The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard

On November 30, 2020, the Navy announced the decision to decommission the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6). The Wasp-class amphibious ship suffered extensive damage during a fire while in port in July. The decision follows an extensive assessment of the ship after the fire.

As a landing helicopter deck amphibious assault ship, the Bonhomme Richard was an integral part of the Navy-Marine Corps team. She was capable of supporting a wide range of aircraft including the SH-60F/HH-60H Seahawk, UH-1Y Venom, CH-53E Super Stallion, AH-1Z Viper, AV-8B Harrier, MV-22B Osprey, and the new F-35B Lightning II. Her well deck also allowed her to support landing craft like LCACs, LCUs and LCMs.

The Bonhomme Richard was commissioned on August 15, 1998. From January 24 to July 24, 2000, she made the first WESTPAC deployment of any U.S. Navy vessel in the new millennium. The next year, she began her participation in the War on Terror with a deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard
USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) conducts air operations off the coast of Australia (U.S. Navy)

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Bonhomme Richard provided critical support to Marine Corps operations. She offloaded Marines of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines in Kuwait and went on to launch 547 combat sorties. Marine Attack Squadrons VMA-211 and VMA-311 delivered more than 175,000 pounds of ordnance launching from Bonhomme Richard‘s deck.

Additionally, the ship assisted in humanitarian operations. Following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, the Bonhomme Richard was detached from Operation Iraqi Freedom and sailed for Sri Lanka. The ship helped to airlift relief supplies to Sumatra, Indonesia. Following a port visit to Guam, the ship returned to the Indian Ocean. Helicopters from the Bonhomme Richard flew medical supplies and personnel into Indonesia and evacuated the wounded.

Tragically, a fire broke out on board the ship while in her homeport at San Diego during maintenance. At around 8:50 am, an explosion occurred on the ship. “It is a Class Alpha fire,” said Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck, Expeditionary Strike Group 3 commander, “meaning it was fueled by paper, cloth, rags or other materials in a standard fire.” Despite not being accelerated by fuel or munitions, the fire was extensive. Firefighting effort were delayed because fire-suppression systems had been disabled due to the maintenance.

Finally, on July 16, the Navy announced that all fires on board had been extinguished. A total of 40 sailors and 23 civilians received minor injuries as a result of the fire. The fire was a “very, very serious incident,” said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday. 11 of the 14 decks sustained fire and water damage. Many sections of deck were warped or bulging and the ship’s island had been gutted by the flames. On July 31, nine sailors assigned to the Bonhomme Richard were meritoriously promoted for their actions in fighting the fire.

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard
Sailors fought the fire fore five days to save the ship (U.S. Navy)

Although NCIS and the ATF questioned sailors following the fire, no charges were made and the cause of the fire remains under investigation. The Navy is also conducting investigations into safety standards to prevent future fires.

On November 30, the Navy announced that the Bonhomme Richard would be decommissioned. “We did not come to this decision lightly,” said Secretary of the Navy Kenneth Braithwaite. “Following an extensive material assessment in which various courses of action were considered and evaluated, we came to the conclusion that it is not fiscally responsible to restore her.” In fact, the assessment concluded that it would cost the Navy over $3 billion and take five to seven years to restore the ship. The Navy also considered repurposing the ship. However, the associated costs were estimated to exceed $1 billion, as much or more than the cost of a new purpose-built ship.

At this time, the timeline for towing and dismantling is still being finalized. “Although it saddens me that it is not cost effective to bring her back, I know this ship’s legacy will continue to live on through the brave men and women who fought so hard to save her, as well as the Sailors and Marines who served aboard her during her 22-year history,” Braithwaite said.

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard
USS Bonhomme Richard on fire at Naval Base San Diego on July 12, 2020 (U.S. Navy)
Articles

These photos show Marines fighting ISIS from their new base in Iraq

U.S. troops put “boots on the ground” in Iraq in mid-March, part of the plan to combat the threat of ISIS militants in the country. The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina is there with Task Force Spartan to assist the Iraqi government’s effort against ISIS. These new photos from DoD show them in action.


The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard
U.S. Marines with Task Force Spartan, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), offload from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter during their insert into Kara Soar, while conducting their mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, in Kara Soar, Iraq, March 17, 2016. Operation Inherent Resolve is an international U.S. led coalition military operation created as part of a comprehensive strategy to degrade and defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Andre Dakis/Released)

Once in country, the Marines established Fire Base Bell in the early hours of March 17. The base was a Pentagon secret until March 21 when Staff Sgt. Louis Cardin was killed in an ISIS rocket attack.

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard
U.S. Marines with Task Force Spartan, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), board a CH-47 Chinook helicopter in Taji, Iraq, before heading to Kara Soar for their mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve on March 17, 2016. Operation Inherent Resolve is an international U.S. led coalition military operation created as part of a comprehensive strategy to degrade and defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Andre Dakis/Released)

The base features four 155mm M777A2 Howitzer cannons, and is a few hundred yards from a larger Iraqi base near Makhmour where U.S. military advisers train Iraqi troops. The Howitzers were up and running, attacking ISIS positions by the next day.

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard
U.S. Army AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters escort two CH-47 Chinook helicopters carrying U.S. Marines with Task Force Spartan, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), over Taji, Iraq, as they head to Kara Soar for their mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve on March 17, 2016. Operation Inherent Resolve is an international U.S. led coalition military operation created as part of a comprehensive strategy to degrade and defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Andre Dakis/Released)

 

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard
U.S. Marines with Task Force Spartan, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), on Fire Base Bell, Iraq, fire an M777A2 Howitzer at an ISIS infiltration route March 18, 2016. The Marines fired upon the enemy infiltration routes in order to disrupt their freedom of movement and ability to attack Kurdish and Peshmerga forces. Operation Inherent Resolve is an international U.S. led coalition military operation created as part of a comprehensive strategy to degrade and defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Andre Dakis/Released)

 

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Jordan Crupper, an artilleryman, and Sgt. Onesimos Utey, an artillery section chief, both with Task Force Spartan, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), prepare an Excalibur 155 mm round on Fire Base Bell, Iraq, while conducting fire missions against an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) infiltration route March 18, 2016. Operation Inherent Resolve is an international U.S. led coalition military operation created as part of a comprehensive strategy to degrade and defeat ISIL. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Andre Dakis/Released)

Fire Base Bell is supporting the Iraqi offensive to recapture Mosul, some 60 miles away from Makhmour. The Howitzers have a 22-mile range, which means they can’t hit Mosul, but they can hit ISIS positions along the way

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard
U.S. Marines with Task Force Spartan, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), on Fire Base Bell, Iraq, fire an M777A2 Howitzer at an ISIS infiltration route March 18, 2016. The Marines fired upon the enemy infiltration routes in order to disrupt their freedom of movement and ability to attack Kurdish and Peshmerga forces. Operation Inherent Resolve is an international U.S. led coalition military operation created as part of a comprehensive strategy to degrade and defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Andre Dakis/Released)

Articles

This former Green Beret wants to fix the NFL

Green Beret Lt. Col. Brian Decker led a unit in Iraq. Then he was assigned to run the Special Forces Assessment and Selection program in North Carolina. He decided to improve the Army’s selection process and reduce the washout rate for men who made it through the initial screening.


The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard

Decker wanted to develop tools that would allow the Army to identify soldiers who could make good decisions in chaotic situations and have the necessary devotion to teamwork. He overhauled a process that had been static since its launch in 1988 and introduced new standards that collected over 1,200 data points on each candidate, including physical and mental processes. After three years, Decker’s program had reduced the washout rate by 30%.

He met former Cleveland Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski when the coach came to a Special Forces camp looking for training tips. That turned into an reciprocal invite to Browns camp. Team president Joe Banner was fascinated by Decker’s philosophy and convinced him to retire from the Army and join the team as a special advisor, in hopes that Decker’s analysis could help correct the NFL’s notorious 50% failure rate for first round draft picks.

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard
Decker ran the Special Forces Assessment and Selection program in North Carolina. | Ricky Rhodes

He kept the job even after the Browns fired that management team. Their successors kept him on and he spent a couple of years advising the team on its draft. How did that turn out?

ESPN.com’s Seth Wickersham tells Decker’s story in a 3600-word profile that details Decker’s career and investigates how his football project has been going. It’s definitely worth a read.   

Articles

Project goes into the woods with ‘off the grid’ veterans

A few years ago a team of journalists from Syracuse University traveled to rural Washington state to tell the stories of hundreds of veterans living there, some off-the-grid, away from the country for which they fought.


The project includes the story of Chad Olsen, a Marine who killed his wife and himself in 2009, and the stories of those who knew him. It features the stories of Ryn Rollins and Adam Howerton, who (at the time) were 18 and enlisting in the Army. The project also shows how one Marine veteran who struggles with post-traumatic stress and returning to everyday life after three tours in Iraq.

The project also follows “trip-wire veterans,” a small group of vets who escaped their lives into the wilds of American back country because they were unable to face their war memories and were provided little help when they returned. The term “trip-wire” comes from the Vietnam War, where the Viet Cong would booby trap trails used by U.S. servicemen to injure and maim troops outside their bases.

The term was first coined in the early 1980’s, when around 85 people were documented living in the Washington wilds. It was not known then how many were out there. One former trip-wire vet was Mike McWatters. He lived in New York’s Adirondack Mountains for two years after seeing heavy combat in Vietnam. In 1983, he started work to reach out to these veterans to encourage them to seek treatment.

“I know one vet who went into the woods naked,” McWatters said. “He came out in full leather clothing, having gained 40 pounds, carrying weapons he’d made.”

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard
Photo by Juliette Lynch

When these veterans were first discovered, the media often inaccurately portrayed them as criminals and drunks or worse. In June, 1988, Dan Rather and CBS News interviewed six “Vietnam veterans” who admitted to killing civilians or seeing friends killed in action, and had since become homeless, suicidal drug users after the war. Later investigations showed none of it was true.

The reality is not so black and white. The project hit important topics beyond PTSD – women, race (specifically Native Americans) and the wives and children veterans leave behind, all from the rural town of Republic, Washington.

 This team did more than just tell tales of the people living there. They provided thoroughly researched background information on veteran suicide, the steps to getting a VA disability claim, and an infographic on U.S. wars from 1900 (current as of 2010) and those who fought them.

Now: A top US intelligence official ‘privately floated’ a potential deal to bring Snowden home 

 

MIGHTY TRENDING

Former Pentagon chief warns against putting too much trust in generals to lead US through political fights

It’s no secret: America loves the legendary generals who have taken key positions of power in the Trump administration.


But the nation’s trust and dependence on these men to lead them through challenging political times may be misplaced, retired Adm. Mike Mullen said Thursday.

Mullen, who served as the 17th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011, said the way the nation is turning to these generals betrays a tendency not inherently American.

“I am increasingly — I’m not surprised, but I am concerned about the dependence of the American people on Jim Mattis, H.R. McMaster, John Kelly and Rex Tillerson,” he told an audience at the U.S. Naval Institute’s 2017 Naval History Conference in Annapolis.

(Adm. Mullin is a member of the We Are The Mighty board of directors)

Mattis, McMaster and Kelly — who serve as secretary of defense, national security adviser and White House chief of staff, respectively — all attained four-star rank in the military. McMaster remains on active duty.

“The question that I ask is how did we get here, to a point where we are depending on retired generals for the stability of our citizenry,” he said. “And what happens if that boulder breaks, first of all, and when.”

President Donald Trump has encouraged reverence for the generals in his administration, particularly Mattis, whom he has referred to by the nickname “Mad Dog” and praised on Twitter as a “general’s general.”

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard
DoD photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr

Mattis, who was lionized by troops while in the Marine Corps for his care for his men and straightforward style, had been out of uniform for only four years when he was nominated to serve as defense secretary.

Congress passed a one-time waiver of a law requiring defense secretaries to have been out of the military for at least seven years to allow Mattis to serve.

In a congressional hearing held prior to the waiver vote, military experts advised that Mattis be confirmed, but warned the waiver should not be used again for a long time to preserve the tradition of civilian leadership of the military.

In the past, Mullen has been outspoken about the civilian-military divide and has publicly criticized the recent trend of general and flag officers becoming keynote speakers at political conventions and publicly endorsing candidates for president.

He reiterated these views Thursday, saying that while retired officers have the right to endorse, they do damage to the military by eroding its reputation for impartiality.

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard
USMC photo by Sgt. Zachary Mott.

Mullen qualified that he knows Mattis, McMaster and Kelly, and called them “extraordinary individuals in extraordinarily difficult circumstances.”

But he suggested it sets a dangerous precedent to turn to them as a focal point for national leadership.

“I have been in too many countries globally where the generals, if you will, gave great comfort to their citizens,” Mullen said. “That is not the United States of America. It may be temporarily now; I can only hope that it won’t be in the future. And despite each one of these individuals’ greatness, there are limits.”

In addition, he said, experience on the battlefield does not translate directly to leadership in the political sphere.

“When I walked into the Oval Office for the first time, that is an environment I’d never been in before, ever,” Mullen said. “… There is no reason these individuals, who are exceptionally good, had any better preparation in that regard. They are trying to figure it out as we go.”

Recent press reports, he said, have called the generals the “bulwark” of the administration.

“And one of the questions is, will that bulwark last, and what happens if and when it doesn’t,” Mullen said. “My own belief is, it won’t.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

B-52s flew over disputed areas in a challenge to the Chinese military

The US has reportedly made a bold move in countering Beijing’s growing dominance in the South China Sea by flying B-52 nuclear-capable bombers over disputed islands — and it shows how the US and China may rapidly be approaching a showdown.

The flight of the B-52s, reported by CNN but denied by the Pentagon, follows China landing nuclear-capable bombers of its own on the islands and years of Beijing ignoring international law to bully its neighbors and seize control of the waterway that sees trillions in annual shipping and holds untold billions in natural resources.


It also follows Defense Secretary Jim Mattis calling out China at a conference in Singapore, according to CNN.

“China’s militarization of artificial features in the South China Sea includes the deployment of anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles, electronic jammers, and more recently, the landing of bomber aircraft at Woody Island,” Mattis said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping swore at the White House with former President Barack Obama in 2015 that he would not militarize the islands, and continues to claim the islands have not been militarized despite the obvious presence of military equipment.

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard
Chinese President Xi Jinping

China now calls claims that the islands are militarized “ridiculous,” but Mattis wasn’t having that.

“The placement of these weapons systems is tied directly to military use for the purposes of intimidation and coercion,” said Mattis.

The B-52s reportedly flew within 20 miles of the Spratly Islands, which China claims for itself and has built military facilities on. But Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Taiwan also claim the islands, and China has repeatedly made a show of refusing to let international courts settle the matter.

The US has a lot of experience taking down small islands

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard
A WWII-era US battleship fires its deck guns.
(U.S. Navy photo)

Earlier in June 2018, a top US general asserted the US military’s power to act against threats to international order, saying “the United States military has had a lot of experience in the Western Pacific, taking down small islands.”

In another rhetorical shift, the US military renamed its Pacific command “Indo-Pacific command” to emphasize India and advance a vision of the Pacific not dominated by China.

But China shows no sign of stopping its march to domination of the valuable waterway, recently using its navy to block out the Philippine navy from feeding its own troops on one of its holdings in the South China Sea.

China’s dominance meets US resolve

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard
A B-52 Stratofortress takes off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to participate in an exercise scenario.u00a0The aircraft, aircrew and maintainers are deployed from Barksdale AFB, La., as part of the continuous bomber presence in the Pacific region.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Mahmoud Rasouliyan)

In meetings with Vietnam and the Philippines, China has been understood to threaten force against the smaller countries if they undertake activity in their own, legally claimed waters.

When the US challenges Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea, or any country’s excessive maritime claims (the US challenged 22 nations in 2016), it usually does so with a US Navy destroyer.

If the US flew nuclear bombers across the island, that would mark a clear escalation and perhaps the beginning of US military actions matching its rhetoric.

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

Humor

5 veteran comedians you should look out for

Service members have some of the best humor around; it comes with the job. Our comedy is pretty freakin’ dark when comparing it to the civilian sectors.


They say laughter is the best medicine. In that case, these hilarious veteran comedians should all be damn doctors by now.

Related: 5 military movies you should look out for in 2018

Check out these five military veteran comedians you should look out for in 2018.

5. Mitch Burrow

This Marine veteran served in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. Afterward, he started a career in manufacturing, but quickly realized that it sucked. He began his stand-up comedy career after driving down to the Comedy Store in La Jolla, drinking three shots of tequila and a couple of Budweisers, and getting on stage. Later, Mitch was told it went pretty well.

To follow Mitch or check out one of his shows visit his website: MitchBurrow.com.

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard
Mitch Burrow sporting his serious face while doing his monthly workout. (Source: Mitch Burrow)

4. Thom Tran

After enlisting in the Army at 18, Thom spent most of his career as a Communications Sergeant and Civil Affairs Sergeant. Thom decided to become a comedian after sustaining an injury during combat operations.

In 2008, he moved to Los Angeles and soon created The GIs of Comedy tour — a show that travels the world performing for both military and civilian audiences.

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard
The always-hilarious Thom Tran (Source: Thom Tran / IMDB)

3. Isaura Ramirez

After serving 13 years in the Army, this former captain deployed to Iraq for 15 months. When she returned home, Isaura enrolled herself in a comedy class as a form of expression.

Now, this funny girl performs for various venues and has been featured on her very own TED Talk.

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard
Former Army captain and funny girl, Isaura Ramirez.

2. Rocco Stowe

This Philadelphia native joined the Marine Corps at 18, serving as an infantry rifleman (0311) with 3rd Battalion 6th Marines. After leaving the Corps in the mid-90s, Rocco moved to Los Angeles where he’s had luck landing gigs, including headlining his act at several comedy stores throughout the U.S.

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard
This comedian and Marine veteran also serves the community as a knowledgeable yoga instructor

Also Read: 6 reasons why you need a sense of humor in the infantry

1. James P. Connolly

Before James was cracking up audiences with his flawless stand-up routine, he was giving orders while stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. This former captain served in both Operation Desert Shield and Storm before exiting from the Corps.

Now, he performs wherever he can find work, but you follow him on his website JamesPConnolly.com.

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard
The evolution of James P. Connolly, from boy to man. (Banner art by Michelle Connolly Photography)

They will be here all week and don’t forget to tip your waiter.

Got any vets you think will make us laugh? Leave a comment.

Articles

That time the USAF intercepted a pilotless Soviet fighter

On the morning of July 4, 1989, alarm bells blared at Soesterberg Air Base in the Netherlands, home of the US Air Force’s 32d Tactical Fighter Squadron.


Within minutes, a pair of armed F-15 Eagles, manned by Capts. J.D. Martin and Bill “Turf” Murphy, were launched on a scramble order. Their mission was to intercept what appeared to be a lone fighter making a beeline from Soviet-controlled airspace into Western Europe.

Though the Cold War’s end was seemingly not too far away, tensions still ran high between the two sides of the Iron Curtain, and any incursion by an unidentified aircraft would need to be responded to swiftly.

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard
F-15Cs of the 32d Tactical Fighter Squadron (US Air Force)

As JD and Turf were vectored in on the aircraft, now identified as a Soviet MiG-23 Flogger supersonic fighter, ground controllers notified them that all attempts to contact the inbound jet had failed and the intentions of its pilot were unknown and potentially hostile.

When they got close the the Flogger, the two Eagles were primed and ready to shoot down their silent bogey if it didn’t respond and carried on its flight path. But when the two F-15 pilots closed in on the aircraft to positively identify it, they noticed that the pylons underneath the Flogger — used to mount missiles and bombs — were empty.

By then, the Flogger was firmly in Dutch airspace, casually flying onward at around 400 mph at an altitude of 39,000 ft.

What JD and Turf saw next would shock them — the Flogger’s canopy had been blown off and there was no pilot to be found inside the cockpit. In essence, the Soviet fighter was flying itself, likely through its autopilot system.

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard
A Soviet Air Force MiG-23 Flogger, similar to the one which flew pilotless across Europe (US Air Force)

After contacting ground control with this new development, the two Eagle pilots were given approval to shoot down the wayward MiG over the North Sea, lest it suddenly crash into a populated area. Unaware of how long the pilotless MiG had been flying, and battling poor weather which could have sent debris shooting down the MiG into nearby towns, JD and Turf opted to let the jet run out of fuel and crash into the English Channel.

Instead, the aircraft motored along into Belgium, finally arcing into a farm when the last of its fuel reserves were depleted. Tragically, the MiG struck a farmhouse, killing a 19-year-old. Authorities raced to the site of the crash to begin their investigation into what happened, while the two F-15s returned to base. French Air Force Mirage fighters were also armed and ready to scramble should the MiG have strayed into French airspace.

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard
The crash site of the MiG-23 in Belgium (Public Domain)

Details of what led to the loss of the Flogger began to emerge.

As it turns out, the Soviet fighter had originated from Bagicz Airbase — a short distance away from Kolobrzeg, Poland — on what was supposed to be a regular training mission. The pilot, Col. Nikolai Skuridin, ejected less than a minute into his flight during takeoff when instruments in the cockpit notified him that he had drastically lost engine power. At an altitude of around 500 ft, it would be dangerous and almost certainly fatal if Skuridin stayed with his stricken fighter, trying to recover it with its only engine dead. The colonel bailed out with a sense of urgency, assuming the end was near.

But as he drifted back down to Earth, instead of seeing his fighter plummet to its demise, it righted itself and resumed climbing, its engine apparently revived.

The ensuing debacle proved to be thoroughly embarrassingfor the Soviet Union, which was forced to offer restitution to Belgium and the family of the deceased teenager. By the end of the MiG’s flight, it had flown over 625 miles by itself until it ran out of fuel and crashed.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Everything we know about the US-Taliban Peace Deal

As of this writing, the deal between the United States and the Taliban for ending the war in Afghanistan is dead. Along with it is National Security Advisor John Bolton, one of the reluctant architects of the deal who (sources say) was never behind the deal to begin with. President Trump was supposed to secretly meet with senior Taliban officials at Camp David to hammer out the final terms of an agreement, but that was also squashed, the final nail in the coffin for such an agreement.

But the United States may still reduce the number of troops fighting its longest war.


As the Trump White House and the Taliban exchange blame for the collapse of peace talks, there are an estimated 13,000 to 14,000 American troops in Afghanistan. This is why Taliban leaders won’t engage with the Afghan government. They believe President Ashraf Ghani’s government is a Western puppet with no legitimacy. The Trump Administration wanted to force the Taliban to recognize Ghani’s legitimacy through a peace agreement with the U.S. but there were a number of outstanding events that would lead to the agreement’s downfall.

First, the United States wanted the Taliban to stop its attacks on U.S. troops in the country to build trust before the deal was made. Senior defense officials say the Taliban actually increased their attacks over the past few weeks, killing a U.S. service member, along with a Romanian service member and ten civilians in a car bomb attack in Kabul. That attack may have been the last straw for President Trump.

The deal is still a major sticking point for Trump, who vowed to bring home American troops from Afghanistan during his 2016 campaign. The peace agreement that was recently killed kept troop strength at 8,600, enough to combat terrorist attacks in the country and didn’t demand a cease-fire from the Taliban. It only asked the terror group to commit to reducing violence in Kabul and Parwan provinces – areas where the United States has a large military presence.

Negotiated by Afghan-American diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad, the deal would have required the U.S. to withdraw 5,000 troops within 135 days of signing. The Taliban would be required to reduce violence in those two areas while preventing the country from being a base for international terrorism, while renouncing its alignment with the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

After the Kabul bombing on Sep. 5, Khalilzad was recalled to Washington and is no longer talking to the Taliban.

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard

For its part, the Taliban say the deal broke down because the group’s leadership wouldn’t sign any agreement that didn’t list the final end date for American troops leaving Afghanistan, which was supposedly November 2020 or January 2021. Secondly, the United States wanted the Ghani government to postpone Afghan Presidential elections set for Sep. 28, 2019. If Ghani won, anti-Ghani factions would undermine the Afghan President’s legitimacy further with the Taliban by protesting the election victory.

The most important reason the agreement failed, however, is trust. No one at the table and no one with an interest in the agreement actually trusted the Taliban to keep their word. In fact, intercepted communications from the Taliban show the terror organization’s negotiators believe they “fooled” the United States. Still, many in the United States believe the best way out of Afghanistan is through a political agreement.

Only no one yet knows what that agreement will look like.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Marine Corps offering former pilots $30K to return to service

The Marine Corps is offering some former Reserve pilots lucrative bonuses to get them back in the cockpit.

Former captains and majors qualified to fly certain aircraft who are willing to rejoin a Marine Corps squadron can pocket up to a $30,000 lump-sum bonus if they agree to a three-year term in the Active Reserve. Those willing to serve two years in the Reserve are eligible for a $20,000 payout.

It’s called the Active Reserve Aviator Return to Service Program, and it targets six types of fixed-wing, rotary and tiltrotor pilots “in order to fill critical aviation shortfalls,” a service-wide message on the bonuses states.


Top priority will be given to former F/A-18 Hornet and MV-22B Osprey pilots, along with KC-130 Hercules aircraft commanders, according to the message. But the program is also open to former AV-8B Harrier, UH-1Y Venom and CH-53E Super Stallion pilots.

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard

Capt. Christopher Prout with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 232, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing shoots an AIM-7 Sparrow missile from an F/A-18C Hornet airplane

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Capt. Christopher Prout)

“The retention incentive is distributed as a lump sum of 20,000 dollars for the 24 month service obligation or a lump sum of 30,000 dollars for the 36 month service obligation, less any applicable taxes,” the message states. “Lump sum payment will not be paid out until the member is joined to the [Active Reserve] program.”

The incentives will be paid out on a first-come, first-served basis “until funds are exhausted,” it adds.

Only aviators who previously qualified for — or had not yet applied for — career designation are eligible. Those who applied for but were not offered career designation in the Active Reserve are ineligible, the message states.

Pilots who were already career designated on the Active Reserve will automatically be career designated upon re-accession. Those who hadn’t previously applied for career designation will be able to do so once they rejoin.

Top assignments will involve flying operations at the squadron level across several Reserve units in the continental U.S., including California, Virginia, Texas, Arizona, Maryland or New Orleans. Assignments aren’t limited to those squadrons though, the message adds.

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard

Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 232, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing fly F/A-18C Hornet airplanes.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Gregory Moore)

Captains who served more than 10 years of active-duty service who weren’t previously considered for major on an Active Reserve promotion board are eligible to apply. So are majors who weren’t previously considered for O-5 who served more than 12 years on active duty, and those who were considered for lieutenant colonel who served more than 15 years.

Earlier this year, the Marine Corps announced it would be offering big bonuses to active-duty pilots as well.

Top bonuses targeted Marines in the grades and communities with the biggest pilot shortages. Active-duty pilots were eligible to earn up to 0,000 bonuses if they agreed to keep flying for eight more years.

The bonuses targeted captains and majors who fly the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, F/A-18 Hornet, AV-8 Harrier, MV-22 Osprey, C-130 Hercules, UH-1 Huey, AH-1 Cobra and CH-53 Stallion.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

This mini A-10 Warthog can guard your yard

A remote control airplane hobbyist has modified a model A-10 Thunderbolt II to conduct Nerf strafing runs on T-72 cardboard tanks and uploaded the results to YouTube. The modified, remote control A-10 can fire 12 paper-tank-busting Nerf balls in under half a second. You know, just in case your yard is overrun with mini Soviet tanks.


 

 

A-10 Warthog
If you’re really bored, you can make one out of legos, too.

 

The RC A-10 can also fire three darts for taking out hard targets. Though reportedly not made from depleted uranium, the darts have more heft and better ballistic properties than the Nerf rounds, but they’re still loaded into the primary tube. That means backyard commanders have to decide their weapons layouts before the mission. It’s three darts or 12 balls, not both.

Both primary weapon loads of the A-10 are on display in the full video:

The Air Force is continuing to look at potential replacements for the full-sized A-10. It’s original replacement, the F-35A, achieved initial operating capability on Aug. 2, but Congress has pressured the flying service to look into a new attack plane to support ground troops.

Despite its impressive performance against cardboard tanks and low cost, the RC A-10 has a number of drawbacks that will likely prevent its purchase by the Air Force.

First, the RC A-10 is manufactured by an untested contractor, YouTube user ajw61185. More importantly, it fires all of its rounds in a single burst, requiring it to return to its base to rearm after a single pass.

Critics of the RC A-10 point out that it was developed for a very different yard than exists today and claim the platform is simply outdated. Modern yards contain advanced sprinklers that the RC A-10 has no countermeasures with which to defend itself. The more stealthy RC F-35 might be able to avoid many of these sprinklers, but it has yet to reach the fleet due to frequent cost overruns and malfunctions.

Still, the RC A-10 is probably fine for home use and so could be used by defense-minded property owners to deter cross-border actions by stray dogs, squirrels, and other aggressors.

(h/t Foxtrot Alpha)

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Air Force is finally designing female-specific flight equipment

The Air Force is working to redesign the gear used by female pilots across the force after facing challenges with current flight equipment.

“We have women performing in every combat mission, and we owe it to them to have gear that fits, is suited for a woman’s frame and (one) can be in for hours on end,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein at a Defense Writers Group breakfast, March 2018 in Washington, D.C.

The majority of the equipment currently worn by pilots was built off anthropometric data from the 1960s, a time when only men were in aviator roles.

The lack of variety and representation in the current designs have caused multiple issues for women, said Col. Samantha Weeks, the 14th Flying Training Wing commander, assigned to Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi.


Many of the uniform issues circulate around G-suits, flight suits, urinary devices and survival vests.

“The challenges other female aviators and I face are the fit and availability of our flight equipment,” said Capt. Lauren Ellis, 57th Adversary Tactics Group executive officer.

Limited sizes and accessibility often force aircrew to order the wrong size and have it extensively altered to fit properly, taking time and money away from the mission, Ellis said.

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard

A participant of the Female Flight Equipment Workshop writes down issues women experience with current urinary devices at AFWERX Vegas, Las Vegas, Jan. 30, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailee A. Darbasie)

“All of the bladders on my G-suit need to be modified,” Ellis said. “It’s a lot of work for the Aircrew Flight Equipment, or AFE, Airmen. Even after they’re modified, the proportions don’t fit.”

G-suits are vital anti-gravity gear for aviators. The bladders in the suit fill with air and apply pressure to the pilot’s body to prevent a loss of consciousness during high levels of acceleration. Not having a properly fitted G-suit could lead to hypoxia followed by unconsciousness.

Ellis said ill-fitting flight suits are a common problem for men and women. Aircrew who are significantly above or below average height have a hard time finding suits that fit their body type.

Even if a woman found a flight suit close to her size, the flight-suit zipper is designed for men—not women. Female aircrew struggle with relieving themselves during flights because the flight-suit zipper isn’t designed low enough for them to properly use their urinary devices.

“There are flight suits that were designed with longer zippers for women, but they’re almost never available,” Ellis said. “It’s common for females to have to wait months to receive the flight suit they’ve ordered which causes them to have to wear the male one.”

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard

Participants of the Female Flight Equipment Workshop review various flight-suits designs at AFWERX Vegas, Las Vegas, Jan. 30, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailee A. Darbasie)

Along with the possibility of injury and discomfort associated with G-suits and flight suits, women struggle to get their life-saving gear to fit accordingly. The process of ejecting is so powerful, even pilots with well-fitting gear are at a serious risk of injury. It’s important for aviators to be heard and the modernization of equipment for everyone continues, Ellis said.

“In certain situations, having ill-fitting gear, such as harnesses and survival vests, can result in a loss of life,” Ellis said. “If an aircrew member ejects from the aircraft with equipment that doesn’t fit, they can be severely injured or lose their life.”

The Air Force and Air Combat Command are working to find a feasible solution for aircrew members.

Part of the strategy to correct the uniform problem was to take part in several collaborative Female Flight Equipment Workshops at AFWERX Vegas. Female Airmen stationed across the globe traveled to the innovation hub and attended the workshops to explore areas of opportunity and come up with proposed solutions.

“The purpose of the workshops is to bring together female aviators, Aircrew Flight Equipment, Human Systems Program Office personnel and subject matter experts to understand the current products, the acquisition process and the actual needs from the field,” Weeks said.

Throughout the workshops, aviators participated in briefings, as well as discussions and exercises with the agencies involved in the design and distribution of their gear.

“The Human Systems Program Office acquires and sustains all equipment for male and female Airmen,” said Lt. Col. Elaine Bryant Human Systems Program Office deputy chief, assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. “We are committed to hearing our consumers’ voices, and we will make the changes necessary to our current process to meet their needs.”

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard

Participants of the Female Flight Equipment Workshop discuss the advantages and disadvantages of multiple- piece body armor at AFWERX Vegas, Las Vegas, Jan. 30, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailee A. Darbasie)

The workshops established the communication needed between the consumer, designers and suppliers to reach a mutual goal of understanding and development.

“We now have some pretty clear actions coming out of the Female Flight Equipment Workshops,” Bryant said. “We’ve heard the feedback, and we want to make sure we have actionable things we’re accomplishing within specific time frames for our consumers.”

The Human Systems Program Office will strive to make progressive changes within their operations and better their acquisition process, explained Bryant.

“We will take the field up on their offers of coming out to the units and meeting the aircrew for whom we supply,” Bryant said. “We’ll ensure we maintain the lines of communication needed to better our program.”

Another major improvement for female aviators is the adoption of the Battlefield Airmen Rapid Resource Replenishment System, a centrally managed equipment facility. BARS is capable of shipping needed resources directly to female aircrew. Using this system will allow women to acquire the proper fitting equipment they need within an acceptable timeline.

“BARS is a step in the right direction,” Ellis said. “Everyone deserves to have equipment that fits them. There are certain things we have to adapt to, but as long as we’re trying to improve and modernize our gear, we can be a more ready and lethal force.”

“The Air Force has evolved over the years and continues to evolve,” Weeks echoed. “Female aviators entering the Air Force now will not have the same issues I had over the last 21 years.”

Information from an ACC news feature was used in this story.

This article originally appeared on United States Air Force. Follow @USAF on Twitter.

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