TIME Military

This Is the U.S. Army’s Replacement for the Famous Humvee

Defense Project Camden
Danny Johnston—AP Prototype of a Lockheed Martin Joint Light Tactical Vehicle parked in front of the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark. on May 26, 2015.

The replacement will be called the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle

The U.S. Army this week picked the vehicle that will succeed the current Humvees.

The Army awarded a $6.7 billion contract to Oshkosh Corporation, which beat out Lockheed Martin and AM General, to build 17,000 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, CNN reports.

“The Oshkosh JLTV allows troops to travel over rugged terrain at speeds 70% faster than today’s gold standard, which is our Oshkosh M-ATV. Looking to future battlefields, we know that our troops will face a myriad of threats. Soldiers and Marines can be assured that the highly capable Oshkosh JLTV will perform the mission,” said retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John M. Urias.

The Army felt it needed more modern vehicles than Humvees equipped with extra protection to defend against explosive devices.

TIME Military

Meet the Military’s New Humvee

William Kapinski/Oshkosh

Oshkosh beat out three competitors with this new design

After the Army tested Humvee prototypes from Lockheed Martin Corp., AM General LLC, and Oshkosh Corp. back in January, it offered the latter a $6.75 billion contract on Tuesday to build military vehicles, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Over the next 25 years, Oshkosh will produce up to 55,000 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTVs) to replace a good portion of the military’s aging Humvees and larger trucks. The Army plans to purchase 49,909 for itself and 5,500 for the Marines.

Oshkosh has been in the business of building military vehicles for a long time, but has recently faced rough times as the Pentagon decreased its spending. This long-term contract gives the company some much needed stability. Its stock declined by about 20% this year, but after it locked in this deal on Tuesday shares rose by 12%, reaching $43 apiece in after-hours trade. This upsurge erased over half of its 20% drop.

The new design is lighter than the previous one produced by AM General, making it easier to transport by air. They will also provide superior protection against mines and roadside bombs, with greater range and durability to transport troops and gear.

Oshkosh chief executive Charles Szews told the Journal that its role in the defense business “supports the whole infrastructure for the company,” making this “a historic win.”

TIME Military

First Female Army Ranger Graduates Say Gender Didn’t Matter During Training

ranger school female graduates
Nikayla Shodeen—U.S. Army Kristen Griest, left, is one of two women to successfully graduate from the Army Ranger training course

"When your squad gets 2,000 rounds of ammo… all of a sudden the men really don’t care at all that you're a female"

Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, the first two women to graduate from the grueling Army Ranger course, said that gender didn’t matter during their long grueling training.

“I was thinking really of future generations of women and that I would like them to have that opportunity so I had that pressure on myself,” Griest said at a press conference Thursday about the pair’s experience and breaking a glass ceiling for women in the Army.

“Hopefully if women come to the course they can be encouraged by what we’ve accomplished,” Haver echoed.

Both women and the male Rangers agreed that gender wasn’t a factor as they completed the training. “You’re way too tired and way too hungry to honestly care,” said Staff Sergeant Michael Calderon. “We were aware of what’s going on, but at the end of the day everyone was a Ranger and it didn’t matter.”

“When your squad gets 2,000 rounds of ammo… all of a sudden the men really don’t care at all that you’re a female,” said Haver. “You’re carrying some of that and you’re sharing the load as much as anybody.”

Many of the men spoke about times that the two women had helped them carry weight or beat them in training courses, one referring to Haver as a “physical stud.”

“I do hope that with our performance in Ranger School we’ve been able to form that decision as to what they can expect from women in the military,” Griest said of opening leadership positions in the military to women. “We can handle the same things physically and mentally that the men can and that we can handle the same stresses in training that men can.”

This class of Rangers graduates Friday.

TIME Military

Meet the First-Ever Female Army Ranger Graduates

Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver proved their strength at the famously challenging school

The two female soldiers who will make history this week as the first to graduate from the Army’s grueling and legendary Ranger School have been identified as Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, Washington Post reports.

While Griest, a military police officer from Orange, Connecticut, and Haver, an Apache helicopter pilot from Copperas Cove, Texas, have not previously been identified by the Army, the Washington Post and other outlets were able to name the women after observing Ranger School training multiple times this year.

The two women, both in their 20s, proved their strength at the famously challenging school designed to create elite combat leaders. They withstood exhausting hikes, sleepless nights, little food and simulated combat exercises to test their tenacity, teamwork skills and response time.

This Friday, Griest and Haver will become the first female soldiers in history to graduate from the course in Fort Benning, Georgia, where they’ll receive the coveted Ranger Tab alongside their male counterparts.

Griest and Haver are among a test group of women who attended the first coed course, which began in April with 381 men and 19 women, but ended its run with only 94 men and two women. One woman currently remains in the program and is still attempting to complete it.

Although the course runs 62 days, it appears it took Griest and Haver longer to complete it. “These two women began the course April 20. They were ‘recycled’ at different phases of the course, but have been at the school since that date,” Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Jennifer Johnson told PEOPLE on Wednesday. (A recycled course refers to one that’s been redone.)

Haver graduated high school in Texas in 2008 and was a cross country runner. Washington Redskins’ quarterback Robert Griffin III was one of her classmates, according to a story in her hometown newspaper, the Post reports. She graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 2012.

Griest, also a West Point graduate (class of 2011), has run competitively as well. Last December, she was the distinguished honor graduate in a pre-Ranger School course run by her unit, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, according to the unit’s Facebook page.

The graduation of Haver and Griest will mark a major milestone in the military’s efforts to integrate women into positions that have not yet been allowed to serve. And even though the ceremony is just days away, the class is still training up until Friday.

“The class is now back at Ft. Benning. They are graduating, but they are still in training,” a source at Ft. Benning tells PEOPLE. “I just saw the class. They all look tired. They look like they’ve been through the wringer. This is a significant achievement for everyone.”

Despite the monumental accomplishments, the new female graduates won’t be allowed to try out for the elite 75th Ranger Regiment. “The women who successfully completed and graduate from the Ranger course will receive a certificate of completion and be awarded and authorized to wear the Ranger Tab. They will return to their unit,” Johnson told PEOPLE on Tuesday. “They will not go on to serve in a Ranger Regiment.”

Last week, retiring Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno said that any soldier who remained in Ranger School – male or female – can meet the standards the service has established for a job and should be able to serve in it, he told the Post.

Odierno expects the Army will start another Ranger School course in November, which it will again study to decide if the course will be open to women permanently.

— With reporting by Susan Keating

This article originally appeared on People.com

TIME Military

First 2 Women Set to Graduate From Army Ranger School

Female Army Rangers
Nick Tomecek—AP Army Rangers students carry a zodiac boat into the Yellow River on Aug. 4, 2015, at Camp James E. Rudder on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

Their names have not yet been revealed

For the first time in Army history, two women will be among the names called at Ranger School graduation on Friday.

The graduates were part of a group of about 400 soldiers who started the grueling Ranger School in April; the first class to admit women included 17 other female soldiers who have not completed the course.

While these two women (whose names have not yet been revealed) will be the first to don the prestigious Ranger tab, they are not eligible to try out for the 75th Ranger Regiment, which performs special operations. Both are officers and alumnae of West Point; they are expected to speak to the media for the first time on Thursday, the Washington Post reports.

Each branch of the Armed Forces have been asked to integrate women into all positions—or provide proof that they cannot do so—by 2016.

[Washington Post]

TIME Military

The Pentagon Will Increase Drone Flights By 50%

american unmanned reaper drone
Dominique Faget—AFP/Getty Images A US made Reaper drone flies over the Nigerian military airport Diori Hamani in Niamey, Niger on Jan. 2, 2015.

The use of the Army and contractor drone aircrafts will give the Air Force time to recover and rebuild its drone staffing

(JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va.) — Faced with escalating aggression from Russia and China, the Pentagon is planning to increase its use of drones by about 50 percent over the next several years, using the Army and civilian contractors to put more of the unmanned aircraft in the air.

The decision to add Army and civilian-operated missions to the mix was triggered because the Air Force — which had been running about 65 combat air patrol missions a day — asked to decrease that number to 60 because of stress on the force. But 60 patrols don’t come close to meeting the demands of top military commanders facing growing security threats around the world.

Senior U.S. officials said that while drones have been used largely to target terrorists and collect intelligence over combat zones, those needs may shift in the coming years.

Top military leaders, including the incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, have named Russia as the nation’s most serious security threat. And China’s rising military power and island-building program in the South China Sea have increased tensions and prompted a greater demand for U.S. surveillance and intelligence across the Pacific.

One senior defense official said Pentagon leaders are taking those security challenges into account as they decide how armed and unarmed drones will be used across Europe and the Pacific. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the issue publicly.

Pentagon leaders have been wrestling with the problem for some time, as the need for more airstrikes and surveillance by drones over Iraq and Syria to battle the Islamic State group offsets a decline in unmanned flights over Afghanistan as the war there winds down. Under the plans laid out by senior defense officials, the Air Force would continue to provide 60 daily drone missions, while the Army would conduct about 16, and U.S. Special Operations Command and civilian contractors would do up to 10 each.

“It’s the combatant commanders, they need more. They’re tasked to do our nation’s business overseas so they feel that stress on them, and it’s not getting better,” said Air Force Maj. Gen. J.D. Harris, Jr., vice commander of Air Combat Command at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. “There’s just not enough of the Air Force to go around.”

The civilian contractors would fly surveillance drones, not the armed aircraft. But senior defense officials said they need at least a small contractor contribution in order to reach the total of 90 combat air patrols per day.

The key unanswered questions, however, are how the Pentagon will pay for the additional patrols and how the military will sort out and analyze the growing torrent of data pouring in.

Officials said some of the costs could be borne by war funding — the overseas contingency operations in a separate account approved by Congress. The account funded some of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as some counterterrorism operations in the Middle East and Africa.

The use of the Army and contractor flights will give the Air Force time to recover and rebuild its drone staffing. Over the past decade, the Air Force had to very quickly expand the number of unmanned flights over Iraq and Afghanistan. To do that, it made fighter pilots switch to unmanned Predator and Reaper drones, and moved trainers into operations missions.

“Five, six years ago, we overmatched our system and we said we could provide more than what we were capable of providing on a sustained basis,” Harris told The Associated Press in an interview at his Langley office. “We actually decimated our training units. We pulled crews that were instructors that should be training the next round of students, and we put them on the operational lines flying missions overseas just to provide everything we could to the combatant commanders.”

As a result, the Air Force has trained about 180 air crew members per year, far short of the goal of 300.

Harris and other military leaders thought that the demand for drones would dip as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan waned. But the renewed conflict in Iraq, the fighting in Syria, the terror threat in North Africa, the Russian invasion of Ukraine’s Crimea region and the simmering tensions in the Pacific have only increased commanders’ appetite for drones.

To relieve the burden on the Air Force, the military has already begun using Army Gray Eagle drones in Afghanistan and could expand to other regions as required.

But, as the missions increase, the amount of video and other data being funneled to analysts will also spike.

Officials said they are working on ways to filter the data more efficiently so that key intelligence is identified and gets to the right people.

“The intelligence analysts who process the information coming from these flights are a critical part of this,” said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. “So, as we talk about expanding the number of UAV (drone) flights, we also have to look at the workload of the analysts who process that. We have to have the supporting backbone to be able to process that information and turn it into actionable intelligence.”

TIME Accident

Army Parachutist Dies From Injuries in Chicago Stunt Show

This undated photo provided by the U.S. Army shows Sgt. 1st Class Corey Hood. A parachutist the Army Golden Knights, Hood died Sunday after suffering severe injuries from an accident during a stunt on Saturday at the Chicago Air & Water Show, the Cook County medical examiner's office said. (U.S Army via AP)
U.S Army/AP This undated photo provided by the U.S. Army shows Sgt. 1st Class Corey Hood, a parachutist who died after an accident during a stunt at the Chicago Air and Water Show on Aug. 16, 2015 .

The 14-year veteran was hurt in a midair collision

A U.S. Army parachute team member died Sunday after being injured at the Chicago Air and Water Show.

Sgt. 1st Class Corey Hood, of Cincinnati, the 32-year-old parachutist, was a 14-year veteran who served five tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hood and a Navy sailor collided midair at the Chicago Air and Water Show on Saturday, leading to both being hospitalized, and Hood died of his injuries one day later, ABC reports.

Hood received a number of awards for his service, including two Bronze Stars, two Meritorious Service Medal, the Master Parachutist Badge, Pathfinder, Air Assault and Combat Action Badges.

“Our focus right now is on supporting Corey’s family and grieving for our teammate,” USAPT commander Lt. Col. Matthew Weinrich said in a statement. “As soldiers, there are risks every day in what we do, but you do everything you can to minimize those risks and it is extremely hard when that is not enough.”

The injured sailor, whose name has not been released, was still in the hospital on Sunday but his prognosis was good, a Navy spokesman said Sunday evening.

[ABC]

TIME Turkey

U.S. Fighter Jets Fly First Anti-ISIS Missions From Turkey

Turkey Kurdish Clash
Emrah Gurel—AP A missile-loaded Turkish Air Force warplane rises in the sky after taking off from Incirlik Air Base, in Adana, southern Turkey, on July 29, 2015.

The Incirlik-based F-16s can be used to verify targeting information

(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. on Wednesday launched its first airstrikes by Turkey-based F-16 fighter jets against Islamic State targets in Syria, marking a limited escalation of a yearlong air campaign that critics have called excessively cautious.

In a brief statement the Pentagon announced the F-16 strikes were launched from Incirlik air base in southern Turkey but provided no details on the number or types of targets struck. It did not say how many of the six F-16s now based at Incirlik were used in the initial strikes.

Earlier this month the U.S. began flying armed drones from Incirlik, but the F-16 flights add a new dimension to the air campaign, in part because of the added risk to pilots who might encounter Syrian or other air defenses.

Pentagon officials have said the main advantage of using Incirlik is its proximity to Islamic State targets in northern Syria, although a senior U.S. defense official said Wednesday that the F-16s may also be used on missions over Iraq. The official was not authorized to discuss F-16 mission details publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Most U.S. aerial combat missions over Iraq and Syria are being flown from more distant air bases in Qatar and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf region, although the U.S. also is flying F-16s from Muwaffaq Salti air base in Jordan.

The official said the Incirlik-based F-16s are equipped with surveillance and reconnaissance equipment in addition to weapons, and thus can be used to verify targeting information that may be provided by local Syrians or Iraqis cooperating with the U.S. A total of six F-16s are operating from Incirlik; they are from the 31st Fighter Wing based at Aviano, Italy.

With the threat of Syrian air defenses in mind, the U.S. military is considering how to reconfigure its network of combat search-and-rescue forces in the region, the senior defense official said. The official indicated those forces are deemed sufficient for the moment but might change. Other officials have said the U.S. also is considering placing refueling aircraft at Incirlik in support of the F-16 mission.

After months of negotiations between Washington and Ankara, the Turkish government agreed in late July to permit the U.S. to station aircraft at Incirlik in southern Turkey.

A Foreign Ministry official in Ankara said Wednesday that Turkey has not carried out its own airstrikes against the Islamic State recently because the U.S. asked it to wait so that the two countries can coordinate efforts. The official asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The senior U.S. defense official in Washington said the two governments are working on a memorandum of understanding that would set the terms under which Turkish warplanes would be integrated into the U.S.-led air campaign.

Christopher Harmer, a senior naval analyst at the Institute for the Study of War and a retired Navy commander, said the deployment of six F-16s to Turkey provides only a marginal improvement to U.S. air operations against the Islamic State, in part by shortening the flying distance to targets in northern Syria.

More broadly, the escalation is important for bringing Turkey more directly in the conflict, Harmer said.

“Turkey is coming off the sideline,” Harmer said. “More than anybody else in the region, Turkey did not want to tangle with ISIS,” he added, using an alternative acronym for the Islamic State group. “All that nastiness that ISIS can do could be turned against Turkey in very short order.”

The Turkish situation is especially touchy in political terms, in part because Turkey is a NATO ally with a different perspective on the Islamic State problem. Whereas the U.S. is focused on fighting the Islamic State militants and has partnered with Syrian Kurds to that end, Turkey’s main priority is curtailing growing Kurdish power along its southern border with Syria.

The Turks worry that Kurdish gains in Iraq and in Syria will encourage a revival of a Kurdish armed insurgency in Turkey in pursuit of an independent state. The PKK, a Kurdish terror group, killed two Turkish police officers and the Turks have retaliated, bombing their positions. Other Kurdish fighters have been effective against the Islamic State.

“For a long, long time Turkey has struggled mightily to stay out of this fight because they are so vulnerable,” Harmer said.

An early indication of Turkish concern about the chaos in Syria was its request in 2012 for NATO missile defense support. Since early 2013 a number of NATO countries have operated Patriot missile defenses in southern Turkey, including a U.S. Army Patriot unit based at Gaziantep, due north of the Syrian city of Aleppo.

TIME Japan

U.S. Army Helicopter Crashes on a Ship Near Japan

aerial
Ryusuke Uematsu—AP A yellow sheet covers a U.S. Army helicopter that crashed on a Navy cargo vessel near Okinawa on Aug. 12, 2015.

7 people were injured in the crash off the island of Okinawa

(TOKYO) — A U.S. Army helicopter crashed while landing on a Navy ship Wednesday off Japan’s southern island of Okinawa, injuring seven people and damaging the aircraft, officials said.

The H-60 helicopter made a hard landing on the USNS Red Cloud cargo vessel around 20 miles (30 kilometers) east of Okinawa, U.S. Forces Japan said in a statement, adding that the cause was under investigation. Okinawa is home to most of the tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Japan.

The injured were transported to a Navy hospital, the statement said. Their conditions were not immediately clear.

The other 10 people aboard the helicopter were not hurt, said Japanese coast guard spokesman Shinya Terada.

Japanese national broadcaster NHK showed video of the helicopter sitting on the cargo ship, with its tail broken off and its body partly covered with an orange tarp.

The presence of so many U.S. troops on Okinawa — more than half of about 50,000 American troops in Japan — has been a source of friction and Okinawans have long complained about crime, accidents and noise from the U.S. bases.

A plan formulated in 1996 between the Japanese and American governments would move U.S. Marine Air Station Futenma from a populated neighborhood to a less developed area, but Okinawans want the Marine base moved off the island altogether.

Wednesday’s accident coincided with Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga’s visit to the island for talks with Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga, a vocal opponent of the relocation plan.

“For those who live near (U.S.) bases, it’s a serious matter,” he said at the outset of the talks, reminding Suga of Okinawa’s burden and risk of accommodating the U.S. military bases.

Onaga has threatened to revoke an approval for reclamation work to build an off-shore runway in the area called Henoko.

Suga called the helicopter accident “extremely regrettable,” and told reporters that he has lodged a protest to the U.S. military over it, asking for prompt information disclosure, thorough investigation and implementing preventive measures.

Since the island prefecture reverted to Japanese control in 1972, there have been 45 crashes involving U.S. military aircraft, according to Okinawan government statistics. The island was the scene of a harsh World War II battle and was U.S. occupied for 27 years.

TIME hawaii

Remains of Missing WWII Marines Brought Back to Pearl Harbor

Pacific Battle Remains
Marco Garcia—AP U.S. Marines carry the remains of 36 unidentified Marines found at a World War II battlefield during a ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, July 26, 2015, in Honolulu.

The 36 Marines were listed as missing in action during World War II

Correction appended, July 28, 2015

The remains of three-dozen U.S. Marines missing in action during World War II were brought back to U.S. territory on Sunday in the largest single recovery of U.S. MIAs.

The 36 Marines were listed as missing in action at the World War II Battle of Tarawa and repatriated during Sunday’s ceremony, held at Pearl Harbor. Among them was 1st Lt. Alexander Bonnyman Jr., a recipient of the Medal of Honor, reports Hawaii news channel KHON2.

“We stand here humbled before you today to receive, honor and commemorate our fallen courageous Marine Corps warriors who on the field of battle fought and died to preserve our freedom,” said Capt. Mark Hendricks, U.S. Marine Corps Pacific Chaplain.

The remains were recovered by a non-profit called History Flight, which has been sending teams of scientists and historians to Tarawa for the last decade.

[KHON2]

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the number of Marines whose remains were returned to the U.S. on Sunday. It was 36.

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