North Korea broke its silence March 21, 2018, on its surprise peace overtures, including a tentative summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, while denying that U.S. pressure led to the breakthrough.
The Korean Central News Agency, a North Korean propaganda outlet, said the sudden conciliatory moves were an “expression of self-confidence” by a regime that already “has acquired everything it desires,” a possible reference to the buildup of its nuclear and ballistic missile arsenals.
The North Korean statement came amid reports that the annual Foal Eagle military exercises in South Korea could be cut short to avoid coinciding with the tentative Trump-Kim summit at the end of May 2018.
South Korean media reported March 21, 2018, that the exercises could run for just a month, rather than the traditional two, in what may be an effort cut a wide berth around the proposed dialogue.
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has made mental health care treatment available to former service members with other-than-honorable (OTH) administrative discharges through two new programs.
One service, initiated in 2017, is specifically focused on expanding access to assist former OTH service members who are in mental health distress and may be at risk for suicide or other adverse behaviors.
The department’s Veterans Health Administration (VHA) medical centers are prepared to offer emergency stabilization care for former service members who arrive at the facility with a mental health need.
Former service members with an OTH administrative discharge may receive care for their mental health emergency for an initial period of up to 90 days, which can include inpatient, residential or outpatient care.
During this time, VHA and the Veterans Benefits Administration will work together to determine if the mental health condition is a result of a service-related injury, making the service member eligible for ongoing coverage for that condition.
A second initiative focuses on the implementation of Public Law 115-141. With this implementation, VA notified former service members of the mental and behavioral health care they may now be eligible for and sent out over 475,000 letters to inform former service members about this care.
The letters (sample follows) explained what they may be eligible for, how long they may be able to receive care and how they can get started.
You are receiving this notification because you may be eligible for services from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Congress recently passed legislation that allows VA to provide ongoing mental and behavioral health care to certain former service members with Other Than Honorable (OTH) discharges, including those who
Were on active duty for more than 100 days and served in a combat role, or
Experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault while serving.
The rate of death by suicide among veterans who do not use VA care is increasing at a greater rate than veterans who use VA care; according to agency mental health officials. This is a national emergency that requires bold action. VA will do all that we can to help former service members who may be at risk. When we say even one veteran suicide is one too many, we mean it.
In 2018, 1,818 individuals with an OTH discharge received mental health treatment, three times more than the 648 treated in 2017.
There was a total of 2,580 former service members with an OTH discharge that received care in 2018 in VHA. Of these, 1,818 received treatment in Mental Health Services. Of the 2,580 service members with OTH discharge, 1,076 had a mental health diagnosis.
Additionally, VA may be able to treat a mental illness presumed to be related to military service. When VA is unable to provide care, VA will work with partner agencies and will assist in making referrals for additional care as needed.
You can call or visit a VA medical center or Vet Center and let them know that you are a former service member with an OTH discharge who is interested in receiving mental health care.
Veterans in crisis should call the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 (press 1), or text 838255.
This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.
The Operational Camouflage Pattern uniform has found quite the new suitor, and his name is U.S. Air Force. The Air Force has become completely smitten with the OCP and has made no secret of its affection for the green- and desert-shaded garb and intends to adopt the uniform branch-wide in the coming years.
But when that change is finally made, airmen are sure to be happy. The OCP has some clear-cut advantages over the ABU; here are five of them.
5. Color and functionality
Green is better than blue (or grey or whichever color it may be classified as) for most military operations, especially overseas operations. There are very few arenas that favor a blue-and-grey mix over the natural blending of greens and browns. Also, it comes with glorious pockets.
Nothing says military quite like a uniform. Specifically, we’re talking about the uniformity of uniforms. With the proposed dismissal of the morale shirt (final-f*cking-ly), it’ll automatically become easier for units to maintain true uniformity.
Having one uniform saves the Air Force money. Removing the uniform swaps that take place during deployments or permanent changes of duty station means buying fewer uniforms, which means saving cash. That’s a lot of funds that can now be better spent — glow belts, anyone?
So, we just got $100,000 to buy new glow belts, guys! (USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Nathanael Collon)
The ABU’s predecessor, the BDU, was the official duty uniform (one that we shared with all our brother services) for nearly three decades. The ABU lasted for less than a decade. Maybe getting back in line with our brother services will lead to a longer lifespan for this next uniform iteration.
Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, a front-runner for defense secretary in a Trump administration, could face stormy Senate confirmation hearings over his views on women in combat, post-traumatic stress, Iran, and other issues.
Mattis also would bring with him a bottom-up leadership style honed in command positions from the rifle platoon level to U.S. Central Command that seemingly would be at odds with President-elect Donald Trump’s top-down management philosophy and the by-the-book bureaucracy of the Pentagon.
In his writings, speeches and think-tank comments since retiring in 2013 as a revered figure in the Marine Corps, Mattis has been characteristically blunt on a range of issues from the role of women in the military and post-traumatic stress to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Iran.
Mattis also has praised the Mideast diplomacy efforts of Secretary of State John Kerry, who was often mocked by Trump during the campaign, but Trump has kept Mattis at the top of his short list for the Pentagon post.
The general has apparently cleared his calendar in anticipation of a Trump decision.
Mattis canceled a Dec. 14 speaking engagement at a Jamestown Foundation conference on terrorism, according to The Hill newspaper’s Kristina Wong. He has discussed the possibility of his selection as defense secretary with the leadership of the Center for a New American Security, where he is a board member, the Hill said.
Others believed to be under consideration for the defense post are Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican and former Army captain; Stephen Hadley, the National Security Adviser in the administration of President George W. Bush; and former Sen. Jim Talent, a Missouri Republican.
Trump met with Mattis before Thanksgiving and later called him the “real deal” and a “generals’ general” who rated ample consideration for the defense nomination. Trump also said he was “surprised” when Mattis told him he could get more out of a terrorism suspect’s interrogation with a few beers and a pack of cigarettes than he could with waterboarding and torture.
Trump later spoke at length with The New York Times about the potential choice of Mattis and other matters, but did not touch on the roles of women in the military or Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s historic decision last March to open up all military occupational specialties to women who qualify.
Women in Combat
Mattis, now a distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution in California, has questioned whether women are suited for what he called the “intimate killing” of close combat, and whether male commanders would balk at sending women into such situations.
Mattis also said he was concerned about “Eros” in the trenches when young men and women live in close quarters in the “atavistic” atmosphere of combat. “I don’t care if you go anywhere in history where you would find that this has worked,” he said of putting “healthy young men and women together and we expect them to act like little saints.”
In periodic speeches to the Marines’ Memorial Club in San Francisco, Mattis said that the U.S. military is a “national treasure,” and it is inevitable that women would want to serve in every MOS.
“The problem is that in the atavistic primate world” of close-quarters combat, “the idea of putting women in there is not setting them up for success,” Mattis said. He stressed that he was not talking about whether women could perform the required amounts of pushups, pullups and other physical requirements — “that’s not the point.”
Commanders must consider “what makes us most combat effective when you jump into that room and you’re doing what we call intimate killing,” he said. “It would only be someone who never crossed the line of departure into close encounters fighting that would ever even promote such an idea” as putting women into close combat.
If nominated, Mattis would almost certainly be challenged on women in combat in confirmation hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee, which has six women on the panel.
One of them is Sen. Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican who retired as a lieutenant colonel after 23 years in the Army Reserves and Iowa National Guard. Ernst, who served a deployment in Operation Iraqi Freedom and is the first female veteran in the Senate, has applauded the opportunity for women who meet the standards to serve in the combat arms.
Opponents of women in combat have said that the next defense secretary could easily reverse the current rules opening up all billets to women.
Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, told Military Times, “Those policies have to be rolled back. Right now, the policy is that women can and will be assigned to ground combat units. That pronouncement can indeed be changed by a future secretary of defense.”
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of “Ashley’s War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield,” said the argument is misguided since women have already proven their worth in combat.
The rules could be changed by the next administration, but “the record of service speaks for itself,” Lemmon said. Even when regulations banned women from combat, “They were there. They were there because special ops needed them there,” she said.
“I have never thought this was about political correctness or a feminist agenda,” Lemmon said of the issue of women in combat, “but rather about military readiness and having the right people in the right jobs. In some ways, it is remarkable to me that we have Americans who want to say that even if you meet the standard, you cannot be there.”
Mattis has also differed with current thinking on post-traumatic stress and its treatment in the military and in the Department of Veterans Affairs, where the leadership has labored to remove the “stigma” against seeking help.
“We have such a fixation on disease and disorder that troops coming home have to be told, actually have to be told, ‘You don’t have to be messed up,’ ” Mattis said. “What’s the message we’re sending them?”
“My concern is we’ve got so many people who think they’re messed up now, or think they should be, that the ones who really need help are being submerged in the broader population and so the ones who need the help the most aren’t getting the attention they need to be getting,” he said.
“There’s no room for woe-is-me, for self-pity, or for cynicism” in the military, Mattis said. “Further, there is no room for military people, including our veterans, to see themselves as victims even if so many of our countrymen are prone to relish that role. In the military, we make choices. We’re not victims.”
The misperception about war and its aftermath is that “somehow we’re damaged by this. I’m on record that it didn’t traumatize me to do away with some people slapping women around,” Mattis said, but there was a growing acceptance that “we’re all post-traumatic stressed out” and that veterans were “somehow damaged goods. I don’t buy it.”
Mattis stepped down as commander of U.S. Central Command in 2013, reportedly after clashing with the White House on Iran. Now, his views on the threat posed by Iran appear to line up with those of Trump.
“Among the many challenges the Mideast faces, I think Iran is foremost,” Mattis said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies last April.
“The Iranian regime, in my mind, is the single most enduring threat to peace and stability in the Mideast,” and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action worked out by Secretary Kerry and others to rein in Iran’s nuclear programs has not altered the threat, he said.
During the campaign, Trump called the Iran pact a “terrible deal” and suggested he would renegotiate it or possibly scrap it, but Mattis is against that course of action.
“It was not a mistake to engage on the nuclear issue” with Iran, he said, adding that the deal “was not without some merit” and “there’s no going back, absent a clear violation” of the agreement.
Kerry has been pilloried by Trump on his overall performance as secretary of state, but Mattis lauded his efforts in the Mideast, particularly on his thus-far fruitless attempts to bring about a two-state solution between the Israelis and the Palestinians. However, the two sides must want peace “as bad as the secretary of state. I admire and salute Secretary Kerry’s efforts,” he said.
Should Mattis get the nomination, he would take to the Pentagon a unique leadership style that relies on feedback from the ranks. “Generals get a lot of credit but very little of it is earned by their own blood, sweat and tears,” he has said, adding that the credit should go to the front-line troops.
“There are two kinds of generals — one gets briefed, the other briefs his staff,” and Mattis made clear that he was the second type of general. “I found it faster if I would go out and spend most of my time with the lead elements” in an effort “to get a sense if the lads thought we were winning. We didn’t use command and control, we used command and feedback.”
“Wandering around like that really unleashed a lot of combat power,” said Mattis, whose nickname was “Mad Dog” and who had the radio call sign “Chaos.”
When asked about the most important trait for a leader, he said, “It comes down to building trust.”
Leaders must be able to make those in their command “feel your passion for excellence. If they believe you care about them, you can speak to them bluntly and they’re ready to go back into the brawl,” he said.
If he were to be confirmed by the Senate, Mattis would be the first recently retired general to hold the defense secretary’s post since Gen. George C. Marshall, the Army chief of staff during World War II. Marshall was named secretary of defense by President Harry Truman in 1950.
The choice of Mattis would for the first time put two Marines in the top uniformed and civilian posts at the Pentagon. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford served under Mattis as a colonel in command of the 5th Marine Regiment during the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Senate confirmation would be the second hurdle for Mattis. He first would need a waiver from Congress to get around the rule barring military officers from accepting posts requiring Senate confirmation for seven years after retirement. Mattis left the military in 2013.
Of the over 15,000 US P-51 Mustangs built, less than 200 are still flyable – about one percent of the production run. Of 12,571 F4U Corsairs built, roughly 50 are airworthy. Of 3,970 B-29 Superfortresses built, only two are flying today.
Much of this is due to the ravages of time or accidents. The planes get older, the metal gets fatigued, or a pilot makes a mistake, or something unexpected happens, and there is a crash.
Finding the spare parts to repair the planes also becomes harder – and more expensive – as time passes. A 2016 Air Force release noted that it took 17 years to get the B-29 bomber nicknamed “Doc” flyable. Kansas.com reported that over 350,000 volunteer hours were spent restoring that B-29.
Many of the planes built in World War II were either scrapped or sold off – practically given away – when the United States demobilized after that conflict.
As David Campbell said in “The Longest Day” while sitting at the bar, “The thing that’s always worried me about being one of the few is the way we keep on getting fewer.” Below, you can see the crash of the Spitfire at the French air show – and one of the few flyable World War II planes proves how true that statement is beyond the veterans.
The launch, the fourth in a matter of only a few days, followed statements by President Donald Trump claiming that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is starting to respect the US and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asserting that North Korea has shown “restraint” by halting its missile tests. America’s lead diplomat even suggested that there might be a path to dialogue.
Evidence indicates that Trump and Tillerson may have misread North Korea’s behavior. “This is not the action of a country that is interested in showing restraint or in creating a glide-path to dialogue, at least not on our terms,” James Schoff, an East Asia expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told The Washington Post.
Not only is North Korea apparently frustrated with the activities of the US and its allies, but it may also be determined to set a precedent for new missile testing.
The US and South Korea began the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises Aug. 21. The North perceives joint military exercises as a precursor to an armed invasion of North Korean territory.
“This is a clear indication of the attempt to mount a preemptive attack on the North,” a commentary in the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the ruling party, argued Aug. 27. North Korea is particularly concerned with the preemptive strike elements of Operation Plan 5015, which the North claims is a key part of this year’s exercises.
“The warmongers at home and abroad are working hard to master and perfect the performance procedures and the actual maneuverability of the “beheading operation” and “secret operation” under OPLAN 5015,” the North Korean state media report explained.
“The DPRK will continue to strengthen its defensive capability with nuclear force, as long as US … does not stop military drills on the doorstep of the DPRK,” North Korean ambassador to the UN Han Tae Song explained Aug. 29. “US pressure and provocative acts only justify the DPRK’s measure to strengthen its self-defense capabilities.”
North Korea is also irritated with the regular high-level meetings between senior US military officials and their South Korean counterparts.
“It is a very ill-boding development that timed to coincide with the exercises, the US Pacific Command chief, the US Strategic Command head, the Missile Defense Agency director, and other US high-ranking military officers flew into South Korea to hold confabs on the DPRK,” North Korean state media explained.
Furthermore, the North is aware of allied efforts to boost their offensive and defensive capabilities in response to the growing North Korean threat. South Korea conducted its own missile tests last week, testing weaponry designed to penetrate North Korea’s underground and hardened facilities, and Japan just deployed a collection of new missile interceptors.
There is also a strong possibility, as this has long been a strategic objective, that North Korea is trying to drive a wedge between the US and its allies in Asia.
The latest missile launch may also clear the way for a more realistic weapons testing program, helping North Korea develop combat-capable missiles to boost its deterrence capabilities.
“There is a technical imperative for conducting this test,” Mike Elleman, a missile expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told WaPo. “They want to be able to look at reentry dynamics and how it performs on a more normal trajectory.” North Korea will need to ultimately move ships into the area to get telemetry data, but this is a first step.
If the consequences for North Korea’s actions are limited, Pyongyang may assume that the benefits are worth the risks and conduct additional tests of this nature in the future, possibly for its new intercontinental ballistic missile.
“In a way, it’s kind of a trial balloon,” Elleman said. “If we overfly Japan, what happens? If the blowback isn’t too significant, they will feel more comfortable with launching a Hwasong-14 to a good distance to validate its performance on a normal trajectory.”
North Korea typically tests its missiles by lofting them, and then analysts calculate their theoretical range were the missiles to be fired along a normal trajectory. North Korea needs more reliable data if it intends to field a viable nuclear deterrent. When North Korea threatened to fire missiles into waters around Guam earlier this month, some observers suspected that North Korea might be trying to set a precedent for launches over Japan.
“This sets a new dangerous precedent of overflying Japan and launching into the western Pacific,” Melissa Hanham, a senior research associate in the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies, posted on Twitter after North Korea’s threats.
While the North may have deescalated earlier, it does not appear to have backed down. The country appears as committed to its strategic ambitions as ever.
Fifteen years after a 17-hour battle on an Afghan mountaintop, a pararescueman’s extraordinary heroism was recognized with an Air Force Cross, upgraded from a Silver Star, following a service-wide review of medals awarded since 9/11.
Then-Tech. Sgt. Keary Miller –against overwhelming odds and a barrage of heavy fire from Al Qaeda militants– dashed through deep snow into the line of fire multiple times to assess and care for critically-wounded U.S. service members, March 4, 2002.
Miller was previously awarded the Silver Star medal for these actions, Nov. 1, 2003. The Air Force Cross is the service’s highest combat medal for valor, second only to the Medal of Honor.
“We are blessed to have Airmen like Keary in the Special Tactics community,” said Col. Michael Martin, the 24th Special Operations Wing commander, who directed training for Miller’s pararescue team before their deployment in 2002. “In an extraordinary situation, Keary acted with courage and valor to save the lives of 10 special operations teammates. This medal upgrade accentuates his selflessness despite an overwhelming enemy force…although Keary may humbly disagree, he belongs to a legacy of heroes.”
Miller was deployed from the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, an Air National Guard unit based in Standiford, Kentucky. During the mission, he was the Air Force combat search and rescue team leader assigned to a U.S Army Ranger quick reaction force.
“I would describe Keary as a dedicated pararescueman – dedicated to his craft and dedicated to the motto ‘That others may live.’ That’s how he defined himself and that really defines his actions that day,” said Lt. Col. Sean Mclane, the 123rd STS commander, who was a second lieutenant in Miller’s home unit during that time. “We have a proud legacy and a tradition of valor, and Keary is a big part of that.”
On March 4, 2002, his team was tasked to support a joint special operations team on a mountaintop called Takur Ghar, occupied by Al Qaeda forces– an engagement commonly known as the Battle of Roberts Ridge after the first casualty of the battle, Petty Officer 1st Class Neil Roberts.
One of the most significant events in recent Special Operations history began when a joint special operations team attempted to infiltrate Takur Ghar, which held a well-fortified and concealed force. The ensuing battle would result in the loss of seven special operations team members.
“We were notified there was a missing aircrew and we were launching a team to go find them,” said Maj. Gabriel Brown, a Special Tactics officer, formerly an enlisted combat controller. “It was unknown who exactly was missing, but we loaded up two helicopters full of Rangers and the (combat search and rescue) package, which included me, Senior Airman Jason Cunningham [pararescueman] and Keary, who was my team leader. I trusted him.”
As the quick reaction force helicopter made its approach over the landing zone, they were struck by rocket propelled grenades at close range –they returned fire with mini guns, but the helicopter impacted the ground hard, lurching into the snow.
“Once we landed, 7.62mm rounds ripped through the fuselage–the daylight popping through, smoke aglow; then the rotors decelerated to a grinding halt,” Brown said. “Immediately, we had several casualties; I remember seeing two Rangers face down. Keary and I were deep in the aircraft—and we made eye contact and shared kind of a ‘here we go’ moment.”
The team disembarked from the aircraft to combat the blistering fire of a waiting enemy. At great risk to his own life, Miller moved through the snowy terrain, crossing into the line of fire on several occasions in order to assess and care for critically wounded servicemen.
“I saw Keary taking action on the wounded, worried about collecting the casualties and triaging them,” Brown said, who was in charge of aircraft communications and precision strike. “He was careful in his thoughts and actions, conducting himself calmly and coolly – relaying the casualty information to me all morning.”
As the battle continued, Miller collected ammunition from the deceased to distribute it to multiple positions in need of ammo, moving through heavy enemy fire each time.
“I was listening to the updates as they were coming in; I was so proud because my friends were on that mountain and their future was so uncertain but they were rocking it – they were doing everything right,” Mclane said, who was listening real-time to satellite communications of the battle. “It’s like, these guys might not make it off this mountain, but by God, they’re going down swinging.”
When Cunningham was killed during another attack, the casualty collection point he was at was compromised. Miller assumed Cunningham’s role — providing medical aid under fire to the wounded – and braved enemy fire to move the wounded to better cover and concealment.
“I wholeheartedly believe the Air Force Cross accurately represents Keary’s actions that day,” said Brown. “I know those lives were saved that day were because of his efforts within that environment…the steps he took to ensure they made it off the battlefield.”
Miller is credited with saving the lives of 10 U.S. service members that day, and the recovery of seven who were killed in action.
Following his deployment, Miller returned to the 123rd STS as a mentor for the newest generation of operators. The events he experienced helped him to shape tactics, techniques and procedures for years to come.
“Keary was already a mature pararescueman before he went on that mission,” Mclane said. “But, when he returned, he really dedicated himself to improving our body armor, our equipment, our (tactics, techniques and procedures) when under fire – he was driven to be better, and to make his teammates better.”
In May 2014 then-Tech Sgt. Kristopher Parker, an explosive ordnance disposal team leader, was out of comms in the middle of a firefight between U.S. troops and Taliban insurgents.
According to an Air Force release, the firefight started when Parker and other American forces who had been sent to clear an improvised explosive device factory came across the insurgents holed up in a cave.
Parker and his fellow troops faced RPGs, small-arms fire, and even hand-thrown IEDs during the 20-hour engagement with the enemy.
Despite all that incoming, Parker was doing a lot of multitasking. He swept the area for IEDs. He cleared routes. He pulled wounded personnel out of the line of fire. He marked cache locations.
“Kris saved the lives of so many Soldiers, Marines and Airmen,” Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Global Strike Command, said in the release. “He put their lives first and took care of them and that is so honorable.”
When the fight was done, 18 insurgents were dead. Parker had also cleared and destroyed over 200 pounds’ worth of homemade explosives.
On March 17, Parker, now a retired Master Sergeant, was awarded the Silver Star for his actions during that 20 hour battle. The award is the third highest that can be presented for valor in combat.
“We are so lucky to be here with this true hero,” Rand said. “A hero who has deployed several times in harm’s way. A hero that saved lives. I’m so humbled and appreciative of his incredible service. It’s a great time to be an Airman.”
In the parking lot of the National Guard armory, a soldier reaches into his glove box and carefully unfolds a letter safeguarded in the confines of his car for five months. Sitting on the edge of his passenger seat, in the late afternoon sun, he begins to read the pages once again. At first, he reads silently as if wanting to keep the special message private. Then, in little more than a whisper, he reads out loud the sentiments of a woman he has never met but whose life he would be responsible for saving. Occasionally, he looks up to explain a bit more about the woman behind the precious missive. While he reads, the front of the envelope can be seen addressed to ‘My Donor.’ One glance at the top of the first page, clearly written in very large print is an emphatic, ‘Thank you.
A member of the Texas Army National Guard, Spc. Akeem Martin, a 23-year-old from Houston, says he is no hero, “I am just doing what is right.” The journey to the right thing started nearly five years ago when he was an 18-year-old freshman at Central Texas College. Martin recalls, “I really didn’t think about it, we were going to lunch one day and they [Be The Match] were having a drive, giving away pizza and I signed up, they took a mouth swab and that was the last time I heard anything.” Shaking his head he continues, “then last year… I got a call from Be The Match saying that I had been matched with a person with leukemia and asking would I like to donate for them.”
Member of the Texas Army National Guard, Spc. Akeem Martin.
(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Suzanne Ringle)
Martin could have said no, but that is not in his character. “Because I signed up for it, just like any other commitment you make, you did the paperwork you said you were gonna do it, so…” Martin leaves the statement hanging as if the conclusion is obvious: you do what you say and say what you do; no more discussion needed. This attitude serves him well in both his military and civilian careers.
Martin has been a firefighter for two years with the South Montgomery County Fire Department. In the Texas Army National Guard, he is a chaplain’s assistant deployed to the southwest border for Joint Task Force Guardian Support with El Paso-based, 3rd Battalion, 133rd Field Artillery Regiment. As the chaplain’s assistant he gets many opportunities to counsel service members and help on an emotional level. “These Guardsmen have lives going on back home, and life happens every day. I am just glad I can help,” Martin says.
Just before deploying, Martin received the letter. “I keep the letter in my car, it was really touching. I guess I was waiting to meet her,” he says. “I got the letter and then I came on mission a couple of weeks later. I didn’t get a chance to write her back.”
When LaShonda Goines, a cancer nurse from Houston, Texas, wrote that letter four months after being diagnosed with two different forms of cancer, she knew for certain only two things; there was a perfect ten-out-of-ten match, and without a doubt, everything was going to be okay. “I never asked for the odds of survival, I would not accept them anyways. I just knew that God was going to bring me out of this. I knew I was going to beat it,” said Goines.
Member of the Texas Army National Guard, Spc. Akeem Martin.
(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Suzanne Ringle)
In her letter to Martin, Goines wrote, “I rejoice in the fact that God did not break the mold after he made me because he knew you were needed to help with repairs to my body. He created you to be a perfect match to repair my malfunctions. In this journey, I have learned to appreciate life, I want to take trips and do things once my body is strong enough. I am a very religious person. Your cells are going to a good and generous person.” After reading the letter once again, Martin points to his heart and with an awkward giggle says, “this letter really hits you in the feels,” while he takes a little extra time refolding the letter. Goines conveys a similar sentiment when she learns Martin has kept the letter all these months. She responds with a voice full of emotion. “That’s got me in tears. Yes, I am surprised. I know my son would be like, ‘I don’t know where that letter is.’ I did not know that letter was that precious to him.”
Goines closed the letter with a hope and a prayer, “I want to meet you one day. Hug you one day, whenever we can, if you like. Be blessed my friend, my life-sharing brother.” Little did she know all that she dreamed would come to fruition, in less than a year.
The good news came over the phone just 30 days after receiving Martin’s stem cells. “I am cancer free. Hearing those words was awesome. I mean I ran through the church. I gave my testimony. It was something, absolutely unbelievable, especially being a cancer nurse. Listening to the other patients in the holding area waiting to be seen, you hear their stories, how some of them had tried transplant and it didn’t work for them and this is maybe their second go around. But for me, this was a one-shot deal and now, I am cancer free,” Goines’ smile can be heard through the phone.
Donor meets recipient
Martin and Goines were invited to meet for the first time in Minnesota at the annual Be The Match council meeting. Their first time meeting each other would be onstage in front of more than two thousand people.
“I can’t even describe how amazing that moment was, it was so precious,” says Martin. He attempts to describe the event, seemingly at a loss for words, shrugging his shoulders and says, “I was really anxious and super excited. I was just really happy to get to that point. Just seeing her and being able to say that we got to that point because she made it, she was a fighter, it was something really special.”
Goines was anxious to finally meet the young man who saved her life. “The event was awesome. They had us separated through the entire meeting until Saturday night, even when they played the video of both of us. They called me to the stage first, and they would not tell me where he was in the room. And so, to see him walk up to the stage with his mother, he just has this heroic walk. It was awesome. He has a very heroic and humble walk, he never bolstered or anything. He’s an amazing fellow.”
Member of the Texas Army National Guard, Spc. Akeem Martin.
(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Suzanne Ringle)
When asked if they attributed the success of the transplant endeavor to just science or God, they had similar, but not identical, responses. Both have careers in the medical field and strong religious beliefs. Martin holds out his hands out as if making a scale for demonstration, “I have my religious background and I work in the medical field too. I feel like there is science and there is God, and they both work together.”
Goines praises God’s intervention, “God, this was nothing but divine intervention, divine intervention from God. Sitting in the room for 30-days doing my transplant I was crying out to God and this just shows me that God had his ear inclined to my cries.” Continuing she describes how special and lucky she felt, “I felt like I touched the hem of God’s garment and I was made whole again.”
Donor saves life
Few people can say they saved a life, but for Martin, saving lives is a reality, as a fireman and now as a stem cell donor. He says there is a uniquely strong bond between him and Goines, compared to other lives he has saved as a fireman. “I guess because we have such a bond now, when I met her it was like I’d known her my whole life, it was really weird. I met her sons as well and it was like we’ve been brothers forever. It was really something amazing.”
The special bond forged between the two gives each a bigger family. Without hesitation or searching for the words she would say to Martin, Goines exclaimed, “I got a new son out of this process. I want to tell him I love him and he’s an awesome human being and he needs to keep doing what he’s doing because God has bigger and better plans for him.”
The effects of this profound, life-changing match are clear, nearly 800 miles away, across the state of Texas, with one look at Martin’s cubicle inside the armory. The cubicle appears to be much like anyone’s cubicle. There are pictures of his family and another one of his fire truck, along with a cross and some obligatory notices and guidelines. There are two items quite unique and conspicuous amid the varying drab tones of tan, hanging proudly both inside and outside his partitions: two capes, one green the other blue, both emblazoned with the ‘Be The Match’ logo. Martin explains everyone gets the blue cape, but the green one is special for those donor-recipient matches that ended in saving a life.
Martin believes to care for others, you have to take yourself out of the equation. “When it comes down to saving a life, you should not think about yourself, there’s gonna be pain, you know everything good comes with a little pain. That little bit of pain goes a long way because there is someone whose life is really counting on you. Putting in a little work and a little pain will go a long way,” he says.
Goines went from a double cancer diagnosis to being cancer free in seven months because Martin decided to be a difference and saw it through. She says, “Sign up for Be The Match. It doesn’t matter if you are black, white, Hispanic, just sign up.”
Martin says his firsthand experience doesn’t make him a hero, but did make him want to share his story. “It is really important to educate people on the ‘Be the Match’ program or any marrow donor program because it does save lives. It does make a difference,” he says.
Be The Match is a nonprofit international organization that matches stem cell and bone marrow donors with recipients inflicted with certain cancers. The matches are based, partly, on ethnicity, and more often than not the match will come from outside one’s family. To find out more visit bethematch.org.
A reserve aeromedical evacuation crew from the 433rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron with the 433rd Airlift Wing, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, was flying to support patient transport missions out of Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland when they came together to save the life of a man suspected of having a heart attack Sept. 19, 2018.
About 45 minutes into the commercial flight from Dallas to Maryland a 74-year-old man sitting next to Staff Sgt. April Hinojos, 433rd AES aeromedical evacuation technician, complained to his wife that he felt faint.
Hinojos heard this and asked the man some questions to gauge how he was feeling. She said the man’s eyelids started to flutter, and he stopped responding. Hinojos immediately got assistance moving him to the floor and evaluating his condition.
“He didn’t have a pulse, so we immediately started (chest) compressions,” said Hinojos.
The man’s wife started yelling for a doctor.
“I had just started the movie and through my headphones I hear someone screaming for help,” said Maj. Carolyn Stateczny, flight nurse.
She said she thought, “Screaming for a doctor means something is going on.”
The pilot came over the intercom, and asked if any medical personnel were on the plane.
The rest of the aeromedical evacuation crew, which was scattered throughout the plane, started working their way to Hinojos and the man.
The flight attendants assisted Stateczny by collecting the plane’s medical supplies for the medical crew. Stateczny then got the automated external defibrillator from the flight attendants and prepared it for use. Capt. Justin Stein, flight nurse, attempted to start the man on intravenous fluids, but was unable, because his blood vessels were constricted due to the suspected heart attack.
Tech. Sgts. Robert Kirk and Edgar Ramirez, both aeromedical evacuation technicians, worked on the man’s airway and provided oxygen. 1st Lt. Laura Maldonado, a flight nurse, assisted the rest of the crew by working with the flight attendants and providing supplies as needed.
At this point, the crew was unsure if the man was going to recover.
“I’ve been a nurse for sixteen years; in my expertise, I thought he was dead,” Stateczny said. “He was completely grayish, his lips were blue, and his eyes had rolled to the back of his head. He was not responding at all. He had no pulse.”
The man’s wife was very distraught throughout the ordeal, so the crew requested that she be moved to the rear of the plane, so they could gather the man’s medical information from her.
Stateczny requested that the plane land so the man could get required medical attention.
After getting the automated external defibrillator pads on the man, Stateczny said he moaned, developed a pulse and started to show signs of recovery. They continued with oxygen and kept trying to start an IV.
“He slowly started arousing,” said Statezcny. “It took some time, and he could tell us his name. He started getting some color, and then asked ‘What’s going on?'” The man thought he had just passed out.
The plane diverted to Little Rock, Arkansas, where emergency medical services were waiting to take over patient care.
The aeromedical evacuation squadron members serve in a variety of careers such as nurses, medical technicians, administrative specialists and more. The 433rd AES is ready to fill the need when events like natural disasters, war or routine medical transportation by air is required. AES crews typically consist of five people, two nurses and three medical technicians. The crew carries with them the necessary equipment to turn any cargo aircraft in the Air Force into a flying ambulance almost instantly.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide legal advice. These drone laws & regulations are continually changing, and you should not rely solely on the lists herein. Please look up your state’s current laws and/or contact an attorney to determine what, if any, legal requirements or restrictions apply to the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems in your area.
Recreational vs. Commercial Drone Regulations
One of the biggest hurdles to mass adoption of drones is the numerous regulations that restrict what drone owners and operators can do. In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has several regulations that have hindered drone market growth.
The most prevalent of these restrictions is the one colloquially known as the “line of sight rule,” which mandates that drone operators keep the unmanned aircraft within eye shot at all times. This clearly removes any potential application for drones in the delivery space, as the need to keep a drone in line of sight at all times defeats the purpose of sending off a drone to drop off a product at a consumer’s home.
But there are different FAA drone rules for commercial use and for recreational use. Recreational drone laws are in some ways more lax than commercial ones, but the line of sight remains pivotal (more on these laws later).
Drone Pilot License and FAA Laws & Regulations
“Do I need a license to fly a drone?” “Do I need to register my drone?” These are two of the most common questions prospective drone owners ask.
As of a law passed on January 3, 2018, a recreational drone user must register their drone with the FAA, mark the outside of the drone with the registration number, and carry proof of registration when flying. Furthermore, the pilot must fly only for recreational purposes.
This next portion is crucial: The pilot must keep the drone below 400 feet in uncontrolled or “Class G” airspace. This simply refers to airspace where the FAA is not controlling manned air traffic, which means it is safe to fly your drone there. Fortunately, most drones and their accompanying mobile apps provide guidelines to help identify appropriate airspace and height.
The FAA has a full list of drone rules and guidelines here.
The FAA’s online registration system went into effect on Dec. 21, 2015. This required all UAS weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and less than 55 pounds to be registered.
Since then, the number of drones registered in the U.S. has been increasing. More than 900,000 owners had already registered by the end of 2018, and monthly owner registration averaged between 8,000-9,000 during the full year 2018, according to the FAA.
As of December 10, 2019, there were 1,509,617 drones registered with the FAA. This includes 1,085,392 recreational drones and 420,340 commercial drones, as well as 160,748 remote pilots certified.
State and Local Laws & Regulations
In addition the federal laws, several states have enacted drone regulations of their own. Here’s a breakdown of drone regulations by state:
Alaska state law HB 255 passed in 2014 places limits on how law enforcement can use drones in their operations, which includes but is not limited to how and whether they can save images and video captured by drone.
SB 1449 passed in 2016 is quite robust, and includes the following regulations:
Drones cannot interfere with police, firefighters, or manned aircraft.
Flying a drone in what is considered “dangerous proximity” to a person or property is deemed Disorderly Conduct.
Drones must stay a minimum of 500 feet horizontally or 250 feet vertically of any “critical facility.” These include but are not limited to courthouses, hospitals, military installations, water treatment and oil and gas facilities, and power plants.
Any city or town in Arizona with more than one park must permit the usage of drones in at least one of those parks.
Cities and towns in Arizona may not craft their own drone laws.
Arkansas has several state laws regarding drones. Act 293 forbids the use of drones to invade privacy and commit video voyeurism. Act 1019 forbids the use of drones for surveillance of “critical infrastructure.” And am Arkansas State Park Regulation passed in 2018 forbids the operation of drones in any Arkansas State Park without first acquiring a Special Use Permit from the Office of the Director.
The most populous state in the union has three laws regarding drones. Civil Code Section 1708.8 forbids the use of drones to record another person without their consent. SB 807 grants immunity for first responders who damage any unmanned vehicle that interferes with first responders during emergency services. Related, AB 1680 makes it a misdemeanor for drones to interfere with the activities of first responders during an emergency.
HB 1070 passed in 2017 requires the Center of Excellence within the Division of Fire Prevention and Control within the Department of Public Safety to conduct a study on the integration of drones within state and local government operations that relate to certain public safety functions. The law also created a pilot program to facilitate this goal.
Meanwhile, Colorado State Parks Regulation #100-c.24 in 2018 forbids the operation of drones in Colorado State Parks with the exception of designated areas.
SB 975 prohibits municipalities within the state from regulating drones with the exception of municipalities that are also water companies, which can regulate or forbid the use of drones over said municipality’s public water supply and land.
DEEP 23-4-1 prohibits the use of drones at Connecticut State Parks, State Forests or other lands under the control of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, with the exception of those specifically authorized by the Commissioner through a Special Use License.
HB 195 forbids flying a drone over any event with an attendance greater than 5,000 people (such as concerts, sporting events, auto races, and festivals), as well as any critical infrastructure (such as government buildings, power plants, water treatment facilities, military installations, oil and gas refineries). Lastly, the law forbids cities and towns in Delaware from crafting their own drone laws.
Criminal Code Section 934.50 forbids the use of drones for surveillance that violates another person’s reasonable expectation of privacy. This includes law enforcement, however police can use drones with a valid search warrant, if there is a terrorist threat, or “swift action” is needed to prevent loss of life or to find a missing person, per SB 92. That same law also allows someone harmed by the inappropriate use of a drone to pursue civil action.
HB 1027 forbids local regulation of drones, but does allow for local legislatures to craft some drone laws related to “nuisances, voyeurism, harassment, reckless endangerment, property damage, or other illegal acts.” It also forbids also the use of drones over or near critical infrastructure in most situations, and bans the possession or use of a weaponized drone.
Finally, Florida Administrative Code 5l-4.003 forbids the usage of drones on managed lands (such as Florida state parks and forests) with the exception of runways or helispots and only with authorization from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
HB 481 preempts Georgia’s local governments from creating drone regulations after April 1, 2017. This law also permits state and local governments in Georgia to regulate the launch or landing of drones on public property.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources also has rules and regulations that forbid the use of drones in Georgia’s State Parks and Historic Sites, with some exceptions for waivers for professional commercial projects that could help generate revenue or promote those sites. Prior authorization is required for such exceptions.
Act 208 created a drone test site advisory board, along with a chief operating officer to oversee the site.
Idaho Code 36-1101 forbids the use of drones to hunt, molest, or locate game animals, game birds, or fur-bearing animals. Idaho Code 21-213 mandates warrants for law enforcement to use drones, creates guidelines for drone use by private citizens, and outlines civil penalties for damage caused by improper use of drones.
Illinois has one of the more thorough sets of state drone laws in the nation.
20 ILCS 5065 created the Unmanned Aerial System Oversight Task Force Act charged with regulating commercial and private drones. These regulations include landowners’ rights, operational safety, and privacy rights.
HB 1652 prohibits the use of drones to interfere with the activities of hunters or fishermen.
SB 1587 permits the use of drones by law enforcement with a warrant for counterterrorism, to prevent harm, or to thwart the impending escape of a suspect. If used, law enforcement agencies must destroy all information gathered by the drone within 30 days, with exceptions made if the information contains reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.
SB 2937 relaxes regulations on drone usage by law enforcement during a disaster or public health emergency, and creates rules for how law enforcement can acquire and use information gathered from a private party’s use of drones.
Finally, SB 3291 forbids cities, towns, and other municipalities from enacting regulations or restrictions on the drone use, with the exception of municipalities with more than one million residents.
Indiana has multiple state drone laws, starting with HB 1009, which created warrant guidelines for law enforcement use of drones and other real-time geolocation tracking devices. The law also created a Class A misdemeanor called “Unlawful Photography and Surveillance on Private Property,” in which a person intentionally conducts electronic surveillance of another’s private property without permission.
HB 1013 permits drone use to photograph or video a traffic crash site, while HB 1246 forbids drone use to locate game during hunting season.
SB 299 created two Class A misdemeanors tied to drone use. The first is “sex offender unmanned aerial vehicle offense,” in which a sex offender uses a drone to follow, contact, or surveil another person under conditions that prohibit said offender from doing so. The second is “public safety remote aerial interference offense,” in which a person uses a drone in a manner that obstructs or interferes with a public safety official performing his or her duties. Both offenses become level 6 felonies if the guilty party has a prior conviction under the same section.
Finally, IAC 312 8-2-8 (i) forbids drone use on Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) property, which includes state parks; however, the DNR can grant licenses to use drones at its discretion.
The Hawkeye State’s lone drone law, HB 2289, forbids any state agency from using drones to enforce traffic laws and insists upon a warrant or other lawful measure to use any information obtained by drones in any civil or criminal court proceedings.
SB 319 expands the definition of harassment in the state’s existing Protection from Stalking Act to include particular drone uses.
HB 540 permits commercial airports to design their own drone facility maps and forbids drone use in certain areas designated by said maps.
HB 1029 created the crime of unlawful drone use, defined as the intentional use of a drone to surveil a location without the owner’s prior written consent.
SB 183 regulates drone use for agricultural commercial operations, while SB 141 clarifies that some drone surveillance constitutes criminal trespass.
HB 635 added drones under the crimes of voyeurism and video voyeurism, and HB 335 authorized the establishment of registration and licensing fees for drones in Louisiana at a $100 limit.
HB 19 forbids drone use to surveil school rounds or correctional facilities, while SB 73 expands the definition of obstructing an officer to include intentionally crossing a police barrier with a drone. SB 73 also permits law enforcement and the fire department to disable drones if they endanger the safety of the public or an officer.
Lastly, SB 69 insists that only the state, not local governments, can regulate drone use.
Sec. 1. 25 MRSA Pt. 12 mandates that law enforcement agencies obtain approval before acquiring drones and lays out other rules for police use, such as warrant requirements.
Section 14-301 establishes the state’s power over local authorities to create laws that regulate drone operation.
Furthermore, SB 992 outlines several prohibitions for drones, all of which classify as misdemeanors. First, local governments cannot regulate drones except if the drone belongs to the locality. Second, the law allows commercial drone operation provided the FAA has authorized the user to do so commercially, and allows recreational use under federal law compliance.
Third, SB 992 forbids drone use that interferes with emergency personnel, to harass any individual, to violate restraining orders, or to capture photo or video that invades a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy. Finally, the law forbids sex offenders from using drones to photograph, follow, or make contact with an individual they are forbidden to contact.
Minnesota Statute 360.60 mandates that all recreational and commercial drone operators register their drone with the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Commercial operators must have drone insurance per the requirements set forth under Minnesota Statute 360.59. Furthermore, all commercial operators must pay a licensing fee for a Commercial Operations License, according to the Department of Transportation’s Aeronautics Rules Chapter 8800.
In the Big Sky State, SB 196 outlines that information gained from drone use is only admissible in court when obtained with a search warrant or through some other exception recognized by the courts.
HB 644 forbids drone use that interferes with efforts to suppress wildfires.
Amendments 362, 640, and 746 officially define drones as aircraft, which regulates drone operations. This law also prohibits weapons on drones and forbids the use of drones within a certain distance of airports and other “critical” facilities. Finally, it places restrictions on drone use by law enforcement.
SB 3370 is a robust law that establishes several guidelines for drone use:
Permits drone use in accordance with federal law
Classifies drone use in a way that endangers the life or property of another as a disorderly person offense.
Establishes that is a fourth-degree crime if an individual “knowingly or intentionally creates or maintains a condition which endangers the safety or security of a correctional facility by operating an unmanned aircraft system on the premises of or in close proximity to that facility”
Outlines that using a drone to interfere with a first responder is a criminal offense
Allows drone owners of critical infrastructure to apply to the FAA to forbid or limit drone use near said infrastructure
Classifies operating a drone under the influence of drugs or with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or greater as a disorderly person offense
Forbids local governments from regulating drone use in any way that conflicts with this law
Appropriately, the state that was “First in Flight” was also one of the first to adopt a truly detailed set of drone laws, starting with SB 744 in 2014, which established requirements for recreational, commercial, and government drone use.
SB 446 gives North Carolina’s Chief Information Officer the power to approve drone use by state agencies, mandates tests for drone operations, and establishes a permit process for commercial drones.
HB 128 forbids drone use near a correctional facility, with the exception of certain official use or other prior authorization.
HB 337 permits drone use for emergency management activities. It also makes adjustments to align the state law with federal law, and exempts model aircraft from the state’s training and permitting requirements for drones.
Finally, NCAC 13B.1204 forbids drones to take off or ascend at any state park area without a special permit from the park.
North Dakota Code Sec. 29-29.4-01 restricts drone use to surveillance, crime investigation, and other law enforcement uses. It also mandates law enforcement have a warrant to do so.
HB 2559 forbids drone use within 400 feet of any critical infrastructure facility.
HB 2710 established quite a few drone regulations, including:
Creating new crimes and civil penalties for mounting weapons on drones, as well as interfering with or obtaining unauthorized access to public drones
Allowing a law enforcement agency to use a drone with a warrant and for exceptions such as training
Requiring any drone operated by a public body to be registered with the Oregon Department of Aviation (DOA)
Allowing a landowner under certain conditions to take action against an individual operating a drone lower than 400 feet over their property
SB 5702 set the fees for registering a public drone. HB 4066 clarified and modified some drone definitions and made it a class A misdemeanor to operate a weaponized drone. It also regulated public drone use and mandated policies and procedures for data retention.
HB 3047 adjusted the law forbidding weaponizing drones by making it a class C felony to fire a bullet or projectile from such a device. It also prohibits drone use over private property in any way that intentionally or recklessly harasses or agitates the property’s owner or occupant. Finally, it allows law enforcement to use drones to reconstruct accident scenes.
Lastly, The State Fish and Wildlife Commission forbids the use of drones to hunt, fish, or trap animals and prohibits using drones to interfere with hunters.
Title 18 Section 3505 forbids drone use to intentionally surveil other people in a private place, to use a drone in a way that puts another person in reasonable fear of injury, or to operate a drone to handle contraband.
Title 53 of Section 305 builds upon this law by having Title 18 Section 3505 preempt any laws or resolutions of other municipalities. Furthermore, municipalities cannot regulate ownership and operation of drones unless authorized by statute.
HB 7511 provides exclusive regulatory power over drone use to the state and the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, in accordance with federal law. It also prevents local governments from crafting their own drone laws.
Title 250 of Park and Management Area Rules and Regulations forbids drone use at any Rhode Island state park without a special use permit, typically issued for professional filming and media companies. Furthermore, the law also bans drone use to harass or disturb individuals, wildlife, or natural resources at a state park.
SB 80 mandates that drone operation complies with appropriate FAA requirements. It also classifies drone use over military and correctional facilities as a class 1 misdemeanor. Delivering contraband or drugs by drone to a correctional facility is a class 6 felony under this law. Finally, it amends the crime of unlawful surveillance to include intentional drone use to observe or record an individual in a way that violates their reasonable expectation of privacy, and forbids landing a drone on someone’s property without consent. Unlawful surveillance is a class 1 misdemeanor.
The much simpler SB 22 grants exemptions from aircraft registration requirements for drones that weigh less than 55 pounds.
The Volunteer State has six drone laws to consider. SB 796 permits law enforcement to use drones with a search warrant in cases of high-risk terrorist attacks or if quick action is necessary to prevent clear and present danger to life. Any evidence obtained in violation of this law cannot be admitted in state criminal prosecutions, and the law creates opportunities for those wronged by such evidence to take civil action.
SB 1892 classifies intentional drone surveillance of an individual or property, and possessing images from said surveillance, as Class C misdemeanors. Distribution or use of those images is a Class B misdemeanor.
On a similar note, SB 1777 makes it a Class C misdemeanor for any private entity to use a drone to conduct video surveillance of someone who is hunting or fishing without their consent.
HB 153 forbids drone use to capture footage above open-air events and fireworks displays. HB 2376 clarifies that individuals can use drones on behalf of both public and private institutions of higher education.
Finally, SB2106 makes it illegal to operate a drone within 250 feet of a critical infrastructure facility in order to surveil or gather information about said facility.
HB 912 detailed 19 lawful uses for drones and also created two new crimes: illegal use of drones to capture images, and the offense of possessing or distributing said images.
HB 1481 classifies drone use over a critical infrastructure facility if the drone is not more than 400 feet off the ground as a Class B misdemeanor. Meanwhile, HB 2167 allows individuals in certain professions to capture images for use in those professions via drone as long as no individual can be identified in the images.
HB 1643 forbids local governments from regulating drones with the exception of special events and when the drone is used by the locality. HB 1424 forbids drone use over correctional and detention facilities. It does the same for sports venues, with some exceptions.
SB 840 allows telecom companies to use drones to capture images. Furthermore, it clarifies that only law enforcement can use drones to capture images of property within 25 miles of the U.S. border for border security reasons. Lastly, it permits insurance companies to use drones to capture images for certain insurance purposes, according to FAA regulations.
Finally, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Policy bans drones in Texas State Parks without a permit, with the exception of Lake Whitney and San Angelo. Individuals can also request permits for drone use at state parks.
SB 196 mandates that law enforcement obtain a warrant before using drones in any location where an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy. Related, SB 167 regulates drone use by the government and establishes that law enforcement must have a warrant to obtain, receive, or use any data from drone use.
HB 296 permits law enforcement to use drones to capture footage at testing sites, or to find a lost or missing person in an area in which a person has no reasonable expectation of privacy.
HB 217 forbids individuals from using drones to intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly harm, actively disturb, or chase livestock.
Finally, SB 111 established several regulations for drones:
Creates cases for law enforcement to use drones for purposes not related to a criminal investigation
Mandates law enforcement create an official record of drone use to provide information on that use and any data acquired from it
Preempts local regulation of drones and exempts drones from aircraft registration in Utah
Classifies flying a drone with a weapon attached or carried on it as a class B misdemeanor
Modifies the offense of criminal trespass to include drones entering and remaining unlawfully over property with specified intent
States that a person is not guilty of what would otherwise be a privacy violation if the person is using a drone for some legitimate commercial or educational purpose under FAA law. It further amends the offense of voyeurism (a class B misdemeanor) to include the use of any technology, including drones, to secretly capture video of an individual under certain circumstances
SB 155 mandates that law enforcement report annually on drone use by the department, regulates said use, and forbids weaponizing drones.
In 2013, HB 2012 forbade drone use by any state agency “having jurisdiction over criminal law enforcement or regulatory violations,” as well as units of local law enforcement, until July 1, 2015.
HB 2125 mandates that law enforcement agencies obtain a warrant before using a drone for any purpose, with a few exceptions. Meanwhile, HB 412 forbids local government regulation of drones.
SB 873 specifies that the fire chief or other ranking officer at a fire department has the authority to maintain order at an emergency site, which includes the immediate airspace where drones might fly.
Finally, HB 2350 classifies using a drone to trespass on another’s property to peep or spy on them as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
The Washington State Legislature allows drone use in any state park area with written permission, wherein the director or designee can set restrictions. The operator must have said permission on them when using the drone.
HB 2515 forbids hunting, taking, or killing wild animals with drones. HB 4607 mandates that operators have permission from the State Park Superintendent to fly drones in any of West Virginia’s state parks.
SB 338 bans drone use to interfere with hunting, trapping, or fishing, while AB 670 forbids drone use over correctional facilities.
SF 170 requires the Wyoming Aeronautics Commission to craft rules and regulations for where drones can take off and land. The commission can also develop reasonable rules for drone use through coordination with the drone industry and local governments. Importantly, the law clarifies that the commission cannot regulate drone use in navigable airspace, and makes it illegal to land a drone on another’s property; however, operators can fly drones over their own property.
Gunfire sounds in the background. In an adjacent alleyway, Islamic State snipers keep watch for movement. On the roof above our heads the Iraqi Security Forces are pouring fire into buildings occupied by the terrorists.
Five members of the Iraqi Federal Police sit on chairs and boxes in a street, sheltered from the battle. One of their colleagues is busy trying to pry open a box of .50 caliber ammo, as another man feeds a belt of bullets into the squad’s machine gun. It’s the sixth month of the battle to re-take Mosul and coming up on the third anniversary of Iraq’s war against ISIS.
In the battle for Mosul, the Iraqi Army has deployed a variety of its best units, including the 9th Armored Division, the black-clad Special Operations Forces, and the Federal Police.
The name may conjure up traffic stops and men rescuing kittens from trees, but in the Iraqi context “federal police” is a mechanized infantry unit: thousands of men in dark blue camouflage with Humvees and machine guns. Accompanying them is another elite unit called the ERD, or Emergency Response Division.
Together they have done the heavy lifting since January, when the operation to liberate West Mosul began. Street-by-street they have fought to dislodge what remains of the “caliphate.” There are fewer than 1,000 ISIS fighters left, according to the Iraqis and their American-led coalition allies. But these are the hard core — many of them foreign fighters, such as the Chechen snipers who have been dealing death on this front for months.
ISIS has burrowed into the Old City of Mosul, into buildings that date back hundreds of years. Here they are making one of their last stands around the Nuri Mosque, where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared his so-called caliphate in 2014.
They’ll fight to the death in the basement of the mosque, an Iraqi officer thinks.
Lieutenant Col. John Hawbaker, commander of a combat team of the 82nd Airborne Division, which is advising and assisting the Iraqi forces, served in Iraq during the surge of 2005-2006, when America was fighting the Iraqi insurgency. He says the contrast today is extraordinary.
Ten years ago the Iraqi Army was more limited than today.
“The Federal Police are extremely professional and disciplined and capable, and that’s one of the biggest differences from 10 years ago,” he declares. The U.S.-led coalition that is helping to defeat ISIS stresses that the Iraqis are fully in charge of the operation and they are the ones leading it.
Jared Kushner and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford were in Baghdad on April 3 to illustrate the high priority the U.S. puts on Iraq’s efforts to crush ISIS.
That’s obvious on the ground. Although the coalition provides artillery and air support, there is no visible presence of coalition forces at the front. It is Iraqis carrying the fight.
The older Iraqi officers have been fighting ISIS in Fallujah, Ramadi, and other cities for the last two years. They say the battle for Mosul is difficult, because ISIS cannot retreat there and has to fight to the last man. But they’ve seen more serious battles in 2015 when ISIS was stronger.
Their men have been forged in this war. As we crawled through holes smashed in the walls of houses to make our way to the roof of one position, soldiers were in each room. One team was looking out for snipers, another preparing RPGs, and others catching a bit of rest on cots. On the roof, soldiers are unlimbering an SPG-9, a kind of long-barreled cannon on a tripod that fires RPGs through a small hole cut in the wall.
“The ISF have victory in hand — it is inevitable; they know it and ISIS knows it. Everyone can see and knows they will win,” says Hawbaker.
ISIS was like a shot in the arm for Baghdad; it provided the existential threat that has led to the creation of an increasingly professional, stronger army that is more self-assured than it was before 2014. The next years will reveal if Iraq can build on that success.
In early April 2016, U.S. Marine Corps veteran Charlie Linville departed the U.S. with The Heroes Project founder Tim Medvetz. Their destination was Nepal and their third attempt to reach the summit of Mount Everest, the top of the world.
Linville is an Afghanistan veteran and father of two who had his right leg amputated below the knee as a result of an IED attack. Medvetz is the founder of The Heroes Project and a former member of the Hell’s Angels motorcycle club. They arrived at the Everest base camp on April 17 and reached the summit of the mountain on May 19, making Linville the first combat wounded veteran to make it to the top.
Their first two attempts to summit the mountain failed. In 2014, they made it to Lobuche Peak just above Everest Base Camp when a serac, a huge ice tower, separated from the Khumbu Icefall. The resulting avalanche killed 18 sherpas. They opted not to proceed out of respect for the dead.
And in 2015, they were once again on the mountain when a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Nepal, killing thousands and devastated the region. Linville and Medvetz decided to link up with Team Rubicon’s Operation Tenzig, distributing food and first aid to villages in the Nepalese countryside that the Red Cross couldn’t access.
Linville and Medvetz climbed the mountain with videographer Kazuya Hiraide and producer Ed Wardle. The team is currently descending the mountain.