Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

The legend about the Army having more boats than the Navy hasn’t been true since World War II, but the Army’s fleet of about 130 ships support combat and logistical operations around the world, especially in inhospitable or underdeveloped environments.

According to several reports, the Army plans to scuttle much of its boat fleet and reassign the soldiers manning them.


At least 18 of the Army’s more than 30 landing craft utility — versatile, 174-foot-long workhorses capable of carrying 500 tons of cargo — will be sold or transferred, and eight Army Reserve watercraft units that train soldiers and maintain dozens of watercraft are to be closed, as first reported by maritime website gCaptain.

An Army memo obtained by gCaptain said the goal was to “eliminate all United States Army Reserve and National Guard Bureau [Army Watercraft Systems] capabilities and/or supporting structure.”

Plans to ditch the aging fleet come amid warnings about the US military’s lack of transport capacity and as the Pentagon’s focus shifts to a potential fight against a more sophisticated adversary, like Russia or China.

Below, you can see what the Army’s large but relatively unknown fleet does and why it may not be doing it much longer.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

US Army Logistics Support Vessel-5, Maj. Gen. Charles P. Gross, capable of carrying up to 2,000 tons of cargo, arrives at a port in the Persian Gulf for the Iron Union 17-4 exercise in the United Arab Emirates, Sept. 10, 2017.

(US Army photo Staff Sgt. Jennifer Milnes)

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

US Army vessels participating in a Logistics-over-the Shore mission at Shuaiba port in Kuwait, June 24, 2018.

(US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Charlotte Reavis)

As of November 2018, the Army’s fleet includes eight Gen. Frank S. Besson-class Logistic Support Vessels, its largest class of ships, as well as 34 Landing Craft Utility, and 36 Landing Craft Mechanized Mk-8, in addition to a number of tugs, small ferries, and barges.

Source: The War Zone

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

US Army vessels participating in a Logistics-over-the Shore mission at Shuaiba port in Kuwait, June 24, 2018.

(US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Charlotte Reavis)

In 2017, the Army awarded a nearly billion-dollar contract for the construction of 36 modern landing craft, the Maneuver Support Vessel (Light).

Source: Defense News

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

US Army vessels participating in a Logistics-over-the Shore mission at Shuaiba port in Kuwait, June 24, 2018.

(US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Charlotte Reavis)

Army watercraft “expand commanders’ movement and maneuver options in support of unified land operations,” the service says. Landing craft move personnel and cargo from bases and ships to harbors, beaches, and contested or degraded ports. Ship-to-shore enablers allow the transfer of cargo at sea, and towing and terminal operators support operations in different environments.

Source: US Army

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

Waves crash over US Army Vessel Churubusco on the Persian Gulf, during training exercise Operation Spartan Mariner, Jan. 9, 2013.

(US Army photo by Sgt. Christopher Johnston)

“When higher echelons receive something like redeployment orders, they will not be restricted in their ability to just travel by land or air. They will also understand the Army has these unique capabilities to redeploy their forces or insert their forces into an austere environment if needed,” Sgt. 1st Class Chase Conner, assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade, said during an exercise in summer 2018.

Source: US Army

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

USAV Lt. Gen. William B. Bunker (LSV-4) approaches a slip at Waipio Point, Hawaii, June 3, 2017.

(US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon)

Despite what the Army’s watercraft bring to the fight, the service thinks it can do without them. In June 2018, Army Secretary Mark Esper ordered the divestment of “all watercraft systems” in preparation for the service’s 2020 budget. At that time, Esper said the Army had found billion that could be cut and spent on other projects.

Source: Stars and Stripes

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

A Humvee towing a M777A2 155 mm howitzer boards the USAV Lt. Gen. William B. Bunker (LSV-4) at Waipio Point, Hawaii, June 3, 2017.

(US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon)

“The Army is assessing its watercraft program to improve readiness, modernize the force and reallocate resources,” Army spokeswoman Cheryle Rivas told Stars and Stripes.

Source: Stars and Stripes

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

A Humvee towing a M777A2 155 mm howitzer boards the USAV Lt. Gen. William B. Bunker (LSV-4) at Waipio Point, Hawaii, June 3, 2017.

(US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon)

The Army would be ditching its boats at a record pace. Most units picked for deactivation are identified two to five years in advance.

Source: Stars and Stripes

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

The Military Sealift Command Vessel Gem State transfers a container to the US Army watercraft Logistics Support Vessel 5 (LSV-5) Maj. Gen. Charles P. Gross during an in-stream cargo transfer exercise in the Persian Gulf, June 13, 2017.

(US Army photo by Sgt. Jeremy Bratt)

“What makes this situation different than other in-activations is the short notification, the number of units and positions identified, and the unique equipment and capability being in-activated,” according to notes accompanying a PowerPoint presentation dated January 8, obtained by Stars and Stripes.

Source: Stars and Stripes

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

More than 30 Army mariners embarked on a multi-day transport mission aboard the Army logistic support vessel Maj. Gen. Charles P. Gross from Kuwait Naval Base, Jan. 19, 2017.

(US Army photo by Sgt. Aaron Ellerman)

The deactivations and unit closures laid out in the slides would affect at least 746 positions. Recruitment and training of Army mariners would also be put on hold until a final decision is made about the service’s watercraft. Decisions about what, where, and how to cut are still being made.

Source: Stars and Stripes, Army Times

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

More than 30 Army mariners embarked on a multi-day transport mission aboard the Army logistic support vessel Maj. Gen. Charles P. Gross from Kuwait Naval Base, Jan. 19, 2017.

(US Army photo by Sgt. Aaron Ellerman)

The Army Reserve oversees much of the service’s marine force, managing about one-quarter of the fleet. The memo seen by gCaptain said soldiers now in the maritime field would be “assessed into units where they can best serve the needs of the Army Reserve while also being gainfully employed.”

Some of the boats currently managed by the Reserve component could be reassigned to the active-duty forces. Others could be decommissioned, stripped of military markings, and sold off.

Source: Stars and Stripes, gCaptain

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

More than 30 Army mariners embarked on a multi-day transport mission aboard the Army logistic support vessel Maj. Gen. Charles P. Gross from Kuwait Naval Base, Jan. 19, 2017.

(US Army photo by Sgt. Aaron Ellerman)

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

Staff Sgt. Yohannes Page, a watercraft operator, makes an adjustment on a sensor on a component of the Harbormaster Command and Control Center at Joint Expeditionary Base Fort Story, May 15, 2017.

(US Army Reserve photo by 1st Sgt. Angele Ringo)

At the end of 2018, the Army’s logistics staff told Congress that declining sealift capacity — exacerbated the aging of transport vessels — could create “unacceptable risk in force projection” within five years if the Navy doesn’t take action.

Source: Defense News

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

US Army Spc. Kayla Pfertsh fires an M2 machine gun at an inflatable target known as a killer tomato during a sea-based gunnery range aboard Logistics Support Vessel 5, Jan. 24, 2017

(US Army photo by Sgt. Jeremy Bratt)

“The Army’s ability to project military power influences adversaries’ risk calculations,” the Army G-4 document said, according to Defense News, which described it as “reflect[ing] the Army’s growing impatience with the Navy’s efforts to recapitalize its surge sealift ships.”

Source: Defense News

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

Watercraft operator Sgt. Rebecca Sheriff fires at a target in the Pacific Ocean during a waterborne range aboard Logistics Support Vehicle-2, about 40 miles south of Pearl Harbor, Oct. 4, 2017.

(US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Justin Silvers)

But even if the sealift fleet were fully stocked and trained, many of its ships, which are tasked with transporting gear for the Army and Marine Corps, can’t unload in underdeveloped or contested ports and waterways, particularly areas where enemies could attack or project force.

Source: Army Times

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

US Army Reserve watercraft operators replicate a fire-fighting drill during a photo shoot aboard a Logistics Support Vessel in Baltimore, April 7 and April 8, 2017.

(US Army Reserve photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret)

“My fear is the Army doesn’t understand what we have or what we’re getting rid of,” Michael Carr, a retired Army Reserve mariner and author of the gCaptain report, told Stars and Stripes. “I am concerned the Army will have to respond to something in Southeast Asia or South America, somewhere with hostile shores or underdeveloped ports, and we will need this capability and we won’t have it.”

Source: Army Times

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

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

The US and NATO are boosting their presence in a hotspot for military activity near Russia

The long-awaited announcement about the redeployment of thousands of US troops currently in Germany finally came at the end of July.

US officials, including Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Gen. Tod Wolters, who heads US European Command, outlined the moves and the strategic reasoning behind them. President Donald Trump immediately undercut their remarks, but their references to the Black Sea reflect how the region is a growing point of tension with Russia.


“We’re moving forces out of Central Europe, Germany, where they had been since the Cold War,” Esper said. “We’re following, in many ways, the boundary east [to] where our newest allies are, so into the Black Sea region” as well as Poland and the Baltics.

The shift means European Command will “now be able to rotate units in perpetuity in multiple locations,” including the Black Sea, which “dramatically improves our operational capability,” Wolters said.

‘The Kremlin sees that’

Moscow, the most powerful Black Sea state, invaded neighboring Georgia in 2008. Tensions have remained high since Russia’s 2014 seizure of Crimea from Ukraine.

“The Black Sea region is what the Kremlin uses launch its operations in Syria and Libya and the Eastern [Mediterranean],” Ben Hodges, who commanded US Army Europe between 2015 and 2017, told Insider. “It’s how they influence everything that goes on in the Balkans and the Caucuses as well as obviously Ukraine and Moldova.”

Hodges is one of many who criticized the redeployment of European Command forces, arguing it doesn’t improve readiness and that the manner in which it’s being done hurts NATO.

“Having said that, I always welcome any additional focus on the Black Sea region, because I think that … needs to be a much higher priority,” Hodges said, adding that Esper’s suggestion that a Stryker brigade could be deployed to the region was “a very good idea.”

“Increasing [NATO] naval presence in the Black Sea region really is even more important,” as the Turkish, Romanian, Bulgarian, and Ukrainian navies are “still not a match for the Russian Black Sea Fleet,” Hodges said.

Hodges cautioned that the coming months — with an ongoing drought in Crimea, US and Ukrainian elections, and Moscow’s major Kavkaz-2020 military exercise in southwestern Russia — could see more Russian action.

Concerns about more aggressive moves by Moscow have risen on other occasions since 2014, and experts have said seizing more Ukrainian territory now amid that drought doesn’t make much political or logistical sense for Moscow.

But the combination of factors creates an opening, Hodges said.

“Given the inconsistent response by this administration in the United States, and other than EU sanctions on Russia there hasn’t been that much in the way of real, firm response in the region” to Russian actions, Hodges said. “I think the Kremlin sees that.”

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

Ukrainian navy ships during exercise Sea Breeze in the Black Sea, July 21, 2020. (US Navy/Courtesy of Ukrainian Navy)

‘The increasingly important Black Sea’

In June, Adm. James Foggo, outgoing commander of US naval forces in Europe, said eight US ships spent about 120 days patrolling the Black Sea last year and “routinely” conduct “complex exercises” like Sea Breeze with allies and partners.

The US military has increased its presence in the area in recent years, and the 20th iteration of Sea Breeze, a Ukrainian-US exercise with other Black Sea and NATO nations, was the latest example.

“Every visit to the Black Sea encompasses working together with our partners and growing our interoperability,” Cmdr. Craig Trent, commanding officer of Navy destroyer USS Porter, told Insider. “Together, we executed a complex, multi-warfare exercise all without stepping foot ashore for face-to-face planning due to COVID mitigations.”

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

US sailors conduct simulated small boat attacks from USS Porter during Sea Breeze, July 22, 2020. (US Navy/Interior Communication Electrician 2nd Class Jeffrey Abelon)

This year it included more than 40 ships and aircraft from eight countries. The Porter was there on its third Black Sea patrol in five months.

The destroyer “conducted surface action group tactical maneuvering, over-the-horizon surface targeting, air defense, and anti-submarine operations,” Trent said.

The Porter worked with a US P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft “to share a common tactical maritime picture” and “with Ukrainian tactical aircraft during the air-defense exercises,” Trent said.

The P-8A worked with ships and aircraft, including Ukrainian Su-27 fighter jets, on undersea warfare and air-intercept training, Cmdr. M. Trever Plageman, head of Patrol Squadron 47, told Insider. (Russian planes frequently intercept US aircraft over the Black Sea, including during Sea Breeze.)

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

USS Porter and an Air Force MC-130J exercise together during Sea Breeze, July 20, 2020. (US Navy)

The Black Sea “provides complex training opportunities, which enhance aircrew proficiency for littoral undersea warfare,” Plageman said. “Of equal importance was the cooperative interaction with allies and other partner nations, which improved our squadron’s interoperability within the increasingly important Black Sea region.”

The Porter also worked with the US Air Force on “air defense and surface-to-air integration of systems,” Trent said.

During Sea Breeze, US Air Forces Europe led a one-day mission with Navy and Space Command assets “to train US forces to integrate, operate, and communicate while executing all domain operations,” according to a release.

It included F-16s that “conducted training scenarios” using Joint Air-to-Surface Missile cruise missile tactics. The JASSM is a long-range “precision standoff missile” designed “to destroy high-value, well-defended targets.” US Special Operations Command Europe also sent an MC-130J aircraft “to exercise special operations forces insertion.”

Sea Breeze concluded on July 26, but on August 2, the Navy and Air Force conducted a similar exercise in the area — with live weapons.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

F-35s train in ‘beast mode’ in response to China’s ‘carrier killers’

US Marine Corps F-35B pilots aboard the USS Wasp, an amphibious assault ship, took off with externally stored missiles in the Philippine Sea, which suggests they trained for all-out aerial combat with China.

The move came just days after China deployed its DF-26 missiles that experts say can take down US aircraft carriers from thousands of miles away.


The Wasp regularly patrols the western Pacific and became the first ship to host combat-ready F-35s, the first-ever carrier-launched stealth jets. The F-35B is a short-landing and short-take-off version of the aircraft designed for Marine pilots.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

An F-35B Lightning II makes the first vertical landing on a flight deck at sea aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Seaman Natasha R. Chalk)

Because of the F-35’s stealth design, it usually stores weapons in an internal bay to preserve its radar-evading shape.

So when the F-35 flies with weapons outside the bay, it’s flying in what Lockheed Martin calls “beast mode.”

The F-35 holds only four air-to-air missiles on combat-focused air missions, and just two when it splits the mission between air-to-ground and air-to-air.

But with weapons pylons attached, Lockheed Martin has pitched the F-35 as an all-out bomb truck with 18,000 pounds’ worth of bombs and missiles in and under the wings.

While the F-35 has never actually tested this extensive loadout, the F-35Bs aboard the Wasp in January 2019 took off with two weapons pylons and at least one dummy air-to-air missile.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

A fully loaded F-35A.

(Frank Crebas via YouTube)

Other pictures of the F-35s on the Wasp showed guided bombs being loaded up into the jets.

Flying with dummy missiles and pylons under the wings trains F-35 pilots on how the aircraft handles under increased strain, and demonstrates what it’s like to have a deeper magazine in combat scenarios.

Lockheed Martin previously told Business Insider that F-35s are meant to fly in stealth mode on the first day of a war when the jets need to sneak behind enemy defenses and take out surface-to-air missiles.

After the initial salvos, F-35s can throw stealth to the wind and load up on missiles and bombs, Lockheed Martin said.

“When we don’t necessarily need to be stealthy, we can carry up to 18,000 pounds of bombs,” Jeff Babione, general manager of the F-35 program, told Business Insider in 2017.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

Marines load a Captive Air Training Missile (CATM) 9X onto an F-35B Lightning II aircraft.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sean Galbreath)

China is seeking air-to-air dominance

But the theoretical implications of the F-35’s loadout take on a new importance in the Pacific, where China has increasingly sought to impose its will on international waters.

China has increasingly threatened US ships in the region, with one admiral even calling for the sinking of US aircraft carriers.

China has responded to US stealth fighters with a stealth jet of its own, the J-20, a long-range platform with the stated goal of winning air superiority.

But experts recently told Business Insider that the J-20, as designed, would likely lose in air-to-air combat to almost any US or European air superiority fighter.

While the US may be able to contain China’s air power for now, Beijing recently deployed “carrier-killer” missiles to the country’s northwest. The US, in its recent Missile Defense Review, suggested F-35s could shoot down these missiles in flight.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

No, being a grunt won’t doom you after you get out

So, you’re nearing the end of your glorious time in the military, but you spent it all as a door-kicking, window-licking, crayon-eating grunt. Your command is breathing down your neck about your “plan” for when you get out. You realized two years ago that there aren’t any civilian jobs where you’re training to sling lead and reap souls all the while refining your elite janitorial skills. What are you going to do?

A lot of us grunts wondered this before getting out. But, the idea that you didn’t learn any real, valuable skills in the infantry is a huge misconception. You actually learned quite a bit that civilian employers might find extremely useful for their businesses. Aside from security, you can take a lot of what you learned as a grunt and use it to make yourself an asset in the civilian workforce.

Here is why you’re not doomed:


Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

Put those leadership skills to good use.

(U.S. Army photo by Specialist Michelle C. Lawrence)

Your skill set is unique

If you’re getting out after just four years, you’re probably around the age of 22 or 23. At that age, you’ve already been in charge of at least four other people or even more in some cases. You have skills like leadership and communication that will place you above others in your age range.

Even if you’re not feeling like you have all the experience you need:

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

How it feels on that first day of using the G.I. Bill.

You can go back to school

That’s right. You earned your G.I. Bill with all those endless nights of sweat and CLP, cleaning your rifle at the armory because your company had nothing better to do. Why not use it? You don’t even need to use it on college necessarily, use it on trade school to get back out there faster.

The point is this: you have (mostly) free money that will allow you to earn a degree or certification to be able to add that extra line on your resume.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

You’ve worked with people from all over the world in all sorts of scenarios. Use that experience.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

You have tons of experience

You do. You traveled the world in some capacity, right? Sure, Okinawa might not be a real deployment but what did you do? You were involved in foreign relations. You were an American ambassador. How many 22-year-olds can say that?

Aside from that, you learned how to plan, execute, and work with several different moving pieces of a unit to accomplish a single goal with success and you learned to lead other people. These are things that are extremely useful for the civilian workforce.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

You have all the tools, maybe even more!

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tia Dufour)

With all of these things in consideration, who says you can’t get a job when you get out? Well, there are plenty of people, but they’ll feel really dumb when they see you succeed.

Military Life

Watch this Sentinel destroy a trespasser at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

In April of 1948, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment took on the unique responsibility of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Being a Tomb Sentinel isn’t as simple as walking back and forth while keeping a close eye out; it’s an extremely high honor that requires immense professionalism and commitment.

Each year, Arlington National Cemetery receives around four million visitors who come from across the globe to pay their respects to heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. At the The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, visitors watch solemn, powerful ceremonies that take place to honor the dead. If you plan on visiting this historic site, you’ll want to carefully read over the rules and regulations before stepping foot on those hallowed grounds. It is the job of Tomb Sentinels to protect this sacred place from all four million of those visitors — you don’t want to screw up and get yelled at like this unlucky visitor.


Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet
The Sentinel Guardsman never leaves their post at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
(Photo by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jim Varhegyi)

During a wreath-placing ceremony, a crowd gathers and two children are selected to lay the elegant decoration at the center of the tomb for all to see. The chosen children are assisted by a Sentinel in order to ensure the wreath is properly placed as the other soldiers render a perfect hand salute.

Once the wreath is laid, the Sentinels move to their assigned area as the Taps is played, showing ultimate respect.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet
The participantsu00a0of the wreath laying ceremony.
(Tim Stampfly)

After the hymn ends, the participants march away with extreme military bearing. This time around, however, something interesting happened.

On the other side of the crowd, a woman wearing all white decided it was a good idea to walk up and slip past the barrier that keeps spectators from making physical contact with the tomb. As she made her way closer, the guard did precisely what he’s supposed to do — man his post.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet
This wasn’t the smartest idea ever
(Tim Stampfly)

“It is requested, that all visitors stay behind the chain rails at all times!” the guard sternly instructs.

Without thinking twice, the woman in white quickly squeezed her way back through the barrier and pretended like it never happened. Once she was secured in the designed visitors’ area, the ceremony resumed.

Check out the video below to watch a Tomb Sentinel protect the sacred ground from a curious trespasser.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Air Force helps Army prepare for real world operations

Airmen from the 815th and 327th Airlift Squadrons provided airlift and airdrop support for the Army’s exercise Arctic Anvil, Oct. 1-6, 2019.

Arctic Anvil is a joint, multi-national, force-on-force culminating training exercise at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, Mississippi, that runs throughout the month of October.

“The 815th (AS), along with the 327th Airlift Squadron, had the pleasure of supporting the (4th Brigade Combat Team, Airborne, 25th Infantry Division) for the exercise Arctic Anvil by providing personnel and equipment airdrop as well as short-field, air-land operations,” said Lt. Col. Mark Suckow, 815th AS pilot. “We were able to airdrop 400 paratroopers and equipment Wednesday night and 20 bundles of supplies Sunday into Camp Shelby.”


The 815th AS is an Air Force Reserve Command tactical airlift unit assigned to the 403rd Wing. The unit transports supplies, equipment and personnel into a theater of operation. The 403rd Wing maintains 20 C-130J Super Hercules aircraft, 10 of which are flown by the 815th AS.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

Maj. Nick Foreman (left) and Maj. Chris Bean, 815th Airlift Squadron pilots, fly a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft toward Gulfport Combat Readiness Training Center, Miss., Oct. 2, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Christopher Carranza)

“We had the opportunity to provide three aircrews and two C-130Js to help execute the mass airlift and airdrop,” Col. Dan Collister, 913th Airlift Group deputy commander said. The 327th AS is a unit of the 913th AG based out of Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, and is an associate unit of the 19th Airlift Wing, an active duty unit equipped with C-130J aircraft.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

Col. Daniel Collister, 913th Airlift Group deputy commander and pilot, conducts a pre-mission brief with loadmasters, Army jumpmasters and Army safety crew prior to takeoff during the joint forces exercise Arctic Anvil at Gulfport Combat Readiness Training Center, Miss., Oct. 1-6, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Jessica L. Kendziorek)

“Our primary mission at the 913th is to provide combat-ready airmen, tactical airlift and agile combat support. Participating in a joint exercise such as this is a great way for our Reserve Citizen airmen to hone their skills and get experience working hand-in-hand with partner units and sister services,” Collister said.

More than 3,000 soldiers of the 4/25th ICBT (ABN), based out of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, are participating in the exercise.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, Soldiers stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, board a C-130J flown by the 327th Airlift Squadron during the joint forces training exercise Arctic Anvil at Gulfport Combat Readiness Training Center, Miss., Oct. 1-6, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Jessica L. Kendziorek)

“At Camp Shelby, our paratroopers have completed a mass tactical airborne operation followed by force-on-force exercises culminating with combined live-fire training that will prepare us for the brigade’s upcoming joint readiness training exercise in January,” said Army Col. Christopher Landers, 4/25th IBCT (ABN) commander. “Camp Shelby and the state of Mississippi have provided a remarkable training opportunity, that without their significant support, would not have been possible.”

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

A C-130J Super Hercules aircraft sits on the flightline at Gulfport Combat Readiness Training Center, Miss. Oct. 1, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Christopher Carranza)

In addition to the 4/25th ICBT (ABN), soldiers from the 177th Combat Sustainment Support Brigade, the 3rd Royal Canadian Regiment and airmen from various units collaborated for the exercise.

Airmen from the 403rd Wing, 319th Airlift Group, 321st Contingency Response Squadron and 81st Training Wing supported the Air Force’s role in Arctic Anvil. Airmen from the 81st Logistics Readiness Squadron and Operations Support Flight contributed to the exercise with ground vehicle transportation and airspace support for the soldiers who were rigging their supplies for airdrop.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

The 815th Airlift Squadron completes an airdrop of container delivery systems during the Army joint forces exercise Arctic Anvil.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jessica L. Kendziorek)

“I am proud of our crews for this exercise,” Suckow said. “They executed the mission as planned and helped us to meet our objectives. Time over target for airdrop and air-land operations were executed flawlessly. The air-land portion into the (landing zone) was completed in less than minimal time from landing to takeoff. Having the opportunity to work with thousands of soldiers in a large scale exercise like this is very beneficial training for us, it prepares us for real world operations.”

This article originally appeared on United States Air Force. Follow @USAF on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Listen to these D-Day ‘frogmen’ explain their crazy role in the historic battle

Despite a limited number of submarines and other surveillance assets, naval forces in World War II had to find a way to spot enemy obstructions and defenses at fortified islands and beaches.

Into the gap stepped the frogmen and recon swimmers, brave sailors and Marines who swam into enemy waters and surveyed defenses with just snorkels and fins, often with enemy fire raining around them.

On D-Day, these brave men played a critical role ensuring that landing craft could make it to shore and take part in one of the most daring, important assaults of World War II. Hear what it was like to be in the waters at Normandy on that fateful day from the frogmen who were actually there in the interview below:


But the heroics of Naval Combat Demolition Units didn’t stop at D-Day; they played key roles in many defining operations of World War II:

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

Navy and Marine Corps personnel landing at Tarawa had to do so with limited intelligence and with nearly all obstacles in place at the start of the battle.

(U.S. Marine Corps painting Sergeant Tom Lovell)

Beach landings around the world, but especially the frequent landings in the Pacific during World War II, require good intelligence. Enemy mines and underwater obstacles can cripple a landing force when it’s most vulnerable. To ensure the landing works, attackers have to either avoid or clear such obstacles before the landings are affected.

The Navy learned this lesson the hard way when forces landing at Tarawa just hours after their arrival were forced to fight past a reef, beach obstacles and mines, and machine gun positions that had all been underestimated because no one got eyes directly on them before the fight. The invaders had relied on aerial imagery that couldn’t expose all the hazards.

But when the Navy is short on stealthy assets, like submarines, someone else has to get up close and personal and see where the obstructions are.

“Frogmen,” recon swimmers whose efforts would lead to today’s Navy SEALs, filled this role by jumping out of small boats while wearing just shorts, snorkels, swim masks, and fins. From there, they had to swim along enemy beaches and make mental notes of anywhere they saw natural or man-made obstacles that could hinder a landing.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

A Navy frogman in relatively advanced gear for the time. Many frogmen during World War II, especially in the Pacific, made do with just snorkels, masks, and fins.

(National Archives and Records Administration)

If the obstacles were thick and foreboding enough, they had to destroy them, swimming up to mines and other countermeasures and dismantling them in place or blowing them up. Most frogmen served in units named for this task, the “Underwater Demolition Teams,” or UDTs.

Worse, if there was any question of the shore composition, the frogmen were tasked with swimming up to the beach itself, gathering sand, and swimming back with their samples.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

Marines landing at Iwo Jima benefited from the swimmers who ensured the approaches were clear of obstacles and checked whether the volcanic sand would allow for the free movement of tracked vehicles.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

While Iwo Jima was revealed to be largely bare of obstacles, the swimmers had to collect the volcanic ash of the beach as Japanese defenders in pillboxes were laying down a thick blanket of fire on the swimmers and their fire support ships. The hail of bullets was so thick that the ships frequently had to leave the line to put out fires and repair damage.

The swimmers had no such safe space. When they landed at Utah and Omaha beaches on D-Day, the Utah team suffered 17 casualties and the Omaha team lost 91 killed and wounded. 37 men died on the two beaches to reduce the threat to the follow-on attackers.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

Members of a Naval Combat Demolition Unit hit the beach during training.

They had to sneak up to obstacles and place dozens of pounds of explosives on them to prepare them for destruction, sometimes while close enough to German patrols and sentries to hear them speaking to each other.

One swimmer, part of a Naval Combat Demolition Unit, interviewed a few years ago by Stars and Stripes, recalled a woman on the beach waving to him from her beachfront house as the sailor laid the foundation for the invasion that would start in less than an hour.

According to a book review of Iwo Jima Recon by the Marine Corps Association Foundation,

The frogmen avoided mortar and small-arms fire by ducking underwater as they swam into the beach. One diver’s account simply stated, “Bullets drifted down like falling leaves.” Amazingly, all but one of the divers returned safely.

Their sacrifices, while great, saved lives. The naval report on Iwo Jima below details some of the frogmen’s work. Skip to 4:15 if you’re only interested in the swimmers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKxxbqynRIU

www.youtube.com

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Here is how a new generation of computers will help America dominate

One of the reasons why American weapons systems have been so dominant is computer power. Whether it’s helping the M1 Abrams keep its gun on target or helping secure communications, computers give American troops an edge. Now, the Pentagon wants to bring the next generation of computers, quantum computers, into the fight.

You’re probably asking yourself, “what, exactly, is quantum computing and how would it give our troops an edge? Well, here’s a quick rundown.


As explained by one of America’s top tech companies, IBM, quantum computing is a form of computing that uses quantum mechanics — the mathematics of subatomic particle movements. Current processors distill all information down, eventually, to a simple ‘0’ or ‘1.’ Quantum processors, however, can distill information down to ‘0’ and ‘1.’ In short, this has the potential to greatly increase the baseline speeds at which computers operate. To put that increase in speed into perspective, it’s the difference between using a horse to go from New York to San Diego and using a SR-71 Blackbird for that same trip.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

Joint Direct Attack Munitions, currently dependent on GPS, could become more accurate thanks to quantum clocks.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller)

So, how might this translate to military operations? Well, one application could be a replacement for the Global Positioning System. The satellite-based system relies on multiple updates per day, and there have been concerns the system could be vulnerable to attack. Quantum clocks could provide GPS-like accuracy when the satellite system is down.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

Quantum computing could help make satellite communications more secure.

(NASA)

A number of other countries, including the United Kingdom, Israel, Canada, and Australia, are also working on quantum computing programs. The Air Force Research Laboratory expects to have working prototypes in five years, with other systems rolling out later. In one sense, this program is an urgent one: China is also working on quantum computers, and has reportedly launched a purportedly unhackable satellite using that technology — and it’s not a good idea to be technologically outgunned if tensions should boil over.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The cyber career field is booming amid increasing attacks

Just as the cyber threat has continued to evolve and grow, so too have the National Guard’s cyber teams and cyber capabilities, said Guard officials during a cyber roundtable discussion at the Pentagon.

“The cyber domain is constantly changing and it’s very dynamic,” said Air Force Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Burkett, the vice director of domestic operations with the National Guard Bureau.

That changing cyber domain also means looking differently at where cyber operators come from within the ranks.


“We tend to be very linear in our thinking sometimes,” said Air Force Col. Jori Robinson, vice commander of the Maryland Air National Guard’s 175th Wing and former commander of a cyber operations squadron and group. “You have to have a computer science degree, you have to come from a computer background and that is what makes a good cyber operator.”

Turns out, said Robinson, some of the best cyber operations specialists may come from the aircraft maintenance field.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Christopher Smith, a cyber systems operations technician with the 52nd Combat Communications Squadron, uncoils cable for a radio frequencies kit.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Justin Wright)

An Air Force study, she said, looked into elements that make an individual have the capacity to understand cyber networks, even if the specific computer network abilities aren’t there.

“That person over in maintenance who has been turning wrenches on a jet for the past 15 years, has the capacity and innate ability to understand networks and get a better idea, and they are turning out to make some of the most prolific and fantastic operators we have,” said Robinson.

For some Air Guard units, that comes as a benefit as missions shift and equipment changes. When the West Virginia Air National Guard’s 167th Airlift Wing transitioned from flying the C-5 Galaxy cargo aircraft to the smaller C-17 Globemaster III, that left many maintainers in limbo.

“C-17s don’t require as many maintainers as C-5s, so there was a net loss of people of force structure,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Jody W. Ogle, the director of communications and cyber programs with the West Virginia National Guard.

Using workforce development grants, many of those maintainers attended civilian education courses to retrain into the Guard’s cyber force.

“It was met with great success,” said Ogle, adding that about 50 maintainers made the switch.

Robinson echoed his sentiments.

“We’ve taken some of our maintainers and turned them into cyber operators and they are just crushing all of these classes and they are among the most sought-after folks by Cyber Command to come sit in on these teams,” she said.

Having another potential avenue to pull from is important, said Robinson, as the Maryland National Guard has a large concentration of cyber capability.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

A C-17 Globemaster III.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dennis Sloan)

“It’s a very robust mission set in the state,” she said. “We run full spectrum operations for Cyber Command and 24th Air Force as well as on the Army side.”

That capability means filling a variety of roles.

“In the National Guard our core missions are one, fight America’s wars, two, secure the homeland and, three, build partnerships,” Burkett said. “We support the warfight by building fully integrated National Guard cyber units into operational federal missions. [We] protect the homeland by providing highly-trained cyber forces available to support mission-partner requirements.”

Those mission-partner requirements often focus on working with state and local agencies to assess and identify potential security risks in their networks.

“We provide vulnerability assessments, we’ll do some mission assurance, predominantly with the government agencies,” said Robinson, adding that Maryland Guard cyber units assisted the Maryland Board of Elections during recent elections in the state.

“We were called in pretty early with the Maryland Board of Elections just to have a conversation,” she said. “We provided a lot of lead up information, a lot of policy review and should they have needed it we were available going into the elections to do more over-the-shoulder monitoring [for potential cyber threats] for them.”

Robinson stressed, the cyber teams were strictly hands-off when it came to using computer hardware.

“We were very clear from the beginning that we were not going to be hands-on-keyboard,” she said. “The Board of Elections felt they had a strong handle on what was happening on the networks on Election Day.”

The Maryland Guard cyber units were able to easily integrate because of partnerships built between the Guard and those local agencies, stated Robinson.

Those partnerships are important.

“We learn a lot from our partners,” said Burkett. “We don’t necessarily have all the answers.”

For the Maryland Guard cyber units, one of the most beneficial partnerships has been an international one.

Since 1993 the Maryland Guard has been partnered with Estonia as part of the Department of Defense’s State Partnership Program, which pairs National Guard elements with partner nations worldwide. Since 2007, that partnership has included a strong cyber component, said Robinson.

That year saw Estonia suffered a massive hack to its computer infrastructure.

“What Estonia brings to the United States is quite fascinating because of the hack that happened in 2007, what it did to their critical infrastructure and their ability and how Estonia responded following that,” said Robinson.

The result was a total redo of network systems.

“They completely revamped their network system and how they do all online transactions,” said Robinson. “It’s a fascinating study in how you can add additional layers of encryption, additional layers of protection to everything that is online.”

It makes for a unique system, Robinson said.

“We’re learning a lot from them from that perspective,” she said, adding that cyber operations have been integrated into training exercises conducted with Estonian forces, including a large-scale training exercise in 2017 that incorporated both flying and cyber missions.

“We created an exercise where a massive attack, a piece of malware, had found its way on to the Estonian air base,” Robinson said, referring to the cyber portion of the exercise. From there, the exercise simulated the malware getting onto the computers used for maintenance of the A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft that were used for the flying portion of the exercise.

The cyber operators had to respond quickly, said Robinson, just as if it were a real-world attack. And, it was both Estonian and Maryland Guard cyber elements responding.

“We worked side by side,” she said. “It was a fantastic exercise that we’re looking at expanding in 2020.”

Those exercises, and partnerships, only expand the Guard’s cyber capabilities, said Burkett.

“Learning and building those relationship and partnerships is what the National Guard does naturally,” he said, adding that’s critical as the cyber threat continues to evolve.

“There is nothing that cannot be hacked,” he said. “We are dependent upon our cyber infrastructure for critical systems to support our way of life. As long as we are dependent upon those systems, we are going to have to defend them.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia now claims the US is interfering in their elections

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says that Moscow believes a hotly anticipated U.S. list of rich Russians seen as close to President Vladimir Putin is an attempt to meddle in the country’s March 18 2017 election.


Peskov made the remarks on Jan. 29, 2018, ahead of the expected release by the U.S. Treasury Department of what is known as the “Kremlin Report.”

“We really do believe that this is a direct and obvious attempt to time some steps to coincide with the election in order to exert influence on it,” Peskov told journalists.

The report was mandated by Congress in a law aimed to increase pressure on Russia after the U.S. intelligence community said that Putin ordered a concerted hacking-and-propaganda campaign aimed to influence the U.S. presidential election in 2016.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet
The Kremlin in Russia. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

President Donald Trump, who called for warmer ties with Russia during the campaign, reluctantly signed the bill into law in August 2017.

It gave the Treasury Department, the State Department, and intelligence agencies 180 days to identify people by “their closeness to the Russian regime and their net worth.”

Also read: Trump’s strategy to prepare the US for power war with Russia and China

Russian business leaders and others named on the list — part of which may be kept classified — will not immediately be hit with sanctions but could face them in the future.

The expected release of the report has caused concern in the Russian elite, according to U.S. officials and U.S. advisers to Russian business leaders.

Peskov shrugged it off, however, saying that “we are convinced that it will have no influence” on the Russian election.

With the Kremlin controlling the levers of political power nationwide after years of steps to suppress dissent and marginalize political opponents, the election is virtually certain to hand Putin a new six-year term.

Related: Russia’s elite are nervous about new US sanctions

Political commentators say Putin, 65, is eager for a high turnout to strengthen his mandate in what could be his last stint in the Kremlin, as he would be constitutionally barred from seeking a third straight term in 2024.

U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller and three congressional panels are separately investigating alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and any potential ties between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

Trump denies there was any collusion, and Putin has denied that Russia interfered in the U.S. election process, despite what U.S. officials say is substantial evidence.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This proposed nuke would’ve destroyed a continent

Soon after America set off its largest-ever nuclear blast on Bikini Atoll in the Pacific, one of the scientists behind the weapon’s design aimed for something even bigger: a 10,000-megaton blast that would’ve been 670,000 times as powerful as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, so large it would’ve destroyed a continent and poisoned the earth.


The story of the unnamed weapon centers around one man. Edward Teller was born in Hungary and was one of the European-Jewish physicists who escaped to the U.S. as Nazi Germany began its rise. He was one of the authors of the letter signed by Albert Einstein and sent to President Franklin D. Roosevelt that spurred America’s nuclear program in World War II.

But even while working on the atomic bomb during World War II, Teller and a few others were urging for a much larger “super bomb” than the first atomic weapons. They believed that, while the atomic bombs were aiming for about 10-15 kilotons of power, weapons that would boom at 10-15 megatons were possible.

While Teller’s first proposal for the super bomb would later be proven impossible, a 1951 design he created with Polish mathematician Stanislaw Ulam was the basis of thermonuclear weapons. The Teller-Ulam design was first detonated at Enewetak Atoll in 1952, creating a 10.4-megaton blast that dug out a 6,240-foot-wide crater at the test site. Some of the military men at the test responded with dread, certain that such a weapon could never be used.

Teller, on the other hand, wanted to think bigger.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

The Castle Bravo test was the largest nuclear blast ever created by the U.S.

(U.S. Federal Government)

He proposed linking together multiple thermonuclear devices to create larger blasts. Slight permutations on this idea led to the U.S. CASTLE Bravo test with a 15-megaton yield—the largest America ever set off, and the Tsar Bomba display by Russia—the largest nuclear blast ever created by man at 50-megatons.

But at the Castle test series in 1954, while Teller and Ulam’s overall concept of thermonuclear devices was being proven over and over, the only individual bomb actually designed by Teller himself was a dud. It went off at only 110-kilotons, a tiny fraction of power compared to every other weapon tested in the series.

And Teller had a lot riding on success. The U.S. had split its nuclear efforts into two labs, adding Livermore National Laboratory to Los Alamos where the original atomic bombs had been created. Teller was one of the founders of Livermore, and his friends were helping run it. There were rumors that the government might stop funding Livermore efforts, effectively killing it.

So Teller went to the next meeting with the General Advisory Committee, where the nuclear scientists proposed new lines of effort and weapon designs, with two proposed ways forward for Livermore. He wanted the laboratory to look into tactical nuclear weapon designs on one hand, and to create a 10,000-megaton nuclear weapon on the other hand.

That would be a 10-gigaton blast. Alex Wellerstein, the nuclear history professor behind the NUKEMAP application, calculated that kind of destruction.

A 10,000 megaton weapon, by my estimation, would be powerful enough to set all of New England on fire. Or most of California. Or all of the UK and Ireland. Or all of France. Or all of Germany. Or both North and South Korea. And so on.

But that only accounts for the immediate overpressure wave and fireball. The lethal nuclear fallout would have immediately lethal levels of radiation across multiple countries, and likely would have poisoned the earth. We would show you what this looks like on NUKEMAP, but Wellerstein programmed it to “only” work with blasts up to 100 megatons, the largest bomb ever constructed. Teller’s weapon would have been 100 times as powerful.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

The NUKEMAP application shows the damage from a 100-megaton blast on Moscow. The orange and yellow ovals going northeast are the fallout from the blast. While this may look safe for America, Teller’s proposed design would’ve been 100 times larger.

(NUKEMAP screenshot. Application by Alex Wellerstein)

When Teller went to the GAC with this proposal, they quickly threw cold water on it. What would be the point of such a weapon? It would be impossible to use the weapon without killing millions of civilians. Even if the bomb were dropped in the heart of the Soviet Union, it would poison vast swaths of Western Europe and potentially the U.S.

The GAC did endorse Livermore’s work on tactical nuclear weapons, and Teller eventually moved on to other passions. But the weapon is theoretically possible. But hopefully, no one can assemble a team sufficiently smart enough to design and manufacture the weapon that’s also stupid enough to build it.

After all, we already have nuclear arsenals large enough to destroy the world a few times over. Do we really need a single bomb that can do it?

(H/T to The Pentagon’s Brain, a book by Annie Jacobson where the author first learned about Teller’s proposal.)

MIGHTY TRENDING

Amputation couldn’t keep these pilots out of the skies

More than 1500 service members have lost limbs in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.


For those faced with this traumatic injury, the Department of Defense medical system has adapted in the last 20 years to speed up the recovery process and improve prosthetics.

“Our patients have challenged us by wanting more,” said Col. (Dr.) Mark Mavity, Air Force Surgeon General special assistant for Invisible Wounds and Wounded Warrior Program. “One of the unfortunate truths of war is that medicine does advance based on the large numbers of our service members who become injured.”

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet
More than 1500 service members have lost limbs in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. For those faced with this traumatic injury, the Department of Defense medical system has adapted in the last 20 years to speed up the recovery process and improve prosthetics. About 1.8 million Americans are living with amputations. The psychological challenges patients battle every day can be harsh. For most people, losing a limb profoundly impacts every aspect of their life: mentally, physically and spiritually. A strong support system can be vital to recovery and returning to duty. (U.S. Air Force video by Andrew Arthur Breese)

About 1.8 million Americans are living with amputations. The psychological challenges patients battle every day can be harsh. For most people, losing a limb profoundly impacts every aspect of their life: mentally, physically and spiritually. A strong support system can be vital to recovery and returning to duty.

Capts. Christy Wise and Ryan McGuire can attest to this. Both Wise, a C-130 pilot, and McGuire, a C-17 pilot, lost a limb and credited their support systems with helping them continuing their service and remain flying.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet
After losing her right leg above the knee in a boating accident. U.S. Air Force Capt. Christy Wise, an HC-130 pilot. Never doubted her self that she would return to serving her country and flying. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Perry Aston)

“In April of 2015, I was stationed at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. I had been flying for a couple years and had just got back from a deployment,” Wise said. “I was in Florida … out on my paddle board, just behind my best friend’s house, and I was hit by a hit-and-run boat driver. My boyfriend at the time used his t-shirt and made a tourniquet to save my life.”

Also read: Watch the Air Force Academy’s top commander tell racists ‘to get out’

A couple on a fishing boat saw it all happen and transported Wise to medical care. She lost 70 percent of her blood in approximately three minutes.

Lucky to be alive, Wise said she thought about McGuire, who in 2009, while in pilot training at Laughlin AFB, Texas, lost his leg returned to flying C-17s. She remembered him because he was only a year ahead of her in pilot training.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet
U.S. Air Force Captain Ryan McGuire, C-17 Globemaster III pilot with the 535th Airlift Squadron, lines up for a landing at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii Sep 12, 2017, McGuire lost his right leg below the knee from a boating accident in 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Perry Aston)

It was Labor Day weekend when McGuire’s accident happened. He and some friends from pilot training were out tubing.

“There was no place to tie the tube into the boat, so we had the tube in the back of the boat, and I was holding the rope,” McGuire said. “The tube caught some air and flew out the back of the boat, and then the rope unraveled, cinched around my leg and pulled me out of the boat, slammed me into the side of the boat on the way out.”

McGuire said he flew over his friends’ heads and landed in the water. The rope then unraveled around his leg and caused traumatic rope-burn damage from his right knee down to his foot.

“I was able to get back into the back ledge of the boat that’s level with the water, and then the pain started setting in, I knew something was really wrong,” he said. “My pelvis had popped open, or fractured, and my hip had dislocated, so I was in an incredible amount of pain.”

After multiple attempts to save his foot and leg, doctors were forced to amputate below the knee.

“That was probably the lowest point of my life, just going through the amputation surgery, and losing my leg for something that seemed like it was so trivial, and not that big of an accident,” McGuire said.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet
U.S. Air Force Captain Ryan McGuire, C-17 Globemaster III pilot with the 535th Airlift Squadron, lost his right leg below the knee from a boating accident in 2009, thanks to his squadron leadership, friends and family, Capt McGuire was able to rehabilitate with a prosthetic and finish his pilot training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Perry Aston)

Even at this low point, McGuire never doubted he wanted to return to flying. But for service members to return to duty after accidents such as these, they must be able to prove they can continue to function, while maintaining the safety of those they support.

McGuire’s unit and leadership backed the idea and began the process of returning him to duty.

“One of the things that I insisted on from the beginning, and all the commanders below me and above me insisted on, is if we’re going to do this, this isn’t a [publicity] stunt,” said Brig. Gen. Craig Wills, director of strategy, plans and programs for Pacific Air Forces.

Air Force: 9 reasons you should have joined the Air Force instead

Wills was the operations group commander at Laughlin AFB when the accident happened. He believes McGuire’s character, and the support he received, was the key to his recovery and return to duty.

“I think this story shows that we have great squadron commanders out there, and in my mind, the squadron commanders involved were the key to this thing,” he said. “Because they never stopped believing in [McGuire], they never stopped for one minute trying to think of a way to help this Airman succeed.”

One of the things McGuire had to prove was that he could stop the airplane with a prosthetic leg and that he could control it without any additional risk.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet
U.S. Air Force Captain Ryan McGuire, C-17 Globemaster III pilot with the 535th Airlift Squadron, adjusts his prosthetic before a training flight, Sep 12, 2017 on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. McGuire brought his prosthetist into a C-17 simulator, to make sure his prosthetic can properly push the rudder pedals. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Perry Aston)

McGuire also appeared before a board. But even here he wasn’t alone. His squadron commanders and some classmates also flew to San Antonio to testify on his behalf.

“It was amazing for me as the group commander to just look around see all these gentlemen that were lining up to support Ryan,” Wills said.

In 2010, McGuire received word from the medical board that he was cleared to return to pilot training.

Now, several years later, Wise was in the back of an ambulance worrying about her Air Force career.

“I remember laying in the back of an ambulance thinking, ‘I can’t feel my leg, this is not good,'” Wise said. “But worst-case scenario, ‘Ryan did it, I can do it.'”

Wise’s injuries were so severe her leg had to be amputated above the knee.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet
U.S. Air Force Capt. Christy Wise, early after losing her leg during a boating accident. (courtesy photo of the Wise family)

But before she even left the hospital Wise said the support from her unit and other Airmen had already commenced. She even received phone calls from other amputees wanting to help.

“They would say, ‘Hey, when you’re ready to talk, I got back to flying, we’ll tell you the steps, you can do it, don’t doubt it,'” Wise said.

So, like McGuire, Wise put in the work and proved she could still fly.

“And now I’m here, I’m at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base [Arizona] back on flying status, back to my job and loving it,” she said.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet
Since her accident U.S. Air Force Capt. Christy Wise has participated in wounded warrior games, the Invictus games, with this year leading the USA team as captain. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Perry Aston)

McGuire’s injury may have paved the way for Wise to return to duty, but it is not what helped her regain her flying status.

“That’s when I realized how much support I really had from my unit, from the Air Force, from my family, from my friends,” she said. “I mean, half of my base showed up in the hospital room the next day in Florida. So it’s weird, because it’s such a dark chapter, but such a good chapter too.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Here’s another potential reason for North Korea’s nuclear provocations

CIA Director Mike Pompeo on Monday said it was “fair to say” that North Korea, which has a history of sharing its nuclear capabilities, could be approached by potential customers, such as Iran, to sell secrets about its missile programs.


“The North Koreans have a long history of being proliferators and sharing their knowledge, their technology, their capacities around the world,” Pompeo said in a Fox News interview on Monday.

“As North Korea continues to improve its ability to do longer-range missiles and to put nuclear weapons on those missiles, it is very unlikely, if they get that capability, that they wouldn’t share it with lots of folks, and Iran would certainly be someone who would be willing to pay them for it,” Pompeo said.

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet
U.S. Congresman Mike Pompeo speaking at the 2011 Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC. | Creative Commons photo by Gage Skidmore

Though the US believes it has solid information on North Korea’s capabilities, the reclusive nation’s ultimate intent in ramping up its weapons program remains an “incredibly difficult intelligence problem,” Pompeo added.

“We think we have an understanding,” Pompeo said. “We think Kim Jong Un wants these weapons for protecting his regime and then, ultimately, the reunification of the peninsula. But there’s still a lot that the intelligence community needs to learn.”

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet
North Korea prepares for a test launch of a mobile nuclear ballistic missile. (Photo from KCNA)

In August, The Washington Post reported that North Korea unexpectedly broke through a major hurdle in its nuclear-missile program after it was able to marry a miniaturized nuclear warhead with a missile. The report led to an increasingly bellicose verbal exchange between President Donald Trump and North Korea, with the hermit kingdom threatening the US territory of Guam.

On September 3, North Korea continued to rattle its global neighbors, conducting its sixth and most powerful nuclear test. Following the test, the UN Security Council unanimously increased sanctions on North Korea — albeit a watered-down version to appease China and Russia — by imposing a cap on crude-oil imports and banning exports of textiles, according to Reuters.

“Look, I worry first and foremost about the threat from North Korea, in the sense that we have a place that is now in the cusp of having the capacity we’d hope they’d never have,” Pompeo continued, “with a leader who makes decisions, at the very least, in a very, very tight circle, in which we have limited access.”