Blooming together: Our salute to moms - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Blooming together: Our salute to moms

May is a month to celebrate military spouses and mothers, so let’s give a salute to all the military spouse moms holding the family together and keeping things going on the homefront!

Military life is always challenging, but it’s especially difficult when your service member is away and you’re the solo parent. This month, we shine a spotlight on military spouse moms navigating through deployments. Thank you, mothers, for your generous love and sacrifices.


To the mothers missing their service member:

We know it’s difficult when your service member is gone. It doesn’t matter how long they are away, whether it is a deployment, a TDY, or just a few days of training. We salute you, moms who are on your own. We know there are times when you cry in the shower or in your car, just so the kids won’t see your tears. And we know that you have what it takes to keep going.

“I’ve temporarily had to say see you later to my best friend, my teammate, and my partner in crime. My husband deploying was extremely difficult on myself and our four children. However, going through all of this without my husband allowed me to experience first-hand that I can, I will, I do, and I did handle deployment like a boss.”
– Megan, Navy spouse

To the pregnant mothers:

We see you, moms who are juggling the difficulties of pregnancy with the obstacles of military life. To all those trying to plan a baby in between PCS moves and deployments, and experiencing sickness and fatigue on your own—we salute you! Even when you feel exhausted, you are everything your baby needs.

“I’m about to be a mom of two Irish twins. My son is 9 months old right now. I’m due again in three months. I’m very nervous not having my husband by my side for this one but I have to be strong for the both of us.”
– Meagan, Army spouse

To the mothers of little ones:

We salute you, mothers surrounded by diapers and bottles, unfolded laundry, and art projects. When you feel like you’re going crazy, remember that you are not alone! You’re part of an incredible club of mothers who are making things work one day at a time.

“I am a mom of four under 7. I took a leave of absence from my job a few months into this deployment. I mentally couldn’t handle my career and solo parenting. It was the best decision I made, and has given me an opportunity to experience being a stay-at-home mom. Because I have so many young children, routine is really important.”
– Emily, National Guard spouse

To the mothers of teens:

We know you’ve been feeling invisible ever since the middle school years. Even when your kids treat you like a taxi and meal delivery service, know that you are still their rock. We salute you for all the times you stay up late, taking care of the emotional needs of these bigger kids.

“Working mom of three teenage daughters here. That means this momma goes 100 mph six days a week. As tired as I am sometimes, I enjoy taking them to practices and games.”
– Terri, Army spouse

To the mothers struggling with infertility:

Our hearts go out to the mothers who have struggled with the pain, loss, and disappointment of infertility. Whether you are already a mother hoping for more children, or you are longing to someday hold your own child, we see you and we salute you.

“We were going through IVF treatment during a year-long deployment. It was the most difficult deployment by far because I was going through a medical treatment that was draining emotionally and physically. It was a hard year, but it was a year of growth.”
– Linda, Air Force spouse

To the mothers who are caregivers:

As a mother, you already give your energy, your love, and your care to your children. To those who also care for their service member or take on the responsibility of aging parents, we salute your generosity and we wish you all the patience in the world.

“I’ve lost a lot of my own independence and free time which is probably the hardest. I’m exhausted at the end of the day. Moving my mother-in-law in actually ended up being way harder and less help than we had hoped.”
– Caitlin, National Guard spouse

To the stepmothers and blended families:

They should call you the bonus mom when you take on bonus kids and open your heart to his, yours, and ours. We salute your love, your patience, and your perseverance.

“We are a quintessential blended family. We each have children from previous marriages. I am pregnant with our second “ours” baby. Sea duty life has rocked our world for the last three years. He’s been gone as much as he’s been home.”
– Julie, Navy spouse

To the mothers in dual military marriages:

You are juggling all the responsibilities, and so much falls on your shoulders. You are supporting your spouse’s military career, while pursuing your own, and trying to do what’s best for your children too. We salute you and thank you for your service!

“It’s hard being the service member and the spouse. Sometimes it’s easier to go to work and focus on a mission than it is to stay at home with the kids and not hear from him.”
– Lauren, Navy married to a Marine

Whatever stage you are in, military spouse, we support you and wish you a happy Mother’s Day!

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

Intel

This Army veteran charged the Oregon college shooter to save others

During the shooting on Oregon’s Umpqua Community College campus, a 30-year-old Army veteran named Chris Mintz attempted to charge the gunman while trying to save others. The Daily Beast reported this was his fourth day back at school at UCC and is also his son’s sixth birthday.


He heard the gunshots and charged at the attacker to prevent him from entering the room. Mintz was shot at least five times and had two broken legs, but survived his wounds, undergoing surgery at a local hospital.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
Facebook Photo

Mintz is a North Carolina native who joined the Army right after graduating from high school. He was stationed at Fort Lewis in Washington and moved to Oregon after leaving the Army and wants to be a personal trainer.

His family members told Greensboro, NC FOX affiliate WGHC both of his legs are broken and he will have to re-learn to walk, but he is now recovering and expected to survive. No vital organs were hit.

The gunman killed ten people before first responders killed him.

Articles

Marines killed in Chattanooga terror attack awarded Navy and Marine Corps Medal

Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan and Staff Sgt. David Wyatt were posthumously awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, the highest non-combat award, at Ross’s Landing Riverside Park in Chattanooga, Tennessee, May 7, 2017.


Sullivan and Wyatt were awarded the medal for their actions during the July 16, 2015 shooting that occurred at the Naval Reserve Center Chattanooga and also killed Sgt. Carson Holmquist, Lance Cpl. Skip Wells and Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith.

“We talk about these men so that we do not forget their sacrifice,” said Maj. Chris Cotton, former Inspector-Instructor for Battery M, 3rd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, the unit that Sullivan and Wyatt were assigned to.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., and his wife Ellyn Dunford pay their respects during a memorial service at Chattanooga, Tenn., Aug. 15, 2015. The memorial was to honor U.S. Marines Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan, Staff Sgt. David A. Wyatt, Sgt. Carson A. Holmquist, Lance Cpl. Squire K.P. Wells, and Navy Logistics 2nd Class Randall S. Smith, who lost their lives in the Chattanooga shooting. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Gabriela Garcia/Released)

According to eye witness statements and 911 transcripts during the event, Sullivan and Wyatt took charge in the evacuation of unit personnel and contacting authorities. They also returned to the scene of the incident when personnel were unaccounted for, risking their lives in the process.

“This is a day to celebrate the heroic, exemplary, and selfless service of two great Marines, who were by all counts great human beings, devoted Marines, and wanting nothing more than to take care of their Marines,” said Maj. Gen. Burke W. Whitman, commanding general of 4th MARDIV, who attended the ceremony along with Sgt. Maj. Michael A. Miller, sergeant major of 4th MARDIV.

During the ceremony, Cotton presented the medal to Jerry and Betty Sullivan, parents of GySgt Sullivan; and to Lorri Wyatt, wife of SSgt Wyatt.

“It’s a great honor and we’re humbled by it, it’s something you don’t want to receive but it’s good to have him recognized for the actions he took that day,” said Jerry Sullivan.

The Navy and Marine Corps Medal is awarded to members of the Navy and Marine Corps who perform an act of heroism at great personal and life-threatening risk to the awardee.

The Reserve Center, the Chattanooga community, and across the nation people have all been sending their support and condolences, said Jerry Sullivan.

“We take care of our Marines and families,” said Cotton, “No man gets left behind.”

The ceremony was also attended by members of the local Government, including Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger and Tennessee’s Congressman Chuck Fleischmann.

“This is truly a touching moment,” said Fleischmann. “As a member of congress, it makes me remember the men and women who serve us in the United States Marines and all our branches, are truly our very best and willing to put on the uniform and make the ultimate sacrifice for their country. These fallen Marines did that and they are being justly honored today.”

Fleischmann also took part in ensuring all the service members who died in the 2015 shooting received Purple Hearts and a permanent memorial at Ross’s Landing Park.

“I hope this does bring a little closure to the families,” said Fleischmann. “But I also hope it forever honors and serves and memories of these fallen heroes, and they are heroes to America.”

Articles

How Iran-backed militias are running around in M-1 Abrams tanks

Several years ago, the United States debated supplying Syrian rebels with high-tech armaments such as anti-tank and surface-to-air missiles. Critics contended that the weapons might fall into the hands of US-designated “terrorist organizations.”


But it is in Iraq that the fear has become real: the US has armed American-killing Iranian proxies and terrorist groups with its best tank, the M1 Abrams.

The Popular Mobilization Forces, an umbrella organization of Iranian-backed Shia militias fighting the Islamic State group, have acquired M1 Abrams tanks given to the Iraqi army. Two PMF militias – the Badr Organization and Kataib Hezbollah – have posted pictures and videos of their fighters alongside M1 Abrams tanks draped with their banners and flags.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
A US-made M1 Abrams tank can be seen with the flag of the Iranian-backed militia Kata’ib Sayyid al Shuhada. Image from the Long War Journal.

The tanks once belonged to the 9th Armored Division, the only Iraqi Army unit that operates the M1 Abrams. It remains ambiguous whether the militiamen in the videos are controlling the tanks themselves or just posing with them under the supervision of tank crews from the 9th.

“In the videos, the passengers in the tanks are wearing the 9th’s uniforms,” Iraqi Army spokesman Colonel Muhammad Baidani told The New Arab. “Taking pictures and placing flags on the tank alone is not proof of ownership.”

Baidani added that the Iraqi Armed Forces and the PMF conduct combined operations “in most battles,” calling allegations that the 9th had loaned the M1 Abrams to the PMF “untrue.”

But sources in the PMF told The New Arab a different story, explaining that the militias obtained the M1 Abrams in two ways: “Sometimes, the PMF asks for American tanks from the Iraqi Army, if Russian-made tanks are unavailable,” said Hussam al-Mayahi, a Badr engineer specializing in military technology and remote weapons stations.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
Logo of Popular Mobilization Forces. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

“The PMF also seized some after the fall of Mosul and the second Battle of Tikrit, taking them from IS.”

During IS’ campaign across the east and north of Iraq, the militants managed to seize numerous M1 Abrams tanks, including at least ten during the Battle of Ramadi in 2015.

Jafar al-Husseini, a spokesman for Kataib Hezbollah, confirmed this story: “We captured the American tanks and other military vehicles from IS, who, in turn, [had] seized them from what was left by the Iraqi army. Now, they are under our control, and we are seeking more.”

He claimed that Kataib Hezbollah and other Shia militias now held all IS’ M1 Abrams tanks.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
USAF Airmen load an M1A1 Abrams Tank into an Air Force C-5M Super Galaxy cargo aircraft. USAF photo by Roland Balik.

Other tanks appear to come straight from the 9th: “Tanks are provided to us according to the circumstances of the battles and offensives, before being returned to the Defense Ministry,” Karim al-Nuri, a ranking Badr commander, told The New Arab.

Al-Nuri says he has never seen the PMF directly use an American tank but, when shown the pictures and videos that Badr had posted, replied: “It’s important to take any tanks – whether Russian or American.”

If the US delivered M1 Abrams tanks to Iraq’s Defense Ministry despite knowing that they could be given to the PMF, the Pentagon might have violated the Leahy Law – which prohibits the US Defense and State Departments from providing military aid to security forces guilty of abusing human rights.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
Army photo by Sgt. Aaron Ellerman

Human rights defenders accuse the PMF, including Badr and Kataib Hezbollah, of ethnic cleansing, summary executions, and other war crimes.

Iraq remains on the State Department’s list of countries with the most child soldiers, because of these militias who continue to recruit minors.

Kataib Hezbollah presents a wider dilemma. In 2009, the State Department designated it a “terrorist organization” for killing American soldiers, and the US Treasury Department labelled its founder, the Iraqi warlord Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a “specially designated global terrorist.”

Al-Muhandis works as an operative for the Quds Force, the sub-unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps responsible for extraterritorial operations on Iran’s behalf.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Photo from CounterExtremism.com

“We have heard these reports and we are looking into them,” said a spokesman for the US-led anti-IS coalition, who emphasized in an email, “Department of Defense policies on the provision of military assistance to foreign military forces require that Iraqi Security Forces receiving equipment or training are strictly vetted in accordance with the Leahy Act as well as for associations with terrorist organizations and/or the government of Iran.”

These policies appear to have failed.

A State Department official admitted, “not all US-provided defense articles are under the control of the intended recipient ministry/unit. We are concerned that a small number of M1A1 tanks may be in the possession of forces other than the Ministry of Defense and Iraqi Army.”

“The United States has not provided these or other defense articles to the PMF.”

“Nevertheless, we understand that some equipment has come into the possession of the PMF, which are part of the Iraqi Security Forces by law, and have been used in the fight against ISIS. We will continue to press the Government of Iraq to act as quickly as possible to return these defense articles to their intended recipient ministry/units.”

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
US Army photo by Sgt. Aaron Ellerma

Despite acknowledging that the PMF had seized many M1 Abrams tanks in one way or another, the State Department declined to estimate just how many. It could not confirm whether it had lost track of how many tanks may be under the militias’ control.

The ranking Democrats and Republicans on the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, which oversee the sale of M1 Abrams tanks and other weapons to Iraq, failed to reply to repeated requests for comment by email and phone for this article.

In December 2014, several months after the Iraqi army had lost many of its M1 Abrams tanks to IS, the State Department agreed to sell it another 175, once the Defense Department notified the US Congress, which has spent much more time deliberating over tanks sold to Saudi Arabia than to Iraq.

For now at least, Iraq appears to have a continuous supply of the M1 Abrams for years to come. Al-Husseini, the Kataib Hezbollah spokesman, may just get his wish.

Humor

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of Oct. 20

How was your week? Anything interesting happen?


NO. Nothing of interest happened in the White House, Congress, or Hollywood. And definitely not on Twitter.

I’m joking. Of course it did, this is 2017 and everyone is mad about something… most of those people are justified, but some of them are outraged to be outraged. You can be outraged at how hilarious these military memes are.

Or you can be outraged at how boss that segue was.

1. It’s almost Halloween, are you prepared? (via Pop Smoke)

Blooming together: Our salute to moms

2. The Navy won Jeopardy this week. (via Navy Crow)

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
This is who Army loses to every year in November.

3. At least he’s not driving. (via Disgruntled Decks)

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
Baby steps.

4. When you absolutely, positively leave all your f*cks on the flightline.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
Meet your new L-T!

Now read: This is what it was like fighting alongside Afghan troops

5. Sometimes you wanna show the world you skip leg day. (via Sh*t My LPO Says)

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
Thank god they aren’t standard, half the ANG would lose circulation in their feet.

6. Jack O’Lanterns are meant for scaring kids, not troops.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
I bet the pie tastes bitter.

7. The Saltiest Soldiers can be found in Kuwait. (via the Salty Soldier)

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
You know who you are.

8.  Has your new sailor given up yet? (via Sh*t My LPO Says)

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
OOOOOOOOOOH HES TRYIN’

9. Remember the people who make the magic happen. (via Maintainer Nation)

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
They also don’t remember the cooks, sappers, and most of the astromech droids.

Read: This is why people yell ‘Geronimo’ when jumping from heights

10. He didn’t start the fire… (via the Salty Soldier)

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
… just the smoke.

11. This never happens in the Air Force. (via Decelerate Your Life)

Blooming together: Our salute to moms

12. A Coastie told me this was accurate.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
Now tell me what a Yeoman does.

13. This doesn’t mean what you think it does. (via Ranger Up)

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
Or maybe it does. This is Ranger Up, after all.

Now: That time a US Navy fighter accidentally shot itself down

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Should kids go back to school this fall? Parents are divided.

Should we send our kids back to school this fall? It’s a question that’s on every parent’s mind, regardless of which schools are re-opening. The big issue is one of children’s safety and COVID-19. But this poses many smaller questions to consider. How will the health of students and teachers be monitored? Are schools well ventilated and capable of proper sanitizing? Are school nurses prepared? How will they rearrange classrooms? Will masks be provided for students and teachers? What about some sort three-days-off, three-days-on hybrid of remote and in-person learning? Are buses and drivers ready for social distancing? Will schools help students who don’t have access to strong internet meet the requirements for remote learning?


There are no easy answers to any of these questions. The variables are too numerous; so are the unknowns. Yes, school districts across the country are working hard to create reopening plans and contingency plans should they not be able to. But, as we’ve learned over the past six months, COVID doesn’t really care about plans.

So, considering all this, what are parents thinking? We spoke to a dozen fathers about whether or not they’ll be sending their kids back to school in the fall. Some think that schools will meet standards and plan on sending their kids; others lack the confidence of the school and other families and plan on keeping their kids at home. There is no right or wrong decision here. Instead, there’s merely a long list of pros and cons that are allowing parents to make their best decisions as of right now. And, of course, those decisions could change tomorrow, or in a week, or on the first day of the 2020-2021 school year. The only certainty right now is uncertainty.

Yes. The Schools Been Doing Everything Properly, So Far

“My son’s school — a private Catholic school — ran a summer camp during all of this, and I’ve been very impressed with the precautions they’ve taken to make sure everyone is safe. The kids, teachers and counselors all wash and sanitize every 10 or 15 minutes, and there’s not a surface in sight that isn’t wiped down or disinfected. All of the staff wears masks, and it’s clear that everyone is taking things seriously. If the camp is any indication of how a school day would run, I wouldn’t have any problem trusting them with my kids. They’ve shown me that health and safety are a top priority, which is more than I can say for a lot of other schools in the area.” – Chris, 34, Ohio

No. I Don’t Feel Confident At All. 

“If I could reply to this question with that meme of Randy Jackson saying, ‘That’s gonna be a no from me, dawg’, I would. There are just too many variables in play to make me feel safe or confident. Even if all of the teachers wear masks, and sanitize everything, it literally only takes one negligent or selfish person to spread COVID to someone else, who can then bring it into the school. From there, it’d just be a catastrophe. I think that’s why I’d say no. I know most of the parents of kids in my daughter’s class, and I don’t trust them to take this all seriously.” – Josh, 35, Pennsylvania

I’ll Send My Kids Back If They Staff Up and Shrink Class Sizes

“I’ll send my kids back if the plan to shrink class sizes actually happens. That’s the only way I’ll feel safe. Right now, there are 25 kids in my daughter’s kindergarten class. Even without a pandemic, that’s more than enough sneezes, coughs, and booger wipes to spread germs across the entire room. There have been talks of splitting the class in half, which I’d be okay with. It seems manageable, and I feel like the school would take the sanitization and cleaning seriously. So, if they can staff up and find the space to make that plan happen, I’m good with it.” – Nathan, 29, Connecticut

I Don’t Think We’re There Yet

“I don’t think I can. If the school board is having virtual meetings to decide whether or not school is safe to open, instead of meeting in person, what does that say about the safety of opening a school? It doesn’t instill a lot of confidence knowing that the people in charge won’t risk going to a facility, but expect kids and teachers to do it. At the beginning of summer, I was hopeful that things would get worked out by the time school started, but I don’t think we’re there yet. At least not where I feel safe about sending my kids back.” – Patrick, 30, New Hampshire

We Will Send Him Back. He’s Lost So Much Progress.

“Our son will go back. He has autism, and the daily social interactions and academic instruction are essential to his development. It terrifies me how much progress we may have lost thanks to the schools shutting down last year. The virtual learning was fine, but he thrives when he can see his friends, and be in an actual classroom. I think the schools will take things seriously, and prioritize safety, so I have no problem sending him back if they reopen.” – Will, 29, Florida

It’s Too Hard to Say Right Now.

“We’re undecided. Everything changes day-to-day. Not just with the school situation, but with the whole pandemic in general. There aren’t any straight, definitive answers. One day it’s calming down, the next day it’s the biggest spike we’ve seen since it started. So, for us, it’s just impossible to make a decision. Obviously, we’d love to plan ahead and say that we definitely will or won’t send our kids back to school. But, how can we realistically do that when there’s just so much uncertainty?” – John, 34, New York

Absolutely Not. I Need A Lot More Reassurance

“No fucking way. That’s how strongly I feel about not sending our kids back to school. There’s absolutely nothing that the local, state, or federal government has done to make me think, ‘Yeah, it seems perfectly safe to send my kids into a building full of a hundred other kids, whose parents I don’t know.’ If I could say, without any shadow of doubt, that I knew every student’s parents were wearing masks, sanitizing, and generally taking this seriously, I’d be first in line when school reopened. But, there’s no way that’s possible. So, I’m going to need a lot more reassurance than some hand sanitizer pumps and bleach wipes in each classroom to take that risk.” – Reed, 34, Ohio

No Way. I Don’t Trust the Other Parents At All.

“Nope. And you know why? I’m Facebook friends with a lot of my son’s classmates’ parents, and I’ve seen plenty of posts that make me realize they’re all idiots. One mom posted a selfie out at a crowded bar. A lot of them are anti-mask. There was one parent who even said something like, ‘I hope my kid gets it, so that he’ll get the antibodies and get it over with!’ And I’m supposed to feel comfortable sending my son to school with these morons’ kids? No way. I’ll be looking for a tutor instead.” – J.C., 33, North Carolina

Yes. But Only Because My Daughter Attends a Small, Private School.

“I think we’ll send our son and daughter back to school if it resumes in the fall. It’s a small, private school – that’s the main reason. Their classes aren’t larger than ten kids, and the teachers have all been very communicative about measures they plan to take should the school year begin on time. I think that’s all a parent can ask in this situation – honesty and the prioritization of safety. If they went to a bigger school, with more students, and more parents we didn’t know, it’d be a different story. But, as far as the school community goes, I think we’re all on the same page regarding what needs to happen when the kids go back.” – Camden, 32, Indiana

I Want to. My Wife Doesn’t. We Still Need to Figure It Out.

“My wife and I disagree about the whole situation. I think it will be fine, honestly. But she’s a catastrophic thinker, and is terrified of one of our daughter’s classmates showing up like the monkey from Outbreak and hacking COVID all over everyone. I know a lot of teachers in our district. I went to high school with a few of them. And they all seem to think that schools will inevitably reopen. If that’s the case, I can’t imagine everyone involved not taking every single precaution to prevent anything from happening. Maybe I’m naive about it. Maybe my wife is overreacting. Hopefully we can figure it out when the time comes.” – Greg, 39, Oregon

If There’s Some Sort of Hybrid School Model, Then Yes.

“If there’s a hybrid virtual/in-person learning model in place, I think we’ll send our daughter back to school. We were very impressed with how the school handled the early closing by transitioning everything to online learning. So, we know it’s a possible, viable option. But, we also know that sitting in front of a computer isn’t the same as being in a classroom with your friends, learning how to play and interact. There’s been talk of three days in class, two days learning from home, which I think would be a good way to go. At least to see what happened. I think a lot of schools and parents are looking at this as an either/or situation. We send them back full time, or we don’t. But, it doesn’t have to be like that, and we think this would be a safe, effective compromise.” – Alan, 38, South Carolina

I Know It’s Risky, But They’ll Be Going Back. 

“Even though I know it’s risky, I think the face-to-face element of school needs to be there, especially at such a young age. My son actually loved the online learning he did at the end of last school year. I think that’s because it was a novelty. It was like FaceTiming your friends all at once, which was fun, and cool, and a great substitute for in-person learning. Mentally, I think the kids need to be around other kids. They truly have no idea what’s going on right now, and these are incredibly formative years for elementary school children. I think that taking the proper precautions, combined with a vigilant attitude, will allow schools to resume effectively. And I trust them to do that.” – Steve, 37, Georgia

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

Articles

F-35’s $400K helmet still blinds pilots on night flights

A software fix designed to make the state-of-the-art F-35 helmet easier to use for Navy and Marine Corps pilots landing on ships at night is still falling short of the mark, the program executive officer for the Joint Strike Fighter program said Monday.


One discovery made as the F-35C Navy carrier variant and F-35B Marine Corps “jump jet” variant wrapped up ship testing this year was that the symbology on the pricey helmet was still too bright and distracting for pilots landing on carriers or amphibious ships in the lowest light conditions, Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan told reporters.

Also read: The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

During the final developmental test phase for the F-35C aboard the carrier George Washington in August, officials told Military.com they were testing a new software load specifically designed to address the F-35 helmet’s “green glow” problem, which can make it difficult for pilots to detect outside light sources and the cues they need to land their aircraft safely.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
The F-35’s high tech helmet aims to provide pilots with unprecedented situational awareness. | Lockheed Martin image

While testers were hopeful at the time the problem was solved, Bogdan said officials are not yet satisfied.

“The symbology on the helmet, even when turned down as low as it can, is still a little too bright,” he said. “We want to turn down that symbology so that it’s not so bright that they can’t see through it to see the lights, but if you turn it down too much, then you start not being able to see the stuff you do want to see. We have an issue there, there’s no doubt.”

Bogdan said the military plans on pursuing a hardware fix for the helmet, which is designed to stream real-time information onto the visor and allow the pilots to “see through” the plane by projecting images from cameras mounted around the aircraft. But before that fix is finalized, he said, pilots of the F-35 B and C variants will make operational changes to mitigate the glare from the helmet. These may include adjusting the light scheme on the aircraft, altering how pilots communicate during night flights, and perhaps changing the way they use the helmet during these flights, he said.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
Courtesy of Lockheed Martin

“We’re thinking in the short term we need to make some operational changes, and in the long term we’ll look for some hardware changes,” Bogdan said.

The window for making such adjustments is rapidly closing. The first F-35B squadron is expected to move forward to its new permanent base in Japan in January ahead of a 2018 shipboard deployment in the Pacific. The F-35C is also expected to deploy aboard a carrier for the first time in 2018.

MIGHTY TRENDING

What Gen. McChrystal learned from his forced resignation

The day Rolling Stone published the late journalist Michael Hastings’ profile on four-star Gen. Stanley McChrystal in June 2010, McChrystal called Vice President Joe Biden from Afghanistan.

Biden received the call aboard Air Force Two. The general told him that a magazine profile would be coming out that included derisive remarks about him, and he was sorry for it.

Biden told McChrystal he felt like it would be fine, The Washington Post reported, and called President Barack Obama to tell him about the call. Obama’s aides had been analyzing the article for hours already, according to The Post, and after Obama read it, he was angry. He requested McChrystal fly to Washington.


McChrystal was leading the American-led coalition forces in the War in Afghanistan, and Hastings’ article, “The Runaway General,” characterized McChrystal as a recalcitrant general and a team that cracked jokes about Biden and other White House officials.

“And so on the one hand I thought that that wasn’t fair; on the other hand I’m responsible, and we have this negative article about a senior general show up on the president of the United States’ desk,” McChrystal said in an episode of Business Insider’s podcast “This Is Success.”

“And it’s my job not to put articles like that on the president’s desk, so I offered my resignation.”

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President Barack Obama meets with Army Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, in the Oval Office at the White House, May 19, 2009.

“President Obama accepted it, and I don’t have any problem with it because I’m responsible whether I did something wrong or not,” McChrystal said. “I’m responsible, and as I told the president that day, ‘I’m happy to stay in command or resign, whatever is best for the mission.'”

McChrystal said that he was comfortable with that decision, but that there’s still “some hurt” that comes up. That said, he also explained that it taught him a lesson about failure that others can learn from.

“I would argue that every one of your listeners is going to fail,” he said. “They’re going to fail in a marriage, they’re going to fail in a business, they’re going to fail at something for which they are responsible. And they’ve got to make the decision: ‘OK, what’s the rest of your life going to be like?'”

McChrystal retired from the Army on July 23, 2010. Though he did not complete the requirement of three years as a four-star general to retain his rank in retirement, the White House made an exception. The Army’s chief of staff awarded him the Distinguished Service Medal and the secretary of defense awarded him the Defense Distinguished Service Medal.

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Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

McChrystal said that after that, it would have been easy to relitigate what transpired for the rest of his life and become “a bitter retired general.”

“And my wife helped me through this more than anything, because as I tell people, ‘She lives like she drives, without using the rear-view mirror,'” he said.

In his retirement, McChrystal has become a professor at Yale, the head of a leadership consulting firm, and an author.

McChrystal told us that “you can’t change what’s already happened. The only thing you can change is what happens in the future. So I tell people, ‘For God’s sake, don’t screw up the rest of your life because of something that happened there.'” He said that he chose “to lean forward.”

“I’ve been extraordinarily satisfied and happy with that,” he said.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

With new weapons, F-15s will now fly into the 2040s

The Air Force is arming the F-15 with new weapons to better prepare the decades-old fighter for modern combat challenges and near-peer rivals — giving the jet an ability to fly into the 2040s and track and destroy enemy targets at further ranges under a wide range of combat conditions.


“The Air Force plans to integrate improvements for the AIM-9X and Small Diameter Bomb II on the F-15 over the next several years,” Capt. Emily Grabowski, Air Force spokeswoman, told Warrior Maven.

Air Force officials say the F-15 could be fully armed and operational with the SBD II as soon as this year.

The SDB II, now nearing operational readiness, is a new air-dropped weapon able to destroy moving targets in all kinds of weather conditions at ranges greater than 40-miles, Air Force and Raytheon officials said.

While the Air Force currently uses a laser-guided bomb called the GBU-54 able to destroy moving targets, the new SDB II will be able to do this at longer ranges and in all kinds of weather conditions.

The Air Force currently operates roughly 400 F-15C, D and E variants – and plans to keep the aircraft flying into the 2040s.

The new weapons are part of a larger F-15 sustainment and modernization overhaul which is integrating new sensors, targeting, electronic warfare systems and radar as well.

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“Active Electronically Scanned Array radars are currently being installed on F-15C and F-15E aircraft at a rate of about 20 per year. Both AESA radars have met initial operational capability. Installs will continue at a similar rate until each platform has met full operational capability, projected to be 2022 for the F-15C and 2025 for the F-15E,” Grabowski said.

Improved radar is a key component to the weapons upgrades, as it enables improved threat detection and targeting against technologically advanced adversaries – such as a Chinese J-10.

All of these adjustments are part of the Air Force’s F-15service life extension effort now underway.

“Full-scale fatigue tests for both the F-15C/D and F-15E are in progress. Final results are still pending, expected to be completed in the 2020 timeframe and will be one of many data points used to assess the size and scope of a possible F-15 service life extension program,” Grabowski said.

Also Read: Watch F-15s make insane turns through the UK’s ‘Mach Loop’

The SDB II is built with a two-way, dual-band data link which enables it to change targets or adjust to different target locations while in flight, Raytheon developers have told Warrior Maven.

Engineers are also working on plans to integrate the bomb onto the F-35, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and F-16 as well, Raytheon officials said. The Air Force is already testing the F-35 with the SDB II.

A key part of the SDB II is a technology called a “tri-mode” seeker — a guidance system which can direct the weapon using millimeter wave radar, uncooled imaging infrared guidance and semi-active laser technology, according to Raytheon information.

A tri-mode seeker provides a range of guidance and targeting options typically not used together in one system, Raytheon weapons developers explain.

Millimeter wave radar gives the weapon an ability to navigate through adverse weather, conditions in which other guidance systems might encounter problems reaching or pinpointing targets.

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An F-15E Strike Eagle flies with a Lockheed Martin Paveway II Plus GBU-12 (500-lb) LGB (left) in flight exercises. (Photo from USAF)

Also, the SBD II brings a new ability to track targets in flight through use of a two-way Link 16 and UHF data link, Raytheon officials said.

The SBD II is engineered to weigh only 208 pounds, a lighter weight than most other air-dropped bombs so that eight of them can fit on the inside of an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Raytheon officials explained.

If weapons are kept in an internal weapons bay and not rested on an external weapons pod, then an aircraft can succeed in retaining its stealth properties because the shapes or contours of the weapons will not be visible to enemy radar.

About 105 pound of the SDB II is an explosive warhead which encompasses a “blast-frag” capability and a “plasma-jet” technology designed to pierce enemy armor, Raytheon officials explained.

The SDB II also has the ability to classify targets, meaning it could, for example, be programmed to hit only tanks in a convoy as opposed to other moving vehicles. The weapon can classify tanks, boats or wheeled targets, Raytheon officials added.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Army’s new rifle qualification is more realistic

In 2019, the Army approved a new rifle qualification and individual weapons training strategy. The old qualification, the automated record fire, was developed back in 1956. Since then, the Army’s battles and the way it fights them have changed. The new qualification, the rifle and carbine qualification, was developed with the same principle as the Army Combat Fitness Test. It more holistically assesses a soldier’s ability to employ situational awareness, safe weapon handling, and core marksmanship competencies.

Soldier shooting the new qualification in the snow
A 10th Mountain Division soldier shoots the new qualification (Miguel Ortiz)

Due to COVID-19 considerations, full integration of the new rifle qualification in 2020 was slowed. However, more and more units in both Forces Command and Training and Doctrine Command are starting to test their soldiers on the new standards.

Training and evaluation for the rifle and carbine qualification is broken down into six tables: preliminary marksmanship instruction and evaluation, pre-live fire simulation training, magazine and shooting position drills, grouping and zeroing, practice qualification, and qualification. “Soldiers start by receiving a series of classes on how to properly zero the rifle, whether it’s a bare rifle or with optics,” said Staff Sgt. Tadeysz Showers, assigned to the 25th Sustainment Brigade. “Soldiers received classes on laser bore sight, Minute of Angle (MOA), zeroing process, windage, ballistics, and also received EST training and practiced position changes before going to a live range.”

The rifle qualification consists of four firing phases for which soldiers will employ four magazines with 10 rounds each. 40 targets will pop up on their own or in groups for varying lengths of time depending on their distance. Soldiers will fire from the standing unsupported, prone unsupported, prone supported, kneeling supported, and standing supported positions. A barricade is used to simulate cover and provide a more stable shooting position for supported fire. Transitioning between positions and changing magazines are integrated organically into the course of fire in order to more closely simulate real-world combat situations. “The old rifle qualification did not help in combat situations, so they incorporated magazine exchanges and position changes by yourself to represent combat,” said Staff Sgt. Tadeysz Showers, assigned to the 25th Sustainment Brigade. “No matter the military occupational specialty (MOS), any MOS can teach a Soldier how to do this new weapons qualification.”

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A soldier of the 25th Infantry Division engages targets from the kneeling supported position (U.S. Army)

Whereas commanders could previously dictate whether or not their soldiers could shoot “slick” without their body armor and helmet, the new rifle qualification requires soldiers to wear them. Magazines are retained on the soldier’s gear rather than laying ready on the ground or on a sandbag in order to more closely simulate a combat situation. The first shot of the qualification will be on a close-range target from the standing unsupported firing position. From there, soldiers will transition into the prone unsupported firing position and engage the next nine targets through a port in the bottom of the barricade. The last 30 targets will appear in three waves of 10 with soldiers conducting magazine and firing position changes on their own in between.

The new qualification also includes guidance for night and CBRNE shooting. Soldiers will be expected to utilize night-vision goggles, IR lasers, and gas masks to engage targets under adverse conditions. The inclusion of these variables reflects the Army’s return to training for a near-peer fight against conventional armies. Additionally, soldiers will no longer be given alibis. Previously, if a soldier experienced a weapon malfunction during their course of fire, they could be given the opportunity to re-shoot. Now, soldiers will be expected to assess and clear the malfunction during the course of fire and continue to engage targets. Any missed targets during this time will count against them. While this can make the qualification more difficult, it encourages soldiers to build the muscle memory necessary to address such variables under stress.

Some aspects of the old rifle qualification have carried over though. Soldiers are still required to hit 23 of the 40 targets in order to qualify. 23-29 hits earns a Marksman qualification, 30-35 hits earns a Sharpshooter qualification, and 36-40 hits earns an Expert qualification. “This new weapons qualification is more combat oriented with changing positions, changing magazines and engaging the targets,” said Sgt. Octavius Moon assigned to the 25th Sustainment Brigade. “This will help Soldiers shoot better as well as make ranges faster and have more Soldiers qualified. It helps Soldiers become more knowledgeable about their weapon as well.”

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A 10th Mountain Division soldier conducts the new qualification while wearing cold weather gear (Miguel Ortiz)
popular

Researchers will tackle the most widespread disability in the military

Military service often requires duty in noisy environments that can cause hearing loss and it doesn’t just happen during combat operations at deployed locations far from home station.

From flight line operations to firearms qualification ranges, aircraft maintenance back shops, vehicle repair shops, civil engineering shops, or even Air Force Research laboratories where innovative and agile technologies are born, noise brings the potential of hearing loss if proper personal protective hearing equipment is not available or utilized.


“In fact, Veterans Administration records show that auditory conditions such as hearing loss and tinnitus are the number one and number two most prevalent disability claim in the VA,” said Dr. Tanisha Hammill, research coordination branch lead at the Department of Defense Hearing Center of Excellence in San Antonio. “In terms of number of claims, this is the most prevalent injury among our veterans, so there is an obvious need to focus on reducing those injuries among our service members,” she said.

In 2009, the Congressionally-mandated HCE was stood up to combat hearing and balance disorders. As part of the HCE, the Collaborative Auditory & Vestibular Research Network, or CAVRN was formed to bring together researchers with an auditory research focus to discuss current research efforts across the DoD and VA enterprises, providing unique opportunities for collaboration, Hammill said.

Annual CAVRN meetings are held at federal facilities and are hosted by member organizations, and in 2018, the annual meeting was held April 24-26 and was hosted by the 711th Human Performance Wing’s Airman Systems Directorate, Warfighter Interface Division, Battlespace Acoustics Branch; the United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, and the Naval Medical Research Unit – Dayton.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Mark Koeniger, 711th HPW commander, welcomed the CAVRN meeting attendees and cited numerous opportunities for collaboration with the 711 HPW.

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Approximately 100 members of the Collaborative Auditory Vestibular Research Network, or CAVRN, met at the 711th Human Performance Wing to collaborate on areas of hearing and balance issues that service members and veterans face as a result of their military service.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Richard Eldridge)

“As you go forward, the Human Performance Wing wants to be part of what you all do to help Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines maintain their hearing so that hopefully in the future, hearing loss ceases to be the number one disability.

“The Air Force Chief of Staff’s focus areas converge on a singular vision – to create healthy squadrons full of resilient and credible warfighters primed to excel in multi-domain warfare,” he told them. “Certainly, nobody can do their job, or at least they would have a very difficult time doing their job if they couldn’t hear well.”

Hearing is a critical sense and is required for all service members to effectively communicate within dynamic and often chaotic environments.

“The ability to hear and communicate is critical to the safety of each warrior and their unit, and is central to command and control, and mission accomplishment,” Hammill said.

The CAVRN aims to foster knowledge sharing and facilitate greater communication, coordination, awareness, and transparency between community members.

“The CAVRN promotes collaboration, translation, and best practices that influence auditory-vestibular readiness, care, and quality of life for warfighters and veterans,” added Hammill.

Hammill stated that as she toured the 711 HPW, she thought about all the tremendous crossover opportunities between auditory research and so many other disciplines within human performance. “We are a very interdisciplinary team and that’s a big part of our growth – to discover and reach out to these other teams who are somehow focused on auditory or balance disorders,” she said.

“When you bring these folks together, they end up having very meaningful conversations, they are able to incorporate perspectives of their colleagues, who are subject matter experts across the DoD and VA and incorporate their perspectives and really make smarter projects and make more multiservice projects.”

Hammill explained that the CAVRN is built on a translational model, including bench scientists, clinician scientists, funding program managers, and public health experts, adding, “The whole scope from idea to application to practice, all in the same room so they can plan everything out together right up front.”

“This is a complex issue. Losing your hearing is not a part of doing business in military service and there are a lot of smart people working diligently to come up with better solutions to protect their hearing, both from a personal protective equipment stance, but also efforts in noise reductions and efforts in communication enhancement while making sure they’re able to do their job and have a reasonable quality of life after service,” Hammill said.

This article originally appeared on Health.mil. Follow @MilitaryHealth on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russian man charged with treason for leaking hypersonic weapons secrets

A 74-year-old researcher at a Russian rocket and spacecraft design facility has reportedly been charged with treason for allegedly giving classified information to a NATO country.

The Russian newspaper Kommersant reported on July 23, 2018, that Viktor Kudryavtsev of the Central Research Institute for Machine Building is accused of passing classified data on hypersonic technology to a representative of an unspecified alliance member.


Citing unnamed sources, Kommersant reported that Kudryavtsev is being held at the Lefortovo jail in Moscow and has pleaded not guilty.

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Central Research Institute of Machine Building checkpoint.


A spokesman for Russian space agency Roscosmos, Vladimir Ustimenko, said on July 22, 2018, that Kudryavtsev had been arrested but did not give any details.

A member of the Public Monitoring Commission NGO, Yevgeny Yenikeyev, said on July 22, 2018, that Kudryavtsev was placed in pretrial detention on high treason charge.

The case is one of several in recent years in which Russian citizens have been accused of treason or disseminating classified or sensitive information.

Featured image: Exterior view of Lefortovo Prison in Moscow.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

4 ways the wars in Vietnam and Afghanistan are the same

It’s no secret that America is pretty good at getting themselves involved in wars throughout the world. Historically, we haven’t been the best at coming up with an exit strategy for some of those conflicts, though.


The Vietnam War is considered one of the most politically charged military campaigns in our nation’s history as young men were drafted into service to fight against the spread of communism.

After the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the U.S. embarked on an offensive to break up a network comprised of men that take the worship of the religion of Islam into extremism.

Related: This is what it was like fighting alongside Afghan troops

Although these campaigns took place in separate decades against very different adversaries, the similarities from the perspective of the ground forces are impeccable. History repeats itself. Here are four ways in which these two conflicts are the same.

4. For the most part, we didn’t trust our allies

In both wars, American forces were teamed up with local troops to help combat their common enemy. Many Vietnam and Afghanistan War vets have noted that their “friendly” counterparts often appeared distant and were known to have even protected the enemy at times.

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A PF soldier patrol with a Marine unit during the Vietnam War.

3. We fought against an unmarked enemy

Many of the fighters the U.S. went up against in both campaigns were able to disappear as fast as they appeared. This ghostly advantage wasn’t the result of some magical vanishing act, but rather an ability to blend back into the local population — right out in the open.

Since most of the “disappearing act” fighters are from small guerilla militias or surrounding clans, they never wore any distinguishable uniforms, adding to their advantage.

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Are these guys Taliban or friendly members of a local militia?

2. The enemy could live below ground

The Viet Cong commonly used their well-engineered tunnels while the Taliban make use of caves in the mountains of Afghanistan.

These livable structures can house enemy combatants for extend periods of time and conceal deadly weapons.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
Two U.S. Marines search a Viet Cong tunnel. (Image from Flickr)

Also Read: Here was the major problem with the South Vietnamese army

1. Our maps became outdated quickly

When enemy structures are mainly constructed from local vegetation and mud, they can be broken down just as fast as they’re built.

This characteristic makes them incredibly difficult to keep them documented. Map records and mission planning changed constantly.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
An occupied mud home in Afghanistan.

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