The Air Force's search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense - We Are The Mighty
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The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

The Air Force is 10 days into its “light attack experiment” at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, where four aircraft — AirTractor and L3’s AT-802L Longsword; Sierra Nevada and Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucano; and Textron and AirLand LLC’s Scorpion, as well as their AT-6B Wolverine — have been strutting their stuff.


Air Force pilots already have flown basic surface attack missions in the A-29 and AT-6, according to the service, and conducted “familiarization flights” in the Scorpion and AT-802L as part of the month-long event.

The live-fly exercises will move into combat maneuver scenarios and weapons drops, some of which have already happened.

“This experiment is about looking at new ways to improve readiness and lethality,” Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said in a statement August 9. Goldfein, along with Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, stopped by the event, which the service has been putting together for months.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
A Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano A-29 experimental aircraft flies over White Sands Missile Range. Photo by Ethan D Wagner

How service leaders plan to evaluate the performance of four very different aircraft — from jet to turboprop plane to an armored cropduster — is still to be determined.

The aircraft were on static display for leaders, including Air Combat Command commander Gen. Mike Holmes and Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, the Air Force’s military deputy for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Acquisition at the Pentagon, to check out.

Goldfein even flew in the AT-6 and the A-29, according to reports.

“We’re experimenting and innovating, and we’re doing it in new and faster ways,” Wilson said of the experiment, dubbed OA-X. “Experiments like these help drive innovation and play a key role in enhancing the lethality of our force.”

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
A Beechcraft AT-6 experimental aircraft flies over White Sands Missile Range. Photo by Ethan D Wagner.

Goldfein added, “We are determining whether a commercial, off-the-shelf aircraft and sensor package can contribute to the coalition fight against violent extremism. I appreciate industry’s willingness to show us what they have to offer.”

The service has said the prolonged conflict in the Middle East, with the Islamic State and other extremist groups extending their influence in the region, is the impetus for buying another plane — just one that won’t cost taxpayers a fortune.

“We want to look at a concept so we could have a lower operating cost, a lower unit cost, for something to be able to operate in a permissive … environment than what I would require a fourth- or a fifth-gen aircraft to be able to operate in,” Bunch said in March.

But no matter what the outcome, some in Washington, DC are already pleasantly surprised the Air Force has become more hands-on in potential future weapons and aircraft buying strategies.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Maj. Glenn Meleen, a test pilot for the 40th Flight Test Squadron out of Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, prepares to taxi prior to flight in the Textron Scorpion experimental aircraft. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Okula

“The light attack experiment at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, provides an example for how rapid acquisition and experimentation can help our military procure the needed capabilities more quickly, more efficiently, and more affordably than we have in the past,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain said.

“Our adversaries are modernizing to deploy future capabilities aimed at eroding the US military advantage — and reversing that trend will require a new, innovative approach to acquisition and procurement,” he said in a statement August 9.

The Arizona Republican in January released his white paper assessment on how the Defense Department should move forward in military spending.

The former Navy pilot stressed that, while the Air Force should sustain its A-10 Thunderbolt II fighter fleet for close-air support, “the Air Force should procure 300 low-cost, light-attack fighters that would require minimal work to develop.”

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
A Textron Scorpion experimental aircraft sits at Holloman AFB. USAF photo by Christopher Okula

McCain on August 9 stressed his committee has been supportive of the action, and “included $1.2 billion in authorized spending for the program in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018.”

“I am encouraged to see the Air Force using the rapid acquisition authorities that Congress has given the Department of Defense in recent defense authorization bills,” he said. “The light attack aircraft will be an integral part of building our military capacity to combat current threats, and this experiment is a new model for quickly getting our warfighters the capabilities they need to bring the fight to the enemy.”

The event is scheduled to run through August 31.

MIGHTY HISTORY

See how the Army evacuates wounded working dogs

Look, you all know what military working dogs are. Whether you’re here because they’re adorable, because they save lives, because they bite bad guys, or because they bite bad guys and save lives while being adorable, we all have reasons to love these good puppers. And the military protects these warriors, even evacuating them when necessary.


And so that brings us to the above video and photos below. Because, yes, these evacuations can take place on helicopters, and that requires a lot of training. Some of it is standard stuff. The dogs can ride on normal litters and in normal helicopters. But medics aren’t always ready for a canine patient, and the doggos have some special needs.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Military Working Dog Medical Care Training

(U.S. Army courtesy photo)

One of the most important needs particular to the dogs is managing their anxiety. While some humans get uncomfortable on a ride in the whirly bird (the technical name for a helicopter), it’s even worse for dogs who don’t quite understand why they’re suddenly hundreds of feet in the sky while standing on a shaking metal plate.

So the dogs benefit a lot just from helicopter familiarization training. And it’s also a big part of why handlers almost always leave the battlefield with their dogs. Their rifle might be useful on the ground even after their dog is wounded, but handlers have a unique value during the medical evacuation, treatment, and rehabilitation. If a dog is already hurt and scared when it gets on a helicopter, you really want it to have a familiar face comforting it during the flight.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Military Working Dog Medical Care Training

(U.S. Army courtesy photo)

But it’s not just about helping the dogs be more comfortable. It’s also about preparing the flight medics to take care of the dogs’ and handlers’ unique needs. Like in the video at the top. As the Air Force handlers are comforting and restraining the dogs, the helicopter crew is connecting handlers’ restraints because the handlers’ hands are needed for the dogs.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Military Working Dog Medical Care Training

(U.S. Army courtesy photo)

The personnel who take part in these missions, from the handlers to the pilots to the flight crews, all get trained on the differences before they take part in the training and, when possible, before any missions where they might need to evacuate a dog.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Justin Yarborough)

Of course, ultimately, the dogs get care from medical and veterinarian teams. Don’t worry about this good dog. The photo comes from a routine root canal.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of June 28th

Next week is the Fourth of July and there’s countless celebrations planned all around the country. Of course, there’s the fireworks and the air shows, but we can’t forget about all the military parades. Speaking from personal experience, military parades for the general public are the worst.

You get there five hours in advance and your NCO is hounding you not to even make the slightest wrong move. Then when you’re actually marching in formation through the designated route, there’s always going to be those people in the crowds that try to jump to the “join” the formation.

I get it, if it’s a kid – I’ll smile down at them, tell them they’re getting it (regardless if they are or not) and keep moving. My problem is when the douche bag bros hop in the back and say some sh*t like “I’m just like you guys!” If this was just a one time thing, I would chalk it up as a bad encounter. But this happened three different times to me outside two different Army posts.


Anyways, here’s some memes while I wrap myself in my DD-214 blanket to forget about douchey civilians.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

(Meme via Not CID)

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

(Meme via Call for Fire)

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

(Meme via Weapons of Meme Destruction)

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

(Meme via Infantry Follow Me)

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

(Meme via Team Non-Rec)

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

(Meme via PT Belt Nation)

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

(Meme via Air Force Nation Humor)

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

MIGHTY HISTORY

7 craziest ways you could fight in the World Wars

The two World Wars were some of the first true industrial wars, forcing leaders to innovate so they would lose fewer troops and have a chance at victory. While some were slow to change, some leaders figured out truly novel ways of using everything from bicycles to railroads to artists. Here are just seven of the crazy jobs that were created:


The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

German bicycle troops in World War I.

Bicycle troops

Believe it or not, bicycles were a huge part of World War I. France and Britain has about 250,000 troops in bicycle units by the end of the war, and most major combatants had at least a couple thousand. This included bicycle couriers, reconnaissance cyclists, and bicycle infantry, all of which were exactly what they sounded like.

But there were also more surprising applications. Some bicycles were welded into tandem, side-by-side configurations that allowed cyclists to create silent, mobile machine gun platforms, ambulances, and even vehicles with which to tow small artillery.

American motorcycle Corps Train

www.youtube.com

Motorcycle tank repairman

Want to work on two wheels but don’t want to pedal so much? Fair enough, maybe the motorcycle corps was for you. Motorcycles were used for everything that bicycles were, and occasionally even pressed into service as anti-tank weapons. But the craziest way to use motorcycles was definitely tank recovery.

See, before a random tank operator thought to convert some tanks into recovery vehicles, the Army used motorcyclists to deliver tools and spare parts to tanks under fire on the battlefield. While this was fast, it meant that a motorcycle rider had to tear through No Man’s Land under fire that had just crippled or bogged down a tank.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

A fake M4 Sherman, an inflatable decor, sits on the ground in World War II.

(U.S. Army)

Fake Army/city creator

On both sides of World War II, artists were put to work creating decoy forces or, in the case of Britain, decoy cities to draw away attackers and waste the enemy’s resources. The most famous of this is likely America’s “Ghost Army,” a collection of mostly inflatable military hardware complete with fake radio traffic that caused the Germans to overestimate the enemy they were facing and even got them to think D-Day was a feint.

But perhaps the most ambitious program was in England where engineers created entire fake cities and landing strips, complete with lights, ammo and fuel dumps, and planes. They were able to convince German bomber crews at night that they had reached their targets, resulting in thousands of tons of bombs dropping on fake targets.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

British Chindits, guerrilla fighters from Britain who fought in Burma, discuss operations in a captured town.​

(Imperial War Museum)

Guerrilla warfare fighter/trainer

For major combatants with lots of territory to fight over, it’s always easier if you can put a small number of troops or trainers into position and force a much larger enemy force to remain there to fight them. That’s what America achieved with guerrilla trainers like Detachment 101 and the British achieved with guerrilla units like the Chindits.

In both cases, sending in a couple dozen or a couple thousand men tied down entire Japanese divisions and inflicted heavy losses. The situation was similar in Europe. A Marine guerrilla warfare unit of just six men provided support to French resistance fighters and killed so many Nazis that the Germans assumed they were an entire battalion. And they achieved this despite losing two Marines on the jump into France.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

“Mad” Jack Churchill leads his troops off the boats during a training exercise while preparing for D-Day. He’s the one with the sword at far right.

(Imperial War Museum)

Bagpiper/swordsman/bowman

Granted, these jobs only came up under one commander: Jack “Mad Jack” Churchill, a British officer who led his men onto the beaches of Normandy while carrying a claybeg (basically a smaller claymore) and a longbow. And he did use the weapons in combat, at one point riding through France on a bicycle with his quiver hanging from the frame.

And, on D-Day, British soldier Bill Millin, a personal piper to Lord Movat, was ordered to play his bagpipes as his unit hit the sands of Normandy. The Millin wasn’t shot and asked a group of Nazi prisoners of war why no one hit him since he was such an obvious target. The German commander said “We thought you were a ‘Dummkopf,’ or off your head. Why waste bullets on a Dummkopf?

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

Poison gasses float across a battlefield in World War I.

(Public domain)

Chemical warfare operator

The first large-scale deployment of chemical weapons came at Ypres, Belgium, in 1915, but, luckily, was largely outdated by changes in international law before World War II, so there were just a couple of years in history where offensive chemical warfare operators were a real thing.

That first attack required hundreds of German soldiers to bury 6,000 steel cylinders over a period of weeks, but allowed them to break French lines across an almost 4-mile front. But it was hard to exploit gaps from chemical attacks since, you know, the affected areas were filled with poison.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

U.S. sailors fire a 14-inch railway gun in France during World War I.

(U.S. Navy)

Railway gun operator

If you’ve never seen one of the railway guns from World War I and II, then just take a look at the picture. These weapons were massive with 14-inch or larger caliber guns mounted on railway carriages. When the U.S. joined the war, they immediately sent five naval railway guns across the Atlantic.

Railway artillerymen were usually outside of the range of enemy fire, so it was relatively safe. But expect some serious hearing loss and even brain damage. Massive amounts of propellant were required to launch these huge shells.

Articles

This Confederate regiment was nearly wiped out in minutes

The 1st Texas Infantry Regiment was a group of veteran soldiers by the time they took part in the Battle of Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862. That day still stands as the bloodiest single day for American soldiers in history, and the hardest hit was the 1st Texas.


The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
The Battle of Antietam. (Photo: Public Domain)

Antietam was the disastrous end to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s attempt to liberate Maryland from the Union ahead of the 1862 midterm elections. Lee’s advance north was initially successful as the Southerners hit Union garrisons in Maryland and forced the surrender of 13,000 Union soldiers at Harper’s Ferry.

But Union Gen. George B. McClellan had found a copy of Lee’s strategic plans and used them to maneuver into position on the Confederates, and Lee’s army was woefully undersupplied and had low morale.

The two armies finally came together on Sep. 16 and began scoping out each other’s positions. By that night, small skirmishes were breaking out as forces maneuvered for better position for the following day.

On Sep. 17, the 1st Texas Infantry was part of a defensive position near a church. A Union advance through a nearby cornfield was overzealous, and the Union forces were relatively scattered when a Confederate brigade that included the 1st Texas suddenly leaped up from the ground and began firing on the soldiers in blue.

Union Maj. Rufus R. Dawes would later say, “Men, I can not say fell; they were knocked out of the ranks by dozens.”

Dawes and his men retreated, and the Confederates gave chase, led by the 1st Texas Infantry.

But the 1st Texas made the same mistake that the Union soldiers had. The men advanced too fast and became disorganized.

“As soon as the regiment became engaged . . . in the corn-field, it became impossible to restrain the men, and they rushed forward,” 1st Texas Commander Lt. Col. Philip A. Work later said.

The 1st Texas had advanced until there were Union soldiers not only to their front, but also to their flank and rear. Its flanks were especially hard hit as Union 12-pound guns began firing into it.

Work ordered a retreat and the regiment began a disorganized withdrawal, but three Union regiments chose that moment to hit the 1st Texas with volleys.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
The Burial of the Dead on the Antietam battlefield. (Photo: U.S. Army)

The regimental colors were dropped at least twice as the men carrying them were shot. The colors were lost and the 226-man regiment suffered 186 men killed.

That was a loss rate of 82.3 percent, most of whom were killed in those few minutes in the cornfield. This was the greatest casualty rate suffered by any infantry regiment in the entire war, and most of the men were lost in the 45 minutes between the counterattack at the church and the retreat from the cornfield.

The regiment’s Company F was wiped out. Companies A, C, and E combined had only six men. In total, the regiment had only 40 men.

The 1st Texas was later partially rebuilt. It was one of the Confederate units that attempted to take Little Round Top at Gettysburg and then helped break the Union lines at the Battle of Chickamagua.

The lost colors were found by Union soldiers and taken as a trophy, but were returned to Texas in 1905 by President Theodore Roosevelt.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Revolutionary hypersonic weapons to be fielded in 10 years

The secretary of the Army wants to accelerate research into hypersonic and other advanced weapons as part of the service’s push to modernize its offensive and defensive fires.

Hypersonic weapons, capable of flying at five times the speed of sound or faster, are the key to the service’s top modernization priority — long-range precision fires, Army Secretary Mark Esper told reporters at a Defense Writers Group breakfast in Washington, D.C. Aug. 29, 2018.


“Long-range precision fires at the strategic level is the capability that we need to ensure we have overmatch in future conflicts, and I think that the way to get to it is through hypersonics.”

Esper said he has stressed to the cross-functional team responsible for developing a new generation of long-range precision fires that the Army must move faster to develop hypersonic technology.

“I am pushing them to go as fast as they can, move to the left,” he said, adding that the other services are also working on the technology.

“The services have been working together. We signed a joint agreement, if you will, in terms on how to proceed. The secretary of the Navy and the secretary of the Air Force and I meet constantly on this and other issues where we can work together. We all recognize that that is a key capability for all of us,” he said.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

High Speed Strike Weapon

(Lockheed Martin photo)

The Army hopes to develop and field hypersonic weapons by 2028 at the latest, Esper said.

“This is one where, clearly, technology is an issue,” he said. “It’s not like there is one out there right now that I am aware of. … This is one that is going to take some technology development. We are pushing hard because we’ve got to get there first.”

The Army is also trying to accelerate efforts to develop directed-energy weapons for use in air and missile defense, another of the service’s key modernization priorities.

“I think what’s most exciting, and where the Army is making a good deal of progress, is on directed energy, and I think that is the future for the most part because of the volume and speed of shots that it gives you,” Esper said, adding that the service is “putting a lot of our investments” toward powerful lasers designed to be mounted on vehicles.

In July 2018, the Army awarded Raytheon a contract worth up to million to develop a 100 Kilowatt-class laser weapon system preliminary designed to be mounted on the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles, or FMTV.

“We have some things now, and I want to get them out in testing as soon as possible. Within a few years, I want to get something out there,” Esper said. “Initial fielding is something else, but in terms of prototyping, seeing what it can do, I want to get it out sooner rather than later.”

Lasers are a challenge because they can travel a great distance, depending on their power, “so you have safety concerns you have to work through,” he said. “But like everything else, I am pushing folks to move left. Let’s get it out to the field. Let’s let soldiers experiment with it and see how they can best use it. … They will help shape how we think about the importance of lasers in terms of actually firing them, but also how do we integrate them as part of our formation against everything from small drones to cruise missiles to fast movers.”

The Army announced its ambitious plan to modernize its fleet of combat systems in October 2017. In addition to long-range precision fires and air and missile defense, the service has also stood up special cross-functional teams to focus on its next-generation combat vehicle, future vertical lift, a mobile network, and soldier lethality.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

Articles

Here are the winners of the 2015 US military photographer awards

Every year, the U.S. military’s photographers, videographers, and graphic artists submit their work to a panel of seasoned photographers in the Visual Information Award Program at Fort Meade, Maryland. There are nine separate categories in which photographers compete, including Military Photographer of the Year.


Here are this year’s winners along with detailed explanations of each photo:

Military Photographer of the Year: Staff Sgt. Kenny Holston, United States Air Force

“Generations of Battle”

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Dan Kelsey, a farmer from Clyde, N.Y. and World War II veteran who served in the Army Air Corps, sits on the rear bumper of his van, crouched over with both hands covering his face due to exhaustion and body ailments brought on by a long day of selling produce at the Central New York Regional Market, Sept. 5, 2015, Syracuse, N.Y. Dan and his son Carl Kelsey raise and harvest their own produce to sell at the market each week. Dan has been selling his crops at the market since 1938, in between his time in the military where he served as an aircraft mechanic on the B-26 Invader. While some years in the farming industry are better than others, 2015 has proven to be a tough one for Dan and his son as the production of their crops has been down due to weather conditions thus resulting in a loss of money. The father and son team normally bring approximately 150 baskets of tomatoes to sale at the market along with other produce which earns them nearly $1,500 on a good day but they have only been able to bring about 40 baskets each time this year knocking their earnings down to about $600, less than half their normal profit. As summer narrows and the weather changes, it could possibly be a long winter for the WWII veteran and his son. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kenny Holston)

“No More”

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Residents of Baltimore, Md. protest, riot, and loot after the funeral of Freddie Gray, April 27, 2015. Gray, died April 19, 2015 from a severe spinal injury that allegedly occurred while in police custody. Looting and riots broke out in Baltimore after the funeral. The Maryland governor declared a state of emergency and enlisted the aid of 2,000 soldiers from the Maryland National Guard to help disseminate the riot. Some of the people participating in the riot/protest explained that their actions were a part of the Black Lives Matter movement which began sweeping across the nation in 2012 after Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman. Zimmerman fatally shot Martin who was a 17-year-old African American. Zimmerman, was the neighborhood watch coordinator. He shot Martin, who was unarmed, during an altercation between the two of them. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Kenny Holston)

“The Heroin Highway”

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Allen Sanford, a homeless man with several health issues, a severe drug addiction and an impending divorce says he feels trapped and thinks he will be stuck on the streets and addicted to heroin for the rest of his life. Recently, Syracuse, N.Y. was statistically ranked number one for poverty and several town hall meetings have been held to come up with ideas on how to resolve the increasing heroin problem sweeping across the city. These images depict Sanford’s daily struggle with his addiction and surviving on the streets of Syracuse. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kenny Holston)

“Tucked In”

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
A U.S. Air Force crew chief assigned to the 77th Fighter Squadron, crawls out of the intake of an F-16 Fighting Falcon as she completes her post flight inspection on the aircraft, Jan. 15, 2015, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. Crews chiefs work around the clock to keep Shaw’s fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcons mission ready at all times.(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kenny Holston)

“Remembering a Legend”

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

Combat Operations Category

1st place: “Rushing to Save Lives,” by Staff Sgt. Jeffrey D. Anderson, USMC

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
A U.S. Air Force pararescueman with Joint Task Force 505 helps evacuate earthquake victims from an area near Cherikot, Nepal, after a 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck the country, May 12. JTF 505 along with other multinational forces and humanitarian relief organizations are currently in Nepal providing aid after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the country, April 25. At Nepal’s request the U.S. government ordered JTF 505 to provide unique capabilities to assist Nepal. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Jeffrey D. Anderson)

2nd place: “Operation Enduring Freedom Combined Joint Task Force- Horn of Africa,” by Staff Sgt. Gregory Brook, USAF

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Soldiers from Alpha Company,1st Armored Battalion, 77th Armored Regiment 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, East Africa Response Force (EARF) bound to cover by section during a live fire training exercise at the Arta training range in Djibouti, May 30, 2015. The EARF is a quick reaction force designed to defend U.S. assets within the Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa area of responsibility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Gregory Brook)

3rd place: “Delivering Hope,” by Staff Sgt. Jeffrey D. Anderson, USMC

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Nepalese army soldiers unload aid and relief supplies, delivered by Joint Task Force 505, from a UH-1Y Venom in the Kavrepalanchowk District, Nepal, May, 11, during Operation Sahayogi Haat. The Nepalese Government requested the U.S. Government’s assistance after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the country, April 25. The U.S. government ordered JTF 505 to provide unique capabilities to assist Nepal. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Jeffrey D. Anderson)

News Category:

1st place: ” Dueling Demonstrations, by “Staff Sgt. Kenny Holston, USAF

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Dueling demonstrations clash as the Klu Klux Klan holds a protest rally on the steps of the S.C. State House building at the same time as a New Black Panther Party rally coupled with other black activist groups, July19, 2015, Columbia, S.C. The KKK held the rally to protest against the removal of the Confederate Flag from the State House grounds which was taken down July 10, 2015. The demonstration groups nearly went head-to-head as both rallies concluded and ended up face-to-face in the streets of downtown Columbia. In this photo young African American men push past medal barricades which are the only thing between them and several KKK members as they shout at the Klan members to leave or die. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kenny Holston)

2nd place: “Goodbye,” by Senior Airman Jensen Stidham, USAF

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Brett Baker, assigned to the 20th Fighter Wing, kisses his wife before leaving for a deployment from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Oct. 6, 2015. Members of the Air Force typically deploy several times throughout their career, often times leaving family members behind. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jensen Stidham)

3rd place: “Chairman In Thought,” by Staff Sgt. Sean K. Harp, USA

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
38th Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter, Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh, 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, and 39th Chief of Staff of the Army Mark A. Milley stand in line prior to the start of the United States Army Change of Responsibility ceremony held at Summerall Field on Fort Myer, Va., Aug. 14, 2015. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno relinquished command of the U.S. Army to Gen. Mark A. Milley during the ceremony hosted by Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Sean K. Harp)

Combat Training Category:

1st place: “Chow time,” by Staff Sgt. Kenny Holston, USAF

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
U.S. Air Force Combat Control trainees assigned to Operating Location C, 342nd Training Squadron, laugh with each other while sharing a meal ready to eat during a long day of training Feb. 13, 2015. Working as a team and keeping morale high within the unit is vital to each Airman’s success as they push through training. At the 342nd TRS both CCT and Special Operations Weather Team trainees go through four months of grueling tactical and class room training. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Kenny Holston)

2nd place: “Air Force Basic Military Training,” by Staff Sgt. Christopher Griffin, USAF

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Trainees practice proper security procedures before being sent out to their field training exercise. The week-long event exposes the trainees to conditions similar to what they’d see in a deployed environment and also gives the trainees an opportunity to work together as a team without the guidance of their instructors. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Griffin)

3rd place: “View Behind the Lens,” Senior Airman Damon Kasberg, USAF

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Airman 1st Class Lane Plummer, 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs photojournalist, photographs paratroopers from multiple allied nations as they exit a C-130J Super Hercules during International Jump Week, July 9, 2015 at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The five-day event was led by the 435th Contingency Response Group and provided multiple nations the opportunity to work side-by-side, increasing interoperability and strengthening relationships. Paratroopers traveled from throughout Europe and as far away as New Zealand to build stronger partnerships by jumping out of aircraft assigned to the 37th Airlift Squadron at Ramstein. (U.S. Air Force photo taken by Senior Airman Damon Kasberg)

Features Category:

(This category is for storytelling pictures, not news-related; usually situations that have strong human interest or a fresh view of a commonplace occurrences.)

1st place: “Tug Of War,” by Lance Cpl. Ryan P. Kierkegaard, USMC

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
U.S. Marines with 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division participate in a tug of war competition during warrior night at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., July 1, 2015. Warrior night is an annual event held to build camaraderie in the battalion. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ryan P. Kierkegaard)

2nd Place: “Warrior CARE Event,” by Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos, USAF

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
A U.S. Air Force wounded warrior engages her core in preparation for exercises during an Air Force hosted North East Regional Warrior CARE event at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Nov. 17, 2015. The Air Force Wounded Warrior Program is a federally mandated program that provides personalized care, services and advocacy for wounded, ill and injured service members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos)

3rd Place: “Koalafying,” by Master Sgt. Michel A. Sauret, USA

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

Illustrative Category:

(This category shows photographs produced to illustrate a pre-conceived theme, concept or idea, and does not include text or graphics.)

1st place: “The Last Patrol,” by Sgt. Matthew Callahan, USMC

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Advanced Recon Commandos rush to cover after being ambushed by separatist forces. The troopers were conducting a security patrol outside their company forward operating base when the droid forces attacked.
This image of 12-inch action figures is part of a larger photo essay telling the stories of the rank-and-file ground troops of the Star Wars universe through the lens of a combat correspondent. Conflict generally has been one of the biggest informants in the way pop culture creates stories. This photo essay, entitled “Galactic Warfighters” tethers the real and fictitious worlds more closely to each other. All elements of this image were captured in-camera. The image was converted to black and white with a contrast adjustment, sharpening and minor burning of the vignetted edges in post. (U.S. Marine Corps illustration by Sgt. Matthew Callahan)

2nd Place: “Smoking Costs,” by Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos, USAF

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
The average smoker spends more than 1,500 dollars a year on cigarettes. Most smokers overlook how much they are spending because buying cigarettes come in small, frequent purchases. (U.S. Air Force illustration by Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos)

3rd Place: “Let Them Speak,” by Staff Sergeant Douglas Ellis, USAF

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Three women die each day at the hands of their intimate partner according to the National Institute of Justice and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. The military provides its members and families a variety of programs to reduce occurrences and aid victims. (U.S. Air Force illustration by Staff Sergeant Douglas Ellis)

Portrait Personality Category:

1st Place: “Arvin,” by Senior Airman Jordan A. Castelan, USAF

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Maj. Sherrill Arvin (ret.) has his portrait taken during an interview recapping his time in service during the 1940s 50s, 60s and 70s as an aviator in the Airman Heritage Museum on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, April 16, 2015. Arvin began his military involvement on JBSA-Lackland at the San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center and continues by volunteering at the Airman Heritage Museum. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jordan A. Castelan)

2nd Place: “Cowboy Al,” by Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Muncy, New York Air National Guard

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
At 95 years old, Al still works as the manager of a small ranch in Norco, California. A veteran of the Second World War, Al fought with the Seventh Armored Division, landing on the beaches of Normandy and fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. Additionally, Al has survived a major propane explosion and open heart surgery (New York Air National Guard photo by Staff Sergeant Christopher S. Muncy)

3rd Place: “Cowgirl,” by Staff Sgt. Marcus Fichtl, USA

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Susan Peterson rests on her horse barn’s door in Norco, Calif., June 18, 2015. Peterson spent the morning playing with her horses and mule. The photo was taken during the 2015 Department of Defense Photography workshop held in Riverside, Calif. The workshop brought photographers and videographers from across the DOD together, while industry and military leaders mentored and developed them for a week. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Marcus Fichtl)

Pictorial Category:

(This category contains photographs that exploit the visual qualities of the subject with primary emphasis on composition and aesthetics.)

1st place: “Dusky Night,” by Cpl. Matthew Howe, USMC

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
A U.S. Marine with Bravo Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, stands untop of a Light Armored Vehicle 25 during duck for Steel Knight 16 (SK-16), at National Training Center Fort Irwin, Calif., Dec. 13, 2015. Steel Knight is an annual field training exercise that enables 1st Marine Division to test and refine its command and control capabilities by acting as the command element for a forward-deployed Marine Expeditionary Force. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Matthew Howe)

2nd place: “Gone, but Not Forgotten,” by Master Sgt. John R. Nimmo, Sr., USAF

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Headstones pave the lawns of Riverside National Cemetery, Riverside, Calif., June 17, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by by Master Sgt. John R. Nimmo, Sr.)

3rd place: “USNS Mercy Steams Forward,” by Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark El-Rayes, USN

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
The hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) steams ahead during Pacific Partnership 2015. Pacific Partnership is in its tenth iteration and is the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark El-Rayes)

Sports Photography Category:

1st place: “Catch!,” by Senior Airman Jordan A. Castelan, USAF

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Two soldiers play catch with a football while a fellow soldier watches the perimeter of the training grounds during the Expert Field Medic Badge course at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Sept. 24, 2015. The EFMB is the non-combat equivalent of the Combat Medical Badge and is awarded to medical personnel of the U.S. military who successfully complete a set of qualification tests. (U.S. Air Force photo by by Senior Airman Jordan A. Castelan)

2nd place: “Overcomer,” by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr., USAF

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Staff Sgt. Gideon Connelly leaps over a gutter during training at an adaptive sports camp in Crested Butte, Colorado. In 2011, Connelly was involved in a motorcycle accident where he lost his left leg below the knee. He rehabilitated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC. Connelly was returned to duty and currently serves at the 175th Maintenance Squadron. Connelly takes part in many of the adaptive sports events and his main love is sprinting. He is training to be a part of the Paralympic track and field team for the 2016 Paralympic Games. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.)

3rd place: “Fight Night,” by Cpl. Elize McKelvey, USMC

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
U.S. Marine Cpl. Roman Fernandez, left, and 1st Lt. Paul Hollwedel duke it out in the hangar bay of the USS Essex (LHD 2) at sea in the Pacific Ocean, May 29, 2015. Fernandez is a team leader and Hollwedel is the executive officer with Lima Company, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The Marines found unique ways to continue to maintain combat readiness during their seven-month deployment through the Pacific and Central Command areas. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Elize McKelvey)

Picture Story Category:

(This category is for photos that reveal a storyline or a single theme.)

1st place: “Air Force Boot Camp,” by Staff Sgt. Christopher Griffin, USAF

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Air Force Basic Military Training is an 8-week life changing program of physical and mental training required in order for an individual to become an airman in the U. S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force picture story by Staff Sgt. Christopher Griffin)

2nd place: “Norco.” by Staff Sgt. Marcus Fichtl, USA

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Citizens of Norco, Calif., share a lifestyle that stands as an oasis of Americana in the middle of Southern California, here, Jun. 18, 2015. (U.S. Army picture story by Staff Sgt. Marcus Fichtl).

3rd place: “Obstacle Course.” by Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos, USAF

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
U.S. Marine Corps recruits endure a 54-hour long training called the Crucible, a test that gauges their physical, mental and emotional strength. As recruits use different parts of their bodies to accomplish tasks and challenges along the way, they also have to work together and move as a unit in order to conquer the Crucible and become Marines. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos, USAF)

MIGHTY CULTURE

What it’s like being an Army combat photographer in South Korea right now

When Private First Class Ethan T. Ford first thought about joining the military, he immediately had his hopes set on being a combat photographer.

“Joining the military has given me a lot of options and I’ve done a lot of things I would have never had the option to do before. I wouldn’t have traveled to Korea, cover historical events, or be in a movie,” Ford said.

As a 25V Combat documentation/production specialist, Ford is his unit’s official videographer, tasked with shooting and editing footage and capturing every moment of garrison operations.


Like all soldiers, Army photographers get trained on basic combat skills and learn how to operate weapons, expertly engage in hand-to-hand combat and administer basic first-aid.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

Army photographer Private First Class Ethan Ford practices photography techniques while on assignment in Seoul, South Korea.

(Photo by Private First Class Ethan T. Ford)

But being an Army photographer requires dedication and resilience. When the rest of the unit goes home or finishes the mission, the Army photographers get to work to upload their photos and videos and create products for the historical record.

When his friends in Oregon ask him what it’s like to be in the Army, he says he gives them the honest truth.

“Being in the Army is not hard, at times it can be mentally draining, but anyone who is physically capable can do it.”

This is not a typical assignment, according to his supervisor, Staff. Sgt. Pedro Santos, noncommissioned officer in charge of the Yongsan Visual Information Support Center.

His team is made up of creative types who strive on challenges.

Army photographers have to be able to quickly react to any situation in any environment. You have to make sure you’re ready and that your equipment is in good shape and your batteries are charged.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

Dancers perform traditional acts during a community relations event at US Army Garrison Yongsan in Seoul, Korea.

(Photo by Private First Class Ethan T. Ford)

Between assignments, the soldiers are back in the office learning new skills, teaching each other new tips and critiquing each other.

Other parts of the job include handshake photos and designing PowerPoint slides, which isn’t the most inspiring for the truly passionate photographers like Ford, but meeting expectations is important.

One of the advantages to enlisting as a combat photographer, according to Santos, is that the experience and education you gain is unmatched.

“When it comes to someone who is passionate about something and they want to pursue that in the military as well I sometimes you get lucky and you get someone like Ford who is passionate about it,” Santos said.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

Army photographer Private First Class Ethan T. Ford reflects on his various assignments while stationed in Seoul, South Korea.

(US Army photo)

Santos encourages his team to speak to the customer, usually a senior leader like a first sergeant or commander and find out what their goals are, what type of video or photography they would like and then you have to be creative and find out what kind of angles you are going to take the shot from and how you are going to prepare for it.

Some assignments can take up to one month of preparation and rehearsal.

“One thing you can’t really reach combat photographers is post editing, from my experience, you can take an amazing photo and be done with it, but when someone takes the time to perfect their work, it is impressive and it shows,” Santos said.

“You are in a great area, one of the biggest cities in the world. There is inspiration everywhere.”

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

Army photographer Private First Class Ethan T. Ford captures a nature scene near his hometown of McMinnville, Oregon.

(Photo by Private First Class Ethan T. Ford)

On weekends, Ford goes out on his own on the weekend and practices different techniques and works on improving his craft. His favorite style of photography is capturing candid moments and doing street photography.

One of the highlights of his tour in South Korea was a special assignment in October 2018 when Ford witnessed history in the making and was the only photographer allowed in a meeting between North Koreans and South Koreans in the blue building at the Joint Security Area. The event was one of the first steps in a negotiation that is expected to result in officially ending the war between the two countries.

Outside of photography, Ford is a movie buff. He loves war movies and his favorite movies include Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, and Hacksaw Ridge to name a few.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

A river photographed near McMinnville, Oregon, the hometown of Army photographer Private First Class Ethan T. Ford.

(Photo by Private First Class Ethan T. Ford)

Early 2019, Ford got to skip his normal routine of morning physical training, chow and VISC photography duties and was granted a two-day pass to play a movie extra in a Korean War film set in 1950 with actors Megan Fox and George Eads.

“Playing a movie extra was a lot like being in the military,” Ford said, “It was a hurry up and wait situation. It took several hours to drive there and several more to get dressed.”

One of the best parts of the experience was getting one-on-one acting advice and mentorship from actor George Eads, who plays MacGyver on TV.

Although the Department of Defense does not keep track of the numbers of service members who appear in television and film projects, there are many opportunities to play extras in movies because It is it is incredibly difficult for civilian actors to realistically portray the discipline of the U.S. warfighter without having served, according to Brian Chung, a military advisor to big Korean production studios in Seoul and in Los Angeles.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

Private First Class Ethan T. Ford cast as an officer in a movie shot in Seoul, South Korea.

(US Army photo)

In fact, 90 percent of DOD-supported projects, including documentaries and reality television programs are unscripted, according to Master Sgt. Adora Gonzalez, a U.S. Army Film and TV Entertainment Liaison in Los Angeles.

“All service members have been trained since basic training to stand, walk and talk a certain way on duty,” Chung said.

Chung is a former U.S. Army Captain and was previously stationed in Yongsan as a military police company commander.

He understands how challenging it can be for soldiers stationed in Korea to be working long hours while displaced into a new culture, which is why he reached out to leaders at United States Forces Korea to get approval for the soldiers to be part of the movie.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

(Photo by Private First Class Ethan T. Ford)

“It was personally satisfying as a U.S. Army veteran of Korean decent, to honor the warriors of the Korean War with authentic portrayals that could only have been achieved by their successors serving on the same peninsula that they sacrificed so much to protect. Seeing the look of excitement on the young troops’ faces as they hustled around set from wardrobe, to the make up chair, to an authentic 1950’s set was an amazing icing on the cake,” Chung said.

The movie will be released around the same time that his tour ends in June 2019, when he will report to duty at his new assignment at Fort Meade, Maryland.

“I’m going to miss going out and eating in Itaewon, especially the fried chicken and ramen,” Ford said. “It’s some of the best food I’ve ever had in my life. You won’t find anything like it in the U.S.”

After his time in the Army, Ford plans on taking more advanced courses and going back to Oregon and becoming a professional photographer.

“The Army is what you make of it. You can make it be miserable or make it be the best time of your life,” Ford said.

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

Articles

Female Soldiers Are Headed To The US Army’s Ranger School In April

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Photo Credit: US Army


The Army in April will begin sending hand-picked female soldiers through its physically demanding Ranger school, where some may earn the Ranger tab as part of an overall military assessment of the fitness of women for the combat arms.

The Army announced plans for the pilot program last September, when it began seeking volunteers.

About 60 female soldiers will take part alongside male soldiers in the program that begins April 20 – Ranger Course 06-15, Army spokesman Lt. Col. Benjamin Garrett said in a statement.

“Those who meet the standards and graduate from the course will receive a certificate and be awarded the Ranger tab,” he said.

About half the volunteers – 20 noncommissioned officers and 11 officers – will serve as observers and advisors. Females who successfully complete the course will not be awarded associated Ranger skill identifiers because the law does not currently allow it. The additional skill identifier is added to a soldier’s military occupational specialty.

“The decision to change that or not … will be made by the Secretary of Defense no later than Jan. 1, 2016 when he determines if women will be permitted to become infantry soldiers and serve in other closed military occupational specialties,” the Army said in September.

The historic trial pilot program and assessment comes amid increasing demand in recent years to open up to women all military specialties, including infantry. Army leadership is open to the idea, but insists there will be no lowering of standards.

“We’re just going to let the statistics speak for themselves as we go through this,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said during a virtual town hall meeting with soldiers earlier this month.  “The main thing I’m focused on is the standards remain the same. In order to earn that tab, you have to do all the things necessary to earn that tab. We want to try a pilot to let women have the opportunity to do that.”

The training is physically grueling, with soldiers required to pass a fitness test that includes 49 push-ups within 2 minutes, 59 sit-ups, a 5 mile run within 40 minutes and six chin-ups. Additionally, would-be Rangers must be able to remove their gear in water and then swim 15 meters in their uniform and boots.

Army statistics show that only about 45 percent of those attending Ranger school graduate, and about 60 percent of those who wash out do so in the first four days.

How female students will fare remains to be seen, but past studies have indicated they are likely more often to sustain injuries associated with combat training and combat than their male counterparts.

The problem is simply body size and mechanics, according to Department of Veterans Affairs’ doctors who have dealt with and studied injuries, including the kind most often sustained by troops in Iraq and Afghanistan – musculoskeletal.

These are incurred simply by carrying heavy loads during long patrols over rugged country, while getting down from a vehicle or simply falling.

“I don’t think there is a way now to say exactly what the experience will be, but I expect as more and more women go into these physically demanding roles, we may see an increase in [these] injuries,” Dr. Sally Haskell, deputy chief consultant for women’s health services and director of comprehensive women’s health at the Veterans Affairs Department told Military.com a year ago.

The VA’s national director of physical medicine and rehabilitation said in April 2013 that he “was certain the majority of women doing this [combat arms specialty] won’t be physically able to do it as long as the men. It’s a matter of body size and body mechanics.”

One study found that between 2004 and 2007 about a third of medical evacuations from the Iraq and Afghan theaters were due to musculoskeletal, connective tissue and spinal injuries, Dr. David Cifu told Military.com.

Troops may carry 80 pounds or more of gear in theater. Cifu said women carrying the same loads as men will be more at risk of these kinds of injuries.

The pilot Ranger School program has been made open to enlisted women from grades E-4 up to Warrant Officer 02. Additionally, the Army drew on female volunteers in grades E-6 to E-8, Warrant Officer 2 and 3, and first lieutenant through major to serve as observers and advisors.

All the volunteers will be required to take the Army National Guard Ranger Training and Assessment Course at Fort Benning, Georgia, before the assessment course, the Army said when it announced the program in September.

The course observers will be required to pass a fitness test, land navigation, a combat water survival assessment, an operations order test, 12-mile road march with 35-pound rucksack, and review boards.  As observers they must be able to keep up to the Ranger School students and instructors, the announcement said.

— Bryant Jordan can be reached at bryant.jordan@military.com

More from Military.com:

This article originally appeared at Military.com Copyright 2014. Follow Military.com on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Why the Army plans to ditch its transport fleet

The legend about the Army having more boats than the Navy hasn’t been true since World War II, but the Army’s fleet of about 130 ships support combat and logistical operations around the world, especially in inhospitable or underdeveloped environments.

According to several reports, the Army plans to scuttle much of its boat fleet and reassign the soldiers manning them.


At least 18 of the Army’s more than 30 landing craft utility — versatile, 174-foot-long workhorses capable of carrying 500 tons of cargo — will be sold or transferred, and eight Army Reserve watercraft units that train soldiers and maintain dozens of watercraft are to be closed, as first reported by maritime website gCaptain.

An Army memo obtained by gCaptain said the goal was to “eliminate all United States Army Reserve and National Guard Bureau [Army Watercraft Systems] capabilities and/or supporting structure.”

Plans to ditch the aging fleet come amid warnings about the US military’s lack of transport capacity and as the Pentagon’s focus shifts to a potential fight against a more sophisticated adversary, like Russia or China.

Below, you can see what the Army’s large but relatively unknown fleet does and why it may not be doing it much longer.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

US Army Logistics Support Vessel-5, Maj. Gen. Charles P. Gross, capable of carrying up to 2,000 tons of cargo, arrives at a port in the Persian Gulf for the Iron Union 17-4 exercise in the United Arab Emirates, Sept. 10, 2017.

(US Army photo Staff Sgt. Jennifer Milnes)

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

US Army vessels participating in a Logistics-over-the Shore mission at Shuaiba port in Kuwait, June 24, 2018.

(US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Charlotte Reavis)

As of November 2018, the Army’s fleet includes eight Gen. Frank S. Besson-class Logistic Support Vessels, its largest class of ships, as well as 34 Landing Craft Utility, and 36 Landing Craft Mechanized Mk-8, in addition to a number of tugs, small ferries, and barges.

Source: The War Zone

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

US Army vessels participating in a Logistics-over-the Shore mission at Shuaiba port in Kuwait, June 24, 2018.

(US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Charlotte Reavis)

In 2017, the Army awarded a nearly billion-dollar contract for the construction of 36 modern landing craft, the Maneuver Support Vessel (Light).

Source: Defense News

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

US Army vessels participating in a Logistics-over-the Shore mission at Shuaiba port in Kuwait, June 24, 2018.

(US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Charlotte Reavis)

Army watercraft “expand commanders’ movement and maneuver options in support of unified land operations,” the service says. Landing craft move personnel and cargo from bases and ships to harbors, beaches, and contested or degraded ports. Ship-to-shore enablers allow the transfer of cargo at sea, and towing and terminal operators support operations in different environments.

Source: US Army

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

Waves crash over US Army Vessel Churubusco on the Persian Gulf, during training exercise Operation Spartan Mariner, Jan. 9, 2013.

(US Army photo by Sgt. Christopher Johnston)

“When higher echelons receive something like redeployment orders, they will not be restricted in their ability to just travel by land or air. They will also understand the Army has these unique capabilities to redeploy their forces or insert their forces into an austere environment if needed,” Sgt. 1st Class Chase Conner, assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade, said during an exercise in summer 2018.

Source: US Army

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

USAV Lt. Gen. William B. Bunker (LSV-4) approaches a slip at Waipio Point, Hawaii, June 3, 2017.

(US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon)

Despite what the Army’s watercraft bring to the fight, the service thinks it can do without them. In June 2018, Army Secretary Mark Esper ordered the divestment of “all watercraft systems” in preparation for the service’s 2020 budget. At that time, Esper said the Army had found billion that could be cut and spent on other projects.

Source: Stars and Stripes

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

A Humvee towing a M777A2 155 mm howitzer boards the USAV Lt. Gen. William B. Bunker (LSV-4) at Waipio Point, Hawaii, June 3, 2017.

(US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon)

“The Army is assessing its watercraft program to improve readiness, modernize the force and reallocate resources,” Army spokeswoman Cheryle Rivas told Stars and Stripes.

Source: Stars and Stripes

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

A Humvee towing a M777A2 155 mm howitzer boards the USAV Lt. Gen. William B. Bunker (LSV-4) at Waipio Point, Hawaii, June 3, 2017.

(US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon)

The Army would be ditching its boats at a record pace. Most units picked for deactivation are identified two to five years in advance.

Source: Stars and Stripes

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

The Military Sealift Command Vessel Gem State transfers a container to the US Army watercraft Logistics Support Vessel 5 (LSV-5) Maj. Gen. Charles P. Gross during an in-stream cargo transfer exercise in the Persian Gulf, June 13, 2017.

(US Army photo by Sgt. Jeremy Bratt)

“What makes this situation different than other in-activations is the short notification, the number of units and positions identified, and the unique equipment and capability being in-activated,” according to notes accompanying a PowerPoint presentation dated January 8, obtained by Stars and Stripes.

Source: Stars and Stripes

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

More than 30 Army mariners embarked on a multi-day transport mission aboard the Army logistic support vessel Maj. Gen. Charles P. Gross from Kuwait Naval Base, Jan. 19, 2017.

(US Army photo by Sgt. Aaron Ellerman)

The deactivations and unit closures laid out in the slides would affect at least 746 positions. Recruitment and training of Army mariners would also be put on hold until a final decision is made about the service’s watercraft. Decisions about what, where, and how to cut are still being made.

Source: Stars and Stripes, Army Times

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

More than 30 Army mariners embarked on a multi-day transport mission aboard the Army logistic support vessel Maj. Gen. Charles P. Gross from Kuwait Naval Base, Jan. 19, 2017.

(US Army photo by Sgt. Aaron Ellerman)

The Army Reserve oversees much of the service’s marine force, managing about one-quarter of the fleet. The memo seen by gCaptain said soldiers now in the maritime field would be “assessed into units where they can best serve the needs of the Army Reserve while also being gainfully employed.”

Some of the boats currently managed by the Reserve component could be reassigned to the active-duty forces. Others could be decommissioned, stripped of military markings, and sold off.

Source: Stars and Stripes, gCaptain

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

More than 30 Army mariners embarked on a multi-day transport mission aboard the Army logistic support vessel Maj. Gen. Charles P. Gross from Kuwait Naval Base, Jan. 19, 2017.

(US Army photo by Sgt. Aaron Ellerman)

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

Staff Sgt. Yohannes Page, a watercraft operator, makes an adjustment on a sensor on a component of the Harbormaster Command and Control Center at Joint Expeditionary Base Fort Story, May 15, 2017.

(US Army Reserve photo by 1st Sgt. Angele Ringo)

At the end of 2018, the Army’s logistics staff told Congress that declining sealift capacity — exacerbated the aging of transport vessels — could create “unacceptable risk in force projection” within five years if the Navy doesn’t take action.

Source: Defense News

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

US Army Spc. Kayla Pfertsh fires an M2 machine gun at an inflatable target known as a killer tomato during a sea-based gunnery range aboard Logistics Support Vessel 5, Jan. 24, 2017

(US Army photo by Sgt. Jeremy Bratt)

“The Army’s ability to project military power influences adversaries’ risk calculations,” the Army G-4 document said, according to Defense News, which described it as “reflect[ing] the Army’s growing impatience with the Navy’s efforts to recapitalize its surge sealift ships.”

Source: Defense News

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

Watercraft operator Sgt. Rebecca Sheriff fires at a target in the Pacific Ocean during a waterborne range aboard Logistics Support Vehicle-2, about 40 miles south of Pearl Harbor, Oct. 4, 2017.

(US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Justin Silvers)

But even if the sealift fleet were fully stocked and trained, many of its ships, which are tasked with transporting gear for the Army and Marine Corps, can’t unload in underdeveloped or contested ports and waterways, particularly areas where enemies could attack or project force.

Source: Army Times

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

US Army Reserve watercraft operators replicate a fire-fighting drill during a photo shoot aboard a Logistics Support Vessel in Baltimore, April 7 and April 8, 2017.

(US Army Reserve photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret)

“My fear is the Army doesn’t understand what we have or what we’re getting rid of,” Michael Carr, a retired Army Reserve mariner and author of the gCaptain report, told Stars and Stripes. “I am concerned the Army will have to respond to something in Southeast Asia or South America, somewhere with hostile shores or underdeveloped ports, and we will need this capability and we won’t have it.”

Source: Army Times

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

Articles

On the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, remembering the tragedy

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Sailors stand amid wrecked planes at the Ford Island seaplane base, watching as USS Shaw (DD-373) explodes in the center background. | US Navy photo


In the decades that followed World War II, the attack on Pearl Harbor had faded somewhat in the American public’s memory.

The attacks of 9/11 changed all of that. “All those bad memories surged forward again,” said James C. McNaughton, who served as command historian for U.S. Army Pacific from 2001 to 2005. Today, he is the director of Histories Division at the Army Center of Military History.

Just weeks after the 9/11 attacks, McNaughton attended a ceremony commemorating the 60th anniversary of Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. At the ceremony, he found himself among a large number of World War II veterans and Pearl Harbor survivors. Both attacks, McNaughton believes, were on all of their minds.

McNaughton attributes the fading memory of the events that transpired at Pearl Harbor 75 years ago, in part, to World War II veterans’ reticence to share their own wartime memories.

McNaughton’s own father, who served as a Marine participating in the Central Pacific campaign, was reluctant to discuss his wartime experiences.

Three missions

The story of the devasting Japanese air strike on U.S. naval forces that day has been well documented, McNaughton observed — less so the Army’s role in the response.

At the time of the attack, 43,000 Soldiers were on active duty in Hawaii, where they were tasked with three primary missions, the first of which was to protect the territory of Hawaii from an invasion. (Hawaii remained a territory until statehood in 1959.)

“It was not beyond the realm of possibility that the Imperial Japanese Navy could carry out an invasion,” he explained. “They didn’t do so, but the Army could not be sure, so it deployed combat troops to defend the beaches.”

The second was to defend the fleet with coast artillery and anti-aircraft artillery. Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George C. Marshall Jr. had made it very clear to the highest ranking Army officer, Lt. Gen. Walter Short, commander, U.S. Army Hawaiian Department, that his No. 1 mission was to protect the fleet, McNaughton said.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
oeing B-17D Fortresses of the 5th Bombardment Group overfly the main gate at Hickam Field, Hawaii territory during the summer of 1941. 21 B-17C/Ds had been flown out to Hawaii during May to reinforce the defenses of the islands. | Photo Credit U.S. Army Air Corps

Before 1940, the U.S Pacific Fleet had been based in San Diego. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, for his own diplomatic reasons, had ordered the Navy to re-base itself at Pearl Harbor, according to McNaughton. The move added to the Army’s defensive responsibilities.

The third mission was training, he said.

By 1940, World War II had already engulfed much of Europe and the Pacific, and Americans were beginning to realize their involvement might be inevitable. For the Army’s part, they were organizing and training units — from squad to regiment and division. They were even conducting field exercises and basic training concurrently.

Besides ground forces, the Army at that time also included the Army Air Corps. “They were trying to train flight crews and mechanics and use the limited aircraft they had on hand,” McNaughton said. “This was a fairly green Army.”

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Retired Army Master Sgt. Thomas V. Panettiere Sr., from the Bronx in Hawaii, several months after the Pearl Harbor attack with his unit (he’s the one holding the guitar). He was one of the millions of Soldiers, Sailors and Marines who were in Hawaii during World War II, on their way to various island campaigns in the Pacific. | Photo courtesy of Thomas V. Panettiere Jr.

The National Guard and Organized Reserve had been mobilized as recently as 1940 and the draft, known as the Selective Training and Service Act, wasn’t instituted until Sept. 16 that same year.

In 1940, fewer than 270,000 Soldiers were on active duty. That number would climb to about 7 million by 1943.

Set up for failure

By late 1941, the Army in Hawaii was trying to juggle all three missions. “In my judgment, they couldn’t do all three,” McNaughton said. “They spread themselves too thin. Ultimately they failed.”

Coordination between the services was also poor, he said. The Army and the Navy on Hawaii had separate chains of command, and they engaged in very little coordination, at least in practical terms.

Early Sunday morning, the day of the attack, Adm. Husband E. Kimmel, commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet based at Pearl Harbor and his counterpart, Short, were preparing for their weekly golf game, McNaughton explained. Every Sunday morning, the two flag officers would play golf, enabling them to “check the box” for joint coordination.

“Well, you need more than that,” McNaughton said. “And that’s what they didn’t do.”

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Hickam Field, Hawaii, under attack Dec. 7, 1941. An Army B-17 Fortress is in the foreground. | Photo credit: National Archives

In 1946, according to the Army’s official history, “Guarding the United States and Its Outposts,” the Congressional Pearl Harbor Joint Committee concluded:

“There was a complete failure in Hawaii of effective Army-Navy liaison during the critical period and no integration of Army and Navy facilities and efforts for defense. Neither of the responsible commanders really knew what the other was doing with respect to essential military activities.”

Senior Navy and Army leaders relieved Kimmel and Short of their commands within days after the attack, and they were never fully exonerated.

Early warning signs

Failure of the services to coordinate had real consequences on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941.

In the pre-dawn hours, a submarine periscope was spotted near Pearl Harbor, where there shouldn’t have been any submarines. At 6:37 a.m., the destroyer USS Ward dropped depth charges, destroying the submarine. The incident was then reported to the Navy chain of command.

Meanwhile, at the Opana Radar Site on the north shore of Oahu, radar operators Pvt. Joseph L. Lockard and Pvt. George Elliott detected an unusually large formation of aircraft approaching the island from the north at 7:02 a.m.

At the time, radar was experimental technology, and operators manned it just 3 to 7 a.m., McNaughton said. Usually, the radar was shut off at 7 a.m. for the rest of the day. It was only because the truck that took Lockard and Elliott to breakfast was late that the radar was still on at 7:02 a.m.

The operators had never seen such a large number of blips before, according to McNaughton. They called 1st Lt. Kermit A. Tyler, an Air Corps pilot who was an observer that morning at Fort Shafter’s Radar Information Center.

“Don’t worry about it,” Tyler told them. He had heard that a flight of B-17 bombers was en route from Hamilton Field, California, that morning.

If the Army and Navy had been in communication, McNaughton believes, they might have recognized the signs of the coming attack: the sighting of a large aircraft formation coming in from the north and the sighting of a submarine at the mouth of Pearl Harbor.

“If you put those two together, you might want to put everyone on full alert. But they didn’t,” he said. “There was no integration of intelligence from the two services. So the only warning they got was when the bombs started to fall.”

The attack commences

The first of two waves of some 360 Japanese fighters, bombers and torpedo planes began the attack at 7:48 a.m., having launched from six aircraft carriers north of Oahu.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
An Aichi D3A Type 99 kanbaku (dive bomber) launches from the Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft carrier Akagi to participate in the second wave during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. | Photo courtesy of the Makiel Collection via Ron Wenger

While many of the Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft attacked the fleet, other planes attacked all the airfields on the island, including Wheeler Field next to Schofield Barracks.

Among the 2,403 Americans killed, 2,008 were Sailors, 218 were Soldiers, 109 were Marines and 68 were civilians, according to a National World War II Museum Pearl Harbor fact sheet.

Of the aircraft destroyed, 92 were Navy and 77 were Army Air Corps. Two battleships were destroyed and six were damaged; three cruisers were damaged; one auxiliary vessel was destroyed and three were damaged; and three destroyers were damaged, according to the fact sheet.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
The USS Arizona (BB-39) burning after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. | Creative Commons photo

The carriers USS Enterprise, USS Saratoga and USS Lexington were out on maneuvers and were not spotted by the Japanese.

Within minutes of the attack, Navy anti-aircraft guns opened up. The guns were firing at planes in all directions. A number of stray Navy anti-aircraft gun rounds fell in populated areas of Honolulu, killing more than a dozen civilians.

However, the Army’s anti-aircraft gunners at first struggled to engage the enemy because their guns were not in firing positions and the guns’ ammunition was in a separate location, where it was under lock and key.

“You can imagine them looking for the ammunition sergeant who had the keys at 8 a.m. Sunday,” McNaughton said. “It took them a while, but some guns did eventually get into action.”

Why weren’t the Army guns in position?

Short complained afterward that he had received ambiguous guidance from Washington. He said he was instructed to be prepared to defend against an attack but not to alarm the civilian population, which setting the anti-aircraft guns in position might have done.

Even so, the Army, with four regiments of anti-aircraft artillery in Oahu, had rehearsed defense against air raids. “They knew it was a possibility,” McNaughton said. “But certainly they were caught by surprise.”

Nevertheless, Soldiers found some means to counter-attack. At Army installations, Army men fired back with machine guns and other weapons at attacking enemy dive bombers and fighters, according to “Guarding the United States and Its Outposts.”

One of the Soldiers who lived through that day at Schofield Barracks was Cpl. James Jones, who later depicted the chaos in a 1951 novel, “From Here to Eternity,” which was eventually made into a movie that garnered eight Academy Awards.

As for the Army Air Corps, they eventually got 12 aircraft in the air and shot down a few Japanese planes. Ultimately, though, the Army Air Corps was overwhelmed. The vast majority of Soldiers killed in action that day were in the Army Air Corps, McNaughton noted.

The Army Air Corps flight of 12 B-17 Fortress Bombers — the aircraft that Tyler thought the radar operators had spotted — arrived in the middle of the attack. They were unarmed and almost out of fuel.

The aircraft landed at various airfields, and one landed on a golf course. One of the aircraft was destroyed by the Japanese, and three were badly damaged, according to “Guarding the United States and Its Outposts.”

“Just imagine, it’s supposed to be a routine peacetime flight and you show up in the middle of the biggest air battle the U.S. had ever seen,” McNaughton said. “Not a good situation.”

No plan for invasion

In fact, the Japanese never planned to invade Hawaii, McNaughton said. Rather, they wanted to cripple the U.S. Pacific fleet so it could not interfere with their plans to seize European colonies in Southeast Asia.

At the time, Army and Navy signals intelligence personnel were working hard to break the Japanese code, he said. They were intercepting communications and decrypting what they could, but the communications they intercepted gave no clear warning of the impending attack.

What the Japanese misjudged was the tremendous anger of the American people, which gave President Roosevelt and Congress the excuse they were looking for to declare war against Japan as well as Germany, McNaughton noted.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
One of many posters produced by the War Department during World War II, designed to get the public behind the war effort. | Photo Credit: Department of Defense

In the aftermath of the attack, the Army immediately took over the territory of Hawaii, declaring martial law, which lasted until October 1944. In this unprecedented situation, all local police, courts and government operated under Army supervision. The Army, Navy and FBI placed the local Japanese-American population under close surveillance and placed many community leaders under arrest.

During the war, the Army Soldiers in Hawaii — as in various places along the coasts on the U.S. mainland — never had to fire artillery guns to repel an enemy fleet, McNaughton said. The Army eventually disbanded the Coast Artillery branch, and today it uses sophisticated air and missile defense, in coordination with the other services.

Among the lessons to be taken from Pearl Harbor attack, according to McNaughton, is the crucial importance of operating as part of the joint force. Another is that of striking a fine balance between training and readiness. “You just don’t know when your unit will be called to mobilize,” he said.

The forced internment of Japanese Americans on the West Coast in 1942, in the aftermath of the attack, was a further tragedy.

“It was really painful to the Japanese-American community at the time,” he said. “The vast majority of Japanese Americans were loyal citizens, those who had the opportunity fought for America. And many of those died for their country.”

Articles

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

*This story was updated on 1/29 to reflect input from the Department of the Army*


Early in the world wars, many American women found roles open to them. While they were usually kept far from the direct combat (nurses excluded), the positions they filled were usually designed to “free a man to fight.” Female units formed throughout the U.S. military, though not without debate or criticism. Many of these were based on similar British organizations for women. After visiting Americans observed these female units in action, they brought the good ideas home.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Nancy E. Batson, WAFS pilot. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The Women’s Flying Training Detachment was one such unit. Created by Legendary Air Force (then-Army Air Corps) General Henry H. “Hap” Arnold, these women pilots were hired to fill jobs flying aircraft stateside from base to base. They received hundreds of flying hours in training, but were not considered a real part of the Army and thus could not received veteran status. The WFTD and the Women’s Auxiliary Airforce Ferrying Squadron (WAAFS) were both formed separately in 1942.  The WAAFS would take fighters, bombers, and transports from the factories to stateside bases.  Both the WAAFS and WFTD would later be merged with the now-famous Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
WASPs uniforms on display in the Air Power Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The first director of the WASPs was Jacqueline Cochran, a contemporary of famed pilot Amelia Earhart.  She was only woman to win the Bendix Transcontinental Aeronautical Race and also a five-time Harmon Trophy winner, which was awarded to the world’s foremost leading aviator. Cochran would also become the first woman to fly a bomber across the Atlantic Ocean, the first woman to break the sound barrier, and many more female firsts. She also currently holds more distance and speed records than any pilot of any gender, living or dead. If that wasn’t enough of a pedigree, Nancy H. Love, commander of the WAFS, was the Executive Officer for the new unit. Love was also an accomplished pilot by any metric. She was certified in 19 military aircraft and was the first woman to fly the B-17 Flying Fortress. After the creation of the independent Air Force, Cochran and Love would both joint the U.S. Air Force Reserve and rise to the ranks of lieutenant colonel.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Nancy Love and Betty Gillies (U.S. Air Force photo)

The WASP program would train over a thousand pilots as light training instructors, glider tow pilots, towing targets for air-to-air and anti-aircraft gunnery practice, engineering test flying, ferrying aircraft, and other duties. They were considered civil services employees, never being accepted into the Army Air Forces despite their proven ability.  WASPs were capable of flying any aircraft in the U.S. arsenal, including the P-51 Mustang and B-29 Superfortress,, often remarked by men as being difficult to fly. In fact, the first person to fly an Army Air Forces jet was WASP Ann Baumgartner.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
A WAFS pilot flying a B-17 (U.S. Air Force photo)

WASPs were required to complete the same training as male Army Air Corps pilots, save for combat flying, such as gunnery and acrobatics. WASPs did their training at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas and were stationed at 120 air bases across the U.S. They would deliver more than 12,000 aircraft of 78 different types.

Thirty-eight WASPs died during the program’s run. The accident rate was similar to that of males doing the same work. Hap Arnold himself would address the last class of WASPs to graduate from training.

“You … have shown that you can fly wingtip to wingtip with your brothers. If ever there was doubt in anyone’s mind that women could become skilled pilots,” Arnold said. “The WASPs dispelled that doubt. I want to stress how valuable the whole WASP program has been for the country.”

The WASP program was classified and sealed until 1977, when a false press release from the Department of the Air Force announced that the first women would be trained to fly military aircraft. Then-Colonel Bruce Arnold, son of General Hap Arnold, lobbied Congress for full recognition of the WASPs as veterans. President Carter ordered their recognition as veterans in 1977 and in 1984, they received their World War II Victory Medal. In 2009, the WASPs were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, with 300 surviving members on hand to receive them.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
(U.S. Air Force photo)

The family of WASP Elaine Danforth Harmon started a petition to get WASPs their recognition as veterans eligible for inurnment at Arlington. According to the Department of the Army, WASPs have never been eligible either for inurnment or burial at Arlington.

“The service of Women Air Force Service Pilots during World War II is highly commendable and, while certainly worthy of recognition, it does not, in itself, reach the level of Active Duty service required for inurnment at Arlington National Cemetery,” Lt. Col. Patrick Seiber of the Army’s Media Relations Division clarified.

“The confusion is caused, in part, by Public Law 95-202 Section 401,” Seiber continued. “Which authorized the Secretary of Defense to declare that certain groups be considered active duty for the purpose of allowing certain Veterans Affairs benefits, which include burial and inurnment at national cemeteries maintained by VA.”

“Arlington is not administered by the VA, and its eligibility criteria are far more stringent, due to space limitations. Burial space at Arlington National Cemetery is ultimately finite. Based upon current demand and capacity, Arlington will exhaust interment and inurnment space for any Active Duty service member or veteran in the next 20 years, by the mid 2030’s.”

Harmon was too young to volunteer for the war effort, but she got her parents’ permission to join. Her 40 hours of flight time earned her a training spot in Sweetwater, Texas, and then later a spot for more training at Nellis, in Nevada. It was a rare opportunity, only one woman was accepted for every ten males. Even then, they were treated like the backwater of the flying corps. WASPs did not even have uniforms until about seven months before they were deactivated. They wore coveralls when they flew and had to wash them in the showers.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Elaine Harmon, one of just over 1000 women who served as WASPs, or Women Airforce Service Pilots.

“My grandmother was just a generally very adventurous person. When she saw an advertisement for a program to learn how to fly, she said ‘Oh that sounds like something I’d be interested in doing,'” Harmon’s granddaughter Erin Miller told PRI. “My grandmother and the women she served with, the other WASPs, were just really excited to be able to serve their country, like they would gladly have gone overseas if they had been allowed to — they had no hesitation about that. They were just very glad to serve their country.”

You can sign the WASPs petition here.

Articles

This Army veteran uses powerful images to show the realities of war

After serving in Iraq, Army veteran Casey Tylek created a Tumblr blog that helps veterans during the transition to civilian life.


Tylek said he was inspired to begin the page, called justWarthings, after feeling disconnected from his peers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst because of his military experience.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Photo: justWarthings

“At the beginning of every semester it was always the same thing,” Tylek told We Are The Mighty. “Kids would ask if I was in ROTC or was a veteran, and [about] what I did and where I was. Without fail, a student who [had] just met me would ask with wide eyes and a big smile if I killed anyone. I didn’t know how to respond.”

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Photo: justWarthings

In his view, most students — having seen popular movies and video games like “Black Hawk Down” and “Call of Duty” — expected to hear a yes from Tylek, who served in Baghdad with the 101st Airborne Division in 2009.

“They view our soldiers [as] robotic killing machines who are untouchable in combat,” Tylek said. “And they want that to be you so they can ask all the gory details and raise you to hero status in their minds.”

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Photo: justWarthings

justWarthings is modeled after the viral internet page justgirlythings, another Tumblr blog that uses stock photos and overlayed text to communicate themes that are supposedly universal to teenage girls. After his own experience in combat, Tylek realized how unrealistic civilian views of warfare can be, and he decided his blog could provide a wake-up call.

“I hope people see what war really is — a massive waste of life and resources — a messy, scary, horrific thing,” Tylek said. “And yet, I hope they see a little about why we do it, the bond that we have with our fellow soldiers is a lot of times closer than the bond that we have with our own families.”

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Photo: justWarthings

Tylek also told WATM that he created the blog in memory of his best friend, Spc. Joe Kenny, who died while serving in Mosul.

Check out more of the powerful collection of images from justWarthings:

 

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Photo: justWarthings

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Photo: justWarthings

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Photo: justWarthings

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Photo: justWarthings

For more of Tylek’s work, check out justWarthings

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