Army Links M4 Thermal Sights to Night Vision - We Are The Mighty
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Army Links M4 Thermal Sights to Night Vision

The Army has started building an emerging technology connecting soldier night-vision goggles to thermal weapons sights, allowing soldiers in combat to more quickly identify and destroy enemy targets, service officials said.


Army officials told Scout Warrior that Low-Rate Initial Production of the technology, called Rapid Target Acquisition, began in recent months. The system is slated to be operational in combat by 2018.

Also read: You’d better get used to the M4 carbine because it’s here to stay

Rapid Target Acquisition merges two separate Army developmental efforts to engineer, deliver and combine new, upgraded night vision goggles, called Enhanced Night Vision Goggle III, or ENVG III, with next-generation thermal weapons sights –called Family of Weapons Sights – Individual, or FWS-I,  Army officials said.

Army Soldiers tracking and attacking enemies in fast-moving combat situations will soon be able to shoot targets without bringing their rifle and weapons sights up to their eyes, service officials told Scout Warrior.

Army Links M4 Thermal Sights to Night Vision
U.S. Army PFC Michael Freise fires an M4 carbine rifle during a firing exercise. | US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Suzanne M. Day

A wireless link will show the reticle from thermal weapons sights directly into the night vision goggle display, allowing soldiers to quickly track and destroy targets with great accuracy without needing to actually move the weapon to their shoulder and head to see the crosshairs through the thermal sights.

Enhanced targeting technology is of particular relevance in fast-developing battle circumstances such as Close Quarter Battle, or CQB, where targets can emerge and disappear in fractions of a second. Being able to strike quickly, therefore, can bring added lethality and make the difference between life and death for soldiers.

“This provides rapid target acquisition capability. The soldier no longer has to shoulder their weapon. If you can imagine looking through a goggle and some target or threat presents itself, a soldier no longer has to come all the way up. He or she can put the bubble on the image and engage the target in that manner,” Lt. Col. Timothy Fuller, former Product Manager, Soldier Maneuver Systems, told Scout Warrior in an interview last year, before initial production began.

FWS-I is a thermal sight mounted on top of an M4 rifle. It can also be configured for crew-served weapons such as a .50-cal machine gun or sniper rifle, Army officials said.

“The thermal image you are seeing is wirelessly transmitted to the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle III and is displayed in its display. What you ultimately have is the crosshairs and a portion of the thermal weapon sights image spatially aligned to the image that the soldier sees in the night vision goggles,” said former Maj. Nicholas Breen, Assistant Product Manager, Family of Weapon Sights-Individual.

The Army’s ENVG III, which will begin formal production next Summer, will provide soldiers with image-intensification, improved resolution and a wider thermal camera field-of-view compared to prior models.

“The night vision goggle takes two channels. This incorporates an image-intensification where you look through your goggle and are seeing a standard night vision goggle view and a thermal image all in one image.  The two channels are on top of one another and they are fused together so that you get all of the benefit of both channels,” Maj. Brandon Motte, former Assistant Product Manager, Enhanced Night Vision, said.

The improved, or higher-tech, ENGV IIIs will also help with maneuverability and command and control by enabling soldiers to see a wider field of view with better resolution and even see infrared lasers, Motte added. The technology is now going through production qualification testing and will be operational in 2017.

“This greatly improves the lethality and visibility in all weather conditions for the soldier – one very small, very lightweight night vision goggle,” Motte said.

Of greatest importance, however, is that the ENVG III will enable the wireless link with the weapon sights mounted on the gun.

“The reticle will show up in the night vision goggle when the weapon is pointed at a target,” Fuller explained. “As soon as you see a target, you can engage. You no longer have to bring it up to your face. The display is right in front of your eyes.”

The Army plans to acquire as many as 40,000 ENVG IIIs. ENVG III is being engineered to easily integrate FWS-I as soon as it is slated to be operational in 2018.

BAE Systems and DRS are the defense industry vendors involved in the developmental effort, Army officials said.

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Pentagon expects ISIS to use mustard gas in Mosul fight

Army Links M4 Thermal Sights to Night Vision
U.S. Army Soldiers put their gas masks on for a simulated chemical attack during a training mission near Camp Ramadi, Iraq, Sept. 25, 2007. | U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Andrew D. Pendracki


The Islamic State is “dead set” on using chemical weapons attacks, including sulfur-mustard gas, to endanger U.S. troops and blunt or delay the long-planned offensive to retake Mosul in northwestern Iraq, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday.

“I think we can fully expect, as this road toward Mosul progresses, ISIL is likely to try to use it again,” Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said, using another acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. “They are dead set on it.”

Also read: What the alleged mustard gas attack on US troops in Iraq could mean

Last week, ISIS fighters fired an artillery shell near U.S. troops at the Qayyarah West airfield, about 40 miles southeast of Mosul, that was initially suspected of having traces of sulfur-mustard blistering agent. There were no deaths or injuries in the incident.

In a briefing from Baghdad to the Pentagon last Friday, Army Col. John Dorrian, the spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said that first test of an oily substance on shell fragments was positive, a second test was negative, and a third was inconclusive.

“We have no conclusive evidence” that mustard gas was used, Dorrian said. He said more tests were being conducted.

However, Kurdish peshmerga forces participating in the “shaping operations” for the Mosul offensive said last year that ISIS fired mortar shells suspected of containing mustard gas at their positions about 20 miles east of the Qayyarah airfield. ISIS is also suspected of using chlorine gas in Syria.

Earlier this month, U.S. and coalition aircraft carried out strikes against a former pharmaceutical factory in Mosul that ISIS was suspected of having turned into a chemical weapons complex.

At the Pentagon, Davis said ISIS “would love to use chemical weapons against us and against the Iraqis as they move forward, and we are making every effort to make sure we are ready for it.”

U.S. troops in Iraq have access to gas masks and Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) gear to protect against chemical attacks.

Army Links M4 Thermal Sights to Night Vision
A U.S. Soldier with the 76th Army Reserve Operational Response Command decontaminates a vehicle after a simulated chemical weapons attack during a base defense drill in Camp Taji, Iraq, July 23, 2016. | U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Daniel Johnson

In the 2003 invasion of Iraq, troops carried masks and MOPP suits with them at all times and frequently had to don them as alarms went off on the possibility that chemical weapons were in the area.

Later U.S. inspections and reports found that Iraq had stopped producing and stockpiling weapons of mass destruction before the invasion.

“We fully recognize that this is something that ISIL has done before,” Davis said of the possibility of chemical attacks. “They have done it many times, at least a couple of dozen that we know of, where they have launched crude, makeshift munitions that are filled with this mustard agent.”

“That is not something we view as militarily significant, but obviously it is further evidence that ISIL knows no boundaries when it comes to their conduct on the battlefield,” he said.

In addition to U.S. troops having access to gas masks and MOPP gear, Davis said the U.S. has distributed more than 50,000 kits of personal protective gear for Iraqi and Kurdish forces.

In the Mosul offensive, American advisers are expected to move closer to the battlefront. The Defense Department has authorized U.S. commanders to place advisers with the Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish peshmerga at the battalion level.

In his briefing last Friday, Dorrian said eight to 12 brigades of the Iraqi Security Forces were “ready to go” against Mosul, where ISIS has had nearly two years to build up defenses. The U.S. estimates that the group “no longer is able to mass enough forces to stop the advance” on the city, and its fighters are experiencing “flagging morale” from the loss of territory and the unrelenting coalition airstrikes, Dorrian said.

U.S. airstrikes recently destroyed an estimated 29 ISIS boats on the Tigris River and also blew up a bridge over which the group’s vehicles were attempting to escape, he said.

To defend Mosul, ISIS has built “intricate defenses,” including elaborate tunnel networks and interconnected layers of improvised explosive devices along likely “avenues of approach” to the city, Dorrian said.

The U.S. has also seen reports that ISIS has dug trenches and filled them with oil to be set on fire once the offensive begins. “They’ve built a hell on earth around themselves,” he said.

Articles

‘Vets Make Movies’ lets former troops express themselves with film

Army Links M4 Thermal Sights to Night Vision
(Photo courtesy of LACMA)


On any given weekend, visitors to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art might notice a gathering of fledgling filmmakers behind cameras capturing some action or seated in front of desktop editing station assembling their footage into a coherent narrative.

And the sight of filmmakers hard at work might not strike passersby as unusual — after all, this is LA, home of Hollywood and the epicenter of the movie business. But this group at LACMA isn’t just any collection of potential Spielbergs or Bays.

Welcome to “Veterans Make Movies,” a three-year initiative focused on highlighting the veteran experience presented in collaboration with the Los Angeles Public Library. In 2013, LAPL launched Veterans Resource Centers within library branches throughout Los Angeles in response to the growing need for veteran support programs and social services.

Watch “Tacit Veritas” by veteran filmmaker Levi Preston:

The library identified the lack of an expressive outlet for veterans to share their perspectives about service or their unique coming home story to a wider audience of both veterans and civilians, so LACMA offered to develop a multilayered filmmaking program tailored to veterans’ personal, creative, and social needs, building on the museum’s ongoing initiative to engage communities through art and film. The program is free to students, in part due to the support of organizations like the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and The Safeway Foundation.

VMM is an 8-week curriculum that takes a group of 16 military veterans through a series of 3-hour workshops taught by artists and industry experts. The graduation exercise for each student is to create a 3-minute short film suitable for screening at the end of the session.

“These classes are designed to take somebody who’s never picked up a camera before and learn how to make a film,” says Sarah Jesse, LACMA’s associate vice president of education.

Watch “A Chaos Within” by veteran filmmaker Jason Fracaro:

Jesse explains that the basic premise of the course is that when it comes to the medium of film, “you can’t separate the technical aspect from the story aspect.”

The course starts with analysis of a wide variety of filmmaking technics “to give students a sense of how others have communicated,” Jesse says. That’s followed by reflective writing exercises that are then morphed into storyboards that guide the filmmakers as they actually shoot the footage. After that comes the extensive process of editing and post producing the work, arguably the most important part of realizing the artistic vision.

Jesse points out that an important part of getting vet students into the right frame of mind is creating the right atmosphere.

Army Links M4 Thermal Sights to Night Vision
VMM participants work on post production. (Photo courtesy of LACMA)

“It’s a safe place where vets feel comfortable sharing experience,” she says. “It’s not a therapy program, but art-making is cathartic.”

Jesse explains that halfway through the second session the instructors, who are also veterans, feel like they have added to their knowledge of the military community as much as they’ve managed to teach the students about filmmaking.

“The vet experience is diverse and people can have a lot of different types of jobs in uniform,” she says. “We went into this thinking we were going to bridge the military-civilian divide but we’ve also seen a vet-vet divide.”

Jesse says the instructors have noted a camaraderie develop between the vets over the course of the eight weekends they spend together.

“They crew for each other’s films,” she says. “They help each other out.”

Word-of-mouth about VMM has quickly spread around the LA veteran community.

“We’ve had a ton of people apply,” Jesse says. “It’s catching on.”

Veterans can begin to apply for VMM’s winter/spring session starting October 15, 2016. Access the application here.

To watch other veteran-made movies created in the VMM program go here.

And if you’re going to be in LA on October 30, check out VMM’s celebration of Veterans in the Arts and Humanities Day. Television legend Norman Lear (creator of “All in the Family,” “One Day at a Time,” and “Maude”) will be in attendance to screen a collection of veteran films. For more information go here.

Articles

Hundreds of VA employees get pink slips over White House pledge to clean up agency

Five hundred and forty-eight Department of Veterans Affairs employees have been terminated since President Donald Trump took office, indicating that his campaign pledge to clean up “probably the most incompetently run agency in the United States” by relentlessly putting his TV catch phrase “you’re fired” into action was more than just empty rhetoric.


Another 200 VA workers were suspended and 33 demoted, according to data newly published by the department as part of VA Secretary David Shulkin’s commitment to greater transparency. Those disciplined include 22 senior leaders, more than 70 nurses, 14 police officers, and 25 physicians.

Also disciplined were a program analyst dealing with the Government Accountability Office, which audits the department, a public affairs specialist, a chief of police, and a chief of surgery.

Many housekeeping aides and food service workers — lower-level jobs in which the department has employed felons and convicted sex offenders — were also fired.

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United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin. DoD Photo by Megan Garcia

Scores of veterans have died waiting for care while VA bureaucrats falsified data to procure monetary bonuses, but fixes have been slow to come by largely because the union that represents VA employees has used its political muscle with Democrats to emphasize job security for government employees.

Former President Barack Obama originally appointed Shulkin as a VA undersecretary. By the end of the Obama administration, however, Shulkin had grown increasingly frustrated with the American Federation of Government Employees union and other groups defending bad employees’ supposed right to a government check even when they hurt veterans.

“Just last week we were forced to take back an employee after they were convicted no more than three times for DWI and had served a 60 day jail sentence … Our accountability processes are clearly broken,” Shulkin said at the White House.

In addition to reluctance by managers to vigorously pursue firings, the overturning of firings after the fact by the Merit Systems Protection Board — often with little public acknowledgment — has been a longstanding problem.

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President Donald Trump. DoD Photo by Maj. Randy Harris

Shulkin asked for new legislation that reduces the role of MSPB, especially when firing senior leaders. Congress passed the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act in answer, and Trump signed the bill in June.

The published data predates those new powers, and does not note which disciplinary actions were later overturned.

One record shows a “senior leader” being removed January 20, while another record shows a “senior leader” being demoted April 21. Those appear to refer to the same person — disgraced Puerto Rico VA director DeWayne Hamlin — who returned to work in a lesser job after he appealed to the MSPB.

Former Obama Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald seemed to have so little grasp on firing employees that in August 2016, he said that he had fired 140,000 employees, a figure that made little sense since that would be nearly half the workforce.

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Former Puerto Rico VA director DeWayne Hamlin. DoD Photo by Joseph Rivera Rebolledo.

He said “you can’t fire your way to excellence” and blamed “negative news articles” for a morose culture, rather than the individuals perpetrating the misconduct described in those articles.

Though high-level hospital officials were affected, according to the data covering the first six months of the Trump administration, relatively few disciplinary actions occurred in the central offices where Washington bureaucrats work. Those employ fewer people than the hospitals, but repeated scandals have also shown such employees looking out for one another to preserve each others’ jobs.

There were five firings in the Veterans Health Administration Central Office, including one senior leader. There were also two in the Office of General Counsel, and one in the office of Congressional and Legislative affairs.

The data does not include employees’ names, and does not show which employees were on new-employee probationary status. Employees can be fired much more easily during their first year.

Army Links M4 Thermal Sights to Night Vision
Former Obama Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald. Photo from US Department of Veterans Affairs.

During the Obama administration, McDonald lamented that in the private sector “you cut a deal with the employee and you’re able to buy them out,” but said you cannot do that in government.

Yet VA repeatedly made five and six-figure payments to bad employees to get them to quit after they threatened to gum up the works by appealing disciplinary actions. The department even allowed Hamlin to offer a low-level employee $300,000 to quit after she refused to help management retaliate against a whistleblower who exposed Hamlin’s arrest.

The agency paid more than $5 million in settlements to employees under McDonald, which had the effect of encouraging bad employees to relentlessly appeal and make unsupported charges of discrimination when they were targeted for discipline, in an often-successful attempt to convert punishment into reward.

Shulkin said he “will look to settle with employees only when they clearly have been wronged … and not as a matter of ordinary business.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is how you fight when the waters are rising

When we left off, you were hanging from a pull-up bar trying to get your knees to your chest for the first time since Basic.


Max, in his wisdom, started you out in the gym, which is full of many helpful things, like dumbbells and molecules of air. He wanted you to develop a little stoutness at your center, because he knows what’s coming and you, silly wittle baby, do not. You’re wet behind the ears, is what he’s saying. And that’s not even 5% wet enough to pass the Max Your Body, Season 1 final exam.

Army Links M4 Thermal Sights to Night Vision
(Go90 Max Your Body screenshot)

Today, you’re either going to sink or survive.

Army Links M4 Thermal Sights to Night Vision
(Go90 Max Your Body screenshot)

Because it’s all well and good to be fit with both feet planted on firm ground, unbound and wearing comfy, civilian shoes. It’s been years since you were a fetus, so you’ve forgotten what it’s like when there’s water on all sides of you, it’s dark and murky, and it’s up to you to figure out where your next lungful of sweet, sweet air is coming from.

Today, Max would like to remind you of the primordial fluid from whence you swam. And to make it extra memorable, he’s going to bind your feet at the ankles and your hands behind your back.

Army Links M4 Thermal Sights to Night Vision
At least solid muscle is super buoyant, right? (Go90 Max Your Body screenshot)

If you haven’t tapped out at this point, it’s advisable that you tap a buddy to be in charge of Operation You Not Drowning. Everything all nice and secure? Excellent! In you go.

Your mission — and it’s too late to opt out — is to suppress your rational panic and concentrate on using all this handy fitness you’ve been developing to go Full Amphibian while the water rises around you. You. Can. Do. This. For nine months, this was your everything. You used to be the Chuck Norris of tadpoles. Time to make your mother proud.

And if you do start getting the urge to have a big baby meltdown, just remember, there’s a benefit to plunging in with Max.

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The benefit is you’ve lost the illusion of control. There’s no turning back. And the alternative to rising to this most fetal of challenges is sinking to the most fatal of depths.

Death, at whatever depth, is dumb. So it’s your choice, baby.

Army Links M4 Thermal Sights to Night Vision
The Captain of the Guard at Fort Uterus, comin’ ta gitcha. (Go90 Max Your Body screenshot)

Watch as Max takes your fear and drowns it in a municipal pool, in the video embedded at the top.

Watch more Max Your Body:

This is what happens when you swap your workout for PT

Our trainer will make you a leopard

This is how you train for brotherhood

This is what happens when a troll runs the obstacle course

One session with this trainer will make you assume the fetal position

MIGHTY TRENDING

US will remain in Iraq to ‘watch Iran’

President Donald Trump made clear in a television interview that he wants to reduce U.S. military engagement in Syria and Afghanistan, but said he was willing to keep a U.S. military base in Iraq so that Washington can keep a close eye on Iran.

“I don’t like endless wars,” Trump said in a CBS Face the Nation interview on Feb. 3, 2019, after he surprised U.S. lawmakers and international allies in January 2019 by announcing he was withdrawing all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria.


U.S. officials have said Trump was also in the “process of evaluating” whether to withdraw some troops from Afghanistan, where they have been since 2001.

The moves were criticized by members of his Republican Party and caused concern among the U.S. allies.

In the CBS interview, conducted on Feb. 1, 2019, Trump said U.S. troops have been in Afghanistan for nearly 19 years, and, while the outcome of ongoing peace talks with the Afghan Taliban remains to be seen, “They want peace. They’re tired. Everybody’s tired.”

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President Donald Trump.

(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

The president said he planned to keep a small contingent of troops in Afghanistan for “real intelligence” purposes and said U.S. forces would return to that country if necessary.

“I’ll leave intelligence there and if I see nests forming, I’ll do something about it,” he said.

Critics have said that a vacuum left by the departure of U.S. troops from Syria, where they are assisting a Syrian Arab and Kurdish alliance fighting against fighters of the extremist group Islamic State (IS) and other forces, could result in a resurgence of the IS and Al-Qaeda in the war-torn country or neighboring Iraq.

But Trump told CBS that the United States could respond to developments in Syria from neighboring Iraq.

“We have very fast airplanes, we have very good cargo planes. We can come back very quickly, and I’m not leaving. We have a base in Iraq and the base is a fantastic edifice,” he said.

Trump said the United States had spent ” a fortune on the Al-Asad Air Base in western Iraq, and added: “We might as well keep it. One of the reasons I want to keep it is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is a real problem.”

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U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Justin Evans directs a C-5 Galaxy aircraft to a taxi way at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq.

(DoD photo by Senior Airman Perry Aston)

The president added: “We’re going to keep watching and we’re going to keep seeing and if there’s trouble, if somebody is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things, we’re going to know it before they do.”

Trump said that the U.S. troops in Syria were starting to come home, as they push out the “final remainder of the [IS] caliphate.”

Afterward, “they will be going to our base in Iraq, and ultimately, some will be coming home,” he added.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have been high since Trump pulled the United States out of the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, and imposed crippling economic sanctions against Tehran in 2018.

Trump has looked to increase pressure on Iran to bring about what his administration has called a “change in behavior” regarding its weapons programs and its “destabilizing” activities in the region, accusations Tehran denies.

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

Articles

This is why you don’t pretend to be blind to collect benefits

He pretended to be blind so that he could receive benefits. But the Reno County man was spotted driving his car in Wichita, and on Sept. 6 he was sentenced in federal court.


Billy J. Alumbaugh, 62, of Turon, was sentenced to three years of probation and must also repay $70,000 in benefits he received, US Attorney Tom Beall said in a prepared statement. Alumbaugh pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government. His ex-wife, Debra Alumbaugh, 58, pleaded guilty to concealing the crime.

In his plea, Alumbaugh admitted he falsely represented to the Veterans Administration that he was blind and home-bound in order to receive monthly pension benefits. In truth, he was able to drive and engage in other routine life activities without assistance.

Army Links M4 Thermal Sights to Night Vision
Justice may be blind, but Billy J. Alumbaugh is not. Photo from public domain.

His wife accompanied him to medical visits during which they pretended he was blind and depended on her for help. Alumbaugh, who served in the US Army from 1973 to 1976, received the supplemental assistance from 2009 to 2016, according to the federal indictment that charged him.

Billy Alumbaugh was seen with his ex-wife arriving at the VA hospital in Wichita last October, according to the indictment. Debra Alumbaugh was seen driving the car and she went on to help Billy Alumbaugh out of the car and into the complex.

After the appointment, they left in the vehicle with Debra Alumbaugh behind the wheel. After she drove for a few blocks, she pulled over and they switched seats, according to the indictment.

She was sentenced to a year of probation.

Articles

Here are the best military photos for the week of Apr. 1

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


Air Force:

Tech. Sgt. Rainier Howard, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, performs preflight inspection of a C-130J Super Hercules at Kadena Air Base, Japan, March 6, 2017. This is the first C-130J to be assigned to Pacific Air Forces. Yokota serves as the primary Western Pacific airlift hub for U.S. Air Force peacetime and contingency operations. Missions include tactical air land, airdrop, aeromedical evacuation, special operations and distinguished visitor airlift.

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U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Smith

18th Wing Shogun Airmen observe the horizon from the cargo bay door of a 17th Special Operations Squadron MC-130J Commando II during a training sortie off the coast of Okinawa, Japan, March 21, 2017. Brig. Gen. Barry Cornish flew with the 17th SOS to better understand combat capabilities of the MC-130J and aircrews.

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U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Peter Reft

Army:

U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers participate in the 1st Mission Support Command Best Warrior Competition mystery event, held on Camp Santiago, Puerto Rico, March 14. 

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U.S. Army photo by Spc. Anthony Martinez

South Carolina National Guard Soldiers perform high-altitude flight operations aboard a CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift cargo helicopter in proximity of Vail, Colo., March 9 and 10, 2017. The crew was attending a week long power-management course at the High-Altitude ARNG Aviation Training Site located near Eagle, Colo. 

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U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Roberto Di Giovine

Navy:

JINHAE, Republic of Korea (March 31, 2017) Equipment Operator 3rd Class Thomas Dahlke, assigned to Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 2, cuts a piece of steel in a training pool at the Republic of Korea (ROK) Naval Education and Training Command in Jinhae, ROK.

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U.S. Navy Combat Camera photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Brett Cote

SAN DIEGO (March 29, 2017) Senior Chief Special Operator Bill Brown, assigned to the U.S. Navy parachute demonstration team, the Leap Frogs, prepares to land during a skydiving demonstration at the USS Midway Museum. The Leap Frogs are based in San Diego and perform aerial parachute demonstrations around the nation in support of Naval Special Warfare and Navy recruiting.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Pyoung K. Yi

Marine Corps:

Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, ride in an MV-22B Osprey during an Evacuation Control Center exercise, over the Pacific Ocean, March 23, 2017. The Marines conducted non-combatant evacuation procedure training during Certification Exercise for the MEU’s 17.1 Spring Patrol.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Breanna L. Weisenberger

A Crew Chief assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 167, observes the landing zone from a UH-1Y Huey during a training operation at Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue, North Carolina, March 9, 2017. MWSS-274 conducted casualty evacuation drills in order to improve unit readiness and maintain interoperability with HMLA-167.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Anthony J. Brosilow

Coast Guard:

U.S. Coast Guard Northeast-based USCG Cutter Seneca crew continues to train while underway. Here, Petty Officer 3rd Class Jeffrey A. Evans, a maritime enforcement specialist, trains on a .50 caliber machine gun in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Army Links M4 Thermal Sights to Night Vision
US Coast Guard Photo

Articles

This artist makes art out of the scars of war

Ted Meyer is a Los Angeles-based artist, curator, and patient advocate who has been coloring the lives of those with traumatic injuries for 17 years with his project called “Scarred for Life: Mono-prints of Human Scars.”


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“The whole idea is to tell their story by making a beautiful piece of art from their scar” Meyer said. “I do a print off their body and then I try to work in some of the details of what happened to them into the painting that I do over the print.”

Meyer is comfortable around hospitals because he was born with an enzyme deficiency that doctors believed would cut his life short. Fortunately, a treatment was found, and the breakthrough radically changed his life and artistic focus.

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“I met a woman who was using a wheelchair with a broken back,” he recalled. “We had a long conversation one day and she told me I should keep doing my art because I still had a lot to say about it.”

He called the woman to do a print of her scars, and the public’s reaction to the artwork received was very different from that received by his paintings.

“People would come up to me after seeing the work and show me their scars,” Meyer said. “They take their shirt off, pull down their pants or lift up a dress, everybody wanted to tell me. That was seventeen years ago and I’ve been doing this since.”

Originally, Meyer shied away from printing veterans’ wounds. Though he comes from a family with military tradition, he didn’t feel he had the credentials to do it.

“I’m not in that world,” he said. “There’s a couple of other veteran projects and usually they have a much closer relationship to it than I do.”

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That all changed a few years ago. Someone close to Meyer returned from Iraq after several tours as a helicopter pilot and killed himself.

“I thought I should approach this subject by letting people tell their stories, because he never told any of us that he was struggling,” Meyer said. “Apparently, he had some damage in his jaw from shrapnel, and they wouldn’t let him fly because the jaw was deteriorating.”

So Meyer decided to tell veteran stories, but that has created a different problem: He needs more veterans to become works of art. He was offered an exhibit at the National Museum of Health and Medicine, but he couldn’t find enough scarred vets to participate so he had to postpone the show indefinitely.

“I think it was very systemic of the fact that a very small percentage of people fight over there,” Meyer said. “It’s a different culture and these are people who have a different sense of what being patriotic and being an American and defending us is.”

One of Meyers’ subjects, Jerral Hancock, is missing an arm, is paralyzed, and burned.

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“Almost his whole body is scarred from burns,” Meyer said. “He had a lot of texture, so I went in and I have his tank that he had been in sort of marching across, rolling across his scar. I try to give it a narrative, but also make it a beautiful piece of artwork.”

“It was cool seeing war and our scars put to art, and it was an interesting experience going through Ted’s art,” Hancock said. “I would recommend it to other vets because it helps show the reality of war for those who don’t understand the sacrifices made.”

Working with wounded warriors changed the way Meyer sees the veteran community. A man who spent his life with people in physical and emotional crisis gained an appreciation for a new group he’s never known and relates that experience to the world.

“They’ve given a tremendous amount and don’t feel bitter about it,” Meyers said. “There’s a moral integrity to that I find lacking most everywhere else.”

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Meyer has an upcoming show for his “Scarred for Life” project at Muzeumm Gallery in Los Angeles from February 6th through March 1st. If you’re a veteran with scars and a story you’d like turned into art, contact Ted Meyer at ted@artyourworld.com.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Some Marines say first female infantry officer will face backlash in fleet

Female Marines are worried that old, misogynistic Marines won’t accept the leadership of the service’s first new female infantry officer, who recently graduated from the Infantry Officer Course.


Some female Marines are worried about the integration of the new female infantry officer, whose name has not yet been publicly released, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in an op-ed for CNN.

This female infantry officer graduated Sept. 25 and will be assigned to 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California. She can now lead a rifle platoon.

There will be pressure on the female infantry officer to prove she isn’t part of a quota system designed to boost female representation, one of the Marines, who was formerly an instructor at The Basic School in Quantico, Va., told Lemmon.

“When you are a woman in the Marine Corps and you walk in the room, you have to prove you are there because you are worth something and not just filling a quota,” the former instructor stated.

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Photo: Cpl. Octavia Davis/USMC

This former instructor also placed the blame on older Marines for forwarding “emotional arguments” against female integration into infantry roles.

“The young lieutenants I taught had no issues with females serving in the infantry,” she said. “It was the Marines who had been in longer and had been indoctrinated into a culture of misogyny that made emotional arguments against it.”

The Marine Corps was the only service to ask the Obama administration to carve out certain combat positions that would remain male-only when the administration first ordered integration of women into all combat positions. That request went unheeded, but the request itself is emblematic of a deep opposition to the integration of women in the infantry in the service.

In 2012, think tank CNA conducted a survey in 2012 of almost 54,000 members of the Marine Corps and discovered that 76.5 percent of Marines who served in an infantry unit were opposed to integrating women. For male Marines not in infantry roles, opposition still amounted to 56.4 percent.

Articles

4 things to know when your milspouse is deployed during tax season

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Can you believe it is that time of year again? Tax season is here and it is usually the last thing you want to deal with, especially if your spouse is deployed. Deployment comes with stressors of its own; don’t let your taxes be one of them. As military families, we know that we often face special circumstances with our taxes. If you don’t know where to start, and are in need of some guidance, here are 4 things you should consider before filing your taxes.

1. Work with Your Legal Office

Did you forget to get a special power of attorney in order to file your taxes? Don’t worry! Your base legal office can help. They provide not only services to prepare a special power of attorney, but many other tax services as well. First thing you will need to do is find your legal office on a nearby military installation. Using the Armed Forces Legal Assistance website, enter your zip code and the distance you are willing to travel, you will find the locations of the nearest legal offices near you.

You will want to call ahead to ensure, however most of these services are available at legal assistance offices:

Wills, testamentary trusts, and estate planning

Domestic relations, including divorce, legal separation, annulment, custody, and paternity

Adoption and name changes

Taxes, including basic advice and assistance on Federal, State, and local taxes — see below for more details on this!

Landlord-tenant relations, including review of personal leases and communication and correspondence

Servicemembers Civil Relief Act advice and assistance

So once you find your office, give them a call and schedule an appointment. Also, don’t forget to ask them what documents to bring with you; you wouldn’t want to make a wasted trip!

2. If You Need Help Filing Your Taxes Get It

If you need help getting your taxes filed, your legal office has a Voluntary Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) that can help. Make sure to call and check with your legal center to see if this service is available at your installation. The VITA will help you file your taxes free of charge, but you will want to make sure to go as early in the day as possible in order to avoid long lines. If you have decided to go to a private tax preparer, make sure they are familiar filing returns for service members and their dependents. Or you can always file your taxes yourself for free using the Military One Source website. I personally have been using this service for years and it works great for me and my family’s needs.

3. Get The Other Things You Need

Whether you have decided to file with a professional, or do them yourself at home, there are still quite a few things you will need to ensure you have before you get started. A tax professional will let you know what to bring, but be sure to keep the following at hand and ready when filing:

• Military ID

• All W-2 and 1099 forms

• Social Security cards for all family members

• Deductions and credit information

• Bank account and routing numbers

• Receipts for child care expenses

• Last year’s tax return

• Special power of attorney authorizing you to do business on behalf of the deployed service member. If you don’t have this, call that legal office!

4. Give Yourself Plenty of Time

Lastly, but perhaps the most important thing to remember, ensure you give yourself enough time. Federal income taxes need to be filed no later than April 15, 2016, unless you qualify for an extension such as the Combat zone and hazardous duty extensions. If you or your spouse are serving in a combat zone or are receiving hostile fire or imminent danger pay, the deadline for filing income taxes is 180 days after your last day in the combat zone or hazardous duty area. The IRS has a list available of the combat zones. So make sure you have everything you need and make those appointments in time.

Content provided courtesy of USAA.

Articles

This Air Force officer is the reason dogs are being used to heal veterans’ PTSD

 


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(Photo: Molly Potter)

“Every kid has a dream to be an astronaut,” Air Force veteran Molly Potter said. “But by college, these dreams become less and less important for most. That was not so for me.”

Potter attended Embry-Riddle to major in Space Physics and Space Engineering. While there she tried to start a military career in Army ROTC, but soon found it was not for her. Many of her friends were in Air Force ROTC. She liked the mentality and decided it was the best way to get to where she wanted to be.

“I was a 13-Week Wonder,” Potter says. “I loved it and a quickly did my best to be come a stellar officer.”

She and her then-husband were “poster airmen” at Eglin Air Force Base. He was an AC-130 navigator who deployed all the time; she was a weapons specialist, awarded Company Grade Officer of the Year in her first year. By the time she was promoted to first lieutenant, she had caught SOCOM’s eye.

Going from her desk job to deploying to Southwest Asia with the US Special Operations Command was far from Potter’s comfort zone.

“They gave me a gun and a backpack and basically told me to go,” Potter recalls. “I was essentially a one-person band out there with the Army and Marines. I didn’t realize what I was experiencing.”

And she experienced a lot, even for a munitions specialist.

“Afghanistan was the place I felt most respected on all levels,” Potter says. “The men in JSOC and SOCOM were utmost professionals. They only cared that I did my job, and they needed me to save their asses on occasion. I had the same respect they had for me.”

One night, as the sun went down, a rocket attack knocked Potter out. A cement barrier saved her life, protecting her from the frag.

Like many veterans of recent conflicts, the blast caused her traumatic brain injury.  Little was known then about the effects of blasts on the brain, and she was sent home without a diagnosis.

After her deployment, she was assigned as a flight test engineer with test pilots, the next step in her path to becoming what she wanted since childhood. She attempted to numb herself from the emotional turmoil.

Her role was quick-turnaround acquisitions for special operations missions. Watching the munitions she procured from the airplanes or from monitors and how they killed combatants on the ground, even seeing what she calls ‘the Faces of Death,’ coupled with seeing her own life flash before her eyes changed the way she saw her role in the war. Her whole life was dedicated to becoming an astronaut, but here she was engineering ways to make killing more efficient.

“They were supposed to be getting this star officer,” Potter remembers. “Instead, they got a struggling officer, fresh from Afghanistan, who wasn’t sleeping or eating, and whose marriage was falling apart.” She refused to take leave yet struggled with this difficult program, full of the world’s best pilots.

Her memory started to fade, and she couldn’t even get through a day’s work. It hit her one day when she was driving home from after flying military aircraft on military orders, but suddenly couldn’t remember how to get home.

“I realized then I needed help,” Potter says. “But I didn’t want to lose my clearance, my career. But my commanding officers started to notice there was something wrong with me. I wasn’t really there.” It all came crashing down in 2013, when a motorcyclist ran into her car in Las Vegas and Potter suffered a total mental breakdown. Her leadership realized what was happening.

“I was lucky my command realized I had a problem,” Potter says. “Instead of disciplining me, they told me ‘the Air Force broke you and the Air Force is going to put you back together.'” Recovery soon became her full time job.

“I was a high suicide risk,” Potter admits. “Therapy was very tough for me. Halfway through, I started to stall. I was having nightmares. Even with my mom there, things were not going well. I was suppressing all this awful shit and having horrible nightmares. That’s when I got Bella.”

Bella is Potter’s “100 percent American Mutt.” When Potter experienced intense Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and refused to leave the house, it was Bella who forced her to go outside. She had to be walked, after all. Bella also had to be fed, watered, petted, and cleaned. She became Molly Potter’s reason to get out of bed, to get out of the house.

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Molly with Bella. (Photo: Molly Potter)

“She slowly started bringing my life back,” Potter says. “I started realizing she was waking me up in the middle of the night when I was having nightmares. She prevented my panic attacks and my night terrors. I started progressing with my therapy and becoming myself again.” Bella’s effect on Potter was so strong, her therapist suggested she train Bella as a service dog, and that’s exactly what she did.

In the meantime, the Air Force began to wonder what to do with Potter. She did lose her clearance and could no longer fly, but she didn’t have disciplinary issues, so her command wanted to work with her to help her find a new Air Force role or help her transition to the civilian world.

In her preparation to leave the service, she started to work at the Airmen and Family Readiness Center at Nellis Air Force Base, to help troubled Airmen and families or help those who were also transitioning. Bella would come with her, to keep her calm and bring her back in case of a panic attack or breakdown. The families visiting the AFRC loved her, but not everyone was a fan of Bella in the workplace.

“I got a lot of pushback for this service dog,” Potter says. “There was no regulation for service dogs and uniformed personnel.”

A potentially troubling situation took a turn for the best one evening, as Potter brought Bella to an Air Force Association Symposium in Washington, DC. She happened to run into Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh and then-Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning.

She told the senior leaders how great her therapy was and how the Air Force PTSD therapy helped her. Then she told them about her concern for regulations regarding service dogs and that one should be written. They both agreed. Now active duty Airmen and Soldiers on PTSD therapy can use working dogs to help them cope as an accepted practice.

“Bella saved my life,” Potter says. “She changed the tide of my therapy and gave me the confidence to be Captain Potter again.”

The CSAF and the SECAF gave their full support and attention to this issue and Potter now uses her story with Bella as a way to help promote getting help while in the military.

“It’s not the only way, but it was my way,” Potter remarked. “I was anorexic, divorced, and suicidal. Five month changed my life. I had horrible experience in Afghanistan, but by the time I left the military, I was happy, sleeping and had a support network to start a new life.”

Potter now lives and works in Austin, Texas. In her spare time, she volunteers with the Air Force Association and works to match service dogs to other veterans facing the struggles she once faced.

“I still think women on the battlefields is a positive thing,” she said. “War isn’t in the trenches anymore and women bring a more creative, sometimes necessary softer tone to the fight. In the future, critical thinking could be crucial to winning and I think women in these roles bring new solutions to the problems surrounding war.”

Articles

‘The Ghost’ is the most decorated infantry officer you’ve never heard of

Guinness World Records stopped tracking the world’s most decorated soldiers because the importance and distinction of certain medals outweighs the objective number of medals a service member can be awarded —a distinction veterans certainly understand.


What brought this to their attention was the medal count between Audie Murphy – long regarded as the most decorated U.S. soldier ever – and a little-known WWII veteran and Medal of Honor recipient named Matt Urban, whose medal count matched Murphy’s.

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Audie Murphy just after WWII. (U.S. Army photo)

But no one knew that Urban had matched the well-known Murphy until 36 years after the end of WWII because Urban’s recommendation and supporting paperwork were lost in the bureaucratic shuffle.

He was also awarded the French Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Merit but never knew until his military records were reviewed to award his Medal of Honor.

And there were a lot of actions to review.

President Carter called then retired Lt. Col. Matt Urban “The Greatest Soldier in American History” as he presented the Medal of Honor to Urban in 1980. The soldier’s Medal of Honor citation alone lists “a series of actions” – at least 10 – that go above and beyond the call of duty.

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Urban receiving the Medal of Honor from President Carter in 1980. (White House photo)

The Nazis called Urban “The Ghost” because he just seemed to keep coming back to life when they killed him. The soldier’s seven Purple Hearts can attest to that.

Urban joined the Army ROTC at Cornell in 1941. It was just after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and unfortunately for the Nazis, Urban graduated in time to land in North Africa in 1942.

He was ordered to stay aboard a landing craft off the Tunisian coast, but when he heard his unit encountered stiff resistance on the beaches, he hopped in a raft and rowed to the fight. There he replaced a wounded platoon leader.

Later, at the Battle of the Kasserine Pass, Urban destroyed a German observation post, then led his company in a frontal assault on a fortified enemy position. During one German counterattack, Urban killed an enemy soldier with his trench knife, then took the man’s machine pistol and wiped out the rest of the oncoming Germans. He was wounded in his hands and arm.

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German Medium Tank Mk-IV knocked out by American artillery fire, Kasserine Pass. (U.S. Army photo)

In North Africa, his actions earned him two Silver Stars, a Bronze Star, and two Purple Hearts.

It was in France where Urban would distinguish himself and earn his nickname. His division landed at Normandy on D-Day, and later at the French town of Renouf he spearheaded another gallant series of events.

On June 14, 1944, two tanks and small arms began raking Urban’s men in the hedgerows, causing heavy casualties. He picked up a bazooka and led an ammo carrier closer to the tanks.

Urban then exposed himself to the heavy enemy fire as he took out both tanks. His leadership inspired his men who easily bested the rest of the German infantry.

Later that same day, Urban took a direct shot in the leg from a 37mm tank gun. He continued to direct his men to defense positions. The next day, still wounded, Urban led his troops on another attack. He was wounded again and flown back to England.

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The notorious hedgerows in the French countryside, 1944. (U.S. Army photo)

In July 1944, he learned how much the fighting in the French hedgerows devastated his unit. Urban, still in the hospital in England, ditched his bed and hitchhiked back to France. He met up with his men near St. Lo on the eve of Operation Cobra, a breakout effort to hit the German flanks and advance into Brittany.

He found his unit held down by a German strong point with two of his tanks destroyed and a third missing its commander and gunner. Urban hatched a plan to remount the tank and break through but his lieutenant and sergeant were killed in their attempts – so he mounted the tank himself.

“The Ghost” manned the machine gun as bullets whizzed by and devastated the enemy.

He was wounded twice more in August, refusing to be evacuated even after taking artillery shell fragments to the chest. He was promoted to battalion commander.

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Matt Urban in 1944. (Polish-American Congress photo)

In September 1944, Urban’s path of destruction across Europe was almost at an end. His men were pinned down by enemy artillery while trying to cross the Meuse River in Belgium. Urban left the command post and went to the front, where he reorganized the men and personally led an assault on a Nazi strongpoint. Urban was shot in the neck by a machine gun during the charge across open ground. He stayed on site until the Nazis were completely routed and the Allies could cross the Meuse.

And that’s just his Medal of Honor citation.

In a 1974 interview with his hometown newspaper, the Buffalo News, he credits his survival to accepting the idea of dying in combat.

“If I had to get it,” Urban said, “it was going to be while I was doing something. I didn’t want to die in my sleep.”

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Urban after receiving the MoH in 1980. (U.S. Army photo)

The reason he never received a recommendation for the Medal of Honor was because the recommendation was just lost in the paperwork shuffle. His commander, Maj. Max Wolf filed the recommendation, but it was lost when Wolf was killed in action.

“When I came home, I never thought about war,” he said in a 1988 press report. “That’s why the medal was 35 years late. … I just never pursued it.”

It was the enlisted men who fought with Urban who started asking about “The Ghost’s” Medal of Honor.

“The sight of him limping up the road, all smiles, raring to lead the attack once more, brought the morale of the battleweary men to its highest peak – Staff Sgt. Earl G. Evans in a 1945 letter to the War Department that was also lost.

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Matt Urban died in 1995 at age 75 and is interred at Arlington National Cemetery.