This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years - We Are The Mighty
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This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years

The Navy’s largest shipyard maintained a private, off-the-books, and illegal security force for more than a decade after the 9/11 terror attacks, costing taxpayers $21 million, the Navy inspector general reports.


The Norfolk ship yard in Portsmouth, VA established an unsanctioned security force with a glut of funding in the early 2000s, then purchased millions of dollars of high-tech security equipment and hid it from the Navy authorities for years, the IG said.

“These folks are not law enforcement, but they wanted to be, and all of their actions were done to become a law enforcement organization,” Peter Lintner, deputy director of investigations at Naval Sea Systems Command, told Federal News Radio. “The stunning thing is that this happened over the course of seven commanding officers, and not a single one of them put a stop to it or really even had any visibility on it. Everybody just thought, ‘Well, they’re the good guys. They’re the security department. They’re not going to do anything wrong.’ In actuality, they were doing everything wrong, and they knew it.”

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years
A Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team crew, temporarily deployed from San Francisco, provides an escort for the USS Cole as the Navy destroyer returns to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. US Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class David Weydert.

The IG conducted the the investigation in 2014 after following a tip to the NAVSEA whistleblower hotline, but the report was only recently made available.

The security force acquired surplus equipment — including Berettas, ammunition, scopes, patrol boats, and vehicles — from the Defense Logistics Agency. Government Accountability Office investigators were able to purchase surplus military equipment for a fake law enforcement agency recently, proving that the process for purchasing military equipment is not very rigorous.

The IG estimates that the Navy spent $10.6 million on labor and payroll for the unsanctioned security force, and $10.4 million on the excess equipment.

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years
Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tyrell K. Morris

The Norfolk security crews went to extreme lengths to keep their stockpile of equipment a secret. They created fake license plates for their vehicles, and would move their cache of weapons and tech off-base whenever the Navy’s asset manager came around to take inventory.

“They drove all the vehicles out, loaded everything on the flatbed and stashed it in one of the back parking lots on the local naval base,” Lintner said. “When the asset manager got there, it was literally an empty warehouse, but the day before it had been packed full of tools, vehicles, all types of material.”

When investigators confronted those in charge, “they admitted they hid it deliberately,” Lintner said. “That’s what they said every time: ‘If anybody found out what we had, they would have taken it away from us and we wanted to be ready for any contingency.’  Their motto was, ‘It’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.'”

MIGHTY HISTORY

Why this Soldier was nicknamed the ‘popcorn colonel’ in Vietnam will make you laugh

When Lt. Colonel Richard J. Shaw arrived in Vietnam, he had already proven himself a valorous Soldier by fighting the Germans in WWII, going toe-to-toe with the Chinese in Korea, and now he was looking to go up against the Viet Cong.


Once he had made it to the jungle, Shaw was assigned as an advisor to a Vietnamese regiment consisting of around 3,000 troops. Shaw had his work cut out for him — his troops were spread out across three different locations within his area of observation.

After getting embedded with his Vietnamese counterparts, Shaw adapted the local lifestyle and ate the indigenous foods. His daily diet consisted of three cold rice bowls, wrapped in leaves and served with some fried fish. He did this every day for 11 straight months… holy sh*t.

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years
Sticky rice with black beans and coconut. A standard Vietnamese dish. This is more than what the colonel ate.
(Authenticworldfood.com)

Nearly a year later, Shaw’s weight had dropped dramatically due to light diet and all the physical activity required by fighting the enemy. The determined colonel was eventually pulled out of the jungle by his superiors and sent back to the rear to “fatten him up.”

Before taking time off for R&R, Shaw had sent a letter home asking his wife to send him some popcorn. Soon enough, a railroad cart arrived at Da Nang, where he was currently stationed — the goods had arrived. Shaw divided the popcorn kernels up between the three regiments and had them shipped to his friendly counterparts to be enjoyed.

Before Shaw headed back home for some much-earned time off, he befriended one of the regimental commanders, Capt. Tang. Shaw saved him three smaller bags of popcorn so he could take it back and share it with his family.

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years
UH-1B helicopters were commonly used for resupplying troops on the frontlines during the Vietnam War.

Eventually, Shaw returned to his troops and was surprised to meet a pissed-off Capt. Tang.

Apparently, the regimental commander took the popcorn kernels home and boiled them in water instead of cooking them in oil. Shaw just laughed at what he heard from his counterpart, who was still fuming in anger.

On that day, Shaw taught the loyal captain the proper way of cooking popcorn. The event earned Shaw the nickname of “popcorn colonel.”

Later, Lt. Colonel Shaw returned home from his Vietnam deployment and retired from honorable service in 1968.

Watch the American Heroes Channel‘s video below to hear the colonel’s humorous story for yourself.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Here’s the history of 10 bases that are named after Confederate soldiers

The United States is still grappling with the legacy of the Civil War, but legislators in the House of Representatives are moving to prevent the military from naming any assets — including bases and warships — after Confederate soldiers or any locations of Confederate victory, Politico reported.

A draft of the National Defense Authorization Act passed the House July 2019, and contains explicit language barring the practice. Even if this amendment is signed into law, it wouldn’t retroactively apply to assets currently honoring the Confederacy like the cruiser USS Chancellorsville, named for an important Confederate victory.

After a significant cultural reckoning with the legacy of the Confederacy, including the removal of statues and monuments honoring the Confederate dead, the military still uses 10 bases that honor Confederate soldiers — men that fought to uphold the practice of slavery.


“We are naming ships of the United States Navy after people who fought war against the United States,” a veteran told Navy Times.

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years

U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers jump out of a UH-60 Blackhawk, while fellow Soldiers swim to shore, as part of a Helocast event at Mott Lake at the 2019 U.S. Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition at Fort Bragg, N.C., June 27, 2019. This year’s Best Warrior Competition will determine the top noncommissioned officer and junior enlisted Soldier who will represent the U.S. Army Reserve in the Department of the Army Best Warrior Competition later this year at Fort A.P. Hill, Va.

(US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron Rognstad)

Ft. Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina is named for Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg.

Fort Bragg is home to the Airborne and Special Operations Forces. Established in 1918 as Camp Bragg, the base is one of the largest military installations in the world and employs about 57,000 military personnel, according to the Army.

Fort Bragg is also named after Braxton Bragg, a Confederate general and West Point graduate who was born in Warrenton, North Carolina. The Army’s history of the base doesn’t mention Bragg’s Confederate ties, saying instead that the base bears his name because of his success in the Mexican-American War that began in 1846.

According to the National Park Service, Bragg had resigned from the Army and “was overseeing his Louisiana plantation when the [Civil] war began.”

Bragg was apointed a brigadier general in 1861, commanding defenses from Pensacola, Florida to Mobile, Alabama. He later commanded the Army of Tennessee, and after a series of defeats, went to Richmond to advise Confederate President Jefferson Davis. He died in 1876.

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years

Marines with 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, head toward shooting point 26 aboard their Amphibious Assault Vehicles during a live fire exercise in participation with Mission Readiness Exercise at Fort. A.P. Hill, Va., June 18, 2019. The Reserve Marines are undergoing MRX to prepare for Integrated Training Exercise, which is an even larger scale training event that is necessary for the unit to operate efficiently for their upcoming deployment.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Markeith Hall)

Fort A.P. Hill is named for Ambrose Powell Hill, who was killed in the Civil War.

Fort A.P. Hill, located near Bowling Green, Virginia was established June 11, 1941 as a training installation, a role it still serves today. The Army estimates that 80,000 troops from all branches of the military trained here each year during the War on Terror. It also hosted the Boy Scout Jamboree every four years from 1981 to 2005, and in 2010 as well.

The Army calls A.P. (short for Ambrose Powell) Hill a “distinguished” Confederate general, and notes that John Wilkes Booth was killed nearby.

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years

Ambrose Powell Hill was a Lieutenant General in the Confederate Army.

(Library of Congress)

A.P. Hill served in the Confederate army.

Hill was born in Culpeper, Virginia, and was a graduate of West Point. He died in 1865 at the Third Battle of Petersburg, according to Military.com.

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years

Paratroopers file onto a C-17 aircraft for an airborne operation over Blackstone Army Airfield June 6. Many of the parachutists attended a morning ceremony at Fort Lee commemorating the airborne and other operations occuring 75 years ago on D-Day.

(Terrance Bell / US Army Garrison Fort Lee Public Affairs)

Fort Lee is named for Gen. Robert E. Lee, perhaps the most famous Confederate general.

Fort Lee, in Prince George County, Virginia, is named for Robert E. Lee, the Virginia general who was a slave owner. Fort Lee was established as Camp Lee in 1917, but the original site was dismantled after the end of World War I, but re-established during World War II. In 1950, it was formally renamed Fort Lee, and it’s now the Army’s third-largest training site.

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years

(The Library of Congress)

Robert E. Lee was one of the Confederacy’s most famous figures. He surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant in 1865, ending the Civil War.

The commander of the Confederate States Army, Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865. He was reportedly a cruel slavemaster, breaking up slave families, ordering runaway slaves to be mercilessly whipped, and captured and enslaved free Black people when his army fought in Pennsylvania, according to The Atlantic.

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years

Parachutists line up for their flight on a Chinook helicopter Nov. 29 at Blackstone Army Airfield.

(Terrance Bell / US Army Garrison Fort Lee Public Affairs)

Fort Pickett is named for Maj. Gen. George Pickett, who led an eponymous, ill-fated charge in the Battle of Gettysburg.

Fort Pickett is a Virginia National Guard installation near Blackstone, Virginia. It was established as Camp Pickett on July 3, 1942 at 3:00 PM — 79 years to the hour after Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett began his charge at the Battle of Gettysburg, as the Virginia National Guard notes.

Fort Pickett hosts the Virginia National Guard and Air Guard.

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years

Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett.

(Library of Congress)

Maj. Gen. George Pickett left the US Army to join the Confederate Army in 1861.

Pickett graduated last in his class from West Point in 1846. He lost more than half his command during the charge up Cemetery Ridge during the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, according to the National Parks Service.

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years

U.S. Army Reserve Spc. Darius Davis, a Combat Documentation Production Specialist with the 982nd Signal Company (Combat Camera)(Airborne), fires from the kneeling position during the M16 qualification range of the 335th Signal Command (Theater) Best Warrior Competition 2019 at Fort Gordon, Georgia, April 19, 2019.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Leron Richards)

Fort Gordon is home to the US Army Cyber Corps and Signal Corps.

Fort Gordon was established as Camp Gordon in Georgia during World War II. German and Italian prisoners of war were kept there during the war, and the remains of 22 POWs are buried there, according to the Army.

Gordon rose to become a Confederate general.

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years

Soldiers conduct pathfinder training at the Liberty Pickup Zone on post March 21, 2019. During this portion of the training Soldiers conduct a VIRS Transmission and airborne operations from UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. The U.S. Army pathfinder School teaches Soldiers to infiltrate areas and set up parachute drop zones for airborne and air assault operations.

(U.S. Army photo by Patrick Albright)

Fort Benning, also in Georgia, is named for Brig. Gen. Henry Benning, who was born in Georgia.

Brig. Gen. Henry Benning was “an outstanding lawyer-turned-soldier from Columbus,” and the base honoring him was founded October 7, 1918, according to the Army.

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years

A C-12 Huron, from Fort Rucker, Alabama, arrives on the flight line at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Sept. 12, 2018. The aircraft evacuated to Barksdale as a proactive measure to prevent possible damage from Hurricane Florence.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Lillian Miller)

Fort Rucker is named after Col. Edmund Rucker.

Fort Rucker, an Army Aviation training base in Alabama, was established May 1, 1942. Edmund Rucker was a Confederate colonel — not a general — and became an industrial leader in Alabama after the war. German and Italian prisoners of war were held nearby during World War II, according to the Army.

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years

Louisiana National Guard Airmen and Soldiers compete in the Adjutant General’s Match at Camp Beauregard in Pineville, Louisiana, Oct. 19-20, 2017.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Noshoba Davis)

Louisiana’s Camp Beauregard is named for Gen. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard.

Louisiana’s National Guard calls Camp Beauregard, located in Pineville, Louisiana, home. Beauregard was a West Point graduate, and championed the use of what we now recognize as the Confederate flag, according to The Washington Post.

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years

U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), clear an urban environment during brigade live fire exercise at Fort Polk, La. Mar.11, 2019

(U.S. Army photo by Capt. Justin Wright)

Louisiana’s Fort Polk is named for Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk.

Polk was a second cousin of US President James Polk, and died during the Battle of Atlanta. Polk was a West Point graduate but served as an Episcopal priest until he joined the Confederacy, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Fort Polk, located in central Louisiana, hosts the Army’s Joint Readiness Training Center.

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years

Students at Fort Hood Air Assault school conduct rappel operations. The Soldiers who participated in the training learned the basics of Air Assault operations from the instructors of the Phantom Warrior Academy.

(Photo by Sgt. Gregory Hunter)

Fort Hood is named for Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood.

Fort Hood opened in 1942 and is now the largest active-duty armored post in the Armed Forces, according to the Army. It’s named for John Bell Hood, who was a West Point graduate who served in the US Army until the Civil War, when he joined the Confederacy, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

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

Articles

This newspaper legend and veteran Navy officer savaged a reader for questioning his patriotism

Benjamin C. Bradlee was a legendary newsman who led The Washington Post through the Pentagon Papers Affair and the Watergate Scandal, stories that cemented the publication’s world-class status. He set the standard for excellence in journalism and organizational leadership. He also had a legendary sense of humor.


This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years

He studied at Harvard, where he was a member of the university’s Navy Reserve Officers Training Corps detachment. Shortly after graduating in 1942, he was sent to the Pacific Theater as a newly-minted ensign. At 20 years old, he was made officer of the deck. At 21, he was, as he put it, “driving a ship around the Pacific Ocean.” He chose the Navy for a reason.

“That was such a “good war,”  he told the U.S. Naval Institute’s Naval History magazine. “And serving in the Navy was such a guarantee of action. You weren’t going out to the Pacific Ocean in a destroyer or cruiser without being in the middle of it all.” He was onboard the USS Philip, a destroyer in the Solomon Islands campaign.

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years
USS Philip (U.S. Navy photo)

In that same 1995 interview, he recalled a time when a reader questioned his patriotism, loyalty, and integrity.

“A guy once wrote a letter to me that started off, ‘Dear Communist,'” Bradlee said. “He impugned my patriotism and certainly impugned my war. I promptly wrote back, ‘Dear A-hole. This is what I did during the war, so don’t give me any sh-t.’ It turned out that he had been in the Marine Corps during the war. We had taken his division to Bougainville and then to Saipan. We had been in some of the same battles. He wrote back, saying I wasn’t such a bad guy after all, and we started a great correspondence.”

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years
President Barack Obama awards the 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom to Ben Bradlee during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Nov. 20, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

His obituary, written by the 50-year veteran Post reporter, Robert G. Kaiser also remembered Bradlee’s patriotism in the same vein:

“Mr. Bradlee’s wartime experience left him an unabashed patriot who bristled whenever critics of the newspaper accused it of helping America’s enemies. He sometimes agreed to keep stories out of the paper when government officials convinced him that they might cause serious harm.”

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years
The President and Mrs. Kennedy with Mr. Mrs. Benjamin C. Bradlee in May 1963. (Kennedy Presidential Library photo)

He became the leader of The Washington Post newsroom in 1965, transforming it in what his Washington Post obituary describes as “combining compelling news stories based on aggressive reporting with engaging feature pieces of a kind previously associated with the best magazines… charm and gift for leadership helped him hire and inspire a talented staff and eventually made him the most celebrated newspaper editor of his era.”

He was almost awarded a Purple Heart for taking a piece of Japanese shrapnel in rear — his rear, not the ship’s — a piece he kept for most of his life.

“It must have hit the deck first or maybe even the stack, then the deck, and then bounced up and hit me in the ass. It was hot when I picked it up. I had it here on my desk, but one of the kids took it to school for show-and-tell and never brought it back.”

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years
(Photo by Miguel Ariel Contreras Drake-McLaughlin)

For his life’s work, Bradlee was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor the United States can give a civilian, in 2013. He died the next year at age 93.

MIGHTY CULTURE

There’s a current Army helicopter you may have never seen

While Black Hawks, Apaches, and Chinooks usually get top billing when the Army comes out to play at air shows and sporting events (plus the occasional MH-6 Little Bird when special operation aviators come to play), the service does have another helicopter quietly working behind the scenes to plug crucial gaps: the UH-72 Lakota.


This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years

(New Jersey National Guard Mark Olsen)

There are a few reasons why you may not know much about the Lakota. First, there aren’t very many of them. While the Army has over 2,000 Black Hawks, there are less than 500 UH-72 Lakotas. And a new purchase of less than a dozen UH-72 airframes can trigger news coverage. Meanwhile, even the expensive and relatively niche Apache fleet boasts over 650 birds.

But another reason the Lakota doesn’t usually get on the front page is that it doesn’t deploy. It wasn’t purchased to deploy, and then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno told Congress that it couldn’t go overseas as currently configured. It simply doesn’t have the necessary systems to protect itself from enemy fire and keep its pilots alive after crashes.

But the missions the Lakota can do are still important. It’s a workhorse that can fly in rough weather and provide assistance during disaster response. That’s a big part of why it’s primarily flown by National Guard units. It may not be expected to fight and win in the deserts of the Middle East, but it can hoist a family out of hell or high water during a wildfire or flood.

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years

(Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office Scott Sturkol)

And it can do so at a discount. It costs 30 to 50 percent less to fly per flight hour than a Black Hawk according to Sikorsky estimates, partially thanks to the lack of all those protective systems that a Black Hawk has.

It first flew in 2006, making it the youngest helicopter in the Army’s fleet. It has two engines that supply over 1,400 shaft horsepower to the main rotor over 36-feet in diameter. The main and tail rotors are intentionally set higher than normal above the ground so that, when the helicopter is on the ground, it’s still relatively safe to load patients, passengers, or cargo into the side or rear doors.

This is especially valuable when the UH-72 is used as an air ambulance, which it often is. Litter crews can load a patient in quickly and safely from multiple angles, and the helicopter can carry two litters and a medic per flight. In its utility role, it can carry eight troops instead of the two passengers.

It can reach a maximum altitude of 18,000 feet, pretty close to the Black Hawk’s 19,000 feet ceiling. Though, again, that’s largely thanks to all the gizmos the Lakota doesn’t need for its peacetime missions. The newest Black Hawk has way more power at over 3,600 shaft horsepower, more than 2.5X the Lakota’s.

All of this makes the Lakota great for homeland security and disaster response, and the Army has even made it the primary helicopter in its training fleet.

But don’t expect it to become the shiny crown jewel in the Army’s fleet. Modifying the Lakota to take on the Black Hawk’s mission or anything similar would drastically drive up costs and, without upgraded engines, adds little in terms of capability. And the Army is already shopping for more exotic designs like the tilt-rotor V-280 Valor and Sikorsky’s S-97 Raider with its compound rotor and push propeller.

Articles

Fast-mover hit by enemy ground fire over Afghanistan

 


This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years
An F-16 launching with external fuel tanks.

AFP is reporting that an American F-16 was hit by small arms fire over Paktia Province in eastern Afghanistan over the weekend. The damage to the jet was severe enough that the pilot decided to jettison all external stores (drop tanks and bombs) before returning to Bagram Air Base north of Kabul.

Although a number of rotary wing aircraft have been shot down or damaged by ground fire while operating over Afghanistan, tactical jets have been basically untouched by the enemy since the first airstrikes started in October of 2001.  The Taliban don’t have much in the way of an integrated air defense system (a la Desert Storm-era Iraq), and jets can usually remain out of the reach of shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles (like Stingers) and small arms fire by flying above 10,000 feet while delivering GBUs or JDAMs.

So, in order to have been hit by bullets, the F-16 pilot had to have been flying pretty low.  Pilots generally fly low for two reasons:  A “show of force” pass or a strafing run.  Non-precision (“dumb”) bombing can cause a pilot to bottom out at low altitude, but it’s unlikely the Falcon was carrying other than smart weapons, even for a close air support mission.

The Taliban claimed to have downed the F-16 and pictures have emerged of them posing with wreckage, but the U.S. military responded with the following statement: “On October 13, a US F-16 encountered small arms fire in the Paktia Province in Afghanistan. The surface to air fire impacted one of the aircraft’s stabilizers and caused damage to one of the munitions.”

Now: 4 things that made the F-16 years ahead of its time

MIGHTY TRENDING

ISIS is asking its followers to take aim at this tropical destination

A recent Islamic State video calls upon would-be jihadis to join the terrorist group in the Philippines rather than the core caliphate in Syria, an NBC News analysis reveals.


The video specifically instructs any would-be travelers in the Asia-Pacific region to go to the Philippines instead of trying to travel to the core caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

“Come forth to the land of jihad. Perform hijrah. Come forth to … Marawi,” a militant instructs in the video.

ISIS fighters remain besieged in the Filipino city of Marawi, where it has mounted a months-long surprisingly robust insurgency. The battle for Marawai has displaced hundreds of thousands of residents and began during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The terrorist group frequently uses the holy month as an excuse to mount some of its deadliest operations. Dozens of Filipino soldiers have been killed in the ensuing siege.

The group’s loss of territory has caused a concerted change in the terrorist organization’s propaganda efforts, which now tell fighters to either carry out attacks in their home countries or travel to one of the group’s affiliate chapters.

ISIS also has active affiliates in Afghanistan, Egypt, and Libya, each of which command the loyalty of hundreds, if not thousands, of fighters. Many of its affiliates have been linked to high-profile attacks in their host countries and even plots against the West.

Articles

Philippines going from old to older with close air support airplane

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years
AC-47


The Philippine Air Force may be replacing an old airplane with an even older one.

According to a report by Janes.com, the OV-10 Broncos currently in service with the PAF are in need of replacement, and Basler Turbo Conversions of OshKosh Wisconsin is stepping in to offer an updated version of the C-47 Skytrain cargo plane. The Philippines are currently battling the Islamist terror group known as Abu Sayyaf, and these gunships could be valuable – just as AC-130s have proven valuable for American forces in the same environment.

Over 10,000 C-47s were built before and during World War II along with the civilian DC-3, or licensed production versions made by Japan (the L2D) and the Soviet Union (the Li-2). So, finding the airframes is not hard in spite of the platform’s age.

The AC-47D was the first gunship modification, using three side-mounted GAU-2 Miniguns, entering service in 1964. Each GAU-2 could fire up to 2,000 7.62mm NATO rounds a minute. The AC-47s gained a reputation among Special Operations troops on the ground for providing reliable support. Two AC-47s were later provided to the El Salvadoran Air Force during that country’s civil war.

The AC-47T was first put into service by the Colombian Air Force in 2006, to fight against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, also known as FARC. The gunships would be rigged with two GAU-19 .50-caliber Gatling guns, bombs, and even some French M621 20mm cannon (mostly used on helicopters and patrol craft).

The baseline for the AC-47T is Basler’s BT-67 transport. This transport uses two Pratt and Whitney PT6A-67R turboprop engines in place of the Pratt and Whitney R-1830 engines, giving it a top speed of 210 knots. With a long range fuel tank, it can travel over 2400 nautical miles – over a thousand nautical miles more than the original versions could! Various upgraded versions of the C-47 are still in service with Greece, South Africa, Colombia, and El Salvador . . . and the U.S. State Department.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

This is the Russian spy unit that keeps getting caught in the act

Most of us think of highly-trained spies and espionage units as the best of the best, Cold War ninjas who would never dream of getting caught lest they be disavowed by Washington, Moscow, London, or wherever they come from.

If 1980s-era film and television has taught us anything, it’s that the Russian spy agencies are among the best of the best. If that was true, something is severely lacking lately, because one of their spy units keeps getting caught doing some high-profile greasy stuff.


Russia’s GRU unit 29155 was recently outed as the unit behind the alleged payment of bounties to the Taliban for killing U.S. troops in Afghanistan. But that’s not the only high-visibility mission that was uncovered in recent days. 29155 was also allegedly behind the effort to hack Hillary Clinton’s State Department emails during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the assassination of former KGB spy Sergei Skripal in England, and an attempted coup in Montenegro.

The unit is part of the Russian military intelligence apparatus, responsible for intelligence gathering and operations outside of the Russian Federation. The GRU (as it’s known outside of Russia and the former Soviet Union) was not as widely known or regarded as the Soviet KGB or the KGB’s antecedents, the Russian SVR and FSB, but today it is the go-to agency for military-related operations.

Why? Because it deploys six times as many foriegn operatives as the FSB or SVR. The GRU is Russia’s largest foreign security service. But unlike the KGB, the GRU has been largely unchanged since its Soviet heyday.

The GRU is the unit that takes on the most important military operations, like say, partnering with the Taliban or killing off former Soviet spies. But Foreign Policy says their work has been pretty sloppy in the past few years.

In the case of bounties on American troops in Afghanistan, U.S. intelligence services were actually able to track bank transfers between the Taliban and GRU accounts overseas. As for the other plots, it didn’t even require intelligence services. Media outlets inside and outside of Russia have been able to track members of 29155 because they kept reusing aliases with questionable cover stories to travel throughout the world.

Using these bits of information, the movement of GRU assets was relatively easy to track for the media, who published their findings. It was so easy, the information was confirmed by multiple countries’ intelligence agencies. The members of 29155 were mapped and tracked all over Europe.

Two of the 29155’s agents, Alexander Petrov (really Alexander Mishkin) and Ruslan Boshirov (real name Anatoliy Chepiga), were caught red-handed by Scotland Yard on closed-circuit tv cameras in the 2018 assassination plot of Sergei Skripal.

In that plot, the use of a Soviet nerve agent, along with the GRU operatives, led investigators not only to 29155, but to Chepiga entire graduating class of the GRU academy. From there, they uncovered plots to poison an arms dealer, interfering in elections in Spain, and even a coup in NATO member Montenegro.

Western intelligence saw the effort as a “Rosettta Stone” in reading Russian intelligence movements abroad.

Whoops.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why North Korea suddenly stopped its aggression

One of the highest-ever ranked defectors from North Korea said Feb. 14, 2018 that Kim Jong Un is now engaging in diplomacy with South Korea because he fears a US military strike on North Korea.


“Kim Jong Un is afraid that the US will launch a preventative strike, and he is trying to buy time to complete his nuclear and missile programs,” said Ri Jong Ho, Yonhap News Agency reported. Ri, who worked for three decades in the North Korean office responsible for raising funds for Kim, was speaking at a Wilson Center Forum in Washington.

Also read: South Korea’s special ops wants to kill Kim Jong Un with suicide drones

According to Ri, not only are President Donald Trump’s threats of military action having an effect on North Korea, the US’s diplomatic efforts to lock Pyongyang out of international trade have also started to bite.

“Kim Jong Un is struggling under the strongest-yet sanctions and military and diplomatic pressure, so he is trying to improve the situation by putting on a false front,” Ri said.

Ri, who defected in 2014, likely doesn’t know the current thinking in Pyongyang, but may have knowledge of the economic situation before the sanctions. Ri’s statements follow a handful of moves from the Trump administration that appeared to signal that they were on the verge of striking North Korea.

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

But Ri’s statements also conjured up one of the US’s worst fears in North Korea by suggesting that Kim did not legitimately want to pursue peace with South Korea, but rather that he wanted to use the ruse of diplomacy to buy time while he advances his nuclear program and continues to hold South Korean civilians at risk.

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years
(Photo from North Korean State Media)

“Depending on the circumstances, North Korea could hold South Koreans hostage and continue its threatening provocations,” Ri said.

Ri’s thinking seems to agree with US Navy Adm. Harry Harris, who recently assumed command of the US military’s Pacific and Asian theater of operation, PACOM.

Kim is “after reunification under a single communist system, so he is after what his grandfather failed to do and his father failed to do,” Harris said, in testimony to the House Armed Services Committee.

Read more: How Kim Jong Un became one of the world’s scariest dictators

But Kim’s end game is irrelevant at the present. There’s evidence that a US-led sanctions campaign has begun to work against the Kim regime, and North Korea could be hurting economically. Moves in Trump’s inner circle seem to heavily suggest he’s considering responding to future North Korean provocations with force.

No president before Trump has coordinated as great an international sanctions regime on North Korea, and none have so seriously offered up use of military force as an option.

In response, Kim has made the unprecedented move of agreeing to meet with a foreign head of state for the first time, and abandoned talk of preconditions beforehand, which some see as a concession.

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Navy bans e-cigarettes on all ships and subs

The US Navy is banning vaping aboard ships, submarines, aircraft, boats, craft and heavy equipment.


The Navy announced April 14 that it is suspending the use, possession, storage and charging of so-called “Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems” aboard navy craft following continued reports of explosions of ENDS due to the overheating of lithium-ion batteries.

The prohibition applies to sailors, Marines, Military Sealift Command civilians and any personnel working on or visiting those units.

The Navy said it implemented this policy to protect the safety and welfare of sailors and to protect the ships, submarines, aircraft and equipment. Multiple sailors have suffered serious injuries from these devices, to include first- and second-degree burns and facial disfigurement. In these cases, injuries resulted from battery explosions during ENDS use, charging, replacement or inadvertent contact with a metal object while transporting.

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years
(Photo via Department of Defense)

The prohibition will be effective 30 days from the release of the policy May 14, and will remain in effect until a final determination can be made following a thorough analysis.

Deployed units may request extensions on device removal until their next port visit. Supervisors should ensure that removable lithium-ion batteries are removed from the units and stored according to the ENDS manufacturer instructions, in plastic wrap, in a plastic bag or any other non-conductive storage container.

Sailors on shore will still be allowed to use ENDS on base, but must do so in designated smoking areas ashore while on military installations.

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Mattis wants Pentagon to nix training that doesn’t enhance troops’ ‘lethality’

Secretary of Defense James Mattis has ordered a full review of any military training not directly relevant to warfighting.


Mattis told the services to conduct a review of the “requirements for mandatory force training that does not directly support core tasks,” according to a July 21 memo obtained by Military Times.

In other words, Mattis wants a full examination of all the hours of burdensome, irrelevant training service members have to undergo before deployment.

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years
DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith

“I want to verify that our military policies also support and enhance warfighting readiness and force lethality,” Mattis said.

Mattis also asked for a review into what should be done about permanently non-deployable service members.

The memo states that the review will be headed by a working group under the Pentagon’s undersecretary for personnel and readiness, a position currently occupied by Anthony M. Kurta. While President Donald Trump recently tapped Robert Wilkie for the job, Wilkie has not yet been confirmed by the Senate.

Mattis has recently involved himself in various personnel issues, particularly by encouraging Congress to block an amendment by GOP Rep. Vicky Hartzler to the annual defense budget bill that would have prevented Department of Defense funds from being used to pay for transgender medical treatments. Hartzler’s amendment failed after 24 Republicans voted against it.

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years
Photo courtesy of US Army

Recommendations from the new review Mattis has set in motion are due by Dec. 1, 2018.

During his presidential campaign, Trump spoke to a veterans’ group in Oct. 2016 and said “we’re gonna get away from political correctness” in response to a question about social engineering in the military.

“But you’re right, we have a politically correct military and it’s getting more and more politically correct every day. And a lot of the great people in this room don’t even understand how it’s possible to do that.” he said.

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13 best military memes for the week of Dec. 23

Look, if you’re not on Christmas block leave or libo or whatever your branch calls it by now, then you’re probably not going on it.


Let’s all just sit together with the funny military memes and try not to imagine what all those people with Christmas trees and matching pajamas are doing right now.

1. It’s the only dessert made up of 50 percent sadness (via Coast Guard Memes).

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years
The culinary specialists really know how to make it feel like home.

2. Gotta hit the ground running (via Air Force Memes Humor).

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years
Welcome to the Air Force, with a vengeance.

3. That yellow bird is tired of your cadence calls (via Awesome Sh*t My Drill Sergeant Said).

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years
First, the mice. Then, the Corps!

ALSO READ: This C-130 landing on an aircraft carrier will make you rethink physics

4. Stay low on your pushups and avoid burpees (via The Salty Soldier).

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years
Hopefully, the tall fellow will take the hit and absorb most of the blast.

5. Dig deep, everyone (via Air Force amn/nco/snco).

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years
The Air Force wants to at least get a laugh when you hurt their feelings.

6. Saving more Lincoln’s than a private box seat (via Sh-t My Recruiter Said).

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years
Just in time for Christmas, too.

7. Congrats on your restored ratings, Navy!

(via Sh-t my LPO says)

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years
Now, we are all one with the Rates.

8. Don’t necessarily want to fight another nation, but it would be super nice to have clear target identification (via Pop smoke).

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years

9. Remember to do some pushups between desserts over holiday leave (via The Salty Soldier).

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years
Plus five burpees per present on Christmas morning.

10. If you think throwing up double birds when PCSing is fun, just wait till you ETS (via Lost in the Sauce).

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years
This one goes out to my first brigade CSM.

11. When you’re not about that Rack City life (via Sh-t my LPO says).

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years
Not sure I can come up with 956 names.

12. In their defense, the table looks super stable (via Military World).

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years
I hope they were getting ready for a safety powerpoint.

13. Oooh, how will you survive?

(via Decelerate Your Life)

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years
Does the Air Force only use two fingers for their knife hands? It’s like a stiletto hand or something.

Secret bonus meme 1: My Coast Guard contacts have assured me that this is brilliant (via Coast Guard Memes).

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years

Secret bonus meme 2: Really, guys? This is literally an entire football field. Including the end zones (via Maintainer Humor).

This huge Navy shipyard allegedly funded an illegal security militia for years

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