Tagged: air

0

Georgia police release 911 calls from deadly military plane crash

Police released 911 calls on Monday made by frightened onlookers as a WC-130 military plane crashed in Georgia last week and took the lives of nine airmen with the Puerto Rico National Guard.

The calls, some taken just seconds after the crash, offered details of the chaotic scene in Savannah, Georgia, last Wednesday when the WC-130 nose-dived onto a highway, covering the roadway with debris, and filling the surrounding area with thick clouds of black smoke.

There were no survivors.

“Yes, a plane just crashed. I’m looking at it right now and it’s up in flames,” one nearby witness said, giving authorities early details about the intense situation unfolding on the ground.

“I’ve got flames and smoke everywhere and stuff coming out of the sky,” another eyewitness said.

“It just literally nose-dived into the road,” another said.

The first call came in at 11:27 a.m. and it wasn’t long before dozens more followed, according to Savannah ABC affiliate WJCL[1], which obtained copies of the calls on Monday.

The Savannah Police Department released nearly four hours worth of 911 recordings from the morning of May 2, when the military cargo plane suffered an apparent malfunction just after takeoff.

“Yes, baby, it’s black smoke,” one frantic caller told a 911 operator. “The plane like incinerated whenever it hit the concrete.”

The plane, which took off from the Savannah airport, was en route to a so-called “boneyard” in Arizona, authorities said. All of the victims were members of the 156th Air Wing of Puerto Rico’s Air National Guard.

“I saw it take off from the airport and I noticed that one of the propellers wasn’t turning,” one female caller said. “And he banked like he was going toward [Interstate] 95, and then all of a sudden he lost altitude and just took a nose dive into the ground.”

“He did a barrel roll and went straight into the ground,” another caller added.

An Air Force official told ABC News that five of the victims were traveling as crew members on the flight and the other four were traveling as passengers. Some of victims had been with the Puerto Rico National Guard for decades.

The U.S. military, which is investigating the crash, has not released any details on what may have caused the crash.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

References

  1. ^ according to Savannah ABC affiliate WJCL (www.wjcl.com)
0

Georgia police release 911 calls from deadly military plane crash

Police released 911 calls on Monday made by frightened onlookers as a WC-130 military plane crashed in Georgia last week and took the lives of nine airmen with the Puerto Rico National Guard.

The calls, some taken just seconds after the crash, offered details of the chaotic scene in Savannah, Georgia, last Wednesday when the WC-130 nose-dived onto a highway, covering the roadway with debris, and filling the surrounding area with thick clouds of black smoke.

There were no survivors.

“Yes, a plane just crashed. I’m looking at it right now and it’s up in flames,” one nearby witness said, giving authorities early details about the intense situation unfolding on the ground.

“I’ve got flames and smoke everywhere and stuff coming out of the sky,” another eyewitness said.

“It just literally nose-dived into the road,” another said.

The first call came in at 11:27 a.m. and it wasn’t long before dozens more followed, according to Savannah ABC affiliate WJCL[1], which obtained copies of the calls on Monday.

The Savannah Police Department released nearly four hours worth of 911 recordings from the morning of May 2, when the military cargo plane suffered an apparent malfunction just after takeoff.

“Yes, baby, it’s black smoke,” one frantic caller told a 911 operator. “The plane like incinerated whenever it hit the concrete.”

The plane, which took off from the Savannah airport, was en route to a so-called “boneyard” in Arizona, authorities said. All of the victims were members of the 156th Air Wing of Puerto Rico’s Air National Guard.

“I saw it take off from the airport and I noticed that one of the propellers wasn’t turning,” one female caller said. “And he banked like he was going toward [Interstate] 95, and then all of a sudden he lost altitude and just took a nose dive into the ground.”

“He did a barrel roll and went straight into the ground,” another caller added.

An Air Force official told ABC News that five of the victims were traveling as crew members on the flight and the other four were traveling as passengers. Some of victims had been with the Puerto Rico National Guard for decades.

The U.S. military, which is investigating the crash, has not released any details on what may have caused the crash.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

References

  1. ^ according to Savannah ABC affiliate WJCL (www.wjcl.com)
0

Myanmar military assures UN of 'harsh' action on sexual assault

MAUNGDAW, Myanmar (Reuters) – Myanmar’s military has assured the United Nations of “harsh” action against perpetrators of sexual violence, state media reported on Tuesday, as U.N. envoys traveled to Rakhine State where the military conducted a widely criticized crackdown.

Rohingya refugees are reflected in rain water along an embankment next to paddy fields after fleeing from Myanmar into Palang Khali, near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh November 2, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

U.N. and rights groups say nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled to Bangladesh after a military crackdown launched in Rakhine State in August that the United Nations denounced as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

Many of the arriving refugees recounted incidents of killings, arson and rape but Myanmar largely rejected those reports as well as the accusation of ethnic cleansing.

The government said its forces were engaged in a legitimate security campaign in response to a string of Rohingya insurgent attacks on the security forces.

“Sexual violence (is) considered as despicable acts,” the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper cited military Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing as telling the envoys.

The military was “taking harsh and stronger actions against such offenders”, he said.

The U.N. Security Council envoys traveled by Myanmar military helicopters to northern Rakhine on Tuesday, the final day of their four-day visit to the region, flying over burned and bulldozed villages visible from the air.

The envoys arrived in Myanmar on Monday after visiting refugee camps on the Bangladesh side of the border and government leaders in Dhaka.

In Myanmar, they met separately with government leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Min Aung Hlaing.

British U.N. Ambassador Karen Pierce told Reuters that during Monday’s meeting Min Aung Hlaing was “very forthcoming” on the issue of sexual assaults in Rakhine, adding that the military chief said such offences were “not tolerated”.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi, in her nearly hour-long meeting with the envoys, pledged to investigate any credible accusations of abuse, said diplomats who attended.

Suu Kyi noted Myanmar’s difficulties in transitioning to rule of law after decades of military dictatorship, said the diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“She said what had happened or what was alleged to have happened to some of the Rohingya villagers was not acceptable and that if evidence were available it should be reported to the Burmese authorities and they would investigate,” said Pierce.

“What we’ve got to do on the council is think how best to turn that into something operational so that the evidence gets collected and given either to the Burmese authorities or to some sort of international mechanism,” she said.

Suu Kyi’s civilian government has no control over the military. Government spokesman Zaw Htay did not respond to requests for comment.

Buddhist-majority Myanmar has for years denied the Rohingya citizenship, freedom of movement and access to basic services such as healthcare. Many in Myanmar regard the Rohingya as illegal immigrants from mostly Muslim Bangladesh.

When asked if the council could help ensure evidence of crimes such as rape is collected, Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy said: “I don’t think this is a council matter, frankly speaking. There are a lot of agencies apart from the Security Council.”

‘COOPERATION NEEDED’

In northern Rakhine, the council envoys were shown a reception center Myanmar has built for repatriating Rohingya, aiming to accept a total of 150 people a day, and a transit camp that can house 30,000 returnees.

The envoys passed two bulldozed villages near the camp. They were also shown a rebuilt village.

The Security Council asked Myanmar in November to ensure no “further excessive use of military force” and to allow “freedom of movement, equal access to basic services, and equal access to full citizenship for all”.

On Monday, the council envoys met Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who asked them to press Myanmar to take back “their citizens”.

Hasina said the refugees should return “under U.N. supervision where security and safety should be ensured”.

Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed in January to complete the voluntary repatriation of the refugees within two years but differences between the two sides remain and implementation of the plan has been slow.

Suu Kyi’s office also said in a statement that cooperation was needed from Bangladesh on the repatriation of refugees.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols and Yimou Lee in YANGON; Editing by Robert Birsel and Darren Schuettler

0

Reports of Sexual Assault in the Military Rise by 10 Percent, Pentagon Finds

WASHINGTON — More than 6,700 Defense Department employees reported being sexually assaulted in the 2017 fiscal year — the highest number since the United States military began tracking reports more than a decade ago, according to Pentagon data released on Monday.

The new data showed a 10 percent increase of military sexual assault reports from the previous fiscal year. The uptick occurred amid a Marine Corps scandal over sharing nude photos and heightened public discourse about sexual harassment in American culture.

Pentagon officials sought to portray the increase as reflective of more troops and military civilians trusting commanders and the military’s judicial system enough to come forward.

In all, 6,769 people reported assaults for the 2017 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30. It was the largest yearly increase since 2014 and the most reports since the Pentagon started tracking the data in 2006.

Roughly two-thirds of the reports resulted in disciplinary action, the data show. The remaining 38 percent were discounted because evidence was lacking, victims declined to participate in hearings or other reasons.

The Army, Navy and Air Force each saw a roughly 10 percent uptick in sexual assault reports. The increase nearly reached 15 percent in the Marine Corps.

Separately, roughly 700 complaints of sexual harassment were reported across the military in the 2017 fiscal year, according to the Pentagon data. Ninety percent of the reports were from enlisted troops.

In March 2017, a social media group made up of active duty and former Marines was accused of sharing explicit photos of female colleagues, prompting a widespread investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. A number of Marines were punished, and the service started a campaign to educate its troops on sexual harassment and assault.

Despite efforts to rid the internet of military-themed groups such as the one found last year, others have continued to pop up.

Gen. Robert B. Neller, the Marine Corps commandant, said the service was in a “better place” after the scandal.

Lawmakers have long hammered the military on its predominantly male culture and have sometimes lobbied for military courts to be civilian run so due process is absent of command influence.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who last week called sexual assault a “cancer” in the military, has demanded that leaders throughout the ranks make sure the problem does not spread.

0

Senators lobby to bring new armored brigade team to Texas …

U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn sent a letter Monday to Secretary of the Army Mark Esper requesting the Army relocate a newly-designated armored brigade combat team to either Fort Hood or Fort Bliss.

The Army’s 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, currently located at Fort Carson, Colorado, is in the process of conversion from an infantry brigade combat team to an armored brigade combat team. The two Texas Army installations already have the training ranges necessary to prepare an armored brigade combat team for deployment.

“We write regarding the conversion of the Army’s 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division from an infantry brigade combat team to an armored brigade combat team,” the senators wrote. “As this conversion occurs, we also write to express our strong support for the relocation of the 2nd Brigade from Fort Carson, Colorado to one of Texas’s premier armor installations. The conversion of an infantry brigade combat team to an armored brigade combat team is a daunting task. Nevertheless, as you look across the Army, Fort Hood and Fort Bliss stand out as hosts for a unit of this size and composition.”

Both installations are equipped with the infrastructure necessary to support the rapid deployment and redeployment of armored brigades, the letter stated. Fort Hood and Fort Bliss both have rail access, airfields capable of handling any size aircraft needed for rapid air transportation of personnel and equipment and the capacity to host an additional brigade.

The letter also touted the “superb quality of life including affordable housing, military friendly communities, recreational activities, and easy access to services” for family members. “Over the years, our installations and the surrounding communities have worked together to identify and provide the best available resources for soldiers and their families assigned to the region.”

0

Army to Test First Next-Gen Ground Combat Vehicles in 2019

Army[1] maneuver officials on Monday said the service’s Next Generation Combat Vehicle will allow it to team manned and unmanned vehicles and create an unbeatable overmatch against enemy armored forces.

Developing the NGCV to replace the fleet of Cold-War era M1 Abrams tanks[2] and Bradley Fighting Vehicles[3] is the Army’s second modernization priority under a new strategy to reform acquisition and modernization.

The Army intends to stand up a new Futures Command this summer, which will oversee cross-functional teams that focus on each of the of the service’s six modernization priorities: long-range precision fires; next-generation combat vehicle; future vertical lift; a mobile and expeditionary network; air and missile defense capabilities; and soldier lethality.

“The Next Generation Combat Vehicle needs to be revolutionary,” Gen Robert Abrams, commander of Forces Command, told an audience at the Association of the United States Army’s Global Force Symposium.

“It’s got to be 10X better than our current fleet and guarantee our overmatch into the future.”

The Army will need such an increase in capability to deal with threats such as Russia’s T14 Armata tank and China’s efforts at improving composite armor and reactive armor combinations on its ground vehicles, said Col. Ryan Janovic, the G2 for Army Forces Command.

Brig. Gen. David Lesperance, deputy commander of the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning[4], Georgia, and leader of the cross-functional team in the effort, said the NGCV will consist initially of three phases of prototyping and experimentation to refine the program’s requirements.

Part of the Army’s intent with its new acquisition and modernization strategy is to develop requirements in two to three years rather than the traditional five-to-seven-year process.

The program will seek to develop the robotic combat vehicle and a manned combat vehicle that can be used in an unmanned role based on the commander’s needs, Lesperance said.

There will be three phases for the “delivery of capability for experimentation” between 2018 and 2024, he said.

By late fiscal 2019, “we will deliver one manned versus two unmanned combat platforms that will initially go through [Army Test and Evaluation Command] testing, then will go through a six-to-nine month, extended experimentation in an operational unit in Forces Command,” Lesperance said.

Army officials will take the results of that effort and use it in the second phase of the program to deliver “a purpose-built robotic combat vehicle and a purpose-built manned fighting vehicle” in 2021 to ATEC and then to operational units at the beginning of second quarter of 2022, he said.

For the third phase, the Army plans to deliver seven manned and 14 unmanned prototypes in late 2023 and into early 2024 “that allow us to look, at a company level, [at] what manned-unmanned teaming could be,” Lesperance said.

“Imagine making contact with the enemy with an unmanned robot, and allowing a decision-maker to understand quicker and then make a better decision out of contact. Then move to a position of advantage to deliver decisive lethality in a way that we do not do now in 100 percent manned platforms,” he said.

“Each phase of the program in 2020, 2022 and 2024 will ultimately allow us to write the best requirement we can come up with based on experimentation, and the analytics to back it up that ultimately allow us to write the right doctrine, develop the right organizations and then deliver the right capability that will be compliant with how we are going to fight differently in the future,” Lesperance said.

— Matthew Cox can be reached at [email protected][5].

Show Full Article[6]

© Copyright 2018 Military.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

References

  1. ^ Army (www.military.com)
  2. ^ M1 Abrams tanks (www.military.com)
  3. ^ Bradley Fighting Vehicles (www.military.com)
  4. ^ Fort Benning (www.military.com)
  5. ^ [email protected] (www.military.com)
  6. ^ Show Full Article (www.military.com)
0

Trump's transgender military ban 'worse than don't ask, don't tell,' advocates say

The Trump administration released two documents on Friday outlining the president’s ban on transgender people serving in the military[1]. While LGBTQ-rights advocates say this new measure is even more discriminatory than the now-defunct “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, they also note that recent court rulings prevent the ban from actually taking effect.

The administration’s first document, a memo[2] signed by the president, stated that “transgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria — individuals who the policies state may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery — are disqualified from military service except under certain limited circumstances.”

 President Donald Trump walks across the South Lawn of the White House on March 23, 2018 in Washington. Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

The second document[3], titled “Department of Defense Report and Recommendations on Military Service by Transgender Persons,” lays out the specific policy recommendations regarding trans individuals serving U.S. military. The 46-page report stated that the department had concluded “accommodating gender transition could impair unit readiness,” “undermine unit cohesion” and “lead to disproportionate costs.”

“This new policy will enable the military to apply well-established mental and physical health standards — including those regarding the use of medical drugs — equally to all individuals who want to join and fight for the best military force the world has ever seen,” the White House said in a statement[4] released on Friday.

“CATEGORICAL BAN”

The new report states “nothing in this policy precludes service by transgender persons who do not have a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria and are willing and able to meet all standards that apply to their biological sex.”

Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), disagreed, claiming such a policy constitutes a “categorical ban” of transgender people from the military by requiring service members to live as their sex assigned at birth.

“It means you can’t be transgender,” Minter said. “This is worse than ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ in its justification … It would be as though the government had tried to justify the DADT policy by saying that you can serve in the military if you say you will stop being gay.”

With DADT, which was ended in 2011, “the government never went so far as to say that being lesbian or gay is not a legitimate identity and [lesbians and gays] should undertake therapy to become straight, but that is what this report is saying about transgender people,” according to Minter.

He argued the ideas in the plan “have zero medical credibility” and are “lifted whole from anti-transgender propaganda put out by right-wing groups.”

“PANEL OF EXPERTS”

A federal judge issued a court order[5] on Tuesday requiring that the Department of Justice disclose the names of the military experts the Trump administration consulted regarding its transgender military ban. On Thursday, the Justice Department filed a response[6] to the judge’s order, stating the administration chooses “not to identify” those consulted.

The Justice Department “is coming close to defying court orders,” Minter said. “They do not want to disclose what lay behind this process.”

An article published by Slate[7] on Saturday, which cited multiple unnamed sources, claimed that Trump’s “panel of experts” included several people with histories of opposing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, including Vice President Mike Pence[8]; anti-transgender activist Ryan T. Anderson[9]; and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins[10]. NBC News has not independently verified Slate’s findings.

Friday’s report addressed the findings and recommendations of a 2016 study commissioned by the Department of Defense and conducted by the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit think tank. That report found no reason to prevent the enlistment and service of openly transgender individuals. The new report stated the Pentagon had “reached a different judgment on these issues” than RAND and the previous administration, adding that the issue is “more complicated.”

Natalie Nardecchia, senior attorney at LGBTQ civil rights organization Lambda Legal, slammed Friday’s report and said the previous administration “did a real report and did a real analysis … and then they enacted a policy.”

“That is the way it’s supposed to work, and this is the very opposite,” she said of the Trump administration’s findings.

“NO IMMEDIATE IMPACT”

Minter said the new policy is “as bad as it could be.” However, he said it has “no immediate impact,” because “federal courts have already issued orders saying the ban cannot be enforced.”

On Friday, Pentagon spokesperson Maj. David Eastburn echoed Minter’s assessment, saying the announcement of a new policy would have no immediate practical effect on the military, because the Pentagon is obliged to continue to recruit and retain transgender people in accordance with current law.

Minter said he does not expect any impact on currently enlisted soldiers or those attempting to enlist in the near future. However, because of what he called the plan’s “complete repudiation of transgender identity,” Minter said transgender troops may face additional stigma.

 Nicolas Talbott Courtesy of Nicolas Talbott

Nicolas Talbott, a 24-year-old transgender recruit from Lisbon, Ohio, said for now his enlistment process continues to advance.

“It’s going great,” he told NBC News. “I’m working with a wonderful recruiter, and at this moment we are waiting to … schedule a date for my physical exam and written test.”

Talbott said Friday’s documents were discouraging and felt like “another bump in the road,” but he said this just “reaffirms the fight is not over.”

“I am very optimistic that I’m going to get into the U.S. Air Force,” Talbott said. “There is nothing about being transgender in any way, shape or form that impacts an individual’s ability to serve.”

Nardecchia, agreed, saying “there is no medical or scientific support for presuming that transgender people are unfit.” Gender dysphoria, she added, “is a fully treatable condition that only some transgender people experience.”

“LEGALLY IRRELEVANT”

Civil rights groups, including the ACLU, Lambda Legal, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), NCLR and Equality California brought four different lawsuits before federal courts last year in attempts to block the transgender military ban. The courts issued preliminary injunctions, which prevent even this newly released implementation plan from taking effect.

Late last year, two different federal courts rebuffed the administration’s efforts to delay the enlistment of transgender troops, and the Justice Department declined to appeal those decisions[11]. Openly transgender troops began to enlist on January 1.

“Anything that the government comes forward with now is legally irrelevant,” Nardecchia said, adding that the burden is on the government to demonstrate a persuasive justification to stop allowing transgender troops to serve openly.

Nardecchia called Friday’s report “reverse engineering” in an attempt by the government to provide the courts with a valid justification for the ban.

“WE WILL KEEP FIGHTING”

On Tuesday, Nardecchia and other attorneys from Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN, which together represent nine transgender service members, will seek a permanent injunction against the ban.

“We are asking for the court to grant a summary judgment — without going to trial — and to permanently prevent the ban from going into law,” she explained.

Nardecchia said she doesn’t know when the court might hand down a decision, but she’s “optimistic.”

“We will keep fighting until we get a final judgment,” she added.

The release of the new transgender military policy, according to Minter, is good for LGBTQ advocates fighting the ban. “We now know exactly what we have to rebut in the court,” he said.

Minter is working on a separate case from Nardecchia, Doe v. Trump. The lawsuit, which was filed by NCLR and GLAD, was the first to challenge the ban.

“We are proceeding with discovery, which is all the more important now,” he said. “Where did they come up with these discredited views? What was this process? Who was involved?”

Minter expects the government — as it did in its refusal to disclose its “panel of experts” — to appeal any decision not in its favor.

“Eventually it is likely that it will reach the Supreme Court,” he said of the transgender military ban.

FOLLOW NBC OUT[12] ON TWITTER[13], FACEBOOK[14] AND INSTAGRAM[15]

References

  1. ^ ban on transgender people serving in the military (www.nbcnews.com)
  2. ^ memo (www.lambdalegal.org)
  3. ^ document (www.lambdalegal.org)
  4. ^ statement (www.whitehouse.gov)
  5. ^ court order (www.washingtonblade.com)
  6. ^ filed a response (www.washingtonblade.com)
  7. ^ published by Slate (slate.com)
  8. ^ Mike Pence (www.nbcnews.com)
  9. ^ Ryan T. Anderson (thinkprogress.org)
  10. ^ Tony Perkins (www.glaad.org)
  11. ^ declined to appeal those decisions (www.nbcnews.com)
  12. ^ NBC OUT (www.nbcnews.com)
  13. ^ TWITTER (twitter.com)
  14. ^ FACEBOOK (www.facebook.com)
  15. ^ INSTAGRAM (www.instagram.com)