The Chinese military's biggest weakness is inexperience - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience

China’s People’s Liberation Army Gen. He Lei, one of the more hawkish voices asserting Beijing’s absolute rights to the South China Sea, made a telling observation at a defense conference in Singapore that reveals his military’s biggest weakness.

China has undertaken massive strides to build a world-class navy. After what the nationalists in China call a century of humiliation, going back to Japan’s occupation of China, Beijing has emerged as a military power that could soon surpass the US.

But even with the world’s largest military, cheap labor, massive spy services, and suspected cyber theft of US military secrets, the Chinese can’t match the US where it counts.


“I am retiring soon. My one big regret is that I never had a chance to fight in a war,” Gen. He said, according to Aaron Connelly, director of the Southeast Asia Project at the Lowy Institute.

Though it’s strange to regret peace, He correctly identified what the Academy of Military Science of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army previously told Business Insider was the Chinese military’s biggest weakness: inexperience.

The People’s Liberation Army, the military owned by China’s Communist Party, has never fought a real war. Its missions center around humanitarian relief and policing its own borders. Besides a brief fights with Vietnam, India, and Russia on its borders, as well as involvement in the Korean War, the entire post-World War II period for China has been peaceful.

Meanwhile, the US and Russia, other top-tier militaries, have engaged in regular battles.

While much of China’s emerging new military doctrine seems sound in theory, it’s yet to be tested.

China can build ships and planes, but can’t shake the doubt

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience
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China has impressed with quick progress on military projects like fighter jets and building new navy ships, but US Navy Vice Admiral Tom Rowden, the commander of the US Navy’s Surface forces, told Defense News in 2017 that it might just be hype.

Rowden explained that while a US and a Chinese ship may both appear combat-ready,”[o]ne of them couldn’t fight their way out of a wet paper bag and the other one will rock anything that it comes up against.”

But that’s just at sea, and ground combat with its toll on individual soldiers is a whole different beast. When Chinese soldiers, many of them conscripts, are tested in battle, it’s unclear if they’ll soldier on with the same grit as the US’s all-volunteer force.

While the world can appreciate peace and a lack of fighting, as China looks to displace the US as the dominant military power, it will remain untested and doubt-ridden until it faces real combat.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

What would happen if Germany and Russia had a tank battle today

When it comes to armored warfare, Germany and Russia have been two of the foremost practitioners. They even fought the biggest tank battle of all time in 1943 at Kursk. So, what would happen if the two countries fought a tank battle today?


As was the case in World War II, it could easily be a clash between two competing philosophies. Russia has long favored quantity over quality (Stalin even remarked that quantity had a quality of its own). At Kursk, this was seen in the fact that Russia ultimately deployed over 7,000 tanks to that battle. Germany had just under 3,300.

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience
T-72s roll along Red Square. (Photo: AFP)

While the T-14 Armata has generated much of the news coverage, GlobalSecurity.org notes that most of Russia’s tanks are T-80 and T-72 main battle tanks. Russia has small numbers of the T-90, but most of the tanks are not much different than the ones that did little more than bounce main gun rounds off Abrams tanks at 400 yards and lose their turrets during Desert Storm.

Germany’s best tank at present is the Leopard 2A6. This is a fine tank. Originally deployed with a 120mm main gun, Germany refitted it with a similar gun with a barrel that was 25 percent longer. It just has two problems: There are only 328 of them after major defense cuts after 2010, and Germany also refuses to use depleted uranium in its armor-piercing rounds and tank armor.

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience
The prototype Leopard 2A7+. (Wikimedia Commons)

 

Germany is taking steps to design a new tank in conjunction with France. This tank, called Leopard 3, is intended to be a match for Russia’s Armata T-14. This will take time. Russia already has the Armata in prototype form, but some questions are emerging about whether or not it will make it into service.

So, which country would win a tank fight? The money has to be on the Russians, even though most of their tanks are pieces of crap that some countries have to make the best of. Russia has over 4,500 T-80s. And while the German Leopards will trash a lot of Russian tanks, there will be more behind each echelon.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Everything you need to know about the DoD transgender ban

The latest ban on transgender service members is legally in effect after two years of tweets, lawsuits, and political wrangling in Washington. It took four court battles to keep those who fail to meet military standards for their birth sex from serving in the U.S. military. Like it or not, this is the policy handed down from the Commander-In-Chief and implemented by the Department of Defense.


According to the DoD, its new policy is less of a “ban” and more of a specific directive on how to handle those with gender dysphoria. Thomas Crosson, the Deputy Director of Defense Public Affairs Operations says anti-discriminatory policies are still in effect.

“The policy specifically prohibits discrimination based on gender identity,” Crosson said in a video press release. “This policy focuses on the medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria and aspects of this condition that may limit the servicemember’s ability to deploy.”

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience

The President first announced the policy via Twitter in 2017. It was to take effect in January 2018.

Crosson went on to add that the Pentagon welcomes anyone who can meet the military’s standards, but what he meant was the standards of their gender at birth. Some current servicemembers will be exempt from the new policy, including those who joined the military in their preferred gender or received a gender dysphoria diagnosis before the new policy takes effect.

Current servicemembers who identify as transgender with no diagnosis or history of gender dysphoria will see no change in their service, so long as they serve in their biological gender. Those who did receive a diagnosis or have a known history were once able to serve in their preferred gender once completing their physical transition, but must now serve in their birth gender. Except for those exempt persons, if the member cannot serve in that capacity, they may be forced to separate.

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience

In January 2019, the Supreme Court allowed enforcement of the policy while lawsuits were still pending.

Incoming transgender troops or those interested in applying will experience the biggest changes in policy. Those coming in with no diagnosis or history of gender dysphoria can still join but must meet the qualifications and expectations of their gender assigned at birth. Those incoming troops who do have a diagnosis or history can still serve, but must show 36 months of stability and serve in their biological gender.

New applicants who have already physically transitioned to their preferred gender are disqualified from serving in the United States military.

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience

The transgender ban went into full effect in April 2019.

The Defense Department believes anyone who can meet the military standards of their gender without special accommodations should be able to serve and that this statement includes transgender Americans. According to the DoD, gender dysphoria is a serious medical condition, and those who underwent cross-gender reassignment surgery and cross-gender hormone therapy may not be able to meet the military standards associated with their gender. This fact, the Pentagon says, could adversely affect unit readiness and combat effectiveness.

But, like with most DoD policies, standards, and military regulations, “waivers can be made for individuals on a case-by-case basis.”

Articles

A judge ruled this veteran is a US citizen. Now he faces deportation to Mexico

A decorated US Marine Corps veteran, who a federal judge ruled was an American citizen, is facing deportation to Mexico in a case that has been criticized as a cruel and extraordinary application of immigration laws.


The US government’s ongoing effort to deport George Ybarra, who is currently locked up in an Arizona detention center, has shed light on the vulnerabilities of foreign-born Americans who have served in the military, along with the deportation threats that can plague even those who are deemed to be citizens and have deep ties to the country.

Ybarra, who was honorably discharged after serving in the Persian Gulf war and earning numerous badges and medals, is facing deportation due to a criminal history that his family says is tied to mental health struggles and post-traumatic stress disorder from his service. While there have been growing concerns about the removal of veterans and the harsh policies of deporting people for minor crimes, Ybarra’s case is particularly troubling to immigrant rights’ advocates given a judge’s acknowledgement that he is US citizen.

“George hopes he will be able to stay in the country he fought for,” Luis Parra, Ybarra’s attorney, told the Guardian. “He is a third-generation [US] citizen … It would be a very extreme hardship for George to have to relocate to Mexico.”

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience
George Ybarra during his time as a US Marine. Photo from Tucson Sentinel.

Ybarra, whose story was first reported in the Tucson Sentinel, has a complex immigration and citizenship battle dating back more than a decade, including deportation threats under Barack Obama’s administration.

Ybarra, also known as Jorge Ibarra-Lopez, was born in Nogales in Mexico, just south of the Arizona border, in 1964, according to his court filings. He moved to the US months after he was born, and his maternal grandfather was a US citizen, born in Bisbee, Arizona, his lawyers wrote. Ybarra has long argued that he has “derivative citizenship,” meaning he is a citizen by virtue of his mother’s status.

An immigration judge eventually agreed that there was “sufficient evidence” that the 52-year-old father of five should be considered a US citizen, but the US Department of Homeland Security challenged that decision in 2011 and has since continued to try to deport him, records show.

The deportation proceedings stem in part from a number of criminal offenses, including drug-related charges. He was also convicted of firing two rounds through the front door of his home in Phoenix in 2011 in the direction of two police officers, according to the Sentinel. The paper reported that no one was hurt and that Ybarra said he was suffering from a PTSD-induced episode of delusion at the time and believed federal authorities were coming to “take away” his family.

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience
Attorney Luis Parra. Image from Tucson Sentinel.

Ybarra ultimately served a seven-year sentence in state prison for aggravated assault, but instead of returning to his family after he completed his time, he was transferred into the custody of federal immigration authorities last month. Ybarra and his family now fear he could soon be deported.

Parra argued that Ybarra should be released while the ongoing dispute about his citizenship is resolved. US Citizenship and Immigration Services had previously denied his application for a certificate of citizenship, but there are numerous ways he can have his status formally recognized, according to Parra.

His family has argued that he should get treatment and other government support as a disabled veteran with PTSD.

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience
Photo courtesy of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“He basically has no family in Mexico,” said Parra, noting that Ybarra’s children and grandchildren and other relatives in Arizona are all US citizens. “He has a very supportive family living in the Phoenix area, including his mother, who depends on George.”

Ybarra is distraught and worried about his continued detention, Parra said. In a Sentinel interview last month in an Arizona state prison, Ybarra said, “I’ve got a lot of anger, a lot of anxiety over this. They know I’m a citizen, they know I’m a combat veteran. I don’t see where they’ve ever shown that they care.”

A spokeswoman for the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not respond to questions about Ybarra’s case, but said in a statement that the agency “does not knowingly place US citizens into removal proceedings”, adding, “ICE deportation officers arrest only those aliens for which the agency has probable cause to believe are amenable to removal from the United States.”

When ICE does detain US citizens, the statement said, it’s usually because there is a misunderstanding about their status.

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience
Image from Department of Homeland Security.

“The job for ICE deportation officers is further complicated by some aliens who falsely assert US citizenship in order to evade deportation, which is not uncommon,” the statement continued.

A Northwestern University analysis of government data found that hundreds of US citizens have, in fact, been detained by immigration authorities.

Margaret Stock, an immigration attorney and expert on military cases, said the deportation of veterans has been an ongoing challenge under both Obama and Donald Trump, but that she has never seen a case like Ybarra where the government threatens to deport someone ruled a citizen by a judge.

“If you can deport this guy, you can also try to deport all kinds of other people,” she said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US has been losing simulated war games against Russia & China

In war games simulating a high-end fight against Russia or China, the US often loses, two experienced military war-gamers have revealed.

“In our games, when we fight Russia and China, ‘blue’ gets its ass handed to it,” David Ochmanek, a RAND warfare analyst, explained at the Center for a New American Security on March 7, 2019, Breaking Defense first reported. US forces are typically color-coded blue in these simulations.

“We lose a lot of people. We lose a lot of equipment. We usually fail to achieve our objective of preventing aggression by the adversary,” he said.


US stealth fighters die on the runway

At the outset of these conflicts, all five battlefield domains — land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace — are contested, meaning the US could struggle to achieve the superiority it has enjoyed in the past.

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience

An F-35A joint strike fighter crew chief watches his aircraft approach for the first time at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, July 14, 2011.

(US Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

In these simulated fights, the “red” aggressor force often obliterates US stealth fighters on the runway, sends US warships to the depths, destroys US bases, and takes out critical US military systems.

“In every case I know of, the F-35 rules the sky when it’s in the sky,” Robert Work, a former deputy secretary of defense and an experienced war-gamer, said March 7, 2019. “But it gets killed on the ground in large numbers.”

Neither China nor Russia has developed a fifth-generation fighter as capable as the F-35, but even the best aircraft have to land. That leaves them vulnerable to attack.

US warships are wiped off the board

“Things that sail on the surface of the sea are going to have a hard time,” Ochmanek said.

Aircraft carriers, traditional beacons of American military might, are becoming increasingly vulnerable. They may be hard to kill, but they are significantly less difficult to take out of the fight.

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience

USS Enterprise is underway with its strike group in the Atlantic Ocean.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Harry Andrew D. Gordon)

Naval experts estimate that US aircraft carriers now need to operate at least 1,000 nautical miles from the Chinese mainland to keep out of range of China’s anti-ship missiles, according to USNI News.

US bases burn

“If we went to war in Europe, there would be one Patriot battery moving, and it would go to Ramstein [in Germany]. And that’s it,” Work explained, according to Breaking Defense. “We have 58 Brigade Combat Teams, but we don’t have anything to protect our bases. So what difference does it make?”

Simply put, the US military bases scattered across Europe and the Pacific don’t have the anti-air and missile-defense capabilities required to handle the overwhelming volume of fire they would face in a high-end conflict.

US networks and systems crumble

In a conflict against a near-peer threat, US communications satellites, command-and-control systems, and wireless networks would be crippled.

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience

Marines participate in Hatch Mounted Satellite Communication Antenna System training on an MV-22B Osprey at Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina, Feb. 12, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Gumchol Cho)

“The brain and the nervous system that connects all of these pieces is suppressed, if not shattered,” Ochmanek said of this scenario. Work said the Chinese call this type of attack “system destruction warfare.”

The Chinese would “attack the American battle network at all levels, relentlessly, and they practice it all the time,” Work said. “On our side, whenever we have an exercise, when the red force really destroys our command and control, we stop the exercise and say, ‘let’s restart.'”

A sobering assessment

“These are the things that the war games show over and over and over, so we need a new American way of war without question,” Work stressed.

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience

Six High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems conduct a live-fire exercise as part of pre-deployment training at Ft. Bliss, Texas.

(Wisconsin National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Alex Baum)

Ochmanek and Work have both seen US war games play out undesirably, and their damning observations reflect the findings of an assessment done from fall 2018.

“If the United States had to fight Russia in a Baltic contingency or China in a war over Taiwan, Americans could face a decisive military defeat,” the National Defense Strategy Commission — a bipartisan panel of experts picked by Congress to evaluate the National Defense Strategy — said in a November 2018 report.

The report called attention to the erosion of the US’s military edge by rival powers, namely Russia and China, which have developed a “suite of advanced capabilities heretofore possessed only by the United States.”

The commission concluded the US is “at greater risk than at any time in decades.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

What it’s like to be honored as ‘Hero of the Game’ for the LA Kings

“The Hero Of The Game program is a season long commitment made by the LA Kings to pay tribute to local military personnel and their families. The LA Kings host one military family at each home game to show our gratitude for their continued commitment and sacrifice. As the Hero Of The Game, honorees are treated to dinner in the Lexus Club prior to the game and are recognized on ice during the National Anthem and again during the second period.” — The Official Site of the LA Kings

On March 18, 2019, I was honored by the LA Kings — and it was one of the most patriotic moments of my life.

Here’s why:


What it’s like to be Hero of the Game!

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Related video:

Being the ‘Hero of the Game’ really wasn’t about me — it was about the service of our nation’s military. The truth is, most of the veterans I’ve spoken with have an uncomfortable relationship with the word “hero.” Few of us personally feel like we live up to the title.

What I tell every veteran who carries survivor’s guilt or who feels like they didn’t do enough is this: you answered your nation’s call. You volunteered, you took an oath, and you were ready to give your life to protect and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies. That’s pretty heroic.

Still, deep down, I don’t personally feel heroic.

I think most of us struggle with this, so when I was informed by a representative of the L.A. Kings that they would like to honor me, I wasn’t really sure what to expect — and honestly, I wasn’t really sure if I deserved it.

Here’s what the night entails:

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience

From left to right: Pin-Ups for Vets founder Gina Elise, U.S. Air Force veteran Shannon Corbeil, Forest Corbeil, Monica Kay

The L.A. Kings have this process down. I was given a very clean itinerary for the evening, including details about complimentary parking, when to pick up my tickets (for myself and three guests), and where to meet a rep from the L.A. Kings who would escort my group to dinner.

In fact, the process is so streamlined that Kings fans know about it and wait to greet that night’s Hero. One woman with season tickets likes to meet the service members and take photos before the game with a touching art print of what it means to be a hero.

Before we even made it inside the Staples Center, patriotic fans were eager to meet me and thank me for my service.

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience

We had no idea what was in store.

The Kings treated us to a delicious (and customized) dinner at the Lexus Club with a great view of L.A. Live and Downtown Los Angeles. We had an hour to eat (and grab some candy) before our rep came back for us and brought me to the ice.

I was informed ahead of time that I would stand on the ice during the National Anthem — and as the Kings were playing the Winnipeg Jets, both the Canadian National Anthem and the U.S. National Anthem would be performed.

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience

The National Anthem during the opening ceremony of the Kings vs Jets.

(Photo by Simone Lara, California Army National Guard)

I don’t know if I should admit this, but I probably cared more about proper protocol and uniform standards during this event than I ever did while on active duty. It was very important to me to reflect well upon my branch and the military as a whole. Strangely, Air Force Instruction 34-1201 doesn’t expressly state uniform guidance for the Hero of the Game — an indoor event with a formation of…me…so I was left to interpret the manual for myself (with the help of previous honorees).

I decided to wear my cover so I could salute the flags during both anthems — and I found myself proud that it is tradition in the United States to infuse a moment of patriotism into our sporting events.

I had been nominated for my work in the veteran community — and specifically for my volunteer efforts with Pin-Ups for Vets, a non-profit organization that helps hospitalized and deployed service members and their families. To make the night even more special, the Kings offered Pin-Ups for Vets ambassadors and their guests free tickets, so after this high-visibility moment, I started receiving messages from fellow vets in the crowd.

Then we were escorted to our holy sh** seats.

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience

One of our neighbors said we were in Eric Stonestreet’s seats — and if this is true, someone please thank him for me.

Seats for the Hero of the Game are graciously donated by a patriotic donor for the season. We got lucky that night because our seats were upgraded further — right up against the glass. That’s how we discovered that hockey is exhilarating and completely vicious.

If it wasn’t the puck flying at my face and ricocheting off the glass, it was the players slamming each other into the wall twelve inches from where we were sitting. Most of the other fans seated next to us held season tickets, so this was normal for them — but for us, it was thrilling.

Oh — and you’re allowed to bang on the glass. I highly recommend it.

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience

As I walked around, people approached to greet me and thank me for my service or, my favorite, tell me about their own time in the military or their family’s service. It was great to connect with people who were excited about the military. It made me realize how far our country has come.

Hero of the Game – Los Angeles Kings

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Hero of the Game – Los Angeles Kings

Then, during the first period I really learned what it meant to be the Hero of the Game.

My name came up on the Jumbotron and I looked up, a bit embarrassed, as pictures of me in uniform flashed across the screen. I turned to give my sister a disparaging look and realized she was standing.

The entire arena was standing.

At that moment, I didn’t feel like me, Shannon — I felt like a veteran of the United States Air Force.

As someone who shares military stories on We Are The Mighty, I’m well-versed in how poorly our country treated our Vietnam War Veterans. I have stood witness to the devastation that has been inflicted upon the men and women who have worn the uniform throughout history. I’ve watched my fellow veterans struggle with seen and unseen wounds. I’ve experienced them myself.

Yet that night, as thousands of people stood to honor the Hero of the Game, I felt a deep sense of gratitude and hope. I’m thankful that our countrymen and women support the troops and that Americans recognize and appreciate the sacrifices of our military and want to give back.

I felt so grateful that there are advocates for veterans and that there are non-profits serving them. It was as if I was in a room of people who want the best for each other, which is why we have a military in the first place.

The military stands for the best in the American people, and that night, the American people were standing for the military.

Thank you to the LA Kings, not just for the incredible experience you gave me, but for supporting the military all season long. It means more than you know.

You can nominate a deserving service member as Hero of the Game right here.

Articles

VA may close 1,100 underused facilities nationwide

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is mulling whether to shutter more than 1,100 facilities nationwide as the agency moves more of its health programs to the private sector.


Appearing May 3 before the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies, Shulkin told lawmakers the VA had compiled a list of 1,165 vacant or underused buildings that could be closed, saving the federal government $25 million annually.

Shulkin didn’t specify which facilities would close and local VA officials didn’t return messages seeking comment that afternoon.

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience
Dr. David J. Shulkin, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (VA Photo/ Robert Turtil)

Shulkin, a deputy holdover from President Barack Obama’s administration whom Congress then unanimously approved to run the VA earlier this year, said Congress needs to determine how the facilities would be closed. He suggested the Pentagon’s Base Realignment and Closure — or BRAC — process might be a good model.

But Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R- Nebraska, urged him to never “use the term BRAC because it brings up a lot of bad memories” and sets up the VA “for a lot of controversy.”

Also read: The VA still has thousands of jobs unfilled

President Donald Trump seeks $78.9 billion in discretionary funding for the VA, a 6 percent increase from the 2017 fiscal year level. Trump’s budget plan requests $3.5 billion to expand the Veterans Choice Program, which enables veterans to receive certain kinds of treatment outside of the VA system.

If enacted, Trump’s proposal also would add $4.6 billion in funding to spur better patient access and greater timeliness of medical services for the agency’s more than 9 million patients.

Shulkin said the VA authorized 3.6 million patient visits at private-sector health-care facilities between Feb. 1, 2016 and Jan. 31, 2017 — a 23 percent boost compared to the previous year.

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience
A quote from Abraham Lincoln on a sign at the Department of Veterans Affairs Building in Washington, DC. | Photo via Flickr

With more than 370,000 employees, the VA has the second-largest workforce in the federal government. Shulkin said it must become more efficient at delivering services to veterans. Some of the most entrenched problems are in the appeals process for veterans who have lodged disability claims following their military service.

Currently, the VA has nearly 470,000 such cases pending appeal. For cases awaiting action by the Board of Veterans Appeals, the typical wait time is six years for a decision. The ranking Democrat on the subcommittee that hosted Shulkin on May 3, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, termed the appellate system an “absolute mess.”

Shulkin conceded that it “undoubtedly needs further improvements” and urged Congress to legislate reforms and streamline the process into a “modernized” system. The longer Capitol Hill waits to fix the process, he said, “the more appeals will enter the current broken system.”

Articles

98-year-old grandmother wrote 7,000 letters to troops

Alleen Cooper’s son Larry was serving in Vietnam during that war — and, like many mothers who children have served in wartime, she set him letters. Her son returned from the war, and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, but she hasn’t stopped writing.


In fact, according to WHNT.com, her son was not the first serviceman overseas to get a letter. She began writing troops during World War II.

“A lot of soldiers don’t get any mail at all,” Larry Cooper told WHNT.com, adding that Mrs. Cooper’s mission is personal.

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience
Air Force Staff Sgt. Beatriz Baum works alongside Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Misty Parker during a scramble to unload more than 5,000 lbs. of mail slated for delivery to service members deployed to Joint Task Force Horn of Africa at the postal center at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti. (U.S. Air Force photo/Daren Reehl)

According to WGNTV.com, since she started keeping count six years ago, Mrs. Cooper, a 98-year-old grandmother from California, has written over 7,000 letters by hand, and all of them have been unique and at least four pages long. And let’s just repeat the fact that she’s been doing this since World War II, folks.

Just prior to Memorial Day weekend, she connected with one of the servicemen she had written, Marine Staff Sgt. Chris Cantos. When Cantos deployed to Afghanistan in 2010, his unit had no internet access. Their only lifeline was what gets derisively called “snail mail.”

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience
One of the many certificates Mrs. Cooper has received from troops she has written to. (Video screenshot from WGNTV.com)

“She would always send us clippings and jokes. She would tell us about her day,” Cantos told WHNT.com.

One of the other troops who received a letter was a wounded soldier in the hospital. He had lost an ear, and needed to get a new one.

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience
A poster from the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the VFW, urging people to write to servicemen. (National Archives)

“All of the time I think of these people and their families at home,” Mrs. Cooper told WHNT.com.

These days, she will admit her hands are getting tired. But she will keep writing the troops for as long as she can.

Featured

Until 1989 turkeys came to the White House to be eaten, not pardoned

Since before the days of Harry Truman, it was a Presidential Thanksgiving tradition: a plump bird was presented to the President himself at the White House every year. Every year, the President happily accepted. From 1873 through 1913, these turkeys even came from the same Rhode Island farm. It became a national tradition in Truman’s days. Since then, each President, spanning more than 50 years, delighted at the annual photo op along with fans of the traditions of the nation’s highest office.

Until 1989, that is, when President George H.W. Bush decided Tom Turkey looked a little nervous.


The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience

It was an honor for a Turkey farm to be the one to provide the White House with its annual turkey dinner. In the 1920s, the turkey presented to President Warren G. Harding traveled the country in a specially-constructed battleship turkey crate. Subsequent Presidents were sent turkeys from farms and civic groups from across the country. Places like the Minnesota Arrowhead Association, the Poultry and Egg National Board, and the National Turkey Federation were only too eager to send the Presidential mansion their best champion turkeys.

Only sporadically did Presidents pardon their turkeys before President Bush did in 1989, and it never became the tradition as we know it today. As the President received the annual gift, shouts from picketing animal rights activists could be heard nearby. Bush, acknowledging the turkey looked a little nervous gave a pardon so complete it is echoed every year since:

“Let me assure you, and this fine tom turkey, that he will not end up on anyone’s dinner table, not this guy. He’s granted a presidential pardon as of right now.”

Other Presidents have spared their turkeys. On Nov. 18, 1963, President Kennedy was the first to spare a turkey’s life. It was a spontaneous act. Nixon spared a few of his. Rosalyn Carter had all the Carter’s turkeys sent to a petting zoo, as did Ronald Reagan. But it was Reagan who first used the term “pardon” to spare the life of the turkey. At the time, the media was speculating over whether or not the President would issue a pardon for Col. Oliver North for his role in the Iran-Contra Affair. Reagan, with his trademark wit, used the term to deflect questions about the incident.

The turkeys set for President Trump to pardon in 2019 are named Bread and Butter. Fast-forward to 43:00 to watch the 2018 Presidential pardon.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Navy wants to replace Vikings with drones

The return of great-power competition has the US military refocusing on the potential for a conflict with a sophisticated adversary whose submarines can sink the US’s supercarriers.

Defense experts are increasingly concerned by a resurgent Russian undersea force and by China’s increasingly capable boats.

But the centerpiece of the US Navy’s fleet has a decade-old gap in its submarine defenses, and filling it may require new, unmanned aircraft.


The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience

A US Navy S-2G Tracker in the foreground, accompanied by its successor, the S-3A Viking, over Naval Air Station North Island, California, in July 1976.

(US Navy photo)

‘It’s got legs’

During the Cold War and the years afterward, aircraft carriers had fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters for anti-submarine-warfare operations. For much of that period, the fixed-wing option was the S-3 Viking.

Introduced in 1974, the turbofan S-3 was developed with Soviet submarines in mind. It replaced the propeller-driven S-2 Tracker, carrying a crew of four. It wasn’t particularly fast, but it had a 2,000-mile range and could stay airborne for up to 10 hours to hunt submarines.

“It’s got legs,” said Capt. John Rousseau, who flew the Navy’s last Vikings as part of an experimental squadron before their retirement in early 2016.

It had strong surface-search abilities to find periscopes, a magnetic anomaly detector to search for submerged subs, and gear to analyze sounds from sonobuoys it dropped in the ocean. Its search and processing capabilities tripled its search area. And in a war scenario, it could fire Harpoon missiles at ships and drop torpedoes and depth charges to destroy submarines.

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience

An S-3A Viking with a Magnetic Anomaly Detection boom extending from its tail in May 1983.

(US Navy photo)

“It can go fast and long. The radar, even though it’s old, there’s not many better. We still spot schools of dolphins and patches of seaweed” when patrolling off California, Rousseau said in 2016.

The Viking performed a variety of missions, including cargo transport, surveillance and electronic intelligence, search and rescue, and aerial refueling, but it was a mainstay of the carrier anti-submarine-warfare efforts.

Helicopters deployed on carriers typically perform close-in ASW, usually within about 90 miles of the ship. The S-3, with a longer range and the ability to linger, filled the midrange-ASW role, operating about 90 to 175 miles from the carrier.

Land-based aircraft, like the P-3 Orion and now the P-8 Poseidon, have flown the longest-range submarine patrols.

‘The leadership totally turned over’

As the sub threat lessened after the Cold War, the S-3 was reoriented toward anti-surface operations. During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, an S-3 attacked a ground target for the first time, firing a missile at Saddam Hussein’s yacht.

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience

“Navy One,” a US Navy S-3B Viking carrying President George W. Bush, lands on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003.

(US Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Gabriel Piper)

An S-3 designated “Navy One” even flew President George W. Bush to the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in May 2003. Some of the Navy’s last S-3s operated over Iraq in the late 2000s, looking for threats on the ground.

The S-3 was eventually able to deploy torpedoes, mines, depth charges, and missiles.

With the addition of Harpoon anti-ship missiles, the S-3’s designation in the carrier air wing shifted from “anti-submarine” to “sea control,” according to “Retreat from Range,” a 2015 report on carrier aviation by Jerry Hendrix, a retired Navy officer who took part in force-structure planning and carrier-strike-group operations.

Amid shifts in Navy leadership and the rise of new threats after the Cold War, the S-3 lost favor. It officially left service in 2009. There was nothing to replace it.

“There was a slow transition in the makeup of the air wing, as well as a slow transition in the changeover in the leadership of the air-wing community,” Hendrix, now a vice president at Telemus Group, told Business Insider. As a naval aviator, Hendrix spent over a decade in P-3 patrol squadrons that routinely conducted maritime patrols looking for foreign submarines.

“By the time we got … to replace the S-3, essentially the leadership totally turned over to the short-range, light-attack community, led by the F/A-18 Hornet pilots, and also they’ve been operating for the better part of 20 years in permissive environments,” Hendrix said, referring to areas such as the Persian Gulf, where threats like enemy subs are almost nonexistent.

Because of the lack of other threats, the S-3 was relegated largely to a refueling role during its final years, mainly as a recovery tanker for aircraft returning to the carrier.

“When it came time to make a decision, they said, ‘Well, we really don’t need the recovery tanker. I can do recovery tanking with other Hornets, and this anti-submarine warfare doesn’t seem all that important to us because there’s not submarines around us,'” Hendrix said. “So they made a decision to get rid of the S-3.”

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience

A US Navy S-3 Viking refuels another S-3 Viking over the Caribbean Sea in May 2006.

(US Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Christopher Stephens)

The S-3s that were retired had thousands of flying hours left in their airframes. Dozens are being held in reserve in the “boneyard” at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona.

“They actually got rid of the S-3 early in the sense that the community still had a viable population of aircraft,” Hendrix said.

Their departure left a hole in carrier defenses that remains unfilled, especially when carrier groups are far from the airfields where P-8 Poseidons are based.

More helicopters have been added to the carrier air wing, Hendrix said. “However, the helicopters don’t have either the sensors or the mobility to be able to really patrol the middle zone” in which the S-3 operated.

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience

Sailors on the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell load a MK-46 torpedo on an MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter during an ASW exercise in the Pacific Ocean in March 2014.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 3rd Class Chris Cavagnaro)

Nor does the arrival of the P-8 Poseidon — a vaunted maritime patrol aircraft introduced in 2013 to replace the P-3 — make up for the Viking’s absence, according to Hendrix.

“We haven’t brought the P-8s in in a one-to-one replacement basis for the older P-3s, and so they’re not really in sufficient numbers to do the middle-zone and outer-zone anti-submarine-warfare mission for the carrier strike groups,” he said. “So we haven’t filled that requirement in force structure.”

‘The Navy could mitigate this vulnerability’

Amid the increasing focus on facing a sophisticated adversary, discussion has intensified about changing the composition of the carrier air wing to replace the capabilities — anti-submarine warfare in particular — shed after the Cold War.

“ASW will become an increasingly important [carrier air wing] mission as adversary submarine forces increase in their size, sophistication, and ability to attack targets ashore and at sea using highly survivable long-range weapons,” said a recent report on the carrier air wing by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience

A Navy S-3B Viking from the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson on January 23, 1995. It carries a refueling pod under its left wing, and openings in the fuselage for dropping sonobuoys are visible in the rear.

(US Navy photo by PH1 (AW) Mahlon K. Miller)

Longer-range anti-ship missiles allow subs to be farther outside carrier helicopters’ operational range, the report argued. (Long-range land-based weapons may also hinder ASW by reducing the area in which the P-8 can operate.)

“The increasing range of submarine-launched cruise missiles may result in [carrier air wing] aircraft being the only platforms able to defend civilian and other military shipping as well as high-value US and allied targets ashore from submarine attack,” the report added.

Unmanned systems — sensors as well as unmanned underwater and surface vehicles — are seen as an option to extend the carrier’s reach. (The Navy has already awarded Boeing a contract for unmanned aerial refueling vehicles.)

“The Navy could mitigate this vulnerability using distributed unmanned sensors to find and track enemy submarines at long ranges and over wide areas,” the CSBA report said, adding that ships and aircraft in the carrier strike group could then use anti-submarine rockets to keep enemy subs at bay rather than trying to sink all of them.

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience

Boeing conducts an MQ-25 deck-handling demonstration at its facility in St. Louis, Missouri, in January 2018.

(US Navy/Boeing photo)

The need to operate at longer ranges with more endurance and higher survivability also makes unmanned aerial vehicles appealing additions to the carrier air wing, according to the CSBA report.

“There’s potential there,” Hendrix said, but he added that using the vehicles in the ASW role would be complicated.

“A lot of times doing anti-submarine warfare, there’s a lot of human intuition that comes into play, or human ability to look at a sensor, which is a very confused sensor, and pick out the information” that may indicate the presence of a submarine, he said.

Much of the midrange mission vacated by the S-3 Viking is done within line-of-sight communication, meaning a range in which sensors can communicate with one another, so, Hendrix said, “you could use an unmanned platform to go out and drop sonobuoys or other sensors … and then monitor them, or be the relay aircraft to send their information back to” the ASW station aboard the carrier, where humans would be watching.

“I could see an unmanned platform playing in that role in the future.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The very first coed boot camp at MCRD San Diego

Historically, male Marines hailing from west of the Mississippi went to boot camp at MCRD San Diego in California while those from east of the Mississippi trained at MCRD Parris Island in South Carolina. Meanwhile, all female Marines trained in gender-segregated units exclusively at Parris Island. However, all that is about to change.

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience
Graduates of the first gender-integrated Drill Instructor School at MCRD San Diego (U.S. Marine Corps)

Following a Congressional order, the first group of female recruits will train at MCRD San Diego to earn the coveted Eagle, Globe and Anchor. They will be the first female recruits to train at the depot in its 100-year history. The move is driven by the National Defense Authorization Act. With it, the military’s goal is to progressively integrate women across all aspects of its ranks, from training to combat. Parris Island has trained female platoons alongside male platoon for two years now. San Diego will follow their model of integrated training. The Marine Corps is the last service to integrate its basic training based on gender.

About 60 female recruits reported to the new Lima Company, composed of 400 recruits, on the evening of January 25, 2021. The recruits were put into a two week quarantine, before beginning the six phase, 13 week training to become Marines. The female recruits will make up a full platoon within the company and train alongside five male platoons. Like the integrated units at Parris Island, they will have female drill instructors and a female commander.

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience
Female recruits and DIs have been training alongside their male counterparts at MCRD Parris Island (U.S. Marine Corps)

The historical move at San Diego will serve as a proof-of-concept to fine tune future integrated training. However, female and male recruits will be held to the same training standards. “Anyone who shows up at the yellow footprints is who we’re here to train,” said Lt. Col. Tracy Maese, “and the fact that we get to train female recruits here at MCRD San Diego is just a super exciting, monumental day in Marine Corps history.”

While these recruits won’t have to face the infamous sand fleas of Parris Island, the Marine Corps affirms that their training will be no less challenging and that the title of United States Marine will be hard-earned. The NDAA mandates that Marine Corps training facilities be integrated by 2028.

Articles

This veteran A-10 pilot has three Super Bowl rings

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience
Chad Hennings played for the Dallas Cowboys and was part of three Super Bowl winning teams. Before his NFL career, he flew an A-10 Thunderbolt II in 45 combat sorties over northern Iraq during two deployments in 1991 and early 1992. (Courtesy photo/Dallas Cowboys)


Chad Hennings won three Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys during the 1990s, and his first appearance was within a year’s time of flying his A-10 Thunderbolt II in a combat sortie in northern Iraq.

Hennings, a 1988 Academy graduate, led the nation with 24 sacks and was awarded the Outland Trophy during the 1987 season — an award that recognizes the nation’s best interior lineman.

Committed to serve

Following graduation, Hennings — now a member of the College Football Hall of Fame — was drafted by the Cowboys in the 11th round of the 1988 draft. Before he could even suit up in the NFL, Hennings had to first fulfill his military commitment, a move that was initially hard to accept.

“I wouldn’t say there were regrets, (but) it was an emotional struggle because I wanted to be able to compete,” Hennings said.

From a character perspective, he knew without a doubt what he needed to do because he made a commitment and he was going to stick to it. The drive to compete, however, made his transition from school to pilot training and then into his active-duty squadron a difficult one. That void would eventually be filled with friendly competition as an A-10 pilot.

“We did compete on the range; we competed for performance,” he said. “There (was) always competition and it was a healthy competition.”

After pilot school, Hennings was stationed in the U.K. and deployed twice to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, in 1991 and 1992. While deployed, he flew 45 combat sorties in northern Iraq in support of Operation Provide Comfort, an international relief effort after the Gulf War.

After getting settled into the Air Force, Hennings said he contemplated making a career out of it.

“Football was a distant memory and something in the past that I never really thought about until the Air Force went through the reduction in force and they started the waivers in the spring of ’92,” he said.

Pro player

Hennings separated from active-duty Air Force in April 1992 and transitioned to the Air Force Reserve. He continued to serve in the Reserve individual mobilization augmentee program for almost 10 years.

The next month, Hennings found himself in Dallas working out for the Cowboys.

“It was extremely stressful, initially transitioning in ’92, because I’m leaving one career for another,” he said. “I’m moving from one continent to another, taking on a whole new different position. There were a lot of just stress factors there, and it wasn’t assured that I would make the team.”

Hennings said it was tough coming into the league and competing at a level of competition that was much higher than he experienced before.

But all the downtime spent in the weight room and working out when he wasn’t flying during his deployments and TDYs paid off. He would go on to secure a spot on the team, and kick off what would eventually be a nine-year career with the Cowboys, playing in 119 games and recording 27.5 sacks.

In his first season, Hennings and the Cowboys would go on to beat the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl 27.

“It was pretty surreal,” he said. “I essentially flew a combat mission and then played in the Super Bowl all within a year’s time.”

He compared that Super Bowl experience to his first combat mission. He said he knew he had a job to do, and being around a set of guys who were experienced made it easier to navigate and process all of his emotions.

During his next three seasons, Hennings would go onto win two more Super Bowls with the Cowboys.

“You got to a point in our culture of being a Dallas Cowboy, that that’s what was expected. We knew we were the best team out there,”

Hennings said. “I kind of compare that analogy to being a fighter pilot. It’s kind of that confident arrogance, where you know you’re good, you know your abilities; you walk out there, you don’t flaunt it, but you walk with an extreme amount of confidence.”

It wasn’t until the latter part of Hennings’ career that he fully appreciated winning three Super Bowls, he said.

Two decades after he appeared in his last Super Bowl, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl 30, Hennings has a sincere admiration for those moments in time and truly appreciates how special those teams really were.

“As a kid growing up, all your heroes, the role models that you looked up to on the gridiron — you know those guys — they were able to hold that trophy up,” Hennings said. “I was a Minnesota Vikings fan, so they went there four years and they never won one, and that’s where I realized too how difficult it is, not only to just get to the Super Bowl, but to win one — how truly special that is.”

Hennings said one of the best memories is from Super Bowl 30, where he recorded two sacks — a Super Bowl record that he shared with several other players before it was broken the next year.

Humble beginnings

Being a solid performer on the gridiron and in his jet, Hennings has always tried to strive for excellence.

Growing up in Elberon, Iowa, Hennings would sometimes put in 12-plus-hour days helping his father and grandfather on their farm, where they predominately raised corn and a feedlot operation for cattle. He’d help wherever needed, whether feeding the cattle, bailing hay, driving tractors, or performing maintenance.

“The work ethic came from watching my father, my grandfather, but a lot of it I can attribute it to my older brother, who really pushed me to workout with him,” he said.

Hennings’ older brother, Todd, was a couple years older and was the quarterback for their high school football team. Hennings said he was a tight end, and he recalled his brother dragging him off to run routes and lift weights.

“When I started to see the success of all the hard work that I put in, then it became more of a self-driving motivation than having somebody externally motivate me,” he said.

That motivation to be a better player and better person carried over when it was time to attend college. Hennings had several scholarships, but said he wanted a “holistic experience.” He yearned to be challenged academically and wanted to have the experiences a typical college graduate wouldn’t have.

Looking back, the leadership skills gained, the experience of flying jets, and the camaraderie within his fighter squadron are things that gave him skills he used on the gridiron and in his everyday life.

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience
Chad Hennings graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1988 and went on to fly 45 combat sorties over northern Iraq in an A-10 Thunderbolt II in support of Operation Provide Comfort. Hennings received a waiver in 1992 to be released from active duty as part of the Air Force’s Reduction in Force. He would go on to serve almost 10 more years in the Air Force Reserve Individual Mobilization Augmentee program. During his time as a reservist he also played for the Dallas Cowboys for nine seasons. He was part of three Super Bowl winning teams and played in 119 games, recording 27.5 sacks. (Courtesy photo)

“You know, it all worked out great,” Hennings said. “I had an experience flying that I would never trade. If I had to do it all over again, I would do it exactly the same.”

Where he is now

Today, Hennings lives outside of Dallas, where he’s a partner in a commercial real estate company and does a lot of public speaking, which he said is his way of giving back.

“That’s my passion now in this last half of my life, is to be an evangelist, in essence, for that aspect of a need of character in our community and for us as individuals,” Hennings said.

An author of three books, he’s also married with two children, who are both in college.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Why the Kentucky militia was most feared by America’s enemies

“These Kentucky men are wretches,” wrote British Redcoat NCO Sgt. James Commins, ” suborned by the government and capable of the greatest villainies.” The War of 1812 was in full swing by the end of that year, and fighting the war on the British side were contingents of Native American tribes while the Americans called up state militias.

The one thing the British didn’t want was to face the militias from Kentucky. Those guys were maniacs.


The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience

(Laughs in Kentuckian)

(Wikimedia Commons)

Kentucky, being on the American frontier at the time, had no fortifications and didn’t have to defend any structures, so its militiamen spent much of their time fighting the enemy wherever they were to be found. Being on the frontier, they spent a lot of time fighting the British Army’s Indian allies. The Indians were really good at taking the scalps of their enemies, a story which the U.S. government used as propaganda. The British tried to get the Indian tribes to cool it with the scalping, but it was too late. The story spread, and the Americans soon had their own savage band: Kentuckians.

The men from Kentucky were reported to have fought almost naked when weather permitted, painting themselves with red all over their body, sometimes carrying only a blanket and a knife with which to take their own enemy scalps. When the British sent Indian Tribes into the Michigan territory, Gen. William Hull, commander of the Michigan forces and governor of the territory, threatened to send Kentucky troops into Canada as a response.

The Chinese military’s biggest weakness is inexperience

Redcoats must have been sad to find Kentuckians in New Orleans.

(Kentucky National Guard)

And they did invade Ontario.The redcoats weren’t thrilled to be fighting the Kentuckians either. They took enemy scalps not just a war tactic, but as a token of pride in their masculinity. The Kentucky penchant for taking scalps was so well-known, the Indians began to call their militiamen “Big Knives” because of the size of their scalping knives. As a matter of fact, the Indians agreed to stop scalping until the Kentucky militia began their own scalping campaign, and the practice was revived for another half-century or more.

When Redcoats found their pickets and sentries dead and scalped in the mornings, they knew there were Kentucky men in the area, and it made them uneasy. But Kentucky men were not invincible. The Kentuckians took more casualties than all the other state militias combined, fighting in every neighboring state and territory as well as helping the defense of New Orleans while supplying the U.S. with saltpeter.

That’s punching above your weight class.

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