Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

Two naval officers facing courts-martial following a fatal ship collision that killed seven sailors will have their charges dropped, Navy officials announced late April 10, 2019.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson will withdraw and dismiss charges against Cmdr. Bryce Benson and Lt. Natalie Combs, ending a years-long legal battle following the 2017 collision between the guided-missile destroyer Fitzgerald and a container ship off the coast of Japan.

Benson was the Fitzgerald’s commanding officer at the time and Combs the tactical action officer. Navy Times first reported that Richardson would drop the charges on April 10, 2019.


“This decision is in the best interest of the Navy, the families of the Fitzgerald Sailors, and the procedural rights of the accused officers,” a Navy news release states. “Both officers were previously dismissed from their jobs and received non-judicial punishment.”

Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer will issue letters of censure to Benson and Combs, the release adds. Those reprimands are likely to end the officers’ Navy careers.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

Damage to USS Fitzgerald.

(U.S. Navy photo)

Benson and Combs faced charges of dereliction of duty through neglect, resulting in death and improper hazarding of a vessel. Navy officials had at one point considered negligent homicide charges against Benson and two junior officers, but the decision to pursue them was later dropped.

A series of in-depth reports on the collision and the lead-up to it by ProPublica, a nonprofit that produces investigative journalism, revealed years of warning signs about the surface fleet’s readiness had been ignored by top Navy leaders.

The Fitzgerald was one of two destroyers to suffer deadly collisions in the Pacific that year. Ten more sailors were killed two months after the Fitzgerald accident when the destroyer John S. McCain collided with a merchant ship off the coast of Singapore.

The deadly accidents led to a host of overhauls to Navy training and processes that were designed to prevent future tragedies. On April 10, 2019, Spencer told members of Congress that of the 111 recommendations made following the collisions, 91 have been adjudicated and 83 implemented.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

The guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald.

Navy leaders will continue to do everything possible to improve readiness and training to ensure those programs remains on track, according to the statement released April 10, 2019.

“The Navy continues to strive to achieve and maintain a climate of operational excellence,” it says.

David Sheldon, Combs’ attorney, told Navy Times that the service’s failed policies and leadership ultimately led to the Fitzgerald tragedy.

“The responsibility for this tragedy lies not on the shoulders of this junior officer, but on the unrelenting deployment schedule demanded of Navy commanders and the operational tempo demanded by Navy leadership and this administration,” he told the paper. “Until these shortcomings are addressed, the losses of those talented, young sailors will be in vain.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

How Dennis Rodman impacted the Korean peace talks

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un didn’t really “understand” President Donald Trump until he gave him a copy of the president’s book, “The Art of the Deal,” for his birthday in 2017.

In a recent interview with TMZ, Rodman said, “I think [Kim] didn’t realize who Donald Trump was at that time, I guess, until he started to read the book and started to get to understand him.”


Rodman, who considers Kim a friend and has made a number of visits to North Korea, said he believes the North Korean leader has had “a change of heart” when it comes to both Trump and the American people. The former NBA player didn’t take full credit for this, but still feels his efforts at basketball diplomacy with North Korea played a significant role in the recent warming of relations.

“I don’t want to take all the credit. I don’t want to sit there and say, ‘I did this, I did that.’ That’s not my intention,” Rodman said. “My intention was to go over and be a sports ambassador to North Korea so people understand how the people are in North Korea. I think that has resonated to this whole point now.”

Trump is set to meet with Kim at some point in the near future to discuss North Korea’s nuclear program, though a location and date have not yet been announced. Rodman is seemingly very pleased with this development.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case
Donald Trump and Dennis Rodman.

“I’m not the president. I’m just one person. I’m just one person and I’m so happy that things are going well,” Rodman said.

In 2017 North Korea conducted a series of long-range missile tests as part of its broader ambition to develop a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the mainland US. This led to a war of words between Trump and Kim as well as harsh economic sanctions to be leveled against Pyongyang by the international community.

But the tide has turned in 2018 as North and South Korea have rekindled relations. Kim recently traveled to South Korea for a historic summit with President Moon Jae-in, in which the two leaders vowed to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and work toward formally ending the Korean War.

Moon, as well as a number of Republican lawmakers back in the US, have given Trump a great deal of credit for these developments and have suggested the president should win the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in pressuring North Korea.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

7 major fights all working parents will have

It can be difficult for both people in the relationship when one partner is out of the house and the other is a stay at home parent. At day’s end, both partners are tired from their various responsibilities, and each has different needs (one, say, might need a human being to talk to and the other to be left alone). Then there are larger issues that crop up, too: both, for instance, can feel taken for granted in different ways (I’m not appreciated for what I do at work! I’m not appreciated for what I do at home!). The issues are complicated but solvable. So, to help you, we talked to some experts to get the lowdown on the most common arguments that come from a one-working-partner relationship, what they really mean, and how to work them out.


1. “What did you do all day?” 

Why it happens: When one partner is out of the house all day, they tend to make the assumption that, since the other partner is home, they’ve got time to handle all of the household duties, from doing the dishes to handling all the shopping. The reality, of course, is that keeping the household running and raising kids are two full-time jobs. That means that their time is just as valuable and they may not always be able to get to every little thing that crops up under a roof.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

How to work it out: “The key here is to ask rather than assume that the person at home has the time take on additional duties,” says Nicolle Osequeda, a licensed marriage and family therapist and the Executive Director of Lincoln Park Therapy Group in Chicago, IL. “This validates that they are busy and have commitments, and doesn’t express entitlement.”

2. “I need someone to talk to!”

Why it happens: When one parent is at home taking care of the kids, adult interaction is necessary to maintain sanity. As a result, when the partner who works out of the house comes home, they’re immediately bombarded with questions and conversation. The problem here is that when the other partner who’s been out of the house all day has been in and out of meetings, fought traffic, slugged it out on public transportation often needs time to decompress.

How to work it out: In this situation, each person needs to see the other one’s perspective and try and appreciate it. For the partner who’s been cooped up at home all day, they might need to accept that their spouse needs 10 or 15 minutes to unwind before hearing a rundown of the day’s events. Similarly, the partner who works might want to do some of that decompression before they walk in the door. Listening to an audiobook, trying a mediation app or journaling on the train can be ways to get your head out of the office so that when you’re home, you’re ready to engage with your partner. “Again — empathy, understanding, perspective taking, and generosity of assumption is helpful,” says Osequeda.

3. “I feel like we’re roommates.” 

Why it happens: When one partner is out of the house during the day, then comes home dead-tired and beaten down from the rigors of their job, an emotional rift can often form between them and their partner. It can also be very easy to fall into the rut of working, coming home and then falling asleep in front of the TV together. Often this routine and roommate phase can lead to big arguments and feelings of boredom.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

How to work it out: Dr. Sherrie Campbell, a licensed counselor, psychologist, and marriage and family therapist and author of Success Equations: A Path to Living an Emotionally Wealthy Life says that couples in this rut have to shake things up as soon as they can. The best way to do that, she advises, is to approach your marriage like you would your job. “Look at your relationship as a company and have monthly check in meetings,” she says. Another suggestion? Make time for fun. “Those who play together stay together,” says Campbell.

4. “You spend more time with your work wife/husband.”

Why it happens: Jealousy can easily creep up when one partner is stranded at home, often removed from adult contact, while the other one is out and about engaging with people their own age and, more troubling, different genders. Relationships that form at work, even if they’re completely platonic, can lead to feelings of abandonment and a sense that the working partner prefers the company of his or her peers to that of his spouse.

How to work it out: To combat this, Dr. Sherrie recommends always being open and honest about your work friendships, letting your spouse know not only where you stand with them, but where he or she stands with you. “Try and understand the vulnerabilities your partner has that may make him or her jealous,” she says. “Reassure your partner of your love and fidelity.” And, most importantly, she says, “don’t engage in flirting behavior that can appear harmless but be hurtful to your partner!”

5. “I’m not your assistant.”

Why it happens: This argument falls somewhat under the heading of one partner expecting the other to do household chores, but Osequeda notes that often times a partner working outside the home will turn to their spouse, whether they’re working at home or just taking care of the kids, and ask them to mail letters, send faxes, or pick up packages.

How to work it out: Honestly, just quit the behavior. “Save the request for when it counts,” she says. “Realize your partner also has responsibilities.”

6. “Why are you always in sweats?”

Why it happens: While one partner is busy dressing their best and heading to work, the other, stripped of the need to impress anyone, spends the day in sweats and a tee shirt, wearing only what they need to take care of the kids and avoid being arrested at the supermarket for indecency. After a while, the so-called ‘relaxed’ look can become too relaxed. Fights flare up when comments ensue.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

How to work it out: While Osequeda says that this predominately applies to people who are working from home (parents who are forced to spend their days covered in spit-up can get a pass), the mentality is the same. “Shower, shave, shine each day regardless if you’re leaving the house or not,” she says. “Treat yourself like you’re going to work so at the end of the day you feel better about yourself and adhere to a routine that benefits you and your significant other.”

7. “You’re more interested in work than me.”

Why it Happens: Work, again, can create distance between couples and distance can breed disinterest and an unwillingness to support each other.

How to work it out: Bill Chopik, the director of Michigan State University’s Close Relationships Lab says that it’s important to actively listen and validate each other’s feelings. If your partner says that they received a promotion at work, tell them how happy you are for them and remind them that the promotion came because of the great person that they are. There, of course, destructive ways of responding. For instance, Chopik says uttering a dispassionate, ‘that’s great.’ without even looking up from the computer screen isn’t the most inspiring response. The same goes for saying things that deflate the experience, i.e. ‘I’m sure they just felt bad for you.’ “It’s shocking to think that partners do this to each other, but they do,” urges Chopik. The solution is understanding how to actively participate in your partner’s life without making them seem second best.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Here’s how US soldiers trained to fire a nuclear round

In the 1950s U.S. forces were stretched dangerously thin. U.S. President Dwight D Eisenhower stated of this, “My feeling…remains, that it would be impossible for the United States to maintain the military commitments which it now sustains around the world (without turning into a garrison state) did we not possess atomic weapons and the will to use them when necessary.”

No surprise from this that, unsatisfied with the portability of their shiny new M65 nuclear cannons, which required a couple of very large trucks to transport, and further unsatisfied that firing it off in many tactical situations would be a bit like killing a mosquito with a hand grenade, in the late 1950s the U.S. military brass for once were thinking smaller. What they really wanted was a simple weapon that could launch a miniature nuclear warhead, could be carted around by a few soldiers, and be fired relatively quickly and reliably. This would allow a handful of soldiers to successful combat far superior forces on the other side, even at relatively close range, which none of the other nuclear weapons of the age could safely do — Enter the Davy Crockett.


Rumor has it the name was chosen in homage to the famed American politician owing to the legend that he once grinned a bear to death, with the idea referencing the association between Russia, and the Soviet Union in general, with bears.

Whether that’s actually the reasoning behind the name or not, the first prototype of the Davy Crockett was completed in November of 1958 and ultimately deployed about two and a half years later in May of 1961. Featuring a variant of the W54 warhead contained in an M388 round, the projectile was fired from an M-28 or M-29 smooth bore recoilless gun. This was capable of launching the 10 or 20 ton yield nuke as far as about 1.25 miles for the M28 or 2.5 miles for the M29.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

As for portability, the Davy Crockett could be either deployed and fired from the back of a jeep for maximum mobility, or even broken down into its components, with the pieces of the weapon carried by five soldiers on foot.

The general procedure for firing the 76 pound nuclear round was quite simple. First a spotting round would be shot from an attached gun to ensure the weapon was aimed reasonably well. After this, in order to get the nuke to end up more or less where the spotting round did, the angle of the gun would have to be adjusted. To do this, a small book with pre-calculated tables was carried giving adjustment figures for said angle.

However, it turns out test firings with non-live nukes showed again and again that the Davey Crockett was an obscenely inaccurate weapon, possibly both because of the angle adjustment and that the weapon itself was smooth bore. Of course, the fact that the Davey Crockett was shooting a nuclear warhead helped make this inaccuracy issue not as much of a problem as would be the case with other similar weapons.

Once the target was mildly locked on, the propellant charge would be inserted into the muzzle with a metal piston placed in after as a sort of cap. This was followed by the M388 round itself containing the W54 warhead. As the M388 was far too big to fit inside the bore, instead a rod would be attached to the back, with the nuke sitting at the front.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

As for how the warhead would know when to detonate, there was a timer dial that would be set based on estimated distance to the target, using figures given in the aforementioned book containing a spreadsheet of tables.

However, contrary to what is often stated, the timer was not actually the thing that triggered detonation. Rather, it simply armed the bomb once the time ran out. The actual trigger for detonation was a simple radar device in the back of the M388 that would detect how far above the ground the nuke was. There was also a high and low switch that could slightly adjust height of detonation based on the radar reading.

As you might have gleaned from all this, also contrary to what is often stated, this switch did not control the yield of the bomb, just what height it would detonate above the ground, roughly 20-40 feet AGL, depending on setting.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

It should also be noted that, unlike many other nuclear weapons, this was an otherwise dumb nuke. Once the timer was set and it was fired, it would either go off or prove itself to be a dud. There was no aborting detonation after launch.

If all that is involved in firing the Davey Crockett sounds like it might take a long time, it turns out not at all given the destructive power of this weapon. One former Davey Crockett section soldier, Thomas Hermann, notes that they were actually trained and well capable of firing a nuke every two and a half minutes!

So just how deadly could this weapon be? While extremely low-powered as nukes go, the weapon nonetheless produced a blast in the ballpark of as large as the highest yield non-nuclear explosive devices of the era. But unlike many of these, it was relatively small and portable. More important than that was its potential for extended damage long after the initial blast. This was particularly useful when fired around critical routes that enemy soldiers would have to traverse. Not only would the initial blast do significant damage to any soldiers and enemy vehicles around at the time, but the radioactive fallout, which would almost certainly be fatal to anyone within about a quarter of a mile of the initial blast when it went off, would remain long after, making a given route, such as a mountain pass, impassable for several days after if one was interested in not dying of radiation poisoning. Naturally, the Soviets could defend against this simply by equipping each of their soldiers with lead-lined refrigerators, but for whatever reason they never seemed to have chosen to go this route.

On the other end of things, neither did the Americans. This was despite the fact that the Davey Crockett was also not terribly safe for those firing it. While 1.25-2.5 miles away is plenty of range to keep the soldiers who pulled the trigger safe from being harmed by the blast itself, in real world scenarios the enemy being fired upon could be closer and some of your own troops might also be even closer still.

Critical to all of this was also wind direction. With no wind, the radiation kill zone in the immediately aftermath of the blast was approximately 1,500 feet, but wind could easily blow dangerous radioactive particles towards one’s own troops. As such, crew were instructed to, if possible, only fire the gun when suitable cover behind a hill or the like was available to help reduce radiation exposure.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

Photograph of a U.S. developed M-388 Davy Crockett nuclear weapon mounted to a recoilless rifle on a tripod

(Department of Defense)

That said, presumably to try to get the soldiers operating the weapon to be slightly less hesitant about firing it, the instruction manual notes that the leader of the troop should instill a great sense of urgency in the soldiers operating the Davy Crockett and to remember that, to quote, “The search for nuclear targets is constant and vigorous!”

On top of that, the manual states that if the nuke failed to detonate for some reason, the soldiers should wait a half hour and then go and recover the supposed to be armed and ready to detonate at the whim of a radar trigger nuke…

Needless to say, while the Davy Crockett was deployed everywhere from West Germany to South Korea, with well over 2,000 of the M388 rounds made and 100 of the guns deployed, it was never actually used in battle.

That said, the Army did do one test fire of the Davy Crockett with a live M388 round. This occurred during Operation Sunbeam in a test code named “Little Feller I”, which took place on July 17, 1962. The nuke flew approximately 1.7 miles and detonated successfully about 30 feet above the ground, with an estimated yield of 18 tons from the blast. Interestingly enough, this was the last time the United States would detonate a nuke in the air close to the ground thanks to the 1963 Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water. (And, yes, that is the real name of the treaty).

In the end, as cool as having a portable nuclear gun is and all, within only a few years the weapon would become antiquated, and by 1967 the Army was already beginning to phase it out, with it going the way of the Dodo completely by 1971. No doubt to the eternal relief of the soldiers tasked with firing the things should the need arise.

This article originally appeared on Today I Found Out. Follow @TodayIFoundOut on Twitter.

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MIGHTY TRENDING

This is how the Air Force plans to make its doomsday arsenal more deadly

The Air Force plans to fire off new prototype ICBMs in the early 2020s as part of a long-range plan to engineer and deploy next-generation, high-tech intercontinental ballistic missiles with improved range, durability, targeting technology and overall lethality, service officials said.


The service is already making initial technological progress on design work and “systems engineering” for a new arsenal of ICBMs to serve well into the 2070s – called Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, or GBSD.

Northrop Grumman and Boeing teams were recently awarded Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction deals from the Air Force as part of a longer-term developmental trajectory aimed at developing, testing, firing and ultimately deploying new ICBMs.

Overall, the Air Force plans to build as many as 400 new GBSD weapons to modernize the arsenal and replace the 1970s-era Boeing-built Minuteman IIIs.

The new weapons will be engineered with improved guidance technology, boosters, flight systems and command and control systems, compared to the existing Minuteman III missiles. The weapon will also have upgraded circuitry and be built with a mind to long-term maintenance and sustainability, developers said.

Initial subsystem prototypes are included within the scope of the current Boeing and Northrop deals, Col. Heath Collins, System Program Manager, GBSD, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

“Over the next three years, the GBSD prime contractors will develop and test those prototypes to demonstrate technical and integration design maturity. In the end, these prototypes will burn down risk early to ensure successful execution of the next acquisition phase,” Collins said.

Following this initial 3-year developmental phase, the Air Force plan an Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase and eventual deployment.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case
An unarmed LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test Feb. 20, 2016, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kyla Gifford)

Much attention has been focused on nuclear deterrence and the need for the US to modernize its arsenal, particularly in light of recent North Korean threats. Senior nuclear weapons developers have told Scout Warrior that upgraded guidance packages, durability and new targeting technology are all among areas of current developmental emphasis.

While, quite naturally, many of the details of the emerging new ICBMs are not available for discussion for security reasons, Collins did elaborate a bit on the systems engineering strategy being employed by Air Force developers.

Collins, an engineer himself, explained that the current acquisition strategy prioritizes model-based systems engineering designed to expedite technological development.

“Our approach to systems engineering leverages the power of 21st century technology to allow the program office to better “Own the Technical Baseline” through a spectrum of tools, models and simulations in a collaborative and interactive data environment,” Collins said.

The strategy, Collins explained, is intended the Air Force to better manage program and technical complexity through digital traceability and aggregation.

“This provides a single source of truth across the weapon system design, and allows a more comprehensive and deeper understanding of the architecture and design,” he said.

The new ICBMs will be deployed roughly within the same geographical expanse in which the current weapons are stationed. In total, dispersed areas across three different sites span 33,600 miles, including missiles in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Minot, North Dakota and Great Falls, Montana.

The Air Force plans to award the single EMD contract in late fiscal year 2020.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case
ICBM. Date Unknown (U.S. Air Force Photo)

Excerpts from the previous report HERE:

If one were to passively reflect upon the seemingly limitless explosive power to instantly destroy, vaporize or incinerate cities, countries and massive swaths of territory or people — images of quiet, flowing green meadows, peaceful celebratory gatherings or melodious sounds of chirping birds might not immediately come to mind.

After all, lethal destructive weaponry does not, by any means, appear to be synonymous with peace, tranquility and collective happiness. However, it is precisely the prospect of massive violence which engenders the possibility of peace. Nuclear weapons therefore, in some unambiguous sense, can be interpreted as being the antithesis of themselves; simply put – potential for mass violence creates peace – thus the conceptual thrust of nuclear deterrence.

It is within this conceptual framework, designed to save millions of lives, prevent major great-power war and ensure the safety of entire populations, that the U.S. Air Force is now vigorously pursuing a new arsenal of land-fired, Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles, or ICBMs.

Nuclear Deterrence

Earlier this year, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, said the United States has about the right numbers of nuclear weapons, but they need to be modernized.

A Pentagon statement said the General asked reporters to imagine what the world was like in the six years preceding the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “In those six years, the world in conflict killed somewhere between 60 million and 80 million people,” he said. “That’s about 33,000 people a day, a million people a month.”

The world has seen bloody conflicts — Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom were awful, but nowhere near the level of carnage the world had experienced, he said.

“The submarines are the most survivable element of it; the ICBMs are the most ready; the bombers are the most flexible,” he said. “When you put those pieces together, it gives our nation the ability to withstand any attack and respond if we are attacked, which means we won’t be attacked.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is the death cult the FBI says is spreading among drug cartels

The drug war has been going on for so long, the inward, secret lives of narcotics traffickers are beginning to take on a life all of their own, separate from the national borders we know as their homes. They have their own rituals, coded languages, technology, and now, even a secret religion has sprung up around their lives.

It’s called the cult of Santa Muerte – “Holy Death” – and it’s more intense and deadly than anything that came before it.


Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

A Santa Muerte follower announces its adherence.

(FBI)

Since Mexican President Felipe Calderon upped the ante on the Drug War in 2006 by taking down the highest-ranking members of certain cartels, violence in the country has increased exponentially. Since then some 45,000 people have died in the drug war. The level of violence and death without warning has spurred the spread of the Santa Muerte religion in Mexico and beyond. Santa Muerte, in turn, spurs the narcos to become more and more violent.

The worshippers of Santa Muerte are primarily disenfranchised, poor Mexicans who turn to the cartels as a means of employment but soon begin the same cycle of murder and torture as those who came before them. The activities they’re forced to conduct aren’t accepted by pure Catholicism, so they turn elsewhere for comfort.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

And now, you can buy the figurines on Amazon.

Santa Muerte has developed as a belief system for over 50 years or more. According to the FBI, “The Santa Muerte cult could best be described as [following] a set of ritual practices offered on behalf of a supernatural personification of death…she is comparable in theology to supernatural beings or archangels.” Unlike Death or the Virgin of Guadalupe, as she is often represented, her scales don’t actually work, a reflection of her amoral nature. Since many narco foot soldiers will end up dying a brutal death, the appeal of worshipping a death-like figure is obvious. In the meantime, Santa Muerte advocates are enjoying the world’s earthly pleasures.

While the FBI stops short of calling the worship of Santa Muerte a full-blown religion, it does have its own belief system, as well as priests, temples, and shrines, along with all the rituals associated with religion – including ritual killings.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

A statue of Santa Muerte in a practitioner’s home.

Ritualistic Santa Muerte killings are abundant in Mexico and South America amongst narco-traffickers, but the killings are now making their way into the United States, albeit, primarily close to the border cities already struck by violence that has become the signature of the War on Drugs, and only four have been confirmed as related to Santa Muerte.

Border agents and local police have been thoroughly trained on the ins and outs of the religion and its followers, but luckily very few have been seen on the U.S. side of the border.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Analysis: The Army has a range problem, but it’s not because of the 5.56 round

Back in May, the Army Times ran a piece announcing that the Army was officially looking to replace the M16 family of weapons and the 5.56mm cartridge with a weapon system that is both more reliable, and has greater range.


As the article states, they’re taking a hard look at “intermediate rounds,” or rounds with diameters between 6.5 and 7mm, that have greater range and ballistics than either the 5.56 x 45 or the 7.62 x 51, both of which are old and outdated compared to the crop of rounds that have sprung up in the last decade or so. The thinking is, with these newer rounds, you can easily match the superior stopping power of the 7.62 without sacrificing the magazine capacity afforded by the tiny 5.56 cartridge, while still giving troops better range and accuracy.

Coupled with a more reliable platform, preferably one that doesn’t jam up if you so much as think about sand getting in it, this could potentially be a game changer for the US Army.

Now, me personally, I think this is great. I’ve had a chance to play around with a couple of these intermediate calibers, and I quickly fell in love. I’m not one of those guys who despises the 5.56, because, for what it is, it’s not a bad little round. It’s got decent ballistics out to a decent range, and you can carry a lot of them. But, when you compare it to something like the 6.5 Creedmore, one of the rounds reportedly being considered as a replacement, it’s like comparing a Mazda Miata to a Lamborghini Aventador.

And hey, a new rifle would be pretty great, too. The M16 platform has been around for ages, and while its modular nature means that it’s endlessly adaptable, the direct gas impingement operating system is a right pain in the ass. Advances in firearm technology over the past half century have given us plenty of options, and it’s high time we took a look at them.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Qujuan Baptiste uses smoke as concealment during a stress shoot at the 2017 Army Materiel Command’s Best Warrior Competition July 18, 2017, at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Teddy Wade)

But giving soldiers a more reliable weapon with greater range is kinda pointless if we don’t address one of the Army’s most persistent and glaring faults: its marksmanship program sucks. There’s no one part of the thing we can point to as being problematic. It’s not just the BRM taught at Basic, or the qualification tables. The whole thing, from start to finish, really, really, sucks.

What’s the point of giving soldiers a shiny, new rifle if they can’t hit the broadside of a barn with the one they’ve got?

Now, before you break out the pitchforks and your Expert qualification badges, sit down and think about what I’m saying. Unless your MOS directly involves shooting things in the face, when was the last time you went to the range during the workday for something other than qualification? When was the last time you broke out the rifles for anything other than to qualify, or to clean them for inspection?

For most of you, that answer will be either the last time you deployed, or never. And that’s a huge problem.

Over the last ten-and-a-half years in the North Carolina Army National Guard, I’ve spent more time being told not to kill myself or rape people than how to shoot. I don’t have a problem with qualification myself; I can reliably shoot high sharpshooter to low expert. But I also make a point to shoot recreationally whenever I can. Not everyone has that option, and plenty of folks who do don’t take advantage of it.

For most folks, the entirety of their marksmanship training will consist of three weeks in Basic, the few days out of the year when they go qualify, and maybe a few days or even a week or two of extra training when they mobilize. And that simply isn’t enough.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Qujuan Baptiste uses a vehicle as a barricade and fires at multiple targets during a stress shoot scenario at the 2017 Army Materiel Command’s Best Warrior Competition July 18, 2017, at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Teddy Wade)

Nevermind that the Army’s qualification system is stupid and outdated. Shooting static popup targets at ranges between 50-300 meters is a good start, but to rely on that as the sole measure of a soldier’s ability to engage the enemy is insane. According to the Army Times article linked up at the top, one of the driving forces behind looking for a new round is the fact that something like half of all firefights occurred at ranges greater than 300 meters. Meanwhile, your average soldier doesn’t even bother shooting at the 300 meter targets, because they know they can’t hit the damn things.

If the Army’s quest for a new sidearm is any indication, the search for a new rifle will take at least a decade, untold millions of dollars, a half-dozen Congressional inquiries and investigations, and probably a few lawsuits before they settle on the final product. Which means there’s plenty of time to teach soldiers how to shoot before the new gear ever starts filtering its way through the system.

As a starting point, come up with a comprehensive training plan that utilizes Basic Rifle Marksmanship, then build on that foundation throughout the soldier’s career. Get soldiers to the range more often. Update the qualification tables to more accurately represent the threat they’re expected to face. Enforce qualification standards like PT standards, and offer regular remedial training for folks who fail to meet those standards.

Or just carry on before and put a shiny new rifle in the hands of a kid who barely knows which end goes bang. I watched a guy from out battalion’s Forward Support Company shoot a 6 this year. That’s good enough, right?

MIGHTY CULTURE

Check out photos of Marines practicing air assaults

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California — In a magnificent display of combat power, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) demonstrated its ability to lift a regiment of Marines and their equipment over long distances in a very short period of time in Southern California, Dec. 10, 2019.

Muddy and exhausted with dark clouds looming, the Marines trekked across a rain-soaked field, their footprints embedding into the mud with every weighted step. They marched toward the distant sound of rotor blades.


US Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallions and MV-22B Ospreys with 3rd MAW waited on the horizon, ready to fulfill their role and extract the warriors following a training event that began with inserting Marines from 1st Marine Division.

Overhead, two UH-1Y Venoms secured an unseen 3-dimensional perimeter, ready to provide support if needed. This is what a regimental air assault looks like.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

Four US Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallions take off during exercise Steel Knight at El Centro, California, December 10, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Julian Elliott-Drouin)

“The regimental air assault is part of Steel Knight 20, which is a 1st Marine Division exercise,” explained US Marine Corps Col. William J. Bartolomea, the commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 39, 3rd MAW.

“But of course, as Marines and as Marine Pilots, we are always supporting our brothers and sisters on the ground. We’re involved because the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) is better when all of its elements are put together.”

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

Helicopter Support Team Marines prepare an M777 Howitzer for external lift during exercise Steel Knight in El Centro, California, December 10, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Julian Elliott-Drouin)

The regimental air assault used a variety of 3rd MAW Marines and machines and integrated each of their capabilities into an adaptable aviation maneuver, all working in support of the ground combat element.

“I think more than anything else, it provides versatility and flexibility,” said Bartolomea. “The air assault portion provides the ground element the ability to maneuver in three dimensions and bypass enemy strong points to get at enemy weak points. The flexibility and the range of fire power that 3rd MAW and MAG 39 brings in support of 1st Marine Division is critical to make sure they can achieve their objectives.”

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

US Marines load onto an MV-22B Osprey for a regimental air assault during exercise Steel Knight at Camp Pendleton, California, December 10, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Warrant Officer Justin M. Pack)

The regimental air assault is one of the many exercises 3rd MAW performs in order to provide realistic and relevant training in support of ground operations.

“Training like this is vital to individual and unit readiness,” said Capt. Valerie Smith, a pilot with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 465, MAG-16. “Integrating aviation in the same manner that it would be used in a MAGTF gives the Marines the training they need to remain aggressive, prepared and focused on operational excellence.”

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

US Marines prepare for a tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel during exercise Steel Knight in El Centro, California, December 10, 2019.

(Photo by US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Juan Anaya)

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

Four MV-22B Ospreys arrive for a regimental air assault during exercise Steel Knight on Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, California, December 10, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Warrant Officer Justin M. Pack)

“At the end of the day,” said Bartolomea, “this combined effort puts our enemies in a dilemma that gets our ground combat element to the objective they need, giving us a lethal edge on the battle field.”

The Super Stallions and Ospreys lifted off from the rain-soaked field, their precise and graceful movements a visible testament to the rigorous training required of aircrews.

The Marines, loaded in the fuselage, looked back on the landing zone as gusts from the rotors blew away all traces of them ever being there save for the muddied footprints they left behind as a reminder of their presence and the lethal capabilities of the force that moved them.

Air assaults of this magnitude are and will continue to be a vital part of the 3rd MAW’s preparation as they train and focus on naval integration and ship-to-shore transport, connecting the naval force and its warriors. The regimental air assault is but one example of how 3rd MAW supports the Navy-Marine Corps warfighting team.

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

MIGHTY FIT

From the football field to the battlefield: 7 vets with NFL ties

The National Football League has been plagued by questions of patriotism in the last few years. But whether or not the NFL kneels or stands this year, it’s important to remember that some of the players and coaches have served, too.


Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

1. George Halas

Halas was instrumental in the creation of the NFL and responsible for founding the team that went on to be the Chicago Bears in 1920. Nicknamed “Papa Bear,” Halas coached the Bears for 40 seasons, leading them to six NFL titles. Halas served in the Navy during World War I and returned to Navy service from 1942-1945.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

2. Ralph Wilson, Jr.

Enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2009, Wilson founded the Buffalo Bills following his service in the Navy during World War II. He was also instrumental in the merger between the AFL and the NFL in 1970.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

3. Kevin Greene

Greene retired from the NFL in 1999 and ranks third among all-time sack leaders. He led the NFL twice in that category with an impressive career playing for the Steelers, Rams, Panthers, and 49ers, with five appearances in the Pro Bowl. Greene was a member of ROTC at Auburn and served 16 years in the Army Reserves.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

4. Alejandro Villanueva Martínez

Villanueva is an offensive tackle for the Steelers. A veteran Army Ranger, Villanueva was a captain in the Army, served in Afghanistan, and was decorated with a Bronze Star.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

5. Tom Landry

Hall of Famer Tom Landry was a coaching phenom for the Dallas Cowboys. He led his team to two Super Bowl titles and had 20 straight winning seasons. Equally impressive was Landry’s service in the Army Air Corps during World War II. The B-17 co-pilot flew 30 missions and survived a crash in Belgium. He passed away in 2000 at age 75 as a legend and a hero.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

6. Dick “Night Train” Lane

The Hall of Famer had an incredible 68 career interceptions during his time with the Los Angeles Rams, Chicago Cardinals, and Detroit Lions. For nine straight years (1954-1963), Lane earned first or second-team All-NFL honors. He played in seven Pro Bowls and during his rookie season, had an unprecedented 14 interceptions – a record that still stands today. Lane served in the Army during both World War II and the Korean War.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

7. Roger Staubach

Staubach, nicknamed “Captain America,” won the 1963 Heisman Trophy during his time as quarterback at the U.S. Naval Academy. After graduation, Staubach served his commitment in the Navy, which included a tour in Vietnam. Following his service, Staubach joined the Cowboys and played in Dallas for all 11 seasons of his professional football career. During his tenure, the Cowboys won two of their five Super Bowl appearances.

The list of NFL greats who served their country continues with inspiring men like Pat Tillman, George McAfee, Mike Anderson, and so many more. But for every big name in the NFL, there are countless men that gave up their football dreams to serve their country.

You may not have heard of Jack Ankerson, but he only played three NFL exhibition games in 1964 before Uncle Sam called him up to serve his time. By the time his commitment was done, so was his chance to play in the NFL. But Jack, like so many others who chose service above self, is everything that’s right with America and the sports we love to watch.

Whether they’re a hometown hero or a household name, we salute all of our football playing and football-loving veterans.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This was the first tank designed for nuclear war

After America dropped the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it became clear that warfare had changed. America stopped building some conventional weapons of war, including tanks, relying on the new weapons to guarantee peace. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union was working on two new, important weapons of war: their own atomic bombs and tanks that can protect a crew through the blast.


Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

The T-54 had a massive gun that surprised its contemporaries in the 1950s, but it predicted the rise of the modern main battle tank.

(ShinePhantom, CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Soviet Union didn’t have the resources to compete with America tank for tank and bomb for bomb worldwide, but they did hope to control as much of Eurasia as possible, and they knew this would result in a clash along the borders of the Warsaw Pact and Western Europe.

The Soviet military leadership wanted to know that, even if a tactical nuclear exchange went down, they would be able to fight through the aftermath. That meant that their tank crews needed to be lethal, protected from anti-tank weapons, but also isolated from nuclear fallout.

And so they turned to their T-54B tank and started prepping it to survive the blast of the strongest weapons known to man.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

Polish T-54 tanks.

(Public domain)

The T-54B was already an impressive tank, first rolling off the line in 1949. It was simple to operate, relatively cheap for a main battle tank, and well-balanced. The Soviets and the partnered nations that would go on to buy export version of the tank saw it as a successor to the T-34, the most produced tank of World War II.

But the tank was more accurately a descendant of the T-44, a tank with a gun so big that firing it would wear down the transmission. The increased firepower in the T-44 and, later, the T-54, would be necessary in tank-on-tank combat on any Cold War battlefield.

But the early production T-54s still had plenty of faults, and tank designers improved the platform throughout the 1950s. The T-54A and T-54B introduced upgrades like wading snorkels, fume extractors, and an upgraded gun called the D-10TG. The T-55 was designed with all the knowledge and upgrades from the T-54’s development. The T-55 would be lethal right off the starting block. But being a lethal medium tank isn’t enough to survive nuclear war.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

A Slovenian M-55, a highly modified T-55 medium tank.

(MORS, CC BY 3.0)

Believe it or not, the primary systems of a tank in the 1950s were about as survivable as they could be from the bomb. Obviously, no tank could survive at ground zero of a nuclear bomb, but it would be possible for a tank to survive the blast near the borders of the area affected. After all, the armor is designed to survive a direct hit from a fast-flying, armor penetrating round at any given point. An atomic bomb’s blast is more powerful, but it’s spread out over the entire hull and turret.

But there was, of course, another major danger while fighting a nuclear-armed rival. After the fireball and after the blast, the irradiated dust and debris would fall back down to earth. For crews to survive, they would need safe air and living space.

And so the designers figured out how to overpressure the tank, creating higher pressure within the tank so that all of the little leaks in the armor were pushing air out instead of allowing it in. And the crew compartment was covered in an anti-radiation lining that would reduce radiation traveling through the hull. Finally, a filtration system cleared incoming air of debris and then pumped it into the crew cabin, allowing the crew to breathe and making the overpressure system work.

Again, none of this would make the crew immune from the effects of a bomb. The blast wave could still crush the hull and burst blood vessels in the brains of the crew. The heat wave could still ignite fuel and fry the people inside. Worst of all, plenty of radiation could get through and doom the combatants to deaths of cancer.

But the crew would likely survive to keep fighting, and had some chance of a decent life after the war if they made it. For a few years, at least.

The T-54 and T-55 went on to become the most-produced tanks in world history, but luckily the T-55 adaptations were never actually tested in combat. It and the British Centurion would undergo testing for nuclear blasts. They survived, but you really didn’t want to be inside when the blast hit.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case

The Object 279 heavy tank was designed for nuclear warfare, but it never went into production due to its high weight.

(Alf van Beem, public domain)

Oddly enough, the T-55 was the first production tank to be designed for nuclear warfare, it wasn’t the only Soviet design that flirted with surviving a nuclear war. Russian weapon designers also came up with the Object 279, a heavy tank with four sets of treads that was supposed to enter production even before the T-55.

But it wasn’t to be. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev thought it was time to relegate heavy tanks to the dustbin of history, and he won out. Object 279 and most other heavy tank designs were cast out, leaving the path open for the lighter T-55 medium tank.

Humor

5 ways you can tell you’re not a boot anymore

If you’ve never been on a combat deployment, you’re what many troops call a “boot.” That being said, the different military branches have varying definitions of what a boot is and what it takes to shed the newbie label.


In short, the term is used mainly to describe someone who is fresh out of boot camp and hasn’t done jack sh*t in their military career.

If you’re headed off to serve in the infantry and you’re a boot, you’ll be reminded of that fact several times a day.

Related: 7 things you shouldn’t say to a troop about to deploy

1. No one calls you a boot anymore

Like we said, you’ll be called a boot more times than you’ll care to count — it’s a birthright. However, as more time passes and you thrive in your MOS, you’ll seldom hear that famous word.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case
That time will come soon enough…

2. You’ve worn out your first uniform while “in-country”

When you deploy to a war zone, you typically don’t pack more than just one or two bags. You’re bringing the basics you need to get you through the time you’re expected to be gone.

So, when you wear out one of the uniforms you’ve been fighting in, it’s time to toss that sucker into the burn pit. By that point, chances are you’ve put in a lot of work and you’re no longer a boot.

3. You survived your first real enemy contact

Like we said before, requirements for shedding the “boot” label may vary by branch, but this one is pretty standard for everyone. Once you’ve taken incoming rounds while outside of the wire and you’ve returned fired, you can confidently consider yourself a badass. Many troops freeze up on their first time taking enemy contact — it happens.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case
U.S. Army troops putting rounds down range faster than they’re taking them.

4. Someone who’s been around asks for occupational advice

This one’s not a guarantee that your boot status has been lifted, but it’s a great sign.

Also Read: 5 reasons why King Leonidas would make the best platoon sergeant ever

5. You’re placed in charge of your company’s “boot drop”

Remember when you and a bunch of your fellow troops first arrived at your first unit? That’s what we call a “boot drop.” So, if your sergeant or corporal asks you to handle the onboarding process, chances are, you’re not a boot anymore.

Congrats! You made it!

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case
Here they come!

MIGHTY TRENDING

The unbelievable way President Trump cut to the chase with Israel

President Donald Trump reportedly put a blunt question to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by asking if the leader of the Jewish state genuinely wanted peace.

Axios’ Jonathan Swan reported that, in a phone call with Netanyahu in 2017, Trump shocked his aides by getting straight to the point and pressing the Israeli leader on making a deal with Palestine.


The call followed Netanyahu’s approval of Israeli settlements outside the country’s borders, something which Trump reportedly thought would needlessly anger Palestinians.

“The President has an extremely close and candid relationship with the Prime Minister of Israel and appreciates his strong efforts to enhance the cause of peace in the face of numerous challenges,” the White House told Axios.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

“The President has great relationships with a number of foreign leaders but that doesn’t mean he can’t be aggressive when it comes to negotiating what’s best for America,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders added.

Trump has often discussed a “deal” to be had in the Israeli-Palestine conflict that has raged for decades, but made little tangible progress towards securing peace.

In December 2018, Trump went through with the longstanding US promise to recognize Jerusalem, the divided city that all three Abrahamic religions hold as a high holy site, as Israel’s capital in a move that angered Palestinians and many around the world.

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

Articles

This was the final farewell of a heroic Marine military dog

US military hero dog “Cena,” a 9-year-old Black Labrador who served as a bomb detection dog in Afghanistan and saved the lives of his handler and uncounted other American warriors, ended his service July 26 after a battle he could not win with bone cancer.


Cena died peacefully in the arms of his battle buddy, former Marine Corps Cpl. Jeff DeYoung, in their hometown of Muskegon, Michigan.

The two first met during Improvised Detection Dog training in Virginia in July 2009. They were deployed to Afghanistan later that year and during their service together, the two were part of Operation Moshtarak in February 2010 that was the largest joint operation up to that point.

DeYoung and Cena typically led the way as U.S. troops trudged through the rugged and treacherous sandscapes of Afghanistan. Cena was trained to detect more than 300 different types of explosives and if he smelled something suspicious on patrol he alerted DeYoung, who would then call in an explosives technician to safely remove or detonate the bomb.

Cena and DeYoung ate together, slept together, and fought together, forging a deep bond between them.

“Once I laid down on top of him to protect him from gunfire,” said DeYoung. “I carried him through a freezing cold, flooded river on my shoulders.”

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case
Cena and Corporal DeYoung (Photo from American Humane via NewsEdge) 

DeYoung’s protectiveness of Cena was repaid many times over. Each military dog is estimated to save the lives of between 150-200 servicemen and women during the course of their career, and one of those lives was DeYoung’s. Suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress and the recent loss of several close comrades in combat, DeYoung tried to take his own life. But Cena intervened and saved his comrade from committing suicide.

Despite their seemingly unbreakable bond, DeYoung and Cena were separated unceremoniously without even the chance for a goodbye when DeYoung left military service and Cena continued working through three deployments. For four years, DeYoung suffered nightmares and flashbacks, missing Cena every single day.

Finally, when Cena was retired for a hip injury, the two were brought back together in an emotional reunion made possible with the help of American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization, which has also been working to support the U.S. military, veterans, and military animals for more than 100 years.

The reunion in 2014 was covered by media across the nation and Jeff and Cena’s story has been carried in hundreds of countries around the globe.

Navy drops charges against Fitzgerald commanding officer, LT in collision case
Photo by Capt. Allie Payne

Since then, DeYoung and Cena have served as military ambassadors for American Humane, traveling around the country to raise awareness about the importance of reuniting service dogs with their handlers, and how the dogs can improve and save the lives of veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress.

“Military Working Dog Cena is a true American hero and an inspiring testament to the life-changing power of the human-animal bond,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane. “He will be greatly missed by all those who knew and who owe their lives to him. His work and his example will live on in the memories of all who knew him and were touched by his story.”

Cena was family to me,” said DeYoung. “It’s always been him and me against the world, and losing him has devastated me to my core. Goodbye, my most faithful friend. I will never forget you.”

 

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