A near firestorm was raised on Monday when Time‘s Amy Sullivan reported (and a variety of sources repeated) that the Obama family had decided that Camp David’s Evergreen Chapel would be its “home church.” The White House staff contradicted the Time article, saying that the Obamas are still looking for a “church home.” The Time contributor is “standing by” her story, saying that the fact that the Obamas are intending to attend the Chapel while at Camp David justifies her report.
More interesting, however, was the intense scrutiny given to the Chaplain currently associated with Camp David. Read more…
According to the AP, the US military service academies have seen a dramatic rise in applications. The US Naval Academy has received over 15,000 applications for a mere 1,200 slots (and has already received another 8,000 applications for next year’s class). It is possible this is attributable to a poor economy, as the academies offer “free” education and a guaranteed job after graduation. The economy has also been cited as a reason for higher retention in the US military as a whole, despite the high deployment rates and ongoing combat operations.
As previously noted, Captain George Bryan Houghton, a 2002 USAF Academy graduate, was killed in an F-16 crash in Utah. He was reportedly flying in a four-ship night close air support (CAS) training mission at the time, and he crashed during an attack run. Night attacks in a CAS scenario can potentially be some of the most challenging–and dangerous–that an F-16 pilot flies. According to one news report, his unit was preparing for an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.
Houghton’s family has a military tradition. One younger brother was injured in an Afghanistan helicopter incident; another is currently at the Air Force Academy.
Houghton’s father said his son “had such a sense of duty to God and county” – and to his two brothers. “If you fought one, you fought them all.”
Houghton “knew it was a dangerous profession he was in. We all did,” his father said.
Chaplain Tim Vakoc, a US Army Catholic priest, succumbed to the results of his combat wounds earlier this week. Chaplain Vakoc had been wounded by an IED in May of 2004, and is believed to have been the first military Chaplain so wounded in the current conflict. He had been a Chaplain since 1996, and is the first Chaplain to die due to combat in the current conflict.
As noted by Chaplain Mitch Lewis.
According to their press release, the Liberty Counsel has asked the US Navy to reverse a decision in which “religious speech” had to be removed from a “Navy for Moms” website. In addition, according to the Liberty Counsel,
Navy for Moms community guidelines were also recently revised to prohibit the posting of religious discussions except for prayers offered for sailors.
These kinds of restrictions on private speakers using a government-sponsored forum are not required in order to avoid a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Read more…
According to news reports, an F-16 from Hill AFB has crashed in Utah. Reports indicate the Air Force is not in contact with the downed pilot, which regrettably often means the worst.
The crash is the latest of several in the military, two of which have been fatal. The military fighter pilot profession remains a dangerous one, even in training.
UPDATE: The Air Force announced the pilot had been killed in the crash.
According to reports, the labor union on strike at Vance AFB has reached an agreement with its parent contractor that will enable them to resume support of pilot training operations.
Part of the reason given for contracting maintenance, rather than having active duty military duty do it, is the cost savings to the military. Given the recent events–which included having to bring in support from other bases for life-saving functions and sending aircrew to other bases to accomplish their training–one wonders if the military saved much money (or if the contractor will cover the bill for not fulfilling its contract over the two week strike).
The contractors will now have to prepare aircraft for flying that have been sitting idle for two weeks. This is unlikely to be a pleasant endeavor for either them or the aircrew, as aircraft are notorious for not liking being idle for so long.
The Stars and Stripes covers the efforts of a US military Jewish Chaplain serving the troops while in Germany. Chaplain Avi Weiss admirably faces a daunting task as one of the few Jewish Chaplains for members of a faith spread across much of the European theatre. He has previously served at the equally (or more) challenging Army facilities in South Korea, as well as Army bases in the United States.
The Chaplain already has a religious newsletter and has been called upon for an interesting reason Read more…
President Obama recently spoke at the 2009 National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast (though, interestingly, much ado was made of his failure to observe the traditional National Day of Prayer in May). The event was conducted by Esperanza, billed as “the largest Hispanic faith-based Evangelical network in the United States.”
Of particular note, Obama said Read more…
An Afghan military officer completed the US Air Force’s Aviation Leadership Program and was awarded his wings. Lt. Faiz Mohammed Ramaki was selected to attend the training last year. It appears Lt Ramaki finished the program by flying the T-6, rather than the T-38 or T-1 that USAF pilots fly. Lt Ramaki is said to be going to fly the C-27 Spartan for the Afghan Air Force.
According to the Air Force Times, the Air Force will train more UAV pilots than fighter/bomber pilots this year. While the current number of fighter and bomber pilots still dwarfs the number of UAV pilots, the Air Force will train 240 UAV pilots, though only 214 fighter and bomber pilots, this year.
The article does not distinguish between Predator and Global Hawk UAVs, which might be a similar distinction between fighter/bomber and airlift/tanker pilots.
As previously noted, two Sikh medical professionals are appealing the US Army policy that prevents them from keeping their religious accoutrements in uniform. (The AP now covers the story.)
In April, the Army office of the Chief of Staff, on behalf of the Secretary of Defense, responded to the Sikh Coalition’s complaint, informing them that they were investigating the matter.
Many logistics functions, like support, aircraft maintenance, and administration used to be largely conducted by enlisted Airmen. As a result of budget decreases and manning decisions, however, much of these jobs are now done by civilian contractors. This adds some complexity to the issue of conducting military operations, as when a labor strike recently grounded the fleet at Vance Air Force Base. (Operations are still suspended at the base.)
The Air Force isn’t even a party to the labor conflict, as the dispute is between two external organizations. Still, it is the victim of the work stoppage.
The base even had to bring in augmentees from other bases just to man basic life-saving functions like the Fire Department. Officially, however, the Air Force remains “neutral” in the labor dispute.
Abdulhakim Muhammad, an American Muslim convert who fired an automatic weapon into a US Army recruiting center in Arkansas, has said that he did so because of the US military’s past actions against Muslims. His barrage killed one soldier and wounded another.
Muhammad, whose original name was Carlos Bledsoe, said his actions were
for the sake of God, for the sake of Allah, the Lord of all the world, and also a retaliation on US military.
According to the news report, Muhammad Read more…
US military Chaplains serve all. They serve regardless of faith or lack thereof. They provide counsel and reassurance independent of affiliation. While staying true to their own religious tenets, they aggressively support all personnel with whatever they require to meet their spiritual and religious needs.
That’s why it is not surprising that a US military Chaplain recently handed out religious texts to local Iraqis. Read more…