Navy Special Warfare Unit Faces Investigation for Flying Trump Flag on Military Vehicle

I can’t remember an incident like this happening before, but it is a good reminder to troops to not display partisan political advertisements on military vehicles:

Steve Thompson was on his way to pick up some feed for his goat farm Sunday morning when he noticed an impressive-looking military convoy and started filming. When he neared the lead vehicle in the convoy, the 32-year-old Shepherdsville, Ky., man noticed something else: A large blue and white Trump campaign flag.

“I just thought it was just a bunch of military vehicles,” Thompson, who was driving near Louisville at the time, told the Lexington Herald Leader . “I was surprised because I figured you wouldn’t be able to fly anything on a Humvee other than an American flag.”

The Navy has since confirmed that the convoy was from a Virginia Beach-based special warfare unit.

Thompson’s video is one of two that have been circulating on social media this week, drawing both praise and outrage, and prompting the Navy to open an investigation into the flag-flying display. One of the Facebook videos showing the convoy was viewed close to 80,000 times before it was taken down Thursday afternoon – but not before unleashing a flood of comments.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

SBX Radar Leaves Hawaii to Track Any Possible North Korean ICBM

Here is the latest action the Pentagon has taken in response to any near term launch of a North Korean ICBM:

SBX image via Wikipedia.

The U.S. Pentagon has deployed a giant floating radar in anticipation of an intercontinental missile launch from North Korea, CNN reported Wednesday.

The sea-based X-band radar was deployed in response to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s claim in his New Year’s address on Jan. 1 that preparations for an intercontinental ballistic missile have “reached the final stage.”

It has a range of 4,800 km and is capable of monitoring most of China as well as the Korean Peninsula from Okinawa.  [Chosun Ilbo]

You can read more at the link, but the SBX is used to support the US military’s Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system that has interceptors in Alaska and California that for defense against a limited attack from North Korea.

President Reportedly Considering Commuting Chelsea Manning’s Sentence

What Manning did was not as bad as Snowden, but still Manning’s sentencing has sent a strong message to all US troops that leaking classified information to the media has strong repercussions:

Chelsea Manning

Chelsea Manning, the former U.S. Army soldier imprisoned for passing government documents to WikiLeaks, is on President Obama’s short list for possible commutation, according to NBC News.

NBC’s report cited a source in the Justice Department.

A decision could come soon for Manning, who tried to commit suicide and went on a hunger strike last year to demand better treatment in prison.

Manning, 28, is serving a 35-year sentence in the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. She pleaded guilty in 2013 to 10 charges related to theft and espionage.

Manning stole over 750,000 pages of classified and unclassified military documents, including videos of airstrikes, war logs and diplomatic cables. She then passed them to WikiLeaks.

Manning, previously known has Bradley, revealed herself as transgender in 2013.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

Was Soldiers’ Use of SHARP Training to Intervene In Bar Incident Justified?

For those that have been through SHARP training the actions of the soldiers involved is a textbook example of what the US Army encourages soldiers to now do:

 Key details of a Fort Drum account of soldiers rescuing a drugged woman at a Watertown bar have been called into question by city police.

The 10th Mountain Division public affairs office, in a news release issued earlier this week, said three soldiers rescued a woman they believed was drugged at the Paddock Club, Public Square, on Oct. 28, and that it led to an arrest.

The trio, Staff Sgt. Anthony Ciccariello Jr., Sgt. James Smith and Spc. Evan Lipp, were presented a commander’s coin by division commander Maj. Gen. Jeffrey L. Bannister on Nov. 16 for their efforts that night.

Detective Lt. Joseph R. Donoghue Sr. said the unnamed woman, whom the post claimed was taken to the hospital, was actually seen and cleared by Guilfoyle Ambulance staff, who let her leave with a friend. No one has been charged in connection with the incident.

The incident, which took place about 10:30 p.m. that night, remains under investigation by city police.  [Watertown Daily Times]

You can read the rest at the link, but I am not sure what caused the soldiers to think she was “drugged” other than to say she was a little “off”.  This is what the 10th Mountain Division news release said:

These Soldiers discovered a female at a local bar had taken an unknown drug from a man in the bar and was acting overly impaired. Their training kicked in and the result was a suspect being questioned by police and a potential victim being checked out by paramedics. [DVIDS]

If they saw someone putting something into her drink you would think they would say that in the video.  It appears the real reason this incident reached the point it did was because the woman was being groped by the two men:

“I noticed that the two males had the female on one of the couches and they were molesting her,” Lipp said. “I noticed that she was barely conscious. It didn’t look right.”

Lipp said he didn’t want to overact so he asked Ciccariello and Smith to assess the situation.

“We agreed with Lipp and my immediate reaction was to go and get the bouncers,” Ciccariello said.

Unfortunately, the bouncers said that the woman and her friend came into the bar with the two men and there was nothing that the bar staff could do, Ciccariello said. But that didn’t stop the three soldiers.  [New York Upstate]

If the soldiers in the video did see a drug secretly put into her drink they definitely did the right thing based off of the training they have received.  However, if this woman was just being obnoxious should it be the responsibility of soldiers to determine which women are too drunk to be with other men at a bar?

Report Shows Very Few Army Senior Leaders Commit Misconduct

The AP prints the headline “Army says some misconduct trends are increasing” and then you read the article and it was just nearly 50 senior Army leaders in the entire force that got in trouble:

Sexual misconduct and harassment allegations against senior Army leaders increased this year and more were substantiated than in 2015, according to a closely held report by the Army Inspector General.

The memo obtained by The Associated Press also said the most frequent charge lodged against senior officers on active duty, in the National Guard, Reserves and senior executive service in the past budget year was reprisal, with nearly 50 such allegations as of Sept. 30.

The total number of cases is small, but they represent some of the more serious misconduct concerns faced by the military. And they underscore the fact that transgressions are occurring in the higher ranks, not rooted simply in the younger enlisted force.  [Associated Press]

Here is where most of the minute transgressions are coming from:

Most of this year’s cases involved charges against senior Army National Guard officials. There were eight allegations of sexual misconduct or harassment against National Guard members, four of them substantiated. In the regular Army, there were three allegations of sexual misconduct. The number substantiated was not provided.

You can read the rest at the link, but this article could have been titled, “Report Shows Very Few Senior Army Leaders Commit Misconduct”.

Nearly 10,000 California National Guard Soldiers Ordered to Pay Back Reenlistment Bonuses

Here is a story that is likely to get the blood boiling for many people this morning:

Soldiers from the California Army National Guard have been ordered to return enlistment bonuses they received a decade ago when the Pentagon needed troops for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (California Army National Guard)

Soldiers from the California Army National Guard have been ordered to return enlistment bonuses they received a decade ago when the Pentagon needed troops for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (California Army National Guard)

Short of troops to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan a decade ago, the California National Guard enticed thousands of soldiers with bonuses of $15,000 or more to reenlist and go to war.

Now the Pentagon is demanding the money back.

Nearly 10,000 soldiers, many of whom served multiple combat tours, have been ordered to repay large enlistment bonuses — and slapped with interest charges, wage garnishments and tax liens if they refuse — after audits revealed widespread overpayments by the California Guard at the height of the wars last decade.

Investigations have determined that lack of oversight allowed for widespread fraud and mismanagement by California Guard officials under pressure to meet enlistment targets.  [LA Times]

You can read the rest at the link, but basically California National Guard personnel were illegally giving out federal reenlistment bonuses to personnel who did not qualify in order to meet their quotas:

In 2010, after reports surfaced of improper payments, a federal investigation found that thousands of bonuses and student loan payments were given to California Guard soldiers who did not qualify for them, or were approved despite paperwork errors.

Army Master Sgt. Toni Jaffe, the California Guard’s incentive manager, pleaded guilty in 2011 to filing false claims of $15.2 million and was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. Three officers also pleaded guilty to fraud and were put on probation after paying restitution.

Instead of forgiving the improper bonuses, the California Guard assigned 42 auditors to comb through paperwork for bonuses and other incentive payments given to 14,000 soldiers, a process that was finally completed last month.

Roughly 9,700 current and retired soldiers have been told by the California Guard to repay some or all of their bonuses and the recoupment effort has recovered more than $22 million so far.

The way I look at it is if the personnel who were given the bonuses did not know they were improperly given then why should they be forced to pay it back when they fulfilled their end of the contract?  This looks like something Congress needs to take a hard look at and rectify.