Sexual assaults in the US military are on a rise - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Sexual assaults in the US military are on a rise

A Department of Defense report released on May 2, 2019, paints a troubling picture of sexual violence in the US military, with an almost 38 percent rise between 2016 and 2018, according to a Pentagon survey reviewed by INSIDER.

The report, which surveyed men and women in the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force, reported that around 20,500 service members experienced sexual assault in the past year — a significant leap from around 14,900 members in 2016, when a similar survey was conducted.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan called the prevalence of sexual assault in the military “unacceptable” in a memorandum sent across the Department of Defense, and reviewed by INSIDER.


“To put it bluntly, we are not performing to the standards and expectations we have for ourselves or for each other,” Shanahan wrote. “We must improve our culture to treat each other with dignity and respect and hold ourselves, and each other, more accountable.”

Sexual assaults in the US military are on a rise

U.S. Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan.

The Pentagon has grappled with preventing sexual assault in the ranks for decades, and the latest survey shows their policies have failed to stem the problem as more troops report sexual abuse, nearly 90 percent of which was reportedly perpetrated by another member of the military.

Women in the military, and particularly young women between the ages of 17 to 24, are most at risk of experiencing sexual assault, the report found. Sexual assault rates for women were highest in the Marines, followed by the Navy, Army, and Air Force. The rates among men remained similar to the 2016 report.

“The results are disturbing and a clear indicator the Marine Corps must reexamine its sexual assault prevention efforts,” the Marine Corps said in a statement in response to the findings.

The survey also found increases in sexual harassment and gender discrimination compared to 2016, behavior that could ultimately lead to sexual assault.

The memo described a list of steps that the Department of Defense plans to implement in response to sexual assault, such as launching a Catch a Serial Offender (CATCH) program so members can confidentially report offenders, bolstering recruitment efforts, and better preparing enlisted leaders and first-line supervisors to properly respond to sexual misconduct reports.

The Pentagon also established a sexual assault accountability task force last month, at the urging of Arizona Sen. Martha Mc Sally, the GOP lawmaker and 26-year military veteran who revealed in March that she had been raped in the Air Force by a superior officer.

Sexual assaults in the US military are on a rise

Martha McSally with an A-10 Thunderbolt II.

“As a result of this year’s report, the Department is reevaluating existing processes used to address sexual assault and taking a holistic approach to eliminate sexual assault, which include taking preventative measures, providing additional support and care for victims, and ensuring a robust and comprehensive military justice process,” Department of Defense spokesperson Jessica Maxwell told INSIDER.

Lack of confidence

Thursday’s report hints at a culture in which members may be hesitant to come forward about their assaults, especially as the majority of alleged perpetrators are also in uniform.

In total, 89 percent of alleged offenders were service members, the report found, and 62 percent of assailants had been friends or acquaintances with the victim. Alcohol was involved in 62 percent of sexual assault situations.

For service members who did come forward to report sexual assault, 64 percent described a perceived negative experience or retaliation for speaking out. Maxwell, the spokesperson, told INSIDER that there were 187 allegations of retaliation against victims who reported sexual assault in the past year.

“No one in the Department of Defense should have to fear retaliatory behavior associated with a sexual assault report,” she said, adding that measures are being taken by the department to better respond to retaliation.

While sexual assaults in the military had been on the decline since 2006, when more than 34,000 members had reported misconduct, a 35 percent increase in assaults between 2010 and 2012 led military leaders in 2013 to declare “zero tolerance” for sexual abuse in the ranks. While the percentage of sexual assaults did decline in 2016, that trend reversed course in 2018.

“Collectively, we must do everything we can to eliminate sexual harassment and assault in the military,” Shanahan wrote in his memo. “Sexual assault is illegal and immoral, is inconsistent with the military’s mission, and will not be tolerated.”

This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

A Spanish fighter fired and lost a missile near Russian border

A Spanish air force Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet accidentally fired an air-to-air missile during an a routine training exercise over southeast Estonia on Tuesday afternoon, and authorities have not been able to locate the missile or what is left of it.


The Spanish jet fired the missile — an advanced medium-range air-to-air missile, or AMRAAM, made by US defense firm Raytheon — a little before 4 p.m. local time over the village of Pangodi as it returned from an exercise with another Spanish jet as well as two French Mirage 2000 jets.

The exercise was carried out in an area reserved for such activity about 60 miles from the Russian border. All of the planes are based in Siauliai in northern Lithuania, and the jet that launched the missile was able to return to the base.

Sexual assaults in the US military are on a rise

An AIM-120 AMRAAM being loaded onto an F-16 fighter jet.

(USAF)

The missile’s last location was about 25 miles north of the Estonian city of Tartu. It was reportedly fired northward, but the trajectory and its final location are not known. The 12-foot-long missile has a range of about 60 miles and carries a roughly 50-pound high-explosive warhead.

The missile has a built-in self-destruct mode for such occasions, but it’s not certain that it was activated, and the weapon may have landed on the ground.

The Estonian Defense Ministry has launched a search for the missile using helicopters, and emergency services in the area have asked residents who happen upon the missile or parts of it not to approach it.

Sexual assaults in the US military are on a rise

Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas

Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas said on Facebook that there were “thank God no human casualties,” and called the incident “extremely regrettable.”

“I am sure that the Estonian defense forces will, in cooperation with our allies, identify all the circumstances of the case and make every effort to make sure that nothing like this happens again,” he added.

Estonia’s defense minister also ordered the suspension of all aerial military exercises in the country’s air space until the incident was resolved.

The Spanish Defense Ministry also opened an investigation.

“A Spanish Eurofighter based in Lithuania accidentally fired a missile without causing any harm,” the ministry said in a statement. “The air-to-air missile has not hit any aircraft. The defence ministry has opened an investigation to clarify the exact cause of the incident.”

NATO’s Baltic air-policing missions were set up in 2004 , after Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania the alliance, to assist the new members with air defense and deter Russian aerial incursions in the area. Spanish jets have done five of the three-month air-policing tours, leading them in 2006 and 2016 and taking part in 2015 and 2017.

The current Spanish deployment is composed of 135 personnel and Eurofighters jets. It began on May 1 and will conclude on August 31.

Jets from NATO countries deployed on air-policing missions have had regular encounters with Russian jets over the Baltics, though there were no reports of Russian aircraft in the area when the missile was fired on Tuesday.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Why everyone feels better with a SuperCobra overhead

It’s an airframe that dates back to the Vietnam War, but it’s served for nearly 50 years and is still a comforting presence for those protected by its missiles, guns, and rockets: Meet the AH-1 SuperCobra.


Sexual assaults in the US military are on a rise

Pilots aboard an AH-1W SuperCobra helicopter fly into a forward arming and refueling point at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, Hawaii, May 6, 2014.

(U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Matthew Bragg)

The AH-1 Cobra was the first dedicated attack helicopter, though it was technically an interim solution, filling a gap in capabilities until the AH-56 could make it to the field. The AH-56, however, was never constructed, so the Army stuck with the AH-1.

The Marine Corps, meanwhile, was looking for an attack helicopter of their own, and they were interested in what the Army had to offer. There was one glaring problem, though: The Army AH-1 had only one engine. The Marine Corps wasn’t comfortable with this since their helicopters might have to fly dozens of miles across open ocean to reach beachheads. If you lose an engine six miles from the ship or the shore, you really want a second engine to close the gap.

And so the Marine Corps asked Bell helicopters for an AH-1 with two engines, thus creating the AH-1 SeaCobra, which later became the SuperCobra. It first went into service in 1971, which the math nerds will note is 47 years ago.

Sexual assaults in the US military are on a rise

An AH-1W SuperCobra, with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 775, Marine Aircraft Group 41, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, performs a break turn after conducting a close air support mission in an exercise at Twentynine Palms, California, June 18, 2018.

(U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Samantha Schwoch)

The reason the AH-1 SuperCobra has lasted so long — and the reason that it’s being replaced by the AH-1Z Viper, which is basically just an upgraded version — is that it’s very effective. The first Marine variant, the AH-1J SeaCobra, was originally fielded with a three-barrel 20mm cannon in 1969. But the Marines wanted more power and weapons, and they’ve upgraded the helicopter multiple times over the decades since.

Now, the AH-1W can carry everything from from TOW missiles and Hellfires, both of which are very good at killing enemy tanks. The AGM-114 Hellfire is a potent weapon, carrying an up to 20-pound warhead. It uses either a shaped charge warhead, tandem warhead, or a HEAT warhead. The tandem warhead is the most effective and is thought to be able to defeat all current tanks and armored vehicles.

The TOW, meanwhile, is heavier and has even more variants, but can also open up pretty much any armored threat in the world today.

Sexual assaults in the US military are on a rise

U.S. Marines assigned to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 load a 2.75-inch rocket configured with Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II, a hydra 70 rocket motor and M282 High Explosive Incendiary Multipurpose Penetrator Warhead onto an AH-1Z Viper at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., March 29, 2018

(U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Ashley McLaughlin/Released)

The helicopters can also fire rockets in support of the Marines on the ground, sending out Hydras against troop and vehicle concentrations. These rockets were historically unguided, but kits are now available when necessary. The rockets can carry fast-flying flechettes, small darts that shred enemy combatants, as well as explosive warheads, infrared flares, or smoke.

Zuni rockets, meanwhile, are technically an air-to-air or air-to-ground weapon, but since they’re unguided, the U.S. uses them pretty much only against the ground and ships nowadays. The rockets can carry warheads of almost 50 pounds, and can be sued to rip apart tanks, personnel, or pretty much any target that isn’t heavily fortified.

The rockets can also deploy chaff to throw off enemy radar-guided munitions.

Sexual assaults in the US military are on a rise

U.S. Marine Cpl. Michael Michehl, a line noncommissioned officer with Marine Wing Support Detachment 24, controls forward arming and refueling point operations during a field test for the Expeditionary Mobile Fuel Additization Capability system at Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, July 18, 2018.

(U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Adam Montera)

Finally, the SuperCobras can fire Stinger Missiles, a potent, short-range air defense missile that can send shrapnel flying through enemy helicopters and planes, shredding the engines, wings, or cockpits of the target.

All of this combines to make the SuperCobra a Marine’s deadly big brother in the sky. They can tackle slow-moving air threats, armor, and personnel, protecting Marines under attack from nearly anything, though the helicopters can be made vulnerable themselves by enemy air defenses or air interdiction.

Of course, that doesn’t stop the pilots from laying waste, even when the enemy has their own weapons in play. Marine Capt. John Patrick Giguere earned the Silver Star for flying his AH-1T, a TOW-equipped variant, over enemy air defenses while protecting a downed aircrew in Grenada.

Sexual assaults in the US military are on a rise

An AH-1W SuperCobra, attached to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 167, takes off from the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima, March 8, 2017.

(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Andrew Murray)

First Lt. Sydney Baker also earned a Silver Star. His came while flying an AH-1G supporting the insertion of Marines in Vietnam. Despite ground fire so fierce that it knocked out his communications gear and threatened to down the bird, he kept up a heavy volume of fire to protect Marines on the ground.

So, while their younger, sexier AH-64 Apache counterparts get all the love, the AH-1 SuperCobras and Vipers are out there saving Marines every day, so raise a glass for these old school infantrymen of the sky. They’ll be happy to save you if you’re ever in trouble.

popular

This Marine veteran is a rising star in the outlaw country scene

It’s important for veterans to follow their dreams after they leave the service. Uncle Sam instilled in us veterans the drive we need to stand on top in this dog-eat-dog world, and it’d be a damned shame to skip out on putting that drive to work. After all, we weren’t told to knock politely on opportunity’s door — we were taught to breach it.

If you want a prime example of what hard work, talent, and dedication gets you, look no further than Gethen Jenkins, a Marine Corps veteran and one of the best damn musicians to break into the outlaw country music scene.


Born to a military family in West Virginia and raised in a rural Indian village in Alaska, Jenkins enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served honorably for eight years, including a 2003 deployment to Iraq. When he finally left the service, he stayed around Twentynine Palms, California, and began pursuing his dream of playing country music.

Jenkins grew up around country. Ever since he was a kid, he’s been playing the guitar and writing his own music. So, becoming a professional musician was the natural next step for him. And so, he set to be like the great outlaw country stars of the past.

He met the guys that would later join in him becoming The Freightshakers at a bar in Long Beach. As coincidence would have it, they were looking for a singer to complete their outfit. Jenkins got the gig the very next day. Where the Honkytonk Belongs, a song from the album of the same name, was their first hit.

Take a listen.

His style is a unique blend of his inspirations, from bluegrass to honkytonk to outlaw. Since their formation, Jenkins and the Freightshakers have played over 1,000 gigs and have earned a number of accolades, including the 2015 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Outlaw Group, the 2017 California Country Awards for Best Male Vocalist and Best Album, and LA Weekly even named Jenkins “2018’s Best Outlaw Country Artist.”

And they’re just getting started. Their next album, produced by the legendary Vance Powell, will be called Western Gold. Jenkins wrote or co-wrote every song on the album. It is set to drop sometime next year.

The song, Bottle In My Hand, was released last summer and is the first single off the upcoming album.

And, while we’re at it, go ahead and listen to this cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Simple Man because it’s just too good not to.

The cover works so well because it’s a natural fit. Longtime drummer and songwriter for Skynyrd, Artimus Pyle, also served in the Marines in the late 60s before entering the world of professional musicianship.

That same foundation is what’s going to propels Jenkins’ career, we’re sure of it.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

The poncho liner — the lightweight blanket used and loved by many — is one of the most well-known items issued in the military. Despite having been around for decades, it’s still one of the most popular items to date. But what is this thing? Why’s it called a woobie? And why do grown men get so emotional about them? Seriously, steal or damage a man’s woobie and you might fear for your life. 

Woobies are kept in families for generations, passed down from veterans to their children, adult males sleep with them nightly – even when not in the field – and there are countless stories about tearful reunions when a woobie is replaced. 

There’s just something about this piece that hits home and makes a connection with the soldiers who sleep underneath them. 

Take this journey down memory lane and gain some insight on why the woobie is such a big deal, and how its tenure came to be.

What’s a woobie, anyway?

A woobie is a pet name for the liner, wet weather, poncho, a lightweight, yet surprisingly warm blanket that comes standard issue to soldiers with their outdoor gear and sleep system. A poncho liner, as it’s more commonly called, is made to provide warmth and comfort in mild to moderate temperatures, as well as a cozy place to get some rest. 

But somewhere along the way, it added a personal touch to its existence. Soldiers, especially infantry men and women, became attached. A person’s woobie became an extension of themselves, and it made missions more comforting. Because not only did the liner add to a person’s physical warmth, it met them at their emotional needs.

The history of the poncho liner

The poncho liner was first introduced in the 1960s during the Vietnam war. It’s made of two layers of nylon, meant to remain light enough for soldiers while they were fighting and sleeping in the Vietnam jungle climate. It also dries quickly, adapting to a moist environment.

The liner is sewn to withstand the elements, with a hard seam stitch, and a distinctive pattern throughout the bulk of the fabric to keep pieces in place, despite rough conditions. 

What’s most interesting about the poncho liner is its engineering that somehow keeps in heat while keeping the cold at bay. Even when wet, the liner can keep a solider warm, all while drying quicker than their wool blanket. This is even more impressive considering they were first made from excess parachute material, in duck hunter camo, that was leftover from WWII. 

Originally, that’s why liners were released in a dated camo pattern. But even once the excess material was used, the use of tri-color camo continued. 

Various patterns of poncho liners have been issued throughout the years, including different styles from each military branch. 

Finally rounding out poncho liner specs: each model sits at 62 by 82 inches, and has tie cords so they can be attached to rain ponchos. Useful and ready on the go.

Why call it a “woobie”?

It wasn’t always called a woobie. For years, soldiers referred to the poncho liner by its official name. Then somewhere along the way, it gained a nickname; the most common explanation is that “woobie” comes from the 1983 film, Mr. Mom, in which a child refers to their blanket as “woobie.” Others say it’s a portmanteau of “would be,” as in, “You would be cold without it.” No one knows for sure which theory is correct, though history shows the nickname taking hold somewhere in the early 1990s.

woobie hoodie
People love the woobie so much, someone made a hoodie that looks like one.

Considering the resounding reviews it gets from soldiers, it’s no wonder the pet name stuck. Even for grown men, the comfort of a security blanket does wonders for morale. 

Here are a few of the woobie’s rave reviews: 

“I HAD MANY HAPPY MOMENTS IN THE FIELD WITH THIS BLANKET, LIKE LINUS ON PEANUTS.”

“If you were limited to just a few pieces of survival gear, this should be at the top of your list. Versatile, rugged, weighs next to nothing, hides you, keeps you warm as toast with your own body heat.”

“These are amazing. If you have not ever had the pleasure of wrapping up in a true, govt-issued poncho liner when it is cold, you are missing out. It is like they are magic. They warm you up in seconds with your own body heat just like an electric blanket would.”

“I’ve been out of the military since 2001 and I’ve slept with my woobie almost every night since basic [training]. When mine wore out I thought I might have to re-enlist to get another one in good shape. Luckily, I was able to purchase another one in near perfect condition for less than two years of Army pay.” 

These are just a few of the item’s shining reviews. Task and Purpose even published an article naming it, “The greatest military invention ever fielded.” 

And don’t worry, if you ETSd or lost yours, you can find them on Amazon. They have cheaper versions too, like the one below. How warm it’ll keep you is debatable, but the reviews aren’t terrible.

woobie
A cheaper version of the woobie, available here for about 20 bucks.

However, consensus agrees, most prefer to take the loss and pay for their woobie outright, rather than turn it in with their issued goods. 

After all, can you really put a price on personal security? Either way, we can all agree that the woobie is one of the most loved military items of all time.

Do you have a beloved woobie? Tell us about yours below.

Articles

This filmmaker is the first Post-9/11 vet to be nominated for an Oscar

Henry Hughes deployed twice to Afghanistan as an airborne infantry officer and is now hoping his debut short film, “Day One” will bring home an Oscar on February 28.


Sexual assaults in the US military are on a rise

Day One, which follows a female Afghan-American interpreter named Feda on her first day of patrols in Afghanistan, is Hughes’ first movie.

“I didn’t think it would happen this quickly,” Hughes told WATM about being nominated for an Oscar for his first film. “It’s a wonderful, serendipitous, golden ticket-type thing.”

In the film, the interpreter and the infantry platoon she works with go to the home of a suspected insurgent. At the house, the mission quickly gets complicated as the insurgent’s pregnant wife goes into labor. The interpreter, the platoon leader, and the insurgent all have to navigate the needs of the mother, the child, and the social and religious customs of Afghanistan.

It’s complicated stuff and very intense.

Sexual assaults in the US military are on a rise
Henry Hughes and his interpreter purchase items from a stall in Afghanistan during a deployment. (Photo courtesy Henry Hughes)

The story is inspired by real events, and most of the details come from Hughes’ experiences in Afghanistan with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. He decided to focus on the interpreter instead of the platoon leader so the movie would feel fresh to audiences used to seeing things from a soldier’s point of view.

“On my second tour I had a female interpreter,” he said. “She is an American, an Afghan-American. And I kind of just realized that if I was going to tell a story about our community, about our experiences, we needed a new way to get into it.”

Sexual assaults in the US military are on a rise

Following this woman who was new to the war gave him a chance to show the dual nature of combat.

“I thought, maybe we hadn’t seen something that was as enlightening as some of the moments in combat felt to me,” Hughes said. “Very sublime, hyperbolic. Where things are beatiful and kind of harsh at the same time. And I thought a way to do that would be to go through this woman who has to deal with both these gender issues and the culture issues.”

Learn more about the movie at its website and check out the trailer below. “Day One” will be available as a streaming movie for rental or purchase March 15th on Vimeo.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mV3IgCTIDYkfeature=youtu.be

MIGHTY TRENDING

This Navy vet chef shows how to turn MREs into a remarkable Christmas feast

Navy veteran and Food Network Allstar, August Dannehl cooks a four course meal for his fellow vets based on stories from their service. A braised pork belly inspired by the MRE’s feared dehydrated pork product, Chicken Tagine inspired by a training mission in Morocco – these elements provide the backdrop for a holiday celebration between veterans.


Featured at the dinner table are USMC veterans James P. Connolly, Drea Garcia, and Donna Callaway and USAF veteran Christopher Allen.

 

Music courtesy of JinglePunks:
Dramatic Classical Hip Hop – Trent Williamson
Madridista-JP – The Beards
Faded-JP – Shota Ike
History Pitcha-JP – Serval Attack
Thug Piano-JP – Pailboy
Sunset Drive-JP – FINE LINES
Articles

Wounded Warrior Project reportedly accused of wasting donor money

Sexual assaults in the US military are on a rise
Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden | U.S. Army


The charity for wounded veterans, the Wounded Warrior Project, is facing accusations of using donor money toward excessive spending on conferences and parties instead of on recovery programs, according to a CBS News report.

Army Staff Sergeant Erick Millette, who returned from Iraq in 2006 with a bronze star and a purple heart, told CBS News he admired the charity’s work and took a job with the group in 2014 but quit after two years.

“Their mission is to honor and empower wounded warriors, but what the public doesn’t see is how they spend their money,” he told CBS News.

Millette said he witnessed lavish spending on staff, with big “catered” parties.

“Going to a nice fancy restaurant is not team building. Staying at a lavish hotel at the beach here in Jacksonville, and requiring staff that lives in the area to stay at the hotel is not team building,” he told CBS News.

According to the charity’s tax forms obtained by CBS News, spending on conferences and meetings went from $1.7 million in 2010 to $26 million in 2014, which is the same amount the group spends on combat stress recovery.

Two former employees, who were so fearful of retaliation they asked that CBS News not show their faces on camera, said spending has skyrocketed since Steven Nardizzi took over as CEO in 2009, pointing to the 2014 annual meeting at a luxury resort in Colorado Springs.

“He rappelled down the side of a building at one of the all hands events. He’s come in on a Segway, he’s come in on a horse,” one employee told CBS News.

About 500 staff members attended the four-day conference in Colorado, which CBS News reported cost about $3 million.

Wounded Warrior Project declined CBS News’ interview requests for Nardizzi, but instead sent Director of Alumni and a recipient of their services, Captain Ryan Kules, who denied there was excessive spending on conferences.

“It’s the best use of donor dollars to ensure we are providing programs and services to our warriors and families at the highest quality,” he said.

Kules added the charity did not spend $3 million on the Colorado conference, but he was not there and was unable to say what it did cost. He also told CBS News that the charity does not spend money on alcohol or engage in any other kind of excessive spending.

 

MIGHTY CULTURE

This 9-11 memorial hosts a unique survivor

On September 11, 2001, America was attacked. Thousands of innocent people lost their lives at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. From the ashes of that horrible day rose a wave of patriotism that unified a nation to say in one voice, “We will never forget.”


Across the country, and especially in the state of New York, monuments and memorials to the people we lost that September day stand in keeping that promise. Of course, the most prominent of these is the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in Manhattan which is located at the World Trade Center. The memorial fountains bear the names of the people that perished there nearly two decades ago and the museum houses incredible artifacts and stories collected from that day. However, remnants of that day can be found elsewhere too.

Sexual assaults in the US military are on a rise

One of the reflecting pools (9/11 Memorial Museum)

Roughly 190 miles north of the World Trade Center lies the city of Saratoga Springs, NY. Just over 30 miles north of the state capital of Albany, Saratoga Springs is a hub for thoroughbred horse racing as the home to the Saratoga Race Course as well as the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. The city is also in close proximity to the Saratoga National Park which preserves the Revolutionary War site of the Battles of Saratoga. Nestled among some of the town’s famous natural mineral springs stands a sculpted metal structure paying tribute to the tragedies that took place on 9/11.

Sexual assaults in the US military are on a rise

Tempered By Memory (Author)

Crafted from World Trade Center steel, Tempered By Memory serves as the focal point of the town’s 9/11 Memorial Monument. A plaque at the memorial explains to visitors that the Saratoga Springs community lost residents in the attack and how first responders, ironworkers, and humanitarians from the area assisted with response and recovery efforts in the aftermath. In 2002, Saratoga Springs residents and businesses created a respite program which granted retreats to 178 NYC firefighters, policemen, and their families.

In 2010, the Saratoga Arts Center Council, Saratoga Springs City Council, and the Saratoga Springs Naval Support Unit entered into a collaboration to bring steel artifacts from the World Trade Center to the community. After a year of work by local sculptors and a volunteer team of ironworkers, crane operators, and community-wide support, Tempered By Memory was completed in 2011. On the eleventh anniversary of the attack, the sculpture was donated by Saratoga Arts to the City of Saratoga Springs. Reinforced by the healing and restorative properties of the natural mineral springs that surround it, Tempered By Memory invites visitors to quietly reflect on the history of the site and transcend the tragedy.

However, if the sculpture brings more pain than healing and a visitor finds themself in need of further inspiration of hope, they need only look off to the side. Planted a few yards away from the center of the memorial is a rather unassuming tree. Compared to the large and lush trees in the park, this diminutive Callery Pear Tree appears to be out of place.

In fact, the tree is called the Survivor Tree and was grown from a seedling of the last standing Callery Pear Tree that once stood on the site of the original World Trade Center. The attack on 9/11 nearly destroyed the original tree which now stands at the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Since its return to the site in 2010, the original Survivor Tree has spawned seedlings which have been gifted to communities that have endured tragedy. In addition to Saratoga Springs, recipients of Survivor Tree seedlings include Las Vegas, Parkland, Boston, Manchester, and Paris. The trees serve as a reminder of hope, strength, and unity through adversity.

Sexual assaults in the US military are on a rise

Saratoga Springs Survivor Tree (Author)

Though memorial events for the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attack will look different compared to previous years as a result of COVID, tributes like Tempered By Memory and Survivor Trees across the country and around the world stand as monuments to the memory of the people lost on that terrible day and the loved ones that they left behind.

Articles

Whiteman pilot logs 6000 A-10 hours

Sexual assaults in the US military are on a rise
Then, U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. John Marks in an A-10 Thunderbolt II in 1991 next to, now, Lt. Col. Marks in the cockpit of an A-10 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., Nov. 14, 2016. Marks reached 6,000 hours in an A-10 after flying for nearly three decades. | Courtesy photo provided by Lt. Col. Marks


Lt. Col. John Marks, a pilot with the 303rd Fighter Squadron, logged his 6,000th hour in the A-10 Thunderbolt II at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, Nov. 14, 2016.

Nearly three decades of flying and 11 combat deployments later, Marks has achieved a milestone that equates to 250 days in the cockpit, which most fighter pilots will never reach and puts him among the highest time fighter pilots in the U.S. Air Force.

Also read: The Air Force will keep the A-10 in production ‘indefinitely’

Ever since the end of the Cold War Era when Marks began his Air Force career, the mission in the A-10 has remained the same— protect the ground forces.

“Six thousand hours is about 3,500 sorties with a takeoff and landing, often in lousy weather and inhospitable terrain,” said Col. Jim Macaulay, the 442d Operations Group commander. “It’s solving the tactical problem on the ground hundreds of times and getting it right every time, keeping the friendlies safe. This includes being targeted and engaged hundreds of times by enemy fire.”

He also said it’s a testament to Marks’ skill that he’s never had to eject, and they both praise and respect the 442d Maintenance Squadron for keeping the planes mission ready.

Sexual assaults in the US military are on a rise
U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. John Marks poses with an A-10 Thunderbolt II at King Fahd Air Base, Saudi Arabia, during Desert Storm in February, 1991. Destroying and damaging more than 30 Iraqi tanks was one of Marks most memorable combat missions during Desert Storm. | Courtesy photo provided by Lt. Col. Marks

Marks’ early sorties were low-altitude missions above a European battlefield, so different tactics have been used in more recent sorties that have focused on high-altitude missions above a middle-eastern battlefield.

“In the end, we can cover the ground forces with everything from a very low-altitude strafe pass only meters away from their position, to a long-range precision weapon delivered from outside threat ranges, and everything in between,” said Marks.

Most combat sorties leave lasting impressions because the adrenaline rush makes it unforgettable, said Marks.

“The trio of missions I flew on February 25, 1991, with Eric Salomonson on which we destroyed or damaged 23 Iraqi tanks with oil fires raging all over Kuwait certainly stands out,” he expressed. “The sky was black from oil fires and smoke and burning targets, lending to an almost apocalyptic feel.”

“Recently, a mission I flew on our most recent trip to Afghanistan, relieving a ground force pinned down by Taliban on 3 sides and in danger of being surrounded, using our own weapons while also coordinating strikes by an AC-130 gunship, 2 flights of F-16s, Apaches, and AH-6 Little Birds, stands out as a mission I’m proud of,” continued Marks about one of the most rewarding missions of his career, which earned him the President’s Award for the Air Force Reserve Command in 2015.

Having more than 950 combat hours like Marks does is valuable for pilots in training because experience adds credibility, said Macaulay.

“I’ve watched him mentor young pilots in the briefing room then teach them in the air,” said Macaulay. “Every sortie, he brings it strong, which infects our young pilots that seek to emulate him.”

As an instructor pilot, Marks said he uses his firsthand experience to help describe situations that pilots learn during their book studies, such as, what it’s really like to withstand enemy fire.

“I like to think we can show them a good work ethic as well,” Marks added. “You always have to be up on the newest weapons, the newest threats, the newest systems. You can never sit still.”

Marks plans on flying the A-10 until he is no longer capable, which gives him a few more years in the cockpit and the potential to reach 7,000 hours.

“I love being part of something that’s bigger than any individual and doing something as a career that truly makes a difference – whatever you do in the Air Force, you’re part of that effort,” said Marks. “It’s going to be up to you to carry on the great tradition we have in our relatively short history as an Air Force.”

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The Army’s top leadership is pretty worried about how quickly the North Korean threat is growing

US General Mark Milley, chief of staff of the Army, says North Korean missile technology may be advancing faster than expected.


Milley spoke July 27 at the National Press Club in Washington, as North Koreans concluded a day of remembrance to mark the anniversary of the end of the Korean War.

Milley told his audience, “North Korea is extremely dangerous, and more dangerous as the weeks go by.”

Sexual assaults in the US military are on a rise
General Mark Milley. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Marisol Walker.

‘Never seen before’

Earlier this month, Pyongyang announced it had completed its first successful test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, one expert said could travel far enough to reach the westernmost US states of Alaska or Hawaii.

The launch took US defense experts by surprise. Pentagon officials said it was something they had “never seen before.”

There was speculation that North Korea might use the July 27 anniversary to test-launch a new missile, but late in the day, those fears appeared to have been unfounded.

Earlier July 27, North Koreans gathered at the mausoleum of North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il to commemorate the day in 1953 when China, North Korea, and the US-backed United Nations signed an agreement to end the struggle over the Korean peninsula.

Sexual assaults in the US military are on a rise
Statues of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. Wikimedia Commons photo by José Fernandes Jr.

Peace treaty never signed

The conflict began in 1950 when the Soviet-ruled North invaded the democratically ruled South.

In the North Korean version of the story, the conflict is known as the Fatherland Liberation War. North Korea blames the United States for starting the war that devastated the Korean peninsula and saw the South Korean capital, Seoul, change hands four times.

Because a peace treaty was never signed, the two nations are technically still at war. Pyongyang uses that fact to justify its concentration on military readiness.

Hong Yong-Dok brought his granddaughters to the Kim mausoleum to pay their respects July 27. He told a French news agency, “Our country is ever-victorious because we have the greatest leaders in the world.”

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The US is ‘ready to confront’ China in the Pacific with the world’s most lethal combat plane

Adm. Harry Harris, the head of the US Pacific Command, told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday that the US was “ready to confront” China should it continue its aggressive course in the South China Sea.


China has spent years building artificial islands to bolster its territorial claims in the South China Sea, a resource-rich area through which about $5 trillion in shipping flows each year.

Also read: What the US should have built instead of the F-35, according to a former Navy Commander

The Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative has recently observed, via satellite imagery, China placing radar outposts and weapons, including antiaircraft and antimissile systems, on the islands in international waters.

Sexual assaults in the US military are on a rise
Adm. Harry Harris Jr., the head of US Pacific Command. US Navy

In the past, China has unilaterally declared “no sail” and “no-fly zones” in the region, despite a ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague that its claims to the South China Sea, based on old maps, lacked merit.

China flouting international law has strained relations with the US.

Those ties took another big hit when President-elect Donald Trump broke with decades of US foreign-policy tradition and accepted a call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and later tweeted about China’s “massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea.”

In response, China flew bombers along the perimeter of its contentious claims in the South China Sea in what it intended as a “message” to Trump, though it has flown the same bombers in a similar fashion before.

Harris characterized Beijing’s activity as “aggressive” and vowed to act against it if needed, Reuters reports.

Sexual assaults in the US military are on a rise
The USS Lassen (DDG 82) patrolling the eastern Pacific Ocean. | US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Huey D. Younger Jr.

The US has repeatedly challenged China’s claims in the region with freedom-of-navigation patrols, in which guided-missile destroyers sail near the disputed islands.

In July, Chinese officials warned that these patrols could end in “disaster.”

“We will not allow a shared domain to be closed down unilaterally no matter how many bases are built on artificial features in the South China Sea,” Harris said. “We will cooperate when we can, but we will be ready to confront when we must.”

Sexual assaults in the US military are on a rise
An F-22 deploys flares. | US Air Force photo

These statements coincide with Harris making public a deployment of F-22 Raptors to Australia. The F-22, a very low observable aircraft, has unique features that make it ideal for piercing through and operating inside heavily contested airspace, like the skies above China’s military installations in the South China Sea.

While Harris maintained that diplomacy was the best way to reach China, he stressed “the absolute necessity to maintain credible combat power,” according to Breakingdefense.com

In August, the US deployed nuclear-capable bombers to Guam in an effort to deter aggression in the region and to demonstrate its commitment to stability and freedom of navigation in the Pacific.

“The US fought its first war following our independence to ensure freedom of navigation,” Harris said. “This is an enduring principle and one of the reasons our forces stand ready to fight tonight.”

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The Brits are going to deploy their ‘colossal’ new aircraft carrier to confront China

One of America’s closest allies is preparing to put China’s claims to the test in the South China Sea.


British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson revealed at a high-level meeting in Sydney, Australia, that the UK will be sending its new aircraft carriers into the region to uphold freedom of navigation and the rules-based international order. Australia has been hesitant to act, fearing increased tension with Beijing.

“One of the first things we will do with the two new colossal aircraft carriers that we have just built,” Johnson explained, “is send them on a freedom-of-navigation operation to this area to vindicate our belief in the rules-based international system and in the freedom of navigation through those waterways which are absolutely vital for world trade.”

The UK’s new aircraft carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, is undergoing maiden sea trials and is expected to be commissioned into the Royal Navy later this year.

Sexual assaults in the US military are on a rise
The HMS Queen Elizabeth. Photo from UK Royal Navy

British Defense Secretary Sir Michael Fallon confirmed the deployment without providing any real details. “We haven’t mapped out the initial deployments yet but, yes, you would expect to see these carriers in the India Pacific Ocean, this part of the world because it is in this part of the world we see increasing tension, increasing challenges,” Fallon told the Australia Broadcasting Corporation.

Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne hinted that Australia might also step up its activities in the area.

“Importantly today, we also discussed developments in our region, particularly with respect to freedom of navigation and freedom of overflight which is a global issue and countries like Australia and the United Kingdom have a shared interest in those global freedoms,” Payne said, adding, “We agreed today that we would identify opportunities to conduct, where possible, cooperative activities in the region when we have assets that are in the area at the same time.”

Sexual assaults in the US military are on a rise
Royal Australian Navy Anzac Class frigate HMAS Warramunga. Canadian Forces Combat Camera Photo By Master Corporal Mathieu Gaudreault

There still appears to be a certain hesitancy to make the same commitment as the Americans and the British.

China claims the vast majority of the South China Sea, asserting its dominance through the illegal development of artificial islands, the construction of military outposts, and regular naval and bomber patrols in the area. Beijing’s claims were discredited by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague last year, but China rejected both the authority and ruling of the arbitration tribunal, declaring its sovereignty over massive swaths of the ocean to be indisputable.

The Trump administration has started putting increased pressure on China, which has so far failed to rein in North Korea, a major point of concern for the new administration. The US Navy has conducted two freedom-of-navigation operations and two bomber overflights in the South China Sea, angering Beijing.

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