Military Connection: Women on SEAL Teams? By Debbie Gregory

SEALSMilitaryConnection previously reported that the U.S. Army is deciding whether or not to proceed with a pilot program to integrate female soldiers into the elite Army Ranger school. Apparently, U.S. Navy leadership is also deliberating on whether or not to integrate women into their Sea, Air, Land (SEAL) teams or Special Warfare Combatant Crewman units. A report from a U.S. Special Operations Command was due in July, 2014, but the completion of the report or its findings have not been confirmed.

The Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus has made a deliberate effort to expand the inclusion of women Navy-wide. Mabus has supported admitting women to SEAL teams, as well as other Naval Special Warfare (NSW) units. The NSW community remains the last area in the Navy that prohibits women from joining. Within the past year, the Navy opened the  Coastal Riverine Force, as well as the attack submarine community, to women.

In March, 2014, the Navy opened up 267 riverine billets to women, with 21 more billets for the joint terminal attack controller enlisted classification added in September. The first female attack sub officers will report to the USS Virginia (SSN-774) and the USS Minnesota (SSN-783) in January, 2015.

In a meeting with the press on September 30, 2014, the SECNAV stated that he hadn’t heard whether or not a report had been submitted to the DOD about adding women to SEAL teams. But he did express his opinion on the subject.

“In my opinion, if people meet the qualifications, I don’t think gender should matter,” Mabus said. He later added, “The thing I keep saying about SEALs, about special warfare, is eighty percent of men don’t make it. So we know what the standards are. If you can make it, I don’t see where gender has much of a place.”

The current push to integrate women into all communities and occupations in all branches of the U.S. Military began in February, 2012. When then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the DOD would allow women in the ranks to fill billets in ground combat units at the battalion level. This opened over 14,000 billets to women across all branches of service. In 2013, the Navy began opening up the last jobs closed to female sailors.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and 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: Women on SEAL Teams? By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: US – Afghanistan Sign New Deal: By Debbie Gregory

New deal us-afghanistanOn September 30, 2014, representatives from Afghanistan and the United States signed a new security agreement, allowing American ground forces to remain in the country after the end of this year.

Afghanistan’s newly elected president, Ashraf Ghani, made the signing of an extended security agreement with the U.S. one of his campaign promises. On the day after his inauguration, Ghani made good on his promise and the bilateral agreement was signed by Afghanistan’s National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar and U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham. The signing was televised from the presidential palace.

“As an independent country … we signed this agreement for stability, goodwill, and prosperity of the our people, stability of the region and the world,” Ghani said in a speech after the signing.

In his speech, Ghani also said that the agreement did not compromise Afghanistan’s sovereignty, and that either side has the right to withdraw from the pact within two years.

The same day, a similar agreement between Afghanistan and NATO was ratified to allow the alliance’s European members to contribute to a residual foreign force.

The agreement permits a foreign force of 12,000 military personnel to stay after the end of 2014, when the combat mission of Afghanistan’s U.S.-led NATO force ends.

Some 9,800 U.S. troops are expected to make up the bulk of the force, with the remainder coming from other NATO members. The force will train and assist Afghan security forces in the on-going war against the Taliban and its radical Islamist allies within Afghanistan.

Under the pact, the U.S. has the right to keep bases in Afghanistan as long as the security agreement is in force. In return, the U.S. Military will raise funds to train and equip the Afghan security forces, which now number 350,000.

Hopefully, the security agreement will prevent what is happening in Iraq from happening in Afghanistan. After the U.S. pulled all of its forces from Iraq in December 2011, insurgent groups, most notably al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, have been able to overrun Iraq’s security forces. The Islamic State has amassed huge parcels of land in both Iraq and Syria. Many American Veterans who fought in Iraq feel that the current instability in that country could have been prevented had the U.S. left ground forces in Iraq.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and 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 – Afghanistan Sign New Deal: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Illegal Immigrants to Enlist: By Debbie Gregory

MAVNIThe DOD recently announced a policy that will allow illegal immigrants to join the U.S. Military. The DOD is expanding its Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI). This will give recruiters the ability to target foreign nationals with high-demand skills to serve as full-fledged members of the armed forces. The high-demand skills consist of rare or in-demand foreign language expertise, as well as specialized health care training.

Previously, MAVNI was only open to legal non-U.S. citizens. Applicants were required to have been in the U.S. legally for a minimum of two years, have a high school education, achieve qualifying scores on a military entrance examination, and successfully pass a proficiency test for the vital language or skill that they possess.

Participation in the MAVNI program has been used as a fast-track to legal U.S. citizenship for thousands of immigrants.

It has been estimated that as many as 2.1 million children, teenagers and adults living in the U.S. do not possess legal immigration status, but could still meet the criteria for joining the U.S. Military under the expanded MAVNI program. Using the Obama administration’s 2012 policy known as Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA), immigrants without a proper visa may join the Military if they came to the U.S. with their parents before age 16, so long as they possess a skill that is considered vital by their branch of service.

To be cleared for the program, illegal immigrants will have to be granted DACA status. DACA status is granted by Homeland Security and includes a background check.

The expanded program is to be capped at 1,500 recruits per year. Under the expanded MAVNI program, recruiters are more likely to target immigrants with language skills critical to national security, such as Arabic, Chinese, Pashto or Persian,.

The U.S. Military recruits around 5,000 non-citizens each year. Most of them are permanent U.S. residents. In 2006, the DOD began accepting foreigners with non-permanent visas, such as students or tourists, if they had special skills that are highly valued.

Since 2001, more than 92,000 foreign-born service members have become U.S. citizens while serving in the military.

Historically, the Army has been the only branch to accept a significant number of recruits under the program. The branches of the military are not required to accept recruits under MAVNI.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and 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: Illegal Immigrants to Enlist: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Military Family Survey Results: By Debbie Gregory

Blue starThe fifth annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey was conducted by Blue Star Families, a non-profit organization that is run for military families by military families. For their 2014 survey, the organization polled 6,270 individual members of military families, from all branches of service. The results show a growing concern about financial stability, and uncertainty about the future among military families.

  • 60% of those polled said that their financial situation caused them “some stress” or a “great deal of stress.”
  • 49% said that financial issues were a top stressor during their time in the military.
  • 40% polled said that the spouse of the service member was unemployed.
  • 38% said that they had uncertainty about their military lives.
  • 36% said that their costs for renting were higher than their BAH.
  • 34% were uncertain about the changes and potential changes to their family’s benefits.

These numbers show the amount of stress that many military families face, even with the benefits provided. Perhaps the government or the service branches could make efforts to utilize this information to improve, or at least reevaluate, how they provide and educate their personnel.

Other noteworthy data related to deployments and permanent changes of station:

  • 88% of the people surveyed said that their service member deployed between one and five times since September 11, 2001.
  • 47% said that their service member was deployed between 13 and 36 months in total.
  • 41% said that they were separated from their service member for 13-36 months for training, temporary duty and other assignments that were not deployments.
  • 69% said that their family has moved between one and six times within the U.S.
  • 42% said that their family has moved outside of the U.S.

This data shows just how much time service members are separated from their families. Of course, this is a well-known sacrifice that all service members make. But seeing the actual numbers is eye-opening for lawmakers and civilians alike

With the data provided by the Military Family Lifestyle Survey, government agencies, including the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, can better understand the struggles that military families face.

The survey can be viewed by visiting: http://bluestarfam.org/tags/fifth-annual-military-family-lifestyle-survey.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and 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: Military Family Survey Results: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: F-22s Finally See Action: By Debbie Gregory

F22 RaptorOn September 22, 2014, the U.S. led airstrikes against Islamic State Forces in Syria dominated the media, and rightfully so. Five Arab nations joined in the assault, with four of them sending aircraft to join the U.S. The strikes were as symbolic as they were devastating to the terrorist militants, sending a clear message that they aren’t just being singled out by Americans, they are being eliminated by the world. But another momentous event happened that has been overlooked. During the airstrikes, the Air Force’s F-22 Raptor flew its first combat mission.

The F-22 is a stealth tactical fighter developed by the Air Force as its ultimate weapon in the air. In addition to its maneuverability, the Raptor’s weapons and detection capabilities make it the perfect weapon in air superiority. The Air Force had 187 commissioned between 2005 and 2011. Many pilots believe the F-22 is unmatched in air-to-air capabilities.

The F-22 fleet has been held back from combat operations, largely due to the small size of its fleet. The Pentagon originally planned on a major buy of the Lockheed Martin-built jets. But the high cost of the Raptor, combined with the constant campaigns against foes with limited air capabilities, and the general lack of any fighters that match the F-22, caused the DOD to abandon further production.

Air Force officials confirmed that the Raptor was used as part of the mission in Syria, along with F-15E, F-16, F/A-18 and B-1 bombers. The Air Force didn’t specify the number of each type aircraft used. The American aircraft were assisted by other aircraft from Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Additionally, Tomahawk missiles were launched in support from the U.S. Navy warships the  USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) and the USS Philippine Sea (CG-51). The destroyer and cruiser were steaming in international waters in the Red Sea and the Northern Arabian Gulf.

The F-22 can carry up to six AIM-120 advanced, medium-range, air-to-air missiles, or two AIM-120s and two GBU-32 joint direct-attack munitions for air-to-ground strikes. It also carries an internal 20mm gun and two AIM-9 Sidewinders in internal weapon bays.

With Washington and world leaders claiming that Monday’s strikes were just the beginning of a sustained campaign against the Islamic State, the F-22 Raptor will likely get additional chances to prove its worth and its superiority.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and 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: F-22s Finally See Action: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Airstrikes in Syria: By Debbie Gregory

airstrikesThis week, a message was sent to the Islamic State (I.S.) that the world is rallying against them. A U.S. led coalition conducted a series of airstrikes against the terrorist group that has seized large parcels of land in Iraq and Syria.

There were two major differences in this latest attack against the I.S. One was that this series of attacks happened in Syria. The second was that multiple Arab nations took part in the airstrikes, solidifying that it isn’t just the U.S. opposing the Islamic State.

The airstrikes began in the early hours of September 23, 2014. Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates joined the U.S. in sending units to carry out attacks on I.S. forces, with Qatar joining them in a non-combatant support role.

This multinational coalition is important for a number of reasons. During the earlier campaigns in the region, it seemed as though it was the Western powers against the Middle East, as U.S. and British forces took on the bulk of the workload. This gave the impression that other world leaders within the Middle East were against, or at least not on board with, the conflicts. Now, with other Arab nations joining in against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, it sends a resounding message that the threat the I.S. poses is real. So is the need to destroy them, regardless of cultural, religious, language and ideological barriers.

President Obama met with the leaders from the five Arab nations that make up the coalition. Each one made it clear that they understood that the mission to destroy the I.S. could be a long and difficult one. But every member confirmed that they would see the mission through to completion.

The airstrikes happened in three waves, all targeting combatants, vehicles, and training camps. The first wave focused on the Khorasan Group, a separate terrorist organization that is just as dangerous, if not more dangerous to Americans, because of its stated mission to carry out operations in the U.S. The wave hit several Khorasan Group targets in Eastern and Northern Syria.

The second wave hit I.S. targets, including its headquarters. The third wave concentrated on I.S. positions in Eastern and Northern Syria.

Let us send best wishes and support to our American pilots who are carrying out the airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. While we don’t have personnel on the ground, we certainly have Americans in harm’s way. Let us keep them and their families in our hearts and minds.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and 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: Airstrikes in Syria: By Debbie Gregory