Coronavirus will delay promotions for nearly 160,000 sailors - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Coronavirus will delay promotions for nearly 160,000 sailors

Career advancements will be postponed for more than 159,500 sailors and officers as the Navy cancels selection boards, advancement exams and Reserve drill weekends to try to stem the spread of the dangerous novel coronavirus.


The Navy is suspending all active-duty and Reserve advancement selection boards scheduled to meet on or after March 24, manpower officials announced Thursday. The delays will affect all promotion, advancement, milestone and other selection boards.

Coronavirus will delay promotions for nearly 160,000 sailors

The decision was the latest made to “protect the health and safety of our force,” Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. John Nowell Jr. said in a service-wide message. The boards are postponed until further notice, he added.

Navy officials announced earlier in the week that Reserve drill weekends and advancement exams would also be temporarily halted. The moves will lead to promotion delays for more than a third of the Navy’s active-duty and Reserve forces.

“COVID-19 mitigation efforts affect the advancement processes of more than 159,500 sailors,” Cmdr. James Stockman, a spokesman for Naval Education and Training Command, told Military.com.

Navy leaders say postponing advancement exams, selection boards and other events is necessary to stop large-group gatherings, cut down on unnecessary travel, and allow personnel to keep safe distances from one another — all of which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say are necessary to reduce the spread of the virus.

Holding selection boards would require members to travel to Millington, Tennessee, where the groups convene, a Navy news release announcing the cancellations states. Once there, sailors could be required to work in large groups.

That was also a factor for advancement exams, Stockman said. While the number of sailors taking the advancement exam in the same room varies by command, in some fleet-concentrated areas, such as San Diego or Norfolk, Virginia, there could be up to 1,000 people testing in the same location, he said.

Delaying advancement exams is an unprecedented move for the Navy. Stockman said the service has never before implemented fleet-wide rescheduling of the tests.

Nowell said he is committed to ensuring no sailors are harmed by the selection board delays. That includes new policies to ensure that retroactive dates of rank can be set and allowances for back pay made, if necessary, the news release states.

Once the coronavirus risk is lowered and boards can proceed, Nowell said the rescheduled dates will generally follow the originally planned order.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FImg%2F30136%2FSuper%2Fafricom-commander-visits-15th-meu-uss-san-diego&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.africom.mil&s=919&h=b9bcdd1150be5213922b3a002afa40528ae8d24372c0290416588f479aa90866&size=980x&c=448199906 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FImg%252F30136%252FSuper%252Fafricom-commander-visits-15th-meu-uss-san-diego%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.africom.mil%26s%3D919%26h%3Db9bcdd1150be5213922b3a002afa40528ae8d24372c0290416588f479aa90866%26size%3D980x%26c%3D448199906%22%7D” expand=1]

All the same rules about who’s eligible for consideration before the original boards will still apply, Nowell added. No additional candidates will be considered.

Some smaller selection boards might meet virtually, the chief of naval personnel added.

While there’s no online version of advancement exams, Stockman said the Navy is aggressively pursuing them.

“A pilot for a high stakes [Navy-Wide Advancement Examination] online exam is being explored for 2021,” he said. “However, an E-4 through E-6 advancement cycle includes 90,000 Sailors, so the venues for online testing would still result in group gatherings.”

The Navy also relaxed grooming standards as a result of the virus to help cut down the number of haircuts needed; delayed fitness tests; and canceled boot camp and Officer Candidate School graduations.

The service had at least eight coronavirus cases as of Wednesday.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Check out video of Russia’s famously bad aircraft carrier on fire

Russia’s only aircraft carrier, which has regularly been described as the worst in the world, burst into flames on Thursday while undergoing repairs.

10 people are injured, three are unaccounted for, and six were saved from the Admiral Kuznetsov, which was at port in Murmansk, according to reports from Russian state news agencies TASS and Interfax.

“Ten people were injured: they were mostly poisoned by combustion products,” a source told TASS. Six people are in intensive care.

TASS reported that the fire started in the engine room on the second deck, then has spread to the size of 120 square meters.


Firefighters are battling the blaze with limited success, according to the news agencies.

Aleksey Rakhmanov, head of the state-run United Shipbuilding Corporation, told Interfax that “a human factor” may have caused the fire.

Russia’s Northern Fleet reported two firefighters were injured while fighting the blaze, TASS reported.

The aircraft carrier was undergoing major repairs at Russia’s Arctic port in Murmansk, also known as the Barents Sea port.

The ship was seriously damaged in October, when a crane toppled over and smashed a 214-square-foot hole in the hull.

The aircraft carrier is has long been beset with operational problems.

On a 2016 mission in Syria, the carrier saw the loss of two onboard fighter jets in just three weeks.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

4 reasons why the Navy will always be on missile defense patrols

The Navy has recently wanted to end ballistic missile defense (BMD) patrols. This mission, usually carried out by Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers equipped with RIM-161 Standard SM-3 surface-to-air missiles, has been to protect American allies from ballistic missiles from rogue states like Iran and North Korea, or from hostile peers or near-peers like Russia and China.

In June 2018 though, the Navy wanted to get away from this mission. The reason? They want to shift this to shore installations to free up the destroyers for other missions. Well, the ballistic missile defense mission is not going to go away any time soon. Here’s why:


Coronavirus will delay promotions for nearly 160,000 sailors

A RIM-161 Standard SM-3 missile is launched from the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70).

(U.S. Navy photo)

4. It will cost money to remove the capability

Even if there are shore installations handling the ballistic-missile defense mission, these Burke-class destroyers are not going to lose their capability to carry out the ballistic missile defense role. Maybe they won’t carry as many RIM-161s as they used to, but the capability will be preserved. The Navy has better things to do than to spend money to remove a capability from a ship.

Coronavirus will delay promotions for nearly 160,000 sailors

The Kongo-class guided-missile destroyer Kirishima launches a RIM-161 Standard SM-3 missile during a joint exercise with the United States.

(U.S. Navy photo)

3. There is China’s anti-ship ballistic missile program to beat

China’s DF-21 anti-ship ballistic missile could be more than a cause of virtual attrition if China were able to figure out how to locate American carriers. In that case, the best option to stop a DF-21 could very well be the SM-3s on the escorts of a carrier. After all, the land bases will be too far away to cover the carrier.

Coronavirus will delay promotions for nearly 160,000 sailors

Sea-based ballistic-missile defense assets have advantages of mobility and security over land-based ballistic-missile defense assets. Just try and find a ship like USS Decatur (DDG 73).

(U.S. Navy photo)

2. Land bases are vulnerable

Land bases are easy to support. You also have plenty of space, compared to a ship. Getting sufficient power and resources is also easy. The accommodations of the crew operating it are far more comfortable. But they don’t move, and everyone and their kid sister knows where they are or can find them on Google Earth. This makes them vulnerable to attacks from planes, missiles, special operations units… you get the idea.

Coronavirus will delay promotions for nearly 160,000 sailors

Since war is unpredictable, one will always need the means to get ballistic-missile defense assets to a location — and the best method is a ship like USS Lake Erie (CG 70), pictured here.

(U.S. Navy photo)

1. You never know where you will fight

We think we know where the next war will start. But can we ever be sure? In his memoirs, Norman Schwarzkopf admitted he never thought he’d be fighting in Vietnam, Grenada, or Kuwait. If American troops needed to fight somewhere unexpected (say, a war breaks out in Mozambique), the initial BMD will have to come from ships, not land based units.

The fact is, the Navy may want to dump BMD patrols, but they will be sailing around to carry out this mission for a long time.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Off the pods and into the cubicle: a Special Mission Unit Operator’s transition to civilian life

Master Sergeant George Hand US Army (ret) was a member of the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, The Delta Force. He is now a master photographer, cartoonist, and storyteller.

Eyes roll at the sight of yet another transition story. We all get it; it’s hard to transition from military to civilian life. I have read many a story myself and note positively that everyone brings up a new eureka moment for me that I didn’t experience myself, but that I totally get. My transition story doesn’t boast any novel epiphany though it does come from the aspect of a career SMU pipe-hitter.

“You’re not on the pods anymore, Geo… you need to get off the pods and throttle back a bit. I mean not a bit but a whole, whole lot!” explained my boss, Conan, also from my same SMU in Fort Bragg, NC.


Pods refer to the two benches on the exterior of the MH-6 Little Bird helicopter on which two men on each side of the aircraft can ride into an assault scenario. To many of us, riding the pods into an assault objective hanging on with one arm and lighting up targets on the ground with the other arm was the penultimate of brash aggression and acute excitement of living life on the very edge.

Coronavirus will delay promotions for nearly 160,000 sailors

(A complex brown-water insertion of a Klepper kayak. Photo courtesy of the author)

“SMUs will always be around, because no amount of technology will ever replace raw unadulterated aggression.” (SMU Squadron Commander)

I stood tall in my new office cubicle at my new job as a civilian, having just separated from the Service. My job/title was Project Manager. This was my new life, this square. “This is going to be great!” I pallidly promised my psyche. I fervently thanked the creator for the “shower door” on my cube that I could slide closed to prove to the world that I was not really there.

It was plastic, but it was translucent rather than transparent; that is, you could see through it, but only gross shapes rather than defined detail like… a shower door does. If a body were to remain very quiet and still, nobody could detect your presence in the cube. This thing I did fancy.

Carol from HR then stood in my open doorway in her blue office dress to welcome me and list the ground rules — the corporate culture of life in office cube city. She recited those edicts as they appeared chiseled in granite:

• “No, singing or playing of music;

• no cooking food;

• avoid speaker phones

• watch your voice volume

• deal with gas in the restroom

• always knock before entering a cubicle

• no “prairie-dogging”

In fact, whatever it is you find yourself doing in your cube for the moment just stop it!

“Er… no prairie-dogging? Yeah, so… what might prairie dogging be?” I posed.

“Well Mr. Hand, prairie dogging involves the poking of ones head over the top of one’s cubicle walls and… and looking around!” Blue-dressed Carol from HR became a blurred and indistinct pattern from the other side of my show door as I closed it in her incredulous face.

“Well, I never… I AM NOT FINISHED MR. HAND!”

I popped one’s head up over the top of one’s cubicle and explained: “Yes, yes you are finished, Ms. Carol from HR… and please watch your voice volume — TSK!”

Within the hour my shower door flew open and there stood Conan, face awash with concern.

“Woah, now that is a great, big, fat, bulbous-assed no-go here in cube city—entering without knocking… tremendous transgression, Conan!” I warned.

“There was a complaint about you from HR, geo…”

We talked. Conan was right, and there was no dispelling that. I apologized and thanked him. We shook hands as we always did when we parted or met. So with a crappy first morning behind me, I vowed to make the best of the rest. I headed to the break room for a cup of coffee to calm myself down.

Coronavirus will delay promotions for nearly 160,000 sailors

(Low-profile office cubicles offer no substantial privacy)

I embraced the notion that there might be nobody in the break room, but my crest fell for there were a man and woman seated at a table enjoying lunch. The noon hour had crept up on me though I scarce remarked. I held my breath and went about for that cup of Joe.

Men are great around just each other, but they get stupid and inclined to comport themselves like jackasses whenever a woman is around too. This fellow saw that I was engaged in an action that was somewhat contrary to break room policy, and he began:

“Excuuuuse me there, partner… but you’re not supposed to…”

“SHUT UP; SHUT THE PHUQ UP, PARTNER!!” I delivered to the man without even turning to look at him, not fully knowing from whence my outburst came.

“I’m screwed!” I thought, “I didn’t check the volume of my voice!” unable to sort through the gravity of which coffee offense I had committed just then. It was not the volume that was the greater offense, rather the content of my delivery.

The woman left the break room immediately at a cantor. Partner remained for the mandatory tough-guy extra seconds, me leaning against the counter, staring at him all the while sipping my incorrect procedurally-obtained break room coffee. He then sauntered out with backless bravado.

My shower door flew open without a knock. Once more, I reeled at Conan’s blatant disregard for cube rules. I endured the pod speech strewn with constant “I’m sorry, Conan” interrupts. This time his speech contained a threat annex to it. I needed to take that seriously. We two shook hands, as we always did when we parted or met.

A few months ago I was riding on the pods doing 90 MPH hanging on with one arm like a rodeo rider, spitting jacketed lead at targets on the ground, sprinting from the touched-down chopper at full speed smashing through doors and lighting up all contents… now I was born again into a world where the penultimate cringe comes from the shrimp platter at the buffet not being chilled down to the proper 54-degrees (Fahrenheit).

I had to turn this thing around, but wasn’t sure how. I accepted my plight with this eight-word phrase, one that I came to lean on in countless occasions: “We’ll just have to figure it out tomorrow.” And so it went for the next 16 years there at that same job.

I didn’t have to re-invent myself as I feared, but I did develop a set of guidelines that would steer my path over the next more than a decade and a half. There were the company rules, and then there were my rules. My rules were better than the company rules. They were simple. Though I never formally wrote them down, I can list them still for the most part:

1. Don’t ever tell anybody what the real rules are

2. Don’t ever hurt anybody in the company or customer base

3. Don’t ever damage any company or customer property

4. Don’t ever wear corduroy pants on a day you might have to run many miles.

5. Don’t ever allow yourself to be stuck in a position with a boss who sucks.

6. Don’t ever cheat entering time into your pay invoice

7. Never litter

8. Never threaten another employee within earshot of a witness

9. Remotely bury any items that could get you fired or that you just don’t want to deal with

10. Never reveal the locations of buried items

11. Eventually, return all clandestinely-acquired tools and equipment

12. (most important of all rules) ALWAYS WORK ALONE!

Coronavirus will delay promotions for nearly 160,000 sailors

(The author on left and teammate on right, lift off with an MH-6 for more gun runs, not giving one-tenth of a rat’s ass about the temperature of the shrimp platter.

(Photo courtesy of SMU Operator MSG Gaetano Cutino, KIA)

MIGHTY MONEY

Gary Johnson speaks out on California Guard repayment scandal

Coronavirus will delay promotions for nearly 160,000 sailors
Maj. Gen. William H. Wade, the adjutant general for the California National Guard administers the oath of enlistment to Soldiers of Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 143rd Field Artillery during a recent visit Victory Base Complex, Iraq in 2007.


Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson had strong words for the National Guard and the Pentagon after allegations emerged that the DoD is forcing California Guard troops to reimburse the government for enlistment bonuses it paid in error.

“It is beyond the bounds of decency to go after our veterans and their families a decade later,” he said in a statement obtained by We Are the Mighty. “These are rounding errors to the Pentagon, but these demands for repayment are ruining lives and causing severe hardships for service members whose sacrifices for the nation can frankly never be adequately be repaid.”

Johnson was referring to a Los Angeles Times story that alleges the National Guard is forcing nearly 10,000 guardsmen from California to repay reenlistment bonuses they were awarded 10 years ago.

According to the paper, more than 14,000 California Guardsmen were awarded the reenlistment bonuses as a result of the Army’s incentive program to retain soldiers during the height of the Iraq war.

The U.S. government investigated the California Guard reenlistment bonuses and found a majority of the requests had been approved despite the soldiers’ not qualifying for the bonus. There has been no suggestion that any of the Guardsmen who received the reenlistment bonuses were aware that they did not qualify for them.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Army Master Sgt. Toni Jaffe was the California Guard’s incentive manager at the time, and that after the Pentagon discovered the overpayments 6 years ago, Jaffe pleaded guilty to fraud. She was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. Three other officers associated with the fraud also pled guilty, receiving probation after being forced to pay restitution.

Major Gen. Matthew Beevers, the deputy commander of the California Guard, accused the nearly 10,000 soldiers of owing a debt to the Army.

In his statement to The Los Angeles Times, Beevers claimed that the soldiers were at fault and that the Guard couldn’t forgive them. “We just can’t do it. We’d be breaking the law,” he said, not addressing whether the Guard was breaking the law by reneging on the contracts.

Several of the Guardsmen went on to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan, many of whom sustained injuries as a result.

Military Times reports that the Pentagon is searching for ways to overcome the issue. “This has the attention of our leadership, and we are looking at this to see what we can do to assist,” Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said Monday.

A host of lawmakers have stepped forward to condemn the Pentagon for harassing the Guardsmen who received the reenlistment bonuses, calling for congressional investigations into the matter. Though as of publication, no presidential candidate other than Johnson had addressed it.

Calling on President Obama and Congress to act immediately on the impacted Guardsmen, Johnson said, “The Pentagon needs a good dose of common sense far more than it needs these dollars, and making our service members pay for the government’s incompetence is beyond the pale.”

Coronavirus will delay promotions for nearly 160,000 sailors
In a statement obtained by We Are the Mighty, Governor Johnson called for immediate action to be taken to keep the faith with California National Guardsmen.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The first US-North Korea talks in years could happen by May

President Donald Trump gave a timeline for the upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and appeared to be optimistic for a positive outcome.

“We’ll be meeting with them sometime in May or early June 2018, and I think there’ll be great respect paid by both parties and hopefully we’ll be able to make a deal on the de-nuking of North Korea,” Trump said on April 9, 2018, according to Reuters.


“They’ve said so. We’ve said so,” Trump continued. “Hopefully, it’ll be a relationship that’s much different than it’s been for many, many years.”

On April 8, 2018, a US official confirmed that North Korea was willing to discuss the subject of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

Coronavirus will delay promotions for nearly 160,000 sailors
North Korean leaderu00a0Kim Jong Un.
(KCNA)

The CIA has reportedly been in communication with representatives from North Korea, setting up backchannels, according to multiple news reports. Officials from the two countries were reportedly communicating with the intent to establish an appropriate venue for the talks and other details ahead of the summit.

Trump’s statement comes amid North Korean state-sponsored media’s acknowledgement of the bilateral talks.

The two Korean leaders are set to hold their own historic summit on April 27, 2018, the first in 11 years, between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Over 7,000 troops deployed or prepared for hurricane response

More than 7,000 service members — National Guard and active duty — are standing by ready to assist as Hurricane Florence hits the Carolina coast, DoD officials said here today.

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis and Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan are monitoring the Category 2 hurricane and the department is “leaning forward” to help civilian agencies as the storm approaches.

“The secretary is also receiving reports throughout the day on actions the military services are taking to protect the safety and well-being of the military community, and ensure the readiness of DoD installations in the region affected by Hurricane Florence,” Kenneth P. Rapuano, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global security, said at a Pentagon news conference.


‘Dangerous storm’

Both Rapuano and U.S. Northern Command commander Air Force Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy called Hurricane Florence a “dangerous storm” and urged Americans to listen to the warnings from state and local officials.

O’Shaughnessy also commands North American Aerospace Defense Command.

Outer bands of the storm have already started hitting the coast and officials said there are already winds exceeding 100 mph in some areas. The storm surge has hit in North and South Carolina and the storm is expected to slow down and deposit huge amounts of rain.

Coronavirus will delay promotions for nearly 160,000 sailors


Kenneth P. Rapuano, left, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global security, and Air Force Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, brief reporters at the Pentagon, Sept. 13, 2018, on Defense Department preparations for Hurricane Florence.

(DoD photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.)

DoD is already working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pre-position helicopters, vehicles, and supplies. The department is prepared to assist FEMA and our other federal partners in supporting the affected regions, Rapuano said.

O’Shaughnessy said DoD assets have virtually surrounded the area where the storm is expected to make landfall.

Positioning forces

“We are proactively positioning forces now to respond from the north, from the south, from the east, and from the west, across the full spectrum of DoD capabilities at every level — by air, by sea and by land,” the general said.

Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia; Joint Base Bragg, North Carolina; North Auxiliary Airfield, South Carolina; and Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama are staging areas for FEMA.

About 80 light/medium tactical vehicles are staged at Fort Stewart, Georgia, set to respond quickly once Florence passes through the area. These trucks are high-water-clearance vehicles which can carry supplies or first responders. These vehicles proved their worth in this type of situation last year during Hurricane Harvey in Houston.

At Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia, there are 35 helicopters available for search-and-rescue operations. A similar unit is at Fort Bliss, Texas, ready to move forward.

At Fort Bragg, there are 40 high-wheel vehicles for rescue and transportation, as well as seven helicopters staged for use in search and rescue and recovery missions, the general said.

Coronavirus will delay promotions for nearly 160,000 sailors

Army Spc. Benjamin Holybee, a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew chief assigned to Charlie Company, 1st General Support Aviation Battalion, 169th Aviation Regiment, Oklahoma Army National Guard, conducts preflight checks in Lexington, Okla., Sept. 13, 2018.

(Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Brian Schroeder)

The USS Kearsarge amphibious assault ship and the USS Arlington amphibious transport dock ship are following behind Florence. These vessels have Navy and Marine personnel, 16 helicopters, and six MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.

At Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, the Air Force has six HH-60 helicopters, two HC-30 aircraft and four pararescue teams at the ready.

At Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, 1st Air Force will provide robust command-and-control, air operations support to the DoD effort. This will include airborne command-and-control assets.

‘Ready to respond’

“North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia are all home to well-known military bases and installations, and the secretary of defense is given authority for life-saving and life-sustaining actions in order to make DoD capabilities immediately available, and local commanders are proactively positioning forces and equipment to be ready,” O’Shaughnessy said. “At the state level, National Guard units, whether Army or Air, under the authority of their governors, are ready to respond to the individual and oftentimes neighboring states’ needs.”

Mattis has activated dual-status commanders in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia to provide seamless command and control over assigned active duty and National Guard forces.

Rapuano said U.S. Transportation Command is staging and prepositioning FEMA resources. “The Defense Logistics Agency is directly supporting FEMA logistics with the procurement and distribution of relief commodities, including food, fuel and water,” he said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is also directly supporting FEMA and is poised to support flood mitigation, temporary emergency power, temporary roofing, and debris removal, Rapuano said.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency will provide imagery analysis and assessment, he said.

This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Defense. Follow @DeptofDefense on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

REDHORSE and Prime BEEF building up important air base

The 1st Expeditionary Civil Engineer Group provides theater-wide engineering technical services, light and heavy troop labor construction and repairs within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in order to engineer combat power and establish and sustain combat platforms for USCENTCOM and other joint forces.

Within the 1st CEG are the 577th Expeditionary Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force, or PRIME BEEF, and the 557th Expeditionary Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron, or REDHORSE, both sister tenants consisting of two separate construction teams with separate projects at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.


REDHORSE is a self-sustaining, mobile, heavy construction squadron, capable of rapid response and independent operations in remote, high-threat environments worldwide.

“We have teams all over the AOR building anything from taxiways on airfields to entire logistics support areas, to digging wells to provide water for bases in austere locations,” said Capt. Jared Erickson, 557th ERHS Al Dhafra AB site officer in charge.

Coronavirus will delay promotions for nearly 160,000 sailors

Staff Sgt. Thomas Findlay, 557th Expeditionary Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron engineering assistant, explains the foundation configuration during construction of airfield damage repair quipment warehouse, Dec. 23, 2018, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Darnell T. Cannady)

“My team here on (Al Dhafra AB) is almost like a miniature mission support group,” added Erickson. “We have highly-skilled vehicle maintainers that keep our heavy equipment fleet running strong and a supply team that can acquire construction materials from around the world. We are a self-sustaining construction team that can build almost anything, anywhere.”

Two of the current projects the 557th ERHS are working on are a warehouse for airfield damage repair equipment and a new Patriot Missile site.

“We are building a 13,000-square-foot warehouse to store and protect (.7 million) worth of airfield damage repair equipment,” said Erickson. “Additionally, we are in the process of finalizing the new Patriot Missile site, including 15 different projects valued at (.8 million) for roads, launcher pads, sunshades, tents and an electrical distribution system.”

Coronavirus will delay promotions for nearly 160,000 sailors

Senior Airman Dekota Newson, 577th Expeditionary Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force heavy equipment operator, remove excess cement from the foundation system to support a build during construction, Dec. 23, 2018, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Darnell T. Cannady)

The 577th Expeditionary PRIME BEEF Squadron provides a full range of engineering support required to establish, operate, and maintain garrison and contingency air bases.

Prime-BEEF forces maintain the necessary equipment and personnel to support fire emergency services; expedient construction; explosive incident response; emergency management; chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear response and many other specialized mission duties.

“The 577th EPBS is composed of Civil Engineering Air Force Specialty Codes, but have a separate role from base CE as we perform major construction and repair projects for (U.S. Air Forces Central Command),” said Capt. Paige Blackburn, 577 EPBS OIC of troop construction.

Currently, they are constructing a site by building an 18-foot tall mound and foundation to support a tower.

“The foundation system is made entirely from concrete and the site will have several miles of reinforcing steel rebar,” said Blackburn. “The tower and equipment weighs more than 120,000 pounds and is attached by large anchor bolts cast into the concrete piers. The tolerance of anchor bolt placement is extremely critical to ensure the tower frame will fit perfectly.”

Coronavirus will delay promotions for nearly 160,000 sailors

Members of the 577th Expeditionary Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force pour cement into the foundation system to support a build during construction, Dec. 23, 2018, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Darnell T. Cannady)

Projects such as this can be challenging and require the use of different techniques and skillsets to complete the task.

“Setting the anchor bolts perfectly was incredibly challenging,” added Blackburn. “To set this accurately required age-old techniques of steel tape, construction squares, basic trigonometry, true ingenuity and nearly all the ladders on base. Thankfully, we have Master Sgt. James Morgan, a Heavy and Construction Equipment expert Guardsman with 30 years of construction experience. The project involves a 15-person construction team.”

Other completed projects include a 320-room renovation totaling 0,000, a id=”listicle-2625336716″.4 million renovation of the Oasis Dining Facility, and several waterline, sewer line, and communication duct bank construction projects.

“(1st) ECEG is the preferred choice for projects that require a rapid construction completion date, and is also the safer option for construction that intertwines with sensitive and valuable information,” said Blackburn.

With the REDHORSE and Prime BEEF Squadrons providing their expertise throughout Al Dhafra AB, the base continues to improve for the next rotation of deployers and continuation of the mission.

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

Articles

US officials warn that North Korea will test another missile soon

North Korea has made preparations for yet another missile test within the coming days, US officials have told Fox News.


“The test could come as early as the end of the month,” said an unnamed official. Another official told Fox that a US WC-135 Constant Phoenix “nuclear sniffer” plane would patrol the area to detect possible nuclear activity.

The Pentagon, as well as its Japanese and South Korean counterparts, has been closely monitoring North Korea after a string of high-profile and alarming moves within its nuclear infrastructure.

Related: How China could potentially stop a US strike on North Korea — without starting World War III

Most recently, Japan detected two missile launches in North Korea that exploded “within seconds” after takeoff, CNN reported. Before that, North Korea tested a “saturation attack” — a salvo of four missiles meant to overwhelm US and allied missile defenses — with much more success.

Jeffrey Lewis, founding publisher of Arms Control Wonk, told Business Insider that North Korea’s ultimate intention with its nuclear program is to create a thermonuclear weapon that can hit the mainland US.

Coronavirus will delay promotions for nearly 160,000 sailors
The test-fire of Pukguksong-2. This photo was released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency on February 13. | KCNA/Handout

The increased pace of tests in 2017 shows North Korea is perhaps more serious than ever about hitting this goal, which it is increasingly moving closer to achieving.

Meanwhile, the US has openly floated military action against North Korea, which experts tell Business Insider could easily cost millions of lives and result in the first use of nuclear weapons since World War II.

MIGHTY TRENDING

European rivals call for UN-backed peace process in Syria

The leaders of Turkey, Russia, France, and Germany have reiterated calls for a UN-backed political process to end the war in Syria that has killed hundreds of thousands of people.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after a summit in Istanbul on Oct. 27, 2018, that “the meeting demonstrated there is common determination to solve the problem.

“A joint solution can be achieved, not through military means, but only through political effort under the UN aegis,” she added.


Along with Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and French President Emmanuel Macron gathered for the talks in search of an end to the seven-year civil war in the Middle East country.

Following the summit, the four leaders issued a statement calling for the convening of a committee by the end of 2018 to work on constitutional reform as a prelude to free and fair elections in Syria.

“We need transparent elections, that will be held under supervision of international observers. Refugees should take part in this process as well,” Merkel said.

Coronavirus will delay promotions for nearly 160,000 sailors

German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

(Flickr photo by Philipp)

Macron said a “constitutional committee needs to be established and should hold its first meeting by the end of 2018. This is what we all want.”

“Creating it will become a part of the political settlement in Syria,” Macron said.

The summit’s final communique also supported efforts to facilitate the “safe and voluntary” return of refugees to their Syrian homes.

The final statement rejected “separatist agendas aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria as well as the national security of neighboring countries.”

Many obstacles to a peace agreement remain. They include divided opinions about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is backed by Russia and Iran.

Western countries, meanwhile, condemn Assad for what they call indiscriminate attacks on civilians and Turkey has been helping insurgents trying to remove him from power.

Putin told a news conference that a settlement in Syria cannot be reached without consultations that include Syria and “our Iranian partners,” describing them as “a guarantor country of the peace process, the cease-fire, and the establishment of demilitarized zones.”

Asked about the possibilities of a second summit of the four countries, Putin said the countries have “not negotiated this yet, but everything is possible.”

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

Articles

Search continues for four missing soldiers at Fort Hood

Coronavirus will delay promotions for nearly 160,000 sailors
In this image released June 3, 2016, law enforcement officials at Fort Hood discuss the search operations for four soldiers missing after their truck overturned in a rain-swollen creek. Five soldiers died in the incident. | U.S. Army photo


Emergency rescue workers on Friday continued their search for four soldiers who went missing after their truck overturned in a rain-swollen creek at Fort Hood, an official said.

Five soldiers died in the vehicle accident at the sprawling Texas base and three others were rescued and taken to an Army medical center, where they were listed in stable condition and expected to be released later in the day.

That’s according to Maj. Gen. John Uberti, deputy commanding general III Corps and Fort Hood, who held a press conference Friday morning in front of a main gate to the base, one of the service’s largest installations and home to more than 41,000 active-duty soldiers.

“Our priority has been, since the first report of this incident and continues to be, the search for our four missing teammates,” Uberti said.

Due to the storm, commanders were in the process of closing roads on the post on Thursday when a 2.5-ton truck known as a Light Medium Tactical Vehicle overturned in a fast-flowing creek during a training exercise, according to The Associated Press. The flatbed truck is regularly used to carry troops.

The portion of road on the northern edge of the base near Owl Creek where the truck overturned hadn’t flooded in previous storms, Fort Hood spokesman Chris Haug told reporters, according to AP. A “swift-water rescue call” came in around 11:20 a.m. local time.

Three bodies were recovered during initial rescue operations and two more were located later in the night. The Army hasn’t yet identified the victims, pending notification of next of kin.

The four missing soldiers were from the 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. The search for them continues and involves ground, air and dog teams from base, local and state agencies.

“I’d also like to thank the many emergency services personnel, not only Fort Hood emergency services, but the state and local community emergency services personnel who have so willingly come forward and have professionally been searching for our soldiers,” Uberti said.

The base’s Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation and the American Red Cross are accepting donations to assist Fort Hood families affected by the tragedy. For more information, call the center at Fort Hood Family Assistance Center at (254) 288-7570 or (866) 836-2751 or contact the Red Cross at (254) 200-4400.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

Thunderbirds wow Las Vegas with tribute flight to healthcare workers in COVID-19 crisis

The U.S. Air Force flight demonstration team, the Thunderbirds, performed an inspiring flyover of the greater Las Vegas area on Saturday, April 11, 2020 in honor of healthcare workers and first responders working during the international COVID-19 crisis.

The flight, which included all six of the Thunderbird F-16s in wedge formation along with at least two camera aircraft accompanying the aircraft, took place at 2:30 PM local Las Vegas time and was watched by hundreds of thousands of spectators who were separated all over Las Vegas by social distancing guidelines.


Vegas Goes Blue Flyover

www.youtube.com

Local media, aviation photographers around Las Vegas, and the Thunderbirds produced some sensational visuals of the event. Interestingly, the team carried out the flyover in 5 instead of 6 jets because, according to local spotters, one of the F-16s experienced a birdstrike shortly after taking off from Nellis Air Force Base.

One fascinating photo featured on the local Las Vegas Review Journal social media pages showed the Thunderbird formation flying over the famous Luxor pyramid-shaped hotel with five “Janet Airlines” Boeing 737s parked at McCarran International Airport. The aircraft, perhaps the “worst kept secret in the world”, fly personnel to several classified test facilities around the western U.S.

A statement on the official Air Force Thunderbirds Twitter page said, “We salute the healthcare workers and first responders who are at the forefront of our nation’s fight against COVID-19. They are an inspiration for the entire country during these challenging times and it was an honor to fly for them today.”

Coronavirus will delay promotions for nearly 160,000 sailors

The Thunderbirds shared their flyover time and route across social media before the flight so people in Las Vegas could view the flyover while maintaining social distancing guidelines.

(Photos Credit: 57th Wing Commander via Facebook)

One photo also showed special markings applied to the lower, ventral fins on the Thunderbird F-16s with the social media hashtag #vegasgoesblue in honor of healthcare workers.

Coronavirus will delay promotions for nearly 160,000 sailors

The Thunderbirds F-16s showed up with new, special markings for the flyover.

(Photos Credit: Air Force Thunderbirds via Facebook)

Nellis AFB, just outside Las Vegas, Nevada, has a long history of supporting the community through triumph and tragedy under the leadership of 57th Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Robert G. Novotny. Following the tragic October 1, 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, the 57th Wing honored health care workers, first responders, survivors and memorialized victims of the tragedy with two specially painted aircraft, an F-16 and an F-15, wearing the moniker “Vegas Strong”.

Coronavirus will delay promotions for nearly 160,000 sailors

First responders around Las Vegas maintained social distancing while watching the Thunderbird flyover.

(Photos Credit: 57th Wing Commander via Facebook)

Brig. Gen. Novotny and the entire 57th Wing, have consistently led the U.S. military’s effective use of social media not only with the public affairs outreach by the Thunderbirds, but through a host of other initiatives that showcase the Air Force mission and personnel performing the Air Force mission every day at Nellis AFB and around the world.

The version below includes the air-to-air comms.

www.facebook.com

This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again

The Russian military has made a new claim about the downing of a passenger jet over the war zone in eastern Ukraine in 2014, asserting that the missile that brought Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 down was sent to Soviet Ukraine after it was made in 1986 and never returned to Russia.

Defense Ministry officials made the claim at a news conference in Moscow on Sept. 17, 2018, in an apparent attempt to discredit the findings of an international investigation that determined the system that fired the missile was brought into Ukraine from Russia before the Boeing 777 was shot down on July 17, 2014, and smuggled back into Russia afterward.

Kyiv swiftly disputed the Russian assertion, which a senior Ukrainian official called an “awkward fake,” while the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) said that it was still waiting for Russia to send documents it requested long ago and that Russia had made “factually inaccurate” claims in the past.


In a statement to RFE/RL, the Dutch government said it had “taken notice of the publications in relation to the press conference by the Russian Ministry of Defense.”

“The Netherlands has the utmost confidence in the findings and conclusions of the JIT,” the statement added. “The JIT investigation has broad support by the international community. The government is committed to full cooperation with the criminal investigation by all countries concerned as reflected in [UN Security Council] Resolution 2166.”

Speaking to RFE/RL’s Russian Service in an interview, the founder of cybersleuthing outfit Bellingcat accused Russia of “lying about the content” of videos it used as evidence, and said there was “absolutely no way to know” whether the records it cited are genuine.

All 298 passengers and crew were killed when the jet, which was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed in an area held by Russia-backed separatists in the Donetsk region.

The tragedy caused an international outcry and deepened tensions between Moscow and the West following Russia’s seizure of Crimea and support for the militants in their fight against Kyiv’s forces after pro-European protests pushed Moscow-friendly Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych from power.

The JIT also found that the Buk missile came from Russia’s 53rd Antiaircraft Missile Brigade and was fired from territory held by the Russia-backed separatists.

Many of the JIT’s findings have been corroborated or supported by evidence gathered by journalists and independent investigators, such as the British-based Bellingcat.

The Russian Defense Ministry officials claimed that some of the evidence used by the JIT, including videos investigators used to track the path of the missile from Russia to Ukraine and back, was falsified. They cited alleged evidence whose authenticity and accuracy could not immediately be independently assessed.

Citing what they said were newly declassified documents, the Defense Ministry officials asserted that the missile was manufactured in Dolgoprudny, outside Moscow, in 1986 — five years before the Soviet Union fell apart — and was sent by railway to a missile brigade in the Ternopil region of western Ukraine in December of that year.

“The missile belongs to the Ukrainian armed forces and never returned to Russian territory,” said Lieutenant General Nikolai Parshin, chief of the Defense Ministry’s missile and artillery department.

In Ukraine, National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov said Russia’s “statement alleging that the missile that downed MH17 had a Ukrainian footprint was yet another awkward fake [issued] by the Kremlin in order to conceal its crime, which has been proven by both the official investigation and by independent expert groups.”

Earlier, Bellingcat’s Eliot Higgins cast doubt on the allegation that video footage was doctored by investigators, writing on Twitter that the Russian Defense Ministry “should probably know we have the original version of the video they’re talking about at the moment.”

“And we’ve never published it. And the JIT has it,” Higgins added in successive tweets.

In a statement on Sept. 17, 2018, the JIT said it would “meticulously study the materials presented as soon as the Russian Federation makes the relevant documents available to the JIT as requested in May 2018″ and required under a UN Security Council resolution.”

The JIT said that it asked Russia to provide “all relevant information” about the incident back in 2014, and in May 2018 “specifically requested information concerning numbers found on several recovered missile parts.”

The investigative body said that it had “always carefully analyzed” information provided by Russia, and in doing so “has found that information from the Russian Ministry of Defense previously presented to the public and provided to the JIT was factually inaccurate on several points.”

Bellingcat’s Higgins echoed that statement, telling RFE/RL’s Russian Service that “the Russian Ministry of Defense has a long and well-established track record of lying and faking evidence.”

“So, really, there is absolutely no way to know that this information is genuine,” Higgins said. He also disputed the claim that videos were doctored, accusing the Defense Ministry of making “purposely misleading” statements about video evidence and “just lying about the content.”

The new Russian assertions follow several other attempts by Russia to lay blame for the downing of MH-17 on Ukraine, including initial suggestions — now discredited — that the jet was shot down by a Ukrainian warplane.

The 298 victims of the crash are among more than 10,300 people killed since April 2014 in the war in eastern Ukraine, where fighting persists and the Moscow-backed militants continue to hold parts of the Donestk and Luhansk provinces despite internationally-backed cease-fire and political-settlement deals known as the Minsk Accords.

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

Do Not Sell My Personal Information