Why the days of the US military band could be numbered - We Are The Mighty
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Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

The government’s main auditor wants each of armed service branches to prove how military bands accomplish the stated objectives of inspiring patriotism and raising morale.


Military bands have declined over recent years during funding drawdowns and some attacks from fiscal hawks, but a few of the services have actually increased spending on bands while band rosters shrink, according to the Government Accountability Office.

“The military services have not developed objectives and measures to assess how their bands are addressing the bands’ missions, such as inspiring patriotism and enhancing the morale of troops,” the GAO wrote in a report released August 10.

Military bands have a long and distinct tradition in the US that the GAO admits is difficult to quantify. They are part of the military’s outreach to communities, playing in parades and for patriotic holidays and events. Several recruiters reported an increase in queries about joining the military after a band played for a school.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
US Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. Susan Penning

Bands have a civic function in performing at presidential events, and a diplomatic function in playing for foreign leaders, both in the US and abroad. The Navy told the GAO that bands can also be “an initial step towards improving relationships with foreign nations.”

All those approaches to proving the value and effectiveness of military bands “do not include measurable objectives nor exhibit several of the important attributes performance measures should include,” the GAO said.

The services the GAO contacted for its report stressed the difficulty of creating metrics to measure increased patriotism and troop morale from military bands, but the GAO says that through surveys and focus groups, the military could quantify how military bands achieve their mission.

All that would take resources, the band leaders told the GAO, which is part of why military bands are under fire in the first place.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
Army photo by Sgt. Youtoy Martin, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

The Pentagon spends about $437 million a year on the 137 bands throughout the five military branches. Even though that’s a fraction of the military’s $1.11 trillion budget, some in Congress think that money would be better spent elsewhere.

Most of a bands operating cost goes to travel, and the remainder goes to buying top quality instruments. The Air Force found a $75,000 Gagliano cello last fall that it determined was the only acceptable instrument for musical missions.

“After playing over 50 similar instruments, this is the only one that meets the rigorous demands required by USAF band,” the Air Force said in the contract solicitation. “This world-class instrument is an ideal choice for members of The USAF Band and the demanding standards required for our daily mission preparation and execution.”

Military bands have declined in size in every service since 2012, which has mostly led to reduced cost. Overall, the Air Force and the Navy, however, spent more on bands in 2016 than in previous years.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
The 300th Army Band from Bell, Calif., marches down Torrance Boulevard in Torrance, Calif. Army Photo by Sgt. Thomas X. Crough, 201st Press Camp Headquarters

“The Navy and Air Force reported that their total operating costs for bands over this period increased by $4.1 million and $1.6 million” respectively, the GAO reported. Band costs for the Marine Corps, Army, and National Guard decreased during the same period by less than a million for each service.

The Navy attributed the $4.1 million increase to inadequate band funding between 2012 and 2014, and one-time costs like a $749,000 renovation on the band offices in 2016. The Air Force said that local commands are now responsible for their funding, “so bands may have had unique circumstances that led to increases in costs over time.”

Military bands will face more scrutiny for years to come. The defense spending budget for the remaining 2017 fiscal year asked the secretary of defense to “ensure that only the critical functions of military bands are supported while minimizing impacts on funding for essential readiness, military personnel, modernization, and research and development activities,” Military Times reports.

The GAO noted that as it conducted the review, Pentagon officials met with military bands and officials to “establish standard metrics to collect on events performed by bands.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

What life is like for ISIS’ child soldiers

Recruited as a child soldier into Islamic State’s branch in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Lal Mohammed accompanied his elder teenage brother, Bakht e Ali and their father, Taweez Khan, into the training and indoctrination for a promised life of religious glory. They lived for almost two years as members of the Wilayet e Khorasan, or Islamic State Khorasan Province, in Eastern Afghanistan.


“I was nine years old when I was with them. Now I am 12. They used to show us videos on how to fight and carry out suicide bombings,” Mohammad said.

His older brother was around 16 when he joined the militant group.

Islamic State, known regionally as ISKP, emerged in the region in early 2015. Most originally belonged to the Pakistani Taliban, which had been displaced from their stronghold in Pakistan’s tribal areas by a military operation.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
An Afghan village elder directs a crowd of eager school children as Afghan Special Security Forces arrive to distribute school supplies in Shadel village, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, Dec. 3, 2017. ASSF drove ISIS from the village during fall offensive operations, allowing the locals to regain their farmland and re-open schools. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Klene)

Across the border in Afghanistan, 15 years of war had left vast swathes of territory without government. The age-old Pashtun tradition of welcoming guests helped them find shelter in the homes of local Shinwari tribesmen, who had been refugees during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s and were eager to return the favor.

Eastern Afghanistan, particularly Nangarhar province, became an IS stronghold.

Later, many of those who provided shelter had to flee with their families, often leaving their belongings behind.

“When Daesh (ISKP) came to our area, most people already sympathized with them,” Ali said. “Our tribal elders and religious clerics started backing them. Daesh commanders started sitting with us in our homes. They would show us videos of the infidels oppressing Muslims.”

The militants told the locals their police and army were puppets of infidels and they needed to rise up in jihad, a holy war. Some of the locals, like Khan and his sons, joined their ranks.

Life with ISKP

Life with ISKP for the boys was regimented. They woke up before dawn to offer morning prayers, followed by religious lessons focused on jihad, then daily chores, and, finally, weapons training.

Ali recalled around 100 to 150 kids who lived and trained with them, including some who were under 10 years old, like his brother, Mohammad.

I saw it with my own eyes. They used to tell these young kids that if they carried out suicide bombings, all their troubles would be over and they would go straight to paradise. They were so good at indoctrination that any child who listened to them for a month would not listen to anyone else.

All the children’s needs, clothing, weapons, food, were taken care of. Khan, their father, received a salary from ISKP.

The two brothers remember their training to be very disciplined. The ultimate goal was to make them suicide bombers.

One day, they took the younger brother on a mission. “Daesh fighters told me we were going to be in a firefight, and that they would stay behind and open fire from the check post. I should go forward and explode my suicide vest,” Mohammad said.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
An Afghan boy receives a school bag from Afghan national army soldiers and a Marine special operations company’s team members. The ANA and MSOC unit were visiting a Helmand province village in late February. (Courtesy PhotoNATO Training Mission Afghanistan 2008)

ISKP lost that fight and had to retreat. He came back alive.

The militants focused on molding young minds by showing videos and playing militant music to increase the boys’ sense of affiliation with IS. The brothers said the idea of being part of something bigger than themselves, a battle between good and evil, felt good.

‘We wanted to slaughter someone’

Militants punished anyone who did not follow their fundamentalist brand of sharia. “We’ve seen torture. We’ve seen it happening to our own friends or relatives,” Ali recalled.

He also recalled how normal it was to kill someone.

We saw a lot of people get slaughtered. We also wanted to slaughter someone because we were told that this would bring us holy rewards from God. People who disagreed with Daesh were slaughtered.

Also Read: Twin bombings in Baghdad kill 38, shatter post-IS calm

Khan said, “Sometimes, they would tie people’s hands and feet, and then slaughter them. Sometimes they would hang a man from a tree and just leave him there to die. Sometimes they would just beat someone up with batons ’til he died,” he said.

Escaping from the militants

Not everyone was happy with the militants, but if someone tried to escape, ISKP militants usually went after them to punish or kill them.

Despite that danger, and the promises of heaven and glorious rewards from God, the father and sons said the atrocities became too much for them to handle.

Khan described a growing sense of alienation from the group, which he started seeing as foreigners oppressing his countrymen.

“These men from TTP (Pakistani Taliban) started working here as IS. They started taking land and trees from the locals as spoils of war,” he said. “They used to kidnap Afghanis to get ransom,” he added.

Eventually, Khan decided to take his sons, and some other men under his command, and escape to a government-controlled area. They surrendered to local police. He now works with the police.

“Even now, if IS finds out we are here, they will find us and kill us,” Ali said.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
Afghan kids take a moment to smile for the camera. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Meanwhile, they have no idea of the fate of dozens of other child soldiers who were living with ISKP.

According to a Human Rights Watch report, the Taliban have also trained and deployed scores of children for military operations and used them to plant homemade bombs.

The United Nations has documented the use of child soldiers by Afghan police.

In December last year, the Afghan government signed an initiative called the Child Protection Policy, with the aim of protecting children in conflict zones, including barring its security forces from using children in armed conflict.

But for children like Ali and Mohammad, there is no effective program to de-radicalize and re-integrate them into society. Now, Bakht e Ali works as a security guard, while Lal Mohammad stays at home and has not joined school again.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Marines’ newly-armed Osprey tests guns, rockets, and missiles

The Marine Corps is now arming its Osprey tiltrotor aircraft with a range of weapons to enable its assault support and escort missions in increasingly high-threat combat environments.

Rockets, guns, and missiles are among the weapons now under consideration, as the Corps examines requirements for an “all-quadrant” weapons application versus other possible configurations such as purely “forward firing” weapons.


“The current requirement is for an allquadrant weapons system. We are re-examining that requirement—we may find that initially, forward firing weapons could bridge the escort gap until we get a new rotary wing or tiltotor attack platform, with comparable range and speed to the Osprey,” Capt. Sarah Burns, Marine Corps Aviation, told Warrior Maven in a statement.

Some weapons, possibly including Hydra 2.75inch folding fin laser guided rockets or .50-cal and 7.62mm guns, have been fired as a proof of concept, Burns said.

“Further testing would have to be done to ensure we could properly integrate them,” she added.

All weapons under consideration have already been fired in combat by some type of aircraft, however additional testing and assessment of the weapons and their supporting systems are necessary to take the integration to the next step.

“We want to arm the MV-22B because there is a gap in escort capability. With the right weapons and associated systems, armed MV-22Bs will be able to escort other Ospreys performing the traditional personnel transport role,” Burns added.

The Hydra 2.75inch rockets, called the Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System (APKWS), have been fired in combat on a range of Army and Marine Corps helicopters; they offer an alternative to a larger Hellfire missiles when smaller, fast-moving targets need to be attacked with less potential damage to a surrounding area.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
(BAE)

Over the years, the weapon has been fired from AH-64 Apaches, Navy Fire Scout Drones, Marine Corps UH-1Ys, A-10s, MH-60s Navy helicopters and Air Force F-16s, among others.

Bell-Boeing designed a special pylon on the side of the aircraft to ensure common weapons carriage. The Corps is now considering questions such as the needed stand-off distance and level of lethality.

Adding weapons to the Osprey would naturally allow the aircraft to better defend itself should it come under attack from small arms fire, missiles or surface rockets while conducting transport missions; in addition, precision fire will enable the Osprey to support amphibious operations with suppressive or offensive fire as Marines approach enemy territory.

Furthermore, weapons will better facilitate an Osprey-centric tactic known as “Mounted Vertical Maneuver” wherein the tiltrotor uses its airplane speeds and helicopter hover and maneuver technology to transport weapons such as mobile mortars and light vehicles, supplies, and Marines behind enemy lines for a range of combat missions — to include surprise attacks.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered


Also, while arming the Osprey is primarily oriented toward supporting escort and maneuver operations, there are without question a few combat engagements the aircraft could easily find itself in while conducting these missions.

For example, an armed Osprey would be better positioned to prevent or stop swarming small boat attack wherein enemy surface vessels attacked the aircraft. An Osprey with weapons could also thwart enemy ground attacks from RPGs, MANPADS or small arms fire.

Finally, given the fast pace of Marine Corps and Navy amphibious operations strategy evolution, armed Ospreys could support amphibious assaults by transporting Marines to combat across wider swaths of combat areas.

This article originally appeared on Warrior Maven. Follow @warriormaven1 on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Norway releases video from inside sunken elite warship

A little over a month after the Helge Ingstad sank after colliding with a tanker in a Norwegian fjord, the Norwegian military has released footage from the submerged frigate.

The warship was rammed by a Malta-flagged tanker in the early morning hours of Nov. 8, 2018, in the port of Sture, north of Bergen, which is Norway’s second-largest city.


The frigate displaces 5,290 tons, and the tanker displaces over 62,500 tons when empty. But when the tanker is fully loaded, as it was at the time of the collision, that jumps to about 113,000 tons, more than an aircraft carrier. The collision tore a large hole in the starboard side of the frigate’s hull, which caused other compartments to flood.

Footage released by the Norwegian military, which you can see below, shows the damage sustained by the frigate.

Damage to the Helge Ingstad

www.youtube.com

The 0 million, 442-foot-long warship was returning from NATO’s massive, multinational Trident Juncture military exercise when it collided with the 820-foot-long tanker.

A Norwegian rescue official said at the time of the collision that the frigate was “taking in more water than they can pump out. There is no control over the leak and the stern is heavily in the sea.”

According to a preliminary report released at the end of November 2018, control of the frigate’s rudder and propulsion systems was lost, which caused the ship to drift toward the shore, where it ran aground about 10 minutes after the collision.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

Recovery operations for the Helge Ingstad on Nov. 28, 2018.

(Norwegian armed forces photo)

Running aground prevented it from sinking in the fjord, but later, a wire used to stabilize the sunken vessel snapped, allowing it to sink farther. Only the frigate’s top masts remain above the surface.

In December 2018, Norwegian explosive-ordnance-disposal divers returned to the ship to remove the missile launchers from its foredeck.

Below, you can see footage of them detaching the launchers and floating them to the surface.

Missile removal Helge Ingstad

www.youtube.com

“All diving assignments we undertake require detailed planning and thorough preparation. We must be able to solve the assignments we are given, while providing as low a risk as possible,” diving unit leader Bengt Berdal said, according to The Maritime Executive.

“Our biggest concern [during this mission] is any increased movement of the vessel.”

With the missiles off the ship, all its weapons have been removed. Recovery crews are preparing to raise the ship, putting chains under the hull to lift it on a semisubmersible barge that will take it to Haakonsvern naval base.

The frigate will not be raised until after Christmas, according to The Maritime Executive.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

Chains being readied aboard the heavy-lift vessel Rambiz to lift the sunken Norwegian frigate Helge Ingstad on Dec. 7, 2018.

(Norwegian armed forces photo by Jakob Østheim)

The oil tanker was not seriously damaged in the incident and didn’t leak any of its cargo. Only eight of the 137 crew aboard the Helge Ingstad were injured, but the multimillion-dollar ship was one of Norway’s five capital Nansen-class frigates and was one of Norway’s most advanced warships. (It also leaked diesel and helicopter fuel, but that was contained and recovered.)

The preliminary report found that the warnings to the frigate, which was headed into the port, went unheeded until too late, allowing the outbound tanker to run into it.

According to the report, the frigate’s automatic identification system was turned off, hindering its recognition by other ships in the area, and there was confusion on its bridge because of a change in watch — both of which contributed to the accident.

The preliminary report also raised questions about other ships in the class and the Spanish shipbuilder that constructed it.

The review board “found safety critical issues relating to the vessel’s watertight compartments. This must be assumed to also apply to the other four Nansen-class frigates,” the report said.

“It cannot be excluded that the same applies to vessels of a similar design delivered by Navantia, or that the design concept continues to be used for similar vessel models.”

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

Articles

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

A recent report by FoxNews.com and the Washington Post noted that the Pentagon bureaucracy covered up over $125 billion in “administrative waste” over five years. So, what could the Pentagon have gotten for $125 billion? Let’s take a look at a combination of three things that the wasted money could have bought for the troops:


21 Zumwalt-class destroyers at $3.96 billion each (total: $83.16 billion)

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
USS Zumwalt, first of three commissioned DDG-1000 Destroyers | U.S. Navy

The Navy, short on land-attack hulls, could use the extra firepower for amphibious groups. The thing is, buying 21 more Zumwalts would probably also knock down the unit cost some more, as buying in bulk usually does. If you don’t believe me, compare the price of soda at Costco to the cost at your local grocery store.

As a side effect, getting 24 Zumwalts would probably have saved the Long-Range Land-Attack Projectile from cancellation, largely because with a larger purchase order, the price per shell would have gone way down.

200 F-22 Raptors at $154.6 million each (total $30.92 billion)

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
F-22 Raptors from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, fly over Alaska May 26, 2010. | U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson

With this, you get a much larger force of F-22 Raptors – the premiere air-dominance fighter in the world. The fly-away cost is actually comparable to the LRIP cost of the F-35. The real thing this does is it gives the United States Air Force more quantity for the missions it has. Originally, plans called for 749 airframes from the Advanced Tactical Fighter program (which lead to the F-22).

Congress has already studied putting the Raptor back into production, incidentally. The 200 purchased would push the total to a little more than half of the initial planned total.

360 Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles at $22 million each (total $7.92 billion)

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps)

The AAV-7A1 first entered service in 1972. It’s slow, not as-well-protected as other armored vehicles, and has only a M2 .50-caliber machine gun and a Mk 19 grenade launcher as armament. It also has great difficulty keeping up with the M1A1 Abrams tanks in the Marine Corps inventory.

The Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle not only brought better protection, it had a 30mm chain gun, and could keep up with the Abrams while carrying 18 fully-armed Marines. It got cancelled by then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Maybe Secretary of Defense Mattis can bring it back?

85,000 XM25 Counter-Defilade Target Engagement Systems at $35,000 each (total $2.975 billion)

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
U.S. Army photo.

This system has been in budget limbo since some initial combat deployments with the 10st Airborne Division (Air Assault) showed great promise. In fact, this system was quickly called “The Punisher” by the troops. The Army Times reported in 2011 that firefights that would usually take 15 to 20 minutes ended in much less time.

Why buy 85,000 systems? Well, the Army will need a lot to equip its active and National Guard forces. But why should the Marines, Navy SEALs, and other ground-pounding units be left out?

So, think about what that $125 billion could have bought … then be furious that the money got wasted and that the waster was covered up. Oh, and food for thought: That means there is $25 billion a year in “administrative waste” every year.

So, what would you use that extra $25 billion a year for after taking care of this shopping list?

Articles

An anonymous administration official just gave an incoherent defense of Obama’s Middle East policy

The Middle East is teetering on the edge of full-blown intra-Arab war, ISIS still controls a Belgium-sized slice of the region’s heart, chlorine barrel bombs are still falling over Syria, and the US is threatening to “evaluate” one of its firmest and oldest Middle Eastern alliances.


It’s a flummoxing state of play for any US administration to face, especially one that’s invested so much effort in reorienting US policy in the region.

And no amount of brilliant policymaking can stave off disaster: the US is a superpower, but it isn’t all-powerful, and no modern president has managed to get the region completely right.

But a quote from an Obama administration official in a March 27 New York Times article about the region’s turmoil seems to sum up the US’s frustration in the region — as well as demonstrate how the Middle East seems to be drifting beyond any meaningful US influence.

“We’re trying to beat ISIL — and there are complications,” the official told the Times. “We have a partner who is collapsing in Yemen and we’re trying to support that. And we’re trying to get a nuclear deal with Iran. Is this all part of some grand strategy? Unfortunately, the world gets a vote.”

This quote may warrant some unpacking: just what are these “complications” the official refers to? And who is this partner that’s “collapsing” in Yemen? After all, the state is essentially defunct, and the country’s recognized president just fled the country by boat. Is this a part of a grand strategy, and what is the “this” the official refers to? Both questions are pointedly left unanswered.

The official is right about one thing: the rest of the world does “get a vote.” That’s true at all times, and the challenge for the US relates to what it can and should do in light of its lack of total control regarding areas that impact vital security and economic interests.

Based on this quote, that’s a question the Obama administration is still struggling to answer.

Although a different anonymous official who spoke with Politico had one possible route to US strategic clarity: a nuclear deal with Iran.

“The truth is, you can dwell on Yemen, or you can recognize that we’re one agreement away from a game-changing, legacy-setting nuclear accord on Iran that tackles what every one agrees is the biggest threat to the region,” an unnamed official told Politico on March 26.

More From Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

‘Tis the season for the giving of gifts. ‘Tis also the season of FOMUG (Fear Of Messed Up Gifting). We get it. It’s hard out there for an elf. Team WATM would like to offer you some guidance.


For you, The Mighty:

~ Our top picks for veteran-positive holiday giving ~

12. Combat Flip Flops

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

For flip flops and sneakers handmade in international combat zones, talk to Combat Flip Flops. Everything they sell empowers local entrepreneurs seeking to resurrect their communities from the cycle of poverty-bred violence and extremism. Seems like a heavy burden for a humble thong sandal to bear, but founder Matthew Griffin has the humor and the heart to pull it off.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

11. Heroes Vodka

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

For the most patriotic, pro-veteran martini you’ll ever have six of, you need a bottle of Heroes Vodka. Founder Travis McVey sought to make the clear spirit of America and hit it out of the park on his first try. A portion of his yearly profits goes directly to AMVETS. Try sipping. You’ll be shaken and stirred.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

10. Down The Road Beer Co.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

For a 4 pack of the most artfully brewed craft beer ever to emerge from the 3rd Armored Cav, seek out Down the Road Beer Co. Founder and veteran brewmaster, Donovan Bailey, has a winning formula at work in his Greater Boston brewery and now you can sample every variety he makes at his brand new taproom.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

9. Alpha Outpost

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

For a tactical subscription box of uncommon design and curation, check out Alpha Outpost. Every box has a theme and every theme gives rise to a new cache of gear that will inspire you to get out there and use your free time for kicking ass.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

8. Black Rifle Coffee Co.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

For small batch, veteran-roasted coffee with three heaping teaspoons of patriotic sass, chase down a bag of Black Rifle Coffee Co. Their beans yield a cup of joe so black, a sip is like a sniper round to the dome. Lovely.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

7. Ranger Up

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

For big-hearted, patriotic message tees and lighthearted youtube tomfoolery, look no further than Ranger Up. Founder Nick Palmisciano is a vocal advocate of remembering where you came from and the values for which you fought. And in his spare time, he dabbles in action cinema.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

6. Stella Valle

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

For Modern Day Charm Jewelry made by and for #WomanWarriors, give Stella Valle a look. The Dellavalle sisters went to West Point, served tours in Afghanistan, and took Shark Tank by storm in their quest to forge a successful jewelry brand in their own image.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

5. Sword & Plough

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

For fashionable bags made from military surplus by veteran manufacturers, check out Sword & Plough. The Nuñez sisters went to West Point, served with the 10th Special Forces Group, and took Kickstarter by storm in their quest to make an ethical, feminist, pro-veteran fashion accessories brand that gives back as much as it takes.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

4. stubble & ‘stache

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

For the premium beard oils, mustache lotions and mutton chop tinctures favored by U.S. Special Forces, you need to track down stubble & ‘stache. Founder Nicholas Karnaze started the company in honor of a fallen brother and grooms a war beard for civilian application to this day.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

3. Uncharted Supply Co.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

For the best designed, most soundly equipped bug out bag on the market, seek out Uncharted Supply Co. Their seventy2 survival bag gives you everything you need to ace the first 72 hours of an emergency, all in one seriously svelte package.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

2. Cappy’s Dry Rub

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

For a tactical array of spices that will 10x your flame-grilling game, load up on Cappy’s Dry Rub. LA-based Vietnam vet, Gene “Cappy” Holmon takes his meat seriously and so should you, especially considering how much cooking you’re likely to be doing this holiday season.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

1. Propper

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

For all the operationally-perfected tactical wear you could ever need for deployment or rugged homeland applications, pay a visit to Propper. They’ve been supplying the U.S. military since 1967, including garments, tac bags and body armor. Their spill-proof tactical pants are a godsend around the WATM offices…

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

Bonus Round:

Bottle Breacher

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

For the perfect, vet-sensitive stocking stuffer, optimize his beer with Bottle Breacher. Former Navy SEAL Eli Crane took his garage-mod ammo onto ABC’s Shark Tank and walked away with a deal. Almost two years later, there doesn’t appear to be a limit to Crane’s artistic inventiveness with the .50 caliber shell.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

Fieldcraft Survival

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

For a thorough schooling in the tactical skills and, more crucially, the head game of survival, enroll in a course at Fieldcraft Survival. Former Green Beret Mike Glover will guide you toward competence in the honorable art of self-reliance and you’ll probably only cry a little bit.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

Sandboxx

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

For a digital solution to the analog task of getting morale-boosting mail to your loved ones in the field, sign up for Sandboxx. The app-based communications platform transforms your 140 character missives and sentimental selfies into physical letters, and then sends them to servicemembers with a postage-paid, return envelope included.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

The Mission Continues

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

For renewed purpose and service-oriented deployment on the homefront, volunteer with The Mission Continues. They take your hard-won leadership skills and put them to good use in the many American communities badly in need of rebuilding.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

Speaking of Propper, they’re giving away twelve tactical packs filled with gear from our Holiday Gift Guide. Click this link to enter.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

MIGHTY TRENDING

9/11 1st responder and U.S. Marine Luis Alvarez dies after congress testimony

On June 29, 2019, Luis Alvarez, retired NYPD detective and proud military veteran, passed away from advanced-stage colorectal cancer as a result of his work at Ground Zero in New York following the 9/11 attacks. Just days before, he had testified in Congress alongside Daily Show host Jon Stewart in support of reauthorizing the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. He was 53 years old.

His speech in Congress came after sixty-eight rounds of chemotherapy — and just before he was about to begin his sixty-ninth.

“I have been to many places in this world and done many things, but I can tell you that I did not want to be anywhere else but Ground Zero when I was there. We were part of showing the world that we would never back down from terrorism and that we would all work together. No races, no colors, no politics,” he said.


9/11 first responder Luis Alvarez gives emotional testimony

www.youtube.com

9/11 first responder Luis Alvarez gives emotional testimony

“This fund is not a ticket to paradise. It is there to provide for our families when we can’t. Nothing more. You all said you would never forget. Well I’m here to make sure that you don’t.”

The next day, his doctors told him there was nothing more they could do to treat his cancer. He died in hospice care the following week, a true hero to the end.

Matt McCauley

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His family shared an official statement on his passing: “It is with peace and comfort, that the Alvarez family announce that Luis (Lou) Alvarez, our warrior, has gone home to our Good Lord in heaven today. Please remember his words, ‘Please take care of yourselves and each other.’ We told him at the end that he had won this battle by the many lives he had touched by sharing his three year battle. He was at peace with that, surrounded by family. Thank you for giving us this time we have had with him, it was a blessing!”

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

WATCH: Jon Stewart says Congress ‘should be ashamed’ over inaction on helping 9/11 first responders

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Thousands of 9/11 first responders were exposed to dangerous carcinogens in the dust and gases at Ground Zero, putting them at risk of multiple myeloma and other cancers. The Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) was created to “provide compensation for any individual (or a personal representative of a deceased individual) who suffered physical harm or was killed as a result of the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of Sept. 11, 2001 or the debris removal efforts that took place in the immediate aftermath of those crashes.

The original VCF operated from 2001-2004, then was extended in 2010 and again in 2015, allowing individuals to submit their claims until Dec. 18, 2020. On Feb. 15, 2019, it was determined that the funding would be insufficient to pay all the pending and projected claims, which is what brought Alvarez before Congress.

According to NBC New York, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has agreed to call a Senate vote on a bill that would ensure the VCF never runs out of money.

Rest in peace, Luis, and Semper Fi.

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Here are the best military photos of the week

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


AIR FORCE:

An A-29 Super Tucano flies over Afghanistan during a training mission April 6, 2016. The A-29 is a light attack aircraft that can be armed with two 500-pound bombs, twin .50-caliber machine guns and rockets. Aircrews are trained on aerial interdiction and armed overwatch missions that enable a preplanned strike capability. The Afghan air force currently has eight A-29s but will have 20 by the end of 2018. Train, Advise, Assist Command-Air teams work daily with the Afghan air force to help build a professional, sustainable and capable air force.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Eydie Sakura

Capt. Nicholas Eberling and Maj. Alex Turner, both pilots for the Thunderbirds, perform the knife-edge pass over an F-35A Lightning II static display during the Luke Air Force Base Air Show at Luke AFB, Ariz., April 3, 2016.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Christopher Boitz

ARMY:

Paratroopers assigned to the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade, Italy’s Folgore Brigade and the British Army’s 16 Air Assault Brigade conduct airborne operations during Exercise Saber Junction 16 on the Maneuver Rights Area near Hohenfels, Germany, April 12, 2016.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Gertrud Zach

Soldiers assigned to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, cross the Imjin River during a bridge crossing exercise in South Korea, April 6, 2016.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Christopher Dennis

NAVY:

SANTA RITA, Guam (April 13, 2016) U.S. Navy Sailors from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5 swim with Sri Lanka navy divers during a joint diving exercise in the Apra Harbor off the coast of Guam. EODMU 5 sailors and Sri Lanka navy divers dove to the Tokai Maru, a sunken WWII Japanese freighter as part of a coordinated effort by Commander, Task Force 75 to strengthen U.S. and foreign relationships.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alfred A. Coffield

BALTIC SEA (April 12, 2016) A Russian Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft makes a very low altitude pass by USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) April 12, 2016. Donald Cook, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer forward deployed to Rota, Spain, is conducting a routine patrol in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
U.S. Navy photo

MARINE CORPS:

Touchdown Darwin

Marines with the 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, arrive in Darwin, Australia to begin preparation for exercise Marine Rotational Force-Darwin on April 13, 2016. MRF-D is a six-month deployment into Darwin, Australia, where Marines conduct exercises and train with the Australian Defence Forces, strengthening the U.S.-Australia alliance.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
U. S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Osvaldo L. Ortega III

Semper Vigilantes

Capt. Charles H. Richardson, commanding officer, Company B, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, scans the horizon in the Combat Center training area March 21, 2016, during a Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation Exercise. 3rd LAR conducted a five-day MCCREE to evaluate the combat readiness of B Co.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Levi Schultz

Honoring the Fallen

Marines prepare to fire a three-volley salute at a funeral for retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Earl E. Anderson, former assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., March 31, 2016. Anderson was the first active duty Marine Naval Aviator to be promoted to a four-star rank, and he became the assistant commandant of the Marine.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Paul A. Ochoa

COAST GUARD:

Take a ride along with USCG Station Seattle as they conduct training with Air Station Port Angeles! Coast Guard crews train together so they can be ready for anything! Always ready!

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Logan Kellogg

“Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ‘Till your good is better and your better is best.” – St. Jerome.

The first boat crew comes home after being relieved of an all night tow by a second boat crew: Coast Guard Station Depoe Bay never lets it rest.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
U.S. Coast Guard photo

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New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators

A new documentary, “National Bird,” exposes the secret drone war being carried out in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere from the ground level of the strike and from the perspective of three military operators who used to pull the trigger.


“When you watch someone in those dying moments, what their reaction is, how they’re reacting and what they’re doing,” Heather Linebaugh, a former drone imagery analyst, says in the film. “It’s so primitive. It’s really raw, stripped down, death.”

Also read: Osprey crash shows how dangerous Marine aviation can be

Though unmanned systems have been used for many years to carry out surveillance, it wasn’t until after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks — on February 4, 2002 — that a drone was armed and used for targeted killing. That 2002 strike apparently killed three civilians mistaken for Osama bin Laden and his confidantes, a theme that went on to play out again and again.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
US Air Force photo

Armed drones have operated since in Afghanistan and many other countries in which the U.S. is not at war, including Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan. They have been used to strike militants and terror leaders over the years — a program accelerated under the Obama administration — but it has come at a deadly cost, with thousands of innocent civilians killed, to include hundreds of children.

“I can say the drone program is wrong because I don’t know how many people I’ve killed,” Linebaugh says.

Linebaugh and two others, introduced only by their first names Daniel and Lisa, tell equally compelling stories from their time in the military’s drone program. The film gives them a chance to shine a light on what is a highly secretive program, which officials often describe as offering near-surgical precision against terrorists that may someday do harm to U.S. interests.

Instead, the three offer pointed critiques to that narrative, sharing poignant details of deaths they witnessed through their sophisticated cameras and sensors. The most disturbing thing about being involved with the drone program, Daniel said, was the lack of clarity about whom he killed and whether they were civilians.

“There’s no way of knowing,” he says.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
Screenshot via www.liveleak.com

Though the testimony of the three operators is compelling, the documentary’s most important moments come from a visit to Afghanistan, where the documentary showcases a family that was wrongly targeted by a strike. It was on February 21, 2010, when three vehicles carrying more than two-dozen civilians were hit by an Air Force drone crew.

“That’s when we heard the sound of a plane but we couldn’t see it,” one victim says.

Filmmaker Sonia Kennebeck mixes witness statements with a reenactment of overhead imagery and voices reading from the transcript prior to the strike. A later investigation found that the operators of the Predator drone offered “inaccurate and unprofessional” reporting of what they saw.

During the incident, the drone operators reported seeing “at least five dudes so far.” Eventually, they reported 21 “military-age males,” no females, and two possible children, which they said were approximately 12 years old.

“Twelve, 13 years old with a weapon is just as dangerous,” one drone operator says. The operators never got positive identification of the people below having weapons.

That’s because the group consisted only of innocent men, women, and children, according to the documentary. Twenty-three Afghan civilians were killed, including two children aged seven and four.

“We thought they would stop when they saw women, but they just kept bombing us,” the mother of the children says.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, then the commander of U.S. forces in the country, apologized for the strike. Four officers involved were disciplined.

The documentary cuts through the defense of drones as a “surgical” weapon that only kills the bad guys. As many reports have made clear, the US often doesn’t know exactly who it is killing in a drone strike, instead hazarding an “imperfect guess,” according to The New York Times, which is sometimes based merely on a location or suspicious behavior.

That imperfect guess has often resulted in the death of innocent locals — or, as was the case in 2015, the death of two men, an American, and an Italian, who were being held hostage by militants.

As Daniel points out in the documentary, the presence of drones on the battlefield has only emboldened commanders, who no longer have to risk military personnel in raids and can fire a missile instead. That viewpoint only seems to be growing, as the technology gets better and drones continue to proliferate around the world.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
Airman 1st Class Christian Clausen | US Air Force

The drone may continue to be the “national bird” of the U.S. military for a long time, but perhaps the documentary can start a conversation around their use and whether they create more terrorists, as has been argued, than they are able to take out.

“Not everybody is a freakin’ terrorist. We need to just get out of that mindset,” says Lisa, a former Air Force technical sergeant, in the documentary. “Imagine if this was happening to us. Imagine if our children were walking outside of their door and it was a sunny day, and they were afraid because they didn’t know if today was the day that something was going to fall out of the sky and kill someone close to them. How would we feel?”

MIGHTY TRENDING

North Korea may have actually increased nuclear production

As President Donald Trump touted a new era of diplomacy with the North Korean regime, a classified intelligence assessment appeared to tell a different story, according to several US intelligence officials.

The assessment revealed that, in recent months, North Korea had upped its production of fuel for nuclear weapons at several secret sites, according to over a dozen intelligence officials cited in an NBC News report published June 29, 2018. The officials said they believe North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may be trying to conceal the secret facilities from the US.


“Work is ongoing to deceive us on the number of facilities, the number of weapons, the number of missiles,” one senior US intelligence official said to NBC News. “We are watching closely.”

According to five US officials cited by NBC News, the North Korean regime was increasing production of enriched uranium, even as relations with the US improved following the 2018 Winter Olympics. And since the leaders of both countries held a summit in Singapore in mid-June, 2018, the Trump administration has already delivered some concessions to the North.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
United Statesu00a0President Donald Trump

Trump halted Ulchi Freedom Guardian, a major joint military drill with South Korea that was scheduled for August 2018. The military exercises have been a point of contention for North Korea, which sees them as a direct threat. The US and South Korea treat the drills as defensive measures.

During the US-North Korea summit, the first such meeting between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader, the two men pledged to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” It was a vast departure from 2017 when both Trump and Kim were openly threatening nuclear war. But the broad and nondescript document fell short of a specific plan or goal, and was criticized by foreign-policy experts.

And though North Korea took several steps to indicate it was in the process of dismantling its weapons program, such as blowing up tunnels leading to a nuclear-test site, critics who monitored the development say it may have all been for show.

“There’s no evidence that they are decreasing stockpiles, or that they have stopped their production,” a US official familiar with the intelligence report told NBC. “There is absolutely unequivocal evidence that they are trying to deceive the US.”

“There are lots of things that we know that North Korea has tried to hide from us for a long time,” another intelligence official added.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reacts to North Korea’s latest ballistic rocket test-fire through a precision control guidance system.
(KCNA photo)

The intelligence report may also confirm the theory held by many arms experts: that North Korea possesses a second, undisclosed nuclear enrichment facility. In 2008, North Korea signaled it would curb its nuclear program by televising the destruction of a water-cooling tower at a plutonium extraction facility, only to announce that it would “readjust and restart” in 2013.

The report also calls into question Trump’s claim that North Korea no longer poses as a nuclear threat to the US: “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea,” Trump tweeted in June, 2018, after returning from his meeting with Kim. “Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo downplayed and directly contradicted Trump’s claim.

“I’m confident what [Trump] intended there was, ‘we did reduce the threat,'” Pompeo said during a Senate hearing on June 27, 2018. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.”

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

Articles

This is when the Pope’s Swiss Guard was deadlier than 300 Spartans

Military history is full of famous last stands – the Greeks at Thermopylae, Custer at Little Big Horn, the French Foreign Legion at Camarón — just to name a few. The last unit people might think of making a famous last stand are the Pope’s personal bodyguards: the Swiss Guard.


Why the days of the US military band could be numbered

But even though the men who would respond to an incident involving the Pope have traded poofy pants for tactical gear, and bladed weapons for Sig SG 550 rifles, those razor-sharp halberds weren’t always just ceremonial. There was a time when the halberds, pikes, and swords carried by the ceremonial guards were the latest in military technology. The Swiss Guard are, after all, the oldest, continuous standing army in the world.

In 1527, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V had just beat down the French in Italy. the only problem was, he couldn’t afford to pay the massive army he used to do it. Understandably pissed, the 34,000-strong army began to march on Rome, believing the Papal States would be an easy target to sack and pillage. They were right… for the most part.

On May 6, 1527, that army broke through Rome’s defenders and looted and pillaged the city for 12 days.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
Paintings always make sacking, burning, and pillaging seem so tame.

But the city didn’t just roll over for the renegade army.

Defending Rome was a militia made up of 5,000 and 189 of the Pope’s Swiss Guard. Of those, around 40 or so escorted Pope Clement VII to safety – and they were the only survivors of the assault. The rest were slaughtered, choosing to hold their ground in the Vatican.

While that number seems like a horrifying loss for the Swiss Guards, consider that the elite unit reduced the fighting force of the Imperial Army by three-quarters. Of the 20,000 troops that moved to storm the city of Rome, 15,000 were killed or injured by the city’s defenders.

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WWII veteran’s remains return home 74 years after ill-fated mission

More than 70 years ago, a US Army cargo plane dubbed “Hot as Hell” was headed for India on a supply mission. It never arrived, and no one went looking for the doomed aircraft or the eight men on board because military officials had no way of pinpointing where it went down.


All signs of the mission were lost until 2006, when a hiker in northeast India spotted a wing and panel sign with the plane’s name inscribed — “Hot as Hell.” It wasn’t until 2015 that the US Defense Department investigated the crash site and found the remains of 1st Lt. Robert Eugene Oxford.

On June 8th, Oxford will finally be returned home and then laid to rest the following weekend with full military honors in his tiny hometown of Concord, Georgia. Photos of his seven fellow crewmen, none of whom was ever found, will lay beside the coffin and then be placed inside it for burial.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
DoD Photo by Sgt. Eben Boothby

“We were ecstatic that Eugene was found, but we feel guilty there are seven other men on that mountain top,” said Merrill Roan, the wife of Oxford’s nephew. “So we are honoring the other seven. … We have to honor them as well, because they may never get any closure.”

Oxford’s plane departed Kumming, China, on Jan. 25, 1944, said Staff Sgt. Kristen Duus at the Defense Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Agency. Oxford was declared dead two years later.

Oxford’s family didn’t know the wreckage had been found until 2007 when Merrill Roan saw a message on a genealogy website from a relative of another service member on the aircraft. That relative wanted help persuading military officials to investigate the crash site.

Duus’ agency confirmed the crash site correlated with the missing aircraft in 2008. But harmful weather coupled with access issues and security delayed recovery operation efforts until late 2015, Duus said.

Officials say a DNA analysis of Oxford’s remains matched his niece and nephew.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
C-54 Skymaster. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Roan said the family was “shocked and excited” when they heard the news.

Duus said Oxford is one of 74 veterans who have been identified so far this year. She said all service members have been returned to the US for identification before the family is notified and the service member is provided a funeral with honors.

Eighty service members were identified in 2015, and that number more than doubled with 164 the following year, Duus said.

The Missing in Action Agency website says there are more than 86,000 Americans still missing abroad from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Advancements in DNA testing technology and partnerships with other nations has helped find and identify more missing service members than ever, Duus said.

Why the days of the US military band could be numbered
US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Muncy

Oxford’s parents, siblings, and any other relatives who saw him leave for World War II have all died since he went missing, said Terrell Moody of Moody-Daniel Funeral Home, which is handling burial arrangements. Still, the long-overdue homecoming of his remains won’t go unnoticed.

A State Patrol escort will guide a hearse carrying Oxford’s casket 50 miles south on Interstate 75 from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to the funeral home. A funeral will be held June 10th in a school auditorium — the biggest venue in town, Moody said.

“It’s just a huge historical event for our little town,” Moody said. “The phone constantly rings from people wanting information.”

Oxford will be buried in the same plot with his parents, Charles and Bessie Oxford, who had placed a memorial marker for their lost son at the gravesite after his plane went missing seven decades ago.

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