An Army sergeant accused of failing to properly secure three Humvees that plunged to their spectacular destruction during a parachute jump in Germany last year is headed to court-martial, Stars and Stripes reports.
Brig Gen. Tony Aguto, commander of the 7th Army Training Command, has decided to proceed with a court-martial against Sgt. John Skipper, who stands charged with destroying government property and making a false official statement. No arraignment date has been set, Stars and Stripes reported on Aug. 8.
Skipper, 27, is assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade’s 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment in Grafenwoehr, Germany, a town about an hour’s drive north of the Hohenfels Training Area in Bavaria, where the incident occurred on April 11, 2016 during the Army’s annual Saber Junction exercise.
Skipper’s case has received widespread attention thanks to a viral video of the ordeal that surfaced on the internet soon after it took place. The footage shows the trio of Humvees slip from their riggings after they roll out the backs of C-130 Hercules transports over a field in Hohenfels. Each vehicle was utterly destroyed.
The video — which has been viewed more than a million times on YouTube — has already earned an unidentified sergeant first class an administrative letter of reprimand. The sergeant, an “observer trainer coach” assigned to the 7th ATC’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center, filmed the incident from the ground and is heard laughing and cheering as the Humvees fall from a fleet of C-130 Hercules transports.
“The reprimand addressed the unprofessional comments the soldier made during the video, and the fact that he shared the video with others, which resulted in it being posted to social media by an unknown individual,” Christian Marquardt, a 7th ATC spokesman, told Stars and Stripes.
Skipper, who was charged in May, faces a more daunting fate. However, the extent of his punishment largely depends on whether or not the Army concludes he improperly rigged the Humvees on purpose.
If convicted of willful destruction of government property, Skipper would be looking at a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a dishonorable discharge, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances, Stars and Stripes reports. The lesser charge — negligent destruction — carries a maximum punishment of a year in prison, a bad-conduct discharge, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.
According to Stars and Stripes, Army officials declined to specify which of the two charges Skipper is facing. Whether intentional or negligent, the damage, destruction, or loss of government property is an offense under Article 108 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Every once in a while, we run across a photo in The Times-Picayune archives that's so striking that it begs a simple question: "What in the name of Momus Alexander Morgus is going on in this New Orleans photograph?" When we do, we've decided, we're going to share it — and to attempt to answer that question.
Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces control the monitor of their drone at their advanced position, during the fighting with Islamic State's fighters in Nazlat Shahada, a district of Raqqa. (Reuters/Zohra Bensemra)
MUSCAT (Reuters) - The United States should keep arming and aiding the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following the planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria, provided the group keeps up the pressure on Islamic State, a senior U.S. general told Reuters on Friday.
Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."
"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."
First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.
"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."