Tag Archives: military

Pentagon demanding return of cash bonuses given to soldiers a decade ago

Evil. The government is routinely evil: The Pentagon is demanding that soldiers who ten years ago volunteered to re-enlist to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan in exchange for cash bonuses return those bonuses because new audits have revealed that the government had screwed up.

The Army asked wounded Iraq veteran and former Army captain Christopher Van Meter, 42, to repay a $25,000 reenlistment bonus it said he was ineligible to receive. He was also asked to repay $21,000 in student loan repayments. Van Meter told the paper that rather than fight the Army he paid back the money after refinancing his home. “These bonuses were used to keep people in,” Van Meter said. “People like me just got screwed.”

The Times reported that 48-year-old Army sergeant Robert Richmond, who suffered permanent injuries in an Iraq roadside bomb attack, is refusing to repay his $15,000 cash bonus. The Army contends he was ineligible to receive the bonus in 2006 because he had already served 20 years in the Army. “I signed a contract that I literally risked my life to fulfill,” Richmond told the paper. “We want somebody in the government, anybody, to say this is wrong and we’ll stop going after his money.”

Investigations determined that fraud and mismanagement due to poor oversight contributed to the California Guard bonus overpayments, according to the Times. [emphasis mine]

In other words, the government was either incompetent or downright corrupt a decade ago, and now wants soldiers who risked their lives but did their job well to suffer for that incompetence and corruption.

As I say, the government is routinely evil, and incompetent. It can’t do anything right, and will never take responsibility for its own disasters. Instead, it tries to pass its failures on to us all.

Practicing Landings on a Carrier in bad weather

An evening pause: Last night we had the Flight of the Foo Birds. Tonight, we look at real flight, military pilots practicing landings on an aircraft carrier when the ocean is rough and the ship is rolling. The movies always give us the impression that this is easy, when in fact it is not.

Hat tip Rocco.

Marine court-martialed for displaying Biblical verses

Fascists: Claiming “significant damage could be caused by forcing military employees to work in the presence of a religious quotation,” a Marine was court-martialed when she refused to remove the verses displayed at her work place.

The case centers on an incident two years ago, in which Sterling was stationed at Camp Lejune in North Carolina. A devout Christian, she chose to place at her workstation three slips of paper with the words, “No weapon formed against me shall prosper,” a modification of the Bible verse Isaiah 54:17. Sterling taped the Bible verse in three different places to emulate the Holy Trinity, according to her lawyers.

When her immediate supervisor – Staff Sergeant Alexander – saw the verses, she ordered Sterling to remove them, saying that she did not like the tone. Sterling refused, according to her lawyers, citing First Amendment freedoms and the fact that others in her unit were allowed to have personal items in their workstations. The following day, Sterling found the Bible verses in the garbage. She then reprinted and posted the verses, but found them in the trash again the next day.

On February 1, 2014, Sterling was court-martialed.

She lost the case, but is now appealing to the military’s highest court.

The absurdity of this knows no bounds. No one ever complained about the verses. More importantly, it is her right to express them, even as a display.

Army building its first operational ray gun?

Lockheed Martin has begun production on a laser weapon designed to be mounted to U.S. Army vehicles.

The ATHENA laser can be operated by a single person and is made up of multiple fiber laser modules, which not only allows for greater flexibility, but also lessens the chance of the weapon being knocked out by a minor malfunction, so frequent repairs aren’t required. Lockhead Martin also says that the modular design means that the laser power can be varied across an extremely wide range to suit specific mission needs. Using off-the-shelf commercial fiber laser components to keep down costs, the modules can be linked together to produce lasers of up to 120 kW.

ATHENA was tested in March when it took out a pickup truck with a sustained 30 kW burst.

While stun and disintegration ray guns seem cool in science fiction, in battle something as complex and as cutting edge as this is likely not be be very practical. New technology needs a lot of testing to make its workings robust, something that is essential in the harsh conditions of battle. To me, this sounds more like pork, government money being wasted to keep people employed.

Obama quarantines American soldiers in Africa but not Africans

Incompetence: Even as the Obama administration refuses to consider any real travel restrictions for African citizens of ebola-ravaged countries, it has ordered military officials to quarantine American troops in Africa for up to 21 days if they suspect they might have ebola.

According to CNN, “Commanders also will be given the authority to isolate their entire unit in the region for the final 10 days of a deployment if necessary. All troops will be monitored for 21 days after returning from the mission.”

Currently, citizens of Ebola outbreak countries are required to self-report their possible exposure. The “honor system” of self-reporting was violated by Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who was the first to be diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., when he did not voluntarily disclose that he’d carried a pregnant woman in the throes of Ebola.

The restrictions for American troops actually does make sense. The lack of restrictions for Africans, however, is the height of blindness.

Chinese anti-satellite test?

The U.S. State department is claiming that China completed a “non-destructive” anti-satellite test last week.

The State department also demanded that China refrain from further such actions.

China in turn said that the test was for a a ballistic missile defense system. According to these Chinese reports, the test was of a land-based missile designed to intercept an incoming rocket, much like Israel’s Iron Dome and the U.S. SDI systems. Such a system, however, is in many ways indistinguishable from an anti-sat system. In fact, the U.S. military proved that by firing a missile that successfully destroyed an orbiting satellite several years ago.

In the case of last week’s Chinese test, the interceptor did not apparently impact anything but instead demonstrated its ability to hit a prearranged simulated point in space.

China’s president calls for the increased military use of that country’s space assets.

China’s president calls for the increased military use of that country’s space assets.

The article itself is not very informative, other than noting these comments. In fact, it has some errors that suggest the writer knows very little about China’s space effort, both civilian or military.

Nonetheless, China’s president did make this statement, which tells us that it is definitely Chinese policy. Not good.

A Catholic priest at a military base has been prohibited from even volunteering to run Mass and was told that if he violated that order he would be arrested.

Shutdown fascism: A Catholic priest at a military base has been prohibited from even volunteering to run Mass and was told that if he violated that order he would be arrested.

Even more amazing, “Protestant services continue to take place. Only Catholic services have been shutdown.”

A lawsuit has been filed.

The Obama administration has ordered 1100 square miles of open ocean off limits to private fisherman and tourists because of the government shutdown.

Shutdown fascism: The Obama administration has ordered 1100 square miles of open ocean off limits to private fisherman and tourists because of the government shutdown.

The article above also has a link to a story where voluntary unpaid Catholic priests have been told by the Obama administration that they will face arrest if they try to serve mass at military chapels or minister to military personnel during the shutdown.

Even as the military announces it must eliminate TV broadcasts of sporting events for the troops overseas because of the govermnent shutdown, it continues to operate the golf courses and Camp David for President Obama’s entertainment.

Even as the military announces it must eliminate TV broadcasts of sporting events for the troops overseas because of the govermnent shutdown, it continues to operate the golf courses and Camp David for President Obama’s entertainment.

Posted as we crossed the Tennessee-Virginia border on I-81, heading north.

The Pentagon has decided to buy its launch services from more than just Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

The competition heats up: The Pentagon has decided to buy its launch services from more than just Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Under the new plan, the Air Force can buy as many as 14 launches over the next five years from possible bidders such as Space Exploration Technologies Corp, or SpaceX, and Orbital Sciences Corp . The service may also buy as many as 36 launches from United Launch Alliance, the Lockheed-Boeing venture, with an option to purchase the other 14 launches if the competitors haven’t been certified to launch military and spy satellites that can cost up to $1 billion each.

Originally the military planned to purchase all of its launches from Boeing and Lockheed. Political pressure from SpaceX has now forced them to widen the competition, or at least, make noises that they are doing so. If you read the above paragraph closely the plan still favors the original two companies and is strongly stacked to hand all the launches over to them anyway.

Update: My pessimism above was premature. SpaceX has been awarded a contract for two launches under this new policy.

Two Democrats joined Republicans yesterday on a Senate committee to block the U.S. military from increasing its use of alternatives fossil fuels.

Two Democrats joined Republicans yesterday on a Senate committee to block the U.S. military from increasing its use of alternatives fossil fuels.

What stood out to me in this article was the following quote:

As part of this support, in December the Navy agreed to spend $12 million for 450,000 gallons of “advanced biofuels,” which can be blended with petroleum in a 50:50 mixture and burned in conventional engines. The Navy and Air Force have both set a goal of using advanced biofuels for 50% of their fuel use by the end of this decade. But the current $26-a-gallon price tag angered congressional Republicans, who accuse the Obama Administration of using the military to support its green agenda. [emphasis mine]

$26 per gallon for biofuels? I find it astonishing that anyone voted for this program.

Of course the military wants options. And of course we want to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, if only to reduce the money pouring into the hands of the radical Islamists of the Middle East. But at that price, these alternative fuels are simply not competitive or affordable.

GAO and SpaceX blast military’s plans to spend $15 billion for all its launches through 2018 in one purchase

GAO and SpaceX blast the military’s plans to spend $15 billion for all its launches through 2018, in one bulk purchase.

The reason given by the military for buying all these launches up front is to save money. In reality, it is to favor the companies they want to do business with, rather than open up the business to as many competitors as possible.

The designer of spy satellite finally reveals his life’s work

The designer of the spy satellite KH-9 HEXAGON (more generally known by its nickname “Big Bird”) has finally been able to describe his life’s work.

What surprised me most from this story is the fact that HEXAGON used film to record its images, not some form of digital or electronic technology. The film was returned to Earth in four “re-entry buckets” that were snatched out of the air by a modified C-130 airplane. I had assumed that by the time HEXAGON was launched they had abandoned film. Not so.

The second X-37b is in orbit

The second X-37b is in orbit. Key quote:

Similar to [Orbital Test Vehicle-1] , [Orbital Test Vehicle-2]’s actual mission duration will depend on the vehicle achieving its test objectives, but he expects it to remain on orbit for approximately 270 days. “We may extend the mission to enhance our understanding of the OTV capabilities,” Colonel Giese said, “especially since the performance data from the first flight suggest that the vehicle could have gone beyond the 270-day requirement.”

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