These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11 - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY HISTORY

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11

It was once the most heroic thing a soldier could do. They’d strap themselves up with the barest of combat essentials and jump out of the back of a perfectly good aircraft into uncertain danger — often ending up miles away from their intended drop zone and, sometimes, completely on their own.

Combat jumps led the Allied Forces to victory in WWII. These same tactics were employed during the Korean War and Vietnam War and, eventually, were used by Rangers and Green Berets in Grenada and Panama. When it came time for the Global War on Terrorism, well, let’s just say there are only a handful of combat jumps that come without asterisks attached.


It should be noted that this list cannot be exhaustive, as there are likely some jumps that that have yet to be declassified. Also, there were many airborne insertions done in-theater, but those don’t qualify you for the coveted “mustard stain,” so they don’t make the list.

The following are the only jumps that have happened since September 11, 2001 that satisfy all the requirements to fully classify as combat jumps.

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11

Now it is known as Kandahar Airfield, home to the ISAF command, several NATO nation’s commands, a TGI Fridays, and a pond full of human excrement.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Tony Wickman)

Objective Rhino

Just 38 days after the horrific attacks of September 11th, the 75th Ranger Regiment sent 200 of their most badass Rangers to meet with the 101st Airborne Division 100 miles south of Kandahar, Afghanistan — the last bastion of complete Taliban control in Afghanistan. The Rangers landed on a derelict strip of land and expected heavy resistance. In actuality, they found just one, lone Taliban fighter who presumably sh*t himself as 200 Rangers dropped in on him.

There, they established a sufficient forward operating base, called FOB Rhino, which opened the way to take back Kandahar for the Afghan people.

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11

​Fun fact: they technically beat the next entry by a few days, forever solidifying their bragging rights.

(U.S. Army)

Objective Serpent

The 75th Rangers, who are featured heavily on this list, led the way into Iraq by making combat jumps into Iraq in March, 2003 — the first in Iraq since Desert Storm.

The Rangers landed in the region a few weeks earlier by airborne insertion to capture the lead operational planner of the September 11th attacks. They accomplished this within three days of touching boots to the ground. The next wave of 2nd Battalion 75th Rangers came to secure al-Qa’im and Haditha before making their way into Baghdad.

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11

If you didn’t know about this one… Don’t worry. Literally everyone in the 173rd will remind you of this whenever their personal Airborne-ness is brought into question.

(U.S. Army photo by Specialist Adam Sanders)

Operation Northern Delay

In the early morning of March 26th, 2003, 996 soldiers of the 173rd Airborne Division jumped into the relatively empty Bashur Airfield and stopped six entire divisions of Saddam’s army from continuing on to Baghdad.

This marked the first wave of conventional troops in the region and the beginning of the end of Saddam’s regime. This was also the only jump conducted by conventional USAF airmen as the 786th Security Forces Squadron also jumped with them.

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11

Come on, 75th Rangers! You guys are leaving out all the good, juicy details of your classified missions!

(U.S. Army)

Various Regimental Reconnaissance Detachment jumps in Afghanistan

Very little is known about the last two publicly-disclosed combat jumps, as is the case with most JSOC missions, other than the fact that they were both conducted by the 75th Ranger Regiment’s Regimental Reconnaissance Company Teams 3 and 1.

RRC Team 3 jumped into Tillman Drop Zone in southeast Afghanistan on July 3rd, 2004, to deploy tactical equipment in a combat military free-fall parachute drop.

This was the last RRC time made a jump until Team 1 jumped five years later on July 11th, 2009, into an even more remote location of Afghanistan — but this time, scant reports state that the jumps including a tandem passenger to aid in deploying tactical equipment.

We’ll just have to wait for the history books to be written, I guess.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Daring Navy SEAL dies in CA skydiving accident

A highly-decorated Navy SEAL was killed in a skydiving accident on Sept. 30.


The SEAL, Cmdr. Seth Stone, died after jumping out of a hot air balloon in Perris in Riverside County. The Federal Aviation Administration said his parachute failed to open properly and the agency is investigating.

Stone, 41, of Texas, was most recently assigned to Special Operations Command Pacific in Hawaii, a unit that receives Navy personnel from the Naval Special Warfare Command in San Diego.

“The Naval Special Warfare community is deeply saddened and mourns the tragic loss of one of our best. Seth’s absence will be sorely felt across the staff, command, and the entire special operations community. NSW is a close-knit family and our primary focus is to provide care and support for Cmdr. Stone’s family,” said Rear Adm. Tim Szymanski, commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command.

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11
Navy SEAL Lt. Cmdr. Seth Stone speaks to the media about Master-At-Arms 2nd Class (SEAL) Michael A. Monsoor who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michelle L. Kapica.

Stone earned two silver Silver Stars, the military’s fifth-highest commendation, including one for a well-known firefight in Ramadi, Iraq. On Sept. 29, 2006, Stone and the group of SEALs under his charge were attacked with small arms fire and rockets while they were protecting another unit.

“The mortar fire, machine gun fire randomly sprayed the patrol, who were contacted by the enemy about 75 percent of the time,” Stone told National Public Radio in 2008.

According to the citation for the medal, Stone led them through the firefight to wounded SEALs, and helped evacuate the wounded.

One SEAL under Stone, Petty Officer Second-Class Michael Monsoor, was killed after he threw himself on top of an enemy grenade. He was credited with saving several lives and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11
In an undated file photo provided by the US Navy, Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor participates in a patrol in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Monsoor has been awarded the Medal of Honor.

“He recognized immediately the threat, yelled grenade, and due to the fact that two other SEAL snipers, our brothers, could not possibly escape the blast, he chose to smother it with his body and absorb the impact and save the guys to his left,” Stone told NPR.

Stone, who died one day after the tenth anniversary of Monsoor’s death, was on an adjacent rooftop during that battle and later said the petty officer’s bravery inspired him to re-enlist after the end of that deployment.

Besides the two Silver Stars, Stone also received a Bronze Star with a “V” insignia for valor, and the Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medal. Commissioned through the Naval Academy in 1999, he was a surface warfare officer and was assigned to a cruiser before he trained to become a SEAL.

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11

The FAA said it typically looks into whether parachutes were properly packed when it investigates accidents that occur during skydiving. The accident is being investigated by civilian authorities since it occurred off-duty.

According to the Naval Safety Center, a command that tracks on- and off-duty accidents involving sailors and Marines, the last fatal skydiving accident involving a member of the Navy outside of training or a mission was in June 2010 when a petty officer first class died after he attempted to jump from a cell phone tower in southeast Virgina.

Regulations require that the main parachute must be packed within 180 days by a certified parachute rigger, a person under the supervision of a parachute rigger, or the person making the jump. The reserve parachute must have been packed by a certified rigger within 180 days if it’s made of synthetic materials.

The United States Parachute Association held the National Skydiving Championship in Perris over the last two weeks, but the accident was not related to that event, the organization said. The Army’s skydiving team, the Black Knights, participated in the competition.

Articles

The invasion of Mosul begins…

Iraqi Security Forces launched their counter-attack yesterday to liberate Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, according to a statement released by Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials.


These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11
U.S. forces based at the Q-West airfield have been helping Kurdish and Iraqi forces prep the battlefield for an eventual invasion of the country’s second largest city. (Photo from U.S. Department of Defense)

“The United States and the rest of the international coalition stand ready to support Iraqi Security Forces, Peshmerga fighters and the people of Iraq in the difficult fight ahead,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a separate statement. “We are confident our Iraqi partners will prevail against our common enemy and free Mosul and the rest of Iraq from ISIL’s hatred and brutality.”

According the the BBC which has a reporter embedded with Kurdish Peshmerga troops, the invasion kicked off in the early morning hours Oct. 17 with sporadic skirmishes along the roads to the east of the city. Iraqi forces pushed north from the so-called “Q-West” air base recently captured from ISIS and where U.S. forces have been helping the Iraqis establish a logistics base for operations to take Mosul.

Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, OIR commander, said the operation to regain control of Mosul will likely continue for weeks and possibly longer. But it comes after more than two years of Islamic State oppression in Mosul, “during which they committed horrible atrocities [and] brutalized the people” after declaring the city to be one of their twin capitals, the general said in the statement.

The coalition can’t predict how long it will take for the ISF to retake the city, Townsend said, “but we know they will succeed — just as they did in Beiji, in Ramadi, in Fallujah and, more recently in Qayyarah and Sharqat.”

Mosul is still home to more than a million people — despite hundreds of thousands reportedly having fled the city since 2014 — according to United Nations estimates.

The OIR coalition will provide “air support, artillery, intelligence, advisors and forward air controllers,” Townsend said in the statement, adding that the supporting forces “will continue to use precision to accurately attack the enemy and to minimize any impact on innocent civilians.”

During the past two years of ISIL control in Mosul, OIR efforts have expanded to include a coalition of more than 60 countries, which have combined to conduct tens of thousands of precision strikes to support Iraqi operations, and trained and equipped more than 54,000 Iraqi forces, the general said.

“But to be clear, the thousands of ground combat forces who will liberate Mosul are all Iraqis,” Townsend said in the statement.

Carter, in his statement, called it a “decisive moment” in the campaign. Townsend said it’s not just a fight for the future of Iraq, but also “to ensure the security of all of our nations.”

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

5 tips from astronauts for thriving in isolation

NASA Astronaut and U.S. Army Lt. Col. Anne McClain took to Twitter to share the official training astronauts use for living in confined spaces for long periods of time. Afterall, the International Space Station has been operating for nearly 20 years, giving NASA astronauts and psychologists time to examine human behavior and needs when living and working remotely.

They narrowed the behavior skills down to five general skills called “Expeditionary Behavior,” or “EB” because the military just loves a good acronym.


Built from 1998 to 2001, the International Space Station usually holds crews of between three and six people who will spend about six months there at a time, though mission lengths can vary. During that time, the astronauts perform experiments and spacewalks, maintain the space station, conduct media and education events and test out technology.

Also during this time, they are allocated at least two hours a day for exercise and personal care.

According to NASA, the living and working space in the station is larger than a six-bedroom house (and has six sleeping quarters, two bathrooms, a gym and a 360-degree view bay window). Still, six months in a space bucket with two to five other people can give some perspective to anyone feeling confined.

This is the “GoodEB” that helps astronauts:

4/ Skill 1, Communication: Def: To talk so you are clearly understood. To listen and question to understand. Actively listen, pick up on non-verbal cues. Identify, discuss, then work to resolve conflict.

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Communication

“Share info/feelings freely. Talk about intentions before taking action. Use good terminology. Discuss when your or others’ actions were not as expected. Debrief after success or conflict. Listen, then restate message to ensure it’s understood. Admit when you’re wrong,” McClain tweeted.

It’s common for humans to have strong emotional responses and act on them before they fully understand them. Honest communication is critical in a confined space or during heightened stress.

6/ Skill 2, Leadership/Followership: Def: How well a team adapts to new situations. Leader enhances the group’s ability to execute its purpose through positive influence. Follower (aka subordinate leader) actively contributes to leader’s direction. Establish environment of trust.

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Leadership/Followership

“Accept responsibility. Adjust style to environment. Assign tasks, set goals. Lead by example. Give direction, info, feedback, coaching + encouragement. Ensure teammates have resources. Talk when something isn’t right. Ask questions. Offer solutions, not just problems,” urged McClain.

For anyone confined with family or roommates, it can be an adjustment to share personal space and limited supplies for a prolonged period of time. Shifting to a team dynamic can bring a new perspective to everyone’s roles within the home. If you weren’t already doing this, now is the time to share the household chores, the cooking, the supply runs, and, for many families, the education responsibilities.

8/ Skill 3, Self-Care: Def: How healthy you are on psychological and physical levels, including hygiene, managing time and personal stuff, getting sleep, and maintaining mood. The ability and willingness to be proactive to stay healthy.

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Self-Care

“Realistically assess own strengths and weaknesses, and their influence on the group. Learn from mistakes. Take action to mitigate stress or negativity (don’t pass on to the group). Be social. Seek feedback. Balance work, rest, and personal time. Be organized,” suggested McClain.

There’s a quote I’ve always liked that says, “Please accept responsibility for the energy you are bringing into this space,” and it feels especially relevant now. We must each stay in touch with ourselves so we can identify rising stress and mitigate it with self-care.

Self-care can be anything from calling a friend to a work-out session from YouTube to releasing expectations of perfection and taking the time to enjoy some relaxation with a book or movie.

10/ Skill 4, Team Care: Def: How healthy the group is on psychological, physical, and logistical level. Manage group stress, fatigue, sickness, supplies, resources, workload, etc. Nurture optimal team performance despite challenges.

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Team Care

“Demonstrate patience and respect. Encourage others. Monitor team for signs of stress or fatigue. Encourage participation in team activities. Develop positive relationships. Volunteer for the unpleasant tasks. Offer and accept help. Share the credit; take the blame,” said McClain.

I’ll really highlight one of these tips from McClain: Monitor team for signs of stress or fatigue. Teaching ourselves this skill will intrinsically build compassion and problem-solving into relationship skills, not just now, but going forward. It’s about looking out for each other and anticipating the needs of others. This is a critical skill for any member of the team.
12/ Skill 5, Group Living: Def: How people cooperate and become a team to achieve a goal. Identify and manage different opinions, cultures, perceptions, skills, and personalities. Individuals and group demonstrate resiliency in the face of difficulty.

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Group Living

“Cooperate rather than compete. Actively cultivate group culture (use each individual’s culture to build the whole). Respect roles, responsibilities, and workload. Take accountability, give praise freely. Work to ensure positive team attitude. Keep calm in conflict,” suggests McClain.

Parents are learning how to homeschool. Partners are sharing household responsibilities like cooking and cleaning. More people are sick and being cared for by their roommates.

All the while, we are each learning how to restrict our movements while maintaining our health and vitality. The key points throughout NASA’s Expeditionary Behaviors are to take care of each other and ourselves by working together.

And just remember, Scott Kelly set the record for most consecutive days in space by an American by living for 340 days during a one-year mission aboard the International Space Station, proving that humans are pretty remarkable when it comes to adapting to our environment!

If you need any advice on thriving from home, here are a few We Are The Mighty articles that can help:

MIGHTY CULTURE

How an Iraqi translator risked his life to reunite with American flag

How far would you go to reunite with a symbol you love?

For one Iraqi man, it took 13 years, 7,474 miles, help from a family member, a trip to an isolated field, and a rusty can to reclaim a treasured part of his life — an American flag.

Staff Sgt. Ahmed* shared how reuniting with the America flag changed the course of his life as he spoke to the Iron Soldiers of 1st Battalion “Bandits,” 37th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division Sept. 11, on East Fort Bliss.

More than 200 soldiers listened intently as Ahmed gave tribute to the Bandits he served and fought with during the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom.


Remembering the Bandit legacy

In 2003, Ahmed was serving as the official military translator for the Iron Soldiers of the 1-37 AR, 2nd ABCT. His assignment was to translate for the unit’s command team during meetings with local dignitaries and special missions. After a few months, however, the Iraqi native began to work heavily with infantry troops and accompanied them on raids, night missions and surveillances through downtown Baghdad.

The now 37-year-old vividly described the core of his job as working with U.S. soldiers, becoming part of their team and sharing in their comradery.

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11

Staff Sgt. Ahmed speaks to Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division during a ceremony held at the 1-37 AR motor pool Sept. 11, 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. Michael West)

“I wanted to help these U.S. soldiers,” he said. “I wanted to be a part of rebuilding the Iraqi police and the Iraqi Army. When I got the chance to become a linguist for the Bandits, I witnessed, learned and experienced many things.”

Ahmed recounted images filled with watching local streets in Iraq swarmed with Bradley Fighting Vehicles, tanks, convoys and barbed-wire fences. He said that even at a young age, he had a drive to bring change into his country. He added that although his own family was proud, and they respected his decision to help U.S. troops, he had to remain cautious, as the war-torn county remained in turmoil.

Loyality

Ahmed continued his work with the American soldiers, who believed in him enough to invite him into their inner circle of trust during his time with the 1-37 AR, 2nd ABCT. They continued working together on missions and conducting local surveillances. During this time, he began to appreciate the strength and core values of the U.S. Army and its soldiers.

“I began to see the Army as a melting pot,” he said. “There was so much diversity and different nationalities, and yet they fought together, they served together and they mourned together. Although I was from a different culture, they trained me and respected my background and ethnicity. As my role as their translator increased, so did our brotherhood.”

Ahmed said the Bandits’ last ambush toward Fallujah was a memory that will always stay with him. It was an intense mission and not every soldier survived.

“You are never prepared to lose a comrade,” he said. “On that mission, I lost my best friend, Sgt. Scott Larson. It was hard to believe. These soldiers were the same age as me and we all bonded; we formed a team.”

When the Bandits’ deployment was extended and assigned to a different area of operation, the soldiers presented Ahmed with an American flag. Each of the soldiers signed the flag to solidify their loyalty and friendship. He recalled how proud and honored he felt to receive it.

“It meant so much to me to become a part of the team with these great soldiers,” he said. “I saw their discipline and integrity every day, and I was honored that they gave this U.S. flag to me.”

Courage

Ahmed continued his work with the American soldiers. In 2005, two years after his time with the Bandits, he decided to take the flag to his home in Baghdad; he wanted to hang it in his room. He protected the flag with two heavy-duty plastic bags and then hid it inside a gym bag. But, while traveling home, his bus driver received a call that there was an anti-American checkpoint ahead.

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11

Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division with Staff Sgt. Ahmed pose after a ceremony held at the 1-37 motor pool Sept. 11, 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. Michael West)

Ahmed knew he could lose his life if he was caught with an American flag. In a panic, he decided to descend the bus and walk off the freeway. He continued walking until he got to a residential neighborhood. He then quickly buried the bag using and old-rusty tin can as a shovel.

Why I serve

Ahmed moved to the United States in 2008. Inspired by his time with the Bandits and seeing their dedication for upholding the Army values, he took the oath of enlistment to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and become a U.S. soldier. He now lives in California and serves as a staff sergeant in the Active Guard Reserve.

In 2016 Ahmed’s parents made a special trip from Iraq to visit him and celebrate his accomplishments. But before his parents departed the country, Ahmed called his father with one special request – locate the buried flag and bring it with him to the United States.

“Even though more than a decade had passed since I buried the flag in Iraq, I knew exactly where it was buried, and I instructed my father to please bring it to the U.S.,” said Ahmed. “When my father told me he had located the flag, a part of me was alive again.”

The proud father and husband said his dream came true when he arrived at Fort Bliss Sept. 11 carrying the framed flag and sharing its legacy with a new era of Bandits.

“The flag finally made it home,” said Ahmed. “I think of these soldiers every day when I put on my Army uniform and display the flag on my shoulder. Today, I did not see faces and ranks, but as I looked around, I saw the Old Ironsides patch and friendships that will last a lifetime. Larson did not live to see his flag again, but these soldiers did.”

For Cpl. James Klingel, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1-37 AR, 2nd ABCT, seeing and hearing Ahmed was inspirational.

“I was shocked that the flag was buried for so long, had traveled so far, and still looks amazing,” he said. “It showed us that it doesn’t matter how much time passes by. We still have the same Army traditions and the same Army values that should always be upheld, and deeply respected.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Rebels recover vehicle of US Special Forces ambushed in Niger

A Tuareg rebel leader said March 13, 2018, that members of his group have recovered an American vehicle that was stolen in the ambush in Niger in which four U.S. forces were killed in October 2017.


The vehicle taken during the attack in Tongo Tongo, Niger was found on the Malian side of the border in the desert, said Fahad Ag Al Mahmoud, secretary-general of the rebel group known by its French acronym, GATIA.

Read more: This timeline shows how the Niger operation went down

“Our men are in the middle of digging out the vehicle to get it back in working order,” he said.

He said it was not immediately possible to send a photo to confirm they had retrieved the vehicle, because of the lack of internet in the remote border area.

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11
Nigerien army soldiers shoot targets under 60mm illumination mortar rounds.

A coalition of armed Tuareg rebels has been operating against jihadist groups active in the area between Mali and Niger for several weeks.

Four U.S. forces and four Nigerien troops were killed Oct. 4, 2017, about 120 miles (200 kilometers) north of Niamey, Niger’s capital, when they were attacked by as many as 100 Islamic State-linked extremists traveling by vehicle and carrying small arms and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. Two other American soldiers and eight Nigerien forces were wounded.

More: This is the general demanding answers for the families of the soldiers who died in Niger

A U.S. military investigation into the Niger attack concluded that the team didn’t get required senior command approval for a risky mission to capture a high-level Islamic State militant, though it did not point to that failure as a cause of the deadly ambush, several U.S. officials familiar with the report said.

The investigation found no single point of failure leading to the attack. It also drew no conclusion about whether villagers in Tongo Tongo, where the team stopped for water and supplies, alerted extremists to American forces in the area.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The 6 most expensive aircraft in the US military

Ever since the F-35 Lighting II program started experiencing cost overruns – a nice way of saying it was hemorrhaging cash – much has been made of its excessive cost in both time and money. But the F-35 is hardly the most expensive Pentagon weapons system in the history of the Big Green Machine, it’s just that the F-35 is the first one to get the scrutiny that an internet-gifted public can give a Pentagon weapons program.


With the B-21 Raider bomber coming into production soon, it might be a good idea to look back and see the most expensive airframes ever created by the U.S. Air Force. For reference, although the development of the F-35 topped $1.5 trillion, the cost per plane is a relatively minuscule $115 million.

The only caveat to this list are the Presidential planes, commonly referred to as Air Force One. Each of those cost $600 million apiece and would sit at number two on this list, but since they’re a specialty item with only two models in service I opted to make room for others.

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11

 E-2D Hawkeye

Northrop Grumman’s tactical airborne early warning airframe has been in service since the Navy of the 1960s. An upgraded version, the Advanced Hawkeye, flies with the same mission but upgraded avionics, comms, and sensors. This advanced version comes with an advanced price tag, 2 million apiece.

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11

 VH-71 Kestrel

The Kestrel is the only helicopter on this list and is actually no longer in service. At 1 million apiece, it was intended to replace the Marines’ Marine One helicopter for moving the President around (among other missions), but the cost of developing it ballooned out of control quickly and the program was canceled. The models were all sold to Canada for spare parts.

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11

 P8-A Poseidon

This anti-submarine aircraft is just ten years old and comes with the capability to support early warning systems and surface warfare as well. It can even defend itself in air combat when necessary. All those bells and whistles come at a price though – 6 million.

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11

 C-17 Globemaster III

The Globemaster III is Boeing’s air cargo masterpiece. At almost 25 years old, there is no more reliable and maintenance friendly airframe in the Air Force that is also capable of the kind of heavy lifting the U.S. military asks of it. Over the course of its life, a single C-17 will run upwards of 8 million.

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11

 F-22 Raptor

Second only in technological advancement to its younger sibling, the F-35, the F-22 Raptor still manages to edge the Lightning II out in many areas, including price tag. At 0 million per aircraft, its radar cross section is that of a steel marble. The F-22 didn’t really need to go out of production (some will even argue the U.S. should restart the program), it’s just that the F-35 is a more versatile, fifth-generation fighter.

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11

 B-2 Spirit

At the time of its production, it was estimated to cost 7 million apiece, which would already have made it the most expensive aircraft ever built. But tacking on its much-needed upgrades and refits less than a decade later puts the per unit cost of a B-2 bomber at a whopping .1 billion each.

popular

After 100 years, World War I battlefields are poisoned and uninhabitable

No war in recent memory can compare to the meat grinder of World War I. Europe still bears the scars of the war, even almost a century later. The gruesome and terrifying type of warfare typical of the Great War had a lasting impact on those who witnessed and experienced it. It also created such carnage on the land where it was fought that some of those areas are still uninhabitable to this day.


 

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11
The Battlefield at The Somme (Imperial War Museum photo)

The uninhabitable areas are known as the Zone Rouge (French for “Red Zone”). They remain pock-marked and scarred by the intense fighting at places like Verdun and the Somme, the two bloodiest battles of the conflict.

During the Battle of Verdun, which lasted over 300 days in 1916, more than 60 million artillery shells were fired by both sides – many containing poisonous gases. These massive bombardments and the brutal fighting inflicted horrifying casualties, over 600,000 at Verdun and over 1 million at the Somme. But the most dangerous remnants of these battles are the unexploded ordnance littering the battlefield.

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11
The Battlefield of Verdun in 2016 (French Government photo)

Immediately after the war, the French government quarantined much of the land subjected to the worst of the battles. Those areas that were completely devastated and destroyed, unsafe to farm, and impossible for human habitation became the Zone Rouge. The people of this area were forced to relocate elsewhere while entire villages were wiped off the map.

Nine villages deemed unfit to be rebuilt are known today as the “villages that died for France.” Inside the Zone Rouge signs marking the locations of streets and important buildings are the only reminders those villages ever existed.

Areas not completely devastated but heavily impacted by the war fell into other zones, Yellow and Blue. In these areas, people were allowed to return and rebuild their lives. This does not mean that the areas are completely safe, however. Every year, all along the old Western Front in France and Belgium, the population endures the “Iron Harvest” – the yearly collection of hundreds of tons of unexploded ordnance and other war materiel still buried in the ground.

Occasionally, the Iron Harvest claims casualties of its own, usually in the form of a dazed farmer and a destroyed tractor. Not all are so lucky to escape unscathed and so the French and Belgian governments still pay reparations to the “mutilée dans la guerre“– the victims of the war nearly 100 years after it ended.

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11
Photo by Olivier Saint Hilaire

To deal with the massive cleanup and unexploded ordnance issues, the French government created the Département du Déminage (Department of Demining) after World War II. To date, 630 minesweepers died while demining the zones.

An estimated 720 million shells were fired during the Great War, with approximately 12 million failing to detonate. At places like Verdun, the artillery barrages were so overwhelming, 150 shells hit every square meter of the battlefield. Concentrated barrages and driving rains turned the battlefield into a quagmire that swallowed soldiers and shells alike.

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11
Photo by Olivier Saint Hilaire

Further complicating the cleanup is the soil contamination caused by the remains of humans and animals. The grounds are also saturated with lead, mercury, and zinc from millions of rounds of ammunition from small arms and artillery fired in combat. In some places, the soil contains such high levels of arsenic that nothing can grow there, leaving haunting, desolate spaces.

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11
Photo by Olivier Saint Hilaire

Though the Zone Rouge started at some 460 square miles in size, cleanup efforts reduced it to around 65 square miles. With such massive amounts of explosives left in the ground, the French government estimates the current rate of removal will clear the battlefields between 300 and 900 years from now.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why Ranger Up needs to be under your tree this Christmas

‘Tis the season for the giving of gifts. ‘Tis also the season of FOMUG (Fear Of Messed Up Gifting). We get it. It’s hard out there for an elf. Team WATM would like to offer you some guidance.


For the one who takes patriotism seriously and laughs at danger:

~ tees from the only vet lifestyle brand to produce its own action movie ~

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11
Photo credit: (YouTube screenshot)

It might be tempting to take a cue from Ranger Up’s proprietary brand of black snark and say that all you need to know about the company widely considered a godfather of the vetrepreneurship movement is this:

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11

But we would never say that 1) because that would be reductive and stupid, b) because we fear the inevitable comeuppance, and fourthly, because we’ve got a little history between us.

We Are The Mighty sat down with Ranger Up founder Nick Palmisciano for an interview this May and dug deep into the mound of mud, sweat, and beers upon which he built his Warfighter/MMA/Veteran-serving empire.

No need to relitigate all that good journalism and fraternal butt-patting here. Suffice to say that few organizations are working harder than Ranger Up to take the veteran experience and describe its essence in the modern media age.

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11

“…our whole concept is we want to entertain our friends. That’s the way that we look at our business. How can we entertain, educate, or just generally amuse our friends? If we do that right everything falls into place. And if we don’t do that right, we’re just another t-shirt company.”

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11

From their iconic message tees and relentless Instagram bullhorning (along with brothers-in-arms @mat_best_official and @timkennedymma) to their history-making feature, Range 15 and the adjoining documentary Not A War Story, these dudes are forcibly carving out space for an important conversation to be had…

…a conversation that might start something like this:

Hi there, society! As you may know, there’s a whole, huge community of men and women who went forth and served their country. Our country. That took bravery and immense personal sacrifice. Now that they’re back, these warriors are wondering what you, society, really mean by “Welcome home.”

Fair warning, this conversation may require bravery. And a sense of humor.

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These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11

MIGHTY CULTURE

Finally – this is the Army’s new parental leave policy

The Army has doubled the amount of parental leave available to fathers and other secondary caregivers of newborn infants with a policy that also provides more leave flexibility for mothers.

Secretary of the Army Mark T. Esper signed a directive Jan. 23, 2019, that increases parental leave from 10 to 21 days for soldiers who are designated secondary caregivers of infants. The new policy makes the Army’s parental leave comparable to that of other services and in compliance with the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.


Mothers will now be granted six weeks of convalescent leave directly after giving birth and can be granted another six weeks of leave as primary caregiver to bond with their infant anytime up to a year after birth.

“We want soldiers and their families to take full advantage of this benefit,” said retired Col. Larry Lock, chief of Compensation and Entitlements, Army G-1. He said parental leave is a readiness issue that ensures mothers have the time they need to get back in shape while it also takes care of families.

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11

A soldier shares a high-five with his daughter.

The new policy is retroactive to Dec. 23, 2016 — the date the NDAA legislation was signed for fiscal year 2017.

In other words, soldiers who took only 10 days of paternal leave over the past couple of years can apply to take an additional 11 days of “uncredited” leave as a secondary caregiver.

An alternative would be to reinstate 11 days of annual leave if that time was spent with their infant.

Eligible soldiers need to complete a Department of the Army Form 4187 and submit it to their commanders for consideration regarding the retroactive parental leave.

Fathers can also be designated as primary caregivers and granted six weeks or 42 days of parental leave, according to the new policy. However, only one parent can be designated as primary caregiver, Lock pointed out.

If a mother needs to return to work and cannot take the six weeks of leave to care for an infant, then the father could be designated as primary caregiver, he said. However, if the mother has already taken 12 weeks of maternal leave, that option is not available.

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11

Sgt. 1st Class Michael Lewis, a motor sergeant assigned to the 232nd Engineer Company, 94th Engineer Battalion, plays with his daughter.

(Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Heather A. Denby)

Until now, mothers could receive up to 12 weeks of maternity leave, which had to be taken immediately following childbirth. Now, only the six weeks of convalescent leave needs to be taken following discharge from the hospital. The second six weeks of primary caregiver leave can be taken anytime up to a year from giving birth, but must be taken in one block.

In the case of retroactive primary caregiver leave, it can be taken up to 18 months from a birth.

This provides soldiers more flexibility, Lock said.

The new directive applies to soldiers on active duty, including those performing Active Guard and Reserve duty as AGRs or full-time National Guard duty for a period in excess of 12 months.

Summing up the new policy, Lock said the Military Parental Leave Program, or MPLP, now offers three separate types of parental leave: maternity convalescent leave, primary caregiver leave, and secondary caregiver leave.

Mothers who decide to be secondary caregivers are eligible for the convalescent leave and the 21 days for a total of up to nine weeks.

Parents who adopt are also eligible for the primary or secondary caregiver leave.

The new policy is explained in Army Directive 2019-05, which is in effect until an updated Army Regulation 600-8-10 is issued.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Royal Air Force intercepts Russian aircraft as NATO conducts war games

The UK Ministry of Defense said June 17, 2019, that the Royal Air Force had intercepted Russian fighters twice over the weekend, bringing the number of such encounters to eight since the British took over NATO’s Baltic air-policing mission on May 3, 2019.

On June 14, 2019, RAF Typhoon jets intercepted a Russian SU-30 fighter just north of Estonia, where two days prior the US and Spain performed an amphibious landing exercise as part of the Baltic Operations war games.

The British aircraft are stationed at Amari air base in Estonia, and this year’s BaltOps exercises run through June 21, 2019 out of the port of Kiel in Germany.


“We were scrambled to intercept a contact close to Estonian airspace in the early evening, between two periods of poor weather. Shortly after getting airborne we came alongside a SU-30 Flanker fighter aircraft. We escorted the fighter over the Baltic sea, around Estonia and passing over another Russian military transport aircraft in the process,” an RAF pilot on duty at the time said in a press release.

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11

The Royal Air Force responded to Russian fighter craft in Baltic airspace twice over the weekend.

(Ministry of Defence/Twitter)

On June 15, 2019, British pilots again scrambled to intercept a Russian SU-30 Flanker fighter and an Ilyushin IL-76 Candid transport aircraft headed from Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave on the Baltic coast, toward Finnish and Estonian airspace.

According to a pilot on duty, the RAF escorted the aircraft toward mainland Russia, working with the Finnish air force to complete the mission.

NATO aircraft have carried out the Baltic air-policing mission since 2004, when the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania joined the alliance. Those countries do not have combat aircraft.

The number of encounters between NATO and Russia aircraft in the region has increased in recent years. There were similar incidents in May 2019, when the US Air Force scrambled twice in two days to respond to Russian aircraft flying in the air-defense identification zone near Alaska.

Russia has been accused of jamming GPS signals during NATO’s Trident Juncture war games — the alliance’s largest since the end of the Cold War — in Norway in the fall. Russia denied that and on Saturday claimed that NATO countries at BaltOps were conducting “radio-electronic warfare” by interfering with navigational signals.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

Here are 14 ship names the US Navy needs to bring back to the fleet

Ship names were a controversy of sorts during the Obama Administration. (The USS Carl Levin and USS Joe Murtha come to mind.) It’s time to make the Navy great by christening combatants with proper names, ones that reflect the heritage and tradition of the sea service.


Here are 14 recommendations:

1. USS Lexington

Last of her name: AVT 16/CV 16

The last Lexington served as a training carrier for decades before her 1991 retirement, having replaced CV 2, which was sunk at the Battle of the Coral Sea. The “Lady Lex” is now a museum docked on the shores of Corpus Christie, Texas. This classic name is way overdue for a comeback.

2. USS Saratoga

Last of her name: CV 60

If “Lady Lex” is coming back, why not “Sister Sara”? The previous one served for decades and was in reserve until the premature decision to send her to Brownsville to become razor blades. CV 60’s predecessor survived World War II, only to be sunk during the tests at Bikini Atoll.

3. USS Yorktown

Last of her name: CG 48

While the last Yorktown was a guided missile cruiser, the two previous ones were legendary “Fighting Ladies” in World War II. CV 5 sank at the Battle of Midway, but not before her fliers sank Soryu and helped put Hiryu on the bottom. CV 10 replaced CV 5, and made it through the war and is now a museum docked in Charleston, S.C. The cruiser served from 1984 to 2004, and is still in reserve.

4. USS Hornet

Last of her name: CV 12

The two carriers named Hornet in World War II both had honorable careers. CV 8 carried the Doolittle raiders on their mission to bomb Tokyo. CV 12 — now a museum docked in Alameda, California — fought across the Pacific, and later was the ship that recovered the crew of Apollo 11 after the historic moon landing.

5. USS England

Last of her name: CG 22

The first USS England, a destroyer escort, was famous for sinking six Japanese submarines in two weeks, a performance that lead then-Chief of Naval Operations Ernest J, King to vow “There will always be an England in the United States Navy.” The last one was decommissioned in 1994. It is well past time for England to return.

6. USS Basilone

Last of her name: DD 824

While HBO’s miniseries The Pacific brought the heroism of John Basilone to the world’s attention, the Navy had honored the Marine gunnery sergeant with a destroyer that was sunk as a target in 1982.

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11
Crewmen abandon ship on board the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Lexington (CV-2) after the carrier was hit by Japanese torpedoes and bombs during the Battle of the Coral Sea, on 8 May 1942. (Photo: U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation)
These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11
USS Basilone in action in 1960. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

7. USS Laffey

Last of her name: DD 724

Both destroyers named Laffey served in World War II, and both became legends in fights against long odds. The last one was decommissioned in 1968, then became a museum. It is well past time for a new Laffey to sail the seas.

8. USS Callaghan

Last of her name: DDG 994

Daniel J. Callaghan is one of the least-known combat commanders in the Navy. Given that his force saved the Marines on Guadalcanal, that is an undeserved situation. Perhaps it is time for a new Callaghan.

9. USS Jesse L. Brown

Last of her name: FF 1089

The Navy recently named a Burke-class destroyer after Ensign Brown’s wingman, so it seems fitting for a new Jesse L. Brown to join the Thomas Hudner as a named warship.

10. USS Johnston

Last of her name: DD 821

The first USS Johnston was one of two destroyers from Taffy 3 lost during the Battle of Samar. A second USS Johnston served in the United States Navy from 1946 until she was sold to Taiwan in 1981, where she gave two more decades of service.

11. USS Tang

Last of her name: SS 563

The first USS Tang was a legendary and very lethal submarine from World War II that sunk after getting hit with one of her own torpedoes in 1943. A second Tang later served in the Cold War. Time for iconic skipper Richard O’Kane’s sub to prowl the oceans again.

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11
USS Tang returning to port after her second patrol. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

12. USS Harder

Last of her name: SS 568

Harder was another famous submarine from World War II, which carried out six successful war patrols before being lost. Her replacement, decommissioned in 1974, was sold to Italy, and served until 1988.

13. USS Wahoo

Last of her name: SS 565

Famous as the command of “Mush” Morton, Wahoo carried out seven patrols before Japanese forces sank her on her way back to base. Her replacement, part of the Tang-class diesel-electric subs that served in the early Cold War, was decommissioned in 1980 and scrapped in 1984.

14. USS Growler

Last of her name: SSG 577

The fame of the third USS Growler (SS 215) came because of the noble sacrifice of Commander Howard C. Gilmore, who famously ordered, “Take her down!” After World War II, a new Growler briefly served as a cruise-missile sub before being decommissioned and becoming a museum.

Are there other names you’d like to see the Navy bring back? Tell us in the comments below or on the WATM Facebook page.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why Secretary Mattis’ press briefings are so intense

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has spent more than 40 years in the study and practice of war, but his extensive thoughts and writings on the subject have often been selectively reduced to chesty one-liners.


There’s the admonition to the troops, “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”

And another, “There’s some a——s in the world that just need to be shot.”

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. (Photo courtesy of DoD)

Other examples of bumper-sticker bravado could be cited that tend to drown out the context and Mattis’ consistent underlying message in a career as Marine legend and four-star general — that being prepared for war is the best way to prevent it.

Mattis, in the past week, has been attempting to provide more context in three informal sessions with Pentagon reporters that he acknowledges undertaking at the suggestion of The Associated Press’ senior defense correspondent, Bob Burns.

It’s just him in the middle of a reporters’ huddle. His aides stand aside but within earshot. He is unfailingly polite and direct in his responses to any topic that comes up, with the exception of those that he feels would give a clue to future operations.

Only once has he snapped at a question. Mattis took a question on civilian casualties in Yemen as suggesting that the U.S. didn’t care about the casualties. “Don’t screw with me,” he said.

At the session with reporters Jan. 5, Mattis took questions on Pakistan, Syria, Korea, Iran, Russia, transgender recruits, and the budget and, in the process, made a statement that could be added to his lexicon of one-liners.

“What counts most in war is [the] most difficult to count,” he said in expanding on his thoughts about civil war in Syria in response to a question about whether progress could be gauged by the number of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters killed.

Another reporter interjected that Mattis had recently said in Tel Aviv, “I’ve got better things to do than counting while the fight’s still going on.”

Mattis went on to say, “Yes, we’re not going to get into that sort of thing. You’ll know probably the most challenging part in assessing in combat — to include specifically your question — is that what counts most in war is most difficult to count, to quantify, OK?”

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis meets with Iraqi Minister of Defense Arfan al-Hayali at the Ministry of Defense in Baghdad, Iraq, Feb. 20, 2017. (DoD photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley)

The most difficult thing to quantify is the enemy’s morale, Mattis said, but there are “lagging indicators” that would show that constant pressure is having an effect.

“Morale, eventually, you’ll see a lagging indicator,” he said. “You’ll see that not as many people want to be recruited into a force that’s getting annihilated — witness Syria.”

“You won’t see as many foreigners coming to join witness this. So, you can kind of look at what’s happened in Syria and say, ‘Wait a minute. They’re not putting out squads to go blow off bombs in Brussels anymore.’ They can’t. You know, this sort of thing,” Mattis said.

The problem is that “not always can you quantify where you’re at, at any one moment,” he said, but in the case of ISIS “we’ll fight them” until the threat is eliminated.

Read More: 15 quotes from Gen. Mad Dog’ Mattis, slayer of bodies (Updated)

Mattis also spoke on tyranny and revolution in commenting on the recent street protests in Iran against the Islamic regime.

“You know, it’s interesting. You know, I enjoy reading history, just because I learn a lot from it. And, if you watch, when people confront tyranny — and this goes back 1,000-2,000 years — people, eventually, they get fed up with it,” he said.

“And whether it be physical tyranny or mental tyranny or spiritual tyranny, they revolt against it,” Mattis said.

These are the only combat jumps US troops have made since 9/11
(Photo from Department of Defense)

“So we may come from different directions,” he said of Iranian and American judgments on the regime in Tehran, “but ultimately, it’s the same kind of tyranny.”

“In their case, it’s about their internal government, what it does to them. In our case, it’s that, plus it’s what that government has done to espouse or support terrorism, destabilizing activities, export of ballistic missiles, disruption of commerce. All these kinds of things,” he said.

Mattis declined to speculate on what may come next, and what the U.S. response would be.

“There’s a reason I have four-stars out in the field,” he said of the combatant commanders.

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