“We’re going to keep them until 2021, and then as a discussion that we’ll have with [Defense] Secretary Mattis and the department and the review over all of our budgets, that is what will determine the way ahead,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told Defense News.
The A-10 is pretty well-loved by infantry troops, since the aircraft can lay waste to ground targets with its 30mm cannon and air-to-surface missiles. Its heavy armor also makes it more survivable against incoming ground fire.
The Air Force, however, has been trying to kill the aircraft for years in order to make way for the multi-role F-35 fighter. For now, at least, the service is walking back those moves and is keeping the A-10 around until a suitable ‘A-10-like’ replacement can be found.
“That starts with an understanding of how we do the business today of close air support, because the reality is it’s changed significantly, and it will change significantly in the future if we get this right, because this is something we’ve got to continue to think about,” Goldfein said.
After 10 years and 420,000 tons of steel, and at a devastating cost in lives and renminbi, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge is officially open — and the announcement came by a strangely curt Chinese President Xi Jinping in the port city of Zhuhai.
The opening ceremony was shrouded in some of the trademark confusion that has dogged the megaproject since its inception in 2009, with the big day having only just been announced in late October 2018.
In an unexpected and breathtaking display of brevity, Xi declared the world’s longest sea crossing — a 35-mile (55-kilometer) bridge and underwater tunnel connecting Hong Kong, Macau, and the mainland Chinese port city of Zhuhai — as open with an abrupt two-second speech that, it is fair to say, was not what everyone was expecting.
“I announce the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge is officially open,” Xi said.
With those accurate, though perhaps less-than-memorable words, China’s strongest leader since Mao Zedong caught the 700-strong audience, which included media members and dignitaries, on the hop.
It was an exercise in concision from a president who, almost a year ago to the day, opened the Communist Party congress in Beijing with a granular 3-hour, 23-minute speech summarizing his thoughts on a new era in socialism with Chinese characteristics.
Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Instead, before an audience of top officials including Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng and Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, Xi said his piece at the strategically located port of Zhuhai and left the podium as electronic fireworks flailed about on a television in the background.
As president, general secretary of the Central Committee of China’s Communist Party, and chairman of the Central Military Commission, Xi has quickly and effectively concentrated influence into his sphere.
And Oct. 23, 2018’s event seemed tailor-made for a long-winded reflection on China’s increasingly successful exercise of soft power, its sheer engineering audacity, and the political genius of building a 55-kilometer crossing that continues to grow the mainland’s security apparatus and authority on both the semiautonomous gambling enclave of Macau and the city-state financial powerhouse of Hong Kong.
But in the end, the president perhaps decided to let the massive, looming achievement speak for itself.
It’s all part of the plan
The bridge is part of China’s ambitious “Greater Bay Area Master Plan” to integrate Hong Kong, Macau, and the manufacturing powerhouse Guangdong province’s nine biggest cities to create a combined id=”listicle-2614804819″.5 trillion tech and science hub intended to rival even Silicon Valley.
The 55-kilometer megastructure is a typically intimidating, awe-inspiring, and slightly pointless statement of state authority and universal purpose. It rises from the Sun and Moon Bay in the Zhuhai port like some giant, disoriented concrete serpent, snaking off mercurially into the distance.
The air is very thick too, with southern Chinese humidity and the ever-present eerie gray-brown pollution that wafts in blooms from heavy manufacturing out of the Pearl River Delta — the factory floor of the world — ensuring the megabridge in all its glory will be largely obscured from view year-round.
What it does provide, however, is direct access to both potentially wayward semiautonomous regions, binding the gambling enclave and the city-state tighter to the breast of the motherland. Indeed, it may be the angst of an ever-encroaching China that has tilted the president to such a rare and unexpected pithiness.
Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Site under construction in 2015.
Commentators have been quick to describe the project as a white elephant, noting that the lightly traveled crossing can hardly be a push for convenience but rather another covert expansion by Beijing as it extends its reach back into the supposedly autonomous enclaves of Hong Kong and Macau.
The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge is the second major infrastructure project binding Hong Kong to the mainland opened in just a few weeks, following a new high-speed rail connection that opened in September 2018 — the first time Chinese security were stationed on and bestowed authority in Hong Kong territory.
Certainly, there is anxiety in Hong Kong, with critics fearing the increasing inroads into the special administrative region’s territory by an ever-assertive mainland, while some local media has suggested that drivers on the bridge will be closely scrutinized by cameras that examine even their physical condition and how fatigued a driver is becoming.
The issues of territoriality may dominate the project for years to come; most of the bridge is considered mainland territory and Hong Kong vehicles and drivers, already hit by restricted access, will be traveling under the laws of the mainland, Hong Kong’s transportation department has warned.
“The Hong Kong government is always out of the picture and is under the control of the Chinese government,” the Hongkonger lawmaker Tanya Chan told AFP last week. Construction of the bridge began in 2009 and was targeted for completion two years ago.
According to the South China Morning Post, 10 workers died and 600 were injured in the construction of the typhoon-proof, two-way, six-lane expressway bridge that the government expects to carry 29,100 vehicles and 126,000 single-day passenger trips by 2030.
But for now, the bridge is open to some traffic, including certain buses, freight, and selected permit-holding passenger vehicles.
It’s also a gorgeous trip by ferry.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Marines are heading back to Helmand province, Afghanistan this spring for an advisory mission that will put them back in the thick of the fight between the Taliban and Afghan National Security Forces.
In preparation for the upcoming mission, the 300-man contingent of Marines assigned to Task Force Southwest spent a day honing foreign weapons skills to familiarize themselves with the arms the Afghans use every day. On Jan. 17, the Marines practiced firing two well-known Soviet-era Kalashnikov weapons: the PK general-purpose machine gun and AK-47 rifle, according to a news release from II Marine Expeditionary Force by Sgt. Lucas Hopkins.
Hopkins noted in the release that these weapons are used by both allies and enemies in the region, making it important for the Marines to understand them and their use.
“We want these Marines to familiarize themselves with weapons they might find down range,” Staff Sgt. Patrick R. Scott, the foreign weapons chief instructor with Marine Corps Security Cooperation Group, said in a statement. “They need to be able to talk intelligently about them to their foreign security force, and that’ll help them build rapport and hopefully help them become successful in the long run.”
The weapons course also included live-fire ranges with weapons systems more familiar to Marines: the Mk-19 machine gun and the 60mm mortar.
Before the Marines deploy, they will also train with hired Afghan roleplayers–a mainstay of military cultural training.
“I find it… inspirational that I get to help and be a part of the step that gets Marines back into Afghanistan,” Sgt. Hayden Chrestmen, a machine gun instructor with the Division Combat Skills Center, said in the release “As an Afghanistan veteran, it’s extremely important they know how to operate these weapon systems because they’re protecting their brothers to the left and right of them.”
A United States Navy P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft was buzzed by a Russian Air Force Su-30 Flanker over the Black Sea earlier today. This is the latest in a series of incidents this year in the Black Sea.
According to a report by FoxNews.com, the two-seat multi-role fighter harassed the Navy plane for 24 minutes, including a pass at full afterburner that was roughly 50 feet away. The P-8 was in international airspace at the time of the incident.
The last time such a close encounter took place was this past June. In that incident, an Air Force RC-135 reconnaissance plane was buzzed by a Su-27 Flanker over the Baltic Sea. The Flanker came within five feet of the American plane, the closest of about three dozen close encounters that took place that month.
The incident came over three weeks after U.S. Navy fighters intercepted a pair of Russian Tu-95 Bears 80 miles from the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) as it operated in the Sea of Japan. The Bears were well within range of being able to fire powerful anti-ship weapons like the AS-4 Kitchen.
Russia hasn’t been the only country involved in buzzing American forces. Iranian and Chinese forces have also operated near American forces, in some cases unsafely. In the Persian Gulf, an Iranian drone flew into an aircraft carrier’s landing pattern, nearly causing a mid-air collision with a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet. Chinese J-10 Flounder fighters buzzed a Navy P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft operating in international airspace off Hong Kong earlier this year.
World War 1, or the Great War, was a 20th-century war fought with 19th-century tactics. The result led to the advent of war machines the world had never seen. The fearsome weapons employed sent men to the trenches and created a meat grinder of a conflict. We saw the rise of nerve gas, machine guns, tanks, and submachine guns. We also saw the rise of trench weapons.
Infantrymen at the time were armed with long, bolt-action rifles designed for warfare at a distance. These rifles were clumsy and slow to handle in close quarters combat, and when you were taking a trench, it was nothing but close-quarters combat. Trench weapons started as weapons made by soldiers who were actively fighting in the trenches. Eventually, the military forces caught on and began issuing their own.
These weapons were fielded in various designs by both sides and used to take trenches and eliminate sentries, while offering some degree of protection in the close quarters of the bloody trenches.
The most famous trench weapons of World War 1 were trench knives. Soldiers had bayonets, but they were often more of a short sword than a knife. They proved unwieldy in the tight trenches, and soldiers began making knives meant primarily for fighting in cramped spaces, where stabbing was a more feasible technique than slashing. The Germans, French, Canadians, Americans, and others all eventually had their own versions of the trench knife.
Some were push daggers, sometimes made from stakes used to pin barbed wire down or whatever else a soldier could scrounge up that was sharp and pointy enough. These little blades made it easy to launch yourself into an opponent, deal serious damage, and move on. Eventually, military forces caught up and rushed out knives for soldiers, including the famed American M1917 and Mk 1 trench knife, that could do the same job.
This knife combined brass knuckles with a blade to deliver a brutal dual-purpose weapon for close-quarters use. Speaking of brass knuckles…
Brass knuckles were a popular trench weapon brought into battle by individual Joes. Knuckle dusters have been around forever in one form or another. In the American Civil war, they were a popular choice in the trenches, and that tradition lived on as Americans headed to the fight in Europe.
Brass knuckles, or knuckle dusters in general, we made from a wide variety of materials. They offered an extra sting to your punch that could break bones by focusing the force of your punch into a smaller area. It also offered some degree of protection for the wearer’s hands during a scuffle. Breaking a knuckle in a war zone is never a good time.
You could put them on and basically forget about them. You can still wield a rifle or pistol while wearing them, albeit clumsily. However, when you came over that trench and started swinging the knuckles, some steel reinforcement could save your life.
Clubs, and not the dance type, were used to great effect by trench raiding parties. A club-like weapon is super easy to use and can deliver an extreme amount of damage. It doesn’t require any special training, and you could quickly disable or even kill a soldier with just a swing or two of a club trench weapon.
Soldiers most commonly wielded short, single-handed trench clubs made from everything and anything they could get their hands on. They used clubs as simple as heavy pieces of wood, or as ornate as custom-made maces. Some mixed in nails, bullets, and barbed wire to make their clubs even more effective.
A common adornment to the club was a lanyard to make sure your enemy never took it from you in a fight, and you could hang it from your wrist as you climbed or shot your rifle. In an instant, it can come to your hand for a fight. Similar lanyards can still be found on everything from pocket knives to flashlights used in combat today.
Spears made a bit of a comeback in World War 1 trenches. As the war started, every major force mounted lance men, but the lancemen and cavalry were put down quickly by the Maxim gun, an early recoil-operated machine gun. While lancemen on horseback didn’t prove effective in the Great War, lances and short spears still made an impact in the trenches.
These pole weapons became favored for fending off enemy soldiers who were raiding trenches. The Brits, in particular, utilized pikes to repel attackers from entering the trenches they occupied. Their long reach, lightweight design, and simplistic nature made them handier than even rifles equipped with bayonets.
I imagine this type of trench weapon was perfect for fending off men coming over the top of your trenches. They could slow an assault and allow men to use guns to kill the attack’s momentum.
Tools Turned to Weapons
Finally, soldiers turned their common everyday tools into effective trench weapons out of creativity or sheer desperation. Your basic hand tools could be quite fierce in the trench. A simple Entrenching tool could dig into the dirt but also slam into an enemy’s face with great effect.
Since World War 1 e-tools, as they tend to be known, have always been a last-ditch weapon. Even today’s infantrymen often joke about their desire to get an ”e-tool kill.” Soldiers also turned simple hammers and hatchets into trench weapons. Sometimes simplicity fits the bill, and basic tools make fearsome weapons. Plus, after you hit the bad guy, you could make handy dandy repairs. To me, that makes it a multitool.
Trench Weapons and War
World War 2 is a war we look at with some form of romanticism in our eyes. It’s harder to find bad guys worse than the Nazis, after all. Wars are always brutal, but one in which soldiers are wielding homemade knives, brass knuckles, clubs, and the like is exceptionally violent in a very personal way, even when compared to the widespread destruction of the Second World War.
Killing an enemy from thousands of feet above or hundreds of miles away is a heavy undertaking, but doing so with in the muddy trenches of World War I, armed with nothing but a shovel and your will to survive, is something else entirely.
Where the Marine Corps has its Toys for Tots, the Army can count on its elderly retirees – at least one of them, anyway. As of Christmas, 2019, Army veteran Jim Annis turned 80 years old. For the past 50 Christmas seasons, the former soldier spent months creating hundreds of wooden toys for children who otherwise might not have anything to open on Christmas morning. When the Salvation Army comes through for these families, Annis comes rolling along right behind them.
Annis spends hundreds of dollars from his own pocket every year to make wooden toys for needy children. The one-man Santa’s Workshop spends much of his free time throughout the year crafting and painting these toys in preparation for Christmastime. By the time he’s ready to donate the pieces to the Salvation Army, Annis has created as many as 300 toys, finished and ready to hand out to the little ones.
In case you’re bad at math, creating 300 toys per year for the past 50 years, makes for about 15,000 toys total. But for Annis, it’s not about the money. He was one of those needy children during his childhood. He came from a working family with five children to take care for.
Jim Annis, a one-man Santa’s Workshop.
Annis gets wooden scraps for free from homeowners and pays only for the tools of production and the acrylic paint for the toys. His costs run about id=”listicle-2641673298″,000 but his return on investment is the smiles of young kids who will get a toy for Christmas this year. Kids can get an array of cool, handmade toys, from fire trucks and dolls to piggy banks. Jim Annis will also make special gifts for American veterans and their loved ones.
“I have to sort of feel right in here,” Annis told North Carolina’s Spectrum News. “That’s the joy I know I’m giving some of the kids, I’m giving them something that I didn’t have a whole lot at Christmas time.”
If you want to donate to materials to this vet’s Christmastime cause, you can call Jim Annis at 919-842-5445.
Near Fort Bragg, North Carolina sits BHAWK — that’s short for Brad Halling American Whisky Ko. It’s a whiskey distillery brought to life by its namesake, Brad, and his wife, Jessica, in their goal to honor veterans from Southern Pines, NC. Veterans themselves, the pair knows what it means to serve.
They also know what it means to sacrifice — Brad lost his left leg from the knee down in the now-famous “Blackhawk Down” incident in Somalia. Though the injury left him ineligible to remain on active duty, he dodged Army medical boards, fought for his position, and ended up retiring as a sergeant major, prosthetic leg and all.
Now he and his wife are taking their history of service and sacrifice to a new level: making whiskey.
“Our brands will honor [veterans] as well as private citizens with demonstrated selfless service,” Jessica said in an interview with “The Pilot.”
They also added that the decision to offer whiskey went back to its versatility, and its deep ties to Americanism.
“It is a vehicle to express so many different things,” Brad said. “The joy of promotion, the heartache of loss, the celebration of a change of command.”
One feature to remind the public about the sacrifices of armed forces include the Gratitude Room, a living museum where guests will first enter. Their plan is to tell the story of various labels that are offered at the time, whether that be of a single soldier, unit or beyond, telling the intricate details behind the label’s name. Then, as they swap out for a new flavor, the Gratitude Room will also change to reflect the new piece of history.
One thing that won’t change, they said, is the American Whiskey Company’s emblem, an eagle feather that represents fallen soldiers, as well as “quiet professionals” who have provided their dedication to the U.S. The hand-drawn image shows a simple, fallen feather, as a simple nod to patriotism and those who sacrificed along the way.
As veterans themselves, the couple had long kicked around the idea of brewing as a business, but as laws began to change in North Carolina, they decided it was the right time to open up the distillery they had always dreamed of.
Both joined the military while still in high school, taking on the responsibility at a young age. Jessica served in the U.S. Army until she retired from the Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg. She then began working as a local lawyer in North Carolina. As for Brad, he’s retired from special forces and still works on post as a civilian. He also works as a certified prosthetist.
The distillery, which is still being built, is slated to host a medium-sized distillery plant, a cocktail bar, restaurant, retail space, a restaurant, and an outdoor stage. They will brew and sell their own concoctions of high-end whiskey variations, as well as spirits. Eventually, they plan to add bourbon, vodkas, gin and more.
For more information on BHAWK or to follow their process, follow them on Instagram @hallingwhiskey
In 1969, Americans became the first to go to the Moon. In the 21st century, America is determined to return to the Moon and go on to Mars. In preparation for Mars missions, NASA needs to replicate living on the red planet and study “how highly motivated individuals respond under the rigor of a long-duration, ground-based simulation.” Who better to take on such a challenge than military veterans? After all, over half of the Artemis team, NASA’s program to return to the moon, are veterans.
NASA is seeking applicants to serve as crew members in a one-year long analog mission. Volunteers will live in a habitat simulating life on Mars. The mission series, known as Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog, includes three separate simulations at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. According to NASA, CHAPEA will “support research to develop methods and technologies to prevent and resolve potential problems on future human spaceflight missions to the Moon and Mars.”
Crew selection follows the standard NASA criteria for astronaut applicants. Participants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, non-smokers, 30 to 55 years old, and proficient in English in order to effectively communicate with their fellow crew members and mission control. NASA requires a master’s degree in a STEM field with at least two years of professional STEM experience or a minimum of 1,000 flight hours. However, applicants who have completed two years of work toward a doctoral STEM program, completed a medical degree, or a test pilot program will also be considered. Finally, applicants with four years of professional experience who have completed military officer training or possess a STEM Bachelor of Science also meet the application requirements.
The rest of the application process includes medical evaluations, psychological testing and a psychiatric screening to ensure that applicants can meet the physical and mental demands of long-term isolation. NASA notes that special dietary requirements like allergies and intolerances are disqualifying factors since they cannot be accommodated for on long-term missions. Specific medications like blood thinners and daily insulin will also disqualify candidates. Finally, applicants must not be prone to motion sickness while using virtual reality equipment.
If selected, participants will live and work with three other crew members in the Mars Dune Alpha, a 1,700-square-foot model 3-D printed by ICON for NASA. Their habitat will test crew members by simulating the challenges associated with a Mars mission. This includes, but is not limited to, limited resources, equipment failure, communications delays, and environmental stressors. During their yearlong simulation, crew members will simulate spacewalks, conduct scientific research, exchange communications, and employ virtual reality and robotic controls. The results of the simulation will provide NASA with valuable scientific data to validate systems for future missions and develop solutions to problems that they encounter.
Interested parties can apply to CHAPEA on NASA’s website. The selection process may take up to 13 months with the simulation scheduled to begin in Fall 2022.
A typical Fieldcraft Survival classroom. (Go90 Oscar Mike screenshot)
For our final installment of the Mighty Holiday Gift Guide, we want to politely remind you that going out and getting active with a group of likeminded individuals is, when all is said and done, the best kind of therapy for what ails the modern psyche.
Whether you deployed to combat zones or burned your PT belt as soon you could specialize into admin; whether you’re a veteran looking for new purpose on the homefront or a civilian curious about what happens when you push beyond the bounds of civilization; let us suggest, with all requisite seasonal jollity, that you seek out a school like Fieldcraft Survival, squad up with their Tribe and give yourself the gift of training under an expert like Mike Glover.
As a Special Forces Weapons Specialist, Sniper, Assaulter/Operator, Recon Specialist, Joint Terminal Air Controller (JTAC), Team Sergeant, and Operations SGM, Glover spent 18 years acquiring the kind of skillset that would make him a force multiplier in the field and, upon transitioning, the kind of dude who would have to start a survival school.
Look, it’s easy to return to the comforts of home and get complacent. Honestly, if that’s what you want to do, you’ve earned the right. But brotherhood is what you miss the most about the military. And those bonds can be made anew, out in the bush and the muck, shoulder to shoulder, facing just the right amount of suck to bring up the best in you. When you give yourself a task and a purpose and a struggle to overcome, you invest this second life of yours with meaning.
The holidays can get pretty materialistic. But if you give yourself the right gift – the gift of a challenge – the person you want to be, or wish you were, might be out there waiting for you, just few weeks hard march into next year.
Go get ’em.
And Happy Holidays, from all of us at We Are The Mighty.
The 2017 We Are The Mighty Holiday Gift Guide is sponsored by Propper, a tactical apparel and gear company dedicated to equipping those who commit their lives to serving others. All views are our own.
Speaking of Propper, they’re giving away twelve tactical packs filled with gear from our Holiday Gift Guide. Click this link to enter.
WATM CEO and Air Force veteran Mark Harper moderated an informative town hall specifically geared toward veterans on the COVID-19 vaccine. Speakers included leaders and medical personnel from prominent veteran organizations who aim to educate hesitant veterans while demystifying the vaccine itself.
Harper was open about his experiences during the pandemic. “I had a lot of friends and coworkers get COVID and some of them were very sick,” he explained. “I looked at wearing a mask as something I should do to protect other people; I think of the vaccine the same way. Getting vaccinated was an extension of my service,” Harper, an Air Force veteran shared.
One of the first speakers at the event was Dr. David Callaway, Team Rubicon’s Chief Medical Officer. Callaway is also a Navy veteran with vast experience in the medical space. He was direct in explaining the importance of vaccination and the vital role veterans can play in the process. Callaway shared a story about his nephew contracting COVID. “He called me and said, ‘I’ve got COVID, but it’s no big deal and I’m going to live my life.'” Unfortunately, his nephew got his father sick, who ended up in the ICU (who has since made a full recovery). Callaway was also direct in addressing the common thought of many veterans that because they are young, healthy and haven’t contracted the virus — they don’t need the vaccination. “Vaccines don’t save lives, vaccinations save lives. The greatest science in world will not protect us unless we get vaccines into arms. Our country is calling on our veterans to lead the charge. This is part of our continued commitment to serving our country: Taking definitive action in times of uncertainty so that we can save the lives of our fellow Americans. You have a choice – to lead, to serve your community, to get vaccinated and to help your community emerge from this damn pandemic.”
Dr. Jane Kim is the Chief Consultant for Preventative Medicine for the Department of Veterans Affairs. She discussed the VA’s role in vaccination efforts and the current statistics on vaccinated veterans to date. Kim also provided important information on each of the vaccines available to American veterans today. Dr. Kim answered a question about how health care workers are feeling right now. “We’re totally exhausted. The health care world has been over-extended throughout the pandemic, but we are so eager to answer any questions about why and how you can get vaccinated.”
Josh Jabin, The Travis Manion Foundation’s Chief Operating Officer and Marine Corps veteran, was also on the panel. “Right now my 9 year old has COVID,” Jabin shared. My 6 year old is quarantining next door. I’m vaccinated so I’m taking care of her, but right now we don’t know if our 6 month old is going to get it. Think of my kids when you’re refusing the needle. Do it for my kids.” He went into depth in explaining the foundation’s reasoning for getting involved in vaccination efforts. Jablin also offered tangible and effective ways to communicate with friends or family hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine. “Do it for those who are unable to get the vaccine – who don’t have a choice.”
The U.S. military alleges Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher, a Navy SEAL from California-based SEAL Team 7, murdered a teenage ISIS detainee and then posed with the corpse during a re-enlistment ceremony. NCIS investigators are also looking into allegations the SEAL killed civilians with a sniper rifle and threatened to intimidate other SEALs who would testify against him.
Gallagher proclaimed his innocence immediately after his 2017 arrest, one made while he was receiving treatment for traumatic brain injury at Camp Pendleton. Ever since, it is alleged that the SEAL has been held in inhumane conditions at the Navy’s Consolidated Brig Miramar.
Not anymore, by order of the Commander-In-Chief.
Gallagher’s platoon leader, Lt. Jacob X. “Jake” Portier, is also being prosecuted for his role in trying to cover up the alleged incidents. Unlike Gallagher, Portier is not under arrest or otherwise confined. California and federal legislators want Gallagher to also be released while awaiting trial, not languishing in Miramar with “sex offenders, rapists, and pedophiles.” The Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar is located some 10 miles north of San Diego and houses the Navy’s Sex Offender Treatment Program.
“(Gallagher) risked his life serving abroad to protect the rights of all of us here at home,” North Carolina Rep. Ralph Norman, said at a rally. “He had not one deployment, not two deployments, but eight deployments … We urge this be fixed In light of his bravery, his patriotism and his rights as an American citizen.”
Chief Gallagher after his 2017 arrest.
Some 40 members of Congress asked the Navy to “analyze whether a less severe form of restraint would be appropriate” for Gallagher instead of the usual pre-trial confinement. Those members of Congress included former Navy SEALs, Marine Corps veterans, and others from both sides of the political aisle. Representative Norman spoke to President Trump personally about the matter.
“To confine any service member for that duration of time, regardless of the authority to do so, sends a chilling message to those who fight for our freedoms,” the lawmakers said. Gallagher’s family has already publicly thanked President Trump for his intervention.
U.S. Air Force F-16s belonging to the 31st Fighter Wing rapidly deployed to Decimomannu Air Base, Italy as part of an exercise incorporating elements from the developing operational concept known as Agile Combat Employment.
Several F-16s belonging to the 510th Fighter Squadron from Aviano Air Base, northeastern Italy, deployed to “Deci”, Sardinia, between Jan. 13-16, for Agile Buzzard, a bilateral training exercise with the Italian Air Force.
One of the F-16s involved in Agile Buzzard exercise takes off from Decimomannu Air Base. (Image credit: Alessandro Caglieri).
Agile Buzzard was one of the first exercises to incorporate elements from the developing operational concept known as Agile Combat Employment, or ACE.
According to the U.S. Air Force, this new ACE concept calls for forces to operate more fluidly in locations with varying levels of capacity and support. “This ensures U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa are ready for any potential contingencies.” In short, within ACE, combat aircraft take off from their bases and deploy to airfileds where they can’t count on all the “accomodations” they can find at their home station. Over there, they must prove their ability to service aircraft and make them ready for combat.
“Training exercises like Agile Buzzard enhance the wing’s ability to take command and control of a region, as well as deliver lethal airpower more effectively and efficiently anywhere in the world. Additionally they are designed to enhance partner interoperability, maintain joint readiness, and assure U.S. regional allies,” says an official USAF release.
Agile Buzzard was a low intensity exercise: each day a wave made of 3-4 aircraft launched from Aviano, landed in Decimomannu, where they were hot-refueled and armed with Mk-82/BDU-50 500-pound inert dumb bombs, then took off again to engage the Capo Frasca firing range for air-to-ground training before returning to Aviano.
For their mission, the Aviano Vipers carried two AIM-120 AMRAAM, one AIM-9X Sidewinder, an AN/ASQ-T50(V)1 AIS pod, a SNIPER ATP (Advanced Targeting Pod) along with the BDU-50 and two fuel tanks.
Historically, male Marines hailing from west of the Mississippi went to boot camp at MCRD San Diego in California while those from east of the Mississippi trained at MCRD Parris Island in South Carolina. Meanwhile, all female Marines trained in gender-segregated units exclusively at Parris Island. However, all that is about to change.
Following a Congressional order, the first group of female recruits will train at MCRD San Diego to earn the coveted Eagle, Globe and Anchor. They will be the first female recruits to train at the depot in its 100-year history. The move is driven by the National Defense Authorization Act. With it, the military’s goal is to progressively integrate women across all aspects of its ranks, from training to combat. Parris Island has trained female platoons alongside male platoon for two years now. San Diego will follow their model of integrated training. The Marine Corps is the last service to integrate its basic training based on gender.
About 60 female recruits reported to the new Lima Company, composed of 400 recruits, on the evening of January 25, 2021. The recruits were put into a two week quarantine, before beginning the six phase, 13 week training to become Marines. The female recruits will make up a full platoon within the company and train alongside five male platoons. Like the integrated units at Parris Island, they will have female drill instructors and a female commander.
The historical move at San Diego will serve as a proof-of-concept to fine tune future integrated training. However, female and male recruits will be held to the same training standards. “Anyone who shows up at the yellow footprints is who we’re here to train,” said Lt. Col. Tracy Maese, “and the fact that we get to train female recruits here at MCRD San Diego is just a super exciting, monumental day in Marine Corps history.”
While these recruits won’t have to face the infamous sand fleas of Parris Island, the Marine Corps affirms that their training will be no less challenging and that the title of United States Marine will be hard-earned. The NDAA mandates that Marine Corps training facilities be integrated by 2028.