VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness - We Are The Mighty
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VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness

The new Veterans Affairs chief shares the goal set by former President Barack Obama’s administration of ending homelessness among veterans, but says it’ll take longer than his predecessor predicted.


Reducing the number of homeless veterans nationwide from roughly 40,000 to 10,000 or 15,000 is an “achievable goal” for President Donald Trump’s administration, VA Secretary David Shulkin told The Associated Press during a visit to Rhode Island on Friday.

“This is a continuous problem of people finding themselves in economically difficult situations and then being out on the street or going from shelter to shelter,” Shulkin said.

Homelessness among veterans has been effectively ended in Virginia, Connecticut and Delaware and in more than 40 communities. The outgoing head of the VA, Robert McDonald, said in January that “we should be there” nationwide within a couple of years.

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness
Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Honorable David J. Shulkin, visits the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, April 27. Shulkin, who visited the medical center for the first time, spoke with various providers throughout the facilities to learn about the medical care given at the hospital. (Photo by Megan Garcia, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Command Communications)

Shulkin, who formerly was VA undersecretary of health under Obama, said on Friday, “We’re still looking at a multi-year process.”

While advocates are encouraged to hear Shulkin’s commitment, some wish he was more ambitious.

“My personal take is, the VA secretary is being cautiously optimistic about what can be achieved and not wanting to kind of set the administration up for a missed goal,” said Lisa Vukov, who works to prevent and end homelessness in the Omaha, Nebraska, metropolitan area. “I’m a firm believer in setting your goals big because you achieve more that way.”

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, said veteran homelessness can be ended during the Trump administration.

“There’s no reason we can’t achieve it if enough resources are dedicated to the fight,” said Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

Shulkin said some veterans offered housing by the VA prefer other alternatives and high real estate prices and a shortage of available housing in some parts of the country make it hard to house veterans there. He sees the biggest challenge in Los Angeles.

Democratic Mayor Eric Garcetti said homelessness in Los Angeles is a long-term crisis, but the city has housed more than 8,000 veterans since 2014 and he’s fighting to ensure all veterans have a safe place to call home. Los Angeles voters approved a bond in November to raise $1.2 billion for up to 10,000 permanent units.

Navy veteran Chris N. Cardenas said there are some veterans who refuse help or have trouble accessing benefits because of mental illness or substance abuse issues, but 40,000 homeless veterans is far too many.

“That’s a very high number,” Cardenas said. “It can get down to zero for the ones that want the help.”

Cardenas, 52, said he stopped working as a deliveryman in Santa Fe because of problems with his right knee in 2013 and became homeless after he used up his savings. He moved into an apartment in the Santa Fe area in 2016 with the help of a VA grant program and is now a student at the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos.

“I’m at a loss for words because it’s so great,” he said. “It makes you feel like a functioning person in society.”

To get homeless veterans into permanent homes, the Obama administration used a program that was created in 2008 and combines rental assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development with case management and clinical services from the VA, so-called HUD-VASH vouchers. Some areas of the country currently have a waiting list for a voucher, including Los Angeles.

While programs for helping homeless veterans received funding increases in fiscal 2017, there’s less money for new HUD-VASH vouchers. There’s $40 million available, compared to $60 million for new HUD-VASH vouchers in 2016 and $75 million in 2015, according to HUD.

“We urge the VA to prioritize finishing the job and I have absolute confidence the new secretary has that commitment,” said Chris Ko, director of homeless initiatives for the United Way of Greater Los Angeles. “We need to see that commitment exercised in additional federal resources.”

Shulkin said he’s committed to maintaining the voucher program and continuing strategies that are working, such as housing people first and then pointing them toward help to confront the root cause of their homelessness.

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Russia reportedly wants to build this doomsday bomb and hide it on a train

Russia is apparently ready to build two terrifying weapons of war: A 100-ton ballistic missile that can destroy countries and a train that can carry and fire six nuclear missiles, according to Pravda, the Communist Party’s outlet in Russia.


The missile and train are “on the level of absolute readiness of the industry for their implementation, should the relevant decision be made to include the projects in the state armament program,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told Pravda.

The 100-ton RS-28 Sarmat nuclear missile, or “Satan 2” as NATO calls it, reportedly holds 10 warheads and is capable of destroying a country the size of France, Newsweek reported. The Satan 2 is an upgraded version of the RS-36M, which NATO called “Satan” in the 70s.

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness
Russian SS-18 ‘Satan.’ Photo by Clay Gilliland.

But its production has been put off since 2014. The Russian Defense Ministry also said last week that it wouldn’t test it until late 2017.

The Barguzin trains, on the other hand, will look like passenger trains, be able to travel 1,500 miles a day, and hold up to six 55-ton RS-24 Yars thermonuclear ICBMs. The Barguzin train is also an upgrade of a Soviet design that only carried three nuclear ICBMs.

Russia plans to test an ICBM from the Barguzin train in 2019, The National Interest reported in March.

The US considered putting nukes on trains in the 1980s, but later scrapped the idea. Nuclear trains are beneficial in that they’re mobile and difficult to locate.

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness
Photo from Wikimedia Commons

However, a 2014 RAND study said that there are shortcomings to nuclear trains. Railways can be blocked by snow, and the enemy simply has to surveil the railways to find the trains. Also, once found, they’re easier to take out.

“Mobile systems that depend on roads or rail lines visible via overhead imagery effectively shrink the target area and could significantly lower the number of missiles required to barrage mobile systems,” RAND said.

Russia currently has about 7,000 nuclear weapons, while the US has about 6,800.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Heroic Marine’s quick thinking saves family of three

U.S. Marines are known for their fast thinking and courage in a time of need. Marines are taught from day one the core values of honor, courage, and commitment. U.S. Marine Cpl. Alexandra Nowak, an administrative specialist with Alpha Company, Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, exemplified unwavering courage when she saved the lives of three people Sept. 20, 2019.

Nowak was driving to pick up her 2-year old daughter and mother at the airport on Interstate Highway 15 in Escondido, California, when she witnessed a multi-car collision resulting in a sports utility vehicle rolling onto its side.

Nowak, a native of Forney, Texas, sprang into action to help the vehicle’s occupants. She was able to successfully retrieve the driver’s uninjured 9-month old and 4-year old children from the vehicle and help them to safety.


After pulling back the broken windshield, Nowak realized that the driver’s arm was almost completely severed. Nowak then retrieved the tourniquet she kept in her vehicle and proceeded to administer first aid and keep the driver conscious until first responders arrived.

“I remember she asked me ‘Am I going to die?’ and I told her, ‘No, I am not going to let you die,'” Nowak said.

Escondido Fire Department Officials and witnesses at the scene credit Nowak’s quick thinking and bravery as the main reason that the driver did not suffer more severe medical issues or even death.

“I was courageous, yes. Would I do it again? Yes. Do I hope I have to do it again? No,” Nowak said.

Those who work with Nowak said her willingness to help was not surprising.

“It’s not surprising that she stopped to help,” said Sgt. Shannon Miranda, an administrative specialist with Alpha Co., HS Bn., MCI-West, MCB Camp Pendleton. “Her mom skills always kick in and she always tries to help people out.”

Nowak acted as any Marine should act in a traumatic event. With quick thinking and implementing the skills taught to her within the Marine Corps, she became a hero to the three people saved that day and an example to all Marines within the Corps.

This article originally appeared on Marines. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This Afghanistan vet and victim of the Las Vegas shooting posted about firefights — months before his death

Christopher Roybal, one of the 59 people who died in the horrific shooting on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday night, posted a harrowing message on his Facebook account, months before his death.


The public Facebook post, dated July 18, began with the ominous question that many war-time veterans dread: “‘What’s it like being shot at?'”


“A question people ask because it’s something that less that 1% of our American population will ever experience,” Roybal’s post said. “Especially one on a daily basis. My response has always been the same, not one filled with a sense of pride or ego, but an answer filled with truth and genuine fear/anger.”

Based on photos, the 28-year-old US Navy veteran appeared to have served in Kandahar, Afghanistan, with the 25th Infantry Division, a US Army division that has seen heavy fighting in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Roybal then goes on describing his first firefight and the lingering effects that appeared to resonate — long after his return home:

“Finishing up what was supposed to be a quick 4-hour foot patrol, I remember placing my hand on the [armored vehicle] and telling [“Bella”] how well she did. Hearing the most distinct sounds of a whip cracking and pinging of metal off of the vehicle I just had my hand resting on is something that most see in movies.

I remember that first day, not sure how to feel. It was never fear, to be honest, mass confusion. Sensory overload…followed by the most amount of natural adrenaline that could never be duplicated through a needle. I was excited, angry and manic. Ready to take on what became normal everyday life in the months to follow. Taking on the fight head on, grabbing the figurative “Bull by the horns”.

Unfortunately, as the fights continue and as they as increase in numbers and violence, that excitement fades and the anger is all that’s left. The anger stays, long after your friends have died, the lives you’ve taken are buried and your boots are placed neatly in a box in some storage unit. Still covered in the dirt you’ve refused to wash off for fear of forgetting the most raw emotions you as a human being will ever feel again.”

So far, his post has received nearly 900 likes.

“What’s it like to be shot at? It’s a nightmare no amount of drugs, no amount of therapy and no amount of drunk talks with your war veteran buddies will ever be able to escape,” Roybal’s post said. “Cheers boys.”


Roybal was at the country music festival celebrating his birthday with his mother, Debby Allen, when he was shot in the chest. The two were separated amid the chaos, according to KABC.

Although a fireman was present after Roybal was shot, he was unable to revive him due to the sustained rate of fire from the shooter, Allen said.

“He saw Christopher take his last breath,” Allen said.

“Today is the saddest day of my life,” Allen wrote in a Facebook post. “My son Christopher Roybal was murdered last night in Las Vegas. My heart is broken in a billion pieces.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia threatens to attack U.S. troops in remote base

Russia has warned the US that its military and allied Syrian forces are ready to attack a key US-held base near the borders of Syria, Jordan, and Iraq, US defense officials said in a CNN report published on Sept. 6, 2018.

The Kremlin is said to have accused the US-led coalition base At Tanf of protecting nearby militants, with Russia delivering two warnings in the past week, CNN said, citing US officials. At Tanf, from which a coalition of dozens of US troops and Syrian rebels launch operations against the Islamic State terrorist group, is seen as a critical location within the scope of Iranian, Syrian, and Russian influence in the region.


“We have absolutely advised them to stay out of At Tanf,” a US official told CNN. “We are postured to respond.”

“The United States does not seek to fight the government of Syria or any groups that may be providing it support,” another official added. “However, if attacked, the United States will not hesitate to use necessary and proportionate force to defend US, coalition, or partner forces.”

US troops would not need permission from superiors to defend themselves if attacked, which the US reiterated to the Kremlin, CNN reported.

A state-sanctioned attack by Russia could spark a flashpoint conflict in the region. Tensions were raised in February 2018 after dozens of Russian mercenaries were killed during a failed assault on a US-held position near the city of Deir al-Zor.

Russian forces have not recently been seen amassing their troops; however, the US military is still on alert, officials said. Senior military officials, including Defense Secretary James Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are aware of the warnings, CNN said.

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis.

(Dept. of Defense Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

Russia’s warnings come amid a looming assault by Syrian and Iranian forces against the city of Idlib, where Syrian rebels have been cornered. Russia delivered an ominous warning in August 2018 that some experts saw as an indication that the Syrian government might indiscriminately use chemical weapons against the city.

The US followed with a threat of its own, warning Syrian President Bashar Assad that if he “chooses to again use chemical weapons, the United States and its Allies will respond swiftly and appropriately.”

“President Donald J. Trump has warned that such an attack would be a reckless escalation of an already tragic conflict and would risk the lives of hundreds of thousands of people,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a statement.

Featured image: Members of 5th Special Forces Group (A) conducting 50. Cal Weapons training during counter ISIS operations at Al Tanf Garrison in southern Syria.

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

popular

This pilot defected with the Soviet Union’s most advanced plane

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness
(Photo: U.S. Air Force)

 


Lieutenant Viktor Belenko decided he had had enough. Despite being considered an expert fighter pilot with one of the Soviet Union’s elite squadrons, with all the perks that went with it, Belenko was tired of the shortages and propaganda that defined much of life in the USSR. He feared that reports of plenty in the U.S. were also exaggerated, but he decided to take a chance. On September 6, 1976 during a routine training mission, he switched off his radio and bolted to Hakodate airport in Japan. After nearly running out of fuel, barely avoiding a civilian jetliner, and overshooting the runway, he set down in Japan with only a busted landing gear. It turned out to be one of the great intelligence coups of the Cold War.

Given this gift, including a flight manual that Belenko had helpfully brought along, Western intelligence agencies proceeded to tear the plane to bits analyzing the fighter whose capabilities up until now were only an assumption. When the Soviet Union demanded its return, Japan agreed on the condition that they recoup shipping costs. The plane showed up at a docked Soviet vessel in dozens of crates, and when the Soviets realized at least 20 key components were missing, they demanded $10 million in compensation. As befitted the Cold War, neither ever paid.

The MiG-25 “Foxbat” was the newest and most advanced fighter the Soviet Union possessed. The United States and its allied NATO countries were genuinely concerned over its capabilities, and it was generally assumed to be an advanced fighter bomber that could outfly anything NATO had. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The Mig-25 was very cutting edge in its way. It was one of the fastest fighters ever produced, with a theoretical top speed of mach 3.2 at the risk of engine damage, putting it near the vaunted U.S. SR-71 spy plane. It’s radar was one of the most powerful ever put on a plane of its size.

 

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness
Viktor Belenko

 

But those strengths were where it ended. The MiG-25 was built around its extremely heavy engines, and it showed. It had a ridiculously short combat range, and even its unarmed cruising range was too short, as Belenko’s journey could attest. It was so specialized in high-altitude interception that flying it at low altitude and speed could be very difficult. It could not carry weapons for ground attack, did not have a integral cannon, and the large wings NATO interpreted as making it a formidable dogfighter were simply meant to keep its heavy airframe in the air. In reality, it was maneuverable and would be mincemeat in a conventional dogfight once it closed to short range. Its electronics were still vacuum tube technology, and its airframe would literally bend itself out of shape if the pilot was not careful. It was made to be a high speed missile carrier targeting bombers or U.S. high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft like the U-2 inside Soviet airspace, and not much more.

Despite its flaws, the Soviet Union built over a thousand of them, and it was widely exported to a number of countries, where its combat record in several wars was mixed at best. An updated version called the MiG-31 was later built that shared aspects with the original, including many of its shortcomings.

Belkov, for all his doubts, received a welcome beyond his skeptical hopes. In an old saw that applied to many Soviet visitors, he was flabbergasted by his first visit to an American supermarket, and wondered if it was a CIA hoax. He was granted citizenship by an act of Congress in 1980, and he co-wrote an autobiography called MiG Pilot that had some success. He reportedly works as an aerospace engineer to this day. His daring escape still stands as one of the defining moments of the Cold War.

MIGHTY TRENDING

NASA is giving its $1 billion Jupiter mission a critical new lease on life

For the past two years, NASA’s Juno probe has studied planet Jupiter like no spacecraft before it.

The $1 billion mission has peeled back the giant planet’s thick cloud layers, searched for an elusive core, and returned dazzling images of colossal storms and chaotic cloud bands.

But all good things must come to an end, and Juno is no exception.


NASA planned to destroy the tennis-court-size robot by plunging it into Jupiter’s clouds sometime after July 2018. The rationale is similar to the Cassini probe’s recent demise: Jupiter’s icy moon Europa may be habitable to alien life, so carefully and deliberately ending the mission would prevent Juno from accidentally crashing into that moon. This would keep Europa’s ocean — which may have twice as much water as exists on Earth — from getting contaminated by any earthly microbes stuck to Juno.

However, the probe’s fiery end is now pushed back by at least three years to July 2021, according to NASA sources. Scientific work on the mission will continue through September 2022.

The extension is critical to one of Juno’s primary objectives. The probe has been mapping Jupiter as it orbits the gas giant with infrequent close passes called perijoves. Juno builds this map slice-by-slice using a suite of different instruments, including ones that record data about Jupiter’s gravitational field.

But due to lingering trouble with Juno’s propulsion system, by July 2018, the team will have completed only 14 of the 32 perijoves that it needs to finish mapping Jupiter.

Why Juno needs an extension to finish mapping Jupiter

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness
Au00a0diagram of Jupiter’s orbits.
(Scott Bolton / Southwest Research Institute)

Spending too much time in Jupiter’s powerful radiation field can damage sensitive electronics. As a result, Juno orbits the planet on a highly elliptical path that keeps the probe mostly out of harm’s way, yet regularly zooms it over the cloud tops for detailed observations.

When Juno arrived in July 2016, mission managers had the spacecraft orbit Jupiter once every 53.5 days. In October 2016, they planned to fire up the probe’s engines and speed Juno’s orbits to once every 14 days — until the team discovered some sticky valves in the engine’s plumbing. NASA ultimately decided to play it safe and not risk using the engines, delaying Juno’s mapping pace nearly four-fold.

“During a thorough review, we looked at multiple scenarios that would place Juno in a shorter-period orbit, but there was concern that another main engine burn could result in a less-than-desirable orbit,” Rick Nybakken, Juno’s project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a 2017 press release. “The bottom line is a burn represented a risk to completion of Juno’s science objectives.”

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness
A map of Jupiter made by merging partial Juno and Cassini spacecraft imaging data.
(Björn Jónsson)

One representative told Business Insider that the agency hasn’t “put anything out yet about that” when asked about the extension.

“NASA is close to being able to announce a decision on the possibility of continuing the Juno mission at Jupiter,” another representative said in an emailed statement. (NASA declined to provide additional information.)

Extending Juno’s flight will help the probe finish mapping Jupiter — a project that primarily focuses on the planet’s gravitational field. That data may reveal what is going on deep inside the giant yet mysterious world.

“It is very exciting for us to be able to complete the mission pretty much as it was originally proposed, except with longer orbits,” Frederic Allegrini, a staff scientist at Southwest Research Institute who works on the Juno mission, told Business Insider.

If Juno stays operational and productive over the next few years, NASA might again decide to keep flying the probe around Jupiter beyond July 2021.

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

Articles

6 jobs in the military that require insane brainpower

Not all military jobs are created equal. Some are dangerous, some are highly technical, and most fall somewhere in between.


Here are the 6 brainiest enlisted military jobs (in terms of ASVAB score and training):

1. Navy Electronics Technician Nuclear

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher K. Hwang/USN

These sailors test, calibrate, maintain, and repair reactor instrumentation and control systems on surface ships and submarines.

2. Navy Machinist’s Mate Nuclear

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Billy Ho/ USN

These are the guys who make the ship move. Their main job is to operate, maintain, and repair the steam plant that provides propulsion, electric power, potable water, and service steam to the ship.

3. Navy Electrician’s Mate Nuclear

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Achterling/USN

These sailors operate and perform maintenance on generators, switchboards, control equipment and electrical equipment. They direct electricity to all spaces on the ship.

Navy Nuclear Field (NF) Program

To qualify for the three rates (Navy jobs) above, applicants must meet at least one of these ASVAB score combinations. After qualifying, the sailor is placed in one of the three rates: Electronics Technician Nuclear, Machinist’s Mate Nuclear, or Electrician’s Mate Nuclear.

Upon completion, nuclear sailors move onto their designated “A” school where they get specific with their rate. No matter which rate they get, nuclear sailors must attend Nuclear Power School (NPS) in Charleston, South Carolina, where they learn the basics of nuclear power plants and associated equipment. The course is an intense study of nuclear physics and reactor engineering. A nuclear sailor’s average contract length is six years because their training takes about two years. Learn more about the Navy Nuclear Field.

4. Air Force Scientific Applications Specialist

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness
Photo: USAF

ASVAB Line Score: Air Force line scores of Mechanical 88 & Electrical 85 and above.

These airmen use classified techniques and tools to detect, gather, analyze, and report the use of weapons throughout the world. These include nuclear, chemical, biological, and other weapons. Basically, they’re like the CSI for weapons.

To become a Scientific Applications Specialist, applicants must have a high school diploma or GED with 15 college credits. Their skills are based on mathematics, electronics, physics, data analysis, and careful observation. Learn more about Scientific Applications Specialist.

5. Navy Cryptologic Technician – Networks

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Sabrina Fine/USN

To qualify for this rate, applicants must meet at least one of these ASVAB score combinations:

  • A combined score of 235 in subsections (AR) Arithmetic Reasoning, (MK) Mechanical Knowledge and (GS) General Science.
  • A combined score of 235 in subsections (VE) Verbal, (AR) Arithmetic reasoning, (MK) Mechanical knowledge, and (MC) Mechanical Comprehension.

These sailors collect, decipher and translate enemy communications. They provide computer network defense, access tool development, and computer network forensics.

Sailors who go into this field train for an additional 30 weeks after basic training. Learn more about the CTN rate.

6. Army Satellite Communication Systems Operator-Maintainer

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness
Photo: US Army

ASVAB Line Score: An Army electronics score of 117 or above.

These soldiers install, operate, and maintain satellite communications for the Army in remote locations around the world. They make sure the lines of communications are always running.

They also identify and report electronic jamming and deception and apply appropriate electronic retaliation on attackers. Learn more about Satellite Communication Systems Operator – Maintainer.

Articles

The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Don’t let meme withdrawal happen to you. Check out these 13 gems from around the Facebooks:


1. Finally, a new soldier that won’t fall out of a run (via The Salty Soldier).

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness
Wait, why can’t the dog do PT?

2. It’ll be alright, Eli (via Coast Guard Memes).

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness
We’ll bring you back something nice.

SEE ALSO: That time a Navy squadron bombed North Vietnam with a toilet

3. When security forces get distracted:

(via Air Force Nation)

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness
Seriously, your one job was keeping those planes safe.

4. Branch differences personified (via Pop Smoke).

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness
But hey, that’s what the F-35 will do to you.

5. “I need two!”

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness
If you had paid your protection money to the E-4 mafia, you wouldn’t be in this mess.

6. Play it cool (via Pop Smoke).

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness
If sergeant sees you panicking, he’s going to realize what’s wrong. Act. Casual.

7. Wanna go run in the waves?

(via The Salty Soldier)

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness
Nah. Wanna burn piss and sh-t?

8. When all of you work together …

(via Coast Guard Memes)

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness
… maybe you can get a job done.

9. Battalion needs bodies for a working party (via Team Non-Rec).

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness
The Hunger Games would be more exciting if it were all Marines.

10. “I just wanna thank my wife and kids. Without them, none of this would be possible.”

(via Team Non-Rec)

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness

11. “Gotta break the plane, bro.”

(via Air Force Nation)

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness
Don’t worry, the blue falcons get their comeuppance.

12. The only thing you need for a guaranteed safe airborne op:

(via The Fit Soldier).

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness
The PT Belt actually collects solar energy to slow the soldier’s fall. Fact.

13. It’s like Hollywood doesn’t even know how to do a Google search (via Sh-t My LPO Says).

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness
There are literally dozens of books and movies about SEALs that show the real uniform. Use any of them as a model.

Articles

62 glaring technical errors in ‘The Hurt Locker’

“The Hurt Locker” is a classic American war film, an Academy Award winner, and an entertaining tour de force that wowed civilian audiences when it hit theaters in 2008.


Keyword: civilian audiences. For many military viewers, the film was rife with glaring technical errors. From just about every angle — dialogue, storylines, and uniforms — the problems with the movie made it very hard for soldiers to watch without cringing nearly every minute. Of course, it’s Hollywood, and they can’t get everything right.

But it’s still fun to look back and see just how many things were wrong. We watched it and compiled a massive listing of everything (with some extra help from some real-live Army EOD techs we talked to). Maybe this could be a fun drinking game. Or, as you’ll see by how many problems there are, a very dangerous drinking game. On second thought, let’s put the beer down.

Here we go (with timestamps):

The movie starts off by introducing us to soldiers of Delta Co., with no further specifics on the exact unit. Army EOD companies aren’t called by phonetic names like “Alpha,” “Charlie,” and “Delta.” They are numbered, usually with a number in the 700s.

:30 U.S. Army soldiers are wearing the digital ACU (Army Combat Uniform) that wasn’t used until at least Feb. 2005. The setting is Baghdad in 2004. Thirty seconds in and already a really big one. Great start.

1:00 Multiple soldiers are seen with sleeves rolled up over their elbows. This is totally against Army regs, but soldiers are seen throughout the film like this.

4:20 The wagon carrying the explosives to blow the IED in place breaks down. Instead of using the claw on the robot to pick up the charges, Staff Sgt. Thompson suits up and goes to hand carry it. Not even the dumbest EOD tech would do this.

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness

5:39 No reticle pattern is seen when Sgt. Sanborn looks through his scope, which is a Trijicon ACOG sight.

6:30 An Iraqi man gets extremely close to a soldier standing security. Moments before this, the street was bustling with onlookers and there were other soldiers and Iraqi security forces around. Now it’s totally empty, which begs the question: Why are only three soldiers left guarding this bomb?

10:28 Sgt. Sanborn seen with cuffed sleeves.

10:45 Sgt. Sanborn’s collar is popped. That’s not the style around here, man.

11:05 Sgt. 1st Class James’ dog tags are hanging out of his shirt. He’s supposed to be a staff non-commissioned officer, not a private just disregarding the regulations.

12:00 This is Baghdad 2004, when the insurgency is really starting to get rough, and we have a single Humvee rolling through Baghdad all alone. Seems a bit far-fetched, although an EOD tech did tell us it’s possible.

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness

13:40 Sgt. 1st Class James is wearing an old green Battle Dress Uniform camouflage helmet and body armor. Every other soldier wears the matching ACU gear (although this is still incorrect for the time period). He also has both his sleeves rolled up past his elbows.

13:45 Sgt. Sanborn is wearing silver designer sunglasses. Glasses are required to be brown or black, and non-reflective.

14:40 A bunch of soldiers just abandon their Humvee in the middle of Baghdad? And it’s still running? What the hell?

15:28 James greets other soldiers with “morning, boys” to which one responds “Sir.” Soldiers only say “sir” or “ma’am” to officers, not enlisted ranks. There’s also a soldier seen wearing shoulder armor, which wasn’t introduced until 2007/2008.

15:45 A soldier asks James if he wants to talk to an informant who apparently knows the location of the IED and more details about it. But he doesn’t care to talk to him. Why would an EOD tech ignore having more information about what he’s dealing with?

18:15 James pops a smoke grenade to “create a diversion.” Smoke grenades are to cover movement, not to create a diversion. If no one was looking at you before, they are certainly looking at you now.

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness

18:22 I know he’s supposed to be a “rebel” but when fellow soldiers are screaming frantically over the radio and asking you what is going on, you should probably answer.

18:38 He finally responds over the radio.

18:55 Seven to eight soldiers are all standing around this Humvee in the middle of the street, not providing any security or looking for potential threats.

VA chief takes aim at veteran homelessness

18:56 A soldier in the turret is not even covering his sector of fire and doesn’t even have the .50 caliber pointed down the main alleyway.

19:05 Another soldier is seen wearing designer sunglasses.

19:06 An Iraqi-driven car just drives right through a bunch of soldiers who don’t attempt to stop it, fire warning shots, or do anything other than jump out of the way.

19:19 The car doesn’t stop for seven soldiers pointing M-16 rifles at him, but it does stop because James points his pistol at him. Makes sense.

20:30 James fires shots around the car, hits and destroys the windshield, then points his gun at the Iraqi’s head and tells him to get back. You would think he would want to search this guy or his car before sending him right back into seven soldiers who could be potentially blown up by a vehicle-born improvised explosive device (VBIED).

24:40 Yes, ok. Let’s just pull up on the big red wires holding together six bombs (and does this even make sense from an enemy perspective? Why would you daisy-chain all these huge bombs to potentially kill one guy? One bomb is gonna do it).

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27:14 Spc. Eldridge is seen playing “Gears of War” on an Xbox 360. The Xbox didn’t come out until 2005, and “Gears of War” didn’t come out until 2006. But the setting is supposed to be Baghdad in 2004.

29:02 A soldier is seen walking by with sleeves rolled up over his elbows and with a white or silver watch. Very tactical.

29:59 Oh, of course! Another soldier with rolled-up sleeves.

31:39 Five soldiers just stand out in the middle of street and open fire on an enemy sniper. Instead of, you know, getting behind some cover first.

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32:31 James uses a single fire extinguisher to put out a car that is fully engulfed in flames. He’s like Rambo with unlimited ammo here. And why are you sticking around a car that is probably rigged with explosives that is on fire?!!?!

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34:50 James puts on a headset that is supposedly a radio. It doesn’t have a microphone or is even connected in any way to a radio. It’s basically a big set of ear muffs (and no, it’s not connected to a throat mic). Also, he’s defusing bombs that could be set off by, well, radios. Most EOD techs won’t even wear radios while they are working on bombs.

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36:26 Another scope view, but with no reticle pattern.

40:05 Scope view, no reticle pattern.

40:11 Sanborn waves at Iraqis with his left hand. This is a sign of disrespect in the Arab world, since the left hand is associated with dirtiness.

42:59 Sanborn punches James in the face. He would be court-martialed or at least receive an Article 15 for this. Or, maybe, James could react in some way, shape, or form?

43:30 A full-bird colonel is walking around Baghdad with his eye protection dangling off his body armor, instead of on his face. If anyone is going to be wearing eyepro (and setting an example for junior troops), it’s this guy.

43:45 A colonel praising a sergeant first class for being a “wild man” and operating like he did is highly unlikely. Instead, a colonel would probably be jumping on him for not only his insane behavior, but his out-of-regs appearance, to include sleeves, not wearing a helmet, and not having eye-pro.

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44:55 As James smokes a cigarette on the forward operating base, “left, right, left, right” cadence can be heard in the background. Who the hell is calling marching cadence on a FOB in Iraq?

46:55 Oh, now there’s a colonel with rolled-up sleeves.

48:25 The team does a controlled detonation. James is exposed, as is Sanborn. None of them wear earplugs or even plug their ears with their fingers. James is actually wearing iPod headphones. Just to let you know: The big boom is freaking loud.

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49:00 James drives away from the team. They aren’t on the FOB, so where the hell are their weapons?

49:45 The two soldiers discuss “accidentally” blowing up James as he goes close to the controlled det site and how all that would be left would be his helmet. Luckily, James isn’t wearing his helmet. Because really, why would he?

50:43 Again, you’re in the middle of Iraq, and rolling in just one Humvee.

51:20 They see armed men so they pull over and then Sanborn and James both get out from behind cover and start walking forward yelling for them to put their guns down. Wouldn’t you want them to do that part before you expose yourself?

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55:48 The Brit contractor gets handed the Barrett to try and find the enemy sniper. On this ledge, with the kickback from the gun, he would be guaranteed to be pushed back and fall right on his back after firing.

57:54 The Brit gets shot while manning the Barrett. The enemy sniper uses a Dragunov, which has a maximum effective range of 800m. He’s shooting from more than 850 meters away (according to James, who calls the range later in this scene).

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57:55 After the Brit is shot while manning the Barrett, Sanborn and James go up and get in the exact same spot. That seems like a bright idea. Further, why are two soldiers who would be unfamiliar with this weapon jumping on it, instead of another contractor?

58:15 How does an EOD guy just get up and get behind a complicated sniper rifle anyway? It’s not a video game.

1:01:00 An insurgent takes up a laying down on the side firing position with zero cover. LOL/WTF?

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1:02:00 Sanborn hits this same insurgent after he starts running away. Not only does he hit a moving target, but he hits him in the head. At 850 meters. It’s quite obvious that Sanborn got his sniper training uploaded directly to his brain via The Matrix.

1:07:40 Eldridge takes out an enemy insurgent by firing half of his magazine in rapid succession. What happened to well-aimed shots?

1:08 The team gets drunk together in their room and fights each other. This is a big fraternization no-no? Also, U.S. troops are not allowed to drink or have alcohol in Iraq or Afghanistan, and one alcohol-related incident could mean an EOD tech loses their badge (and gets kicked completely out of the job).

1:14:37 The team stumbles around the FOB drunk. That’s not abnormal or anything, and an officer, senior enlisted leader, or even fellow soldiers wouldn’t find that weird or get them in trouble. Nothing to see here, move along.

1:16:50 The team heads outside the wire again. Why is Eldridge basically the only soldier ever wearing his eye protection?

1:17:00 An EOD team is clearing buildings now?

1:29:45 James asks a Pfc. about a merchant. The Pfc. addresses a Sgt. 1st Class as “man.”

1:31:33 James dons a hoodie, carries only a pistol, and hijacks the merchant’s truck, telling him to drive outside the base. This is quite possibly the biggest WTF of the entire movie. At this point, every soldier watching this movie is face-palming.

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1:32:25 Did I mention that James has now jumped over an Iraqi compound wall, all alone in the middle of Baghdad? With just a pistol.

1:34:53 James starts running through a busy Iraqi neighborhood. He puts on his hoodie to be less conspicuous. As if his camouflage pants don’t give it away.

1:35:00 After a tense exchange at the front gate to the FOB, James is searched and then the soldiers guarding the gate just let him back in. He’s shown at his room a short time later, so I guess he’s not getting in trouble for going outside the wire without authorization.

1:41:00 The team decides to leave the blast site and go search for the bomber in the dark. They have night-vision goggle mounts on their helmets, but they don’t use NVG’s. Their natural night vision must be superhuman.

1:50:06 If the guy has a bomb on him, it would probably be a good idea for the seven soldiers standing out in the middle of the road to take cover behind something.

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MIGHTY TRENDING

The Marine Corps is taking a hard look at the Army’s new pistol

The Army plans to start distributing its new Modular Handgun System, the Sig Sauer P320, to soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, this fall.


The rollout would come less than a year after the Army awarded the $580 million contract to Sig Sauer to produce the gun, also called the XM17.

And Marine Corps officials have said their personnel may soon adopt a more compact version of the pistol, called the XM18.

Chief Warrant Office 5 Christian Wade, the small-arms expert for the 2nd Marine Division, told Marine Corps Times that the service would perform a review in the near future to learn which positions need the new weapon.

“We prefer our pistol be as compact as possible without loss of capability,” Wade said. “After all, it’s a pistol.”

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A service member fires the Sig Sauer P320 during Modular Handgun System tests for the U.S. Army Operational Test Command, conducted at Fort Bragg, N.C. Aug. 27. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Lewis Perkins)

Earlier this month, the Army assembled soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen at Fort Bragg in North Carolina to put the new handgun through a round of testing, using it alongside the M4 rifle and cold-weather gear.

The Army-led training mainly featured soldiers from the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, and Army officials have not said what other units were present.

Earlier this year, an official from the Marine Corps Capabilities Development Directorate’s Maneuver Branch said the Corps was taking part in the Army’s Modular Handgun System selection effort in order facilitate its own search for a new sidearm.

The official also displayed a chart showing the Marine Corps’ current side arms, the Beretta M9 and Colt M45A1, in service until 2025, overlapping with the XM17, which would come into service in 2023 and stay through 2035.

“As soon as the U.S. Army is ready to sell them to us,” Wade said of the XM18, “we will begin this program.”

A new handgun is not the only change that may come to the Army and Marine Corps arsenals.

Both service branches are considering setting aside the M16/M4 rifle platform in favor of a new rifle that offers more range and stopping power, potentially firing a different caliber bullet as well.

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Marines with Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, sight-in with M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan, Dec. 16, 2016. As the Marine Corps’ only continuously forward-deployed unit, the 31st MEU air-ground-logistics team provides a flexible force, ready to perform a wide range of military operations, from limited combat to humanitarian assistance operations, through the Indo-Asia Pacific region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jorge A. Rosales/ Released)

The Corps is considering replacing the M4 carried by most of the branch’s infantry riflemen with the M27, the infantry automatic rifle first introduced in 2010 and currently carried by one member of each Marine infantry fire team.

The M27 was brought in to replace the M249 squad automatic weapon, though some officials have touted intermediate-caliber weapons as a potential replacement for the infantry rifle and squad automatic weapon, with one size bullet catering to a family of weapons.

Col. Mike Manning, the chief of Marine Corps Systems Command’s Ground Combat Element Systems, also said this week that the service would soon send a request for weapons suppressors from the arms industry, according to Marine Corps Times.

Manning didn’t talk numbers — noting only that the suppressors would be used “across the forces” — or say whether the suppressor would be designed for the M4 or the M27, but he did say commercial suppressors were already being tested and suggested suppressors built into weapons would be preferred.

The Army and the Marine Corps have been evaluating suppressors for regular infantry as a way to add stealth and boost tactical capabilities. Some Marines have been training or deployed with suppressors for both weapons.

A Marine rotational force deployed to Norway earlier this year was the first unit to be outfitted with suppressors on every weapon.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why Russia also needs to be wary of a US carrier in Vietnam

In what is the first visit to Vietnam by an American warship since 1975, the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) has arrived in Da Nang, Vietnam for a port visit. The last time American carriers visited Vietnam was during Operation Frequent Wind, an evacuation from Saigon before communist North Vietnamese forces conquered the south.


According to a United States Navy release, the carrier was joined by the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108). While the public story is about how this visit, announced in January by Secretary of Defense James Mattis, reflects the United States and the Hanoi governments putting aside the bitterness of the Vietnam War, the obvious, underlying story here is about sending a message to Communist China.

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The guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) arrives in Da Nang, Vietnam for a scheduled port visit. The ship is part of the Carl Vinson Strike Group and is in the Western Pacific as part of a regularly scheduled deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Devin M. Monroe)

During Operation Frequent Wind, American naval vessels served as a landing point for many South Vietnamese who were seeking to escape the communists. Numerous planes and helicopters were landed on American carriers and, in many cases, pushed over the side to make room for more escapees.

Those who ran had good reason: The communist regime was responsible for executing at least 65,000 people and sending over 400,000 others to ‘re-education’ camps. Today, there still exists a great deal of repression and local populations, like the Montagnard tribes, have been targeted for genocide by the government.

Meanwhile, the South China Sea has been a major maritime flashpoint, with Communist China having buzzed American planes multiple times in 2017. Before the fall of South Vietnam, the Chinese Communists took the Paracel Islands in a 1974 naval battle. The visit by USS Carl Vinson is a way of sending China a message — but Russia might emerge as the real loser in this exchange.

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Senior leadership from Vietnam greet leaders from U.S. 7th Fleet, the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, and the Carl Vinson Strike Group, during a welcome ceremony in Da Nang, Vietnam. The Carl Vinson Strike Group is in the Western Pacific as part of a regularly scheduled deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Devin M. Monroe)

Vietnam has acquired a number of modern Russian ships, including Gepard-class frigates and Tarantul V-class missile corvettes. Vietnam has also acquired two shore-launched batteries of SS-N-26 Sapless anti-ship missiles. The Vietnamese People’s Air Force also has 46 Su-27/30 Flankers either in hand or on order. All of these Russian systems will be looked at closely as the United States and Vietnam grow closer, giving the U.S. valuable insight into the rival peer’s technology.

Articles

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block

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Department of Defense


This article by  was originally published on Task Purpose, news and culture site for the next great generation of American veterans.

During the height of the Cold War, the U.S. Army deployed a nuclear-tipped rocket launcher that could be carried by a fire team.

Davy Crockett was a renowned frontier hero steeped in myth and legend, much of it probably based on tales invented by himself. Supposedly Crockett was such a crack shot he could split a bullet on an axe blade using a musket.

The Cold War weapon that bore his name was many things, but dead accuracy wasn’t one of them. The M28/29 Davy Crockett Weapon System was a man-portable recoilless rifle that could fire a 76-pound W54 nuclear warhead up to two and half miles, and provided the terrible power of fission in a system that could be carried and operated by three men.

The simmering tensions between NATO and the Soviet Union led to huge numbers of nuclear weapons being built, enough to destroy most of the planet 20 times over. By 1967, the United States had a nuclear stockpile of 31,255 warheads, spread out among many types of weapons systems. It included thousands of so-called tactical nuclear weapons that were meant for general battlefield use, like theW48 155mm nuclear artillery shell or the AIR-2 Genie air-to-air missile.

Developed in the 1950s, the Davy Crockett was envisioned for use at the Fulda Gap, considered a prime invasion route for Soviet army divisions driving into West Germany and widely anticipated as where the first big battles of World War III would be fought.

Faced with overwhelming numbers of Soviet tanks, it was hoped weapons like the Crockett and the W48 shell could devastate large armored formations and keep the Soviet Union bottled up in the Fulda Gap. This even included nuclear landmines such as the Special Atomic Demolition Munition, which could also be used by Special Forces parachuting behind enemy lines to destroy key infrastructure.

By nuclear standards, the W54 warhead used by the Davy Crockett was tiny, with an explosive yield of .01-.02 kilotons, or the equivalent of 10 to 20 tons of TNT. By comparison, the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima had a yield of 15 kilotons, or 15,000 tons of TNT, nearly a thousand times more powerful.

But though a shrimp compared to most nukes, the warhead still carried plenty of bang. The largest conventional bomb fielded by the U.S. military, the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or MOAB, weighs 22,600 pounds and has a blast yield of 11 tons of TNT. The Crockett could deliver double that with a bomb .3% of the mass.

The blast was powerful enough to collapse buildings and cause third-degree burns hundreds of feet away, but the real lethality of the weapon lay in its radiation effects, which could be fatal over a quarter of a mile away. Residual fallout would contaminate the area and make it dangerous for any exposed personnel to pass through, making it a potent barrier weapon.

But the Davy Crockett had a number of problems that seem obvious in retrospect. The weapon was highly inaccurate, often hundreds of feet off target, and its limited range made it highly probable that users could be exposed to radioactive fallout. Though designed primarily to engage Soviet tank formations, the slow setup and inaccuracy of the weapon made targeting fast-moving tanks problematic.

The fact that mass use of the weapon could contaminate huge areas of land for years to come also made it dubious as a defensive weapon, since it would effectively deny territory to either side. It would also create a huge risk of escalation that could lead to a world-destroying nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union.

With its many deficiencies in mind, and perhaps a glimpse of sanity among military planners, it was phased out of use by 1971 and not replaced.

The United States nuclear stockpile has declined from its horrifying height in 1967 to a little over 70,000 today. A little over 2,000 of those are actually deployed, with the rest being held in reserve or awaiting dismantlement.

We may be past the days where the military fielded nuclear weapons on the scale seen in Western Germany during the Cold War, and the nuclear forces of the U.S. are aging and suffering from a long period of neglect from the Pentagon. But it is worth remembering that nuclear weapons were once so prevalent it was thought necessary to turn them into an infantry weapon.

This article, “The Man-Portable Rocket Launcher That Could Destroy A City Block,” originally appeared on Task Purpose. Follow Task Purpose on Twitter @Taskandpurpose.

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