Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years

Military retirees, those who receive disability or other benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, federal retirees, and social security recipients will see a 2.8 percent pay raise in their monthly checks in 2019.

It is the biggest Cost Of Living Allowance (COLA) increase in seven years, equaling as much as $369 a month for those at the top of the retirement pay charts.


Each year military retirement pay, Survivor Benefit Plan Annuities, VA Compensation and Pensions, and Social Security benefits are adjusted for the rate of inflation.

Retirement pay increase

Thanks to the increase, the average military retirement check for an E-7 with 20 years of service will go up by a month, while an O-5 with the same time in uniform will see a 6 monthly increase.

Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Heather L. Rodgers)

Retirees who entered military service on or after Aug. 1, 1986 and opted in for the Career Status Bonus (CSB/Redux retirement plan), have any COLA increases reduced by 1 percent, so they will see a 2019 increase of 1.8 percent or monthly for an E-7 with 20 years of service, or each month for an O-5 with 20 years of service.

VA disability increase

Disabled veterans will also get a bump. The average VA disability check will go up about per month for those with a 10 percent rating, and for those rated at 100 percent.

Other federal retirees and beneficiaries

Military retirees and VA beneficiaries aren’t the only ones who benefit from the COLA increase. Civil Service retirees, and Social Security recipients will also see the 2.8 percent jump in their monthly checks as well.

For Social Security recipients, the monthly increase will mean an extra per month for the average beneficiary.

Largest COLA bump in years

This annual COLA is determined by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is a measurement of a broad sampling of the cost of consumer goods and expenses. The CPI is compared to the previous year, if there is an increase there is a COLA. If there is no increase, there is no COLA.

The COLA affects about one in every five Americans, including Social Security recipients, disabled veterans, federal retirees, and retired military members.

In 2017, the COLA increase was 2.0 percent; in 2017, retirees saw a 0.3 percent increase.

Keep up with military pay updates

Military pay benefits are changing all the time — make sure you’re up to date with everything you’ve earned. Join Military.com for free to receive updates on all your military benefits, delivered directly to your inbox.

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

MIGHTY GAMING

What the science says about that moment in ‘The Last Jedi’

It’s been well over six months since Star Wars: The Last Jedi came out and audiences have gone through the full cycle of liking it on opening night and disliking it the longer they spend thinking about it. Now, it’s been released for viewing in homes across America and leaking potential spoilers is no longer a crime punishable by death.

That being said, this is your official spoiler alert. We are going to talk about Star Wars: The Last Jedi ahead.


Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years

And my personal question: If that was such an effective tactic, why not just attach hyperspace drives onto asteroids and use them to bombard enemies?

(Lucasfilms)

Still with us? Okay, here we go.

In the second act of the film, the First Order has the Resistance cornered. Vice Admiral Haldo orders her people to board the transport ships and evacuate to the nearby planet, Crait. She then pilots the Raddus and aims it right at the First Order fleet and their flagship, the Supremacy.

She floors the Raddus into near hyperspeed and smacks right into the bad guys in what was one of the coolest moments of the film. Pieces of the shattered Supremacy then domino-effect outward, into the other ships, destroying them as well.

As awesome as this moment was, it opens up many questions for the fans that could be better understood with some science. Like, is that even possible? What kind of force (not that kind) would be required to pull that off?

Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years

Everything always comes back to science.

The filmmakers behind the Star Wars universe have taken many creative liberties with the franchise, telling elaborate storiesat the expense of scientific reasoning— and that’s fine.The series is literally about magical space samurai that befriend countless alien species without translators and everyone seems to be just fine walking on random planets without wearing space suits.

In this one particular instance — the hyperspace Kamikaze move — everything seems to be perfectly in order. This all comes down to Albert Einstein’s famous mass-energy equivalency formula, otherwise known as E = mc2.

Even though many people see that formula and think it’s just some smart guy’s way of proving he’s smart, it’s actually the fundamentals of energy. It means, in basic terms, that energy and mass are interchangeable.

Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years

Cut the movie some slack. It’s far more interesting than reading science textbooks.

(Lucasfilms)

With a little algebra, however, this same formula can be rearranged to explain that achieving the speed of light would be nearly impossible because everything within the universe with mass would require a incalculable amount of energy to achieve such a speed. It’s challenging to send even a single atom at a fraction of light speed, let alone a massive frigate.

In the real world, achieving hyperspeed is near impossible for anything other than massless photons. But this is the universe with tiny green muppets teaching farmboys how to move rocks with their minds. Let’s pretend that the hyper-drives hand wave that all away and moving faster than the speed of light is possible and it can be achieved by things with mass.

Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years

It’s basically the idea behind the “Rod from God” that never happened.

Thankfully for the audience, the next scientific laws that apply to this scene are also very well-known: Newton’s First and Second Laws of Motion. The first says that every object in a state of uniform motion will remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it. The second states that the rate of change of momentum of a body is directly proportional to the force applied, and this change in momentum takes place in the direction of the applied force.

In normal-people words, this means that since the Raddus was extremely massive and was working up to light speed (which meant that it still had mass at that point), it had an unfathomable amount of energy behind it’s punch that could, theoretically, shred through anything with ease.

This is a magnified version of a rail gun on planet Earth. You take something heavy, use magnets to send it extremely high speeds, and crash it into something. Boom. No more enemy.

Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years

Then again, this could also explain why two missiles could destroy a Death Star and a couple of laser blasts destroy the second one.

(Lucasfilms)

The real question is why don’t they use it more often in the Star Wars universe? We’ve accepted that, for the sake of storytelling, that hyper-drives really work, but this Kamikaze strategy hinges on how the fictional hyper-drive works. If achieves immense speeds by reducing a spacecraft’s mass to zero — similar to that of a photon — then the spacecraft couldn’t destroy something unless it was in the process of picking up speed. This version is more in line with the destruction we saw in the film.

The problem with this option is that if the ship doesn’t have enough speed, it’ll simply bump off the target’s shields. If it has too little mass, it’ll simply squash like a fly on a windshield. The conditions would have to be near perfect to make a serious impact.

The other way a hyper-drive could work is if it creates the insane amount of energy required to bring an object past light speed. If that’s the case, then the hyper-drive would be destroyed with the collision. For scale, the energy needed to send a Ford Mustang into hyper-speed would be more than a star going supernova. When a spacecraft containing an entire military crashes and the hyper-drive that powers it blows it, it’d let off enough energy to snuff out the entire galaxy in an instant. So, it probably wasn’t that.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Army Just Wrapped Up Its First Robot Vehicle Experiment. Here’s What It Learned

U.S. Army modernization officials are about to finish the service’s first experiment to see whether the Robotic Combat Vehicle effort can make units more deadly on the future battlefield.

For the past five weeks, a platoon of soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division has been conducting cavalry-style combat missions using two-person crews in specially modified Bradley fighting vehicles to control robotic surrogate vehicles fashioned from M113 armored personnel vehicles in the Robotic Combat Vehicle Soldier Operational Experiment.


The platoon has operated in the rugged terrain of Fort Carson, Colorado, testing different technologies to control the robotic vehicles, sending them out hundreds of meters ahead to scout for enemy positions.

“This experiment was 100% successful … because we learned; the whole purpose was to learn where the technology is now and how we think we want to fight with it in the future,” Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, director of the Army’s Next Generation Combat Vehicle-Cross Functional Team, told defense reporters Thursday during a virtual roundtable discussion.

“All of the technology was not successful; it’s a sliding scale. Some knocked our socks off, and some — we’ve got a little bit of work to do.”

The experiment, scheduled to end Aug. 14, is one of three designed to evaluate the performance and potential of robotic combat vehicles on the battlefield, Coffman said.

Some of the technology tested in the experiment worked better than anticipated, he added.

“The interface with the crew … so the soldiers see where they are, they see where the robots are, they can communicate graphics … it just absolutely blew us away,” he said. “The software between the robotic vehicle and the control vehicle — while not perfect — performed better than we thought it would.”

There were challenges with the target recognition technology that links the robotic vehicle with the control vehicle.

“It works while stationary, but part of the challenge is how do you do that on the move and how that is passed to the gunner,” Coffman said. “We’ve got some work to do with that.

“We have some work to do with the stability systems with the weapon systems as you are going across terrain,” he continued.

Another challenge will be to get the control vehicle and the robot vehicle to communicate adequately beyond 1,000 meters.

“The distance between the robot and the controller is a physics problem and, when you talk flat earth, you can go over a kilometer from the controller to the robot,” Coffman said, adding that potential adversaries are wrestling with the same challenge.

Several defense firms participating in the experiment have “created radio waveforms to get us the megabytes per second to extend that range” in dense forest terrain, he said.

“That’s the hardest part, is you get into a dense forest, it’s really hard to extend the range,” he said. “We tested them; we went after them with [electronic warfare] … so we have a really good idea of what is the realm of the possible.”

The Army announced in January that it had selected QinetiQ North America to build four prototypes of the Robotic Combat Vehicle-Light, and Textron to build four prototypes of the RCV-Medium. Both companies were present at the experiment, but their prototypes are still being finalized and did not participate.

After the experiment, an independent evaluation will be conducted on the technical and tactical performance of the robots to decide whether manned-unmanned teaming in combat vehicles can make combat units more effective, Coffman said.

In the first part of fiscal 2022, the Army is scheduled to conduct a second experiment at Fort Hood, Texas, using the same M113 robot vehicles and Bradley control vehicles to focus on company-size operations. The service also plans to conduct a third experiment in the future that will focus on more complex company-size operations.

After each of these experiments, the Army will decide “is the technology where we thought it would be, should we continue to spend money on this effort or should we cease effort?” Coffman said.

The service is also scheduled to make a decision in fiscal 2023 on when manned-unmanned teaming with RCVs will become a program of record, he said, adding that no decision has been made on when the Army will equip its first unit with the technology.

Coffman admits that the technology is “not 100% there yet,” but he remains confident that combat leaders will one day have the option to send unmanned combat vehicles into danger before committing soldiers to the fight.

“This is about soldiers and this is about commanders on the battlefield and giving them the decision space and reducing the risk of our men and women when we go into the nastiest places on Earth,” he explained.

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

Veterans

Patrol Base Abbate: This nonprofit offers a space for every veteran

Sgt. Matt Abbate once said being a Marine was the only thing he had ever been good at.

More than good, most recall the scout sniper as a legend. His fellow Marines refer to him as “a physical animal and natural leader with a killer instinct and devilish grin,” the “perfect Marine … built like a brick shithouse,” and a person who could “instantly touch someone’s life.” Maj. Thomas Schueman, who was a platoon commander in the company he supported, describes Abbate as a “modern-day Achilles.” 

Abbate belonged to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment (3/5), which was sent to the Taliban hotbed of the Sangin district, located along a belt of verdant opium fields in southern Afghanistan’s arid Helmand province, in fall 2010.

For months, 3/5 took a highly kinetic fight to their entrenched, emboldened, and deadly enemy. By April 2011, the battalion had pushed the Taliban back, and elements of civil society returned to the district.

Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years
Abbate identifies a target in Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. Photo courtesy of Thomas Schueman/Facebook.

Progress came at the devastating expense of 25 Marines dead and more than 180 wounded. Among the 25 was Abbate, who died Dec. 2, 2010.

To honor Abbate’s legacy, an all-volunteer team of civilians and veterans, including over half a dozen Marines from 3/5’s Sangin deployment, is creating a virtual and physical community where every veteran can find purpose and connection. 

Schueman, who may be better known by his @kill.z0n3 Instagram handle, is the president of Patrol Base Abbate, which he founded in November 2020. In an interview with Coffee or Die Magazine, he explained how the 501(c)(3) nonprofit will fill veterans’ need for connection, and how the memory of Abbate inspires what he expects will become the nation’s largest veteran organization. 

A NEED FOR SOMETHING NEW

After Schueman returned from his Sangin deployment in 2011, he “noticed a lot of [his] Marines were struggling with transition” to civilian life. He only began understanding those difficulties himself while studying veteran trauma narratives at Georgetown University in 2018.

By 2020, the idea for PB Abbate was underway, inspired by the work of Dr. Jonathan Shay, a Department of Veterans Affairs psychiatrist who found veterans undergo the most healing when they are in community with one another. 

Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years
“[Veterans] can say ‘this belongs to me,’” Schueman says of Patrol Base Abbate. Photo courtesy of Thomas Schueman/Facebook.

During the same year, Schueman lost one Marine from 3/5, and two Marines from his time as a company commander, to suicide. As he looked into available resources for veterans, Schueman discovered “there was a ton of really great stuff for our special forces, or our wounded,” but “not so much … for people who just served.” 

Suicide, however, was an issue that affected veterans regardless of whether they saw combat, or experienced trauma. A time when they particularly needed support was during transition, when veterans were five times more likely to consider suicide.

Veterans were missing their community, Schueman believed, and PB Abbate would become a place where all veterans and transitioning service members could build the connections and strong bonds of trust they experienced during their service.

THE PB ABBATE MODEL

First, Schueman wanted veterans to have a physical space they could “claim as [their] own.” That space is the patrol base, a sparse cabin on a plot of land donated by a 3/5 veteran in rugged and picturesque Thompson Falls, Montana.

A place for veterans to “rest and refit,” PB Abbate will host small groups of veterans who sign up for the organization’s online, interest-based clubs. At four initial retreats during summer 2021, veterans chosen by random lottery will build up the patrol base and delve into their interests with support from subject matter experts.

Because PB Abbate cannot physically host every member, it was important to create an online component, where Schueman said, “veterans [can] connect any time, day or night, no matter where” they are.

Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years
The cabin where PB Abbate retreat attendees will gather. If you’re chosen for a retreat, the team advises that you come prepared to “fill a sandbag.” Photo courtesy of Thomas Schueman/Facebook.

On message boards within the PB Abbate website, veterans can join a fight, gun, strength, or book club to discuss their favorite pursuits. The book club, for instance, is currently reading Sebastian Junger’s Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging.

The final component of PB Abbate is a series of countrywide local and regional chapters, with initial hubs in Texas and New York. While he hopes these chapters will be platforms for social bonding, Schueman also expects PB Abbate members to serve their communities to “shift the narrative around veterans as people who are waiting for handouts, who are victims, when instead we are people of action who continue to serve.”

With several hundred veterans currently involved, PB Abbate expects to see growth in coming months as the group forms relationships with local veteran organizations around the country and propels its message throughout the community with the help of veteran social media influencers. As quickly as standard operating procedures and capable leaders are identified, the organization will expand to additional cities and regions and increase the number of online clubs it offers.

PB Abbate’s clubs, retreats, and regional chapters are free of cost, and open to all veterans. No matter how you served, Schueman emphasized, “You rate our services. You rate this community.”

Schueman said the organization is “already fulfilling its mission” by bringing a powerful sense of “healing and restoration and connection and community” to the 3/5 Marines involved.

In their actions, Abbate’s humble, relentless spirit lives on.

Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years
Sgt. Matt Abbate in Sangin, left. On the top right, Abbate’s Rules of War: “1. Young warriors die. 2. You cannot change Rule #1. 3. Someone must walk the point.” On the bottom right, from Abbate’s gunfighting commandments: “Nothing matters more than thy brethren to thy left and right … thou shall protect no matter what.” Photos courtesy of Thomas Schueman/Facebook.

FOLLOWING SGT. MATT ABBATE

Matt Abbate is remembered for his spirited retellings of “hellasick” gunfights. He is infamous for the “gunfighting commandments” and “rules of war” he scrawled on the walls of a Sangin patrol base. 

On the battlefield, Abbate was fearless. On Oct. 14, 2010, Taliban gunfire drew a patrol into a Sangin minefield where improvised explosive devices wounded four Marines, including the patrol leader. Abbate took charge, exposing himself to enemy gunfire, and directed fellow Marines’ fire while sweeping the minefield to secure a landing zone for an incoming medical evacuation helicopter. For his actions, Abbate was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.

Never stingy with his extraordinary skills, Abbate was quick to mentor and help other Marines.

“It didn’t matter who you were,” Schueman said, Abbate would “give you time.” Like its namesake, PB Abbate will “recognize the value in everybody.”

As the team builds an organization befitting his legacy, in Big Sky Country, the spirit of Matt Abbate is a bright, blazing beacon for all veterans looking to rediscover their purpose and get back to the fight.

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

Articles

This combat controller kept taking it to the enemy after he was shot in the chest

Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Gutierrez had accompanied top special operators in some of the most dangerous missions of the War on Terror, including the Battle of Shok Valley. He was a combat controller assigned to Army Special Forces, calling in attack runs from aircraft supporting the Green Berets.


In 2009 he was tested like never before when, during a raid to capture a high-level Taliban leader, Gutierrez was shot in the chest. The round passed through his lung, collapsing it and ripping a chunk out of his back.

Gutierrez had seen this kind of wound before and estimated he had three minutes left to live.

“I thought about [my job], what I would do before I bled out,” Gutierrez told Fox News while discussing the raid. “That I would change the world in those three minutes, I’d do everything I could to get my guys out safely before I died.”

He stayed on the radio, calling in strikes from aircraft to help the team escape alive. At one point, enemy fighters were lined up on a wall only 30 feet from him. Gutierrez called in three A-10 danger close gun runs against the fighters. The rounds struck so close to Gutierrez that his ear drums burst from the explosions. After the first of the three runs, he allowed an Army medic to insert a needle into his lung, relieving some of the pressure that was forcing his lungs closed. It was the only time he came off the radio despite his injuries.

In fact, through all the chaos of the fight, Gutierrez remained so calm and clear on the radio that the pilots supporting the operation didn’t realize he was injured until he was removed from the battlefield.

“He said he would be off of the mic for a few to handle his gunshot wounds,” Air Force Capt. Ethan Sabin told Business Insider. “Until that point he was calm, cool and collected.

Gutierrez was medically evacuated from the battle after nearly four hours of fighting and losing over half of his blood. No American lives were lost in the raid, a success credited largely to Gutierrez’s extraordinary actions. He recovered from his wounds and was awarded the Air Force Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor for valor awards.

Watch the ceremony below

Humor

6 ways you can tell a troop isn’t an infantryman

Walk onto any American military base in the world, and you’re going to encounter some pretty disciplined men and women. Continue walking and you’ll also notice all the hard work each troop puts into their day.


But you may also wonder which one of them deploys and fights in combat versus those who ship off to support the war effort.

Well, we’ve got you covered.

Related: 3 key differences between Recon Marines and Marine Raiders

Here are six simple ways you can tell a troop isn’t an infantryman:

6. There are no dog tag in their boot laces.

Infantrymen wear a dog tag around their necks and another looped in their left boot — it’s tradition (and practical for identification in the worst case scenario).

Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years
A dog tag inserted into the left boot — your motivated left boot.

5. When a troop can count how many MREs they’ve eaten.

MREs — or Meals Ready to Eat — are a staple food for any grunt. The classic meal plan is the troop’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner for as long as you’re in the field or outside the wire. If a troop only had a few during boot camp…they’re probably not a grunt.

Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years
Yum! Spaghetti and meat sauce.

4. They remember and brag about their ASVAB score.

It doesn’t take a high ASVAB to become an infantryman. Grunts mostly brag about their shooting scores and how big their egos are versus what they got on their ASVAB.

Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years
No crayons = POG.

3. They actually have morale — and you can see it in their eyes.

Read the photo caption — it’s epic.

Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years
The Airmen responded to U.S. Air Force Gen. Mark Welsh III when he challenged the Air Force to a mustache competition. Mustache March continues to be a method of raising morale for the Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kyle Gese)

2. When you sport a “serious face” for a photo, but you’re stationed on a beautiful military installation.

Look how happy they are!

Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years
Two Airmen stand with too much pride in front of Andersen Air Force Base. (Source: DoD)

Also Read: 6 questions you asked yourself after your first firefight

1. When they say the words “Well, I’m basically an infantryman.”

No, you’re not — but good job convincing yourself.

Unless your MOS starts or used to start with “11” (Army) or “03” (Marines), you’re not an infantryman.

Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years
Two Army infantrymen keep their eyes on a wadi in Andar, Afghanistan. The area is known as a Taliban stronghold and commonly receives small arms fire from the location.

Can you think of any others? Comment below.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Navy celebrates its massive World War I railroad guns

The Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) held a commemoration ceremony for the 100th anniversary of the first combat firing of the naval railway gun, Sept. 6, 2018.

The ceremony took place at Admiral Willard Park at the Washington Navy Yard where on display is a naval railway gun still mounted on a railway carriage.

Master Chief Yeoman Nathaniel Colding, senior enlisted leader at NHHC, was the master of ceremonies for the event and shared the history of the naval railway gun with the guests in attendance.

Upon entering World War I in April 1917, the Navy was already developing long-range artillery primarily to counter the German army’s heavy guns capable of bombarding the English Channel ports used by the Allies.


The Navy’s initial idea was to employ several 14-inch 50-caliber Mark IV naval rifles, with a complete train of equipment for each gun, on railway mountings behind British lines in France. However, changing military conditions prevented British authorities from stating definitively at which port these batteries were to be debarked.

The Navy ultimately offered the guns to General John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force, who readily accepted them.

“In the summer of 1918, five U.S. naval railway guns made the journey across the Atlantic Ocean for use in France during the First World War,” said Colding. “Although they were assigned to the First Army’s Railway Artillery Reserve, the guns operated as independent units under the command of Rear Admiral Charles P. Plunkett. In early September 1918, Battery Number 2 went into action with a bombardment of a German-occupied railroad hub more than 20 miles away.”

Retired Rear Adm. Sam Cox, director of NHHC, was the guest speaker for the commemoration ceremony and spoke about why this event is important for us to remember today.

Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years

British 12-inch howitzers on top-carriage traversing mounts.

“The U.S. Navy was able to provide a quick solution using guns that were normally intended for battleships,” said Cox. “The key point of the U.S. Navy’s participation in the war was that although we only lost about 430 Sailors during the entire course of the war, we were able to get two million U.S. Army troops to France a lot faster than the Germans ever thought was possible. The Navy did this without any losses to U-boats, ending a war that at that point was the bloodiest in human history.”

While the naval railway guns were in operation, the crew had no support from the Army should the Germans unit advance on them and they were expected to “fight alone.” They did not have to face that fate, however; the Germans were in retreat throughout their period of service.

“The increased use and effectiveness of aircraft, particularly bombers, with their greater flexibility and mobility, meant that the naval railway battery would not be a mainstay in future wars,” said Conrad. “Nonetheless, its development and deployment highlights the U.S. Navy’s ability to think innovatively and create and deploy new and effective programs quickly. That skill is transferable and is a hallmark of the U.S. Navy in the twentieth century.”

Although the naval railway guns operated well behind the front lines and were not subject to the constant bombardment received by more forward positions, the U.S. naval railway batteries were hardly immune from enemy fire. Many of the units took counter-fire from German artillery. German observation planes flew above their positions during the day, and bomber aircraft were active at night. The units lost only one Sailor to enemy fire and other battery personnel were wounded.

Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years

French 370 mm railway howitzer of World War I.

According to Dennis Conrad, Ph.D., a historian at NHHC, 530 officers and men made up the Naval Railway Guns command. The unit was subdivided into six groups, one for each battery and these groups were further subdivided into crews: a train crew, a construction crew and a gun crew.

The Naval History and Heritage Command, located at the Washington Navy Yard, is responsible for the preservation, analysis, and dissemination of U.S. naval history and heritage. It provides the knowledge foundation for the Navy by maintaining historically relevant resources and products that reflect the Navy’s unique and enduring contributions through our nation’s history, and supports the fleet by assisting with and delivering professional research, analysis, and interpretive services. NHHC is composed of many activities including the Navy Department Library, the Navy Operational Archives, the Navy art and artifact collections, underwater archeology, Navy histories, ten museums, USS Constitution repair facility and the historic ship Nautilus.

This article originally appeared on the United States Navy. Follow @USNavy on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The US will pay countries not to buy arms from Russia

It was a program designed by the State Department to help the former Warsaw Pact countries break away from dependence on the Russian economy – the United States would straight up pay the newly liberated former Soviet Union allies to buy American-made weapons instead of buying them from their former patron.


That program is back, and the United States is expanding it.

Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years

A Russian-built Hind helicopter in the Macedonian Air Force

It’s called the European Recapitalization Incentive Program and Eastern Europe is signing on for arms made in the good ol’ US of A. But the U.S. isn’t stopping at limiting Russian influence through arms sales, the American government is using the program to limit arms sales from China too. It’s a function of the State Department working hand-in-hand with the Pentagon in an effort to project American economic power and military goodwill.

“The goal is to help our partners break away from the Russian supply chain [and] logistics chain that allows Russian contractors and service personnel, and Russian-manufactured spare parts onto either NATO allied bases or partner military bases,” a State Department official told Defense One.

Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years

A Russian-built T-72 tank in the Slovakian Army.

The countries signing on to the revitalized program can’t just promise not to buy Russian or Chinese weapons from now on. They will also need to get rid of their old ones as well as purchase new American replacements. So instead of gifting these countries a hodgepodge of military arms or vehicles, the countries can invest in American military power while getting rid of old systems and updating their military capabilities. Some of the partner countries are still using Soviet-built weapons.

In the past year, the U.S. State Department has signed on six former Soviet Bloc countries to the program to the tune of 0 million, including Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Greece, North Macedonia, and Slovakia. The program will even bring these countries up to NATO standards in many areas. If successful, the U.S. will expand the program beyond Eastern Europe to help other countries break free of Chinese and Russian dependence.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Boats full of dead North Koreans are still showing up in Japan

The seemingly endless appearances of “ghost ships” full of dead North Koreans on the shores of Japan is indicative of Kim Jong Un’s weakening grip over his citizens, experts say.


The latest took place, when a capsized boat containing the decayed remains of seven bodies washed ashore in Kanazawa, a city on Japan’s west coast.

A badge portraying former North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il was also found nearby.

It was the second such discovery in Japan in January 2018.

The number of ghost ships — vessels discovered with no living crew — reached 104 in 2017, the highest since authorities started collecting data in 2013, Japan’s Kyodo news agency quoted the national coast guard as saying.

Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years
Sea of Japan / East Sea between North Korea and Japan.

It remains unclear exactly who these people were, or why they showed up in Japan — experts have posited theories including food insecurity in North Korea, annual quotas imposed on fishermen, and a deal for fishing rights between North Korea and China.

A new theory suggested to Business Insider is that the increasing arrivals of these boats indicate Kim Jong Un’s weakening grip over his country and its people.

It came from Professor Hazel Smith, a researcher at the School of African and Oriental Studies in London.

Also read: This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan

North Korea, notoriously, tightly controls its borders to prevent defections. Soldiers opened fire on one of their own who was caught in the act of defecting to South Korea in November 2017.

The army also plants landmines on various spots around its border — including the west coast — to prevent citizens from leaving and invaders from entering.

Smith, who lived in North Korea from 1998 to 2001, told Business Insider (BI):

“Security is disintegrating. There was always an incentive for people to get hold of a boat to try to fish and come back and sell it and make some money, but security was always extremely tight on the coasts.

“You had mined beaches, you had surveillance on the coast, so the fact that this is happening is not a surprise economically — people are taking the opportunities while they can — but what it shows also is the disintegration of the state’s ability to stop people going out in boats.”

She added that previously, obtaining boats was seen as a highly risky issue, and that only people with high security clearance could access them.

“Going to sea in any way was seen as first and foremost a political issue, not an economic issue, because individuals were so controlled,” she said.

Related: It looks like the North Koreans uncovered secret plans to assassinate Kim Jong-un

What’s changed now is the fact that North Korea doesn’t have the “capacity” to control its borders as tightly as before due to other, more pressing concerns — such as the country’s nuclear development and continuous, crippling international sanctions, Smith said.

She said: “They’ve only got the capacity to focus on certain aspects of state activity at a time now. They’re focusing on the nuclear issue, and they don’t have the capacity to focus on every aspect of economic activity, and they don’t have the money to feed people, so they have to let people do their own thing.”

Further reading: This is why no one in North Korea is celebrating Kim Jong Un’s birthday

She previously told BI it was “a lot easier” to bypass the country’s security apparatus now than it 20 years ago, because some security officials are willing to turn a blind eye in exchange for profits if someone comes back with a catch.

The sheer number of the boats appearing in recent years also suggests that people were leaving North Korea as part of small enterprises rather than a monolithic state enterprise, another expert observed.

It points to an opening of the North Korean economy, said Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein, an editor at North Korean Economy Watch.

He told BI: “It may tell us something about the extent to which economic activity has been liberalised, but also put under pressure.

“In other words, companies run with relative freedom by individuals may have increased space to operate, but in some cases, they may also receive quotas to fill by the state or other government entities.

“In the case of the ghost ships, while their circumstances aren’t fully known, the pressure to meet quotas could explain why they need to venture further out into the ocean searching for their catch, perhaps not with adequate fuel resources on board.”

Smith added: “It looks like state priorities over vessels have either broken down or been allowed to lapse in order to permit people to go out and find ways to engage in trade to make a bit of money, which is a change.

“It might not be a major change, but it is a change in the way that the government approaches economic activity. It’s less security-focused.”

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Blue Angels order awesome new jets for 2021

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels are poised to receive new, retrofitted F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter aircraft in the next few years.

The Navy on Aug. 13, 2018 awarded Boeing Co., the F/A-18’s manufacturer, a $17 million firm-fixed price contract to configure nine F/A-18E and two F/A-18F aircraft to the standard Blue Angels’ aircraft structure. The squadron, which typically maintains 11 aircraft, currently flies the F/A-18C/D models.


While an upgrade, the new aircraft would not house the common nose cannon system used for strike operations. Like the Air Force Thunderbirds, the demonstration team uses “clean jets,” aircraft without missiles or bombs.

However, the Blue Angels’ F/A-18s are “capable of being returned to combat duty aboard an aircraft carrier within 72 hours,” if necessary, according to the team’s fact sheet.

Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years

The Blue Angels F/A-18 Hornets fly in a tight diamond formation, maintaining 18-inch wing tip to canopy separation.

Boeing will configure the aircraft at its St. Louis facility, according to the contract announcement. The fiscal 2018 budget, once appropriated, will fund the work, the announcement said. The new jets are expected to be completed in December 2021.

The Blue Angels recently announced a new roster of officers for the 2019 show season.

The squadron selected three F/A-18 demonstration pilots, an events coordinator, flight surgeon, and supply officer to replace outgoing team members, the Navy said in August 2018.

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

Articles

Harley Davidson offers members of military free riding academy training

Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years
Image: Harley Davidson


Harley-Davidson, long a big supporter of U.S. veterans, announced that it is extending free training at its riding academy through next year for members of the military.

The program is now available to active-duty, retired, reservists and veterans. The free training was first offered earlier this year prior to Armed Forces Day aboard the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier in Charleston, S.C.

Related: Dining deals for veterans and active military on Veteran’s Day

“Thousands of members of the military have learned to ride through the program so far,” Christian Walters, Harley Davidson’s managing director and an Army Special Operations Aviation officer, said in a statement this month. “We’re proud to extend this opportunity in 2016 so even more military personnel can enjoy the very freedom they protect.”

Never ridden before? No problem. As the company says “Great riders aren’t born. They’re made.”

The New Rider Course is designed to get newbies comfortable on a bike and ensure they have got the skills to get the license and start riding. The course features Harley-Davidson certified coaches who will provide expert guidance.

Related: Healthy Mouth Movement: Helping Veterans with Dental Care

There are two primary components: classroom and on the range. The classroom section focus on rider safety skills basics and getting familiar with the motorcycle you will be riding.

At the practice range, skills like braking, turning, controlling skids and tackling obstacles are learned and practiced.

Completing the course in some states means you don’t have to take the riding portion of the motorcycle license test. With some insurance, it can also mean a discount.

All members of the military who are stateside can take advantage of the offer by visiting a local Harley-Davidson dealer or going to h-d.com/AmericanHeroes.

Related: Homeless veterans: Let’s give our vets the homes, dignity and respect they deserve

If a riding academy is not available in your particular area, then you can attend another certified motorcycle safety program and Harley-Davidson will reimburse you.

Deployed outside the US? Not a problem. If you’re currently abroad, then submit the form by December 31, 2016. The company will send you a voucher for free motorcycle safety training that can be used when you return home. It will be good through 2017.

The free training is part of the company’s wide ranging support for veterans. To date, Harley-Davidson has donated more than $1 million to support those who serve through fundraising initiatives, the Harley-Davidson Foundation and the Operation Personal Freedom MotorClothes collection.

Ballet dancer turned defense specialist Allison Barrie has traveled around the world covering the military, terrorism, weapons advancements and life on the front line. You can reach her at wargames@foxnews.com or follow her on Twitter @Allison_Barrie.

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Here is what would have really happened after the Hartman murder-suicide

If you’ve seen Full Metal Jacket, then you probably recall the scene where Private Leonard “Gomer Pyle” Lawrence snaps, killing his tormentor, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, and then himself. The film then segues to 1968, where “Joker” and “Cowboy” are both sergeants — as if the incident had no effect on their careers.


Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years

At the time Full Metal Jacket was taking place, drill instructors like this one would have been supervised by officers.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

It would not have gone down that way. To put it mildly, the killing of Gunny Hartman is likely merciful end when compared to the hell he would catch in the wake of such an incident. A murder-suicide like that would, in all likelihood, rock the entire Marine Corps.

Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years

NCIS agents – the real-life version of Leroy Jethro Gibbs – would be investigating the murder-suicide,

(Photo by Bill Wheatley)

Immediately after the tragic event, both the Navy Criminal Investigative Service and the United States Marine Corps Criminal Investigation Division would move in to investigate what happened. Joker, Cowboy, and everyone in the recruit platoon would be thoroughly interrogated. That “blanket party” would come back to haunt them — they’d get non-judicial punishment as a best-case scenario. Worst-case scenario could involve courts-martial, like the one in A Few Good Men, and a potential for dishonorable discharges.

Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years

Brig. Gen. Austin E. Renforth’s counterpart in Full Metal Jacket would likely see his career hit a dead end in the wake of the Hartman-Lawrence murder-suicide.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

But it doesn’t stop there. The Naval Inspector General’s office would come in and start asking a lot of questions — not just of the Marines in the platoon, but of the entire chain of command at Parris Island. If you think the recruits had it bad, well, some of the officers would likely see their careers end.

The Navy’s Judge Advocate General Corps would probably be conducting a lot of court-martials in the wake of the Hartman-Lawrence murder-suicide.

(U.S. Navy)

In the wake the 1956 Ribbon Creek incident, in which a DI got six recruits killed during night march through a swamp, officers were required to more closely supervise recruit training. The DI was court-martialed and charged with negligent homicide.

In the wake of an incident like the one portrayed in Full Metal Jacket, the lucky ones would get relieved and receive letters of admonition or reprimand and would close out their careers long enough to get retirement. Unlucky ones would face the “up or out” realities of promotion. And the really unlucky ones would get court-martialed.


In short, the Hartman-Lawrence incident would cause a ton of havoc. The case would have spawned media headlines, and Pyle’s fellow recruits would probably be infamous among their fellow Marines – if they hadn’t already been booted out.

MIGHTY SPORTS

How a MultiTool is changing the game of fishing and veterans’ lives

Fishing takes an insane amount of patience, but it should be spent waiting for the perfect catch, not used solely on managing your line.

The Gerber LineDriver Fishing MultiTool is a game changer, and no, we’re not getting paid to say that.


The compact, dual ended LineDriver has six essential functions, really everything you could possibly need to simplify line management. The spinning hook vise securely clamps onto a hook or lure, spinning the line as you tie the knot. An eyelet clearing spike cleans out debris and old line, making it much easier to thread new line. The dual serrated scissors can function as unlocked full range or pull-through blades when locked. A split shot crimper is housed at the tip of the snips scissors for added utility. And, it clips on your belt and has a built in lanyard hole.

One reviewer who gave the tool five out of five stars, said, “The linedriver is a breakthrough tool for anglers. I’ve never used a tool that does so many things well while being so light and taking up little space. This tool should be in everyone’s kit.”

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While the tool makes it easier for any angler, this could be a complete game changer for our veterans who have lost a hand or an arm. One of Gerber’s reviewers, John Mestlin, posted on the site, “I recently purchased the linedriver and it is truly amazing. I don’t have a right hand and forearm so to tie a hook or barrel swivel on was very difficult. I was always asking for help. I am able to tie everything myself now because of this tool. To the developer of this tool you are truly a blessing to me, now when I’m on the water I have my independence. Thank you so much.”

Fishing has long been viewed as an outstanding activity for veterans to find their center, their calm and to connect with both nature and themselves. As any fisherman can attest, there’s a tranquility the quiet of the water brings. If you’re not ready to take the leap yourself, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc (PHWFF) was founded to help wounded military find that peace.

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PHWFF began in 2005 serving wounded military service members at Walter Reed Army Medical Center returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since then, PHWFF has expanded nationwide, establishing its highly successful program in Department of Defense hospitals, Warrior Transition Units, and Veterans Affairs Medical Centers and clinics.

Project Healing Waters brings a high-quality, full-spectrum fly fishing program to an ever-expanding number of disabled active military service personnel across the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, in Military Hospitals and the Warrior Transition Command. PHWFF has become recognized as an innovative leader and model in the field of therapeutic outdoor recreation for the disabled, through its successful application of the sport of fly fishing as a rehabilitation tool.

One program participant commented, “”You all saved my life. And I don’t say that lightly. This program has turned my life around and I want to be part of life again. I found hope on the river.” An SFC, Army Medic added, “This program has done more for me than all the years of therapy the military has thrown my way. Counselling and therapy are great, but what PHWFF has done for me is literally life-saving.”

Whether you buy the Gerber LineDriver Fishing MultiTool or join PHWCC, it’s time to find your peace on the water.

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