A shoulder to cry on? Service secretaries bemoan lack of progress on the job - We Are The Mighty
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A shoulder to cry on? Service secretaries bemoan lack of progress on the job

In what should not be a surprise to anyone familiar with the current state of Washington, the three service secretaries complained Oct. 24 about how hard it was to get anything done because of the cumbersome Pentagon bureaucracy and Congress’ inability to approve a spending budget on time.


In a forum sponsored by the Center for a New American Security in D.C., Air Force Sec. Deborah Lee James said she had been surprised by “how difficult it is to get anything done in Washington, how difficult it is to move your agenda.”

James specifically mentioned the political stalemate in the Congress and “the need to get back to compromise.”

Navy Sec. Ray Mabus said his biggest surprise and frustration was “how slowly the bureaucracy moves, particularly DoD-wide.” If you want to do something, he said, the response is “we have to study this, or you have to do it DoD-wide” instead of letting the individual services act.

Army Sec. Eric Fanning said he was surprised by “how much time that would be spent on the budget every year,” because “we don’t have any stability” in the congressional budget process.

All three of the secretaries said they were trying to take steps within their service to bypass the ponderous procurement process, with James and Fanning citing the rapid capabilities offices their services have established to get gear fielded quicker — even if it wasn’t “a 100 percent solution.”

The procurement system is set up to seek the ultimate solution, which is a problem because the adversary moves quicker, Fanning said.

Mabus endorsed that view and said the Navy has “been doing pilot programs,” to move prospective systems out to the fleet instead of following the lengthy process for a program of record. The idea, he said, “is to get something out faster,” and possibly to “fail faster.”

He cited the Navy’s deployment of an experimental laser defensive weapon system on the USS Ponce in the Persian Gulf, which is influencing decisions on follow-on weapons.

James said the advice she would offer her successor in the next administration would be to spend less time on review and oversight on smaller programs so the acquisition specialists could have more time for the biggest programs.

The three secretaries, who would be expected to leave office when a new president and defense secretary take over next year, said they are involved in a detailed process run by Defense Sec. Ash Carter’s office to prepare briefing papers on programs, budget and personnel issues for their successors.

The secretaries were introduced by Michele Flournoy, CEO of CNAS, who is widely rumored to be the next defense secretary if Hillary Clinton becomes president.

The three officials insisted that their services were ready to fight the current battles against violent extremists, such as ISIL, but said they were concerned about their ability to prepare those forces for a future fight against a high-end adversary due to the uncertain and constrained defense budgets, the intense pace of operations and reductions in their force levels.

Among the emerging threats they were trying to prepare for, the secretaries cited cyber attacks from high-end rivals such as Russia, and armed unmanned aerial vehicles, which already are showing up in Iraq.

James noted the explosive loaded UAV that killed three Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in Iraq recently. And she said the Air Force detected an “unmanned system in the vicinity” of its deployed forces and “was able to bring it down with electronic means” rather than shooting it down. She declined to say how that was done.

Asked if they would be able to conduct a “no-fly zone” over rebel-held areas of Syria, which some have advocated, James said, “we know how to do this,” but it would require money, people and resources that would have to come from other commitments.

But because the Air Force would be supported by the Navy and perhaps coalition partners, “I have to believe we would figure out how to do it,” she said

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia is trying to get an edge on NATO as it stokes Ukraine

A confrontation between Russian and Ukrainian ships in the Black Sea in November 2018 ended with Ukraine’s ships seized and its sailors jailed.

It was the first direct clash between Moscow and Kiev in years, and it stoked tensions that have been elevated for years, especially after Russia intervened in Ukraine in 2014 and seized the Crimean Peninsula and then backed separatist movements along Ukraine’s eastern border.

The Nov. 25, 2018 clash took place in the Kerch Strait, which divides Crimea and mainland Russia and connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov. Photos show Russia appears to have struck one of the Ukrainian ships with a heavy weapon, such as a 30mm gun or missile.


Since claiming Crimea, Russia has taken a more aggressive stance toward the Sea of Azov, declaring invalid a 2003 agreement in which Moscow and Kiev agreed to share the body of water.

In 2015, Russia began construction of a bridge over the Kerch Strait. The sea is already the world’s shallowest, no deeper than 50 feet, and the height of the bridge further restricted the size of ships that could pass through.

Russia has also interfered with Ukrainian shipping in the area and at times closed the strait completely — all of which is particularly challenging for Ukraine, which has major ports on the Sea of Azov.

Ukraine and Russia have both pursued a military buildup in the area, but Russia has more forces and their activity has been more substantial.

A shoulder to cry on? Service secretaries bemoan lack of progress on the job

US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Ross, background, conducts an underway exercise with the Ukrainian navy.

Moscow’s moves in the Black Sea region are of a piece of with what it’s been doing throughout Eastern Europe amid heightened tensions with NATO.

‘An arc of A2/AD’

Since 2014, Russia has “built up tremendous amounts of capability” in Crimea, said Omar Lamrani, a senior military analyst at geopolitical-analysis firm Stratfor.

Russian forces in the area now amount to about 30,000 troops and more than 100 combat aircraft, up from dozens that were in the area prior to the takeover, Lamrani said. (In May 2018, 17 Russian planes swarmed a British warship sailing just 30 miles from Crimea.)

“They have now three battalions of S-400s, plus other air-defense systems, like the S-300 [and the] Buk M2,” Lamrani said. Another division of S-400 missiles is on its way to Crimea, where it will be the fourth on duty, according to Russian state media.

“They installed a number of coastal missile-defense batteries” firing weapons like Bastion and Bal cruise missiles, which can strike land and sea targets, Lamrani said. Russian state media also said this week that more Bal and other anti-ship missiles were headed to the Crimean city of Kerch, which overlooks the strait of the same name.

“They have some Iskander missiles they rotate through the area, lots of new artillery systems, lots of new armor,” Lamrani added, referring to Russian short-range, nuclear-capable cruise missiles. “They didn’t really have main battle tanks there before 2014. Now they do.”

Russia sees Crimea as a stronghold from which to pressure Ukraine and assert control over a broader swath of the Black Sea, Lamrani said.

Weapons like the S-400 and coastal-defense systems can be employed as a part of anti-access/area-denial, or A2/AD, strategy, and their presence in Crimea and elsewhere along Russia’s eastern frontiers has garnered attention from NATO.

Russian “A2/AD capability [runs] from the high north through Kaliningrad, down to Crimea and all the way down into [Russia’s] base at Tartus in Syria,” Ben Hodges, who commanded the US Army in Europe before retiring at the end of 2017, told Business Insider at the beginning of November 2018.

The S-400, considered Russia’s most advanced air-defense system, is also deployed in Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea and near Latakia on the Syrian coast. The S-300, which is older but still highly capable, has been deployed in the region, including in the breakaway Georgian province of Abkhazia, which borders the Black Sea.

“There are varying degrees of capabilities” at each of those sites, Hodges added, “but the one in Kaliningrad and the one in Crimea are the most substantial, with air- and missile-defense and anti-ship missiles and several thousands of troops” from Russia’s army, navy, and air force. “That’s part of creating an arc of A2/AD, if you will.”

A shoulder to cry on? Service secretaries bemoan lack of progress on the job

Russia S-400 air-defense systems in Syria.

(Russian Defense Ministry)

Russian moves around the Black Sea were particularly worrisome, Hodges said, comparing the seizure of Crimea and subsequent territorial claims in the Black Sea to China’s claims and island construction in the South China Sea.

Some of the NATO members bordering the sea, like Romania and Bulgaria, don’t have a major naval presence there, but Turkey would likely prevent Russia from having free reign in the sea.

With the vantage point provided by Crimea, Russian combat aircraft and land-based weapons systems like the S-400 and Bal missiles can extend their reach hundreds of miles into and over the Black Sea.

“They can effectively support their navy with an umbrella defense of surface-to-air missiles and anti-ship missile systems that can keep NATO away in case of any threat,” Lamrani said.

A2/AD systems could provide similar defense in a place like Kaliningrad, which has Russia’s only year-round, ice-free Baltic Sea port and is close to St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city. In western Syria, where Russian S-400 systems have already been deployed, US-led coalition forces have worked hard to avoid Russian airspace.

A shoulder to cry on? Service secretaries bemoan lack of progress on the job

Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) flagship HMS Duncan, arrives to the harbor in Constanta, Romania, Feb. 2, 2018.

(NATO / CPO FRA C.Valverde)

‘Alive to these challenges’

Russian forces are outstripped by NATO as a whole, and an all-out Russian attack on another country is considered unlikely.

But concern has grown that Russian A2/AD in areas like eastern Syria or the Baltic and Black seas could create layered defensive bubbles and limit NATO’s freedom of movement — especially in an engagement below the threshold of war.

In the decades since the Cold War, NATO members also shifted their attention away from a potential conflict with a peer or near-peer foe, focusing instead on smaller-scale operations like counterterrorism. (The US and others have started to reverse this shift.)

“There’s been decline in … investments rather in this type of warfare, as NATO attention has shifted to other priorities,” Lamrani said of A2/AD.

But, he noted, Russia has pursued the mismatch to compensate for a weakness.

“Russia is stronger than NATO in air defenses and stronger than NATO in land-based anti-ship missile systems, as well as anti-missile systems in general,” Lamrani said. “That came out of Russia trying to mitigate its disadvantages in other areas. For instance, NATO naval forces are much stronger than Russia, and NATO air power as a whole is much stronger than Russia.”

Advanced stealth platforms, like the US-made F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, are seen as potential counters to A2/AD systems. And other assets, like the Navy’s EA-18G Growler electronic-attack aircraft, could help thwart them.

But it’s not clear those resources are available in the numbers needed to do so, nor is it likely such an engagement could be conducted without heavy losses.

Nevertheless, while Russia may find an advantage within the specific area of A2/AD, Lamrani said, “that doesn’t mean that NATO hasn’t been developing its own capabilities in other areas [and it] doesn’t mean that NATO hasn’t been thinking about this type of stuff.”

“Let’s just say the alliance is alive to these challenges, and it … will be prepared to use all the different things that would be required,” Hodges said in early November, without elaborating. “This is not something … the alliance has not looked at very closely.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Taliban claims roadside bomb that killed 4 Americans in Afghanistan

Three U.S. service members and an American contractor have been killed in a roadside bombing near the main U.S. air base in Afghanistan, U.S. forces in Afghanistan said on April 8, 2019.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

The U.S. and NATO Resolute Support mission said in a statement the four Americans were killed on April 8, 2019, near the Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul.


A shoulder to cry on? Service secretaries bemoan lack of progress on the job

A CH-47 Chinook helicopter flies over Kabul, Afghanistan, June 4, 2007.

(DoD photo by Cherie A. Thurlby)

Three American soldiers were wounded in the blast and are receiving medical treatment, the statement also said.

It said that the name of the service members killed in action are being withheld until 24 hours after notification of next of kin, in accordance with U.S. Department of Defense policy.

The Taliban said a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden car near the NATO base in Bagram district, in the Parwan Province.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says

A $16 billion effort to give veterans lifetime electronic health records that meshed with the Pentagon’s has been marked by repeated delays and oversight failures that could have put patients at risk, according to reports from the VA Inspector General.

The IG reports released Monday detailed confusion in the overall implementation of the plan and failures to train staff and put in place adequate equipment for the pilot program, such as new laptops.


The first IG report, titled “Deficiencies in Infrastructure Readiness for Deploying VA’s New Electronic Health Record [EHR] System,” looked at how the Department of Veterans Affairs went about implementing the initial billion, 10-year contract with Cerner Corp. of Kansas.

The VA now estimates that the contract, awarded in May 2018 by then-Acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie without competitive bidding, will now cost at least another billion for management and equipment.

The second report focused on delays and failures in the pilot program, even after it was scaled back from three test sites to one at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Spokane, Washington.

One of the main findings of the second report was that patient safety at the Spokane facility could have been put at risk due to poor preparation for the planned switchover to the Cerner system in the pilot program.

The IG’s report found that the VA and the Spokane leadership failed to hire and train adequate staff to handle the transition, and overlooked the impact on how the hospital would continue to function while the inevitable kinks in the system were worked out.

“For example, online prescription refills, the most popular form for refilling prescriptions at the facility, was identified as a capability that would be absent when going live,” the IG’s report said of the pilot program at the Mann-Grandstaff VAMC. “The OIG determined that the multiple work-arounds needed to address the removal of an online prescription refill process presents a patient safety risk.”

In addition, the IG found that the VA’s expanded program to allow veterans to choose community care — made policy by the Mission Act of 2018 — had suffered as the Spokane facility focused on the switchover to EHR.

“The OIG identified that facility leaders addressed recent in-house access to care challenges within primary care, but a significant backlog of 21,155 care in the community consults remained as of January 9, 2020,” the report said.

Outrage on the Hill

In May 2019, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie identified the transition to EHR as one of his top priorities, noting its potential “to change the way our veterans are treated, but also change the way we do business, to make the delivery of our services more efficient, make it more timely.”

In that same month, then-acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan took a beating during a hearing of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee when he projected a possible four-year delay in implementing the transition.

“I don’t ever recall being as outraged about an issue than I am about the electronic health record program,” Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, told Shanahan.

“For 10 years we’ve heard the same assurances” that the electronic health records problem will be solved, Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Kentucky, said. “It’s incredible that we can’t get this fixed.”

Veterans were suffering “because of bureaucratic crap,” he added.

Over the years, previous attempts to mesh the EHR systems of the VA and DoD have either failed or been abandoned, most recently in 2013 when then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki dropped an integration plan after a four-year effort and about id=”listicle-2645875913″ billion spent.

The goal of the new effort to integrate the records was to overcome the track record of failure by the VA and the DoD to meet a congressional mandate to bring their separate medical records systems in line with one another, ensuring a seamless transition for service members to civilian life.

In its overview of the VA’s latest attempt, the IG report noted that “there are tremendous costs and challenges associated with this effort.”

The Merger

Under the current plan the VA’s legacy information system — Veterans Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) — would be replaced by Cerner’s commercial off-the-shelf solution called “Millennium.”

The plan was to have VA’s Millenium mesh with DoD’s electronic health record system — Military Health System (MHS) GENESIS — which at its core also consists of Cerner’s Millennium, the IG report said.

The ultimate connection of VA and DoD’s electronic health records “will result in a comprehensive, lifetime health record for service members,” the report said, improving health outcomes by giving providers more complete information.

However, the indefinite hold put on the pilot program in Spokane underlines the huge challenges ahead in implementing the transition as the nation seeks to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, the IG said.

The report found widespread failure in VA’s preparations to start up the new system in Spokane.

“The lack of important upgrades jeopardizes VA’s ability to properly deploy the new electronic health record system and increases risks of delays to the overall schedule,” the report said. “Until modifications are complete, many aspects of the physical infrastructure existing in the telecommunications rooms [such as cabling] and data center do not meet national industry standards or VA’s internal requirements.”

The VA’s response essentially concurred with the findings and recommendations of the IG’s overview and the separate report on the pilot program in Spokane.

In his response, Dr. Richard Stone, executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration, said that the VA was working to correct the problems with infrastructure and staffing noted by the IG.

“I appreciate the concerns regarding mitigation strategies and capabilities of the new electronic health records [EHR] system,” Stone said.

He said that as the target date was approaching for the launch of the pilot program in Spokane, “Secretary Wilkie received feedback from clinical and technical staff.”

“He decided to postpone the Go-Live so that the system can provide the greatest functionality at Go-Live and VHA staff are confident in providing care with the new system with the least mitigation strategies,” Stone said.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Marines want its own cheap light attack aircraft

The Senate Armed Services Committee has set aside millions for light attack aircraft, but this time not solely for the U.S. Air Force.

In its version of the fiscal 2019 budget markup, the committee announced in May 2018, it wants to give $100 million to the Marine Corps to procure light attack aircraft such as the AT-6 Wolverine to boost lower-cost aviation support. The version passed the committee with a vote of 25-2. It heads for a full Senate vote in coming weeks.

Is the Marine Corps ready for it? It’s unclear.

“The Marine Corps continues to monitor the Air Force-led Light Attack Experiment to procure a cost-effective, observation and attack (OA-X) air platform for employment in permissive environments, with the intent to employ such an asset as a joint force capability,” said Capt Christopher Harrison of the Office of Marine Corps Communication at the Pentagon.

“The SASC’s decision to authorize $100 million for a light attack platform is only reflected in a policy bill,” Harrison said in an email on June 1, 2018.

“Nothing has been appropriated to this program yet,” he said.

But some experts say investing in light attack, though not the stealthiest or best equipped aircraft category, is not an entirely improbable idea.

“I’m not sure the Marines themselves saw the need for this, but light attack is very popular in Congress right now,” said Richard Aboulafia, vice president and analyst at the Teal Group.

“I think there’s a strong case for the Marines, or the Air Force, or both, having a few dozen light attack planes, if only for joint training and even combat missions with allied militaries in much poorer nations,” Aboulafia told Military.com on May 30, 2018.

A shoulder to cry on? Service secretaries bemoan lack of progress on the job
F-22 Raptor

Lawmakers and a few Pentagon officials have made the case for light attack — especially in the context of the Air Force’s ongoing experiment with light attack platforms — saying the smaller planes could come in handy to offset the cost to taxpayers to put a few fifth-generation fighters in the air, sometimes in support of missions for which the advanced jets are far overqualified.

For example, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson reiterated it is silly to use a stealth fighter like the F-22 Raptor to take on Taliban drug labs. In November, the Raptor made its combat debut in Afghanistan, targeting suspected narcotics facilities in the country with small-diameter bombs.”We should not be using an F-22 to destroy a narcotics factory,” Wilson said, echoing previous statements she has made on the topic.


Light attack aircraft in that role would be more sensible, she said.

For the correct mission set, light attack makes sense for any service, Aboulafia argued. But purchasing an entire fleet, he said, would be unjustifiable, since the aircraft’s warfighting capabilities are significantly limited, and best suited to low-risk missions and training with allies and partners.

“The idea of buying hundreds of these planes is completely dysfunctional,” he said.

“What kind of scenario would call for that? It postulates a giant failed state, or series of failed states, where the U.S. is compelled to intervene, and yet there’s absolutely no air-to-air and only a minimal ground-to-air threat,” Aboulafia said.

A shoulder to cry on? Service secretaries bemoan lack of progress on the job
An A-29 Super Tucano
(U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Eydie Sakura)


He added, “If there’s either of those, this type of plane is a great way to kill pilots. And if this giant, under-armed failed-state intervention doesn’t materialize, the military is stuck with hundreds of planes that have zero relevance to any other kind of strategic contingency.”

While it seems the Marine Corps has time before it makes a decision on how it can or will proceed, the Air Force is currently in the middle of choosing a future light attack platform.

The Air Force selected two aircraft — Textron Aviation AT-6 Wolverine and the Sierra Nevada/Embraer A-29 Super Tucano — to undergo more demonstration fly-offs, among other exercises, at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. The demonstrations began May 7, 2018, and will run through July 2018, with the secretary herself expected to fly either or both aircraft at Holloman.The Senate Armed Services Committee, in its fiscal 2019 proposal, added $350 million to procure a future light attack aircraft.

The A-29 — used by the Afghan air force in its offensive against the Taliban — is being pitted against the Wolverine, which is already used to train both Air Force and Navy student pilots.

During a phone call with reporters in recent weeks, an industry source said on background that an Air Force request for proposal is anticipated as early as October 2018.

A contract award for a few hundred planes could be granted as quickly as six months after the RFP publication, he said.

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

VIDEO

Today in military history: FDR approves of the draft

On Sep. 16, 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Selective Service Act, requiring all male Americans between the ages of 26 and 35 to register for the military draft.

Though not yet engaged in the fighting of the second World War, the United States wasn’t taking any chances that the fascist regimes of Europe and Asia didn’t have their sights set on the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.

Things weren’t looking so hot for England, either, so FDR decided to support the British by selling them military equipment and humanitarian assistance. It seemed like it was only a matter of time before England fell and the Axis powers would be looking for new territories to conquer.

That’s when FDR decided to start building up the American Armed Forces. 

Requirements for registration varied over the decades, ranging from eligible age ranges beginning at 21 and eventually lowering to age 18.

The Selective Service Act of 1917 reframed the process, outlawing clauses like purchasing and expanding upon deferments. Military service was something that, voluntary or not, living generations had in common.

While many people in America were hesitant to fight some European war at the time, the draft wasn’t really necessary in the end. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, American men were lining up to give the military all the manpower it needed.

During the Vietnam War, however, the draft could mean a death sentence in a conflict America was divided over. Coming of age doesn’t come close to holding the same meaning as it did for the nearly 72 million “baby boomers” born into the Vietnam era draft. In fact, draftees accounted for 30.4% (17,725) of combat deaths in Vietnam.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Trump seems to be why Kim Jong Un went to China

Kim Jong Un’s March 2018 visit to China may have been motivated by US President Donald Trump.


The visit — Kim’s first trip outside North Korea since becoming leader in 2011 — came just weeks after Trump agreed to face-to-face talks, for which President Xi Jinping may be able to help Kim prepare.

Lowell Dittmer, a political scientist at University of California Berkeley, told Business Insider that from North Korea’s perspective, China can give Kim crucial insight into the US administration.

Also read: Kim Jong Un received a South Korean delegation for the first time

“Kim Jong Un wants two things: to request a reduction of China’s sanctions enforcement, and advice about how to handle Trump, especially if he gets tough,” Dittner said.

A shoulder to cry on? Service secretaries bemoan lack of progress on the job
Kim Jong Un and Xi Jinping. (Xinhua News)

And China knows well how to impress the Trump. The US president showered China and Xi with praise after the country quite literally rolled out the red carpet for Trump during a carefully-orchestrated and extravagant “state visit-plus” in November 2017.

Trump has been known to respond well to flattery and personal attention, which North Korea may use in its bilateral negotiations.

Related: Kim Jong Un received a South Korean delegation for the first time

China is also potentially being previewed as a potential venue for the historic talks between the leaders, who have not been quiet about their distaste for one another.

Although President Trump has scaled back on his insults against Kim in preparation for the historic talks, Trump has previously referred to Kim as a “little rocket man” and has considered preemptive strikes against the country.

Besides tough talk, Kim is likely concerned about Trump’s style as a negotiator, which has been criticized as “amateur” in the past. Trump has also had some awkward and tense encounters with global leaders in the past, which may explain why Kim could have turned to China for advice on how to handle the US leader.

Articles

13 steps to putting U.S. Navy warheads on ISIS foreheads

We see a lot of FLIR footage showing bad guys blowing up, but what really goes into schwacking ISIS on a regular and persistent basis?  Here’s a quick look at the life of a bomb from birth to boom.


1. After the bomb is manufactured it is trucked to a military ammo depot.

A shoulder to cry on? Service secretaries bemoan lack of progress on the job

2. When the aircraft carrier is ready to go to sea, it loads some of the ordnance — tailored for the planned mission — pierside.

A shoulder to cry on? Service secretaries bemoan lack of progress on the job
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

3. The rest of it is loaded closer to the war zone using underway replenishment.

A shoulder to cry on? Service secretaries bemoan lack of progress on the job
USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) in the middle of an ammo onload (using both vertrep and unrep). (Photo: U.S. Navy)

4. As the aviators plan the strikes in the carrier’s intelligence center, the “ordies” in the magazine many decks below build the bombs they’ve requested, adding the appropriate fin kits and fuses to the bodies of the weapons.

A shoulder to cry on? Service secretaries bemoan lack of progress on the job
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

5. Once built, the bombs are wheeled to the ordnance elevator and taken up to the hangar bay.

A shoulder to cry on? Service secretaries bemoan lack of progress on the job
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

6. The bombs are inventoried and then taken to the flight deck and staged behind the carrier’s island.

A shoulder to cry on? Service secretaries bemoan lack of progress on the job
(U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Stephen Early)

7. As launch time approaches, squadron ordies wheel the ordnance to their jets.

A shoulder to cry on? Service secretaries bemoan lack of progress on the job
(Photo: U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Kelly M. Agee)

8. Bombs are uploaded onto the airplane’s weapons racks using good ol’ fashioned muscle power.

A shoulder to cry on? Service secretaries bemoan lack of progress on the job
(Photo: U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tim D. Godbee)

9. Aircrew check with the ordies to make sure everything’s good-to-go before cranking the jets up for launch.

A shoulder to cry on? Service secretaries bemoan lack of progress on the job
Cmdr. Chad Vincelette, executive officer of the Swordsmen of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 32, speaks with an aviation ordnanceman aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) before his flight to support Operation Enduring Freedom. (Photo: U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kilho Park)

10. Once the jet is positioned on the catapult for launch, pilots show their hands above the canopy rail while ordies pull the arming pins.

A shoulder to cry on? Service secretaries bemoan lack of progress on the job
Ordie pulls the pin arming a laser Maverick hanging from an F/A-18 Super Hornet. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

11. Launch ’em!

A shoulder to cry on? Service secretaries bemoan lack of progress on the job

12. “Pickle, pickle, pickle . . .”

A shoulder to cry on? Service secretaries bemoan lack of progress on the job
An F/A-18C (also loaded with Sidewinder and AMRAAM air-to-air missiles and HARM anti radar missiles) dropping a 1,000-pound bomb. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

13. Special delivery for Mr. ISIS!

A shoulder to cry on? Service secretaries bemoan lack of progress on the job

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Navy won’t let recruits’ families go to their graduation ceremony because of coronavirus fears

The US Navy will prohibit all guests, including family members, from attending the graduation ceremony for recruits in Great Lakes, Illinois, due to concerns over the coronavirus.


The Navy will “suspend guest attendance at graduation ceremonies to prevent any potential spread of COVID 19 to either Sailors of Navy families,” Navy Recruit Training Command (RTC) said in a statement, using the abbreviation for coronavirus disease 19.

A shoulder to cry on? Service secretaries bemoan lack of progress on the job

The new directive is scheduled to begin on March 13. Guests will be able to view the graduation on a livestream on the command’s Facebook page instead of attending the ceremony in person. The Navy said it will continue to monitor to situation to determine when to lift the ban.

The Navy added that there were no confirmed cases of the coronavirus among its recruits and that incoming recruits will be screened on arrival.

The US Army implemented similar measures to screen its recruits. Army recruits will have their temperatures taken and will be asked if they are experiencing other flu-like symptoms, including coughing, sore throat, and fatigue.

“This action is being taken out of an abundance of caution, to both ensure the welfare of Sailors and that RTC can continue its essential mission of producing basically trained Sailors,” RTC said in its statement. “Recruits impacted by this change are being authorized to call home to directly inform their loved ones.”

Off-base outings, which are granted for the new recruits who spent eight weeks in training, will also be cancelled. The recruits will instead “report directly to their follow-on assignments,” which will likely entail training for their individual occupational specialties.

The Navy has implemented other measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The US Navy’s 6th and 7th fleets, responsible for European and Asia-Pacific waters, respectively, imposed a 14-day quarantine on ships between port calls in their regions.

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

Articles

The ‘combat diaper’ is getting a sleek upgrade

The Army’s new body armor designs — slated for fielding in 2019 — include a new protector for soldiers’ most sensitive parts. The harness system protects the femoral arteries, pelvis, and lower abdomen.


A shoulder to cry on? Service secretaries bemoan lack of progress on the job
A soldier wears the Blast Pelvic Protector, a replacement for the Protective Under Garment and Protective Outer Garment. (Photo: David Kamm)

The Blast Pelvic Protector will replace the Protective Outer Garment and Protective Under Garment, a two-piece system known as the “combat diaper” that was infamous for the chafing it caused in sensitive areas.

The POG and PUG have other issues besides causing chafing.

“The protection that existed before was letting debris in because it wasn’t fitted close enough to the body,” Cara Tuttle, an Army clothing designer and design lead for the harness said in a press release. “Soldiers weren’t wearing it often enough, and it didn’t come down inside of the leg to protect the femoral artery.”

A shoulder to cry on? Service secretaries bemoan lack of progress on the job
The Blast Pelvic Protector is an outer garment that provides increased protection from IED blasts and is more comfortable than current protection. (Photo: David Kamm)

Surgeons then had to attempt to remove as many small particles from wounded soldiers as they could, increasing the chances of an infection or other complications from surgery.

The new Blast Pelvic Protector covers troops from the waist, down the inner thighs, and around the back to the buttocks. This allows it to guard most of the vulnerable soft tissue in the thighs and provides much more protection for the arteries. Overlapping layers make the fabric protection very effective.

“A layer overlaps in one direction, then the next layer overlaps in the opposite direction, and it keeps alternating,” Tuttle said. “This creates a better barrier for small [debris fragments], which would have to zig-zag through all these layers to get through.”

And the BPP was designed for combat operations.

A series of buckles along the outside of the thighs and a waist strap hold the device in place while providing freedom of movement. Hopefully, the system will also do away with the discomfort of the combat diaper.

Articles

Russia giving Assad Regime advanced strike aircraft

A shoulder to cry on? Service secretaries bemoan lack of progress on the job
Russian SU-24M2. (Photo: Toshi Aoki)


The Syrian Air Force is getting ten new Su-24M2 “Fencer D” all-weather strike aircraft, courtesy of Vladimir Putin. The regime of Bashir al-Assad received two right away, with the other eight coming soon. As a result, the Syrians gain a very capable weapon for use against ISIS or moderate rebels supported by the United States.

The Su-24M2 is the latest version of a plane that first took flight in 1967 – and it has been in service since 1974. The Fencer, comparable to the General Dynamics F-111, was designed to deliver over 17,600 pounds of bombs on target any time of day – or night – and in good weather, bad weather, or any in between. Su-24s are fast (a top speed of just over 1,000 miles per hour) and can reach deep into enemy territory (a combat radius of about 400 miles). The plane has seen action in the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, the Iran-Iraq War, over Lebanon, Desert Storm, civil wars in Tajikistan, Libya, and Afghanistan, the South Ossetia war, and the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

The Su-24M2, which first flew in 2001, adds the capability to fire the AS-17 Krypton anti-radar missile, the AA-11 Archer, and the KAB-500Kr television-guided bombs. The plane also received a more advanced “glass cockpit” with new multi-function displays (MFD), GLONASS (Russia’s knockoff of the Global Positioning System), a new heads-up display (HUD), and a helmet-mounted sight, allowing it to use the Archer to its maximum effectiveness.

The Soviet Union built over 1,400 Su-24s from 1967 to 1993. That 26-year production run alone is quite impressive. So was its wide exportation to a number of countries in the Middle East and North Africa, including such responsible regimes like Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Muammar Qaddafi’s Libya, Hafez al-Assad’s Syria, and the Sudan. Yes, all of them state sponsors of terrorism. A bunch of Iraq’s Su-24s made their way to Iran during Desert Storm. (Iraqi pilots preferring the Ayatollah Khameni’s hospitality to getting blown out of the sky by the allied coalition.)

The transfer comes as part of Russia’s military assistance to Assad’s regime. Syria had 22 Su-24s prior to this deal, 21 of which were bombers, one a reconnaissance plane. The Syrians had been upgrading some of their planes to the Su-24M2 standard. Now, they will be getting another ten very advanced deep-penetration bombers.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Russian nuclear sub fires intercontinental missile for first time

Russia’s Defense Ministry says it has test-launched a Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile from its most advanced nuclear-powered submarine for the first time, striking a target thousands of kilometers away.

The ministry said on Oct. 30, 2019, that the missile was fired from an upgraded Borei-class nuclear submarine that was submerged in the White Sea near Arkhangelsk on Russia’s northern coast.

It said the missile carried a dummy payload that reached a test site in Russia’s Far East region of Kamchatka.


Vice Admiral Aleksandr Moiseyev said the upgraded model of the Borei-class submarine is scheduled to enter service with Russia’s Northern Fleet at the end of 2019 once it has completed trials that include weapons tests.

Meet Russia’s latest nuclear-powered Borei-class intercontinental ballistic missile submarine

www.youtube.com

The test comes amid tensions between Moscow and Washington following the demise of a Cold War-era nuclear treaty that has sparked fears of a growing arms race.

Global arms controls set up during the Cold War to keep Washington and Moscow in check have come under strain since the demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which banned the deployment of short- and intermediate-range missiles.

In August 2019, the United States pulled out of the accord.

Washington said Moscow has openly disregarded the conditions of the treaty, a charge that Russia has denied.

The last major nuclear arms control treaty between Russia and the United States, known as the New START treaty, is due to expire in 2021.

Signed in 2010, the New START treaty limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads that the United States and Russia are allowed to deploy.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Navy has 1st coronavirus case on a ship days after family event onboard

A sailor from the amphibious assault ship Boxer is believed to have tested positive for the new coronavirus disease just nine days after military family members visited the ship at sea.


This marks the first coronavirus, or COVID-19, case for a sailor who was aboard a Navy ship. The person is now quarantined at home, Navy officials said in a Sunday night news release. The sailor’s test result for the sometimes-fatal virus is considered presumptive positive, pending confirmation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This will likely be a new challenge for the sea service, since infections and viruses can spread quickly among crew members who live in close quarters. That has been the case for several civilian cruise liners, which has resulted in widespread cancellations for the industry.

A shoulder to cry on? Service secretaries bemoan lack of progress on the job

Sailors and their family members watch an AH-1W Super Cobra, attached to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 267, take off on the flight deck of amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) during a family day cruise (FDC).

(Logan A. Southerland/U.S. Navy)

The San Diego-based Boxer on March 9 held a family day cruise, allowing military families to visit the crew on the ship in the Pacific Ocean, according to official Navy photos. Civilians can be seen riding a Landing Craft Utility vessel into the Boxer’s well deck and standing on the ship’s flight deck observing Marine Corps helicopter takeoffs at sea.

Navy officials did not immediately respond to questions from Military.com about whether one of those family members is believed to have unwittingly exposed the crew member to the coronavirus. It’s not immediately clear how many family members were on the ship as part of the event or how many sailors and Marines were onboard.

Personnel who came in close contact with the sailor have been notified and are in self-isolation in their homes, according to the Navy news release. None of those people are currently onboard the ship.

Military health officials are working to determine whether any additional personnel were at risk of exposure, the release adds.

“Depending on the results of that investigation, additional mitigations may be taken,” it states.

Navy ships are routinely cleaned to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.

“USS Boxer is taking appropriate preventative measures and conducting a thorough cleaning in accordance with specific guidance from the CDC and Navy-Marine Corps Public Health Center,” the release says.

The service closely coordinating with state, federal and public health authorities to ensure the wellbeing of Navy personnel and the local population, officials said.

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

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