This soldier recounts celebrating Halloween in Baghdad with a toga party - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

This soldier recounts celebrating Halloween in Baghdad with a toga party

John Daniel was an Army infantryman who remembers his Iraq deployment as long, hard, and constantly on the move.


Though is unit suffered its share of casualties, miraculously there were no fatalities. So to celebrate a KIA-free deployment, he and his men snuck some bootleg hooch and had a toga party.

Daniel has many tattoos — from a Roman helmet atop modern combat boots to his staff sergeant’s favorite phrase “Pain and Repetition.” He points to the one on his shoulder with particular pride. It reads: “The Real 1%ers.”

“We’re the ones in America who will stand up to fight and defend our country,” Daniel explains.

Daniel’s story is part of a video series presented by We Are The Mighty. War Ink: 11 for 11 features 11 combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan using tattoos to tell their stories on and off the battlefield. Each week for the next 11 weeks, a different tattooed veteran will share his or her story.

Do you have a tattoo that tells the story of your war experiences? Post a photo of it at We Are The Mighty’s Facebook page with the hashtag #WeAreTheMightyInk. WATM will be teeing up the coolest and most intense ones through Veteran’s Day.

Video Credit: Rebecca Murga and Karen Kraft

MIGHTY TACTICAL

F-22 extends its reach with new missiles and software

The Air Force and Lockheed Martin have now “validated” several new weapons on the F-22 Raptor to equip the stealth fighter with more long-range precision attack technology, a wider targeting envelope or “field of regard,” and new networking technology enabling improved, real-time “collaborative targeting” between aircraft.

The two new weapons, which have been under testing and development for several years now, are advanced variants of existing weapons — the AIM-9X air-to-air missile and the AIM 120-D. Upgraded variants of each are slated to be operational by as soon as 2019.

The new AIM-9X will shoot farther and reach a much larger targeting envelope for pilots. Working with a variety of helmets and display systems, Lockheed developers have added “off-boresight” targeting ability enabling pilots to attack enemies from a wide range of new angles.


“It is a much more agile missile with an improved seeker and a better field of regard. You can shoot over your shoulder. If enemies get behind me in a close-in fight, I have the right targeting on the plane to shoot them,” Ken Merchant, Vice President, F-22, Lockheed, told Warrior Maven in an interview.

Raytheon AIM-9X weapons developers have told Warrior that the Block 2 variant adds a redesigned fuze and a digital ignition safety device that enhances ground handling and in-flight safety. Block II also features updated electronics that enable significant enhancements, including lock-on-after-launch capability using a new weapon datalink to support beyond visual range engagements, a Raytheon statement said.

Another part of the weapons upgrade includes engineering the F-22 to fire the AIM-120D, a beyond visual range Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), designed for all weather day-and-night attacks; it is a “fire and forget” missile with active transmit radar guidance, Raytheon data states.

This soldier recounts celebrating Halloween in Baghdad with a toga party

An F-22 flyover.

(US Air Force photo)

The AIM-120D is built with upgrades to previous AMRAAM missiles by increasing attack range, GPS navigation, inertial measurement units, and a two-way data link, Raytheon statements explain.

“The new AIM-120D uses a better seeker and is more maneuverable with better countermeasures,” Merchant said.

As the Air Force and Lockheed Martin move forward with weapons envelope expansions and enhancements for the F-22, there is of course a commensurate need to upgrade software and its on-board sensors to adjust to emerging future threats, industry developers explained. Ultimately, this effort will lead the Air Force to draft up requirements for new F-22 sensors.

F-22 lethality is also getting vastly improved through integration of new two-way LINK 16 data link connectivity between aircraft, something which will help expedite real-time airborne “collaborative targeting.”

“We have had LINK 16 receive, but we have not been able to share what is on the Raptor digitally. We have been doing it all through voice,” Merchant explained.

Having a digital ability to transmit fast-changing, combat relevant targeting information from an F-22 cockpit — without needing voice radios — lessens the risk associated with more “jammable” or “hackable” communications.

F-22 Technologies

Newer F-22s have a technology called Synthetic Aperture Radar, or SAR, which uses electromagnetic signals or “pings” to deliver a picture or rendering of the terrain below, allowing better target identification.

The SAR technology sends a ping to the ground and then analyzes the return signal to calculate the contours, distance and characteristics of the ground below.

This soldier recounts celebrating Halloween in Baghdad with a toga party

An F-22A Raptor from the 27th Fighter Squadron “Fighting Eagles” located at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, fires an AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile and an AIM-9M sidewinder heat-seeking air-to-air missile at an BQM-34P “Fire-bee” subscale aerial target drone over the Gulf of Mexico during a Combat Archer mission.

(US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Michael Ammons)

The F-22 is also known for its “super cruise” technology which enables the fighter to reach speeds of Mach 1.5 without needing to turn on its after burners. This enables the fighter to travel faster and farther on less fuel, a scenario which expands its time for combat missions.

The fighter jet fires a 20mm cannon and has the ability to carry and fire all the air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons including precision-guided ground bombs, such Joint Direct Attack Munitions called the GBU 32 and GBU 39.

It also uses what’s called a radar-warning receiver — a technology with an updateable database called “mission data files” designed to recognize a wide-range of enemy fighters, much like the F-35.

Made by Lockheed Martin and Boeing, the F-22 uses two Pratt Whitney F119-PW-100 turbofan engines with afterburners and two-dimensional thrust vectoring nozzles, an Air Force statement said. It is 16-feet tall, 62-feet long and weighs 43,340 pounds. Its maximum take-off weight is 83,500.

The aircraft was first introduced in December of 2005; the F-22 Raptor fighter jet delivered some of the first strikes in the U.S.-led attacks on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, when aerial bombing began in 2014, service officials told Warrior.

After delivering some of the first strikes in the U.S. Coalition-led military action against ISIS, the F-22 began to shift its focus from an air-dominance mission to one more focused on supporting attacks on the ground.

For the long term, given that the Air Force plans to fly the F-22 well into the 2060s, these weapons upgrades are engineered to build the technical foundation needed to help integrate a new generation of air-to-air missiles as they emerge in coming years.

“Our intent is to make sure we keep our first look, first shot, first kill mantra,” Merchant said.

This article originally appeared on Warrior Maven. Follow @warriormaven1 on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Master fitness trainers help soldiers prepare for combat

Master Fitness Training instructors work tirelessly to coach soldiers from across the Army in developing new ways to prepare them for combat, while in the process, helping increase readiness and lowering profiles up to 40%, says the fitness school NCOIC.

Wanting to better understand the effectiveness of the fitness program, Master Sgt. Joseph Komes, U.S. Army Physical Fitness School noncommissioned officer in charge, used a roster based on thousands of soldiers, all previously certified at the school, and sent a questionnaire to understand the school’s effectiveness.

Shortly after, the responses started pouring in.


“What I started seeing was that trainers were increasing their unit readiness,” he said. “The way I measured unit readiness was only by PT scores and profile rates, because, I’m just one guy in an office trying to figure out if what we’re doing is working.”

This soldier recounts celebrating Halloween in Baghdad with a toga party

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Michael J. MacLeod)

Komes also determined individual units, armed with certified fitness trainers, decreased their profile rates by close to 40%. However, Komes added, “I don’t know if those individuals were on a two-week profile and they just ended up falling off during the training program or what.”

That said, the responses were useful and answered his question. In addition, it gave fitness instructors at the school a better understanding of how worthwhile their program is, and with the Army Combat Fitness Test in its second phase of implementation, the timing couldn’t be better, he said.

Scheduled to be the test of record in October 2020, the ACFT is the Army’s largest physical fitness overhaul in nearly four decades. Like physical readiness training, something the instructors are experts in, the ACFT is part of a larger “reset” to build a more combat-ready force.

To meet the demands of the six-event ACFT, instructors from the school have already certified thousands of soldiers from around the Army to develop physical programs to bring back to their units. In addition, the selected soldiers are trained on a variety of skills vital to the ACFT, including how to set up the testing field, as well as supervising and grading the test.

According to Komes, in the past, physical training programs “lost touch” with combat readiness. Regarding PT, soldiers were forced to “run four days out of the week and ruck on the fifth,” which led to injuries and an overall decrease in a soldier’s lethality.

This soldier recounts celebrating Halloween in Baghdad with a toga party

Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers conduct a sunrise run during annual training at Fort Stewart, Ga., Jan. 11, 2017.

(U.S. Army photo by Capt. William Carraway)

He added, “That’s just the way PT was always done, and it’s our job is to help soldiers sit down and strategically assess their mission, and prevent injuries from happening. [They should think] Okay, I have a training event nine weeks from now — where we’re going to enter a building and clear room — how do we physically, and safely prepare for this?”

That’s where the master fitness trainer comes in, he said.

“These days, we have better knowledge to increase overall unit performance during a deployment,” he said. “[Master Fitness Training instructors] are doing their best to implement that [knowledge] and shape the future for the Army.”

When fitness instructors certify trainers, they’re thinking of each individual soldier and the unique needs required to be successful — even at that basic level, he said.

“We’re looking at them as individuals and not just as just a big mass,” Komes said. “I think with the ACFT around the corner, it seems like that’s the mindset that’s important, because every person has their own requirements.”

Komes added, it’s vital for trainers to know their soldiers and know what they need to be successful on the ACFT.

“Our trainers understand that we have to physically prepare individuals to complete the Army’s mission,” he added. “It’s very humbling for us to give soldiers, from all three components of the Army, the tools to succeed because the folks who leave here go back to those individual soldiers.”

“Everyone is different,” he said. “Some soldiers could be attached to National Guard units, and implementing a PT program once a month is challenging, or they could be military police and work odd shifts.”

Being able to “crack the code and see the challenges from different perspectives” is a daily task the trainers and instructors grapple with, he said, adding, that “having a fitness trainer all the way down to the platoon level” would be ideal. However, the trainers who leave the fitness school only reach the company level, for active duty.

This soldier recounts celebrating Halloween in Baghdad with a toga party

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Danny Gonzalez, Recruiting and Retention Command, New Jersey Army National Guard, carries two 40-pound kettlebells during the Army Combat Fitness Test

(New Jersey National Guard photo by Mark C. Olsen)

“We already know each individual is different, but each individual platoon is different, too,” he said. “Each platoon is training for a different goal.”

That’s also where certified master fitness trainers come in, he added. “Certified trainers are able to go to their units with a wealth of knowledge, and look at essential task list and identify the most daunting task and develop a physical fitness program based on those tasks to increase the overall performance.”

When Komes first arrived at the fitness school in 2012, the ACFT wasn’t a thought on anyone’s mind. Today, it seems to be everyone’s first thought, he said.

This change leaves the instructors with a large responsibility on their backs — to ensure the force is ready. But, it’s a responsibility they carry with pride, he said.

“When we conduct MFT training, we ensure each certified trainer has a plan for their unit,” he said, adding thousands of certified trainers are among the force already.

“They’re out there, they’re already in units, and hopefully commanders understand what they bring to the fight,” Komes said.

For soldiers uneasy with the ACFT, Komes recommends they reach out to their local master fitness trainer, or identify who it is through their chain of command.

The Master Fitness Training Course is broken into two phases — a self-paced, 60-hour online phase and a two-week, 76-hour in-residence phase. The curriculum covers everything from exercise science, PT program design, leadership, physical fitness assessment and unit physical readiness programs, aligned with current Army doctrine and regulations.

After graduating from the course, soldiers are equipped to advise units on physical readiness issues and monitor unit and individual physical readiness programs.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

These photos shows why being an ISIS recruit can really be a kick in the nuts

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has long had a track record of hitting new lows when it comes to atrocities. Well, they also do stuff to their recruits that even Gunny Hartman from Full Metal Jacket wouldn’t do.


According to a report by the London Daily Mail, ISIS recruits at a training camp in Yemen once lined up to be kicked in the groin as part of their training to join the terrorist group. The image was part of a propaganda video put out by the radical Islamic terrorist group, which has been suffering substantial reverses in its original stomping grounds of Iraq and Syria.

 

This soldier recounts celebrating Halloween in Baghdad with a toga party
An ISIS recruit is trained on the PKM belt-fed machine gun. (ISIS photo)

 

These reverses have included a convoy of fighters being turned into a battlefield “roach motel” and hundreds of ISIS fighters surrendering to Kurdish forces in Northern Iraq. It is believed that the mass surrender from terrorists who had vowed to fight to the death, is a sign of collapsing morale.

As a result, ISIS is setting up its training camps in a safer venue. Yemen, which has been suffering through a civil war between Iranian-backed Houthi rebels and the Saudi-backed government since 2014, has fit the bill as that relatively safe area for the terrorist group, despite an air campaign carried out by a Saudi-led coalition.

The terrorist group al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, an affiliate of al-Qaeda, has operated in Yemen as well.

 

This soldier recounts celebrating Halloween in Baghdad with a toga party
Two ISIS recruits operate their weapons, a RPG (right) and a PKM (left). (ISIS photo)

The photograph of the junk-kicks was part of a montage that also showed recruits going through assault courses, doing pull-ups, and taking target practice.

As for why the junk-kicks were included, the Daily Mail claimed that ISIS may have been trying to show how tough their recruits were. But because it was merely a photograph, there was no way to tell if the exercise put any of the prospective terrorists out of commission.

Ah, well, one can hope.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of April 20

The stimulus checks have started to appear in everyone’s bank accounts and we’re sure they’re on the way if they’re going through mail. On one hand, it’s fantastic news for the folks that have been hit hard financially by the coronavirus. Hell, we all kind of need it after paying rent last week.

But there’s a little voice in the back of my head telling me that not everyone’s going to spend it on rent, utilities, essential groceries or whathaveyou, and wonder where it all went. Maybe it’s because I saw way too many young troops look at their clothing allowance as beer money…

Don’t worry if you’re like 99% of lower enlisted seeing a comma in their bank account. At least these memes won’t cost you a cent!


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(Meme via SFC Majestic)

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lh5.googleusercontent.com

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(Meme via US Army WTF Moments Memes)

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(Meme via Call for Fire)

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(Comic by Claw of Knowledge)

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(Meme via The Army’s Fckups)

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(Meme via Hooah My Ass Off)

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MIGHTY TRENDING

US Marine saved woman’s life in Okinawa

Sitting on Miyagi Coast in Okinawa, Japan, is a well-loved establishment called Transit Café where people gather to eat and enjoy the scenery of Okinawa. It was Feb. 19, 2019, a normal weekday afternoon, the sun was shining, the blue ocean waves were crashing and Staff Sgt. Jonathan McClure, a military policeman with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations Pacific, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler-Japan, and his wife were enjoying their meal. Meanwhile, Jillian Romag and one of her close friends were also chatting during their lunch break at Romag’s favorite lunch destination on island, the Transit Café.


The McClure family was relaxing and people-watching when a sudden movement caught Mrs. McClure’s attention.

“What’s wrong?” Mrs. McClure asked her husband, looking towards the white bar. “I think she’s choking!”

Staff Sgt. McClure looked up to see Romag’s vomit splattering across the white floor. As she stumbled, grabbing desperately at her throat he rushed over, grabbed her shoulder, and looked into her eyes.

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First Sergeant Jacob Karl, right, reads Staff Sgt. Jonathan McClure’s, left, Navy Achievement Medal citation Feb. 22, 2019, at Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan.

(Photo by Cpl. Tayler Schwamb)

“Are you choking?” he asked.

Romag nodded.

“I’m going to help you,” McClure said reassuring the woman as he moved to stand behind her. McClure, an experienced policeman aboard Camp Foster, had rehearsed the abdominal thrust, commonly known as the Heimlich maneuver, yearly as part of military policemen’s annual training. After three abdominal thrusts, the chunk of steak that was lodged in her throat blocking her airway came up enough for her to remove it.

In relief and mortification Romag sat down.

McClure bent down, “Are you okay?” he asked. She nodded sheepishly.

After McClure washed his hands and arms, he asked the manager for rags, immediately cleaning up the mess.

On Feb. 22, 2019, McClure was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal for superior performance of his duties while serving as a military policeman and accident investigation section chief Provost Marshal’s office, HS Bn, MCIPAC-MCB.

“This reminded me that there are really still good people out there,” said Jillian Romag, the woman McClure saved. “The Marine Corps takes care of its people and teaches its people how to take care of others.”

McClure’s exceptional professionalism, unrelenting perseverance and loyal devotion to duty reflected great credit upon him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

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Staff Sgt. Jonathan McClure, left, and Jillian Romag, right, pose for a picture Feb. 22, 2019, at Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan.

(Photo by Cpl. Tayler Schwamb)

“I think that any MCIPAC Marine would have reacted the same way,” said Col. Vincent Ciuccoli, commanding officer of HS Bn., MCIPAC, MCB Camp Butler. “In the organization that I am in we have a very diverse group. We have a common thread throughout, every Marine here has a bias for action, and every Marine would do something. It is one thing to say that you attempted to save someone’s life, but to actually save their life and have the bravery and skillset to do it says a lot.”

Marines aboard MCIPAC strengthen and enable force projection in the Asia-Pacific region by building bridges with their allies and partners while protecting and defending the territory of the United States, its people and its interests.

“I firmly believe with 100% of my heart and soul that any Marine who knew what was going on and how to react would have done so the same exact way,” said McClure proudly. “I work with military policemen who react to hard situations on a daily basis. I know without a shadow of a doubt that any of those Marines would do the same thing. The life lesson that this instance reminded me of is that you are forever a student. You have to be willing to learn and continue to hone and refine your skills. If you do have any type of certifications, or if you are recertifying, make sure you take it seriously. If you don’t have the training, go out there and seek it. There are programs through our U.S. Naval Hospital and Red Cross. We need more people who are out there, trained and ready to act when a situation gets hectic or scary.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why the US just moved the remains of fallen WWII soldiers

When American servicemen fall and are buried, it’s generally assumed that their resting place will be their last. Whether it’s a troop who was killed in World War I and buried in an American cemetery in France or a hero brought to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, the honored dead are not to be disturbed. However, some of these fallen heroes, whose identities were once unknown, are being disinterred.

One such ceremony took place in mid-July, 2018, at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific near Honolulu, Hawaii. This cemetery, also known as the Punchbowl, is where thousands of servicemen who fell during operations in the Pacific Theater of World War II and the Korean War have been buried (some prominent civilians and non-KIAs are also buried there).

The reason for disturbing this rest is a damn good one, though.


The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency believes it may be able to identify some of those fallen personnel and finally provide closure for their families. This has been done several times before, and a number of fallen personnel have been identified over the years as a result.

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U.S. service members with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) conduct a disinterment ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Devone Collins)

Perhaps the most high-profile disinterment for the purpose of identifying a fallen serviceman was of the Unknown Soldier of the Vietnam War, who had been interred at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in 1984. In 1998, evidence pointing to the identity of that soldier resulted in the decision to disturb the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to conduct DNA testing.

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In 1998, the Department of Defense disinterred the Unknown Soldier of the Vietnam War to conduct DNA tests to determine his identity,

(DOD)

The tests eventually led to identifying the remains asthose of Air Force First Lieutenant Michael Blassie, killed in action when his A-37 Dragonfly was shot down. Blassie’s remains were turned over to his family and he was buried in the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. You can see the July 2018 disinterment at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in the video below.

Articles

This is how the KC-10 delivers airpower to the enemy’s front door

Three KC-10 Extenders flew from Hawaii and Wake Island Airfield to refuel five C-17 Globemaster IIIs carrying over 300 coalition paratroopers across the Pacific Ocean July 13.


Having received the gas they needed, the C-17s continued to Australia to successfully conduct Exercise Ultimate Reach, a strategic airdrop mission. The airdrop displayed US capabilities throughout the region, reassured allies, and improved combat readiness between joint and coalition personnel.

The aerial refueling also supported Exercise Talisman Saber, a month-long training exercise in Australia between US, Canadian, and Australian forces that began once paratroopers landed Down Under. The training focused on improving interoperability and relations between the three allies.

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A C-17 Globemaster III. (USAF photo by Senior Airman Dennis Sloan.)

The KC-10s seamlessly refueled various aircraft over the Pacific Ocean supporting Talisman Saber. Some of those aircraft include Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets and Air Force KC-10s, among others.

“This is the bread and butter of what we do in the KC-10 world,” said Lt. Col. Stew Welch, the 9th Air Refueling Squadron commander and the Ultimate Reach tanker mission commander. “We’re practicing mobility, air refueling, and interoperability. This is practice for how we go to war.”

Though participation in such a large and complex exercise may seem like a unique occurrence for the aircraft and their aircrews, in actuality, this is done every day, all over the world.

For members of the 6th and the 9th ARSs at Travis Air Force Base, California, the global mission of the KC-10 is evident each time they step onto the tanker. For the rest of the world, it was on full display at Talisman Saber.

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A KC-10 Extender from Travis Air Force Base, California, refuels a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet over the Pacific Ocean July 14, 2017. (USAF photo by 2nd Lt. Sarah Johnson)

Ultimate Reach was the most prominent piece of the KC-10’s efforts during Talisman Saber. Despite that demand, the crews continued a full schedule of refueling sorties after landing in Australia, allowing other participating aircraft to complete their missions.

While its primary mission is aerial refueling, the KC-10 can also carry up to 75 passengers and nearly 170,000 pounds of cargo. This enables the aircraft to airlift personnel and equipment while refueling supporting aircraft along the way. Though it can go 4,400 miles on its own without refueling, its versatility allows it to mid-air refuel from other KC-10s and extend its range.

“With that endurance ability, we can go up first and come home last and give as much gas as everybody else,” said Maj. Peter Mallow, a 6th ARS pilot. “That’s our role is to go up and bat first and then bat last.”

The tanker’s combined six fuel tanks carry more than 356,000 pounds of fuel in-flight, allowing it to complete missions like Ultimate Reach where over 4,000 pounds of fuel was offloaded in a short time to the five waiting C-17s. The amount is almost twice as much as the KC-135 Stratotanker.

This soldier recounts celebrating Halloween in Baghdad with a toga party
A C-17 Globemaster III. (DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera.)

“KC-10s are critical to delivering fuel to our partners,” said Welch. “Not only can we get gas, but we have a huge cargo compartment capability as well. KC-10’s can bring everything mobility represents to the table.”

“The KC-10 is essential to the Air Force because we can transport any piece of cargo, equipment, and personnel to anywhere in the world… any continent, any country,” said Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Cook, a 6th ARS instructor boom operator. “We’re able to refuel those jets who have to go answer the mission whatever it may be, or (engage in) humanitarian response.”

Additionally, the tanker’s ability to switch between using an advanced aerial refueling boom or a hose and drogue centerline refueling system allows it to refuel a variety of US and allied military aircraft interchangeably, as it demonstrated during Talisman Saber.

“KC-10s were able to provide force-extending air refueling,” said Mallow. “We were able to provide the capability to the C-17s that other platforms can’t. Because we can carry so much gas, we have more flexibility simply because we can provide the same amount of gas over multiple receivers. That inherently is the KC-10’s duty.”

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US Army Spc. Kaelyn Miller airborne paratrooper from the Higher Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, waits on board a USAF C-17 from Joint Base Charleston, S.C., July 12, 2017 to airdrop in support of Exercise Talisman Saber 2017. (USAF photo by Tech. Sgt. Gregory Brook)

“When we refueled the C-17s, it helped them get to their location and drop those paratroopers so the world can see them flying out of the aircraft and see those angels coming down,” said Cook. “It’s a good feeling, knowing the KC-10 is a part of that.”

Ultimate Reach and Talisman Saber highlighted the KC-10 fleet as a fighting force, demonstrating the aircraft’s unique warfighting capabilities over a wide-array of locations, receivers, and flying patterns.

“Not only does this kind of exercise demonstrate what we can do, it demonstrates how we do it,” said Welch. “Our own interoperability — not just with the Air Force and the Army but with our coalition partners as well — sends a great message to our allies and those who are not our allies that we can get troops on the ground where and when we please.”

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DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Andy Kin

The tankers’ performance during the exercise proved its unwavering support to combatant commanders and allies. It showed versatility in meeting unique mission requirements and reassured people around the world that the Air Force will always have a presence in the sky.

“Maybe one of those kids seeing a paratrooper come down will take an interest and maybe become the next Technical Sergeant Cook,” mused Cook.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why the US military’s global edge is diminishing

The United States Institute of Peace released a wide-ranging report on the U.S. military’s capabilities and outlook from the National Defense Strategy Commission, a body tasked to assess the U.S. military’s capabilities within the environment it is expected to operate — and the analysis isn’t good.

America’s ability to defend its allies, its partners, and its own vital interests is increasingly in doubt,” the report says. “If the nation does not act promptly to remedy these circumstances, the consequences will be grave and lasting.

As American military advantages degrade, the country’s strategic landscape becomes more threatening, the report says. The solution is to rebuild those advantages before the damage caused by their erosion becomes devastating.

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More than 900 Sailors and Marines assigned to the amphibious assault ship Pre-Commissioning Unit America march to the ship to take custody of it.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Vladimir Ramos.)

The USIP is a body independent from government and politics, though it was founded by Congress. It seeks to keep the U.S. at peace by addressing potential conflicts before they explode into violence by offering training, analysis, and outreach to organizations and governments working to prevent those conflicts. Their 2018 report, Assessment and Recommendations of the National Defense Strategy Commission, was commissioned by Congress in 2017.

While the panel praises the efforts and strategies enacted by Defense Secretary James Mattis in January, 2018, it also warns about continuing issues that need to be addressed immediately. The commission’s report is the first step to addressing these issues.

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Marine Corps Cpl. Johnathan Riethmann, a mortarman with Company A, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, walks to a staging area in preparation for Exercise Sea Soldier 17 at Senoor Beach, Oman, Feb. 15, 2017.

(Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. Robert B. Brown Jr.)

The biggest threats to American interests are authoritarian competitors, like China and Russia, who seek to become regional hegemons to neutralize American power in their areas through military buildup. Less powerful actors, like Iran and North Korea, seek technological advances and asymmetrical tactics to counter U.S. power, while transnational threats, like jihadist groups, will fight American power with more and more capability.

Nowhere are these challenges to American power more apparent than in what the report refers to as “gray-zone aggressions,” areas somewhere between war and peace. Here, adversaries large and small are in competition and conflict with the United States in areas of cyber warfare and diplomacy.

This soldier recounts celebrating Halloween in Baghdad with a toga party

U.S. Army Soldiers wait to be picked up by UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters south of Balad Ruz, Iraq, March 22, 2009. The Soldiers are assigned to the 25th Infantry Division’s 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

(DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Walter J. Pels)

Chiefly to blame for the decline in American advantage is the dysfunction in competing American political parties, who have failed to enact “timely appropriations” to U.S. defense. This is particularly true in the case of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which ended the debt-ceiling crisis of that same year. The act required some 7 billion in spending cuts in exchange for a 0 billion increase in the debt ceiling. These cuts hit the Department of Defense particularly hard, affecting the size, modernization, and readiness of the U.S. military.

The report goes on to say that current National Defense Strategy “too often rests on questionable assumptions and weak analysis, and it leaves unanswered critical questions regarding how the United States will meet the challenges of a more dangerous world. We believe that the NDS points the Department of Defense (DOD) and the country in the right direction, but it does not adequately explain how we should get there.”

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Senior Airman Mario Fajardo stands guard Jan. 25 at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. The 355th Security Force Squadron is responsible for the worldwide force protection and security of seven flying squadrons and 4,400 tactical and stored aircraft on Davis-Monthan AFB worth more than 32.3 billion dollars.

(U.S. Air Force)

Writers of the report say the U.S. needs substantial improvements in military capability based on relevant, operational warfighting concepts. The United States military must also invest in favorable military balances while diminishing the power exerted by adversaries and regional hegemons and limiting military options available to them. Most importantly, the DoD muse clearly develop plausible strategies to achieve victory against any aggressor in the event of a war, noting that much of current defense policy includes meaningless buzzwords.

There is also a lot the U.S. has never addressed, like how to counter an adversary in a way that falls short of a full-scale war or if the United States limits technological development with potential rivals and keep threatened defense-related industries from seeking agreements with those rivals.

These are just a few of the recommendations the commission makes to rebuild the U.S. military and its advantages at home and abroad. You can read the full report at the United States Institute for Peace site.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How the VA failed to report bad providers who were still working

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs failed to report a number of medical providers, whose privileges were revoked, to national databases, according to a Nov. 27 report by the independent Government Accountability Office (GAO).


The GAO reviewed five of the VA’s 170 Medical Centers “after concerns were raised about their clinical care.” It found that VA officials did not report eight of nine doctors it found should have been reported.

The GAO report examined 148 providers from October 2013 to March 2017 and found that more than half didn’t provide documentation of reviews to the National Practitioner Data Bank or state licensing boards, as required by VHA policy. Also, the medical centers did not start the reviews of 16 providers for months to years “after the concerns were identified.”

Also read: It’s high time veterans have access to weed

“Depending on the findings from the review, VAMC officials may take an adverse privileging action against a provider that either limits the care a provider is allowed to deliver at the VAMC or prevents the provider from delivering care altogether,” the GAO report said.

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Marines, veterans, and care providers watch as the American flag is walked to the flagpole at the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center in Phoenix, AZ. (Photo by Sgt. Justin Boling)

At the five unidentified hospitals, providers weren’t reported because VA officials “misinterpreted or were not aware of VHA policies and guidance related to the NPDB and SLB reporting processes,” the report said.

“At one facility, we found that officials failed to report six providers to the NPDB because the officials were unaware that they had been delegated responsibility for NPDB reporting.”

Related: The VA might actually be getting its act together

The report found that two of four contract providers — whose privileges were revoked and were not reported — continued to provide outside care to veterans.

“One provider whose services were terminated related to patient abuse subsequently held privileges at another VAMC, while the other provider belongs to a network of providers that provides care for veterans in the community,” the report said.

Nearly 40,000 providers hold privileges in the centers.

This soldier recounts celebrating Halloween in Baghdad with a toga party
In the last few years, the VA is undergoing a string of reforms, aimed a ultimately providing better services to our nation’s veterans. (Photo courtesy of VA.)

GAO is making four recommendations for the Veterans Health Administration: To document reviews of providers’ clinical care after concerns are raised, develop timely requirements for reviews, to ensure proper oversight of such reviews, and perform timely reporting of providers.

The GAO said the VA agreed with its recommendations.

The Nov. 27 report is the latest in a string of reforms aimed in recent years at the Veterans Affairs Department.

In October, a USA Today investigation that found the VA had concealed medical mistakes and misconduct by health care workers.

After the newspaper report, Rep. Phil Roe, R- Tenn., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, asked GAO to investigate. A hearing on the findings is scheduled for Nov. 29.

In 2014, lawmakers spurred reform after it became known that some veterans had died while awaiting care at a medical center in Arizona.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Pentagon hasn’t gotten the money for the Space Force yet

The Pentagon has yet to figure out how to create, organize, and fund the new Space Force that President Donald Trump ordered as a new service branch, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Sept. 19, 2018.

“We’re really wrestling with the ‘how,’ ” said Shanahan, the Pentagon’s Space Force point man, in an address to Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference. But he maintained that the commitment is there and the services and combatant commands are falling in line with the president’s directive.

“While there’s plenty of debate about the ‘how,’ we are united by the ‘why’ — protecting our economy and deterring our adversaries,” Shanahan said.


Shanahan, who was known as “Mr. Fix-It” as a top executive and engineer at Boeing, said the first task is to determine what gear and capabilities troops needed to defend U.S. interests in space.

“Once we determine that, we can organize around them,” he said.

The difficulty is that “it’s been thrust upon us” in short order to create a new organization that will become a separate service branch, which hasn’t been done since the Air Force was created in 1947, he said.

Shanahan said his team is in the process of developing doctrines, tactics and techniques that will integrate the new service branch smoothly with the combatant commands and the other services.

This soldier recounts celebrating Halloween in Baghdad with a toga party

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan speaks to Airmen during the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md., Sept. 19, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Anthony Nelson Jr.)


“Along the way, we will do no harm to existing missions, create no seams between the services, and remain laser-focused on our warfighters and the capabilities they need to win,” he pledged.

“There’ll be some arm wrestling and hand-wringing” as the concept for the new Space Force takes shape, Shanahan said, but his intention is to have a plan and a legislative proposal ready February 2019.

He could have a hard sell ahead on the legislative proposal, no matter which party controls the House and Senate when he makes it. His job was made more difficult earlier this week when Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson projected that setting up the Space Force could cost billion.

Wilson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis initially opposed creation of the Space Force as a new service branch, but they have since come around to support it.

In Congress, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, the new chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee; Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, chairman of the Appropriations Committee; and other Republicans have expressed varying degrees of skepticism on the Space Force.

On the House side, Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colorado, chairman of the Military Personnel Subcommittee and a member of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, is at the forefront of the opposition.

“I strongly disagree with the president that now is the time to create a separate Space Force. Congress is laser-focused on slimming down the bloated bureaucracy at the Pentagon, and creating a new Space Force will inevitably result in more, not less, bureaucracy,” Coffman said in a statement in August 2018.

This soldier recounts celebrating Halloween in Baghdad with a toga party

This Jan. 7, 2018 photo made available by SpaceX shows the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral, Fla., for the “Zuma” U.S. satellite mission.


The Space Force would likely be scuttled if the Democrats win control of either the House or Senate in November 2018 and embark, as might be expected, on an agenda to block all things Trump.

On the “Fox News Sunday” program in August 2018, Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, who would become the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman if the Democrats win the Senate, said that creating a Space Force as “a separate service with all of the infrastructure and the bureaucracy is not the way to go.”

Immediately following Shanahan’s presentation at the AFA, Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, said creation of the Space Force likely would result in some initial changes to organization and responsibilities for the other services and combatant commands, but the problems would be worked out.

“We’re actually going to explore that” at STRATCOM, he said, adding that the Space Force is “an opportunity to experiment with some different constructs. We’ll walk through how we do that” with the Joint Staff and other commands.

Ultimately, “I think it’s an issue of command relations, authorities and responsibilities,” Hyten said.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why ‘Crayon-Eater’ is actually just a bad joke

The rivalry between branches can best be described as a sibling rivalry. We’re always making fun of each other whenever we can, calling the Air Force the Chair Force, the Coast Guard a bunch of puddle pirates — the list goes on. One thing that branches can’t seem to figure out, though, is a good, slightly insulting nickname for Marines.

It seems like the other branches tried to find some kind of insult for Marines but, instead, we’ve turned those monikers into sources of pride. We like being called names like Jarhead. It’s kind of cool, really. You’re saying our hair regulations are so disciplined it’s stupid? Maybe it’s your attitude toward discipline that has us always on the delivery side of insults. Think about it.

But one thing that’s sorta caught on and is becoming popular is calling Marines, “Crayon-Eaters.”

Well, here’s why that nickname just won’t hold water:


This soldier recounts celebrating Halloween in Baghdad with a toga party

Snipers know why there’s some truth there…

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Krista James)

1. First off, it’s just kind of… weak

Maybe we’re just too dumb to understand the insult here but, quite frankly, it sucks. It’s lame.

If you were to call your friend a “Crayon-Eater” in any other situation, they’d just shrug and say, “okay,” with a condescending tone. It’s no better than a Kindergarten insult. You might as well say, “you poop your pants!” At least then there’s some truth for some Marines.

This soldier recounts celebrating Halloween in Baghdad with a toga party

“You think crayon-eater is funny?!”

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Aaron Bolser)

2. It’s ironic

The whole point of the joke is to say that Marines are stupid. Got it. But you know what’s stupid? The joke itself. It’s ironic how dumb the joke is. Instead of making Marines look dumb, you actually just display the inability to create a layered, intelligent insult. “Crayon-eater” is so bland and overplayed that it loses any impact it might have.

This soldier recounts celebrating Halloween in Baghdad with a toga party

We’re not afraid to take shots at each other because it’s all part of the brotherhood.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Anthony Guas)

3. Marines have better insults for each other

The things Marines say to one another on a daily basis are way worse — it’s stuff so bad that we can’t even mention it on this website. They’re things that would make your average civilian’s stomach turn and cause airmen everywhere to puke all over their computer desks.

The worst part is that the joke isn’t even close to being offensive. Of course, some of you may read this and say, “this guy is just offended,” and the answer is no — and that’s the problem. You think something as lame as “crayon-eater” is going to offend a member of a tribe whose trainees are taught to yell, “kill!” during training?

Didn’t think so.

This soldier recounts celebrating Halloween in Baghdad with a toga party

They’re laughing at you, not with you.

(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos)

If you want to keep using the joke, go right ahead. Just remember, when a Marine laughs in your face because your joke isn’t doing what you thought it would — we tried to warn you.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Communist China warns Japan not to make aircraft carriers

China is taking a stand and drawing a line in the sand. The Chinese regime in Beijing is upset over reports that Japan is considering adapting their Izumo-class “helicopter destroyers” to operate the F-35B Lightning.


According to a report by UPI, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry urged Japan to “do more that may help enhance mutual trust and promote regional peace and stability.” China and Japan have a long-running maritime, territorial dispute centering around the Senkaku Islands.

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Once named Varyag by the Soviets in 1988, this carrier would later be commissioned into the People’s Liberation Army Navy as Liaoning in 2012. (Photo from U.S. Navy)

China currently has one aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, a sister ship to the Russian Admiral Kuznetsov, and is building a copy of that ship along with plans to build four larger carriers, two of which are to be nuclear-powered. Japan, presently, has two Izumo-class vessels in service, as well as two Hyuga-class “helicopter destroyers” that are smaller than the Izumo-class ships.

Popular Mechanics notes that the Izumo can hold up to 14 SH-60 helicopters, and is already capable of operating the V-22 Osprey. Japan also has orders for 42 F-35A Lightnings, which take off and land from conventional land bases. Japan’s four “helicopter destroyers” are the second-largest carrier force in the world.

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JS Izumo underway in 2015. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

If Japan were to modify the Izumo-class ships to operate F-35s, the cost could be huge. The vessels need modifications to their magazines to carry the weapons the F-35s use. Furthermore, the decks would need to be re-done to handle the hot exhaust from the F-35’s F135 engine.

It should be noted that while reports only cited the Izumo-class vessels as possible F-35 carriers, the Hyuga-class vessels could also be used to operate the Lightning. The Italian Giuseppe Garibaldi, at 10,500 tons, operates AV-8B Harriers. The Hyugas come in at just under 19,000 tons. Japan also has developed, but not deployed, an unmanned combat air vehicle.

This soldier recounts celebrating Halloween in Baghdad with a toga party The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyer JS Hyuga (DDH-181) underway in the Pacific Ocean as U.S. Navy Sea Hawk helicopters hover nearby. (Photo from U.S. Navy)

In any case, it looks at is Japan is preparing to break out from its post-World War II traditions of low defense spending and its self-imposed limits on military capability.

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