This is the agenda for Mattis' Indo-Asia-Pacific tour - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour

Strengthening ties with allies, increasing defense capabilities in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, and discussions about the threat of North Korea are among the topics Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will contend with on his trip to the region, he told reporters traveling with him yesterday.


The secretary arrived in the Philippines on Oct. 23. He laid out his agenda for the trip during an in-flight news conference.

Mattis will meet with Philippine officials before taking part in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations defense ministerial set for Oct. 23-25. That meeting is at the former Clark Air Base.

“One of the first things I’m going to do when I get there is commend the Philippine military for liberating Marawi from the terrorists,” he told reporters. “It was a very tough fight, as you know, in southern Mindanao. And I think the Philippine military sends a very strong message to the terrorists.”

The Armed Forces of the Philippines battled forces allied under the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in Marawi. Coalition forces helped the Philippine troops with intelligence, advice and logistic support. While small pockets of terrorists remain, the government declared the city liberated Oct. 17.

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
Marawi, Phillipines, sits on the northern bank of Lake Lanao. The tiny country is surrounded by the Phillipine, South China, Sulu, and Celebes Seas, and the Pacific Ocean to the east. (image Chrisgel Ryan Cruz)

ASEAN

The association has been in existence for almost 50 years and is a force promoting peace and stability in the region. It is a forum for the nations to discuss issues among themselves and hash out ways to cooperate that brings prosperity to the region, Mattis said. The meeting also marks 40 years of friendship and cooperation between ASEAN and the United States.

“ASEAN provides an international venue, giving voice to those who want relations between states to be based on respect, not on predatory economics or on the size of militaries,” he said. “ASEAN nations have demonstrated that they can listen to one another, they identify opportunities to increase defense cooperation for their own security and seek shared solutions to shared concerns. The U.S. remains unambiguously committed to supporting ASEAN.”

The secretary will take advantage of his time at the meeting to visit with his regional counterparts, he said. In addition to meeting Philippine counterparts, Mattis is scheduled to meet with representatives of Japan, South Korea, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.

He will also hold trilateral talks with Japanese and South Korean defense officials.

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
Signalman Seaman Adrian Delaney practices his semaphore aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) during an at-sea training evolution with the Royal Thai Navy tank landing ship Her Thai MajestyÕs Ship (HTMS) Prathong (LST 715) during the Thailand phase of exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT). (U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 3rd Class Alicia T. Boatwright.)

North Korea

Mattis said the regional disturbances created by North Korea will be on the agenda at ASEAN. He said will also emphasize the shared values the nations of the alliance have, the territorial sovereignty of the nations and the need for “freedom of navigation through historically international waters and fair and reciprocal trade.”

Related: This is why Mattis isn’t losing sleep over threats from North Korea

At the conclusion of the meeting, Mattis will lead the official U.S. delegation to the funeral of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died in October 2016. The royal cremation rite ends the period of mourning for the country — one of America’s treaty allies in the region. “He was understandably beloved by his people and a proponent of our strong Thailand-United States relationship,” the defense secretary said.

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour

After the ASEAN meeting ends, Mattis will move on to Seoul, where he and South Korea’s Defense Minister Song Young-moo will co-chair the 49th annual Security Consultative Meeting. “There, we will underscore our ironclad commitment to each other,” Mattis said.

North Korea is a threat to the region and globally, defense officials have said. Two unanimous U.N. Security Council resolutions have isolated the state from the rest of the world. The U.N. acted after North Korea detonated nuclear devices and flew an intercontinental ballistic missile over Japan. During his meetings in South Korea, the secretary said he will discuss reinforcing diplomatic efforts to return to a denuclearized Korean peninsula.

The defense leaders will also discuss “how we are going to maintain peace by keeping our militaries alert while our diplomats — Japanese, South Korean and U.S. — work with all nations to denuclearize the Korean peninsula,” Mattis said.

Articles

This is another example of how the Air Force has better treatment

Over the past four months, a small team of air advisors, deployed in support of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve to Qayyarah West Airfield, Iraq, combined its efforts to enhance and improve the US Air Force’s compound, changing the working conditions for the airmen assigned there.


When the 370th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group replaced the 123rd Contingency Response Group at Qayyarah West Airfield in early March 2017, they inherited bare bone facilities. The prior contingency response groups had built the US Air Force’s part of Qayyarah West up from scratch to start operations, but their mission was not long term.

Also read: The complete hater’s guide to the US Air Force

There was a small, open tent used for a passenger terminal that exposed waiting service members to the heat, a canopy spread across two conex boxes used as a vehicle maintenance area, which provided limited protection from the sun, and some of the enclosed tents had mold and rotting wood floors.

The air advisors immediately identified that the air terminal operations center tent had a mold issue that needed to be addressed, said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Tenebruso, the 370th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group, Detachment 1 expeditionary maintenance flight chief.

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
A USAF Airman assigned to the 1st Expeditionary Civil Engineering Group, spreads concrete at Qayyarah West Airfield, Iraq, Oct. 10, 2016. Photo by Pfc. Christopher Brecht

After Qayyarah West Airfield, commonly referred to as “Q-West,” was recaptured from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in October 2016, the US Air Force promptly established a presence, repaired the destroyed airfield, and made it ready to be used as a strategic launching pad for the offensive in Mosul.

From mid-October until early March, the 821st and 123rd CRGs deployed personnel to quickly open the airfield and establish, expand, sustain, and coordinate air mobility operations in the austere environment.

The current team from the 370th AEAG was the first air expeditionary force rotation or permanent party to call Q-West home outside of the short-term deployed CRG units assigned to rapidly establish operations.

“Everyone wanted to make this place better than what we came into,” said Staff Sgt. Peter Johnson, the NCO in charge of vehicle maintenance assigned to the 370th AEAG, Det. 1. “We identified the needs to better the compound trying to make things more efficient and safer. Everything we’ve done has a purpose and we worked together as a team to make the improvements happen.”

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
Q-West restoration. USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Battles

The small team of air advisors worked together to procure and establish tents to be used as a new passenger terminal, morale facility, vehicle maintenance tent and tactical operations center. With the assistance of their joint-service partners, the tents were placed on flooring designed to reduce future mold issues.

The new passenger terminal helped improve the 370th AEAG’s daily facilitation of large passenger movements for both rotary and fixed wing aircraft in support of CJTF-OIR.

The new vehicle maintenance facility improved efficiency for the maintainers as they can now not only get out of the sun to work on their vehicles, but also complete tasks during all hours of the day.

In order for the compound’s expansion to take place, the power grid needed to be upgraded.

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
Senior Airman Zevon Davis, 821st Contingency Response Group aircraft maintainer, marshals out an Iraqi C-130 Hercules at Qayyarah Airfield West, Iraq, Nov. 13, 2016. USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Charles Rivezzo

“Staff Sgt. Benton took the lead on expanding the power grid,” said Tenebruso. “He is an AGE guy used to working on flightline equipment, but here he is working on power production and distribution. Thanks to his capabilities we are now almost as close to uninterrupted power as possible, which make our operations much more sustainable.”

Staff Sgt. Shawn Benton, an aerospace ground equipment craftsman, as well as the other maintenance personnel, often work outside of their scope to assist with facility upgrades and sustainment at Q-West.

“We want to make this the best place that we can for future rotations,” said Tenebruso. “Everyone here is under the mentality that we leave this place better than we found it and make it so the next rotation does not have the issues we did. Things are very different than when we first got here.”

Initially, there was not a cargo grid yard for the 442nd Air Expeditionary Squadron’s aerial port function, but the aerial porters worked with the Army to procure Hesco barriers and enclose a 32,000 square-foot grid yard to secure its assets.

 

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve presents a coin to a Sailor of the combat support hospital in Qayyarah West, Iraq March 19, 2017. Photo by Spc. Ethan Hutchinson.

With limited resources, the aerial porters scrounged up supplies from around the base to create a gate for the cargo yard and a flag pole out of reconstituted metal. The flag pole, which the whole aerial port team helped place in the ground, is the tallest flag pole on the base, Master Sgt. Cliff Robertson, the 442nd AES’s aerial port superintendent, proudly stated.

Another proud achievement of the Q-West Airmen is their “Iron Paradise” makeshift gym. According to Tenebruso, prior to their arrival there was just a wooden bench and a bar with chains duct taped to it that weighed in at a standard 135 pounds. The air advisors have since built a makeshift squat rack and preacher curl bench and acquired more weights, creating an area often filled with Air Force and Army personnel trying to maintain physical fitness in their austere location.

“I am amazed at how well this team has come together to improve the FOB’s conditions since they got here,” said Maj. Dave Friedel, the 370th AEAG, Det. 1 commander. “They made the camp much more livable while still performing their primary advise and assist mission. It’s all about teamwork here and there are a lot of people working well outside their expertise level to make things happen.”
Articles

The Philippine military has wiped out an ISIS training camp

ISIS-linked militants in the Southern Philippines have conducted a series of violent clashes with government forces, killing at least 7 soldiers but suffering the loss of over a dozen fighters.


This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
Philippine Marines train on automatic weapons in classes from the US Marine Corps. Photo: US Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jerome S. Tayborn

The militants come from at least three separate groups that have pledged allegiance to ISIS. One of the smaller groups launched an attack on a small army outpost on Mindinao, an island in the southern Philippines. The Philippine Army repelled the attack and then countered, killing 12 militants but losing six of their own soldiers.

The counterattack was aimed at an ISIS training camp. ISIS flags have been flying at camps on Mindinao for months, but it’s not clear if these are new camps or just new flags.

In fighting with other ISIS-aligned groups, including the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, the Philippine Forces lost another soldier but killed an unknown number of militants.

The group Abu Sayyaf was routed in Dec. 2015 when 300 Philippine soldiers with artillery and air support attacked the main camps and killed their leader, Najib Hussein. But, they’ve continued to attack government positions throughout the south.

“[Islamic State] influence is growing stronger and it is expanding,” Rodolfo Mendoza, a senior analyst at the Manila-based Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research told AFP.

Despite Philippine forces finding ISIS flags, bandanas, and other items on the battlefield, other experts assert that the Philippine groups’ allegiance to ISIS is just a ploy for the Islamic State’s money and weapons.

“It really has nothing to do with ideology,” Zachary Abuza, a professor at the National War College, told reporters. “This is all about resources.”

The groups involved in the worst of the fighting have existed for years longer than ISIS, and their violence has been going on for years.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Army is holding a competition for the world’s best tank crew

Four-person tank crews from across the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps and partner nations met at Fort Benning, Georgia, to take part in the Sullivan Cup April 30 through May 4, 2018. The Sullivan Cup is a biennial competition to determine the best tank crew through a series of scored tests.

The Maneuver Center of Excellence, the U.S. Army Armor School, and the 316th Cavalry Brigade host the competition.


At a demonstration at Red Cloud Range at Fort Benning April 27, 2018, Col. Thomas Feltey, 316th Cavalry Brigade commander, talked about the competition, which began Monday, April 30, and to which the public is invited.

“You’re going to see a demonstration of our Army’s tank crews’ proficiency, conducting both live fire and maneuver exercises,” said Feltey. “What we’re putting together is a series of arduous testing — it’s both technical and tactical — to get the most out of our Soldiers in this competition.”

The crews are from the following units:

– 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division
– 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division
– 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division
– 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division
– 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division
– 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division
– 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division
– 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division
– 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division
– 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division
– 11th Armored Cavalry Division
– U.S. Marine Corps
– 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, 29th Infantry Division, National Guard
– The School of Armour, Australian Army
– 35th Brigade, Kuwait Land Force

Feltey stressed the complexity of the tank crew’s performance.

“There’s a lot of activity that goes on inside these tanks, so they’ve got to synchronize the actions of the driver, the loader, the gunner and the tank commander,” he said. “Then they’ve got to understand the terrain so they can move their vehicle tactically … while taking into account what the enemy is doing.”

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
Winner of the 2016 Sullivan Cup Competition.

One of the goals of the Sullivan Cup, according to Feltey, is the demonstration of good doctrinal technique, which begins at the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning.

“We’re following our doctrinal foundation of our integrated weapons training strategy,” he said. “And we’re modeling exactly what these tank crews and these units can do back at their home station. So really, in our way, it’s Fort Benning leading the way and showing our Army what right looks like.”

Throughout the week, the crews are scheduled to perform a gunnery skills test, engage targets with their tanks’ weapon systems, call for fire, take written exams, perform tank-related physical fitness tasks, conduct a competitive combat maneuver exercise, conduct a timed stress shoot, and more.

The weeklong competition is open to members of the public, whom Felty welcomed so they might witness the difficult work that goes into tank operation.

“This is their Army, so it’s a great opportunity for them to come out and see what we do on a daily basis,” he said. “There’s a lot of hard work and a lot of preparation that goes into being able to fire these tanks.”

The first big event of the Sullivan Cup was Operation Thunderbolt, which took place in the afternoon of April 30, 2018, at Red Cloud Range.

“If they come to the demonstration on Monday, they’re not only going to get to see a tank, but arguably they’re going to feel the power of the 120mm main gun and also our mortars that are out here,” said Feltey.

Children younger than 5 and pregnant women should not attend.

To keep up with the Sullivan Cup, visit the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning Facebook page at www.fb.com/fortbenningmcoe. Family and friends are encouraged to tweet updates on their teams during the competition using @FortBenning and the hashtag #Sullivancup.

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

Articles

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of May 6

That day when you’re trying to shake off the Cinco de Mayo hangover while preparing for the weekend parties. Good luck.


In the meantime, check out these 13 funny military memes:

1. Our condolences to anyone who rooms with that guy/gal this morning:

(via The Salty Soldier)

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
Maybe just spray them with Febreeze whenever they do this.

2. It’s the one injury prevention tip that isn’t endorsed by the safety NCO (via Military Memes).

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
But hey, as long as that PFC lifts with their legs, it’ll probably be fine.

SEE ALSO: The Corps had to force this 52-year-old Marine off Guadalcanal

3. Back in the day, you could send a text message for the low cost of 10 breadcrumbs (via Military Memes).

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
The original Blue Force Tracker was just watching the sky to see which directions the pigeons flew in from.

4. To all the weapons stuck in arms rooms instead of on patrol, we’re sorry and we miss you (via Pop Smoke).

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
We’ll be together again soon.

5. Come on, sergeant. We’ve heard this story before (via Why I’m Not Re-Enlisting).

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
We’ve learned to read the regs, contracts, and guidance from higher before signing.

6. It’s like the classic video game but with even more cussing (via Afghanistan Combat Footage – Funker 530).

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
Packing lists filled with unnecessary gear wouldn’t be so frustrating if the d-mn gear would fit in the f-cking ruck.

7. Are you ready to Cross into the Blue?

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
This is the creepiest airman I have ever seen.

8. Even the smoke pit has bought into tobacco cessation (via Sh-t my LPO says).

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
Looks like dip and Rip-Its are all you have left.

9. You know who the real MVP is?

(via Military Memes)

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
Jerry. Because instead of covering his buddy, he took a photo of the guy taking a photo of the guy working.

10. Gunny Hartman is the senior NCO we still all look up to (via Pop Smoke).

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
We can’t legally follow 90 percent of his example anymore, but we still look up to him.

11. Oooooh, that’s what the PT belt is for, so your T-Rex can always find you (via Air Force Nation).

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
Also, this is the first ad that makes me want to join the Air Force. I don’t care that it’s fake.

12. Shaving with a sink and water is a crutch (via Sh-t my LPO says).

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
If you can’t get inspection-ready in a parking lot while hungover, you don’t deserve to wear those cammies.

13. How you find out the pre-workout powder may have been crystal meth:

(via Military Memes)

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour

MIGHTY TRENDING

How the President can really launch a nuclear strike

President Donald Trump tweeted Jan. 2 that he had a “Nuclear Button” to launch a missile attack — but the process is much more complicated than the President made it seem.


Trump’s tweet was a direct response to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who recently warned that nowhere in the U.S. is safe from his country’s nuclear missiles. Despite warnings from the international community, Kim said, North Korea would produce as many missiles and nuclear weapons as possible.

“The entire United States is within range of our nuclear weapons, a nuclear button is always on my desk. This is reality, not a threat,” Kim said during his New Year’s speech. “This year, we should focus on mass-producing nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles for operational deployment. These weapons will be used only if our society is threatened.”

Trump responded, tweeting, “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.'”

Read More: POTUS and North Korea exchange nuclear threats

“Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” Trump tweeted.

 

 

The President does not have a nuclear button, and the process of launching a nuclear missile is not as simple as, for example, pressing a button on a desk.

“U.S. nuclear forces operate under strict civilian control,” retired Air Force general C. Robert Kehler, the former commander of U.S. Air Force Space Command as well as U.S. Strategic Command, recently said at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on nuclear weapons authority.

“The President’s ability to exercise that ability and direction is ensured by people, processes, and capabilities that comprise the nuclear command and control system,” Kehler said. “This is a system controlled by human beings — nothing happens automatically.”

In short, there is no button.

Inside the ‘football’ and the ‘biscuit’

It would be more accurate to say that there is a phone, and a long line of advisors, both civilian and military, that present all the facts and all the options on the table.

Once the decision is made, the President himself must authenticate that he is the one giving the order by calling the senior officer in the Pentagon. That officer will give the President a “challenge code” that requires a matching response, which the President or one of his aids carries at all time on a laminated card called the “biscuit.”

Once the order is confirmed by the highest ranking official, it works its way down the chain of command until it reaches those who are responsible for turning the keys and carrying out the action.

The missile could be launched from either the sea or from land. In both cases, multiple people need to authenticate the order even after it comes down from the Pentagon.

Bloomberg determined that the process could take anywhere from five to 15 minutes after the President’s order.

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
The nuclear football (also known as the atomic football, the president’s emergency satchel, the button, the black box, or just the football) is a briefcase, the contents of which are to be used by the President of the United States to authorize a nuclear attack while away from fixed command centers, such as the White House Situation Room. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Even the famous “nuclear football” that is in reach of the President at all times does not contain a button.

Instead, it contains books with strike options, classified sites to shelter the President, instructions, codes, and likely some type of communication device.

Though the President has the authority to launch nuclear weapons, a press of a button on his desk will not send ICBMs hurling towards targets.

“The nuclear decision process includes assessment, review, and consultation between the president and key civilian and military leaders, followed by transmission and implementation of any presidential decision by the forces themselves” Kehler said.

“All activity surrounding nuclear weapons are characterized by layers of safeguards, tests, and reviews.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Army is relaxing its standards to get enough recruits to sign up

The Army has made it easier to grant waivers for marijuana use as part of its effort to meet recruiting goals. The service has also increased spending on recruiting bonuses to over $420 million, compared to just $8.2 million in fiscal year 2014.


According to a report by USA Today, the Army has been dipping into so-called “Category Four” recruits to try to meet a goal of recruiting 80,000 new soldiers, up from 69,000 new soldiers in fiscal year 2017.

The report stated that about 2 percent of the 69,000 recruits were from that category, which involves people who score in the bottom third of ASVAB tests.

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
Marijuana, along with nine other substances, is specifically prohibited under Article 112a of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and penalties for its use can range from a general discharge to dishonorable discharge (for positive results of a urinalysis) and even imprisonment for possession.

The Army says that these waivers are not going to compromise quality, but the low unemployment rate has caused challenges.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow told the paper.

One of the ways that the Army is trying to meet the challenge is to grant more waivers to prospective soldiers who admit to using marijuana. The authority for the waivers has been delegated to recruiting officers who hold the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Previously, only two-stars grant the waiver.

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
US Army Photo by Cherie A. Thurlby

The increased waivers may be an unintended consequence of the legalization of marijuana for either medicinal purposes or recreational use in a number of states. According to Me2 Enterprises, a number of jobs in Washington are going unfilled because people cannot pass drug tests, despite that state’s legalization of marijuana.

Federal law still prohibits marijuana use.

This is not the first time that the military has dipped heavily into the Category Four pool. During the height of the fight against insurgents during Operation Iraqi Freedom, the services at times saw the “Category Four” portion of the recruit pool reach levels of over four percent, exceeding the Pentagon’s cap.

Articles

The Army is deactivating its last long-range surveillance companies (again)

The Army is officially closing down the last of its long-range surveillance companies with the three active duty units slated for closures in January and the four National Guard companies shutting down in 2018.


This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
Soldiers with Delta Company, 52nd Infantry Regiment (Long Range Surveillance) conduct their unit’s deactivation ceremony Jan. 10, 2017 inside the III Corp building at Fort Hood, Texas. (Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Jory Mathis)

The move comes amid changing Army priorities and a series of computer simulations that decided the units were high-risk, low-reward.

This is the second time the Army has deactivated all of its company-sized, long-range reconnaissance units. It previously removed LRRP companies in 1974 before bringing them back as LRS units in 1981.

According to a Stars and Stripes article, the current deactivations came after Total Army Analysis computer models said that LRS units weren’t in high demand by command teams.

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
Indiana Army National Guard 1st Sgt. Joseph Barr rolls up the colors of Company C, 2nd Squadron, 152nd Cavalry Regiment during the unit’s designation ceremony to Company D, 151st Infantry Regiment, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016. (Photo: U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Lowry)

But not everyone is happy with the Army’s decision.

Retired Army Special Forces Brig. Gen. John Scales protested an earlier LRS drawdown when he found that computer models claiming that LRS units were at high risk in combat were improperly written. The model unrealistically assumed that any infantry unit that spotted the enemy would engage that enemy force, pitting six-man LRS teams against entire enemy formations.

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
David Blow front, left, and another U.S. Soldier were members of a long-range reconnaissance team that conducted cross-border operations in Cambodia and Vietnam in 1971. Blow, a Special Forces soldier, served in Vietnam until the end of U.S. involvement in 1973. (Courtesy photo: U.S. Army)

While the new assessments use different coding that Scales was not privy to, he has voiced concerns that getting rid of LRS units isn’t the best idea.

Scales told the Stars and Stripes about the current LRS drawdowns that, “I worry based on my experience with the model that [long-range surveillance units are] getting shortchanged, and the Army is getting shortchanged.”

This isn’t the first time that the Army has tackled this question, and an earlier batch of LRS deactivations that also resulted from a Total Army Analysis were done against the protest of ground commanders.

From then-Maj. Mark R. Meadows’ 2000 master’s thesis titled “Long-Range Surveillance Unit Force Structure in Force XXI“:

The decision to deactivate these intelligence collection units was not based on a change of doctrine or a change in the mission requirements for LRS. The decisions were not made by one of the two proponents of LRS in order to protect another unit or asset. Quite the contrary, both proponents recognize the importance of HUMINT on the battlefield and support LRS employment and training. As discussed in chapter two, the decision to deactivate all heavy division LRSDs and two of four LRSCs was made over the objection of both proponents and units, by the office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations as a result of the Total Army Analysis (TAA) process. Consequently, under the current force structure, there are not adequate numbers of LRS units to effectively execute the potential future missions the Army will face.

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
Internationally, long-range reconnaissance is still in high demand. German army Upper Cpl. Andre Schadler, a native of Aulendorf, assigned to Recon Platoon, Jager Battalion 292, scans the battlefield for threats with a thermal sight during the first day of training at the Great Lithuanian Hetman Jonusas Radvila Training Regiment, in Rukla, Lithuania, June 10, 2015. (Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. James Avery, 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

While satellites and drones can cheaply provide detailed imagery in an open desert, they struggle to watch the movements of enemy forces through heavily forested and urban areas like those troops would face in a war with China or Russia where enemy units could be dispersed under cover and camouflage.

This is something that Eastern Europe armies know well, leading them to invest in the types of reconnaissance units that the U.S. Army is backing away from.

For instance, in November Lithuania hosted the U.S. Army’s Reconnaissance and Surveillance Leadership Course for the first time in the course’s history.

The European Union is investing more heavily in ISTAR — Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance — units.

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
A Romanian IAR 330 Puma helicopter employs perimeter defense while it extracts a joint team of forces from both the 1st Squadron, 131st Cavalry, Alabama Army National Guard, and the 528th Light Reconnaissance Battalion, Romanian Land Force, as they complete a long range surveillance training mission for Operation Red Dragon on June 18, 2015, near Babadag Training Area, Romania. (Photo: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Shanley)

Indeed, the Swedish Army maintains a force of only 6,000 available soldiers but keeps one ISTAR battalion available.

This wouldn’t be the first time the Army got rid of its dedicated long-range reconnaissance companies. In 1974, it deactivated the last of the old Long-Range Reconnaissance Patrol companies. Just four years later, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans, Lt. Gen. Edward C. Meyer, ordered a classified study to ascertain, among other things, who could conduct the LRRP mission moving forward.

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
A paratrooper with Delta Company, 52nd Infantry Regiment (Long Range Surveillance), looks out of a window of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter before exiting at Rapido Drop Zone Sept. 1, 2016 at Fort Hood, Texas. This was the last jump before the unit’s deactivation ceremony, which occurred Jan. 10, 2017. (Photo: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Tomora Clark)

By 1979, the Army was writing doctrine for the new “Long-Range Surveillance Units” which were nearly identical to the extinct LRRP companies. But some division commanders saw the need for human eyes on the battlefield as too vital to wait for Department of the Army.

The 9th and 3rd infantry divisions and the 82nd Airborne Division all stood up LRRP units to provide critical intelligence to battlefield commanders. The 82nd divisional LRRP platoon was deployed to Operation Urgent Fury.

Operational commanders may find that they have to again construct their own long-range surveillance units if they still want the capability. The last of the LRS companies are scheduled to deactivate in August 2018.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is the marathon to run if you’re deployed

On Oct. 22, 2017, more than 30,000 people hit the pavement to run one of the largest marathons in the world. For 26.2 miles, runners tested their mental and physical fitness. A marathon forward was held for those deployed in the Middle East unable to run the 42nd Marine Corps Marathon in the nation’s capital. Among the people running the marathon were three Marines and a Sailor from Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command.


According to a Greek fable the first marathon ran was more than 2,500 years ago when Pheidippides, a Greek soldier, ran from the Battle of Marathon to Athens, Greece to announce the victory against the Persians. In 1896, the marathon was added to the Olympics and now more than 800 marathons are held worldwide each year, with one of the most popular being the Marine Corps Marathon. Today, runners compete in marathons for many different reasons.

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
Runners that finished the 42nd Marine Corps Marathon Forward while in the Middle East Oct. 22, 2017 received the same medal as those running the 42nd Marine Corps Marathon in the United States. The Marine Corps Marathon is one of the largest marathons in the world and hosts the marathon in forward locations to allow deployed service members the opportunity to compete.

“Setting a goal of a physical achievement, making a plan of how to reach that goal, then putting that goal into action is fulfilling in itself and makes for a great excuse to keep oneself active,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Cook, force surgeon, SPMAGTF-CR-CC.

The mobility officer for SPMAGTF-CR-CC, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan Eaton, ran the Marine Corps Marathon because he wanted to inspire his Marines. He wanted to show them that every Marine should maintain a level of physical fitness to where they can wake up any day and run a physical fitness test.

Capt. Michael Nordin, the SPMAGTF-CR-CC adjutant, trained about two days a week for six weeks working up to the marathon.

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“I’ve run a marathon every year since 2014 and didn’t want to miss a year. Half marathons and marathons are my hobby,” said Nordin. “There’s nothing like getting to mile 18-19 and hitting the wall and pushing yourself through and over it, discovering another part of you that you didn’t think you had a couple miles ago.”

Whether running it to be a good example for fellow Marines or running it as a hobby, the Marine Corps Marathon challenges each participant – and not everyone can say they ran it while deployed. It is the largest marathon in the world that doesn’t offer prize money, only the chance to demonstrate personal honor, courage and commitment. Despite the demands of deployment, runners with the SPMAGTF-CR-CC made the time to run the 42nd Marine Corps Marathon.

“I love to run marathons and what a great opportunity not just to run any marathon while deployed, but the ‘People’s Marathon,’ the Marine Corps Marathon,” said Cook.

Articles

Female WWII pilot finally laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
Terry Harmon, the daughter of Women Airforce Service Pilot 2nd Lt. Elaine Harmon, receives the American flag from a member of the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard during her late-mother’s interment ceremony at Alrington National Cemetery, Va., Sept. 7, 2016. Harmon died in 2015 at the age of 95. | U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alyssa C. Gibson


In 1943, Mabel Rawlinson, a Women Airforce Service Pilot, died in an aircraft crash. The government would not pay for her remains to be sent back to her family, nor allow her to have a flag draped over her casket.

Her fellow WASPs passed around a hat, pitching in to have her casket shipped back to her family – flag-draped in defiance, and escorted home by her service sisters.

She was one of 38 WASPs to die in service to her country.

More than 70 years later, as the last of “the greatest generation” dwindles and the WASPs’ male counterparts are laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery with befitting honors, a WASP is at last also being honored for her service. During a military funeral service Sept. 7, Elaine Danforth Harmon’s ashes were interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

Along with Rawlinson, Harmon was one of 1,074 women to serve as a pilot during World War II, fulfilling what the Air Force Historical Research Agency called a “dire need” to train male pilots and ferry aircraft overseas.

She is the first WASP to be buried in Arlington since the passing of HR-4336, a bill introduced by Arizona Representative Martha McSally to ensure WASPs eligibility for interment at Arlington National Cemetery. When Harmon passed away April 21, 2015, her family applied for her interment at Arlington per her final wishes. The request was denied based on a legal decision that “active-duty designees,” such as the WASPs, did not meet eligibility requirements for the cemetery, which is quickly running out of burial space.

Since then, her ashes had remained in the black box provided by the funeral home, sitting amidst folded sweaters, old photos and hanging clothes in her granddaughter’s closet.

“Gammy doesn’t belong on a shelf,” said Tiffany Miller, Harmon’s granddaughter.

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
Terry Harmon and Erin Miller, daughter and granddaughter of 2nd Lt. Elaine Harmon, Women Airforce Service Pilot, hold a portrait of her in Arlington National Cemetery, Va. Jan. 31, 2016. | U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Katherine Tereyama

Since her death, her family fought to secure a place for the WASPs in Arlington, aided by members of the self-proclaimed “Chick Fighter Pilot Association,” female pilots who owe their success to the trailblazing efforts of the WASPs.

Also read: Arlington National Cemetery is running out of room to bury America’s vets

After the passing of the bill, several of the female aviators proudly flew the burial flag during their missions. They documented the flag’s travels in a journal read during the memorial service.

The flag “went on a journey worthy of a WASP,” according to Lt. Col. Caroline Jensen, an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot who aided the family’s campaign.

“Because of the legacy of the WASPs and the service of women like Elaine, I stand before you,” she said. “I’m a reservist on active duty, 22 years in the Air Force, 3,500 hours flying fighters, 1,700 in an F-16, 200 in combat, three years as a right-wing pilot for the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and eight of those while being a mom. So we owe a lot to Elaine and the women like her.”

Jensen was joined by McSally and retired Maj. Heather Penney, each of whom credited their success as female pilots to the WASPs. They gave their remarks alongside beaming photos of Elaine – decked out in her flight suit at the ages of 22 and 85, demonstrating her continued love of flying.

“You could tell that the time they were WASPs was one of the best times of their lives and they were very proud to have served their country,” Elaine’s daughter, Terry Harmon said.

Retired Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold once spoke to a class of graduating WASP and said that initially he hadn’t been sure “whether a slip of a girl could fight the controls of a B-17 in heavy weather. Now in 1944, it is on record that women can fly as well as men.”

“It was a man’s world, but we did something really great that was needed for the war effort,” Elaine had said during an interview for Library of Congress historical archives.

Elaine wanted people to remember that effort, and in her handwritten will, beseeched her family to place her ashes in Arlington National Cemetery.

“To her, Arlington is more than a cemetery, it’s a memorial for all the people that have served their country,” said her granddaughter, Erin Miller.

Seventy-two years after her fellow WASP died in service of country and was denied military honors, Elaine Harmon died among her family. More than a year later, her children and grandchildren, her fellow WASPs and her service daughters escorted her home.

“For generations to come, when they come to these hallowed grounds that honor our heroes and educate people about their service and sacrifice … these women will be in that history book on their own merit, on their own right,” McSally said.

Another trailblazer was laid to rest among her brothers and sisters-in-arms. Her urn was placed in a niche of the columbarium wall between her fellow veterans, she left her final mark on the white marble: “Elaine Danforth Harmon, WASP.”

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This crazy photo shows the power of the Carl Gustaf M4 bazooka

The above photo is of an 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper, Spc. Michael Tagalog, firing an 84mm Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle from an observation post in Afghanistan’s Nangahar Province in September 2017.

The specialist apparently fired the Multi-Role Anti-Armor, Anti-Personnel Weapons System, or Carl Gustaf, in defense of a US base in Afghanistan. Originally used by special operators, the US Army began issuing the Gustaf to soldiers in 1991 in response to an Operational Needs Statement from Afghanistan.


The Saab-made bazooka is 42 inches long, weighs about 25 pounds and can hit targets from 1,300 meters away, according to army-technology.com.

It fires a variety of munitions, including high explosive anti-tank, high explosive dual purpose, and high explosive rounds. The Gustaf can even fire smoke and illumination rounds.

Army and industry weapons developers are also currently working with the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency to develop a guided-munitions round for the Gustaf.

The US is quietly ramping up the nearly 17-year war in Afghanistan that has been criticized by many as a “forever war” and a game of “whack-a-mole.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Navy accepts delivery of two new combat ships in ceremony

The U.S. Navy accepted delivery of two Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs), the future USS Sioux City (LCS 11) and USS Wichita (LCS 13), during a ceremony at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard on Aug. 22, 2018.

Sioux City and Wichita, respectively, are the 14th and 15th Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs) to be delivered to the Navy and the sixth and seventh of the Freedom variant to join the fleet. These deliveries mark the official transfer of the ships from the shipbuilder, part of a Lockheed Martin-led team, to the U.S. Navy. It is the final milestone prior to commissioning. Both ships will be commissioned in late 2018, Sioux City in Annapolis, Maryland, and Wichita in Jacksonville, Florida.


Regarding the LCS deliveries, Captain Mike Taylor, LCS program manager, said, “The future USS Sioux City is a remarkable ship which will bring tremendous capability to the Fleet. I am excited to join with her crew and celebrate her upcoming commissioning at the home of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.”

“Today also marks a significant milestone in the life of the future USS Wichita, an exceptional ship which will conduct operations around the globe,” he said. “I look forward to seeing Wichita join her sister ships this winter.”

Capt. Shawn Johnston, commander, LCS Squadron Two, welcomed the ships to the fleet, saying, “The future USS Sioux City is a welcome addition to the East Coast Surface Warfare Division. Both her Blue and Gold crews are ready to put this ship though her paces and prepare the ship to deploy.

This is the agenda for Mattis’ Indo-Asia-Pacific tour

An artist rendering of the littoral combat ship USS Sioux City (LCS11).

(U.S. Navy photo illustration by Stan Bailey)

“The future USS Wichita is the first East Coast Mine Warfare Division ship,” he said. “She will have a chance to test some of the latest and greatest mine warfare systems after she completes her remaining combat systems trials.”

Several additional Freedom variant ships are under construction at Fincantieri Marinette Marine. The future USS Billings (LCS 15) is preparing for trials in spring 2019. The future USS Indianapolis (LCS 17) was christened/launched in April 2018. The future USS St. Louis (LCS 19) is scheduled for christening and launch in the fall. The future USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul (LCS 21) is preparing for launch and christening in spring of 2019, while the future USS Cooperstown (LCS 23)’s keel was laid in early August 2018 and is undergoing construction in the shipyard’s erection bays. The future USS Marinette (LCS 25) started fabrication in February 2018, while the future USS Nantucket (LCS 27) is scheduled to begin fabrication in the fall.

LCS is a modular, reconfigurable ship designed to meet validated fleet requirements for surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare and mine countermeasures missions in the littoral region. An interchangeable mission package is embarked on each LCS and provides the primary mission systems in one of these warfare areas. Using an open architecture design, modular weapons, sensor systems and a variety of manned and unmanned vehicles to gain, sustain and exploit littoral maritime supremacy, LCS provides U.S. joint force access to critical theaters.

The LCS class consists of the Freedom variant and Independence variant, designed and built by two industry teams. The Freedom variant team is led by Lockheed Martin (for the odd-numbered hulls, e.g., LCS 1). The Independence variant team is led by Austal USA (for LCS 6 and follow-on even-numbered hulls). Twenty-nine LCSs have been awarded to date, with 15 delivered to the Navy, 11 in various stages of construction and three in pre-production states.

Program Executive Office for Unmanned and Small Combatants is responsible for delivering and sustaining littoral mission capabilities to the fleet. Delivering high-quality warfighting assets while balancing affordability and capability is key to supporting the nation’s maritime strategy.

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

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