Army reconsidering XM25 'Airburst' weapon in spite of combat successes - We Are The Mighty
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Army reconsidering XM25 ‘Airburst’ weapon in spite of combat successes

Dodging enemy gunfire in close-quarter urban combat, seeking to destroy enemy fighters hiding behind walls, rocks and trees and firing ammunition especially engineered to explode at a particular, pre-planned point in space – comprise the highly sought-after advantages of the Army’s XM25 “airburst” weapon.


However, despite the initial promise of prototypes of the technology in combat in Afghanistan as an emerging way to bring a decisive advantage to soldiers in a firefight, the future of the XM25 is now uncertain due to ongoing Army needs, requirements, weapons inventory assessments, and budget considerations, service officials told Scout Warrior.

The Army’s XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement airburst weapon system, in development for several years, was used to destroy Taliban fighters hiding behind grape-growing walls in Afghanistan during a Forward Operational Assessment of the weapon several years ago. Extensive analysis and adjustments to the weapon followed this operational combat evaluation, Army officials explained.

An XM25 airburst grenade launcher in July 2009. | US Army photo

Part of the calculus regarding a production decision about the weapon relates to the possibility of the weapon “misfiring,” several news reports said. Army officials did not comment on this, however a 2015 news report in the Economist said a US soldier was slightly injured during training with the XM 25 when it misfired. It does now, nonetheless, appear as though this problem was pervasive or persistent with the weapon – but it could be a factor amidst ongoing plans for the weapon’s future.

Army and Pentagon weapons developers and budget planners are now deliberating plans for the weapon, which could be formally produced and deployed within the next several years – or passed over due to fiscal constraints.

While the XM25 would clearly be useful in a major force-on-force engagement or great power conflict, airburst attacks have particular value in a counterinsurgency type-fight wherein enemies seek to use terrain, building, rocks, ditches or trees to protect themselves from being targeted.

US Army photo

By attacking with an “airburst” round, soldiers do not have to have a linear view or direct line of sight to an enemy target; if they know an enemy is behind a rock or tree (in defilade) – the weapon can explode above or near the location to ensure the target is destroyed.

The weapon uses laser-rangefinder technology to fire a high-explosive airburst round capable of detonating at a specific point near an enemy target hidden or otherwise obscured by terrain or other obstacles, Army developers have explained.

Program managers had been seeking to expedite development of the system, refine and improve the technology, and ultimately begin formal production by the fall of 2014, however its current trajectory is now unclear.

“The XM25 brings a new capability to the soldier for the counter-defilade fight, allowing him to be able to engage enemy combatants behind walls, behind trees or in buildings,” former XM25 program manager Col. Scott Armstrong previously explained in an Army statement.

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Copy of Vietnam War troops hated the M16 and called it a piece of garbage

Vietnam War troops hated the M16 and dubbed it the “Mattel 16” because it felt more like a toy than a battle rifle.


“We called it the Mattel 16 because it was made of plastic,” said Marine veteran Jim Wodecki in the video below. “At that time it was a piece of garbage.”

It weighed about half as much as the AK-47 Kalashnikov and fired a smaller bullet – the 5.56 mm round. In short, the troops didn’t have faith in the rifle’s stopping power.

Related: This is what happens when the rules of engagement are loosened

Compounding the M16’s troubles was its lack of a proper cleaning kit. It was supposed to be so advanced that it would never jam, so the manufacturer didn’t feel it needed to make them. But the M16 did jam.

“We hated it,” said Marine veteran John Culbertson. “Because if it got any grime or corruption or dirt in it, which you always get in any rifle out in the field, it’s going to malfunction.”

The troops started using cleaning kits from other weapons to unjam their rifles.

“The shells ruptured in the chambers and the only way to get the shell out was to put a cleaning rod in it,” said Wodecki. “So you can imagine in a firefight trying to clean your weapon after two or three rounds. It was a nightmare for Marines at the time.

Towards the end of 1965, journalists picked up on mounting reports of gross malfunctions. The American public became outraged over stories of troops dying face down in the mud because their rifles failed to fire, according to a story published by the Small Arms Review.

Thankfully, the reports did not fall on deaf ears. The manufacturer fixed the jamming problems and issued cleaning kits. The new and improved rifle became the M16A1.

This video features Vietnam Marines recounting their first-hand troubles with the M16:

LightningWar1941/YouTube
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The US Air Force really did try to suppress an amazing A-10 video

The John Q. Public blog, run by retired Air Force officer Tony Carr, came across a video he suspects was produced by the Air Force’s Combat Camera units, lauding the A-10, its crews, its pilots, and the capabilities of its support for ground troops.


“ComCam is perhaps alone in its possession of the unique combination of access and capability to create something this close to the mission with such superior production values,” Carr writes. “A ComCam airman risked mortal danger to make this film and tell this story, getting immersed in a firefight along the way (you’ll see him drop his camera and hear him discharge his weapon in the video).”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_L_TjXXx7eQ

Carr published the video, called Hawg (above), on his blog’s YouTube page and hit more than 935,000 views since it went live on September 4. Its popularity is related to how much the A-10 is beloved by airmen who work and fly the airframe, as well as troops on the ground who need it for close air support. It’s also a really good documentary about the A-10’s combat role. So why would the Air Force not release it?

He suspected the USAF tried to suppress the documentary for political reasons, chiefly the effort by the Air Force to mothball the A-10 in favor of developing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. He tried to get a statement from the Air Force before  releasing it, but received none. After its release, he received a statement from a USAF spokesman explaining the role of Combat Camera and uses of its imagery:

“The documentation was captured by Combat Camera.  The primary intent of Combat Camera missions [is] to ensure documentation of military activities during wartime operations, worldwide crises, and contingencies. The foundational mission of Combat Camera was achieved.  The documentation aided mission assessment. However, the video in your possession never entered the security and policy review process because it was not finalized for any other purpose.”

Carr found another video, a more polished version of Hawg, called Grunts in the Sky, which contained graphics, music, and credits, which Carr believes is evidence of editorial discretion to get the video through an approval process. That the Hawg video includes unblurred faces of USAF JTAC operators and doesn’t have name titles of the A-10 pilots interviewed there might be some truth to the official statement, as far as COMCAM is concerned. Carr recently learned from sources inside the Air Force the video was approved through its normal process but once it hit a certain staff level, was shot down.

Officers close to the situation said that the wing commander at Bagram threatened UCMJ action against anyone who leaked the video, going so far as invoking the word “mutiny” in his warning.

The Air Force Public Affairs website describes Combat Camera’s mission: “COMCAM imagery serves a visual record of an operation and is of immeasurable value to decision makers in the OSD, Joint Staff, and combatant commands. COMCAM imagery is also significant for public affairs, public diplomacy and psychological operations.

Combat Camera imagery is painstakingly reviewed and released (or not) by Public Affairs Officers while in the field and then back at their home units when other products are created from existing imagery. The Hawg video would have to have been reviewed before its release, including each clip used in its final form.

NOW: BRRRRRT: Congress wants the Air Force to keep the A-10 aircraft that troops totally love

OR: Why the A-10 is the best CAS platform

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Here’s what 70 years of US air superiority looks like


On March 5th, Airmen from all over the US converged on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona for the 20th annual Heritage Flight, showcasing 70 years of US air superiority.

The P-38 Lightnings, P-40 Warhawks, P-47 Thunderbolts, and P-51 Mustangs, that ruled the skies during World War II flew alongside the F-16s, F-22s, and the F-35 in this moving tribute to the US’s military aviation.

“The best thing about being a part of Heritage Flight is the impact that is has on people when they see us at an airshow,” said Dan Friedkin, the founder of the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation and demonstration pilot, Airman Magazine reports.

“The music, the sound of the airplanes, and the visuals, inspire great feelings. It makes people proud to be an American, proud of the US Air Force and happy to see others inspired.”

See the highlights of the flights below:

The aircraft, old and new, have to be meticulously maintained by the airmen.

U.S. Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.

Senior Airman Anthony Naugle, right, an A-10 crew chief with the 357th Fighter Squadron, 355th Fighter Group based at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Ariz., gets a lesson in the maintenance of one of the two 1,000 hp (746 kW), turbo-supercharged, 12-cylinder Allison V-1710 engines on a P-38 “Lightning” from Doug Abshier after the day’s practice flights at the Heritage Flight Training Course, Mar 5, 2016.

93-year-old Fred Roberts, a World War II P-51 Mustang pilot who took it to the Luftwaffe, was a hit at the event. “I love joking with young pilots and talking about our ventures,” Roberts said. “It truly puts a visual to the lineage of the aircraft.”

U.S. Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.

Fred Roberts, 93, second from right, a former P-51D pilot during WWII with the 354th Fighter Squadron, 355th Fighter Group in England, talks with Lt. Gen. Mark C. “Chris” Nowland, Commander, 12th Air Force, Air Combat Command, and Commander, Air Forces Southern, US Southern Command, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. during the Heritage Flight Training Course at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Ariz., Mar 6, 2016. Roberts was tasked with destroying 57 P-51s after the cease of hostilities in Europe; including one of the planes he flew in combat.

Here’s a view from inside the Mustang’s cockpit with the pilot who flew in the Heritage Flight.

U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brandon Shapiro

Vlado Lenoch, a pilot with Air Combat Command’s Heritage Flight program, taxis the runway at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base on March 5, 2016.

A look at the F-86’s cockpit. The Sabre was a staple of the Korean War.

U.S. Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.

A Heritage Flight pilot taxis an F-86 “Sabre” to join with a P-51D, F-16 and an F-22 for formation practice during the Heritage Flight Training Course at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Ariz., Mar 4, 2016.

An airman and his son take in the sights.

U.S. Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.

Brad Balazs, an F-16 pilot with the 162nd Air National Guard points out WWII-era fighters to his son Whitt Balazs, 2, on the flight line of the Heritage Flight Training Course at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Ariz., Mar 3, 2016.

The P-40 was first produced in 1939, but thanks to the maintainers at the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation, this cockpit looks like it just rolled off the line.

U.S. Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.

The cockpit of a vintage P-40 fighter on the flight line of the Heritage Flight Training Course at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Ariz., Mar 6, 2016.

An F-16 gets ready to join the formation.

U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brandon Shapiro

An F-16 Fighting Falcon is marshaled into position at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base on March 4, 2016.

Here an F-22 Raptor leads the pack of heritage fighters, but there is an even newer aircraft at the show …

U.S. Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.

Four generations and over 70 years of US Army Air Corps / US Air Force air superiority, and the technological leaps that maintained it, are represented by a single formation of an F-22 “Raptor”, F-86 “Sabre”, F-16 “Fighting Falcon” and a P-51D “Mustang” during the Heritage Flight Training Course at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Ariz., Mar 5, 2016.

… the F-35 Lightning II.

U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brandon Shapiro

An F-35 Lightning II flies around the airspace of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base on March 5, 2016.

Here’s the business end of the F-35’s namesake, the F-38 Lightning.

U.S. Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.

Replicas of four Browning M2 machine guns and one Hispano 20mm canon are mounted in nose of a P-38 “Lightning” participating in the Heritage Flight Training Course at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Ariz., Mar 3, 2016.

Here they are flying together …

U.S. Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.

The Lockheed F-35 “Lightning II” flies in formation for the first time with its namesake, the WWII-era Lockheed P-38 “Lightning” during formation practice flights at the Heritage Flight Training Course at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Ariz., Mar 4, 2016.

… and side by side.

U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brandon Shapiro

An F-38 Lightning and an F-35 Lightning II fly side-by-side for the first time at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base on March 4, 2016.

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This is why deployed Marines don’t eat Charms candy

They don’t even put Charms in MREs anymore. Because if everyone is just going to chuck the candy out the Humvee window, that’s just a gross waste of high-fructose corn syrup.


And that is candy corn’s job.

Those who aren’t new to the service and have ever deployed with Marines probably saw the same scene at some point. Hungry Marines pour into their MREs and take out their favorite parts and toss the rest into the MRE box (a process known as ratf*cking). Let’s face it, some MRE parts are definitely better than others.

Look, I like wheat snack bread, and I don’t need jalapeno cheese spread to eat it.

No matter what an individual’s tastes were, one item was always discarded: the Charms candy. The reason for that was a mixture of superstition and because the younger guys knew someone would slap the candy out of their hands or out of their mouths for the cardinal sin of even opening the wrapper.

The look you get when the smell of Charms fills the humvee. (HBO)

The simplest answer is that Marines grow up in the Corps learning that Charms are just plain bad luck. Whether it was learned from saltier Marines or experienced firsthand, those things might as well be pure evil.

Eating Charms is like begging for the world’s largest thunderstorm to rain down on you and your platoon – even in the desert. Or they might set off a roadside bomb. Some think you’ll get mortared just for opening an MRE with Charms in it – unless you bury it.

Some troops have been known to donate them to the more persistent local children – at high velocity. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Grant Okubo)

The luck varied as much as the flavors did. As Sgt. Kenneth Wilson told Agence France-Presse just before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, a lemon-flavored Charm could cause a vehicle breakdown. The green ones were the ones that brought the rain. Raspberry meant certain death.

You might as well be eating apricots.

MIGHTY TRENDING

7 times the Russian and Chinese got dangerously close to the US military

A Russian fighter buzzed a US Navy reconnaissance plane Nov. 5, 2018, coming dangerously close to the American aircraft during a decidedly “unsafe” incident.

“This interaction was determined to be unsafe due to the Su-27 conducting a high speed pass directly in front of the mission aircraft, which put our pilots and crew at risk,” the Navy said in a statement, adding, “The intercepting Su-27 made an additional pass, closing with the EP-3 [Aries] and applying its afterburner while conducting a banking turn away.”


The Department of Defense said there was “no radio contact,” explaining that they came “came out of nowhere.” The department explained that these actions “put our aircrews in danger,” stressing that “there is no reason for this behavior.”

Nov. 5, 2018’s intercept is one of many close encounters the US military has had with the Russians over the years, and the US has similar problems with the Chinese as well.

Here are seven times the Russian and Chinese militaries came so close to US ships and aircraft they risked disaster.

Guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur operates in the South China Sea

(US Navy photo)

1. Chinese Type 052 Luyang II-class destroyer nearly collided with US Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyer on Sept. 30, 2018.

In response to a US Navy freedom-of-navigation operation in the South China Sea, the Chinese military dispatched a People’s Liberation Army Navy warship to challenge the USS Decatur near the Spratly Islands.

The Chinese vessel “approached USS Decatur in an unsafe and unprofessional maneuver in the vicinity of Gaven Reef in the South China Sea,” where it engaged in “a series of increasingly aggressive maneuvers accompanied by warnings for Decatur to depart,” a spokesman for the US Pacific Fleet said in a statement. The Decatur was forced to alter its original course to avoid a collision with the Chinese ship.

“You are on dangerous course,” the Chinese destroyer warned over the radio, according to a transcript of the exchange obtained by the South China Morning Post. The PLAN warship told the US vessel that it was on a “dangerous course,” reportedly stressing that it would “suffer consequences” if it did not change course.

In the video of the incident, an unidentified Navy sailor can be heard saying the Chinese ship is “trying to push us out of the way.”

An EP-3E Aries, assigned to the “World Watchers” of Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 1, left, escorted by an EA-18G Growler, assigned to the “Patriots” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 140, performs a flyby over aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75).

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Bobby J Siens)

2. Russian Su-27 Flanker buzzed a US Navy EP-3 Aries surveillance plane over the Black Sea on Jan. 29, 2018.

During this intercept, the Russian military aircraft came within five feet of the US Navy plane.

“For the Russian fighter aircraft to fly this close to the US Navy aircraft, especially for extended periods of time, is unsafe,” US Navy Capt. Bill Ellis, Task Force 67 commander, said in a statement at the time. “The smallest lapse of focus or error in airmanship by the intercepting aircrew can have disastrous consequences. There is no margin for error and insufficient time or space for our aircrews to take corrective action.”

The Department of State accused Russia of “flagrantly violating existing agreements and international law,” CNN reported.

A dramatic photo of a Russian jet coming within a few feet of a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance jet over the Baltic Sea June 19, 2017, in a maneuver that has been criticized as unsafe.

(U.S. European Command photo by Master Sgt Charles Larkin Snr.)

3. Russian Su-27 Flanker intercepted a US Air Force RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft on July 19, 2017.

The Russian Flanker “rapidly” approached the US reconnaissance plane, coming within five feet of the US aircraft. The Russian pilot engaged in “provocative” maneuvers, according to US defense officials, who accused the Russians of flying “erratically.”

Intercepts occur frequently, but while most are routine, some are considered “unsafe.” This incident was classified as such “due to the high rate of closure speed and poor control of the aircraft during the intercept,” Fox News reported.

In photos from the incident, the pilot can be seen clearly in the cockpit of the Russian Su-27. At those distances and speeds, the slightest miscalculation increases the odds of a mid-air collision.

U.S. Air Force WC-135 Constant Phoenix aircraft is refuelled from an air tanker.

(US Air Force photo)

4. Two Chinese Su-30 fighter jets flies inverted over a US Air Force radiation detection plane over the East China Sea on May 17, 2017.

A pair of People’s Liberation Army Air Force Su-30 derivatives came within 150 feet of the aircraft, with one flying inverted over the top of the American plane, US defense officials told CNN at the time.

The incident, which was deemed “unprofessional” by the US military, followed a close encounter a year earlier between the US Navy and a pair of Shenyang J-11 fighter jets. The fighters flew within 50 feet of an EP-3 Ares spy plane.

Two years prior in the summer of 2014, a Chinese fighter flew within 30 feet of a US Navy US P-8 Poseidon aircraft, doing a “barrel roll” over the top.

In this image released by the U.S. Air Force, a U.S. RC-135U flying in international airspace over the Baltic Sea, is intercepted by a Russian SU-27 Flanker on June 19, 2017.

(US Air Force photo)

5. Russian Su-27 Flanker “barrel rolls” over a US Air Force RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft over the Baltic Sea on April 29, 2016.

The Russian Flanker flew within 25 feet of the US plane before conducting a “barrel roll” over the top of the American aircraft.

“The SU-27 intercepted the U.S. aircraft flying a routine route at high rate of speed from the side then proceeded to perform an aggressive maneuver that posed a threat to the safety of the US aircrew in the RC-135,” a defense spokesperson told CNN.

In an earlier incident that same month, a Russian pilot “performed erratic and aggressive maneuvers,” including another barrel roll, within 50 feet of another US aircraft.

That April, Russian jets also buzzed the US Navy repeatedly, at one point coming within 30 feet of a US Navy destroyer.

f the Military Sealift Command ocean surveillance ship USNS Impeccable (T-AGOS-23), forcing the ship to conduct an emergency “all stop” in order to avoid collision.

(US Navy photo)

6. Five Chinese vessels harass a US Navy surveillance ship in the South China Sea on March 8, 2009.

Five Chinese vessels — a mixture of military and paramilitary vessels — “shadowed and aggressively maneuvered in dangerously close proximity to USNS Impeccable, in an apparent coordinated effort to harass the US ocean surveillance ship while it was conducting routine operations in international waters,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

The fishing vessels, assessed by experts to be part of China’s paramilitary Maritime Militia, closed to within 25 feet of the Impeccable. One stopped directly in front of the US Navy ship, forcing it to make an emergency “all stop” to avoid colliding with the Chinese vessel.

The US crew members used firehoses to defend their vessel as the Chinese threw wood into the water and use poles to snag the acoustic equipment on the Navy surveillance ship. The Pentagon described the incident as “one of the most aggressive actions we’ve seen in some time.”

A few years later in 2013, China and the US clashed again in the South China Sea, as a Chinese warship forced a US Navy guided-missile cruiser to change course to avoid a collision.

Damaged EP-3 spy plane at Lingshui Airfield after the fatal collision.

(Lockheed Martin photo)

7. Chinese J-8 fighter jet collided with a US Navy EP-3 Aries spy plane over the South China Sea on April 1, 2001.

While most intercepts, no matter dangerous, pass without incident, some have been known to be fatal.

During the unsafe incident, the two Chinese J-8 interceptor fighters made multiple close passes near the US aircraft. On one pass, one of the aircraft collided with the US spy plane, causing the fighter to break into pieces and killing the pilot — Lt. Cdr. Wang Wei. The EP-3 was damaged in the collision and was forced to make an unauthorized emergency landing at Lingshui Airfield on Hainan Island.

The crash, a definitive tragedy but not the unmitigated disaster it could have been, proved extremely damaging to US-Chinese relations.

The incident was preceded by a pattern of aggressive intercepts that began in December 2000, according to a Congressional Research Service report. Between December 2000 and April 13, 2001, there were 44 PLA interceptions of US aircraft. In six instances, Chinese fighters came within 30 feet of the American planes, and in two cases, the distance was less than 10 feet.

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

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Former US Sen. Jim Webb may lose an award for past comments on women

Several Naval Academy alumni have asked the alumni association to rescind an award planned for former U.S. Sen. James Webb because of his decades-old essay questioning the decision to admit women into military service academies.


Webb, who also served as Secretary of the Navy, wrote the 7,000-word essay “Women Can’t Fight” for Washingtonian Magazine in 1979.

“There is a place for women in our military, but not in combat. And their presence at institutions dedicated to the preparation of men for combat command is poisoning that preparation,” Webb wrote.

Senator Jim Webb. (Official photo courtesy of U.S. Senate)

He called the dormitory Bancroft Hall “a horny woman’s dream” and quoted former male alumni arguing that attending the academy is “scarring many women in ways they may not comprehend for years.”

The essay has been described by several alumni as a “manifesto” that potentially empowered male midshipmen to harass their female counterparts.

Retired Navy Cmdr. Laureen Miklos, a 1981 graduate, wrote in an email that the decision by the Naval Academy Alumni Association to give its Distinguished Graduate Award to Webb was “a hit to the gut.” She taught at the academy from 1998 to 2001 and described Webb’s essay as a “living document” still referenced by mids.

Miklos wrote the Annapolis-based association, arguing Webb’s essay validated those who thought women didn’t belong at the academy. She recalled an upperclassmen ordering a female classmate during her time at the academy to stand at attention at meals and shout “I am not a horny woman, Sir.”

Webb plans to be be present Friday when the association holds its Distinguished Graduate Award Ceremony. The award is given to alumni who have “personal character which epitomizes the traits we expect in our officer corps” and have made “significant contributions” as officers or leaders in industry or government.

Related: This book chronicles how women served alongside special ops in combat

Webb, who graduated from the academy in 1968, served as a rifle platoon and company commander during the Vietnam War. He earned the Navy Cross for “extraordinary heroism” and two Purple Hearts for injuries that ended his active-duty career.

Webb released a statement to The Capital on March 27, 2017, saying he wrote a “strongly argumentative magazine article” during the intense national debate of women serving in combat.

“Clearly, if I had been a more mature individual, there are things that I would not have said in that magazine article,” he wrote in the statement. “To the extent that this article subjected women at the academy or the armed forces to undue hardship, I remain profoundly sorry.”

But Webb, who ran a brief campaign for the presidency as a Democrat in 2016, said he doesn’t regret debating the “long-term process of properly assimilating women” into the military. He said he is “deeply proud” of the contributions he made as Secretary of the Navy and a senator from Virginia. He cited the Navy-wide study he commission as secretary, which he said “opened up more positions to women than any secretary in history.”

Retired Adm. Robert Natter, chairman of the Board of Trustees for the association, said in a statement that Webb’s most recent comments “reflect how his views have evolved since that article 38 years ago.” Natter said Webb was selected by an independent selection chaired by retired Adm. Mike Mullen, a classmate of Webb’s and a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“His many years of service are a matter of very public record, and on that entire record he was selected as a Distinguished Graduate,” Natter wrote.

Retired Capt. Jack Reape, a 1984 graduate, said an upperclassmen handed him a copy of the essay as a plebe. Reape said he and his classmates didn’t “support the women at the academy” during his time but that has since apologized to several of his female classmates.

Reape said he doesn’t see the point of taking the award from Webb because he “couldn’t name anyone else on that list.” He also said the award doesn’t have a big impact.

“He wouldn’t have been on my list of people,” Reape said. “We were in the Navy, we’re used to things not going to our way and pressing on. It’s the way it goes.”

Kelly Henry, a 1984 graduate, also wrote the association with criticism of the award. Henry said Webb’s essay was highly-circulated while she was in Annapolis and it caused “harm” to many of her classmates.

“The women will tell you that article was like throwing gasoline on the fire,” she said.

Henry said she was one of the “lucky” ones during her time at the academy and was in a company that welcomed the female mids. She said she was surprised to see Webb honored with the award, since 2016 marked the 40th year of women attending the Naval Academy.

She attended the academy’s celebration in the fall.

“At that celebration I felt we were embraced in the community,” Henry said. “We are no longer seen as something that tainted it, but now to see this? It completely takes away that feeling.”

Other 2017 Distinguished Graduates

—Retired Adm. Harry D. Train II ’49 — Train served as NATO supreme allied commander Atlantic and was also commander of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet from 1978 to 1982. He retired in 1982 and became involved in civic affairs in Hampton Roads, Virginia.

— Milledge A. “Mitch” Hart ’56 — Hart is the founder/co-founder of seven companies. After serving as a Marine in Oklahoma and Okinawa, he worked with alumnus Ross Perot to found Electronic Data Systems, a information technology equipment and services company. He later co-founded Home Depot, which became the second-largest retailer in the country.

—Retired Vice Adm. Cutler Dawson ’70 — Dawson is president and CEO of the Navy Federal Credit Union and was in the Navy for about 35 years. Under Dawson, the Enterprise Battle Group conducted strikes for Operation Desert Fox in the Arabian Gulf and Operation Allied for in the Adriatic Sea. He retired from the military in 2004 and became president of the Vienna, Virginia-based credit union.

—Retired Adm. Eric T. Olson ’73 — Olson is the former commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command. He’s the first Navy SEAL to reach three- and four-star rank and the first naval officer to lead Special Operations Command. He retired in 2011 after serving for 38 years. After retiring, he founded ETO Group, an independent national security consulting firm.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Russia’s ‘new’ tank tactics are actually old US maneuvers

Russia claims to have developed new tank attack strategies to baffle and destroy modern adversaries while counteracting dangers, according to RIA Novosti, a Russian news agency.

With the advent of suicide cars, IEDs and anti-tank missile systems, Russian T-72 tank crews have implemented new strategies, such as “tank carousels,” “tank trousers” and “Syrian shaft,” according to Defence Blog, which cited the RIA article.


Tank carousels involve several platforms rotating in a circle and firing like a revolver.

“It allows us to fire over an unlimited time period,” Captain Roman Schegolev told RIA, according to Sputnik. “There can be three, six, nine or more machines. They move uninterrupted in a circular motion, one pummeling the enemy, the other moving to the rear and reloading, the third preparing to enter firing position, and so on. Non-stop shooting; just make sure to feed the shells.”

Unlike Abrams tanks, T-72s have automatic loaders which allows for the maneuver, Schegolev added.

“On the other side they will break down and open return fire, revealing their armament,” Schegolev said. “Then our disguised sniper tanks with specially trained crews step into action. They quickly and efficiently strike the identified targets.”

Russian T-72

(Russian Defense Ministry)

This strategy was especially successful in Syria, where T-72s were able to fire atop and then hide behind embankments. It can even be used when the tank crews don’t know with what the enemy is armed, Defence Blog reported, citing RIA.

The tank trousers tactic, on the other hand, involves tanks rotating between trenches, staying in each trench for no more than a few seconds.

“The tank enters the trench, fires, kicks into reverse and moves to the next. Enemy anti-tank weapons don’t have time to react,” Sputnik reported.

The third tactic, Syrian shaft, involves tanks hiding behind parapets and shooting through holes in the wall before scooting away, which is effective against ATGM and IED attacks, according to Jane’s 360.

Unfortunately for the Russian crews, The National Interest’s Michael Peck adroitly rained on their parade.

“What’s interesting here isn’t the tactics themselves, but rather that Russia is trumpeting them as innovative,” Peck wrote.

“Rotating tanks in and out of the firing line, rapid fire shooting and switching between alternate firing positions have been standard practice since World War II (the Russians would have learned this the hard way at the hands of the Germans),” Peck wrote. “These are tactics that American, British, Israeli and other tank crews would be familiar with.”

“Tanks may differ between nations,” Peck wrote. “But often tactics are the same.”

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

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Here are 6 things you may not have known about the US president’s personal jet

It’s the most famous aircraft in the world, a highly-visible symbol of the United States wherever it travels.


Known as Air Force One, and popularly nicknamed ‘the Flying White House’, this massive jumbo jet, decked out in a special blue, white and silver livery, ferries U.S. presidents, their families, members of the press and various staffers and Secret Service protective agents across the globe on official trips to foreign and domestic destinations.

While Air Force One itself is incredibly famous, it turns out that not a heck of a lot about this unique aircraft seems to be known in public circles. So the next time you find yourself at a party and you feel like impressing a few folks with Air Force One facts they probably didn’t know, today’s your lucky day! Here are 6 things about the President’s personal aircraft that you more than likely didn’t know:

1. “Air Force One” is technically a callsign and not the aircraft’s actual designation.

Columbine II, Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s official transport and the first presidential plane to use the Air Force One callsign (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

“Air Force One” is the callsign attached to any USAF aircraft the president is physically present on. The famous Boeing 747 decked out in the presidential scheme is officially designated “VC-25.” The Air Force One callsign originated in 1953 after air traffic controllers mistakenly put an aircraft carrying President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the same airspace as a civilian airliner over New York City, after confusing the presidential transport’s name and code for a commercial flight.

Ever since, every military vehicle carrying America’s head honcho is temporarily relabeled with the name of the service the vehicle belongs to, followed by “One” (e.g. Marine One).

2. Each VC-25 has its own medical suite aboard the aircraft.

Pres. George W. Bush in the Presidential office aboard Air Force One in 2008 (Photo White House)

You read that correctly; whenever the president is aboard, Air Force One carries a qualified military surgeon/physician along for the ride. A small medical center aboard the aircraft, fully stocked and equipped, can be converted into an operating room should the need arise. While no sitting president has had to avail of the on-board doctor’s abilities and talents, it’s still helpful to always have one nearby, just in case.

3. Both VC-25s are equipped with extensive countermeasures and defensive systems.

A Secret Service protective agent stands vigilant over Air Force One as it refuels at Ramstein Air Base in Germany (Photo US Air Force)

On any given day, the threats to the president’s life number in the hundreds, though the Secret Service does everything it can to make sure the risks are largely negligible.

The Air Force also does its part by outfitting each VC-25 with the very best in defensive systems available at the moment.  It’s unknown what exactly these systems consist of, but it could be safely assumed that the VC-25 comes standard with missile jammers, flare dispensers and more. On top of that, each Air Force One flight carries a small army of well-armed Secret Service agents and Air Force security specialists to provide security for the President and the aircraft on the ground.

4. It is one of the most expensive aircraft the US Air Force has ever operated.

A VC-25 arrives at Andrews AFB with the casket of deceased Pres. Gerald Ford (Photo US Air Force)

Not only is the VC-25 one of the largest jets flown by the USAF, it’s also one of the most expensive the service has ever flown in its entire history. At an operating cost of approximately $200,000 per hour, Air Force One flights dwarf the expenses incurred by every other military-crewed and flown aircraft like the E-4B Nightwatch, the C-5 Galaxy and the B-2 Spirit. The security measures, passenger support (for members of the press, Secret Service and White House Staff), and communications systems operations all come together to account for this sky high figure.

5. The President can seamlessly interface with the military and government while airborne.

Each VC-25 possesses a highly integrated communications suite, staffed by a team of Air Force communication systems operators. These CSOs constantly monitor the aircraft’s satellite data-links, intranets and phone lines, ensuring that all incoming and outgoing calls on each flight are secured and highly encrypted.

In the event of national emergencies, the President can interact with military units from the aircraft, or direct the government and stay appraised of the situation at hand, thanks to the communications center and its CSOs.

6. It always parks with its left side facing the crowds gathered to see its arrivals.

President Trump during a welcome ceremony at Brussels Int’l Airport. Note that the VC-25 is parked with its left side facing the crowd (Photo White House)

Though it seems almost arbitrary, Air Force One does indeed park with its left side facing onlookers crowding behind the security cordon at airports. While the exact reasons for this are unknown, as both sides of the aircraft seem identical, it could be reasonably assumed that this is done for security purposes and practicality.

Positioning the big jet in such a way masks the President’s office from sight on the right side, while it also enables the use of air stairs built into the aircraft on the left side should an external stair unit be unavailable. Air Force One never parks at an airport terminal, nor does it accept a jet bridge connection.

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Sangin falls to the Taliban

The Taliban captured a key district center in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province on Thursday while in the country’s north, an officer turned his rifle on sleeping colleagues, killing nine policemen, officials said.


The fall of Sangin district, once considered the deadliest battlefield for British and U.S. troops in Afghanistan, comes amid the insurgents’ year-long push to expand their footprint in the Taliban heartland of Helmand.

The British who took over southern Helmand in 2006 were headquartered at Camp Sebastian, which at its peak was the center for 137 bases in Helmand. Most of Britain’s more than 400 military deaths occurred in Helmand province — in Sangin alone, Britain lost 104 soldiers.

Since the withdrawal of foreign NATO combat troops from Afghanistan at the end of 2014, and with only a smaller, U.S.-led advise and training mission left behind, Sangin has been seen as a major tests of whether Afghan security forces can hold off advancing Taliban fighters.

Also read: US forces are quickly cutting off ISIS’ only escape route in Syria

The district’s police chief, Mohammad Rasoul, said the Taliban overran Sangin center early on Thursday morning.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, also issued a statement claiming the Taliban capture of Sangin.

Speaking to The Associated Press over the phone from several kilometers (miles) away from the district center, Rasoul said the district headquarters had been poorly protected and that at the time of the Taliban siege, only eight policemen and 30 Afghan soldiers were on duty.

Afghan security forces were now amassing nearby for a full-scale counter-attack in a bid to retake Sangin, Rasoul added, though he did not say when the assault would occur and how many forces would be involved.

“We are preparing our reinforcements to recapture the district,” Rasoul said.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the Afghan military would seek the help of international coalition forces in the area.

NATO spokesman William Salvin said in a statement that Afghan troops remained in Sangin district but had relocated several kilometers (miles) outside the district center. He said the relocation was necessitated because of the extensive damage to the district center by the Taliban.

In Kabul, a lawmaker from Sangin, Mohammad Hashim Alokzai, urged the military to move quickly to retake the district, saying its fall could have devastating consequences for Helmand, where the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah has in the past months also come under constant and heavy attack by the Taliban.

“The seizure of Sangin is a major tactical triumph for the Taliban,” Michael Kugelman, senior associate for South Asia at the U.S.-based Wilson Center, said Thursday. The insurgent group “has taken over a major urban space in one of its major stronghold provinces, amplifying the major threat that the group poses to Afghanistan nearly 16 years after it was removed from power.”

Sangin is also one of the biggest opium markets in Afghanistan, which saw over 4,800 metric tons produced countrywide in 2016 — more than all other opium-producing countries combined, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes. Efforts at poppy eradication in Afghanistan have been severely restricted because of the insecurity in the southern and eastern regions of the country, where the bulk of the crop is grown.

Opium, which is used to make heroin, is a major source of income for the insurgents and the Taliban levy taxes on opium that moves through its territory.

“It’s hard to overestimate the significance of Helmand — it’s strategically located near Pakistan, it’s a bastion of the opium trade,” said Kugelman. “Perhaps the biggest reason why the British focused so much on Sangin is that they had invested so much over the years in trying to stabilize the place — and had suffered many combat deaths in the process.”

In northern Kunduz province, police spokesman Mafuz Akbari said the insider attack on Thursday that claimed the lives on nine policemen took place at a security post and that the assailant escaped under the cover of darkness.

Afghanistan has seen a spike in so-called insider attacks. In such incidents, attackers who turn their rifles and kill colleagues usually end up stealing their weapons and fleeing the scene to join insurgents.

Akbari said the assailant had gone over to the Taliban. He also claimed that the attacker and the Taliban gathered the bodies of the dead policemen and set them on fire.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahed claimed responsibility for the attack, but denied that a policeman had been involved or that the Taliban had burned the bodies of the policemen.

The conflicting accounts could not be immediately reconciled. The region is remote and not accessible to reporters.

Afghan forces have come under intensified pressure by insurgents in both Helmand and Kunduz.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Watch as these soldiers rush into a storm to pick up a fallen flag

On July 26, a storm hit Taylor, Michigan, just outside of Detroit. The thunderstorm was powerful enough to create 70-mile-per-hour winds that brought down nearly everything in its path. The hail generated by the storm was whipped around by the gusts, tearing through town.

Thankfully, no injuries were reported, but the town suffered heavy property damage, to include many roofs, trees, and signs. The storm also ripped down a flag pole outside of Top Gun Shooting Sports — a problem was immediately taken care of by two nearby Army recruiters.


Being a Michigan boy myself, I completely understand the rapid change of weather from “might take a walk to Meijer’s” to “f*ck your sh*t” in the blink of an eye.

(Top Gun Shooting Sports’ Facebook Page)

The owner of Top Gun Shooting Sports, Mike Barber, was hosting an event as part an ongoing “Patriot Week” the day the storm hit. Staff Sgt. Eric Barkhorn and Staff Sgt. Jared Ferguson were attending. They were there to find and bring in any potential recruits for the U.S. Army.

Then, the weather suddenly took a turn for the worse. The souring of the skies was so quick that even the weathermen gave a cheery weather prediction that morning. Everyone was, presumably, caught off guard when thunder rang out.

The wind was so powerful that it ripped the flag pole outside of the range in half, bringing the Stars and Stripes — along with a Gadsden flag — to the ground.

“The whole thing happened in less than a minute. I saw the flag hit the ground and I wasn’t going to leave the flag on the ground,” Staff Sgt. Eric Barkhorn told Fox 2.

As soon as the flagpole outside snapped in half, both of the recruiters rushed into the storm. They were being pelted by hail, gale-force winds, rain moving fast enough to sting on contact, and the ominous crackling of approaching thunder.

Staff Sgt. Ferguson ran after him and they both struggled to get the flag undone before cutting the rope and taking the flag inside. Mere seconds after they got themselves and the flag to safety, the worst part of the storm smashed through the area. Part of the roof caved in, but no one could hear it over the sound of hail pelting the walls.

In the end, the storm caused over 0,000 in property damage to the shooting range alone — destroying parts of the roof and the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning unit on top. The first thing to get replaced was the flagpole, allowing the flag to fly again before the end of Top Gun’s Patriot Week.

Top Gun Shooting Sports published the security footage video of Staff Sgt. Barkhorn and Staff Sgt. Ferguson to their Facebook page on August 1st and it has since garnered over 9,500 views.

To watch these two run into gale-force winds to bring back Ol’ Glory, check out the video below.

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See how a B-58 Hustler crew averted disaster after a takeoff went wrong

We often think a lot about the risks that service members take during combat. However, the routine day-to-day peacetime operations, and training are also fraught with danger.


The example of the destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) is just the latest prominent incident where peacetime ops proved deadly.

It’s been that way for a long time. One incident that got very dangerous involved a training operation involving a B-58 Hustler with the 43rd Bombardment Wing out of Carswell Air Force Base in Texas. The trainees had 32 flight hours and six sorties in their plane.

Convair B-58A Hustler in flight (S/N 59-2442). Photo taken on June 29, 1967. (U.S. Air Force photo)

But the plane’s seventh flight went bad from the moment it began to take off. The left main landing gear failed and damaged a fuel tank, sending aft a train of flame as the afterburners of the B-58’s four J79 jet engines ignited the fuel. Miraculously, the plane didn’t explode, and was able to take off.

The navigator noticed the flames, and advised the pilot. The pilot reported the plane’s situation to ground control. A plane was sent up, but couldn’t tell how badly the Hustler was damaged until they flew over the city of Fort Worth.

Eventually, the decision was made to send the B-58 to Edwards Air Force Base to make an emergency landing. What was supposed to be a routine training mission ended up lasting 14 hours, and involved multiple pit stops with Air Force aerial refueling planes, during which the pilot had to come up with a technique to maintain speed and directional control using the Hustler’s engines.

The B-58 eventually made a safe landing. You can see the Air Force documentary on this incident below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZu_ONVE90Y
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Report: Ukrainian snipers find themselves outgunned, outmatched by enemy

Russian snipers and separatist marksmen trained in Russian military camps outmatch their Ukrainian counterparts in the Donbas conflict with better rifles, equipment, and ammunition, an analysis by the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation says.


Given that the conflict in eastern Ukraine has entered a positional phase of trench warfare, the role of snipers and the advantages Russia-backed forces have in this area is more acute, the think tank said on February 25.

In these conditions, snipers are “an effective multiplier on the battlefield, able to precisely strike long-range enemy targets, conduct indispensable reconnaissance of enemy movements and positions, as well as demoralize enemy troops,” the analysis said.

cdn.pixabay.com

When the war broke out in April 2014, Ukraine was using Soviet-era Dragunov (SVD) rifles, while their better-funded and technologically more advanced adversary was using the same rifles but with new barrels, scopes, and high-quality rounds.

“Russian professional snipers at the middle and rear lines” were using bolt-action rifles that “fire three times farther than the SVD rifles.”

Lack of funding made it challenging to buy Ukrainian shooters night-vision devices, camouflage, rangefinders, ammunition, thermal sights, and silencers, something the Russia-backed forces are in no shortage of, it said.

Therefore, Jamestown Foundation wrote, Kyiv is still playing catch-up.

26th MEU sniper platoon trains during Eager Lion

media.defense.gov

Ukraine has started a sniper program with foreign instructors. More effective, lighter-weight rifles were procured from abroad and from the homegrown Zbroyar company.

Now, Ukrainian sniper teams are attached to each battalion, not just special forces.

Still, “poor funding, army bureaucracy, and ammunition shortages preclude Ukrainian snipers from reaching their potential today,” the think tank wrote.

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