comment.

A spokeswoman for Yale Law School, representing the ex-cadet, said the woman was disappointed and didn’t know if she will appeal.

Sandra Park, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney, said the judges stretched the meaning of prior court rulings to cover service academy cadets.

“It raises a question whether students in effect are waiving their constitutional rights when they decide to join a military academy,” she said.

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Here are 64 restaurants offering veterans free food on Veterans Day

You’ve served your country, now these restaurants want to serve you. Check out the deals they’re offering, what you have to bring to prove your veteran status, and come on out (if you like what they’re offering).


These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better

Related: These 7 tips will make your free Veterans Day meal more epic

Please note that not all franchise restaurants participate in the Veterans Day program. Be sure to contact your nearest restaurant for participation.

1. 54th Street Grill: The Kansas City-based chain offers veterans and active duty military a free meal up to $12. Dine-in only.

2. Applebees: Applebee’s has a special Veterans Day menu built for veterans and active duty military members. Vets can choose one item from that menu.

3. Arooga’sAll veterans and troops will receive one complimentary item from a fixed menu at Arooga’s. Although there is no purchase necessary, Arooga’s Veterans Day offer is for dine-in only and drinks are not included.

4. Bar Louie: Veterans and active-duty military will get a free appetizer or entrée on Veterans Day.

5. BJ’s Restaurant: Active duty military and veterans receive a complimentary entree under $12.95 and $5 beers.

6. Bob Evans: Veterans and active military personnel receive a free meal of choice menu options. From Nov. 12 – Dec. 31, vets will get a 10 percent discount.

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better

7. Bonanza SteakhousesActive duty and retired military get a free buffet.

8. Bonefish GrillAll active and retired service members with a valid military ID will receive a complimentary Bang Bang Shrimp at all Bonefish Grill locations.

9. Bruegger’s BagelsVeterans and active duty military members get a free small drip coffee on Nov. 11 at participating locations.

10. Buffalo Wild Wings: Vets will get a complimentary order of wings and a side of fries to veterans and active-duty military. Must present acceptable proof of military service, which includes: permanent or temporary U.S. military ID cards, veteran’s card, a photograph of yourself in military uniform, or dine-in at a participating location in uniform.

11. California Pizza Kitchen: Veterans and active military receive a complimentary entrée from a special menu. Please come in uniform or bring your military ID or other proof of service.

12. Cattlemens:  The California chain offers active, inactive, and retired military personnel get a free Small Sirloin Steak Dinner.

13. CentraArchy Restaurants: Veterans and active duty service members get a free entrée and 25 percent off to their accompanied family and friends at participating restaurants.

14. Cheeseburger in Paradise: Active and retired military personnel receive a complimentary burger with fries.

15. Chevy’s Fresh MexAll active and retired military personnel can select one complimentary item from a special Veterans Day menu.

16. Chicken Salad Chick: Veterans get a free Original Chick (a meal including a chicken salad scoop or sandwich, side, pickle and cookie) along with a drink (no purchase necessary).

17. Chili’s: Veterans and active military service members get a free entrée from a limited menu.

18. Chuck E. Cheese’sActive and retired military members can receive a free individual one-topping pizza

19. Cracker Barrel: Veterans get a complimentary Double Chocolate Fudge Coca-Cola Cake dessert during lunch and dinner. Must show proof of military service.

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better

20. Denny’s: Active, inactive and retired military personnel get a free Build Your Own Grand Slam from 5 a.m. to noon at participating locations.

21. Famous Dave’s BBQFormer and current military personnel will receive a free Two Meat Combo.

22. FATZ Café: Veterans and active military get a free World Famous Calabash Chicken meal.

23. Fazoli’sVeterans get a free Build Your Own Pasta Bowl.

24. Figaro’s Pizza: Veterans and active duty service members get a complimentary medium 1-topping pizza.

25. Fogo de Chão: Veterans and active duty personnel will receive 50 percent off their meal and up to three additional guests will receive 10 percent off their meals.

26. Friendly’s: Vets and military personnel are offered a free Big-Two-Do breakfast or All American Burger (with fries and a beverage) during lunch or dinner.

27. Golden Corral: On Monday, Nov. 14, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Golden Corral offers a free sit-in “thank you” dinner for Military veterans, retirees, and active duty members.

28. Gordon Biersch: Veterans and active military personnel receive a free appetizer.

29. Green Mill Restaurant and Bar: Veterans and active duty military get a free meal.

30. Greene Turtle: Veterans and active duty military receive a free meal from a select menu.

31. Hooters: All active-duty and retired military to stop in for a free meal from the Hooters Veterans Day Menu by presenting a military ID or proof of service at any Hooters location nationwide.

32. Hy-Vee:  The Midwestern Grocery chain is offering veterans and active duty military members a free breakfast buffet.

33. IHOPVeterans and active duty military get free Red, White, and Blue pancakes from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at participating locations.

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better
In case you were wondering.

 

34. IKEA: Veterans get a free entrée from Nov. 7 through Nov. 11.

35. Krispy Kreme: Krispy Kreme is offering a free doughnut and small coffee to all veterans at participating locations.

36. Krystal: Active and retired military receive a free Krystal Sausage Biscuit from opening to 11:00 a.m.

37. Little Caesars: Veterans and active military members receive a free $5 Lunch Combo from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

38. Logan’s Roadhouse: In addition to the 10 percent military discount offered every day, military and former military guests will also receive a free dessert.

39. Longhorn Steakhouse: Offers a free appetizer or dessert (no purchase required, no restrictions) to anyone showing proof of military service, plus 10 percent off for guests that dine with Veterans on Nov. 11.

40. Max Erma’s: Participating Max Erma’s locations are offering veterans and active military personnel a free Best Cheeseburger in America.

41. Menchie’sAll active and retired military personnel will receive a free 6 ounce frozen yogurt.

42. Mission BBQ: Free sandwiches and cake for active duty military members and veterans at participating locations.

43. O’Charley’s:  Veterans and active duty service members get a free meal at any location on Nov. 11. Additionally, O’Charley’s offers a 10 percent military discount all year long.

44. Old Country Buffet: Current and former service members receive a free buffet and drink all day.

45. Olive GardenAll veterans and current service members get a free meal from a limited menu.

46. On the BorderVeterans and active duty military can enjoy a free meal from the “Create Your Own Combo” menu.

47. Outback Steakhouse: All active and former service members receive a free Bloomin’ Onion and a beverage on Nov. 11. Outback is also offering active and former service members 15 percent off their meals Nov. 12 through Dec. 31.

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better

48. Panera Bread: A complimentary You-Pick-Two with military identification or if wearing their uniform to the participating Panera Bread bakery-cafes in the Cleveland, Akron, Canton area.  For a complete list of participating bakery-cafes, click here.

49. Ponderosa Steakhouse: Active duty and retired military get a free buffet from 4 p.m. to close.

50. Red Hot Blue: Veterans receive a free entrée with the purchase of two drinks and a second entrée of equal or greater value on Nov. 9 through 11. Coupon required.

51. Red Lobster: Veterans, reserve, and active-duty military personnel receive a free appetizer or dessert from a limited menu on Nov. 10 and 11.

52. Red Robin: All veterans and active-duty military members will get a free Red’s Tavern Double Burger and Bottomless Steak Fries. No purchase is necessary. Just show proof of service.

53. Ruby Tuesday: All veterans, active duty and reserve military service members with valid military ID can enjoy one free appetizer (up to a $10 value).

54. Ryan’s: Current and former service members receive a free buffet and drink.

55. Shoney’s: Shoney’s will offer a free All-American Burger to veterans and active duty service members. Shoney’s also offers a 15 percent everyday hometown heroes discount (military, fire, Police, EMT).

56. Sizzler: Active duty and veteran military members get a free lunch and beverage from a limited menu until 4 p.m.

57. Spaghetti Warehouse: From Veterans Day to Nov. 13 buy one entrée and get the second entrée free. Coupon required,  download it here.

These 2 scenarios show why having a bigger Navy is better
Red Lobster’s Seafood Stuffed Mushrooms.

58. Starbucks: Veterans, active duty service members and spouses get a free tall coffee at participating locations.

59. Texas Roadhouse: Texas Roadhouse locations nationwide will offer veterans a free lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

60. TGIFridaysLunch is on the house for all active and retired U.S. military service members on Veterans Day. Those with military ID will be treated to a free lunch menu item up to $12 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

61. Twin Peaks: Active duty and veterans get a free menu item from the Annual Veterans Day Appreciation Menu.

62. Village InnFree INN-credible V.I.B. breakfast for veterans and active duty military. Valid on 4 INN-credible items: Cheese Omelette, Strawberry Crepe, Hickory-Smoked Bacon or French Toast.

63. Wienerschnitzel: Veterans and active duty military receive a free Chili Dog with a small fry and a 20-ounce drink.

64. World of Beer: A free select draught beer or $5 off your entire bill. Bring proof of military service.

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