It's school vacation week around here, and as we all know, yesterday was the Patriot's Day holiday around these parts. It was, in fact, a complete shitshow. The only thing that went off without a hitch was the Boston Marathon. I have posted my annual retelling of the tale
, and if you missed it Saturday, you'll surely want to check it out.
But on to the news at hand.
We'll start today in Syria. I've long derided the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as a useless piece of junk. It appears that the F-22 is also nobody's favorite. I've actually seen the F-22 in the air, and it's an impressive bird indeed. But striking ground targets is not it's forte - the Raptor is an air-superiority fighter that's actually not needed in Syria.
The F-22 Raptor is fast developing a reputation as the aircraft that gets left behind during combat ops.
The Air Force fifth-generation stealth fighter was not flying alongside a pair of B-1B Lancer bombers that dropped missiles on Syrian targets. Nor was it conducting overwatch in the area as the bombers for the first time deployed the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range in combat during Saturday's strikes against a chemical lab and two equipment facilities, according to U.S. Air Force Central Command.
"Among the options considered, leveraging the B-1B to launch stand-off weapons from outside Syrian airspace was the preferred [course of action] for a number of reasons, including minimal risk to aircrew and aircraft, and the precise destructive capability of the JASSM-ER," spokesman Lt. Col Damien Pickart told Military.com on Monday.
While British Tornado and Typhoon and French Rafale and Mirage fighters participated in the strike, Defense News reported over the weekend that F-22s weren't present. Instead, Marine Corps EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare aircraft provided support. (The B-1 itself also has some signal jamming capabilities).
Some F-15C Eagles and F-16C Fighting Falcons were reportedly spotted as a part of the mission as well, according to The Aviationist.
Moving on to the "Warron Ourselves", we find Governor Jerry Brown preparing to tangle with the Trump "administration"
over placing National Guard troops on our southern border. While the governor has pledged a mere 400 troops to work along the border, it's unclear what they would actually be doing, and Governor Brown has a long list of things they simply will not do. We'll see how this goes.
SAN DIEGO â€” California has rejected the federal government's initial plans for National Guard troops to the border because the work is considered too closely tied to immigration enforcement, two U.S. officials told The Associated Press.
The state informed federal officials it will not allow its troops to fix and repair vehicles, operate remotely-controlled surveillance cameras to report suspicious activity to the Border Patrol, operate radios and provide "mission support," which can include clerical work, buying gas and handling payroll, according to officials with knowledge of the talks who spoke condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.
California Gov. Jerry Brown elicited rare and effusive praise from President Donald Trump last week after he pledged 400 troops to the Guard's third large-scale border mission since 2006.
The governor's commitment allowed Trump to boast support from all four border-state governors and helped put the president above the lower end of his threshold of marshaling 2,000 to 4,000 troops that he wants as a border security mission to fight illegal immigration and drug trafficking.
But the Democratic Brown conditioned his support by insisting that California's troops have nothing to do with immigration enforcement. He was not specific about jobs his troops would or would not perform or how he would distinguish between immigration-related work and going after criminal gangs and drug and gun smugglers.
California National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Thomas Keegan said Monday that the state was awaiting a formal response from the administration and had no additional details beyond the governor's proposed agreement released last week that includes a ban on immigration enforcement.
Evan Westrup, a spokesman for the governor, did not immediately answer detailed question about California's rejection of specific guard duties.
Ah, this used to be our bread-and-butter around here, but now we'll pay a very rare visit to Afghanistan. Yes, we're still there. Yes, we're still bleeding money
. Yes, nobody cares.
The disappearance of at least $154.4 million worth of stolen fuel meant for coalition and Afghan troops may be helping supply Taliban and other insurgent forces in Afghanistan, the top American watchdog for rebuilding in the country said.
Fuel theft has become a lucrative venture, despite years of effort to curb corruption, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, said in a report released Friday.
The true scale of fuel theft is likely higher than $154.4 million, due to poor record keeping, corruption and the vast amount of fuel available, the report stated. Fuel is easy to steal and is often sent to remote locations that are difficult to monitor.
The report comes as the Department of Defense prepares a five-year contract to continue supplying Afghan forces with nearly $2 billion of fuel. Fuel theft affects troops directly, said Tim Patterson, a former Navy officer assigned to mentor Afghan police.
In 2009, Patterson's commander told him to investigate fuel loss in Jalalabad. His Afghan police partners never had enough fuel in their trucks before each mission, Patterson said. He said he checked fuel deliveries and demanded fuel logs from the Afghan police.
"If you added up all the gallons they would put in the trucks, they would be using a quarter of the fuel that was being delivered," Patterson said. "The obvious question is, 'what happened to the other three quarters of fuel?'"
He never caught a fuel thief in the act and his Afghan partners never gave him direct answers about the fuel, Patterson said. Eventually he stopped arguing with the Afghan police, he said.
"I just stopped trying to fix it," Patterson said. "The problem was bigger than me."
Finally, we'll sometimes note the passing of individual soldiers here in our forum. Today we note the passage of R. Lee Ermey. While he is more known for his combat roles in Hollywood, he was the real thing. Fighting in Vietnam, flying helicopters, and eventually becoming an actual Drill Instructor and not just playing one on TV. Good Night sir, and thank you for your service.