Trump former staff chief on track to join Navy Reserve

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon says President Donald Trump's former chief of staff is on track to join the Navy Reserve, buoyed by a recommendation from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Reince Priebus, 46, served as chief of staff for about six months, beginning at the start of Trump's administration in January 2017. He also was chairman … Continue reading “Trump former staff chief on track to join Navy Reserve”

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon says President Donald Trump's former chief of staff is on track to join the Navy Reserve, buoyed by a recommendation from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

Reince Priebus, 46, served as chief of staff for about six months, beginning at the start of Trump's administration in January 2017. He also was chairman of the Republican National Committee from 2011 to 2017.

Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White says it is customary for Reserve applicants to request recommendations from members of Congress and other officials. She says Mattis agreed to write a letter for Priebus and it was consistent with applicable standards.

Trump's former press secretary Sean Spicer is also a reserve officer. He was often seen around the Pentagon doing his reserve duties during his White House stint.

U.S. Navy offers what Venezuelan regime can’t: Urgent health care

BOGOTA, Colombia – It’s a softer face of U.S. military service not often shown to the world: Sailors and medical personnel spending weeks on-end to treat those fleeing starvation, poverty, oppression, and fear – in some of the most desperate corners of the world.

And so while the Venezuelan government continues to deny and downplay the horrific humanitarian and economic crisis plaguing what was once the richest country in Latin America, a floating U.S. Navy hospital, USNS Comfort, is alleviating some of the burden on nations neighboring Venezuela

The assignment is “Enduring Promise 2018, which began when this ship departed the Navy base in Norfolk, Va., in early October. "We have treated approximately 20,000 patients,” Ensign Cody L. Keim, Public Affairs Officer, told Fox News en route to Honduras, amid the final stretch of the eleven-week mission. “If we follow the current trend of patient care, we expect to treat and serve just over 25,000 patients in total before we begin our voyage home.”

(Navy Public Affairs Support Element East)

The team has so far provided humanitarian medical assistance to the partner nations of Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia – and soon Honduras. And while migrants receiving treatment are believed to be mostly from Venezuela and Colombia, the U.S. personnel don’t question patient's immigration status.

“It is our philosophy to provide quality care to those in need, therefore we do not ask about their migration status," Keim said. "We want every individual that comes to us seeking treatment to know that they will be treated to the same standard, with the highest level of respect, which we would provide to our own family members."

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As a non-combatant vessel, the Comfort is without offensive heavy weapons. But it is equipped with everything from a dental suite to four x-ray machines to an optometric lab, and carries thousands of blood packs. Care is available on board, as well as land-based sites.

According to Lt. Thomas Driscoll, Director of Medical Operations and Planning (DMOP), while they have several advertised services – from general medicine, dental and optometry to women’s health, dermatology, radiology, and surgical services – it is often the psychological relief that is most valuable.

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Ensign Kimberly Hill, from Phoenix, Ariz., takes the vitals of a patient during a medical screening at one of two medical sites. (Winterlyn J Patterson Navy Public Affairs Support Element East)

“Often it was the first time patients were able to cry and get relief from mental health concerns or worries they have had for family members that had traveled to be seen,” he noted. “We have found that migrants would utilize bus services or find transportation in order to travel several hours to days away.”

And for the most pressing cases, there are four helicopters on board, to transport patients. The service personnel at the medical sites also work in partnership with regional ministries of health, to identify and transport more serious medical conditions.

“Some of these conditions included untreated skin infections that had a high potential for sepsis, symptomatic congenital defects, newborn malnutrition/dehydration as well as symptomatic heart failure, stroke symptoms and myocardial infarction,” said Lt. Tatiana Crosby, Medical Site Nurse Manager. “The medical team quickly identified these conditions and ensured diagnosis and recommendations for care were translated and communicated with the ambulance services as well as the ministry of health representatives.”

Many hear about the services through word of mouth or a local news stor. And after years of suffering, the responses can be overwhelming.

“As patients would arrive at our side of the medical site after being triaged, the nurses, corpsmen and I would control patient flow and escort them throughout the rest of their visit at the med site,” explained Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Anthony Genuino, Leading Petty Officer for the Directorate of Nursing Services. “One patient’s reaction sticks with me as she cried as I helped her check out.  She gave me a big hug as she was crying on my chest.”

Cmdr. Ryan Griswold, from Madison, Iowa, examines a patient for health issues at one of two medical sites. (Spc. Joseph DeLuco Navy Public Affairs Support Element East)

Some patients have even offered their own services in return. Driscoll told the story of a migrant who had traveled from the Venezuelan capital of Caracas.

“His name was Louis, and spoke wonderful English. After his treatment, he sought me out to ask if there was a way he could help the following day. Translation services are a service it seems we never have enough of,” Driscoll recounted. “We were able to utilize his help the next day to speak with the crowd to become more organized and identify needs of the population at our gates with his help. Speaking with Louis I found that just the ability to help his people in this way was very healing for his soul.”

The medical support mission to Central and South America is a component of U.S. Southern Command’s Enduring Promise initiative, a partnership that began in June 2007 with the goal to provide healthcare services to communities in need.

The United Nations has called the Venezuelan crisis the worst to ever strike Latin America. And the country’s healthcare system has collapsed over the past three years, with next to no medicines and care available, prompting an exodus of millions from all walks of life.

“I have noticed malnutrition and parasite treatment as the number one medical need for those who have identified as migrants from Venezuelan,” Driscoll noted.

But the Chavista government, led by Nicolas Maduro, has rebuffed international assertions that the country is in failure, and instead blame the economic hardships on U.S. sanctions and political opponents intent on waging “economic war.” Most aren’t buying that argument.

The Venezuelan government might have its suspicions about the role of the U.S. here. But it “absolutely a humanitarian mission. We are not sending soldiers, we are sending doctors,” Defense Secretary James Mattis stated in August, when announcing the Comfort’s deployment. “And it’s an effort to deal with the human cost of Maduro and his increasingly isolated regime.”

The hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) is anchored off the coast of Colombia to offer medical treatment aboard the ship and at a land-based medical site. (Petty Officer 2nd Class Kris Lindstrom Navy Public Affairs Support Element East)

For many serving in the U.S. military, providing such assistance is an honor. “My biggest takeaway from this mission is the pride from knowing that the United States and our partners have such a strong relationship that we have the ability to respond quickly and help a large population in dire need,” Driscoll said. “After this mission, I have no doubt our partners would respond just as quick to the needs of Americans in the case tragedy on our shores.”

For the people being treated, it’s often the small moments that count.

“From a simple pair of glasses or a new walking cane to a more complex abdominal wall closure surgery, it was evident that our mission had a great impact on the lives,” Crosby added. “The gratitude from our patients transcended the language barriers as we received hugs, or strong handshakes and even handwritten letters of their appreciation. Everyone on-board will be able to return home with a feeling of pride and accomplishment that they were able to touch the lives of those we cared for and make a difference.”

And home just in time for Christmas.

U.S. Navy Capt. Kevin Buss (left), director, nursing services, and Lt. Joseph Crossman, a midwife from Chesapeake, Va., participate in an advanced cardiac life support certification course in the intensive care unit aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20). (Courtesy Navy Public Affairs Support Element East)

Hollie McKay has a been a Fox News Digital staff reporter since 2007. She has extensively reported from war zones including Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Burma and investigates global conflicts, war crimes and terrorism around the world. Follow her on twitter and Instagram @holliesmckay

New littoral combat ship weapons take aim at attacking small boat swarms

The Navy plans to launch two small boat attack craft raids against its Littoral Combat Ship to prepare the ship for major warfare by testing a new suite of integrated weapons systems and sensors – including missiles, guns, drones and inflatable boats.

The upcoming “fast inshore attack craft raid” events are intended as part of a formal Initial Operational Test & Evaluation plan for an-LCS mounted Surface-to-Surface Missile Module designed, among other things, to “counter potential swarms of attacked armed small craft,” a Navy statement from Naval Sea Systems Command, Program Executive Office Unmanned and Small Combatants said.

The Missile Module is comprised of 24 ship-fired Longbow Hellfire Missiles, 30-and-57mm guns, 11-meter rigid hull inflatable boats, helicopters and vertical-take-off-and-landing ship-launched drones. Ship launched Hellfires, for instance, can utilize all-weather millimeter wave radar, inertial guidance or semi-active laser targeting to fire upon enemy ships, helicopters, fixed-wing assets or drones attacking the LCS. The concept with the overall module is to enable each platform to function as a “node” on a larger network.

Forward-operating drones, for instance, can send real-time images to helicopters and ship-based fire control radar, enabling faster response time. Armed helicopters can more quickly find and attack targets if they are identified and transmitted from other assets such as drones, submarines or ship-based sensors. By extension, all of these systems could cue deck-mounted small arms for the closer in threats, such as 30mm and 57mm guns. These warfare tactics, mirrored by larger platforms such as Carrier Strike Groups, is to create an integrated, layered defense system designed to provide defenses at different ranges and against a wide sphere of potential attack systems.

Small, fast-transport 11-meter inflatable boats are also regarded as an indispensable element of the Surface Warfare Mission Packages the Missile Module is engineered to support. Often used as rapid entry or small attack vehicles for Navy SEALs and other Special Operations Forces, these boats can provide ship crews with an ability to leave the ship and “engage” approaching small-boat attackers, providing yet another element of defense.

Swarming small boat attacks are regarded as extremely serious combat concerns for Navy war-planners, who operate with a decided recognition that this kind of threat is quite substantial when it comes to both counterterrorism and major warfare on the open ocean. The strategy with small boat attacks against larger platforms is multi-faceted; multiple, fast-moving points of small missile and gunfire attack are naturally much more difficult to recognize and target. The intention with these tactics is to overwhelm, confuse or simply outnumber ship-defense weapons systems such as sensors, interceptors and deck-mounted guns.

This phenomenon can be explained in terms of what’s called “dis-aggregated” operations, if on a smaller scale than is typically thought of. Not only are a more dispersed group of small boats more difficult to target, but emerging networking technology can enable them to coordinate, share target information and stage integrated missions while farther away from one another. Navy and Marine Corps strategists, now planning for future amphibious warfare, are employing these concepts regarding ship-to-shore amphibious attacks. Dis-aggregated, yet closely networked attack nodes provide attacking commanders with a wider range of options and increase possibilities to defend against incoming shore attacks by avoiding a more condensed or linear ocean assault.

The proliferation of longer-range mobile guns, to include possible emergence of lasers, electronic warfare or boat-launched drone attacks, all make the prospect of facing swarms of armed, fast-moving small boats even more dangerous for surface ships. Furthermore, there is no reason small boats with manned crews could not carry and fire portable land weapons such as RPGs, Anti-Tank Guided Missiles aimed at ship structures or hand-launched attack drones filled with explosives.

Of potentially even greater concern, quite possibly, is the advent of unmanned small attack vessels unconstrained by any need to protect a manned crew. They could approach much closer, without having to avoid incoming fire from ship defense weapons. The U.S. Navy is already testing and developing a “ghost fleet” of unmanned small ships to perform a range of missions to include, reconnaissance, mine and submarine detection and of course forward-operating attack missions – firing weapons while manned crews remain at safer distances. The U.S. Navy, however, is of course no longer the only nation with the technological sophistication to develop and operate unmanned small boats. The current global threat circumstance is such that the U.S. Navy recognizes it needs to know how to defend against these kinds of attacks.

Pentagon threat assessment analysts have long expressed concern that small boat attacks could, for instance, be used by Iranian forces to stop the flow of naval traffic through the dangerous and narrow Strait of Hormuz – the only passage from the Persian Gulf into the open ocean. Concurrently, small attack craft could just as easily be launched on the open ocean by host ships launching offensive operations from safer distances. Not only could the boats perform sensing and reconnaissance missions, but they could of course also themselves become explosives or seek to jam a ship’s radar by flooding it with dispersed attack nodes.

These are the reasons the Navy is moving quickly to prepare its ship-based offensive and defensive weapons from these kinds of very serious threats. The formal test and evaluation phase is slated to finish up by early next year, as a key step toward operational status.

The service is also arming its LCS fleet with a long-range, over-the-horizon Naval Strike Missile to extend the ship’s offensive attack reach. The Navy is also now advancing plans to arm the Littoral Combat Ship with an emerging ship defense soft-kill countermeasure able to identify, track and destroy incoming enemy torpedo fire, Navy officials said. The Navy plans to outfit its entire LCS fleet with the AN/SLQ-61 Lightweight Tow Torpedo Defense Mission Module (TDMM) as a way to fortify the ship’s ability to succeed in both shallow water and open or “blue” water warfare, Navy officials told Warrior Maven.

The new TDMM completed two days of at-sea testing several months ago in order to prepare for operational service on LCS ships. The technology uses an underwater acoustic projector, attached to a cable dropped from the ship’s stern to identify acoustic homing and wire-guided enemy torpedoes, service information describes.

The digitally-controlled system, traveling underwater beneath the ship, uses acoustic technology. In a manner quite similar to radar above the ground, the return signal, or ping, is then analyzed to determine the distance, shape and speed of an approaching enemy threat. In the case of the Navy, the “ping” is, of course, acoustic sound waves and not the electronic pings known to surface radar.

"The torpedo defense capability the TDMM provides is envisioned for eventual deployment on all LCS ships, and potentially other small combatants," a Navy statement from earlier this year said.

Offered as a lighter-weight alternative to the currently-operational AN/SLQ-25 “Nixie,” the new TDMM is specifically engineered for smaller warships, such as the LCS, Navy statements said.

LCS Mission Evolution

The addition of this combat technology to the LCS is consistent with the Navy’s evolving strategy for the ship, which seeks to broaden its mission scope to incorporate a wider range of surface combat possibilities.

While the ship was conceived and developed as a multi-mission countermine anti-submarine surface warfare platform for littoral operations, the Navy is trying to move quickly to further arm the ship for major maritime combat as well.

The LCS’s shallow draft enables it to approach island and coastal areas inaccessible to larger, deeper draft ships, adding offensive and defensive weaponry to give commanders more options.

For instance, as an LCS approaches shallow waters, it may operate in a more autonomous, or disaggregated fashion and, therefore, be unable to rely upon combat protections from nearby larger ships.

Accordingly, equipping the ship with improved defenses would better enable the platform to defend itself while operating more independently. This brings the added advantage of reducing the risk for other surface combatants, in part because the LCS is designed for high-risk countermine missions in littoral areas, allowing larger ships can remain at safer distances without being exposed to mines.

The previously published Navy’s Distributed Maritime Operations Concept builds upon the Navy’s much-discussed “distributed lethality” strategy. This strategic approach, in development for several years now, emphasizes the need to more fully arm the fleet with offensive and defensive weapons and disperse forces as needed to respond to fast-emerging near-peer threats.

Part of the rationale is to move back toward open or “blue water” combat capability against near-peer competitors emphasized during the Cold War. While the strategic and tactical capability never disappeared, it was emphasized less during the last 10-plus years of ground wars wherein the Navy focused on counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and things like Visit Board Search and Seizure. These missions are, of course, still important, however, the Navy seeks to substantially increase its offensive “lethality” in order to deter or be effective against emerging high-tech adversaries.

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F-35 ‘tech refresh’ enables new attack technology, AI

The Pentagon and Lockheed are pursuing a "Tech Refresh" effort with the F-35 intended to improve the stealth fighter's targeting attack technology, weapons delivery and on-board computing — all as part of an effort to try to keep the F-35's combat effectiveness ahead of great power rival nations.

The refresh, intended to be built into new planes and retrofitted onto older ones, improves memory, storage, processing speed, display video and aircraft parametric data, Vice Adm. Mat Winter, Program Executive Officer for the F-35 program, told reporters earlier this year.

"These are hardware and software modifications to bring an integrated core processor, memory system and display screen," Winter said.

As part of this ongoing effort, Lockheed Martin has been working with Harris Corporation to provide the computing infrastructure for new panoramic cockpit displays, advanced memory systems and navigation technology.

The new hardware and software, to be operational on the F-35 by 2021, includes seven racks per aircraft consisting of 1,500 module components, including new antennas and weapons release systems. Other components include an Advanced Memory System (AMS) engineered to improve data storage and generate higher resolution imagery to help pilots with navigational and targeting information.

Faster processors will improve F-35 delivery of weapons enabled by the latest 3F software drop, such as the AIM-9X air-to-air missile. Improved radar warning receiver technology will more quickly identify enemy aircraft and integrate with the aircraft’s mission data files, or threat library.

The data processing increase is exponential, developers explain, as it enables measurements to take place in terabytes instead of megabits or megabytes. The upgrades include a portable memory device which can quickly be transferred from a ground station to the F-35 cockpit.

As the most recently implemented software upgrade, Block 3f increases the weapons delivery capacity of the JSF, giving it the ability to drop a Small Diameter Bomb, 500-pound JDAM and AIM 9X short-range air-to-air missile, service officials explained.

The Air Force is already working on a 4th drop to be ready by 2020 or 2021. Following this initial drop, the aircraft will incorporate new software drops as quickly as possible. Block IV will include some new partner weapons including British weapons, Turkish weapons and some of the other European country weapons that they want to get on their own plane, service officials explained.

Block IV will also increase the weapons envelope for the U.S. variant of the fighter jet. A big part of the developmental calculus for Block 4 is to work on the kinds of enemy air defense systems and weaponry the aircraft may face from the 2020’s through the 2040’s and beyond.

In terms of weapons, Block IV will eventually enable the F-35 to fire cutting edge weapons systems such as the Small Diameter Bomb II and GBU-54 – both air dropped bombs able to destroy targets on the move.

The Small Diameter Bomb II uses a technology called a “tri-mode” seeker, drawing from infrared, millimeter wave and laser-guidance. The combination of these sensors allows the weapon to track and eliminate moving targets in all kinds of weather conditions.

The emerging 4th software drop will build upon prior iterations of the software for the aircraft.

Block 2B builds upon the enhanced simulated weapons, data link capabilities and early fused sensor integration of the earlier Block 2A software drop. Block 2B will enable the JSF to provide basic close air support and fire an AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile), JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) or GBU-12 (laser-guided aerial bomb) JSF program officials said.

Following Block 2B, Block 3i increases the combat capability even further and the now operational 3F brings a vastly increased ability to suppress enemy air defenses.

Mission Data Files

The F-35 is now conducting attacks, surveillance operations and combat missions with an updated on-board “threat library” of Mission Data Files engineered to identify enemy threats in key regions around the globe.

“The AORs (Areas of Responsibility) for current operations where our forces are — currently have adequate Mission Data Files,” Winter said.

Described as the brains of the airplane, the "mission data files" are extensive on-board data systems compiling information on geography, air space and potential threats– such as enemy fighter jets — in areas where the F-35 might be expected to perform combat operations, Air Force officials explained.

Despite some delays with development, involving software engineering and technical development at Eglin AFB, Fla., the process is now fully on track to finish by 2019, Winter said.

Naturally, Air Force senior weapons developers do not comment on specific threats in specific areas around the globe, developers do acknowledge the threat library will include all known and future threat aircraft — which of course includes advanced Chinese and Russian 5th-generation fighters. For security reasons, Air Force officials do not wish to confirm this or specify any kind of time frame for their inclusion.

Overall, there are 12 geographical regions being identified to comprise the library, service developers say.

“We have not fully verified all Mission Data Files for all of the regions where we will operate, but we are slated to be ready by 2019,” Winter said.

The mission data files are designed to work with the aircraft's Radar Warning Receiver engineered to find and identify approaching enemy threats and incoming hostile fire. The concept is to use the F-35s long range sensors to detect threats – and then compare the information against the existing library of enemy threats in real time while in flight. If this can happen at a favorable standoff range for the F-35, it will be able to identify and destroy enemy air-to-air targets before being vulnerable itself to enemy fire. For example, the mission data system may be able to quickly identify a Russian MiG-29 if it were detected by the F-35’s sensors.

“There is continued collaboration between intelligence and acquisition teams,” Winter said.

The Mission Data Files are intended to support the F-35’s sensor fusion so that information from disparate sensor systems can be combined on a single screen for pilots to lower the cognitive burden and quicken the decision-making process. New modules for mission systems will integrate into the F-35s Distributed Aperture System sensors and Electro-optical Targeting System.

The Pentagon is improving Mission Data File technology, in part, through computer algorithms increasingly supported by AI, Winter said.

“Our fusion engine gets advanced sensors technology to rapidly identify and track targets without the pilot having to do all the work. This fusion is enabled by Mission Data Files,” Winter explained.

This concept regarding integrated threat warnings and the Missile Data Files is further reinforced in a Lockheed Martin engineering paper from early this year called “F-35 Mission Systems Design, Development and Verification.”

The paper provides technical detail on a number of F-35 technologies, including analysis of a system called AN/ASQ-242 Communications, Navigation and Identification system, or CNI. CNI provides beyond-visual-range target identification, anti-jam technology, radio navigation and, of great significance to Mission Data Files — “warning messaging” and “pilot audio alerts.” Part of its function includes “connectivity with off-board sources of information,” a function which bears great relevance to identifying specific enemy aircraft at great distances.

While many developers cite significant challenges when it comes to software development and integration for the F-35, the fighter is regarded by developers as a “flying computer.” The “fusion” or technical integration on board the aircraft is engineered to access and leverage a wide range of data points and condense them for the pilot. In essence, surveillance, computer processing and targeting data are fused, as opposed to being stovepiped or separate sources. As a result, the technology also incorporates Identification Friend Foe (IFF) surveillance systems designed to quickly distinguish friendly from enemy aircraft.

Mission Data Files technology is now supporting the latest F-35 software configuration – called 3f.

"Mission data has been fielded in support of version 2B, 3i, and 3f," Air Force spokeswoman Emily Grabowski told Warrior earlier this year.

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Trump picks Army chief of staff as next top military adviser

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump announced Saturday that he wants a battle-hardened commander who oversaw troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to be the nation's next top military adviser.

If confirmed by the Senate, Gen. Mark Milley, who has been chief of the Army since August 2015, would succeed Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Dunford's term doesn't end until Oct. 1. Trump said the date of transition is "to be determined."

Trump used an early morning tweet to reveal his choice. "I am thankful to both of these incredible men for their service to our Country!" he said. Later Saturday, as the president left the White House for the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia, he called Milley "a great gentleman and a great patriot."

Dunford is a former commandant of the Marine Corps and commander of coalition troops in Afghanistan. Milley commanded troops during several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dunford's spokesman, Col. Patrick Ryder, said all indications are that Dunford will serve his full term. Ryder referred other questions to the White House. He said Dunford congratulated Milley on his nomination. "He has served with Gen. Milley in peacetime and in combat and has the highest regard for his leadership."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement that Milley was "a battle-tested commander and Pentagon reformer who will be a worthy successor" to Dunford. That committee would consider a Joint Chiefs nomination.

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee praised Milley for his "direct, insightful military assessments based upon his intellect and years of experience." Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, also noted that the Joint Chiefs chairman serves Congress as well as the president and defense secretary.

Trump's decision, announced before leaving Washington for the annual Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia, had caught some in the Pentagon by surprise when unofficial word spread Friday after he had tweeted that a succession announcement was coming.

Normally an announcement on a new chairman wouldn't be expected until early next year. Officials had said the Air Force chief, Gen. David Goldfein, was also a strong contender for the job.

Milley is known as a charismatic, outgoing leader who has not been afraid to offer candid and sometimes blunt assessments to Congress. Last year he admonished the House Armed Services Committee for its inability to approve a defense budget, slamming it as "professional malpractice." In 2016, he told lawmakers, in answer to a direct question, that women should also have to register for the draft now that they are allowed to serve in all combat jobs.

As the Army's top leader, he helped shepherd the groundbreaking move of women into front-line infantry and other combat positions, while warning that it would take time to do it right. More recently, he has worked with his senior officers to reverse a shortfall in Army recruiting when the service fell far short of its annual goal this year.

He also played a role in one of the Army's more contentious criminal cases. While serving as head of U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Milley was assigned to review the case of former Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who abandoned his post in Afghanistan and was held captive by the Taliban for five years.

Milley made the early decision to charge Bergdahl with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. Bergdahl was eventually found guilty, reduced in rank to private, dishonorably discharged and fined $10,000, but was spared any additional prison time.

A native of Winchester, Massachusetts, and a fervent supporter of the Boston Red Sox and other city teams, Milley received his Army commission from Princeton University in 1980. An infantry officer by training, he also commanded Special Forces units in a career that included deployments in the invasion of Panama in 1989, the multinational mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina to implement the Dayton Peace Accords, and the Iraq war.

The Milley move starts a series of military leadership changes in coming months, including successors in 2019 for Adm. John Richardson as the chief of Naval Operations, Gen. Robert Neller as commandant of the Marine Corps, and Air Force Gen. Paul Selva as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Trump also will pick a replacement for Milley as Army chief.

Goldfein began his term as Air Force chief of staff in 2016, so wouldn't be expected to step down until the summer of 2020.

With Trump in attendance, Army beats Navy for 3rd straight time

PHILADELPHIA – PHILADELPHIA - Army had the corps bouncing in front of the president and kept the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy.

The No. 22 Black Knights recovered two fumbles in the fourth quarter, Kelvin Hopkins Jr. had two rushing touchdowns and Army beat Navy 17-10 on Saturday to win its third straight game in the series.

President Donald Trump attended the 119th game between the rivals and flipped the coin before spending a half on each side in a show of impartiality. No matter his view, Army (10-2) always had the edge.

President Donald Trump tosses the coin before the Army-Navy NCAA college football Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Army retained the CIC Trophy — awarded to the team with the best record in games among the three service academies — after winning it for the first time in 22 years last season and snuffed a late Navy (3-10) rally to retain possession of the patriotic prize

With Navy down 10-7, quarterback Zach Abey lost a fumble on fourth-and-12 deep in its own territory. Hopkins would score on a 1-yard run to make it 17-7 and give Army the cushion it needed to win in front of 66,729 fans at Lincoln Financial Field.

Army hopped and waved hands in celebration during a replay timeout and got the cadets in the stands to bounce along. They had good reason to celebrate: Army has regained its grip in a series that had gotten out of hand. Navy had a series-best 14-game winning streak from 2002-2015 and leads the series leads 60-52-7.

Trump sat on the Army side in the first half and crossed the field to the Navy side at halftime. Trump officiated the coin toss and was introduced by public address announcer Dan Baker to a cheering crowd. Navy called "tails," and that's what it was when Trump's flipped coin landed on the turf. Navy elected to kick off.

That was a mistake.

Navy’s Zach Abey leaps for a high snap during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Army, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Kell Walker ran 51 yards to the 10 on the fourth play from scrimmage and Hopkins dashed in for the TD on the next play for a 7-0 lead.

In a series steeped in tradition — the "March On" and drumline battles, among them — perhaps none is more ingrained than the running game. Last year's game had a combined three pass attempts and quarterbacks for each team are usually the leading rushers. But Army and Navy passed on the rush and tried to throw, with mixed results. Army safety Jaylon McClinton had an interception in the first half. Army also dropped a key third-down pass that led to John Abercrombie's missed 33-yard field goal in the second quarter.

Abercrombie rebounded to kick a 33-yarder in the third for a 10-0 lead.

Last season's game was an instant classic and was decided by a field goal: Bennett Moehring narrowly missed a 48-yarder in the snow on the final play and Army held off Navy 14-13.

Moehring made the extra point on Lewis' score and he kicked a 45-yard field goal with 29 seconds left. Malcolm Perry's 43-yard run to the 5 set up Garret Lewis' 1-yard rushing TD with 7:10 left in the game that pulled Navy to 10-7.

There were reminders all around the Linc, home of the Super Bowl champion Eagles, that this was no ordinary game. The Navy "Leap Frogs" parachute team earned a roar from the crowd with each safe landing on the field. Bill the Goat, Navy's mascot, was safely leashed and secured from a possible abduction attempt from overzealous cadets. And each side safely returned "captives" in the Prisoner Exchange — when seven midshipmen and seven cadets swap service academies for a semester. The Army prisoners spelled out "3-PEAT on the back of their uniforms.

Navy CPO’s death ruled murder; ex-fiancé arrested, authorities say

The death of a Navy chief petty officer whose body was discovered in her Florida home in September has been ruled a homicide, leading authorities Friday to arrest the man to whom she was engaged, reports said.

Nearly three months after Andrea Washington, 37, was discovered dead in her home on Jacksonville’s Northside, police charged 36-year-old Danny Ray Beard with her murder, First Coast News reported.

While a cause of death was not immediately released in September, investigators had said her death "was not from natural causes.” No suspects were initially named.

A judge had granted the Navy chief a protective order about two weeks before her death due to “domestic violence at her home,” the station reported.

Washington said she was pushed, kicked in the stomach and “had a gun pulled on her by a man she was living with” while arguing over household bills, First Coast News reported, citing the protective order filed Sept. 4.

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She also filed a separate police report against Beard on Sept. 2 for aggravated assault after encouragement from a friend, the media outlet reported.

Washington was slated to appear in court on the protective order against Beard just hours after she was found dead, First Coast News reported. Beard appeared in court to defend himself and the order was dismissed because Washington, who was dead, did not attend.

NORTH CAROLINA MAN WHO BEAT UP WOMAN — THEN CALLED HER 223 TIMES FROM JAIL — SENTENCED TO PRISON

Phantom McClendon, a family friend of Washington, told First Coast News that the mother of three was newly “pinned” as a Navy CPO.

“The goal of making chief is a major accomplishment and for her to make it after all these years," McClendon said, "and the simple fact (is) that she can’t even enjoy it.”

Fox News’ Kathleen Jocye contributed to this report.

F-35C stealth fighter undertakes first operational tests at sea

The Navy’s first-of-its-kind carrier-launched F-35C has been conducting aerial maneuvers, weapons integration, “cyclical” flight take-off missions and other war operations from the flight deck of a Nimitz-Class carrier recently, marking the first operational tests of the stealth fighter slated to deploy in 2021.

“This was the first-ever operational F-35C integration,” Rear Adm. Matt Winter, F-35 Joint Program Executive Officer told reporters a few months ago when referring to the exercises.

The combat exercises, which have involved F-35C joint missions with F-18 Super Hornets, E-2D Hawkeye surveillance planes and EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft, were designed to help the Navy prepare for how the introduction of the F-35C will change combat, impact war strategy and drive new concepts of operation.

Missions have included “defensive counter air” and “anti-submarine” warfare, among others, Capt. Matt Norris, from the Joint Strike Fighter Operational Test Team said in a Navy statement earlier this year during Carrier Air Wing assessments on board the USS Abraham Lincoln. Formal Operational Testing has continued into the Fall to ensure the emerging aircraft can fully perform the full range of war operations.

The emergence of a carrier-launched stealth fighter is intended to give the Navy more combat attack flexibility and an improved ability to fight sophisticated enemy air defenses from a sea-based carrier. Such an ability can allow a maneuvering carrier to hold targets at risk from closer proximity if land-bases are far from the combat vicinity. Perhaps of greatest significance, the F-35C brings stealth attack technology to the carrier flight deck for the first time, a circumstance which further enables sea-based attack operations to attack advanced enemy air defenses and function in extremely high-threat environments.

The combat ops, some of which took place off the Eastern shore of the US, heavily emphasized weapons exercises with the F-35C arsenal, which include GBU-32 and GBU-12 air-dropped bombs, AIM-120 and AIM-9x air-to-air missiles and a 25mm cannon. Several tests and assessments have also ensured pilots could properly use night-combat enabled Helmet Mounted Displays designed to provide more fidelity in “low-light” conditions such as those with little or no moonlight.

Assessments of the F-35C have also included efforts to refine a precision-landing technology called Joint Precision Approach & Landing Systems, or JPALs.

JPALS, slated to be operational by 2019, works with the GPS satellite navigation system to provide accurate, reliable and high-integrity guidance for fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, Navy statements said.

Navy information has described JPALS as a system featuring anti-jam protection to ensure mission continuity in hostile environments.

“JPALS is a differential GPS that will provide an adverse weather precision approach and landing capability,” a Navy statement said.

With a broad wingspan, reinforced landing gear, ruggedized structures and durable coatings, the Navy's F-35C is engineered for harsh shipboard conditions. Its avionics equip the pilot with real-time, spherical access to battlespace information.

Being engineered for a carrier, the F-35C's 51-foot wingspan is larger than the Air Force's F-35A and Marine Corps' F-35B short-take-off-and-landing variants. It can fire two AIM-120 air-to-air missiles and two 2,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions. The F-35C can reach speeds up to Mach 1.6 and travel more than 1,200 nautical miles, according to Navy information.

In the future, the F-35C will have an ability to drop a Small Diameter Bomb II – a high-tech weapon now in development able to track and destroy moving targets from great distances using a tri-mode seeker.

The SDB II uses millimeter wave, laser and infrared guidance technology and has now been tested on an F-35, Raytheon developers have explained.

Over the next five years, the Navy plans to acquire as many as 60 or more of the new fighters, Navy officials have told Warrior Maven.

The F-35C is engineered with a new technology called Delta Flight Path which helps pilot land on a carrier deck more easily, Pentagon F-35 developers say.

Test pilots and engineers credited the F-35C's Delta Flight Path technology with significantly reducing pilot workload during the approach to the carrier, increasing safety margins during carrier approaches and reducing touchdown dispersion.

Carrier landing is never easy as pilots must account for the wind-speed, atmospheric conditions and speed of the ship. Navy pilots have explained to Warrior Maven in previous interviews that pilots follow a yellow light on the flight deck of the ship called the Fresnel Lens to help the trajectory of the approach, called their glide slope.

In a previously released document described as the "Naval Aviation Vision," the F-35C is described as being engineered with reinforced landing gear and durable coatings to allow the F-35C to withstand harsh shipboard conditions while delivering a lethal combination of fighter capabilities to the fleet.

Prior to this Operational Testing, the aircraft has gone through several rounds of testing to advance what’s called carrier integration and carrier qualification – an effort to seamlessly integrate the new aircraft into the carrier platform and carrier air wing, service officials have explained.

By 2025, the Navy's aircraft carrier-based air wings will consist of a mix of F-35C, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers electronic attack aircraft, E-2D Hawkeye battle management and control aircraft, MH-60R/S helicopters and Carrier Onboard Delivery logistics aircraft such as the Navy Osprey tiltrotor aircraft variant.

More Weapons and Technology –WARRIORMAVEN 

US warship sails in Sea of Japan waters claimed by Russia

A U.S. Navy warship sailed in waters claimed by Russia in the Sea of Japan on Wednesday as tensions increase over the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from a decades-old arms control treaty.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Pacific Fleet says the guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell sailed “in the vicinity of” Peter the Great Bay, a body of water off the Russian port city of Vladivostok, “to challenge Russia's excessive maritime claims and uphold the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea enjoyed by the United States and other nations.”

Vladivostok, in Russia's far southeast, is home to the country’s Pacific Fleet. The last time the U.S. Navy sailed in the area was 1987, the same year the U.S. signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia. On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the U.S. will suspend its obligations under the treaty in 60 days, and he accused Russia of "cheating" on the deal.

The U.S. has shared intelligence evidence with its NATO allies that it says shows that Russia's new SSC-8 ground-fired cruise missile could give Moscow the ability to launch a nuclear strike in Europe with little or no notice. Russia has denied the accusations.

In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Moscow would walk away from the treaty if the U.S. did the same.

The U.S. Navy is also preparing to send a warship into the Black Sea for the first time in a month to shore up support to Ukraine after Russian forces seized three Ukrainian vessels and 24 sailors aboard on Nov. 25.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lucas Tomlinson is the Pentagon and State Department producer for Fox News Channel. You can follow him on Twitter: @LucasFoxNews

Report: Propeller blade broke, causing military plane crash

JACKSON, Miss. – Investigators say bad maintenance practices at a Georgia air force base missed a deteriorating propeller blade that broke off six years later as a U.S. Marine Corps transport plane cruised over Mississippi at 20,000 feet, causing the KC-130T to break into pieces and plunge into a soybean field, killing 15 Marines and a Navy corpsman.

The report on the causes of the July 10, 2017 crash, released Wednesday, slams "consistent production errors" at Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex in Warner Robins, Georgia, saying evidence from the crashed plane shows employees missed growing corrosion on the key propeller blade during a 2011 overhaul. The report finds workers at the base did a poor job of following the Navy's specific procedure for its propellers, in part because the vast majority of blades overhauled at the base followed different procedures. The report indicates the Air Force has now agreed to adopt the Navy's more demanding overhaul procedures for all propellers.

Military officials have known of the problems since at least September 2017 and some family members had previously indicated they knew what had happened, although they declined to discuss details. In July, just before the anniversary of the crash, Anna Johnson, the widow of crew member Gunnery Sgt. Brendan Johnson told The Associated Press that "planes don't just fall out of the sky.

"It was a grave mistake, it was an accident that was most likely preventable," Johnson said then. "I don't want their deaths to be in vain. I want something good to come of it."

The report lays out 17 recommendations to prevent a recurrence. Brig. Gen. John Kubinec, commander of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex, told The Telegraph of Macon that the base expects to restart propeller overhauls early next year.

"When we first heard that work done here in 2011 may have contributed to the mishap, leadership and the (propeller) shop were devastated," Kubinec said. "The first thing we did was take action to ensure that processes were in place that this wouldn't happen again. That's what our commitment has been since we first heard about it."

The report says a corrosion pit eventually developed into a crack, breaking off from the propeller closest to the fuselage on the left-hand side of the plane. A number of other propeller blades on the four-engine aircraft were also found to have corrosion. The report said investigators found a protective coating had been painted over corrosion on some blades from the plane, proving that Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex workers "failed to detect, remove and repair corrosion infected blades they purported to have overhauled."

The report said inspectors visiting the base were dismayed to find workers relying on memory for how they should conduct propeller maintenance, even though they had laptops with the correct procedures at their work stations. They also said technicians did a poor job of tracking paperwork that said who a propeller belonged to, which determined whether they were supposed to use methods for the Air Force, the Navy or P-3 surveillance planes. Plus, quality inspections did not cover "the steps regarding identification and removal of corrosion."

The Air Force doesn't know which technicians inspected the blade in 2011, though, because its previous policy was to dispose of maintenance paperwork after two years. Although the Navy had the power to audit work done by the Air Force in Georgia, the report says there's no evidence any audit ever occurred since the Navy handed off the work to the Air Force in 2009.

The report also concludes that the Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 452 at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York, didn't do enough to inspect propeller blades or track maintenance records. The squadron was supposed to perform an electrical current inspection on blades any time a plane didn't fly for more than eight weeks, but did not. However, investigators said that even if maintenance workers had conducted inspections they missed, they might not have found the problem.

"It cannot be concluded with any reasonable degree of certainty that the radial crack would or would not have been detected," investigators wrote.

The blade sliced through the fuselage where passengers were sitting, lodging into the interior of the right hand side of the skin. The impact affected the drive shaft of a propeller on the right side, causing that propeller to break loose, causing it to hit the fuselage and then knock part of the stabilizer off the plane. The plane, then basically uncontrollable, broke into pieces, and the area containing passengers "explosively disintegrated."

The report says all aboard suffered "shock, disorientation, inadvertent physical responses, rapid onset of below freezing conditions and near impossible crew communication." All the men died from blunt force trauma and contusions, investigators found.

Despite speculation at the time, the report found ""no evidence of inflight fire damage or ammunition discharge."

The Navy grounded its fleet of C-130Ts until propellers are replaced, with Congress appropriating $121 million to accelerate the work. However, the aging KC-130T models like the one that crashed are being phased out. C-130s have historically been one of the military's safest aircraft.

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Follow Jeff Amy at: http://twitter.com/jeffamy .

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Johnson reported from New Orleans.