Marines in this aircraft squadron deploy and fly with a big stuffed tiger named Tyreese

VMM-262 Marines with a large stuffed tiger.
VMM-262 Marines with a large stuffed tiger named Tyreese.

  • A Marine unit released a video of an aircraft squadron preparing for takeoff with a large stuffed tiger.
  • The video never explained the tiger, but Insider learned that his name is Tyreese.
  • The stuffed tiger is part of a long tradition of stuffed tigers going back to the 1950s.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

There is a Marine Corps aircraft squadron that deploys with a rather large stuffed tiger.

The 1st Marine Air Wing posted a short video on Twitter in March of MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft with squadron VMM-262 (REIN) taking off from the amphibious assault ship USS America, and in the video, one service member can be seen handing off a big stuffed tiger to another, presumably to load it onto an aircraft.

The video never offered any explanation of the stuffed tiger rocking aviation goggles, so Insider asked the Marines about it.

It turns out the tiger’s name is Tyreese, and he is part of a longstanding tradition for the squadron, a 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit official said.

Tyreese VMM-262 Tiger
Tyreese, the VMM-262 tiger mascot.

Squadron VMM-262 is nicknamed the “Flying Tigers” and has been represented by a stuffed tiger for almost seven decades.

Tyreese is the squadron’s third mascot. The first was Cedric, who was “born” in 1952, about one year after the Corps stood up the squadron at Cherry Point, North Carolina.

HMM-262 tiger mascot Cedric
HMM-262 tiger mascot Cedric in 1952.

The squadron started out as Marine Helicopter Transport Squadron (HMR) 262 but was redesignated as Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 262 the following year, when the squadron relocated to New River, North Carolina.

Though the squadron was activated during the Korean War, it remained stateside during the conflict. HMM-262’s first overseas operations did not come until 1965, when the squadron participated in the US intervention in the Dominican Republic’s civil war. A year later, the squadron deployed to Vietnam. On its return, it was stationed in Hawaii.

HMM-262 mascot Cedric with some of the pilots' wives and children (1952)
HMM-262 mascot Cedric with some of the pilots’ wives and children (1952)

Due to limited records, it is unclear where exactly Cedric came from or why the squadron needed a stuffed animal mascot, but stories about the stuffed animal have been preserved in the memories of those who served with the squadron.

Joseph “Jake” Jacobs, a former squadron member who now serves as the head of the HMM-262 Combat Helicopter Association, recalled that Marines from some of the other helicopter and fighter jet squadrons occasionally “tiger-napped” Cedric.

He also said that Cedric was dropped out of a Huey at one point and squashed in another altercation that left him “a bit worn out” and “having lost some stuffing.”

The HMM-262 tiger mascot eventually had to be replaced with a new stuffed tiger, Cedric II.

Cedric II
HMM-262 tiger mascot Cedric II.

Cedric II is the commanding officer’s tiger and can still be seen on display in the CO’s spaces.

First Lt. Stephanie Murphy, a 31st MEU spokeswoman, told Insider that “as Cedric II is advanced in age, he doesn’t leave the office much but still makes an appearance at formal events.”

Tyreese, the newest stuffed tiger representing what is now designated as Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 262, belongs to the Flightline Division and the roughly 40 Marines in the shop.

VMM-262 mascot Tyreese in the flightline division shop
VMM-262 mascot Tyreese in the Flightline Division shop.

“Tyreese participates a bit more with the division due to his proximity to the Marines,” Murphy said, adding that “he travels with the squadron and has a home within the shop.”

As their mascot, Tyreese comes along on their detachments and deployments, and they also bring him along for photo-ops and final flights for aircrew who are leaving the unit.

Marines with VMM-262 tiger mascot Tyreese
Marines with VMM-262 tiger mascot Tyreese.

HMM-262 flew Boeing CH-46 Sea Knight medium-lift tandem-rotor transport helicopters until 2013, when the aging aircraft were replaced with MV-22B Ospreys. It was at that point that the squadron was redesignated as VMM-262.

The MV-22 Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft that can land and takeoff vertically like a helicopter but fly in a turboprop aircraft configuration.

VMM-262 mascot Tyreese in front of MV-22B Ospreys
VMM-262 mascot Tyreese in front of MV-22B Ospreys.

The squadron’s mission is to support US military operations worldwide by transporting troops, supplies, and equipment, sometimes on short notice.

When attached to a MEU, VMM-262 is reinforced with detachments from other aviation squadrons and serves as the aviation combat element for MEU contingency missions.

Based out of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, Japan, the squadron has been a part of a number of immediate-response missions following natural disasters, such as devastating typhoons and earthquakes, in the Pacific.

VMM-262 was part of the US military response after Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in 2013, after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Nepal in 2015, and after Typhoon Yutu hit Guam and the Northern Marianas Islands in 2018. It is unclear if their stuffed tiger came along for the ride.

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Marines scored direct hit on target at sea in first live-fire test using Navy missile and unmanned vehicle

naval strike missile NSM konsberg
A Naval Strike Missile is launched from USS Coronado in September 2014.

  • The Navy Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System has been tested successfully against a target at sea.
  • NMESIS combines two existing technologies – Naval Strike Missiles and modified Joint Light Tactical Vehicles – for a deadly new way to hit targets offshore.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Marines scored a direct hit in a first-ever live-fire test in which they launched a Navy missile from the back of an unmanned tactical vehicle to strike a surface target at sea.

The Marine Corps has combined two existing technologies to produce a deadly new way to hit targets offshore. Coined NMESIS, the Navy Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System can launch Naval Strike Missiles from the back of a modified Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, or JLTV, to destroy targets on land or at sea.

Raytheon Missiles and Defense, which makes the Naval Strike Missile, announced Wednesday that the Marine Corps used NMESIS to hit a target in the water from Point Mugu Sea Range in California. The missile can take out targets from more than 100 nautical miles away.

Commandant Gen. David Berger showed a photo of the test launch to lawmakers Thursday when discussing the need for funding for ground-based anti-ship missiles. He called the test the result of the “brilliance of a couple of young officers” and Oshkosh Defense, a Wisconsin-based company that makes the JLTV.

“The people at Oshkosh and these couple of majors thought, ‘We can do this,’ so they took the cab off the back and they put a missile in the back with a fire-control system,” Berger said. “Now, we can move this around on vessels or put it ashore and hold an adversary’s navy at risk … to ensure that the lines on the sea are kept open.

“This is the speed at which we have to move,” he added.

Navy Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System
NMESIS can launch naval strike missiles from the back of a modified Joint Light Tactical Vehicle at targets on land or at sea.

Getting funding for ground-based long-range precision fires out of the next budget will be crucial for the Marine Corps’ mission, Berger told lawmakers. He wrote in his 2019 planning guidance that the service had fallen “woefully behind” in the development of ground-based long-range precision fires.

“We must possess the ability to turn maritime spaces into barriers so we can attack an adversary’s sea lines of communication … while defending our own in support of the Fleet or Joint Force,” Berger wrote.

In 2021, the Marine Corps requested $125 million to buy nearly 50 Tomahawk missiles it could launch from land. Congress ultimately did not fund the move. Adm. Phil Davidson, the head of US Indo-Pacific Command, told lawmakers in March that the decision to slash those funds hurt the military’s ability to deter China.

The JLTV used in the test at Point Mugu is an unmanned version known as a ROGUE – or remotely operated ground unit for expeditionary – fires vehicle. The Naval Strike Missile fired from the back carries a 500-pound class warhead, according to Raytheon. The Navy uses the missile on littoral combat ships.

Combined, the missile and ROGUE fires vehicle form NMESIS, which is operated by artillery Marines, Lt. Gen. Eric Smith, the deputy commandant of Combat Development and Integration, told reporters this month.

Berger said using a modified JLTV and a proven strike missile gives commanders flexibility since they can fire the munition from a ship or ashore.

“It’s the same missile, so as needed, the commander can move the ordnance where it’s needed most,” he said. “… [It also] speeds up our ability to field it. It’s a proven missile. … This is not a new missile system – we know how it performs. So we’re riding on the backs of something that is already developed and putting it on a platform that we’re very confident in.”

– Gina Harkins can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

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The Corps is getting rid of its tanks, so dozens of Marines are joining the Army

Marine Corps tank
Marines in front of the last tank assigned to 1st Tank Battalion before its departure, at Twentynine Palms, California, July 6, 2020.

  • Marine tank battalions, bridging companies, and law-enforcement units are being cut as part of a forcewide redesign.
  • Marines in those jobs are being told to find new jobs, consider other services, or end their careers earlier than planned.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

More than 450 Marines’ careers have been affected by a forcewide redesign that launched last year as the Corps reorganizes to take on new threats, sending hundreds into new career fields, early retirement, or even Army tank units.

Commandant Gen. David Berger issued his first annual update to the forcewide redesign he announced in March 2020. The changes center around making the Marine Corps lighter and more expeditionary to take on new threats from sea and ashore.

Tank battalions, bridging companies and law enforcement units were slashed as part of the plan. Marines in those jobs are being told to find new military occupational specialties, or MOSs; consider another service; or opt to end their careers earlier than planned.

So far, 69 Marines who were assigned to tank battalions have transferred to the Army, said Yvonne Carlock, a spokeswoman for Marine Corps Manpower and Reserve Affairs. Those new soldiers were all enlisted Marines.

Another 259 personnel have made lateral moves into new Marine MOSs, she said. About 60% of tank officers in need of new specialities have chosen to become intelligence, logistics or cyberspace officers, Carlock added.

Nearly all the military police officers making lat moves selected intelligence, cyberspace or communications strategy and operations jobs.

Marine Corps tank
The last tanks assigned to 1st Tank Battalion depart Twentynine Palms, California, July 6, 2020.

On the enlisted side, the lateral moves have been more varied, Carlock said, though Marines have shown a slight preference for ground ordnance maintenance, infantry and logistics specialties.

Another 128 Marines whose fields were affected by the changes have taken advantage of early out programs, Carlock said. Those include the Temporary Early Retirement Authority, the Voluntary Enlisted Early Release Program, and the Officer Voluntary Early Release Program.

More Marines were told this month to prepare to make changes as force-design efforts continue. Marine officials, a servicewide message states, will continue using lateral moves, inter-service transfers and voluntary early out programs for those affected.

Armor Marines, battle tank repairer/technicians, and military police officers are among those affected. Those who aren’t pending orders or separation from voluntary actions will receive new MOSs “based upon the needs of the Marine Corps,” the message adds.

Carlock said the new MOSs haven’t been decided yet since those force-shaping measures won’t go into effect for another year.

“If involuntary force shaping is required, a board will be convened to select those who will be involuntarily force shaped, and they will be assigned a new MOS based on the needs of the Marine Corps at that time,” she said.

Manpower officials said last May that about 1,300 personnel would need to move into new fields or other branches of the military if they wish to remain in uniform as their missions are cut. Officials now say the Marine Corps will drop 10,000 personnel by 2030 to reach an end strength of about 174,000.

Berger said last year when announcing his new plan that no one would be forced out of the service over the changes if they still wanted to serve.

“No one’s getting a pink slip saying ‘time to go home,'” he said. “… We’re not forcing anybody out.”

– Gina Harkins can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

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4 of the US military’s biggest tank battles were during the same war

Army Abrams tanks Iraq Desert Storm
M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks during Operation Desert Storm, February 15, 1991.

  • Every branch of the US military was involved in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
  • Between the Army and the Marine Corps, that war had some of the largest tank battles the US has ever fought.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

During Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, the US military was at its finest, liberating Kuwaiti civilians from the forces of an evil dictator.

In every way, every branch of the military and every American ally was on display, showing they could handle anything the enemy might throw at them and coming out on top.

Nowhere was this more apparent than in the ranks of US military armor.

Between the Army and the Marine Corps, the battles fought during Operation Desert Storm were some of the largest tank battles the United States ever fought – and among the largest in world history.

1. The Battle of Kuwait International Airport

iraqi tank desert storm gulf war
A Iraqi tank destroyed during the Gulf War.

The biggest tank battle in United States Marine Corps history is also the fastest. It’s also one of the most forgotten battles in history, despite the massive size of the forces involved.

On February 25, 1991, the 1st Marine Division and 2nd Marine Division, along with the Army’s 2nd Armored Division’s Tiger Brigade, Army Special Forces, and – later – the 4th Marine Division’s 4th Tank Battalion met 14 Iraqi divisions and a field artillery brigade.

The 1st Marines had broken through the Iraqi lines and into Kuwait City, on its way to the airport drove through them and ahead, fighting skirmishes along the way and destroying at least 100 enemy tanks. The 2nd Marine Division would approach from the other side.

One tank unit, Bravo Company, 4th Tank Battalion woke in the morning to find 35 Iraqi Republican Guard tanks moving to hit them from the front. Outnumbered 3-to-1, the Marines of Bravo Company snapped to, destroying all of them in about 90 seconds. This battle came to be known as the “Reveille Engagement.”

2. The Battle of 73 Easting

m1 abrams tank desert storm gulf war iraq
An Abrams tank in the desert during Desert Storm.

A young Army officer named H.R. McMaster (yes, that H.R. McMaster) was leading a group of nine M1A1 Abrams tanks through the desert at the start of the Desert Storm ground war.

Soon, his tanks came over a hill – and right into the path of an entire Iraqi tank division.

When outnumbered by hundreds, many officers would withdraw or surrender. McMaster plowed through. His troop destroyed 28 Iraqi tanks, 16 personnel carriers and 30 trucks in 23 minutes.

They called in other tank troops as they fought and were soon joined by more Americans, more than 840 armored vehicles in all. With the Iraqis knocked out, the Americans were free to engage behind the lines and onward into Kuwait.

3. Battle of Norfolk

T72 battle tank russia destroyed
An Iraqi T-72 main battle tank destroyed in a Coalition attack during Operation Desert Storm.

What happens when American and British Armor meet the Iraqi Republican Guard inside Iraq? Some 1,100 Iraqi tanks destroyed, along with hundreds of artillery pieces and armored personnel carriers and thousands of Iraqi prisoners.

With 12 divisions on the battlefield, this was the second largest tank battle in US history and the largest of the Gulf War.

Two hours after the Battle of 73 Easting, coalition forces advanced to Objective Norfolk, an intersection on Iraqi supply lines and an important hub for moving material. Defending Norfolk was the Tawakalna Division of the Iraqi Republican Guard, which had just been bloodied at 73 Easting.

By the time the US Army’s 1st Infantry Division controlled Norfolk, the Tawakalna Division ceased to exist.

4. Battle of Medina Ridge

us army gulf war tank
A US soldier on top of a tank destroyed during the Gulf War.

For two hours, the US Army’s 1st Armored Division and the 2nd Brigade of the Iraqi Republican Guard Medina Luminous Division slugged it out at one of the Iraqi desert’s few landmarks. Around 348 M1A1 Abrams tanks met hundreds of enemy tanks in one of the toughest battles of the war.

The Iraqis, positioned behind the ridgeline, could only be seen directly when US tanks crested the hill. Which would have been an effective defense if it weren’t for the Army’s Apache helicopters and the Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt IIs constantly strafing them.

The Iraqis arguably put up the stiffest defense of the war at Medina Ridge, but the loss was still lopsided – four US tanks were destroyed while the Iraqis lost 186.

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Marines put assault amphibious vehicles back in the water for the first time since one sank and killed 9 service members

Marines aboard an amphibious assault vehicle
Marines aboard an amphibious assault vehicle.

  • The Marine Corps is putting AAVs back in the water for the first time since a deadly accident.
  • Last summer, eight Marines and a Navy sailor drowned when an AAV sank off of California.
  • Water operations were halted as the Corps looked into the failures that caused the accident.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Marine Corps put an assault amphibious vehicle back in the water this week for the first time since one sank last summer, killing nine service members, Marine Corps officials told Insider Thursday.

Last July, an AAV assigned to Bravo Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, part of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, sank off the coast of California as it returned to the amphibious transport dock USS Somerset from San Clemente Island.

The mishap vehicle was carrying three AAV crewmembers, 12 Marines, and one Navy corpsman. Eight embarked Marines and the Navy sailor died, making this incident the deadliest AAV training accident in the vehicle’s history.

“Out of precaution, before we understand what caused this, we are pausing the waterborne operations for amtracs,” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger said the day after the accident, as the Corps was still searching for the bodies of the deceased, considered only missing at that point.

A recently released investigation into this tragic disaster revealed it was preventable. The accident was caused by a series of human and mechanical failures. Specifically, the vehicle was improperly maintained, training was inadequate, and critical safety procedures were not followed.

Responsibility for the deadly accident was placed on leaders across the chain of command, from the 15th MEU commander down to the vehicle commander. Disciplinary action has already been taken against some unit commanders.

Marines drive an AAV into the water during training at Camp Pendleton, California.

This week, after an eight-and-a-half-month pause, AAVs again started splashing, but with conditions, Corps officials said.

Last Friday, the Marines published requirements for the resumption of AAV waterborne operations, Marine Corps spokesperson Capt. Andrew Wood told Insider on Thursday.

No movement between Navy ships and shore is permitted, and shore-to-shore movement over water is only permitted once a unit has completed 18 tasks.

Wood said that the tasks “cover a variety of requirements from ensuring training and qualifications for crew and embarked personnel, personnel are properly equipped, vehicles have passed required inspections, and operations are conducted with safety boats, sea state assessments, and positive communication.”

For instance, everyone riding in an AAV has to have completed the full underwater-egress training program, to include training on the Waterborne Egress Capability breathing bottles.

As Insider previously reported, the supplemental emergency breathing devices are being put back in the vehicles after they were removed in 2015 to cut costs. All embarking personnel must be equipped with these devices.

These requirements also apply to the new amphibious combat vehicles that are being introduced as replacements for the AAVs that first entered service in the 1970s.

At the moment, the California-based 1st Marine Division is believed to be the only unit to have met the requirements, division spokeswoman Maj. Kendra Motz told Insider. She said the first AAVs splashed Tuesday.

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Male Marines graduate from historically all-female boot camp training battalion for first time

Marine Corps recruits Parris Island
US Marines with Papa Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, graduate recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina, March 26 2021.

  • Four male platoons recently graduated from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island as part of the 4th Recruit Training Battalion.
  • Until now, that battalion only trained women, and the change shows that all recruits are held to the same standards, the Corps said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Four male platoons graduated from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina as part of a battalion that – until now – has trained only women.

Papa Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, completed boot camp with four male and two female platoons, the Marine Corps announced Wednesday. Coed companies have been training at Parris Island since 2019, but this was the first time men have been assigned to 4th Recruit Training Battalion.

It was also the first time male drill instructors were assigned to the historically all-female battalion.

Marine recruits training at Parris Island were for decades segregated by gender, with women traditionally assigned solely to 4th Recruit Training Battalion. Papa Company completed their training and graduated from boot camp March 26.

The Marine Corps has since begun training Parris Island’s 15th coed company, said Capt. Bryan McDonnell, a spokesman at the depot.

Capt. Adan Rivera, the company commander, said in a Marine Corps news release that assigning men to 4th Battalion demonstrates that recruits are held to the same standards, regardless of gender.

When a male recruit was told he’d be making history after being assigned to 4th Battalion, he said he didn’t think “anybody grasped what was going on.”

“We’re here to train, let’s train,” he said in the release.

Both female and male recruits have now been assigned to all four of Parris Island’s recruit training battalions.

McDonnell said the 4th Recruit Training Battalion squad bay is smaller than some of the newer living facilities at Parris Island. The Marine Corps tends to see more recruits reporting to boot camp in the summer months following high-school graduations.

With fewer arriving in the winter months, McDonnell said they had the right number of male and female trainees to assign them to that battalion.

Men and women training in coed companies live in the same barracks, but have separate squad bays with different sleeping and bathing facilities. Training that occurs outside the squad bays is done together.

Platoons are still assigned drill instructors of the same gender as their recruits.

The men with 4th Battalion aren’t the only Marine recruits to make history at boot camp this year. Women are currently training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in coed companies for the first time in that base’s 100-year history.

The 2020 defense authorization bill directed the Marine Corps to make both of its entry-level training sites coed. The service was given five years to make training coed at Parris Island and eight years at San Diego.

– Gina Harkins can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

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Video puts you in the cockpit of a Navy Prowler on a low-level flight through the Cascade Mountains

EA-6B Prowler
An EA-6B Prowler out of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, March 1, 2016.

  • This is what it looks like to fly an EA-6B Prowler on the Visual Route 1355 low-level military training route in Washington state.
  • VR 1355 is known as the “million-dollar ride” for its scenic views and the fun and “aggressive” flying that can be done on it.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The last US Marine Corps EA-6B Prowler squadron, Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 2 (VMAQ-2), was formally deactivated in March 2019, when the last two jets, 162230/CY-02 and 162228/CY-04, took part in a sundown ceremony that also included flying in formation over Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina.

All the US Navy and Marines Prowler squadrons had already been deactivated since then (the last ones being all USMC units: VMAQ-1, in May 2016, VMAQ-4 in June 2017 and VMAQ-3 in May 2018).

The EA-6B was an iconic aircraft born out of military requirements during the Vietnam War. It entered service in 1971 and 170 aircraft were built before the production was terminated in 1991. For more than four decades, the Prowler was “at the forefront of military electronic warfare allowing high-profile air combat missions.”

The EA-6B’s last deployment, in 2018, was carried out by VMAQ-2 to support of Operation Resolute Support and Freedom’s Sentinel, in Afghanistan, as well as Operation Inherent Resolve, in Iraq and Syria.

But, overall, the Prowler deployed more than 70 times to support every major combat operation, including those in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Serbia.

EA 6B Refuel

While not deployed, the type carried out stateside training sorties, practicing ground-attack support missions, disruption of enemy electromagnetic activity and tactical electronic intelligence.

While most of the latest mission profiles saw the aircraft operate at medium and high altitude, the Prowler’s aircrews regularly flew low-level training missions too.

The footage in this post was taken in 2010 by a user who, based on the other videos posted on his Youtube channel, flew with the US Navy’s VAQ-139 “Cougars.”

The clip is particularly interesting as it shows, from the front cockpit, an EA-6B flying low level along VR-1355, one of the low-level routes running through national parks in the Cascade Mountains.

As we explained in a post about a photo of an EA-18G taken there, the Visual Route 1355 is colloquially called the “million-dollar ride” for both the scenic views and the fun and “aggressive” flying that can be done through the valleys.

Thanks to the video below, now you can also get an idea of what it looked like to fly the route at low level in the Prowler.

While the footage is outstanding, I’m pretty sure it will also remind someone the famous incident that occurred to an EA-6B in Italy in 1998.

On February 3, 1998, EA-6B Prowler #163045/CY-02, from VMAQ-2, deployed at Aviano Air Base, in northeastern Italy, for the Balkans crisis, using radio callsign “EASY 01” and flying a low-level route cut a cable supporting a cable car of an aerial lift, near Cavalese, a ski resort in the Dolomites. Twenty people died when the cabin plunged over 260 feet and crashed on the ground in what is also known as the “Cavalese cable car disaster” or “Strage del Cermis.”

At 15:13 LT, when the aircraft struck the cables supporting the cable car the aircraft was flying at a speed of 540 mph (870 km/h) and at an altitude of between 260 and 330 feet (80 and 100 m) in a narrow valley between the mountains.

While the aircraft had wing and tail damage, it was able to return to Aviano.

The subsequent investigation found that the EA-6B was flying too low and against regulations. Initially, all four men on the plane were charged, but only the pilot, Capt. Richard J. Ashby, and his navigator, Capt. Joseph Schweitzer, actually faced trial (that took place at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina), charged with 20 counts of involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide.

At the end of the first trial, the pilot was acquitted on all charges relating to the disaster (charges which were dropped for the navigator too) in a verdict that caused shock and resentment in Italy generating an upsurge of anti-American feeling.

During the trial it emerged that the US Marine Corps aircrews used obsolete US military maps that, unlike local ones, did not show the cables, and were not aware of altitude regulations concerning low-level flying.

The two Marines were court-martialed a second time when it became evident they had destroyed a videotape filmed on the day of the incident. Eventually, Capts. Ashby and Schweitzer were found guilty in May 1999; both were dismissed from the service and Ashby received a six-month prison term. Families were eventually compensated 1.9M USD per victim.

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Marines at a major California military base are being investigated over missing explosives and ammo

Camp Pendleton Marine Camp Training
The main gate at Camp Pendleton, California.

  • Marines in California are being investigated for possible ties to missing explosives and ammunition.
  • Few details have been released, but a sergeant faces charges, and another service member is awaiting a federal hearing.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Marines at a Southern California military base are being investigated for possible ties to missing explosives and ammunition.

A sergeant at Camp Pendleton is in custody and facing charges, and another service member is awaiting a federal hearing in connection to the case, said 2nd Lt. Kyle McGuire, a spokesman for 1st Marine Division.

Few details have been made public about the investigation, which McGuire said is unrelated to 10 pounds of C-4 explosives that disappeared from another California base – Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms – last month.

Sgt. Gunnar Naughton, with 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, currently is confined to the brig, McGuire said. Naughton faced an Article 32 fact-finding hearing on March 19 and has been charged with larceny and military property-related offenses, he added.

Charges also have been preferred against a second member of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, but an Article 32 hearing has not yet been scheduled. The Marine Corps declined to provide a list of the charges or any personal information prior to the hearing.

“Naval Criminal Investigative Service is continuing their investigation into this matter, and I’m therefore unable to provide additional information,” McGuire said.

Marine Corps supplies gear Camp Pendleton
US Marines receive and return gear at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California, January 7, 2019.

ABC 10News in San Diego, citing an unnamed source, reported that at least five reconnaissance Marines at Camp Pendleton are under investigation for possible ties to the explosives, and thousands of rounds of military-grade ammunition were found to be missing at their base.

One Marine, the outlet reported, allegedly tried to sell the ammo online, but was caught “in a sting operation that was set up by federal agents.”

A spokesman at NCIS declined to provide any details about the missing materials or reported sting operation.

“Out of respect for the investigative process, NCIS does not comment on ongoing investigations,” Jeff Houston said.

Bethany Payton-O’Brien, a San Diego-based attorney, told ABC 10News she’s representing a staff sergeant who let another Marine rent space on his land for a trailer. The location was later raided, she told the station.

Payton-O’Brien told her client, Staff Sgt. Alexander Czub, was released from the brig on March 4 after serving a month in pretrial confinement. Czub has not been charged with any offenses relating to the missing ammunition or explosives at Camp Pendleton, she added.

“My client is not connected with the alleged conspiracy involving … Naughton or the attempted selling of government ammunition by [another Marine],” she said. “Based on the investigation provided to us so far by the government, there appears to be no connection between the 29 Palms case and Camp Pendleton Marines. The government has still not provided us with all evidence in this case despite numerous requests.”

McGuire said no other hearing or trial dates have been set in connection to the case. The preliminary hearing officer for Naughton’s Article 32 must review his case and make a recommendation to the convening authority regarding the charges. The convening authority on the case, or the officer overseeing the prosecutions, is Maj. Gen. Roger Turner Jr., 1st Marine Division’s commanding general.

Those steps will determine whether the case proceeds to court-martial.

“It is not uncommon for charges to change between an Article 32 hearing and subsequent court-martial,” McGuire added.

– Gina Harkins can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

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Marine Corps gets rid of men’s-only allowance for underwater after audit finds inequities in uniform costs

camouflage uniforms marines
  • The Marine Corps has removed an allowance for underwear that was only given to men and adding a new allowance for women’s dress shoes.
  • The changes come after an audit that revealed systemic inequities in clothing and uniform costs for male and female service members.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The Marine Corps has removed a clothing replacement allowance for underwear that was only allotted to men and added a new replacement allowance for female dress pumps following an audit of policy.

A Government Accountability Office report released this month revealed systemic inequities in out-of-pocket clothing and uniform costs for male and female service members – a reality colloquially known as the “Pink Tax.”

The watchdog organization found that some enlisted women paid more than $8,000 out of pocket over the course of a career for clothing, while some men actually ended up with allowance overages they could pocket. The disparity, the GAO found, was largely the result of the higher costs of some women’s uniform items, and costs of essentials not included in clothing calculations that were higher across the board for women.

The investigation also prompted the individual military services to review their own policies and calculations. For the Marine Corps, this resulted in the discovery of inequity and a move to change.

“Beginning in fiscal year 2021, enlisted [Marine] males will no longer receive an annualized standard cash clothing replacement allowance for underwear, according to the officials,” GAO officials wrote in their report. “Currently, males receive an annualized standard cash clothing replacement allowance for their underwear, but females do not.”

Women Marine Karate
Recruits watch a Marine Corps Martial Arts demonstration, July 21, 2011.

The report added that there had been no annualized replacement allowance for female Marines’ dress pumps, even though they were listed as a required uniform item. Going forward, it said, there would be an additional replacement allowance, apart from the current $50 one-time allotment.

“According to officials, this was an oversight and the Marine Corps plans to fix this to ensure female enlisted service members receive an annualized standard cash clothing allowance for dress pumps,” GAO officials wrote.

A spokesman for the Marine Corps Uniform Board and Marine Corps Installations and Logistics, Master Sgt. Andrew Pendracki, told via email that underwear was issued to Marines in their initial sea bag and was considered a personal item to be purchased at the individual’s expense following recruit training.

“During the GAO audit, it was noted that male Marines were receiving an annual replacement allowance to maintain drawers as late as [fiscal year 2020],” he said. “A review of past annual Minimum Requirement Lists (MRL) indicated that the drawers have not been on the MRL for at least 20 years and, as such, a clothing replacement allowance should not have been paid.”

A similar allowance did not exist for female Marines.

The annualized line item for men’s underwear is not much: 72 cents, Pendracki said. It will be removed in the fiscal 2022 MRL, he noted.

The new annualized allowance for women’s dress pumps may make a more substantial difference to Marines’ wallets: Female Marines will now get $16.66 per year to maintain and replace their dress shoes.

In the GAO report, officials emphasized that the root issue was equity: equal pay for equal work.

“The equity principle also calls for the concept of equal pay for substantially equal work under the same general working conditions,” the report states. ” … Specifically, comparability refers to the specific items of basic pay, basic pay-related items, allowances, and benefits.”

– Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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The messy way the Marines joined US Special Operations Command

Marine Corps Special Operations MARSOC parachute
A Marine with 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion jumps from a KC-130J Hercules over North Carolina, Sept. 12, 2012.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of Marine Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC).

Created on February 24, 2006, MARSOC is the Marine Corps’ component of US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and is composed of the Marine Raider Regiment, Marine Raider Support Group, and Marine Raider Training Center.

Marine Raiders, who trace their roots to World War II, primarily focus on direct action, such as ambushes and raids, as well as special reconnaissance and foreign internal defense – the training and advising of partner forces – but they can also conduct unconventional warfare (which primarily means supporting proxy forces) and counterterrorism operations, all with a varying degree of effectiveness.

MARSOC was created to fill what the Pentagon prudently saw as a future gap in special-operations forces. From the start, the US military effort in the Global War on Terror indicated that it would heavily rely on special-operations units.

The frantic insurgency in Iraq, the complicated fight in Afghanistan, and the various hotspots worldwide proved correct those who called for more commandos.

But disputes around MARSOC’s creation linger for the command and could endanger its future.

Every Marine is Special’

Marine Corps Special Operations MARSOC
Marines during Phase I of MARSOC’s Assessment and Selection course at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, January 30, 2015.

After Operation Eagle Claw, the failed rescue of American hostages in Iran in 1980, the Pentagon ordered the creation of a dedicated special-operations command for special-operations units from across the services.

Established in 1987, US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) brought together special-operations units such as the Army Green Berets, Navy SEALs, and Air Force Special Tactics Squadrons. Each service was invited to join with its special-operations units, but the Marine Corps turned down the offer.

The Marines already had some special-operations units, namely Marine Recon and Force Recon, which focused on special reconnaissance and direct action. They were considered special-operations units by everyone but the Corps, which saw them as specialized infantry rather than commandos, a reflection of the “Every Marine is special” mindset prevalent in the Marine Corps since its inception.

SOCOM and the Marine Corps went their separate ways until the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Having seen the tactical and strategic value of special-operations units in the early days of the Global War on Terror, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld pushed for more commandos.

The Marine Corps begrudgingly created the Marine Corps Special Operations Command Detachment (Det One) in late 2002 as a study unit to see if Marines could fill special-operations roles.

Marine Corps JTAC Navy MH-60S helicopter
A Joint Terminal Attack Controller with MARSOC communicates with a Navy MH-60S helicopter during training at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada, April 7, 2011.

However, since Reconnaissance Marines were already widely seen as a special-operations unit, or its Marine equivalent, the Corps’ decision to set up Det One for further study, rather than incorporating Marines into SOCOM right away, is viewed by many as an attempt to stall the process until Pentagon leadership moved on or lost interest.

“The early [Det One] years were tough. In the beginning, we didn’t have jack shit. No weapons, no ammo, no ranges, no mission, no nothing. Both the Corps and SOCOM shunned us, while the SEALs [Naval Special Warfare Command] wanted to control us. We were the red-headed stepchild,” a former Reconnaissance Marine and Marine Raider told Insider.

Neither SOCOM nor the Marine Corps wanted a Marine special-operations command, but for different reasons.

SOCOM believed that the Marine Corps had gotten its chance to “operate” back in 1987; the Marine Corps believed it could do its own special-operations thing as good or even better than SOCOM and didn’t want to lose quality Marines.

“What we did have, however, was a solid bunch of guys, about 100 operators and support Marines. All of them were as solid as they come because the leadership had handpicked them. We’re talking senior Recon men with years of experience and numerous deployments under their belts. Same goes for the support and intel guys. Top-notch Marines on their respective fields who could probably outperform grunts on basic infantry skills because they went through much of our training,” the former Recon Marine and Raider added.

Always faithful, always forward

Marine Corps Special Operations MARSOC
Maj. Gen. James F. Glynn, commander of MARSOC, speaks to MARSOC personnel during a ceremony at Camp Lejeune, February 22, 2021.

Det One was a success and led to the creation of MARSOC in 2006. The 1st and 2nd Force Recon Battalions were disbanded, with most of their operators going to the newly established 1st and 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalions, with a third Raider battalion added later.

During the Global War on Terror, MARSOC contributed to the fight, but as the wars concluded or drew down, Marine Raiders have found themselves competing for missions and funds with units such as the Army Special Forces Regiment or the SEAL Teams.

Since MARSOC is the new kid on the block, it tends to be relegated to less active areas of operations – ironically, however, these regions can get quite busy, and Marine Raiders have participated in some neat operations, such the response to al-Shabab’s attack on the Kenyan military base at Manda Bay in January 2020.

Some have called for MARSOC’s deactivation, citing the Corps’ limited resources and demands elsewhere. For now, it seems that the 15-year-old MARSOC will make it into adulthood. Judging from the past, that future may be rocky.

Stavros Atlamazoglou is a defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate.

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