How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying

Across the US military last year, there were 18 known crashes involving UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters. That makes routine maintenance and inspection a vital part of ensuring the safety and security of our military’s soldiers and equipment.

Soldiers from Delta Company, 1-171st Aviation Regiment, the maintenance company for Task Force Aviation on Camp Bondsteel, began a phase maintenance inspection for one of their UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopters on Nov. 18, 2019, in the aviation motor pool.

According to Army Techniques Publication 3-4.7, a phase maintenance inspection is a thorough and searching examination of the aircraft and associated equipment. The maintenance should be conducted every 320 flight hours in a UH-60’s lifespan. More recently updated literature has changed the requirement to 480 flight hours.


How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying

US soldiers clean a partially deconstructed UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during a phase maintenance inspection, at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, Oct. 19, 2019.

(US Army photo by Spc. Lynnwood Thomas)

“Every 480 hours we take a helicopter completely down and apart for safety inspections,” US Army Capt. Paul Strella, commander of Delta Company, TF AVN said.

“We’re inspecting each individual component to make sure it’s still air-worthy and meets the DoD standard. Then we put everything back on it and do a test flight, ensuring that the aircraft is safe for flight and release back to the unit to put back in service.”

Strella said that it is becoming rare for an Army unit to have a phase team to do the type of maintenance they are conducting, because those jobs are being outsourced to contractors.

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying

US soldiers from remove a UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopter engine during a phase maintenance inspection, at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, Oct. 19, 2019.

(US Army photo by Spc. Lynnwood Thomas)

“It’s a great opportunity for Delta Company, during the KFOR 26 rotation, to be able to get hands-on experience,” Strella said.

“A lot of research went into the training and classes to be able to perform this efficiently and safely. Most importantly it’s good training for the soldiers, to build their experience up for the continuity of the unit and to increase the soldiers’ skill level.”

The inspection should take 23 days by DoD standard, but Delta Company is extending the timeline to 10 weeks in order to move carefully through each step of the inspection.

Strella said this will allow meticulous execution of the processes and provide time for detailed training opportunities.

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying

US Army Sgt. Daniel Beanland and Spc. Marshall Cox, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter repairers, remove a UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopter engine during a phase maintenance inspection, at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, Oct. 19, 2019.

(US Army photo by Spc. Lynnwood Thomas)

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying

US Army Spc. Daniel Strickland, a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter repairer, removes a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter engine during a phase maintenance inspection, at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, Oct. 19, 2019.

(US Army photo by Spc. Lynnwood Thomas)

US Army Spc. Jared Turner, UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter repairer, TF AVN, said that it’s his job to make sure that the aircraft are in the proper condition to successfully complete missions, whether it’s carrying troops, sling-loading for air assault missions, or medical evacuations.

He said his favorite part is seeing the results of his unit’s labor.

“Out on the flight line you get to see them take off and fly all the time, and when you recognize an aircraft that you’ve worked on, it’s just a good feeling,” Turner said. “That’s one of the best parts of the job. You watch it fly away and you’re like — I put my hands on that.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

This therapy dog is a hero to veterans

Hercules, in classical mythology, is a hero and god famous for his strength, travels, and adventures.

At the James A. Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa, a black lab, appropriately named Hercules, is a hero to veterans, visitors, and VA staff. He’s their resident rock star and therapy dog, and he’s about to celebrate his third birthday.

Robert Lynch is a Marine, the Tampa VA Veterans Experience Officer, and proud dad to Hercules. As a service-connected veteran, Lynch is upfront and open discussing his physical and mental health needs, including mobility, depression and anxiety.


In 2017, Lynch applied for a therapy dog to help with his own overall health, but after further thought wanted to expand the role of his potential new best friend. He talked with Tampa VA Director Joe Battle about having a therapy dog as a VA staff member.

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying

Battle loved the idea of a full-time canine on staff, as did other leadership and they created a hospital policy defining what would be the role of their new employee.

Southeastern Guide Dogs, a non-profit group that trains guide and service and therapy dogs, brought a few furry friends to meet Robert. Once Lynch met Hercules, he knew they had a special bond. The trainer from Southeastern saw it too, saying they were “surprised at how fast the two connected.”

To this day, Hercules doesn’t want Lynch out of his sight. While working at the Tampa VA, Hercules and Lynch do spend some time apart as Hercules goes with other trained handlers to visit different areas of the hospital. Hercules puts in about 50 hours a week, rotating visits to various clinics and care units.

A work day for Hercules can range from playing fetch with veterans in physical therapy, painting with veterans in a creative arts class, or playing a role in a Final Salute–a ceremony held inside the VA to honor a veteran who has passed. Hercules carries the flag and seeks out those who may need some emotional support.

Hercules Saves the Day

www.youtube.com

Lynch received a call one day with a special request. A veteran in the hospice unit wanted to visit with Hercules again. Hercules was not scheduled to visit that part of the hospital that day, so Lynch made arrangements and took the intuitive black lab to see the patient as quickly as possible.

Hercules got in bed and snuggled the gentleman as he reminisced about his boyhood pup named Shadow and how Hercules reminded him of his beloved dog.

Lynch and Hercules spent about 45 minutes with the patient and then went back to their regular schedule. A short time later, Lynch received a call. “It was for a Final Salute. The same man that wanted to see Hercules in hospice had passed and they wanted us to be a part of the Final Salute.”

Director Joe Battle consoled Lynch by telling him, “You gave that man, that veteran, his last wish, there’s no better way to honor him.”

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying

Hercules shakes with Medal of Honor recipient Woody Williams at the VA Patient Experience Symposium.

As VA staff come in to start their day, several make sure to stop by Lynch’s office and get a hug from Hercules. Lynch knows the importance of this seemingly small gesture. “It’s just as important to enhance the staff experience as it is the veteran experience when they come to VA,” he said. “Something positive sets the tone for the work day and happier employees means happier customers.”

What does Hercules do to unwind and have fun? He takes breaks during the day and will lay at Lynch’s feet to rest and recharge. On the weekends, Lynch and his family take Hercules fishing and to his favorite spot–the dog beach.

“Sometimes I think he’s kinda bummed out that he’s not at the hospital every day. He likes to play with other dogs, but he really loves to be around people,” Lynch said. “He’s so devoted. I still have my own issues. I love to see him make others happy.”

Tampa VA will be celebrating Hercules’ 3rd birthday with a Barkday party, June 26, 2019, at 1pm. For details, visit the James A. Haley VA Medical Center’s Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/VATampa/.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

Articles

The top 5 stories around the military right now (Aug. 7 edition)

TGIF. Here’s what you need to be aware of going into the weekend:


Now: Here’s how US Marines evacuate an American Embassy 

MIGHTY TRENDING

Trump cancels meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

The White House canceled President Donald Trump’s highly anticipated meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting,” Trump wrote in a letter addressed to Kim released on May 24, 2018.


Trump said that he had been looking forward to the summit but that “tremendous anger and open hostility” in the North Korean government’s recent statements ultimately inspired the president to cancel the meeting.

Trump wrote that he felt “wonderful dialogue” was building up between him and Kim, adding, “ultimately, it is only that dialogue that matters.” The president said he still hoped to meet the North Korean leader at some point in the future.

“If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write,” Trump said. “The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth. This missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history.”

‘This missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history’

This letter is emblematic of the massive shift in tone between Trump and Kim, who just months ago were engaged in a heated war of words. Over the course of 2017, the two leaders frequently traded threats and insults from across the globe, sometimes even taking jabs at each other’s appearance or mental stability.

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying
The letter President Donald Trump wrote to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un regarding the cancellation of a summit scheduled for June 12.

With that said, the cancellation of the summit could be viewed as a significant failure for Trump from a foreign-policy standpoint. The Trump administration had hoped to use the meeting to pressure North Korea to agree to give up its nuclear weapons.

North Korea initially seemed amenable to this but became more hostile in recent weeks, raising doubts anything substantive would come from meeting with Kim.

The North Korean government recently threatened to cancel the summit over joint military exercises between the US and South Korea, also expressing concern over statements made by the White House national security adviser, John Bolton, regarding how the US might approach the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

What’s more, the North Korean vice minister of foreign affairs on May 24, 2018, referred to comments made by Vice President Mike Pence as “stupid.”

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying
Mike Pence
(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

“As a person involved in US affairs, I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing from the mouth of the US vice president,” Choe Son Hui said in a statement reported by North Korean state news.

“Whether the US will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States,” Choi added.

This came not long after Pence suggested the situation with North Korea may “end like Libya,” whose leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed by rebels in 2011.

The Trump administration had also pledged to help North Korea bolster its economy in exchange for denuclearization, but such promises apparently weren’t enough to alter Pyongyang’s tone and save the talks.

It’s not clear what will happen moving forward or how North Korea will respond.

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

The rogue state conducted a slew of missile tests in 2017 but agreed to cease such activities and dismantle its primary nuclear test site as part of recent diplomatic efforts with the US and South Korea. It also recently released three US citizens it had detained.

North Korea is believed to have as many as 60 nuclear weapons, and it could conceivably resume missile and nuclear testing if the diplomatic process falls apart after the cancellation of the summit.

In his letter to Kim, the president warned of the US military’s “massive” nuclear capabilities.

“You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used,” Trump wrote.

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

Articles

Browning’s great-great-great grandchildren: 3 badass new 1911s (and 2011s)

The venerable 1911 has been in military service for over a century now — in every branch, in every war America’s fought. Once the old Model 1873 Colts proved themselves in the Philippines and the results of the Thompson-Legarde tests became known, the transition to the .45 caliber round was set.


And so it was, as articulated in the recommendation passed on to the War Department.

“…a bullet, which will have a shock effect and stopping effect at short ranges necessary for a military pistol or revolver, should have a caliber not less than .45.”

Enter Saint Browning, hallowed patron of automatic fire; John M. Browning began testing his iconic semi-auto in 1910. It was formally adopted by the Army in 1911, and by the Navy and Marine Corps two years later.

It’s a badass and much beloved pistol, and rightly so — that is, no doubt, why so many manufacturers continue to build them today.

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying

Some are, of course, some better than others. But here are three beautifully crafted and ridiculously rugged modern versions of St. Browning’s famous design.

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying

1. STI International DVC Tactical 2011 – Texas Proud

That’s correct, they call it the 2011; it’s a 21st century weapon, hand crafted in Texas.

STI International says they designed the weapon with tactical shooters in mind, incorporating the most functional features of their competition guns to do so. It’s coated in a low visibility DLC (Diamond Like Coating) finish, and uses a TiAIN (Titanium Aluminum Nitride), copper-tinted barrel. (We’re not sure if the copper tint is anything more than an aesthetic feature, and we don’t care — these things are sexier than fifty panty-less Suicide Girls in a tight t-shirt).

The DVC Tactical 2011  features slide lightening cuts, a threaded barrel, accessory rail, an aggressively stippled grip, and undercut trigger guard. Sights are standard, so you’d have to change them out if you’re going to put a can on it. Sights are Tritium Fixed Ledge, Trigger is 3.5 lbs with an ambi safety, and it uses a Dawson Precision Tool-Less guide rod.

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying
How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying

It’s available in either .45 or 9mm.

PERFORMANCE FEATURES

•BBL- 5.00 inch Threaded Bull Barrel, TiAIN coating

•FINISH- Diamond Like Carbon, Black Color

•MAGAZINES- 2 ea / 140mm, Black Color

•TRIGGER- 3.5 lbs w/Ambi Safety Lever

•SIGHTS- Tritium Fixed Ledge Sights

•GRIPS- 2011 DVC Stippled, Black Color

•OTHER- Dawson Precision Tool-Less Guide Rod, Tactical Magwell, Thread Protector, Picatinny Under-Rail

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying

Learn more here.

While you’re on their website, you might also check out their H.O.S.T. series gun, which are built to host sights with an RMR plate. H.O.S.T. stands for Holographic Optic Slide Top. It’s designed to, you guessed it, host a sight, light, and/or suppressors. The slide top is milled to accept a micro-red dot optic, comes with a removable cover plate and adapter plates for a wide variety of pistol optics.

 

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying

2. Wilson Combat EDC 9 – Arkansas Goodness for Decades

The Wilson Combat EDC is designed for “…hard use and everyday concealed carry.” It’s built with what they call their Enhanced Reliability System, and like all their guns is built in their facility near a small town in NW Arkansas. Bill Wilson and his outfit have been building guns there since the ’70s.

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying

It’s a compact, carbon steel frame with a 4-inch Tri-Top slide, 4-inch stainless cone barrel with flush cut reverse crown, a fluted chamber, and fluted barrel. The ERS portion of the EDC9’s features includes a spring-loaded extractor, match grade fluted (single lug) barrel, adjustable elevation sights, and…

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying

Ah, to hell with it, we’ll just let them tell you . They’ll do it better.

The “ERS” includes: robust spring-loaded external extractor that improves extraction in all conditions with all types of ammunition; A match grade, fluted barrel with single lug geometry to reduce cycling friction, enhance slide velocity, and improve feed reliability; Removal of the frame rails around the mag opening to further reduce friction and promote function in adverse shooting environments; A low mass, Tri-Top slide profile for reduced muzzle flip and enhanced cycling and our Tactical Adjustable Battlesight (TAB) for easy point of impact elevation adjustment. Wilson Combat 

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying

SPECS

  • Available Calibers: 9mm
  • Magazine Capacity: 9 rounds
  • Barrel Length: 4″
  • Overall Length: 7.6″
  • Sight Radius: 5.6″
  • Height: 5.1″
  • Width: 1.3″
  • Weight Empty: 38 oz
  • Weight Loaded: 42 oz
  • Accuracy Guarantee: 1.5″ at 25 yds

Learn more about it here.

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying
Image courtesy Greg Skaz Photography

3. The Dan Wesson Discretion – New York State of Style

This 1911 was purpose built for the ever-increasing number of people who enjoy shooting with suppressors. That’s why it comes with an extended, match-grade stainless barrel and high Tritium sights. A ported slide, serrated trigger and competition-worthy trigger (as they describe it) all contrive to make it a pleasure to shoot.

Available in .45 or 9mm, it also features a ball end mill cut, fairly aggressive checkering on both the front strap and mainspring housing, a long, slotted trigger with a serrated face, and a 1913 Pic rail.  The square hammer and top rib running down the slide give it a unique appearance.

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying
How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying
How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying

Learn more here.

Even if you’re not interested in the Discretion, you should visit that page and scroll to the bottom. Their 360 view is pretty damn cool.

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying
Image courtesy Greg Skaz Photography

They’ve definitely evolved from the 1911s your great grandpappy used to service Nazis — and from the ones in the trenches a couple decades earlier.

Articles

The Army built a fake base to fool Saddam Hussein — and it worked

In August 1990, Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Army invaded and occupied neighboring Kuwait in a move which brought swift condemnation from much of the rest of the world. In response, U.S. President George H.W. Bush ordered planes, ships, and troops brought in to Saudi Arabia as quickly as possible to help mount a defense against possible Iraqi aggression. As Iraqi troops massed at the Saudi-Kuwaiti border, Operation Desert Shield began in full force, as the Coalition forces grew to 48 nations.


The United States isn’t known for its passivity when it comes to aggression against its interests, however. The U.S. was actively planning a response to the Iraqi invasion and a subsequent liberation of Kuwait, which happened between January and February 1991 in what became known as Operation Desert Storm.

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying
We pretty much sent everyone. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Daniel Jackson)

During the military build-up, planners wanted to fool Saddam into thinking the Coalition forces would invade Kuwait near the “boot heel” of the country, while planning to really hit the Iraqi occupation forces with a “left hook” strategy. The centerpiece of this deception effort was at Forward Operating Base Weasel, an effort unlike anything since Operation Fortitude during WWII, the misinformation campaign designed to cover the real location for the D-Day invasions.

FOB Weasel was what Rick Atkinson, author of Crusade: The Untold Story of the Persian Gulf War called “a Potemkin base… giving the impression of 130,000 troops across a hundred square kilometers.” Army truck drivers wearing the red berets of paratroopers would shuttle vehicles between FOB Weasel and logistic bases.

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying

The U.S. army’s XVIII Airborne Corps established FOB Weasel near the phony invasion area. They set up a network of small, fake camps with a few dozen soldiers using radios operated by computers to create radio traffic, fake messages between fake headquarters, as well as smoke generators and loudspeakers blasting fake Humvee, tank, and truck noises to simulate movement. Inflatable tanks with PVC turrets and helicopters with fiberglass rotors were lined up on the ground as well. Inflatable fuel bladders, Camo netting, and heat strips to fool infrared cameras completed the illusion. The Americans even taped “Egyptian” radio traffic messages about the supposed American presence to be intercepted by the Iraqis.

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying
Photo: Wikimedia

As late as February 21st, Iraqi intelligence still thought the Americans were near the Kuwaiti boot heel, well after the Iraqis were expelled from Kuwait.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The 13 Funniest Military Memes Of The Week

Friday: When your boss is so busy on Facebook that you can surf WATM  without keeping your cursor over the minimize button. While you’re here, check out these 13 military memes.


Seriously, Air Force Dining Facilities, or DFACs, are like the promised land.

 

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying
Word is, Air Force cooks know twice as many ways to prepare chicken. That’s six! SIX!

They said see the world, not see the interesting parts.

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying
At least they’re not stationed on a sub, those sailors can’t even see the water.

Water conservation is the only conservation the military practices.

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying
Using two wipes is the equivalent of a bubble bath with candles and lavender.

They’re highly trained, HOOAH!?

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying
A doctor who can only prescribe ibuprofen and water.

 

“This is PT? Why is no one yelling at you?” A military truth.

 

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying
The Soldiers may make jokes, but you know they’re jealous of those fabulous PT uniforms.

It’s my combat laptop.

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying

Pilots: like pets but more expensive.

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying
Otherwise they’ll get out, and you’ll never catch them.

Skip one day of PT, and you’re shamming …

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying
… skip all the days of PT, and you’re an embarrassment to your branch.

It only takes one.

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying
He was behind the wheel. Now, he’s in front of first sergeant, swearing that the ravine came out of nowhere.

Seriously, they’re using zero of the fundamentals of marksmanship.

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying
That bandage on her finger probably garners a Purple Heart, Combat Action Medal, and promotion.

After Red Rover resulted in too many visits to the medic …

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying
It’s not as easy as it looks. Those PT belts are heavy.

Airmen are the most devoted …

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying
… civilian supporters of the military.

There’s more than one way to be a blue falcon.

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying
Seriously, we’re within smelling distance of you at all times. WE KNOW.

NOW: 17 Photos That Show Why Troops Absolutely Love The .50 Caliber Machine Gun

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MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia tested electronic warfare on its own troops

Russia held large-scale military exercises with troops from Belarus earlier this year, during which Moscow claimed more than 12,000 soldiers took part in a variety of drills in both countries.


The Zapad 2017 exercises fell short of many of the sinister elements observers thought they might include, but one aspect of the electronic-warfare component of the drills elicited surprise among NATO officials.

“The amount of jamming of their own troops surprised me. It was at a level we haven’t seen,” the chief of Estonia’s military intelligence, Col. Kaupo Rosin, told Defense News. “And they did it in the different branches, so land force, Air Force. That definitely surprised us.”

Rosin said Russia has an advantage in that its forces can switch to civilian electronic infrastructure within its own territory should their military electronic networks get jammed or become compromised.

“They tested [their own troops] to learn how to switch into their own cable network and not to emanate anymore, but to deal with the problem,” he said.

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying
Zapad 2017, at the Luzhsky training ground during the main stage of the Zapad-2017 joint Russian-Belarusian strategic exercises. (Image from Moscow Kremlin)

Estonia and its Baltic neighbors, Latvia and Lithuania, have warned about increasingly assertive Russian action along their shared borders. Estonia in particular has noticed increased Russian espionage activity.

The country’s intelligence service noted in its most recent annual report that:

The Russian special services are interested in both the collection of information and in influencing decisions important for Estonia. The Russian intelligence and security services conduct anti-Estonian influence operations, including psychological operations — in other words, influencing the defense forces and the general population of a potential enemy.

Rosin said NATO forces had a record of good communications, pointing to the bloc’s experience in Afghanistan and Iraq. But he noted that Russia is more capable than opponents faced in those countries, so NATO needs to look for new solutions and different ways to train its military leaders.

“We have to approach the problem as a complex problem — not just jamming, but also what other means can we use in order to disrupt the Russian communication system,” he told Defense News. “It probably includes some cyber activities.”

Baltic and British officials have said there is evidence of persistent Russian hacking efforts against European energy and telecommunications networks, as well as disinformation campaigns. Estonia itself hosted NATO’s biggest cyber-defense exercise this week, where “fictional scenarios [were] based on real threats,” a Estonian army officer said.

Rosin also said a foe with more robust electronic-warfare capabilities would require new ways of training officers to approach their commands. “If you have some limitations in communications, for example, how do you deal with that?” he said.

The military-intelligence chief cited Estonia’s military’s rapid troop call-up abilities and its relatively small size as potential advantages in a conflict, but, he added, communicating and coordinating with troops from other NATO members countries would complicate operations.

“When we are talking about the NATO command structure or different staff,” he told Defense News, “then I think the problem will kick in.”

Also Read: This is how Russia could sweep NATO from the Baltic Sea

NATO has itself assessed shortcomings in its command structure. An internal report seen by German news outlet Der Spiegal concluded that the alliance’s ability to rapidly deploy throughout Europe had “atrophied” since the Cold War ended.

The report recommended forming two new command centers: One to oversee the shipment of personnel and supplies to Europe, and another to oversee logistics operations in Europe. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in early November that the bloc’s defense ministers were set to approve a plan to create those commands.

Despite that change, Rosin said there remained operational and strategic challenges to NATO capabilities as well as questions about the bloc’s ability to deter threats.

Russia has advantages in time, personnel, and territory in which to operate, and Moscow would try to thwart a NATO military response, he said, noting vulnerabilities created by the Suwalki Gap and sea lines of communication.

“So the danger for us is if the Russians for some reason come to the conclusion that they might get away with some type of action in our region, then there is … [the possibility that they] might do some miscalculation and start something, which we don’t want,” he told Defense News. “In order to keep that under control, then our military posture must be adequate and the plans must be adequate. [Russia is asking]: Is really NATO coming to help or not?”

Russian action in Ukraine in 2014 and its continued involvement there — and NATO’s response to it — have been cause for concern in Eastern Europe, the Baltics in particular.

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying
Ukrainian internal police at a massive pro-EU rally in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Ivan Bandura.)

Earlier this year, Lithuania’s defense minister told The Guardian that his country was “taking very seriously” Russian threats to Batlic stability, drawing parallels between propaganda about Lithuania emanating from Moscow and events preceding Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.

NATO has increased its troop and equipment deployment to the region in recent months to reassure allies there. (Lithuania has said it wants a permanent U.S. troop presence there.)

In June 2016, US Air Force A-10 Thunderbolts practiced takeoffs and landings on an Estonian highway for the first time since 1984. Russian and NATO aircraft have also come into increasingly close contact in the skies over the Baltics in recent years.

Overall, Rosin said, NATO had improved is posture in relation to Russia. Asked about his 2015 comments that Moscow was playing hockey while everyone else was figure skating, he struck an optimistic tone.

“I’m not sure if we are in the same hockey league with the Russians. Definitely not yet,” he told Defense News. “We are in a good way, but there is a lot of room for improvement.”

popular

5 typical military rewards that aren’t actually that great

Everyone wants recognition for their hard work and dedication. In the civilian world, promotions and cash raises are a solid ways to let employees know that the company respects their work production and technical skills.

Holy sh*t we wish the military was structured in that same way.

Although service members do get promoted, that only happens once every few years — if you’re lucky. It’s only a 17 percent chance that an active duty troop will stay in the military for 20 years before retiring. That’s much lower than most people think. Now, we can’t accurately pinpoint why all troops decide to get out before hitting their 20, but we know why most of our veterans friends did: they didn’t felt appreciated.

So how does the military show their brave men and women that they give a sh*t about them? Well, keep reading.


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Yes. It kind of does.

“Mandatory fun” days

If this term sounds confusing to the civilian ear, it sounds just as weird to a newbie boot’s as well. Mandatory fun isn’t just the name of the We Are The Mighty podcast, it’s also the event all service members have to attend when their units throw appreciation parties for troops.

Every active duty member has to show up, be accounted for, and must look like they’re having fun (good commands will also design a fun event, but…that’s rare). Sure there are free hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and soda, but, unfortunately, these events usually take place on a Saturday afternoon. Although you’d much rather be doing anything else, you’re stuck at work because you did your job too well.

Free afternoons

What’s interesting about the military is we have to take part in formations on a regular basis. This is a standard tool the military uses to pass information to everybody in the unit at the same time.

Sometimes, the officer-in-charge will give their command the day off as a way of acknowledging everyone’s handiwork.

Unfortunately, they use the formation tool to relay this news to everyone. So…they call everyone to formation…to let them know they have the afternoon off.

But hey, a free afternoon is a free afternoon.

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Command coins

When most civilians hear the word “coin” they think that involves money. In this case, it really doesn’t. Although it costs money to purchase a command coin, the collector item has zero value anywhere on earth except in a veteran-themed bar. Sure the practice of handing out a command coin is a cool way of praising a troop, but, at the end of the day, it’s just something that collects dust on the owner’s desk or shelf in their office.

How about shelling out some real coin once in a while? That will really show the troops their command cares.

Certificate of appreciation

Nothing feels better than to be recognized for your hard work in front of your peers and be handed a piece of pre-formatted paper praising you. We’re totally kidding! Receiving a letter or certificate of appreciation means close to nothing when other troops next to you get the exact thing — word for word.

The only thing that makes the certificate different, it has your name and rank is on it.

Whoopty freakin’ do!

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Getting a shout out in formation

Remember earlier when we talk about standing in formation? Well, Staff NCOs and the command’s officer also like to give shout-outs to their troops there as well. At least you get some notoriety for your excellent work, but unless it reflects somehow on your bi-annual evaluation — nobody gives a f*ck afterward.

Unless you earn your unit a day or half day off, being told “good job for killing the enemy yesterday” only goes so far if it doesn’t get you anywhere afterward.

Welcome to the suck, boot.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Marines used a 3D printed F-35 replacement part for the first time

Marines with Combat Logistic Battalion 31, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, are now capable of “additive manufacturing,” also known as 3-D printing.

This innovative process uses 3-D printing software to break down a digital model into layers that can be reproduced by the printer. The printer then builds the model from the ground up, layer by layer, creating a tangible object.


Marine Corps Sgt. Adrian Willis, a computer and telephone technician, said he was thrilled to be selected by his command to work with a 3-D printer.

3-D printing is the future

“I think 3-D printing is definitely the future — it’s absolutely the direction the Marine Corps needs to be going,” Willis said.

The Marine Corps is all about mission accomplishment and self-reliance. In boot camp, Marine recruits are taught to have a “figure-it-out” mindset, and 3-D printing is the next step for a Corps that prides itself on its self-sufficiency.

“Finding innovative solutions to complex problems really does harken back to our core principles as Marines,” Willis said. “I’m proud to be a part of a new program that could be a game-changer for the Marine Corps.”

The Marines deployed here use their 3-D printer as an alternative, temporary source for parts. As a permanently forward-deployed unit, it’s crucial for the 31st MEU to have access to the replacement parts it needs for sustained operations. The 31st MEU’s mission — to deploy at a moment’s notice when the nation calls — is not conducive to waiting for replacement parts shipped from halfway around the world. So 3-D printing capabilities dovetail with the MEU’s expeditionary mandate.

‘Fix it forward’

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying
Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daniel Rodriguez, a maintenance officer with Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, holds a 3-D printed plastic bumper for an F-35B Lightning II landing gear door.
(Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Stormy Mendez)

“While afloat, our motto is, “Fix it forward,” said Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daniel Rodriguez, CLB-31’s maintenance officer. “3-D printing is a great tool to make that happen. CLB-31 can now bring that capability to bear exactly where it’s needed most — on a forward-deployed MEU.”

Proving this concept April 16, 2018, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 successfully flew an F-35B Lightning II aircraft with a part that was supplied by CLB-31’s 3-D printer. The F-35B had a plastic bumper on a landing gear door wear out during a recent training mission. Though a small and simple part, the only conventional means of replacing the bumper was to order the entire door assembly — a process that’s time-consuming and expensive.

Using a newly released process from Naval Air Systems Command for 3-D printed parts, the squadron was able to have the bumper printed, approved for use and installed within a matter of days — much faster than waiting for a replacement part to arrive from the United States.

‘My most important commodity is time’

“As a commander, my most important commodity is time,” said Marine Corps Lt. Col Richard Rusnok, the squadron’s commanding officer. “Although our supply personnel and logisticians do an outstanding job getting us parts, being able to rapidly make our own parts is a huge advantage.”

VMFA-121 also made history in March as the first F-35B squadron to deploy in support of a MEU.

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying
A Marine F-35B Lightning II.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

Making further use of the MEU’s 3-D printing capability, the MEU’s explosive ordnance disposal team requested a modification part that acts as a lens cap for a camera on an iRobot 310 small unmanned ground vehicle — a part that did not exist at the time. CLB-31’s 3-D printing team designed and produced the part, which is now operational and is protecting the drone’s fragile lenses.

The templates for both the plastic bumper and lens cover will be uploaded to a Marine Corps-wide 3-D printing database to make them accessible to any unit with the same needs.

The 31st MEU continues to brainstorm new opportunities for its 3-D printer, such as aviation parts and mechanical devices that can be used to fix everyday problems. Though only in the beginning stages of development, officials said, the 31st MEU will continue to push the envelope of what 3-D printing can do in the continued effort to make the MEU a more lethal and self-sufficient unit.


This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Defense. Follow @DeptofDefense on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Coast Guard starts the new fiscal year with big narco sub busts

After several years of increases, Coast Guard seizures of cocaine at sea declined slightly during fiscal year 2019, but that fiscal year ended and the 2020 fiscal year, which began on Oct. 1, 2019, and runs to Sept. 30, 2020, began with major busts.

During the 2018 fiscal year, Coast Guard personnel removed 207,907.6 kilograms, or just under 208 metric tons, of cocaine worth an estimated $6.14 billion, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Barry Lane said in an email.

The amount of cocaine removed by the Coast Guard is the sum of all cocaine physically seized by Coast Guard personnel and all cocaine lost by smugglers due to Coast Guard actions, according to a Homeland Security Department Inspector General report for fiscal year 2018.


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US Coast Guard personnel unload bales of cocaine from a “narco sub” in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, Oct. 23, 2019.

(US Coast Guard)

The amount of cocaine lost by smugglers is at times “an intelligence-based estimate of the quantity of cocaine onboard a given vessel that is burned, jettisoned, or scuttled in an attempt to destroy evidence when Coast Guard presence is detected,” according to the report.

The 2019 total is the second year of decline, following the 209.6 metric tons seized in 2018, according to the Inspector General report. The 223.8 metric tons seized in 2017 was up from 201.3 metric tons in 2016 and 144.8 metric tons in 2015.

Narco subs

The Coast Guard has led efforts to intercept narcotics coming to the US by sea from South and Central America, working with partners in the region through Operation Martillo, which involves ships and aircraft scouring the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific.

High-seas busts happen regularly, yielding not only drugs and drug smugglers but also intelligence on the groups behind the shipments.

In July 2019, the Coast Guard’s newest cutter, Midgett, caught a “narco sub” carrying 2,100 pounds of cocaine and three crew in the Eastern Pacific Ocean as the cutter made its first trip to its homeport in Hawaii.

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying

US Coast Guard personnel unload bales of cocaine seized from a “narco sub” in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, Oct. 23, 2019.

(US Coast Guard)

“Narco sub” is often used as a catch-all term, sometimes describing true submarines or semi-submersibles but usually referring to low-profile vessels.

They are all typically hard to spot in the open ocean, but the Coast Guard has seen a resurgence of them.

In September 2019, Coast Guard cutter Valiant tracked down another narco sub in the eastern Pacific, pursuing the 40-foot vessel over night and into the early morning. It was stopped with 12,000 pounds of cocaine aboard, but Coast Guard personnel were only able to offload about 1,100 pounds because of concerns about its stability.

The Valiant’s seizure closed that fiscal year, and the crew of the cutter Harriet Lane opened the current one with another, stopping a semi-submersible smuggling vessel in the Eastern Pacific on October 23 and seizing about 5,000 pounds of cocaine.

Boarding teams from the Harriet Lane got to the smuggling vessel just before midnight, taking control of it before four suspected smugglers aboard could sink it using scuttling valves.

How US soldiers keep Black Hawk helicopters flying

US Coast Guard personnel aboard a “narco sub” stopped in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, Oct. 23, 2019.

(US Coast Guard)

‘A mission enabler’

Coast Guard officials have pointed to narco subs as a sign of smugglers’ ability to adapt to pressure.

The service has pursued what Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz has called a “push-out-the-border strategy,” sending ships into the Pacific to bust drugs at the point in the smuggling process when the loads are the largest.

But Schultz and other officials have cautioned that the service can see more than it can catch.

In the eastern Pacific, where about 85% of the cocaine smuggling between South America and the US takes place, the Coast Guard has “visibility on about 85% of that activity,” Schultz told Business Insider in November 2018. “Because of the capacity — the number of ships, the number of aircraft — [we act on] about 25% to 30% of that.”

Stopping drugs, as well as the Coast Guard’s other missions, are opportunities to employ new technology, Schultz said in October 2019.

“That counter-drug mission, where you’re trying to surveil the eastern Pacific Ocean … you can take the entire United States and turn it on a 45-degree axis and drop it there, it’s the equivalent of patrolling North America with five or six police cars out of Columbus,” Schultz said during an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“You’ve got to bring some technologies in … We’ve fielded small unmanned systems, the Scan Eagle, on the back of our national-security cutters,” Schultz added. “We haven’t fielded them all out yet, but hopefully by the end of next year every national-security cutter will have a Scan Eagle. That’s a mission enabler.”

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Real cheap but good handguns that you should actually consider

I tested at least ten handguns and found the Heritage Rough Rider to be the best cheap but good handgun.

I got into guns in my early 20s, which meant I didn’t have much money to spare. I learned everything I could about determining a gun’s true value and the best places to find the lowest prices. With proper preparation, you can find many affordable handguns perfect for target shooting, home protection, and more.

The Heritage Rough Rider is fun to shoot and easy to maintain. It’s also suitable for home defense because you don’t need much physical strength to aim and shoot it at close range accurately.

It’s not the only cheap handgun that you’ll want to know more about. Other options I found have additional safety features, increased durability, and more features you might be surprised to find on firearms in this price range.

Keep reading to learn more about real cheap but good handguns:

The best cheap but good handguns

While always keeping the price in mind, I also considered ease of use, quality of construction, suitability for target shooting and defense, and other relevant factors.  

Heritage Rough Rider 6.5” Blued Revolver

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>>Check Price Here<<

Inspired by classics from the Old West, Heritage’s Rough Rider is affordable, accurate, and easy to shoot. It’s reliable and powerful enough for home protection but fun and lightweight enough for a day target shooting at the range.

It’s a 22 Long Rifle revolver with a micro-threaded, machined barrel, an authentic flat-sided hammer, and a cocobolo grip. The handsome combination of wood and steel has a true Western-style that turns the gun into a true work of art you’ll be proud to show off.

Pros:

  • Powerful but lightweight and easy to aim
  • Hammer block provides added misfire protection
  • 22 long rifle with a 6.5” barrel
  • Classic Western style

Cons:

  • Gun powder makes the gun get dirty fairly easily

Ruger Wrangler Silver Cerakote Revolver

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>>Check Price Here<<

Ruger’s Wrangler is an awesome and affordable gun for shooters of any experience level, including total beginners. It’s not only easy to grip and shoot, but it’s also loaded with safety features, including a transfer bar mechanism and loading gate interlock.

Every component used is precisely engineered and durable. It has a Cerakote finish, a proprietary blend of ceramic and polymer that protects against scratches, dings, and weather damage.

The barrel is cold-hammer forged for precise rifling that results in reliable accuracy. Additionally, aiming is made even easier with the front blade and integral notch rear sights.

Pros:

  • Durable Ceratoke finish
  • Easy, accurate aiming
  • Multiple safety features
  • Synthetic grip with Single-Six pattern

Cons:

  • Single action limits firing speed

Taurus Spectrum 380 Auto

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>>Check Price Here<<

Weighing 10 ounces with a 2.8” barrel, the Taurus Spectrum 380 is one of the cheapest concealed carry pistols around. It has a low profile with fixed sights, allowing it to stay hidden but also delivering quick accuracy when drawn.

Additionally, the extended mag holds an additional round, giving you a capacity of 6 + 1. It also extends the surface area of the grip, making the small pistol surprisingly comfortable to hold.

Pros:

  • Easy to conceal
  • Extended grip
  • 6+1 capacity   

Cons:

  • It might be hard to hold if you have large hands

Guide To Cheap But Good Handguns

I’ve purchased cheap guns that turned out to be awesome and others that were total duds. Here’s my advice to find great guns every time.

Features To Look For In A Cheap Gun

Finding a good cheap gun does require some flexibility because some features are limited. Here’s a look at what to expect:

  • Size – Cheap guns are generally small, with many concealable options.
  • Type – You’ll find a fairly robust selection of both revolvers and compact automatics.
  • Caliber – Most cheap revolvers at .22s while most cheap automatics are 380 Autos (ACP)
  • Magazine – Cheap revolvers typically hold six shots. With an automatic, look for an extended mag, which holds seven rounds.

Here’s a video with more information on cheap guns:

New Vs. Used

You can buy a cheap handgun either new or used. While a used firearm can have low prices, it’s not always the best value in the long run. A used gun’s longevity depends on how well it was cared for.

Determine the used gun’s value by carefully examining it for damage. Also, try to fire it at a range if possible. If you’re familiar with guns, and can find a used one in good condition, you can save.

However, if you’re part of the record-setting trend of first-time gun buyers, I recommend you buy new instead of used. A new gun includes a manufacturer’s guarantee and won’t have any potential damage due to neglect or age.

Conclusion

All of the cheap guns listed have value far beyond their price tag. They’re great for target shooting, display, and even provide some ability for personal defense. Plus, they’re easy to conceal and maintain.

My absolute favorite is the Heritage Rough Rider revolver. It’s a blast to shoot, and it has a classic cowboy style that looks great on the mantle. However, if you’re looking for something more concealable, I recommend the Taurus Spectrum.

Which gun is your favorite? Check out the following links for more information, or to buy these guns for yourself:

You don’t have to spend a fortune to buy a fun, reliable handgun!

MIGHTY CULTURE

The Queen of England has a champion who fights for her

It sounds like a big job description: “Queen’s Champion and Standard Bearer of England.” Although these days, the title seems more ceremonial than functional, it still sounds like a big deal. Since the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, whomever holds the Manor of Scrivelsby in Lincolnshire, England, also has to fight for the monarch at their coronation, should a challenger arise in the middle of it.


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Francis John Fane Marmion Dymoke is the current champion, but this is his father, the previous champion. A World War II veteran, he died in 2015.

The Dymokes have been the standard bearers for the reigning English monarch since the mid-14th Century, and would ride into Westminster Abbey in full shining armor, on a horse, in full plumage and regalia. To repeat, they ride a horse into Westminster in the middle of a coronation. They then throw a gauntlet – they literally throw a gauntlet – on the ground and announce that whomever dares challenge the King or Queen’s right to the throne must face him in combat. When no one does, the new monarch then drinks wine from a golden cup to honor his or her Champion.

The King or Queen could not fight in such combat unless it were someone their equal who would challenge them, and that usually meant a war.

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Dope.

The tradition has taken a few different forms over the last few monarch coronations, and was left out of Queen Victoria’s coronation entirely.

And sadly, at Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, the Champion did not get to throw the gauntlet or threaten the crowd, but he did his duty to carry the Royal Standard in the procession. When Prince Charles (or at this rate, William) takes the throne, this is a tradition we in America would like to see revived to its full former glory.

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