Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it's not clear who's doing it - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

Drones are dropping explosives on US soldiers in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s behind the attacks, the head of US Central Command, which is responsible for the region, told lawmakers on Tuesday.


National Public Radio reporter Tom Bowman first reported the attacks on Friday, observing them as he joined a patrol by US soldiers tasked with protecting oil fields in northeast Syria.

“It was a multiday attack on two of the oil fields, the first one since the US mission began last fall to protect the oil fields,” Bowman said on All Things Considered. “There were soldiers from the West Virginia National Guard at one of the fields. And early Wednesday morning, a drone carrying a mortar dropped it near where they were sleeping. No one was injured, and the soldiers quickly drove off the base.”

A drone returned before dawn on Friday and dropped more mortars. “You could see the big circular holes in the ground, pockmarks on the US military trucks and one on one of the oil tanks,” Bowman said.

Sgt. 1st Class Mitch Morgan told Bowman they sprung up when the attack began, mounted their vehicles, and left in two minutes. “As we were going out, they was raining mortars in on top of us,” Morgan said.

Bowman said Army investigators had told him that some of the mortars “were made with 3D printers, which means that obviously someone pretty sophisticated put together these mortars, perhaps a nation-state.”

‘One of my highest priorities’

Questioned on Tuesday about the incidents, US Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, head of Central Command, said there had been attacks by unmanned aerial systems, or UAS, but disputed some of the details.

“We have reports — I don’t think as many as are in the NPR report — but yes … group 1 UAS, which are the small UAS, they’ll try to find a way to carry an explosive and fly it over.”

“The Russians have had some significant casualties in this regard, as have other nations that are operating there,” McKenzie said. “So yes, it is a problem. We look at it very hard. It’s one of my highest priorities.”

McKenzie said his command was still investigating the perpetrator but pointed to ISIS.

“If I had to judge today, I would say possibly ISIS, but [it’s] probably not a state entity operating the drones,” McKenzie told lawmakers.

ISIS has been defeated on the ground in Syria and in Iraq by a US-led international coalition and local partner forces, but it remains in pockets in both countries. ISIS has long used drones for reconnaissance and to drop explosives on opposing forces, often releasing photos and videos of the attacks for propaganda purposes.

Iraqi forces used US-supplied “jammers” to counter the commercial drones ISIS was using in Mosul during the campaign to liberate that city in 2016 and 2017.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

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‘One of the things that worries me’

The drone attack in Syria highlights the growing threat that small drones pose to US forces.

In early 2019, Marines used their Light Marine Air Defense Integrated System, mounted on an all-terrain vehicle strapped to the deck of the ship carrying them, to down an Iranian drone that flew within 1,000 yards of the them in the Strait of Hormuz.

McKenzie said Tuesday that such drones were a major concern.

“We aggressively pursue anything that will improve the capabilities, particularly against those group 1 and 2 UAS. That is one of the things that worries me the most in the theater every day, is the vulnerability of our forces to those small UAS,” McKenzie said.

Asked about using artificial intelligence and autonomous systems for defense against drones, McKenzie said he was “aware of some experimentation on that” but couldn’t specify.

“We have a very broad set of joint requirements to drive that, so it’s possible there’s something there,” he added.

Counter-drone systems were also included in Central Command’s unfunded priorities list, which contains funding requests not included in the budget request submitted to Congress.

Enemy unmanned aerial systems “have expanded in size, sophistication, range, lethality and numbers” and are being used throughout Central Command’s area of responsibility,” McKenzie wrote in the list, which was obtained by Business Insider.

Their “low velocity and altitude makes them difficult to detect on radar and limited options exist in effectively defeating them,” McKenzie wrote.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

The letter requested .6 million for systems to “help counter these airborne IEDs and intelligence gatherers.”

Asked Tuesday if his command’s counter-drone needs were being met, McKenzie said he was “convinced the system is generating as much as it can” and that he had talked to Defense Secretary Mark Esper about the issue.

“I own a lot of the systems that are available across the entire United States inventory,” McKenzie said. “I am not satisfied with where we are, and I believe we are at great risk because of this.”

“We’re open to anything, and a lot of smart people are looking at this,” McKenzie added. “We’re not there yet, but I think the Army, having executive agency for this, will actually help in a lot of ways. It will provide a focus to these efforts. This is a significant threat.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Women should have to register for the draft, Congressional Commission says

A commission formed by Congress to assess military and national service is calling for women to be included in selective service registration, Military.com has learned.


The 11-member National Commission on Military, National and Public Service is set to release a final report with 164 recommendations Wednesday, following two-and-a-half years of research and fieldwork on topics including propensity to serve in the military; the civilian-military divide; and the future of the U.S. Selective Service System.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

One of the most hotly debated questions considered by the panel is whether women should be required to register for the draft for the first time in U.S. history.

A source with knowledge of the report confirmed that the commission had recommended that women should be made eligible for selective service. Politico first reported Tuesday on the commission’s findings.

Other recommendations include keeping the U.S. Selective Service System and keeping the registration requirement, which currently applies to American males within 30 days of their 18th birthday.

The panel was created as a result of debate over whether women should be made to register for the draft. In 2016, the same year all military ground combat and special operations jobs were opened to women for the first time, two Republicans in Congress, both veterans, introduced the “Draft America’s Daughters Act of 2016.” The move was intended to provoke discussion; both lawmakers planned to vote against their own bill.

But the provision ultimately became law as part of the 2017 defense policy package. From that initiative, the commission was formed to further study the issue.

During 2019 hearings on the question, Katey van Dam, a Marine Corps veteran who flew attack helicopters, argued eloquently in support of including women in selective service registration.

“Today, women sit in C-suites and are able to hold any military job for which they are qualified,” she said. “As society expects opportunity parity for women, it is time to also expect equal civic responsibility. In the event of a major war that requires national mobilization, women should serve their country to the same extent as male citizens.”

In an interview with Military.com earlier this month, Joe Heck, the chairman of the commission and a brigadier general in the U.S. Army Reserve, said the issue of including women in draft registration had inspired passionate debate among the commissioners.

“The recommendations made represent the consensus of the commission,” he said. “We believe that the commission’s recommendations specifically in regard to [the U.S. Selective Service System] will best place the nation as able to respond to any existential national security threat that may arise.”

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

Heck also said the commission planned to chart a “cradle-to-grave pathway to service” for Americans.

In addition to the report, the commission will release accompanying draft legislation Wednesday to assist Congress in turning its proposals into law. A future hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee is also planned to discuss the commission’s findings.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The US is sending an F-35 carrier to South Korea

The US’s long-awaited F-35 stealth jet will feature in military drills with South Korea aboard the USS Wasp, a US Navy amphibious assault ship that became the first-ever ship deployed with combat-ready stealth jets onboard, CNN reports.


The Wasp, and the squadron of US Marine Corps F-35 pilots onboard, will take part in the drills which kick off on April 1, 2018, even as the US and South Korea explore an unprecedented openness to dialogue from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Also read: The F-35 will cost a staggering $1 billion every year

Though South Korean President Moon Jae In and President Donald Trump have both agreed to meet with Kim, they remain committed to keeping up the “maximum pressure” strategy that both sides say has led to North Korea’s new willingness to talk.

As part of the pressure strategy, the US has pushed tougher-than-ever sanctions on North Korea, and leaned harder than ever on the prospect of using military force to denuclearize the peninsula.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it
An F-35B begins its short takeoff from the USS America with an external weapons load. (U.S. Navy photo)

In April 2017, the US demonstrated that pressure with three aircraft carriers off North Korea’s coast. In 2018, the US has a revolutionary new capability in a smaller carrier with F-35s, stealth aircraft that North Korea can’t hope to spot or defend against.

With the F-35 pilots trained specifically to tackle challenges in the Pacific and stealthily take out air defenses and hardened targets, a test pilot called the carrier configuration “the most powerful concentration of combat power ever put to sea in the history of the world.”

Related: Mattis wants the F-35 to be part of the US nuclear triad

In 2017, North Korea responded to US and South Korean military drills with angry statements and missile tests, but this time around, Pyongyang has said it will suspend its missile testing.

Since 2017’s US-South Korea drills, North Korea has demonstrated both the ability to hit the US with a nuclear weapon, and a newfound willingness to talk about denuclearization. The US in that time has stepped up military pressure while imposing crippling sanctions down to the level of individual businessmen and ships.

As 2018’s annual military drills come around, there’s a completely different mood as hope of negotiations lie on the corner, but the inclusion of the USS Wasp stacked with F-35s sends the message that it’s still not safe.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How to avoid 3 scams that target US service members

Nowadays, you have to be cautious of everything you do online. Scammers are always trying to get money, goods or services out of unsuspecting people — and military members are often targets.

Here are some scams that have recently been affecting service members, Defense Department employees and their families.


Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

Even the most innocuous data posted to a social media feed can be married up with other publicly available information to provide online criminals the tools they need to exploit members of the military or general public, an Army special agent said.

(Photo by Mark Herlihy)

1. Romance scams

In April 2019, Army Criminal Investigation Command put out a warning about romance scams in which online predators go on dating sites claiming to be deployed active-duty soldiers. It’s a problem that’s affecting all branches of service — not just the Army.

CID said there have been hundreds of claims each month from people who said they’ve been scammed on legitimate dating apps and social media sites. According to the alleged victims, the scammers have asked for money for fake service-related needs such as transportation, communications fees, processing and medical fees — even marriage. CID said many of the victims have lost tens of thousands of dollars and likely won’t get that money back.

Remember: Service members and government employees DO NOT PAY to go on leave, have their personal effects sent home or fly back to the US from an overseas assignment. Scammers will sometimes provide false paperwork to make their case, but real service members make their own requests for time off. Also, any official military or government emails will end in .mil or .gov — not .com — so be suspicious if you get a message claiming to be from the military or government that doesn’t have one of those addresses.

If you’re worried about being scammed, know what red flags to look for. If you think you’ve been a victim, contact the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center and the Federal Trade Commission.

DOD officials said task forces are working to deal with the growing problem, but the scammers are often from African nations and are using cyber cafes with untraceable email addresses, then routing their accounts across the world to make them incredibly difficult to trace. So be vigilant!

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

A US cavalry soldiers keeps watch in a rural area near Nangarhar, Afghanistan Jan. 6, 2015.

(US Army photo)

2. ‘Sextortion’

Sexual extortion — known as “sextortion” — is when a service member is seduced into sexual activities online that are unknowingly recorded and used against them for money or goods. Often, if a victim caves on a demand, the scammer will just likely demand more.

Service members are attractive targets for these scammers for a few reasons:

• They’re often young men who are away from home and have an online presence.

• They have a steady income and are often more financially stable than civilians.

• Because of their careers, they’re held to a higher standard of conduct.

• Military members have security clearances and know things that might be of interest to adversaries.

To avoid falling victim to sextortion, don’t post or exchange compromising photos or videos with ANYONE online, and make sure your social media privacy settings limit the information outsiders can see — this includes advertising your affiliation with the military or government. Be careful when you’re communicating with anyone you don’t personally know online, and trust your instincts. If people seem suspicious, stop communicating with them.

DOD officials said sextortion often goes unreported because many victims are embarrassed they fell for it. But it happens worldwide and across all ranks and services. Here’s what you should do about it if it happens to you:

• Stop communicating with the scammer.

• Contact your command and your local CID office.

• Do NOT pay the perpetrator.

• Save all communications you had with that person.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

US soldiers dislodge their M-777 155 mm howitzer from the 3-foot hole it dug itself into after firing several rocket-assisted projectiles.

(US Army photo by Spc. Ken Scar)

3. Service member impersonation scams

Scammers love to impersonate people of authority, and that includes service members.

These people often steal the identity or profile images of a service member and use them to ask for money or make claims that involve the sale of vehicles, house rentals or other big-ticket items. These scammers often send the victim bogus information about the advertised product and ask for a wire transfer through a third party to finish the purchase, but there’s no product at the end of the transaction.

Lately, fake profiles of high-ranking American military officials have been popping up on social media websites using photos and biographical information obtained from the internet. Scammers often replicate recent social media posts from official DOD accounts and interact with official accounts to increase the appearance of legitimacy. As an example, there are impersonator accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

These accounts are also interacting with Joint Staff account followers in an effort to gain trust and elicit information. The only Joint Staff leader with an official social media presence is Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Wayne Troxell, who is listed as @SEAC.JCS on Facebook and @SEAC_Troxell on Twitter.

Scammers are making these profiles to defraud potential victims. They claim to be high-ranking or well-placed government/military officials or the surviving spouse of former government leaders, then they promise big profits in exchange for help in moving large sums of money, oil or some other commodity. They offer to transfer significant amounts of money into the victim’s bank account in exchange for a small fee. Scammers that receive payment are never heard from again.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

A US soldier and a US Army interpreter look over a map with an Iraqi soldier before starting a cordon and search of the Ninewa Forest in Mosul, Iraq, June 8, 2008.

(US Army photo by Pfc. Sarah De Boise)

Here are some ways to lower the chances of you being impersonated or duped by a scammer:

• To avoid having your personal data and photos stolen from your social media pages, limit the details you provide on them and don’t post photos that include your name tag, unit patch and rank.

• If an alleged official messages you with a request or demand, look closely at their social media page. Often, official accounts will be verified, meaning they have a blue circle with a checkmark right beside their Twitter, Facebook or Instagram name. General and flag officers will not message anyone directly requesting to connect or asking for money.

• Search for yourself online — both your name and images you’ve posted — to see if someone else is trying to use your identity. If you do find a false profile, contact that social media platform and report it.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Montenegro wants to know why Serbia is sheltering coup suspect

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Montenegro has summoned the Serbian ambassador to Podgorica after a suspect on trial over a failed 2016 coup attempt fled to Serbia’s Embassy to avoid detention.

Montenegro’s Foreign Ministry said it requested Serbia’s official position on the matter on Nov. 26, 2018, three days after Branka Milic walked out of the courtroom during a hearing, complaining that her rights had been violated.

Podgorica’s High Court ordered Milic detained, but the accused later surfaced at the Serbian Embassy.


The Montenegrin Foreign Ministry’s statement said Serbian Ambassador Zoran Bingulac confirmed Milic was at the embassy and that Serbia was “aware of the legal procedure and the necessary obligations.”

Milic’s defense lawyer, Jugoslav Krpovic, urged authorities to provide guarantees that the “psychological violence” against her client ends.

“She didn’t escape from the trial. She escaped from abuse” by the court, Krpovic said.

Milic, who holds Serbian citizenship, was detained in October 2017.

She is among 14 suspects on trial for plotting to overthrow Montenegro’s government in October 2016.

Montenegrin authorities say Serbian and Russian nationalists plotted to occupy parliament during parliamentary elections, assassinate then-Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, and install a pro-Russian leadership to prevent the small Balkan nation’s bid to join NATO.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

Milo Djukanovic.

The authorities accuse two Russian GRU military intelligence officers of organizing the failed coup plot.

The investigative group Bellingcat and Russian website The Insider said they had identified the two GRU officers allegedly involved.

Moscow denies involvement, however.

Montenegro in June 2017 became the 29th member of NATO, a step that was bitterly criticized by Russia and opposed by some Montenegrins who advocate closer ties with Moscow.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Troops supporting pandemic response should get hazard pay, Senator says

Republican Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, a retired member of the Iowa National Guard and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, has proposed that service members deployed for COVID-19 response get hazardous duty pay.

Ernst plans to introduce legislation this week that would provide a tax-free stipend for all active-duty, Reserve and National Guard members fighting the pandemic. If enacted, it would provide a monthly bonus as well as back pay to the initial date of deployment for thousands of service members.


The senator, who served in Kuwait and Iraq from 2003 to 2004, said those on the front lines potentially exposing themselves to illness deserve the support.

“Whether it’s delivering personal protective equipment, food, or medical supplies, our National Guardsmen and women have answered the call to help during COVID-19,” Ernst said in a statement released Tuesday. “As a former Iowa Army National Guardsmen, I could not be more proud of their tireless and selfless efforts.”

According to the Pentagon, more than 62,800 service members, including 46,800 National Guard members, are supporting COVID-19 response. The troops are treating patients, conducting coronavirus testing, distributing food and personal protective equipment and helping at hotels housing homeless persons who have tested positive for the virus.

As of Tuesday, 889 members of the National Guard Bureau had tested positive for COVID-19. A Guardsman, Capt. Douglas Linn Hickok, was the first service member to die of the virus, although he had not been mobilized for COVID-19 response.

Nearly 5,000 additional U.S. service members have contracted COVID-19, 100 have been hospitalized and two have died: Hickok and Aviation Ordnanceman Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker, who was assigned to the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt and died April 13.

Nationwide, cases of COVID-19 reached nearly 2 million on Tuesday, with 70,646 American deaths.

For most members of the U.S. military, hazardous duty incentive pay totals 0 a month.

Military advocates, including the National Guard Association of the United States and the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States threw their support behind Ernst’s legislation Tuesday.

“By definition, hazardous duty incentive pay is a monetary incentive for volunteers who perform hazardous duty based upon the inherent dangers of that duty and the risks of physical injury. EANGUS agrees with Sen. Joni Ernst that the duty our National Guard members are performing embodies that risk, and should receive hazardous duty incentive pay for COVID-19 response duty,” said retired Sgt. Maj. Frank Yoakum, EANGUS executive director.

Ernst’s proposed legislation follows a similar request last month from the American Federation of Government Employees, which is seeking hazardous duty pay for Department of Veterans Affairs workers caring for patients at VA facilities.

“I … implore Congress to pass legislation to provide hazardous duty pay to all front-line federal employees not already covered by existing laws like our nurses in federal prisons, and health care workers at the VA who provide direct patient care to our nation’s veterans,” AFGE National President Everett Kelley said in a statement.

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

Articles

SECDEF Mattis’s official aircraft also happens to be America’s ‘Doomsday’ jet

Secretary of Defense James Mattis goes by many badass nicknames, including “Mad Dog,” “Warrior Monk,” and “Chaos.”


So it’s only fitting that the aircraft he usually flies on while functioning his official capacity is known by an equally badass name — “Nightwatch.”  Its name hints at its original mission — a doomsday plane, equipped to provide the president and high-ranking members of the military with the ability to retain control of America’s offensive forces in the event of an all-out nuclear war or cataclysmic event.

Nightwatch now serves as an airborne command post for the SECDEF, allowing him to remain in touch with the U.S. military he oversees while traveling anywhere in the world, especially useful should the unthinkable occur.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it
Nightwatch refueling over the UK while transiting back to the US (USAF photo)

The Air Force possesses four Nightwatch aircraft — converted Boeing 747-200 jumbo jet airliners. Like their civilian counterparts, these airplanes come with a considerable operating range and internal carriage capacity. However, that, and a passing external resemblance, is where all similarities end. Underneath the hood, these are completely different aircraft with unique systems and sensors that allow it to do what no other aircraft in the Air Force can.

Unlike a commercial Boeing 747, these aircraft, officially designated E-4B Advanced Airborne Command Posts, lack the rows of plush seats, fold-out meal trays and entertainment screens. Instead, each E-4B is divided up into compartments for its Battle Staff, a joint services team of controllers and coordinators ready to interface with various military units should they be called into action.

Nightwatch crew quite literally have the ability to call virtually connect to any phone number in the world, thanks to a complex satellite communications suite aboard the aircraft. It’s this suite that allows them to also relay commands and orders to America’s nuclear arsenal, forward-deployed submarines and Navy battle groups operating around the globe, or even to speak directly with the President at secured locations.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it
SECDEF James Mattis briefs members of the press aboard an E-4B (USAF photo)

Because Nightwatch was designed during the Cold War, where nuclear war was still a distinct possibility, it was built to fly with incredible endurance. Defense analysts estimate that each E-4B could spend up to seven days flying continuously with the help of aerial refueling, though the Air Force has only actually flown its E-4Bs up to 35 hours in testing thus far.

The cockpit of the aircraft looks just as it would in the 1980s, with a few modifications. Instead of LCD screens and touch-pads, the Air Force has kept the original analog gauge-type flight instruments, as they’re less susceptible to failing after experiencing an electromagnetic pulse blast from a nuclear explosion.

That’s right… the E-4B is built to be able to fly through the immediate aftermath of a nuclear detonation without sustaining any damage to its systems. The entire aircraft is sealed off and pressurized with special “scrubbers” in its air conditioning system constantly filtering out harmful particles that may find their way inside the cabin. Should an E-4B actually fly through nuclear radiation, its crew inside will be completely safe and sound. The aircraft also carries a considerable amount of rations and potable water for its crew, as well as sleeping berths and its own troubleshooting staff, ready to assist with technical malfunctions and glitches as needed.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it
SECDEF Mattis arriving at King Salman Air Base, Saudi Arabia (USAF photo)

However, flying theses monsters isn’t very cheap at all – each Nightwatch costs an average of around $159,529 per hour to fly. Sourcing parts for the fleet isn’t easy either, especially considering that Boeing ceased production of the 747-200 platform decades ago.

It’s estimated that by 2039, all four E-4Bs will have served out their entire useful lifespans, and will have to be replaced, this time with an even more capable long-range aircraft that will assume the mantle of being America’s doomsday plane. Until that day comes, Nightwatch still serves at the Secretary of Defense’s pleasure, ferrying him around on official trips and visits as a visible sign of American military power.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Military commissaries limit meat purchases amid supply chain worries

Citing supply chain strains and anticipated shortages as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the agency that manages military commissaries says some stores will start limiting how much fresh meat customers can purchase.

Starting May 1, commissaries within the 50 states and in Puerto Rico will limit purchases of fresh beef, poultry and pork, the Defense Commissary Agency announced Thursday evening. For fresh beef, pork, chicken and turkey, customers will be limited to purchasing two items per visit, according to the announcement.


“There may be some shortages of fresh protein products in the coming weeks,” Robert Bianchi, a retired Navy rear admiral and the Defense Department’s special assistant for commissary operations, said in a statement. “Enacting this policy now will help ensure that all of our customers have an opportunity to purchase these products on an equitable basis.”

Military commissaries, located on military bases around the world, operate on a nonprofit basis and offer food items at cost. Considered a military benefit, they are open to active-duty troops, dependents, retirees and some other special veteran categories.

Individual stores will have the ability to increase or decrease limits based on their inventory, DeCA officials added in the release. Some commissaries have already been posting quantity limits on high-demand items, such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

The move to limit meat purchases is a troubling one that comes on the heels of an announcement from Tyson Foods, one of the largest meat-processing companies in the nation, that it was being forced to close down plants due to the virus. Eventually, the company warned, the closures would lead to shortages in stores.

“The food supply chain is breaking,” company chairman John Tyson said in a full-page ad that appeared in the New York Times April 26.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump issued an executive order ordering Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to “take all appropriate action under that section to ensure that meat and poultry processors continue operations,” calling the plants “critical infrastructure for the nation.

To that end, the administration will purchase billion in excess dairy, produce and meat “to be distributed in order to assist Americans in need as well as producers with lost markets,” the White House said in an announcement accompanying the order.

In DeCA’s Thursday announcement, Bianchi said the supply chain for commissaries overseas remained strong.

“In addition, we continue to prioritize quantities for our overseas shipments, so we should be able to support the demand,” he said. “If we experience any unexpected major hiccups in the pipeline, we will look at expanding shopping limits to other locations.”

The release noted that purchase limits were also intended to head off the phenomenon of panic buying, which has led to bare shelves in supermarkets all over the country. As demand spiked, DeCA issued a March 14 directive allowing store managers to implement shopping limits as they saw fit to maintain stock availability. That directive remains in effect.

“We know this is a potentially stressful time for all concerned,” Bianchi said. “But together we will meet these challenges and support our service members and their families throughout the duration of this crisis wherever necessary.”

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

Articles

This Marine veteran stole a plane and landed it on a New York City street – to win a bar bet

Marines don’t take kindly to being told something is impossible. Thomas Fitzpatrick was that kind of Marine. He landed a single-engine plane right outside of a New York City bar after making a bar bet with another patron.


Marine in WWII and Army veteran of the Korean War, “Tommy Fitz” was having a drink in Washington Heights one night when another patron bet him that he couldn’t go to New Jersey and be back in 15 minutes.

For anyone else, this might have been impossible.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it

In fact, the Police Aviation Bureau called it next to impossible, estimating the odds of success at “100,000-to-1.” Shortly before 3 a.m. on Sept. 30, 1956, the “twenty-something” Fitzpatrick hopped in a single-engine plane at New Jersey’s Teterboro School of Aeronautics and took off without lights or a radio.

“Supposedly, he planned on landing on the field at George Washington High School but it wasn’t lit up at night, so he had to land on St. Nicholas instead,” said Jim Clarke in an interview with the New York Times’ Corey Kilgannon. Clarke was a local resident at the time and remembers seeing the plane in the middle of the street.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it
You losers play GTA and call it a game. Tommy Fitz didn’t play games. (Reddit user SquirtieBirdie)

According to the New York Times, locals called the first landing “a feat of aeronautics.” The owner of the plane did not press charges. Fitzpatrick was given a $100 fine (almost $900 when adjusted for inflation) for violating a city law which forbids landing airplanes on New York City streets. He also lost his pilot’s license. And that was that.

Until Fitzpatrick did it again, two years later.

This time, the Marine veteran stole the plane at 1 a.m. from Teterboro School and landed it at Amsterdam and 187th Street. He stole the second plane because someone at the bar didn’t believe that he stole a plane the first time around.

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it
28 minutes by car, under 15 by plane. Just trust us on this one.

For the second theft, the judge threw the book at Fitzpatrick, sentencing him to six months confinement.

“Landing on a street with lampposts and cars parked on both sides is a miracle,” said Fred Hartling, whose family was close to Fitzpatrick. “It was a wonder – you had to be a great flier to put that thing down so close to everything.”

Aside from his two skillful drunken landings, Tommy Fitz was also a Purple Heart recipient and earned a Silver Star in Korea.

During a strategic withdrawal, Corporal Fitzpatrick noticed a wounded officer, about 100 yards forward of his position. In attempting a rescue, he and a companion were seriously wounded. Cpl. Fitzpatrick despite severe pain and loss of blood made it back to safety, directed a second successful rescue party, organized and provided covering fire to support the rescue. For this action, he was awarded the Silver Star.

Thomas Fitzpatrick died in 2009 at age 79, survived by his wife of 51 years. As of 2013, the Washington Heights neighborhood still had a drink named for ol’ Tommy Fitz: the Late Night Flight.

Courtesy of the Dinner Party Download:

.5 oz Kahlua

1.5 oz vodka

.5 oz Chambord

5 blackberries

1 egg white

dash simple syrup

Drones are dropping bombs on US troops in Syria, and it’s not clear who’s doing it
The Late Night Flight. (photo from the Dinner Party Download)

“…Pour Kahlua into the base of a cocktail glass.

In a separate mixing glass, muddle the blackberries, add Chambord and one ounce of vodka, and shake with ice.

Strain carefully into a layer over the Kahlua.

In another mixing glass, shake egg white, syrup, and remaining half ounce of vodka — without ice — to create an emulsion.

Layer this fluffy white foam on top…”

 

MIGHTY CULTURE

How a reconnaissance unit is slashing bureaucracy to win

Weight was the issue. The B-25B, carrying a full combat load, was just too heavy to takeoff from the deck of the USS Hornet.

While the nation was still reeling in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold, Chief of Staff of the Army Air Force, assigned Lt. Col. James “Jimmy” Doolittle to conduct a bombing mission on Tokyo to disrupt Japanese aggression and momentum and embolden the American public for the task ahead.

A seemingly impossible mission, as the United States had no aircraft with enough range to reach the Japanese home islands from any U.S. or allied nation’s runways.


The attack would have to be launched from the sea. However, carrier-based aircraft could only carry one or two small bombs each and had such short range that one of the U.S.’s precious few carriers would have to approach dangerously close to Japan, making it an easy target. The mission was seemingly over before it began.

Until the airmen examined the problem from a unique perspective – perhaps a longer range B-25B bomber, never designed to launch from an aircraft carrier, could be stripped of enough excess weight to launch at sea, bomb the target and then fly on to friendly airfields in China.

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U.S. Army Air Force B-25 Mitchell bombers launch from the deck of the U.S.S. Hornet on April 18, 1942 to bomb the Japanese home islands in what came to be known as the Doolittle Raid.

On April 18, 1942 Doolittle’s Raiders did just that, launching off the deck of the Hornet, with wooden broomsticks in place of machine guns to save weight and extra fuel tanks to make the journey, and successfully completed their mission over Japan.

While bombers haven’t flown off a carrier since, the same spirit of innovation and trust in airmen that made the Doolittle raid possible is still alive and well in today’s Air Force.

Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Goldfein has challenged leaders across the force to take risks, trust their people and embrace failure as a way to learn and grow.

One unit, the 99th Reconnaissance Squadron, welcomed this idea with open arms.

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A mobile chase car driver pursues a U-2 Dragon Lady reconnaissance aircraft during its landing at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, Dec. 7, 2015. Mobile chase car drivers act as a second pair of eyes and ears for U-2 pilots during their launch and landings, radioing adjustments to the aircraft to make up for the pilot’s limited sight of the runway. Pilots of the 99th Reconnaissance Squadron have procured GPS-style aviation watches that aid pilots in communicating with ground chase crews and collect inflight data to help with training, tracking physiological aspects of the pilots.

(US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kentavist P. Brackin)

“The path that we’re making for our new initiatives is actually modeled off the Doolittle Raider patch, and we actually look to that for inspiration,” said Capt. Syed, 99th RS pilot. “They achieved something in a moment of national crisis, and really lifted morale and mood of the nation by doing something everybody thought was impossible, and what we’re trying to do in our little squadron with a few people, is to change the make up and the culture, so that when people come into work they’re happy, they feel empowered, and the leadership has enabled that.”

Syed saw a need in the aging U2 and T-38 airframes around him that could be met by using off-the-shelf products. One was a GPS-style aviation watch that would aid pilots and collect inflight data to help with training, tracking physiological aspects of the pilots and, in some instances, aid in safely returning an aircraft when mishaps occur.

“It wasn’t anything that I did, it was really what the culture and the environment of this organization allowed us to do,” Syed said. “We were able to go from thought to having it on our wrist in 100 days. And in other organizations of the Defense Department, I think that’s almost impossible.”

Discover the future: A simple but powerful charge put forth by Lt. Col. Matthew Nussbaum, 99th RS commander, has invigorated his squadron with the willingness and enthusiasm to seek out what is possible within the constraints of the DoD.

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Lt. Col. Matthew Nussbaum, 99th Reconnaissance Squadron commander, fosters a command climate that encourages his airmen to start projects without being afraid of failing. Products of his command range from resourcing their own aviation watches to creating software applications built by 99th RS members that can benefit flying squadrons.

(US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos)

“There’s those that value initiative, mission command, execution, freedom of maneuver, but there’s a law of physics, so to speak, a law of humanity that bureaucracy grows. In the U.S. military, and the Air Force in particular, that bureaucracy has grown, and slowed us down,” said Nussbaum.

The culture of innovation being developed at the 99th is driving change, agility and initiative while disempowering the bureaucracy and putting the power of decision-making and freedom of maneuver back in its member’s hands, says Nussbaum.

In many ways, the 99th RS is similar to most Air Force squadrons, but what makes it stand out is its quest for information and learning.

“Knowledge is the key to everything,” said Maj. Ray, 99th RS pilot. “For us, in the case of being able to self resource and self heal, we’ve gotten into different areas to which we aren’t familiar like U.S. code, the defense, federal and Air Force acquisition regulation, and all these different entities, and what we’re discovering is that knowledge gives you the freedom to maneuver.”

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Members of the 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron prepare Lt. Col. Jeff Klosky for a U-2 Dragon Lady mission, April 19, 2014, at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.

(US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Russ Scalf)

Ray and Syed credit their leadership with giving them the leniency and the freedom to be able to try and experiment, discover, learn and learn about learning. This symbiotic leader-follower relationship has allowed the team to progress rapidly.

“It’s a dynamic instability, F-16s are agile airplanes because they’re inherently unstable,” Ray said. “We’re not trying to destabilize command and control of the organization, what we’re trying to do is effect that same command and control at the user level – at the level of those who are out fighting and defending their nation. To resource them, and allow them to resource themselves, in ways people previously did not think was possible.”

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Maj. Ray and Capt. Syed are 99th Reconnaissance Squadron who took initiative in learning the acquisitions process in order to make sure their squadron is equipped and ready to execute the mission.

(US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos)

Freedom of maneuver isn’t without challenges, though. Some of the toughest challenges come from the individuals themselves and learning to work as a team.

Nussbaum cautions people who think the frozen middle is a place that exists in a certain group of people but instead that it is in all of us. A whole team approach is key to mission accomplishment and having the tolerance to let others try problem solving in their own way is vital. Allowing everyone to have a chance to participate and come up with solutions adds a sense of ownership and fun to the process.

Like Doolittle, the 99th and the Air Force face many challenges that require new approaches and open-mindedness. Untethering unit members to give freedom to explore all avenues of problem solving is a progressive way ahead and one the Air Force is taking seriously.

This article originally appeared on Airman Magazine. Follow @AirmanMagazine on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia and NATO just took one step closer to war

The headlines in Georgia read that the country will one day join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – whether Russia likes it or not. The man who made the declaration is NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. The Secretary was visiting Georgia at the end of a set of joint NATO-Georgian military exercises.

No firm date has been set but the Kremlin, long opposed to Georgia’s membership in the anti-Russian alliance, can’t be pleased with the idea of another NATO country along its border.


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From the 2011 Film “Five Days of War,” about the Georgian side of the 2008 Russia-Georgia War.

The Russians have occupied part of internationally-recognized Georgian territory since capturing it in 2008. The aftermath of that conflict saw Russian occupation of the territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russian recognition of those territories as sovereign states, and a permanent Russian military presence in both areas. Thousands of Russian troops are stationed there to this day. Georgia still considers those areas to belong to Georgia.

That same year, the NATO membership decided Georgia would definitely become a NATO member one day. Secretary Stoltenberg reaffirmed the commitment of NATO allies to Georgia, saying there was nothing Russia can do to prevent the move.

“We are not accepting that Russia or any other power can decide what members can do,” he said. “No country has the right to influence NATO’s open-door policy.”

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American and Georgian troops during military exercises in the Caucasian country.

Georgia has been in what Russia considers its sphere of influence since the days of the Tsar, which can put the country in a precarious situation so close to its powerful neighbor. Ukraine has also been trying to escape Russian influence since the fall of the Soviet Union and has tried to do so by moving closer to joining the NATO alliance. Russia considered Ukraine’s membership in NATO to be a direct national security threat, which led to the unofficial invasion of Ukraine and the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.

Russia used similar tactics in the lead-up to its 2008 invasion of Georgia, including the use of Russian-backed insurgents, Russian-made weapons, and even the first use of concurrent cyberattacks during a conventional armed conflict. If the Russian Army made such an aggressive move on Georgia as a NATO member, the attack would trigger NATO’s Article 5 – that an attack on one member country is an attack on all countries.

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American troops with the NATO flag in Afghanistan.

The first and only time Article 5 was automatically invoked, the alliance took immediate action. Less than a day after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, struck the United States, NATO member countries informed the United Nations they were invoking Article 5 and that each country would take an immediate eight steps to assist the United States. While provoking the alliance isn’t Russia’s style, the addition of Georgia could still lead to a war.

On three separate occasions, the collective defense agreement came to member state Turkey’s aid at the request of Turkish officials. In 1991, 2003, and again in 2012, the NATO alliance responded with allied troops, weapons, and equipment to the call for aid from a NATO ally. A buildup of allied troops near the border with the breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia would surely be met with a buildup of Russian troops on the opposite side.

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Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev and President Vladimir Putin.

The Kremlin has not specifically responded to the recent statements made by Jens Stoltenberg, but most recently, Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev warned of “a terrible conflict” brewing just by making such a move. He also questioned the wisdom of provoking such a conflict.

Articles

This little-known disaster was the first to be called the ‘Second Pearl Harbor’

Often dubbed the “Second Pearl Harbor,” the West Loch disaster in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, saw six large landing ships explode, burn, and sink on May 21, 1944, after their cargoes of ammunition and fuel caught fire. The LSTs were moored in a large formation of 34 ships preparing to take part in the invasion of Saipan in the Marianas Islands. LSTs were designed to deliver 10 fully combat-ready tanks onto beaches during amphibious landings and could carry hundreds of tons of supplies.


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The LST-742 loads supplies in Korea in October 1950. The ship design was created in World War II to allow the ships to rapidly deploy tanks and other supplies on landing beaches. (Photo: National Archives)

At Pearl Harbor, the ships were carrying mostly fuel and ammunition, including mortar rounds from a failed test to employ LSTs and their smaller cousins, landing craft tanks, as mortar platforms to support beach assaults.

Soldiers were unloading mortar shells from LCT-963 and onto trucks on LST-353 on May 21 when a fireball suddenly erupted from LST-353.

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Navy ships continue to burn on May 22, 1944, following the West Loch disaster the previous day at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The center plume of smoke is coming from LST-480 whose wreckage is still present at West Loch. (Photo: U.S. Army Signal Corps)

The Navy was never able to identify a definite cause, but an accident with a cigarette or a mortar round going off and igniting the gasoline fumes have been advanced as probable causes.

Regardless of how the first fire started, its progress through LST-353 was fierce, and the rising heat triggered a second, larger explosion that filled nearby ships with hot shrapnel and spread flaming debris through the docking area.

The other ships, also filled with fuel, ammunition, and other supplies, began trying to get clear while rescue vehicles rushed in to try to save sailors, Marines, and soldiers and put out the flames.

The flames consumed LST-353 and five other ships. The Army unit that was removing the mortar ammunition from LCT-963, the all-Black 29th Chemical Decontamination Company, lost 58 of its men. In total, 163 service members were killed and 396 wounded by the fires and explosions that raged for most of the day.

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The LST-39 burns on May 21, 1944, during the West Loch disaster at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (Photo: U.S. Army Signal Corps)

The military also lost three LCTs, 17 tracked vehicles, and eight artillery pieces.

The Navy rallied after the incident, finding new ships and men to take over the mission. The LST fleet for the invasion of Saipan launched only one day late and made it to the Marianas quickly enough to invade on schedule on June 15, 1944.

A media blackout kept most of America from hearing about the incident until it was declassified in 1960. Even today, it remains relatively unknown.

One ship, LST-480, still rests on the beach at West Loch. The Navy and Army has worked in recent years to remember those lost and call attention to the sacrifices of those killed and wounded.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Why grenades in movies look nothing like real life

Yeah, yeah, yeah… We know grenades in movies aren’t like the real thing. But that could make you wonder, “Why?”

Real grenades are puffs of smoke with a bit of high-moving metal. Why not give troops mobile fireballs that instill fear and awe in the hearts of all that see them? Why not arm our troops with something akin to Super Mario’s fire flower?


First, we should take a look at what, exactly is going on with a real grenade versus a movie grenade.

The grenades you’re probably thinking of when you hear the term “grenade” are likely fragmentation grenades, consisting of strong explosives wrapped up in a metal casing. When the explosives go off, either the case or a special wrapping is torn into lots of small bits of metal or ceramic. Those bits fly outwards at high speed, and the people they hit die.

The U.S. military uses the M67 Fragmentation Hand Grenade. 6.5 ounces of high explosive destroys a 2.5-inch diameter steel casing and sends the bits of steel out up to 230 meters. Deaths are commonly caused up to 5 meters away from the grenade.

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U.S. Army soldiers throw live grenades during training in Alaska.

(U.S. Army)

That’s because grenades are made to maximize the efficiency of their components. See, explosive power is determined by a number of factors. Time, pressure, and temperature all play a role. Maximum boom comes from maximizing the temperature and pressure increase in as little time as possible.

That’s actually a big part of why M67s have a steel casing. The user pulls the pin and throws the grenade, starting the chemical timer. When the explosion initiates, it’s contained for a fraction of a second inside that steel casing. The strength of the steel allows more of the explosive to burn — and for the temperature and pressure to rise further — before it bursts through the steel.

As the pressure breaks out, it picks up all the little bits of steel from the casing that was containing it, and it carries those pieces into the flesh and bones of its enemies.

Movie grenades, meanwhile, are either created digitally from scratch, cobbled together digitally from a few different fires and explosions, or created in the physical world with pyrotechnics. If engineers wanted to create movie-like grenades, they would need to do it the third way, obviously, with real materials.

The explosion is easy enough. The 6.5 ounces in a typical M67 would work just fine. Enough for a little boom, not so much that it would kill the thrower.

But to get that movie-like fire, you need a new material. To get fire, you need unburnt explosives or fuel to be carried on the pressure wave, mixing with the air, picking up the heat from the initial explosion, and then burning in flight.

And that’s where the problems lie for weapon designers. If they wanted to give infantrymen the chance to spit fire like a dragon, they would need to wrap something like the M67 in a new fuel that would burn after the initial explosion.

Makers of movie magic use liquid fuels, like gasoline, diesel, or oil, to get their effects (depending on what colors and amount of smoke they want). Alcohols, flammable gels, etc. all work great as well, but it takes quite a bit of fuel to get a relatively small fireball. The M1 flamethrower used half a gallon of fuel per second.

But liquid fuels are unwieldy, and even a quart of gasoline per grenade would add some serious weight to a soldier’s load.

So, yeah, there’s little chance of getting that sweet movie fireball onto a MOLLE vest. But there is another way. Instead of using liquids, you could use solid fuels, especially reactive metals and similar elements, such as aluminum, magnesium, or sodium.

The military went with phosphorous for incendiary weapons. It burns extremely hot and can melt its way through most metals. Still, the AN-M14 TH3 Incendiary Hand Grenade doesn’t exactly create a fireball and doesn’t even have a blast. Along with thermite, thermate, and similar munitions, it burns relatively slowly.

But if you combine the two grenades, the blast power of something like the M67 and the burning metals of something like the AN-M14 TH3, and you can create actual fireballs. That’s how thermobaric weapons work.

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U.S. Marines train with the SMAW, a weapon that can fire thermobaric warheads.

(U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Brian J. Slaght)

In thermobaric weapons, an initial blast distributes a cloud of small pieces of highly reactive metal or fuel. Then, a moment later, a secondary charge ignites the cloud. The fire races out from the center, consuming the oxygen from the air and the fuel mixed in with it, creating a huge fireball.

If the weapon was sent into a cave, a building, or some other enclosed space, this turns the secondary fire into a large explosion of its own. In other words, shoot these things into a room on the first floor of a building, and that room itself becomes a bomb, leveling the larger building.

But throwing one of these things would be risky. Remember, creating the big fireball can turn an entire enclosed space into a massive bomb. And if you throw one in the open, you run the risk of the still-burning fuel landing on your skin. If that’s something like phosphorous, magnesium, or aluminum, that metal has to be carved out of your flesh with a knife. It doesn’t stop burning.

So, troops should leave the flashy grenades to the movies. It’s better to get the quick, lethal pop of a fragmentation grenade than to carry the additional weight for a liquid-fueled fireball or a world-ending thermobaric weapon. Movie grenades aren’t impossible, but they aren’t worth the trouble.

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