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Author: TriSec    Date: 04/30/2019 09:53:50

Good Morning.

There's such a mixed bag of stories out there today, it's hard to decide where to start.

So - you may have heard that the commandant of Guantanamo Bay was recently relieved of duty. He's a Marine, and now joins a long line of Navy and Marine commanders that have been relieved of duty over the past decade or so. But this one is a bit different - read the entire story (especially the part between the lines), and it's possible to discover the more disturbing reason why he may have been fired.

Just one day before his abrupt firing as commander of detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Rear Adm. John Ring said publicly that detainees there may not be receiving adequate medical treatment.

Adm. Craig Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command, relieved Ring as the head of Joint Task Force-Guantanamo on Saturday due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command.

On Friday, Ring was quoted in a Defense One article as questioning the U.S. policy that prevents the transfer of detainees to the United States, even in the case of a medical emergency.

"I'm sort of caught between a rock and a hard place," Ring said in Defense One. "The Geneva Conventions' Article III, that says that I have to give the detainees equivalent medical care that I would give to a trooper. But if a trooper got sick, I'd send him home to the United States. And so I'm stuck. Whatever I'm going to do, I have to do here."

Ring was scheduled to move onto another assignment after a change of command in June, but his abrupt firing "had nothing to do" with his comments in the Defense One story, Army Col. Amanda Azubuike, spokeswoman for SOUTHCOM, told Military.com on Monday.

Guantanamo Bay currently houses 40 detainees, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who allegedly planned the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Ring was also quoted as saying that some of the detainees are "prediabetic" and could develop serious health conditions as they get older.

"Am I going to do dialysis down here? I don't know. Somebody has got to tell me that," he told Defense One. "Are we going to do complex cancer care down here? I don't know; somebody has got to tell me that."

Ring was relieved as a result of an investigation that began in March and ended in mid-April, before the Defense One story was published, Azubuike said.

But staying on that theme, another commander has been relieved of duty in Virginia for a more mundane reason - drunk driving. but it's part of the ongoing pattern that we've been keeping an eye on here at AAV for years.

A Marine colonel who was fired from his job as commanding officer of a Virginia-based unit was arrested earlier this month for allegedly driving while intoxicated.

Col. John Atkinson was arrested April 12 in Prince William County, Virginia, according to police records. Atkinson, 49, was released after agreeing to appear in court May 24.

It's Atkinson's first alleged offense. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

Maj. Gen. Vincent Coglianese, head of Marine Corps Installations Command, fired Atkinson from his job as commanding officer of Headquarters and Service Battalion in Quantico, Virginia, last week.

Marine officials declined to say whether he's facing additional punishment.

"It would be inappropriate to comment on the circumstances that led to the decision to relieve Col. Atkinson due to the ongoing investigation," Maj. Simba Chigwida, a Marine Corps Installations Command spokesman, told Military.com.

Atkinson, who lives just outside Prince William County, allegedly refused a blood or breathalyzer test at the time of his arrest, according to court records. Doing so can result in the court suspending a driver's license for a year, Virginia law states.

In January, he was also fined for driving without a license, according to court records.

If found guilty, Atkinson faces a minimum $250 fine and could have his license revoked for a year.

And we'll wrap up today with something near and dear to my heart - winged things. We won't be bashing the "flying turd" today, though. I'm sure most of you have probably heard of the "Commemorative Air Force" (the former Confederate Air Force). For decades now, they've bought, restored, and flown warbirds from various eras. At 166 working aircraft, they're actually one of the larger air forces in the world - and these are all in private hands.

In Texas, there's an equally compelling private air force. Not a sexy name, they're called the Airborne Tactical Aircraft Company, or ATAC. They actually own a 100-strong fleet of not-quite vintage French fighter jets, but also many more foreign aircraft of various origins. Maintained in fighting trim, these jets form the backbone of the "Red Air" squadron that helps to train active-duty USAF pilots. It's a job the Air Force used to do itself, but like many things in the military, it's been farmed out to a private contractor.

A private company in Texas has acquired scores of old French fighter jets — and with its 63 former French air force Dassault Mirage F1s, Fort Worth-based Airborne Tactical Advantage Company possesses an air force that, in size, rivals that of many countries.

ATAC in 2017 announced it would buy the single-engine Mirages in order to expand its adversary operation, which simulates the "red air" enemy force in U.S. and allied war games.

Two years later ATAC announced that, with the help of parent company Textron, it has finished refurbishing and upgrading the supersonic Mirages.

"Textron retrofitted around 45 of the F1s with modern avionics systems such as digital radio-frequency memory-jamming capabilities and upgraded radars," according to Jane's. "ATAC plans to use the Mirages for the U.S. Air Force adversary-air requirement, which requires almost 150 aircraft to fulfill the service's red-air training needs."

ATAC also operates former military Hawker Hunter, IAI F-21 Kfir and Aero Vodochody L-39ZA. Other red-air companies include Draken International, Tactical Air Support, Top Aces and Air USA.

Tactical Air Support recently procured 21 former-Jordanian F-5s, bringing its total fleet of F-5s to 26. Draken bought 12 ex-South African Cheetah fighters, boosting its own total fleet to 109 jets.

Until recently, the U.S. military mostly provided its own red air. The Air Force operated three "aggressor" squadrons flying F-15s and F-16s. But the flying branch in 2014 shuttered the F-15 unit as a cost-saving measure. Two squadrons -- one each in Nevada and Alaska -- continue to fly a few dozen F-16s in the adversary role.

The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps together operate several adversary squadrons flying early-model F-16s and F/A-18s plus 36 refurbished, former-Swiss F-5s. The Navy's 2020 budget request includes $40 million to acquire 22 ex-Swiss F-5s in order to maintain, over the long term, a 44-plane F-5 fleet.

While the sea services have not cut back on their organic red-air capability in the same way the Air Force has done, Navy and Marine squadrons still need more adversaries than the services' own squadrons can provide.

"Adversary capacity is the greatest issue in Marine Corps air‐to‐air training," the Corps stated in its 2018 aviation plan.

It's interesting - consider all the things the military used to do as a matter of course. These days, more of it is moving to private contractors and fueling the military-industrial complex instead of "providing for the common defence".


9 comments (Latest Comment: 04/30/2019 20:13:01 by Scoopster)
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