Posts filed under ‘Afghanistan’

FRIDAY FOTO (September 28, 2018)

Dress Rehearsal.

Papa Company Receives New Female Blue Dress Coat

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Vivien Alstad)

Marine Corps recruits try on their blue dress coats for the first time at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina on August 21, 2018.
This photo presents 4GWAR with the opportunity to note that 2018 marks the centennial of women serving in the United States Marine Corps.
Opha May Johnson was the first of more than 300 women who enlisted into the Marine Corps on August 13, 1918, the day after then-Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels allowed women to enlist for clerical duty in the Marine Corps Reserve.
FRIFO 9-28-2018 Add women Parines centennial
In 1918, American women had not yet been granted the right to vote, but Johnson, who was 39 years old at the time, joined the Marine Corps anyway. She served as a clerk at Marine Corps Headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, according to ABC News.
Since 2001, more than 15,000 female Marines have served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ten women have lost their lives in combat, ABC noted in an August 10 piece on the first female Marine officer to command an infantry combat platoon —  1st Lieutenant Marina A. Hierl.
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September 28, 2018 at 11:31 pm 2 comments

FRIDAY FOTO (June 15, 2018)

Found Ya’ Staff Sergeant.

Many Happy Returns

(U.S. Army photo by John Pennell)

This little girl couldn’t wait for ceremonial proceedings to end before greeting a loved one at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. This photo was taken June 2, 2018, as nearly 400 paratroopers assigned to the 25th Infantry Division’s 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne)  returned from a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan.

Note all these soldiers are wearing the paratroopers’ maroon beret. Displayed on their left sleeve is the 25th ID’s Tropic Lighting patch (a lightning bolt superimposed over a taro leaf, commemorating the division’s Hawaiian origins) with the AIRBORNE tab above it.

June 15, 2018 at 12:13 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (June 8, 2018)

Like a thunderbolt.

KC-135 refuels A-10's over Afghanistan
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Corey Hook)

The very landscape of Afghanistan appears to be dressed in camouflage colors as an Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II heads for an aerial refueling rendezvous with a KC-135 Stratotanker.

Longtime visitors to 4GWAR know we are big fans of the Cold War-era A-10, better known by its nickname, Warthog. The 40-plus-year-old attack aircraft, designed as a tank destroyer, has also won the affection of numerous ground troops for its tenacity in close air support in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Here’s a closer look at the A-10 …

KC-135 refuels A-10's over Afghanistan

(U.S.Air Force Photo by Staff Sergeant Corey Hook)

These photos were taken May 28, 2018 during an aerial refueling mission over Afghanistan with A-10s from the 163rd Fighter Squadron and a KC-135 Stratotanker from the  340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron.

To see more photos, click here.

June 8, 2018 at 6:48 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (January, 5, 2018)

In the Red.

Eyes in the Sky: Afghan Air assists ANDSF offensive maneuver during Maiwand 10

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sergeant Justin T. Updegraff)

In case you forgot, there’s still a shooting war going on in Afghanistan, although U.S. troops are deployed largely in advisory and support roles.

As a reminder, here we see U.S. soldiers firing an 81 mm mortar to support Afghan soldiers during Operation Maiwand 10 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on December 26, 2017. The U.S. soldiers — assigned to Company A, 2nd Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment — fired multiple illumination rounds to light the nearby area of Marjah, in southern Afghanistan, where Afghan soldiers encountered a nighttime ambush.

January 5, 2018 at 12:06 am 2 comments

FRIDAY FOTO (September 29, 2017)

Invictus.

Invictus Games 2017

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Luksan)

Medically retired U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Sarah Rudder competes in the 200-meter dash in Toronto, Canada during Invictus Games 2017, an international Paralympic-style event. Rudder, who lost her leg due to injuries suffered at the Pentagon on 9/11, won seven gold medals at last year’s games in Orlando, Florida.

The poem Invictus, by English Victorian poet, William Ernest Henley, himself an amputee, ends with the famous lines:

I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.

For more photos, click here, here, here and here.

September 29, 2017 at 1:38 am Leave a comment

AIRCRAFT: The Close Air Support Debate

Supersonic Swiss Army Knife Vs. Flying Tank.

Here is a photo of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, America’s newest fighter/bomber and the most expensive military acquisition program in U.S. history.

f-35a-lightning-ii_008-ts600

A Fifth Generation Fighter with a host of targeting and surveillance sensors, the Lockheed Martin F-35 was develop[ed with the ability – depending on the variant – to fly off an aircraft carrier or take off and land vertically on an amphibious ship or tiny airstrip. Some have called this multi-role aircraft a flying Swiss Army knife because of its advanced integrated avionics and next generation radar-evading stealth technology. It is also a flying intelligence platform with enormous processing power and sophisticated sensors.

The F-35, officially known as the Lightning II, has a range of capabilities including: air-to-air combat; close air support; ground attack and intelligence gathering for joint and coalition irregular warfare operations, as well as major combat ops.

The next photo is the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II. Sporting the latest 1970s technology, it was built to blow up Soviet tanks in Cold War battles that never happened.  Better known as the “Warthog,” for its homely appearance, punishment-absorbing air frame and ferocious attack capabilities, the hog has won the respect of pilots and the love of ground troops in deployments from Bosnia to Iraq and Afghanistan and currently against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

A-10 Warthog

The single seat, twin engine jet’s sturdy airframe and fearsome armament, including a 30-milimeter, seven-barrel GAU-8/A Gatling gun, have led some to call it a flying tank. But those features made it ideal for delivering close air support to troops on the ground.

Because of congressionally-mandated budget constraints, the U.S. Air Force has been trying, since 2014, to retire the approximately 300 remaining A-10s. The cost of maintaining and upgrading the 40-year-old Warthogs threatened funding for the F-35 and two other top priority Air Force programs: the long range strike bomber and a new aerial refueling tanker. The Pentagon said the Air Force could save $3.5 billion over five years by retiring the A-10 fleet rather than upgrading it. Instead, said then- Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh — himself a former A-10 pilot — the  F-35 could handle the A-10’s single mission of close air support.

But the A-10’s very vocal supporters in Congress, like Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), disputed that claim. They maintained the F-35, flying at Mach 1.6 (approximately 1,200 mph), moved too fast to loiter over a battlefield, while its lighter 25-milimeter canon only carried 182 rounds in the Air Force variant ( 220 rounds in the Navy and Marine Corps versions), compared to the Warthog’s 1,100-round capacity.

General Electric GAU-8/A

A size comparison of the GE GAU-8 Gatling gun, used on A-10 Thunderbolt II, and a Volkswagen Beetle. (U.S. Air Force photo via wikipedia)

Other advocates argued the A-10 could also fly combat search and rescue and surveillance missions. McCain noted in a white paper that funding constraints led the Air Force to slow procurement to a maximum 48 aircraft a year between Fiscal years 2018 and 2022. He has called for buying 300 “low-cost, light-attack fighters” to bridge the gap. The Air Force plans to test light attack aircraft at the OA-X demonstration this summer at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.

The Air Force also says it will not begin retiring the A-10 fleet before 2021, but Congress put language in the latest defense authorization bill barring the Air Force from parking the A-10s until it proves the F-35 can take over the close air support role.

To learn more, visit the Close Air Support Summit 2017 page on the IDGA website.

April 27, 2017 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

VETERANS: VA Exploring New Ways to Ease Veterans’ Pain, Trauma

Mannequins to Marijuana.

Starting off 2017 with new leadership and a promise of additional funding from the Trump administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), is exploring new techniques and new technologies to enhance patient treatment and caregiver training — amid increasing demands from a mushrooming veteran population.

TSIS image-Sim Mannequin

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) National Simulation Center in Florida provides a high-fidelity training environment by replicating actual patient treatment areas with video recording for classroom debriefing and review. (VHA photo).

In addition to meeting the needs of aging 20th century vets, the VA health care system is trying to cope with a surge of veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. The number of veteran enrollees in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) grew from 7.9 million in 2006 to nearly 9 million a decade later, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is the most prevalent mental health challenge facing veterans, according to the VA’s National Center for PTSD. VA research indicates between 11 percent and 20 percent of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD in any given year. For Vietnam vets, it estimates 30 percent have had PTSD in their lifetime. More than 330,000 service members were diagnosed with traumatic brain injury between 2000 and 2015, according to the Defense Department’s Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center.

Dr. David Shulkin, the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs has pledged to improve veterans healthcare services, including providing timely access, especially cutting the first appointment wait time for vets in crisis, and to do more to address the veteran suicide rate of 20 deaths a day. Veterans Affairs was one of only three federal departments to get a funding increase in President Donald Trump’s first budget proposal. The White House is seeking  to increase VA’s funding by 6 percent to $78.9 billion.

Meanwhile, veterans’ groups are calling on Congress to increase funding for complementary and alternative therapies for the “invisible wounds of war,” PSTD and traumatic brain injury (TBI). VA is studying non-mainstream medical practices ranging from natural products like vitamins, minerals and herbs to mind and body practices like yoga, acupuncture, meditation, massage therapy and chiropractic and osteopathic spinal manipulation.

The American Legion has suggested studying medical marijuana as a therapy for chronic pain. Chronic pain is the most common problem afflicting veterans. Almost two-thirds of veterans say they are in pain, and 9.1 percent say their pain is severe.

VHA has turned to advanced medical simulation and other high tech systems to standardize training procedures and education policies across its 1,233 healthcare facilities, including 168 medical centers.

VHA opened its new national simulation training center near Orlando, Florida last fall. Using computerized mannequins and other high tech equipment, students can replicate actual patient treatment situations that can be repeated as often as necessary. The training can be shared with other VA facilities through on-line video and other digital methods.

These and related topics will be discussed by government, medical and industry experts at the VA Healthcare 2017 conference May 15-18 in Arlington, Virginia. To read more, click here.

March 30, 2017 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

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