WATM’s Ryan Curtis hits the streets with stunt driver Jim Wilkey, a Vietnam War vet whose Hollywood credits include “Die Hard With a Vengeance,” “Rush Hour,” “Inception,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” and “The Dark Knight Trilogy.’ Jim’s experience in the Navy working with a wide range of equipment gave him the knowledge to get started as a stuntman and stunt driver.
Now, watch as Jim takes our man Ryan for a ride through the obstacle course.
Let’s face it, when the Army bought the Stryker, in one sense, they were really just catching up with the Marines, who were making an 8×8 wheeled, armored vehicle work for quite a while. Now, though, the Marines are getting a new system for one variant of their Light Armored Vehicles, the LAV-AT, which will make them even deadlier and easier to maintain.
According to a release by Marine Corps Systems Command, the LAV-ATM project gives this version of the LAV a new turret. The LAV will still be firing the BGM-71 Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided missile.
“Compared to the legacy version, the new turret is unmanned, it fires both wire-guided and radio frequency TOW missiles, and it can acquire targets while on-the-move with an improved thermal sight,” said Jim Forkin, Program Manager’s Office LAV-ATM team lead.
“The turret is important because it protects Marines and gives them an enhanced capability that they didn’t have before,” Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael S. Lovell, Ordinance Vehicle Maintenance officer, PM LAV team, explained.
A Marine tests the enhanced vision capability—part of an upgrade to the Light Armored Vehicle’s Anti-Tank Weapon System—during new equipment training Sept. 18-29, at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Marine Corps Systems Command completed its first fielding of four upgraded ATWS in September. (United States Marine Corps photo)
The new LAV also makes maintenance easier with an on-board trouble-shooting system that allows operators and maintenance personnel conduct checks on the systems involved with the vehicle and turret. Learning how to use the new turret takes about one week each for operators and maintainers. The Marines have also acquired 3D computer technology to enhance the training on the new LAV-AT.
But the real benefit of the turret is that “Marines who serve as anti-tank gunners will be able to do their job better,” according to Chief Warrant Officer Lovell. “We’re providing a product that gives Marines an enhanced anti-tank capability improving their forward reconnaissance and combined arms fire power on the battlefield.”
Enemy tanks will hopefully be unavailable for comment on these enhancements.
Team Red, White Blue kicked off the Old Glory Relay 2016 on 9-11. Sixty-two teams of runners, walkers, and cyclists will carry the American flag across 10 states for 4,216 miles, starting in Seattle, WA and ending in Tampa, FL.
With the support of the presenting sponsor, Microsoft, along with other partners, Amazon, Westfield and Starbucks, the relay will be following a route through Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles through the end of the month. The relay then turns east, through Phoenix, Tucson and San Antonio before crossing the South through the Florida Panhandle to Tampa.
Team Red, White Blue’s mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity, and the Old Glory Relay is one of the cornerstones of their efforts.
Earlier in September, Air Commandos rescued two hikers who had got lost in Oregon’s Mount Hood. A 34-year-old man and his 7-year-old daughter had gone hiking but got lost and were missing for two days. At that point, the local Sheriff’s department requested the help of the Air Force.
A combined team comprised of eight Pararescuemen and three Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) specialists from the 304th Rescue Squadron (Reserves) and 125th Special Tactics Squadron (Air National Guard) answered the call. Despite the odd hour, they were notified at 21:30 (that’s 9:30 p.m. for the civilians among us), it took the team just over three hours to assemble, get briefed, plan, and deploy for the rescue.
Major Ryan (last name redacted), the director of operations for the 304th RQS, said that “Our members responded in the middle of the night to assist the local authorities, located the isolated personnel, and evacuated them to safety. I am extremely proud of our team and how they performed to enable a positive outcome for the local authorities. A great reflection of the capabilities of the Air Force Reserve Command’s Guardian Angel Rescue Squadrons.”
The Air Commandos managed to locate the missing hikers early the next morning (05:40) but found that they couldn’t walk and so they had to be evacuated. The team had to cross a kilometer, or a bit more than half a mile, of rough woodland to reach the nearest road.
| Rescue personnel from the 304th Rescue Squadron and 125th Special Tactics Squadron recover an injured 34-year-old man and his 7-year-old daughter after the hikers we reported lost for two days (Photo by 943rd Rescue Group).
The team was well-equipped, carrying thermal and night vision goggles, technical rope rescue gear, and medical equipment.
The Air Commandos worked in conjunction with the Clackamas County Search and Rescue office and other local law enforcement agencies.
This rescue operation showcases why a slot at an Air National Guard rescue squadron is so highly sought after. Pararescuemen, SERE specialists, and support personnel get to conduct real-life operations on a frequent basis even when not deployed abroad.
A 34-year-old man fist bumps one of the Search and Rescue personnel who rescued him and his 7-year-old daughter (Photo by 943rd Rescue Group).
“It was a combined effort between the 304th RQS and 125th STS moving the two patients through very thick and steep terrain,” said Captain Phil (last name redacted), a Combat Rescue Officer who served as a liaison between the Air Commandos and the local sheriff department. “Technical rope systems were used at a number of different locations in order to safely transport the two patients off the mountain to a place where they could be turned over to definitive care.”
Combat Rescue Officers and Pararescuemen are the only careerfields in the Department of Defense that are specially trained and equipped to conduct combat search and rescue and personnel recovery operations. Additionally, and as shown by the Mt Hood rescue and the Hurricane Katrina aftermath, their utility extends beyond combat operations and can be game-changing in domestic environments as well.
There are five Rescue and Special Tactics Air National Guard squadrons:
103rd in Long Island, New York
123rd in Louisville, Kentucky
125th in Portland, Oregon
131st in Santa Clara, California
212th in Anchorage, Alaska
And three Reserves Rescue and Special Tactics squadrons:
In World War I, there was a need to hit targets either pretty far off, or which were very hard to destroy.
At the time, aircraft weren’t much of an option – in fact, they really had a hard time carrying big bombs. Often, an aircrewman would drop mortar rounds from a cockpit. So, how does one take out a hard target? They used naval guns mounted on railway cars.
Many of these guns came from obsolete armored cruisers – the most common of the rail guns was the BL 12-inch railway Howitzer. The British pressed 81 of these guns into service, and many lasted into World War II. These guns are obsolete now, rendered useless by the development of better aircraft for tactical strikes, from World War II’s P-47 Thunderbolt to today’s A-10 Thunderbolt II, as well as tactical missile and rocket systems like the ATACMS, Scud, and MGM-52 Lance.
The gun the British were moving didn’t actually serve in World War I. According to a release by the British Ministry of Defence, the BL 18-inch howitzer just missed the Great War, but it did serve in World War II as a coastal defense gun – albeit it never fired a shot in anger, since the Nazis never were able to pull off Operation Sea Lion. The gun was used for RD purposes until 1959, when it was retired and sent to the Royal Artillery headquarters.
In 2013, it was briefly loaded to the Dutch railway museum. Later that year, it went to the Royal Armouries artillery museum. It is one of 12 railway guns that survive. The video below from the Smithsonian channel shows how the British Army – with the help of some contractors – moved this gigantic gun.
The US Department of State issued a level-four travel warning for Venezuela on March 14, 2019, to tell Americans “do not travel” to the chaos-stricken country, and that all Americans in the country should leave. It’s the highest travel warning that the department issues.
The advisory pointed to “crime, civil unrest, poor health infrastructure, and arbitrary arrest and detention of US citizens.”
The announcement aligns with a top-level warning that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued in May 2018. That warning said outbreaks of measles, malaria, diphtheria, and other infectious diseases are contributing to “an increasing humanitarian crisis affecting much of the country.”
The Department of State noted on March 14, 2019, that, throughout Venezuela, “there are shortages of food, water, electricity, medicine, and medical supplies.”
(Flickr photo by Anyul Rivas)
Political rallies and demonstrations occur with little notice, the warning said. And these rallies attract a strong police response with “tear gas, pepper spray, water cannons, and rubber bullets against participants and occasionally devolve into looting and vandalism.”
“Security forces have arbitrarily detained US citizens for long periods,” the warning said. “The US Department of State may not be notified of the detention of a US citizen, and consular access to detainees may be denied or severely delayed.”
After this warning was issued, American Airlines announced on March 15, 2019, that they would suspend flights into Caracas and Maracaibo. “Our corporate security team has a collaborative partnership with all of our union leaders and we will continue to do so to evaluate the situation in Venezuela,” the airline said in a statement.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Ethiopian Airlines’ deadly crash on March 10, 2019, was the second disaster involving a Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in the last five months.
The apparent similarities to the crash of Lion Air in October 2018 has sparked an outcry from US lawmakers as other countries — including China, Britain, Australia, and more — ground the plane pending further investigation.
Here’s what we know so far about March 10, 2019’s crash and any similarities to the Lion Air disaster so far:
All of the 157 people on board were killed
When the Ethiopian Airlines plane plunged to the ground shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa en route to Nairobi, all 149 passengers and eight crew were killed.
The airline’s CEO told journalists that those involved hailed largely from African countries, as well as 18 Canadians, eight Americans, and others from a handful of European countries.
One passenger, who accidentally missed the crashed flight by two minutes, said in a Facebook post that he was “grateful to be alive,” despite being angry previously that no staff could help him find his gate.
Boeing, the US-based manufacturer of the 737 Max 8 involved in the crash, said March 12, 2019, it will soon roll out a software update in response to the two crashes.
At the heart of the controversy surrounding the 737 MAX is MCAS or the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation system. To fit the MAX’s larger, more fuel-efficient engines, Boeing had to redesign the way it mounts engines on the 737.
This change disrupted the plane’s center of gravity and caused the MAX to have a tendency to tip its nose upward during flight, increasing the likelihood of a stall. MCAS is designed to automatically counteract that tendency and point the nose of the plane downward.
Initial reports from the Lion Air investigation indicate that a faulty sensor reading may have triggered MCAS shortly after the flight took off.
Here’s the company’s full statement:
For the past several months and in the aftermath of Lion Air Flight 610, Boeing has been developing a flight control software enhancement for the 737 MAX, designed to make an already safe aircraft even safer. This includes updates to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) flight control law, pilot displays, operation manuals, and crew training. The enhanced flight control law incorporates angle of attack (AOA) inputs, limits stabilizer trim commands in response to an erroneous angle of attack reading, and provides a limit to the stabilizer command in order to retain elevator authority.
Still, Boeing’s statement has done little to calm fears of global air travel regulators around the world.
The US’ air safety regulator on March 11, 2019, said the plane was still safe to fly. And for now, the Federal Aviation Administration does not appear to be following the rest of the world in grounding the plane.
“External reports are drawing similarities between this accident and the Lion Air Flight 610 accident on Oct. 29, 2018,” the FAA said March 11, 2019. “However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions”
A handful of American lawmakers, including at least three senators and a representative, have called on the FAA to ground the plane. Amid those calls, US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and her entourage of staff flew on a 737 Max 8 from Austin, Texas back to Washington D.C. March 12, 2019.
“The department and the FAA will not hesitate to take immediate and appropriate action,” Chao said, according to CNBC.
Pilots in the United States also reported issues with the plane in the months leading up to March 10, 2019’s crash. One pilot said the flight manual was “inadequate and almost criminally insufficient,” according to the Dallas Morning News.
Those complaints were made in the Federal Aviation Administration’s incident database which allows pilots to report issues about aviation incidents anonymously. They highlighted issues with the Max 8’s autopilot system, which had been called into question following the crash of Lion Air Flight 610 in October 2018. That incident also involved a Boeing 737 Max 8 plane.
More countries ground Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft after Ethiopian Airlines crash
“We are not surprised by the negative stock reaction, as the 737 represents the strongest backlog, free cash flow (FCF and potential upside from further rate increases,” Ken Hubert, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity, said in a note to clients on March 11, 2019.
“We view the risk as less about near term expenses, but the full year 737 delivery estimates for BA could be impacted. We do not expect BA to slow the 737 pull from suppliers. Moreover, the larger risk is the reputational concern for BA,” he continued.
The 737 MAX comprised 2.2% of Southwest’s scheduled available seat miles (ASM) for March 2019, and is projected to grow to 2.6% by June 2019. The airline reportedly said March 12, 2019 that it’s “working with Customers individually who wish to rebook their flight to another aircraft type.”
United Airlines and American Airlines also operate the plane in the US, where there are 74 of them registered according to the FAA. Around the world, 59 airlines operate 387 of the 737 Max 8 and 9, the agency said.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG 72) had what one report described as a “close encounter” with an Iranian vessel on April 24.
According to a report by Fox News, the Iranian vessel was a “fast attack craft” used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy. USS Mahan was forced to change course, the crew manned weapons, fired flares, and sounded a danger signal. The Iranian vessel stayed over 1,000 yards from the Mahan, but its weapons were manned.
According to the 16th Edition of Combat Fleets of the World, Iran has over 100 “fast attack craft” of varying types. The most notorious of these are roughly 30 Boghammers, which can reach speeds of up to 45 knots, and are armed with .50-caliber machine guns or twin 23mm anti-aircraft guns and either a 12-round 107mm rocket launcher, a 106mm recoilless rifle, or a RPG-7. American forces destroyed at least five of these vessels during naval clashes with Iran in 1987 and 1988.
This is not the first time USS Mahan has had a close call with Iranian vessels. In January, 2017, the Mahan had to fire warning shots at similar craft that came within 900 yards. The Iranian vessels backed off.
“We are also dealing with a range of malign activities perpetrated by Iran and its proxies operating in the region,” said Votel, citing Iran’s support for terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Bashir Assad’s regime in Syria. “It is my view that Iran poses the greatest long-term threat to stability for this part of the world.”
The entry-level course is for Marines who’ve finished boot camp and aren’t assigned to infantry jobs. It lasts about a month and involves basic combat training, including patrol and convoy operations, marksmanship, and the use of grenade launchers and machine guns.
Pena said the female Marines will be fully integrated with the men, and that their inclusion triggered no changes to the course instruction. He said that, eventually, as many as 1,700 women would go through the combat training there each year.
Currently, Marine boot camp on the West Coast is only for male recruits. Women attend boot camp at Parris Island in South Carolina, where they are separated from the men for portions of the training. Congress members have been critical of that policy, and the Corps has been reviewing it.
Until now, half of the Marine Corps’ male recruits would go through their initial training on the West Coast where they had no female colleagues. A key reason for the limits is the shortage of female recruits. Women make up just 8.7 percent of the Corps.
But Marine leaders have been eyeing changes with the belief that giving the men greater exposure to women recruits during training could foster better relations and greater respect over time.
A US service member was killed in action on Oct. 4, 2018, Operation Resolute Support said in a statement.
The incident is under investigation, officials said.
“We mourn and honor the sacrifice of our service member,” Gen. Scott Miller, the commander of US and Resolute Support forces in Afghanistan, said. “We remain committed.”
The person’s name is being withheld pending notification of the person’s family.
Oct. 4, 2018’s death is believed to mark the eighth this year for US troops in Afghanistan.
In early September 2018, a US service member was killed in a noncombat incident, and one day prior another died in an insider attack. Another apparent insider attack in July 2018 claimed the life of a 20-year-old Army soldier.
(DoD photo by Cherie A. Thurlby)
Casualties among Afghan forces are on the rise. About 500 Afghan troops were reportedly killed in September 2018.
The latest American death comes just ahead of the 17th anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan, which began October 7, 2001, in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Children born after the deadly attacks are now old enough to enlist to fight in the war, a bloody stalemate with no clear end in sight.
Army Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of US Central Command, told reporters that the Taliban could seize the initiative in short campaigns but couldn’t sufficiently hold territory to secure victory.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
A US service member died in a non-combat incident in Afghanistan Sept. 4, 2018, marking the second American death in two days in the war-torn country.
The incident is currently under investigation, according to an Operation Resolute Support press statement that was decidedly short on details. The fallen’s name will be released 24 hours after the individual’s next of kin have been notified.
Senior U.S. Army leaders are pushing a campaign to enhance recruiting, toughen physical fitness training, and extend Basic Combat Training to prepare soldiers for a major future conflict.
Secretary of the Army Mark Esper spoke March 26, 2018, at the Association of the United States Army’s Global Force Symposium about his vision for the Army of 2028 that calls for a larger, more physically fit force.
“To meet the challenges of 2028 and beyond, the total Army must grow,” Esper said. “A decade from now, we need an active component above 500,000 soldiers with associated growth in the Guard and Reserve.”
The Army requested 4,000 soldiers be added to the active force as part of the proposed fiscal 2019 budget. The increase would boost the active-duty ranks from 483,500 to 487,500.
The Army must focus on “recruiting and retaining high-quality, physically fit, mentally tough soldiers who will deploy and fight and win decisively on any future battlefield,” he said.
“A decade from now, the soldiers we recruit today will be our company commanders and platoon sergeants. That’s why we are considering several initiatives, to a new physical fitness regime to reforming and extending basic training in order to ensure our young men and women are prepared for the rigors of high-intensity combat,” he added.
Esper did not give details about extending Basic Combat Training, which currently lasts 10 weeks. But the Army has already begun reforming BCT.
By early summer 2018, recruits will go through a new Army BCT, redesigned to instill strict discipline and esprit de corps by placing enhanced emphasis on drill and ceremony, inspections, and pride in military history while increasing the focus on critical training such as physical fitness, marksmanship, communications, and battlefield first aid skills.
The new program of instruction is the result of surveys taken from thousands of leaders who have observed a trend of new soldiers fresh out of training displaying a lack of obedience and poor work ethic, as well as being careless with equipment, uniforms, and appearance, according to Army Training and Doctrine Command officials.
The Army has also been considering adopting the proposed Army Combat Readiness Test: A six-event fitness test designed to better prepare troops for the rigors of combat than the current three-event Army Physical Fitness Test, or APFT.
The ACRT was developed, at the request of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, to better prepare soldiers for the physical challenges of the service’s Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills — the list of key skills all soldiers are taught to help them survive in combat.
Gen. James McConville, the Army’s vice chief of staff, said that the service is also considering improving the screening processes it uses to better prepare recruits coming into the Army.
“We are going to put more screening systems in place to make sure that when young men and women enter the Army, they are ready to meet the standards,” McConville said.
Training and Doctrine Command has done a “great job of implementing the Occupational Physical Assessment Test, which is a four-event physical-fitness test to make sure that young men and women get in shape before they go to initial military training,” he said.
“Then once they get into initial military training, we are screening them again to meet the physical demands of being in the Army,” McConville said.
The Army is also testing a concept that involves assigning fitness experts to two Army divisions, he said.
“We are putting physical therapists, we are putting strength coaches, we are putting dieticians into each of the units so when the [new] soldiers get there, we continue to keep them in shape as they go forward,” McConville said.
“We are going to have to take what we have, we are going to have to develop that talent and we are going to bring them in and make them better,” he added.
Under Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy said the service is also going to have to get better at how it approaches recruiting.
“When 87 percent of the people we recruit have someone in their family that has been in the military, it starts to beg the question, ‘Are we expansive enough in our recruiting efforts?’ ” McCarthy said.
“Are we sophisticated enough in the way we communicate to the entire country and recruit the best quality individuals?” he said. “So our sophistication has got to get better, from the tools that we have to find the people to the manner in which we communicate.”
US military leaders who attended a classified exercise in Hawaii learned that a war with North Korea could result in around 10,000 American combat-related casualties in the opening days, according to a New York Times report published on Feb.28, 2018.
The tabletop exercise (TTX), which tests hypothetical scenarios, lasted several days and included Army chief of staff Gen. Mark Milley and Special Operations Command commander Gen. Raymond Thomas.
While the number of troops who could potentially be wounded in such combat may be startling, civilian casualties were predicted to range from the thousands to the hundreds of thousands, according to The Times. The US stations about 28,500 troops in South Korea, while the capital of Seoul — which is in range of North Korea’s crude, yet devastating artillery fire — has a population of about 24 million.
Given the scope of a war, Milley said that “the brutality of this will be beyond the experience of any living soldier,” officials familiar with the TTX said in the report.
According to The Times, military leaders looked at various factors, including how many Special Operations forces could deploy to target nuclear sites in North Korea; whether the US Army’s conventional units could end up fighting in tunnels; and methods to destroy the country’s air defenses to pave the way for US aircraft.
Immediate tensions between North Korean and US-South Korean leaders appear to have subsided in recent weeks after the North’s participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. But US officials remain skeptical of North Korea’s diplomatic overtures.
Though various Trump administration officials have given conflicting statements on US policy, Trump said on Feb. 26, 2018 that he would be open to talks with North Korea “only under the right conditions.”
The US State Department also echoed Trump’s assertions: “Our condition is denuclearization,” spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
“Our policy has not changed. We have talked about this policy since day one of this administration; and that’s maximum pressure, but it’s also the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”