The VA just expanded private care with a $5 billion spending bill - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

The VA just expanded private care with a $5 billion spending bill

President Donald Trump signed a landmark bill on June 6, 2018, to replace the troubled Veterans Choice Program and expand private health care options amid a fight between the White House and Congress over how to pay for it.

The bill, the VA Mission Act, would also expand caregivers assistance to the families of disabled veterans and order an inventory of the Department of Veterans Affairs‘ more than 1,100 facilities with a long-term view to trimming excess.


“This is a very big day,” said Trump, who made veterans care one of the signature issues of his run for the White House. “All during the campaign, I’d say, ‘Why can’t they just go out and see a doctor instead of standing on line?’

“This is truly a historic moment, a historic time for our country,” he continued, before signing the bill at a White House Rose Garden ceremony. “We’re allowing our veterans to get access to the best medical care available, whether it’s at the VA or at a private provider.”

In his remarks, Trump did not mention that funds to pay for the bill have yet to be identified, or that the White House and Congress are at odds on funding mechanisms. The bill’s projected costs over five years are also in dispute.

At a Senate news conference in May 2018, Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and a key sponsor of the bill, and Sen. Jon Tester, the ranking member of the committee, put the total costs at $55 billion, although other estimates have it at $52 billion.

The VA just expanded private care with a $5 billion spending bill
Sen. Johnny Isakson

Isakson acknowledged that the bill isn’t paid for but said he is working with Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, to add funding for the bill that would likely balloon the deficit. The White House has argued for funding the bill by cutting other programs.

A White House memo obtained by The Washington Post said that simply adding funding is “anathema to responsible spending” and would lead to “virtually unlimited increases” in spending on private health care for veterans.

Shelby said on June 5, 2018, that going along with the White House would result in cuts of $10 billion a year to existing programs, including some at the VA.

“If we don’t get on it, we’re going to have a hole of $10 billion in our [appropriations],” said Shelby, who predicted “some real trouble” in reaching agreement, according to a Washington Post report.

Critics of the bill have warned that over-reliance on private-care options could lead to the “privatization” of VA health care, but Trump said, “If the VA can’t meet the needs of the veteran in a timely manner, that veteran will have the right to go right outside to a private doctor. It’s so simple and yet so complicated.”

In his remarks at the ceremony of less than 20 minutes, Trump also noted that it was the 74th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy when U.S. troops “stormed into hell.”

The VA just expanded private care with a $5 billion spending bill
A LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) from the U.S. Coast Guard-manned USS Samuel Chase disembarks troops of Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division wading onto the Fox Green section of Omaha Beach on the morning of June 6, 1944.

“They put everything on the line for us,” he said and, like all veterans, “when they come home, we must do everything that we can possibly do for them, and that’s what we’re doing.”

The issue of funding has plagued the existing Veterans Choice Program since it was enacted in response to the wait-times scandals of 2014 in which VA officials were caught doctoring records to show better performance.

The Choice program allowed veterans who lived more than 40 miles from a VA facility or had to wait more than 30 days for an appointment to have access to private care, but the program was time limited and Congress has struggled to come up with money for extensions.

The program was again due to run out of funding May 31, 2018, but the VA said there was enough money remaining to keep it in operation until Trump signed the VA Mission Act.

The new bill called for $5.2 billion in funding to keep the existing Choice program in operation for a year while the VA worked through reforms to consolidate the seven private-care options into one system while eliminating the 30-day, 40-mile restrictions.

However, a Government Accountability Office report on the Veterans Choice Program released June 4, 2018, cast doubt on the VA’s ability to implement the reforms called for under the VA Mission Act.

The GAO said veterans could wait up to 70 days for private-care appointments under the Choice program because of poor communication between the VA and its facilities and “an insufficient number, mix, or geographic distribution of community providers.”

Trump touts ridding VA of corruption, poor performers

Ahead of the signing ceremony, the White House put out a statement citing Trump’s accomplishments in his first 500 days in office. Veterans programs topped the list.

Trump “worked with Congress to forge an overwhelming bipartisan vote of support” for the VA Mission Act, the statement said. The vote in the House was 347-70; the Senate vote was 92-5.

The VA Mission Act and other veterans legislation will “bring more accountability to the Department of Veterans Affairs and provide our veterans with more choice in the care they receive,” the White House statement said.

In his remarks, Trump hailed passage of the VA Accountability Act, which is aimed at getting rid of poor performers, and lashed out at civil service unions for opposing reform.

“Four years ago, our entire nation was shocked and outraged by stories of the VA system plagued by neglect, abuse, fraud and mistreatment of our veterans,” he said in a reference to the wait-times scandals.

The VA just expanded private care with a $5 billion spending bill
World War II veteran, Sgt. Maj. Raymond Sylvester.
(Photo by Staff Sgt. Felix Fimbres)

“And there was nothing they could do about it. Good people that worked there, they couldn’t take care of the bad people — meaning ‘You’re fired, get the hell out of here,’ ” Trump said.

More accountability “made so much sense but it was hard,” he said. “You have civil service, you have unions. Of course, they’d never do anything to stop anything, but they had a very great deal of power.

“So we passed something that hasn’t been that recognized, and yet I would put it almost in the class with Choice. Almost in the class with Choice. VA Accountability — passed. And now, if people don’t do a great job, they can’t work with our vets anymore. They’re gone,” Trump said.

The VA has more than 360,000 employees serving the health care needs of about nine million veterans annually. Most of them are represented by the American Federation of Government Employees, which opposed the VA Mission Act.

The AFGE said that the act amounts to “opening the door to privatization of the country’s largest health care system.”

The major veterans service organizations (VSOs) also initially feared privatization but came round to backing the VA Mission Act as a catalyst for improving care while preserving the VA’s role as the main provider of health care.

In a statement after the signing ceremony, Keith Harman, national commander of the 1.7 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars, said, “The VFW and other veterans service organizations worked closely with Congress and the White House to help create a carefully negotiated bipartisan deal with the fingerprints of veterans who rely on the VA all over it.”

Bill also addresses caregivers, excess VA facilities

In addition to expanding private-care options, the bill would also address long-time concerns of the VSOs on the restrictions in the current program to provide small stipends to family members who care for severely disabled veterans.

The program has been limited to post-9/11 veterans, but the bill was aimed at expanding caregivers assistance over two years to veterans of all eras.

Advocates had argued that caregivers assistance saves the VA money by allowing disabled veterans to remain at home rather than relying on more expensive in-patient treatment.

“The more veterans and their caregivers who are eligible for support, the closer we are to fulfilling our promise to care for those who’ve sacrificed so much on our behalf,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, a chief sponsor, said in a statement.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that more than 41,000 caregivers could be added to the rolls under the new bill over the next five years at a cost of nearly $7 billion.

The VA just expanded private care with a $5 billion spending bill
Omaha VA Medical Center

In reference to the caregivers section of the bill, Trump said, “If you wore that uniform, if at some point you work that uniform, you deserve the absolute best and that’s what we’re doing.”

In a statement, Delphine Metcalf-Foster, national commander of the Disabled American Veterans and herself a former caregiver to her late husband, said in a statement:

“This new law will not only extend support to thousands more deserving family caregivers that severely injured veterans rely on, but also make a number of reforms and improvements to strengthen the VA health care system and improve veterans’ access to care.”

The bill also ordered up a VA asset review in which the president would set up a nine-member Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission, with representatives from VSOs, the health care industry, and federal facility managers.

Opponents have likened the commission to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) at the Pentagon on the hot-button issue of base closings.

The panel would meet in 2022 and 2023 to issue recommendations on “the modernization or realignment of Veterans Health Administration facilities.”

At a Senate news conference in May 2018, Carlos Fuentes, the VFW’s National Legislative Services director, said comparing AIR to BRAC is misleading.

“Under BRAC, DoD moves its assets, including service members and their families. VA can’t force veterans to move,” Fuentes said.

At a panel discussion last month in the House, Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tennessee, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said that the average age of a building at the VA is more than 50 years.

He said the VA has more than 6,000 buildings in its inventory, and about 1,100 “are not even utilized. So we’re paying millions of dollars to keep up empty buildings — makes no sense.”

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

Articles

Iranian drone buzzes US carrier for the second time in a week

An Iranian drone has flown close enough to a US aircraft carrier to put the lives of American pilots of F-18 fighter jets at risk, the US Navy said on August 14.


In the second such close encounter in a week, an Iranian QOM-1 drone late on August 13 flew within 300 meters of the USS Nimitz in an “unsafe and unprofessional” manner without its lights on, said US Naval Forces Central Command spokesman Lieutenant Ian McConnaughey.

Controllers for the drone did not respond to radio requests for communications, he said, adding that the drone was unarmed but that it was a model that can carry missiles.

The VA just expanded private care with a $5 billion spending bill
An Iranian drone in flight. (Image: IRNA)

McConnaughey said flying the drone without lights “created a dangerous situation with the potential for collision” and was not in keeping with international maritime customs and laws.

US officials have complained of 14 such unsafe close encounters this year, almost always involving Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which Washington recently targeted with sanctions.

Last week, officials said an Iranian drone nearly collided with a US fighter jet that was landing on the aircraft carrier.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps issued a statement on August 15 saying their drones are guided “accurately and professionally,” dismissing the US Navy’s concerns as “unfounded.”

Articles

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 3 edition)

Here are the stories you need to know about as you get ready for the 4th of July long weekend. (And if you’ve got the duty . . . thank you for your service.)


  • The false alarm at the Navy Yard was triggered by a ‘loud boom.’ The Washington Post has the story here.
  • The Pentagon has released a new national military strategy. Make sure you’re using the right playbook here.
  • Fireworks bother dogs and veterans. The Toronto Blade fuels the narrative here.
  • Military recruits are still not issued American-made sneakers. ABC News tees up the outrage here.
  • No military, no 4th of July. Philly.com reminds us of what all ‘Mericans should already know and respect here.

Now read this: 7 post-9/11 heroes who should have received the Medal Of Honor — but didn’t

MIGHTY CULTURE

Drones are changing the way the world prepares for war

The number of countries with military drones has skyrocketed over the past decade, a new report revealed, showing that nearly 100 countries have this kind of technology incorporated into their armed forces.

In 2010, only about 60 countries had military drones, but that number has since jumped to 95, a new report from Bard College’s Center for the Study of the Drone revealed.

Dan Gettinger, the report’s author, identified 171 different types of unmanned aerial vehicles in active inventories. Around the world, there are at least 21,000 drones in service, but the number may actually be significantly higher.


“The one thing that is clear is drone proliferation is accelerating,” Michael Horowitz, a Center for New American Security (CNAS) adjunct senior fellow for technology and national security, told Insider, adding that it is particularly noteworthy that among the countries that have access to military drone technology, around 20 have armed drones, higher-end systems that are becoming more prolific.

The VA just expanded private care with a $5 billion spending bill

An MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle flies a combat mission over southern Afghanistan.

(Photo by Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt(

And the proliferation of drone technology is expected to continue as countries like China, which has emerged as a major exporter of unmanned systems, to include armed drones, and others export drones around the world. “Drone proliferation is inevitable,” Horowitz said, explaining that “current-generation drones are the tip of the spear for the emergence of robotics in militaries around the world.”

Newer systems are appearing at a rapid rate. “I think drones will be a ubiquitous presence on future battlefields,” Gettinger told Insider Sept. 26, 2019, explaining that drone technology is contributing to an evolution in warfare. “They represent an increase in combat capacity, an increase in the ability of a nation to wage war.”

“We are likely to see drones featuring more prominently in global events, particularly in areas that are considered to be zones of geopolitical tension,” he added, noting that “we see this playing out in the Persian Gulf, Yemen, the Ukraine, and other conflicts.”

Drones come in all shapes and sizes and levels of sophistication, and they have become important tools for both countries and non-state actors such as the Islamic State in several different countries, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

In recent months, militarized drones have made headlines globally, highlighting the importance of unmanned systems.

Over the past few weeks, for instance, the American MQ-25 Stingray, an unmanned refueling asset expected to serve aboard US carriers, completed its first flight. Russia showed off its new Okhotnik (Hunter) drone flying alongside and working together with the fifth-generation Su-57, an important first step toward manned/unmanned teaming. And, China unveiled a suspected supersonic spy drone and a stealth attack drone during preparations for its National Day celebration.

The VA just expanded private care with a $5 billion spending bill

Russia Su-57.

But, the incident likely the freshest in everyone’s mind is the drone and cruise missile attacks on Saudi oil sites earlier this month, when Saudi oil production was temporarily crippled by systems most air defense systems are not designed to effectively counter.

Arthur Holland Michel, who co-directs the Center for the Study of the Drone with Gettinger, previously explained to Insider that the attacks confirmed “some of the worst fears among militaries and law enforcement as to just how much damage one can do” with this kind of technology.

He called the attack a “wake-up call,” one of many in recent years.

The strikes on Saudi Arabia, which the US believes were carried out by Iran, marked the second time in just a few months the US has had to figure out how to respond to a drone-related incident involving Iran, as Iranian forces shot down an expensive US surveillance drone, specifically a RQ-4A Global Hawk high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) drone, in June 2019.

That incident nearly ignited an armed conflict between the US and Iran. President Donald Trump had plans to attack Iranian missile and radar sites in retaliation, but he called off the attack at the last minute due to concerns about possible Iranian casualties.

The US reaction, especially the president’s stated concerns that killing Iranians in response to the downing of an unmanned air asset was disproportionate, highlights the challenges of responding to attacks involving military drones.

“The US and other countries,” Gettinger explained, “will have to develop a framework for thinking about and understanding enemy unmanned systems and how to deal with them and what their responses should be. Drones are becoming a more important feature of militaries, and the US and other countries will have to have a framework for dealing with that.”

Addressing these challenges will likely become more important as the technology evolves with advancements in capability to create drones with the ability to fight like unmanned fighter aircraft, manned/unmanned teaming, and progress on swarming.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

As Iraqi army closes in, ISIS fighters are throwing in the towel

When US-backed Iraqi security forces and Iranian Shia militias cleared ISIS’ final Iraqi stronghold in Hawijah, they met weak resistance and a massive surrender from a once fearsome army.


In 2015 and 2016, ISIS, the terrorist group also known as the Islamic State, carried out suicide attacks around the globe at a historic rate.

The group, founded in June 2014, has long demanded that its militants fight or die, and it often sends young men and even children on suicide-bombing missions.

The VA just expanded private care with a $5 billion spending bill

But as the group weakens on the ground, it seems to have shifted course.

A US Department of Defense release on the battle for Hawijah cites “many sources reporting more than 1,000 terrorists surrendered.”

Unlike the battle for Mosul, once ISIS’ largest Iraqi stronghold, the terrorist group “put up no fight at all, other than planting bombs and booby traps,” Kurdish officials told The New York Times.

Strikingly, the same officials reported that ISIS commanders had ordered their fighters to turn themselves in, on the grounds that the Kurds would take prisoners while other opponents would be harsher.

Indeed, after three years of brutal conflict, the Iraqi Security Forces fighting have admitted to engaging in acts of savagery against defeated ISIS fighters.

In July, Iraqi officers said they took part in extrajudicial killings of many unarmed ISIS fighters, with one vowing a “slow death” as revenge for killing his father.

The VA just expanded private care with a $5 billion spending bill

After suffering defeat after defeat on the ground, ISIS has upped the aggression of its media operation in an attempt to save face. Recently the group released audio it said came from its top leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was rumored to be killed or at least injured by airstrikes.

After last week’s shooting in Las Vegas, the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history, ISIS also made the dubious claim that the gunman was one of its followers.

US officials have shot this claim down, and ISIS’ claims do not match evidence that has since emerged on the gunman’s preparation for the attack.

In its early months and years, ISIS enjoyed a surge of battlefield victories. The group had political support in Sunni Muslim areas, where many felt disenfranchised by Iraq’s Shia-run government.

But it has since been ground down for years by US-led coalition airstrikes and a wide range of militias and national armies on the ground.

With the fall of Hawijah, only a small strip of territory along Syria’s border remains in ISIS’ control.

Articles

Marines may expand PSYOPS with new job specialty

The VA just expanded private care with a $5 billion spending bill
Marine Corps Information Operations Center (MCIOC), conducts training for Military Information Support Operations (MISO), at MOUT site, Quantico, Va. | U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Alexander Norred


As the Marine Corps looks to prepare for future conflicts and expand key highly skilled communities, the service will consider adding a new primary military occupational specialty: 0521, Military Information Support Operations.

A briefing document obtained by Military.com proposes expanding what is now a free, or additional MOS, into a primary MOS and increasing the total number of MISO Marines from 87 to a steady state of 322. The enlisted-only MOS would be composed chiefs of sergeants and staff sergeants, with a tapering senior enlisted leadership structure.

MISO, which has also been called psychological operations, or PSYOP, aims to influence emotions and behavior by targeted messaging and information distribution. It requires an understanding of the people and cultures with whom Marines will interact and how they are affected by various communication strategies. Humvees equipped with loudspeakers that blast messages to communities, leaflet information campaigns, and one-on-one meetings with local leaders all fall under the umbrella of MISO.

Currently, the Marine Corps deploys its small community of MISO Marines in teams of two to four aboard Marine expeditionary units and its special purpose Marine air-ground task forces for Africa and the Middle East. They also support elite operations at Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command and assist in major exercises and sometimes with larger Marine force operations.

The MISO MOS brief, prepared in October 2015 by Col. Drew Cukor, commanding officer of Marine Corps Information Operations Center in Quantico, Virginia, which contains the MISO program, notes that U.S. adversaries have seen success in exploiting the “information environment” to their own advantage.

“[Marines] may win physical battles but still lose because of failure to fight effectively in the cognitive dimension,” Cukor notes.

Creating a MISO primary MOS would allow the Corps to get more value from the investment it makes training its Marines, the brief notes. Currently, about 30 Marines a year complete a 17-week training course at Fort Bragg, N.C. at a cost of $12,000 per student, plus another $5,000 per Marine to obtain a required Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information clearance. Total training costs add up to more than $600,000, according to the brief.

However, few MISO Marines remain in the community, with 80 percent choosing to end active service following their three-year tour in the free MOS.

In an award-winning Dec. 2015 essay published by the U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings Magazine, Marine Sgt. Dion Edon, a MISO Marine, said that those in his community tended to seek out other opportunities after their three-year tours because there was little incentive to stay.

“The Marine Corps loses an Army Special Operations Forces–trained Marine to the civilian contracting world, Army SOF, or the fleet, where their MISO-specific knowledge is unavailable,” he wrote. “The MISO MOS should become a primary MOS with warrant and limited-duty officer opportunities so that the Marine Corps can retain its investment in behavioral experts who can support senior-level staff with technical expertise and advice.”

Edon, who recently returned from a deployment supporting the 15th MEU as a MISO noncommissioned officer, also proposed giving MISO Marines more regionally focused and language specific training, and incorporating them further into Marine Corps planning and wargaming operations.

He quoted 15th MEU commanding officer Col. Vance Cryer, who said the addition of the MISO capability aboard the MEU had resulted in a “much more refined” approach to the integration of intelligence with operations.

“The MISO mission and support provides me [with] critical context, insight, and validation of various levels of information for use in the planning and execution phases,” Edon quotes Cryer as saying in the essay. “As a key part of a networked organization, it provides timely, value-added tools that enable asymmetric advantages to the MEU or MAGTF level of operations.”

Expanding the community would also better allow MISO Marines to meet high operational demand and increase the number of MISO personnel available to serve within each Marine expeditionary force and at MARSOC, Cukor’s brief shows.

Officials with Marine Corps Information Operations Center declined requests for an interview because the plans were pre-decisional.

But the deputy commandant of Marine Corps Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Lt. Gen. Mark Brilakis, told Military.com that preliminary decisions could be made as soon as this fall regarding how to develop the MISO community.

“In MISO, within those specialties and capabilities, I think those are some of the things that we’re going to be wrestling with to determine whether or not the Marine Corps needs more structure, whether it becomes a primary MOS, whether it becomes an expanded MOS, or whether it becomes a series of MOSs, depending upon the specific specialties,” he said. “So if individuals are interested in MISO and expanded realm of information operations, etcetera, then they should stand by, because I think more will come out of this.”

He noted that Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller has directed Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, to conduct a study that defines where the Marine Corps needs to be in 2025 and whether the force is properly organized to address future challenges.

“One of the larger discussion areas is in cyber, information, deception, psychological operations, where is the Marine Corps with those capabilities, that structure, that capability inside the force,” he said. “So there will be a fairly robust discussion about where we sit today, and where we may want to go tomorrow.”

Brilakis declined to speculate whether the Corps could add even more MOSs, but said many decisions had yet to be made.

This push for a MISO primary MOS comes as Neller pushes to expand certain Marine Corps communities, including information and cyber warfare. He told an Atlantic Council audience in February that the Corps had two options in light of this objective: to ask for an end strength increase, or to restructure, perhaps shrinking other communities such as infantry, to realize growth in others.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This modern amphibious assault ship is carrying WWII planes

The amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD-2) is an integral part of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force as a forward operating platform. Essex is capable of carrying up to 1,771 Marines as well as the landing craft to get them ashore.

Her aircraft suite includes AV-8B Harrier II attack aircraft, F-35B Lightning II stealth strike-fighters, AH-1W/Z Super Cobra/Viper attack helicopters, MV-22B Osprey assault support tiltrotors, CH-53E Super Stallion heavy-lift helicopters, UH-1Y Venom utility helicopters, and SH-60F/HH-60H anti-submarine warfare helicopters.


However, rather than her usual wing of modern jets and helicopters, USS Essex is currently carrying 14 WWII-era trainer, bomber and fighter aircraft.
The VA just expanded private care with a $5 billion spending bill

USS Essex usually carries Marine aircraft like these Ospreys (US Navy)

The 844-foot-long ship is on her way to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii to participate in RIMPAC 2020, the world’s largest international maritime exercise. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Pentagon made the decision to cancel RIMPAC’s air exercises.

In January, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper called for a number of WWII-era aircraft to assemble in Hawaii to participate in a commemoration of the end of the war in the Pacific. Known as V-J Day for “Victory over Japan”, the event is most commonly celebrated on August 15. On August 15, 1945, (which was August 14 in America due to the time change), Emperor Hirohito announced his decree to accept the Potsdam Declaration and surrender over the radio.

Since the Marines had to leave their aircraft behind, USS Essex had plenty of room for the WWII-era aircraft since the vintage planes were unable to make the flight to Hawaii. The planes will include five AT-6/SNJ advanced trainers, two PBY Catalina flying boats, a B-25 Mitchell bomber, an FM-2 Wildcat fighter, an F8F Bearcat fighter, a Stearman Model 75 biplane, a TBM Avenger torpedo bomber and a T-28 Trojan.
The VA just expanded private care with a $5 billion spending bill

The FM-2 Wildcat is lowered to the hangar deck (Commemorative Air Force)

The planes will conduct flyovers over Hawaii from August 29, the day U.S. troops began the occupation of Japan, to September 2, the day that the formal Japanese surrender was made aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

Before embarking on the trip to Hawaii, the pilots, maintainers and ground crews accompanying the planes were required to spend two weeks in quarantine at Naval Base San Diego to prevent anyone with COVID-19 from boarding the ship.

The 14 planes headed to Hawaii aboard the USS Essex will return to San Diego with the ship following the conclusion of the V-J Day Commemoration and RIMPAC.


Articles

The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Happy New Year’s! We didn’t do anything special. It’s the same basic idea from last year: 13 awesome memes from around the Internet.


1. Gen. Washington believed in proper accountability (via Team Non-Rec).

The VA just expanded private care with a $5 billion spending bill
No one went anywhere in Valley Forge without their weapon and night vision.

2. When the pilot can’t find the KC-130 and has to stop and ask for directions:

(via Air Force Nation)

The VA just expanded private care with a $5 billion spending bill
Now he just has to find somewhere to turn around and take off.

SEE ALSO: 5 real-world covert operations in FX’s ‘Archer’

3. Dream big, Marines (via Sh-t my LPO says).

The VA just expanded private care with a $5 billion spending bill
If this were real, Starkiller Base would become the top re-enlistment destination.

4. Because professionalism and talent are completely separate traits:

(via Air Force Nation)

The VA just expanded private care with a $5 billion spending bill
This saved screen probably got someone in trouble.

5. It’ll be great. A nice, country drive (via Military Memes).

The VA just expanded private care with a $5 billion spending bill
Just remember to do 5 to 25-meter checks for IEDs at every stop.

6. Diamonds are a soldier’s best friend (via The Most Combat Engineer Man in the World).

The VA just expanded private care with a $5 billion spending bill
Maybe do legs some days, just to balance it out.

7. It’s probably not a Facebook hoax this time (via Coast Guard Memes).

The VA just expanded private care with a $5 billion spending bill
Finally, a ship perfect for all those unpatrolled puddles.

8. How combat engineers announce their arrival:

The VA just expanded private care with a $5 billion spending bill
They probably didn’t bring cookies.

9. That lance corporal life:

(via Military Memes)

The VA just expanded private care with a $5 billion spending bill
Don’t hate the lance corporal, hate the promotion system and attrition problems that leave you stuck with him.

10. 10 bucks says this was a profile pic within 24 hours (via Humor During Deployment).

The VA just expanded private care with a $5 billion spending bill
Would’ve gotten more likes if the airmen carried weapons up there.

11. Try to be more specific, photographer (via U.S. Army W.T.F! moments).

The VA just expanded private care with a $5 billion spending bill

12. Everyone makes fun of the PX Ranger until he’s the only one who gets to duel the Jedi wannabe (via Broken and Unreadable).

The VA just expanded private care with a $5 billion spending bill

13. Yes, first sergeant hates you (via Marine Corps Memes).

The VA just expanded private care with a $5 billion spending bill

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russian destroyer sails into the line of fire during shooting drills

During a US and Ukrainian-led multinational maritime exercise, a Russian destroyer created a “dangerous situation” by sailing into an area restricted for live-fire drills, the Ukrainian Navy said in an statement.

On July 10, 2019, the Russian Kashin-class guided-missile destroyer Smetlivy purposefully sailed into an area reserved for naval gunfire exercises, part of the latest iteration of Exercise Sea Breeze, the Ukrainian Navy said in a Facebook post.


“The Russian Federation once again showed its true face and provoked an emergency situation in the Black Sea, ignoring international maritime law,” the post explains, according to a translation by Ukrainian media.

The Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sahaydachniy attempted to communicate with the Russian ship, but the latter is said to have feigned communication problems.

The Russian military, which has been conducting drills in the same area, says that the Ukrainian Navy is lying.

“The Ukrainian Navy’s claim that the Black Sea Fleet’s Smetlivy patrol vessel has allegedly entered a closed zone where Sea Breeze-2019 drills are held is not true,” Russia’s Black Sea Fleet said in a statement carried by Russian media. “Smetlivy acts in strict compliance with the international law.”

The VA just expanded private care with a $5 billion spending bill

Russian Kashin-class guided-missile destroyer Smetlivy.

A US Navy spokesman told Defense One that the Russian ship was present but declined to offer any specific details on the incident. “The presence of the Russian ship had no impact to the exercise yesterday and all evolutions were conducted as scheduled,” Lt. Bobby Dixon, a spokesman for the US Navy’s 6th Fleet, told the outlet.

He added, without elaborating, that “it can be ill-advised to enter an area given the safety hazard identified in a Notice to Mariners.”

The 19th iteration of Exercise Sea Breeze began on July 1, 2019, and will conclude July 19, 2019. The drills involved around 3,000 troops, as well as 32 ships and 24 aircraft, from 19 different countries and focused on a variety of training areas, including maritime interdiction operations, air defense, amphibious warfare, and more.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

This downed Russian pilot in Syria refused to be taken alive

The pilot of a stricken Sukhoi Su-25 “Frogfoot” close-air support plane blew himself up with a grenade rather than be captured by an affiliate of the radical Islamic terrorist group, al-Qaeda. The action now has Russian Air Force Major Roman Filipov up to receive the Hero of Russia award.


According to a report by the Daily Mirror, Filipov had briefly engaged the terrorists with a Stechkin machine pistol, killing two of them, before realizing he was about to be captured. He then defiantly shouted, “This is for my guys!” and pulled the pin on the grenade.

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A Stechkin machine pistol, similar to the one carried by Major Kilipov. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Andrew Butko)

TheDrive.com reported that the Su-25 had been shot down by a man-portable, surface-to-air missile. Though the exact type of missile is unknown, it was likely one of several types.

Last year, the economic and political instability in Venezuela resulted in advanced Russian-made SA-24 “Grinch” surface-to-air missiles appearing on the black market. TheAviationist.com reported that the missile in question might have also been a Chinese-made FN-6 surface-to-air missile. The FN-6, which entered service in 1999, has a maximum range of about 3.25 nautical miles and a top speed of almost 1,300 kilometers per hour. It has infra-red guidance and is man-portable.

These shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles are also known as man-portable air-defense systems, or MANPADS.

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Two Su-25 Frogfoot ground attack aircraft. (Russian Ministry of Defense photo)

This is not the first time that the Su-25 has faced the MANPADS threat. During the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, the United States sent the FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-air missile to Afghan rebels. Russia lost almost 450 aircraft during that conflict, with the Stinger getting credit for a number of those kills.

According to MilitaryFactory.com, the Su-25 Frogfoot entered service in 1981. In addition to Afghanistan, it also saw action in the Iran-Iraq War and the Second Chechen War, among other conflicts.

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This Yazidi boy survived three years of ISIS captivity

Among the Iraqis freed in the US-led coalition’s liberation of Mosul from the Islamic State this month was Emad Mshko Tamo, a Yazidi who was separated from his family and trained as a soldier by the terrorist army for the past three years.


Wounded from shrapnel and covered in dust, the emaciated former captive shook hands with the Iraqi soldiers who freed him. He accepted a bottle of water and held it in his lap, sitting in the front seat of a truck that was to take him to a hospital for treatment.

Emad is 12 years old.

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Yazidi refugees. (UK DFID photo by Rachel Unkovic)

While the Iraqi government celebrates its victory over the Islamic State in Mosul, aid organizations report that hundreds of civilians remain trapped in the Old City and the humanitarian crisis in Iraq continues to mount, with 3 million refugees and almost 1 million displaced people from Mosul.

“In the last week of fighting, 12,000 civilians were evacuated, [and] their condition was the worst of the entire war,” Lise Grande, the lead coordinator of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, said July 17 during a press conference.

“Many were elderly, disabled. There were separated children. They clearly did not have sufficient water, they hadn’t had sufficient food, and the overwhelming majority of the civilians who came out were unable, even on their own, to cross the front line to safety. They had to be helped,” said Ms. Grande, adding that the levels of trauma in Mosul are among the highest anywhere.

The Iraqi army next will move to liberate the cities of Tal Afar, Hawija, and western Anbar province, and humanitarian organizations are preparing for an even larger crisis.

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Women and children wait at a processing station for internally displaced people prior to boarding buses to refugee camps near Mosul, Iraq, Mar. 03, 2017. (Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alex Manne)

Among the concerns are those for orphaned children and those separated from their families. Ms. Grande was unable to provide estimates but said the numbers are large and will require specialized care for months and even years to come.

Emad’s story is a bright spot in an otherwise dark saga, said Dlo Yaseen, an Iraqi-Kurdish translator who helped the 12-year-old while he was being transferred between hospitals from Mosul to Irbil.

Terrorists kidnapped Emad in the summer of 2014 from his village near Sinjar. He was one of thousands of victims of the Islamic State’s campaign of genocide against the Yazidi people — a Kurdish minority whose religious tradition, which mixes aspects of Christianity, Islam, and Zoroastrianism, is regarded as apostasy by the Islamic State.

The militants reportedly executed thousands of Yazidi men and boys and at least 86 women, and kidnapped and sold Yazidi women into sex slavery — among other crimes against humanity. An independent survey and analysis of survivors, family members, and civilians estimates that 3,700 Yazidis were slain or died during the summer assault, and that of the 6,800 who were kidnapped, 2,500 are still missing.

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An ISOF APC among the rubble in Mosul, Iraq. (Photo by Mstyslav Chernov)

In Mosul, when the Iraqi soldiers realized that Emad was Yazidi, they called the only Yazidi soldier in their unit, Mr. Yaseen said. The soldier recognized Emad’s family name and was able to locate his relatives in Dohuk, a Kurdish city in northwestern Iraq.

Shrapnel from Iraqi army mortar fire had wounded Emad. Although Islamic State captors tried to treat him, he was still suffering. Personnel at a field hospital decided that he would be transferred to a larger hospital in Irbil for surgery.

In the meantime, five of Emad’s uncles traveled the few hours’ drive from Dohuk to Irbil for the reunion. They also brought news of Emad’s mother, who had traveled to Canada a few months earlier with two of his siblings. Emad and his mother were able to talk via Facebook chat.

Yazda, an international Yazidi aid organization, corroborated Emad’s story, saying his mother was resettled in Canada with the help of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees after the government’s decision to take in Yazidi survivors.

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Emad Mshko Tamo. (Photo from Dlo Yaseen via Facebook)

Shortly after Emad’s rescue, Mr. Yaseen posted a photo of him on Facebook: “A Yazidi boy rescued under ISIS and rejoined his relative.”

The photo is striking — Emad is composed, sitting in the passenger seat of the truck, his face turned toward the camera. He is covered in grime — a large and dirty blue T-shirt is the only clothing covering his twig-like frame. His blond hair sticks up at all ends, his face is covered in white dust, but his lips are red and stained with blood. His expression is calm, a slight furrow to his brows as they arch upward.

“I asked him, ‘How do you feel now that you are rescued?'” said Mr. Yaseen. “He said, ‘I’m happy. I’m going to go to my house, my family. I will be happy.'”
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14 photos that show how Finland is preparing for a Russian hybrid war

Finland is facing the possibility that Russia will eventually come for some of its territory like it seized South Ossetia from Georgia and Crimea and sections of Donbass from Ukraine.


To prepare for their own possible conflict, the Finnish armed forces and other agencies are holding exercises to prepare for Putin’s hybrid warfare.

Russia’s forays into Ukraine and, to a lesser extent, Georgia, relied on cyber warfare, special operations forces, and an aggressive information campaign.

But Europe has gotten to see Russia’s playbook in action, and Petri Mäkelä of Medium.com reports that Finland is preparing to counter it with everything from their own special operators to firefighters and airport administrators.

In 14 photos, here’s how Finland is doing it:

1. First, by looking cool as they run through smoke. (Ok, that’s probably not the training objective, but come on, this looks cool.)

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(Photo: FaceBook/The Finnish Army)

2. Finland held three major training events in March, each of which required that federal and local security forces worked together to counter specific threats.

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(Photo: FaceBook/The Finnish Army)

3. For instance, response teams converged on an airport that was under simulated attack, seeking to eliminate the threat as quickly and safely as possible.

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(Photo: FaceBook/The Finnish Army)

4. This allowed security forces to practice operating in the high-stress environment and also allowed administrators to see how they can best set up their operations to keep passengers safe in an attack.

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(Photo: FaceBook/The Finnish Army)

5. The exercises required soldiers and police to fight everything from angry individuals to enemy sniper and machine gun teams.

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(Photo: FaceBook/The Finnish Army)

6. Of course, no training exercise is complete without practicing how to treat the wounded.

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(Photo: FaceBook/The Finnish Army)

7. That’s where the firefighters and paramedics got involved.

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(Photo: FaceBook/The Finnish Army)

8. In field hospitals, medical professionals treated simulated injuries sustained in the fighting.

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(Photo: FaceBook/The Finnish Army)

9. Police forces assisted in re-establishing order and protecting the local populace.

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(Photo: FaceBook/The Finnish Army)

10. But the exercises also allowed the military to practice conventional operations.

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(Photo: FaceBook/The Finnish Army)

11. Finnish forces took on enemy elements in the woods and snow.

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(Photo: FaceBook/The Finnish Army)

12. Helicopters ferried troops to different areas. They also helped move reservists, police, and other first responders when necessary.

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(Photo: FaceBook/The Finnish Army)

13. The conventional exercises included some pretty awesome weaponry.

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(Photo: FaceBook/The Finnish Army)

14. Of course, even with increased conscription, new equipment, and tailored training, Finland would face a tough fight with Russia. The Russian military is one of the largest in the world and it has been training for this and other fights.

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(Photo: FaceBook/The Finnish Army)

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Report: Flynn to recommend Trump make a big move against Russia

On Monday, Politico reported that Michael Flynn, the retired general and national security adviser to President Donald Trump, would advise the Trump administration to back Montenegro’s entrance into NATO — a move sure to infuriate Russia.


Flynn has longstanding ties to Russia — most notably, he received payment to attend a gala event for Russia Today, a Russian propaganda outlet. On that occasion, he dined with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Wall Street Journal reported in January that US counterintelligence agents investigated Flynn’s ties to Russia. Recently, a group of top Democratic lawmakers urged the Department of Defense to do the same.

Throughout his campaign and presidency, Trump has repeatedly questioned the NATO alliance and the US’s adversarial relationship with Russia.

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Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn previously led the Defense Intelligence Agency. | Photo from Defense Department

Despite that, the US backs Montenegro’s bid to join NATO, and the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee has backed its bid for over a year. During this time, the small Balkan nation faced increasing pressure from Russia — including a failed coup in October that may be tied back to Moscow.

A special prosecutor in Montenegro said in November that Russian nationalists tried to sway the country’s October election with a plot to kill Milo Djukanovic, the Western-leaning prime minister.

“The organizers of this criminal group were nationalists from Russia whose initial premise and conclusion was that the government in Montenegro led by Milo Djukanovic cannot be changed in election and that it should be toppled by force,” Milivoje Katnic, special prosecutor for organized crime in Montenegro, said at the time.

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NATO

Flynn’s backing of Montenegro’s entrance into NATO would seemingly fly in the face of Trump’s proposal to try to befriend Russia, as Russia sees NATO expansion as aggression against its interests.

Jorge Benitez, a senior fellow and NATO expert at the Atlantic Council, told Politico, “No NATO candidate country has ever faced such a dire attack or threat in the process of finishing its membership into the alliance.”

However, Flynn is not alone among Trump appointees in striking a more hawkish tone toward Moscow. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley also signaled a hawkish approach, saying that “the dire situation in eastern Ukraine is one that demands clear and strong condemnation of Russian actions.” Russia officially denies a military presence in Eastern Ukraine, where fighting has recently reignited.

Before Montenegro can join NATO, it’s accession bid must be approved by all 28 current NATO states and two-thirds of the US Senate.

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