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The Navy Just Quietly Sent An F-35 Carrier To The Pacific — And It Signals A Major Change
The U.S. Navy broke with its tradition of hyping up F-35 deployments by sending of the USS Essex jump-jet carrier into the Western Pacific with a deck full of the revolutionary fighter jets — and it could signal a big change in how the U.S. deals with its toughest adversaries.
When the USS Wasp became the first small deck aircraft carrier to deploy with U.S. Marine Corps F-35Bs, the media was in on it. But the Essex's departure marks a change, as the Navy broke its usual protocol and only announced the deployment after the ship departed, the USNI News notes.
The Navy regularly deploys capital ships like small and big deck carriers for patrols around the world, but has only twice ever deployed ones like these.
The F-35 has become the most expensive weapons system in history and earned its share of criticism along the way as costs ballooned and deadlines fell through. The Marine Corp's F-35B is designed to land vertically and take off from short runways, like an amphibious assault ship, and will replace the AV-8B Harrier in ground and air attack missions; the Navy's F-35C has a tailhook to snag an arresting cable and land on an aircraft carrier.
Naturally, the U.S. military would keenly show off the jets, which they bill as a revolution in aerial combat due to their stealth design and advanced sensors and controls, but it seems they've opted to skip the public relations coup in exchange for something a bit more operational.
The Navy now actually wants to change the expectation of the media with regards to ship deployments to the Pacific, sources told USNI News.
The U.S. military usually prides itself on publicizing its ship deployments and often states that its carrier deployments are drawn up apolitically and months ahead of time, but insisting on some level of secrecy betrays that.
Noneviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 1st Class Glenn Catbagan hand signals as an F-35B Lightning II, attached to the “Avengers” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211, ascends on an aircraft elevator aboard Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) during composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX).
What does the Navy have to hide in the Pacific?
The U.S. has major adversaries in the Pacific, namely China and to a lesser extent, North Korea.
It makes sense that with dialogue underway with North Korea, the U.S. would want to quiet down big deployments to the Western Pacific, and a high profile deployment of next-generation stealth jets could seriously spook North Korea.
But it's China's navy that poses the biggest threat to the U.S., and possibly the reason the U.S. is staying quiet.
When the USS Ronald Reagan, the U.S.'s forward-deployed aircraft carrier in Japan, patrolled the South China Sea, which China unilaterally claims as its own in defiance of international law, the U.S. said very little about it. Repeated requests for comment from Business Insider went ignored.
The U.S. uses its Navy to challenge what it calls excessive maritime claims of dozens of nations around the world in passages called "freedom of navigation operations." Basically, if a country claims an excessive amount of maritime territory, the U.S. usually sails a destroyer through to inform them their claims are not recognized.
China detests these patrols as a challenge to its sovereignty and makes a big deal out of them. For the U.S., it's better if the challenges to China's claims are the norm and not a news story. Some observers have speculated the U.S. wants to send a message to China's military leadership without the publicity that may compel them to escalate.
By keeping quiet high profile deployments to the Pacific, the U.S. could be signaling it's getting ready to put the ball back in China's court with high-end military hardware checking it, and disputes handled between navies rather than via press releases.
Read more from Business Insider:
- Amid NATO tensions, Trump says he's ready to help some NATO members buy U.S.-made weapons
- Jared Kushner's security clearance reportedly limits his access to some high-level U.S. secrets
- The Navy is looking at an unmanned helicopter to make its newest ships more lethal — and it just passed the first test
- Russia admits defeat on its 'stealth' F-35 killer by canceling mass production of the Su-57 fighter jet
- Meet the heroes of the daring rescue mission that brought 13 Thai soccer players to safety
My brother earned the Medal of Honor for saving countless lives — but only after he was left for dead
"As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night."
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.
They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.
As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.
But the "plan" went even more south when they made the rookie move to insert directly atop the mountain — right into the hands of the bad guys they knew were there.
She's photographed every major war of the last 20 years. Marine Corps boot camp was something else entirely
Conflict photographer Lynsey Addario's seen a hell of a lot of combat over the past twenty years. She patrolled Afghanistan's Helmand Province with the Marines, accompanied the Army on night raids in Baghdad, took artillery fire with rebel fighters in Libya and has taken photos in countless other wars and humanitarian disasters around the world.
Along the way, Addario captured images of plenty of women serving with pride in uniform, not only in the U.S. armed forces, but also on the battlefields of Syria, Colombia, South Sudan and Israel. Her photographs are the subject of a new article in the November 2019 special issue of National Geographic, "Women: A Century of Change," the magazine's first-ever edition written and photographed exclusively by women.
The photos showcase the wide range of goals and ideals for which these women took up arms. Addario's work includes captivating vignettes of a seasoned guerrilla fighter in the jungles of Colombia; a team of Israeli military police patrolling the streets of Jerusalem; and a unit of Kurdish women guarding ISIS refugees in Syria. Some fight to prove themselves, others seek to ignite social change in their home country, and others do it to liberate other women from the grip of ISIS.
Addario visited several active war zones for the piece, but she found herself shaken by something much closer to home: the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.
Addario discussed her visit to boot camp and her other travels in an interview with Task & Purpose, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
An Army staff sergeant who "represents the very best of the 101st Airborne Division" has finally received a Silver Star for his heroic actions during the Battle of the Bulge after a 75-year delay.
On Sunday, Staff Sgt. Edmund "Eddie" Sternot was posthumously awarded with a Silver Star for his heroics while leading a machine gun team in the Ardennes Forest. The award, along with Sternot's Bronze Star and Purple Heart, was presented to his only living relative, Sternot's first cousin, 80-year-old Delores Sternot.
U.S. special operations forces are currently field testing a lightweight combat armor designed to cover more of an operator's body than previous protective gear, an official told Task & Purpose.
The armor, called the Lightweight Polyethylene (PE) Armor for Extremity Protection, is one of a handful of subsystems to come out of U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) effort that media outlets dubbed the "Iron Man suit," Navy Lieutenant Cmdr. Tim Hawkins, a SOCOM spokesman, told Task & Purpose on Wednesday.