Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support

General Atomics-Aeronautical Systems has received a $39.6 million contract to provide MQ-9 Reapers to a Marine advisory unit in Afghanistan for air overwatch and reconnaissance, according to Pentagon announcements.

The Reapers, the first Group 5 unmanned aerial systems to be assigned exclusively to a Marine unit, may arrive in theater very soon, documents show. Group 5 is the largest class of UAS and includes platforms such as the RQ-4 Global Hawk and MQ-4C Triton.


According to the contract announcement, General Atomics contractors, not Marines, will operate the systems in Afghanistan. The award was first reported June 27, 2018, by The Drive.

While Task Force Southwest, a small contingent of several hundred Marines on the ground in Helmand Province, Afghanistan is primarily charged with providing advice and assistance to Afghan National Security Forces in their fight with local Taliban elements, a significant portion of the unit’s work involves coordinating strikes on enemy targets using UAS.

When Military.com visited the unit in December 2017 and toured its operations center, Marines coordinated three deadly strikes in a single morning, using small ScanEagle drones to identify targets and Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons to drop ordnance to take them out.

Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support
F-16 Fighting Falcon

“This is what we do on a daily basis, is provide overwatch,” Capt. Brian Hubert, battle captain for Task Force Southwest, told Military.com at the time. “And then also, there’s a little bit of advising, because we will call them and say, ‘Hey, think about doing this, or we see you doing this, that looks good, you should go here.’ We’re trying to get them to the point where eventually, with their Afghan Air Force, they can do all themselves.”

Having Reapers, which can fly at top speeds of 300 miles per hour and can carry more than 3,700 pounds of ordnance, including Hellfire missiles, GBU-12 Paveway II bombs and GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, would allow the Marine task force to operate more independently rather than depending on other units for deadly force from the air.

“Task Force Southwest currently uses Group 5 [Unmanned Aerial Systems] extensively when they are provided from available assets in theater,” Brig. Gen. Benjamin Watson, commander of the task force, told Military.com in January 2018. “An organic Group 5 UAS capability will give us more capacity to assist our Afghan partners as they conduct continuous offensive operations against the enemy in Helmand province.”

Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support
An MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle flies a combat mission over southern Afghanistan.
(U.S. Air Force photo)

As an additional benefit, having the Reapers available may help the Marines prepare to receive and operate their own Group 5 drone, the MUX, which is now in the requirements phase.

That system, which will be designed to take off vertically from a ship and provide surveillance and network capabilities from the air, is planned to reach initial operational capability around 2027.

The contract award notice for the Reapers does not specify when the systems will arrive in Afghanistan. Earlier solicitations called for the capability by March 2018. But all work on the contract is set to be completed by November 2018, the announcement states.

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

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Shanahan extends US deployment to Mexican border

US troops deployed to the US-Mexico border will remain there until at least the end of September 2019, the Pentagon revealed in an emailed statement Jan. 14, 2019.

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who took over for former Secretary of Defense James Mattis at the beginning of 2019 has approved Department of Defense assistance to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through Sept. 30, 2019.


The decision was made in response to a DHS request submitted in late December 2018.

The initial deployment, which began in October 2018 as “Operation Faithful Patriot” (since renamed “border support”), was expected to end on Dec. 15, 2018. The mission had previously been extended until the end of January 2019.

Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support

U.S. Marines with the 7th Engineer Support Battalion, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force 7, walk along the California-Mexico border at the Andrade Point of Entry in Winterhaven, California, Nov.30, 2018.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ethan Valetski)

Thousands of active-duty troops, nearly six thousand at the operation’s peak, were sent to positions in California, Texas, and Arizona to harden points of entry, laying miles and miles of concertina wire. The number of troops at the southern border, where thousands of Central American migrants wait in hopes of entering the US, has dropped significantly since the operation began.

The Department of Defense is transitioning the support provided from securing ports of entry to mobile surveillance and detection activities, according to the Pentagon’s emailed statement. Troops will offer aviation support, among other services.

Shanahan has also given his approval for deployed troops to put up another 115 miles of razor wire between ports of entry to limit illegal crossings, according to ABC News.

Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support

U.S. Marines with 7th Engineer Support Battalion, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force 7, secure concertina and barbed wire near the California-Mexico border at the Andrade Port of Entry in California, Nov. 29, 2018.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Asia J. Sorenson)

The extension of the border mission was expected after a recent Cabinet meeting. “We’re doing additional planning to strengthen the support that we’re providing to Kirstjen and her team,” Shanahan said, making a reference to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Military.com reported early January 2019.

“We’ve been very, very closely coupled with Kirstjen,” he added. “The collaboration has been seamless.”

The cost of the Trump administration’s border mission, condemned by critics as a political stunt, is expected to rise to 2 million by the end of this month, CNN reported recently.

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

Articles

Here’s an inside look at North Korea’s ballistic missile inventory

North Korea’s been carrying out a lot of missile tests. And according to the latest info, April 16’s test was another flop. So, what are we looking at with these launches? What is being tested?


The fact is, the North Koreans have been really making a lot of missiles. So, here’s a scorecard to tell the Nodongs from the Taepodongs (which sound like the names of villains from an adult film starring Jay Voom).

Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support
Map showing the ranges some North Korean ballistic missiles can reach. (Graphic from Wikimedia Commons)

North Korea’s missile inventory started out with the Scud – that V-2 knockoff the Soviets produced and then exported to their allies and a lot of the globe’s most disreputable citizens, including Saddam Hussein, Moammar Qaddafi, the Hafez al-Assad regime (where they were passed down to Bashir al-Assad), and the Iranians.

North Korea developed advanced versions of the Scud, known as the Hwasong-5, Hwadong-6, and Hwasong-7 missiles. These missiles were widely exported from Cuba to Myanmar. The Center for Strategic and International Studies notes that the Hwasong-5 has a range of 186 miles, and can deliver 2,170 pounds of explosives. The Hwasong-6 and Hwasong-7 are longer-range variants that trade payload for more range.

Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support
Syria owns Scud-B, Scud-C, Scud-D, and variants of the Hwasong missile (similar to the North Korean variant pictured here). (Photo: KCNA)

Bad enough, right? Well, the North Koreans didn’t leave well enough alone. They made an improved version that South Korean and American media called the Nodong. The Nodong is a modified Scud able to send 2,750 pounds of high explosive warhead almost 1,000 miles away, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

North Korea’s been developing other missiles, including the Taepo-dong series. The Taepo-dong 1 is a missile with a range of up to 3,106 miles. The Taepo-dong 2 is an ICBM able to reach over 9,300 miles away.

Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support
Center for Strategic and International Studies/Missile Defense Project

The North Koreans are also developing the KN-08, a road-mobile ICBM, with a range of almost 7,150 miles, and the KN-14, a regular ICBM with a range of over 6,200 miles. Shorter-range missiles are also in development, including the KN-15, which blew less than 15 seconds into its launch on April 15 of this year, and the BM-25 Musudan.

Of course, North Korea’s had problems getting its Nodongs up recently so, this scorecard could be subject to change. But this should give you a rough roadmap to the North Korean missiles that they may – or may not – get up in the future.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Military assists 50,000 US citizens after super typhoon

More than 500 service members from Joint Region Marianas and other units from within Indo-Pacific Command assigned to Task Force-West (TF-W) are providing Department of Defense support to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands’ (CNMI) civil and local officials as part of the FEMA-supported Super Typhoon Yutu recovery efforts, which began Oct. 25, 2018, immediately following the storm.

“We are working alongside the people of CNMI to help recover and ensure people get the assistance they need,” said Navy Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, commander of TF-W. “I am extremely proud of the hard work and dedication I’ve seen from my team, both on Saipan and Tinian, and I know they will continue to put forth their best effort until contributions from the DoD are no longer needed.”


Super Typhoon Yutu was the strongest typhoon to hit a U.S. territory and was the second-strongest system to hit U.S. soil in recorded history, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Category 5 super typhoon had sustained winds of 178 mph, which devastated much of Saipan and Tinian.

Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support

A U.S. Army Reserve Soldier embraces a resident standing in line at a Point of Distribution in Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Nov. 3, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. JT May III)

“Ensuring the health and safety of our family following the storm is our top priority,” said Governor Ralph DLG. Torres. “This is the worst storm anyone in the CNMI has ever seen, and we must ensure we take care of each other. We are grateful for the partnership we have with FEMA and our military partners on island to help us during this difficult time. To our federal and military partners, Si Yu’us Ma’ase for your continued support; thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support

Sailors assigned to Landing Craft Utility 1634, attached to Naval Beach Unit 7 forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japan, embarked aboard amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland, direct a solider assigned to the Guam Army National Guard as she drives to pick up supplies for Super Typhoon Yutu recovery effort.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kory Alsberry)

More than 50,000 residents on Saipan and Tinian are coming together with outside entities to recover from the destruction caused by Super Typhoon Yutu.

“The CNMI government, American Red Cross, FEMA and the DoD are prioritizing life-saving and life-sustaining missions throughout the designated islands of CNMI,” said Bern Ruiz, FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer for FEMA, the U.S. government’s domestic emergency response agency. “We are focused on restoring community lifelines and working to ensure food, water, medical, and critical supplies are available in sufficient quantity.”

Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support

Guam Army National Guard soldiers land on Saipan via C-130 to provide support operations for those affected by Super Typhoon Yutu, Nov. 5, 2018.

During Defense Support to Civil Authorities (DSCA) operations, the U.S. military provides essential support to American citizens affected by declared natural disasters. With FEMA as the lead Federal agency, TF-W continues to partner with civil and local agencies to perform debris clearance on public lands and assist with distribution of water and food to people in need.

Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support

U.S. airmen offload a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle from a C-130 transport plane so it can be used to move supplies to the citizens of Saipan after Super Typhoon Yutu, Nov. 4, 2018.

“To the people of CNMI: we stand here with you during this time of crisis,” said Chatfield. “Your military is here to help. We are Marianas Strong.”

TF-W is a joint task force. It is divided into Task Group Saipan and Task Group Tinian, and is comprised of active duty, reserve, and Guam National Guard service members from more than 20 different units across every branch of service. Service members traveled from Japan, Guam, Hawaii, and parts of the continental U.S. as part of TF-W’s DSCA mission. TF-W is providing DoD support to the CNMI civil and local officials as part of the FEMA-supported Typhoon Yutu recovery efforts.

This article originally appeared on the United States Navy. Follow @USNavy on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is what you should know about the return of the ‘pinks and greens’

The U.S. Army may be digging its iconic “pinks and greens” out of the WWII-era tough box.


Premiering at the annual AUSA meeting held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C., soldiers were walking around the conference floors wearing several variations on the “pinks and greens” dress uniform.

The “pinks and greens” were the standard U.S. Army service uniform during WWII. In 1954, the Army transitioned to just greens until 2007, when then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. Schoomaker debuted the Continental Army-inspired dress blues at the State of the Union Address. Despite the slacks and shirt not being an actual shade of pink, olive drab shade 54 made from rose wool, it’s referred to as pink. If you squint at it just right, you could probably say that it’s pink.

Some wore folding caps while some wore service caps. Some female soldiers displayed skirts, some pants. Female soldiers will now have ties. Still no sighting of the iconic belt around the coat.

Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support

Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Daily told Army Times that this would be a buffer between the combat and service uniforms. Army Service Uniforms would be bumped up to ceremonial with an option for dinner dress. The pinks and greens would add another layer of formality and offer an alternative to camouflage in the Army Combat Uniform.

Meaning every day wear of the “pinks and greens” — and how the Army would wear the current uniforms — is probably similar to how the Marine Corps currently wears their service uniforms.

The Marine Corps’ mandarin-collared Blue Dress Uniform would be how the Army would wear its blues to formal events that would require the wear of a tuxedo.

The Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform (MCCUU) still remains the typical working uniform, while their service uniform is equivalent to a business suit. Marines are not permitted to wear their MCCUUs on leave; they wear their service uniform instead.

Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support
And damn do Marines look sharp as hell when they’re on leave. (Photo by Cpl. Brianna Gaudi)

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Dailey also said that soldiers wouldn’t have to pay for them. He said “Enlisted soldiers don’t pay for uniforms. They’re in your clothing allowance.” Whether lower enlisted need to actually spend their clothing allowance on what its meant for is still not clarified (which means if you are a lower enlisted soldier reading this, don’t spend it on booze and video games just yet.)

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is the full text of Secretary Mattis’ resignation letter.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced that he will be resigning from his role in February. His letter of resignation was released by the Pentagon just minutes after President Trump said on Twitter that Mattis was retiring.

For the President’s tweet and Secretary Mattis’ full resignation letter, please read below:


Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support

(Department of Defense photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

Dear Mr. President:

I have been privileged to serve as our country’s 26th Secretary of Defense which has allowed me to serve alongside our men and women of the Department in defense of our citizens and our ideals.

I am proud of the process that has been made over the past two years on some of the key goals articulated in our National Defense Strategy: putting the Department on a more sound budgetary footing, improving readiness and lethality in our forces, and reforming the Department’s business practices for greater performance. Our troops continue to provide the capabilities needed to prevail in conflict and sustain strong U.S. global influence.

One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliance and partnerships. While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies. Like you, I have said from the beginning that the armed forces of the United States should not be the policeman of the world. Instead, we must use all tools of American woes to prove for the common defense, including proving effective leadership to our alliances. NATO’s 29 democracies demonstrated that strength in their commitment to fighting alongside us following the 9-11 attack on America. The Defeat-ISIS coalition of 74 nations is further proof.

Similarly, I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours: It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model — gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions — to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies. That is why we must use all the tools of American power to provide for the common defense.

My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity, and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.

Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my positions. The end date for my tenure is February 28, 2019, a date that should allow sufficient time for a successor to be nominated and confirmed as well as to make sure the Department’s interests are properly articulated and protected at upcoming events to include Congressional posture hearings and the NATO Defense Ministerial meeting in February. Further, that a full transition to a new Secretary of Defense occurs well in advance of the transition of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September in order to ensure stability within the Department.

I pledge my full effort to a smooth transition that ensure the needs and interests of the 2.15 million Service Members and 732.079 DoD civilians receive undistracted attention of the Department at all times so that they can fulfill their critical, round-the-clock missions to protect the American people.I very much appreciate this opportunity to serve the nation and our men and women in uniform.
Signed, James N. Mattis
MIGHTY TACTICAL

America’s first jet fighter was made by a company known for helicopters today

Today, Bell is a company known for its UH-1 Iroquois and AH-1 Cobra helicopters, but Bell was once much more than a helicopter company. The corporation built front-line fighters during World War II and was also responsible for making America’s first jet fighter.

The P-59 Airacomet was never much more than a flying testbed. It had an armament that consisted of three M2 .50-caliber machine guns and a single 37mm cannon — the latter being a common feature in Bell’s primary propeller-driven fighters, the P-39 Airacobra and the P-63 Kingcobra. The P-59 was also able to haul a fair load for air-to-ground ass-kicking, in the form of either two 1,000-pound bombs or eight 60-pound rockets.

The P-59, however, would make its greatest impact without ever firing a shot at the enemy.


By the early 1940s, both the Germans and the British were pursuing jet technology, having flown experimental jets before. According to aviation historian Joe Baugher, General Henry Arnold saw England’s E-28/39 jet in 1941 and asked if the Americans could use the then-groundbreaking technology. The British gladly handed it over, and General Electric was given the task of building the engine.

Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support

While Bell is known for its helicopters today, during World War II, they built fighters.

(USAF)

Bell, which was located next to GE’s jet engine plant, then got the contract to build the jet fighter around the new engine. The process was kept very secret — a “black project.” The project was dubbed XP-59, a designation recycled from an older Bell design for a propeller-driven fighter that had a “pusher” arrangement. That design was modified to carry two J31 turbojet engines.

Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support

In addition to the three .50-caliber machine guns and the 37mm cannon, the Airacomet carried eight 60-pound rockets or two 1,000-pound bombs.

(USAF)

The Airacomet never made it to the front lines. Despite being technologically advanced, it just didn’t have the performance needed to join the fight. The two jets were heavy and while it had a top speed of 413 miles per hour, its range was very short. On internal fuel alone, the P-59 only could go 240 miles. External tanks more than doubled its range (carrying it up to 520 miles), but a P-51 Mustang could go as far as 2,300 miles.

Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support

The pilots who flew the P-59 didn’t see combat, but did learn lessons that paid off for pilots of more advanced jets down the road.

(USAF)

The P-59, despite never seeing combat, was very valuable for the United States. It taught pilots how to fly jets — and this experience that would pay off big time when more practical aircraft emerged for the United States Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force.

Learn more about this jet-powered pioneer the video below!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrXNGAIYE3I

www.youtube.com

Articles

The Marine Corps is offering PhDs to officers in exchange for 6 more years of service

The US Marine Corps wants to add another title in front of some of its officers’ ranks: Doctor.


The service is establishing two pilot programs to offer qualified majors through lieutenant colonels with a doctorate-level education on the Corps’ dime, as long as they agree to stay in the service for an additional six years.

The program’s goal is to develop a “cohort of strategic thinkers and technical leaders capable of applying substantive knowledge, directing original research, and leveraging relationships with industry and elements of national security … to achieve the innovative thinking desired by the Marine Corps,” according to the announcement August 3.

“Uniformed doctorates provide the Marine Corps deployable, highly-skilled manpower in support of senior leader decision-making as well as helping generate national, defense, and service strategies in an increasingly complex world.”

Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support
An airman works on shaping a bridge as part of a doctorate program. USAF photo by Airman 1st Class Kevin west.

The pilot will likely be competitive, since only four officers will ultimately be picked; two will be required to pursue a doctorate in strategic affairs, while two others will be required to attend a doctoral program with a technical focus.

Applicants will be required to already have a masters degree, or currently be pursuing one if they are applying for the technical doctorate.

The Corps wants officers to get technical degrees in operations research, modeling virtual environments and simulation (MOVES), information sciences, or computer science, the announcement says. Strategy degrees should be geared toward  national security, military history, public policy, political science, government, or some other related field.

Applications are being accepted until the end of August 2017.

Articles

Freeze-dried plasma is now battlefield ready

Since hemorrhage is the leading cause of preventable death in combat casualties, Air Force Special Operations Command is improving access to blood products on the battlefield.


Freeze-dried plasma is one of them.

Plasma contains coagulation factors, which are critical to the clotting process in the body. These need to be replaced during severe bleeding, said Lt. Col. Rebecca Carter, the AFSOC chief of medical modernization.

Normal blood is comprised of roughly 45 percent red blood cells, 50 percent plasma, and 5 percent white blood cells and platelets.

Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support

“The freeze-dried product is pathogen reduced and all white blood cells have been removed,” Carter said. “This greatly reduces the chance of a transfusion or allergic reaction.”

Carter said the typical plasma used in the U.S. doesn’t work well in a deployed environment.

“This liquid product requires freezing. Once thawed, it has a dramatically shortened shelf life,” she said. “The requirement to freeze and maintain this temperature makes the product impractical for battlefield use.”

Carter said preparing freeze-dried plasma is easy and straight forward.

“The kit comes with the freeze-dried product and, separately, sterile water for injection,” she said. “The medic takes the enclosed dual spike, inserts it into the sterile water and places the other end of the spike into the freeze-dried bottle while gently swirling. Then, the product will be available to infuse within three to five minutes.”

Before use, plasma is screened for infectious diseases, to include hepatitis and HIV, among others, Carter said.

“Each medical provider will be fully trained to administer it,” she said. “Personnel will decide if they wish to receive the product or not, if the circumstances happen to arise.”

Freeze-dried plasma isn’t brand new or experimental.

U.S. Army Special Operations Command was the first to deploy with freeze-dried plasma. Marine Special Operations Command and Navy Special Warfare Units are following suit, along with AFSOC.

The medical modernization team was crucial to this effort, said Col. Lee Harvis, the AFSOC command surgeon.

“They rapidly transform user needs from concept to development, equipping our medical personnel so they can provide the highest quality care under very austere conditions,” he said. “The instant a gap is identified, they investigate ways to field solutions.”

They strive for maximum utility with the smallest footprint, Harvis said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

There will be a new temporary memorial in the National Mall this year

A temporary memorial installation is coming to the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, D.C. this Memorial Day weekend, courtesy of USAA and the National Park Service.

The Poppy Memorial is a translucent structure that measures 133 feet long, 8 1/2 feet tall and is filled with more than 645,000 poppy flowers — honoring every man and woman that gave their life in service of our nation since World War I.


The red poppy became synonymous with the fallen troops during the First World War — and has remained a symbol of their sacrifice ever since. This symbolism originated because of the war poem “In Flanders Field” written by the Canadian Physician, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae.

“In Flanders fields the poppies grow, between the crosses, row on row…”

“The poppy flower symbolizes those who gave the last full measure in defense of our freedoms,” said Vice Admiral (Ret.) John Bird, USAA Senior Vice President of Military Affairs. “The Poppy Memorial visualizes the magnitude of that sacrifice and reminds us all of the price that was paid. We are grateful to the National Park Service for allowing us to display this inspiring and educational exhibit among the permanent monuments, as a testament to the enduring bravery of our men and women in uniform.”

Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support

The National Mall in our nation’s capital is a 2-mile-long expanse containing iconic venues like the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, but it continues to evolve. For example, The GWOT Memorial Foundation is currently making progress towards building a new (permanent) memorial on the National Mall to honor those who have died supporting the Global War on Terror.

This isn’t the first time a temporary memorial will be on display in Washington D.C., but it is a particularly meaningful one. As the United States approaches 18 years of combat deployments, the number of Americans who have served during wartime grows — and thus so too does the number of American families directly affected by war. Each Memorial Day holds a personal significance to our countrymen and women.

Also read: This is how the poppy became a symbol for fallen troops

From May 25 through May 27, the Poppy Memorial will be open to the public daily for viewing from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. The memorial will be displayed on the southwestern side of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool – with the Lincoln Memorial to the west, the Korean War Memorial to the south, the reflecting pool due north and the World War II Memorial to the east. The more than 645,000 poppies are a combination of VFW “Buddy”® poppies and poppies from the American Legion Family, both programs designed to encourage Americans to wear poppies in remembrance of the fallen.

Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support

Additionally, visitors to the installation on the National Mall will find on-site kiosks to dedicate a digital poppy. Those unable to visit the Poppy Memorial in Washington, D.C. can visit www.poppyinmemory.com to dedicate a digital poppy to a fallen loved one or as a gesture of appreciation for those who sacrificed all. The site also allows users to find previously dedicated poppies that memorialize the servicemembers lost since World War I, and to directly share a “Poppy In Memory” on Facebook and Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

It turns out North Korea is arming this American ally

A disguised North Korean ship bound for Egypt was intercepted carrying more than 30,000 rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) in what the UN called the “largest seizure of ammunition in the history of sanctions against [North Korea],” The Washington Post reported on Sunday.


According to a confidential report, US officials tipped off Egyptian authorities on the Jie Shun, a suspicious 300-foot-long freighter that set sail on an 8,000 mile voyage from North Korea on July 23, 2016.

The ship was registered in Cambodia and flew a Cambodian flag, in an apparent attempt to avoid unwanted scrutiny. The Jie Shun also occasionally turned off its transponder, according to a February UN report.

“The vessel’s automatic identification system was off for the majority of the voyage,” the report said, according to The Post, “except in busy sea lanes where such behavior could be noticed and assessed as a safety threat.”

But once US intelligence agencies notified Egyptian officials, the plan appeared to slowly unravel. When customs agents first boarded the vessel to inspect its goods, it appeared as if nothing was out of the ordinary. The manifest listed 2,300 tons of limonite — a type of iron ore. However, beneath the stones were 79 wooden crates that contained thousands of rocket-propelled grenades, estimated to be worth $23 million.

Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support
Rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) and other armaments lay on the deck of USS Cape St. George (CG 71) after being confiscated during an early-morning engagement with suspected pirates. (U.S. Navy photo)

The rounds themselves were a practice rounds typically used for training, The Post reported. And given the quantity of the RPGs, it suggested that it was intended for thousands of recruits for a large army — lending weight to the theory that Egypt’s military was the intended recipient.

The crates were also imprinted with the name of an Egyptian company, one that diplomats refused to name, according to The Post. The official UN report also does not mention the company —only that “the private company” had its license revoked and was closed. Egypt eventually destroyed the RPGs under UN supervision.

Beyond North Korea’s limited amount of permissible international trade, which has become even slimmer following increased UN sanctions, the country remains heavily invested in illicit trade, including narcotics, counterfeit currencies, and cheap weapons.

The relationship between Egypt and North Korea is one that has been forged since the Soviet Union, according to The Diplomat. The two nations have since remained economic partners, despite the US’s watchful gaze. In 2008, Egypt invested in North Korea’s infrastructure by creating the country’s only 3G mobile phone network, giving 300,000 North Koreans access to an outdated telecommunications service.

Although it may appear that Egypt was implicated in an arms deal with North Korea, officials from the Egyptian Embassy argued that it had been transparent with the process and that it “will continue to abide by all Security Council resolutions and will always be in conformity with these resolutions as they restrain military purchases from North Korea.”

MIGHTY HISTORY

How this Army vet clears unexploded ordnance in Vietnam

The United States dropped more than seven million tons of bombs on Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia between 1957 and 1975, more than twice what it dropped on Europe and Asia during all of World War II. That’s a lot of ordnance. This doesn’t take into account the rockets, mortars, tank rounds, etc. used by American and allied infantrymen on the ground in Vietnam. An estimated ten percent or more of that tonnage didn’t explode – which means it’s still there.


It also means someone, now nearly 50 years later, is going to find it – a mother, father, or child. That’s where Chuck Searcy, a U.S. Army veteran, comes in. He’s on a mission to clear those UXOs.

Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support

Chuck Searcy is a Georgia-based Army vet on a new mission.

Searcy co-founded Project RENEW in 2001, a million effort to clear unexploded weapons from the former war zone while teaching children about the bombs and helping those affected by them.

Since the war’s official end in 1975 – when North Vietnam invaded and forcibly unified the South – more than 100,000 Vietnamese civilians have been killed by unexploded ordnance in the country. Some of them were farmers or other kinds of laborers, clearing paths through fields as they’ve done time and time again. Others injured by the bombs were metal scrappers, gathering what they could to make extra money.

Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support

Ten percent is a lot of explosive still sitting around.

In 2017, Searcy and Project RENEW cleared some 17,000 munitions found in the middle of Vietnam. Over the project’s lifetime, the group has cleared more than a million. Searcy first returned to Vietnam in 1995, the year after the United States formally normalized relations with the still-Communist country. Back then, he was helping kids find orthopedic devices for missing limbs, but he kept reading about the problems with explosives in the countryside.

“We kept reading about kids and farmers getting blown up by unexploded ordnance,” Searcy told Georgia’s Ledger-Enquirer. “Why aren’t we helping?”

Now they do. When someone finds a bomb and reports it, the group will send out a team to dispose of it as they always have. But in the last 20 years, they’ve become more proactive, more methodical. They not only interview villagers asking about bomb sightings, they examine U.S. Air Force databases, reviewing every single bombing run of the war.

Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support

Chuck Searcy now and in his Vietnam-era years.

While often times, the difference can be difficult to measure, there is one important number to follow, and that is how many people were killed or injured by unexploded ordnance in a given area. In Quang Tri, a province that saw some of the heaviest fighting of the Vietnam War, the number killed or wounded in 2001 (when project RENEW began its education program) was 89. In 2017, the number dwindled to two.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is what Elon Musk had to say at a Marine ball

Tesla CEO Elon Musk made a welcomed appearance at the 1st Marine Raider Battalion Ball and delivered a sobering speech that took many US Marines by surprise Nov. 3.


The 1st Marine Raider Battalion out of Camp Pendleton, California, is comprised of elite Marines under the command of Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC), the Marine Corps’ expeditionary force that typically operates in austere conditions.

Musk was invited to the event as a guest of honor because the Raiders wanted an “equally innovative” keynote speaker to honor the battalion on its birthday, a former Marine Raider commander who asked not to be named, told Business Insider. Around 400 people attended, including World War II veterans and Gold Star family members, the Marine Raider said.

Much like the secrecy of the Marine Raiders’ operations, Musk’s appearance at the event was closed to the press and kept low-key in order to “avoid a media frenzy,” the Marine Raider said.

Also Read: The Marines want self-repairing smart trucks

Like other branches of the military, formal military events are steeped in deep tradition. The Marine Corps, however, pride themselves in being a distinct group from the other branches, and their customs were reportedly noticed by Musk.

“You can tell he was a little nervous,” said Joe Musselman, the CEO of The Honor Foundation. “He was walking alongside the commanding officer of the 1st Raider Marine Battalion. You have this polished officer who’s walking in step to very traditional music.”

Musselman was invited to the event as the CEO of an organization that supports veterans.

As the Marine Raiders brought out a celebratory cake, the commanding officer of the battalion reportedly drew a sword.

“Elon kind of stepped back like, ‘Whoa, what’s going on. Why did you draw your sword at me,'” Musselman said.

The officer proceeded to serve Musk with the first piece of cake, using his sword to set it onto Musk’s plate.

“That’s intimidating for any person,” Musselman said. “A Marine Raider just served [Musk] a piece of cake off his sword. I don’t know if that was necessary in the scripts or the notes for Elon to review beforehand.”

Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla. (image OnInnovation Flickr)

‘The whole room, you could’ve heard a pin drop.’

As the guest of honor, Musk reportedly delivered the opening statement that appeared to make an impact to the group of elite Marines.

“I will never forget it; it set the tone for his entire talk,” Musselman said. “He said, ‘I wanted to come and speak to this group,’ and I get the chills even saying it, ‘Because whenever there’s danger in the world, you all are the first to go and die.”

Musk continued to say he had a great amount of respect for their service to the country, according to Musselman.

“And the whole room, you could’ve heard a pin drop,” Musselman said. “When he said that, the way he said it, it wasn’t prepared, there was no script. He was genuinely looking up in the air to find the words to say ‘Thank you for doing this for our country.'”

Following the speech, Musk offered some lessons he’s learned throughout his career in the Silicon Valley. One particular lesson he reportedly said was to always question authority — a trait that could be seen as counterintuitive to the military’s doctrine of strict obedience.

One Marine was said to have made light of the discrepancy, shouting, “You’re in the wrong room for that, sir,” and drew a few laughs.

Musk went on to discuss his companies’ involvement in the veteran community and emphasized Silicon Valley’s need for leadership and talent from veterans.

“It was quite a treat for us to have Mr. Musk,” the former Marine Raider commander said, “He [recognized] Marines and sailors would be one of the first ones in harms way.”

Also Read: Elite Marine Raiders were among those killed in tragic C-130 crash

MARSOC, a relatively new command compared to other special operations groups, was founded in 2006 to integrate Marines into the special operations community. Although media coverage of the special operations forces have largely centered on Navy SEALS and Green Berets, MARSOC Raiders have proven itself as a capable special operations force and screens its applicants as rigorously as other branches — with around 120 applicants graduating from its individual training course each year.

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