Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead

Three Fort Bragg soldiers were among those killed during an attack in Africa earlier this week.


The soldiers, assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group, were attacked while conducting an advise and assist mission in Niger on Oct. 4, according to the Pentagon.

A fourth soldier, who had been missing in Niger for two days, was found dead on Oct. 6, officials said. According to reports, several Nigerien troops were also killed or wounded.

News of the fourth soldier makes Oct. 4 the deadliest day for deployed Fort Bragg soldiers since July 14, 2010, when seven soldiers were killed in two incidents in Afghanistan.

Three of the slain American soldiers were identified Oct. 6 as Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35, of Puyallup, Washington; Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio; and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, of Lyons, Georgia. The fourth soldier had not been identified as of Oct. 6.

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead
Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright (left), Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson (center), and Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black. Photos from US Army.

Two US service members were also wounded in the attack. They were evacuated in stable condition to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, officials said.

The attack on US and Nigerien forces occurred in southwest Niger, approximately 120 miles north of the capital of Niamey.

According to US Africa Command, which is based in Germany, the Special Forces soldiers were providing advice and assistance to Nigerien security force counter-terrorism operations.

US troops have been in West Africa for years, bolstering the defense capabilities of partner nations while combating terrorist groups like Boko Haram and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

The 3rd Special Forces Group has played a large role in the region since 2015, when the group refocused its efforts to Africa after more than a decade of constant deployments to Afghanistan.

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead
Boko Haram fighters. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

A spokesman for US Army Special Operations Command said the incident is under investigation.

Black, a Special Forces medical sergeant, and Wright, a Special Forces engineer sergeant, were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group. Johnson, who served as a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear specialist, was assigned to the Group Support Battalion.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with this soldier’s family as we mourn the loss of this dedicated Green Beret,” Lt. Col. David Painter, the commander of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, said Oct. 6. “Staff Sgt. Black is loved by so many in our battalion, and his life was spent in service to his family, his friends, his team, and his country.”

Painter said Wright was also an exceptional Green Beret, “a cherished teammate and devoted soldier.”

“Dustin’s service to 3rd Special Forces Group speaks to his level of dedication, courage, and commitment to something greater than himself,” Painter said. “We are focused on caring for the Wright family during this difficult period.”

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead
Green Berets. Photo courtesy of US Army.

Lt. Col. Megan Brogden, the commander of the Group Support Battalion, said Johnson was an exceptional soldier.

“We, as a nation, are fortunate to have men like Jeremiah,” she said. “He not only represented what we should all aspire to be, but he lived it. His loss is a great blow and he will be missed and mourned by this unit.”

Black enlisted in the Army in October 2009 and his awards and decorations include the Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Special Forces Tab, Ranger Tab, Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, and Marksmanship Qualification Badge — Sharpshooter with Rifle.

Wright enlisted in July 2012. His awards and decorations include the Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Special Forces Tab, and Parachutist Badge.

Johnson enlisted in October 2007 and his awards and decorations include two Army Commendation Medals, five Army Achievement Medals, three Army Good Conduct Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Service Ribbon, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Driver and Mechanic Badge, and Marksmanship Qualification Badge — Expert with Pistol and Rifle.

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead
USAF photo by Master Sgt. Russell Martin.

According to reports, Nigerien military leaders said a patrol of defense and security forces and American partners were near the border of Mali when they were ambushed by a group with a dozen vehicles and about 20 motorcycles.

On Oct. 4, chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana W. White said this was the first time American forces had been killed and wounded in combat in Niger.

White and the director of the Joint Staff, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, briefed members of the media on the attack. They stressed that American troops were in a support role, but McKenzie said that role can be dangerous.

“I think clearly there’s risk for our forces in Niger,” he said.

McKenzie said efforts to combat violent extremists in Africa were part of a global campaign against terrorism.

He said that with success in other parts of the world — namely Iraq and Syria — it is inevitable that terrorists will seek out safe haven in other countries.

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead
A US Army Special Forces weapons sergeant observes as a Nigerien soldier bounds forward while practicing buddy team movement drills during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 11, 2017. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros.

“They tried to go to Libya; it didn’t work out real well… And I don’t want to make Libya into a model success story, but they’ve been unable to establish themselves there,” McKenzie said.

The general said American forces would continue to work with forces in Niger and neighboring countries to increase their military capabilities and stop terrorists from taking root.

But he cautioned against concluding that the Niger attack showed a growing foothold for terrorist groups.

“I think that it does reflect the fact, though, that we’re having enormous success against the core, the very heart of this movement,” McKenzie said. “But we’re going to be operating across the surface of the entire globe, for quite a while to complete these operations. This is simply a manifestation of that.”

Neither White nor McKenzie would comment on the medical support available to the US troops, but 3rd Special Forces Group soldiers have previously prepared for deployments to Africa under the assumption that such support would not be close by.

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead
Nigerien army soldiers shoot targets under 60mm illumination mortar rounds as a part of Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 9, 2017. Skills learned in exercises in Flintlock can be used in the multinational fight against violent extremist organizations.

Their training in recent years has included trips to Duke University Medical Center and other medical facilities to learn techniques that can support them in austere environments away from modern medical centers.

McKenzie said the military was constantly evaluating the type of support deployed troops need.

“Anytime we deploy full forces globally, we will look very hard at the enablers that need to be in place in order to provide security for them,” he said. “And that ranges from the ability to pull them out if they are injured, to the ability to reinforce them at the point of a fight.”

In statements, elected leaders sent their condolences to the friends and families of the fallen soldiers.

Sen. Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, said the sacrifices of the three soldiers identified Oct. 6 would not be forgotten.

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead
Senator Thom Tillis. Photo courtesy of WUNC.org

“This is a tragic reminder of the dangers facing our brave service members as they combat terrorism across the globe to keep our country safe,” he said.

Rep. Richard Hudson, a Republican whose district includes Fort Bragg, said Fort Bragg and Special Forces communities were mourning for their comrades.

“We pray they feel God’s comfort and know we are standing with them and support them — always,” Hudson said. “These elite soldiers have served in the most dangerous corners of the world, always ready and willing to put country before self. We are grateful for their service and will strive to honor their sacrifice.”

The 3rd Special Forces Group has supplied a steady rotation of troops to Africa since 2015 and is also at the helm of a lieutenant colonel-level command based in North and West Africa.

The group’s soldiers are focused on a 12-nation area of operations that includes Libya, Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria, Niger, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, and Burkina Faso.

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead
Nigerien service members react to contact during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, Mar. 3, 2017. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros.

Officials with the group have said the Special Forces soldiers are “all in” on the Africa mission and committed to helping partner nations solve problems, not only with terrorism, but also poaching, illegal drugs, and human trafficking.

Teams of Special Forces soldiers, known as Operational Detachment Alphas, or A-teams, often work closely with military partners as well as US Department of State and US AID, among others.

Earlier this year, Painter, the commander of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, told The Fayetteville Observer that the Africa mission was different from what the soldiers experienced in Afghanistan, but not without risks.

“It can potentially be equally as dangerous but much less known,” Painter said of working in Africa. “None of these are easy missions.”

Quoting Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc, then-commander of Special Operations Command-Africa, Painter said “The US is not at war in Africa, but make no mistake, the Africans are in many places.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

LED therapy ‘worth every second’ for Gulf War vet

Eric Viitala, 49, is an Air Force veteran of the Gulf War who lives in Maine. He experienced low levels of energy and concentration for years after his service. He had headaches, couldn’t finish projects, and was losing interest in things.

“My wife would tell me I left the cupboard doors open and she would walk into them. Or I’d put the recycling in the trash.”

Shortly after the Gulf War, Viitala hit his head in an accident in Saudi Arabia. When he visited the War Related Illness and Injury Study Center (WRIISC) in East Orange, NJ, he was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury. At the WRIISC, a doctor referred him to the VA Boston Healthcare System’s light-emitting diode (LED) therapy program.


VA’s Center for Compassionate Care Innovation has been working with VHA staff in Boston to explore the use of in-home LED treatment since 2018.

Last year, Viitala completed a 12-week course of in-home LED treatment while in communication with his VHA health care provider. He still uses the treatment at least twice a week.

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead

Improvements in memory and energy way up

“There were huge improvements in my memory and concentration. My energy was way up. I’d pop up in the middle of the night and go clean the garage,” said Viitala. “It’s amazing because I have been dragging for years, but now I have the energy to go do things.”

During LED treatment, patients wear a lightweight headset affixed with light-emitting diodes. The arrangement of LEDs is customized for each person. The diodes do not generate heat and the treatment is painless and noninvasive. Each session lasts only 25 minutes. There is evidence to suggest that LED therapy promotes a healing response at the cellular level, due in part to increased blood flow.

When Viitala uses the LED equipment, he simply sits and relaxes with the LED headset on. The equipment was provided by VHA at no cost to the veteran and belongs to him permanently. He went to Boston for one round of treatment at the medical center and to pick up the equipment. But he communicated with his health care provider by phone during treatment.

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead

“It’s worth every second.”

“That was really helpful and beneficial for her to call and keep encouraging me. She would ask how it’s going. It helped remind me to do it.”

Viitala credits the staff members at the New Jersey WRIISC for validating what he was feeling and referring him to the LED clinic in Boston. He encourages fellow veterans with similar symptoms to ask their providers about LED therapy.

“Don’t be afraid to speak out. There’s nothing to lose with LED. Nothing hurts. They don’t have to go inside your body. There’s no drugs, no side effects. It’s worth every second.”

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Air Force to play season opener against Navy

Navy football coach Ken Niumatalolo will lead the Midshipmen into a game at Air Force for the seventh time on Saturday.

This trip to Colorado Springs will have a unique feel.


“I really don’t know what to expect,” Niumatalolo said. “None of us have done this before. Obviously, we’ve played there many times when it’s a full stadium. This will be different.”

Navy (1-1, 1-0 in the American Athletic Conference) and Air Force (0-0) will meet for the 53rd time in a rivalry that the Falcons lead 30-22. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. Saturday on CBS Sports Network.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this will be Air Force’s season opener. The Falcons will travel to face Army on Nov. 7, the only other game on their schedule so far, but will add more after the Mountain West Conference reversed course and announced it will play a fall football schedule after all. That schedule will start on Oct. 24.

Only Air Force cadets will be admitted into Falcon Stadium, which has a capacity of nearly 47,000 fans, for this weekend’s game. Roommates will be seated in twos, and they will be required to be socially distanced and wear masks. No tailgating will be allowed.

“Maybe the noise level won’t be as loud, but I don’t expect the atmosphere at the game between the players to change at all,” Navy junior safety Kevin Brennan said.

Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said not having played a game before facing Navy, which won the 2019 Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy after defeating Air Force and Army, is not ideal.

“In fact, only three weeks ago, … we mentioned, ‘Wouldn’t it be good if we could find somebody on Sept. 26 to try to have a game under our belt?”’ Calhoun said. “Naturally, you want to play as much football as you can possibly play, but it is quite, quite different that way.

“Hopefully we’ll go 130 years until maybe it has to happen again, too.”

Navy will seek to ride the momentum it built after erasing a 24-point halftime deficit and winning at Tulane two weeks ago to avoid an 0-2 start.

Air Force is trying to replace several key pieces off a team that finished 11-2 last season, including quarterback Donald Hammond. The school announced in late July that Hammond “is no longer a cadet in good standing,” and Calhoun has not revealed who will spearhead the Falcons’ triple-option attack.

Both coaches are approaching 100 victories at their respective schools. Niumatalolo is 99-61 since taking over the Midshipmen in 2008, while Calhoun is in his 14th season and has led the Falcons to a 98-69 record.

Niumatalolo downplayed the milestone, as did Calhoun.

“I know at least here, since 2007, a coach has never, ever, ever won a game and never, ever played a snap,” said Calhoun (Air Force Class of 1989). “That’s not being evasive, as it is just truth. That’s the way we feel in our heart, too.”

Air Force, which will wear uniforms honoring the Tuskegee Airmen on Saturday, won its final eight games of last season. The Falcons hold the nation’s longest active winning streak and have not lost in nearly a year.

Their last setback came on Oct. 5.

Navy was their opponent that day.

“The world is not the same now,” Niumatalolo said.

This article originally appeared on Reserve + National Guard Magazine. Follow @ReserveGuardMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Why the Navy backed off railguns (and China should too)

The prototype Chinese railgun is the first technical demonstrator of the tech on a ship at sea, but there are real reasons why the Navy is slow-rolling the railgun, and it’s unlikely that China has broken the code on how to make railguns viable.


First, for anyone who isn’t up on what railguns are, they’re a type of naval artillery that uses massive amounts of electricity to propel the round instead of a chemical reaction (read: gunpowder). This would be a major improvement in logistics and safety as the Navy would no longer need to ship bags of gunpowder around the world, but the best advantages come in range and lethality.

Railguns can hurl rounds very far. Navy engineers have said they think they can reach 230 miles with current technologies. And when the rounds hit the target, they’re going so fast that the total amount of damage on a target is like it was hit by a missile or a massive, high-explosive warhead but the fast-flying rounds can also pierce most armor and even underground targets and bunkers.

Oh, and the rounds are super cheap, costing about ,000 dollars per shot while the missiles they could sometimes replace are usually 0,000 a shot or more. Also, this hasn’t been proven yet, but railguns might be able to fire as fast as every 6 seconds.

Rain. Of. Fire.

So, railguns can fire up to 10 times as far as conventional artillery with a safer round that does more damage when it hits the target. And this isn’t theoretical — railguns have actually achieved these things in Navy tests. Time to put them on ships before China can, right?

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead

High-speed photograph of Navy prototype railgun firing.

(U.S. Navy)

Not exactly. Because while railguns are a huge step up from conventional artillery and have a lot of advantages, there are also some serious drawbacks. First, they need a decent amount of deck space as well as a ton of space below decks. That’s because the guns require a ton of electricity, up to 9 kilowatt hours per shot. That’s how much energy an average U.S. house uses over 7 hours. The only surface ships with that kind of power on tap are the three Zumwalt-class destroyers and aircraft carriers.

Meanwhile, the weapons have improved in maintenance requirements in recent years, but still need new launcher cores every 400 shots and barrels every thousand.

But the biggest problem is the range. While a 230-mile range is phenomenal for artillery, it’s still a paltry reach compared to missiles. Tomahawk cruise missiles can reach between 810 miles and 1,550 miles depending on the type, and China’s “Carrier Killer” DF-26 is thought to strike at 1,200 miles or more. Meanwhile, a carrier-launched F-35 has a 1,380-mile range that can be extended with aerial refueling.

A railgun fires during testing at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 2016.

(Monica Wood, Fort Sill Public Affairs)

So, were railguns obsolete before they were launched? No. There are still plenty of niche uses for the railgun, and the Navy has slowed development but is still pursuing the weapon. Accurate railgun fire could intercept enemy missiles and fighter jets for cheap, possibly while plugged into the super capable Aegis combat system.

And while railgun-equipped ships would likely be too vulnerable to missile strikes to be “door-kicking” ships that take out enemy defenses on day one of a conflict, they would still be very valuable for shore bombardment, strike missions, and other tasks after the first week or so of a war, after the worst of the enemy’s missiles are taken out.

So why is China pursuing the weapon so hard? It’s unlikely that it has solved the power-generation problems of the railgun. And the U.S. is working hard to get the barrels right so they could fire 1,000 rounds instead of the 10 or less that were standard pretty recently. There’s a chance that China is still struggling with that and similar problems.

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead

An artist’s illustration of a Navy Joint High-Speed Vessel with the prototype railgun installed for testing.

(U.S. Navy)

But being the first navy to put a railgun to sea has already granted China a pretty great and relatively easy propaganda victory. The country has worked hard on their technology in recent years in order to be seen as a great naval power, potentially positioning themselves as an arms exporter while deterring conflict.

And the U.S. will have to prepare for the possibility that the railgun is for real. The first pilots to fly within the ship’s range if a war breaks out have to reckon with the possibility that a 20-pound shell might be flying at Mach 7 towards their aircraft at any moment. Missile attacks against a fleet with the ship will have to decide whether to concentrate on the railgun or an aircraft carrier or another combatant.

But, again, this could all be China exploring the tech or bluffing, but with none of the breakthroughs needed to make the weapons viable in combat. If so, they would be wise to concentrate on the many other breakthroughs their military could use for an actual fight.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Marine Corps’ JLTV is officially ready for the battlefield

The Marine Corps’ Joint Light Tactical Vehicle is officially ready to deploy and support missions of the naval expeditionary force-in-readiness worldwide.

Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Combat Development and Integration declared the JLTV program — part of the Light Tactical Vehicle portfolio at Program Executive Officer Land Systems — reached initial operational capability, or IOC, on Aug. 2, 2019, nearly a year ahead of schedule.

“Congratulations to the combined JLTV Team for acting with a sense of urgency and reaching IOC early,” said Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition James Geurts. “Changing the speed in which we deliver, combined with coming in under cost and meeting all performance requirements, is a fine example of increasing Marine Corps capabilities at the speed of relevance which enables our Marines to compete and win on the modern battlefield.”


The JLTV, a program led by the Army, will fully replace the Corps’ aging High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle fleet. The JLTV family of vehicles comes in different variants with multiple mission package configurations, all providing protected, sustained, networked mobility that balances payload, performance and protection across the full range of military operations.

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead

A Joint Light Tactical Vehicle displays its overall capabilities during a live demonstration at the School of Infantry West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Feb. 27, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Timothy Smithers)

“I’m proud of what our team, in collaboration with the Army, has accomplished. Their commitment to supporting the warfighter delivered an exceptional vehicle, ahead of schedule, that Marines will use to dominate on the battlefield now and well into the future.”

Several elements need to be met before a program can declare IOC of a system, which encompasses more than delivery of the system itself. The program office also had to ensure all the operators were fully trained and maintenance tools and spare parts packages were ready.

“IOC is more than just saying that the schoolhouses and an infantry battalion all have their trucks,” said Eugene Morin, product manager for JLTV at PEO Land Systems. “All of the tools and parts required to support the system need to be in place, the units must have had received sufficient training and each unit commander needs to declare that he is combat-ready.”

For the JLTV, this means the program office had to fully field battle-ready vehicles to the Marine Corps schoolhouses—School of Infantry East at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; School of Infantry West at Camp Pendleton, California; The Basic School at Quantico, Virginia; and the Motor Transport Maintenance Instruction Course at Camp Johnson, North Carolina—and to an infantry battalion at II Marine Expeditionary Force. The program office started delivering vehicles to the schoolhouses earlier this year and started delivering vehicles to the infantry battalion July 2019.

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead

A Joint Light Tactical Vehicle displays its overall capabilities during a live demonstration at the School of Infantry West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Feb. 27, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Timothy Smithers)

On Aug. 2, 2019, Lt. Col. Neil Berry, the commanding officer for 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, notified Morin and his team of the unit’s combat readiness with the JLTV. On Aug. 5, 2019, The Director, Ground Combat Element Division at CDI notified PM LTV of its IOC achievement. The JLTV is scheduled to start fielding to I MEF and III MEF before the end of September 2019.

According to LTV Program Manager Andrew Rodgers, during the post-acquisition Milestone C rebaseline of the JLTV schedule in January 2016, IOC was projected to occur by June 2020.

Rodgers says that detailed program scheduling, planning and, most importantly, teamwork with stakeholders across the enterprise enabled the program office to deliver the vehicles and reach IOC ahead of schedule.

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead

The Marine Corps’ Joint Light Tactical Vehicles has achieved initial operational capability.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Timothy Smithers)

“It was definitely a team effort, and we built up a really great team,” said Rodgers. “In terms of leadership, our product managers’ — both Gene Morin and his predecessor, Dave Bias — detailed focus and ability to track cost, schedule and performance was key. Neal Justis, our deputy program manager, has significant prior military experience working for the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, so having him on board knowing how to work the Pentagon network was a huge force multiplier.”

Rodgers is quick to note that, although the team has reached IOC, this is really only the beginning of the JLTV’s future legacy.

“We are really at the starting line right now. Our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will see JLTVs in the DOD,” said Rodgers. “We’ll easily still have these assets somewhere in the DOD in the year 2100. Welcome to the start of many generations of JLTVs.”

This article originally appeared on Marines. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Army switches to ‘virtual recruiting’ amid coronavirus concerns

The U.S. Army has shifted focus toward virtual recruiting to limit exposure to the coronavirus.


On Friday, the United States Army announced sweeping changes to their recruiting practices, prompted by America’s ongoing efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus known as Covid-19. As of the end of last week, the Army has chosen to close all of its physical recruiting stations and transition the effort to the online realm, leaning heavily on social media to continue recruiting.

The shutdown began on Friday and continued through the weekend, with recruiters being told to emphasize “virtual recruiting” through the active use of social media and other sites young Americans like to congregate on.

“We are going to basically virtual recruiting. Much of that is done in social media, and that allows us to protect our soldiers and also protect the new recruits,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville told defense reporters.

“It’s happening right now, as we speak. I can’t attest to every recruiting station, but that is what we are doing over this week and over the next couple of days,” he added.
Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead

Recruiters are among the service members with the most direct contact with the civilian population.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Carl N. Hudson/Released)

Prior to the decision to make changes to the recruiting effort, the Army was forced to postpone shipping for as many as 1,200 recruits as they developed a process that would allow the Army to test for symptoms of Covid-19 infection at various points throughout the on-boarding phase of a new recruits traveling to basic training. Now, the Army has begun shipping once again thanks to these new safety procedures.

“They are screened in the state, and then they move to the military entrance processing stations [MEPS] and they are screened there again to make sure there are no issues. And then they move to the sites where we execute initial military training,” McConville said.

These extra safety screenings may have already paid off, with six recruits being separated from the group after showing symptoms that may be indicative of Covid-19 infection. The Army separated those recruits and took additional steps to ensure they receive any care they need.

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

Moving forward, the Army has reduced its numbers shipping to basic training by about fifty percent; allowing for screening and minimizing the number of new recruits that are exposed to one another throughout the screening process.

The Army says they’re unsure of when they’ll get back to traditional recruiting methods, citing the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus as the reason they’re playing the situation by ear.

“It’s all going to depend on duration; we are looking at this really hard over the next 15 days,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said. “Right now, it’s almost a tactical pause. … We have had a margin in our recruiting numbers this year, so we are doing very well.”

“It’s all going to depend on duration, where will we be in a month,” he said.

The Marine Corps has not transitioned to all-digital recruiting, but also said they’ve made changes to their procedures in an effort to keep recruiters and the public safe. Navy and Marine recruiting stations expect to stay open, but have made it clear that they will follow local and state guidelines as they’re issued.

“Marine recruiters are taking all preventative measures to protect themselves as they interact with the public, and are currently screening applicants scheduled to ship to recruit training to identify individuals who may have heightened risk factors for exposure to the novel coronavirus,” said GySgt Justin Kronenberg, spokesman for the Marine Corps Recruiting Command.

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Navy veteran reportedly arrested for ricin poisoning

The suspect behind several suspicious letters that were sent to the White House and the Pentagon in early October 2018 has reportedly been taken into custody.

Authorities took the suspect, previously identified as a former Navy sailor, into custody Oct. 3, 2018, CNN first reported, adding that a crew has started clearing the suspect’s residence.



The envelopes, which were intercepted by the Secret Service and the Pentagon’s mail room staff, reportedly tested positive for ricin, a potentially deadly substance, especially in a pure, powdered form. The letters sent to the Department of Defense were addressed to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson. The letter sent to the White House was addressed to President Donald Trump.

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead

The White House.

(Photo by Daniel Schwen)

The suspect was identified by a return address on one of the letters sent to the Pentagon, Fox News reported on Oct. 3, 2018.

While the FBI has been spearheading the investigation, the Pentagon has been providing regular updates to reporters.

On Oct. 1, 2018, the Pentagon Force Protection Agency detected a suspicious substance during mail screening at the Pentagon’s remote screening facility,” DoD spokesman Col. Rob Manning told Business Insider in an emailed statement, further explaining that “all USPS mail received at the Pentagon mail screening facility yesterday is currently under quarantine and poses no threat to Pentagon personnel.”

Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White provided additional information on Oct. 3, 2018, revealing that at least one of the letters sent to the DoD contained castor seeds, from which ricin is derived.

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

MIGHTY SPORTS

Competition pits brother against brother

When Lt. Col. Eric Palicia saw a flyer for an Alpha Warrior qualifier in May 2019, he decided to throw his name in the hat for a chance to go head to head with last year’s overall winner — his younger brother.

In this year’s Alpha Warrior Inter-Service Battle, soldiers, airmen, and sailors completed more than a dozen obstacles that tested their strength, agility and endurance, in a timed race Sept. 14, 2019, in San Antonio.


“I thought, ‘if I could earn a slot, I could compete against my brother,'” said the U.S. Army Europe headquarters engineer, who went on to surprise himself when he passed two more rounds of qualifiers to make it to the competition.

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Eric Palicia (left), U.S. Army Germany, Wiesbaden, Germany, competes against his brother, U.S. Air Force Capt. Noah Palicia (right), 374th Operations Group C130J instructor pilot, Yokota Air Base, Japan, in the 2019 Air Force and Inter-Service Alpha Warrior Battles Sept. 14, 2019, at the Alpha Warrior Proving Grounds, Selma, Texas.

(Photo by Sarayuth Pinthong)

Palicia earned the top spot among Army competitors and second place overall — right behind his brother, Air Force Capt. Noah Palicia.

Eric Palicia credits bodyweight exercises and running for his success in preparing for the competition.

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Eric Palicia (left), U.S. Army Germany, Wiesbaden, Germany, competes against his brother, U.S. Air Force Capt. Noah Palicia (right), 374th Operations Group C130J instructor pilot, Yokota Air Base, Japan, in the 2019 Air Force and Inter-Service Alpha Warrior Battles Sept. 14, 2019, at the Alpha Warrior Proving Grounds, Selma, Texas.

(Photo by Sarayuth Pinthong)

“You have to have endurance,” he said. “Cardiovascular fitness is the cornerstone of everything I’ve ever done athletically my whole life.”

Despite that, Palicia said the wins had little to do with him and much more to do with being a positive example.

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Eric Palicia (left), U.S. Army Germany, Wiesbaden, Germany, competes against his brother, U.S. Air Force Capt. Noah Palicia (right), 374th Operations Group C130J instructor pilot, Yokota Air Base, Japan, in the 2019 Air Force and Inter-Service Alpha Warrior Battles Sept. 14, 2019, at the Alpha Warrior Proving Grounds, Selma, Texas.

(Photo by Sarayuth Pinthong)

“Before the competition started, there were 60 brand new enlistees who did their oath,” he said. “All their families came out, and we had a chance to talk to them, and they asked us what we’d done so far in the military. If they can look at me and see what we’ve done, the whole swath of ranks and ages and everybody gets along, right off the bat those 60 sons and daughters see the organization they’re going into. They see all of us together doing this competition — there’s no ego or animosity. We’re all in it together.”

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead

Army Lt. Col. Eric Palicia holds a medicine ball over his head during a strength challenge at the 2019 Alpha Warrior Inter-Service Battle, while a crowd cheers him on at Retama Park, Selma, Texas, Sept. 14, 2019.

(Photo by Debbie Aragon)

Next up for Palicia is the Army 10-miler, Oct. 13, 2019, in Washington, D.C.

Palicia said he feels lucky to be supported in his fitness endeavors.

“It’s wonderful to be a part of a command climate that realizes the importance of a competition like this and the importance of leaders doing it,” he said.

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

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General says Russia bombed US-backed allies in Syria

The American commander of coalition forces in Iraq and Syria says a Russian air strike in northern Syria accidently struck U.S.-backed Syrian Arab forces and nearly bombed U.S. troops who are part of the fight against so-called Islamic State (IS) militants.


U.S. Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend said on March 1 that Russian planes likely thought they were bombing IS positions in villages near Al-Bab to the northeast of Aleppo.

He said the confusion came amid “a very complicated battlefield situation where essentially three armies and an enemy force have all converged” within the same 1-kilometer area.

Townshend said U.S. military advisers were about four kilometers from the February 28 air strike and used “deconfliction channels” set up for communication between Russia and the United States to warn the Russian pilots off.

He said the information quickly reached the pilots, who then ended the bombing.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said “neither Syrian nor Russian aviation delivered strikes against areas designated by the U.S. side” as locations of pro-U.S. opposition forces.

Townshend said he believes the Russians thought they were attacking IS positions in the village. But he said IS fighters had withdrawn before the bombing, and opposition fighters from the so-called Syrian Arab Coalition had moved in.

Based on reporting by AP, dpa, TASS, and Interfax
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Iran’s newest ballistic missile, the Bright Conqueror

Iran just unveiled a new short-range ballistic missile on Aug. 13, 2018, just a few days after test firing a variant of the missile over the Strait of Hormuz.

The Fateh-e Mobin missile is an “agile, radar-evading and tactical missile with pinpoint accuracy,” said Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Amir Hatami, according to Defense News, citing the Iranian Tasnim News Agency.


“The more intense are sanctions, pressures, smear campaigns, and psychological warfare against the great nation of Iran, the greater will become our will to enhance our defensive power in all areas,” Hatami said, according to Press TV, an Iranian news outlet.

The Fateh-e Mobin, which means “Bright Conqueror,” has a range of about 483 to 805 miles, Defense News reported.

The unveiling of Bright Conqueror came just a few days after the Iranian military test-fired a Fateh-100 Mod 3 ballistic missile from an Iranian Revolutionary Guard base in Bandar-e-Jask, according to Fox News.

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead

Bandar-e-Jask skyline.

The anti-ship Fateh-100 Mod 3 ballistic missile flew about 100 miles over the Strait of Hormuz, landing at an Iranian test range northwest of the base, Fox News reported.

It was the first time Iran test fired a ballistic missile since March 2017, Fox News reported, but it’s unclear if the missile hit its target, Defense News reported.

The test fire also came as Iran conducted a naval exercise practicing closing the Strait of Hormuz, which Tehran has been threatening to do since President Donald Trump threatened sanctions on countries importing Iranian oil in late June 2018.

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

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Army Legend Hal Moore Dies at 94

Legendary retired Army Lt. Gen. Harold “Hal” Moore of “We Were Soldiers” fame died Feb. 10. The commander of 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment at the Battle of Ia Drang was days short of his 95th birthday.


Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead

According to a report by the Opelika-Auburn Tribune, Lt. Gen. Moore had suffered a stroke on the evening of Feb. 9 and was “hanging tough,” according to a family member.

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead
Then-Lt. Col. Hal Moore and Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Basil Plumley in Vietnam. Plumley died in 2012.

Moore gained immortality from the book, “We Were Soldiers Once, and Young,” co-written with reporter Joe Galloway, about the battle of the Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam. The book was used as the basis for the 2002 film “We Were Soldiers,” in which Academy Award-winning actor Mel Gibson portrayed Moore.

Moore served 32 years in the Army after graduating from West Point, and his decorations included the Distinguished Service Cross and four Bronze Stars.

According to an official after-action report, the three-day battle left 79 Americans killed in action, and another 121 wounded. None were left behind or missing after the battle. American forces killed 634 enemy troops, and wounded at least 1,200.

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead
Soldiers of the U.S. Amry 1/7th Cavalry disembark from a Bell UH-1D Huey at LZ X-Ray during the battle of Ia Drang. (US Army photo)

While preparing to film the epic movie — which made over $78 million at the United States box office, according to Box Office Mojo — Gibson would develop a deep friendship with Moore. This past summer, while headlines noted that Gibson and Vince Vaughn had eaten at Hamilton’s, an Auburn-area restaurant, what hadn’t been known then was that Moore’s family had recommended the eatery to the A-list superstars.

Below, here are some of the more iconic moments from “We Were Soldiers,” starring Mel Gibson as Hal Moore.

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These 3 active duty officers served as National Security Advisor before McMaster

With the news that Army Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster has been chosen to serve as National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump, this marks the fourth time an active-duty military officer has filled this position.


Here is a look at the previous three.

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead
Air Force Lt. Gen Brent Scowcroft meeting with Vice President Nelson Rockefeller during his tenure as Deputy National Security Advisor. Scowcroft would later become the National Security Advisor – serving 28 days until retiring from the Air Force. He later served under George H. W. Bush. (White House photo)

1. Air Force Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft

Brent Scowcroft was active-duty for less than a month while serving as National Security Advisor to President Gerald Ford, taking the job on Nov. 3, 1975, and retiring on Dec. 1, 1975. Still, he is technically the first active-duty military officer to serve in this position.

Scowcroft served for the remainder of the Ford administration, then was tapped to serve as National Security Advisor for a second stint under George H. W. Bush – holding that post for the entirety of that presidency. During his second run as NSA, Scowcroft’s tenure saw the fall of the Berlin Wall, Operation Desert Storm, and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead
(Official U.S. Navy biography photo)

2. Navy Vice Adm. John M. Poindexter

Perhaps the most notorious active-duty officer to hold the position due to his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, Poindexter was National Security Advisor to President Ronald Reagan during the 1986 Freedom of Navigation exercises in the Gulf of Sidra that turned violent, Operation El Dorado Canyon, and the Reykjavik Summit in October, 1986.

Poindexter was initially convicted on five charges connected with Iran-Contra, but the convictions were tossed out on appeal. In 1987, he retired at the rank of Rear Admiral (Upper Half).

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead
Colin Powell briefing President Ronald Reagan in 1988. (Photo from Reagan Presidential Library)

3. Army Lt. Gen. Colin L. Powell

Probably the most notable active-duty officer to serve in the post, Colin Powell served as National Security Advisor from November 1987 to the end of Ronald Reagan’s second term. While he was in that position, the U.S. and Iran had a series of clashes culminating in Operation Praying Mantis and the downing of an Iranian Airbus by the guided-missile cruiser USS Vincennes (CG 49).

After his tenure as National Security Advisor, Powell went on to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – then was Secretary of State during George W. Bush’s first term as president.

As a note for the fashion-watchers, while all three predecessors wore suits, We Are The Mighty has learned from a source close to senior Trump staffers that incoming Nationals Security Advisor McMaster has been given the option to wear his uniform while holding the post.

A spokesperson for Scowcroft noted, “It is not against the law but it is not usually done.”

Neither Powell nor the White House Press Office responded to a WATM request for comment by post time.

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US defenses get pressured by North Korean missile advances

North Korea’s newly demonstrated missile muscle puts Alaska within range of potential attack and stresses the Pentagon’s missile defenses like never before. Even more worrisome, it may be only a matter of time before North Korea makes an even longer-range ICBM with a nuclear warhead, putting all of the United States at risk.


The Pentagon has spent tens of billions to develop what it calls a limited defense against missiles capable of reaching US soil. The system has never faced combat or been fully tested. The system succeeded May 30 in its first attempted intercept of a mock ICBM, but it hasn’t faced more realistic conditions.

Although Russia and China have long been capable of targeting the US with a nuclear weapon, North Korea is seen as the bigger, more troubling threat. Its opaque, unpredictable government often confounds US intelligence assessments. And North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, has openly threatened to strike the US, while showing no interest in nuclear or missile negotiations.

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead

“We should be worried,” said Philip E. Coyle III, a former head of the Pentagon’s test and evaluation office. North Korea’s latest success, he said, “shows that time is not on our side.”

US officials believe North Korea is still short of being able to miniaturize a nuclear warhead to fit atop an intercontinental missile. And it’s unclear whether it has developed the technology and expertise to sufficiently shield such a warhead from the extreme heat experienced when it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere en route to a target.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, said July 5, “We’ve still not seen a number of things that would indicate a full-up threat,” including a demonstrated ability to mate a nuclear warhead to an ICBM. “But clearly they are working on it. Clearly they seek to do it. This is an aggressive research and development program on their part.”

Davis said the US defensive system is limited but effective.

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead
The THAAD missile system. | Lockheed Martin photo

“We do have confidence in it,” he said. “That’s why we’ve developed it.”

The Trump administration, like its recent predecessors, has put its money on finding a diplomatic path to halting and reversing North Korea’s nuclear program. While the Pentagon has highly developed plans if military force is ordered, the approach is seen as untenable because it would put millions of South Korean civilians at risk.

But diplomacy has failed so far. That’s why US missile defenses may soon come into play.

The Pentagon has a total of 36 missile interceptors in underground silos on military bases in Alaska and California, due to increase to 44 by year’s end. These interceptors can be launched upon notice of a missile headed toward the United States. An interceptor soars toward its target based on tracking data from radars and other electronic sensors, and is supposed to destroy the target by sheer force of impact outside the Earth’s atmosphere. Sometimes likened to hitting a bullet with a bullet, the collision is meant to incinerate the targeted warhead, neutralizing its nuclear explosive power.

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead
A long-range ground-based interceptor launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA. DoD photo by Senior Airman Robert J. Volio

This so-called hit-to-kill technology has been in development for decades. For all its advances, the Pentagon is not satisfied that the current defensive system is adequate for North Korea’s accelerating missile advances.

“The pace of the threat is advancing faster than I think was considered when we did the first ballistic missile defense review back in 2010,” Rob Soofer, who is helping review missile defenses, told a Senate Armed Service subcommittee last month. Beyond what US officials have said publicly about the North Korean nuclear threat, he said the classified picture “is even more dire.” Soofer didn’t provide details.

The escalating danger has led the administration to consider alternative concepts for missile defense, including what is known as “boost phase” defense. This approach involves destroying a hostile missile shortly after its launch, before the warhead separates from the missile body and decoys can be deployed. One proposed tactic would be to develop a drone capable of long-endurance flight and armed with a solid-state laser to destroy or disable a missile in flight.

Pentagon identifies 3 Bragg soldiers killed in Niger ambush — 4th found dead
USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson

These and other possible new approaches would add to budget strains already felt in the missile defense program.

President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget would cut $340 million from missile defense programs intended to deter a potential strike by North Korea, Iran or other countries. The Republican-led Congress has taken the first steps in rejecting the reduction. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R- Texas, the House Armed Services Committee chairman, declared last month that he was “astonished” Trump would propose trimming missile defense.

Thornberry’s committee voted last week to provide about $12.5 billion for missile defense in the 2018 fiscal year that begins in October, nearly $2.5 billion more than Trump’s request. The Senate Armed Services Committee also called for millions more than Trump requested. The full House and Senate are expected to consider the committees’ legislation, and the boost in missile defense money, later this month.

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