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Marines’ Aviation Chief Called For More Maintainers Hours Before KC-130 Crash
Just hours before the KC-130 crash that claimed the lives of 15 Marines and a sailor in Mississippi on June 10, the retiring three-star general in charge of Marine Corps aviation published a farewell letter stressing the need to bolster the service’s aviation readiness — and saying the Corps needed more, and better-trained, aircraft maintainers.
Lt. Gen. Jon Davis wrote the letter as a reflection on his 37-year military career in Marine aircraft. He has served since 2014 as the deputy commandant for aviation, amid Budget Control Act sequestration, decreased pilot retention, and reduced flight hours.
After taking command of the Corps’ air assets three years ago, Davis wrote, he initiated readiness reviews of five of the service’s key air platforms. “A key finding common to all of these reviews,” he wrote, “emphasized the importance of retaining highly qualified enlisted maintainers.”
Each report “discovered a lack of Marines possessing the requisite skills our ready force demands, causing us to reestablish and increase our benchmarks,” he wrote. But he cautioned that the problem wasn’t with the Marines working in squadrons today: “This is less an issue of individual capability and is more strictly related to density of personnel.”
Aviation mishaps continue to plague the Corps. The Marines had nine major aircraft crashes, resulting in 14 fatalities and 11 lost aircraft, between February 2016 and February 2017, Military.com reported. And the Naval Safety Center saw seven Class A Marine aviation mishaps — incidents that involve a fatality, loss of aircraft, or $2 million in damages — since October 2016 alone.
Davis has been outspoken about these issues for years.
“Average aircrew flight time has reached historic lows,” Davis testified in a House Armed Services Committee hearing on aviation readiness in July 2016. “Every lost day, every missed hour, is missed experience this nation depends upon in the future.”
But just as Davis’ tenure came to a close this week, the Marine Corps experienced its worst aviation disaster in a decade, when the KC-130 Hercules transporting personnel and equipment from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina to Naval Air Facility El Centro in California exploded in mid-air over Mississippi.
“The KC-130 has one of the lowest mishap rates of all Marine Corps aircraft,” Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Sarah Burns said in a statement. “Over the past 15 years, there have been only three Class A Flight Mishaps involving all Marine Corps models of the C-130, including the crash on July 10th. In 2002 there was a mishap in Pakistan which resulted in 7 deaths and a mishap in California with no fatalities.”
Clearly, something has changed.
“Fixing the problem requires both tracking the qualifications and retention of these enlisted maintenance leaders,” Davis wrote. “We cannot get to the finish line without the hard work and dedication from each and every Marine and Sailor who continue to work tirelessly to keep our aircraft safe and flying and their families who continue to show love and support when it is needed most.”
GENEVA/DUBAI (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said he was prepared to take military action to stop Tehran from getting a nuclear bomb but left open whether he would back the use of force to protect Gulf oil supplies that Washington fears may be under threat by Iran.
Worries about a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since attacks last week on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping lane at the entrance to the Gulf. Washington blamed long-time foe Iran for the incidents.
Tehran denies responsibility but the attacks, and similar ones in May, have further soured relations that have plummeted since Trump pulled the United States out of a landmark international nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018.
Trump has restored and extended U.S. economic sanctions on Iran. That has forced countries around the world to boycott Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.
But in an interview with Time magazine, Trump, striking a different tone from some Republican lawmakers who have urged a military approach to Iran, said last week's tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman had only a "very minor" impact so far.
Asked if he would consider military action to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons or to ensure the free flow of oil through the Gulf, Trump said: "I would certainly go over nuclear weapons and I would keep the other a question mark."
Minnesota Democratic Party staffer under fire for calling USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul a 'murder boat'
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday he is appalled by a state DFL Party staff member's tweet referring to the recently-launched USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul as a "murder boat."
"Certainly, the disrespect shown is beyond the pale," said Walz, who served in the Army National Guard.
William Davis, who has been the DFL Party's research director and deputy communications director, made the controversial comment in response to a tweet about the launch of a new Navy combat ship in Wisconsin: "But actually, I think it's gross they're using the name of our fine cities for a murder boat," Davis wrote on Twitter over the weekend.
'We are there to deter aggression' — Pompeo addressed CENTCOM on Iran mere moments before Shanahan announced his departure
TAMPA — Minutes before the Acting Secretary of Defense withdrew Tuesday from his confirmation process, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke at MacDill Air Force Base about the need to coordinate "diplomatic and defense efforts'' to address rising tensions with Iran.
Pompeo, who arrived in Tampa on Monday, met with Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. and Army Gen. Richard Clarke, commanders of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command respectively, to align the Government's efforts in the Middle East, according to Central Command.
NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — The trial of Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher officially kicked off on Tuesday with the completion of jury selection, opening statements, and witness testimony indicating that drinking alcohol on the front lines of Mosul, Iraq in 2017 seemed to be a common occurrence for members of SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon.
Government prosecutors characterized Gallagher as a knife-wielding murderer who not only killed a wounded ISIS fighter but shot indiscriminately at innocent civilians, while the defense argued that those allegations were falsehoods spread by Gallagher's angry subordinates, with attorney Tim Parlatore telling the jury that "this trial is not about murder. It's about mutiny."
President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will "not to go forward with his confirmation process."
Trump said that Army Secretary Mark Esper will now serve as acting defense secretary.