Friday, February 17, 2006


As of today Petty Officer Cruel Kev's Military Blog will merge with the Sailors & Mariners League blog to become "SAILORS, MARINERS & WARRIORS LEAGUE" I would like to thank all of my readers for your patronage, And welcome you to the League!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Army Looking For Physician Assistants

The Army is short about 100 physician assistants and is stepping up attempts to recruit both civilians and Soldiers to do the job. This is the first time that the Army Medical Department, or AMEDD, has recruited certified civilian physician assistants to join the Army, said Capt. James Jones, Interservice Physician Assistant Program manager. He said the Army’s modularity and high operations tempo contributed to this change. “We have a recruiting mission to obtain 20 civilian physician assistants this year, but this is likely to rise to 60,” he said.
The Army offers qualified officers, warrant officers and enlisted Soldiers an educational opportunity to become a physician assistant through the IPAP located at the AMEDD Center and School, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. The Army trains alongside candidates from the Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, U.S. Army Reserve, National Guard, and U.S. Public Health Service, said IPAP officials. “The Army plans on filling the shortages by increasing the number of students in the IPAP - this year we are training 92 Army students versus 60,” Jones said. Upon completion of the program, graduates earn a master’s degree from the University of Nebraska and receive a commission in the Army Medical Specialist Corps as a second lieutenant. Officer students receive constructive credit for their commissioned service in accordance with DOD Instruction 6000.13. Graduates must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam before they can provide healthcare to Soldiers, AMEDD officials said.
There is also a new program called the Requirements Completion Course that is designed to help Soldiers complete the program’s prerequisite courses. “This is another way that we are working to reduce the shortages while still maintaining the highest quality medical provider possible,” said Jones. Army physician assistants are frontline medical responders, said Jones. “They are usually the first medical care that Soldiers receive before being transported to a hospital,” he said. “They are a critical component of the Army.”
Applications for the IPAP must be sent by March 1 to the program manager at:
1307 Third Ave.
Fort Knox, KY 40121-2726

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Navy Religious Program Specialists

As the only members in military service who are not authorized to carry weapons, Chaplains must rely on their religious programs specialists for protection in theaters of operation. Although, the primary mission of an RP is to provide administrative and technical support for the chaplain, while forward deployed RPs also provide personal protection for the chaplain. "RPs are the right arm of the chaplains," said Lt. Cmdr. James H. Pittman, station chaplain. "They are able do things that the chaplain may not.
Religious Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Rita Hurts, shown here in the Chapel of Hope at Yokosuka Navy Base in Yokosuka, Japan.
They are administrative support and personal security managers." Chaplains, whether they are members of the United States Army, Navy or Air Force, according to the Geneva Convention and military regulations, are designated noncombatants. While other noncombatants, such as medical personnel, may carry weapons for self-defense, chaplains are not allowed to carry weapons and must rely upon their RPs for protection. "The RP rating is the only rating in the Navy tasked with protecting a noncombatant," said Senior Chief Dino C. Medler, an RP for the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. To become Fleet Marine Force qualified, RPs must attend the Chaplain and Religious Program Specialist Expeditionary Skills Training Course, a sixweek training program, similar to Marine Combat Training and the School of Infantry, which gives the Sailor a rating equivalent to that of a Marine infantryman.
As part of the training, FMF RPs must qualify with the M-16 service rifle and the service pistol. They must also be humvee qualified. They also earn their Marine Corps martial arts tan belt during CREST. Basic Marine Corps history and general knowledge are also required. "To be FMF qualified, we have to pass an oral board and be able to recite information about any aspect of Marine Corps life from memory," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Dana Saunders, an RP for Marine Aircraft Group 14. A large part of CREST is conditioning training and instruction from Marines explaining how things work in the Marine Corps, said Medler. "While assigned to Fleet Marine Forces, we have to be able to do everything that the Marines we serve with can do," said Medler. "We are required to do things like pass a Marine Corps physical fitness test." "My experience is that, to seniors, RPs are seen as Marines and are expected to perform like them," he said. "One of the ways we are encouraged to interact with the Marines is to PT regularly with them." Interacting with Marines on a regular basis while in garrison allows the Marines to see that the RPs want to be involved and are genuinely concerned about them. This helps when they all get deployed together. The Marines already know who the RPs are and they are comfortable working with them.
Unlike chaplains, who minister to a particular faith group, RPs must be able to work with every faith group. They are trained to provide for special religious needs such as religious dietary needs or specific religious materials. Occasionally, Marines will approach an RP with a specific problem or need. RPs maintain the same confidentiality privileges as chaplains. "Junior Marines, especially, tend to be more comfortable talking to an RP, who is enlisted, rather than a chaplain, who is an officer," said Medler. "Marines can go to an RP who will act as a liaison to a chaplain. RPs cannot act as a counselor, but they can help send them to the right place." "Being an RP presents more unique opportunities and responsibilities than any other rating in the Navy," said Medler. "But the most important thing is being able to go visit and minister to the troops."

Friday, February 10, 2006

When The Going Gets Rough, Call In The Navy

The U.S. Navy will try to lift some of the burden off U.S. Army troops in Iraq this year by increasing the number of Sailors inside that country and taking on duties soldiers have been doing, according to the Navy's top sailor. The move is designed to ease the pressure on the stressed and stretched Army in Iraq, which has soldiers doing everything from combat, medical and security duties to countless support operations. In a briefing to Pentagon reporters , Adm. Michael G. Mullen, the Chief of Naval Operations, said the Navy will start playing a bigger role in Iraq by adding to the 4,000 Sailors already operating in the country. About 138,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq; the Army makes up about 99,000. Mullen would not say how many Sailors he is expecting to put into Iraq or when they will start filling the various duties. He did say the number of Sailors would be less than 12,000.
The additional Sailors will take on existing roles in the combat arena as medical corpsmen and in special operations roles, with more SEAL teams in some cases, he said. Other duties will include security roles, with some 500 sailors expected to take over operations at a prison inside the country, Mullen said. He would not say which facility the sailors would take over. While not giving specifics, Mullen said sailors with expertise in disposing of explosive ordnance will also be brought in. Such teams are used in disposing of the countless weapons caches found in the country as well as assisting in roadside bomb removal. The increase in Sailors in Iraq comes as the Army struggles with rotating troops multiple times into the country, trying to give soldiers a break back in their home bases before deploying again to Iraq or Afghanistan. Air Force airmen are already heavily used in convoy security and other security and logistical roles on the ground in Iraq. The Air Force took more of that role over so Army commanders could use soldiers in needed combat roles.
The Navy has some 10,000 sailors in the southwest Asia region, Mullen said, including the 4,000 already in Iraq. In all, the Army has about 130,000 soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, according to Army officials. Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Also told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the Guard and Reserves will play a decreased role in the next year. "When we first went into combat, we had about 40 percent of the total force was Guard and Reserve," he said. "It is 30 percent now." "The force that is deploying over the next year, from March of this year to March of next year, will be about 19 percent Guard and Reserve," he said. "So the size of the force is coming down, and the need for contribution from the Guard and Reserve is coming down." A Pentagon-commissioned study last month warned that the Army needs more troops for Iraq and Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld disputed the study, saying the service was nowhere close to its breaking point. The study by Andrew Krepinevich, a military analyst and former Army officer, found that the Army's manpower needs for those conflicts "clearly exceed those available for the mission."

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

QDR Directs Air Force Future

The Department of Defense released the results of the quadrennial defense review Feb. 3 here. "The QDR guides and supports Air Force transformation in pursuit of key joint, interdependent combat capabilities that enable us to deliver more sovereign options for the defense of the United States of America and its global interest," said Lt. Gen. Stephen G. Wood, Air Force deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and programs. The QDR is a congressionally mandated review of how the armed forces plan to fund current and future projects specific to each service.
“The QDR was an exhaustive look at how each service operates and supports the combatant commanders now, as well as how they will support them in the future,” General Wood said. “The studies and analyses provide us a guidepost that will improve the capabilities and sovereign options the Air Force provides the president.” The QDR re-affirmed the strong role the Air Force plays in special operations and irregular warfare. Furthermore, it added strength to that effort with increased combat aviation advisors, dedicated Predator units and recapitalization of the special operations fleet. In addition, the QDR reinforced the Air Force importance in emerging missions and strengthening the Air Force’s role in space and cyber operations. To underwrite investment in new capabilities, the QDR calls for easing restrictions so the Air Force can trim the number of older aircraft it operates such as the C-130 Hercules, KC-135 Stratotankers and B-52 Stratofortresses, he said. General Wood is positive about the Air Force’s future based on the initiatives in the QDR. “The QDR process was a reaffirmation we’re headed in the right direction,” he said. "Several credible and independent agencies both in and outside DOD examined the needs of the Air Force and came to the same conclusions we have -- that flexibility, stealth, speed and new advanced technology are necessary for our ability to project airpower and support our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen.”

Other additions the QDR calls for are:

-- A new long-range bomber in the next 12 years

-- A significant increase in the fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles

-- More special operations forces

-- Fielding more battlefield Airmen to support our sister services on the ground

-- Airmen trained to fight with emerging technologies, such as protecting the nation through cyberspace

“The Air Force is focused on the global war on terror and we’ll continue to transform the force to provide combatant commanders with the tools they need,” General Wood said. Those transformations will affect the total force -- from added weapon systems to a decrease in manpower. The Air Force will further reduce its strength by roughly 40,000 Airmen; 88 percent will come from active duty. “This is a team effort and the Guard and Reserve are part of that team,” General Wood said. “So while 12 percent of our manpower cuts will come from them, the future of the Air Force will also see Guard and Reserve Airmen in our newest missions and equipment. All in all, the QDR process was lengthy and drew input from a number of sources. “It really is a credit to the Secretary of Defense as well as Air Force leadership that we were able to voice our opinions about how the Air Force should evolve for the future,” General Wood said. “Tough decisions had to be made, but what’s most important now is that we’re all on the same page and we know what we have to do. Now we just have to get out there and do it.”

Friday, February 03, 2006

National Guard Predicts Growth

National Guard officials said Monday that recruiting has accelerated so much in recent months that they expect to expand the Guard even as the Bush administration proposes to shrink it. The National Guard Bureau said the Guard is "aggressively working" to reach the 350,000-troop level by the end of the current budget year Sept. 30, it said. The Guard now has about 333,000 soldiers, which is the number the administration proposes to pay for.
In his 2007 budget proposal to be sent to Congress on Feb. 6, President Bush is expected to propose a Guard of 333,000 soldiers, compared with its congressionally authorized limit of 350,000. Administration officials say that is not a cut because 333,000 reflects the actual number of soldiers now in the Guard, which has experienced a deep recruiting slump.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Humongous Blimp

Remember the Walrus? That's the Darpa project to build a humongous blimp that can haul 500-1000 tons' worth of soldiers and gear halfway across the world in less than a week. A reporter profiles Worldwide Aeros, the small firm run by ex-Soviet engineers, which is going toe-to-toe with Lockheed Martin for the $100-million contract to build a Walrus prototype. "The winner then has a chance to bid on a blimp production contract potentially worth $11 billion over 30 years."
Lockheed farmed out the blimp job to its Skunkworks unit, the legendary aircraft design house in Palmdale that has developed many of the nation's most advanced aircraft, including the SR-71 and U-2 spy planes. By contrast, Worldwide Aeros, with 40 employees, expects $10 million in revenue this year from selling blimps for advertising, including promoting MasterCard and Spalding sporting goods... But Pasternak said he had faced bigger challenges than outwitting Lockheed, including persuading six of his employees and their families to flee Russia with him in 1993... After getting a degree in civil engineering, he formed his own company in 1988 and began working on a Soviet project to develop mammoth airships to transport cargo to the remote Siberian oil fields... When the Soviet Union collapsed, Pasternak's investment capital dried up. With growing anti-Semitism in his country, Pasternak said, he and his colleagues fled Russia and emigrated to the U.S. Eventually, he was able to persuade several investors to fund his aerospace company based on his experience making blimps in Russia... Win or lose, Pasternak sees the project as a means to a different end: to build commercial versions for carrying business cargo or even paying passengers. His "cruise ship in the sky" would have hotel-like rooms, vast lobbies with viewing areas, a restaurant and space for about 180 passengers.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Army To Test New Super Gun

Next month a new high-explosive munition will be fired in Singapore and then tested again by the U.S. Army, heralding what may be a sea change in weaponry: a gun that can fire 240,000 rounds per minute. That's compared to 60 rounds per minute in a standard military machine gun. Metal Storm Inc., a munitions company headquartered in Virginia but with its roots in Australia, has been developing a gun that can shoot at blistering speeds, albeit in short bursts as each barrel is reloaded. A Metal Storm gun of any size -- from a 9 mm hand-gun up to a machine gun size or a grenade launcher -- has no moving parts other than the bullets or munition inside the barrel. Rather than chambering a single slug for each shot - very quickly in the case of machine guns -- the bullets come pre-stacked inside the barrel and can be shot all at once, or one at a time, as the shooter decides through the electronic controls.
Because there are no moving parts, the weapon is less likely to jam, and will presumably need less maintenance. Lashing many barrels together increases the number of rounds per second. Once fired, however, each spent barrel has to be reloaded. Starting in 2006 the company will demonstrate its prototypes with applicability that is especially likely to interest the U.S. military. The weapon system can be mounted on an unmanned ground combat vehicle, an unmanned aerial vehicle, and might be used as a defense against rocket-propelled grenades and mortars. Metal Storm's speed allows it to lay down a blinding wall of slugs that can intercept and pulverize incoming enemy fire, according to company CEO David Smith. As long as the grenade or mortar is fired from outside a range of about 50 meters or 162.5 feet and a Doppler radar is in use, a Metal Storm system could be an effective defense, he told reporters. Closer than that and there is just not time to react. "But if you are from 50 meters and beyond, if everything can work fast enough -- the radar -- there is enough time mathematically" to shoot down incoming fire, Smith said. At least 153 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq by enemy rockets and mortars since the start of the war. Nearly 2,000 have been wounded. The grenade launcher barrel can also carry less-than-lethal munitions, like small bean bags, sponge grenades or smoke. On Jan. 16, the Army awarded Metal Storm a $975,000 contract to further develop its non-lethal rounds. "Our so-called competition is (the) Mk19 - grenade machine gun," Smith said. "It's enormously heavy. It takes six people to carry it into a battlefield scene. It's not mobile. "But the military has had this transition out of big system warfighting into much lighter, higher firepower that can be carried into battle by individuals or light vehicles. Our guns have no moving parts -- so they have the same amount of fire power at significantly reduced weight ratio." Metal Storm technology has been under development for about a decade, but a series of small-business innovative research contracts awarded recently by the Department of Energy and the Army mean prototypes are now being produced and demonstrated. "We are to the point we can start providing prototypes. The Army is very, very parochial in how they buy weapon systems," Smith said. "But now we can put it into an actual environment."
The company is also studying whether it can mount a Metal Storm weapon on a small helicopter, particularly looking at the recoil effect from the gun. Smith said such a system - deployable down to the squad level -- could be useful in a place like Iraq, where it's a common tactic for insurgents to launch a mortar and then run. By the time soldiers on foot or in a vehicle get to the launch site, the shooters are long gone. But a UAV quickly launched can see where the shooters run to, and if a gun is on board, can shoot at them. The Australian military is testing a Metal Storm gun of its own, the Advanced Individual Combat Weapon (AICW). The AICW combines both an assault rifle and a 40 mm grenade launcher in a single unit with a common trigger, allowing the shooter to choose which munition he wants to fire without having to refit his weapon. It also allows three grenades to be fired at once, whereas one is the only option in the current generation of weapons. Metal Storm Inc. will demonstrate a high-explosive munition with a 10-meter (32.5 feet) or burst radius in Singapore on Feb. 6, Smith said, and for the Army's Picatinny Arsenal and Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center later that month.

Monday, January 23, 2006

US Army Raises Enlistment Age To 40

The US Army said it has raised its maximum enlistment age from 35 to 40 years old and is doubling signing up bonuses to a high of 40,000 dollars. The measures are the latest in a series of steps the army has taken over the past year to offset a slump in recruiting as it faces ongoing campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The army failed to hit its recruiting goal of 80,000 new recruits in fiscal 2005. Recruiting figures have since improved but the the war in Iraq has made it difficult to meet the demand for fresh soldiers. Army Secretary Francis Harvey, however, denied charges that the army is a "broken force," telling reporters it has met its recruiting goals in the last seven months with the help of bonuses and other incentives. But he acknowledged that recruiting remains "a month-to-month thing". "As I said, the rest of the year looks promising. But we're certainly not going to sit on our laurels," he said. Raising the maximum age for enlistments "expands the recruiting pool, provides motivated individuals an opportunity to serve, and strengthens the readiness of army units," the army said in a statement. The army is raising the maximum cash enlistment bonuses to 40,000 dollars for the active duty army, and 20,000 dollars for the army reserve, doubling the current maximums. Older recruits are entitled to the same signing bonuses as younger ones, the army said. "Experience has shown that older recruits who can meet the physical demands of military service generally make excellent soldiers based on their maturity, motivation, loyalty, and patriotism," the army said.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Enlisted Strength Declines

Drug use, weight problems and parenthood have been taking their toll on the military in the past three years since the war on terror began, according to newly released Pentagon data. Documents released to The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act indicate the number of enlisted personnel leaving the military each year has increased from 8.7 percent in 2002 to 10.5 percent last year. Enlisted losses — including people whose enlistments had expired — increased from 118,206 in 2002 to more than 137,465 last year, while officer losses have increased from 5,619 in 2002 to more than 7,500 last year.
The subset of those leaving before their term was up, for reasons ranging from disability to drug abuse, increased from 58,214 in 2002 to 60,406 last year among enlisted personnel and from 1,011 in 2002 to 1,280 for officers. “Service members leave the military for a variety of reasons,” said Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke. “This is an all-volunteer military, which is dedicated to defending its country. We appreciate their service and respect their reasons for leaving the service.” Krenke said the military met and in some cases exceeded its retention goals this year. None of the 1.4 million soldiers, sailors and Marines on active duty today is allowed to simply quit the military, but they can be kicked out, or in certain cases receive special discharges. The reasons for leaving the service differ in each branch, though general misconduct — a term which can mean anything from petty theft to brawling with colleagues — has consistently been the most common explanation. Pentagon data going back 10 years shows that service losses last year are still below overall levels in the mid-90s, when the Defense Department struggled with both retention and recruiting. But in recent years, some categories reached 10-year highs. Pregnancy and parenthood, for example, have steadily increased as a reason for personnel losses, especially in the Army, where last year 4,238 soldiers were discharged from the Army for pregnancy and parenthood, up from 2,862 in 2002 and 2,565 in 1996. This reflects what military officials say is a baby boom, especially at bases with high deployments. Pregnancy used to mean an automatic discharge; these days, it’s an option but not a requirement. Even so, increased numbers of service members are asking to get out because they have children. “These days military parents are finding it very complicated to serve, because a lot of people are being deployed, many are being deployed multiple times, and these deployments have proved to be unpredictable in length and frequency,” said Shelley M. MacDermid, director of the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. MacDermid said she has even heard of instances where soldiers “use pregnancy as a way to get out of a situation they don’t like.” Drug use is also an increasing reason soldiers are being discharged from the Army, up 40 percent since 2002; last year 1986 soldiers were kicked out of the Army for using for using marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy and other illegal drugs. By contrast, soldiers thrown out for alcohol dropped from 251 in 2002 to 164 last year. Rod Powers, a retired Air Force sergeant who writes advice an advice column on the Web about military service and has written books on the subject, said the drug use discharges probably reflect more sophisticated drug testing policies in all military branches. “The military is getting smarter about drug testing, with better science and more random tests,” he said. “I hear from a lot of young recruits thinking they can beat a urinalysis, but I tell them it’s not so easy.” Powers said the reduction in alcohol-related discharges is likely because most troops are not allowed to drink while they are deployed because they are posted in Muslim countries, and with longer and more frequent deployments there are simply fewer opportunities to imbibe. Another issue that is prompting increased discharges is a failure to meet weight standards. The Army, which has the most stringent weight standards of all the military branches, kicked out more than 3,285 soldiers last year because they were too heavy.