I got a little bit more out of the military public affairs types on the recent "combat debut" of the F-35B in Afghanistan, and it turns out the $115 million stealth aircraft was used to obliterate a static cache of enemy weaponry.
Now, I originally intended to use this column to criticize the U.S. Marine Corps for putting together what appeared to be a big, taxpayer-funded PR stunt. Indeed, my inbox was inundated with press releases, photos, and video from the strike that the service clearly wanted (and subsequently got) covered in the media.
However, it's not really the Marine Corps' decision to drop bombs in theater. Personnel at U.S. Central Command are the ultimate authority on what kind of aircraft are used in its area of responsibility, and a spokesman told me that this wasn't a one-time thing: The squadron involved is now "in the rotation" with other platforms to hit targets in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Still, the F-35B in question was launched from a ship somewhere in the Arabian Sea (roughly a 1,000 mile one-way trip) to hit a static target on the ground. According to Navy Cmdr. Grant Neeley, a U.S. Forces-Afghanistan spokesman, the target was a mined weapons cache that ground forces were unable to clear. The ground force commander then called in an air strike, and he received two: A GBU-12 (cost: $19,000+) and a GBU-32 JDAM (cost: $22,000).
So why the hell is a super-expensive, fifth-generation, stealth-with-all-the-bells-and-whistles aircraft being used to drop bombs presumably on a bunch of AK-47's and RPGs?
Perhaps I sound like an old man yelling at a cloud here, but using the world's most expensive aircraft to kill a bunch of guns on the ground doesn't seem like the best use of taxpayer money. That's not to mention the fact this particular aircraft, with a range just over 1,000 miles, probably had to get aerial refueling on the way in and on the way out.
Meanwhile, there are plenty of manned and unmanned aircraft at Bagram Air Field and other sites in Afghanistan. For a target as insignificant as this, a Predator drone would've done just fine, or perhaps it could've been punted to an Afghan Air Force pilot. Lord knows they need the practice.
On the same day the strike took place, Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan implored his department to "work at all levels to find ways to save time [and money]" in a post on Twitter.
More than 7,500 boots on display at Fort Bragg this month served as a temporary memorial to service members from all branches who have died since 9/11.
The boots — which had the service members' photos and dates of death — were on display for Fort Bragg's Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation's annual Run, Honor and Remember 5k on May 18 and for the 82nd Airborne Division's run that kicked off All American Week.
"It shows the families the service members are still remembered, honored and not forgotten," said Charlotte Watson, program manager of Fort Bragg's Survivor Outreach Services.
After more than a decade of research and development and upwards of $500 million in funding, the Navy finally plans on testing its much-hyped electromagnetic railgun on a surface warship in a major milestone for the beleaguered weapons system, Navy documents reveal.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Congress fell short ahead of Memorial Day weekend, failing to pass legislation that would provide tax relief for the families of military personnel killed during their service.
Senators unanimously approved a version of the bipartisan Gold Star Family Tax Relief Act Tuesday sending it back to the House of Representatives, where it was tied to a retirement savings bill as an amendment, and passed Thursday.
When it got back to the Senate, the larger piece of legislation failed to pass and make its way to the President Trump's desk.
In less than three years after the National Security Agency found itself subject to an unprecedentedly catastrophic hacking episode, one of the agency's most powerful cyber weapons is reportedly being turned against American cities with alarming frequency by the very foreign hackers it was once intended to counter.
The spectacle of hundreds of thousands of motorcycles roaring their way through the streets of Washington, D.C., to Memorial Day events as part of the annual Rolling Thunder veterans tribute will be a thing of the past after this coming weekend.
Former Army Sgt. Artie Muller, a 73-year-old Vietnam veteran and co-founder of Rolling Thunder, said the logistics and costs of staging the event for Memorial Day, which falls on May 27 this year, were getting too out of hand to continue. The ride had become a tradition in D.C. since the first in 1988.
"It's just a lot of money," said the plainspoken Muller, who laced an interview with a few epithets of regret over having to shut down Rolling Thunder.