“We need to do that to make sure that those who use VA are protected, that they are cared for,” he said. “We will get over this and we will make sure everything is done to protect those who have done so much for our country.”
Suicide prevention, benefits
Wilkie also talked about the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide, or PREVENTS, executive order. The goal of PREVENTS is to bring together stakeholders across all levels of government and in the private sector to work side by side to provide Veterans with the mental health and suicide prevention services they need. The secretary said VA is weeks away from the PREVENTS initiative task force report. The report will supply a roadmap for greater cooperation at the state, local and tribal level.
The secretary also offered high praise for Veteran Service Organizations like the American Legion. He said through continued engagement and the MISSION Act, Vietnam Veterans are about to receive additional benefits.
“We have finally published the regulations that give financial and material support to the families of our Vietnam warriors who take care of those warriors at home, and it is long past time,” the secretary said.
Wilkie said he has a personal interest in caring for Vietnam Veterans. His father received injuries in Cambodia during the Vietnam War. Wilkie said the nation should never turn its back “on those men and women who provide us the very freedoms that we breathe and live every day.”
The secretary also discussed another group of Vietnam Veterans. He said VA started accepting Blue Water Navy compensation claims in January. Wilkie added that VA expects 70,000 to apply for the benefits “that are long overdue.”
A Jordanian police officer shot five people, including two U.S. security trainers, at the King Abdullah Training Center in Amman, Jordan on November 9th. Though not the dictionary definition of a “Green-on-Blue” attack, it does show a rise in these types of insider attacks against U.S. personnel. A Green on Blue attack is how NATO describes attacks on NATO and Coalition forces in Afghanistan by Afghan security forces. It’s important to remember that U.S. and Jordan have a long history of cooperation that predates 1991’s Operation Desert Storm.
Green on Blue attacks, by their nature, are difficult to predict. They are damaging to morale, unit cohesion, and international relations. They sap public support for training missions from the people of the United States and cause a loss of credibility for U.S. allies. As the U.S. begins to increase its presence in Iraq to combat ISIS, the shift in Green on Blue tactics is troubling, considering the already-strained U.S. training missions in Iraq.
There are 91 incidents of Green on Blue attack in the Afghan War so far, with 148 Coalition troops killed and 186 wounded. 15% of all Coalition casualties in Afghanistan were Green on Blue attacks in 2012. Security measures were put in place to ensure NATO forces have overwatch when these attacks are likely to occur. The Long War Journal blog keeps a tally on Green on Blue attacks.
April 8, 2015
An Afghan soldier kills a U.S. troop and wounds two more at the governor’s compound in Jalalabad. U.S. troops kill the gunman.
January 29, 2015
One Afghan soldier, a Taliban infiltrator working security, kills three U.S. security contractors and wounds one more at Kabul International Airport.
Sept. 15, 2014:
An Afghan soldier shoots at ISAF trainers in Farah province, killing a trainer and wounding another and an interpreter before being killed.
Aug. 5, 2014:
An Afghan fires on US officers at a key leader engagement at the Marshal Fahim National Defense University in Kabul City. U.S. Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene is killed and 16 ISAF personnel are wounded. The attacker was killed by Afghan soldiers.
Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Chuck Hagel, and the U.S. assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology, Heidi Shyu, participate in singing the congregational hymn during a military funeral in honor of U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene. Greene is the highest-ranking service member killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Bernardo Fuller)
June 23, 2014:
Two U.S. military advisers are wounded when an Afghan policeman shoots at them as they arrive at the Paktia provincial police headquarters in Gardez. The attacker is killed in return fire. The Taliban claimed credit for the attack.
Feb. 12, 2014:
Two US soldiers are shot and killed with four wounded by two men wearing Afghan National Security Force uniforms in eastern Afghanistan. Several civilians are also wounded by crossfire. The two are killed by Coalition troops.
Oct. 26, 2013:
A member of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) wounds two NATO troops in a firefight at a base on the outskirts of Kabul; the Afghan soldier is shot and killed during the clash. The Taliban denied responsibility for the attack and appears to be a result of a dispute between Australian and Afghan troops.
Oct. 13, 2013:
A member of the Afghan National Security Forces kills a US soldier in Paktika province and wounds another. The Afghan escapes.
Oct. 5, 2013:
A local security guard kills a senior ISAF member in southern Afghanistan; the gunman is killed following the incident.
Sept. 26, 2013:
An Afghan soldier shoots at ISAF troops in Paktia, killing an American soldier and injuring several others. The attacker is then shot and killed. The Taliban claimed the attack.
Sept. 21, 2013:
An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier shoots up ISAF special forces in Paktia province, killing three and injuring one. The attacker is shot and killed.
July 9, 2013:
A “rogue” ANA soldier fires at Slovakian troops at Kandahar Airfield, killing one and injuring at least two more. The attacker was captured by Afghan forces. He later escapes from a detention facility and joins the Taliban.
June 8, 2013:
ANA soldiers kill two US soldiers and a civilian adviser in Paktika and wound three other Americans. One of the attackers is killed and another captured.
May 4, 2013:
An ANA soldier kills two ISAF troops in an attack in Western Afghanistan.
April 7, 2013:
An ANA soldier fires on Lithuanian soldiers in an armored vehicle at a post in the village of Kasi, wounding two Lithuanian soldiers. The attacker is captured and handed to the Afghans.
April 7, 2013:
Afghan Local Police fire on a US outpost after US troops attempted to arrest a Taliban commander visiting the ALP. No one is hurt.
March 11, 2013:
An Afghan Local Policeman fires on US Special Forces at a military base in Wardak province, killing two and wounding eight. The attacker and two Afghan policemen are killed.
March 8, 2013:
Three ANSF soldiers in an ANSF vehicle drive onto a US military base in Kapisa province, and fire on US troops and civilians, killing one civilian contractor and wounding four US troops. The three attackers are killed.
Jan. 6, 2013:
An ANA soldier fires on British and Afghan troops at Patrol Base Hazrat. He kills one British soldier and wounds six more. He is shot by Afghan security forces while fleeing. The Taliban take credit.
Dec. 31, 2012:
Two ANA soldiers fire on Spanish troops as they patrol in Herat province; no one was killed or injured in the incident.
Dec. 24, 2012:
An Afghan policewoman kills a US civilian adviser inside the Interior Ministry building. The shooter is captured.
Nov. 11, 2012:
An Afghan soldier fires at British troops in Helmand province. One British soldier is killed and one wounded. The Afghan shooter is wounded.
Nov. 10, 2012:
Two Afghan soldiers fire at Spanish troops from the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Badghis province. The two Afghan soldiers are captured; one wounded. One Spanish soldier is wounded.
Oct. 30, 2012:
An Afghan policeman shoots and kills two British soldiers in Helmand province. The policeman escapes.
Oct. 25, 2012:
A “trusted” Afghan policeman kills two US soldiers at a police headquarters in Uruzgan province. The attacker escapes to join the Taliban.
Oct. 13, 2012:
An employee of the National Security Directorate kills a US soldier and a US State Department employee in a suicide attack in Kandahar province. Also killed in the attack were the deputy NDS chief for Kandahar and three other Afghans.
Sept. 29, 2012:
An Afghan soldier shoots at Coalition forces in Wardak province. One US soldier and a civilian contractor are killed and two US soldiers were wounded. Three other Afghan soldiers are also killed with several others wounded.
Sept. 16, 2012:
An Afghan soldier fires on a vehicle inside Camp Garmser in Helmand province; six NATO troops and a foreign civilian worker are wounded in the attack.
Sept. 16, 2012:
Afghan policemen open fire on a group of Coalition soldiers in Zabul province, killing four and wounding two. The attacker is killed in an exchange with several other Afghan policemen wounded.
Sept. 15, 2012:
A member of the Afghan Local Police fires on a group of British soldiers in Helmand province, killing two and wounding two. The attacker was killed in a firefight.
Aug. 28, 2012:
An Afghan soldier shoots and kills three Australian soldiers in Uruzgan province. Two more Australian soldiers were wounded in the attack.
Aug. 27, 2012:
An Afghan soldier kills two ISAF soldiers in Laghman province. The attacker was killed by ISAF soldiers.
Aug. 19, 2012:
A member of the Afghan Uniformed Police turns his weapon on a group of ISAF soldiers in southern Afghanistan, killing one soldier and wounding another.
Aug. 17, 2012:
An Afghan Local Police officer kills a Marine and a Navy Corpsman and wounds an ISAF soldier during a training exercise on an Afghan base in Farah province. He was killed in the ensuing firefight.
Aug. 17, 2012:
An Afghan soldier shoots and wounds two NATO soldiers in Kandahar province; the attacker is killed.
Aug. 13, 2012:
A policeman wounds two US soldiers in Nangarhar province. The attacker flees.
Aug. 10, 2012:
Three US Marines are killed and one wounded in an attack in Helmand province. The attacker was captured.
Aug. 10, 2012:
Three US soldiers are killed and one wounded in an attack by an Afghan Local Police commander and his men in Helmand province. The Afghan police commander flees.
Aug. 9, 2012:
US troops kill an Afghan soldier who was attempting to gun them down at a training center in Methar Lam district in Laghman province; two US soldiers are wounded.
Aug. 7, 2012:
Two Afghan soldiers kill a US soldier and wound three others in Paktia province before defecting to the Taliban.
Aug. 3, 2012:
An Afghan Local Policeman wounds one ISAF soldier at a base in Panjwai district in Kandahar province.
July 23, 2012:
Two ISAF soldiers are wounded in an attack in Faryab province. The attacker is killed by ISAF troops.
July 22, 2012:
A member of the Afghan National Police (ANP) kills three civilian trainers who worked for ISAF in Herat province, wounding another. The attacker is killed.
July 5, 2012:
Five ISAF are wounded by an Afghan soldier in Wardak province.
July 1, 2012:
Three British military advisers are killed and another ISAF member is wounded in an attack by an Afghan Civil Order policeman in Helmand province.
June 18, 2012:
An ISAF soldier is killed by “three individuals in Afghan Police uniforms” in the south.
May 12, 2012:
Members of the Afghan Uniformed Police kill two British soldiers and wound two more in Helmand province.
May 11, 2012:
An Afghan soldier kills a US soldier and wounds two others in Kunar province. The attacker flees to the Taliban.
May 6, 2012:
An Afghan soldier kills one US Marine and wounds another in the Marjah district of Helmand province. The gunman is killed by return fire.
April 26, 2012:
An Afghan commando kills a US Special Forces soldier and an Afghan interpreter in Kandahar province. The Commando is killed by returned fire.
April 25, 2012:
An Afghan Uniformed Policeman wounds two ISAF soldiers in Kandahar province.
April 16, 2012:
An Afghan soldier attacks ISAF soldiers in Kandahar province; no casualties or injuries.
March 26, 2012:
An ISAF service member dies after a shooting in eastern Afghanistan. He was shot by an alleged member of the Afghan Local Police. The attacker was killed by return fire.
March 26, 2012:
An Afghan soldier kills two British troops and wounds another ISAF service member in Helmand province. The attacker is killed by return fire.
March 14, 2012:
An Afghan interpreter hijacks an SUV, wounds a British soldier, then attempts to run down a group of US Marines. The attacker crashes his truck and sets himself on fire.
March 2, 2012:
An Afghan soldier attacks ISAF soldiers at Camp Morehead in Kabul; no casualties.
March 1, 2012:
An Afghan soldier and a teacher open fire on NATO troops in Kandahar province, killing two and wounding two more, before being killed in returned fire.
Feb. 25, 2012:
An Afghan policeman guns down two US military officers in the Interior Ministry in Kabul before escaping.
Feb. 23, 2012:
An Afghan soldier kills two US troops in Nangarhar province.
Feb. 20, 2012:
A member of the Afghan Uniformed Police kills an ISAF soldier in southern Afghanistan and wounds two.
Jan. 31, 2012:
An Afghan soldier kills an ISAF soldier in Helmand province; the Afghan commander says it was an accident, but the shooter was detained.
Jan. 20, 2012:
An Afghan soldier kills four ISAF soldiers in eastern Afghanistan. According to AFP, the attacker shot and killed four unarmed French soldiers and wounded another 15 at their base in Kapisa.
Jan. 8, 2012:
An Afghan soldier kills an ISAF soldier and wounds three others in southern Afghanistan. The attacker is shot and killed by another US soldier.
Dec. 29, 2011:
An Afghan soldier kills two ISAF soldiers in eastern Afghanistan. The dead are two non-commissioned officers of the French Foreign Legion. The Taliban claimed the attack.
Nov. 9, 2011:
Three Australian soldiers are wounded when an Afghan soldier shoots them at an Australian base in Uruzgan province.
Oct. 29, 2011:
An Afghan army trainee fires at a forward operating base in Kandahar province being used to train ANA troops. He kills three Australian soldiers and one interpreter, wounding at least nine others.
Aug. 4, 2011:
An Afghan soldier kills an ISAF soldier while dressed as a policeman in eastern Afghanistan.
July 16, 2011:
An Afghan soldier kills an ISAF soldier in southern Afghanistan after a joint patrol. The attacker runs away.
May 30, 2011:
An Afghan soldier kills an ISAF soldier in southern Afghanistan. The two were in guard towers. The Afghan flees the scene.
May 13, 2011:
Two NATO soldiers mentoring an Afghan National Civil Order brigade are shot and killed inside a police compound in Helmand province.
April 27, 2011:
A veteran Afghan air force pilot opens fire inside a NATO military base in Kabul, killing eight and a contractor.
April 16, 2011:
A newly recruited Afghan soldier who was a Taliban suicide bomber detonated at Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Laghman, killing five NATO and four Afghan soldiers. Eight other Afghans were wounded, including four interpreters.
April 4, 2011:
An Afghan soldier opens fire on ISAF vehicles in Kandahar province
April 4, 2011:
An Afghan Border Police officer in Maimana, the capital of Faryab province, shoots and kills two US soldiers, then flees. ISAF reports on April 7 the attacker was killed when he displayed hostile intent after being tracked down in Maimana.
March 19, 2011:
An Afghan hired to provide security at Forward Operating Base Frontenac in Kandahar province shot six US soldiers as they were cleaning their weapons, killing two and wounding four more. The attacker was killed by three other US soldiers.
Feb. 18, 2011:
An Afghan soldier fires on German soldiers at a base in Baghlan province, killing three and wounding six others. The attacker was killed.
Jan. 18, 2011:
An Afghan soldier shoots two Italian soldiers at a combat outpost in Badghis province, killing one and wounding the other before escaping.
Jan. 15, 2011:
An Afghan soldier argues with a Marine in Helmand, threatens him, and later returns and aims his weapon at the Marine. When the Afghan soldier fails to put his rifle down, the Marine shoots him.
Nov. 29, 2010:
An individual in an Afghan Border Police uniform kills six ISAF soldiers during a training mission in eastern Afghanistan; the attacker is killed in the incident.
Nov. 6, 2010:
Two US Marines are killed by an Afghan soldier at a military base in Helmand province. The shooter flees to the Taliban.
Aug. 26, 2010:
Two Spanish police officers and their interpreter are shot dead by their Afghan driver on a Spanish base in Badghis province. The shootings set off a riot outside the base; shots were fired at the base and fires were set. Officials say 25 people were wounded. The attacker was shot dead by other Spanish officers.
July 20, 2010:
An Afghan soldier kills two US civilian trainers at a training base in northern Afghanistan. One NATO soldier is wounded. The attacker dies.
July 13, 2010:
An Afghan soldier kills three British troops in Helmand province. The attacker flees to the Taliban.
Dec. 29, 2009:
An Afghan soldier fires on NATO troops preventing them from approaching a helicopter. He kills a US soldier and injures two Italian soldiers before being injured by NATO troops’ return fire.
Nov. 3, 2009:
An Afghan policeman shoots and kills three UK Grenadier Guards and two members of the UK Royal Military Police; six other British troops are severely wounded alongside two Afghans. The incident occurred while the soldiers were resting after a joint patrol.
Oct. 28, 2009:
An Afghan policeman fires on American soldiers during a joint patrol in Wardak province, killing two and injuring two more before fleeing.
Oct. 2, 2009:
An Afghan policeman kills two American soldiers in Wardak province.
March 27, 2009:
An Afghan soldier shoots and kills two US Navy officers in Balkh province. According to theMilitary Times, the attacker also wounded another US Navy officer. The attacker then fatally shot himself.
Oct. 18, 2008:
An Afghan policeman standing on a tower hurls a grenade and fires on a US military foot patrol as it returned to a base in Paktika province, killing one US soldier. The U.S. returns fire, killing the policeman.
Sept. 29, 2008:
An Afghan policeman fires at a police station in Paktia province, killing one US soldier and wounding three others before being shot himself.
Terrorism-related deaths around the world are down for the second straight year, according to the Institute for Economics and Peace’s annual Global Terrorism Index.
“There was a 22% decrease to 25,673 deaths [in 2016] compared to the peak of terror activity in 2014 when over 32,500 people were killed,” the IEP said in a statement.
Still, as the total number of terrorism-related deaths has decreased in the last two years, the number of countries experiencing terrorism-related deaths increased in 2016.
More countries experienced at least one terrorism-related death in 2016 than in any other year since 2001, with 77 countries affected — 11 more than in 2015.
94% of all terrorism-related deaths happened in the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia.
Four of the five countries most affected by terrorism — Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria — recorded an improvement. Nigeria saw an 80% reduction in terrorism-related deaths, as Boko Haram has been hit hard by the Multinational Joint Task Force.
Iraq was the only country of the five most affected by terrorism to record an increase in deaths, as ISIS increased suicide attacks to make up for lost territory.
The past year also had more terrorism-related deaths in OECD countries than in any other year since 1988.
Conversely, Central America and the Caribbean experienced only 12 deaths — less than 0.4% of the total number.
There may be a reason for the low number in those regions — 99% of all terrorism-related deaths in the past 17 years have happened in countries that have an ongoing conflict or high levels of political terror.
“Although these gains are encouraging, there are still serious areas of concern. The future stability of Syria and Iraq will play a critical role in determining the impact of terrorism in the years ahead,” Steve Killelea, executive chairman of the IEP, said in the statement.
In its journey to improve the lives of veterans through health care research and innovation, VA recently reached a major milestone with enrollment of its 750,000th veteran partner in the Million Veteran Program (MVP) — a national, voluntary research initiative that helps VA study how genes affect the health of veterans.
The milestone, which was reached April 18, 2019, is the result of years of outreach, recruitment and enrollment efforts to help to bring precision medicine to the forefront of VA health care.
“While having 750,000 Veteran partners is a momentous achievement, there is still much work to be done,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “MVP is on track to continue the march to 1 million veteran partners and beyond in the next few years.”
From its first enrollees in 2011, the program has successfully expanded into one of the largest, most robust research cohorts of its kind in the world. MVP was designed to help researchers understand how genes affect health and illness. Having a better knowledge of a person’s genetic makeup may help to prevent illness and improve treatment of disease.
The enrollment milestone is significant because as more participants enroll, researchers have a more representative sample of the entire veteran population to help improve health care for everyone. Enrollees in the program include veterans from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam. MVP also has the largest representation of minorities of any genomic cohort in the U.S.
Research using MVP data is already underway with several studies, including efforts focused on understanding the genetics of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), diabetes, heart disease, suicide prevention and other topics. Several significant research findings have already been published in high-impact scientific journals. The knowledge gained from research can eventually lead to better treatments and preventive measures for many common illnesses, especially those common among combat veterans, such as PTSD.
MVP will continue to grow its informatics infrastructure and expand its partner base, to include veterans beyond those enrolled in VA care. VA is also working on a collaboration with the Department of Defense (DoD) to make MVP enrollment available to DoD beneficiaries, including active-duty service members.
This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.
On behalf of the upcoming film Last Flag Flying, Amazon Studios partnered with We Are The Mighty to donate two World Series tickets to a lucky veteran in the Los Angeles area.
When Army veteran Greg Alaimo was told he’d won tickets to the World Series, he couldn’t believe it. “You won’t believe it either!” he told We Are The Mighty.
Alaimo, a Vietnam War veteran and Bronze Medal recipient, had assisted the Los Angeles Dodgers in finding recommendations for Vietnam War veterans for their Hero Of The Game. After Alaimo received the final list (which includes men like Medal of Honor recipient Ray Vargas and Charlie Plumb, who was a POW for 6 years during the war), he realized he wanted to meet the men on it.
“The heroes they chose are amazing. I called my contact and thanked him for allowing me to participate. I then asked if I could purchase two tickets. He regretfully indicated no tickets were available. I wanted to visit with those chosen for this is the first time the Dodgers have honored Vietnam veterans at a World Series.”
That’s when Amazon teamed up with We Are The Mighty to give out another set of tickets.
“When I was contacted about winning the tickets I thought it was a joke. I’m holding two great tickets for [Game Two] and I’ll meet those representing all Vietnam Vets — amazing.”
They’re not the only “amazing” ones. Alaimo has an impressive service history himself — during Active Duty and beyond. After fighting in Vietnam with the First Infantry Division, Alaimo returned home and became “the go-to guy” if veterans need help. A member of American Legion Hollywood Post 43, Alaimo says it’s important for him to connect with the veteran community because he doesn’t want them to be treated the way he was after he returned from Vietnam.
“They need to know we respect them and are grateful for their sacrifice, as well as the sacrifice of their families.”
Alaimo will be taking his good friend, and fellow veteran advocate, Charlie Cusumano with him to the game. We asked who they’ll be rooting for:
As late as 2013, some of Western New York’s veterans were still slipping through the cracks of the VA system. To address the issue, the Western New York Veterans Housing Coalition and Goodwill of Western New York teamed up to help those who were continually underserved.
The two organizations created the Veterans One-Stop Center of Western New York, a place any veteran can go find answers to any question along with comprehensive solutions to the unique problems veterans face in civilian life.
Those problems were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn caused by restrictions put in place to limit the spread of the virus. These issues hit veteran service organizations hard, and the people they serve struggled harder as a result. Veterans One-Stop Center of WNY applied for the Evan Williams COVID-19 Veteran Relief Grant, which made it possible for the nonprofit to more effectively meet the overwhelming need for support in the area.
“Even with the VA having a strong presence in the area, there were still some gaps in services and a lack of coordination with those services,” says Katherine Zunner, Chief Development Officer of Veterans One-Stop Center. “Even if a veteran didn’t serve during war time, we can assist anybody.”
Zunner comes from a family of military veterans. One grandfather was a World War II-era Marine. Her other grandfather served in the Army during the same war. Her brother is a Navy veteran, so the military-veteran community is an especially important community for her.
Without Veterans One-Stop’s assistance, that community’s need goes unanswered. During the pandemic, areas where veterans were hardest-hit included education, employment, and housing. Those needs are supposed to be addressed before the veteran needs critical services — but when that doesn’t happen, organizations like Veterans One-Stop Center of NWY intervene.
With 95,000 veterans in Western New York, Zunner says around 10-40% are in need of critical services, with many unaware of the benefits for which they are qualified. When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in the United States, Veterans One-Stop saw a large uptick in urgent requests for those critical services — but the group needed help meeting the demand.
Zunner applied for the Evan Williams’ COVID-19 Veteran Relief Grant, made possible by the American-Made Heroes Foundation Fund, established by Evan Williams in 2020 as part of their ongoing commitment to improve the lives of veterans. As an American-made and owned company, it’s important for Evan Williams Bourbon to give back to those who serve.
The grant they received funded Veterans One-Stop Center’s core services: case navigation and peer support.
“We were excited to try for something new because we usually don’t stray too far out of the area when we look for funding,” says Zunner. “Our services, though very needed, aren’t very ‘sexy,’ so it can be a hard sell. But we also have a lot of success stories.”
The Veterans One-Stop Center of WNY works because counselors sit down with individual veterans and plot a course with them, one-on-one. They map out the veteran’s basic and most critical needs, then connect them with the resources they need to get there.
Thanks to the Evan Williams’ COVID-19 Veteran Relief Grant, Veterans One-Stop Center closed for just one week, to clean and sanitize their offices. They were right back to helping veterans the week after. Now, they’re even looking to expand the number of counselors available to veterans.
“It takes a full community to successfully do the work that we are doing,” Zunner said of being selected for the grant. “Anytime we can spread our message is very exciting and to be selected on a national level, I always get very excited about that.”
Following a flurry of reports in December 2017 predicting the Navy’s $500 million electromagnetic railgun experiment was dead on arrival, the chief of Naval Operations told lawmakers in March 2018 that the death of the program was greatly exaggerated.
“[We are] fully invested in railgun; we continue to test it,” Adm. John Richardson told the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense during a hearing on Navy and Marine Corps budget issues. “We’ve demonstrated it at lower firing rates and … shorter ranges. Now we have to do the engineering to, sort of, crank it up and get it at the designated firing rates, at the 80- to 100-mile range.”
Richardson was responding to a question from Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who expressed concern about the proven capability of the Navy’s railgun weapon, which has yet to leave its test site at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, Virginia.
“My understanding is these weapons can fire projectiles at extremely high speeds with a range exceeding a hundred miles once fully operational,” Ryan said. “I know China has demonstrated a capability for shipboard railguns, and I’m just concerned, again, that maybe we’re falling short here.”
Photos showing what appears to be a railgun mounted on the Chinese landing ship tankHaiyang Shan emerged in February 2018. The evidence of what appears to be deployable Chinese railgun technology came to light following a handful of reports indicating the Navy’s own gun development program was losing steam.
Business Insider reported in December 2017 that the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities office was shifting research efforts from the railgun, which uses electromagnetic energy to shoot large projectiles at speeds of up to 4,500 miles per hour, to broader high-velocity projectile study.
The Navy has never acknowledged a loss of interest in railgun technology, however. July 2017, officials with the Office of Naval Research told reporters that the power behind the gun would be increased to 32 megajoules over the summer, giving the weapon a range of 110 miles.
In testimony released March 7, 2018, Richardson indicated the weapon had yet to reach that range in spite of predictions.
“That involves a number of technologies,” he said. “The barrel itself is probably the limiting case, the engineering on that, the materials required to sustain that power pulse, and the heat and pressure that’s involved in launching those projectiles. And we’re doubling down on that.”
Engineers have found the gun’s barrel wears out rapidly when metal projectiles are fired at the blistering rates the railgun’s technology delivers. Another unresolved issue is the power source for the gun; currently, only the new three-ship Zumwalt class of class of mega-destroyers is reportedly capable of supplying the electromagnetic charge needed to operate the gun. The Navy wants to deploy a version of the railgun aboard smaller-sized destroyers.
While Richardson acknowledged the challenges and said Navy brass were “very conscious” of reported Chinese achievements in railgun technology, he maintained the service was still invested in the program.
“As a benefit, too, of the program — the railgun program, we have developed a projectile — high-velocity projectile, which is actually usable across the fleet in a number of different applications, not only in the railgun,” Richardson said. “And so, it’s a very fruitful program that we continue to invest in.”
The U.S. Navy accepted delivery of the future USS South Dakota (SSN 790), the 17th submarine of the Virginia class, Sept. 24, 2018.
The ship began construction in 2013 and is scheduled to commission in early 2019. This next-generation attack submarine provides the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation’s undersea superiority.
South Dakota is the seventh Virginia-class Block III submarine. Block III submarines feature a redesigned bow with enhanced payload capabilities, replacing 12 individual vertical launch tubes with two large-diameter Virginia Payload Tubes, each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles. This, among other design changes, reduced the submarines’ acquisition cost while maintaining their outstanding warfighting capabilities.
“South Dakota’s delivery is an important milestone,” said Capt. Chris Hanson, Virginia Class Program manager. “It marks the penultimate Block III delivery and will be a vital asset in the hands of the fleet.”
The submarine’s sponsor is Deanie Dempsey, wife of former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman and retired Army Gen. Martin Dempsey.
An artist rendering of the Virginia-class submarine USS South Dakota.
(U.S. Navy photo illustration by Stan Bailey)
The submarine will be the third U.S. Navy ship to be commissioned with the name South Dakota. The first South Dakota (ACR 9) was a Pennsylvania-class armored cruiser. The ship served in the Pacific until the American entry into World War I, where it patrolled the South Atlantic operating from Brazil, and escorted troop transports destined for Europe.
During World War II, the second South Dakota (BB 57) was commissioned as the lead ship in its class. The four ships of the South Dakota class are considered the most efficient battleships built under the limitations of the Washington Naval treaty. South Dakota served in the Pacific and Atlantic as a carrier escort and patrolled the North Atlantic with the British navy. During the ship’s second tour in the Pacific, it helped to cripple the Japanese navy during the Battle of the Philippine Sea before helping to bombard shore defenses at Okinawa and preparing for an eventual invasion of the Japanese home islands.
Virginia-class submarines are built to operate in the world’s littoral and deep waters while conducting anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface ship warfare; strike warfare; special operations forces support; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; irregular warfare and mine warfare missions. Their inherent stealth, endurance, mobility, and firepower directly enable them to support five of the six maritime strategy core capabilities – sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security and deterrence.
The Marine Corps is accelerating a massive modernization and readiness overhaul of its MV-22 Osprey to upgrade sensors, add weapons, sustain the fleet, and broaden the mission scope — as part of an effort to extend the life of the aircraft to 2060.
“We plan to have the MV-22B Osprey for at least the next 40 years,” Capt. Sarah Burns, Marine Corps Aviation spokeswoman, told Warrior Maven.
While first emerging nearly two decades ago, the Osprey tiltrotor aircraft has seen an unprecedented uptick in deployments, mission scope, and operational tempo.
As a result, Corps developers explain that the aircraft has, to a large extent, had trouble keeping pace with needed modernization and readiness enhancements. This challenge has been greatly exacerbated by a major increase in Combatant Commander requests for Ospreys, particularly since 2007, Corps officials say.
“The quality of maintenance training curricula, maturation, and standardization has not kept pace with readiness requirements. Current maintenance manning levels are unable to support demands for labor The current V-22 sustainment system cannot realize improved and sustained aircraft readiness / availability without significant change,” the Corps writes in its recently published 2018 Marine Aviation Plan. “Depot-level maintenance cannot keep up with demand.”
Given this scenario, the Corps is implementing key provisions of its Common Configuration, Readiness and Modernization Plan which, according to Burns, is “designed to achieve a common configuration and improve readiness to a minimum of 75-percent mission capable rate across the fleet.”
Corps officials said the idea with Osprey modernization and sustainment is to build upon the lift, speed and versatility of the aircraft’s tiltrotor technology and give the platform more performance characteristics in the future. This includes arming the Osprey with rockets, missiles or some kind of new weapons capability to support its escort mission in hostile or high-threat environments.
Other elements of Osprey modernization include improved sensors, mapping and digital connectivity, greater speed and hover ability, better cargo and payload capacity, next-generation avionics and new survivability systems to defend against incoming missiles and small arms fire.
The 2018 Marine Aviation Plan specifies that the CC-RAM program includes more than 75 V-22 aircraft configurations, identified in part by a now completed Mv-22 Operational Independent Readiness Review. CC-RAM calls for improvements to the Osprey’s Multi-Spectral Sensor, computer system, infra-red suppressor technology, generators and landing gear control units, the aviation plan specifies.
As part of this long-term Osprey modernization trajectory, the Marines are now integrating a Command and Control system called Digital Interoperability. This uses data links, radio connectivity and an Iridium Antenna to provide combat-relevant intelligence data and C4ISR information in real-time to Marines — while in-flight on a mission.
In addition, the Osprey is being developed as a tanker aircraft able to perform aerial refueling missions; the idea is to transport fuel and use a probe technology to deliver fuel to key aircraft such as an F/A-18 or F-35C. The V-22 Aerial Refueling System will also be able to refuel other aircraft such as the CH-53E/K, AV-8B Harrier jet and other V-22s, Corps officials said.
(Photo by Carlos Menendez San Juan)
“Fielding of the full capable system will be in 2019. This system will be able to refuel all MAGTF (Marine Corps Air Ground Task Force) aerial refuel capable aircraft with approximately 10,000 pounds of fuel per each VARS-equipped V-22,” the 2018 Marine Aviation Plan states.
Due to its tiltrotor configuration, the Osprey can hover in helicopter mode for close-in surveillance and vertical landings for things like delivering forces, equipment and supplies — all while being able to transition into airplane mode and hit fixed-wing aircraft speeds. This gives the aircraft an ability to travel up 450 nautical miles to and from a location on a single tank of fuel, Corps officials said. The Osprey can hit maximum speeds of 280 Knots, and can transport a crew of Marines or a few Marines with an Internally Transportable Vehicle.
(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Pfc. Alvin Pujols)
Corps developers also emphasize that the V-22 modernization effort will incorporate new technologies emerging from the fast-moving Future Vertical Lift program; this could likely include the integration of newer lightweight composite materials, next-generation sensors, and various kinds of weapons, C4ISR systems and targeting technologies.
Fast-moving iterations of Artificial Intelligence are also likely to figure prominently in future V-22 upgrades. This could include advanced algorithms able to organize and present sensor data, targeting information or navigational details for Marines in-flight.
While the modernization and sustainment overhaul bring the promise of continued relevance and combat effectiveness for the Opsrey, the effort is of course not without challenges. The Corps plan cites concerns about an ability to properly maintain the depot supply chain ability to service the platform in a timely manner, and many over the years have raised the question of just how much a legacy platform can be upgraded before a new model is needed.
Interestingly, as is the case with the Air Force B-52 and Army Chinook, a wide ranging host of upgrades have kept the platforms functional and relevant to a modern threat environment for decades. The Air Force plans to fly its Vietnam era B-52 bomber weill into the 2050s, and the Army’s Chinook is slated to fly for 100 years — from 1960 to 2060 — according to service modernization experts and program managers.
The common thread here is that airframes themselves, while often in need of enhancements and reinforcements, often remain viable if not highly effective for decades. The Osprey therefore, by comparison, is much newer than the B-52 or Chinook, to be sure. This is a key reason why Burns emphasized the “common” aspect of CC-RAM, as the idea is to lay the technical foundation such that the existing platform can quickly embrace new technologies as they emerge. This approach, widely mirrored these days throughout the DoD acquisition community, seeks to architect systems according to a set of common, non-proprietary standards such that it helps establish a new, more efficient paradigm for modernization.
At the same time, there is also broad consensus that there are limits to how much existing platforms can be modernized before a new aircraft is needed; this is a key reason why the Army is now vigorously immersed in its Future Vertical Lift program which, among other things, is currently advancing a new generation of tiltrotor technology. Furthermore, new airframe designs could, in many ways, be better suited to accommodate new weapons, C4ISR technologies, sensors, protection systems, and avionics. The contours and structure of a new airframe itself could also bring new radar signature reducing properties as well as new mission and crew options.
In a concurrent and related development, the Navy is working on its own CVM-22B Osprey variant to emerge in coming years. The project has gained considerable traction ever since the service decided to replace the C-2 for the important Carrier Onboard Delivery mission with the Osprey.
(Photo by D. Miller)
The Navy Osprey is designed to enable 1,150 miles of flight to the ship with extended fuel tanks. Alongside a needed range increase, the new aircraft will also include a new radio for over-the-horizon communications and a built-in public address system, service officials said.
The new Osprey, slated to first be operational by the early 2020s, will perform the full range of missions currently executed by the C-2s. This includes VIP transport, humanitarian relief mission and regular efforts to deliver food, spare parts and equipment for sailors aboard carriers.
The Navy Osprey variant will take on a wider set of missions than those performed by a C-2. Helicopter or tilt-rotor carrier landings do not require the same amount of preparation as that needed for a C-2 landing; there is no need for a catapult and a tilt-rotor naturally has a much wider envelope with which to maneuver.
This article originally appeared on Warrior Maven. Follow @warriormaven1 on Twitter.
Retired Navy Rear Adm. (Lower Half) Richard Lyon, the first SEAL in the Navy Reserve to reach flag rank, passed away Feb. 3. He was 93.
According to a report by the San Diego Union-Tribune, Lyon, a veteran of the World War II-era Underwater Demolition Teams — the forerunners to the SEALs — served 41 years in the Navy Reserve and also saw action during the Korean War.
Lyon is believed to have been among the first troops to land on the Japanese mainland as Tokyo surrendered.
In 1951, Lyon was recalled to active duty for the Korean War and worked on destroying enemy mines and later would help destroy enemy tunnels and railways – part of the evolution of the UDTs into the SEALs.
“He was one of the most impressive men I’ve ever met,” Doug Allred, a former officer in Underwater Demolition Team 11, told the Union-Tribune. “It was 1961 and he was a reservist. This old man shows up at our unit and asked if he could go out with us.
“By golly, we were swimming and diving and doing all these hard things and he was destroying all of us young guys.”
After the Korean War, Lyon returned to the reserves, and built a very successful civilian carer, being promoted to Rear Adm. (Lower Half) in 1975. In 1978, he was recalled to active duty to serve as deputy chief of the Navy Reserve.
In 1983, he retired from the Navy Reserve, ending a 41-year career. He went on to serve two terms as mayor of Oceanside, California.
The cause of death was reported as renal failure. The family has asked that donations be made to the Navy SEAL Foundation.
Master Sgt. Adam Fagan and Staff Sgt. Benjamin Brudnicki earned the nation’s fourth-highest military honor during a ceremony at the Arizona base.
Both men were awarded for carrying out lifesaving rescues during raids against the Taliban.
While assigned to the 64th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron at Kandahar Airfield, Fagan was attached to a combined force of US and Afghan Special Forces for a raid in Helmand Province on March 24, 2019. As the team approached a Taliban compound in Sangin, they were attacked by small-arms fire from a fortified position as well as an improvised explosive device, according to Air Force Magazine.
Fagan was recognized for his actions under fire in helping to save an Afghan commando who was wounded.
“The heavy small-arms fire, coupled with rocket-propelled grenade blasts and multiple [IED] detonations pinned down the Afghan Special Forces team and hindered access to the critically wounded casualty,” Air Force Magazine reported. “Without hesitation and with complete disregard for his own safety, Sgt. Fagan took immediate control of the dire situation and engaged the fortified enemy position, repeatedly exposing himself to heavy fire.”
Two Bronze Stars with valor sit on a table at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, on Oct. 1, 2020. US Air Force Master Sgt. Adam Fagan and Staff Sgt. Benjamin Brudnicki, 48th Rescue Squadron pararescuemen, were presented Bronze Stars with valor for their actions in Afghanistan. Photo by Senior Airman Jacob T. Stephens.
Fagan engaged enemy forces to allow the rest of his team to reach the Afghan commando, who Fagan then treated before calling for a medical evacuation and moving the commando to the helicopter landing zone under small-arms fire and grenade attacks. He also provided cover for the helicopters to land.
“The culmination of Sgt. Fagan’s exceptionally brave actions and speed of patient delivery led to the destruction of an enemy weapons cache, the elimination of five enemy insurgents, and ultimately saved the life of a coalition partner,” the award citation states.
At the ceremony, Fagan attributed his success to his extensive training in calling in and executing medical evacuations.
“I knew what I was physically able to do, I knew I could treat that guy under fire in the dark,” he said at the ceremony.
Brudnicki was also assigned to the 64th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron at Kandahar when he was attached as a medic to a combined force of US and Afghan Special Forces on May 3, 2019, for a counterinsurgency mission in Helmand.
In a village known to be a Taliban stronghold, the commandos breached a compound and were engaged by enemy fighters.
“[Brudnicki] and his team utilized the Taliban’s own kill holes against them with decisive small-arms fire,” according to Air Force Magazine. “At distances of less than 5 feet, he engaged relentlessly with personal weapons and hand grenades, despite their cover being damaged with a rocket that failed to detonate.”
Pararescuemen and Marine force reconnaissance members board a CV-22 Osprey at a training drop zone in Djibouti to conduct free-fall jump operations as part of joint training. Photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Gregory Brook.
When a civilian was wounded in the fight, Brudnicki braved “effective enemy fire from an adjacent compound” while running through an open courtyard to rescue and stabilize the individual.
When an Afghan commando was severely wounded and pinned down, Brudnicki “rushed to join the fight and engaged the enemy’s fortified position by again crossing the open courtyard and exposing himself to grave danger,” according to the award citation. “He successfully suppressed the enemy, allowing partner force commandos to remove the casualty from the courtyard.”
Brudnicki then set up a collection point for wounded troops and created a plan to transport blood and evacuate people.
“His actions resulted in seven enemies killed in action, including a Taliban commander, and saved the lives of two coalition partners,” the citation states.
“My team leader quickly led the assault as we eliminated the enemy with small arms fire and hand grenades at room distance,” Brudnicki said in an Air Force release. “I treated multiple casualties with advanced medical interventions and helped coordinate exfiltration while my team continued to eliminate the threat.”
Pararescuemen work under the motto “that others may live.”
“It is an honor to be recognized, however, the experience and brotherhood created with my team overseas is the most valuable piece for me,” Brudnicki said. “The Air Force best utilizes its special warfare assets when putting them to work in the joint environment, and I am proud to be a part of that.”
President-elect Donald Trump selected retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, the former commander of United States Southern Command, to serve as Secretary of Homeland Security.
The president-elect is slated to make a formal announcement next week, and is also expected to name his pick for Secretary of State as well.
According to a 2014 report by the Washington Free Beacon, Kelly made waves during his tenure at SOUTHCOM by declaring that he had only 5 percent of the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance elements needed to halt drug smuggling.
That year, he also revealed that nearly three-fourths of drug smugglers got through due to a lack of assets.
Kelly also has warned of Iranian influence in South America.
“Over the last 15 years Iran has periodically sought closer ties with regional governments, albeit with mixed results,” Kelly testified during a Congressional hearing March 2015, according to the Free Beacon. “Iranian legislators visited Cuba, Ecuador, and Nicaragua to advocate for increased economic and diplomatic cooperation. Iran’s outreach is predicated on circumventing sanctions and countering U.S. influence.”
Kelly, a Gold Star father, is the third general to be appointed to a high-level national security post by President-elect Trump. Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, a former commander of United States Central Command, was selected to serve as Secretary of Defense while former Defense Intelligence Agency head Michael Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, was chosen to be Trump’s national security advisor.
Kelly served in the Marine Corps for 46 years, counting four in the inactive reserve. He served in Operation Desert Storm and the Global War on Terror.
His decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with Combat Distinguishing Device and a gold star in lieu of a second award, and the Meritorious Service Medal with a gold star in lieu of a second award.
Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness praised the selection, saying, “I agree with a Marine veteran friend who said of the appointment of General Kelly, ‘The Marines have landed . . . and the situation soon will be well in hand!’ After years of HHS Director Jeh Johnson’s failure to protect and defend the integrity of America’s borders, this is an inspired and reassuring choice. President-elect Donald Trump is deploying in defense of our nation a man of character who commands respect.”