The world is changing and warfare changes with it. The Marine Corps has opted to phase out portions of its infantry military occupational specialities (MOSs) to build up cyber and electronic warfare groups. In exchange for advancing cyber and electronic warfare capabilities, the Marine Corps will eliminate the 0351 Infantry Assaultman as well as the assault sections of Marine Rifle Companies.
Meet the 0351 Assaultman
There are currently five core enlisted infantry MOSs in the Marine Corps: the 0311 Rifleman, 0331 Machine Gunner, 0341 Mortarman, the 0351 Infantry Assault Marine, and the 0352 Antitank Missile Gunner. The 0351 is responsible for breaching, demolitions, and firing rockets against fortified positions.
Infantry Assault Marines carry the MK-143 shoulder-launched multipurpose assault weapons (SMAW). The 83mm weapon has two main munitions. High-Explosive, Dual Purpose (HEDP) rockets are used for bunkers, concrete walls, and lightly armored vehicles while the High-Explosive, Anti-Armor (HEAA) rockets are used against tanks. The SMAW also fires a thermobaric warhead, the SMAW-NE, which is used to collapse caves and bunkers. The Marine Corps plans to replace the SMAW with the Carl Gustaf 83mm recoilless rifle over the next four years.
A Numbers Game
The United States Marine Corps is often asked to do a lot with very little. But being “The Few, The Proud, The Marines” comes with a cost. The Marine Corps has neither the size nor the budget to increase capabilities in one area without cutting somewhere else. Trades must be made.
The 0351 MOS is comprised of more junior ranks (private through sergeant) and has training overlaps with the other core infantry MOSs. Infantry Assault Marines also have a very niche role. They often find themselves serving as machine gunner or riflemen while on deployment because the facts on the ground do not require a breaching or bunker-busting capability.
Although the MOS will be phased out, the need for breaching and demolitions remains. An element of combat engineers will fill the gap left by the assault sections, performing the demolitions duties and carrying the SMAW (or the 84mm Carl Gustav recoilless rifle when it replaces the SMAW over the next four years).
But the 0351 may return. Marine Corps leaders have been asking for 12,000 additional troops to build the cyber and electronic warfare communities. In 2017 they received 3,000, and the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act provided another 1,000. If the increase of the remaining 8,000 happens, the Marines can bring back the 0351.
What do you think of the USMC’s plan to phase out the 0351 MOS? Tell us in Live Chat with one of our authors!
Communication is a vital part of warfare. From counterinsurgencies to conventional force-on-force battles to the war of ideas, communication is a linchpin. Thanks to the internet, interaction is easier than ever, and there are few better examples of its power to connect people than the current protests in Iran.
Liberty Nation has covered the Iranian protests, both the protests themselves and the diplomatic implications here at home, but what is interesting is the method in which the Iranian government is trying to stifle the demonstrations: stopping their ability to communicate and organize.
Social Media and the Protester
Much like we saw in the Ukrainian uprising and the Arab Spring, social media was a primary method of organization and communication for protest leaders and those “manning the barricades.” Through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media apps, organizers have been able to put together the most massive protests in Iran since the Green Movement in 2009. The government, in exchange, has blocked access to these apps.
One app, in particular, has caused some backlash. Telegram, a communications app used by about half of Iranians for sending encrypted messaging, files, and videos, is a significant part of the social media presence in Iran. It is used by individuals and businesses not only for its encrypted messaging ability but because it is often cheaper to use Telegram than conventional communications methods, especially when contacting people overseas.
Circumventing Censorship and Calls for Aid
Iranians are already familiar with government censorship, and a culture of circumvention exists within Iran’s internet users. Many use virtual private networks (VPNs) to get around censorship methods. Another tactic is finding and using alternate apps. As the app marketplace is ever-expanding, new means of communication are easy to find. The Iranian Government has been forced to play “whack-a-mole” to stop the transmissions, leading them to shut down the internet entirely in some areas.
Reza Pahlavi, former Crown Prince of Iran and son of the overthrown Shah, said in an interview with Reuters that the United States must assist Iranians in their opposition to the government. Various sanctions keep U.S. tech companies from fully operating in Iran. Reza believes exemptions should be added to provide communications ability to the protestors despite the Iranian government’s attempt to stifle it.
It would not be the first time the United States government has worked with tech companies over the Iranian issue. In 2009, the Obama administration worked with Twitter to delay scheduled maintenance to permit Iranians the ability to communicate further. Former President Obama also approved sanction exemptions that allowed chat, email, and social networking services. Many companies, however, still decline service to Iran for fear of violating current sanctions.
Should the United States intervene, even if only on the communication front? Talk to one of our authors in our Live Chat and discuss!
The internet is one of those underappreciated technological wonders. Coupled with smartphones, the entire wealth of human knowledge now fits in the palm of your hand. It has connected, and in many ways divided, us as a people. But for every researcher finding digital versions of centuries-old knowledge, there is an idiot with a camera phone.
We’ve all seen them: the YouTube stars, the Instagram socialites, the Vine “comedians.” The ability to receive worldwide attention often leads to people going to extremes to receive it. One such endeavor ended in tragedy as a young man was shot and killed in a YouTube “prank” gone wrong.
Monalisa Perez was convicted this week of second-degree manslaughter after admitting she shot, and inadvertently killed, her boyfriend in an attempt to be a viral sensation. The couple, who frequently posted prank and stunt videos on YouTube, decided to escalate from their usual antics and involved firearms. Now a man is dead, their children are without a father, and young Monalisa is now a felon. She will be sentenced in February.
The stunt in question, which we remind readers NOT to emulate, involved a 1.5-inch-thick encyclopedia and a .50 caliber Desert Eagle. Perez held the pistol while her boyfriend, Pedro Ruiz III, held the book to his chest. The stunt was apparently his idea, and he had shown Perez other books he had shot where the bullet did not penetrate.
Things did not go according to plan. Pedro held the book to his chest, Monalisa fired the pistol, and 30 onlookers (their three-year-old child being one of them) watched the young man die. He was pronounced dead at the scene when first responders arrived.
The Importance of Gun Safety and Education
Incidents like this occur because people do not respect firearms and their danger they represent when misused. Ignorance is not bliss and, in many cases, is a death sentence. Let us be clear. Liberty Nation loves guns. Many of our writers, myself included, own quite a few and you can have them when you pry them from our cold, dead, hands. But a love and firearms and the Second Amendment carry with it the responsibility of knowledge. So, to remind everyone at home, here are the Four Primary Gun Safety Rules:
- Treat EVERY gun as if it is loaded.
- NEVER point the gun at anything you do not intend to destroy.
- Keep your finger OFF the trigger until you are on target and ready to fire.
- Know your target and know what’s behind it.
Shooting books (preferably those with no value like Hillary Clinton’s sensational pity party “What Happened”) can be fun if done safely. Standing directly behind the book is not safe. It is stupid, and it is deadly. Remember the fundamentals of gun safety. Teach them to your children, teach your children to respect firearms, and please teach them not to seek validation from strangers on the internet.
When you think of ethnic cleansing, what comes to mind is likely the systematic killing of Jews during the Holocaust, the wholesale slaughter of Tutsi during the Rwandan Genocide, the war crimes committed by military officials in the Bosnian Crisis, or the brutal campaigns waged on the Yazidi by ISIS. But genocide has again reared its head in Myanmar, and the U.N. appears powerless to stop it.
A mass grave was discovered in Rakhine state, where the majority of violence against the Rohingya has taken place. United Nations’ investigators were barred from the country, and of course, the UN has responded with their usual stern tones and grand speeches.
Who are the Rohingya?
Myanmar has 135 official ethnic groups. The Rohingya, according to the government, is not one of them. They’re descendants of Arab traders and other groups who traveled through the region, and have their own culture and language. They also represent the most substantial portion of Muslims living in Myanmar – a predominately Buddhist country.
Despite their presence in Myanmar for decades, the nation refuses to acknowledge their status as an ethnic group, referring to them instead as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. To the government, and many who hold similarly hostile sentiments in Myanmar, the Rohingya are merely Bengali.
The animosity towards the Rohingya people is longstanding, and the proverbial purging of Rohingyas from Myanmar is the latest, and most violent, case of it in recent history.
Terrorism as an excuse
On August 25, 2017, members of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa) attacked police posts in Rakhine state, killing 12. Myanmar’s government claims that Arsa is a terrorist organization with ties to jihadist groups. Arsa, on the other hand, states that they have no such connection and their existence is purely for the defense of the Rohingya people from government oppression.
The military crackdown that followed the August 25 attack has prompted the Rohingya to flee Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh, where refugee camps are overflowing. Survivors have reported that the military and Buddhist mobs burned their villages and attacked civilians. There have also been reports of mass rape and abuse of Rohingya women and girls.
Myanmar’s government has stated that “clearance operations” against Rohingya militants concluded on September 5, and that 400 were killed. Reports from multiple sources, to include the BBC, Amnesty International, and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), more commonly known as Doctors Without Borders, have concluded that the violence is far more widespread than the government claims. MSF suggests a death toll of at least 6,700 in the first month alone.
Nobel Laureate standing by
It should be noted that, like many countries in Southeast Asia, the government and the military are not always on the same page. The contextual lens of the United States’ civil-military relationship is very different from how things work in Myanmar. The government and military are almost two separate entities with both vying, in a way, to control the other.
Aung San Suu Kyi is Myanmar’s State Counsellor (similar to Prime Minister). While she may head the government, she has no control over the military. She has, however, provided the military with the political cover it requires to operate freely against the Rohingya. She and her government have been all but silent on the issue.
Suu Kyi not only refuses to call the Rohingya people by name, but has denied that ethnic cleansing is taking place. While she may not have control of the military, she has done next to nothing to stop what the United Nations has called “textbook ethnic cleansing.”
This is doubly troubling because Suu Kyi is a Nobel Peace Prize recipient. Many of our readers may have probably lost respect for the Nobel Peace Prize after former President Barrack Obama’s received it for “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples” during his first year in office (you know, before he had a chance to DO any of that).
In Suu Kyi’s case, her 1991 Nobel Prize was awarded “for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights.” She stood up to Myanmar’s military and refused to bend in the name of democratic solutions. Her Nobel Prize, unlike former President Obama’s, was earned.
It would appear, however, that her devotion to human rights extends to everyone but the Rohingya. The United Nations, despite recognizing that ethnic cleansing is currently ongoing, has yet to sanction Myanmar. While many countries are helping with the refugee crisis, it is far more likely that the UN will be exactly as active in stopping this genocide as they were in Rwanda: not at all.
On Tuesday, 12 December, President Trump signed the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This defense bill authorizes almost $700 billion to the Defense Department; $634 billion to the base defense budget and $66 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations.
Among the specific provisions, $26.2 billion goes to shipbuilding, $10.1 billion to purchase 90 F-35s, and $2.2 billion for Army ground vehicles.
While many of the provisions are big-picture programs like the F-35 and updated ground vehicles, many elements of the bill will affect Service Members directly. Most notably is a 2.4% pay raise, the highest since 2010. It authorizes the creation of a database for training, helping veterans receive certifications and licenses based on their military experience.
Dependents and retirees will also see some changes. Tricare (the government provided insurance to military members, retirees, and their families) will have an increase in copays. This, however, does not apply to disabled veterans and their dependents, or dependents of service members who died while in service. Furthermore, military spouses who have to get new professional certifications or licenses when they move can receive a $500 rebate.
As mentioned in our previous article on the Civilian Marksmanship Program, 8,000 to 10,000 surplus M1911s were waiting for approval to transfer. Now that the 2018 NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) has been signed, transfers can begin, and shooters and collectors alike can start keeping an eye out for M1911s to hit the CMP website.
The Bigger Picture
The NDAA means a lot more than just additional money for troops and a chance to own a piece of surplus weaponry. It represents overall growth of the military. The defense bill provides for a troop increase of about 20,000. The Army is expected to grow by 7,500, the Navy by 4,000, and the Air Force and Marines by 4,100 and 1,000 respectively.
The military (and military funding especially) operates much like a pendulum. When the drums of war beat, the size of our military grows. When the public, or the White House, calls for a change of pace the military shrinks. The cycle repeats itself conflict after conflict, president after president. As the Korean War (technically) came to a close, President Eisenhower cut spending. As he withdrew from Vietnam, President Nixon cut spending. As the Cold War began to wind down, President Reagan cut spending. The trend was followed by Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Much like his predecessors, when President Obama saw a conflict coming to an end, he shrank the force. Unlike his predecessors, President Obama’s cuts came when the War on Terror was still very much alive, and the arbitrary reduction in military strength and presence created a power vacuum that we are now dealing with today.
Cuts are one side of the pendulum swing. We, as a Nation, reduce our military strength when we no longer see or want to see, the need for a large, strong military. The unfortunate side-effect is that when that need returns, we find ourselves unprepared and attempt to rapidly solve the problem. How? We throw money at it and lower recruitment standards.
We saw this during the tenure of President Bush the Younger. During what has become known as “The Surge” recruitment standards were lowered to enable a sudden and dramatic increase in troop strength. When recruitment standards are lowered, individuals who have no business putting on a uniform are sent to the front line. Substandard recruits become troops.
Look no further than the case of Bowe Bergdahl. Bergdahl enlisted in 2008, during the height of The Surge. He was a Coast Guard washout who required a waiver to enlist in the Army. Roughly 20% of recruits that year received waivers that, like Bergdahl, would have otherwise prevented them from joining the Armed Forces. Bergdahl, as Liberty Nation has discussed at length, should never have been allowed in the Army, but in the name of rapid troops increases the ends justified the means.
Furthermore, the wanton spending of the early days of the Global War on Terror gave the Pentagon the idea that it had a near limitless pot of money to throw at problems and conduct pet projects. Loyal Liberty Nation readers will well remember the consistent reporting on fraud, waste, and abuse within the Department of Defense. Although the DoD is finally being audited, the damage done by the undisciplined spending of the 2000s has created bad habits; and even worse, corruption within the military-industrial complex.
As we grow our military, we must pay close attention to the mistakes of our past. We must not lower recruitment standards; we must not allow undisciplined spending to rule the day. The United States Government must not forget that it is accountable to the American People. Our tax dollars fill its war chests, and our sons and daughters march into battle on its orders.
We can not afford to repeat our missteps. Substandard recruitment makes for substandard troops, and substandard troops cost lives.
Regular readers of Liberty Nation will undoubtedly be familiar with our consistent coverage of the fraud, waste, and abuse of tax dollars within the Department of Defense’s coffers. Even when other government agencies have been meeting their financial reporting requirements since the 1990s, the DoD has famously never been audited.
In 2010 the National Defense Authorization Act gave the DoD a seven-year grace period to get their house in order. That time has run out, and Pentagon officials have announced that the Department of Defense is beginning a massive audit.
The Need for Accountability
A significant portion of taxpayer money goes towards military spending. At over 50% of discretionary funding and more than 15% of the budget as a whole, the Department of Defense gets a very large piece of the budgetary pie. While this is not inherently a bad thing, utilizing government funds comes with it the requirement to be a good steward of the public’s money. The Pentagon’s record in that regard has been less than stellar.
Liberty Nation has reported on multiple instances of wasteful spending and other monetary tomfoolery within the DoD. These have ranged from buying camouflage uniforms for the Afghan National Army that doesn’t work to using a fuel purchasing account as a veritable slush fund, to burying the Defense Business Board’s findings that the Pentagon had $125 billion in administrative waste.
The Department of Defense’s track record is evidence of what every hard working American already knows: when people are not held accountable for the money they are given, they will be irresponsible with it.
The Way Forward
The Pentagon is sending 2,400 auditors across the entire organization. They will examine each branch of service, equipment, facilities, personnel, bases, and every other aspect of military spending. According to the department officials, the DoD is estimated to have around $2.4 trillion in assets.
“Estimate” is the operative word. Having never undergone an audit, the military does not know exactly what it has. This should not seem surprising; just ask any unit commander who has found a shipping container of equipment that “wasn’t on the books.”
It would appear that the Pentagon finally has their act together. Daniel L. Norquist, Defense Department Comptroller, has said that starting in 2018 audits will be yearly and reports will be issued on the 15th of November.
Time will tell what the audit reveals and how it will affect defense spending. Given this nation’s history of bloated defense projects (here’s looking at you F-35) it is unlikely that much will change. This, unfortunately, is not a military problem. It is a Congressional one.
Throwing money at the problem is a long-favored pastime for politicians, and it extends to military projects as well. Hopefully, the audits will shine a light on the dark corners of the budget and help the government become a leaner, more efficient entity.
I would not hold your breath.
If you close your eyes and think of the quintessential military pistol, you’ll undoubtedly picture the glory that is the M1911. This single action, recoil operated, magazine fed, .45 caliber pistol was the primary sidearm for the U.S. Army for 75 years and holds a special place in the heart of veteran, collector, and shooting enthusiast alike. The Army has 10,000 surplus M1911s and, thanks to the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP), you might be able to get your hands on one.
Designed by John Browning (praised be his name) and produced by Colt, the M1911 first entered service in 1911. It was adopted by the Army and by the Navy and Marine Corps two years later. It has seen action in WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam until it was replaced by the M9 (a 9mm Beretta) in 1986. Subsets of the military, especially Special Operations, still used the M1911 and its variants well after the official replacement, mostly due to a preference of the .45 caliber round over the 9mm.
Although the M1911 has gone through several updates and imitations, Browning’s basic design has remained relatively unchanged since its inception over a hundred years ago. The pistol operates on recoil. When the gun is shot, the expanding gasses propel the bullet forward and the slide back. The spent casing is ejected as the spring from the magazine moves a new round into place. The slide brings the hammer into the rearward position and, by way of a spring, returns to its original position. The pistol is ready to be fired again. If the round fired was the last round in the magazine, the slide will stay in the rear position.
The M1911 has a slim profile thanks to its single stack magazine. The magazine holds seven rounds, providing the shooter with eight before a reload is required (assuming you carry as I do, with “one in the tube”). The pistol is also remarkably safe, with both a grip safety and an external safety.
You can find M1911 clones made by almost every pistol manufacturer. Take a look at mine, and you’ll see why. The weapon is a work of art. The simplicity and, to be frank, sex appeal of the pistol is undeniable.
The Civilian Marksmanship Program
The Civilian Marksmanship Program was created by Congress in 1903 as the Office of the Director of Civilian Marksmanship. The organization’s goal was to provide marksmanship education and training to civilians, a crucial skill should they be called to serve in the armed forces. The U.S. Army ran it until 1996, when Congress created the Corporation for the Promotion of Rifle Practice & Firearms Safety. This 501(c)(3) non-profit now operates the program. It receives no federal funding or assistance, except for surplus .22 and .30 caliber rifles from the U.S. Army.
The CMP sells these rifles to the public and provides safety and marksmanship education. It sponsors national tournaments and operates camps. The CMP’s current focus is youth development and the promotion of safe firearms use.
The CMP’s rifle inventory currently includes the M1 Garand, .22 caliber target rifles, and air rifles. Their catalog of M1 Carbines has been exhausted, and they are no longer taking orders for the M1917 Enfield or M1903.
The National Defense Authorization Act of 2018 calls for the sale of roughly 10,000 surplus M1911s, and is currently awaiting approval. Once this happens, the Army will be able to transfer the pistols to the CMP. Transfers are expected to take place over a two-year period, according to the Army Times.
While you can always buy a new version at your local gun dealer (where you WILL undergo a background check regardless of what the left may tell you), if you want to get your hands on a piece of history, take a look at the Civilian Marksmanship Program. The popularity of the M1911 can border on the insane, so you’ll have to act fast.
What do you think about the transfer? Will you try to get your hands on one? Tell us in the comments!
As North Korea continues to rattle sabers with missile tests, South Korea is rattling the North’s cage. Using military loudspeakers aimed across the border, South Korea has broadcasted news of the defection of a North Korean soldier since his exit to freedom in November. Video of the escape has been making the rounds on the internet, showing the frantic flight and pursuit by North Korean guards. North Korean soldiers fired at the defector and briefly pursued him across the border. Seoul has criticized the action as a violation of the 1953 armistice, which, technically, ended the Korean War.
South Korea’s loudspeakers are a prime example of psychological warfare. There are nearly a dozen broadcast installations positioned on the border. They play South Korean music, world news, and reports about the abysmal conditions in the North. It should be noted that while this last point seems nonsensical – after all, North Koreans are the ones facing those conditions and should know how bad they are – North Koreans are essentially inmates in the world’s largest prison. Information is strictly controlled, and, in most cases, the people simply do not know what life is like outside their 46,540 square mile prison camp.
Psychological warfare is a powerful tool that can chip away at the resolve of the enemy — and civilian support for their cause. “The supreme art of war,” Sun Tzu teaches, “is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” As the shooting portion of the war between North and South ended in 1953 (despite the occasional flare-up), psychological warfare is one of the few weapons available.
Diplomacy, although difficult given the opponent, is another. Carl von Clausewitz, the Prussian general, military theorist, and unofficial patron saint of military thinkers everywhere, put the issue plainly:
“War is the continuation of politics by other means.”
What this tells us is that diplomacy and warfare, hard and soft power, are two sides of the same coin. They are different means to the same end. Both are useful and, in many cases, are equally compelling. Liberty Nation has reported extensively on the North Korean situation and the ever-moving march to war. One thing is certain. If a shooting war were to revisit the Koreas, the loss of life would be unlike anything seen in modern history.
The South Korea/United States alliance’s greatest strength (our overwhelming military power) is also our greatest weakness. North Korea knows that any military action would lead to complete and total destruction. While some consider North Korea’s military to be a paper tiger, a cornered tiger is still a dangerous one. Left with the certainty of destruction, North Korea would not hesitate to use their military’s full potential immediately. That means thousands of rounds of artillery, rockets, and even the use of nuclear weapons.
Loss of life would reach the thousands within minutes, and the entire situation (not to mention the nuclear disaster) would destabilize the region as a whole.
The Trump Administration needs to learn how to deftly use both sides of the Clausewitz coin, and fast.
The recent deluge of sexual harassment and assault revelations involving powerful men in politics and the media has revealed several things. Firstly, it has reminded us of an age-old truth. Those who have power will use it to feed their vices and conceal their deviant behavior.
Unfortunately, a second truth has revealed itself. Between Hollywood hypocrisy, partisan “whataboutism” on both sides, and silence by colleagues who have known about these issues for years, it is clear that we, as a nation, do not care about sexual abuse until it is politically or professionally beneficial.
If there were any doubts, one need look no further than a recent report by the Department of Defense Inspector General that found that U.S. troops were instructed to ignore the prevalent child sex abuse by our governmental and military partners in Afghanistan.
Breaking the Rules
The report focusses around the Leahy Amendment, which prohibits the U.S. from “funds for assistance to units or foreign security forces” that commit gross violations of human rights. In 2016, the Department of Defense initiated the investigation after media reports of sex slavery, kidnapping, and rape by Afghan forces prompted Congress to do something.
Congress posed nine questions for the Inspector General ranging from what policies were in place regarding child sexual abuse by Afghan forces to whether or not U.S. personnel received guidance or cultural training regarding the widely known practice of child abuse in Afghanistan. The practice, called “Bacha bazi” or “boy play” is one where powerful figures in society or business sexually abuse young boys, many of whom dance in female clothing or serve tea.
The report found that while there was no official policy or guidance on how to deal with this issue, the Inspector General found that individuals were often given informal guidance that there was “nothing to be done” or that it was “not a priority issue for the command.”
Cultural-awareness training, the IG finds, was provided at the service-specific level. Army and Air Force training make no mention of child sexual abuse in Afghanistan. Navy and Marine Corps training mention pedophilia in Afghanistan and advised Sailors to “overcome any frustration caused by cultural differences” and Marines to “move on.”
In all cases, cultural-awareness training had the intention of preparing service members for the attitudes they may encounter to minimize the effect of culture shock on mission performance.
Liberty Nation sources within the military have confirmed, under a condition of anonymity, that during their time in Afghanistan the abuse of young boys was widely known and that commanders on the ground either dismissed the issue as an “Afghan problem” or had a nihilistic attitude toward the outcome of submitting reports.
The Inspector General’s report also concluded that “the DoD is not applying the DoD Leahy Law in a timely manner” and that before 2015 there was no policy identifying child sexual abuse as a human rights violation that should be reported.
A Chink in the Armor?
Coincidentally enough, 2015 saw a slew of media coverage on the topic after Army Green Beret Sergeant First Class Charles Martland was involuntarily discharged due to black marks on his military record following an incident in 2011 where he and Captain Daniel Quinn roughed up an Afghan police commander. The commander, Abdul Rahman of Kunduz Province had been accused of imprisoning a young boy in his home and raping him repeatedly for several days. Rahman confessed and laughed off the situation.
Quinn and Martland were not amused and proceeded to provide the police commander with what is affectionately known in the military as “wall to wall counseling.” After being picked up, thrown, and body slammed Rahman fled. The two Americans were later reprimanded and sent home. Although Martland’s discharge has been reversed, the IG’s report only confirms the depressing reality that Afghan War Vets already knew: a blind eye was cast on this issue as a matter of unofficial policy.
Official guidelines concerning child sexual abuse were not put in place until public outcry made it an issue. Nothing was done about Hollywood’s culture of sexual abuse until public outcry made it an issue. Congressional sexual harassment went untouched until public outcry has made it an issue. In every one of these cases, members of the organizations in question who knew what was going on did nothing until it was beneficial to or until failure to do so would be professionally damaging.
The time has come to get over our partisan squabbles and address the real moral issues plaguing this country. We can do better. We MUST do better.
The United States Army is currently testing the Modular Scalable Vest (MSV) as part of the Soldier Protection System, the new era of body armor and other personal protective equipment. Soldiers in Fort Carson, Colorado conducted a weeklong series of field tests in October, demonstrating the full potential of the MSV.
The armor upgrade represents a “good news story” in military spending. The Pentagon is still in dire need of an audit, which it has never had, and needs fiscal accountability more than a Leftist needs a safe space. But this story represents a bright light in the chasm of F-35 cost overruns, fuel account slush funds, and scandals like Fat Leonard.
The MSV is a replacement for the Improved Outer Tactical Vest (IOTV); it includes soft Kevlar inserts as well as ballistic plates on the front, rear, and sides. The Kevlar inserts are capable of stopping 9mm rounds, and the plates are capable of preventing penetration from a 7.62mm bullet in both NATO and Soviet variation.
A medium vest with plates weighs just over 30 pounds and can carry a variety of pouches and add-ons using the Pouch Attachment Ladder System (PALS). PALS is a horizontal grid of woven loops attached to the vest; pouches can be added by weaving straps through the webbing and snapping them shut. This system allows the vest to be modular in its configuration (although most units will dictate a standard of pouch configuration).
Upgrades in Fit and Function
The MSV carries the same modular nature of the IOTV, but the entire system is lighter and more maneuverable. The medium vest, when fully configured, weighs 25 pounds. If five pounds doesn’t seem like much of an improvement, ask anyone who has been on a foot patrol in full kit. Every ounce counts.
Soldiers testing the MSV have stated that it is not only lighter, but has a superior range of motion and is more breathable. Specialist Isaac Bocanegra, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician, involved in testing, hailed the new body armor:
“I currently wear the IOTV about twice each day and it is quite a bit heavier than this body armor. Having this new body armor would make my job so much easier.”
The new armor is also scalable to fit mission requirements, hence the name. At the lowest level of protection, the soft inner armor may be used as concealable body armor. The next tier includes protective plates. The third tier includes the vest, soft armor, and plates. The final tier includes the previous vest configuration with the addition of a ballistic shirt that comes complete with neck, shoulder, and pelvic protection.
The MSV also includes the quick-release feature of the IOTV, which allows the wearer to quickly remove the armor in an emergency situation, such as falling into a canal or escaping a vehicle fire.
Protecting Taxpayer Dollars
The Modular Scalable Vest is part of a more extensive system of protective gear that proves to be a boon to the warfighter’s survivability. While designing a body armor upgrade may not be the largest of governmental projects, this one appears to be operating within standard fiscal parameters unlike the the F-35 debacle.
When it comes to projects, especially taxpayer-funded ones, the Pentagon has an issue of scope creep. For those unfamiliar with project management principles, scope creep is when the purpose of the project continues to grow as the project continues, resulting in cost and scheduling overruns. Sound familiar? Because of the competitive rank structure of the military, many senior officers are looking to “make their mark” on the organization and guarantee their future success. This, unfortunately, results in pet projects that either go nowhere or are replaced soon after their installment.
The Pentagon needs to take better care of which projects it funds and determine who the project is really helping: the warfighter or the careerist?