Here's how Marine Corps mortar crews get explosive rounds to fall right on top of an enemy over 1,000 meters away - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Here’s how Marine Corps mortar crews get explosive rounds to fall right on top of an enemy over 1,000 meters away

CAMP PENDLETON, California — US Marine Corps 60 mm mortar teams can drop explosive rounds on their enemies from over 1,000 meters away, and Insider recently had the opportunity to watch them do it.

During a visit to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Insider observed a mortar crew firing off multiple rounds using an M224 60 mm light mortar, which is a high-angle-of-fire weapon that can be drop- or trigger-fired.


The training was carried out as part of the latest iteration of Iron Fist, an exercise that involves various training evolutions leading up to a large amphibious assault.

Cpl. Kevin Rodriguez, an experienced mortarman who said he chose the mortar because he wanted to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps, walked Insider through the ins and outs of firing a mortar and what it takes.

Here’s how Marine Corps mortar crews get explosive rounds to fall right on top of an enemy over 1,000 meters away

60 mm mortars are typically handled by a crew of Marines.

Mortar crews have a gunner, an assisting gunner (squad leader), and an ammunition man. The crew is often supported by a forward observer and a fire direction center.

When they’re on the move, the three main crew members divide the weapon components, like the gun, the bipod, the sight, and the baseplate, among themselves with no one person carrying the entire weapon.

A crew can set up or tear down a mortar in two minutes.

In combat, the team works together to put fire down range. Standard operating procedure is that the fire direction center first passes range data to the gunner, who puts that into the sight and manipulates the weapon accordingly.

The ammo bearer then hands a prepared round to the assisting gunner, who drops the live round on command. Teams practice every day for months to develop a flawless rhythm.

The 60 mm mortar can be fired on the ground or in a handheld configuration.

Here’s how Marine Corps mortar crews get explosive rounds to fall right on top of an enemy over 1,000 meters away

A lot of different considerations go into firing this weapon.

There is the gun. “You can breathe on it the wrong way, and it will be completely off,” Rodriguez told Insider.

There is the round. Mortar crews can set it to burst in the air, explode on impact, or detonate a few seconds after impact, giving it the ability to penetrate a bunker.

Then there is figuring out exactly how to get the round to the target, and that involves different range calculations, as well as considerations like temperature, wind speed, and drift, among other things.

Weather is also an important factor. Rain, even light rain, for example, can result in wet charges, making a misfire or the firing of a short round more likely and risking a friendly-fire situation. There are covers to help protect the weapon and the rounds from the elements.

There are two different methods Marine mortar teams use to effectively target an enemy.

Range calculations are estimations at best. An experienced mortarman can eyeball the distance to his target, but it tends to take a few shots to get rounds falling in the right spot.

The quickest and most effective targeting approach is called bracketing. Mortar crews fire behind or in front of a target and then split the distance in half until rounds are coming down on the target.

Or, as Insider watched a crew do at Camp Pendleton, Marine mortar crews can use creeping fire to target an enemy, inching closer to the target with each round. This is not as fast as bracketing and requires more rounds, about five or six.

But creeping fire can be a pretty good option when you’re dealing with a lot of dead space, terrain features that make range estimates harder.

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A close-up shot of the three main crew members as the round exits the tube.

US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Robert Kuehn

A mortar section usually has three guns delivering damage to a large area.

Mortars set the conditions for other units by keeping bigger threats at bay.

The mortar crews are tasked with “taking out the bigger targets, or at least keeping their heads down long enough for the machine guns to start suppressing enemies,” Rodriguez said. “The [other infantry units] are more the cleanup. They can move from one place to another.”

During the training at Camp Pendleton, the mortars practiced pinning down light armor while crews with M240 machine guns put fire on targets from a nearby ridge.

The mortars and the machine guns cleared the way for several infantry squads to maneuver into position. Each mortar round has a casualty radius of about 25 meters.

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

Articles

US officials warn that North Korea will test another missile soon

North Korea has made preparations for yet another missile test within the coming days, US officials have told Fox News.


“The test could come as early as the end of the month,” said an unnamed official. Another official told Fox that a US WC-135 Constant Phoenix “nuclear sniffer” plane would patrol the area to detect possible nuclear activity.

The Pentagon, as well as its Japanese and South Korean counterparts, has been closely monitoring North Korea after a string of high-profile and alarming moves within its nuclear infrastructure.

Related: How China could potentially stop a US strike on North Korea — without starting World War III

Most recently, Japan detected two missile launches in North Korea that exploded “within seconds” after takeoff, CNN reported. Before that, North Korea tested a “saturation attack” — a salvo of four missiles meant to overwhelm US and allied missile defenses — with much more success.

Jeffrey Lewis, founding publisher of Arms Control Wonk, told Business Insider that North Korea’s ultimate intention with its nuclear program is to create a thermonuclear weapon that can hit the mainland US.

Here’s how Marine Corps mortar crews get explosive rounds to fall right on top of an enemy over 1,000 meters away
The test-fire of Pukguksong-2. This photo was released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency on February 13. | KCNA/Handout

The increased pace of tests in 2017 shows North Korea is perhaps more serious than ever about hitting this goal, which it is increasingly moving closer to achieving.

Meanwhile, the US has openly floated military action against North Korea, which experts tell Business Insider could easily cost millions of lives and result in the first use of nuclear weapons since World War II.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Jimmy Carter offered to meet Kim Jong Un in North Korea for negotiations

Former President Jimmy Carter has offered to travel to North Korea to meet Kim Jong Un in a bid to break the diplomatic stalemate between Washington and Pyongyang over the denuclearization of the rogue state.

Representative Ro Khanna, a California Democrat, told Politico that the former president had expressed his willingness to travel to North Korea in a conversation on March 7, 2019.

“I think President Carter can help (President Trump) for the sake of the country,” Khanna later told CNN.


Carter was the first US president to travel to North Korea, visiting the country in 1994 to meet Kim’s grandfather, former leader Kim Il Sung. Carter’s visit helped to defuse the first North Korean nuclear crisis, paving the way for the Agreed Framework, in which North Korea agreed to give up its nuclear program in exchange for aid.

Jimmy Carter meets Kim Il-Sung (1994)

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He returned to the country in 2010, where he helped secure the release of American captive Aijalon Gomes.

In the interview with CNN, Khanna said that Carter’s experience negotiating with Kim’s grandfather would be an asset for the Trump administration, following the collapse of negotiations between Kim Jong Un and President Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam.

“I think it would be so profound because he could talk to Kim Jong Un about his grandfather and the framework he established,” Khanna said.

Khanna said that he and Carter had on March 7, 2019, been discussing plans to revive the denuclearization plans the former president brokered with Kim Il Sung, to develop a new joint framework for peace.

The Carter Centre and White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Carter seems to hold no great respect for Trump, and in an appearance on Stephen Colbert’s show in March 2018 agreed when the host said Trump’s election showed Americans were willing to elect a “jerk” as president. Trump meanwhile has derided Carter’s leadership and “everyman” image while in the White House.

President Jimmy Carter Is Still Praying For Donald Trump

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However, Carter has previously made efforts to broker a relationship with the administration, and was critical of hostile press coverage of Trump in October 2017, when he first offered to help Trump negotiate with Kim.

“I think the media have been harder on Trump than any other president certainly that I’ve known about,” Carter told New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.

“I think they feel free to claim that Trump is mentally deranged and everything else without hesitation.”

Then remarks were welcomed by Trump, who tweeted: “Just read the nice remarks by President Jimmy Carter about me and how badly I am treated by the press (Fake News).”

“Thank you Mr. President!”

The nuclear summit between Trump and Kim came unstuck when Kim demanded an end to US sanctions.

Analysts earlier in the week said that satellite imagery showed North Korea had started rebuilding a long-range missile launch site in the wake of the collapse of the negotiations.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

How US troops helped with the Thai cave rescue

Defense Department personnel continue to assist in the rescue operations in Thailand to evacuate the remaining four boys and their coach from a flooded cave system, the director of defense press operations said July 10, 2018.

The DOD effort consists of 42 deployed military personnel and one member from the Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group Thailand, Army Col. Rob Manning told reporters at the Pentagon.


“Coordination and interaction with Thai military, Thai government, and other multinational civilians and government entities remains extremely positive and effective,” he said.

U.S. personnel have staged equipment and prepared the first three chambers of the cave system for safe passage, he said. They are assisting in transporting the evacuees through the final chambers of the cave system, and are providing medical personnel and other technical assistance to the rescue efforts, he added.

Here’s how Marine Corps mortar crews get explosive rounds to fall right on top of an enemy over 1,000 meters away

Saman Kunan died while laying oxygen tanks for a potential rescue of the trapped boys.

(Facebook)

Multinational rescue effort

“We continue to fully support the multinational rescue effort and pray for the safe return of the remaining members of the team,” Manning said.

The soccer team and their coach entered the Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai province in northern Thailand on June 23, 2018, and were trapped by floodwaters. Eight boys have been rescued so far.

Manning paid tribute to former Thai Navy SEAL Saman Kunan, who died after delivering oxygen tanks in the cave.

“The death of the former Thai Navy SEAL illustrates the difficulty of this rescue,” Manning said. “His sacrifice will not be forgotten.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @usarmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Russia is presenting its new fighter as a cheap alternative to the F-35

A Russian lawmaker said that Su-57 stealth jets will be way cheaper than F-22s and F-35s, according to Sputnik, a Russian state-owned media outlet.

“The fifth-generation fighter jets are undoubtedly competing with US F-22s and F-35s, but it is considerably cheaper even though it has similar characteristics, while in some aspects, for example, maneuverability, it does better than the US jets,” Vladimir Gutenev, a member of State Duma’s expert panel on the aviation industry, told Sputnik.

Gutenev added that Su-57s will be two and a half times cheaper than F-22s and F-35s, even though the two US aircraft have different price tags and their prices range greatly.


Sputnik reported that F-22s cost 6.2 million and F-35s cost between and 8 million. The Pentagon published a report late last year, however, saying that F-22s cost 3 million, while Lockheed Martin published a report in June 2018 saying that F-35s cost between .3 and 2.4 million (depending on the variant).

Here’s how Marine Corps mortar crews get explosive rounds to fall right on top of an enemy over 1,000 meters away

Lockheed Martin F-35 “Lightning II”

The Russian lawmaker’s comments came after Moscow ordered a dozen Su-57s, which are expected to be delivered in 2019, Russian media reported.

But Russia is still testing the Su-57’s new Izdelie-30 engine, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency. Therefore, the Su-57 is still flying on the Su-35’s AL-41F1 engine, and cannot be considered a fifth-generation aircraft yet.

Gutenev also said Russia gained “additional information” about F-22s and F-35s from the Su-57s deployment to Syria.

“The time our four Su-57 aircraft spent in Syria definitely allowed us to get additional information on this aircraft’s ability to detect [using communications systems] US F-22 and F-35 aircraft which are operating in the same airspace,” Gutenev said, Sputnik reported.

While Russia may have learned “about Western air operations and capabilities in the shared skies over Syria,” Justin Bronk, an expert on aerial combat at the Royal United Services Institute, told Business Insider in early 2018, “that process goes both ways since whatever Russian military aircraft do is done within airspace heavily surveilled by Western assets.”

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The US Navy just sunk an old warship with new ship-killer missile

The littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords launched a Naval Strike Missile on Oct. 1, 2019, marking the first time the NSM has been fired in the Indo-Pacific region, the Navy told Insider.

The NSM, along with additional firepower from US and Singaporean forces, sank the decommissioned frigate USS Ford as part of an exercise with Singapore’s navy in the Philippine Sea on Oct. 1, 2019.

The Gabrielle Giffords, along with US Navy helicopters, ships, and submarines, and Singaporean navy ships, conducted the exercise as part of Pacific Griffin, a biennial exercise in the Pacific near Guam.


“LCS packs a punch and gives potential adversaries another reason to stay awake at night,” Rear Adm. Joey Tynch said in a statement. “We are stronger when we sail together with our friends and partners, and LCS is an important addition to the lineup.”

The NSM, made by Raytheon, is a stealthy long-range missile capable of hitting targets up to 100 nautical miles away. It flies at low altitudes and can rise and fall to follow the terrain, and it can evade missile-defense systems.

Read on to learn more about the Pacific Griffin exercise and the sinking of the USS Ford.

Here’s how Marine Corps mortar crews get explosive rounds to fall right on top of an enemy over 1,000 meters away

Independence-class littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 3rd Class Abby Rader)

This is the first time an NSM has been deployed to the 7th Fleet area of responsibility, and the Gabrielle Giffords is the first littoral combat ship to deploy with an NSM on board.

Eventually, the entire littoral-combat-ship (LCS) fleet will have NSMs aboard, CNN reported. The LCS fleet and NSMs will allow the US Navy to engage with China in the South China Sea.

With the NSM, “You can hit most areas in the South China Sea if you’re in the middle” of the sea, Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, told Insider.

Compared with China’s DF-21 “carrier-killer” missile, the NSM has a shorter range but better precision targeting, enabling it to destroy an enemy vessel rather than just damage it, as the DF-21 is built to do, Clark said.

Here’s how Marine Corps mortar crews get explosive rounds to fall right on top of an enemy over 1,000 meters away

An MH-60S Seahawk fires an AGM-114 Hellfire missile at the former USS Ford.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher A. Veloicaza)

An MH-60S Seahawk helicopter fired Hellfire missiles at the USS Ford.

The Hellfire missile is a precision-strike weapon and can be fired from airborne systems, like the MH-60S Seahawks used in Oct. 1, 2019’s SINKEX, or from vessels like an LCS.

B-52 bombers from the US Air Forces’ Expeditionary 69th Bomb Squadron also dropped ordnance during the exercise, and the Republic of Singapore multirole stealth frigates RSS Formidable and RSS Intrepid fired surface-to-surface Harpoon missiles at the Ford.

Here’s how Marine Corps mortar crews get explosive rounds to fall right on top of an enemy over 1,000 meters away

The USS Gabrielle Giffords launches a Naval Strike Missile at the decommissioned USS Gerald Ford.

(Screenshot via US Navy)

The Gabrielle Giffords is the first LCS to perform an integrated NSM mission in the Indo-Pacific region.

Littoral combat ships can carry MH-60R/S Seahawk helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) aboard, as well as Mark 110 57 mm guns and .50-caliber machine guns.

Many littoral combat ships have Harpoon missiles aboard, which don’t have the long range of the NSM.

Littoral combat ships are designed for use in the open ocean and closer to shore, in littoral waters. They typically perform mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare, and surface warfare, but they are capable of performing a variety of missions, according to the Navy.

Here’s how Marine Corps mortar crews get explosive rounds to fall right on top of an enemy over 1,000 meters away

The decommissioned USS Ford during a sinking exercise as part of Exercise Pacific Griffin 2019.

(Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific / US Navy)

The Navy follows very specific protocols when performing a so-called SINKEX.

Decommissioned vessels that are used in these kinds of exercises, like the Ford, are referred to as “hulks.”

They must be sunk in at least 6,000 feet of water and at least 50 nautical miles from land.

Before they’re sunk, they’re cleared of transformers and capacitors, as well as of trash, petroleum, and harmful chemicals like polychlorinated biphenyls and mercury, and materials containing fluorocarbons, according to a Navy release.

Watch the full video here:

USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) launches a Naval Strike Missile during exercise Pacific Griffin.

www.youtube.com

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

The relatable joys of having back pain under 30​

Back pain is something that 80% of adults are expected to experience at some point in their life. For some, it comes much, much earlier — and the advantages are endless!

It’s no secret that those who engage in manual labor from a young age are more susceptible to back pain. It makes sense then, that young vets are oh-so-lucky enough to be some of the chosen few with significant back pain while barely being young enough to crack open a cold one (legally).

Here are some of the fun benefits young back pain sufferers all experience!


Here’s how Marine Corps mortar crews get explosive rounds to fall right on top of an enemy over 1,000 meters away

You know what kinda day it’s gonna be the night before!

Most people have to spill coffee on themselves or pour a bowl of cereal before realizing they don’t have milk before they know they’re going to have an awful day. With chronic back pain, there’s no need to wait until 7am to figure that out — you’ll know by 2am at the latest! Your unending nightmare of discomfort will let you know that tomorrow will, in fact, suck.

What a treat to know in advance!

You’ll accrue advanced stretching knowledge!

Most under-30-year-olds know how to touch their toes. Maybe they’ll occasionally grab a foot and stretch out their quads before a run. Not those with chronic back pain! Those lucky sons of guns have advanced knowledge of stretches so intricate and strange-looking it would make the author of the Kama Sutra blush.

Here’s how Marine Corps mortar crews get explosive rounds to fall right on top of an enemy over 1,000 meters away

You’ll never need another excuse to avoid helping your friend move!

This one goes without saying. Gone are the days of saying, “Oh, uh, actually dude, I have to pickup my uncle from the airport” or “I would, but I actually told my girlfriend I would take her to shop for potted plants” or the vintage classic move of waiting until the day after and hitting them with, “I JUST got this text — still need help?” Nope. Now you can just tell them straight up you can’t help. Not you “won’t.” You physically cannot.

You get a desirable “dad bod” without even trying!

Okay so there’s not a lot of people that try to have a “dad bod.” But for those who do — it can be difficult. Luckily, with chronic back pain, you can get a dad bod before you even have children! Spend hours not being able to get out of your rolly chair. Be unable to go on light jogs without immediately experiencing immobilizing muscle spasms. Then, eat away your feelings through endless bags of Cool Ranch Doritos. It’s like having the opposite of your own personal Hollywood trainer.

You get the best seat in the house to watch your friends have fun!

You’re playing basketball with your friends, you drive in for a layup, nobody touches you, and then wham: your back completely locks up on you for no reason whatsoever. Now you can’t walk, let alone play. Sucks, right? Wrong.

Now you get to sit and watch all your friends air ball uncontested 3s — from the front row! Sound too good to be true? Don’t worry, it’ll happen plenty more times!

Here’s how Marine Corps mortar crews get explosive rounds to fall right on top of an enemy over 1,000 meters away

You can do a perfect impression of the AT-ATs from ‘Star Wars!’

Impressions are hard. Star Wars impressions are especially hard. Don’t believe me? Ask literally anyone to do an impression of Yoda. It will be terrible.

But with insane chronic back pain, you can constantly walk like an AT-AT! The lumbering, stiff, slow movement will wow all your friends. You’ll get the posture of C3P0 for free, too.

Here’s how Marine Corps mortar crews get explosive rounds to fall right on top of an enemy over 1,000 meters away

Oh my goodness.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

US Air Force wants to scrap old aircraft

The U.S. Air Force no longer wants to kick the can down the road on aging aircraft that may not be suitable for a fight against a near-peer adversary such as China or Russia.

More resources should be spent on state-of-the-art programs instead of sustaining old weapons and aircraft, multiple service officials said Sep 4, 2019, during the 2019 Defense News Conference.

“We have to divest some of the old to get to the new,” Lt. Gen. Timothy Fay, deputy chief of staff for strategy, integration and requirements, told audiences during a panel on Air Force program prioritization.


Fay said the service is prioritizing four major areas that its aircraft fleets will need to meet: multi-domain command and control, space, generated combat power, and logistics under attack.

Here’s how Marine Corps mortar crews get explosive rounds to fall right on top of an enemy over 1,000 meters away

A B-1B Lancer takes off March 3, 2015, during Red Flag 15-2 at Nellis Air Force Base.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Thomas Spangler)

As the Air Force drafts its upcoming budget request, it will keep those focuses in mind, he said. “We think those four areas move the needle,” he explained.

Earlier in the conference, Acting Air Force Secretary Matt Donovan said Defense Secretary Mark Esper has been open to “divesting of legacy capabilities that simply aren’t suited” for future battlefields.

“His guidance states that, ‘No reform is too small, too bold or too controversial to be considered,'” Donovan said. “The Air Force is leading the way with bold, and likely controversial, changes to our future budget. We need to shift funding and allegiance from legacy programs we can no longer afford due to their incompatibility with the future battlefields and [instead] into the capabilities and systems … required for victory. There’s no way around it.”

Following Donovan’s remarks, aviation geek enthusiasts posting on social media wondered: Does that mean getting rid of the A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft?

Here’s how Marine Corps mortar crews get explosive rounds to fall right on top of an enemy over 1,000 meters away

A-10 Thunderbolt II.

(U.S. Air Force photo)

“Short answer, no,” Fay said.

The beloved ground-support Warthog has had its ups and downs in recent years: The conversation to retire the aircraft began in 2014 by top brass who said the Warthog might not be survivable in a future fight. But in 2016, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that the A-10’s retirement would be delayed until 2022 after lawmakers complained that eliminating it would deprive the military of a “valuable and effective” close-air-support aircraft.

More congressional pushback followed to keep the A-10 flying for as long as possible. In July 2019, Boeing Co. won a 9 million contract to re-wing up to 112 new A-10 wing assemblies and provide up to 15 wing kits.

That doesn’t mean sustaining older platforms isn’t taking a toll on the Air Force, Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, said Sep. 4, 2019.

“It’s been shocking to me how much hard work the Air Force puts into sustainment programs,” he said during the Air Force panel. “A lot of our programs are in sustainment long past the original design life … and we’re having to do Herculean tasks to keep airplanes flying that should have been retired a long time ago.”

If the Air Force continues to keep less-than-capable fleets that won’t survive a contested environment, it will not have adequate resources to devote to new programs, he said.

“They need to have an expiration date. … We want to be a cutting-edge Air Force working on the pediatric side of the hospital, not the geriatric side,” Roper said.

The Air Force has been pouring money into more than one overtasked aircraft fleet in recent years.

The B-1B Lancer fleet, for example, has been undergoing extensive maintenance for the past few months after the service overcommitted its only supersonic heavy payload bomber to operations in the Middle East over the last decade. The repeated deployments caused the aircraft to deteriorate more quickly than expected, Gen. Tim Ray, head of Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC), said in the spring.

Here’s how Marine Corps mortar crews get explosive rounds to fall right on top of an enemy over 1,000 meters away

U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer

(U.S. Air Force photo by Brian Ferguson)

“Normally, you would commit — [with] any bomber or any modern combat aircraft — about 40 percent of the airplanes in your possession as a force, [not including those] in depot,” he explained April 17, 2019. “We were probably approaching the 65 to 70 percent commit rate [for] well over a decade.”

The B-1’s mission-capable rate — the ability to conduct operations at any given time — is 51.75%, according to fiscal 2018 estimates, Air Force Times recently reported. By comparison, its bomber cousins, the B-2 Spirit and B-52 Stratofortress, have mission-capable rates of 60.7% and 69.3%, respectively.

As of August 2019, there were only seven fully mission-capable B-1 bombers ready to deploy, AFGSC said.

The Air Force has managed to kill some aircraft programs despite congressional pushback.

Through the fiscal 2019 defense budget, the service officially put to bed the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System recapitalization effort, convincing lawmakers to think beyond a single-platform program in favor of an elite system that will fuse intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensor data from around the world.

As a result, the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act granted additional funding for the next-generation system, known as the Advanced Battle Management System, in lieu of a new JSTARS fleet.

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

Articles

Pentagon chief says military is stronger 5 years after ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal

In a statement marking the 5th anniversary of the repeal of the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law that barred gay men and women from serving openly in the military, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said today’s military is stronger than ever since the repeal.


“I am proud to report that five years after the implementation of the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ our military, drawn from a cross-section of America, is stronger than ever and continues to exemplify the very best that our great nation has to offer,” Carter said. “The American people can take pride in how the Department of Defense and the men and women of the United States military have implemented this change with the dignity, respect, and excellence expected of the finest fighting force the world has ever known.”

Carter expressed optimism as the military continues to become more inclusive.

“As the memory of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ fades further into the past, and we move forward together to face new challenges,” he added, “we recognize that openness to diversity and reaching out in a spirit of renewed inclusiveness will strengthen our military and enhance our nation’s security.”

Also today, the Pentagon’s personnel chief  released a letter to service members, families and veterans, encouraging people who received less-than-honorable discharges from the military based solely on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and its precursor laws and policies to seek a correction of their records.

“If there is something in your record of service that you believe unjust, we have proven and effective policies and procedures to by which to consider and correct such errors,” acting Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel Peter Levine wrote. “‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is a vestige of our past and I encourage you to honor the 5th anniversary of the Department’s implementation of its repeal by coming forward and requesting a correction.”

Articles

These US soldiers spent Christmas Eve raining hell on ISIS

On Christmas Eve, Soldiers in Staff Sgt. Johnathan Walker’s section shiver as freezing rain falls upon their position.


U.S Army Soldiers with Battery C, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, Task Force Strike, load a round into M777 artillery piece to support the Iraqi security forces during the Mosul counter offensive, Dec. 24, 2016, in northern Iraq. Battery C is supporting the ISF with indirect fires in their fight against ISIL. (Photo Credit: 1st Lt. Daniel Johnson) U.S Army Soldiers with Battery C, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, Task Force Strike, load a round into M777 artillery piece to support the Iraqi security forces during the Mosul counter offensive, Dec. 24, 2016, in northern Iraq. Battery C is supporting the ISF with indirect fires in their fight against ISIL. (Photo Credit: 1st Lt. Daniel Johnson)

“Fire!” yells Walker as he makes a cutting motion through the rain with his hand. A round leaves the tube of the M777 artillery piece with its trademark boom and smoke, and the artillerymen begin to move again. The sounds of their boots impacting the mud and gravel echo through the gun pit.

It may be the holiday season, but the mission for the Soldiers of Battery C, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, Task Force Strike, continues. The Iraqi Security Forces are battling ISIL in Mosul, and the artillerymen are supporting them with indirect fires.

U.S Army Soldiers with Battery C, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, Task Force Strike, execute a fire mission to support the Iraqi security forces during the Mosul counter-offensive, Dec. 24, 2016, in northern Iraq. Battery C is supporting the ISF with indirect fires in their fight against the ISIL. (Photo Credit: 1st Lt. Daniel Johnson) U.S Army Soldiers with Battery C, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, Task Force Strike, execute a fire mission to support the Iraqi security forces during the Mosul counter-offensive, Dec. 24, 2016, in northern Iraq. Battery C is supporting the ISF with indirect fires in their fight against the ISIL. (Photo Credit: 1st Lt. Daniel Johnson)

“We provide overmatch capability to the maneuver commander,” explained Sgt. 1st Class Scott Young, the platoon sergeant of 2nd Platoon, Battery C, during his rounds of the gun line. “When air support isn’t available, either due to weather or not having the assets in the area, we can bring effects onto targets. As long as there is an observer out there, we can shoot.”

“Task Force Top Guns” has provided fire support for the Iraqi Security Forces ever since arriving in early May. The battery has fired more than 4,000 rounds in support of their maneuvers.

They’re also credited with conducting the first conventional air assault mission during Operation Inherent Resolve, during which they rapidly moved artillery pieces by air to establish a new firing position. At the completion of the fires, the guns were moved back to their starting location.

“We’ve denied territory so the enemy can’t maneuver, obscured friendly movements, and we have precision capability, which is critical in this fight,” Young said, pointing in the direction of Mosul to emphasize his point.

“If there is a target in a built-up area, we can hit it while minimizing damage to the surrounding area. We pride ourselves on our accuracy.”

U.S. Army Sgt. Scott Martineau, Battery C, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, Task Force Strike, moves towards his position on an M777 howitzer during a fire mission to support the security forces during the Mosul counteroffensive, Dec. 25, 2016, in northern Iraq. Battery C is supporting the ISF with indirect fires in their fight against ISIL. (Photo Credit: 1st Lt. Daniel Johnson) U.S. Army Sgt. Scott Martineau, Battery C, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, Task Force Strike, moves towards his position on an M777 howitzer during a fire mission to support the security forces during the Mosul counteroffensive, Dec. 25, 2016, in northern Iraq. Battery C is supporting the ISF with indirect fires in their fight against ISIL. (Photo Credit: 1st Lt. Daniel Johnson)

The rain picks up and a slight fog takes shape in the distance as Walker’s crew awaits their next command. The weather has changed in Iraq, and the Soldiers have switched from their summer lightweight combat shirts to multiple layers in an attempt to stave off the wind-chill.

“Fire mission at my command,” comes the transmission over the radio, and the artillerymen spring into action, beginning the crew drill to load the artillery piece, just as they have done for the past eight months. The Soldiers move quickly through their tasks, and Walker gives the signal once more. Another boom reverberates in the pit.

“It feels good to know that we’re being called on to support the fight and we’re having an effect,” Walker said in between missions. During each crew drill, he encourages his men to keep up the effort. “That’s the reason why we’re out here. We do everything with a sense of urgency and there’s no room for mistakes.”

Battery C has received multiple calls for fires as the Iraqi Security Forces have moved deeper and deeper into Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq and the site of a major operation with the goal of liberating the city. ISIL has been dug into the city for two years.

“There’s a lot more variables in weather like this,” said Walker. “People move a little slower, the rounds are slippery, and morale may drop. It’s the job of crew chiefs on the line to keep on pushing the sections to complete the mission. Rain or shine, when we get the call, we have to react.”

The radio sounds soon after, and the artillerymen are once again called to action.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Female Marines have arrived at the Combat Training Battalion

For the first time in Marine Corps history, women are attending a previously male-only combat training course in California.


Marine Capt. Joshua Pena said 40 female Marine students checked-in March 6, 2018, to the Marine Combat Training Battalion at Camp Pendleton.

The move comes at least seven months after senior Marine leaders said they were considering the change, amid criticism that much of the early training excludes women.

Also read: 5 things you didn’t know about the first female Marines

The entry-level course is for Marines who’ve finished boot camp and aren’t assigned to infantry jobs. It lasts about a month and involves basic combat training, including patrol and convoy operations, marksmanship, and the use of grenade launchers and machine guns.

Here’s how Marine Corps mortar crews get explosive rounds to fall right on top of an enemy over 1,000 meters away
U.S. Marine Corps recruits run 800 meters during an initial Combat Fitness Test on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., May 13, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Pete Thibodeau)

Pena said the female Marines will be fully integrated with the men, and that their inclusion triggered no changes to the course instruction. He said that, eventually, as many as 1,700 women would go through the combat training there each year.

Currently, Marine boot camp on the West Coast is only for male recruits. Women attend boot camp at Parris Island in South Carolina, where they are separated from the men for portions of the training. Congress members have been critical of that policy, and the Corps has been reviewing it.

Related: Some Marines say first female infantry officer will face backlash in fleet

Until now, half of the Marine Corps’ male recruits would go through their initial training on the West Coast where they had no female colleagues. A key reason for the limits is the shortage of female recruits. Women make up just 8.7 percent of the Corps.

But Marine leaders have been eyeing changes with the belief that giving the men greater exposure to women recruits during training could foster better relations and greater respect over time.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 of the best things that can happen while you’re in the field

When you’re infantry, your life is going out on field operations to train for war or, you know, actually going to war. Field ops, in short, can be miserable. It’s always raining, you have to eat garbage in a pouch, and there’s that one staff NCO who won’t let up on being a d*ck about grooming standards. That being said, there are little things that happen out there every so often that make things just a little more bearable.

You’re going to eat, breathe, train, and sleep in the rain and the mud for days on end. But sometimes, your battalion will have mercy on your poor grunt soul and deploy some niceties that will restore that waning glimmer of hope.

Here are some of those things:


Here’s how Marine Corps mortar crews get explosive rounds to fall right on top of an enemy over 1,000 meters away

One of the only lines you enjoy waiting in.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Skyler Tooker)

Hot chow

You’ll go on plenty of field ops where you’re given a load of MREs to pack away and eat when you get the time. The hot meals you get in the field might not be gourmet, but after a week of eating the packaged dogsh*t (and despite the fact that by the time it gets to you it’s just a warm meal) you’ll appreciate it immensely.

Here’s how Marine Corps mortar crews get explosive rounds to fall right on top of an enemy over 1,000 meters away

The type of ride doesn’t matter, as long as you’re not walking.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher J. Moore)

Transportation

It sucks carrying an additional half of your own body weight on your back as you move between training areas. Every once in a while, your battalion will score some transportation to save your knees from that future VA disability claim. If this happens halfway through your op, it’s honestly a better blessing than getting hot chow.

Here’s how Marine Corps mortar crews get explosive rounds to fall right on top of an enemy over 1,000 meters away

Much better than sleeping in a tent, even.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael Cossaboom)

Overhead shelter

Nothing shows that your battalion or company commander cares like securing indoor sleeping arrangements. It’s not very common, and it’ll probably only happen when you’re training in an urban environment, but when it does, you’ll find yourself appreciating command a whole lot more.

Lower enlisted grunts will still complain about it, though. They’ll find a reason, trust us.

Here’s how Marine Corps mortar crews get explosive rounds to fall right on top of an enemy over 1,000 meters away

These people are angels.

(Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

The Gut Truck

Probably the best thing to hear someone in the field announcing is, “The Gut Truck is here!” That’s because it’s essentially a mobile post-exchange, which means you can buy snacks and — even cigarettes in some cases. Hopefully you brought cash, though. Otherwise, you might not get sh*t.

Here’s how Marine Corps mortar crews get explosive rounds to fall right on top of an enemy over 1,000 meters away

The hike back doesn’t seem so bad, huh?

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mozer O. Da Cunha)

Leaving early

This is, essentially, a unicorn. It rarely happens, if it ever does. In fact, you’ll more often see your op get extended rather than cut short. If this does happen, it’s usually because of unsafe weather conditions, but there are those once-in-a-lifetime moments when a battalion commander is so impressed with the performance of their grunts that they reward them by pulling them back to garrison.

MIGHTY HISTORY

What happened to the German mercenaries who fought against the American Revolution

Everyone knows about the famous crossing of the Delaware, where General Washington surprised the Hessians in the darkness of late Christmas Day. But who were the infamous Hessians that Washington and his men killed and wounded by the score? And what happened to the ones who didn’t get killed by the Continental Army? As it turns out, Hessian mercenaries liked freedom as much as any other colonial immigrant, because many just stuck around.


Which was fine after the war, but during the war they were very unwelcome – because looting people’s homes is a real turn off.

Here’s how Marine Corps mortar crews get explosive rounds to fall right on top of an enemy over 1,000 meters away

Not the first time Americans would have to put Germans in their place. And not the last.

The Hessians were not technically mercenaries but contract armies fighting for Britain from the German states of Hesse- Cassel and Hesse-Hanau. Though German troops contracted under British control came from other principalities, they were referred to as “Hessians” as a whole by the colonists. Britain used Hessian troops to control large populations, especially in Ireland and the American Colonies. The use of these troops was one of the reasons the Americans would declare their independence from the crown. Though more than capable fighters, the British used them as guards and garrison troops, which is how they found themselves when Washington surprised them that Christmas night.

When Hessians were captured, especially after the Battle of Trenton, they would be paraded through the streets. The colonists’ anger toward their mother country using “foreign mercenaries” to subdue them was infuriating and increased military enlistments for the Continental Army. They would then be used as a source of labor while they were prisoners of war, often working on farms. The Continental Congress also offered each Hessian who would defect to the American cause 50 acres of land for their effort.

Here’s how Marine Corps mortar crews get explosive rounds to fall right on top of an enemy over 1,000 meters away

What Hessians see when they aren’t defecting.

Many German troops ended up in Lancaster, Penn. working alongside the Pennsylvania Dutch, who, by nature, treated the Germans very well. In all, German POWs had such a great experience in American farms and fields that they would sometimes join the Continental Army. Some 30,000 men came from German states to fight against the American Revolution. While more than 7,500 of them died in the fighting, the rest did not and when it came time to go home, many didn’t want to go.

So they stayed.

Only an estimated 17,300 of the original 30,000 Hessian soldiers opted to return to their principalities in the German states. The rest decided to make their way in the new United States or head to Canada to try out a new life up there. Life in the armies of German princes was not always so good and the troops were not always well-paid for their efforts. Starting a new life in a country where their future was their own to make was a natural step for many of the well-trained, hardworking Germans.

They could finally celebrate Christmas without worrying about Americans surprising them in their sleep.