With its vast training areas and prime location along California’s shorelines, Camp Pendleton is well known for producing the finest fighting forces on the West Coast. What Camp Pendleton might be less known for, however, is that it has been a backdrop to some of America’s most famous films. Throughout Camp Pendleton’s history, multiple movie producers have utilized its training grounds over Hollywood sets to recreate authentic war scenes of our Country’s most famous battles.
“[Working with the entertainment industry] gives us an opportunity to showcase assets and capabilities that are available to production companies,” said U.S. Marine Corps Master Sgt. Katesha Washington, Entertainment Media Liaison Office (EMLO). “It allows us also to accomplish our mission of telling the story of Marines.”
Camp Pendleton has an ongoing story to tell that continues each day. Since the base opened, over 20 films have been produced including “Sands of Iwo Jima,” starring, John Wayne. During the filming which also cast 2,000 Marines, producers transformed the installation to resemble the Japanese island also using elements to resemble the volcanic ash from Mt. Suribachi. Additional familiar titles include TNT’s television series, “The Last Ship,” and Columbia Media Corporation’s, “Battle Los Angeles.”
With access to starstruck active-duty Marines and their familiar training grounds, producers are able to create authentic scenes without a need to hire actors or build sets in some cases. But the Marine Corps does not merely reduce production costs without some benefit. In giving Marines opportunities to share the limelight with some of their favorite characters, the Marine Corps legacy is captured by telling its stories and reaching an audience, they might not typically reach.
For over a century, the Marine Corps has helped producers, writers and directors coordinate personnel, aircraft and equipment. “There are several steps leading up to filming a production,” said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Matthew Hilton, also with the EMLO. “We figure out how and if we can or cannot support.”
There have been countless stories told and countless stories yet to be told when it comes to Camp Pendleton’s rich history and tradition. Watching the actions of its Marines and sailors come to life on the big screen, both fictionally and non-fictionally only serves to preserve the Marine Corps heritage and real-life activities. And remember, the next time you watch your favorite action film, it just might have been filmed on the one and only Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.
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.
VA’s partnership with USAA does not imply endorsement of USAA or its products.
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.
Ukraine has barred Russian male nationals between 16 and 60 from traveling to the country, President Petro Poroshenko announced on Nov. 30, 2018.
The move comes amid escalation tensions between the two countries after Russian border guards on Nov. 25, 2018, opened fire and captured three Ukrainian naval vessels and their 24-member crew off Crimea, which Russia forcibly annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
The Ukrainian leader has called for a stronger NATO presence in the Black Sea region and for further Western sanctions against Russia.
Poroshenko tweeted on Nov. 30, 2018, that the restrictions on Russian travelers have been taken to prevent Russia from forming “private armies” fighting on Ukrainian soil.
Russia has backed separatists in eastern Ukraine in a conflict that has killed more than 10,300 people since April 2014.
Petro Tsygykal, head of Ukraine’s border guard service, said border checkpoints were being bolstered, according to a statement on the presidential website.
Border Guard Service spokesman Andriy Demchenko told Ukraine’s Hromadske TV on Nov. 30, 2018, that Russian male nationals would be barred from entering Ukraine during the period of martial law, which is now due to continue until Dec. 26, 2018.
Russia said it had no plans to mirror the Ukrainian move. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova blamed the Ukrainian government for implementing a policy that hurts ordinary people.
On Nov. 29, 2018, Poroshenko said that Kyiv will impose “restrictions” on Russian citizens in Ukraine and the country’s border guard said only Ukrainian nationals would be allowed to travel to Crimea in connection with the imposition of martial law for 30 days in parts of the country.
Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Kateryna Zelenko confirmed to RFE/RL by phone that foreign journalists are among those excluded from entering Crimea from Ukraine but said her ministry was discussing whether to grant them an exception.
The official confirmation came hours after Anna-Lena Lauren, a Moscow-based foreign correspondent for the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, was barred by Ukrainian border guards from entering Crimea through the what Ukraine deems the only legal route.
Meanwhile, the European Court of Human Rights said Ukraine has filed a complaint against Russia in the court for firing on three of its ships and boarding them.
A court statement on Nov. 30, 2018, said Ukraine had asked it to intervene to ensure the well-being of its sailors. Moscow accuses them of illegally crossing the Russian border and failing to comply with orders to stop.
“The Ukrainian government has asked in particular that Russia provide medical care to the wounded sailors and provide information on the state of health of the crew members. It also asks that the sailors be treated as prisoners of war,” the statement said.
The court said it had asked the Russian government for information about the condition of the sailors’ detention. The complaint is the fifth filed by Ukraine against Russia since Moscow forcibly annexed Crimea in 2014.
A Russian government-appointed ombudswoman in Crimea said the captured Ukrainian naval personnel are being transferred to Moscow, Russian state media reported on Nov. 30, 2018.
Russia says the Ukrainians had violated its border while Ukraine says its ships were acting in line with international maritime rules.
A Crimean court earlier this week ruled to keep the Ukrainian seamen behind bars for two months pending the investigation.
Earlier on Nov. 30, 2018, the Kremlin said it regrets U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to cancel a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at an upcoming Group of 20 (G20) summit.
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin shake hands during a 2018 summit.
“This means that discussion of important issues on the international and bilateral agenda will be postponed indefinitely,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian state media.
Putin, he said, “is ready to have contacts with his American counterpart.”
Trump said he was cancelling the meeting scheduled for this weekend at the G20 summit in Argentina over Russia’s recent seizure of the Ukrainian vessels.
“Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia, I have decided it would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting…in Argentina with President Vladimir Putin,”” Trump said in a tweet posted on Nov. 29, 2018.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Nov. 30, 2018, that Budapest stands by Ukraine in the latest escalation of tensions with Russia.
Orban, who is one of the few EU leaders to have good relations with Putin, said Hungary’s position was clear despite the “anti-Hungarian government” in Kyiv.
Hungary and Ukraine are at odds over the rights of the Hungarian minority in Ukraine.
‘No military solution’
In an interview with the German tabloid Bild published early on Nov. 29, 2018, Poroshenko said he hopes European states will take active steps, including increasing sanctions and military protection against Russia, to help Ukraine after providing verbal support in the wake of Russia’s capture of 24 Ukrainian crew members over the weekend.
“We hope that NATO states are prepared to send naval ships to the Sea of Azov to support Ukraine and provide security,” Poroshenko said. He claimed Russian President Vladimir Putin sees himself as a “Russian emperor” and Ukraine as a Russian “colony.”
“The only language he [Putin] understands is the solidarity of the Western world,” Poroshenko said. “We can’t accept Russia’s aggressive policies. First it was Crimea, then eastern Ukraine, now he wants the Sea of Azov.”
Speaking at a German-Ukrainian economic forum in Berlin later on Nov. 29, 2018, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she planned to press Putin at the G20 summit on Nov. 30-Dec. 1, 2018, this week to urge the release of the ships and crews.
“We can only resolve this in talks with one another because there is no military solution to all of these conflicts,” she added.
While blaming Russia for tensions, Merkel showed no signs of being ready to back military support.
“We ask the Ukrainian side, too, to be sensible because we know that we can only solve things through being reasonable and through dialogue because there is no military solution to these disputes,” she said.
Peskov on Nov. 29, 2018, criticized Poroshenko’s request for NATO to deploy naval ships to the Sea of Azov, alleging it was “aimed at provoking further tensions” and driven by Poroshenko’s “electoral and domestic policy motives.”
Putin has claimed that the naval confrontation was a ploy to boost his Ukrainian counterpart’s popularity ahead of an election in March 2019.
A NATO spokeswoman said the alliance already has a strong presence in the region, with vessels routinely patrolling and exercising in the Black Sea.
“There is already a lot of NATO in the Black Sea, and we will continue to assess our presence in the region,” Oana Lungescu said.
The Sea of Azov is the body of water that separates the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014, from the Ukrainian and Russian mainlands. Russia opened a bridge over the Kerch Strait connecting Crimea with Russia in May and has asserted control over the strait.
The Kerch Strait is the only route for ships traveling between the Sea of Azov, where Ukraine has several ports, and the Black Sea, which is an arena usually patrolled by NATO.
The next season of the 1980s-horror-nostalgia-fest that is Stranger Things will debut on July 4, 2019, on Netflix and in the new trailer, it really feels like the series could be ending. Because of one specific plot element, this excellent trailer for Stranger Things 3 makes a strong case that perhaps, the series could — and should — end after this season.
On June 20, 2019, Netflix released the final trailer for the third season of Stranger Things. Unlike season 2, in which Eleven (Millie Bobbie Brown) was separated from Lucas, Mike, and Will for almost the entire season, this time around, everyone is back together and clearly hanging out in the town of Hawkins. This is smart because what made season 1 of Stranger Things so great was the fact it went small to go big, and it looks like season 3 is the same; keeping it local in Hawkins, reminding everyone why they loved the show in the first place.
The new season looks great, and it’s super exciting to see how the kids will defeat the Upside Down creatures once and for all. Speaking of which…that roar at the end of the trailer was clearly the Mind Flayer creature from season 1, and it seems like the Mind Flayer itself is narrating the trailer. All the kids are worried: maybe it never left? Maybe it’s possessed one of the regular cast! Oooh, spooky!
Honestly, I love this trailer and the 12-year-old in me thinks it’s right to make the stakes in season 3 about familiar creatures. Eleven wonders aloud: “It doesn’t make sense…I closed the gate.” But clearly, she didn’t. When you’re a little kid, this is how sequels always worked in your mind: Let’s just bring back the monster from the first story, only bigger, badder and grodier than before. The fact that Stranger Things season 3 isn’t trying to do something experimental, but instead is doing something safe is why this trailer kicks ass. It’s why I want to see this season RIGHT NOW.
Stranger Things 3 | Official Final Trailer | Netflix
But, the return of the Mind Flayer and the continued questioning of whether or not the Upside Down has really been sealed off makes me think this really should be the final season of Stranger Things. Last year series star Millie Bobby Brown got everyone worried that the show was ending after this season but then clarified that she wasn’t saying that outright. However, she also didn’t say there 100 percent was going to be a season 4 after this. So, right now, no one actually knows.
Because the new trailer is so focused on resolving old conflicts, it feels like season 3 could really be the end. But then again, because we haven’t seen it yet, we don’t know that for sure, either. Still, as much as I love Stranger Things doubling-down on its own nostalgia, how much nostalgia is left in the Upside Down? If Eleven closes that dimensional doorway again should we really re-open it?
This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.
Every recruit needs to make it through Basic Training before they earn the right to be called Soldiers. Drill sergeants have just two goals: to break the civilian out of their platoon and to give recruits a crash course in military lifestyle.
Some drill sergeants may impart all of their knowledge onto recruits in as short a time as possible. Others may humorously scold their platoon. Others still may take their anger out on their platoon. It’s impossible to say exactly which kind of experience is in store for recruits because each drill sergeant is different.
But what is near universal is their commitment to maintaining order and discipline. When they say any of the following, you know heads are about to roll.
Don’t worry about not being physically fit… The drill sergeant has a plan for that.
(Photo by Sgt. First Class Lisa M. Litchfield)
“Half right, face.”
The command “Half right, face” means that you shift your current facing 45 degrees to the right. This opens up the formation for some, uh, “remedial training.”
And I don’t mean the standard “front-leaning rest position, move!” (translation: push-ups). That gets old after a while. No, instead, drill sergeants will come up with the most off-the-wall exercises that will make you question your physical limits.
Their vulgar vocabulary is astounding. You’ll hear so many new variations on expletives that Merriam and Webster can’t even keep up.
(Photo by Sgt. Philip McTaggart)
“Toe the f*cking line”
There’s nothing out of the ordinary about “toeing the line.” Everyone in the bay stands to receive the next command from drill sergeants.
What sets this one apart is when they sprinkle some flavorful expletives in there. This means, specifically, that someone just became the reason that everyone’s about to feel some wrath.
If you make them repeat themselves, they’ll have to make EVERYONE can hear it.
(Photo by Spc. Darius Davis)
“…I said,” followed by whatever they previously said
Drill sergeants shouldn’t have to repeat themselves. There’s a general understanding that everything needs to be broken down so simply that even a fresh-out-of-high-school kid can comprehend.
If the drill sergeant tells you to raise your duffel bag above your head, do not hesitate and make them repeat the order. The outcome is never pretty.
They’re just helping you on your PT test, really. How nice of them?
(Photo by Maj. Michelle Lunato)
The military moves at an insane pace. Run here, run there. Be there 30 minutes prior to being 30 minutes early. There is no escaping this pace.
Drill sergeants know that recruits are given near-impossible timelines to achieve a given goal, like eating an entire plate of chow in five seconds. It’s not about making it within time, though. It’s about getting recruits as close to that impossible goal as possible. Continually practice until every possible second is shaved off a task. If a drill sergeant is reminding you to hurry up, you’re taking too long.
There are few joys in being a drill sergeant — laughing at stupidity is one of them.
(Photo by Capt. Loyal Auterson)
“Hey, battle! Come here!”
On the rarest of occasions, a recruit may do something so impressive that one drill sergeant will gloat to another and, if the stars have aligned, praise may be given to that recruit.
More often than not, when a drill sergeant calls for another drill sergeant, it’s to laugh at how foolish a recruit was. Now, both drill sergeants will take turns smoking the stupid out of said reruit.
If they find it, fess up quickly and save everyone the headache. Others may still get smoked for “letting you lose it,” but hey, at least you’re honest.
(Photo by Sgt. First Class Lisa M. Litchfield)
“Whose ____ is this?”
Every other Soldier knows that “gear adrift is a gift.” Every other Soldier knows that “there’s only one thief in the Army.” Later on down the road, it sucks when your gear gets “tactically re-purposed,” but it’s just part of the lifestyle.
But recruits do not have the luxury of taking it on the chin and buying a replacement. If the drill sergeant finds anything left alone, like an unsecured wall locker, they will teach everyone the importance of proper gear security.
Many years down the line, if you ever run into them again outside of training, then (and only then) might you get that chance of receiving a friendly hello — but don’t hold your breath.
“Are we friends now?”
Don’t ever lose your military bearing — the drill sergeant won’t. Never forget that in order to stand in front of your wide-eyed platoon, a drill sergeant must have achieved their current rank, earned a selection to drill-sergeant school (which usually requires multiple combat deployments), gone through the rigors of said school, and have endured many cycles before you.
So, you shot 37/40 on your first try. This does not impress them to the point of friendship.
GOP Sen. John McCain said Tuesday he wants the U.S. to consider stationing troops permanently in Estonia, which borders Russia.
While on a tour of Baltic nations wary of the prospect of Russian aggression, McCain said stationing troops permanently in Estonia, in addition to fulfilling existing obligations to NATO, would increase military ties with the country, The Associated Press reports.
Part of the reason for McCain’s visit to the region is to reassure Baltic countries like Lithuania and Latvia that even though GOP President-elect Donald Trump has somewhat soured on NATO, the U.S. will nevertheless maintain its security commitments. During his presidential campaign, Trump said he’d think about withdrawing from NATO because the “obsolete” institution costs the U.S. a lot of money
“And the best way to prevent Russian misbehavior is by having a credible, strong military and a strong NATO alliance,” McCain added.
Additionally, McCain has taken special interest in the area because he’s a trenchant critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and has blasted Russia’s military incursions in Ukraine. McCain noted he doesn’t expect U.S. sanctions on Russia to lift anytime soon.
He’s also pushed for a congressional panel to examine Russia’s reported attempts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
However, McCain downplayed the idea that the U.S. can say with any certainty that Russian interference changed the course of the election.
“There is no doubt that the Russians were hacking, but there is doubt whether it had any effect on the outcome of the election,” McCain said. “There is no evidence right now that indeed the Russian cyber attacks and the leaking of the information had any tangible effect on the outcome of the American election.”
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During the course of covering the five entries for the Navy’s FFG(X) program, much has been made of the light armament of the littoral combat ships. They are limited to what are essentially point-defense systems, specifically, the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile. This missile has a range of about five nautical miles, and usually comes in launchers holding 11 or 21 missiles.
Now, the RIM-116 is joined by the Mk 15 Phalanx as the major point-defense systems on U.S. Navy ships. But there are some drawbacks that one has to keep in mind with these systems: they both have a finite supply of ammo (albeit the Phalanx’s ammo issues are not as bad as the RIM-116’s), and their limited range means that the ships may take some damage when the missile is stopped by those systems (albeit not as much as it would take from a direct hit).
The RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile has a range of five nautical miles, but the launcher can only hold so many rounds.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Gary Granger Jr.)
One of the ways that those drawbacks will be addressed is from a system called HELIOS. According to materials obtained from Lockheed at the 2018 SeaAirSpace expo in National Harbor, Maryland, this sea-based directed-energy weapon could either replace both of these systems or help supplement them.
Lasers would bring the best of both the RIM-116 and Phalanx systems for just about any warship. They would offer the extended range of a system like the RIM-116 (possibly a little more), and they would have almost no limits on the ammo (just keep the juice flowing!). This is a good thing for something like the littoral combat ship.
The Mk15 Phalanx carries more ammo than the launchers for the RIM-116, but has a much shorter range.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class William Weinert)
Lasers have been used to guide bombs in the past, and the United States tested an airborne laser on a 747 for a number of years before the plane was dismantled. Still, it may be that when it comes to beating missiles headed for ships, BRRRZAP could replace BRRRRRT or a missile launch in the near future.
The Imperial Stormtroopers featured in Star Wars are a big deal. Culturally, they are one of the most recognizable henchmen and foot soldiers in all of American pop culture history. So when we see so many iterations of the iconic armor, it makes sense that so many want to know more about them… and that they care about what lies beneath.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens features new kinds of specialty Imperial troops as well as updates on the original, iconic Imperial Stormtrooper, not to mention Gwendoline Christie’s chrome-plated trooper armor she wears as Captain Phasma.
The First Order Flametrooper is a specialized Stormtrooper. They carry incendiary weapons that “turn any battlefield into an infernal blaze.” Flamethrowers are not exactly a battlefield innovation, though since this was “a long time ago,” it might have been for them. It does speak to the evil nature of the First Order since the weapon was banned by the Geneva Convention.
And then there’s the updated First Order Snowtrooper. Let’s be honest, the Snowtroopers were the only troops from the original trilogy who had any effectiveness on the battlefield. The Snowtroopers captured the Rebel base on Hoth, where regular Stormtroopers couldn’t duck while entering doorways and Imperial Scouts couldn’t even beat Ewoks on a planet they occupied long enough to build the Death Star.
But even though no one in the audience ever saw the faces underneath Stormtrooper armor in the previous films, the idea of a Stormtrooper being a black man caught a few people by surprise when audiences first saw actor John Boyega in the armor. It doesn’t make much sense for people to be surprised since the Armed Forces have historically led the way for racial and other forms of integration.
Finn (played by John Boyega) doesn’t think it’s important either.
“I really don’t care about the black stormtrooper stuff,” he said. “This is a movie about human beings, about Wookiees, spaceships, and TIE fighters, and it has an undertone and a message of courage, and a message of friendship, and loyalty. And I think that’s something that is ultimately important.”
Which is pretty much the same takeaway anyone who served had when President Truman signed Executive Order 9981 in 1948, which abolished racial discrimination in the U.S. military. Three years later, the U.S. was fighting in Korea. In war, as one Korea-era Marine Corps officer once told me, “after you’ve fought alongside a man, it doesn’t matter what color he is, you gotta respect his fighting ability.”
Joe Owen, then a Marine Corps lieutenant and author of Colder Than Hell, a retrospective about his time in the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, remembered getting two young black men in his mortar company.
“We had some black guys who came to us who were named squad leaders. Some of our people objected to this. Two Marines from the first platoon approached me and asked for a transfer to my outfit because a black guy was their squad leader. They refused to take orderes from him,” Owen recalled. “I told them they were going to take orders from a Sergeant of Marines and that they were to go back to their outfit. After one night of fighting the Chinese, that squad leader was killed. I was on the detail of carrying the dead and wounded to battalion, and as I’m taking my column down, those same two Southerners came up to me and said they wanted to go with their squad leader and carry his body down because they said they wanted to pay proper respect to the best goddamn squad leader in the Marine Corps. That’s how that was settled.”
What the First Order Stormtrooper needs most is the ability to stop and aim. Kylo Ren was a Marine for crying out loud. Empire Fi.
Vice President Mike Pence addressed Air Force Academy graduates on Saturday in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Vice President Mike Pence, the head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, delivered on Saturday the commencement address to the 62nd class of Air Force Academy graduates, which was modified due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“America is being tested,” Pence said. “While there are signs we are making progress in slowing the spread, as we stand here today, more than 700,000 Americans have contracted the coronavirus, and tragically, more than 30,000 of our countrymen have lost our lives.”
He added: “But as each of you has shown in your time here, and as the American people always show in challenging times, when hardship comes, American comes together. We rise to the challenge and the courage and compassion and generosity of the nation you will defend are shining through every day.”
The vice president told the graduates they would now “commence [their] duties to defend this nation against all enemies foreign to us,” evoking President Trump and calling the novel coronavirus the “invisible enemy.”
“Class of 2020 – this is your day,” VP tells graduating cadets, seated 8 feet apart in accord with social distancing.pic.twitter.com/WAcCsbpago
Pence addressed the academy’s 2020 class in person at the Saturday afternoon ceremony, which occurred on US Air Force grounds in Colorado Springs, Colorado despite past reports that the vice president had considered sending pre-taped video remarks in lieu of an in-person appearance, according to CNN.
To comply with social distancing, the Air Force Academy graduates marched into the ceremony six feet apart and were seated eight feet apart. No family members or other spectators were allowed to attend the closed ceremony. The ceremony, which lasted about an hour and thirty minutes, was previously scheduled to occur on May 28 but occurred Saturday — six weeks earlier than scheduled.
“You know your family couldn’t be here because of the extraordinary times in which we live,” Pence said. “We know they’re watching from afar.”
The ceremony was live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube so spectators could tune-in.
Pence brought attention to the 86 graduates who would become the first Air Force Academy graduates to work as part of President Trump’s Space Force, which was officially established at the end of last year.
“We are a nation of courage,” the vice president said. “With the courage strength and compassion of the American people, we will get through this. We will protect the most vulnerable and we will heal our land.”
He added: “The American people are doing their duty now comes your turn to do yours: to defend the people of this nation, and this we know you will do. For long after the coronavirus is defeated, your mission will go on.”
Senior Army and Pentagon strategists and planners are considering ways to fire existing weapons platforms in new ways around the globe – including the possible placement of mobile artillery units in areas of the South China Sea to, if necessary, function as air-defense weapons to knock incoming rockets and cruise missiles out of the sky, senior Pentagon and Army officials told Scout Warrior.
Adm. Harry Harris, the commander of U.S. Pacific Command, has said he thinks the U.S. should think about new ways of using land-based rockets and howitzer systems as offensive and defensive weapons in areas of the South China Sea.
Such a move would better ensure access and maneuverability for U.S. and allied ships, assets and weapons in contested or tense areas, he explained.
Howitzers or Paladins could be used as a mobile, direct countermeasures to incoming rockets, he said. A key advantage to using a Paladin is that it is a mobile platform which could adjust to moving or fast-changing approaching enemy fire.
“We could use existing Howitzers and that type of munition (155m shells) to knock out incoming threats when people try to hit us from the air at long ranges using rockets and cruise missiles,” a senior Army official told Scout Warrior in an interview.
This consideration comes not long after Pentagon officials confirmed that satellite pictures show the Chinese have placed weapons such as Surface to Air Missiles in areas of the South China Sea.
Having land-based rockets or artillery could give US and allied forces both strategic and tactical assistance.
“A Howitzer can go where it has to go. It is a way of changing an offensive weapon and using it in dual capacity,” the official explained. “This opens the door to opportunities and options we have not had before with mobile defensive platforms and offensive capabilities.”
Mobile air defenses such as an Army M777 or Paladin Howitzer weapon could use precision rounds and advancing fire-control technology to destroy threatening air assets such as enemy aircraft, drones or incoming artillery fire.
Alongside the South China Sea, more mobile artillery weapons used for air defense could also prove useful in areas such as the Middle East and Eastern Europe, officials said. Having mobile counter-air weapons such as the M109 Paladin, able to fire 155m precision rounds on-the-move, could prove to be an effective air-defense deterrent against Russian missiles, aircraft and rockets in Eastern Europe, the senior Army official told Scout Warrior.
Regarding the South China Sea, the U.S. has a nuanced or complicated relationship with China involving both rivalry and cooperation; the recent Chinese move to put surface-to-air missiles and fighter jets on claimed territory in the South China Sea has escalated tensions and led Pentagon planners to consider various options.
Officials are clear to emphasize that no decisions have been made along these lines, yet it is one of the things being considered. Pentagon officials have opposed further militarization of the area and emphasized that the territorial disputes in the South China Sea need to be resolved peacefully and diplomatically.
At the same time, Pentagon officials have publically stated the U.S. will continue “freedom of navigation” exercises wherein Navy ships sail within 12 miles of territory claimed by the Chinese – and tensions are clearly on the rise. In addition to these activities, it is entirely possible the U.S. could also find ways to deploy more offensive and defensive weapons to the region.
Naturally, a move of this kind would need to involve close coordination with U.S. allies in the region, as the U.S. claims no territory in the South China Sea. However, this would involve the deployment of a weapons system which has historically been used for offensive attacks on land. The effort could use an M777 Howitzer or Paladin, weapons able to fire 155m rounds.
If you ever saw the movie Black Hawk Down, you saw the “Little Bird” kick some serious butt out there. Officially, it comes in two variants, the MH-6 (a small transport that holds as many as nine troops, according to GlobalSecurity.org), and the AH-6 (a small but powerful attack helicopter that usually carries miniguns and Hydra rockets, per GlobalSecurity.org).
These helicopters serve well, but they had an ancestor that is much less known. That was the OH-6 Cayuse, also known as the Loach, which first flew in 1963, according to MilitaryFactory.com. Back then, it was made by the Hughes Tool Company’s aviation division, and was known as the Hughes 500 in the civilian market. And yes, that company was owned by the Howard Hughes – mastermind behind the Glomar Explorer and Spruce Goose, among other projects.
The OH-6A was not armed, other than whatever pilots took aboard. But it was small, nimble, and fast. The Army bought over 1,400 choppers, but the Army soon was forced to re-assess its procurement decision. Massive losses in Vietnam (over 650 airframes) and training (297 more) caused the Army to realize they needed a new helicopter.
In 1969, the Army bought a version of the Bell 206, which became the OH-58, and which would serve for almost five decades. It seemed like the end, but some U.S. allies bought the OH-6, and some found their way to what would become the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, the Nightstalkers. In the wake of “Desert One,” the Army unveiled new versions using an improved version of the OH-6, the first “Little Bird” helicopters to serve America’s special operators.
Security at shipping ports around the US, including testing containers and vessels for biological and radiological hazards, is a top priority to preventing terrorism, US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said July 20.
As he rode aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Aspen, near the Port of Los Angeles, Kelly viewed an array of new equipment used to test for radiation and biological threats.
“The threat always changes, so we always have to be on top of that,” Kelly said as the vessel cruised through the Pacific Ocean off Southern California.
While he was aboard, members of the Coast Guard conducted a training demonstration, simulating the boarding of a ship with a radiological threat.
Members of the Coast Guard’s new California-based Maritime Safety and Security Team descended from helicopters with assault rifles and stormed the ship. Kelly watched from a deck above as they charged up stairwells and searched the ship as part of the exercise. Other crew members climbed up ladders from a smaller boat that pulled alongside.
“What they do, they do for you,” Kelly said.
As the vessel passed stacks of shipping containers at the Port of Los Angeles, Kelly said it is essential for law enforcement and Coast Guard personnel to constantly train and be prepared for any threats.
Kelly said he believes the current security levels at US shipping ports is adequate, but his agency must continue to research new technology to keep up with changing threats. His biggest concern, he said, is contraband, including illegal drugs that are shipped in from other countries.
“It is all about protecting the nation and doing it as fast as we can so normal legal commerce, normal legal people can come in and out of the country and be inconvenienced at the minimum,” Kelly said.
One soldier was killed and seven others were injured during training Thursday on Fort Bragg.
Staff Sgt. Alexander P. Dalida, 32, of Dunstable, Massachusetts, died during the demolition training that was part of the Special Forces Qualification Course, according to U.S. Army Special Operations Command. The cause of death is under investigation.
Dalida was a student in the Special Forces Engineer Course and was assigned to 1st Special Warfare Training Group at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.
A spokesman for USASOC said the others injured in the training were students and cadre at the Special Warfare Center and School, which trains the Army’s Special Forces, civil affairs and psychological operations soldiers.
He said the soldiers were transported by air and ground to Womack Army Medical Center for care.
Womack is one of the Army’s largest hospitals and has the busiest emergency department in the force. Its staff regularly trains to handle so-called mass casualty events that could otherwise sow problems when numerous injured soldiers are brought into the hospital at one time.
Lt. Col. Rob Bockholt, the USASOC spokesman, said officials were not ready to comment on what might have caused the injuries or the severity of the other injuries.
In a statement, leaders within the Special Warfare Center and School said their thoughts and prayers were with Dalida’s family and friends.
“Our primary focus right now is to care for his loved ones,” said Col. Michael Kornburger, commander of the 1st Special Warfare Training Group. “We will honor Staff Sgt. Dalida and help his family in their time of need.”
“The special operations community is a close-knit family,” added Maj. Gen. Kurt Sonntag, the commanding general of the Special Warfare Center and School. “At the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, we consider every student who enters our institution a part of our SWCS family. Staff Sgt. Dalida’s death is a reminder that a soldier’s job is inherently dangerous.”
The Special Forces Qualification Course, which can last up to two years, is the process by which soldiers train to become Special Forces soldiers, colloquially known as Green Berets. Officials have previously said fewer than one in eight soldiers who try make it through the grueling course, which mostly takes place on Fort Bragg, nearby Camp Mackall and surrounding training areas.
Dalida had served in the Army for 11 years, officials said. He enlisted in September 2006 and trained at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and Fort Eustis, Virginia.
Prior to attending Special Forces Assessment and Selection, officials said he served in aviation units.
Dalida’s awards and decorations include the Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal with one oak-leaf cluster, Army Achievement Medal with oak-leaf cluster, three Army Good Conduct medals, the Combat Action Badge, Aviation Badge, Parachutist’s Badge and Air Assault Badge.
In response to the incident, several elected leaders expressed sympathies for those injured.
“Please join Susan and I in praying for the families and soldiers injured today,” tweeted North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis.
Sen. Richard Burr said he also was praying for the soldiers and would follow news of the injuries closely.
Gov. Roy Cooper made similar remarks, also on Twitter.
And Rep. Richard Hudson, whose district includes Fort Bragg, said he also would monitor the situation.
“Renee and I are sorry to hear about today’s training accident at Fort Bragg,” Hudson said in a statement. “We will continue to pray for the soldiers who were injured and their families.”
The injuries are the latest in a string of unrelated incidents during military training.
On Tuesday, a soldier at Fort Hood, Texas, died during medical evacuation hoist training, according to officials.
And on Wednesday, 15 Marines at Camp Pendleton, California, were injured when their amphibious vehicle caught fire during a training exercise. Eight of the Marines were taken to a burn center in nearby San Diego, officials said. Three were listed in critical condition as of Wednesday afternoon and five were in serious condition.
All three incidents are under investigation.
On Thursday, Sen. John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the recent deaths and injuries were a “constant reminder of the daily dangers faced by service members as they prepare to defend our nation abroad.”
“In the past few months, we have seen far too many reports of death and injury to service members due to accidents during training,” McCain said. “Four times as many service members died during routine training in the last three years than in combat. These incidents demonstrate the current over-taxed state of our military both at home and overseas, and the failure of Congress and the president to give our troops the training, resources and equipment they need.”
The Fort Bragg incident is believed to be one of the largest training accidents outside of airborne operations in recent years for the nation’s most populous military installation.
In 2014, one soldier was killed and seven others were injured during an artillery training exercise. Other mass casualty incidents on post since that time have been related to motor vehicle wrecks or parachute jumps.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.