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Author: TriSec    Date: 07/13/2021 10:30:09

Good Morning.

A couple of disjointed stories for today.

We'll start right in Afghanistan. As it was reported recently, we have indeed slunk out in the night - abandoning the sprawling Bagram Airbase with no notice, and before the Afghans could take over, it was mostly looted by the locals. A handful of my military sources are calling our withdrawal "shameful" and "a mistake", but there are some calmer voices.

This Friday, President Joe Biden will welcome Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to the White House for what could be a tense conversation. Ghani's trip to Washington, D.C., comes at a time when the war in Afghanistan is at its most intense since the 2010-2011 U.S. troop surge, when nearly 140,000 U.S. and coalition troops were patrolling villages in search of Taliban fighters.

Ghani and his governing partner, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, will likely use the face-to-face meeting with Biden to warn him of the urgency of the security situation in Afghanistan. The White House continues to receive criticism about its decision to withdraw all remaining U.S. forces from the country by September, with some condemning the exit as disorganized. Abdullah, who is in charge of talks with the Taliban, is predicting the collapse of diplomacy once the U.S. troop withdrawal is complete.

Despite all of the negative reactions, however, the case for the U.S. leaving Afghanistan is as solid today as it was when Biden announced the decision in April. Indeed, those who insist the Biden administration should change course or at least re-think its current approach fail to put forth a better alternative.

To be fair, there is no question the Afghan security forces are in increasingly desperate shape. With U.S. air assets being removed from the country, the Afghan military no longer has the world's best Air Force at its disposal. The overworked Afghan Air Force, which could soon be hamstrung with maintenance issues, is unable to keep pace with the Taliban's offensive operations across Afghanistan's north and south. According to The New York Times, about a dozen districts fell to the Taliban in a 24-hour period last week. Afghan troops, stuck on the front lines and often at the mercy of incompetent and corrupt commanders, find themselves with little choice but to negotiate surrender deals.

The question, though, is not whether the Afghan security forces will have trouble sustaining themselves after a U.S. troop withdrawal (the answer is self-evident). For U.S. officials, the relevant question is whether there is a more persuasive American policy option in Afghanistan than a full troop withdrawal. Given that nobody can articulate one beyond staying for an undetermined period of time, the answer is a resounding no.

It's likely to be a long and difficult period in Afghanistan after we leave for good. But we should leave for good. It took 20 years for Vietnam to emerge from the chaos of our last failed war - Afghanistan might take a little longer.

And since we are allegedly a veteran's column, we'll shine the spotlight on a combat veteran that has just turned 100.

LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — A U.S. Army Air Corps veteran who helped capture the Japanese island of Iwo Jima during World War II turned 100 on Sunday.

Andy Bosko, who lives in a Lakeland nursing home, spent weeks on the desolate volcanic island, the 1945 battle made famous by The Associated Press photo of American soldiers raising the flag atop a hill. He was so sure he was going to die, he wrote his wife asking her to take care of herself and their daughter.

“I went over on a troop ship and had to go down ropes — a rope ladder — to get into the landing ship,” Bosko told The Ledger recently, saying they slogged through several feet of water in full battle gear to reach the beach. “As soon as I landed, the shells were going over. I didn’t think I’d ever come back.”

He slept in foxholes, using his duffel bag as protection from the Japanese soldiers.

“They used to sneak in and cut the guys’ throats and you wouldn’t know it,” he recalled. “I didn’t think I’d ever come back. I did pray to God.”

But Bosko survived and returned home to Warren, Pennsylvania, where he worked as a machinist in a forge. He and his wife, Sophia, added four sons to their daughter. The couple moved to Florida in the 1980s after he retired. She died in 2017.

“She was a wonderful, wonderful wife — very good for me and the children,” Bosko said. When asked if he had a girlfriend now, Bosko said, no. “My girlfriend is up in heaven. I miss her and say a prayer for her every day.”

And we'll finish up with a 'quickie'. It's not my favorite aviation whipping post, but there was a maintenance problem on an F-22 that cost us money.
At least it didn't happen in the air.

A series of maintenance mistakes at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, led to an F-22 Raptor fighter overheating and sustaining $2.7 million in damage last October.

The advanced fifth-generation fighter was not destroyed and no one was injured in the incident, according to an accident investigation board report released Friday. But it was a Class A mishap, the most serious classification. F-22s cost an estimated $250 million each. Lockheed Martin stopped manufacturing the aircraft in 2012.

The Raptor was assigned to the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis, according to the Air Combat Command report; it was maintained by the 757th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

According to the report, maintainers started troubleshooting problems with extensive hardware and software modifications made to the aircraft last summer. On Oct. 28, a maintainer removed the auxiliary power unit's mixing exhaust duct, which steers extremely hot gases safely outside of the aircraft, to try to figure out what had gone wrong.

However, the maintainer failed to place the required "collar" clips, with bright orange "remove before flight" streamers attached, to the circuit breakers involved, which would have warned others not to reset them and start the aircraft, and did not put the proper digital or physical warnings in place, the report states. Clip-on collars are designed to stop circuit breakers from being reset inadvertently. Maintainers told investigators that installing the collars is difficult and often not done; one maintainer said he didn't know what they are.

The maintainer also did not replace that exhaust duct, the report adds.

Two days later, the F-22's auxiliary unit was improperly started up with its exhaust duct uninstalled and its emergency cutoff switch incorrectly set to normal. Scorching hot exhaust gas went straight into the exhaust bay and the wheel well of the left main landing gear, when a properly installed duct would have safely diverted it out of the plane.

As smoke spewed out of the exhaust bay, the maintainer mistakenly tried to run diagnostics and review the warning codes. It wasn't until another maintainer manually shut off the power unit that the overheating stopped. By then, the damage was done.

Given the cost of this airframe, it's literally pennies on the dollar - but it's still money lost.


8 comments (Latest Comment: 07/13/2021 19:17:06 by Scoopster)
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