Civilians might think of military hair regulations as one standard look (see: jarhead), but there’s actually some variance among the branches. The “high and tight” sported by soldiers and Marines is much too short for your average airman.
Just ask Air Force captain Mark Harper.
In 2005, Harper deployed to Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq as Officer In Charge of the Joint Combat Camera team. Though he deployed with the Air Force, it was a joint environment, so Harper found himself reporting to an Army colonel and supervising about 40 grunts.
The first day he reported to Army HQ, those soldiers jumped on the chance to give him a hard time about his hair (which is probably a good thing — you only haze the people you like, right? Right?).
“I learned my schedule was intense and I wouldn’t be able to get someone else to cut it, but I wasn’t going to endure this mockery again, so I thought, ‘How hard can this be? I’m just going to cut it myself…'”
The holidays are over, and we are now in the year 2020. It’s a good time to start working on our 2019 taxes, because April 15 will be here before we know it. Taxes are overwhelming and complex, but there are numerous tax benefits for military families, so it is important to understand the basics.
Servicemembers receive different types of pay and allowances. It is important to know which are considered as income and which are not. For servicemembers, income typically includes basic pay, special pay, bonus pay, and incentive pay.
Items normally excluded from income include combat pay, living allowances, moving allowances, travel allowances, and family allowances, such as family separation pay.
Combat pay exclusions are a substantial benefit to servicemembers and spouses. Combat pay is that compensation for active military service for any month while serving in a designated combat zone. This may also include a reenlistment bonus if the voluntary reenlistment occurs in a month while the servicemember is serving in the combat zone. Note that for commissioned officers, there is a limit to the amount of combat pay you may exclude.
The most common living allowances are Basic Allowance for Housing and Basic Allowance for Subsistence. Moving allowances are those reasonable, unreimbursed expenses beyond what the military pays for a permanent change of station.
Sale of Homes
Servicemembers and spouses often decide to purchase homes when moving to new duty stations. Often, we then turnaround and sell the homes a few years later before moving again.
What happens if you make a profit from the sale of this home? If you are fortunate enough to profit, you may qualify to exclude up to 0,000 of the gain from your income, or up to 0,000 if you file a joint return with your spouse. This is referred to as the Sale of Primary Home Capital Gain exclusion. Normally, this exclusion requires that you owned the home for at least two years and lived in it for at least two of the last five years. There is an exception, however, for servicemembers. If you were required to move as the result of a permanent change of station before meeting these requirements, you still may qualify for a reduced exclusion.
Claim for Tax Forgiveness
If a servicemember dies while on active duty, there are circumstances where the taxes owed will be forgiven by the IRS. Contact your closest Legal Assistance Office immediately for assistance using the website provided later in the article.
If April 15 is quickly approaching and you are running out of time, remember, there are several different extension requests that military families may make. If the servicemember is in a combat zone, an automatic extension covers the time period the servicemember is in the combat zone plus 180 days after the last day in the combat zone.
Avoid Tax Scams
In November 2019, I wrote an article on common scams during the holidays. Unfortunately, scams are not limited to the holidays. There are numerous tax scams that have stolen personal information and millions of dollars. Scammers use the mail, telephone and email to initiate contact. Please remember that the IRS never initiates contact by email, text messages or on social media pages to request personal or financial information. The IRS initiates most contact through the regular U. S. Postal Service mail. Finally, the IRS never uses threats or bullying to demand payments.
If you have any questions, contact the IRS with a telephone number you find on its website (www.irs.gov) and verify what you received is legitimate before doing anything. To protect yourself, only use an IRS telephone number from its website. Do not use a telephone number you received that you suspect may be part of a tax scam from an email, text message or social media page.
Signing Tax Returns
Normally, both the servicemember and spouse must sign jointly filed tax returns. If one spouse will be absent during tax season, it is advisable to have an IRS special power of attorney, IRS Form 2848 (Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative). You may access this form on the IRS website.
Military Tax Centers
Annually, many Legal Assistance Offices worldwide help servicemembers and spouses file their federal and state income tax returns starting in early February. Last year, for example, Army Legal Assistance personnel and volunteers prepared and filed over one hundred thousand Federal and over sixty-four thousand State income tax returns saving servicemembers and their families more than million in tax preparation and filing fees.
If you don’t live near a military installation, visit the Department of Defense Military One Source website at https://www.militaryonesource.mil for additional information on accessing free online tax assistance.
Legal Assistance Offices
If you have specific tax questions or receive correspondence from the IRS, contact the closest legal assistance office to schedule an appointment. Use the Armed Forces Legal Assistance website (https://legalassistance.law.af.mil) that I provided in the October 2019 blog to locate your nearest legal assistance office. The quicker you address your issues, the better likelihood that you will successfully resolve them.
Valuable Tax Tip for 2020
Finally, here is a valuable tip for next year’s taxes. Does it seem like every year you are scrambling to find tax documents and receipts from throughout the tax year? Relieve this stress by getting a folder and writing “Tax Year 2020” on the front of it. Keep it in an easy-to-find place, and every time you receive a document or receipt that may impact your taxes place it in the folder. That way, at the end of this year, you will have most of the supporting documents you need already together.
Be on the lookout for future blogs that will continue to discuss specific legal issues often encountered by servicemembers and military spouses. As always, this blog series will help to protect your family and you!
Iran has decided it wants to join the aircraft carrier club, with Tehran’s Deputy Navy Commander for Coordination making a statement to Iran’s Fars News Agency.
According to a report by the Times of Israel, Adm. Peiman Jafari Tehrani reportedly said, “Building an aircraft carrier is also among the goals pursued by the navy and we hope to attain this objective.”
Currently, the United States, India, China, Russia, Brazil, and France operate conventional aircraft carriers. Spain, Japan, Italy, and Thailand operate aircraft carriers for short take-off, vertical landing aircraft — with the United Kingdom in the midst of building two. India also operates an old V/STOL carrier.
Iran has a substantial domestic arms industry and has built its own warships, including the Peykan-class missile boats and the Jamaran-class frigates.
Iran also claims to have deployed the Bavar 373, a knock-off of the SA-10 anti-aircraft missile, and to have copied the RQ-170, an example of which was captured in 2011. Iran also has built modified versions of the Northrop F-5, known as the Saeqeh.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has ordered the Iranian navy to look into constructing nuclear-powered military vessels, according to a report by the Daily Caller. Currently, only the United States, India, China, Russia, the United Kingdom, and France have such vessels in service.
2016 was notable for a number of incidents where Iranian forces harassed or threatened United States Navy personnel.
Listen, condoms will save your life. You may not believe it, but the condom is a multipurpose force multiplier that does more than protect one’s little trooper from NBC threats during unarmed combat. The idea of having condoms isn’t even all that new, so this may be old news to many readers. Even the Army’s official survival handbook lists condoms as a necessary item for survival kits.
The reasons are many, and I’m going to list them without a single dick joke. Sorry.
Water is the number one reason you should carry condoms in your survival kit as a U.S. troop. Water is the number two reason you should carry condoms in your survival kit as a civilian. Condoms, of course, are designed to keep fluids in – and they are really, really good at it. When properly handled, a condom can carry two liters of water. Just tie it off with a stick and wrap it in a sock, and you’ve got yourself a durable water container.
You should probably use non-lubricated condoms for this purpose.
I don’t mean you should be using condoms just for the Tinder dating app (although you should definitely be using condoms if you’re on the Tinder dating app). A condom can carry a lot of flammable material and – as I mentioned – the condom is totally waterproof so it will keep your cotton, newspaper, Doritos, whatever you use as tinder, dry.
Also, be advised that a condom will go up in flames faster than you’re going to be comfortable watching. You can use them as tinder themselves and will even start a fire.
Turns out condoms are good at protecting a rifle and a gun, whether you’re fighting or having fun. This is actually a fairly common use among survivalists who spend a lot of time outdoors. You may see (again, non-lubricated) condoms over the barrel of a weapon to keep mud, dirt, and water out. They even make little condoms for this purpose.
If you haven’t noticed by now, the condom’s greatest strengths are its elasticity and waterproofing. You can use the condom as a crude tourniquet in case of injury, but you can also use it as a rubber glove to protect both yourself from blood-borne disease and protect your patient from whatever muck is on your grubby little hands.
As US troops and weaponry pour into the Middle East to counter Iran with threats of “unrelenting force,” Iran warns that US forces are “targets,” not threats.
A little over a week ago, the White House, following approval from the Pentagon, announced that the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force composed of B-52 Stratofortress heavy, long-range bombers were being immediately deployed to US Central Command as a warning to Iran, which the US believed might be planning an attack on US interests.
The Pentagon announced May 10, 2019, that additional assets, including an amphibious assault vessel and an air-and-missile defense battery, were also being sent into the region. The US has said that it will respond to any Iranian attack with “unrelenting force.”
A U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress aircraft assigned to the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron taxis for takeoff on a runway at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, May 12, 2019.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Gardner)
Iranian military leadership pushed back over the weekend.
On May 11, 2019, Yadollah Javani, the deputy head of political affairs of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, said that the US “wouldn’t dare to launch military action against us.” His comments came shortly after Ayatollah Tabatabai-Nejad, a high-ranking cleric in the Iranian government, warned that US forces will face “dozens of missiles.”
Another IRGC commander followed suit May 12, 2019.
“An aircraft carrier that has at least 40 to 50 planes on it and 6,000 forces gathered within it was a serious threat for us in the past,” Amirali Hajizadeh said. “But, now it is a target.”
“If (the Americans) make a move, we will hit them in the head,” he added.
Iran’s state media released an animated video back in February showing one of Iran’s Ghadir-class submarines sinking an American aircraft carrier. Such an aggressive act, the success of which is far from guaranteed, would be a bold and dangerous move for Iran.
“The decision to go after an aircraft carrier, short of the deployment of nuclear weapons, is the decision that a foreign power would take with the most reticence,” Bryan McGrath, an influential naval consultant, previously told Business Insider. “The other guy knows that if that is their target, the wrath of God will come down on them.”
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
A US defense bill would bar delivery of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to Turkey until the US government provides an assessment of the relations between Washington and Ankara — a move that comes over the objections of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and underscores growing tensions between Turkey and its NATO partners.
The conflict with Turkey — which fields NATO’s second-largest army and hosts important NATO infrastructure — stems largely from its decision to buy the Russia-made S-400 air-defense system, one of the most advanced systems of its kind on the market.
NATO officials have cautioned Ankara about the purchase, saying the missile system would not be compatible with other NATO weapons and warning of “necessary consequences” for acquiring it. Using the F-35 and the S-400 together could compromise the F-35 and expose sensitive information.
Turkey plans to buy roughly 100 F-35s and has already received two of them. The country’s defense industry has also taken an active role in the jet’s development, with at least 10 Turkish companies building parts for it.
S-400 surface-to-air missile systems.
But the measure agreed upon by the House and Senate Armed Services Committees on July 23, 2018, would bar Ankara from getting any more F-35s until the Pentagon delivers a report on how the measure would affect US-Turkey relations, what impact Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 will have, and what the effects of Turkey’s removal from the F-35 program would be for the US industrial base, according to Bloomberg.
The bill also includes a statement calling on Turkey to release “wrongfully detained” US citizens Andrew Brunson and Serkan Golge.
The Defense Department has 90 days to submit its assessment. The defense bill, which allots 7 billion for fiscal year 2019, still needs final approval; the House is expected to vote this week and the Senate could do so in early August 2018.
Mattis also urged Congress not to block Turkey from acquiring the F-35, telling legislators in a July 2018 letter that doing so would cause an international “supply chain disruption” that could cause delays and additional costs.
“If the Turkish supply chain was disrupted today, it would result in an aircraft production break, delaying delivery of 50-75 F-35s, and would take approximately 18-24 months to re-source parts and recover,” Mattis said.
In the letter, Mattis said the Trump administration was pressuring Turkey over the S-400 as well as the detention of US citizens on charges the US has called exaggerated. He also acknowledged lawmakers’ concerns with Turkey’s “authoritarian drift and its impact on human rights and the rule of law.”
Mattis has cautioned lawmakers against sanctions on other partners, like India or Vietnam, for buying Russian weapons, including the S-400, arguing that they need to time to shift away from that weaponry. The compromise reached by US lawmakers would let Trump waive sanctions on countries doing business with Russia if the country in question is working to distance itself from Russian defense and intelligence firms.
An F-35A Lightning II team parks the aircraft for the first time at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, Feb. 8, 2016.
(U.S. Air Force photo)
The dispute over the S-400 purchase comes amid broader friction between Turkey and its partners in NATO — tensions that Turkey has helped stoke by boasting of the S-400’s abilities to target NATO aircraft.
Erdogan has said he pursued the Russian-made system because NATO countries declined to extend deployments of their Patriot air-defense systems and would not sell Turkey a comparable system. Erdogan has also expressed frustration with the EU over its response to a coup attempt against him in 2016 and accused the bloc of “messing us about” on issues like visas and Syrian migrants.
The US’s support for Kurdish fighters in Syria has also created tension with Turkey, which recently said it would not abide by Washington’s request that other countries stop buying oil from Iran.
While tensions with NATO may push Ankara to consider new relationships, it remains closely entwined with the trans-Atlantic defense alliance and its defense industry is reliant on Western firms. Turkey could expand dealings with other non-US partners in Europe, but it’s not clear those countries or the US would assent to such a shift.
Turkey’s warming relations with Russia and Erdogan’s crackdown have already alienated some in the US.
“Turkey may be an ally, but it is not a partner,” Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations and former director of policy planning for the State Department, said in September 2017.
Featured image: President Donald J. Trump and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet has been the backbone of the US Navy’s carrier air wings for just over a decade, following the retirement of the legendary F-14 Tomcat. Reliable, versatile and thoroughly adaptable, the Super Hornet is everything the Navy hoped for in a multirole fighter and more.
But its age is starting to show quickly, especially thanks to increasing deployment rates due to a need to fill in for unavailable older “legacy” Hornets being put through service life extension programs. This has resulted in more wear and tear on these big fighters than the Navy originally projected.
So to keep its fighter fleet relevant and as sharp as ever, the Navy has finally decided to give the go-ahead on picking up brand new Super Hornets from Boeing’s St. Louis, MO plant, while simultaneously upgrading older Super Hornets currently serving. However, these new fighters will come with a few new features that their predecessors don’t have, making them even more potent than ever before in the hands of the Navy’s best and brightest.
While Boeing previously pushed the Navy to consider buying a smaller amount of F-35C Lightning II stealth strike fighters in favor of more F/A-18E/Fs, the aviation manufacturer’s new plan is to develop a Super Hornet that’s capable of seamlessly integrating with the F-35C, making the combination extremely deadly and a huge asset in the hands of any Navy task force commander while underway.
Though the Super Hornet was originally designed in the 1990s to be able to fly against comparable 4th generation fighters, this new update, known as the Advanced Super Hornet or the Block III upgrade, will keep this aircraft relevant against even modern foreign 5th generation fighters today.
Boeing has hinted at the Block III upgrade for the past few years, pitching it constantly with mixed results. Earlier this week, Navy brass confirmed that a plan to buy 80 more Super Hornets was in the works, fleshed out over the next five years.
These new fighters will likely be the first to carry the Block III upgrade, while older Super Hornets will enter overhaul depots between 2019 and 2022, returning to the fleet upon completion of their updating.
Among the most drastic changes these new Super Hornets will come with, as compared to the ones the Navy currently flies, is a completely revamped cockpit, similar to the one used in the F-35. Instead of smaller screens, a jumble of buttons, switches and instrument clusters, Advanced Super Hornets will have a “large-area display” which pulls up every bit of critical information each pilot needs to successfully operate the aircraft onto one big screen, reducing workload and strain.
Additionally, a new networking system will allow Advanced Super Hornets to communicate data more efficiently with Lightning IIs, EA-18 Growler electronic attack jets, and E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft.
It’s likely that the Advanced Super Hornet will include some kind of stealth coating, painted on the surfaces of the aircraft to absorb or deflect radar waves. (Photo from Boeing)
Block III will also include new infrared search and track (IRST) sensors that’ll allow Super Hornets to detect and engage low-observable threats from longer distances. Given that stealth has become an important factor in modern fighter design, it’s likely that the Block III update will also include some kind of stealth coating, painted on the surfaces of the aircraft to absorb or deflect radar waves. The US Air Force and Marine Corps already use similar coatings on F-22 Raptors, F-35s, and select groups of F-16 Fighting Falcons.
The upgrade will also give Super Hornets the ability to fly with Conformal Fuel Tanks (CFT) for the very first time, providing an extension in operating range without sacrificing space on weapons pylons beneath the aircraft’s wings. With more flexibility in terms of weapons carriage, the Navy hopes that Super Hornets will not only be able to fly air superiority missions, but will also function as a flying arsenal for F-35s, which (through data links) could launch and deploy munitions from F/A-18E/Fs while on mission.
The program cost for upgrading currently-active Super Hornets will be around $265.9 million, between 2018 and 2022, while the cost of the 80-strong order for new Super Hornets will come to around $7.1 billion. This massive upgrade also signals the Navy’s interest in investing more into assets it currently fields over developing brand new next-generation fighters as broader replacements, generally to save costs while still maintaining the ability to deal with a variety of potential threats America’s enemies pose today.
A lost photo may shed new light on the mysterious death of famous aviator Amelia Earhart.
The photo, which will be featured in a new History channel special called “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence,” was discovered in the National Archives more than 80 years after her death. In it, a woman who appears to be Earhart sits on a dock in the Marshall Islands near to a man who resembles her navigator Fred Noonan.
Photo from US National Archives
After becoming the first female pilot to fly a plane across the Atlantic Ocean, Earhart set off to circumnavigate the globe in July 1937. Her plane vanished without a trace during the flight and, by 1939, both Earhart and Noonan were declared dead.
But the new photo, which shows figures that appear like Earhart and Noonan, could challenge the common theory that the plane crashed somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Photo from US National Archives
Shawn Henry, former executive assistant director for the FBI, told NBC News that he’s confident the photo is legitimate and pictures Earhart sitting on the dock.
“When you pull out, and when you see the analysis that’s been done, I think it leaves no doubt to the viewers that that’s Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan,” said Henry. Her plane appears to be on a barge in the background being towed by a large ship.
Photo from US National Archives
According to NBC News, the team that uncovered the photo believes that the photo demonstrates that Earhart and Noonan were blown off course. The latest photo could suggest that Earhart was captured by the Japanese military, experts told NBC News.
While current Japanese authorities told the news outlet that they had no record of Earhart ever being in their custody, American investigators insisted that the photo strongly suggests that Earhart survived the crash and was taken into captivity.
“We believe that the Koshu took her to Saipan [the Mariana Islands], and that she died there under the custody of the Japanese,” said Gary Tarpinian, the executive producer behind the History project.
North Korea and the U.S. flexed their military muscles April 25 as Pyongyang marked the 85th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army — without testing a nuclear weapon or conducting a major missile test.
Instead, amid soaring tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the nuclear-armed North carried out large-scale, live-fire drills in areas around the city of Wonsan on the country’s east coast, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said.
The Yonhap news agency said the drill, which involved 300-400 artillery pieces, was overseen by leader Kim Jong Un and was thought to be the “largest ever.”
Some observers had anticipated the regime would test an atomic bomb on the occasion.
The massive live-fire drills came the same day a U.S. guided-missile nuclear submarine arrived in South Korea and as diplomats from the United States, Japan, and South Korea gathered in Tokyo for a trilateral dialogue aimed at discussing measures to “maximize” pressure on the North over its nuclear and missile programs.
The test-fire of Pukguksong-2. Described as ‘nuclear-capable’, its first test flight was on Feb. 12, 2017. (Photo: KCNA/Handout)
Kenji Kanasugi, director-general of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, told reporters that the three countries had agreed to further cooperate in their effort to take “resolute” actions against nuclear provocations by the North.
Kanasugi said the trio also shared the recognition that China — North Korea’s largest trade partner — had a “significant” role to play in reining in Pyongyang’s saber-rattling. He did not elaborate.
South Korea’s envoy on North Korean nuclear issues, Kim Hong-kyun, warned that Pyongyang’s failure to discontinue its missile and atomic tests will be met with “unbearable” punitive sanctions, and that the three countries will seek to “maximize” pressure against the reclusive state.
This could come in the form of tightened oil exports to the North by China, something reports in Chinese state-run media have alluded to in recent days.
Kanasugi is scheduled to meet his visiting Chinese counterpart, Wu Dawei, special representative for Korean Peninsula Affairs, on May 3. In meeting with Wu, Kanasugi said he will discuss the possibility of China cutting off its supply of oil to North Korea.
The three envoys said they would “continue to work very closely with China” and “coordinate all actions — diplomatic, military, economic — regarding North Korea,” Joseph Yun, special representative for North Korea policy from the U.S., told reporters after the meeting.
“We really do not believe North Korea is ready to engage us toward denuclearization,” Yun said. “We make clear among ourselves that denuclearlization remains the goal and we very much want North Korea to take steps toward that.”
Meanwhile, the USS Michigan — one of the largest submarines in the world — arrived at the South Korean port city of Busan “for a routine visit during a regularly scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific,” U.S. Forces Korea said in a statement.
The vessel, which began service as a ballistic missile sub but was converted to a land-based attack vessel in the early 2000s, can carry up to 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles and embark up to 66 special operations personnel, according to the U.S. Navy.
That strike was also seen by some as sending a message to Pyongyang that military action remains a credible option for Washington in dealing with the North.
The Michigan may have been what U.S. President Donald Trump was referring to in an April 11 interview with the Fox Business Network in which he described powerful submarines that were to link up with a U.S. “armada” — led by the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier — that was heading toward the region.
“We are sending an armada, very powerful,” Trump said. “We have submarines, very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier. That I can tell you.”
On April 23, the Maritime Self-Defense Force held joint drills with the Carl Vinson and its escort vessels in the Western Pacific as the carrier strike group made its way toward the Sea of Japan.
The Trump administration had in recent days faced criticism over the strike group’s whereabouts after officials had portrayed it as steaming toward the Korean Peninsula when it was, in fact, still thousands of kilometers away.
The carrier group’s last reported location was in the Philippine Sea on April 23.
The North has called the moves “undisguised military blackmail” and a dangerous action that plunges the peninsula into a “touch-and-go situation.”
“If the enemies recklessly provoke the DPRK, its revolutionary armed forces will promptly give deadly blows to them and counter any total war with all-out war and nuclear war with a merciless nuclear strike of Korean style,” the North’s ruling party newspaper Rodong Shinmun said April 24. DPRK stands for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
International concern that the North is preparing for its sixth atomic test or a major missile launch has surged in recent months as the Kim’s regime butts heads with Trump.
Speaking to a gathering of United Nations Security Council ambassadors in Washington on April 24, Trump pushed for more pressure on the North, saying that maintaining the status quo was “unacceptable” and the council should take action to tighten the screws on Pyongyang with additional sanctions.
Trump said the North “is a real threat to the world, whether we want to talk about it or not.”
“People have put blindfolds on for decades, and now it’s time to solve the problem,” he added.
Also April 24, the White House confirmed reports that it would host a briefing on the North Korean nuclear issue for all 100 U.S. senators. Press secretary Sean Spicer said the briefing would be delivered by four top administration officials: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford.
While administration officials often travel to Capitol Hill to speak with Congress about policy issues, it is rare for the entire Senate to visit the White House.
Earlier April 24, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, threatened military strikes on the North if Kim orders attacks on any military base in the U.S. or in allied countries, or tests a long-range missile.
“We’re not going to do anything unless he gives us a reason to do something. So our goal is not to start a fight,” Haley said on NBC’s “Today” when asked if the U.S. is seriously considering a preemptive strike against the North.
However, when pressed on what would prompt a U.S. military response, Haley appeared to draw a line in the sand.
“If you see him attack a military base, if you see some sort of intercontinental ballistic missile. Then obviously we’re going to do that,” she said. “But right now, we’re saying, ‘Don’t test, don’t use nuclear missiles, don’t try and do any more actions’ and I think he’s understanding that.”
North Korea has kicked its weapons programs into overdrive over the last 16 months, conducting two nuclear blasts and a spate of new missile tests.
In one particularly worrisome development for Japan, the North conducted a near-simultaneous launch of four extended-range Scud missiles in March as a rehearsal for striking U.S. military bases in the country.
Experts who analyzed photographs of the drill told The Japan Times at the time that the hypothetical target of those test-launches appeared to be U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture — meant as a simulated nuclear attack on the base. The exercise showed the North’s first explicit intent to attack U.S. Forces in Japan, they said.
In the event of conflict on the Korean Peninsula, U.S. troops and equipment from Iwakuni would likely be among the first deployed.
Also April 24, the U.S. State Department announced that Tillerson will chair a special meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss North Korea. That meeting is widely seen as an effort to drum up support for increased pressure on the North.
“The DPRK poses one of the gravest threats to international peace and security through its pursuit of nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and other weapons of mass destruction as well as its other prohibited activities,” the State Department said in a statement.
“The meeting will give Security Council members an opportunity to discuss ways to maximize the impact of existing Security Council measures and show their resolve to respond to further provocations with appropriate new measures.”
Analysts said the White House was taking a multipronged approach to the issue as it ratchets up pressure on Pyongyang.
“Clearly, the Trump administration is looking to employ a swarm-tactic approach to apply pressure on North Korea through a combination of levers,” said J. Berkshire Miller, a Tokyo-based international affairs fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations.
Miller, however, said that while this might look as if it was a new way of tackling the nuclear issue, it differed little from the approach taken by Trump’s predecessor.
“While it may appear that Trump has a newly defined approach to the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, the reality is that his administration is still largely following the path of the Obama administration through an ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach,” Miller said.
“The pace and scope of joint exercises with South Korea and Japan may be increasing — as are political consultations — but there still has been no demonstrable change in the U.S. approach, except the loose talk and uncoordinated planning, as evidenced by the USS Vinson deployment flap.”
“You get a raise, and you get a raise, and you get a raise. You all get a raise!” That’s what Oprah Congress is telling its military and civilian Department of Defense counterparts this month, according to military.com.
The summary for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 throws a bit of shade toward President Obama, stating:
Unlike the President’s request, the NDAA:
Provides the full 2.1% pay raise for our Troops, as required by law
Stops the drawdown and actually increases the end strength of our Armed Forces
Increases ground and aviation training to address shortfalls that have contributed to accidents across the Services
Provides Operation and Maintenance support for a larger force, including increased depot maintenance, facilities sustainment and modernization, and ship maintenance
Replenishes depleted munitions inventories
Begins a turnaround in ship procurement with advanced funding for submarines and amphibious ships.
Effective January 1, 2017, members of the military and Department of Defense employees will see a slightly more than 2 percent pay hike. Additionally, threats to bachelors allowance for housing, (or BAH, were thwarted and the current BAH rates will stay put.
The NDAA provides funding for Israel’s missile defenses, plans to “deter” Russian “aggression in Europe,” prevents women from being required to enroll in the selective service, orders the Pentagon to reform commissaries and healthcare, and requires changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Action movies featuring Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta were supposed to be safe bets, but most viewers were disappointed by ‘Basic.’ Military viewers yelled themselves hoarse when they first saw Jackson’s cape in the movie. The flick follows the investigation into the deaths of multiple Rangers during training in the jungles of Panama.
While many soldiers may hate on “The Hurt Locker,” we’re just going to go ahead and call “Basic” the worst Army movie ever. Yes, ever.
Admin note: Parts of the movie are witnesses giving false testimony, but we still counted the technical errors we saw. Even in fantasyland you should get the details right.
1. (2:15) The movie takes place as Fort Clayton is being transferred over to the Panamanian government which happened in 1999. The Jungle School was at Fort Sherman, not Fort Clayton where the movie is set.
2. (2:20) West is wearing a patch on the front of his sweater where it is visible under his cape. Soldier uniforms don’t include chest patches, that sweater, or a cape.
3. (2:30) Master Sgt. West is giving a speech about Ranger standards to a bunch of Rangers about to go into combat exercises in the jungle. Despite this being tactical training and West being obsessed with standards, one of the Rangers is wearing a shiny watch, one is wearing a t-shirt with nothing over it, and people are wearing six different pieces of headgear, because screw uniform standards. Also, the red and black berets aren’t worn by the Army without flashes and crests.
4. (2:55) It’s revealed to be a live-fire exercise at night in the jungles of Panama during a hurricane and the entirety of the safety brief is, “Keep your weapon on safe so as not to shoot off your nonexistent d-cks.” Live-fire exercises are rarely done in hurricanes and the the method of signaling would not have been white phosphorus grenades since those would be nearly impossible for West to see from the jungle floor. Also, there would have been a real safety brief.
5. (4:00) A different helicopter comes to pick up the Rangers. For some reason, the Rangers are getting picked up by U.S. pilots in a Eurocopter Ec-120 (typically operated by Spanish and Chinese militaries, never by the U.S.). In theory, the helicopter is there to pick up all seven Rangers. The Ec-120 only sits four people in addition to the pilot and co-pilot.
6. (4:16) Col. Styles, later revealed to be the base commander, is on the helicopter looking for the Rangers. He would typically be, you know, commanding the search while allowing a specially trained crew to look for the Rangers. Also, the actual base commander at Fort Clayton from 1986 to its closing in 1999 was the U.S. Army South Commander, a two-star general.
7. (5:10) Col. Styles, shocked, asks the pilot whether the Rangers are shooting live rounds. Live rounds shouldn’t be shocking since the Rangers were on a live-fire exercise.
8. (5:15) “Dunbar” is firing, on full-auto, an M16 into the jungle when he has an M203 slung underneath the weapon and his vision is obscured by rain. The idea that he hit anything is laughable.
9. (6:25) Osborne is wearing no ribbons on her dress uniform.
10. (6:30) Somehow, the Ranger colonel never became jumpmaster qualified. No wonder they won’t make him a general. Also, his highest award is the Army Commendation Medal. How did he ever make colonel?
11. (6:35) Styles says that, if they don’t get to the bottom of this, they’ll have people from Washington crawling all over them like ants. Considering the fact that four Rangers are missing, one is dead, and one is injured, it’s pretty likely that Washington will be all over you anyway.
12. (7:15) Questioning is being done personally by the base commander and the provost marshall. Where is everyone else? Maybe the Criminal Investigation Division and the military police investigators are all at sergeant’s-time-training.
13. (8:40) It’s later revealed that Hardy is in the top-secret Section 8, not in the D.E.A., or at least not in normal D.E.A. And, all his actions in Panama are authorized by the few people who know he’s doing it. So, who is calling him and busting his chops about the bribe he was never actually accused of taking? Why check up on him if his suspension isn’t real?
14. (9:35) It’s revealed that Hardy was an amazing military police investigator and Army Ranger. It’s not exactly impossible, but it’s so rare for MPs to graduate Ranger school that Army public affairs writes press releases when it happens. Even if Hardy graduated Ranger school though, why was an MP assigned to an infantry unit under Styles? Styles would have been leading infantry companies and working in infantry battalions. He’d only meet MPs when he had too much to drink.
15. (9:45) Osborne tells Styles that, if Hardy isn’t Army, then the investigation won’t be official and Styles agrees. An unofficial investigation will make Washington more suspicious, not less. Plus, there’s no way that evidence turned up by a suspended D.E.A. agent not assigned to the base would be admitted into court later. Styles just guaranteed C.I.D. would send legions of agents to Panama.
16. (10:37) Osborne is surprised and grossed out by Hardy dipping. In the Army though, every meeting is adorned by five or six spit bottles on the table.
17. (10:52) Hardy says West was his “black hat.” “Black hat” is refers to airborne school instructors, not Jungle School instructors.
18. (13:00) “Dunbar” was misidentified by his dog tags, a major plot point of the movie. There was no one else who could identify him? No one from the Jungle School could come and tell them they have the wrong name? He wasn’t carrying an I.D. card? Everyone just trusted that the probable murderer was wearing the correct dog tags?
19. (13:35) It’s revealed that the injured Ranger, 2nd Lt. Kendall, is the son of a joint chief. Good luck avoiding a horde of men from Washington.
20. (13:45) Hardy explains to Osborne, the base provost marshall, how interrogation works. And, he’s an investigator known for being good in the room but has a deep-seated aversion to interrogation rooms.
21. (14:15) Osborne points out that Hardy can’t testify at trial and she’ll have to testify instead. Military trials are still trials and the defense will jump on the fact that a shady D.E.A. agent was in the interrogation but disappeared before trial.
22. (15:00) In the 1:15 since Hardy told Osborne to move Dunbar, neither of them have spoken to anyone else or moved Dunbar, yet Dunbar is already in the cafeteria when they arrive. I guess the other MPs heard about Hardy’s hatred of interrogation rooms and just went ahead and moved a dangerous prisoner on their own.
23. (15:11) Armed guard leaves the room without a word once Osborne and Hardy arrive. Good thing Ranger-qualified murderers aren’t dangerous or anything.
BONUS (16:00) Hardy shows off his crotch to Dunbar while talking about baseball. Odd interrogation tactic if not technically an error.
Photo: Youtube.com Note: These are the actual subtitles.
24. (17:31) Hardy says he was stationed in Panama with the 75th Ranger Regiment. Little problem, there never was a Ranger Battalion stationed in Panama. Rangers went there for Jungle School and they were part of the invasion in 1989, but they didn’t stay there. And, again, there are no military police units in the Ranger Regiment.
25. (19:15) Osborne jumps to parade rest for Styles. First, she’s been talking back and being sarcastic to this guy so far. Why do the customs and courtesies now? Second, the proper position would be attention.
26. (20:06) Let’s just get all of Master Sgt. West’s uniform violations in this scene out at once. 1: Nope, those glasses would not be authorized. 2: That collar rank is for Army specialists, four ranks below master sergeant. 3: That damn chest patch is back. 4: West is apparently special forces in addition to Ranger qualified; it’s a shame the Army has used him as an instructor for the past dozen or so years. 5: The patch, while right for Panama, is too far below the Ranger and SF tabs. This guy is starting to look like a stolen valor case.
28. (20:36) Why are none of the students wearing patches? Either they’re in Ranger Regiment and should be wearing scrolls, or they’re coming from other units to the Jungle School and should be wearing their home unit patches, or they’re in 192nd Infantry with West and should be wearing the same patch as him.
29. (20:48) West admonishes “Pike” for surrendering his sidearm. Um, why? Soldiers do give their weapons to their superiors when ordered.
30. (21:15) Just about everyone in this formation is an E-1 who has not been assigned to a unit. So, they’re doing Jungle School ahead of basic training? But apparently after Ranger school? Also, why are none of these “Rangers” wearing Ranger tabs or scrolls?
31. (21:49) Green Hell is a training event in Jungle School, but it’s just an obstacle course. It certainly doesn’t take place in Darien, a completely different province of Panama that’s miles outside of the U.S. controlled canal zone. If Green Hell were that bad though, 20 days of 40 kilometers per day, it would have to be somewhere besides the Canal Zone since the zone is less than 80 kilometers long.
32. (21:54) “Dunbar” says they’re all in the Jungle Leader Course. JLC was six days long and only five of them were training days.
33. (23:00) West accepts the answer of “1,100 meters per second,” for the muzzle velocity of the M16. The M16’s muzzle velocity is actually 948 meters per second.
34. (23:26) We get a good look at Nunez who is regularly referred to as a Ranger. Women are going through Ranger School for the first time now and none have graduated, ever.
35. (25:00) The entire unit has horrible muzzle awareness. Considering the fact that West gives them live ammunition for nearly every exercise, that seems pretty dangerous.
36. (25:30) Prior to 2004, only deployed soldiers wore the U.S. flag and they wore a reversed flag replica (blue field of stars to the front of the soldier’s sleeve). Also, why the cape!?
37. (26:05) “Pike” is getting hemmed up by West, but doesn’t go to parade rest. Every Army private knows the solution to a pissed off sergeant is to go to parade rest and say, “Yes, sergeant,” and, “No sergeant,” as appropriate.
38. (27:25) Apparently, the Rangers now have a code instead of a creed. Also, the code is much shorter.
39. (31:55) Apparently, 2nd Lt. Kendall’s dad, a joint chief of staff, wanted to keep his son’s homosexuality secret. So West, who had never met Kendall before, would have no way of knowing it.
40. (32:55) Kendall tells the investigators that no one could hear anything on the chopper. He doesn’t explain how he heard the entire mission brief on the helicopter.
41. (33:40) The Rangers rappel from the helicopter with their weapons simply slung on their shoulders where they could easily fall off and get lost in the jungle.
42. (34:58) The live-fire training is apparently in the middle of a thick jungle, is done without a safety officer able to oversee the training, and none of the students wear anything to mark themselves to prevent friendly fire. It’s frankly a miracle that the base only had three training accidents per year.
43. (35:00) All of the students apparently have full-auto M16s — even though only two models — neither popular in the Army in the ’90s, had fully automatic settings. Castro, a top student, fires from the hip constantly.
44. (37:40) Rangers find their dead instructor and don’t leave a guard, mark the map, or recover the body.
45. (38:25) In the middle of super tactical training, one of the Rangers decides not to use a red filter on his flashlight.
46. (39:30) Enlisted soldiers tell the officer with a joint chief for a father to shut up.
47. (41:30) “Pike” is wearing a camouflage t-shirt, not an approved uniform item.
48. (41:40) “Pike” is, in this version of the story, an admitted killer. Other Rangers are letting him sit within arm’s reach of a fully automatic weapon. He also only has one guard.
49. (42:46) Ranger gets shot and immediately grabs his weapon. Instead of picking his target, he sprays the inside of the shack with about 60 rounds from a 30-round magazine without bothering to check what he’s shooting.
50. (45:40) “Dunbar” admits to using drugs and Hardy says drugs come with a 20-year sentence in the Army. Actually, they come with military separation unless your chain of command recommends otherwise. There is no minimum sentence for drug use and few offenders serve jail time.
51. (51:45) Finally, someone mentions the radios. “Pike’s” is busted, but what about the rest of them? Why isn’t someone trying to raise West or Fort Clayton on the radio?
52. (52:30) Nunez walks around the tent with her weapon cocked and pointed up. No one protests the weapon safety problem. Also, there’s no need to cock an M9.
53. (53:00) During a high tension moment in the shack, Nunez takes the chance to kiss another Ranger. No wonder Rangers are scared of women being allowed in the school.
54. (53:25) “Dunbar” partially searches one pocket of someone’s pack, can’t find the grenade in that pocket and decides the grenade isn’t in there. Hope he’s never in charge of searching enemy prisoners of war.
55. (54:40) “Pike” exposes the scars from his needle injections. His scars would’ve been visible every time he had to take a shower with the other students.
56. (1:00:25) “Dunbar” was in custody for hours. The military police would have searched him and removed the hypodermic needle that could be used as a weapon.
57. (1:02:05) Osborne smacks a suspect/her former lover across the face with a telephone book. Military trials have different rules than civilian ones, but this would still get the case thrown out.
58. (1:02:15) Drug dealing doctor can’t remember Kendall’s name. He targeted and recruited Kendall, the homosexual son of a joint chief, worked with him for months, rigged his regular drug tests, and now can’t remember his name. This drug dealer pays no attention to his illegal enterprise.
59. (1:12:15) Osborne says that C.I.D. has arrived to take the doctor to Washington. First, why move him to D.C.? His trial would be easier to organize at larger bases like Fort Bragg or Fort Hood and he should be transported by the unit’s chaser detail, not C.I.D. Also, if C.I.D. is on the base, they should take over the investigation. They are the criminal investigation division.
60. (1:12:30) Osborne and Hardy learn that they have Pike and Dunbar backwards. See, that’s why you can’t use dog tags as a sole form of identification.
61. (1:13:30) Osborne says Army files don’t show weight, but they do. Also, dog tags are not enough to identify a criminal. Check ID cards.
62. (1:14:00) C.I.D. would almost certainly be wearing suits, not uniforms.
63. (1:13:35) Hardy and Osborne wouldn’t race to the plane. They’d call the flight line. Phones and radios are awesome inventions.
64. (1:14:17) Hardy steals an agent’s weapon and fires it in the air. Only two guys draw their weapons in response and no one stops Hardy from pulling Pike off the stairs and shoving him towards the prop. The agent at the top of the stairs actually stays at parade rest the whole time.
65. (1:15:00) So, West decided to confront the druggies in his unit and he decided he’d pick that fight in a remote area while he was severely outnumbered. Great tactics, super Ranger!
66. (1:17:00) The female Ranger runs out of the hut on her own without looking around or bringing her weapon to the ready, something no combat trained soldier would do. West kills her with dual pistols. Soldiers are trained to properly use one pistol because it’s more effective than using two.
67. (1:25:15) Hardy tells Osborne to contact him if she needs him to testify about the shooting. The investigators would actually take his sworn statement right then since he was the only witness to the shooting of a base commander by one of his subordinates.
68. (1:26:00) Osborne is driving a military vehicle to her personal residence and turns off to follow Hardy. She shouldn’t be able to take the vehicle home at night and she really shouldn’t be able to drive it around the isthmus without someone asking what’s going on.
69. (1:31:00) The movie ends on a happy note because the whole squad was in Section 8 and the mission was sanctioned! But, Kendall, the joint chief’s kid, is still dead. That’s going to come up later.