Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash

Two U.S. F-22 Raptor stealth fighters intercepted two Russian Su-25 fighter jets Dec. 13, conducting multiple maneuvers, firing warning flares, and, in one instance, aggressively flying to avoid colliding with one another, U.S. officials tell Military.com.


The Su-25s — single-seat, twin-engine aircraft — “flew into coordinated coalition airspace on the east side of the Euphrates River near Abu Kamal, Syria, and were promptly intercepted,” Air Forces Central Command spokesman Lt. Col. Damien Pickart told Military.com in an email.

The F-22s, the U.S.’ most advanced fighter aside from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, were in the area providing air cover for partner ground forces conducting operations against the Islamic State, he said.

“The F-22s conducted multiple maneuvers to persuade the Su-25s to depart our deconflicted airspace, including the release of chaff and flares in close proximity to the Russian aircraft and placing multiple calls on the emergency channel to convey to the Russian pilots that they needed to depart the area,” Pickart said.

During one maneuver, a Su-25 flew so close to an F-22 “that it had to aggressively maneuver to avoid a midair collision,” he said.

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash
A Russian Su-25. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons user Alex Beltyukov)

The F-22 also trailed a Su-35 after it flew across the river into territory deemed unsafe to coalition aircraft.

“The incident lasted approximately 40 minutes before the Russian aircraft flew to the west side of the river. During and following the encounter, coalition leaders at the [Combined Air Operations Center in Al Udeid, Qatar] contacted the Russians on the deconfliction line to de-escalate the situation and avert a strategic miscalculation,” Pickart said.

AFCENT officials said the Russians had “verbally agreed” in November through the deconfliction line that they would remain west of the Euphrates River, and the coalition would operate to the East, he said.

Read Also: This is the plane Russia thinks can match the A-10

“Since agreeing to this deconfliction arrangement, the Russians have flown into our airspace on the east side of the river 6-8 times per day, or approximately 10 percent of the Russian and Syrian flights,” Pickart noted.

“If either of us needs to cross the river for any reason, we’re supposed to first deconflict via the line,” he said. “It’s become increasingly tough for our pilots to discern whether Russian pilots’ actions are deliberate or if these are just honest mistakes.”

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash
An F-22 Raptor in flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Solomon Cook)

Officials have said recently that coalition aircraft — more than a dozen air forces cooperating to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria — are concerned about the shrinking airspace.

“The coalition’s greatest concern is that we could shoot down a Russian aircraft because its actions are seen as a threat to our air or ground forces,” Pickart said. “We train our aircrew to take specific actions and to make every attempt possible to de-escalate the situation wherever possible.”

He continued, “We are not here to fight the Russians and Syrians — our focus remains on defeating ISIS. That said, if anyone threatens coalition or friendly partner forces in the air or on the ground, we will defend them.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is the Air Force personnel issue that can’t be rushed

The Air Force has been struggling for years to correct its pilot shortage, but it has also been dealing with a protracted shortfall of maintainers — the airmen who keep planes flightworthy.


Although the Force has significantly reduced its maintainer shortage, it now faces the daunting task of training the new recruits up to the levels of knowledge and experience the Force needs. That takes considerable time.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said, in Nov. 2017, that the lack of maintainers was having a noticeable effect on air operations.

Also read: How the Air Force will replace JSTARS battle management

Whereas in years past, a pilot would have multiple maintainers on hand for aircraft prep, takeoff, and landing, now, Goldfein said, pilots often have to “taxi slow, because the same single-crew chief that you met has to … drive to the end of the runway to pull the pins and arm the weapons.”

“Then, you sit on the runway before you take off and you wait, because that crew chief has to go jump on a C-17 with his tools to fly ahead to meet you at the other end,” he added. “This is the level of numbers that we’re dealing with.”

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash
An aircraft maintainer on the flight line in front of a snow-covered C-5M Super Galaxy, at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, January 6, 2015. (US Air Force)

The maintainer shortage has been a problem for some time and was exacerbated by the drawdown in 2014, which grew the shortage by 1,200 airmen. At the end of fiscal year 2015, the force was short some 4,000 maintainers.

The shortages fell especially hard on the most experienced airmen — 1,900 maintainers at the 5- and 7-skill levels were absent. Maintainers at that level work on the Air Force’s advanced aircraft, like the F-35, and those with the most experience were left working 50- to 60-hour weeks to keep aircraft in flying shape.

Related: The F-35 could shoot down ballistic missiles — with one catch

The Air Force tries to keep deployed units at full strength, meaning the personnel shortage was felt acutely among squadrons in the US.

The force rolled out a number of enticements to keep airmen on the flight line. By the end of fiscal year 2016, that shortage shrunk to 3,400 maintainers. By the end of fiscal year 2017, the official tally was down to 400.

“So we’ve been getting well” in terms of maintainers, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said at a Heritage Foundation event last week.

Wilson said in mid-February 2018 that the shortage had fallen to 200 maintainers— though Air Force spokeswoman Erika Yepsen told Business Insider the number can change throughout the year based on the force’s personnel numbers and needs.

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash
Senior Airman Daniel Lasal performs a post-flight inspection on an F-16 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, November 15, 2016. (US Air Force by Staff Sgt. Katherine Spessa)

Wilson added at the Heritage Foundation that simply adding airmen won’t solve the problem created by shedding experienced maintainers.

New, 3-skill level maintainers usually take five to seven years to get fully experienced.

“You go from being an apprentice to a craftsman to a master craftsman,” Wilson said. “So, we have a deficit in those craftsmen, and so we’re looking at different ways to be able to accelerate the learning of those young maintainers.”

“There’s only so much you can do to really learn and master your craft, but we’re almost well in terms of numbers, really now it’s about seasoning that force and getting them to the level of being craftsmen,” she added.

More: The Air Force needs a new A-10 mechanic

To help accelerate training, the Air Force is going to the boneyard — the aircraft storage facility at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. The boneyard (there is more than one) provides long-term storage for mothballed or unused aircraft — the force has scavenged parts from there to keep its largest plane, the C5 Galaxy, in the air.

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash
Staff Sgt. Kevin Colon removes exhaust covers from a B-1B Lancer at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, May 21, 2013. (U.S. Air Force)

According to Air Force Times, the force will start pulling F-15s and F-16s from the facility to provide training aircraft for the new maintainers and weapons-loaders. Those planes won’t fly, but they will act as high-tech guinea pigs for aircrews training to work on active combat aircraft. This will also keep the Air Force from having to take active aircraft out of service for training.

More reading: The Air Force just bolted on a bunch of boneyard parts to get its Galaxies up in the air

The Air Force has also brought in civilian contractors to take over some responsibilities — like washing aircraft and instruction — to free up time for maintainers to train.

“Every jet that I can relieve and put back on a flying schedule instead of being a ground instructional trainer, that has second- and third-order return on investment,” Col. Michael Lawrence, head of the Air Force’s maintenance division, told Air Force Times in December 2017.

“When you move jets from one place to another in a maintenance group complex, that drives a level of effort,” Lawrence added. “When we can park a jet down there on a permanent basis, that is a training asset.”

Articles

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life

Sailing saved Ronnie Simpson’s life. He was an 18 year old high school senior in Atlanta, Georgia when the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq began in March 2003. Drawn to service by the events of September 11, Ronnie joined the Marine Corps Infantry the day after the war started.


Less than a year later in March 2004, he deployed to Iraq with the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines.

“I was a .50 cal gunner on top of a Humvee,” he recalls. “Four months into my deployment, we were ambushed during a night-time convoy, and an RPG hit the ground near my Humvee. The rocket bounced up and exploded in the air one meter from me. I had broken ribs, detached retinas, a bleeding brain which created sub-retinal fluid, a traumatic brain injury (TBI), a blown-out left lung and my tongue was blown into my airway. I was temporarily knocked unconscious. Because I wasn’t breathing and was unresponsive, Marines in my truck thought I was dead. It was actually a textbook blast injury. The Corpsman in my Humvee, Doc David Segundo, was injured too but he got up, cleared my airway, and saved my life.”

Simpson, now 30 years old, spent a lot of time recovering both physically and mentally. Most of his TBI symptoms weren’t permanent (he credits the helmet technology for that). Despite having burns over 10 percent of his body, many of those scars aren’t visible.

“It fucked me up pretty good,” he says. “Unless you knew me though, you’d never know I’m hurt. I have no visible scars unless I take my shirt off. Then I have many.”

Simpson is legally blind and can’t obtain a driver’s license. Though his body healed, his mental state took much longer. He reevaluated his life and experiences through a 9,000-mile bike trek across Europe and Asia in 2009 and more than 50,000 miles at sea, both healing counterpoints to his experiences in Iraq.

“My time in theater and my travels have shaped my perspective,” Simpson says. “There’s a lot of good and beauty in this world, and I want to add to that. Our program is about helping the men and women that are coming back – the veterans – the people we should be looking out for. We in the veteran community have these experiences and while we may interpret them differently, this shared experience can bring us together. We can come together to create profound and impactful programs to help the veterans from these two wars as well as something permanent and sustainable for veterans of future conflicts.”

Sailing is the catalyst for Simpson’s initiative. Not only his love for sailing but how he changed his life and how he aims to change the lives of others.

“I joined the Marines at 18, was injured in combat at 19, my dad died four months after I got hurt, and by 20 I was medically retired,” Simpson says. “By 22 I was a lost soul. I had reached my deepest, darkest point. I’m fearful of what would have happened if I hadn’t flipped the script. I broke off an engagement, sold my house, and moved from Texas to California. That move was my re-birth as a new person.”

On the California coast, he found his calling. After living so recklessly, he became completely focused on becoming a racing sailor and making the most of his life. Seven years later, Simpson now travels the world as a professional sailor and sailing writer.

“It helped me heal,” Simpson says. “These adventures help you positively adrenalize yourself in a sustainable manner. Guys who come back from places like Fallujah have experienced adrenaline like most will never know, and again need to achieve that heightened state of existence. But where will they find it? Drugs, alcohol, or doping the pain away with pills? I can put you on the helm of a racing sailboat in the middle of the night and it will rock your world. This is a healthy way to get that fix.”

It’s not just about giving people the fix of adrenaline they were accustomed to while in combat. For Simpson and his sailing nonprofit – Coastal and Offshore Recalibration Experience, or CORE (www.medicinalmissions.com/CORE), that community of veterans is the most important result.

“Because that’s what it is: a Community,” he says. “On a sailboat you can put anyone into a job they can do, regardless of their injury. It’s a sport that doesn’t care if you have arms or legs. That’s a big part of it. Everyone has an assigned, defined role. There’s a chain of command, a defined mission, teamwork is critical and constant risk management is all part of the game. The parallels between racing sailboats and combat are incredible. When you combine that with the peacefulness and serenity of heading to sea with your brothers and sisters, it’s a powerful experience.”

Simpson and his best friend Army veteran Walter Kotecki, created a sailing program within an existing wounded-veteran nonprofit, raised $50,000 through yacht clubs and private donors, and gave a sailing experience to 30 veterans over the course of four clinics in 2012 and 2013.

“There’s always a steep learning curve when you start your own thing. We flew vets to San Francisco,” he says. “They had the whole range of injuries from PTSD to multiple amputees to blindness. We used sailing, surfing, yoga, nature walks, kayaking, art and more to help these guys look past their injuries and realize that anything is possible, no matter their injury, while re-establishing that sense of camaraderie and community that so many have lost since leaving the service.”

It was so successful and the veterans so responsive Simpson and Kotecki decided to strike out on their own earlier this year, forming CORE.

“I had a Vietnam vet hook me up with a racing sailboat and an opportunity,” says Simpson. “He passed that torch to me and told me to pay it forward. Here’s my chance to hook somebody else up. Let’s re-build that community and keep that torch going.”

CORE is seeking veterans of the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan to participate in more sailing clinics throughout California, with the first being in San Francisco in October of this year. They will be accepting applications until August 31. For 2016, CORE is planning six to eight clinics up and down the California coast.

The most ambitious plan for CORE is participating in the 2017 Transpacific Yacht Race – where they will train a full crew of combat-wounded veterans to sail from Los Angeles to Honolulu, the first time ever that such a crew would be assembled.

“Our goal is to help reduce the rate of veteran suicide in this country. Sailing is one of the tools that we use,” he says.

Simpson is now featured in a series of short films produced by Craftsman, We Are The Mighty, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), showing how IAVA empowers veterans as they transition back to civilian life.

“It’s admirable for companies like Craftsman to reach out to veterans groups to benefit the guys and girls that are coming back,” Simpson says. “I see a positive shift in awareness about issues that affect veterans, how we can improve the care of veterans, and how we can achieve a more holistic healing approach instead of pumping them full of drugs.”

Craftsman is donating $250,000 to IAVA and from May 25 – July 4, for every new follower of @Craftsman on Instagram, Craftsman will donate an additional $1 to IAVA (with a minimum donation of $5,000).

“I am honored to be part of this and stoked that a big corporation is out to make a difference of stemming the tide of 22 veterans a day,” Simpson says. “I’m excited that they believe in what we’re doing, and to work on this next mission of saving lives by reaching out to the veteran community.”

Now: Artist takes his craft to war and back again

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Marine ‘Hero of Nasiriyah’ is retiring

While the saga of Private First Class Jessica Lynch, a soldier assigned to the 507th Maintenance Company who was captured by Saddam’s forces during Operation Iraqi Freedom, is well known, the incredibly heroic story of the attempt to rescue that unit isn’t. Now, the brave Marine behind that rescue attempt is retiring.

According to a report by the Marine Corps Times, Sergeant Major Justin LeHew is set to retire after 30 years of service in the Marine Corps. His most recent assignment has been with the Wounded Warrior Battalion — East, based out of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

LeHew became a legend while serving as a platoon sergeant with Company A, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, Task Force Tarawa during the initial stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom. When the chain of command learned about the dire situation the 507th Maintenance Company was in, they sent LeHew’s unit to try to rescue the soldiers.


According to his Navy Cross citation, when they arrived on the scene, LeHew helped his Marines evacuate four soldiers from the beleaguered maintenance unit. Then, an intense, three-hour-long firefight broke out. When an AAV-7 was destroyed, LeHew sprang into action.

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash

One of the AAV-7s destroyed in the Battle of Nasiriyah. Justin LeHew earned the Navy Cross for heroism in retrieving dead and wounded Marines from a similar vehicle.

(USMC photo by Master Sergeant Edward D. Kniery)

According to a release by the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, he made multiple 70-yard sprints to the destroyed vehicle, retrieving nine dead and wounded Marines, picking body parts out from the wreckage — all while under fire from the enemy.

He received the Navy Cross for his actions while on another deployment to Iraq with C Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment. Around the time he was awarded the Navy Cross, he would again distinguish himself in combat — this time in Najaf. During a battle against insurgents, he repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire, helping, once again, to evacuate the wounded, including taking one Marine with a sucking chest wound straight to a forward operating base. For his actions, he received the Bronze Star with the Combat Distinguishing Device in 2005.

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash

After his second tour in Iraq, LeHew held a number of senior leadership positions.

(USMC photo)

Since then, LeHew has held a number of senior NCO assignments. LeHew has also an obstacle in the Crucible named in his honor. In the opinion of this writer, LeHew also makes the short list of people who deserve having a ship named after them.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US to establish its first permanent military base in Israel

Israel and the U.S. inaugurated the first American military base on Israeli soil on September 18th, which will serve dozens of soldiers operating a missile defense system.


The move comes at a time of growing Israeli concerns about archenemy Iran’s development of long-range missiles. Together with the U.S., Israel has developed a multilayered system of defenses against everything from long-range guided missile attacks from Iran to crude rockets fired from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

The base’s opening is largely symbolic and isn’t expected to bring operational changes. But the Israeli military says that along with other measures, it sends a message of readiness to Israel’s enemies.

“It’s a message that says Israel is better prepared. It’s a message that says Israel is improving the response to threats,” said Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovich, the commander of Israel’s aerial defense.

The base is located within an existing Israeli air force base and will operate under Israeli military directives.

Israeli and U.S. military officials cut a ribbon at the base Monday, where the American and Israeli flags flew side by side and soldiers from both countries commingled.

Israel’s multi-tier missile defense system includes the Arrow, designed to intercept long-range ballistic missiles in the stratosphere with an eye on Iran, and Iron Dome, which defends against short-range rockets from the Gaza Strip. David’s Sling is meant to counter the type of medium-range missiles possessed by Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants.

Israel considers Iran to be its greatest threat, citing the country’s nuclear ambitions, its development of long-term missiles, hostile anti-Israel rhetoric and support for anti-Israel militant groups. Israel has grown increasingly concerned about Iran’s involvement in the civil war in neighboring Syria, where its troops are supporting President Bashar Assad.

Israel is worried that Iran and its proxy Hezbollah will establish a long-term presence in Syria near the Israeli border.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Taiwan overhauls combat drills to fight off an invasion by China

Taiwan is planning a series of new, large-scale combat drills to boost military readiness for the possibility of armed conflict with mainland China.

Taiwan’s military announced Jan. 9, 2019, that new drills are “being drafted based on newly adopted tactics for defending against a possible Chinese invasion,” according Maj. Gen. Yeh Kuo-hui, chief of the Ministry of National Defense’s Operations and Planning Division, the Associated Press reported, citing Taiwan’s official Central News Agency.


2019’s exercises will include a month of combat readiness training in the first quarter, another month-long live-fire exercise in the second quarter, joint anti-landing operations in the third quarter, and joint anti-airborne maneuvers in the fourth and final quarter, Focus Taiwan reported.

China claims absolute, indisputable sovereignty over Taiwan, an autonomous democratic territory perceived in Beijing as a renegade province. “We make no promise to abandon the use of force, and retain the option of taking all necessary measures” to achieve reunification, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned in a message to the island.

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash

Chinese President Xi Jinping.

China has an 3-million-member army and the world’s second largest defense budget. Taiwan lacks the numbers, but it does have a technologically capable fighting force, which the island hopes could repel a Chinese invasion.

Beijing has previously warned Taipei that efforts to bolster its military capabilities are pointless.

“I want to stress that it is a dead end to deny reunification by using force,” Wu Qian, spokesman for the Chinese defense ministry, stated in late December 2018, stating that the People’s Liberation Army will continue to conduct exercises and operations near Taiwan.

The Chinese military carried out 18,000 military drills in 2018 and China’s armed forces are expected to continue to ramp up training in response to perceived threats to Chinese national interests. Taiwan’s military is doing the same.

“We want to assure citizens that the military is constantly beefing up its combat preparedness and stands ready to fight for the survival of the Republic of China (Taiwan),” Taiwan’s military spokesman Chen Chung-chi said recently.

In 2019, for the first time ever, the Council on Foreign Relations listed Taiwan as a potential flashpoint on its annual Preventive Priorities Survey, although it was ranked as a Tier II concern beyond other possible conflict zones, like the South China Sea and the Korean Peninsula.

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

Articles

Two Marine veterans playing ‘Pokemon Go’ catch an attempted murder suspect

Two Marine veterans playing “Pokemon Go” in a Los Angeles suburb on Jul. 12 ended up catching an attempted murder suspect instead of a Pikachu.


Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash
The game is designed to allow people to catch fictional animals, not real criminals. (Screenshot: YouTube/Lachlan – Minecraft More)

Javier Soch and Seth Ortega were hunting Pokemon near a museum when they saw a man who appeared to be scaring a woman and her three sons, according to reporting in the Los Angeles Times. The Marines talked to the man, who was agitated but coherent. He asked for cigarettes and shelter and the Marines told him to check the local police station for help.

The Marines kept their eyes on the man as he walked off. “We kept our distance. We didn’t want to alert the guy and escalate the situation,” Soch told reporter Matt Hamilton.

The man interacted with two more families. He continued to act suspiciously but did not do anything illegal — at first.

“[We] walked across the street and the gentleman actually walks up and touches one of the children, one of the boys, his toe, and starts walking his way up to the knee,” Ortega told an ABC affiliate.

The veterans sprung into action. Soch stayed with the family while Ortega sprinted after the man. The man attempted to flee, but he couldn’t get away from the Marine.

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash
Running from Marines is not generally a winning idea. Photo Credit: 26th MEU

He was arrested on suspicion of child annoyance, but the police then learned that the man had a warrant out for attempted murder in Sonoma, California. He will be extradited to face charges there.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Veterans are finding jobs in flooring and tile installation

Flooring installer jobs can be great for transitioning veterans who are interested in a hands-on career. There are many opportunities to enter this line of work for those who want to. There are many advantages as well.

These jobs may not be for you if you do not like to work with your hands or to build stuff. The pay is above the median, but it is not as high as some other occupations and the pay potential at the top end can also be limited. The work might not be consistent either, like with many other types of construction occupations, employment is sensitive to the fluctuations of the economy.

On the one hand, workers may experience periods of unemployment when the overall level of construction falls. On the other hand, additional workers may be needed in some areas during peak periods of building activity.


Flooring installers and tile and marble setters lay and finish carpet, wood, vinyl, and tile. Flooring installers and tile and marble setters lay the materials that improve the look and feel of homes, offices, restaurants, and other buildings. Although flooring and tile are usually installed after most of the construction for a project has been completed and the work area is mostly clean and uncluttered, some materials and tasks may be messy.

The work environment should be considered like a construction area even if it may not be. Some examples of these jobs are carpet installers, carpet tile installers, floor sanders and finishers, floor layers, and tile and marble setters.

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash

The pay is in line with to slightly above the national average for all jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the median annual wage for flooring installers and tile and marble setters was ,250 in May 2017. This is roughly .25 per hour. The lowest 10 percent earned less than ,590, and the highest 10 percent earned more than ,990. Workers involved in construction of buildings tended to make more than workers who work in building finishing, manufacturing, or home stores.

The job outlook is strong. Employment of flooring installers and tile and marble setters is projected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. The construction of new housing units will be the primary source of flooring and tile and marble installation work over the next decade. As the housing industry continues to recover, more flooring installers will be hired to work on these units. In addition, more flooring installers and tile and marble setters will be needed for remodeling and replacement projects in existing homes.

There are relatively few obstacles to becoming a flooring installer. Flooring installers and tile and marble setters typically learn their trade on the job, sometimes starting as a helper. Some learn through an apprenticeship.

There are no specific education requirements for someone to become a flooring installer or tile and marble setter. A high school diploma or equivalent is preferred for those entering an apprenticeship program. An apprenticeship program may include mathematics, building code requirements, safety and first-aid practices, and blueprint reading. After completing an apprenticeship program, flooring installers and tile and marble setters are considered to be journey workers and may perform duties on their own.

To be successful as one you should have strong attention to detail, good strength and stamina, math skills, and good interpersonal skills for interacting with customers and clients.You should also be self-motivated and punctual. These are all basic skills necessary to successfully serve at any level in the military as well.

This article originally appeared on G.I. Jobs. Follow @GIJobsMagazine on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

US taxpayers have reportedly paid an average of $8,000 each and over $2 trillion total for the Iraq war alone

The human costs of war are huge and crippling. The financial costs can be, too.


According to a new estimate by the Costs of War co-director Neta Crawford, US taxpayers have paid nearly $2 trillion in war-related costs on the Iraq war alone.

Newsweek estimated that the total for the Iraq War comes out to an average of roughly $8,000 per taxpayer. The figure far exceeds the Pentagon’s estimate that Americans paid an average of $3,907 each for Iraq and Syria to date. And in March 2019, the Department of Defense estimated that the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria combined have cost each US taxpayer around $7,623 on average.

The Costs of War Project through Brown University conducts research on the human, economic, and political costs of the post-9/11 wars waged by the US. Stephanie Savell, a co-director of the Cost of Wars Projects, told Insider it’s important for Americans to understand exactly what their taxes are paying for when it comes to war-related expenses.

“As Americans debate the merits of U.S. military presence in Iraq and elsewhere in the name of the U.S. war on terrorism, it’s essential to understand that war costs go far beyond what the DOD has appropriated in Overseas Contingency Operations and reach across many parts of the federal budget,” Savell said.

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash
Iraqi Freedom

Breaking down the financial costs of the Iraq War

The Pentagon had been allotted approximately 8 billion in “emergency” and “overseas contingency operation” for military operations in Iraq from the fiscal year 2003 to 2019, including operations fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. However, Savell says the actual costs of the war often exceed that of the Congress-approved budgets.

“When you’re accounting for the cost of war, you can’t only account what the DOD has spent on overseas contingency funds,” Savell told Insider. “You have to look at the other sets of costs including interest on borrowed funds, increased war-related spending, higher pay to retain soldiers, medical and disability care on post-9-11 and war veterans, and more.”

According to their estimates, the cost of the Iraq War to date would be id=”listicle-2645054426″,922 billion in current dollars — this figure includes funding appropriated by the Pentagon explicitly for the war, spending on the country by the State Department, the care of Iraq War veterans and interests on debt incurred for the 16 years of the US military’s involvement in the country.

Crawford says that war-related spending in Iraq has blown past its budget in the 16 years military forces have been in the country, estimating a nearly 2 billion surplus in Iraq alone.

The increases to the Congressionally approved budgets were used to heighten security at bases, for enlistment and reenlistment bonuses, to increase pay to retain personnel, and for the healthcare costs of servicemembers.

Aside from the Defense Department costs, the State Department added approximately billion to the total costs of the Iraq War for USAID on Iraq and Syria. Meanwhile, 9 billion has been spent on Iraq war veterans receiving medical care, disability, and other compensation.

The US has gone deep into debt to pay for the war. That means it has interest payments.

As expected, that taxpayer dollars are going towards war-related expenses including operations, equipment, and personnel. But a surprising amount of the costs are to pay off the interest on the debt the US has accrued since going to war.

“People also need to know that these wars have been put on a credit card, so we will be paying trillions on war borrowing in interest alone over the next several decades,” Avell told Insider.

Since the US launched its “Global War on Terror” in Iraq and Afghanistan — and later Yemen, Pakistan, and other areas — the US government has completely financed its war efforts borrowing funds. A Cost of War Projects report estimated the US government debts from all post-9/11 war efforts “resulted in cumulative interest payments of 5 billion” on a trillion debt.

The financing method departs from previous international conflicts, where the federal government either raised taxes or issued war bonds to finance war-related expenses. According to Boston University political scientist Rosella Cappella-Zielinski, tax payments accounted for 30% of the cost of World War I and almost 50% of the cost of World War II.

Borrowing from both domestic and foreign sources, Crawford estimates the US has incurred 4 billion in interest on borrowing to pay for Pentagon and State Department spending in Iraq alone.

While the money spent on the Iraq War may seem staggering, the Costs of War estimates the US has spent over .4 trillion total on all of its “War on Terror” efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the related violence in Pakistan and Syria.

Defense Department spokesperson Christopher Sherwood told Insider that the Defense Department dedicates id=”listicle-2645054426″.575 trillion for war-related costs, with an average of spending .2 billion per month on all operations for the fiscal year 2019.

Sherwood said that the department’s costs go towards war-related operational costs, such as trainings and communications, support for deployed troops, including food and medical services, and transportation of personnel and equipment.

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash
Press conference in Al Fadhel

upload.wikimedia.org

The human costs of the Iraq War are even harder to track

The US invaded Iraq in 2003 on the belief that Saddam Hussein had, or was attempting to make, “weapons of mass destruction” and that Iraq’s government had connections to various terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda. Although the invasion initially had overwhelming support from the American public and the approval of Congress, it is now considered one of the greatest foreign policy blunders in US history.

189,000 soldiers were killed in direct war deaths and 32,223 injured, Cost of War estimated. Meanwhile, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of service members due to war-related hardships remain difficult to track.

The Costs of War Project believes calculating the total costs of war — economic, political, and human — is important to ensure that Americans can make educated choices about war-related policies.

“War is expensive — in terms of lives lost, physical damage to people and property, mental trauma to soldiers and war-zone inhabitants, and in terms of money,” Cost of War researcher Heidi Peltier wrote.

In 2016 and leading up to 2020, President Donald Trump has campaigned on a promise of pulling American troops out and ending “these ridiculous wars” in the Middle East. However, Trump deployed more troops to the country after an attack on the US embassy in Iraq.

The Pentagon originally requested less than billion of that amount for Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria — however, the Crawford believes that budget may be blown after more troops were sent into a war zone that was meant to be winding down.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

US Navy confirms mysterious videos of pilots spotting UFOs are genuine

The US Navy has confirmed videos showing pilots confused by two mysterious flying objects over the US contained what it considers to be UFOs, after years of speculation since their release.

Joseph Gradisher, the Navy’s spokesman for the deputy chief of naval operations for information warfare, confirmed that the Navy considered the objects in the videos to be unidentified.

“The Navy designates the objects contained in these videos as unidentified aerial phenomena,” he said in a statement to The Black Vault, a civilian-run archive of government documents.

He also later gave the statement to the news outlet Vice.


The term UFOs, which stands for “unidentified flying objects,” is now used less frequently by officials, who have instead adopted the term “unidentified aerial phenomena,” or UAP.

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash

Another image from a video showing a UFO filmed near San Diego in 2004.

(Department of Defense)

Neither the term UFO nor UAP means the unknown object is deemed extraterrestrial, and many such sightings end up having logical, and earthly, explanations.

Gradisher also said the videos were never cleared for public release. “The Navy has not released the videos to the general public,” he said.

Susan Gough, a spokeswoman for the Pentagon, previously told The Black Vault that the videos “were never officially released to the general public by the DOD and should still be withheld.”

Gradisher told Vice the Navy “considers the phenomena contained/depicted in those three videos as unidentified.”

He told The Black Vault: “The Navy has not publicly released characterizations or descriptions, nor released any hypothesis or conclusions, in regard to the objects contained in the referenced videos.”

The Department of Defense videos show pilots confused by what they are seeing. In one video, a pilot said: “What the f— is that thing?”

According to The Black Vault, Gradisher said the videos were filmed in 2004 and 2015. The New York Times also reported that one of the videos was from 2004.

You can see the 2004 video here:

FLIR1: Official UAP Footage from the USG for Public Release

www.youtube.com

“I very much expected that when the US military addressed the videos, they would coincide with language we see on official documents that have now been released, and they would label them as ‘drones’ or ‘balloons,'” John Greenwald, the curator of The Black Vault, told Vice.

“However, they did not. They went on the record stating the ‘phenomena’ depicted in those videos, is ‘unidentified.’ That really made me surprised, intrigued, excited, and motivated to push harder for the truth.”

One of the videos was shared by The New York Times in December 2017, when one commander who saw the object on a training mission told the outlet “it accelerated like nothing I’ve ever seen.”

The Times spoke with more pilots, who spotted objects in 2014 and 2015, this year. One of the pilots told the outlet: “These things would be out there all day.”

These pilots, many of whom were part of a Navy flight squadron known as the “Red Rippers,” reported the sightings to the Pentagon and Congress, The Times reported.

The pilots said the objects could accelerate, stop, and turn in ways that went beyond known aerospace technology, The Times added.

They said they were convinced the objects were not part of a secret military project like a classified drone program.

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash

An F/A-18F Super Hornet taking off from the USS Harry S. Truman in the North Atlantic in September 2018. Red Rippers crew said they saw mysterious objects while in flight.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kaysee Lohmann)

“Navy pilots reported to their superiors that the objects had no visible engine or infrared exhaust plumes, but that they could reach 30,000 feet and hypersonic speeds,” the Times report said.

Hypersonic speed is more than about 3,800 mph — five times the speed of sound.

The 2004 video and one of the 2015 videos were also shared by The To Stars Academy, a UFO research group cofounded by Tom deLonge from the rock group Blink-182, in December 2017. The group released a third Department of Defense video in 2018 that Gradisher told The Black Vault was filmed on the same day as the other 2015 video.

The group hints at non-earthly origins of the videos, claiming they “demonstrate flight characteristics of advanced technologies unlike anything we currently know, understand, or can duplicate with current technologies.”

Gradisher, the Navy representative, told Vice the Navy changed its policy in 2018 to make it easier for crew to report unexplained sightings as there were so many reports of “unauthorized and/or unidentified aircraft entering various military-controlled training ranges and designated airspace.”

Why Scientists Don’t Freak Out About UFO Videos

www.youtube.com

“The Navy and USAF take these reports very seriously and investigate each and every report,” he said.

Scientists told The Times they were skeptical that these videos showed anything extraterrestrial.

US President Donald Trump said in June 2019 that he had been briefed on the fact that Navy pilots were reporting increased sightings of UFOs.

And one Republican in the House Homeland Security Committee is accusing the Navy of withholding information on such sightings.

Rep. Mark Walker told Politico in June 2019 there was “frustration with the lack of answers to specific questions about the threat that superior aircraft flying in United States airspace may pose.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

How a Chinese spy blew the cover for CIA assets in Russia

A former CIA case officer who was arrested on Jan. 16 on a single count of illegally possessing classified information — real names and phone numbers of covert CIA sources, locations of covert facilities, and meeting locations — may have compromised U.S. assets in Russia, according to current and former U.S. officials cited in an NBC News report published Jan. 19th.


A secret task force involving the FBI and CIA suspected that 53-year-old ex-CIA officer, Jerry Chun Shing Lee, could have been spying for China, during a period when at least 20 CIA informants in China were executed. FBI agents were said to have received information that Lee, who left the CIA in 2007, was cooperating with Chinese intelligence officers while working in Hong Kong, according to sources cited in the report.

In 2012, agents reportedly searched his hotel room and discovered notebooks with the names and phone numbers of CIA sources.

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash
The Memorial Wall is on the north wall of the Original Headquarters Building lobby. This wall of 103 stars stands as a silent, simple memorial to those CIA officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The Memorial Wall was commissioned by the CIA Fine Arts Commission in May 1973 and sculpted by Harold Vogel in July 1974. (Image CIA Flickr)

U.S. intelligence officials, who suspected that China had infiltrated their covert communications following the executions of their sources in the country, believed that Chinese intelligence officers shared the U.S.’s method of covert communications with Russian intelligence officers during a joint training session. After the training session, Russian officers reportedly “came back saying we got good info on [covert communications],” a former official said to NBC News.

U.S. assets in Russia reportedly began disappearing, prompting a change in operational procedures for communications.

The former officials noted that the information Lee possessed was not all-inclusive, and that not all of those who were sought by Chinese officials were linked to his notebook: “No single officer had access to all of them,” one official said to NBC News.

Also Read: Sailor accused of spying for China, Taiwan cuts deal with feds

The former officials also noted that the CIA’s method for sharing messages with agents could have been easily accessed by the Chinese due to its simplicity: “All they had to do was get one agent’s laptop, and they could figure it out,” and official said.

Lee reportedly flew to back to the U.S. in 2012 with his family on the promise of a job offer, which turned out to be a plan by authorities to lure him back to the U.S. Photographs taken of items in Lee’s hotel room at the time indicated he possessed a 49-page datebook and a 21-page address book filled with sensitive information.

Lee was arrested after flying into John F. Kennedy Airport from Hong Kong.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This is what it was like being a female Marine in WW2

Margaret Jessen just wanted a little more excitement in her life.


Fresh out of high school, Jessen didn’t find that excitement working as a linotype operator at the local newspaper. So, what does a young woman in search of adventure do when there’s a war going on?

In Jessen’s case, she joined the Marines.

“I was young then, and I wanted the action. There was nothing going on (here). It was too dull at home,” said Jessen, who was Margaret O’Shaugnessy at the time.

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash
Four female pilots leaving their ship at the four engine school at Lockbourne are members of a group of WASPS who have been trained to ferry the B-17 Flying Fortresses. Photo from USAF.

She’d worked for a couple years at the newspaper in Homer, Nebraska, after graduating from Homer High School in 1942. With World War II raging in Europe and in the Pacific Ocean, there were a lot of opportunities to find something more exciting to do. There was the military, and there were jobs available in the many factories that built planes, ships, and other supplies needed for the American war effort.

Jessen considered both before telling her mother that she was joining the Marines.

Also Read: WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)

“Oh, she was horrified,” Jessen said. “I said I was going to join the Marines or go to California to be a welder. She figured if I didn’t show up for work in the Marines, someone would come looking for me. If I didn’t show up for work as a welder, they wouldn’t look for you.

“She figured I’d be better off in the Marine Corps.”

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash
The first group of 71 Women Marine Officer Candidates arrived 13 March 1943 at the US Midshipmen School (Women’s Reserve) at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, March 13, 1943. Massachusetts. Photo from USMC.

Jessen joined the Marines in May 1944 and was sent to Missouri for basic training. Men also were trained at the base, but kept separate from the women. Jessen said the training was physically demanding, and women were allowed to practice on guns but were not allowed to have them. Once she completed basic training, Jessen was sent to Norman, Oklahoma, to learn how to fix Cosair fighter planes.

“They just thought that’s what I was capable of,” Jessen said.

Jessen passed the training and was sent to Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in Santa Ana, California, where she was assigned to work as an office clerk. She never did work on airplanes.

“You know how the government works,” she said. “They train you to do one thing and then have you do another.”

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash
Aluminum paint production. Women work alongside of men in this Midwest aluminum factory now converted to production of war materials. Photo by Alfred T. Palmer.

The women who arrived at El Toro weren’t viewed positively by the men they replaced. For many of the men, it meant they were losing their stateside assignments and heading to war.

“The men were mad at us because we came in and took their jobs and they were sent overseas, so we were resented, I’m sure,” Jessen said.

Jessen spent the remainder of the war at El Toro and was discharged in June 1946. Still looking for adventure, Jessen and another female friend hitchhiked across the country to Florida and up the East Coast to New York.

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash
A poster used by the US government to recruit women to the war effort during WWII.

“It drove my mother crazy,” Jessen said with a wry smile and a chuckle.

Eventually, Jessen returned home, where she began dating Alfred Jessen, who had served in the Army in Germany during World War II. They were married in 1947 and raised five sons. Jessen would later work for Iowa Beef Processors in Dakota City for 19 years before retiring in the mid-1970s. Her service in the Marines taught her a valuable lesson for her later work experiences.

“It taught me how to get along with people,” she said. “You don’t judge them. Everybody was the same.”

Over the years, Jessen saw her husband honored for his military service. Few people knew she, too, had served.

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash
USMC photo by Cpl Aneshea S. Yee

“I think my husband was proud of it, too. He realized they didn’t treat us the same,” Jessen said. “When they came around and offered him an award for being in the service, he told them I was in the service, too, but they never offered me an award.”

That slight doesn’t lessen the pride Jessen said she feels about her decision to join the Marines rather than be a welder.

“I’m proud of the fact I served,” she said. “It gave me a lot of experiences.”

Humor

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of March 2nd

Ah, springtime. It’s almost that beautiful time of year again.


Junior enlisted are happy, NCOs are yelling at them to downgrade to the summer PT uniform, and sergeant majors can finally see their beloved grass before a dumb butter bar walks on it. Rumor has it that the warrant officer might have even come out of hibernation!

For once, things are optimistic. Pizza MREs are coming, the Army is getting its Pinks and Greens back, and a sweet pay increase is coming. So, take it easy. Relax. Enjoy the smell of freshly cut memes.

13. Every. Single. Time.

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash

12. “What are they going to do? Kick me out — oh…”

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash

11. Holding random clipboards or putting your cellphone up to your ear also works.

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash
Walk with a sense of purpose and people will think you’re doing things. (Meme via Air Force Nation)

10. We get enough opinions from the “Good Idea Fairy;” we don’t need anymore.

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash
Anyone who thinks any troops have feelings immediately loses their right to be heard. (Meme via Decelerate your Life)

9. The beard comes standard with every DD-214.

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash
The alcoholism never fades, though. (Meme via Reddit)

8. Any troop who says they haven’t had to open an MRE packet with their mouth is a damn liar.

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash
(Meme via Reddit)

7. Perfect, until you drop something…

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash
(Meme via Reddit)

6. Will Gunny ever relax? Will we ever find the WO? Tune in next week.

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash
(Meme via Reddit)

5. They’re not mutually exclusive.

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash
(Meme via Pop Smoke)

4. Eye for an eye. Next time they try to miss formation and lie about being “at dental,” get their asses.

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash
(Meme via Pop Smoke)

3. If Big Army took the same approach, maybe everyone would get their SSD1 done.

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash
(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

2. Roger. We get it. Can we go home already?

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash
(Meme via The Salty Sailor)

1. POG is a state of mind, not an MOS.

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash
Shots fired. (Meme via Untied Status Marin Crops)

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