Joining Forces relaunched by incoming First Lady - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Joining Forces relaunched by incoming First Lady

In 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden launched Joining Forces; an initiative to encourage public and private sectors to support the military community. The program dissolved under the previous administration but with Dr. Biden’s husband being sworn in as 46th president, the incoming first lady appeared eager to relaunch it. 

Joining Forces called for a commitment of support in education, employment and wellness not just for the military member or veteran, but their families. At the original launch ceremony, President Obama called for “every segment of American society, not to simply say thank you but to mobilize, take action and make a real commitment to supporting our military families.” After six years, the initiative boasted new legislation in all 50 states and 1.25 million military community members hired. 

Serving military families appears to be something close to the incoming First Lady’s heart. Her father was a Navy Signalman during World War II. Her late Step-Son Beau was an officer in the Army National Guard and deployed to Iraq while her husband was the Vice President. Despite leaving Washington, D.C. behind in 2017 – and watching Joining Forces end – Biden continued her work with military families through the Biden Foundation.

When Biden was elected president, many within the military community began to speculate when and if now-FLOTUS would bring back Joining Forces. “Joe and I have always believed that as a nation, we have many obligations. But we only have one truly sacred obligation — to properly prepare and equip our troops when we send them into harm’s way, and to care for them and their families both while deployed and when they return home, because your sacrifice deserves nothing less,” Dr. Biden stated, speaking to the Military Child Education Coalition’s virtual conference on November 17, 2021. 

Just days ago, the Bidens officially relaunched Joining Forces.

On a call with military family organizations, Thursday January 14, 2021, Dr. Biden announced that an Executive Director for Joining Forces had been chosen. It was a familiar face; former Deputy Director of Joining Forces, Rory Brosius. “I know the love and strength and resilience that makes this community so unique, and it’s such a joy to be a part of it and a privilege to really have the chance to serve it,” Biden said during the virtual announcement

Brosius is a spouse to a Marine Corps veteran. “This is my community, and it’s one I care deeply for. The world has changed since Joining Forces started in 2011. And I know that we have work to do to make sure that we are as timely and as targeted as we need to be. I take my mandate and our bias for action very seriously,” Brosius said during the announcement.

Biden has stated in multiple interviews that there is more work to be done in order to adequately and effectively support military families. On the virtual call she stated that Joining Forces will “get to work on Day One.” 

The soon-to-be first lady appeared excited on the virtual call, sharing that, “The weight and the beauty of this responsibility, of the trust the American people have given us, will never leave me and I’m grateful and excited and most of all ready to get to work with all of you.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

The F-35 can make China’s carrier killer missiles ‘irrelevant’

As China builds out its network of militarized islands in the South China Sea and expands a sphere of influence designed to keep the U.S. out, the U.S. Marine Corps is putting the finishing touches on a weapon to burst its bubble: the F-35B.


China’s People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force has turned out a massive number of so-called carrier-killer missiles, ballistic missiles that can target ships up to about 800 miles out at sea, even testing them against models of U.S. aircraft carriers.

With the U.S. Navy’s longest-range platform — aircraft carriers — maxing out at a range of about 550 miles, this means China could theoretically use the missiles to shut the U.S. out of a battle for the South China Sea.

But theories and lines drawn on paper won’t beat the U.S. military in a battle.

Joining Forces relaunched by incoming First Lady
A U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121, conducts a vertical landing at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Nov. 15 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Carlos Jimenez)

In pursuing the strategy of anti-access/area denial, known as A2AD, China assumes that the U.S. must launch aircraft from bases or aircraft carriers. But the F-35B, the U.S. Marine Corps’ variant of the most expensive weapons system of all time, doesn’t work that way.

“You can fly the F-35B literally anywhere,” David Berke, a retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, told Business Insider. “If your traditional places of operation are unavailable” — perhaps because Chinese missile fire cratered them, a likely tactic in a war — “the F-35B can be there.”

By taking off in just a few hundred feet or so and landing from a vertical drop, the F-35B frees up the Marine Corps from worrying about large, obvious bases.

If China targets carriers, the U.S. won’t use carriers

Marines have been training for this operating concept in the Pacific as well. In mid-January 2018, they landed an F-35B on a sloped platform, showing that future pilots could land their plane almost anywhere.

Throughout last year, F-35B crews trained on tactics like “hot loading” and “hot refueling,” which aims to turn reloading the F-35 — usually an affair that takes time, space, and a massive air base to support — into the equivalent of a NASCAR pit stop.

For the F-35B, the ground crew runs up to the jet while it’s still running to pump more fuel and load more bombs. In just a few minutes, atop a dirt floor with minimal support infrastructure in an improvised location China’s missiles won’t know to hit, the F-35B can take off again.

Also Read: How the F-35B can defend ships from cruise missiles

“Find me 600 feet of flat surface anywhere in the world, and I can land there,” said Berke, who compared the F-35B to the A-10 “Warthog,” the U.S. Air Force flying gun famous for its ability to land on dirt roads and fight on despite getting roughed up.

So while China has focused on pushing back the U.S.’s aircraft-carrier-bound fleets of F-18s, the Marines have cooked up a new strategy involving smaller carriers, like the USS Wasp, and heavy-lifting, quick-flying helicopters for support. Using the V-22 Osprey’s and the CH-53’s extreme-lifting capability, Marines could set up makeshift bases inside China’s supposed A2AD bubble.

From there, the stealth F-35Bs could take out the threats keeping the carriers at bay, poking holes in that bubble.

“If you’re looking at warfare two-dimensionally, you’re looking at it wrong,” Berke, a former F-35 squadron commander, said of the A2AD concept. “You don’t beat me in a boxing match ’cause your arms are longer than mine.”

The U.S. is sending the F-35B to the Pacific ASAP

The U.S.’s faith in the F-35B’s ability to shake up the balance of power in the Pacific is evident in recent deployments. The first outside the U.S. was in Japan.

Now, amid rising tensions with North Korea, an F-35B-capable aircraft carrier will station itself in Japan.

“You’re about to put for the first time ever fifth-generation fighters on a ship at sea and put it into a highly contested area that is fraught with geopolitical risk and controversy and tensions,” Berke said.

“The implications of a fifth-generation airplane being in [the Pacific] is impossible to overstate,” he added. “They’re going to provide capability that nobody knows exists yet.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

China warns the US against putting new missiles on its ‘doorstep’

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Aug. 3, 2019, that he wants to put ground-based intermediate-range ballistic missiles in the Pacific to confront regional threats, a move that is antagonizing rivals China and Russia.

“We would like to deploy the capability sooner rather than later,” he said Aug. 3, 2019, just one day after the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the US and Russia officially expired. “I would prefer months. I just don’t have the latest state of play on timelines.”

He did not identify where the missiles would be located in Asia, suggesting that the US would develop the weapons and then sort out placement later. He has said it could be “years” before these weapons are fielded in the region.


The 1987 INF Treaty prohibited the development and deployment of conventional and nuclear ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers, but the treaty has ended, giving the US new options as it confronts China’s growing might in the Asia-Pacific region.

Following the end of the treaty, Esper said in a statement Aug. 2, 2019, that the “Department of Defense will fully pursue the development of these ground-launched conventional missiles,” calling these moves a “prudent response to Russia’s actions.” But, the Defense Department is also clearly looking at China. “Eighty percent plus of their [missile] inventory is intermediate-range systems,” Esper told reporters Aug. 3, 2019. It “shouldn’t surprise [China] that we would want to have a like capability.”

Joining Forces relaunched by incoming First Lady

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Mejia)

In his previous role as the secretary of the Army, Esper made long-range precision fires a top priority, regularly arguing that the US needs long-range, stand-off weaponry if it is to maintain its competitive advantage in a time of renewed great power competition.

Both Russia and China have expressed opposition to the possibility of US missiles in the Pacific.

“If the deployment of new US systems begins specifically in Asia, then the corresponding steps to balance these actions will be taken by us in the direction of parrying these threats,” Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned Aug. 5, 2019.

“If the US deploys intermediate-range missiles in Asia-Pacific, especially around China, the aim will apparently be offensive. If the US insists on doing so, the international and regional security will inevitably be severely undermined,” China Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Aug. 5, 2019.

Joining Forces relaunched by incoming First Lady

An M270 multiple launch rocket system maneuvers through a training area prior to conducting their live fire exercise at Rocket Valley, South Korea, Sep. 14, 2017.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michelle U. Blesam, 210th FA Bde PAO)

“China will not just sit idly by and watch our interests being compromised. What’s more, we will not allow any country to stir up troubles at our doorstep. We will take all necessary measures to safeguard national security interests,” she added.

Her rhetoric mimicked Esper’s criticisms of China over the weekend, when he spoke of a “disturbing pattern of aggressive” behavior and warned that the US will not “stand by idly while any one nation attempts to reshape the region to its favor at the expense of others.”

While some observers are concerned US missile deployments may ignite an escalated arms race between great power rivals, Tom Karako, a missile defense expert at CSIS, argues that this is an evolution rather than a radical change in US defensive posturing in the region, an adaptation to Russian and Chinese developments.

“We want China’s leadership to wake up every morning and think this is not a good day to pick a fight with the United States or its allies,” Karako told INSIDER.

Joining Forces relaunched by incoming First Lady

An M270 multiple launch rocket system fires during a live fire exercise at Rocket Valley, South Korea, Sep. 15, 2017.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michelle U. Blesam, 210th FA Bde PAO)


Mobile land-based missile systems complicate surveillance and targeting. “The point is not to consolidate and put everything in one spot so it can be targeted but to move things around and make it so that the adversary doesn’t know where these things are at any given time.”

“I would not minimize the potential advantages of this kind of posture,” Karako added.

Should the US pursue this course, China’s response is unlikely to be friendly, experts in China warn. “If the US deploys intermediate-range missiles in Asia, China will certainly carry out countermeasures and augment its own missile forces in response, so as to effectively deter the US,” Li Haidong, a professor in the Institute of International Relations at China Foreign Affairs University told the Global Times.

For now, the US has not made any moves to deploy missiles to the Pacific; however, the US is looking at testing a handful of new ground-based systems.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

On Sept. 11, 2001, Air Force flight surgeon John Baxter showed up to work at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, to a full load of patients and completing physicals — just like any other day.

Halfway through his morning while getting his next patient, he saw that a civilian airliner had flown into one of the World Trade Center towers.

While with the patient, Baxter said he noticed the background noise in the Pentagon changed. It seemed quieter than usual. Then, he heard shouts. He opened his door and saw people running and shouting, and smoke in the hallway.


At first, Baxter didn’t know if there was an explosion, a fire or some other event. Despite the unknowns, he assembled his team of flight surgeons, a nurse and medical technicians. They grabbed medical kits and traveled as a group. Their emergency plan was to meet up with other medics at the Pentagon’s DiLorenzo Clinic.

Joining Forces relaunched by incoming First Lady

A red flower sits atop of every bench to remember the fallen on Sept. 11, 2001, during the Pentagon Memorial Observance Ceremony in Washington D.C., Sept. 11, 2018.

(Defense Department photo by Tech. Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.)

Then they heard the news: there were casualties in corridor 5.

Baxter’s team ran to the spot. They found Army veteran Brian Birdwell, who was in excruciating pain from burns. It was a situation that Baxter was unexpectedly prepared for: Months earlier, in an emergency exercise, the flight clinic trained for the same scenario that unfolded on 9/11: a plane crashing into the Pentagon.

John Baxter still serves at the Pentagon, though now as a civilian flight surgeon. For this week’s Born the Battle Podcast, Baxter details his story of 9/11 and the days that followed.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

3 Americans released from North Korea are finally home

President Donald Trump welcomed the arrival of the three Korean-Americans held captive in North Korea at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on the early morning of May 10, 2018, following weeks of speculation about their release.

Authorities released the three detainees — Kim Dong-chul, Kim Sang-duk, and Kim Hak-song — after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in North Korea and met with leader Kim Jong Un on May 8, 2018.


Walking out of their plane without assistance and onto the tarmac, the detainees appeared in good spirit and waved at a cheering crowd. On the ground, two firetrucks hoisted an enormous American flag, giving the impression of a major political victory for the US and Trump.

“We would like to express our deep appreciation to the United States government, President Trump, Secretary Pompeo, and the people of the United States for bringing us home,” the three said in a statement released by the State Department.

“We thank God, and all our families and friends who prayed for us and for our return. God Bless America, the greatest nation in the world,” the statement continued.

Trump called the former detainees “incredible people” and said their release “was a very important thing to all of us.”

“This is a special night for these three, really great people,” Trump said as he shook their hand. “And congratulations on being in this country.”

“It was nice letting them go before the meeting,” Trump continued. “Frankly, we didn’t think this was going to happen, and it did.”

Joining Forces relaunched by incoming First Lady
Then-CIA director Mike Pompeo and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Korean Central News Agency, North Korea’s state-run media outlet, said that Kim “accepted an official suggestion of the US president for the release” and granted “amnesty” to them.

The alleged crimes that landed them in custody in North Korea ranged from committing “hostile acts” to subvert the country and overthrow the government. Criminal charges in the North are typically exaggerated and disproportionate to the alleged offenses.

The three men were previously held in labor camps, with Kim Dong-chul being held captive the longest after his arrest in 2015.

“You should make care that they do not make the same mistakes again,” a North Korean official said to Pompeo. “This was a hard decision.”

Their return to US was a long time coming. Discussions between South and North Korean officials during the 2018 Winter Olympics earlier this year culminated in a historic summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong Un in April 2018 — the first such meeting between leaders of the North and South in more than a decade.

The mens’ release and Pompeo’s trip to North Korea, his second since April 2018, are seen as the latest signs of warming relations on the Korean Peninsula, and a prelude to the upcoming US-North Korea summit. After months of missile launches from the North and chest-beating from the US in 2017, Trump and Kim began to soften their rhetoric after the Winter Olympics.

Joining Forces relaunched by incoming First Lady
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un andu00a0South Korean President Moon Jae-in

“I appreciate Kim Jong Un doing this and allowing them to go,” Trump said to reporters after the release of the three captives.

Trump announced that the date and location of the US-North Korea summit had been set; however, did not reveal specifics other than that he ruled out the Demilitarized Zone as one of the options.

Still, the US president remains cautious: “Everything can be scuttled,” Trump said of his scheduled meeting with Kim.

“A lot of good things can happen, a lot of bad things can happen. I believe that we have — both sides want to negotiate a deal. I think it’s going to be a very successful deal.”

The release of the detainees may be a reason to celebrate, but it comes too late for some — in 2017, Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old American student, died shortly after his release from a North Korean prison.

Joining Forces relaunched by incoming First Lady
Otto Warmbier appears before a North Korean trial.

After serving a year of his 15-year prison sentence for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster, Warmbier returned to the US in a comatose state. Unable to see and react to verbal commands, Warmbier succumbed to his condition and died.

Warmbier’s parents have since railed against the regime, despite it’s recent overtures of peace. Recently, the Warmbiers filed a wrongful death lawsuit against North Korea and alleged it tortured and killed Otto.

“I can’t let Otto die in vain,” Cindy Warmbier, Otto’s mother, said on May 8, 2018. “We’re not special, but we’re Americans and we know what freedom’s like, and we have to stand up for this.”

Upon the arrival of the former prisoners, Trump offered his condolences to the Warmbier family: “I want to pay my warmest respects to the parents of Otto Warmbier, who is a great young man who really suffered.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

One of the worshippers heroically grabbed a shooter’s gun in New Zealand

A survivor of a mass shooting in a New Zealand mosque said a man wrestled the shooter’s gun out of his hands and then chased him out of the mosque in a bid to save more lives.

Syed Mazharuddin, a witness of the shooting in Christchurch’s Linwood Mosque on March 15, 2019, told the New Zealand Herald newspaper that a “young guy who usually takes care of the mosque” tackled the gunman.

He said the man “pounced” on the gunman, “took his gun,” and then chased him out of the building.



“The hero tried to chase and he couldn’t find the trigger in the gun … he ran behind him but there were people waiting for him in the car and he fled,” Mazharuddin said.

Seven people were killed in the Linwood Mosque and 41 people were killed in a connected attack at the Al Noor Mosque 3 1/2 miles away. One person died at Christchurch Hospital, where 48 others, including children, are being treated for gunshot wounds.

Joining Forces relaunched by incoming First Lady

Al Noor Mosque.

Khaled Al-Nobani, a survivor of the shooting at the Al Noor Mosque, told the Herald that a man tried to take the gun from the shooter at that mosque but that the gunman “shot him straight away.”

Mazharuddin told the Herald that the shooter fired at people who were praying at the Linwood Mosque.

“Just around the entrance door there were elderly people sitting there praying, and he just started shooting at them,” he said.

Mazharuddin said he has friends who were shot in the chest. He said one was shot in the head.

One of his friends was killed, he said. “I ran out and then the police came, and they didn’t let me come back in again, so I couldn’t save my friend,” he said. “He was bleeding heavily.”

Survivors shared their accounts of New Zealand’s ‘darkest day’

Other survivors have shared their accounts of the terrorist attacks, including seeing piles of bodies, some dead.

One witness told CNN that he lay still “praying to God, oh God please let this guy run out of bullets.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described March 15, 2019, as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”

Police have charged one man with murder, and two other people are in custody.

The gunman appeared to livestream the shooting on Facebook, and a manifesto claiming responsibility for the shooting praises far-right terrorists and describes hatred for Muslims and immigrants.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why the president invited these 3 troops to the State of the Union Address

Marine blinded by an improvised explosive device, an Army sergeant who rescued a sailor wounded by an IED, and a Coast Guard technician who did rescue work in the hurricanes will be among the special guests at the State of the Union address Tuesday.


In announcing the list of First Lady Melania Trump’s 11 special guests, the White House said among them would be retired Cpl. Matthew Bradford, who was blinded and lost both legs when he stepped on an IED in Iraq in 2007.

After multiple surgeries and therapies, Bradford became the first Marine with such severe injuries ever to re-enlist, the White House said. Bradford re-enlisted in 2010 and has since retired.

Joining Forces relaunched by incoming First Lady
Matthew Bradford. (Facebook image)

Bradford, now 30, originally from Winchester, Kentucky, was assigned to work with other wounded Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, when he re-enlisted.

Joining Bradford in the First Lady’s section in the House balcony for President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress will be Staff Sgt. Justin Peck, who has served eight years in the Army.

In November 2017, Peck was part of a team with Navy Chief Petty Officer Kenton Stacy that was clearing IEDs in Raqqa in eastern Syria, the so-called capital of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that had been retaken by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

Stacy was severely wounded by an IED while clearing the second floor of a hospital building. Ignoring the threat from other IEDs, Peck rushed into the building, applied a tourniquet, put in an endotracheal tube and was “directly responsible for saving Chief Petty Officer Stacy’s life,” the White House said.

Also Read: How one US amputee is making his way back into an elite fighting force

Another special guest will be Coast Guard Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class Ashlee Leppert. While working out of the Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans last year, Leppert helped to rescue “dozens of Americans imperiled during the devastating hurricane season,” the White House said.

In announcing the list, White House Press Secretary said the three service members and the other eight special guests “represent the unbreakable American spirit” that Trump will cite as being a major factor in U.S. successes at home and abroad.

MIGHTY TRENDING

VA and AMVETS partner up to help ‘at-risk’ veterans

In August 2018, VA and American Veterans (AMVETS) announced a partnership to expand ongoing veteran suicide prevention efforts and establish intervention programs for at-risk veterans.

The partnership followed a January 2018 executive order signed by President Trump that directed the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs to collaborate by providing mental health and suicide prevention resources to transitioning service members, and veterans during the first 12 months after their separation from service.


“VA and AMVETS are working together to identify and eliminate the barriers veterans face in accessing health care, enroll more at-risk veterans into the VA health care system, and provide training for those who work with veterans so that intervention begins once warning signs are identified,” said VA National Director of Suicide Prevention Dr. Keita Franklin.

Joining Forces relaunched by incoming First Lady

The partnership’s keystone program is AMVETS’ HEAL, which stands for health care, evaluation, advocacy, and legislation. HEAL’s team of experienced clinical experts intervene directly on behalf of service members, veterans and their families and caregivers to help them access high-quality health care, including mental health and specialized services, for conditions including traumatic brain injury, polytrauma and post-traumatic stress disorder. AMVETS offers HEAL’s free services to anyone rather than exclusively to its members.

This example of expanded outreach is directly aligned with VA’s public health approach to veteran suicide, defined in the National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide, released in 2018. This approach looks beyond supporting the individual to involving peers, family members, and the community.

When it comes to preventing suicide, there is no wrong door to care. That’s why the VA-AMVETS partnership also provides processes for VA to refer veterans for HEAL services and vice versa. This collaboration will bring lifesaving resources directly to more veterans and their families and caregivers, even if the veteran in need is not seeking health care in the VA system.

HEAL support services can be accessed via the toll-free number, 1-833 VET-HEAL (1-833-838-4325), or by email at VETHEAL@amvets.org.

To learn about the resources available for Veterans and how you can #BeThere for a Veteran as a VA employee, family member, friend, community partner or clinician, visit www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/resources.asp.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255 or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.

Articles

This aging Russian plane was the Tomahawk strike’s target

The strike on Shayrat Air Base was intended to take out a number of targets, but one plane in particular was top of the list: The Su-22 Fitter.


According to Scramble.nl, two squadrons of this plane were based at the Shayrat air base that absorbed 59 T-LAMs. But why was this plane the primary target, as opposed to the squadron of MiG-23 Floggers? The answer is that the versions of the MiG-23 that were reportedly based there were primarily in the air-to-air role. The MiG-23MLD is known as the “Flogger K” by NATO. The two squadrons of Su-22 Fitters, though, specialized in the ground attack mission.

Joining Forces relaunched by incoming First Lady
A pair of Su-22M4 Fitters, similar to those based at Shayrat Air Base in Syria. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

According to militaryfactory.com, the Su-22 is one of two export versions of the Su-17, which first entered service in 1969. Since then, it has received progressive improvements, and was widely exported to not only Warsaw Pact countries but to Soviet allies in the Middle East and to Peru. The Russians and French teamed up to modernize many of the Fitters still in service – and over 2,600 of these planes were built.

According to the Encyclopaedia of Modern Aircraft Armament, the Su-17/Su-20/Su-22 Fitter has eight hardpoints capable of carrying up to 11,000 pounds of munitions. It also has a pair of MR-30 30mm cannon. It is capable of a top speed of 624 knots, according to militaryfactory.com.

Joining Forces relaunched by incoming First Lady
A Libyan Su-22 Fitter – two of these were shot down by Navy F-14s in 1981. (US Navy photo)

The Fitter has seen a fair bit of combat action, including during the Iran-Iraq War, the Yom Kippur War, Desert Storm, Afghanistan, and the Russian wars in Chechnya.

Recently, it saw action in the Libyan Civil War as well as the Syrian Civil War.

While it has performed well in ground-attack missions, it was famously misused by then-Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi to challenge U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcats over the Gulf of Sidra in 1981. Both Fitters were shot down after an ineffectual attack on the Tomcats.

During Desert Storm, the Iraqi Air Force lost two Su-22s, then two more during Operation Provide Comfort.

The Fitter did get one moment in the cinematic sun, though. In the Vin Diesel action movie “XXX,” two Czech air force Fitters made a cameo during the climactic sequence.

Articles

SecNav loves Mattis but thinks Congress is right to debate the ‘7 year rule’

The Navy’s top civilian leader told reporters Jan. 11 that while he respects the career and leadership abilities of President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of defense, he thinks Congress should take a hard line on its mandate to keep civilians in charge of the nation’s defense.


Joining Forces relaunched by incoming First Lady
(Photo: U.S. Navy Chief Mass Communications Specialist Shawn P. Eklund)

Outgoing Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said Congress had a good reason to require former military leaders be out of uniform for at least seven years before they may take the top leadership positions at the Pentagon — including the roles of secretary of defense and deputy secretary of defense — adding that the time out of uniform had recently been reduced from 10 years.

Trump’s pick to lead the Pentagon, former Marine Gen. James Mattis, retired from the Corps in 2013 after 44 years in the military. His appointment would require a waiver from Congress to skirt the seven-year mandate.

“I have worked very closely with Jim Mattis almost the whole time [in office] and I have an enormous amount of respect for him,” Mabus told defense reporters at a breakfast meeting in Washington, D.C. “I think that civilian control of the military is one of the bedrocks of our democracy and there was a reason that was put in place.”

Joining Forces relaunched by incoming First Lady

Top lawmakers in the Senate held a meeting with experts on military affairs Jan. 10 to debate the restriction, with many arguing the rule should be kept in place but that Mattis’ experience and intellect warrant a one-time waiver.

“I would hesitate to ever say … that there is any indication that dangerous times require a general,” said Kathleen Hicks, a former Pentagon official in the Obama administration, according to the Washington Post. “I don’t think that’s the issue. I think dangerous times require experience and commitment … which I think Gen. Mattis can bring.”

So far one member of the Senate Armed Services Committee has spoken against granting a waiver. New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand has said she’d oppose a waiver and hasn’t “seen the case for why it is so urgently necessary.”

Former Army Gen. George Marshall is the only Pentagon leader to be granted a waiver under the 10-year rule, and he served only one year during the hight of the Korean war.

“It was done for George Marshall but it shouldn’t be done very often,” outgoing SecNav Mabus said. “So I think [Congress] is right to raise that issue.”

“This is nothing to say about Jim Mattis, I think he was a great Marine and a great general officer and a great CoCom,” he added.

Mattis is set for a confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee Jan. 12. Both chambers are expected to vote on a service waiver before Trump’s inauguration Jan. 20.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How to make the most of your next PCS

Every few years you pick up your life leaving your friends and all that has become familiar to follow the love of your life to a new duty station. PCS…

No matter how many times you move, that same excitement and crazy anxiety to start all over again appears. It is so easy to lose yourself in chaos.

The chaos of getting things settled, finding a job, or just trying to find that normal day to day for your kids!


Joining Forces relaunched by incoming First Lady

Starting over is never easy.

Everything is so foreign no matter how much research you do. It is easy to fall into the shadow of the military world around you or just that mom-life, forgetting just who you are. Being able to establish yourself from scratch takes a lot out of you especially when you do it over and over again.

It is easy to say the last place you were was the best. But really each new place is what you make of it.

Finding yourself, or in other words, allowing yourself to bloom is key to thriving in a new place.

But the question is where do you even start? Who are you or who do you want to be?

Being a military spouse or a parent makes up just one tiny piece of that. A new duty station gives you the opportunity for improvements and new goals.

You always wanted to open up your own business, well now is your opportunity.

Take the leap and start taking college courses. Get your degree!

Find your voice again by advocating for your new community.

Volunteer to help out at the local food pantry.

Joining Forces relaunched by incoming First Lady

(Photo by Rémi Walle)

Just because you are putting down temporary roots does not mean you have to give up on you and what you want! There are many different programs offered at every duty station to help you thrive. From classes on networking, and job assistance to educational resources and volunteer programs. These things put into place to help you benefit yourself.

Mask your fears and try something new.

Do not hide out counting down the days until you move again.

Join the gym, or go to a playgroup with your kids.

Meet new people, you never know when you will find those lifelong friends. You should feel confident in yourself and all that you do or want to do.

Nothing should hold you back from you being exactly who you aspire to be. You only have one life so make each place you live the best.

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Marines again lower requirements for Infantry Officer Course

The Marine Corps is on the defensive for a second time in February 2018 over changes to its famous Infantry Officer Course (IOC).


Military communities were abuzz in early February 2018 when officials confirmed that successfully completing the Combat Endurance Test (CET) — the rigorous first stage of IOC — would no longer be a requirement for passing the 13-week course.

The Corps answered criticism on Feb. 7, 2018 but found itself in the same position this week as new standards for IOC’s training hikes were revealed.

The course previously required a Marine to complete nine hikes, of which six would be evaluated more carefully and passage was required on five of the six. The new standard evaluates just three of the Marine’s hikes, though he must pass all three, Marine Corps Times reported Feb. 21 2018.

Also read: Here’s The Intense Training For Marines Who Guard American Embassies

Brig. Gen. Jason Q. Bohm, the commanding officer of Marine Corps Training Command, told the newspaper that changes were made to better reflect operational reality.

“Technically, what we have done is we have modified graduation requirements, but we actually tie our requirements now more to the TR [Marine infantry training and readiness manual] standards,” he said. “The course is as hard as it’s ever been. We did not do away with any training events.”

Marine Corps Times noted that only one unnamed female Marine has successfully completed the course, although officials have countered that most IOC failures are men.

Joining Forces relaunched by incoming First Lady
2nd Lt. Gregory R. Jaunal, student, Infantry Officers’ Course, fires a mortar round during a mountain attack in the Bullion Training Area March 21, 2012. (Photo from DoD)

“Only 35 women have attempted the course, and only five of those have attended the IOC after the job field was opened to women,” the newspaper reported.

Related: Marines eye plan to put women through West Coast combat training

Marine officers who graduate IOC moving forward will:

  • Participate in a total of nine hikes while passing three evaluations.
  • Conduct CET.
  • Conduct 6 tactical field exercises.
  • “Pass infantry officer physical standards requirements, including a 15 km hike with 105 lbs in 3 hours.”
  • “Cross a 56″ wall unassisted in 30 seconds.”
  • “Conduct a ground casualty evacuation (214 lbs. dummy) in 54 seconds.”
  • “Lift an MK-19 heavy machine gun (77 lbs.) overhead and rush 300 meters to an objective in 3 minutes 56 seconds.”

“[The change] was not about lowering attrition, it was about making students more successful to complete the course,” Brig. Gen. Bohm added, the newspaper reported.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Mexico’s cartel wars are getting worse before they get better

2017 ended as Mexico’s most violent year in recent memory, with 25,339 homicide cases — more than during the peak year of inter-cartel fighting in 2011.


Crime and violence have steadily increased in Mexico over the past three years, and the bloodshed over the past decade has come despite, and often because of, the Mexican military’s and federal police’s presence in the streets.

Speaking before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Feb. 13, Army Gen. Robert Ashley, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, described a key trend that has contributed to the violence.

Asked what threats US officials saw in Mexico and how the situation there had changed over the past decade, Ashley told the committee what has “transpired over the last couple of years is you had five principal cartels; we alluded to the number of captures [of cartel leaders] that had taken place, over 100. Those five cartels have kind of devolved into 20, and [as] part of that outgrowth, you’ve seen an increase in the level of violence.”

Also read: Mexican cartels may have used a ‘homemade cannon’ to fire drugs over the border

The dynamic Ashley described — the removal of criminal leaders leading to fragmentation of their groups and further violence — has been recognized as a failing of the “kingpin strategy” pursued, with strong US backing, by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and his predecessor, Felipe Calderon, who deployed troops to confront domestic insecurity in 2007.

‘What’s happening, it’s like ants’

Joining Forces relaunched by incoming First Lady

The kingpin strategy targets high-profile criminal leaders, with the idea that their capture or death will weaken their organization.

Ashley noted that under Peña Nieto, Mexico has brought down more than 100 high-profile cartel figures — among them Sinaloa cartel chief Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman (twice), Knights Templar founder Servando “La Tuta” Gomez (captured because his girlfriend brought him a cake), and Hector Beltran Leyva and Alfredo Beltran Guzman, both of whom lead of the Beltran Leyva Organization, an erstwhile Sinaloa cartel ally.

But the hoped-for security gains haven’t materialized.

“What actually happens is that if you take out the head of organization and it creates power vacuums and leads to … both internal schisms and encroachment … and creation of new spaces for other actors that can come, until we see a multiplication effect, or a proliferation, of smaller, regional groups,” David Shirk, a professor at the University of San Diego and director of the school’s Justice in Mexico program, told Business Insider in late 2016.

After a decade of Mexico’s drug war, several large cartels are thought to still be operating in Mexico, though two — the Sinaloa cartel and the Jalisco New Generation cartel— are believed to be the most powerful. But smaller groups, often splinters of larger cartels, have proliferated. (Sinaloa cartel infighting caused violence to spike in northwest Mexico in 2016 and early 2017.)

Information obtained from the Mexican attorney general in 2017 by journalist Nancy Flores indicated there were nine large cartels with 36 smaller related groups present in Mexico — fewer than the 88 total groups the attorney general’s office identified in 2014, and even fewer than the 200 drug-trafficking cells identified by Mexican political scientist and crime analyst Eduardo Guerrero-Gutierrez. Such groups are fluid and hard to define, making an exact number hard to determine.

Read more: A US citizen was arrested as a ranking member of a drug cartel

Smaller groups are also less capable of transnational drug trafficking and rely on local-level crimes, like kidnapping and extortion, which drives up crime levels and increases insecurity.

This dynamic can be seen throughout Mexico, especially in places like Tamaulipas, where factions of the Gulf cartel are competing for control of drug trafficking and other criminal rackets, and in Guerrero, a hotbed for heroin production that is home to a plethora of local and regional criminal groups and larger groups like the Sinaloa cartel that are involved in the cultivation and transportation of drugs as well as local criminal enterprises.

Joining Forces relaunched by incoming First Lady
Official photograph of the President of México, Mr. Enrique Peña Nieto.

“What’s happening, it’s like ants,” a Tamaulipas state police officer told Vice of the kingpin strategy’s effects in late 2016. Taking out the “queen ant” without following up, he said, means they can regroup and return — or others take the queen’s place.

‘To recover peace and calm’

But the fragmentation and proliferation of criminal groups aren’t the only trends contributing to insecurity in Mexico.

A lack of economic opportunity for marginalized communities creates amenable operating conditions for criminal groups, which also thrive on high profit margins created by drug prohibition. Corruption, particularly of local government officials and police forces, is rampant, inhibiting efforts to crack down on criminal groups and undermining the rule of law.

Related: A US citizen was arrested as a ranking member of a drug cartel

Deep-seated impunity allows many crimes to go unpunished. According to the 2016 Global Impunity Index, only seven of every 100 crimes in Mexico are reported, and just 4.46% of reported crimes actually result in convictions. All told, “less than 1% of crimes in Mexico are punished,” the Center for Impunity and Justice Studies, which calculated the index, estimated.

Despite its failings, the Mexican government has not scrapped the militarized approach to fighting crime. A controversial law formalizing the military’s role in domestic law enforcement was signed late last year, though it is being evaluated by the supreme court.

And at the end of January 2018, days after final crime data showed just how violent 2017 had been, Mexico’s national security commissioner said more soldiers would be deployed to crime hotspots — “to recover peace and calm for all Mexicans.”

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