Military Connection: US Sells $11b in Arms to Qatar: By Debbie Gregory

Apache-helicopter

By Debbie Gregory

Along with defending freedom and democracy around the world, the United States also charged with protecting our nation’s interests. This includes ensuring that the sovereignty and trade capabilities of our allies are intact. This is accomplished through the power projection of our military, training our allies to defend themselves, coordinating joint efforts, and sales of arms and resources. As part of this ongoing campaign, the U.S. recently concluded an $11 billion arms sale to the State of Qatar.

Qatar is one of the U.S.’s main allies in the Middle East. In December of last year, the United States, represented by U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel,  signed a 10-year defense cooperation agreement with  Qatar’s defense minister, Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyah.  Qatar agreed to keep the five Guantanamo detainees that were traded for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for one year; Qatar’s involvement was instrumental to the trade.

The July 14th arms agreement included the sale of Apache attack helicopters, as well as Javelin and Patriot air-defense systems. The deal, estimated at $11 billion, was signed at the Pentagon by  Hagel and  al-Attiyah. This is the biggest U.S. arms sale  this year.

In recent years, Washington has made a priority of improving the air defenses of  our Gulf allies.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: US Sells $11b in Arms to Qatar: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Corps Wants Females for IOC: By Debbie Gregory

Marine IOC

By Debbie Gregory

On July 10, 2014 the U.S. Marine Corps announced that it will be expanding its trial of  admitting female officers into the Infantry Officer Course (IOC).

Nearly two years ago, the Marine Corps began this experiment, with the goal of having 100 female officers attempt the IOC. Only entry-level officers, straight out of officer training, were permitted to attempt IOC. But so far, only 20 female second lieutenants (O-2) have attempted the IOC, and none have passed it yet.

Beginning October, 2014, female Marine Corps officers, up through the rank of Captain (O-3) will be permitted to apply for the IOC. All applicants must meet the other IOC requirements already in place. However, along with opening enrollment to more female officers, the Marine Corps did implement another stipulation in the requirements for all applicants; in order to qualify, all IOC applicants must achieve a first class score on the male physical fitness test (PFT) and the combat fitness test.

To achieve an overall score of 225 or higher, all Marine officers applying for the IOC must complete a minimum of five pull-ups, run three miles in 18 minutes or better, and perform 100 sit-ups. The average male officer entering the IOC has a PFT score of at least 285 out of 300 points. Before the rule change, female applicants for IOC have only had to demonstrate a first-class female PFT, which does not require pull-ups.

The Infantry Officer Course carries a 25% failure rate for male officers. The course starts off with a combat endurance test, which is designed to push the envelope of physical endurance and test the ability to make decisions under physical and mental strain. Of the 20 women who have attempted the IOC, only one has passed the combat endurance test.

Female officers in pay grades O-1 to 0-3, currently working in the fleet Marine Corps,  who want to volunteer for the IOC should apply to TECOM through their chain of command, using an administrative action form. All candidates need to have at least six months left on their contracts following the completion of their course, with no punitive action pending.

Do you have what it takes to be the first female Marine to complete the IOC? If so, step up to the challenge and make U.S. military history. Future female Marines are counting on YOU.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Corps Wants Females for IOC: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: USS America Underway: By Debbie Gregory

USS America

By Debbie Gregory

 

On July 11, the USS America, a Landing Helicopter Assault (LHA) ship  set off from the Ingalls Shipyards in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The ship is headed to her new home port of San Diego, CA.

This USS America is an amphibious assault ship that is commonly used as the flagship of Navy Expeditionary Strike Groups. These small fleets consist of Amphibious Assault Ships, Amphibious Transport Docks (such as the USS New York) and Dock Landing Ships (like the USS Pearl Harbor),   escort frigates, cruisers and destroyers. Expeditionary Strike Groups transport and house Marine Expeditionary Units.

The USS America is the fourth ship in the U.S. Navy’s history to bear the name of our country. The first USS America  launched in 1782, and was given to France. The second USS America was originally the German ocean liner SS Amerika, which was seized during WWI, and was used to transport U.S. troops. The most recent USS America was a KittyHawk-class aircraft carrier that was commissioned in U.S. Naval Service from 1965 to 1996.

The newest USS America is the first of its class, meaning that it is the first ship of its type and design. Each new class of ship is called by the first ship of its type to bear the name. Even though the USS America is the sixth LHA, it is the first ship of its design and specifications.

The second America Class, the USS Tripoli (LHA-7), was laid down in June. The America-class ships differ from the older Tarawa-class LHA’s and most other amphibs in that that they do not have a well deck. Well decks are used by other amphibious ships to launch and recover landing vessels. Amphibs take on water in their ballast tanks and fill their well decks with water, so that landing vessels, including Landing Craft Utilities and Landing Craft Air Cushions (hovercrafts) can transport Marines and supplies to and from a beachhead. The lack of a well deck on the America-class is intended to give them more room to carry aircraft, essentially making them smaller aircraft carriers. After initial testing of the USS America, the Navy has stated that it is likely that all LHA’s after LHA-7 will once again have well decks.

The USS America went underway from Pascagoula with expected port visits in Guantanamo Bay, Brazil, Chile, Columbia and Peru. The America is scheduled to be commissioned on October 11, 2014 during Fleet Week in San Francisco.

The USS America is slated to replace the USS Peleliu, which is scheduled to be decommissioned on March 31, 2015.

The staff at Military Connection would like to wish fair winds and following seas to the USS America and her crew, and welcome the newest LHA to the fleet.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: USS America Underway: By Debbie Gregory

 

Military Connection: Air Force Opens Eligibility: By Debbie Gregory

Basic training

By Debbie Gregory

The U.S. military is a couple of years into a major transition period. After September 11, 2001, there was an increased demand in recruiting new members to support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There were many gray areas on minimum standards, and incentives, such as signing bonuses, were offered to draw Americans of  enlisting age into the ranks of military service. Although recruiters were still seeking quality applicants, the focus was definitely on quantity.

Now, after more than twelve years of war and maintaining a wartime military force, combined with budget concerns due to a struggling economy, the Pentagon is down-sizing. All branches have begun to “trim the fat” by implementing stricter height/weight/body fat standards. In June, the Army announced that 1,600 majors and captains were being let go. This would generally be the point when each service branch of service would announces the narrowing of its eligibility requirements.

So what are we to think when a branch actually widens one of its requirements?

Under federal law, the top age that any new recruit can be is 42 years old when they enlist. However, each branch can decide their own specific standards. At the start of 2014, the Army had the widest age range of any military branch by allowing recruits as old as 35 into its ranks. The Navy and the Marine Corps were next, allowing recruits as old as 34. The Air Force had the narrowest age range at 27.

On June 24th,the Air Force announced that it was expanding its eligibility age limit to 39 years old. The change comes after a recent decline in Air Force enlistment that was even greater than what the down-size called for.

While Air Force recruits can now be older, the branch has not altered its height/weight, body fat percentage, minimum physical requirements, or ASVAB test score requirements. These standards  were already among the most exacting in the military. This means that even if new Air Force recruits can be older, they still have to be lean, fast and smart in order to be accepted.

Do you have what it takes to join the Air Force?

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Air Force Opens Eligibility: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Army’s Futuristic Innovations: By Joe Silva

Robot cars

By Joe Silva

For centuries, technological advancements that were originally dreamed up in works of science-fiction have found their way to into reality. There was Jules Verne’s Nautilus (Submarines), Star Trek’s communicators (cell phones), and the concept of a computer inside of a briefcase (laptops) in the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Countless other technologies at our disposal have often had their conceptual groundwork rooted in fantasy.

In keeping with the tradition of transforming the fantastical into the tangible, the Pentagon is considering implementing automated vehicles. These vehicles would drive themselves using two different programs. The first program involves sensors for viewing and navigating, and the other program would control the actual steering and maneuvering of the vehicle. These robot cars could have easily been inspired by the Batmobile, Knight Rider’s KITT, or the Transformers, although they won’t exactly transform…yet!

This first wave of automated vehicles planned are intended to carry out the more tedious, but dangerous tasks of transporting supplies, rather than for combat. This focus in military innovation coincides with civilian car makers who are currently in the process of developing this technology for public use. an example of this is the advancements in Park Assist systems, where cars park themselves.

In May, at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina, the U.S. Army tested seven different types of tactical vehicles. One test involved running the unmanned vehicles in convoys at speeds over forty miles per hour. The results must have been satisfactory, as the Army has scheduled a second test for August.

In the long run, the Pentagon hopes to save money by investing in these vehicles. Currently, military vehicles require at least two service members, a driver and a spotter for the driver to assist the driver when the vehicle is moving in reverse or maneuvering in tight situations. The money saved from not having to train, house, feed and pay the personnel is expected to cover the cost of the upgrade, and in time, actually save money.

But this change in technology does raise the question, should we be taking positions away from service members? Is this something that we, as a nation, want to see? Just like when supermarkets cut back on cashiers after installing “Self-Checkout” stations, this automated technology will reduce  job opportunities for service members in all branches of the military.

While  it would be remarkable to see automated vehicles delivering supplies to the front lines, is it worth removing  service members from these jobs? Let’s hope that with this new, fantastic innovation, and the many others that are sure to follow, our military and political leaders will still find a way to put service members to work.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Army’s Futuristic Innovations: By Joe Silva

 

Military Connection: Tattoo Taboo: By Debbie Gregory

tattoo

 By Debbie Gregory

On March 31, 2014, the U.S. Army implemented its current policy on tattoos. Under Army Regulation 670-1, the Army details all grooming and appearance standards for soldiers in uniform, including the rules regarding tattoos and brands for soldiers currently serving, and for potential recruits wanting to enlist.

Each branch of service has its own policies on tattoos, brands and piercings, as well as policies for other grooming standards for both male and female service members, as well as for new recruits. All tattoos are subject to inspection for content.

The Army’s policy now states that new recruits cannot have tattoos on the neck, face, head, hands, wrists or fingers. The policy also specifies that a combination of no more than four individual tattoos or brands are permitted below the elbow or knee. Ear gauges are also prohibited. Individual tattoos must be smaller than the recruit’s hand. Individual tattoos that are clustered together to appear as one large tattoo are also prohibited. Any soldier who was active and in-compliance with the previous policy are grandfathered in under the new policy.

Navy policy prohibits tattoos on the head, face and neck, as well as tattoos on the inner lips or mouth that can be seen when the mouth is open. Tattoos that are visible when wearing a properly fitted crew neck T-shirt cannot be bigger than the applicant’s hand. The Navy also does not allow tattoos that are located on the torso, legs or upper arm, that are visible while wearing the Navy’s traditional Summer White uniform.

According to U.S. Marine Corps policy, tattoos on the head and neck are prohibited. There is also a ban against sleeve tattoos, and half-sleeve or quarter-sleeve tattoos that are visible to the eye when wearing standard physical training gear. And potential USMC recruits with more than four tattoos will be subject to review before admittance to “The Corps.”

The U.S. Air Force tattoo policy prohibits any tattoos above the collarbone, such as on the neck, head, face, tongue, lips or scalp. Airmen are also prohibited from having tattoos that cover more than 25 percent of a body part while wearing any type of uniform, including short sleeve, long sleeve, sleeves rolled up or open collar.

Americans wishing to enlist into any branch of the U.S. military need to be aware of the requirement standards and restrictions, especially those concerning tattoos and piercings. The Army Recruiting Command in Phoenix has reported that since March, in El Paso Texas alone, about one hundred potential recruits have been turned away because of their tattoos, brands and piercings.

Any would-be recruit that is denied acceptance because of violation of the tattoo policy may undergo tattoo removal and re-apply once their procedure is complete. However, it is highly recommended that gung-ho tattooed patriots research their tattoo removal facility prior to any procedures. Some facilities might leave you with a blemished area where your tattoo once was, that could be considered a brand, and still be disqualifying.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Tattoo Taboo: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: USMC Sgt Still in Mexican Jail: By Debbie Gregory

By Debbie Gregory

Sgt Tahmooressi

Last month,  Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, America’s last prisoner of war, was exchanged for five Taliban combatants detained at Guantanamo Bay. The White House stressed that the reason for the exchange was that they would go to any lengths to fulfill the promise of bringing our service members home.

If that is the case, than many Americans believe that one of our own is still missing, and needs to be returned immediately. Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi has been in a Mexican prison since March 31st . Sgt. Tahmooressi  served in combat during his two tours in Afghanistan. While it is true that Sgt. Tahmooressi is not a POW, and that the U.S. is not at war with Mexico, one of our Marines is in a Mexican jail.  Tahmooressi’s friends, family and supporters in the military and Veteran communities want him back on U.S. soil.

There is some controversy in regards to Tahmooressi’s claim that he simply made a wrong turn, winding up on the Mexican side of the border with firearms that he owned and possessed legally in the U.S. There are claims that Tahmooressi walked across the border earlier in the day, checked into a hotel in Tijuana, and  later drove his truck across the border, with the weapons inside. Mexican officials claim that they offered Tahmooressi the opportunity to surrender his weapons and safely return to the U.S., which Tahmooressi says  is untrue.

Mexican officials claim that Tahmooressi brought his weapons, a .45 caliber pistol, a 12 gauge shotgun and an AR 15 rifle, across the border illegally to sell to members of a drug cartel.

Tahmooressi argues that their claims don’t make sense. “I wouldn’t have gone about selling my guns to get money,” Tahmooressi told CNN. “I would have sold my motorcycle. I would have sold my truck. Besides that, I had plenty of money in my bank account that I had saved up from the Marine Corps. And I’m not a dumb man, to be selling my guns that have serial numbers registered to me.”

Tahmooressi’s  first trial is scheduled to begin in Mexico on July 9th.  This service member is asking for his countrymen’s prayers. Please answer his plea. But concerned Americans should also write their congressmen and senators. Sgt. Tahmooressi’s family is also requesting donations to the FREE SGT. ANDREW TAHMOORESSI FUND.

Please offer your support in any way that you can to bring Sgt. Tahmooressi home.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: USMC Sgt Still in Mexican Jail: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Celebrity’s Act of Kindness: By Debbie Gregory

By Debbie Gregory

Amy Adams

Many of today’s negative headlines cause people to lose their faith in humanity. Violence, crime, unemployment and politics dominate the news. So when acts of kindness occur, it is always good to make sure that “feel good” stories gets the same viral attention, restoring the public’s faith in humanity.

The story is easier to spread if it features a celebrity. So it is my pleasure to share actress Amy Adam’s random act of kindness.

Adams, best known for her roles in Man of Steel, American Hustle, and The Muppets, was on a flight going from Detroit to Los Angeles. The actress saw that a soldier in uniform was traveling on the same flight. At some point, Adams very quietly made arrangements to swap her first class seat for the soldier’s seat in coach.

Adams intentionally requested the switch discreetly, not wishing to draw attention to the act. Other passengers, who were sitting in first class, saw the exchange and reportedly weren’t even sure that the soldier knew who had gave up their seat for him. But it was reported by the flight attendants  that Adams met privately with the soldier near the cockpit and thanked him for his service. Adams, who grew up in a military family, didn’t switch seats for the publicity.

“I didn’t do it for attention for myself, I did it for attention to the troops,” Adams has told the media since the flight.

The story was only made public by Tweets from other passengers, including ESPN personality Jemele Hill, and an article in the Huffington Post by Ernest Owens, Adams’ seatmate in coach. Owens has a selfie with Adams that he will treasure.

For Adams, it was mission accomplished. That unnamed soldier was treated to a well-deserved, comfortable seat for the flight, and a fascinating story to tell his comrades and family.

You don’t need to be a celebrity to commit acts of kindness, especially for American service members. If you see men and women in uniform, or whom you believe to be service members or Veterans, follow Amy Adams’ lead and show your appreciation in any way you can at that moment. Pay for their coffee, pick up their meal tab, buy their movie ticket, or just shake their hand and say, “Thank you for your service.”

You would be surprised at how much your act of kindness will improve the service member’s day, and your own as well!

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Celebrity’s Act of Kindness: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: The New 1%: By Debbie Gregory

By Debbie Gregory

enlistment

For generations, men and women who have put on any U.S. military uniform have represented the finest fighting force in the world. Whether Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, active, reserve or National Guard, service in the military was a sacrifice and duty that carried with it a weight of responsibility, and an a bit of prestige.

From the first days of the Revolutionary War through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our military has had to fill their ranks, but the need is tempered by the desire to put only the most suitable Americans in uniform.

During times of war, it’s a given that the military needs to bolster its numbers by widening the standards for qualifying enlistees. The United States military implemented drafts to fill its ranks when voluntary service did not provide sufficient numbers. Before the Civil War, each individual state was responsible for providing its own numbers as it saw fit. During the Civil War, the first national draft was implemented. During WWI, American forces were primarily conscripted by use of the draft.

In 1940, the U.S. implemented its first peacetime draft, when President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940. This legislation conscripted hundreds of thousands of Americans into service during WWII,  the Korean War, and the war in Vietnam. The draft  ended in 1973.

In-between wars, the standing military can be more exclusive. This is a reality that many young Americans are currently finding out. It has been estimated that over 70% of Americans who are of the eligible age to enlist would be deemed ineligible for service in any branch of the U.S. military.

Only about 29% of the 34 million Americans aged17 to 24 would qualify for military service. The other 71% would be deemed ineligible due to a variety of disqualifying criteria, with the top reason being obesity. Other disqualifiers include the lack of a high school diploma or GED,  felony convictions, taking prescription drugs for ADHD, and having certain tattoos or ear gauges.

The Pentagon further estimates that even though 29% of young Americans would qualify for military service, only 1% of that demographic would actually sign up.

There is no doubt that American soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are getting leaner, faster and smarter. The qualifying standards to enter today’s Armed Forces are a whole lot tougher than they were just a few years ago. Some could look on this negatively, while other could see it as raising the bar to join an exclusive group.

Do you have what it takes to be one of the 1%?

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: The New 1%: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Army Opens More MOSs to Females: By Debbie Gregory

By Debbie Gregory

Army women

In a June 17, 2014 memorandum, signed by Army Secretary John McHugh, the Army is opening approximately 33,000 more jobs to women.

The directive states, “Effective immediately, the Department of the Army is opening all positions in open occupations to women.”

The change does not include currently closed occupations in engineer (12B enlisted), field artillery (13 B/D/F), armor (19A,B,C,D,K,Z) and infantry (11A,B,C,Z) units.

The majority of the open jobs are expected to be found in maneuver battalions from about 40 brigade combat teams.

The Army’s plan is to transition female officers and female senior enlisted soldiers to create a support network for junior enlisted soldiers.

Even with the new directive, female soldiers still can’t be  infantrymen. But females now can fill previously denied jobs in infantry battalion HQs that include chaplain, intelligence analyst, health care specialist, paralegal, signal sergeant and supply sergeant. Women weren’t previously allowed to serve in these battalion roles because, regardless of the MOS, they were barred from being assigned to combat units below the brigade levels.

The opening of these occupations to all soldiers allows the Army to select the most qualified soldiers for these positions, regardless of gender.

The Army has been inching closer to this moment for some time. Back in May, 2012, nine active duty Basic Combat Training (BCT)’s began assigning women to their maneuver battalions’ headquarters in Military Occupational Specialty (MOS)’s that are already open to women.In July of 2013,  seventeen more BCTs began doing the same thing.

According to the memorandum, Commanders at all levels are responsible for adhering to this directive. The Army’s Human Resources Command, as well as personnel staffs at all divisions, brigade and battalion levels “must actively manage the assignment of women to ensure the appropriate manning of female cadre role models.”

Since May, 2012, the Army has opened approximately 55,000 positions to women across active duty, the National Guard and the Reserves.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Army Opens More MOSs to Females: By Debbie Gregory