This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years - We Are The Mighty
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This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years

Joy Lofthouse was one of the women who pushed the envelope of what women did in World War II. She was a pilot for the British Air Transport Auxiliary, shuttling fighters between air bases, factories, and maintenance facilities.


Now, 70 years after she last flew a Spitfire, she’s back in the cockpit. Check out the video below:

NOW: Stunning footage shows pilot’s eye view from inside a Blue Angel cockpit

OR: Navy turns seawater into fuel and nobody cares

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Army Stryker gets lethality upgrade

The US Army will soon receive its first prototypes of a newly-engineered up-gunned Stryker infantry vehicle armed with a more lethal, longer-range 30mm cannon as compared with the currently installed .50-cal machine guns.


Called the Stryker Enhanced Lethality Program, the effort was implemented as a rapid-development acquisition program to better equip 9-man infantry units with combat arms to support their missions, maneuvers and ground-attacks.

“It is really about mobile protected fire power for the Infantry Brigade Combat Team. In the Combat Vehicle Modernization Plan it talks about every vehicle having an organic blend of those capabilities… mobility, protection and firepower,” Maj. Gen. David Bassett, Program Executive Officer, Ground Combat Systems, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years
US Army photo

General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS), which builds and engineers the new enhanced lethality Stryker vehicles, will deliver the first eight prototype vehicle in December of this year, Wendy Staiger, Stryker Program Director, GDLS, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

Compared to an existing M2 .50-cal machine gun mounted from Strykers, the new 30mm weapon is designed to improve both range and lethality for the vehicle. The new gun can fire at least twice as far as a .50-Cal, Tim Reese, Director of Strategic Planning, General Dynamics Land Systems, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

“It shoots at a rapid rate of one, three or five-round bursts when you pull the trigger,” Resse explained.

The 30mm cannon can use a proximity fuse and fire high-explosive rounds, armor piercing rounds and air burst rounds, Reese added. During live-fire testing at Fort Benning, Ga., the 30mm cannon was able to demonstrate firing ability out to ranges of 3,000 meters; this is about twice the range of existing .50-cal guns. Also, while the .50-Cal is often used as a suppressive fire “area” weapon designed to restrict enemy freedom of movement and  allow troops to maneuver, the 30mm gun brings a level of precision fire to the Stryker Infantry Carrier that does not currently exist.

Dismounted infantry units are often among the first-entering “tip-of-the-spear” combat forces which at times travel to areas less-reachable by heavy armored platforms such as an Abrams tank or Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Certain terrain, bridges or enemy force postures can also make it difficult for heavier armored vehicles to maneuver on attack.

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years
US Army photo

As a result, having an up-gunned, highly-mobile wheeled Stryker vehicle can massively supplement Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs) on the move in hostile warfare circumstances, Basset explained. Also, a gun with greater range and fire-power could better allow forward-positioned infantry units to attack enemies and conduct operations with massively enhanced fire support.

“IBCTs are great in terms of getting Soldiers to the fight but they do not have that staying power unless there are combat platforms that will let them do that. They can hit targets that otherwise they would be engaging with Javelins,” Bassett said.

The new gun, to be fully operational by 2018, incorporates a number of additional innovations for Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicles and Reconnaissance Vehicles.

“The medium cannon has a feed system with links pulling into the breach. This is a link-less feed system. The ammo is in canisters attached to the breach of the gun and rounds are pulled into the breach one at a time. It is much less prone to jamming,” Reese said.  “It Uses the same firing control handle as the current machine gun and same physical display channels.

Deterring Russia

The new, more-powerful Orbital ATK XM 81330mm 30mm cannon, which can be fired from within the Stryker vehicle using a Remote Weapons Station, will first deploy with the European-based 2nd Cavalry Unit.

While US Army leaders did not, quite naturally, specify that the weapon is intended to counter Russian forces on the European continent, they do often speak candidly about Russian aggression in Ukraine and other areas. In fact, a RAND study months ago determined that the Russian military could invade and overrun the Baltic states in merely 60-hours given the small amount of NATO forces in the area. It is not surprising, given this scenario, that the Pentagon and NATO are amidst various efforts to strengthen their force posture in Europe.

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years
US Army photo

It appears to be no accident that this initiative to better arm Stryker infantry carriers comes at a time when the US Army and US European Command are deliberately revving up arms, multi-national training exercises with NATO allies and armored mobility for its forces in Europe – as a direct counterbalance or deterrent to Russia’s aggressive posture in the region.

For instance, last year’s US European Command’s Dragoon Ride convoy across Europe was, among other things, designed to demonstrate the mobility, deployability and responsiveness of NATO armored forces across the European continent. There have been several additional exercises, involving US Army collaboration with Eastern European NATO allies since this convoy and many more on the immediate future.

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Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life

Sailing saved Ronnie Simpson’s life. He was an 18 year old high school senior in Atlanta, Georgia when the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq began in March 2003. Drawn to service by the events of September 11, Ronnie joined the Marine Corps Infantry the day after the war started.


Less than a year later in March 2004, he deployed to Iraq with the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines.

“I was a .50 cal gunner on top of a Humvee,” he recalls. “Four months into my deployment, we were ambushed during a night-time convoy, and an RPG hit the ground near my Humvee. The rocket bounced up and exploded in the air one meter from me. I had broken ribs, detached retinas, a bleeding brain which created sub-retinal fluid, a traumatic brain injury (TBI), a blown-out left lung and my tongue was blown into my airway. I was temporarily knocked unconscious. Because I wasn’t breathing and was unresponsive, Marines in my truck thought I was dead. It was actually a textbook blast injury. The Corpsman in my Humvee, Doc David Segundo, was injured too but he got up, cleared my airway, and saved my life.”

Simpson, now 30 years old, spent a lot of time recovering both physically and mentally. Most of his TBI symptoms weren’t permanent (he credits the helmet technology for that). Despite having burns over 10 percent of his body, many of those scars aren’t visible.

“It fucked me up pretty good,” he says. “Unless you knew me though, you’d never know I’m hurt. I have no visible scars unless I take my shirt off. Then I have many.”

Simpson is legally blind and can’t obtain a driver’s license. Though his body healed, his mental state took much longer. He reevaluated his life and experiences through a 9,000-mile bike trek across Europe and Asia in 2009 and more than 50,000 miles at sea, both healing counterpoints to his experiences in Iraq.

“My time in theater and my travels have shaped my perspective,” Simpson says. “There’s a lot of good and beauty in this world, and I want to add to that. Our program is about helping the men and women that are coming back – the veterans – the people we should be looking out for. We in the veteran community have these experiences and while we may interpret them differently, this shared experience can bring us together. We can come together to create profound and impactful programs to help the veterans from these two wars as well as something permanent and sustainable for veterans of future conflicts.”

Sailing is the catalyst for Simpson’s initiative. Not only his love for sailing but how he changed his life and how he aims to change the lives of others.

“I joined the Marines at 18, was injured in combat at 19, my dad died four months after I got hurt, and by 20 I was medically retired,” Simpson says. “By 22 I was a lost soul. I had reached my deepest, darkest point. I’m fearful of what would have happened if I hadn’t flipped the script. I broke off an engagement, sold my house, and moved from Texas to California. That move was my re-birth as a new person.”

On the California coast, he found his calling. After living so recklessly, he became completely focused on becoming a racing sailor and making the most of his life. Seven years later, Simpson now travels the world as a professional sailor and sailing writer.

“It helped me heal,” Simpson says. “These adventures help you positively adrenalize yourself in a sustainable manner. Guys who come back from places like Fallujah have experienced adrenaline like most will never know, and again need to achieve that heightened state of existence. But where will they find it? Drugs, alcohol, or doping the pain away with pills? I can put you on the helm of a racing sailboat in the middle of the night and it will rock your world. This is a healthy way to get that fix.”

It’s not just about giving people the fix of adrenaline they were accustomed to while in combat. For Simpson and his sailing nonprofit – Coastal and Offshore Recalibration Experience, or CORE (www.medicinalmissions.com/CORE), that community of veterans is the most important result.

“Because that’s what it is: a Community,” he says. “On a sailboat you can put anyone into a job they can do, regardless of their injury. It’s a sport that doesn’t care if you have arms or legs. That’s a big part of it. Everyone has an assigned, defined role. There’s a chain of command, a defined mission, teamwork is critical and constant risk management is all part of the game. The parallels between racing sailboats and combat are incredible. When you combine that with the peacefulness and serenity of heading to sea with your brothers and sisters, it’s a powerful experience.”

Simpson and his best friend Army veteran Walter Kotecki, created a sailing program within an existing wounded-veteran nonprofit, raised $50,000 through yacht clubs and private donors, and gave a sailing experience to 30 veterans over the course of four clinics in 2012 and 2013.

“There’s always a steep learning curve when you start your own thing. We flew vets to San Francisco,” he says. “They had the whole range of injuries from PTSD to multiple amputees to blindness. We used sailing, surfing, yoga, nature walks, kayaking, art and more to help these guys look past their injuries and realize that anything is possible, no matter their injury, while re-establishing that sense of camaraderie and community that so many have lost since leaving the service.”

It was so successful and the veterans so responsive Simpson and Kotecki decided to strike out on their own earlier this year, forming CORE.

“I had a Vietnam vet hook me up with a racing sailboat and an opportunity,” says Simpson. “He passed that torch to me and told me to pay it forward. Here’s my chance to hook somebody else up. Let’s re-build that community and keep that torch going.”

CORE is seeking veterans of the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan to participate in more sailing clinics throughout California, with the first being in San Francisco in October of this year. They will be accepting applications until August 31. For 2016, CORE is planning six to eight clinics up and down the California coast.

The most ambitious plan for CORE is participating in the 2017 Transpacific Yacht Race – where they will train a full crew of combat-wounded veterans to sail from Los Angeles to Honolulu, the first time ever that such a crew would be assembled.

“Our goal is to help reduce the rate of veteran suicide in this country. Sailing is one of the tools that we use,” he says.

Simpson is now featured in a series of short films produced by Craftsman, We Are The Mighty, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), showing how IAVA empowers veterans as they transition back to civilian life.

“It’s admirable for companies like Craftsman to reach out to veterans groups to benefit the guys and girls that are coming back,” Simpson says. “I see a positive shift in awareness about issues that affect veterans, how we can improve the care of veterans, and how we can achieve a more holistic healing approach instead of pumping them full of drugs.”

Craftsman is donating $250,000 to IAVA and from May 25 – July 4, for every new follower of @Craftsman on Instagram, Craftsman will donate an additional $1 to IAVA (with a minimum donation of $5,000).

“I am honored to be part of this and stoked that a big corporation is out to make a difference of stemming the tide of 22 veterans a day,” Simpson says. “I’m excited that they believe in what we’re doing, and to work on this next mission of saving lives by reaching out to the veteran community.”

Now: Artist takes his craft to war and back again

MIGHTY SPORTS

This week in military academy sports — October 11th, 2018

It’s a busy week in the world of military academy sports. The Army and Navy are facing off on the soccer field this Friday, the Air Force is seeking to dominate volleyball gyms throughout the week, and much more.

This week, We Are The Mighty will be streaming the following events, so stay tuned.


This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years

Women’s Soccer — Army West Point at Navy (Friday, 10/12, 7:00PM EST)

The 2018 Star Match between the Army and Navy women’s soccer teams lies ahead this Friday night at 7 p.m. in Annapolis. A key part of the Star Series presented by USAA, the Mids will host their service academy rivals from New York in a matchup of two of the Patriot League’s top-five teams. Navy comes into the contest at the Glenn Warner Soccer Facility with a 8-4-3 record and a 4-1 mark in Patriot League play, while Army will enter at 6-3-5, 2-2-1 in league action.

Watch the game here LIVE.

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years

Women’s Soccer — Boise State at Air Force (Friday, 10/12, 8:00PM EST)

The Air Force Academy women’s soccer team returns home to play the first of its final two home matches of the 2018 season when it plays host to Boise State, Friday, Oct. 12. The Falcons had their third straight 0-1-1 weekend, as they dropped another 0-1 match, this time to Colorado State. They followed that up with a 1-1 draw at Wyoming. They’re looking to turn their luck around this Friday.

Watch the game LIVE here.

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years

Women’s Volleyball — Nevada at Air Force (Saturday, 10/13, 3:00PM EST)

After a short weekend on the road, the Air Force volleyball team returns to the Academy this weekend for a pair of Mountain West contests. The Falcons, who are 12-7 overall and 8-3 at home, will welcome Nevada to Cadet West Gym on Saturday, Oct. 13. Air Force holds a 5-8 series record against Nevada.

Watch the game LIVE here.

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years

Women’s Volleyball — Bucknell at Army West Point (Saturday, 10/14, 3:00PM EST)

On Saturday, October 14, Army West Point hosts Bucknell at Gillis Field House for a Patriot League match-up. Both Army and Bucknell are currently struggling for a positive record — and Saturday’s meeting just might be the switch in momentum needed.

Tune in LIVE here.

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years

Men’s Soccer — Yale at Army West Point (Tuesday, 10/16, 7:00PM EST)

Yale is headed to West Point to face Army on Clinton Field. The Bulldogs are currently sitting at 4-4-2, but have to face Cornell before going up against the Black Knights on Tuesday. Both teams have been cooling off lately and are desperately seeking a win.

Click here to watch the game LIVE.

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years

Women’s Volleyball — Air Force at Utah State (Thursday, 10/18, 9:00PM EST)

This Thursday, Air Force is traveling to Kirby Court at the Wayne Estes Center to face Utah State. Don’t miss a minute of the action!

Click here to watch the game LIVE on Thursday.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Top Iranians meet with Putin in the days before he meets Trump

A top adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he had a “very constructive and friendly” meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

An Iranian delegation led by Ali Akbar Velayati met Putin in the Russian capital on July 12, 2018, the Kremlin said.

Velayati told Iranian state television from Moscow that Khamenei “values improving ties with Russia as a strategic partner” and that Moscow was “prepared to invest in Iran’s oil sector.”


Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that Velayati handed Putin letters from Khamenei and Iranian President Hassan Rohani, but refused to elaborate.

Russia’s Interfax news agency reported that the meeting also involved Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, while the Iranian delegation included the head of Khamenei’s board of advisers Ali Asghar Fathi Sarbangoli and Iran’s ambassador to Russia, Mehdi Sanai.

Velayati also said Iran and Russia would “continue to cooperate in Syria,” where both countries support President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in the seven-year civil war there.

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years

Russian President Vladimir Putin with Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu in March 2017.

The meeting came as Iran braces for renewed U.S. economic sanctions after Washington pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal signed in 2015 between Tehran and world powers.

Facing revived sanctions from the United States and the possible knock-on collapse of its business dealings with Europe, Iran is looking to Russia and China for investment and to purchase its oil.

On July 11, 2018, Putin held talks at the Kremlin with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who told the Russian leader that “Iran needs to leave Syria.”

The United States and Israel want Iran to pull out from Syria, but Russia has warned it would be unrealistic to expect Iran to fully withdraw from the country.

The Iranian presence in Syria is expected to be on the agenda of a July 16, 2018 meeting in Helsinki between Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump.

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

Articles

Paris-based ‘Charlie Hebdo’ magazine has a new cover taunting ISIS

In its new issue, the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo reacted to the gruesome attacks that shook Paris on Friday.


The cover depicted a man dancing around, with a bottle of Champagne in one hand and drinking out of a flute while the Champagne poured out of apparent bullet holes in his body. The text surrounding the image says: “They have arms. F— them. We have the Champagne!”

The cover was posted on social media ahead of the magazine’s release on Wednesday by a columnist for Charlie Hebdo, Mathieu Madénian.

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years
Photo: Twitter/@Mathieu Madénian

Last week’s attacks on Paris left at least 129 people dead and hundreds more injured, after a wave of shootings and suicide bombings at restaurants, bars, a concert hall, and a sports stadium. The incidents constituted the deadliest attack on French soil since World War II. The Islamic State group, also known as ISIS and ISIL, claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Charlie Hebdo was itself attacked early this year. On January 7, 12 people were killed in a shooting at Charlie Hebdo’s offices in Paris. Five others were killed in several related attacks throughout the capital, including a hostage situation at a Kosher market.

The magazine was targeted in part for its often controversial depictions of religious and political leaders, including the Prophet Muhammad.

The two men behind the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Said and Cherif Kouachi, had been well known to French authorities. Cherif had been jailed before and was reportedly influenced by a radical preacher in France.

Two days after the attack, a top cleric from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was intended as “revenge for the honor” of the Prophet Muhammad.

The slogan, “Je suis Charlie” — French for, “I am Charlie” — became a popular rallying cry across social media after the shootings. After the attacks, hundreds of thousands of people rallied in France and around the world to show their support for the victims and to defend free speech.

This week’s cover is already being shared widely on social media. It embodies a sentiment shared by many Parisians after the attacks: resilience.

MIGHTY TRENDING

First parts of Russian S-400 missile system delivered to Turkey

Turkey’s Defense Ministry says the first parts of the S-400 Russian missile defense systems have delivered to Ankara and deliveries will continue in the coming days.

Ankara’s deal with Moscow has been a major source of tension between Turkey and Washington.

The S-400 consignment was delivered on July 12, 2019, to the Murted air base outside the capital Ankara, the ministry said, in a statement.

The announcement immediately triggered a weakening in the Turkish lira to 5.7 against the dollar from 5.6775 on July 12, 2019.

“The delivery of parts belonging to the system will continue in the coming days,” Turkey’s Defense Industry Directorate said separately.

“Once the system is completely ready, it will begin to be used in a way determined by the relevant authorities.”


Russia’s Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation confirmed the start of the deliveries, while Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on July 12, 2019, that “everything is being done in strict accordance with the two countries’ agreements,” and that “the parties are fulfilling their obligations.”

The Pentagon is scheduled to hold a press briefing on July 12, 2019, to outline its response to “Turkey accepting delivery” of the S-400 system, it said in a statement.

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years

22T6 loader-launcher from S-400 and S-300 systems.

The United States has said that if fellow NATO member Turkey does not cancel the S-400 deal by July 31, 2019, Ankara will be blocked from purchasing the next-generation F-35 fighter jets.

Washington has urged Turkey to purchase the U.S.-made Patriot missile system instead.

NATO has yet to react officially to the Turkish announcement, but an alliance official speaking on condition of anonymity told the AFP news agency that the 29-member bloc is “concerned about the potential consequences” of the purchase.

U.S. President Donald Trump met with Erdogan on the sidelines of last month’s G20 summit in Osaka, urging him not to proceed with the purchase of Russia’s advanced S-400 air-defense system.

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years

S-400 surface-to-air missile launcher.

Erdogan told Trump during their meeting on the margins of the G20 meeting in Japan that former U.S. President Barack Obama did not allow Ankara to buy Patriot missiles, an equivalent of the S-400s.

Washington has already started the process of removing Turkey from the F-35 program, halting training of Turkish pilots in the United States on the aircraft.

Ankara plans to buy 100 of the jets for its own military’s use.

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

Articles

Pentagon report clears coalition of wrongdoing in strike that killed Syrian soldiers

No misconduct was involved in the decision by personnel in the American-lead Combined Air Operations Center to carry out an air strike that killed a number of Syrian-government aligned forces on Sept. 17.


That is the central finding of an investigation by Air Force Brig. Gen. Richard Coe.

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years
A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon flies over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve April 5, 2016. The President has authorized U.S. Central Command to work with partner nations to conduct targeted airstrikes of Iraq and Syria as part of the comprehensive strategy to degrade and defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Corey Hook/Released)

“In my opinion, these were a number of people all doing their best to do a good job,” Coe said of the personnel on duty when the incident happened, according to an official report released Nov. 29.

The strike took place near Dayr Az Zawr. A release from Combined Joint Task Force Inherent Resolve for that day noted the incident, stating that one strike “believed to have engaged an ISIL fighting position, may have mistakenly struck a Syrian military unit and destroyed Syrian military vehicles.”

While “friendly fire” is nothing new — in the War on Terror, coalition forces had over three dozen such incidents — the question is always the same: How did such a mistake happen?

Well, that’s been asked over the years after other incidents, like when Stonewall Jackson was shot by Confederate soldiers on a picket line, or when Allied ships off Sicily opened fire on C-47 transports carrying elements of the 82nd Airborne Division in 1943, downing 23 transports.

The report reveals a few of the causes. First, the Syrian forces were not exactly in uniform when they were first detected by an unmanned aerial vehicle. Yet they were packing a lot of firepower, and were near tunnels and other fighting positions.

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years
Aircrews perform a preflight check on an MQ-9 Reaper before it takes of for a mission. (Photo from DoD)

This lead planners to believe they’d spotted an ISIS unit out in the open. It was a classic case of mistaken identity, compounded by a misunderstanding (the United States personnel used the wrong reference point when informing the Syrian allied Russians of the strike).

And it was made worse by some good old-fashioned Russian paranoia.

According to the report, when the Russians called on a de-confliction hotline, they waited 27 minutes for their normal point of contact to arrive before passing on the news that Syrian forces were being hit. During that time, 15 of the 37 attack sorties were carried out.

Coe’s report not only recommended that in the future both sides not only pass critical information immediately, but also that the entire Flight Safety Memorandum of Understanding that helps keep Syrian and Russian targets from being struck by coalition air power be reviewed and updated.

Top CENTCOM commander Lt. Gen. Jeff Harrigian has ordered Coe’s recommendations be implemented, saying, “In this instance, we did not rise to the high standard we hold ourselves to, and we must do better than this each and every time.”

While the changes recommended will hopefully lessen the chance of friendly fire incidents in the future, friendly fire will still always be a risk on a complex battlefield.

Articles

Here’s why the Army’s going to buy a lot of missiles and bombs next year

If Congress enacts the Trump administration’s 2018 budget request, many in the Army will be ecstatic. Weapons contractors, maybe not so much.


The $137.2 billion request ( $166.1 billion including overseas contingency operations funds) is up by 5 percent from a year ago. It would be the most money the Army has gotten since 2012.

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years
Spc. Alan Yearby, assigned to 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, makes sketches of the terrain while manning a mortar fire position near Mosul, Iraq, Feb. 28, 2017. A global Coalition of more than 60 regional and international nations have joined together to enable partner forces to defeat ISIS. CJTF-OIR is the global Coalition to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alex Manne)

The budget is in tune with the priorities set by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis: Fix near-term readiness, but also make progress toward a more “modern, capable and lethal force,” said Army Budget Director Maj. Gen. Thomas A. Horlander.

The 2018 funding request is about “closing vulnerability gaps,” he said today at a Pentagon news conference. “This budget arrests Army readiness decline and sets conditions for future improvements.”

As expected, most of the money is going to personnel, operations and maintenance. The personnel account grows by $2.5 billion in 2018, and OM gets a $3.2 billion boost. Weapons modernization continues to be squeezed, with a modest increase of $600 million: procurement is slipping by $400 million but research and development is up by $1 billion from 2017.

Army personnel and readiness accounts increased significantly over 2017, while procurement declines slightly.

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years

Horlander ran through long list of modernization priorities, which mirror those cited in recent months by the Chief of Staff, Gen, Mark Milley, and senior Army leaders: Air and missile defense, long-range fires, munitions, mobility, active protection, protection of GPS navigation, electronic warfare, cyber warfare, communications and vertical lift. These capabilities are needed for the “A2/AD fight,” said Horlander, using the Pentagon’s codeword for Chinese and Russian weapons and tactics designed to deny U.S. forces their traditional advantages.

“Air missile defense and long-range fires are the most pressing capability needs,” Horlander said.

The budget, for instance, funds 131 Patriot missile modification kits, upgrades to the Avenger and Stinger air defense systems, 6,000 guided multiple-launch rockets, a 10-year service life extension for 121 expired ATACM surface-to-surface tactical missiles, 88,000 Hydra-70 rockets, 480 war reserve Excalibur precision-guided artillery rounds, and 998 Hellfire missiles.

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years
(Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. John Portela)

The Army also seeks funds to overhaul and modernize the Holston ammunition plant in Tennessee. The RDTE request funds next-generations systems such as high-energy lasers. These are the type of weapons that will “enable the Army to retain advantage against advanced adversaries and address a broader range of threats, as well as deter or defeat near-peer adversaries,” said Horlander.

To fund a surge of missiles and munitions production, the Army has had to make tradeoffs. It cut Abrams modernization from 60 tanks last year to 20 in 2018. And aviation spending — helicopters and drones — drops from $5.2 billion last year to $4.5 billion.

Aircraft procurement dropped while missiles, tracked vehicles, and other weapons rose.

The major target of all these new munitions is the Russians, and the Army plans to continue spending big bucks on the European Reassurance Initiative, started by the Obama administration to shore up U.S. allies against an increasingly aggressive Russian posture. The 2018 OCO budget seeks $3.2 billion for ERI, a $400 million bump. The money would fund rotations of Army forces, including a full armored brigade, a combat aviation brigade, a divisional mission command element and logistics support units.

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years
The Army’s budget is aimed in part at bolstering defenses against Russia.

The ERI and overall military support of European allies has become a rising concern on Capitol Hill. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry has directed thePentagon to study the cost of stationing Army brigades in Eastern Europe permanently, as opposed to rotating units there. “I’m not convinced it’s cheaper to rotate,” Thornberry said yesterday at the Brookings Institution. Rotations also create huge burdens on families, he said. Director of Force Structure, Resources and Assessment on the Joint Staff Lt. Gen. Anthony R. Ierardisaid the Pentagon has not begun to study that yet. “These are important questions we need to answer regarding ERI and our support of European allies,” he told me.

A growing concern going forward is how the Army will manage the elephant in its budget: its personnel account that continues to drain resources from everywhere else. With help fromCongress last year, the Army grew the active-duty ranks from 450,000 to 476,000. The addition of 26,000 troops inflates personnel costs by $2.8 billion per year. The kind of buildup that Trump has floated would bring 50,000 more soldiers into the force.

How would the Army cope financially? That’s a discussion now underway, said Horlander. After a strategic review is completed this summer, “we’ll have more information on what the true size of the force should be.”

Articles

13 funniest military memes for the week of June 16

Military memes are like digital morale, and we have collected the most potent 13 from this week for your pleasure.


1. Definitely going to get made fun of on the ship for that one (via Sh-t my LPO says).

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years
Gonna be especially tough when you get sent to different ships.

2. The Army does not know how to party (via ASMDSS).

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years
Soldiers do, but not the Army.

ALSO SEE: The US Navy might pull these old combat ships out of mothballs

3. In the end, only the DD-214 remains.

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years
At least you get to cover your truck in Eagles, Globes, and Anchors.

4. This is why socialized pay in the military is so weird:

(via Coast Guard Memes)

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years
Remember, future enlistees, E3 pay is E3 pay is E3 pay.

5. All this for a Camaro (via Team Non-Rec).

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years
A Camaro you can’t even drive when you’re stuck out at sea.

6. Double points when they want to talk about morale (via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting).

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years

7. “Keep on firing, buddy. I’m behind cover and my guardian angel is 3… 2… 1…” (via Weapons of Meme Destruction)

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years
BOOM!

8. Peace. Out. (Via Lost in the Sauce)

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years
Find someone else to fight your war. I’m headed to college and stuff.

9. Turns out, the camouflage works better than anyone predicted (via Sh-t my LPO says).

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years
This guy won the dirtbag, shammer, and hide and seek championships for this year. Triple crown!

10. All about the Benjamins, baby (via The Salty Soldier).

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years
The answer is no. Thanks for the money.

11. Chiefs will avoid it at all costs (via Decelerate Your Life).

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years
They’ll go so far as swim PT just to avoid it.

12. Just remember to bring something to use in exchange (via Decelerate Your Life).

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years
The supply bubbas know how to get what’s theirs.

13. He can’t help you now, staff sergeant (via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting).

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years
College and the civilian job market don’t look so scary right before another NTC rotation.

Articles

North Korea just tried to show how it would ‘take on’ the US Navy

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, presided over the launch of a new anti-ship cruise missile system on June 8 in Wonsan, on North Korea’s east coast. And though the missiles performed well and struck their target, it was a pretty weak showing.


The missiles flew about 125 miles, South Korea said, and fired from tracked launchers with forest camouflage. The missiles themselves were not new, according to The Diplomat, but they showed off a new launcher that can fire from hidden, off-road locations within moments of being set up.

But those are about the only nice things you could say about these missiles.

In the photos released by North Korean media, it’s clear the missiles are striking a ship that isn’t moving.

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years
The ship appears anchored, with no wake. Photo by Rodong Sinmun

In a combat situation, the ships would move and take countermeasures. For the US, South Korean, and Japanese navies, that often means firing an interceptor missile.

North Korea also lacks the ability to support these missiles with accurate guidance. The US would use planes, drones, or even undersea platforms to observe and track a target.

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years
Photo by Rodong Sinmun

North Korea waited to test these missiles until two US aircraft carrier strike groups armed to the teeth with missile defense capabilities left its shores, perhaps to avoid embarrassment should the US knock them down.

Unlike its practice with ballistic-missile tests, which are banned under international law, the US did not publicly comment on this launch. North Korea is well within its rights to test a cruise missile in international waters.

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years
Photo by Rodong Sinmun

But despite the rudimentary technology used in the launch, North Korea did show that it poses a real threat. Not only do the missile launchers leverage the element of surprise, but they represent yet another new missile capability.

In a few short months, North Korea has demonstrated a range of capabilities that has surprised experts and military observers. Though the missiles don’t pose a threat to the US Navy, Kim showed he’s serious about fighting on all fronts.

Articles

Boeing unveils commercial for Eagle 2040C


The F-15C has a very enviable combat record. Aviation historian Joe Baugher notes that during Operation Desert Storm, United States Air Force F-15s scored 36 kills in air-to-air combat.

The Royal Saudi Air Force notched two more kills with the F-15, and Israel has a number of kills with this plane as well.

Related: The real purpose behind China’s mysterious J-20 combat jet

But at the same time, the F-15 has been facing increasingly better competition. Perhaps the most notable is the from the Flanker family of aircraft (Su-27/Su-30/Su-33/Su-34/Su-35/J-11/J-15/J-16), which has been receiving upgrades over the years.

Boeing, though, hasn’t been standing still, even as it lost the Joint Strike Fighter competition. Instead, it has been pursuing F-15 upgrades.

The Eagle 2040C is one for the F-15C air-superiority fighter, which has been asked to continue soldiering on with the termination of F-22 production after 187 airframes.

In the video, one of the planes is seen carrying 16 AIM-120 AMMRAAMs — enough to splash an entire squadron of enemy planes! (“You get an AMRAAM! You get an AMRAAM! EVERYONE gets an AMRAAM!” a la Oprah)

Check out Boeing’s Eagle 2040C video above. Seems like they missed an opportunity for one hell of a Super Bowl commercial.

 

MIGHTY TRENDING

After 16 years, family of fallen soldier presented with his Distinguished Service Cross

Hundreds of 3rd Infantry Division soldiers, Army veterans, Pittsburgh-area officials, and Army leaders recognized U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Stevon A. Booker for his heroism April 5, 2019 — 16 years to the day after he was killed in action while serving in Iraq.

Booker’s mother and sister were presented with the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second highest award for valor, during a ceremony at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood — near the University of Pittsburgh — as family, fellow soldiers, city officials and veterans watched.

“I am so honored … I am so proud of all my son accomplished,” said Freddie Jackson, Booker’s mother. “I didn’t realize how much my son did and how he inspired other people. Steve died for his country, not just for the Booker Family,” she said.


Booker died on April 5, 2003, while serving as a tank commander with Company A, 1st Battalion, 64th Armor of the 3rd Infantry Division. The 34-year-old Apollo, Penn., native was killed in action near Baghdad while serving in Iraq during the “Thunder Run” mission as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Booker attended Apollo-Ridge High School, near Pittsburgh, and enlisted in the Army in June 1987, at age 19, shortly after his high school graduation. He was promoted to Army staff sergeant in February 2001 and deployed in March 2003 to Iraq.

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson, left, deputy commanding general of Forces Command, speaks in Pittsburgh’s Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum, during the presentation of the Distinguished Service Cross to Freddie Jackson, right, the mother of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Stevon A. Booker for his 2003 heroism while serving in Iraq.

(Photo by Mr. Paul Boyce)

“We’re here to honor his service, his sacrifice and his heroism … as well as his Family” said U.S. Army Forces Command Deputy Commanding General Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson. “He gave his life for something bigger than himself; he gave his life for others. He’s a Pittsburgh hero, an Army hero and an American hero.”

Richardson attended Friday’s ceremony along with 3rd Infantry Division Commanding General Maj. Gen. Leopoldo Quintas, 3rd Infantry Division soldiers, the 3rd Infantry Division Band and two retired Army generals. Army and Air Force cadets from the University of Pittsburgh’s Reserve Officer Training Corps program participated and attended as well.

Veterans of Booker’s unit also travelled from across the United States to attend the medal-presentation ceremony, organized by the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry Division, based in Fort Stewart, Ga. The Army ceremony honored Booker for his heroic actions, personal dedication, and commitment to his fellow soldiers.

Booker’s platoon led a task force on April 5, 2003, along Highway 8 towards Bagdad International Airport. About 1.2 miles after the line of departure, the platoon came under heavy small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire from enemy forces. Booker immediately communicated the situation to his chain of command, encouraged his crew, and returned fire with his tank-mounted machinegun.

“When both his and his crew’s machineguns malfunctioned, Booker, with total disregard for his personal safety, exposed himself by lying in a prone position on top of the tank’s turret and accurately engaged the enemy forces with his personal weapon,” according to the award’s summary. “While exposed, he effectively protected his platoon’s flank and delivered accurate information to his command during a critical and vulnerable point of the battle.”

This 92-year-old WWII vet gets to fly her favorite plane again after 70 years

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Stevon A. Booker.

(Facebook)

Booker’s “fearless attitude and excitement over the communications network inspired his platoon to continue the attack and assured them and leadership that they would defeat the enemy and reach their objective safely,” the award’s narrative explains. “As he remained exposed, Booker identified an enemy troop carrier which was attempting to bypass his tank, but within seconds engaged the enemy vehicle and destroyed it prior to the enemy troops dismounting. Along the five-mile route he remained exposed and continued to engage the enemy with accurate rifle fire until he was mortally wounded.”

Army Col. Andrew Hilmes, Booker’s former company commander in Iraq, said the heroic staff sergeant prepared his crew well for that day’s battle. “His ability to train his soldiers saved a lot of lives. Not just his actions on April 5, but the training he put his soldiers through prior to the 5th of April paid off for the unit.”

Booker’s sister echoed their mother’s comments during a media conference attended by Pittsburgh-area news media prior to the awards ceremonies, which included a plaque dedication in the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial’s Hall of Valor. “He’d be very proud. He’d probably be pumping his chest right about now,” said Booker’s sister Kim Talley-Armstead. “It’s a bittersweet moment, but we are extremely proud.”

After giving careful consideration and reviewing the recommendations from the Senior Army Decorations Board, Army officials said, the Secretary of the Army made the determination that Staff Sgt. Booker be awarded the Army Distinguished Service Cross. In recognition of their gallantry, intrepidity and heroism above and beyond the call of duty, 12 soldiers recently received the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second highest award for their valor.

Previously recognized for their bravery by awards of the Silver Star, the Department of Defense upgraded the soldiers’ medals as part of a 2016-2018 comprehensive review of commendations for heroism in Iraq and Afghanistan. Four soldiers are still on active duty; three are posthumous awards; three recipients have since retired and two recipients previously separated from the Army.

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

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