Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

In the era of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, training was frequent and necessary in order to maintain the level of combat readiness required to sustain and prevail in battle. While times have changed, our Operational Tempo (Optempo) has not.


The number of troops needed in combat zones has decreased significantly. The amount of funds needed to maintain those combat zones has decreased as well. Funds have been redirected to modernize equipment, further training and have helped our forces remain relevant and vigilant. But what is this current wartime Optempo and Personnel Tempo (Perstempo) doing to our troops and our families?

How much is it really costing us?

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

Their lives

Since 2001, more than 6,000 U.S. service members and DOD civilians have lost their lives. Of that, over 5,000 were KIA. Even more staggering is the number of wounded in action (WIA) since then. At least 50,000 service members have been wounded in action (DOD 2019). Since the wars began in 2001, the United States has spent 0.4 billion dollars on medical care and disability benefits.

This is only the beginning of medical care for wounded troops.

According to Costs of War, the financial costs of medical care usually peaks 30 to 40 years after the initial conflict (Bilmes, et al. 2015). In a study, it shows that although veteran suicide rates have recently decreased in numbers, the rate of suicide of military members versus civilians is still substantially higher, and ever-increasing. Furthermore, the number of veterans who use VHA versus those who don’t also, have a higher rate of suicide (DVA 2018). The toll this is taking on military families is creating unsalvageable relationships, emotional distress for children, and, ultimately, lives that are forever lost.

Their families

At the start of the war in 2001, Perstempo policies have been disregarded by many. According to the GAO:

DOD has maintained the waiver of statutory Perstempo thresholds since 2001, and officials have cited the effect of the high pace of operations and training on service members; however, DOD has not taken action to focus attention on the management of Perstempo thresholds within the services and department-wide (GAO 2018).

Is there a lack of genuine concern for family stability and well-being? Understanding the expectation of family interaction would decrease during wartime, once the service member has completed their deployment, reintegration, and revitalization of the home and family must take place. Families have been neglected and left without the proper resources to cultivate a healthy family environment. The concern for service member readiness has been an on-going issue in recent years. Studies have been conducted, and programs implemented, but is that enough?

Marital issues have often been associated with Perstempo, such as length of partner separation, infidelity during separation, and other challenges encompassed in a military marriage. The stress on the family of a service member is immeasurable; oftentimes, even discounted in comparison to the stress the service member endures. Support or resources for military spouses seeking separation or divorce are nearly nonexistent. They have been conditioned to believe that the well being of their soldiers comes before their own.

Military spouses sacrifice their academic achievements and employment opportunities in support of their service member’s careers. As the budget cuts roll out for the fiscal year, more much-needed family programs are becoming extinct. Programs that provide support for spousal employment, childcare, and leisure activities are being defunded, which can destabilize already struggling families.

Child and domestic abuse are an ever-growing concern within a community that is known for its patriotism and heroism. The families suffer in silence. Surviving recurrent deployments, solo parenting, housing issues, and the lack of program funding, the plight of the military family continues to decrease soldier readiness and morale.

Their mental well-being

The rate of PTSD and mental health diagnoses is on the rise for both service members and their families. However, services providing support and medical care for these issues have declined. The effect of time away from children has taken a toll on military children.

Neglect, abuse, and mental health issues are being ignored due to a lack of care. Some military installations cannot provide adequate mental health care because of their remote locations, and the costs to contract providers are often more than the proposed budgets allow. Because of this, the family’s needs go unmet.

With orders coming down the wire, Command Teams are obligated to carry out relentless training exercises, and soldiers are feeling the burn. Everyone is exhausted, each soldier doing the job of three, and families are becoming isolated. They lack sleep and proper nutrition, putting them at greater risk of making mistakes during training that may cost them their lives, but the soldiers march on.

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

The way forward

Repairing family units are necessary for the success of soldier readiness. Programs and support for families should not be cut. Revisions of budget direction may be necessary in order to tailor programs in a way that both benefits the government and the well-being of the service member and their families.

Allow soldiers to receive mental health care without fear of retaliation or loss of career. Provide structured support programs for spouses that go beyond counseling. Long term care is necessary for service members and families upon redeployment. Taking a true interest in supporting our military members and families should be the priority for our Department of Defense. We are fighting wars but not fighting for our families. Cultivate strength by improving the quality of life for everyone.

MIGHTY HISTORY

How French special forces rescued the holiest site in Islam

It may surprise the younger counterterrorism buffs out there to know that France maintains one of the oldest and most experienced counterterror units in the world, the Group D’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale. If you don’t speak French, all you need to know is that they’re gendarmes, soldiers who can arrest you and – when asked – will come to find you outside of France to arrest you.

This is not something you want to happen to you, as some foolish terrorists found out when they seized the holiest site in Islam at gunpoint.


Islam’s version of the end of the world has a number of minor and major signs to look out for. The major part begins with the appearance of the Mahdi, Islam’s redeemer, who brings the world’s Muslim community back to the religion, helps kill the anti-Christ, and paves the way for the rule of Jesus (yes, Christianity’s Jesus, same guy) on Earth.

Over the years, many people have come forward claiming to be the Mahdi. There was Dia Abdul Zahra Kadim, the leader of an Iraqi insurgent group, killed near Najaf in 2003. The founder of the Nation of Islam, W. Fard Mohammed, claimed to be the Mahdi as many of the Nation’s followers do. Others have followers make the claim for them, like a leader of a Turkish sex cult.

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

“Listen, I never said I am the redeemer of Islam, I just didn’t say you were wrong to say I am.”

But no one in recent memory left quite the impression on history like Muhammad bin abd Allah al-Qahtani, who led his personal army, al-Ikhwan, to capture the Grand Mosque in Mecca at gunpoint. The Grand Mosque is home to the Kabaa, the holiest site in Islam and destination for all the world’s Islamic pilgrims, a voyage every Muslim must make once in their lifetime. There are a number of other important holy sites contained within.

And in 1979, Mohammed Abdullah al-Qahtani and an estimated 300-600 followers took it over, along with the tens of thousands of people inside. They actually let most of them go, but not before killing the poorly-armed security guards, cutting the phone lines, and sealing themselves in. They were well-armed, well-trained, and well-funded. The Saudis were going to need some help.

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

“I choose Pierre.”

That’s where GIGN comes in. While the truly ignorant can laugh about how “French commandos” sounds when the only history they know is from World War II, the rest of you need to know these guys wear ski masks and carry .357 Magnums as their sidearm. When the GIGN come to kill you, they want to make sure the job is done. Their training course has an astonishing 95 percent washout rate. While the US was toying with the idea of a special counterterrorism force, GIGN was probably retaking a cargo container ship somewhere.

Their job in Saudi Arabia would be no different, except they would also be training the Saudi and Pakistani special forces who would be going into the Grand Mosque with them.

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

Somewhere out there is a group of Pakistani commandos who pronounce “flashbang” with a little French accent. Fear those people.

The terrorists weren’t a bunch of desperate weirdos with a fundamentalist ideology. These guys were prepared to bring down the entire Saudi Kingdom while inciting other anti-Saud citizens to do the same. The terrorists immediately repelled the government’s counterattack and waited for whatever the King would throw at them next. GIGN is what came next. France sent three of their finest GIGN men who immediately began training their counterparts on how to effectively clear buildings of pesky terrorists. When the men were ready, they all prepared to storm the gates.

But there was a hitch. Muslim Saudi and Pakistani troops would be going in there alone because the Grand Mosque is forbidden to non-Muslims. Even when they’re trying to retake the mosque. Their GIGN mentors would have to sit back and wait to see how well they trained these men.

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

This photo of the captured militants doesn’t do justice to how well-trained they were.

Some 50 Pakistani SSG commandos and 10,000 Saudi National Guardsmen stormed the Grand Mosque after two weeks or so of being held by the terrorists. On Dec. 4, 1979, the militants were disbursed from the mosque and forced to hide about in the now-evacuated city of Mecca. The guardsmen and SSG men fared well against the terrorists, killing roughly 560 of them while others fled the scene into Mecca and the countryside, where most were captured.

After the Frenchmen left Saudi Arabia, the hubbub surrounding the Grand Mosque seizure didn’t die. Instead of crackdowns of unruly citizens, the King of Saudi Arabia opted instead to implement many the famous “sharia” laws Saudi Arabia suffered through for decades; the restrictions on women, powerful religious police, and more. Only in the 2010s has the kingdom seen a loosening of these religious laws.

Articles

Australia suspends aerial missions in Syria after US jet downs Syrian bomber

On June 20th, Australia announced it was temporarily suspending air force operations in Syria after a Syrian government fighter jet was struck down by the United States over the weekend.


Following the incident, Russia said any US-led international coalition plane detected in Syrian airspace west of the Euphrates would be considered a military target.

An Australian Defense Force spokesperson said force protection was regularly reviewed and that the ADF are closely monitoring the air situation in Syria.

“A decision on the resumption of ADF air operations in Syria will be made in due course,” the spokesperson told broadcaster ABC News.

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families
A retired Su-22M-4 attack fighter used by Czechoslovak army. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

An American F-18 downed a Syrian Su-22 fighter jet after it allegedly bombed positions close to Syrian Democratic Forces fighters, who are US allies participating in the offensive to retake the city of Raqqa from the Islamic State terror organization.

The spokesperson added the suspension will not affect Australian armed operations in Iraq.

Around 780 Australian armed forces personnel are deployed in Iraq, where they are involved in assistance and training tasks, and Syria, where they carry out airstrikes.

MIGHTY MOVIES

How Daenerys used tactics that made the Red Baron famous

Warning: Contains spoilers from Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 5.

After last week’s sh*t show, Khaleesi fans have been waiting for her revenge against Euron Greyjoy. Who knew that the secret to destroying the Iron Fleet would be found in the Bloody Red Baron’s playbook?

(Maybe we all should have — there’s a reason he’s the most infamous fighter pilot of all time…)

One move in particular was the key to her success:


Daenerys attacking Iron fleet with dragons | Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 5

www.youtube.com

Baron Manfred von Richtofen has been credited with 80 kills, most of which were won in planes painted bright red — not exactly the camouflage used on military aircraft today. He faced many obstacles in his military ambitions, but he had one major thing going for him: he was recruited by Lt. Oswald Boelcke, one of the most skilled fighter pilots of his time.

In World War I, Boelcke codified 8 rules for rookie combat pilots. The Red Baron — and the Mad Queen, it turns out — would secure victory through number 1: keep the sun behind you.

Also read: How ‘Game of Thrones’ went WW2 on the penultimate episode

When target acquisition is accomplished through a visual scan of the skies, keeping the sun to their back blinds an aviator’s adversary. Just ask Euron Greyjoy.

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

Oh wait. You can’t.

There were many ways Daenerys could have attacked those ships. The nice thing about airpower is that gravity will really step up when taking care of your enemies. I always envisioned staying out of range and dropping barrels of burning pitch onto the ships, but of course she’d lose accuracy.

Instead, she chose to reward his ambush with one of her own, popping in from the clouds to overwhelm the naval sharpshooters. She then took advantage of their slow recovery time and destroyed them at close range as they attempted to re-load.

Well done, Dany.

The desolation and surrender of the Lannister military forces were fantastic, but of course, the episode didn’t end there…

Why was the Red Baron so legendary?

www.youtube.com

Articles

Latest missile test shows US can knock Kim’s missiles from the sky

The US military shot an incoming missile out of the sky in a successful intercept test Aug. 30.


The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones launched an SM-6 interceptor to bring down a medium-range ballistic missile off the coast of Hawaii, according to the Missile Defense Agency.

The missile was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii. Using the on-board AN/SPY-1 radar, the destroyer detected and tracked the missile.

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families
The USS John Paul Jones. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Benjamin Crossley.

“We are working closely with the fleet to develop this important new capability, and this was a key milestone in giving our Aegis BMD ships an enhanced capability to defeat ballistic missiles in their terminal phase,” MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves said in a statement. “We will continue developing ballistic missile defense technologies to stay ahead of the threat as it evolves.”

The Aug. 30 test marked the second time an SM-6 interceptor has been used to intercept an MRBM. The military has conducted three tests in total, but during a test in June, the interceptor failed as a result of human error. A sailor on the USS John Paul Jones triggered a self-destruct sequence by mistake.

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families
The Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones launches a Standard Missile 6 during a live-fire test of the ship’s aegis weapons system. Photo from US Navy.

The US military’s latest intercept test comes just two days after North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan in an unusually-provocative missile test. The North warned that it will continue firing missiles into the Pacific Ocean, adding that the recent test was a “prelude” to possible strikes on or around Guam.

The US has lost a few Aegis destroyers in recent months, hindering missile defense in a volatile region. Both the USS Fitzgerald and USS John McCain were damaged severely after collisions with merchant vessels in June and August. The two accidents killed seventeen American sailors. The US military still has numerous missile defense assets — from Patriot interceptors to Terminal High Altitude Area Defense systems — in the area though.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of August 16th

The Air Force was recently considering a new strategy to its PT tests. In a nutshell, it’s going to give any airmen who might fail a PT test a “mulligan” and list the test as a diagnostic instead of a record test. It may possibly be allowed for an airman to list a failed test as off-the-books, but that part isn’t set in stone.

The Air Force was surprisingly serious (to the other troops who use phrases like “Chair Force”) about failed PT tests and other branches also have a practice test system in place. But I can’t help but point out the bad optics on this one.

I mean, I get it. Any notion that the Air Force might someday consider being a fraction more lenient in comparison to the other branches or older vets will cause outrage. On the other hand, I know I would have killed for something like that back in my lower enlisted days…


Anyways, here are some memes while I ponder how much weight I’ve gained since getting out of the Army…

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

​(Meme via Private News Network)

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

(Meme via On The Minute Memes)

True story: I had an E-6 MP live in the apartment next to me off-base…

You know the type, the kind that called in a “noise violation” for my TV being “too loud.” Seeing him get an eviction notice was one of the happiest days of my life in the Army.

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

(Meme by Call for Fire)

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

(Meme via Team Non-Rec)

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

(Meme via Not CID)

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families
Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

(Meme via Victor Alpha Clothing)

MIGHTY HISTORY

This clever advertising doomed thousands of aviators

In the lead up to World War II, the U.S. Army Air Force had to make tough decisions on how to spend limited defense dollars. Decades of strict budgets after World War I left capabilities across the military underdeveloped, and the Air Forces decided to spend their part of the pie focusing on strategic bombing.

And, unfortunately, when a manufacturer told them a new bomber wouldn’t need a fighter escort, they bought it. Thousands of aviators would pay the price as unescorted B-17 formations faced losses of over 20 percent.


When the Army Air Force was looking for a new bomber in the early 1930s, they floated the idea of getting a beastly four-engine bird. Most bombers had two engines at the time, but it was thought a larger, four-engine plane could carry more bombs a longer way.

Boeing proved this was true with their Model 299. It had four engines and could carry 8,000 pounds of bombs while flying at faster speeds than other bombers of the day. It carried 13 large machine guns, mostly .50-cals. A reporter for The Seattle Times dubbed it a “flying fortress” in a photo caption and Boeing ran with it.

The future looked good for the Model 299 as it dominated a fly-off competition in 1935. But then it crashed and so was disqualified. Worse, it turned out that that the Model 299 was way more expensive than its primary competitors, and so the Army chief of staff ordered a two-engine bomber instead.

(Seamus Darragh, Pixabay)

 

But the Army’s top aviators still wanted the Model 299, and they managed to order 13 for testing and dubbed them YB-17s. The plane was popular with aviation officers and its great range led to some public successes in the pre-war years. The Army Air Force already had a body of doctrine supporting the use of heavy, long-range bombers, but they refined it around their new flying fortresses.

And the new doctrine did treat the planes like they were fortresses, even though the fortress moniker originated with a journalist and was adopted by salesmen. As navigator Bob Culp recalled in 2008, “When you realize you’re protected by a very thin skin of aluminum, you realize you’re not really in a fortress.”

Boeing had advertised that the bomber could fly bombing missions in daylight conditions and defend itself from enemy fighters thanks to all those machine guns. Which, if true, would’ve been a godsend, because there were no fighters who could match the range of the bomber. And so then-Col. Curtis E. LeMay drafted a formation for the bomber that maximized the ability of the planes to protect each other.

Basically, 9-12 planes would fly in a box so their guns would cover all angles of attack. Three or more of these boxes would fly together. There was a lead box, then a box that flew higher, and finally a trail box that flew low.

With 36 planes formed into three boxes, there were 468 machine guns present. They would have 324,000 rounds of ammunition between them. The spread of a single .50-cal. machine gun would fire rounds across a spread 600 yards wide when firing at planes 1,000 yards away. With 468 planes firing 600-yard-wide spreads, it was thought they could form an actual wall of deadly steel at oncoming fighters.

And so the doctrine was approved, and aviation officers fooled themselves that B-17s really could defend themselves.

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families
(National Museum of the U.S. Air Force)

But then American B-17s made their European combat debut in 1942. The planes flying over Europe in daytime proved easy pickings.

Flak gunners didn’t give the first crap about all those machine guns on the planes. Worse, B-17 pilots couldn’t maintain the precise boxes necessary for 360-degree coverage, and gunners couldn’t always keep the proper fields of fire.

Crews could head home, their duty fulfilled, after 25 missions. Only 1 in 4 would survive to reach that milestone. On one of America’s first large bomber raids in 1942, less than 300 bombers set off for Nazi-occupied Europe and 60 of them were lost, an attrition of over 20 percent.

Even when new fighters joined the war, the problem persisted anytime the B-17s outflew their escorts. In October 1943 the Eighth Air Force flew Mission Number 115 against factories in Schweinfurt, Germany. The 291-plane formation survived well while British Supermarine Spitfires and then P-47 Thunderbolts escorted them to the border. But then they were alone against German fighters.

Sixty planes were shot down and only 229 successfully dropped their bombs on target. Only 197 made it back to England.

The fact was, the B-17 Flying Fortress was anything but a fortress, and it needed fighters escorts like any other bomber.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest memes for the week of July 13th

It looks like the World Cup isn’t coming home to England. Such a shame to see the championship match of the sport you claim to have invented go to literally everyone else. Seeing as an estimated seven people from the United States give a damn about the World Cup — give or take six people — we’re finding it hard to care.

Meanwhile, American troops are about to do some dumb sh*t this weekend. Not for any particular reason — just that it’s a payday weekend and it’s Friday the 13th. Remember, if your weekend doesn’t involve you making the blotter and having your First Sergeant busting your drunk ass out of the MP station, did you really have a weekend?

No matter what you’ve got planned, enjoy these memes first.


Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

(Meme via Infantry Army)

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

(Meme via Smokepit Fairytales)

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

(Meme via Lost in the Sauce)

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

(Meme via Sh*t My LPO Says)

I guess screaming, “If you ain’t ordinance, you ain’t sh*t” is the Air Force’s way of feeling slightly less like POGs.

Fun Fact: Airman and Navy aviators have their own version of POG — “Personnel on the Ground.” But they’re all still POGs in the eyes of soldiers and Marines.

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

(Meme via US Space Force WTF Moments)

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

(Meme via ASMDSS)

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

(Meme via Military World)

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

(Meme via Discharged)

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

(Meme via Private News Network)

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families
Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

Articles

Navy LCS deck-launched HELLFIRE missile to be Operational by 2017

The Navy plans to have an operational ship-launched HELLFIRE missile on its Littoral Combat Ship by next year, giving the vessel an opportunity to better destroy approaching enemy attacks –such as swarms of attacking small boats — at farther ranges than its existing deck-mounted guns are able to fire.


“Both the 30mm guns and the Longbow HELLFIRE are designed to go after that fast attack aircraft and high speed boats coming into attack LCS typically in a swarm raid type of configuration,” Capt. Casey Moton, LCS Mission Modules Program Manager, told Scout Warrior in an interview. said.

The 30mm guns will be fired against close-in threats and attacks – and the HELLFIRE is being engineered to strike targets farther away out toward the horizon. The concept is to increase ship Commander’s target engagement targets against fast-maneuvering surface targets such as remotely controlled boats and fast-attack craft carrying pedestal mounted guns, Moton explained.

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families
Raytheon

“We are taking the Army’s Longbow HELLFIRE Missile and we are adapting it for maritime use. We are using a vertical launcher off of an LCS,” Moton added.

Moton said the Navy has been conducting live-fire test attacks with a HELLFIRE missile launching from a deck-mounted launcher aboard a service research vessel. The ship-launched HELLFIRE is engineered a little differently than current HELLFIREs fired from drones and helicopters.

“With a helicopter, HELLFIRE often locks onto a target before launch (RF guidance). With LCS, the missile turns on its seeker after launch. We did 12 missile shots in the last year and had successful engagements with 10 of them,” Moton explained.

The LCS-fired HELLFIRE uses “millimeter wave” guidance or seeker technology, a targeting system described as “all-weather” capable because it can penetrate rain, clouds and other obscurants.

An upcoming focus for the weapon will be designing integration within the LCS’ computers and combat system.

“We did tests to push the boundary of the seeker so we could get data for seeker modifications. We tweak the seeker based on this data,” Moton explained

Part of the conceptual design for an LCS deck-mounted HELLFIRE is to enable coordination and targeting connectivity with Mk 60 Navy helicopters operating beyond-the-horizon.

“A helicopter can track an inbound raid as it comes in off of the horizon – allowing us to shoot the Longbow HELLFIRE missiles,” Moton said.

In these scenarios, the HELLFIRE would be used in tandem with 30mm and 57mm guns. Also, the Longbow Hellfire weapon is intended to be used in conjunction with helicopter-like, vertical take-off-and-landing drone launched from the LCS called the Fire Scout. This Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, ISR, platform can help identify targets and relay real time video images back to a ship-based targeting and command and control center.

Previously, the Navy had considered a now-cancelled Army-Navy program called the Non-Line-of-Sight missile and a laser-guided Griffin missile for the LCS attack mission. With Griffin missiles, a laser-guided weapon, there is a limited number of missiles which can fire at one time in the air due to a need for laser designation. A Longbow HELLFIRE, however, is what is described as a “fire-and-forget” missile which can attack targets without needing laser designation.

The integration of a HELLFIRE missile aboard an LCS, which has been in development for several years, is considered to be a key element of the Navy’s emerging “distributed lethality” strategy implemented to better arm the surface fleet with improved offensive and defensive weapons.

Alongside the HELLFIRE, the Navy is also looking to integrate an over-the-horizon longer range weapon for the LCS and its more survivable variant, a Frigate; among the missile being considered are the Naval Strike Missile, Harpoon and an emerging high-tech weapon called the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile, or LRASM.

HELLFIRE Missile Technologies and Platforms

In service since the 1970s, HELLFIRE missiles originated as 100-pound tank-killing, armor piercing weapons engineered to fire from helicopters to destroy enemy armored vehicles, bunkers and other fortifications.

In more recent years, the emergence of news sensors, platforms and guidance technologies have enabled the missile to launch strikes with greater precision against a wider envelope of potential enemy targets.

These days, the weapon is primarily fired from attack drones such as the Air Force Predator and Reaper and the Army’s Gray Eagle; naturally, the HELLFIRE is also used by the Army’s AH-64 Apache Attack helicopter, OH-58 Kiowa Warriors and AH-1 Marine Corps Super Cobras, among others. Although not much is known about when, where or who — HELLFIREs are also regularly used in U.S. drone strikes using Air Force Predators and Reapers against terrorist targets around the globe.

The HELLFIRE missile can use radio frequency, RF, guidance – referred to as “fire and forget” – or semi-active laser technology. A ground target can be designated or “painted” by a laser spot from the aircraft firing the weapon, another aircraft or ground spotter illuminating the target for the weapon to destroy.

There are multiple kinds of HELLFIRE warheads to include a High-Explosive Anti-Tank, or HEAT, weapon and a Blast-Fragmentation explosive along with several others. The HEAT round uses what’s called a “tandem warhead” with both a smaller and larger shaped charge; the idea is to achieve the initial requisite effect before detonating a larger explosion to maximize damage to the target.

The “Blast-Frag” warhead is a laser-guided penetrator weapon with a hardened steel casing, incendiary pellets designed for enemy ships, bunkers, patrol boats and things like communications infrastructure, Army documents explain.

The “Metal Augmented Charge” warhead improves upon the “Blast-Frag” weapon by adding metal fuel to the missile designed to increase the blast overpressure inside bunkers, ships and multi-room targets, Army information says. The “Metal Augmented Charge” is penetrating, laser-guided and also used for attacks on bridges, air defenses and oil rigs. The missile uses blast effects, fragmentation and overpressure to destroy targets.

The AGM-114L HELLFIRE is designed for the Longbow Apache attack helicopter platform; the weapon uses millimeter-wave technology, radar, digital signal processing and inertial measurement units to “lock-on” to a target before or after launch.

The AGM-114R warhead is described as a “Multi-Purpose” explosive used for anti-armor, anti-personnel and urban targets; the weapon uses a Micro-Electro Mechanical System Inertial Measurement Unit for additional flight guidance along with a delayed fuse in order to penetrate a target before exploding in order to maximize damage inside an area.

The AGM-114R or “Romeo” variant, which is the most modern in the arsenal, integrates a few additional technologies such as all-weather millimeter wave guidance technology and a fragmentation-increasing metal sleeve configured around the outside of the missile.

The “Multi-Purpose” warhead is a dual mode weapon able to use both a shaped charge along with a fragmentation sleeve. The additional casing is designed to further disperse “blast-effects” with greater fragmentation in order to be more effective against small groups of enemy fighters.

“The “Romeo” variant is an example of how these efforts result in a more capable missile that will maintain fire superiority for the foreseeable future,” Dan O’Boyle, spokesman for the Army’s Program Executive Office Missiles and Space, told Scout Warrior.

Additional HELLFIRE Uses

Although the HELLFIRE began as an air-to-ground weapon, the missile has been fired in a variety of different respects in recent years. Also, the Army has fired the weapon at drone targets in the air from a truck-mounted Multi-Mission Launcher on the ground and international U.S. allies have fired the HELLFIRE mounted on a ground-stationed tripod.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Here’s how to register for a free, virtual event for veterans using telehealth, sponsored by VA and USAA

VA Office of Connected Care to share solutions to enable veterans to receive the care they need

SAN ANTONIO – USAA and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will host a free, Facebook Live event at 12 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Feb. 23 to discuss how VA telehealth technologies and initiatives are helping bring care to Veterans lacking necessary resources to connect with medical professionals. The use of telehealth services has risen significantly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but for many Veterans in rural areas, or with limited broadband connectivity, accessing these services can be challenging.

“Veterans should have access to high quality VA health care regardless of where they choose to live,” said Dr. Leonie Heyworth, VA’s National Synchronous Lead for Telehealth Services, and a participant in the virtual event. “We look forward to highlighting initiatives that have been created to increase access to care for Veterans everywhere.”

The use of VA telehealth has increased by 1,180% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Jan. 6, the VA provided more than 20,000 Digital Divide Consults enabling more than 12,000 Veterans to receive internet access or a video-enabled device for their care needs.

“Bridging the Digital Divide” will be hosted on USAA’s Facebook page for Veterans, their families and caretakers, and feature leaders from VA’s Office of Connected Care and Office of Rural Health. The discussion will highlight VA technologies that enable Veterans to receive care when they need it and regardless of where they live. The discussion also will cover what the VA is doing to address broadband connectivity issues and provide specific instructions on where Veterans and their families can go for assistance.

“USAA and the VA have worked together for years and believe it’s very important to make Veterans and their families aware of available resources and technology to receive the care they need in these challenging times,” said Mike Kelly, assistant vice president of Military Affairs at USAA and moderator for the virtual event.

To learn more and register for this free, online event, visit the Facebook event page. For more information about the digital divide and ways to connect veterans to resources, read VA’s Digital Divide Fact Sheet. For more information about VA telehealth, visit the Connected Care website.

VA’s partnership with USAA does not imply endorsement of USAA or its products.

USAA

Founded in 1922 by a group of military officers, USAA is among the leading providers of insurance, banking and investment and retirement solutions to nearly 13 million members of the U.S. military, veterans who have honorably served and their families. Headquartered in San Antonio, Tex., USAA has offices in seven U.S. cities and three overseas locations and employs more than 35,000 people worldwide. Each year, the company contributes to national and local nonprofits in support of military families and communities where employees live and work. For more information about USAA, follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@USAA), or visit usaa.com.

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Marines eye plan to put women through West Coast combat training

The US Marine Corps for the first time is eyeing a plan to let women attend what has been male-only combat training in Southern California, as officials work to quash recurring problems with sexism and other bad behavior among Marines, according to Marine Corps officials.


If approved by senior Marine leaders, the change could happen as soon as next spring. And it could be the first step in a broader campaign to give male Marines who do their initial training on the West Coast the opportunity to work with female colleagues early in their career.

Marine leaders are also considering allowing women to attend boot camp in San Diego, the officials said. Currently all women recruits go through boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., while male recruits go either there or to San Diego. The combat training comes after troops have finished boot camp, and is done both in South Carolina and at Camp Pendleton in Southern California, but women attend the course only on the East Coast.

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families
A Marine with Headquarters Company, Headquarters and Service Battalion, performs mountain climbers during Battalion physical training on Parris Island, S.C., June 15, 2016. US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Mackenzie B. Carter

The officials were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter because final decisions have not been made, so they spoke on condition of anonymity. The boot camp decision is still under discussion.

Marine leaders have come under persistent criticism from members of Congress because the Corps is the only military service to separate men and women for portions of their boot camp. And only the Marine Corps allows a full half of its recruits to go through initial training without any female colleagues.

Because there are only a small number of female Marines, they all go through boot camp at Parris Island, where they are separated from the men for portions of the training. Congress members have been highly critical of that policy and demanded changes, and the Corps has been reviewing the issue.

Marines have argued that the separation from the men is needed so the women can become more physically competitive before joining their male counterparts. They also have argued that it gives the female Marines the support they need during their early weeks of boot camp. Women make up 8.4 percent of the Marine Corps, and that is the smallest percentage of all the armed services.

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families
Pfc. Christina Fuentes Montenegro is one of the first women to graduate infantry training with Delta Company, Infantry Training Battalion. (US Marine Corps photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Paul S. Mancuso/Released)

But Marine Corps officials are now suggesting that training half of their recruits on the West Coast with no females in their units could be contributing to some of the disciplinary problems they’ve had. Giving the male Marines greater exposure to females during training could foster better relations and greater respect over time, some have suggested.

Over the last several years, Marine leaders have battled persistent accusations that the Corps is hostile to women. The Marines were the only service to formally request an exception when the Pentagon moved to allow women to serve in all combat jobs. That request was denied in late 2015 by then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

More recently, the service was rocked by a nude-photo sharing scandal in which Marines shared sexually explicit photos on various social media and other websites and included crude, derogatory, and even violent comments about the women. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is looking into the matter and several Marines have been disciplined.

A Marine task force has been reviewing a range of options and changes for several months to try and reduce the problems.

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families
US Marine Corps recruits run 800 meters during an initial Combat Fitness Test on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., May 13, 2017. US Marine Corps photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Pete Thibodeau

Months ago, Gen. Robert Neller, the Marine Corps commandant, told Congress that the service has been looking at the recruit training issue. But to date, no major changes have been made.

The nude-photo sharing investigation represents a broader military problem. In a report issued earlier this year, the Pentagon said that nearly 6,200 military members said that sexually explicit photos of them were taken or shared against their will by someone from work, and it made them “uncomfortable, angry or upset.” But, across the services, female Marines made up the largest percentage of women who complained.

More than 22,000 service members said they were upset or angry when someone at work showed or sent them pornography. And, again, female Marines represented the highest percentage of complaints from women.

MIGHTY TRENDING

9 heartwarming, good news stories from 2017

Much of what the media report can seem negative or downright depressing.


That’s because two of the main objectives of journalists, especially those covering people in power, is to expose wrongdoing and shine a light on problems in society so they can be fixed.

But it’s also important to highlight the good that happens around the world — stories of triumph and courage, community and giving back.

This year was more divided than most, but Americans still came together to lift each other up. Here are nine heartwarming news stories from 2017:

9. Hurricane Harvey brings out the best in Americans.

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families
Texas National Guard soldiers arrive in Houston, Texas to aid citizens in heavily flooded areas from the storms of Hurricane Harvey. (Photo by Lt. Zachary West, 100th MPAD)

Amid the destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey in parts of Texas and Louisiana in August, many people came together to support the victims most in need.

Residents loaded up rowboats, pontoons, and fishing vessels to rescue survivors stranded on their roofs because the floodwaters in the Houston area were so high.

Miguel Juarez and others from the Texas Rio Grande Valley created a make-shift aid station, where people could pick through supplies like hygiene products and cereal. Juarez also set up a free water station at his truck.

One family near the Barker Reservoir in Houston escaped flooding on an air mattress. When journalists from the local news station ABC13 found them, they pulled them to safety aboard their vessel.

And grocery chain H-E-B, which is based in San Antonio, deployed a convoy of disaster-relief vehicles, including mobile kitchens and pharmacies, to Victoria, Texas. Grateful residents poured into the parking lot for a hot meal.

8. A Philadelphia man giving free haircuts to the homeless gets a free barbershop of his own — from a complete stranger.

In January, 29-year-old Philadelphia native Brennon Jones started a the charity “Haircuts 4 Homeless“, helping the homeless clean up so they could get jobs. His goodwill caught the attention of a Philly-area barber shop owner, who decided to donate a fully-furnished barbershop space for Jones to continue his work.


(Global Citizen | YouTube)”I decided what other way to help another brother out than to donate the shop,” Sean Johnson, the owner of Taper’s Barber Shop, told CBS Philly. “What he was doing down there, I was very impressed.”

Jones says it’s more than just a haircut. Cleaning up, and talking to a barber can boost morale and confidence, too.

“My very first haircut, his name is Braden,” he told CBS. “I cut his hair on 15th Walnut [Streets]. A few days later, I went to check up on him and he wasn’t there. I was hoping nothing bad happened to him. When we did catch up weeks later, he got offered a full-time job.”

7. A wounded Las Vegas shooting victim fights his injuries to stand when Trump comes to shake his hand.

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families
Thomas Gunderson fights his fresh gunshot wound to the leg to stand and shake Trump’s hand. (Image from Thomas Gunderson via Facebook)

When President Donald Trump toured a Las Vegas hospital in October after the US’s deadliest mass shooting in living memory, 28-year-old Thomas Gunderson pushed through his injuries to stand up and shake his hand when he entered his hospital room.

“Hey, this guy looks tough to me,” Trump said of Gunderson, who was recovering from a fresh gunshot wound to the leg.

“I will never lie down when the President of this great country comes to shake my hand!” Gunderson wrote in a video of the encounter he posted to Facebook, which has since garnered 26 million views.

6. After months of waiting, YouTube star April the Giraffe finally gave birth to a healthy male calf.

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families
April and her young male calf. (Image via Twitter @AprilTheGiraffe)

In April, at least 1.2 million people watched the Adventure Park’s YouTube streaming of 15-year-old April the giraffe giving birth in an enclosed pen in Harpursville, New York.

The video of April went viral after millions of fans had waited months for the giraffe’s impending birth.

Giraffes are usually pregnant for 13 to 15 months. Zookeepers thought April was overdue, but may also have also miscalculated her due date.

5. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana recovers after being shot by a gunman.

In June, Republican Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana was among four people shot during a practice for an annual charity baseball game featuring members of Congress.

Four months later, Scalise threw out the first pitch before a playoff game between the Washington Nationals and the Chicago Cubs. He received a standing ovation.

In September, he made a triumphant return to the House chamber to thunderous applausefrom his colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Scalise’s presence at the practice was likely what prevented the incident from becoming a massacre, because his security detail as House Majority Whip was there to neutralize the shooter.

4. The wife of a fallen soldier tracked down the owner of her husband’s old car to buy and give it as a gift to her son for his 16th birthday.

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families
Justin Rozier’s mother bought him his dad’s old car for his 16th birthday. Rozier’s father died while serving in Iraq in 2003. (Photo from Jessica Johns via Facebook)

Justin Rozier barely knew his father. The former US Army lieutenant was killed while serving in Iraq in 2003, when his son was just 9 months old.

At the time, Justin’s mother, Jessica Johns, sold her husband’s car so she didn’t have to “keep chipping away at my savings to pay for a car that nobody was using,” she told NBC News.

This August, Johns made an appeal on Facebook in search of the car’s owner to see if she could buy it. She wanted to re-buy the car to give to her son for his 16th birthday so he had something to remember his father.

Johns tracked down the owner within days. He agreed to sell her the 1999 Toyota Celica, and she gave it to Justin for his 15th birthday.

“I think that your son will get more enjoyment out of having his dad’s car than I would,” the owner told her.

3. A 93-year-old Georgia man displays a photo on the table while eating lunch to honor his late wife.

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families
Clarence Purvis, 93, eats lunch with a photo of his wife, who died four years ago. (Image from WTOC Extras YouTube)

Clarence Purvis, 93, lost his wife Caroyln four years ago. They were married for 64 years.

Although she is gone, Purvis never eats lunch without her. During meals out at a restaurant where the couple used to go, Purvis sets up a framed photo of his wife on the table.

“Ain’t nobody loved one another more than me and my wife loved one another,” Purvis told a local news station. “She was always with me when we were livin’. She’s with me now.”

2. Homeless veteran gives his last $20 to help a stranded woman get home. In return, she raises nearly $400,000 for him.

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families
Johnny Bobbitt Jr., 34, who was once homeless, spent his last $20 to help a stranger, Kate McClure, 29, get home after she ran out of gas on the highway. (Image from Kate McClure via GoFundMe)

Kate McClure was stuck on a highway in Philadelphia when she ran out of gas. She didn’t have money and couldn’t get home. It was then that a 34-year-old homeless veteran, Johnny Bobbitt Jr., came up to her and said he would use his last $20 to buy her gas.

McClure and her boyfriend eventually repaid him. Then, they devised a plan to raise money for Bobbitt to get back on his feet. So she set up a GoFundMe page, soliciting donations.

“Truly believe that all Johnny needs is one little break,” McClure wrote. “Hopefully with your help I can be the one to give it to him.”

Read More: This homeless veteran and good samaritan just bought a home

They ended up raising close to $400,000. The couple says the money will be used to rent Bobbitt an apartment and pay for his food, clothing, cellphone, and transportation.

“[Bobbit] definitely has the drive,” Mark D’Amico, McClure’s boyfriend, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “He doesn’t want to be on the streets anymore. He wants to be a functioning member of society and not be sitting on a guard rail in Philadelphia.”

1. A US marine surprises his mother with a trip home.

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families
Naim Tauheed surprises his mother during a family reunion upon return from military deployment abroad. (Image via DailyPicksandFlicks YouTube)

Naim Tauheed, a US marine deployed abroad, hadn’t seen his mom in 2 years. Luckily, he had a 1-month window in between deployments and decided to surprise his mom during a family reunion at her home in Los Angeles.

The surprise worked.

“I was just so blown away. I was almost blown off of my feet when I saw him, because I didn’t expect him to come,” Nekel Moore, Tauheed’s mother, told Fox News. “When I saw him walk through the door, it just floored me.”

Watch their incredible reunion:

(DailyPicksandFlicks | YouTube)
MIGHTY TRENDING

Bomb-crazy national security advisor pushed out of North Korea talks

President Donald Trump’s hawkish national security adviser, John Bolton, infuriated North Korea with a strange and threatening comment about denuclearization in May 2018, and now he seems excluded from the countries’ talks.

When Trump met with the North Korean official Kim Yong Chol in the White House recently, only Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attended. Bolton, who has plenty to say about North Korea, did not.

The reason most likely goes back to Bolton’s comment in May 2018, that the US was looking at a “Libya model” for denuclearizing North Korea.


The Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed by rebels in 2011 during a conflict in which the US intervened a few years after Libya dismantled its nuclear program. Bolton’s comment was widely understood to imply that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un too would soon meet his end.

North Korea responded shortly after by lashing out at Bolton, saying it could not hide its anger toward him.

Now, Pompeo has told Trump that allowing Bolton to meet with North Korean officials would be “counterproductive,” according to CNN.

“There has been considerable tension between them ever since” the two men clashed over Bolton’s Libya comment, CNN quoted a source as saying.

Summit sabotage?

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un.
(KCNA)

Bolton has never expressed much hope for a summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un, and now a growing chorus of experts think he may have tried to sabotage the summit.

North Korea and Libya are very different places, with different weapons programs and systems, and Bolton most likely would have known that bringing up Libya would anger Pyongyang.

Bolton, who has signaled that he does not trust the North Korean leader, is sensitive to perceptions that the US is wasting time with unproductive diplomacy.

As it stands, it’s still unclear what will come from a scheduled June 12, 2018, meeting between the US and North Korean leaders.

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

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