VA will drop the fight against Navy vets affected by Agent Orange - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

VA will drop the fight against Navy vets affected by Agent Orange

The Department of Veterans Affairs will not appeal a January 2019 court ruling that ordered it to provide health care and disability benefits for 90,000 veterans who served on Navy ships during the Vietnam War, likely paving the way for “Blue Water Navy” sailors and Marines to receive Agent Orange-related compensation and VA-paid health care benefits.

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 26, 2019, that he will recommend the Justice Department not fight the decision, handing a victory to ill former service members who fought for years to have their diseases recognized as related to exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange.


In 2018, the House unanimously passed a bill, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, to provide benefits to affected service members. But Wilkie objected, saying the science does not prove that they were exposed to Agent Orange. Veterans and their advocates had argued that the ships’ distilling systems used Agent Orange-tainted seawater, exposing sailors on board to concentrated levels of dioxin.

VA will drop the fight against Navy vets affected by Agent Orange

Large stacks of 55-gallon drums filled with Agent Orange.

(US Army photo)

However, the bill failed in the Senate when two Republicans, Sen. Michael Enzi of Wyoming and Mike Lee of Utah, said they wanted to wait for a vote pending the outcome of a current study on Agent Orange exposure.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in January 2019 ruled that a Vietnam veteran, 73-year-old Alfred Procopio, and other Blue Water Navy veterans qualified for benefits currently given to service members stationed on the ground in Vietnam or who served on inland waterways and have diseases associated with Agent Orange.

Procopio, who served on the aircraft carrier Intrepid, suffers from prostate cancer and diabetes, illnesses presumed to be related to exposure to the toxic herbicide.

The VA has contended that any herbicide runoff from the millions of gallons sprayed in Vietnam was diluted by seawater and would not have affected offshore service members. It also objected to the cost of providing benefits to Blue Water Navy veterans for illnesses common to all aging patients, not just those exposed to Agent Orange.

The proposed Blue Water Navy Veterans act had estimated the cost of providing benefits to these veterans at id=”listicle-2632903078″.1 billion over 10 years. VA officials say the amount is roughly .5 billion.

Wilkie told members of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee during a hearing on the VA’s fiscal 2019 budget that the department already has started serving 51,000 Blue Water Navy veterans.

VA will drop the fight against Navy vets affected by Agent Orange

Leaking Agent Orange Barrels at Johnston Atoll, 1973.

He cautioned, however, that while he is recommending the Justice Department drop the case, he “didn’t know what other agencies would do.”

Lawmakers praised Wilkie’s announcement, urging him to ensure that the DoJ drops the case. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, said it would “bring fairness” to these veterans.

“I am grateful for you in making these considerations,” Blumenthal said, adding that he’d like to see the VA do more research on toxic exposures on the modern battlefield. “The potential poisons on the battlefield are one of the greatest challenges of our time.”

Committee chairman Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, also promised a hearing later in 2019 on burn pits and other environmental exposures some troops say left them with lifelong illnesses, including cancers — some fatal — and respiratory diseases.

Isakson added, however, that the VA needs to care first for Blue Water Navy veterans. “If it happens, we are going to be in the process of swallowing a big bite and chewing it,” he said.

The diseases considered presumptive to Agent Orange exposure, according to the VA, are AL amyloidosis, chronic B-cell leukemia, chloracne, Type 2 diabetes, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, ischemic heart disease, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Parkinson’s disease, early onset peripheral neuropathy, porphyria, prostate cancer, respiratory cancers and soft tissue sarcomas.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, in a veteran who served 90 days or more in the military is automatically considered service connected, regardless of date of service.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

8-year-old returns to life-changing USNS Comfort

Distant footsteps lightly echo through the empty passageway. Two figures of different height walk briskly through the hall toward a heavy steel door labeled “General Surgery: Authorized Personnel Only.” Attached at the hand, the smaller of the two, stops abruptly pulling his mother to a halt.

She sharply whispers something in Spanish to her frightened son. The boy inches toward the now-opened door, as the bright lights expose the sweat on his sun-kissed forehead. What the anxious boy doesn’t realize is that this room has a familiarity to him. He was a patient in it once before — ­when he was only 8 months old. And now, same as then, he is in good hands.


Pedro Daniel Anton, 8, returned to the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) to receive further care for his cleft lip and palate. His mother, Petronia Eche, reflects on her first experience with the Comfort caring for her son during Continuing Promise 2011, in Peru.

“In 2010, he was born with a cleft palate and when he was 8 months old and the ship came to provide care, we came for his surgery,” said Petronia, translated from Spanish. “They were very helpful, we received so much support when we had his first surgery. It was a great surgery, we were very well attended and my son came out well.”

VA will drop the fight against Navy vets affected by Agent Orange

Canadian Forces Maj. Davin Schmidt, an oral surgeon from Pembroke, Ontario, performs surgery on Pedro Anton, 8, in an operating room aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kris R. Lindstrom)

After his initial surgery, Petronia knew he needed more surgery to improve his quality of life, but had little to no success in getting the follow-up, in Peru.

“I have tried in the past to get his follow-up surgery done but we have been denied continuously,” said Petronia. “But I never gave up. As a mother I knew I needed to be there with him, I never gave up on this because I only want the best for my son.”

After more than seven years from his initial surgery, Comfort returned to Paita, Peru. Petronia’s prayers were answered and she knew he needed to get aboard to get the care he needed.

“What a coincidence, it must be fate that we are here again,” said Petronia, on the verge of tears. “We were in such a long line, sleeping outside in the lines. I was losing my spirits in the wait, but I decided to keep waiting. And out of so many people, we are here.”

Pedro and his mother arrived to the ship under the impression that he was going to have surgery on an umbilical hernia in his abdomen. When the doctors looked at his cleft lip, they realized that they had an opportunity and the resources to give him further care.

VA will drop the fight against Navy vets affected by Agent Orange

Canadian Forces Maj. Davin Schmidt (left), an oral surgeon from Pembroke, Ontario, and Capt. Michael Carson, an oral surgeon from Portsmouth, Va., perform surgery on Pedro Anton, 8, in an operating room aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kris R. Lindstrom)

“Initially, I came because he has an umbilical hernia, but the doctors told me that he needed both surgeries,” said Petronia. “Knowing that made me nervous, but I have trust in the doctors and in God. Many of the doctors here in Paita tell me they can’t help my son but here they said they can do it.”

When the call came in to the medical ward that Pedro and his mother were in, they were overcome with emotion. They both found the courage and strength to stand, take each other’s hand, walk up to surgery to complete the journey, and fulfill the reason why they were on the Comfort.

“I’ve told the doctors, that my son’s life is in their hands,” said Petronia, overcome with emotion and tears flowing down her cheeks. “I’m so appreciative of this because, here in Peru, we don’t have the money to pay for these surgeries, I have tried but we just don’t have enough. But, as a mother, I kept trying to find a way for him to get the surgery. I had faith in God and I would tell my husband that one day—someone would come to help us.”

Canadian Forces Maj. Davin Schmidt, an oral surgeon aboard Comfort, was the attending surgeon with Pedro for his cleft lip operation. He said it is common for a cleft lip and palate patient to return for further surgeries as they grow and start cutting teeth and forming a stronger jaw. He was also glad to see a repeat patient because it is a rarity that the Comfort’s doctors are ever able to follow up with the patients they treat.

VA will drop the fight against Navy vets affected by Agent Orange

Capt. Michael Carson, an oral surgeon from Portsmouth, Va., performs surgery on Pedro Anton, 8, in an operating room aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kris R. Lindstrom)

“It was very rewarding to see him here again,” said Schmidt. “I wasn’t personally involved with his care the first time, but cleft lip and palate are complicated cases that need follow-up and repeated procedures over time in a staged manner. Without this, he would not have been able to return to full function. He wouldn’t be able to eat normally, he wouldn’t be able to have normal speech and he would be at higher risk for health issues such as infections in his sinus.”

When Pedro was brought to the operating room, the surgeons and staff operated on his umbilical hernia first, completing the operation in about 20 minutes. Then, Schmidt and his staff took over for the next part of his surgery, which was very complex and took much longer.

“The patient had an alveolar cleft*, so basically what has happened in that case, is that the upper jaw of the maxilla** didn’t have bone connecting it all the way through and there was a hole where that should have been extending from the mouth to the nose,” said Schmidt. “So what we did, is we opened up that area, reconstructed the gums in that area to create a new floor of the nose.”

“We made sure there was a good seal on the palate side,” continued Schmidt. “And then we used some bone from his hip so that we can reconstruct it. We brought that bone and then we placed it into the defect that was there so that we could grow new bone and create a new full shaped maxilla that will be able to support teeth and have teeth erupt through there.”

Pedro’s surgery was a success and the hole connecting his mouth and nose, including the gap in the bone, was repaired.

“We are very excited about the procedure and I feel we got a really good result,” said Schmidt. “Checking up with Pedro right before he left the ship, he seemed to be in good spirits, and we are expecting a very good recovery for him.”

VA will drop the fight against Navy vets affected by Agent Orange

Oral surgery is performed on Pedro Anton, 8, in an operating room aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kris R. Lindstrom)

Feeling jubilant and blessed, Pedro and his mother made their way to disembark Comfort. With their journey one step closer to its completion, Petronia embraced many doctors, nurses and staff before heading back to Paita. With her heart full of graciousness and exuberance, her and her son boarded a small boat to go back ashore.

“I have to be strong for my children,” said Petronia. “I encourage them to be strong, we have suffered together throughout his journey and I am thankful to God that he is going to be okay now.”

Comfort is on an 11-week medical support mission to Central and South America as part of U.S. Southern Command’s Enduring Promise initiative. Working with health and government partners in Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Honduras, the embarked medical team will provide care on board and at land-based medical sites, helping to relieve pressure on national medical systems caused partly by an increase in cross-border migrants. The deployment reflects the United States’ enduring promise of friendship, partnership, and solidarity with the Americas.

*An Alveolar Cleft is an opening in the bone of the upper jaw that results from a developmental defect and is present at birth. This area of the jaw that is missing bone is otherwise covered by normal mucosa and may contain teeth. (dcsurgicalarts.com)

**The maxilla forms the upper jaw by fusing together two irregularly-shaped bones along the median palatine structure, located at the midline of the roof of the mouth. The maxillary bones on each side join in the middle at the intermaxillary suture, a fused line that is created by the union of the right and left ‘halves’ of the maxilla bone, thus running down the middle of the upper jaw. (healthline.com)

This article originally appeared on the United States Navy. Follow @USNavy on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The military is now identifying Korean War remains

All Americans welcome the return of remains from the Korean War.

The July 27, 2018, honorable carry ceremony at Osan Air Base, South Korea, transferred 55 boxes of remains covered by the United Nations flag. Now the work of identification begins.

These remains are presumed to be American, but many other nations fought in the Korean War, and it’s possible the remains may come from one of those nations.


The 1950-1953 Korean War was incredibly violent, with 36,940 Americans killed and another 92,134 wounded. Some 7,699 American service members are listed as unaccounted-for from the conflict.

VA will drop the fight against Navy vets affected by Agent Orange

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Lance Alan Schroeder)

Remains Examination

The remains will be examined at the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, and experts there will be responsible for identifying the remains. The agency is relatively new — coming into existence in 2015 after the merger of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office.

Many of the fallen service members died in North Korea and were buried by their comrades where they fell. Other U.S. service members were captured and placed in prisoner-of-war camps, where many succumbed to starvation, exposure and torture. Outside those camps are graves of Americans.

The DPAA Laboratory at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, is the first U.S. stop for the recently returned remains. The lab is the largest and most diverse skeletal identification laboratory in the world and is staffed by more than 30 anthropologists, archaeologists and forensic odonatologists, United Nations Command release.

Those experts will sort and examine the remains. In the past, North Korea turned over commingled remains.

The lab experts are painstaking in their examination. The age of the remains — at least 65 years old — will complicate the process. The North Koreans collected the remains, and U.S. investigators will have to do the examination without the forensic information they normally would have, such as the approximate place of the burial and the conditions around it.

Examination of dental charts and mitochondrial DNA will be key technologies used to identifying the remains, and the process may take years to complete, DoD officials said.

Featured image: United Nations Command returned 55 cases of remains from North Korea to Osan Air Base, South Korea, July 27, 2018.

This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Defense. Follow @DeptofDefense on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

These Marines fought so fiercely, they burned out two Howitzers

US Marines arrived in Syria in March to support the effort to retake Raqqa with artillery fire.


The Marines, from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, came with M-777 Howitzers that can fire powerful 155 mm shells. The 11th MEU returned to the US in May, turning the operations over to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said they recaptured the city in mid-October, and, according to Army Sgt. Maj. John Wayne Troxell, the Marine fire supporting them was so intense that the barrels on two of the Howitzers burned out, making them unsafe to use.

Troxell, who is senior enlisted adviser to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, said last week that US-led coalition forces were firing on ISIS in Raqqa “every minute of every hour” in order to keep pressure on the terrorist group.

VA will drop the fight against Navy vets affected by Agent Orange
A U.S. Marine artillery unit in Syria. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Matthew Callahan)

“What we have seen is the minute we take the pressure off of ISIS they regenerate and come back in a hurry,” Troxell said, according to Military Times. “They are a very resilient enemy.”

The M-777 Howitzer is 7,500 pounds — 9,000 pounds lighter than its predecessor. It is highly maneuverable, and can be towed by 7-ton trucks or carried by MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft or by CH-53E Super Stallion or CH-47 Chinook helicopters. It can be put in place and readied to fire in less than three minutes.

Also Read: The American howitzer you never heard much about

Its sustained rate of fire is two rounds a minute, but it can fire four rounds a minute for up to two minutes, according to its manufacturer, BAE Systems. While it’s not clear how many rounds the Marine M-777s fired or the period over which they fired them, burning out two barrels underscores the intensity of the bombardment used against ISIS in and around Raqqa.

“I’ve never heard of it ― normally your gun goes back to depot for full reset well before that happens,” a former Army artillery officer told Military Times. “That’s a s—load of rounds though.”

VA will drop the fight against Navy vets affected by Agent Orange
A US Marine fires an M-777A2 Howitzer in Syria, June 1, 2017. Sgt. Matthew Callahan/US Marine Corps

The M-777’s maximum range is 18.6 miles (though it can fire Excalibur rounds accurately up to 25 miles, according to Military.com). Video that emerged this summer showed Marines firing 155 mm artillery shells with XM1156 Precision Guidance Kits, according to The Washington Post.

The kit is a type of fuse that turns the shell in to a semi-precision-guided munition that, on average, will hit within 100 feet of the target when fired from the M-777’s maximum range. The XM1156 has only appeared in combat a few times.

The number of rounds it takes to burn out a howitzer barrel depends on the range to the target as well as the level of charge used, which can vary based on weight of the shell and the distance it needs to be fired.

If the howitzers were being fired closer to their target, “the tube life might actually be extended some,” the former Army officer told Military Times. Open-source imagery reviewed this summer indicated that Marines were at one point within 10 miles of Raqqa.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How an F-35 pilot landed safely after losing a flight computer in mid-air

From initial pilot training to mission qualification training, US Air Force pilots complete intensive training and preparation to learn critical skills to fly, fight and win, as well as prevent mishaps.

However, F-35 and F-16 trainees in the 56th Fighter Wing also receive cutting edge human performance optimization training across physical, mental, and emotional domains.

In May 2019, Capt. Robert Larson, a 61st Fighter Squadron student pilot, was on a training mission when he found himself faced with an in-flight emergency. Larson called upon his human performance optimization training and saved not only himself but the F-35A Lightning II he was flying from any damage.


“I was pretty high up, about 34,000 feet, and all of a sudden everything got really quiet,” said Larson. “I tried to call my flight lead and realized I couldn’t talk to anybody. I started descending, working through my checklist and rocking my wings to try and let my flight lead know that I didn’t have a radio. As I got further into the checklist I realized I had lost one of the flight computers that was responsible for controlling oxygen, pressurization, and some parts of communication.”

VA will drop the fight against Navy vets affected by Agent Orange

Crew chiefs with the 421st Aircraft Maintenance Unit work on an F35A Lightning II returning to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, after a two-month European deployment, July 31, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

Larson eventually visually communicated with his flight lead to relay the situation and decided to return to the base. As he worked through multiple checklists with additional failures, he determined that the aircraft’s landing gear could possibly collapse upon landing.

“At that point my plan was to land and if the gear collapsed as I was landing I was going to eject,” said Larson. “Luckily it didn’t and I was able to pull off to the end of the runway and shut down there and wait for maintenance.”

Larson succeeded due to his ability to keep a level head during a high-stakes emergency, and his training helped prepare him for it. Unique to Luke AFB, student pilots receive holistic performance training and support to optimize their physical and mental skills for the stress of flying and coping with an emergency situation.

The Human Performance Team’s Fighter Tactical Strengthening and Sustainment (FiTSS) program is normal part of the F-16 and F-35 Basic Course training, and also available to all Luke AFB instructors and student at all levels.

“We have an academic portion that covers mindfulness, awareness, intensity regulation, focus and attention, self-talk, goal setting, confidence, motivation and team cohesion,” said Dr. John Gassaway, Clinical Sports Psychologist with the Human Performance Team. “Then we meet one-on-one about twice a month to talk about how they are implementing these strategies.”

VA will drop the fight against Navy vets affected by Agent Orange

An F-35A Lightning II.

(U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

In an advanced, fifth-generation fighter like the F-35 serious malfunctions are extremely rare. For Larson, the incident was solved not only by his knowledge of the jet’s systems but his ability to assess the situation with composure.

“I had practiced for all this time and it worked in a way where I was able to stay calm, successfully work through everything, bring the jet back and land safely,” said Larson. “All those mental skills helped so much, and it’s not until you have the time to reflect that you realize how useful and necessary they are.”

Emergencies or life threatening situations are never ideal when flying; however, Larson believes the experience reinforced the importance of his training.

“It’s not what your hands and feet are doing to fly the jet but what you’re doing mentally to process what you’re going through,” said Larson. “How you can improve that whole process has been my biggest take away for it.”

For Gassaway, the incident emphasized the importance of practicing and improving mental skills.

“The thing that was so impressive with Larson, and the thing that I really take the greatest amount of pride in, was the fact that when he was flying, he didn’t think about any of these skills until he landed,” said Gassaway. “That showed me he was aware he had used the skills, but they were automated, ultimately that is the optimization of these skills.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

US begins troop withdrawal from Syria but vows to kill ISIS

The United States has started bringing home troops from Syria as it moves to a new phase in the campaign against the Islamic State (IS) extremist group, the White House says.

The militant’s “territorial caliphate” had been defeated, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement on Dec. 19, 2018, amid media reports saying that the United States was preparing to withdraw all its troops from Syria.


“These victories over [the IS group] in Syria do not signal the end of the Global Coalition or its campaign. We have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign,” Sanders said.

Earlier, President Donald Trump tweeted the IS group had been defeated in Syria and that was his “only reason for being there.”

There are currently around 2,000 American troops in Syria, many of them special operations forces working with an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias battling the IS group.

Most U.S. soldiers are based in northeastern Syria, where they had been helping to rid the area of IS fighters, but pockets of militants still remain.

CNN quoted a defense official as saying on Dec. 19, 2018, that the planning was for a “full” and “rapid” pullout.

And CBS said it was told that the White House ordered the Pentagon to “begin planning for an immediate withdrawal.”

The coalition has “liberated” the IS-held territory, but the campaign against the group “is not over,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said.

“For force protection and operational security reasons we will not provide further details. We will continue working with our partners and allies to defeat ISIS wherever it operates,” White said in a statement, using an acronym for Islamic State.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria creates prospects for a political settlement of the conflict there, according to the TASS news agency.

VA will drop the fight against Navy vets affected by Agent Orange

Marines fire an 81mm mortar during training in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in Hajin, Syria, Aug. 4, 2018. The training is a portion of the building partner capacity mission, which aims to enhance the capabilities of Coalition partner forces fighting ISIS in northeast Syria.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Corey Hook)

Russia has repeatedly asserted that U.S. forces have no right to be in Syria because Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government has not approved their presence.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said a decision by Trump to withdraw troops from Syria at this time would be “a mistake” and a “big win” for the IS group, Assad, and its allies — Russia and Iran.

Both Moscow and Tehran have given Assad crucial support throughout the Syrian conflict, which began with a government crackdown on protesters in March 2011 and has left more than 400,000 people dead, displaced millions, and devastated many historical sites across the country.

In 2014, IS fighters seized large swaths of Syrian and Iraqi territory in a lightning offensive and proclaimed a so-called Islamic “caliphate.”

IS militants have lost virtually all the territory they once controlled in Iraq, but still carry out sporadic attacks.

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

Articles

Pentagon denies it tried to quash report on $125 billion in waste

The Defense Department on Tuesday denied it tried to quash a 2015 study that found it could save $125 billion in noncombat administrative programs but admitted it has so far only found a small fraction of those savings.


The department hopes to save $7.9 billion during the next five years through recommendations in the study of back-office waste, which itself cost about $9 million to complete, the Defense Departments acting deputy chief management officer told a House panel.

The study’s original findings as well as a perceived lack of action from the Defense Department riled members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which held the hearing on the fate of the report as President Donald Trumps administration plans a $54 billion boost in defense spending by cutting other federal programs such as foreign aid.

Read More: 85,551 things the Pentagon could have bought with that wasted $125 Billion

“I think the one thing I would take unequivocal issue with is that the report was in any way suppressed,” said David Tillotson III, who is acting as the Defense Department deputy chief management officer. “It was actively discussed within the department at the time and it has formed the basis of discussion since that time.”

The study found more than one million Defense Department employees perform noncombat related work, such as human resources, finances, health care management and property management, and $125 billion could be saved by making those operations more efficient. The study was conducted by the Defense Business Board, an advisory body to the Pentagon, and included work by two contracted groups.

The saved money could be enough to fund 50 additional Army brigades or 10 Navy carrier strike group deployments, the Defense Business Board found.

So far, most of the projected $7.9 billion in savings will come from information technology purchases and services contracts, according to Tillotson.

He said finding more savings might be difficult due to the Pentagons long-running resistance to efficiency and audit efforts, and that lawmakers could help with legislation such as a new round of base realignments and closures to help the department shed excess and costly real estate.

“There is an internal challenge, that is our job, we will go fight those battles and in some instances we are assisted by actions on The Hill,” he said.

The Washington Post reported in December that the Pentagon tried to shelve the findings because it feared Congress might use them to slash its budget.

At the time, the chairmen of the Senate and House armed services committees, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said the report of $125 billion in potential waste was not surprising and both had been working for years to trim back the growth in headquarters staff, civilian workers and contractors.

Lawmakers on Tuesday wanted to know why the department has not used the report to find more savings.

“Did we waste $8-9 million dollars of the taxpayers money on a report on identifying waste in the Pentagon and if we didnt waste it, what have been the savings that came out of this report,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md.

MIGHTY SPORTS

10 killer core exercises that aren’t sit-ups

There’s a reason sit-ups top the list of exercises to get your spare tire under control. They work the major rectus abdominis muscle. They are challenging to do but elementary to understand. They involve no machines or special devices.

And yet… there’s no way around it. Sit-ups are boring. Up, down, up, down — the exercise gets really old, really fast. They are also good but not perfect: All that rounding of the spine places stress on the lower back which can cause injury over time. More over, the exercise works your abdominals in two planes of motion, but does not engage your obliques or transversus abdominus, limiting the true amount of core strength you can build.

Not to worry, flat abs were not built by sit-ups alone. There are plenty of other moves out there that can give you the muscle tone you want without the monotony you dread. Here are 10 ab exercises to try instead of sit-ups.


1. Crunches

The cousin of full sit-ups, crunches involve lying on your back, feet either flat on the floor or elevated in the air with knees bent. Perform small contractions of your abdominal muscles to raise and lower your torso a few inches. You can do these with hands by your sides or behind your head for support. Aim for 100 crunches.

VA will drop the fight against Navy vets affected by Agent Orange

(Photo by Catherine Heath)

2. V-Holds

A key part of core strength is balance. In this exercise, start sitting with your knees bent, feet flat on floor. Place one hand behind each knee. Slowly lean back, lifting your feet off the floor so that the hover a few inches off the ground. When you find the sweet spot where you are balanced between your raised legs and backward-leaning torso, stop. Try to extend your legs into a straight position, so that your body forms a V shape. Hold for 10 counts.

3. Bicycle Crunches

An oldie but goodie, the bicycle move is great because it engages your oblique muscles as you twist your torso from side to side. Start by lying on your back, knees bent, feet in the air. Bend elbows and place your hands behind your head. Start circling legs in a bicycle-like motion, bringing opposite elbow to knee. Do this for one minute.

4. Inverted Hinges

Start in an extended push-up position, legs and arms straight. From here, hike your hips toward the ceiling, keeping your back flat and legs straight. Keep going until your body forms an inverted V shape, with your butt as the apex. Hold here for five counts, then slowly stretch back out in a controlled manner. Do 10 inverted hinges.

5. Planks

From an extended push-up position, drop down so that your weight is supported by your elbows, which should rest beneath your shoulders. Hold this position, back straight, for one minute.

VA will drop the fight against Navy vets affected by Agent Orange

(Photo by Sam Owoyemi)

6. Side Plank

From the front plank position, shift your weight so that you are resting on your right arm. Twist your entire body so that your left shoulder points toward the ceiling and your legs are stacked on one of top of the other with your left side on top. Maintain a straight line from your shoulders to your feet. Hold for one minute, then rotate to the other side and repeat.

VA will drop the fight against Navy vets affected by Agent Orange

(Hipcravo)

7. Crunch Pulses

Start sitting on the floor, knees bent, feet tucked under a sofa or chair base for support. Stretch your arms in front of you and slowly lean your torso back until your upper body creates a wide V shape with your legs. Stop in this position and begin to make small pulsations back and forward with your upper body. Do this for one minute.

8. Twists


Begin this move in the same wide V shape as above. Instead of pulsing up and down, swing both arms over to your right side and twist your torso to follow. Begin to “pulse” in this position, making small twists to the right and back to center (as opposed to up and down). Do 10 times, then rotate arms and torso to the left side and repeat.

9. Windshield Wipers


Start lying on your back, feet in the air, legs straight. Place arms out to either side of support. In a controlled manner, drop both legs over to the right, reaching for the floor. Keep hips still and facing up toward the ceiling. Bring legs back to the centerline, then drop them over to the left side. Repeat this side-to-side motion (like a set of windshield wipers) 10 times.

10. Leg Raises

Lie on your back, legs straight. Tuck hands under the small of your back for support. Keeping your legs straight and together, raise feet off the floor toward the ceiling. In a controlled manner, lower legs back to the floor without arching your back. Do 10 times.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Everything we know about the state of the Top Gun sequel

Top Gun is one of the most beloved action films of all time so it should come as no surprise that fans everywhere rejoiced when Tom Cruise officially announced that a sequel, titled Top Gun: Maverick, was in the works. But what exactly do we know about the upcoming sequel besides its name and the fact that it exists? Cruise and the rest of the Maverick crew have remained mostly tight-lipped but thanks to the power of the internet, we have a decent amount of information about the film. Here is everything we currently know about Top Gun: Maverick.


The original Top Gun starts and ends with Maverick, so it should come as no surprise that megastar Tom Cruise will be reprising his leading role as the baddest fighter pilot on the planet. Along with Cruise, Val Kilmer is onboard, once again playing the part of Iceman, Maverick’s semi-friendly rival.

“I can’t comment on the screenplay, but we all know what we want to see!” Kilmer wrote on Facebook.

The biggest news in terms of casting came in early July 2018, when Miles Teller (Whiplash) announced via Twitter that he had been cast to play the son of Goose, Maverick’s original flying partner, in the highly anticipated sequel. It is believed that Goose’s son will be one of Maverick’s proteges in the new film.

Tony Scott, who directed the original film, was attached to direct until his death in 2012. Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy) has been brought on as Maverick‘s director in Scott’s place. Cruise and Kosinski previously worked together on Oblivion (2013), which received mixed reviews from critics and underperformed at the box office.

Justin Marks (The Jungle Book) wrote the first version of the script, which was then tweaked by Eric Warren Singer (American Hustle). As for the story itself, not too much is known in terms of actual plot, beyond Cruise telling E! News, “It’s about a guy who flies jets.”

Initially, it was believed that the movie might focus on drones and how they have changed warfare and made fighter pilots, like Maverick, increasingly less relevant in society. However, it has been reported that the drone storyline has been abandoned in favor of a more action-focused plot.

“Personally, I would never want to see a movie about drones,” Kosinski explained. “For me, Top Gun has always been not about fighter planes. It’s been about fighter pilots.”

Based on Cruise’s tweet, it appears that Maverick began filming on May 31, 2018, a date that was confirmed by the Department of Defense. Cruise and a crew shot for two days at the Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego before Cruise headed off to promote his upcoming film Mission Impossible: Fallout. Shooting will continue in September 2018.

So when will Top Gun: Maverick actually fly into theaters? The sequel is currently slated to be released on July 12, 2019.

Perhaps most importantly of all, Cruise said in an interview with ET Canada that the sequel could revisit the iconic volleyball scene, which featured an epic showdown between Maverick and Iceman.

“There could be a beach scene,” Cruise said. “That’s all I can tell you.”

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How the US and North Korea could stumble into a nuclear war

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved its Doomsday Clock forward 30 seconds on Jan. 25, pushing humanity’s proximity to disaster at a symbolic and alarming two minutes to midnight.


The organization has adjusted the Doomsday Clock yearly since 1947. Though the Bulletin bases its clock’s position on multiple global threats, this year, it highlighted the bellicose behavior of President Donald Trump toward North Korea and his administration’s nuclear weapons posturing.

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A timeline of the Doomsday Clock’s setting from 1947 through 2017. (Image from Wikipedia User Fastfission)

“To call the world nuclear situation dire is to understate the danger, and its immediacy,” Rachel Bronson, the president and CEO of the Bulletin, said during a press briefing. It’s “the closest the Clock has ever been to Doomsday,” she added. “As close as it was in 1953, at the height of the Cold War.”

One of the Bulletin’s major concerns is about an “oops” moment of nuclear proportions involving the evolving nuclear arsenal of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Also Read: Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat

“Hyperbolic rhetoric and provocative actions by both sides have increased the possibility of nuclear war by accident or miscalculation,” the Bulletin said in a statement.

Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear policy expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, echoed this concern in an interview with Business Insider earlier in January.

“I don’t think the North Koreans would ever deliberately use the nuclear weapons unless they thought they were being invaded; that we might invade them, or they might think — wrongly — that we were invading them,” said Lewis, who also publishes Arms Control Wonk, a site about nuclear arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation.

Here’s how Lewis and others think North Korea, South Korea, the U.S., and possibly Japan could stumble into a limited nuclear exchange.

The dangerous and fuzzy math of miscalculation

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Atomic bomb explodes on Bikini Atoll in 1946.

Lewis, who has deeply studied East-Asian nuclear history, and especially that of China’s, points out that the apparent growing competence of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs has likely made Kim and his advisors feel more secure on a day-to-day basis.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a greater risk of panic within the isolated nation — and a grievous error.

“It’s called miscalculation, where one side makes a calculation that war is inevitable,” Lewis said. “They don’t think that they’re starting a war, they just think they’re getting a jump on the other.”

War history is peppered with instances of miscalculation and preemptive attacks, including Japan’s deadly assault on Pearl Harbor during World War II.

“The Japanese thought that they would probably lose. So you think, ‘Why in the hell are they doing this?'” Lewis said. “They thought war was inevitable, and that their best chance of surviving was to go first.”

Lewis added this is the canonical case of miscalculation: “Where one side says, ‘I don’t want to do this, and I’m probably even going to lose if I do this, but I’m certainly going to lose if I do nothing. If I do nothing, I will certainly be attacked and I will certainly be destroyed. Whereas if I take this opportunity now, maybe I have only a 10% or a 20% or a 30% chance of getting out alive … and then he pushes the metaphorical button.”

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Sailors stand amid wrecked planes at the Ford Island seaplane base, watching as USS Shaw (DD-373) explodes in the center background. (U.S. Navy photo)

The scenario that Lewis, the Bulletin, and others who watch North Korean tensions with the U.S. — as well as allies South Korea and Japan — deeply worry about is if Kim and his advisors incorrectly interpret military activity around the Korean Peninsula.

“The North Koreans, when they write official statements about what their nuclear posture or doctrine is, the phrase they use is ‘deter and repel.’ So ‘deter’ means deter,” Lewis said, noting that the country’s nuclear arsenal is becoming its primary deterrent for conflict. “But ‘repel’ means if the deterrent fails, and the United States launches an invasion, they will use nuclear weapons to try and repel the invasion — to try to destroy U.S. forces throughout South Korea and Japan, rather than letting the United States … build up an invasion force and then roll in.”

Lewis says the trigger to such a crisis has become more likely with the election of President Trump and his use of bellicose tweets and statements targeting Kim.

Let’s say we’re doing a large military exercise with South Koreans, which always — to the North Koreans — looks like preparations for an invasion, where you’re flooding forces in,” Lewis said. “If that occur against a crisis, where the North Koreans actually think an invasion is likely, and the Trump says something that they misinterpret, you might get into spot where it’s not that they wanted to use the nuclear weapons, but they concluded an invasion was likely, and this was their last best chance to repel. And that’s what scares the shit out of me.

The move would likely trigger a powerful U.S. military response. To illustrate the consequences of a return attack, consider a different and “best-case” scenario of limited conflict with North Korea, where the U.S. and its allies try to neutralize Kim’s nuclear and conventional weapons — and no nukes are used.

“[Suppose] in the space of, say, three hours, we could destroy all of the 8,000 to 10,000 hardened sites of North Korean artillery that Seoul, South Korea, is in range of,” Kori Schake, who studies military history and contemporary conflicts at the Hoover Institution, said on a Nov. 17 episode of the Pod Save The World podcast. “Even in that [scenario] — which would be a level of military virtuosity unimaginable — you’re still probably talking 300,000 dead South Koreans.”

Other estimates suggest millions could die, since Seoul (South Korea’s capital) and its 25 million residents, including tens of thousands of U.S. forces, are just 35 miles from the North Korean border.

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Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, greets Republic of Korea Air Force Gen. Jeong Kyeong-doo, chairman of the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff, before the start of the 42nd Military Committee Meeting at the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff Headquarters in Seoul, Republic of Korea, Oct. 27, 2017. (DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

How to step back from the brink

Lawrence Krauss, a physicist at Arizona State University and a Bulletin chair member, said Thursday that there is still time to turn back the clock.

“It is not yet midnight and we have moved back from the brink in the past,” Krauss said.

The Bulletin makes a few recommendations to ease tensions with North Korea and avert a nuclear disaster:

  • First and foremost, it said: “U.S. President Donald Trump should refrain from provocative rhetoric regarding North Korea, recognizing the impossibility of predicting North Korean reactions.”
  • Second, the U.S. should preemptively open military and diplomatic lines of communication with North Korea — not to signal weakness, but to show “that while Washington fully intends to defend itself and its allies from any attack with a devastating retaliatory response, it does not otherwise intend to attack North Korea or pursue regime change.”
  • And finally: “The world community should pursue, as a short-term goal, the cessation of North Korea’s nuclear weapon and ballistic missile tests. North Korea is the only country to violate the norm against nuclear testing in 20 years. Over time, the United States should seek North Korea’s signature on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty — and then, along with China, at long last also ratify the treaty.”

Paradoxically, Lewis says the advent of a proven and substantial North Korean nuclear arsenal itself could open communications channels and opportunities for diplomacy.

Also Read: The US is ready to hit North Korea with tactical nukes

The deterrence it provides could prompt the U.S. and its allies to relax military activity and reduce the chances of a deadly mistake.

“That is generally a good bargain, but if it goes wrong, the consequences are tremendous,” Lewis said.

On the other hand, Lewis said, North Korea could use its deterrence “and spend it on being awful” by “sinking more South Korean ships, shelling more South Korean islands, initiating more crises” and continuing its history of horrifying human-rights abuses.

“I don’t want to be optimistic, because it could really, truly go either way — North Korea could become more aggressive; North Korea could become less aggressive. But we should wait and see,” Lewis said. “You don’t want to prejudge something like that and foreclose what could be a chance at peace.”

Articles

The Super Hornet just got its first kill against an enemy fighter

A United States Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down a Syrian government Su-22 Fitter near the village of Ja’Din. The incident was first reported by a Kurdish official on Twitter.


Tom Cooper, a freelance military aviation analyst and historian, told WATM that it would mark the first kill for the Super Hornet and the first Navy kill since Operation Desert Storm in 1991 “if I didn’t miss any UAV-kills.” In 1981, the F-14 scored its first kills for the United States Navy by shooting down Libyan Su-22 Fitters.

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A Polish Su-22 Fitter at the 2010 Royal International Air Tattoo. (Photo from Wikimedia commons)

According to a release by Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, the incident occurred roughly two hours after Syrian government forces had fired on pro-democracy rebels, driving them from Ja’Din. Coalition aircraft carried out “show of force” missions to halt the firing. The coalition contacted Russian forces through a de-confliction line in the wake of that incident.

Roughly two hours later, the Syrian Su-22 Fitter attacked, dropping bombs near the position. A Navy F/A-18E responded by shooting down the Syrian plane. The Syrian Ministry of Defense admitted to the loss of the plane, calling it an “act of aggression” by the United States on behalf of Israel.

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A F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 115 conducts a touch-and-go landing on Iwo To, Japan. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. James A. Guillory/Released)

There have been past incidents where American forces have fired on pro-government forces to protect pro-democratic rebels. One notable incident took place June 8, when an F-15E Strike Eagle shot down an Iranian drone after it attacked pro-democracy rebels.

The Su-22 was the primary target of a Tomahawk strike on Shayrat air base this past April after the Syrian government used chemical weapons. The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Porter (DDG 78) and USS Ross (DDG 71) fired 59 missiles in the strike.

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A fighter with the U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces sits atop a vehicle before a battle. (Photo from SDF via Facebook)

According to a United States Navy fact sheet, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet entered service in 2001 with Strike Fighter Squadron 115. It has a top speed in excess of Mach 1.8, a range of 1,275 nautical miles, and can carry a wide variety of air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions.

MIGHTY FIT

The easiest way to fix your crappy ‘I work at a desk all day’ posture

Most of us live a sedentary lifestyle that does not promote good posture.

Right now, I’m in a terrible postural position, typing this very sentence. That’s pretty meta.

The answer we most often hear is that we need to exercise. Great! But telling someone with bad posture to exercise is like telling someone who just had their heart broken to “get over it”… Duh! But how?

How do you get over someone as perfect as Megan? Err… I mean, how will exercise fix your posture?

You need a targeted approach. Specifically, one target. Specifically, one exercise.


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(media.giphy.com)

The answer to your postural woes.

I’ve talked about the beautiful balance between push and pull exercises and how you can customize that relationship here to create a more balanced strength training program.

For many people, one training session a week isn’t enough to combat decades of staring at a computer screen like depressed Charlie Brown.

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Welcome to the face pull.

It’s a pull exercise sure, but it has the unique distinction of hitting those smaller back muscles like the rhomboid and rear delts that often get overshadowed by the lats and traps.

The face pull directly targets those muscles that actually help you keep your head and shoulders back.

The great thing about it is it’s self-limiting and generally not fatiguing…So you can do it at the end of almost every workout.

This is one of the exercises that is leading the fight against the effects of sedentarism.
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What weight to use.

Take a squared stance and bend your knees slightly. If the weight is too heavy, this stance will cause you to fall over.

Your goal is for your hands to beat your elbows to your face on every pull as you pull the resistance to the double biceps position. If your hands can’t beat your elbows, or if they can’t even get to your face, the weight is too heavy.

Those two factors will keep the weight light enough so that you don’t load up the exercise to a point where your upper traps and lats take over and completely destroy your ability to work your rhomboids, teres minor, infraspinatus, and less used lower and middle traps.

It’s those small guys that have the greatest impact on your shoulder health and posture.
Stop Doing Face Pulls Like This! (SAVE A FRIEND)

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How to perform it.

Set up a resistance band or cable machine at your face height.

Grab the rope or band with your thumbs facing in towards each other.

Pull the implement to the bridge of your nose until you reach the double biceps position. You should feel like someone who is super serious about hitch-hiking

ENSURE your hands get there first. If your elbows get to the ending position first, you’re wrong.

Just like with most rows and pulls your shoulder blades are leading this exercise. As you pull back, your shoulder blades should be getting closer and closer together. When your arms are fully extended in front of you, your shoulder blades should be completely apart and separated.
My FAVOURITE SHOULDER PREHAB Exercise: The Face Pull

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When to perform it.

Literally all the time. Perform three sets of this guy at the end of every workout until you win a Quasimodo look-alike competition for having back muscles so huge that you resemble the caretaker of the bells of Notre Dame.

If you’re sore, refrain. If you are actually doing this exercise properly, it is hard to work to the point of chronic DOMS in your minor upper back muscles.

Add this to the end of all your Mighty Fit Plan sessions. Consider it a cool down.
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Articles

The US is sending some BRRRRRT! to Putin’s backyard

US European Command announced August 4 that 10 A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, an MC-130J Commando II, and approximately 270 Air Force personnel will deploy to Estonia to train with allied air forces.


“We are strong members of the NATO Alliance and remain prepared with credible force to assure, deter, and defend our Allies,” Maj. Gen. Jon K. Kelk, Air National Guard assistant to the commander, US Air Forces in Europe Air Forces Africa, said in an August 4 EUCOM press release. “When we have the opportunity to train with coalition air forces, everyone benefits.”

The airmen and aircraft will deploy from bases in the US and Europe to Amari Air Base from August 4 to 20 to participate in the Forward Training Deployment, or FTD.

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A-10C Thunderbolt II with the 188th Fighter Wing, Arkansas Air National Guard conduct close-air support training Nov. 21, 2013, near Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force photo/Jim Haseltine)

The A-10s are from the 175th Wing, Warfield Air National Guard Base, Maryland. The MC-130J is from the 352nd Special Operations Wing, RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom.

While deployed, the A-10s are scheduled to train with Finnish air force F/A-18 Hornets in Finland, Spanish air force F/A-18 Hornets in Estonia, and multinational joint terminal air controllers in Latvia, according the release.

Known officially as the Thunderbolt II and more commonly as the Warthog, the A-10 entered military service in the late 1970s and has flown in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya.

The twin-engine aircraft is designed to decimate tanks, vehicles, and other ground targets with its GAU-8 Avenger, a 30mm seven-barrel gatling gun, and up to 16,000 pounds of ordnance, including Mk-82 and Mk-84 bombs, AGM-65 Maverick missiles, and laser-guided munitions.

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US Air Force MC-130J Commando IIs. USAF photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier.

The Air Force has made several attempts to retire the decades-old aircraft beginning in fiscal 2015 in an effort to save money, but congressional opposition has forced the service to reset the date for the earliest possible retirement of the A-10 to 2021.

The MC-130J Commando II is designed to fly clandestine, or low visibility, single, or multi-ship low-level air refueling missions for special operations helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft.

It can perform infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply missions for special operations forces in hostile territories.

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