The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise

Red Flag has become an icon of training exercises for pilots. No, it didn’t get the Hollywood-blockbuster treatment of Top Gun, but the main Operation Red Flag, located at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas, has, arguably, become the premiere exercise in recent years.


The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise
A Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft conducts a mission over Afghanistan May 28, 2008, after receiving fuel from a KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft. The KC-135R is assigned to the 22nd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, 376th Air Expeditionary Wing deployed from Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Andy Dunaway)

The original idea behind Red Flag was simple: During the Vietnam War, the Air Force realized that many of the pilots they lost were downed in their first ten missions over enemy territory. So, they realized if they could simulate a war and give a pilot their first ten “missions” in peacetime, the loss rate would go down. As the low loss rates of Desert Storm, Allied Force, and the War on Terror have shown, the idea’s worked pretty well over the years.

Other countries have also taken up the idea. Israel runs a version of Red Flag, called Blue Flag, in which American units have taken part — and have had nothing but rave reviews to share afterward. The Dutch have their own version of this exercise as well.

According to Scramble Magazine, the Royal Netherlands Air Force is going to host Frisian Flag 2018. The magazine also noted that Dutch F-16 Fighting Falcons will fly alongside planes from five NATO allies: France, Germany, Spain, Poland, and the United States of America.

The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise
French Air Force Mirage 2000D multi-role fighters will take part in the Dutch version of Red Flag. (RAF photo)

France is sending a mix of Mirage 2000D and Rafale multi-role fighters, Germany will send some Eurofighter Typhoons, Poland is sending MiG-29 Fulcrums and F-16C Fighting Falcons, Spain is sending F/A-18 Hornets, while the United States is sending F-15C/D Eagles from the Oregon Air National Guard. The exercise will take place in the middle of April, with privately owned, German A-4N Skyhawks (formerly of the Israeli Defense Forces) flying as the aggressors.

The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise
Poland will be sending MiG-29s to Frisian Flag 2018. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Julian Herzog)

It sounds like this Flag could be very interesting — but we’re going to recommend the pilots stay away from a certain locally-legal product.

Articles

6 employees fired from US embassy in Afghanistan for drug violations

The State Department has fired six employees at the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan for allegedly using or possessing prohibited drugs, a particularly troubling infraction given the years-long U.S. effort to eradicate opium production in the country.


A senior State Department official said those who were embassy employees were fired and others who were contractors were released from their contracts.

The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise
The Taliban and other antigovernment groups participate in and profit from the opiate trade, which is a key source of revenue for the Taliban inside Afghanistan. Pictured here, a Marine posts security while members of the Afghan Narcotics Interdiction Unit search a compound during Operation Speargun in Urmuz, Afghanistan, March 26, 2012.

The official declined to say what led to the investigation, but the Wall Street Journal reported it was launched after a person was wandering about in a state of confusion.

A State Department official told Voice of America News on March 30 the fired workers “were found to have been using or in possession of prohibited substances.”

Opium production in Afghanistan is a major source of income for the Taliban and other insurgents.

Afghanistan is the source of more than 90 percent of the world’s heroin. Despite global efforts to stem the flow of narcotics, the United Nations says production reached near record levels in 2016.

The United States has spent more than $8 billion on drug interdiction in Afghanistan since the start of war against the Taliban in 2001.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Iran just threatened to do something it couldn’t possibly do

Iran threatened to respond to economic sanctions against its oil exports imposed by the US with military action to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, the sea passage into the Persian Gulf that sees around 30% of the world’s oil supply pass — but if they did, the US would shut them down in days.

“As the dominant power in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, (Iran) has been the guarantor of the security of shipping and the global economy in this vital waterway and has the strength to take action against any scheme in this region,” Armed Forces Chief of Staff Major General Mohammad Bagheri said, according to Reuters.


Iran’s threat to shut down a major international waterway vital to providing food and commerce for hundreds of millions in the region follows its president saying the US could find itself in the “mother of all wars” with the Islamic Republic.

But Iran’s military wouldn’t last more than a few days against the US and its allies, and according to experts, Iran must know this, and is likely bluffing as they have in past threats to close the strait.

The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

“In the event Iran choose to militarily close the Strait of Hormuz, the U.S. and our Arabian Gulf allies would be able to open it in a matter of days,” former Adm. James Stavridis told CNBC on July 23, 2018.

Stavridis, who served as NATO’s supreme allied commander Europe, said that Iran would likely try to mine the waterway to ward off traffic, and may also resort to sending out its small, fast attack craft on suicide runs against US Navy ships that could do some damage.

But the US wouldn’t go it alone, and Iran would quickly find the waterway unmined, its fast attack craft at the bottom of the strait and its coastal missile batteries destroyed.

The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise

This map shows maritime traffic along the Strait of Hormuz, where about 30% of the world’s oil experts pass through.

(FleetMon)

What’s behind Iran’s bluff? Oil

Former US Ambassador to Turkey James Jeffrey, now an expert at the Washington Institute, told Business Insider that it’s “highly unlikely” Iran would move on the Strait of Hormuz, “but just the threat of doing that sent oil prices up.”

President Hassan Rouhani, in warning Trump about the “mother of all wars” tried “to warn not so much Trump, but all of the customers of Iranian oil that if they all stop buying Iranian oil when US sanctions take effect on Nov. 4, 2018, it will hurt prices,” said Jeffrey.

Manipulating oil prices and wielding its massive oil production infrastructure represent “the weapon that the Iranians can most easily use,” in combatting US sanctions, Jeffrey said. Rather than violating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or the Iran deal, Iran prefers to force nations to trade with it in spite of US sanctions by putting pressure on overall supply.

“If they would have violated the JCPOA,” said Jeffrey, “they’d lose the support of western Europe.”

“They’re doing this to spook consumers,” of Iranian oil, said Jeffrey.

“If the Iranians want to escalate” tensions into fighting along the Strait of Hormuz, “we saw that movie in ’88 and in the end they lost their navy,” said Jeffrey, referring to the Operation Praying Mantis, when the US responded to Iran mining the strait with an aircraft carrier strike group that decimated its navy.

Get the latest Oil WTI price here.

Featured image: The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter transits the Strait of Hormuz in May 2012.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

How this veteran went from Marine grunt to business mogul

Veterans who served in infantry have earned powerful experience in overcoming adversity, solving complex problems and dealing with difficult people – often under harsh conditions with limited resources. Marine vet Patch Baker, founder of Mobius Media Solutions, is living proof that those experiences translate into the civilian world.

When I made the decision during my sophomore year in high school to serve in the Marine Corps, I distinctly remember the conversations with family and friends about my future MOS. I had enlisted as an 0311—a rifleman.


Nearly everyone insisted that I should choose a different path because the infantry “offered no useful job skills” that would help me when I got out.

I disagreed with them at the time, and today, I am even more steadfast in my position.

I believe that military service—especially in combat MOSs—uniquely prepares us for entrepreneurship in ways that most people don’t realize. As entrepreneurs, we frequently face environments similar in many ways to what we faced in the infantry.

We regularly encounter intense challenges that demand both a high degree of personal accountability and teamwork to successfully overcome. We’re required to adapt, improvise, and overcome on a daily basis. And we must motivate and inspire both ourselves and our teams in order to achieve our objectives.

And just like in the military, but unlike most nine to five jobs, entrepreneurship usually means thinking about the welfare of our team instead of just ourselves.

You don’t need to look very hard to find powerful examples of this; there are literally hundreds of nationally recognized, and thousands of lesser-known but very successful, companies founded by infantry veterans.

One of those veterans is Patch Baker.

The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise

(Courtesy of Patch Baker)

I had the opportunity to meet this Marine veteran a couple of years ago, and since then, I’ve come to respect and admire him greatly, both as a human and as an entrepreneur.

While we all like to joke about “dumb grunts,” Baker has done a phenomenal job of making these jokes irrelevant. (Just don’t leave any crayons out around him.) His early career path may look very familiar to a lot of veterans. After serving 15 years, with multiple combat deployments in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa, Baker returned to the U.S. to train fellow Marines, and was eventually medically retired.

You might think that by going from a harsh combat environment to the civilian world, everything would seem like unicorns and rainbows, but much like the first few hours at Parris Island, it was anything but that. One of Baker’s first civilian jobs was as a welder, but unfortunately, he didn’t adapt well to his new environment.

“I went from an environment where we would have died for each other, to the clock-punching monotony of every man for himself. My employer gave me a vague idea of what they expected, but if you thought too far outside the box, you didn’t fit. One guy told me that I made everyone look bad by outworking them,” Baker said.

The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise

(Courtesy of Patch Baker)

The fact that he communicates like a typical Marine, with a healthy dose of knife-hands and F-bombs, probably didn’t help matters. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t long before Baker made a decision that many veterans in similar circumstances have made: He became a military contractor.

Baker soon felt at home again, but after several close calls, and eventually getting shot outside the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, Baker knew he was pushing his luck and it was time for a change. This time, his return to the civilian world was different. More positive. Empowering.

Rather than suppressing what the military taught him, he realized he could apply the principles of his training to manage the chaos of civilian life and thrive. “I started giving myself new missions, learning new business skills, and quickly saw the power of video to grow a business,” Patch said. “I threw myself into absorbing this new world, sometimes not sleeping for days at a time.”

Once he began to treat civilian life more like a mission, things clicked. “If you don’t make sales, if you release a bad product, or if you have poor customer service, your business will die,” Baker stated, bluntly. “Although your teammates’ lives are not on the line, their livelihoods are.”

He went on to create Mobius Media Solutions, which started as a digital marketing agency and then in early 2020, morphed into an education company for the digital marketing industry.

The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise

(Courtesy of Patch Baker)

Along the way, Baker has built an impressive legacy. He has managed marketing campaigns ranging from ,000 to id=”listicle-2646891045″ million invested per month, owns 36 businesses, and has helped create several millionaires. He’s also spoken on stage alongside prominent entrepreneurs like Gary Vaynerchuk, Roland Frasier and Kevin Harrington. His companies, collectively, are currently on track to produce 0 million dollars in revenue this year.

But his journey isn’t just about the money or prestige. Baker freely shares his knowledge with others on a regular basis to help streamline their path to success, and he has invested both time and capital into American Dream U, an organization dedicated to helping fellow Veterans smoothly transition into civilian life.

While a large part of Baker’s success can be attributed to his grit and the ability to apply a mission-oriented mindset, equally important has been his ability to build an effective team.

Baker explained, “A ‘team’ by definition is a collection of members operating together to accomplish the same outcome. If all of those members don’t have the same end goal, the team will never reach its potential, and division among the ranks is inevitable. Give them a clearly defined way forward, success is almost a certainty and the byproduct is unit cohesion.”

The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise

(Courtesy of Patch Baker)

Baker definitely follows his own advice when it comes to building a strong team. Having collaborated on a few projects together and watching many others from the sidelines, I’ve seen how he aligns members to the same goals, empowers them, and how he specifically acknowledges their accomplishments loudly and publicly rather than taking the credit for himself as many so-called “leaders” do.

This mindset has created powerful leverage that coupled with his grit and mission-oriented mindset, has enabled him to advance farther and faster than most since returning to civilian life.

Baker’s journey is a perfect example that veterans can all learn something from. Bakers advice? “Any veteran or civilian can grow a profitable business in a structured, systematic way. If you can be trained to be an elite warfighter, you can train yourself to be an elite civilian.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

The worst things about every Army rank

Do you need an introduction to this? I mean, really? You all know what the Army is, and that all the ranks have their virtues and their vices. Lot’s of vices. That’s why it’s easy to hate all of them.


(Disclaimer: It’s all in fun. If you might be offended by a few jokes about your rank, please just close the page before you spit your coffee all over your screen and write letters to my editor.)

The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise

An Army private first class watches out the window for enemy targets, probably while imagining his next kill streak on Fortnite because, seriously, these guys can not focus.

(U.S. Army Spc. William Dickinson)

Junior Enlisted

Privates and Privates Second Class

Basically the same rank. They’re either a “Pubic Patch Private” with no rank to Velcro on or a Mosquito-Wing Private with rank that’s barely worth Velcroing on. Either way, they almost certainly need their hands held to be able to differentiate their fourth point of contact and a hole in the ground.

Even if they’re just left sweeping a room, chances are they’ll end up with two STDs and a warrant for their arrest before you get a chance to check on them again.

Privates First Class

Finally, you can look away for three seconds without them getting into trouble. But they still probably have no initiative, unless it’s grabbing more fatty cakes from the chow line.

Fatty cakes that you have to run off of them mile after grueling mile. If they would just eat some lean chicken, instead, maybe you could finally do a little physical training in the gym or at the pull-up bars, for once. But nope. Time to run the carbs off the privates for the third time this week.

Specialists and Corporals

Just smart enough to know how to shirk their duties, too dumb to realize they should do them anyway. The specialists will spend days setting up elaborate networks to get out of hours worth of work.

And the corporals, ah the corporals. They’re eager enough to show a little initiative and get an extra stripe, but few of them can actually assert their authority without having to whine about military customs and courtesies. It takes more work for the others NCOs to back up the corporal than they would have to do if the corporal just became a specialist again.

The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise

“See how your shots are barely on the paper? That’s because you don’t know how to shoot.”

(U.S. Army Spc. Tynisha L. Daniel)

Noncommissioned Officers

Sergeants

Finally, a rank that can get stuff done without hand-holding or tons of guidance. Too bad this is when they start diddling subordinates, racking up unpaid alimony, and dying of caffeine and nicotine overdoses.

Seriously, buck sergeants, if you don’t have a staff sergeant or platoon sergeant’s tolerance for stimulants, stick to the Fun Dips like the other children.

Staff Sergeants

The E-6 ranks are filled with both hard-chargers and the laziest of the careerists, you can never tell if a staff sergeant is going to be capable or slowly counting down to retirement until you meet them in person and see whether they’re more likely to bust out some pull-ups on the nearest door sill or bust tape on the next PT test.

But at least they don’t have control of a whole platoon, yet.

Sergeants First Class

Out there in front of a whole platoon, the good ones will inspire heroics and, even better, diligence in all the soldiers they lead. The others will just provide their preferred customer discount numbers at strip clubs and the tobacco counter.

But hey, at least they take themselves too seriously and will lose their tempers at literally anything.

Master Sergeants and First Sergeants

Half of them need to retire, the other half basically already have. Counting time until they get to give the Army the old double deuce with the middle fingers on either hand, these E-8s are probably so crabby because you can’t spend this much of your life using communal Army toilets and not literally catch crabs.

Sergeants Major

The staff sergeants major are supposedly just there to make sure section OICs don’t forget to take their meds and actually run every once in a while. But they actually run the show in most staff sections and absolutely will not let you forget it. And command sergeants major act like they’re the second-in-command like no one knows what a deputy commanding officer or executive officer is.

And no matter what you’re complaining about, be sure they will let you know how much worse it was before you were born. Doesn’t even matter if they took part in the war they’re complaining about. Fifty-year-old sergeants major will tell you how much worse they had it in the Korean War than you do now.

The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise

Absolute subject matter expert. Will not tell you what you’re doing wrong until he gets a good laugh about it.

(U.S. Army Sgt. M. Austin Parker)

Warrant Officers

Warrant Officers 1

All the training in the world couldn’t prepare warrant officers to be true subject matter experts on every aspect of their domain, and luckily for warrant officers 1, they’re not burdened by all that much training. Seriously, hope these guys learned some stuff before they went warrant, ’cause otherwise, they’re less useful than a user’s manual and even harder to find.

Chief Warrant Officers 2-4

Finally, a little expertise, but mostly in how to disappear before formations. They’ll always have a coffee cup in their hand, but there’s still a 15 percent chance they will feign falling asleep while talking to you. They’ll actually fall asleep while briefing the commander.

Chief Warrant Officer 5

Literal unicorns, but they hide their horns and hoofs wherever it is that they hide the rest of themselves, probably an entire office building that fell off the books three years ago, and only they know about. They know literally everything about their job area but will only tell you anything under duress or after they’ve gotten a few laughs at your ignorance.

The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise

An Army captain crawls through the dirt, sleeves rolled like he’s ready to adorn a movie poster.

(U.S. Army Capt. Daniel Parker)

Officers

Second and First Lieutenants

These men and women are children. Please, do not let them use anything as dangerous as a microwave without supervision. They will ask questions that brand new recruits are supposed to know before basic training, and then make the subject matter expert stand at attention while answering.

Captains

Give a guy a chance at company command, and they will puff up like newly born demigods. They always have the most self-satisfied smiles on their face, which is ironic since chances are they haven’t satisfied anyone personally or professionally in years.

Majors

Will only communicate with non-majors under duress. Seriously, these folks either hate the Army for existing or else hate it for not promoting them sooner. Maybe that’s because they always get stuck in battalion XO and other staff positions. Must suck to spend eight years climbing from company XO just to be the XO one level up.

Also, when you see one, there’s a 90 percent chance they’ll be standing and watching something happen. Not speaking, not guiding, just watching. It’s creepy.

Army lieutenant colonels will absolutely watch the Army pee on you while swearing it’s rain.

(U.S. Army Claudia LaMantia)

Lieutenant Colonels

Somehow, all lieutenant colonels are majors but, half of them got their optimism back, and the other half hate you because they’re still in the Army. Half will lie to you and tell you that everything’s peachy, the other half will tell you dark truths even if they don’t apply to you.

Colonels

Believe so much in the mission that they will sacrifice their very lives to get it done, but they’d much prefer to sacrifice someone else’s. Yours might be alright. They will write a real nice letter to your family afterward, though. So that and your life insurance policy will pay off the house, at least.

Brigadier and Major Generals

This marks the transition from where senior officers are generally in charge of managing downwards and become mostly tasked with managing up to the other generals and politicians, and boy do they ever forget what sense they had. General Officer Bright Idea is a commonly understood term for the total nonsense that these folks come up with.

That’s not an endorsement of their ideas.

The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise

Generals are some of the most accomplished ground combatants in history. Also, they will absolutely send you into a sacrificial cult if they think it will advance their mission one iota.

(U.S. Army Sgt. Jonathan Fernandez)

Lieutenant Generals and Generals

Ugh, almost no one can tell these folks no anymore, and it shows. Their GOBIs are usually turned into multi-million dollar programs that require thousands of junior soldiers to jump through all sorts of hoops. Half the time, it turns out these ideas could’ve been shot down from the outset by a competent warrant officer or noncom.

They give real inspiring speeches, though, usually by emailing them out to everyone in their command, even though a solid half of the recipients are in forward bases with no internet access. Thanks, boss!

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is why you can’t trust North Korea’s new charm offensive

In the run-up to the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea, North Korea bombed South Korea Air Flight 858, killing 115 people. Afterward, when South Korea remained steadfast in its desire to host the games, North Korea suddenly offered high-level talks. North Korea toned down its rhetoric and tried to negotiate a co-hosting of the Olympics, but this effort fell apart. This historical lesson is corroborated by one of the Flight 585 bombers who was caught and turned. She is still alive today and recently warned not to trust North Korea’s current dictator Kim Jong-un’s outreach.


The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea is well underway and once again North Korea is attempting to use the games for their ends. North Korea is trying to steal international attention, break sanctions, and drive a wedge between the United States and South Korea.

Also read: North Korea’s brinkmanship will continue right after the Olympics

Kim has already made himself take center-stage, using a dramatic opening to South Korea to force the international spotlight onto himself. Right now, cooperation is his chosen tool of persuasion, as he spoke of reunification, restarted the North Korean-South Korean hotline, and worked to convince South Korea that both Olympic teams should march under one neutral flag. Kim also launched a charm offensive to show he is serious about negotiations. This has included toned-down rhetoric, a smaller military parade, and sending flashy bands to perform at the Olympics. He also sent North Korean pop star and propagandist Hyon Song-wol to find a venue for an orchestra, causing a sensation which bedazzled South Korean journalists and citizens.

The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (KCNA)

In the background of all this distraction, North Korea is preparing to make a show of force. Satellite imagery showed 13,000 troops and 150 vehicles drilling for the small Feb. 8 military parade that featured a new missile system. Kim knows he can have a larger parade to send a message anytime he wants. It remains to be seen if he will engage in any missile or nuclear tests during or right after the Olympics.

Related: South Koreans are not happy to be Olympic partners with the North

North Korea’s appearance of reconciliation also purposefully includes sanctions violations. One of these sending senior North Korean officials to visit South Korea despite being banned from traveling. South Korea will have to decide if it wants to make an exception to the ban, but without certain waivers from the United Nations Security Council, such visits would violate the law. Meanwhile, it is unclear how the US would respond. Already Kim’s less notorious sister, Kim Yo-jong, who is not barred from visiting, has had a successful time charming the South Korean and American media.

Kim will likely get away with several sanctions violations because he will extract them as the cost of North Korean cooperation. Even if they are minor, these violations will test the limits of what others will tolerate. They will make the point that North Korea always has been – and always will be – able to do as it pleases.

Finally, Kim would love to see the South Korean-American alliance rendered a dead letter. Although it is a very unlikely goal, Kim attempts to accomplish this by contrasting South Korea’s willingness to talk with the bellicosity of US President Trump. North Korea’s aim is to create the perception that the Koreas are working together against interference by America. When North Korea returns to aggression, Kim will claim that it is America’s fault. By cozying up to South Korea and then walking out, Kim hopes to drive a small wedge into the alliance.

More: South Korea wants North Korea to host some 2018 Winter Olympics events

South Korea should talk to Kim, and so should America, mainly to lower the odds of accidental war. However, talks require realizing that nuclear weapons will not be up for serious discussion and that North Korea will continue its pattern of behavior. Sudden shifts to threats place pressure on South Korea and shifts to friendliness invite confused opponents to the bargaining table on Kim’s terms. Wise policymakers anticipate this pattern, rather than being angered or duped by it. To take Kim Jong-un’s overtures at face-value is foolish, and South Korea should assume that the Supreme Leader is after something more than the gold at these Olympics.

Articles

Could a wreath shortage leave Arlington Cemetery graves bare this Christmas?

Every year, Wreaths Across America works to ensure that every one of the nearly 250,000 graves at Arlington National Cemetery has a wreath on it for Christmas. This year, though, they are very short, and whether they succeed is very much in doubt.


The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise
U.S. Air Force Airmen Erin O’Shea lays wreath on grave site at Arlington National Cemetary, Va., Dec. 15, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Nesha Humes)

According to a report by the Washington Examiner, this year the group is almost 120,000 wreaths short of being able to accomplish its mission. That means nearly half the graves at the cemetery where two presidents (John F. Kennedy and William Howard Taft), 367 recipients of the Medal of Honor, Thomas G. Lanphier Jr. (the pilot who shot down the plane carrying Isoroku Yamamoto), Apollo 1 astronauts Gus Grissom and Roger Chafee, the crew of the space shuttle Challenger, Admiral Hyman G. Rickover and General of the Armies John J. Pershing would not be decorated.

“Last year at this time we were still short, but not by quite as many. I think a lot of people drive by the cemetery in December and see all those wreaths and unfortunately people still believe that the government does that like they do the flags on Memorial Day,” Wayne Hanson, the chairman of the board for Wreaths Across America told the Examiner.

The origins of Wreaths Across America go back to 1992, when 5,000 surplus wreaths were donated to decorate headstones at Arlington. The ceremony continued until taking off in 2002. In 2007, the organization was recognized as a not-for-profit 501(c)3.

According to the organization’s website, in 2015 over 168 companies delivered over 300 truckloads of wreaths to be placed on the graves of veterans.

For more information on Wreaths Across America, to make a donation, or to get involved, go to www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.

Articles

The Air Force is joining the race to bring back American rocket superiority

The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise
Flickr


For the last decade, Russian-made engines have been propelling US national security satellites into space.

While this has proven to be a good approach in the past, the time has come for a new breed of rocket engine that’s American-made.

On Feb. 29, the US Air Force — who runs the national security launch missions — announcedthat it will invest up to $738 million to put an end to America’s reliance on the Russian-made RD-180 rocket engines.

RD-180 engines currently power the Atlas V rocket, which is owned and run by the United Launch Alliance (ULA) aerospace company.

And over the last 10 years, the Atlas V has helped ferry expensive and sensitive national security payloads into space for the Air Force.

But in recent years, as political tensions grew between the US and Russia, ULA’s use of the RD-180 engines has come under fire.

After the Crimean crisis in 2014,Congress called to permanently terminate the Air Force’s reliance on Russian-made rocket engines by building a program that would see functional, American-made rocket engines by the end of 2019.

Now is the right time

As part of its announcement on Feb. 29, the Air Force said it will award ULA up to $202 million, which will go toward the construction of ULA’s new Vulcan rocket — scheduled to launch for the first time in 2019.

Vulcan is expected to run on rocket engines designed and constructed by the American aerospace company Blue Origin, which is owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise
Blue Origin

But Blue Origin isn’t the only company working on taking back America’s role as a leader in rocket propulsion systems.

In direct competition is the rocket propulsion manufacturer company Aerojet Rocketdyne, which just got a major vote of confidence.

The rest of that $738 million the Air Force is willing to invest — which equates to a whopping $536 million — was dedicated to Aerojet Rocketdyne.

Right now, Aerojet is constructing its AR1 rocket engine, which the company says could be used to propel the Atlas V, Vulcan, as well as other rockets currently under development.

While ULA has contracted with Blue Origin to build its BE-4 rocket engines for the Vulcan rocket, ULA also has a contract with Aerojet, as back up.

If Blue Origin’s efforts to build the BE-4 rocket engine falter, then ULA will turn to Aerojet’s AR1 to power the Vulcan.

ULA and Aerojet have until Dec. 31, 2019 to design, build, and test its new engines.

“While the RD-180 engine has been a remarkable success with more than 60 successful launches, we believe now is the right time for American investment in a domestic engine,” Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and chief executive officer, said in a release.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Navy secretary bets his job that he can fix USS Ford

Like most first-in-class warships, the USS Gerald R. Ford has had problems during its construction and testing, especially because of the array of new technology it carries.

But the $13 billion aircraft carrier has attracted special attention, and now Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer is putting his job on the line to guarantee one big problem will be resolved.


The Ford’s new Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System has been a particular focus for President Donald Trump. He expressed dismay with the system in May 2017 and has mentioned it several times since, bringing it up at random on several occasions.

Other officials, including the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, Sen. James Inhofe, have objected to protracted issues with the carrier’s Advanced Weapons Elevators, which use magnets rather than cables to lift munitions to the flight deck.

The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise

President Donald Trump speaking with Navy and shipyard personnel aboard the Gerald R. Ford in Newport News, Virginia, in 2017.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication 1st Class Joshua Sheppard)

None of the carrier’s 11 elevators were installed when it was delivered in May 2017 — 32 months late. But the Navy accepted and commissioned the carrier, and after a year of testing at sea, in July 2018 it entered its post-shakedown period.

The start of the post-shakedown period was delayed by another defect, and it was extended from eight months to a year to take care of normal work and work that had been put off, like the installation of the elevators and upgrades to the Advanced Arresting Gear, which has also faced technical problems.

The Navy has said the elevators will be installed and tested by the end of the post-shakedown period in 2019. Six will be certified for use at that time, but five won’t be completed until after July 2019.

Spencer said Jan. 8, 2019, that during a discussion at the Army-Navy football game in December 2018 he gave Trump a high-stakes promise.

“I asked him to stick his hand out — he stuck his hand out. I said, ‘Let’s do this like corporate America.’ I shook his hand and said the elevators will be ready to go when she pulls out or you can fire me,” Spencer said at an event at the Center for a New American Security, according to USNI News.

“We’re going to get it done. I know I’m going to get it done,” he added. “I haven’t been fired yet by anyone — being fired by the president really isn’t on the top of my list.”

The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise

Tugboats maneuvering the Gerald R. Ford into the James River.

(US Navy photo)

Spencer also said Trump asked him about EMALS. He told the president that the Navy had “got the bugs out” and that the system and its capabilities were “all to our advantage.”

Inhofe is also raising the stakes.

“The fleet needed and expected this ship to be delivered in 2015,” he told Bloomberg on Jan. 7, 2019. “Until all of the advanced weapons elevators work, we only have 10 operational aircraft carriers, despite a requirement for 12.”

Inhofe has told the Navy he wants monthly status reports on the carrier until its elevators are working.

The Ford is the first of its class, and the next Ford-class carrier, the USS John F. Kennedy, is under construction by Huntington Ingalls at Newport News, Virginia, where it reached the halfway point in 2018.

The Navy told legislators early January 2019 that it would go ahead with a plan to buy the next Ford-class carriers, CVN 80 and CVN 81, on a single contract, known as a “block buy.”

The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise

A crane moving the lower stern into place on the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy at Huntington Ingalls Shipbuilding in Newport News, making the second Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier 50% structurally complete, on June 22, 2017.

(US Navy photo)

The Navy has said it will spend about billion on the first three Ford-class carriers, and it has touted the block buy as a way to save as much as billion over single contracts for the third and fourth ships. The program as a whole is expected to cost billion.

“This smart move will save taxpayer dollars and help ensure the shipyards can maintain a skilled workforce to get the job done,” Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia said after the Navy informed lawmakers of the decision.

Inhofe, however, remains wary.

He told Bloomberg that he looked forward to “the greater predictability and stability” provided by the block buy but called the purchase “a significant commitment” requiring “sustained investments for more than a decade” to get the billion in savings estimated by the Navy.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russian special forces staged a mock invasion near Finland

Russian special forces staged a mock invasion of an island in the Gulf of Finland just days before President Donald Trump is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Finnish capital.

The Russian forces parachuted onto the island of Gogland, which is part of Russia but located roughly 70 miles from Helsinki, from a Mi-8AMTSH helicopter at an altitude of 2,500 meters. The soldiers used satellite equipment to steer themselves to the landing site, according to a July 10, 2018 press release from the Russian Defense Ministry.

Once on the ground, the Russian forces camouflaged their parachutes and headed into the interior of the island to destroy a series of mock communications stations, radars, and ASM batteries, Defense One reports.


The island is equipped with a helipad, but after destroying the targets the soldiers prepared a landing site for the helicopter for their escape.

The soldiers who participated in the mock invasion had “not less than a hundred jumps with parachutes of various types,” according to the Russian Defense Ministry statement.

This exercise comes amid increasing concern from many European countries about Russian agression in the region in the wake of the 2014 annexation of Crimea.

Meanwhile, as Trump prepares to meet with Putin, some NATO member states seem to be concerned he’s too soft on the Russian leader and doesn’t fully value the historic alliance.

The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise

The 2018 NATO summit in Brussels.

At the NATO summit in Brussels on July 11, 2018, Trump baffled and angered other NATO leaders when he suggested Germany is “controlled” by Russia in relation to an energy partnership between the two countries.

Trump was widely criticized for his rhetoric and demeanor at the summit. Nicholas Burns, a former US ambassador to NATO, accused the president of “diplomatic malpractice” and expressed concern over Trump’s disposition toward Putin.

“You cannot imagine any American president all the way back 75 years deciding to become the critic-in-chief of NATO,” Burns said on July 11, 2018. “I mean, it’s Orwellian. He’s making our friends out to be our enemies and treating our enemies, like Putin, as our friends, and he’s misrepresenting the facts.”

Trump is scheduled to meet with Putin in Helsinki on July 16, 2018.

Prior to departing for Europe on July 10, 2018, the president suggested he was most looking forward to his summit with the Russian leader.

“I have NATO, I have the UK, which is in somewhat turmoil, and I have Putin. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all. Who would think? Who would think?” Trump said at the White House.

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

MIGHTY GAMING

6 times video games were mistaken for combat footage

It’s amazing how often the media gets worked up about amazing combat actions caught on camera only to find that the incredible “footage” is actually from a video game.


The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise
Pictured: Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense intercepting Hamas rockets near Tel Aviv.

Video games are pretty advanced these days and they, admittedly, look very realistic, but they aren’t that realistic. And the things soldiers do “caught on camera” in the “combat footage” is definitely not realistic.

It’s really astoundingly dumb how often this happens.

1. Russia’s Veterans Day.

Probably the worst time to f*ck this up. When Russian President Vladimir Putin was describing the heroism of Senior Lieutenant Alexander Prokhorenko, Russia’s state media made the worst edit possible. Prokhorenko was calling in airstrikes on ISIS positions near Palmyra, Syria in 2016. When surrounded with no way out, he called the fire onto himself, killing the oncoming ISIS fighters.

Russian state-owned news Channel 1 edited in a clip from a video game combat simulator, called ArmA. The bit is at 2:35 in the video below.

What happened here? There isn’t enough combat footage in Syria so we have to make it up now?

2. Russia “catches” extremist fighters with chemical weapons.

They caught us red-handed giving “extremist” troops truckloads of chemical ammunition — or so they thought. When Russia’s UK embassy tweeted this “damning evidence,” they were quickly outed. They stood by the tweet, though. It’s still up.

The video game here, as quickly pointed out, is Command and Conquer. It’s not even from the game, they got it from the game’s Wikipedia entry. It doesn’t get much lazier than that.

3. Russia’s Ministry of Defense accuses the U.S. of supplying ISIS.

This time, the Russians were trying to be a bit sneakier by intercutting the video game, AC-130 Gunship Simulator, with old footage of the Iraqi Air Force hitting a vehicle convoy.

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Tricky.

I’ll stop harping on Russian media using video game footage when they stop using video game footage.

4. Russia Today’s report on child soldiers in Sudan.

Dammit Russia, you are making this easy. As one former child soldier gives his story about fighting in the country’s civil war, the camera does an entirely unnecessary pan across an image from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

(RT | YouTube)

(It’s not as if there isn’t enough footage of African child soldiers. On RT’s YouTube page, they completely acknowledge it, so why keep it up? Or even use it in the first place?

5. UK news magazine tries to link the IRA to Muammar Gaddafi.

The United Kingdom’s ITV ran a documentary in September 2011, called Gaddafi and the IRA, which the British TV regulator Ofcom later found to be “materially misleading” and “a significant breach of audience trust.” What sparked the Ofcom investigation was footage of a helicopter being shot down by weapons supplied to the Libyan dictator.

The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise
Damn, you Gadaffi.

What the film labels “IRA film 1988” is actually ArmA 2, a sequel to the game Russia tried to pass off as real in the first item on this list. Nice work, Bohemia Interactive.

6. UN Security Council or UN Space Command?

Admittedly, this isn’t from combat, but it’s really hilarious (and just downright lazy). As the BBC was airing a report on Amnesty International’s real-life criticism of the UN Security Council, the logo of the UN Space Command from the super popular Halo series was used instead of the real UNSC’s logo.

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Sorry, Amnesty International.

You should know the real UNSC’s logo looks nothing like this… but if you do a Google image search for “UNSC Logo,” you see how some intern got fired in 2012.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Flags are now at half-mast to honor First Lady Barbara Bush

At outposts in Afghanistan and Iraq, on all the ships at sea, and wherever troops serve worldwide, flags are being flown at half-staff to honor the passing of former First Lady and military spouse Barbara Bush.

President Donald Trump called Mrs. Bush a “woman of character” in issuing the order that flags be flown at half-staff at all military installations.


“On this solemn day, we mourn the loss of Barbara Bush, an outstanding and memorable woman of character,” Trump said. “As a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, military spouse, and former First Lady, Mrs. Bush was an advocate of the American family.”

Bush, wife of the former President George H.W. Bush and mother of former President George W. Bush, died April 17, 2018, at age 92 at the family home in Houston, Texas. She was a Navy wife in World War II as her husband served in the Pacific.

The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise
Former First Lady Barbara Bush.

Mrs. Bush was only the second woman in American history to have a son follow his father to the White House. Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams and mother of John Quincy Adams, was the first.

In his statement, Trump said he was ordering flags flown at half-staff “at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations,” and “throughout the United States and its territories and possessions until sunset, on the day of interment.”

“I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same period at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations,” he said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This Navy SEAL describes being wounded in search for Bergdahl

A retired Navy SEAL wounded in the search for US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who walked away from his post in Afghanistan in 2009, testified about the harrowing firefight that ended his career.


Speaking at Bergdahl’s sentencing hearing Oct. 25, Senior Chief Petty Officer James Hatch choked up when describing how enemy combatants shot a trained dog that was with the team before shooting him just above his right knee.

“I really thought that I was going to die,” Hatch said.

Hatch walks with a limp after undergoing 18 surgeries to repair his leg.

The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise
Bowe Berghdal. Photo from US Army

The former Navy SEAL, forced to retire from the military after nearly 26 years of service because of injuries sustained while searching for Bergdahl, said he had known days before that the search was going to be hazardous.

Also Read: SEAL Team Six alum on mission to find Bergdahl wants justice for lost dog

“Somebody’s going to get killed or hurt trying to get that kid,” he recalled saying to his teammates.

Trump motion still pending

The hearing started with a surprise, as the judge, Colonel Jeffery R. Nance, said he was not yet ready to rule on the defense’s argument that recent comments by President Donald Trump had made a fair hearing impossible.

“I’m still considering it,” Nance said.

The Netherlands is launching its own massive aerial combat exercise
President Donald Trump’s remarks on Bergdahl may affect the sentencing now that he is the Commander in Chief. Photo from White House Flickr.

The defense has argued that the president seemed to endorse previous assertions, made when he was a presidential candidate, that Bergdahl was a traitor and deserved execution. As commander in chief, he is the superior officer of all the military officials responsible for disciplining Bergdahl.

Questioned by reporters last week about Bergdahl, Trump said he couldn’t say more on the case, “but I think people have heard my comments in the past.”

Last week, Bergdahl pleaded guilty at a court-martial hearing to charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. The latter carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Bergdahl’s sentencing hearing is expected to extend into next week.

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