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Okinawa-Based Marine Helicopter Makes ‘Precautionary Landing’ in Nagasaki

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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — No injuries or damage were reported after an Okinawa-based U.S. military helicopter made a “precautionary landing” Saturday at Nagasaki Airport, a Marine Corps official said.

A CH-53E Super Stallion from the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing landed at about 4:40 p.m. after the pilot received a “cockpit warning indication,” 1st Marine Aircraft Wing spokesman Capt. Eric Flanagan wrote in an email to Stars and Stripes. The incident occurred during routine training on a pre-determined route.

“The aircraft systems performed as designed and notified the pilot of the issue,” Flanagan said. “The aircrew performed as trained and chose the safest option, landing the aircraft in accordance with standard procedures.”

The wing, which is based out of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, sent a team to the airport to evaluate the helicopter and perform any needed maintenance, Flanagan said. The aircraft was deemed safe and departed the airport the following afternoon, according to the Okinawa Times newspaper. There were no delays to commercial flights.

Emergency landings of U.S. military aircraft have become commonplace in Japan — something that has alarmed residents in Okinawa. The U.S. military urged locals not to worry.

“Precautionary landings are a result of a commitment to safety, not an indication of a lack of it,” Flanagan said. “Our pilots do the right thing by landing at an airport and ensuring we don’t fly an unsafe aircraft over anyone’s home.”

The Super Stallion is a heavy-lift platform made by Sikorsky, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin. Plans call for the CH-53E to be replaced with the CH-53K King Stallion in the coming years.

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Pentagon Wants Army, Marine Corps to Select Higher-Caliber Grunts

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The Pentagon wants to improve the methods the Army and Marine Corps use to fill infantry squads with aggressive individuals capable of making clear decisions under the most extreme combat conditions.

The Close Combat Lethality Task Force is trying to identify “best-of-breed science and programs” to find young Marines and soldiers who have the right mix of physical and mental endurance to excel in close combat, according to Sgt. Maj. Jason Wilson, the senior Army enlisted representative for the task force.

“We want to be able to get those soldiers identified early, to find out, ‘Do you have the leadership potential to be in the infantry, do you have the mental stability to be able to be in the infantry’ and do they have the resilience and the mental capacity to be able to handle some of the things that they may see in the infantry — to be able to overcome that adversity and bounce back,” Wilson told a group of defense reporters Wednesday at the Pentagon.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis launched the task force in March to find ways of helping the services as well as Army Special Operations Command become more lethal at their craft.

“Close combat is an environment characterized by extreme violence within line of sight of the enemy, where historically the vast majority of military combat casualties occur,” Wilson said. “It is a tough job for anybody, to be able to … close with and destroy the enemy. … That is our purpose.”

The task force is currently managing $2.5 billion worth of reprogramming or new funding requests to identify and accelerate sophisticated new weapons, equipment and training designed to give infantry units an edge on the future battlefield.

But the infantry has often been characterized as a career field that does not require high intelligence.

“We are looking to get the infantry to where it is not a place where we send soldiers that don’t have the mental capacity to do other jobs,” said Wilson, who has been an infantryman for 23 years. “I’m not saying that everybody in the infantry is bad, but we want to get away from close combat forces, you know, being a place for soldiers that don’t meet the requisite criteria to be an intel analyst.”

Task force representatives recently met with leaders from the 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Georgia, to “gain an appreciation for the models they use for selecting their current soldiers,” he said.

But recruiting is only one part of the solution.

“We need to do everything we can do to hang on to those soldiers, to help train the new soldiers,” Wilson said, describing how the Marine Corps and the Army must look at new ways to retain seasoned conventional infantrymen. “I dealt with it as well. Soldiers would go to Ranger School, and they would come back and immediately be like … I am going [Special Forces] or I want to … go to a Ranger battalion.”

The task force has looked at helping the services with funding for retention tools such as bonuses, but Wilson did not offer specific details about those efforts.

“I don’t know what the timeline is, but I can tell you there is forward momentum on it,” he said.

— Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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T-6 Trainer Crashes in Texas; Pilots Eject Safely with Minor Injuries

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A T-6 Texan trainer from Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph crashed roughly 30 miles from the base near Rolling Oaks Mall, Air Education and Training Command officials said Tuesday.

“The crew ejected and is safe with minor injuries reported at the site,” AETC said in a Facebook post. “There were no civilian casualties, and the extent of damage to property has not been assessed,” officials said.

Members from the base’s fire and safety units from the 12th Flying Training Wing responded to the incident alongside and local responders, the announcement said.

Two parachutes were seen deploying from the aircraft, indicating the airmen ejected prior to the crash, Col. Dedra Witham, AETC spokeswoman, told reporters during the Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber conference.  

The Air Force is investigating the incident, Witham said.

The crash follows that of another trainer in Texas just last week. A T-38C Talon II from Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, crashed right after takeoff Sept. 11, officials said.

Two pilots from 80th Flying Training Wing ejected safely in that incident and were taken for evaluation, officials from Sheppard said in a statement. Both pilots were deemed stable. The crash remains under investigation.

Including the two recent trainer crashes, the Air Force has lost nine aircraft in non-combat training accidents this year, including an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter, two other T-38 Talon trainers, a WC-130 Hurricane Hunter, two F-16 Fighting Falcons — one from the Thunderbirds demonstration team — and a Kadena-based F-15 Eagle.

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Additionally, an A-29 Super Tucano crashed at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, in June as part of the Air Force’s Light Attack Experiment.

Several of the accidents involved fatalities.

Others incidents include flightline mishaps, paused operations at bases, emergency landings and even stand-downs of entire fleets.

For example, Air Force Global Strike Command grounded the entire B-1B Lancer fleet for nearly two weeks in June over safety concerns related to the aircraft’s ejection seats. More recently, an F-35A Joint Strike Fighter at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, suffered a ground mishap that caused its nose gear to collapse following an in-flight emergency.

— Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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Air Force Plan to Add 74 Squadrons Lacks Critical Details

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NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The U.S. Air Force is only beginning to answer the who, what and where behind its immense proposal to create 74 new squadrons by 2030, the service’s top leaders said Tuesday.

Addressing reporters here at the annual Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber conference, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said the service is not blind to the many barriers it’s likely to face when implementing the 12-year structured plan.

In the recent fiscal budget rollout, lawmakers asked, ” ‘What do you need to execute the National Defense Strategy?’ And we should know the answer to that question,” Wilson said. “We all recognize, we’re not naive, to the financial constraints within which we make decisions. We make them all the time.”

But she said the service has a duty to tell the American public what it and the Defense Department as a whole need to meet threats from countries such as Russia and China.

“That should be what the country wants their leadership of the Air Force to do,” she said. “This is a forward looking document … it’s looking forward for where the adversary is developing capability.”

She continued, “We’re giving people the opportunity to think about this. We have an obligation to explain to the country what we need.”

Wilson announced Monday that the service intends to add 74 operational squadrons, increasing from 312 to 386, with the bulk conducting command and control; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and tanker refueling operations.

The breakdown would include the following:

  • 5 additional bomber squadrons
  • 7 more fighter squadrons
  • 7 additional space squadrons
  • 14 more tanker squadrons
  • 7 special operations squadrons
  • 9 nine combat search-and-rescue squadrons
  • 22 squadrons that conduct command and control and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance
  • 2 remotely piloted aircraft squadrons
  • 1 more airlift squadron

Some took to social media asking how the Air Force plans to do all this, especially with an uncertain financial future. The service says it will need roughly 40,000 airmen and personnel to achieve these goals by the 2030 timeframe, but has not provided details on equipment, aircraft, additional bases, and other issues.

“Right now, we have not gotten the exact mix of tails,” Goldfein said. “The follow-up work is part of the dialogue [about] the costing out, the number of tails, the number of pilots, maintainers … but we made a conscious decision to roll this out now to begin that dialogue.”

Rep. Adam Smith, a Democrat from Washington who has been floated as the next House Armed Services Committee chairman, sounded dubious upon learning of the Air Force’s 386-squadron plan.

“It’s reasonable that the Air Force is doing studies about its future,” he said, as reported by Flightglobal. “But they are only concepts and, at some point, the Air Force will have to deal with budgetary realities as well.”

Some leaders here at the conference acknowledged similar thoughts — that for now, the proposed expansion needs more studies and discussion.

Gen. Timothy Ray, the new head of Air Force Global Strike Command, said that regardless of the proposed additional bomber squadrons, the service is sticking to its Bomber Vector road map, which was unveiled during the fiscal 2019 budget rollout. The plan calls for the retirement of the B-1B Lancer, known as the “Bone,” and the B-2 Spirit by the mid-2030s, to make way for the new B-21 Raider.

“There is still a dialogue with Congress that needs to happen. There are five other studies, I believe, that need to come together to have that discussion,” Ray told reporters Monday. “There are a lot of moving parts here. There will be a dialogue, of course, after [the conference] as we go into the next calendar year and with Congress about how will this play out.”

Ray added, “But I think this was the secretary giving her best military advice.”

— Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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MQ-9 Gets First Air-to-Air Kill in Training Exercise, Air Force Official Says

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NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — An MQ-9 Reaper drone has bagged its first air-to-air kill of another small, aerial vehicle in a controlled simulation, an official revealed to Military.com this week.

The successful test late last year showed the U.S. Air Force that an unmanned vehicle like the MQ-9 has the ability to conduct air-to-air combat, much like its manned fighter brethren such as an F-15 Eagle or F-22 Raptor, according to Col. Julian Cheater, commander of the 432nd Wing at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada.

“Something that’s unclassified but not well known, we recently in November … launched an air-to-air missile against a maneuvering target that scored a direct hit,” Cheater said. Military.com sat down with Cheater here at the Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber conference outside Washington, D.C.

“It was an MQ-9 versus a drone with a heat-seeking air-to-air missile, and it was direct hit … during a test,” he said of the first-of-its-kind kill.

“We develop those tactics, techniques and procedures to make us survivable in those types of environments and, if we do this correctly, we can survive against some serious threats against normal air players out there,” Cheater said Monday. “We will go participate in ‘Red Flag’ exercises, and we will drop weapons in testing environments to make sure that we can fight against those type of adversaries.”

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The effort is key to preparing for the next big aerial war against near-peer threats such as Russia or China, who are advancing their skill sets not only in unmanned aerial vehicles but also in hypersonics, electronic warfare, lasers and missile testing, Cheater said.

“In many parts of the world, it’s almost a hybrid fight by proxy,” he said. “… the MQ-9 Reaper will certainly be a big part of that. So if you package this aircraft in properly with other aircraft, it will be survivable.”

The MQ-9 has a payload of 3,750 pounds and carries a combination of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and GBU-12 Paveway II and GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, according to the service. The MQ-9’s weapons load remains flexible, Cheater said.

As the Air Force began phasing out its MQ-1 Predator UAV in 2017 before its official retirement earlier this year, the larger, more lethal MQ-9 began expanding its mission set — especially in areas like Afghanistan.

For example, when the military mission in Afghanistan transitioned from Operation Enduring Freedom to the NATO-led Resolute Support, the MQ-9’s missions increased tenfold in comparison to the MQ-1.

The Reaper conducted 950 strikes, firing approximately 1,500 weapons, between January 2015 and August 2017, according to Air Force Central Command statistics provided to Military.com at the time. The MQ-1 executed only 35 strikes, employing roughly 30 weapons, in that same timeframe.

“We specialize in urban settings,” Cheater said. “That is an important capability that very few aircraft and aircrews have.”

But last year’s test shows how the service is refocusing and thinking about the agility of the Reaper.

“It’s a balance of the forces and resources that we have available, especially on the maintenance side of the house, and everyone wanting to be as close to the fight in numerous locations,” Cheater said.

For example, “We can fly from one continent to the next — we [recently] flew nine [Reapers] from one operating area to another, and that is agile, that is flexible, and it provides options to the combatant commander,” he said, without disclosing locations.

The Air Force also recently moved a contingent of MQ-9s to Larisa Air Base in Greece for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions across Africa, according to Defense News. Without commenting on additional locations, Cheater said forward movement will always be part of the MQ-9’s future, especially with intelligence gathering on the rise.

“We’re ‘can-do’ operators by heart, and we want to look at it and see what’s the best option,” he said. “Generally, the resources don’t support everything we want to do, so we have to figure out what’s the best mix and match of those resources to achieve the desire and best end result.”

More study is needed to address the best places to base the drones for forward-operating missions, Cheater said.

In addition, the future of drone feed dissemination and intelligence gathering is becoming more streamlined as part of the Air Force’s Next Generation Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Dominance Flight Plan, he said.

The plan, released last month with few specifics for operational security reasons, has become the service’s new road map to incorporating more autonomy and data from multiple sensors across platforms stationed around the globe. “We can determine if there [are] threats or indications of enemy forces,” Cheater said.

The Air Force wants to leverage artificial intelligence, automation and algorithmic data models to streamline opportunities for airmen watching drone feeds.

“We’re actually pretty exceptional as far as adopting new technologies and putting it in combat operations right now,” he said.

— Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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7 Tips For Passing Special Forces Selection

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No one can tell you that it will be easy, but here are some tips which should help you to pass special forces selection. Here are the 7 crucial tips to rely on during selection.

1. Don’t quit

We have all met the guy who went to “insert Special Forces Selection, BUDs, INDOC, Ranger School, etc. here” and made it all the way to the last day but got hurt. Or the friend who apparently got selected but decided it wasn’t for him because his significant other could never go for that. The reality is that unless that guy now has a chronic limp from his injury chances are he was faking it and quit. Now I am not into statistics but of the 60-70% of people that leave 100% don’t get selected. Pretty good odds there that if you quit you won’t make it. Take it one day at a time and remember that the only easy day was yesterday. Unless you have a down day today, then today is an easy day. Or unless you just finished selection then that day is easy. Or unless you quit, then that day will be easy. Well ok, scratch that, it sounds lame.

2. Be the gray man

Going through selection there were all walks of life and a whole mix of eclectic characters. Most of the guys that showed up thinking they had that cat in the bag, didn’t. Nothing will draw more unwanted attention to you than sticking out like a boner in sweatpants the first day because you can’t shut your pie hole about how awesome you are. Leave your “no shit there I was” stories for the bars because the people there won’t be able to call you out on your bull shit about how you single-handedly took over Iraq and then everyone else came in and jacked it all up.

3. Arrive in shape

I know I know you are saying “yeah no shit, duh hh hh.” Well first of all stop swearing this is a public forum. Second, of all, it happens more often that you think. In my selection class, we lost 15 students just on the PT test. That’s right, the PT test. These Infidel strong warriors showed up to Special Forces Selection, considered by Green Berets to be the toughest selection known to man, not even able to pass a PT test. There are a million and one different sites that you can go to besides Jenny Craig that have some excellent tips on how to prepare. If you aren’t sure which ones to visit check out our Combat Fitness Deck, http://stewsmith.com, or http://porntube.com. Maybe forgo the last since chances are you are reading this on your mother’s computer.

4. Play the game

Selection is a game, and if Milton and Bradley patented it, they would go bankrupt. The trick of the game is to do everything the cadre tells you to as best as you can. If they come out and ask you to jump out of a plane without a parachute, do a cheetah flip while citing the ranger creed you should hit the ground perform a second Cheetah flip and spout the ranger creed off in English and Japanese because that’s just how much you want it.

Members of Bangladesh SWADS during the BUD/s (Photo: Wiki)

If the cadre says the sky is pink, well then you should tell him you can’t believe it took you this long to realize it and what a wonderful pink sky it is. Selection is easy as long as you don’t overthink it and just do as you are told. As long as you follow the first three tips, chances are you won’t have anything to worry about.

5. Don’t cry

For some reason when guys go to selection, they think it’s ok to shed some tears. Unless your boo boo is bleeding and you are looking for a lollypop crying will not help you out. You will see guys cry in selection for all sorts of things from hurting themselves to getting yelled at by the cadre. Trust me; I don’t think any of the cadres will sit there and say “well he cries a lot but his PT was excellent, so let’s take him.” Now if you went to a selection, cried and then got selected, well then I congratulate you for passing BUDs, that is incredibly hard. However, for the rest of us non-swimming SOF goers, I think a general rule of thumb is to leave the tears of passion, pain and happiness back at home for when you are trying to convince your girlfriend you are a genuine guy.

6. Cheat

If you aren’t cheating the selection you are wrong. Running the roads, asking other candidates for directions and taking weight out of your ruck during the movement are all ways to get you where you are going faster. I know they say don’t sleep when we aren’t looking, but no one ever says don’t take a thirty-minute shit and I am here to tell you, gentlemen, some of the best naps I have experienced were upon the porcelain throne. Let’s be honest, chances are you have been cheating on high school tests and yourself when you look in the mirror since you were a kid. Take that mentality to selection and find the easiest way to make it to the end. You know that saying “if you ain’t cheating you ain’t trying?” That’s bullshit if you aren’t cheating chances are, you are trying too hard.

7. Don’t get caught

This follows #6 and is paramount for every SOF operator. After selection, you will be expected to conduct overt and covert operations around the world while potentially using a cover. So make sure you know how to keep from getting caught from the get go. I don’t want you coming back from selection saying that you took this seriously and cheated your way all the way through and then got caught and became a 24-day non-select. Don’t be an idiot, when you see the lights of thecar driving down the road towards you run your ass into the bushes and make like a tree. Note: These are just a few tips and should be taken in stride. The author passed Special Forces Selection but also did it after shitting himself, crying, and with having a natural spotlight on him because he is a great and nasty ginger. So on second thought maybe scratch the above and do what AJ and Stew Smith say on their blogs instead.

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Israeli Delegation to Travel to Moscow to Share Information on Il-20 Plane Crash

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Israeli Delegation to Travel to Moscow to Share Information on Il-20 Plane Crash

Israeli military delegation led by air force commander to travel to Moscow to share information on Il-20 plane crash.

The Israeli military delegation led by Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin will travel to Moscow on September 20 with information about the crash of a Russian Il-20 recon aircraft off the Syrian coast that killed 15 military personnel, the IDF press service said Wednesday.

“The Air Force Commander and accompanying officials will present a picture of what happened in all its aspects, including… the main conclusions of the investigation conducted by the Israeli Defense Forces,” the press service said in a statement.

The Russian Hmeymim airbase had lost contact with the Russian Il-20 military aircraft late on Monday during the attack of four Israeli F-16 aircraft on Syrian targets in the province of Latakia. The Russian MoD said on Tuesday that the Israeli military intentionally created a uncertain situation by using the Russian aircraft as a shield against Syrian air defense systems.

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US Military Plane Crashes in State of Texas, Pilots Eject Safely

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US Military Plane Crashes in State of Texas, Pilots Eject Safely - Reports

A small US military plane crashed in San Antonio, Texas, on Tuesday, media reported.

The KXAN television station reported on Tuesday evening that a T-6 Texan II military aircraft from the Joint Base San Antonio — Randolf crashed between Rolling Meadows Elementary and Veterans High School.

Local TV KSAT reported that the plane had crashed in a grassy area. The two pilots in the aircraft ejected safely, the report said. The report also that the airplane crashed as a result of an engine failure.

Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph officials later confirmed to the Military Times that the plane’s crew members ejected safely, noting, however, that the pilots “sustained minor injuries.”

Previous week, another US training aircraft T-38 Talon II crashed at an Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas. Both crew members sustained injuries, but managed to eject as well.

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Stay Jacked on Deployment With These Workout Essentials

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Fitness App Reveals Names, Locations of Thousands of Western Troops and Spies

When going on deployments it can be difficult to maintain physical fitness. As it turns out many soldiers use this opportunity to pack on some lbs and gorge themselves on pop tarts, monster energy drinks, MREs and just about every other crappy food that the US Military likes to provide America’s front line in hopes that they can maintain great physical shape. However, when done correctly deployments can be the perfect time to increase your physical fitness and come back looking better than ever.

While overseas there are several great resources available on the internet and from books that can give you ideas of workouts to try. Websites such as www.tacticalathleticperformance.com, www.stewsmith.com, and www.crossfitunbroken.com all have free workouts available for the general public and offer a wide variety of exercises all geared towards operational fitness.

When planning out your equipment list first look at the room available to store the equipment as this will drive what you can purchase with the funds available. It’s recommended to stick with equipment that is relatively light, packs easy and can work a large number of muscle groups at once. Things like a leg press machine or a bicep curl bench are probably not the best options.

Below are a list of versatile and functional pieces of gear that can pack easily into an ISU-90/60 or CONNEX for a deployment.

Pull-up Bar

Having a pull-up bar is crucial for any type of fitness and can be used for a wide variety of exercises from weighted pull-ups to leg raises and kip-ups. Just about every Special Operations entity tests on pull-ups and operators should ensure they have something with them to keep them competitive. A good option for a pull-up bar is the Stud Pull Up Bar. This simple yet strong design allows operators to transport a pull-up bar with them via a connex or ISU. The Stud Pull-up Bar is made of welded 14 gauge steel and claims a 600lb max weight load for the Big Tuna Can Tonys out there. This versatile piece of equipment can be mounted to any sturdy ceiling or wall and taken down after the deployment of conquering and pillaging is over.

Kettlebell

Because of the 1001+ exercises one Kettlebell can offer they make the perfect piece of deployment equipment. Kettlebells often require a little knowledge to really make them useful but the good news is there are a tons of videos online of people offering different workout plans and exercises. When ordering a kettlebell consider getting one of every common size (12kg, 16kg, 24kg 32kg) so you can maximize your workout. Most kettlebells come in POOD (a Russian weight measurement of 16kg/32lbs) sizes and range anywhere from 5lbs-70lbs depending on the vendor and range anywhere from $10-130.00+shipping.

TRX Trainer

The TRX trainer is one of the best pieces of operational equipment out there and can be taken just about anywhere. The entire system weighs 1.5lbs, packs up and fits into a it’s own stuff sack for ease of transportation on deployments or to those various schools that always seem to be placed in the armpits of the United States and nowhere close to a good workout facility. To use, this system requires a sturdy door or something to hang on… That’s it. And, the exercises available are truly endless and only limited to your imagination, or the imagination of the billions of blog posts and youtube videos already made for it.

Sandbags

Sandbag training is one of those often overlooked workout routines that will mildly get you winded. However when done properly sandbag training can greatly increase your strength and maybe even make you regret that pecan pie and 10 ripit energy drinks you had prior to working out. When empty, sandbags can weigh a few ounces and pack into a tight area for ease of transportation. To build one all you need is a traditional sandbag, lots of dirt (usually pretty easy to find) and a few rolls of 100mph tape. If you want to go a step up there are several other vendors that make their own sandbags and the quality and versatility varies based on the brand. One company, Brute Force Sandbags makes an excellent and durable product that is used by several special operations units already. Not to mention they donate a portion of their proceeds to The Wound Warrior Project.

Jump Rope

Boxers, crossfiters and MMA fighters have known about the exercise benefits of jump ropes for years and they are only becoming more popular as an alternative endurance exercise. Jump ropes are easy to carry, light and fit even the most overstuffed overnight bag. Jump ropes are great for increasing agility, endurance and even strength depending on how you use them. While there are plenty of different jump rope company’s out there we suggest you skip the ones designed for playground use and go for a professional one made specifically for working out.

Medicine Ball

These little 10-20lb bundles of joy are great for abs, wall ball throws, ball slams and playing head the ball with your jundee counterparts. Medicine balls are easy to transport and can range anywhere from $70-200+ for the good ones.

Kill Cliff

Yes, you read that right, Kill Cliff. Invented by a Navy SEAL (of course), Kill Cliff is essential in the recovery process for post workouts as it is chalk full of B-vitamines and anti inflammatory properties. Plus it tastes a hell of a lot better than the local swill you will be drinking. This stuff is already being used by athletes and Special Operations units around the world and is a perfect supplement for the deployment. Kill Cliff also donates a portion of their proceeds to the Navy SEAL Foundation and other Special Operations Foundations. Oh and don’t forget to test positive for awesome after drinking it.

Workout Gear

While most deploying units are required to wear their respective service’s PT uniform there are some lucky enough to rock what they want. If you want to get the most out of your workout make sure you buy something breathable, stretchable and moisture wicking. This is especially important if you are planning on crushing some serious workouts in the desert heat. 2Pood performance makes an excellent pair of workout shorts designed specifically for operation fitness. These shorts come in both mens and women’s and even camouflage for those mid patrol workouts.

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Commanding Officer of Louisiana-Based Marine Corps Transport Squadron Fired

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A Marine officer in charge of a squadron that ferries high-profile personnel and gear in combat zones was removed from command this month under circumstances that remain under investigation.

Lt. Col. Aaron Locher, Marine Transport Squadron Belle Chasse’s former commanding officer, was removed from his position Sept. 7, said Maj. Roger Hollenbeck, a spokesman for Marine Corps Forces Reserve.

The decision was made by Brig. Gen. Bradley James, commanding general of 4th Marine Air Wing, due to a “loss in confidence of Locher’s ability to continue leading” Marines and sailors with the squadron, Hollenbeck added. His relief was first reportedby Marine Corps Times.

“Relieving a commander is never an easy decision; however, the commanding general decided this action was in the best interest of the unit and the U.S. Marine Corps,” Hollenbeck said.

Locher is one of at least seven Marine commanders relieved this year, most of whom had poor command climate in their units or mistreated “people of different genders,”Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Glenn Walters said last week.

The circumstances surrounding Locher’s relief are under investigation, Hollenbeck said. No additional details about James’ decision were immediately provided.

“The 4th Marine Aircraft Wing is dedicated to supporting the high standards of the service and the nation, especially for those with the increased responsibility of command,” he said.

Lt. Col. Andrew Turner, a Bronze Star with Combat “V” device and Purple Heart recipient, is now serving as the transport squadron’s commanding officer.

Locher was selected for command of Marine Transport Squadron Belle Chasse in the fall of 2015. He had returned to the Marine Corps as an active reservist in 2011, according to his official bio, after leaving the service to pursue pursue a career as a U.S. Customs and Border Protection air interdiction agent. In that position, Locher was certified in multiple aircraft.

The career aviation officer earned his commission in 1996 and flew combat missions in Iraq while serving with several Huey squadrons.

Members of Marine Transport Squadron Belle Chasse fly the UC-35, a Cessna transport plane, and UC-12W turboprop light passenger and cargo plane.

— Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at@ginaaharkins.

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