17 photos that show that the military's water-survival training is no joke - We Are The Mighty
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17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Sgt. William Wickett, 2nd Radio Battalion, performs a rescue drill during the Marine Corps Instructor of Water Survival Course at Marine Corps Base Camp Johnson, North Carolina, March 5, 2013. | U.S. Marine Corps


America’s amphibious Marine Corps and Navy SEALs are some of the most elite fighting forces on the planet, with the ability to deploy in all environments — especially the sea.

That’s why the military has created schools to prepare operators from all the sister-service branches to be physically fit, mentally tough, and responsive in high-stress aquatic situations.

During combat water-survival exercises, candidates swim with their hands and feet bound, assemble machine guns underwater, and take on the seas in full combat gear.

Below, we’ve collected 17 pictures showing just how rigorous their training can be.

A Marine uses his Supplemental Emergency Breathing Device prior to escaping the simulated helicopter seat during Shallow Water Egress Training at the Camp Hansen pool.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Andrew Kuppers

Marines and sailors with 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion perform flutter kicks during combat water-survival training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
U.S. Marine Corps

Petty Officers 3rd Class Brandon McKenney and Randall Carlson assemble an M240G machine gun 15 feet underwater during the 4th Annual Recon Challenge at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz

A sailor performs underwater kettle-bell walks to increase lung power and endurance at Scott Pool, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Johans Chavarro

Sgt. William Wickett performs a rescue drill during the Marine Corps Instructor of Water Survival Course at Marine Corps Base Camp Johnson, North Carolina.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Sgt. William Wickett performs a rescue drill during the Marine Corps Instructor of Water Survival Course at Marine Corps Base Camp Johnson, North Carolina. Sgt. William Wickett performs a rescue drill during the Marine Corps Instructor of Water Survival Course at Marine Corps Base Camp Johnson, North Carolina. | U.S. Marine Corps

Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL students participate in night gear exchange during the second phase of training at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Official U.S. Navy Page/Flickr

Army candidates tread water during the Combat Water Survival Test, on January 28, 2016.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
U.S. Army

U.S. Army Master Sgt. Joe Medrano watches as a cadet launches blindfolded and carrying an M16 from a 16-foot diving board during the Combat Water Survival Test, January 28, 2016.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
U.S. Army

Reconnaissance Marines enter the water with their ankles and hands bound during the water training at Camp Schwab.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
U.S. Marine Corps

A Marine with Combat Logistics Battalion 2, dives underwater to perform a self-rescue drill during a swim-qualification course aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Andre Dakis

Raid Force Marines climb aboard a rigid-hull inflatable boat after conducting combat-swimming exercises at sea.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
U.S. Marine Corps

Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jumar Balacy, right, documents a surface-supplied dive.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Anderson C. Bomjardim

Students at the Search and Rescue Swimmer School at Naval Base San Diego rescue a simulated helicopter-crash survivor under the supervision of an instructor.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dominique Pineiro

Sailors conduct cast and recovery training.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jayme Pastoric

An instructor watches as a sailor familiarizes himself with diving equipment while underwater.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Blake Midnight

A soldier with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force conducts helo-cast training with 1st Reconnaissance Battalion during Exercise Iron Fist 2014 at Camp Pendleton.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Emmanuel Ramos

A Marine swims 50 meters (164 feet) with a full combat load during Marine Corps Water Survival Training at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
U.S. Marine Corps

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The Taliban are using ‘culturally sanctioned male rape’ as a weapon

“Bacha Bazi” – a.k.a. “boy play” – is a practice in which young boys are coerced into sexual slavery, sometimes dressed as women and made to dance. It was popular among the mujahideen fighting the Soviets in the years preceding Taliban rule. The centuries-old custom was abolished under the Taliban, a ban that carried a death sentence for those who broke the law. That ban was in effect from 1996 until after the 2001 NATO invasion when it resurfaced.


In Uruzgan province, in central Afghanistan, north of Kandahar, the custom affects many of the local police chiefs. It’s so deeply ingrained in the society there, Taliban insurgents use young boys coerced into the act in Trojan Horse attacks.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke

The boys infiltrate the ranks of the Afghan national police or are recruited by the Taliban with the promise of revenge. According to reports from Agence France-Presse (AFP), Afghan policemen say the boys are known to be commanders’ sex slaves and can move about freely. One teenager waited until all the policemen were asleep, then went on a shooting rampage. He allowed the Taliban into the base to finish off any survivors. Such attacks have been going on for two years. There have been many in the first six months of 2016, an indication of a Taliban tactic that seems to be working.

AFP reports all of the 370 Afghan police checkpoints have such sex slaves. The boys are recruited illegally and also used as fighters when necessary. Many policemen in Uruzgan will not work for a checkpoint that doesn’t have these young boys. Provincial governors have difficulty enforcing the laws against Bacha Bazi because the men jailed for it are needed to fight the war against the Taliban or because the leaders are complicit in the crime.

Though the U.S. Department of State considers the custom “culturally sanctioned male rape,” one U.S. Army Special Forces NCO, Charles Martland, was almost kicked out of the Army for trying to prevent the practice. Martland assaulted an Afghan police commander to prevent the commander from raping a young boy. He spent years in limbo before being allowed to stay in the Army.

Related: Green Beret who beat up accused child rapist will be allowed to stay in uniform

Central government authorities are afraid to investigate local police commanders, considering the amount of power they yield. They fear the commanders will not allow anyone investigating them for Bacha Bazi crimes to leave their jurisdiction alive. When the UN raised the issue with the first Afghan President Hamid Karzai, his response was curt.

“Let us win the war first,” Karzai said. “Then we will deal with such matters.”

The Russian government-funded Russia Today (widely known as RT), produced a short documentary about the practice in early 2016.

 
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The 16 scariest biological weapons in history

Since the earliest days, humans have employed bioweapons both invisible and nefarious: killers on two legs, four, six, eight – and plenty with no legs at all. All of these agents of biological warfare, fresh with the fury of nature, have taken their turns inspiring terror in enemy forces, and turning the tide of unwinnable battles.


In the modern day, just as many bio-weapons have been employed by terrorists and monsters, “humans” who barely qualify for the title. Yes, history is filled with deadly organisms – viruses, bacteria, harmless looking flowers, and even playful sea mammals. All have seen their fair share of battle, and some were admittedly pretty awesome. But if this otherwise terrifying bioweapons list anything to teach, it may be that nature’s most brutal creations are those dogs of war called “man.”

The Scariest Biological Weapons in History

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Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence

President Barack Obama commuted the majority of WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence on Tuesday, with only three days left in office.


Manning was convicted of violating the Espionage Act, among other charges, in 2013 after she stole secret documents from a computer system she had access to while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq and leaked them to WikiLeaks in 2010.

She received a 35-year sentence for the leak and has served seven years in Fort Leavenworth. She will now be freed in five months, on May 17.

Manning, a transgender woman, has attempted suicide twice while in prison.

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, said last week that he’d agree to be extradited to the US if Obama grants clemency to Manning.

The US has threatened to prosecute Assange over the 2010 leak. Assange has been holed up at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012, to avoid extradition to Sweden where he has been accused of sexual assault.

Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, told The New York Times on Tuesday that there’s a “pretty stark difference” between Manning’s case and that of former government employee Edward Snowden.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Chelsea Manning | via Twitter

“Chelsea Manning is somebody who went through the military criminal justice process, was exposed to due process, was found guilty, was sentenced for her crimes, and she acknowledged wrongdoing,” Earnest said. “Mr. Snowden fled into the arms of an adversary, and has sought refuge in a country that most recently made a concerted effort to undermine confidence in our democracy.”

Snowden declared his support for Manning on Twitter.

“In five more months, you will be free. Thank you for what you did for everyone, Chelsea. Stay strong a while longer!” Snowden tweeted.

The president has not granted clemency to Snowden.

Obama pardoned 64 other people on Tuesday and shortened the sentences of 209 prisoners. Over his two terms, Obama has commuted the sentences of 1,385 people and granted 212 pardons.

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This is what a broom tied to a mast means in the U.S. Navy

When the USS Wahoo sailed into Pear Harbor on Feb. 7, 1943, she had an odd ornament on her periscope: a common broom. But that broom was one of the most impressive symbols a crew could aspire to earn because it symbolized that the boat had destroyed an entire enemy convoy, sweeping it from the seas.


Historians aren’t certain where the tradition originated, but the story cited most often was that a Dutch admiral in the 1650s began the practice after sweeping the British from the seas at the Battle of Dungeness.

(Video: YouTube/Smithsonian Channel)

For the crew of the Wahoo, their great victory came in the middle of five tense days of fighting. It all began on Jan. 24 when the sub was mapping a forward Japanese base on a small island near Papua New Guinea. During the reconnaissance mission, the sailors spotted a destroyer in the water.

Flush with torpedoes and no other threats in sight, the Wahoo decided to engage. It fired a spread of three torpedoes but had underestimated the destroyer’s speed. The Wahoo fired another torpedo with the speed taken into account, but the destroyer turned out of the weapon’s path.

And then it bore down on the Wahoo, seeking to destroy the American sub. The crew played a high-stakes game of chicken by holding the sub in position. When the destroyer reached 1,200 yards, the crew fired the fifth torpedo, which the destroyer again avoided.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
The Imperial Japanese Navy destroyer Hayate undergoes sea trials in 1925. Destroyers are relatively small and weak ships, but are well-suited to destroying submarines and protecting friendly ships. (Photo: Public Domain)

At 800 yards they fired their sixth and last forward torpedo, barely enough range for the torpedo to arm. The risk of failure was so great that Lt. Cmdr. Dudley Morton ordered a crash dive immediately after firing, putting as much water in the way of enemy depth charges as possible.

But the last torpedo swam true and hit the Japanese ship in the middle, breaking its keel and causing its boilers to burst.

The next day, Jan. 25, was relatively uneventful, but Jan. 26 would be the Wahoo’s date with destiny. Just over an hour after sunrise, the third officer spotted smoke over the horizon and Morton ordered an intercept course.

They found a four-ship convoy consisting of a tanker, a troop transport, and two freighters. All four were valuable targets, but sinking the troop transport could save thousands of lives and sinking tankers would slow the Japanese war machine by starving ships of fuel.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
The USS Wahoo was one of the most successful and famous submarines in World War II, but it wouldn’t survive the war. (Photo: Public Domain)

There was no escort, but the Wahoo still had to watch for enemy deck guns and ramming maneuvers. The sub fired a four-torpedo spread at the two freighters, scoring three hits. The first target sank and the second was wounded. Wahoo then turned its attention to the tanker and the troop transport.

The troop transport attempted a ram, sailing straight at the Wahoo. Morton ordered a risky gambit, firing a torpedo at the transport after it drew close rather than taking evasive actions.

After the torpedo was launched, the transport took its own evasive action and abandoned its ramming maneuver. In doing so, the transport presented the sub with its broad sides, a prime target.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Imperial Japanese Navy tankers steam in a convoy in World War II. (Photo: Public Domain)

The Wahoo fired two more torpedoes and dove to avoid another attack. It was still diving when both torpedoes struck home. Eight minutes later, the Wahoo surfaced and saw that the transport was dead in the water. It fired a torpedo that failed to detonate and then a carefully aimed final shot that triggered a massive explosion and doomed the Japanese vessel.

As the tanker and the damaged freighter attempted to escape, Morton gave the controversial order to sink all manned boats launched from the dying transport. His rationale was that a manned, seaworthy vessel was a legal target and any survivors of the battle would go on to kill American soldiers and Marines during land battles.

A few hours later, the Wahoo was able to find and re-engage the two survivors of her earlier action. The tanker and the wounded freighter had steamed north but couldn’t move fast enough to escape the American sub.

The Wahoo waited for nightfall and then fired two torpedoes at the undamaged tanker. One hit, but the ship was still able to sail quickly. With only four torpedoes left and the Japanese ships taking evasive action, Wahoo waited and studied their movements.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
A U.S. Navy Helldiver flies past a burning Japanese tanker in January 1945. The tankers allowed the Imperial Japanese Navy to refuel ships at far-flung bases and at sea. Sinking them crippled the navy. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

When certain they could predict the Japanese ships, the crew attacked again. The first pair of torpedoes were fired at the tanker just after it turned. One of them slammed into its middle, breaking the keel and quickly sending it to the depths.

The crippled freighter was firing what weapons it had at the sub and almost hit it with a shell, forcing it to dive. Then, a searchlight appeared from over the horizon, possibly signaling a Japanese warship that could save the freighter.

The Wahoo carefully lined up its final shot at 2,900 and fired both torpedoes at once with no spread, a sort of final Hail-Mary to try and sink the freighter before it could find safety with the warship.

The final pair of torpedoes both hit, their warheads tearing open the freighter and quickly sinking it before the Japanese ship, which turned out to be a destroyer, cleared the horizon.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke

The American crew escaped and continued their patrol, attempting to attack another convoy with just their deck guns on Jan. 27 and mapping a Japanese explosives facility on Jan. 28 before returning to Pearl Harbor with the triumphant broom flying high on Feb. 7.

Other ships have used brooms to symbolize great success, such as in 2003 when the USS Cheyenne flew one to celebrate that every Tomahawk it launched in Operation Iraqi Freedom landing on target with zero duds or failures.

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13 photos showing the incredible determination of wounded warriors

The Department of Defense Warrior Games began in 2010 as a way to celebrate the the talents of injured or ill warrior-athletes. The 2015 games showcased some of the finest talent of the American and British wounded warrior communities. Showcased below are 13 of the most inspiring photos from the games.


While the games are about celebrating recovery and the warrior spirit, there are winners and medals. The Warrior Games closed on Sunday with the Army winning the overall competition. Check out the the final medal counts and more photos at Defense.gov.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Mark Watola

1. U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Marcus Chischilly takes off during the swimming finals at the Freedom Aquatic and Fitness Center in Manassas, Va., June 27, 2015. Chischilly is a member of the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games All-Marine Team. The 2015 DoD Warrior Games, held at Marine Corps Base Quantico June 19-28, is an adaptive sports competition for wounded, ill, and injured Service members and veterans from the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Special Operations Command, and the British Armed Forces.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Jared Lingafelt

2. Lance Cpl. Charles Sketch is presented with a gold medal during a standing ovation from spectators from around the world at the 2015 Marine Corps Trials. Competition provides opportunities for the Marines to train as athletes, while increasing their strength so they can continue their military service or develop healthy habits for life outside the service. The Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment enables wounded, ill, or injured Marines to focus on their abilities and to find new avenues to thrive.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Photo: US Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt Ezekiel R. Kitandwe

3. A member of Team Air Force throws the shot put during field competition for the 2015 DOD Warrior Games, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., June 23, 2015.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Photo: US Marine Corps Sgt. Fareeza Ali

4. Retired Marine Cpl. Ray Hennagir, an Orlando, Florida native, keeps his eyes on the ball during sitting volleyball practice at the 2015 Marine Corps Trials.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Photo: US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Terry W. Miller Jr.

5. U.S. and British athletes compete in the 100-meter sprint at the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., June 23, 2015.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Owen Kimbrel

6. U.S. Marine Corps veteran Ray Hennagir prepares to shoot the ball during the wheelchair basketball championship game at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., June 23, 2015.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Photo: DoD News EJ Hersom

7. Army visually impaired cycling teams finish together to take gold, silver and bronze during the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., June 21, 2015.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Owen Kimbrel

8. U.S. Marine Corps veteran Peter Cook practices swim form during the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., June 21, 2015.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Owen Kimbrel

9. U.S. Marine Corps veteran Jenae Piper prepares to serve during the bronze medal volleyball game during the 2015 Department of Defense (DoD) Warrior Games at Marine Corps Base (MCB) Quantico, Va, June 26, 2015.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Photo: DoD News EJ Hersom

10. Army Staff Sgt. Monica Martinez, left, And Army Staff Sgt. Vestor ‘Max’ Hasson compete, but in separate 1,500 meter wheelchair race categories during the Army Trials at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas April 1, 2015.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Ashley Cano

11. U.S. Marine Corps veteran Clayton McDaniels’ son receives a gold medal on behalf of his father whose team won the wheelchair basketball championship game at the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., June 23, 2015.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Photo: US Army Spc. Garry Abidin

12. U.S. Army Sgt. Blake Johnson, Bethesda, Md., attempts to block the shot of his Air Force opponent while playing a wheelchair basketball game during the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games at Barber Fitness Center, on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., June 20, 2015.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Photo: US Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt Ezekiel R. Kitandwe

13. A member of Special Operations Command throws the shot put during field competition for the 2015 DOD Warrior Games, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., June 23, 2015.

NOW: Ronnie Simpson created a non-profit that teaches wounded veterans to sail

OR: The US military took these incredible photos in just one week-long period

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Dozens dead after 3 suicide bombings rock Istanbul’s international airport

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, Turkey | Yazar Mertborak/Wikimedia Commons


Dozens were killed after three suicide bombers blew themselves up at Turkey’s largest airport, Istanbul Ataturk, on Tuesday.

The Associated Press, citing senior Turkish officials, said that nearly 50 people have died.

The attack, which occurred at around 10 p.m. local time and appeared to be coordinated, left at least 60 others injured, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency.

The “vast majority” of victims were Turkish nationals, Reuters reported, but foreigners were also among the casualties, the wire service said, citing an official on Wednesday.

The Associated Press said that initial indications suggest that ISIS is responsible for the attack.

“The assessments show that three suicide bombers carried out the attacks in three different spots at the airport,” Vasip Şahin, Istanbul Province’s governor, said.

The suspects apparently detonated the explosives at the security check-in at the entrance to the airport’s international terminal as they exchanged gunfire with police, a Turkish official told Reuters.

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said that at least one of the attackers opened fire on the crowd using a Kalashnikov rifle before detonating himself.

It is still unconfirmed who is responsible for the attack, but ISIS and Kurdish groups have claimed multiple attacks in Turkey in the last year. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is waging an insurgency against the Turkish government, but primarily targets military and security personnel in the country’s southeast.

The Ataturk attack “fits the ISIS profile, not PKK,” a counterterrorism official told CNN, adding that the PKK doesn’t usually go after international targets.

Some flights to the airport have been diverted, an airport official told Reuters.

Ataturk is the 11th-busiest airport in the world, with at least 61 million travelers passing through in 2015. Many have noted that Turkey had assigned extra security to the entrance of Ataturk in the wake of numerous ISIS-linked terrorist attacks in Istanbul in the past several months.

Airport-security workers recorded the surveillance-camera footage of the moment the explosion ripped through the airport:

Footage has emerged of panicked travelers running away from the scene of the explosions:

Lisa Monaco, assistant to the US president for homeland security and counterterrorism, has briefed US President Barack Obama on the attack, according to a White House official.

All scheduled flights in both directions between the US and Istanbul have been temporarily suspended, a senior US official told ABC. The airport will be closed until 8 p.m. on Wednesday local time.

The US State Department renewed its three-month-old travel warning for Turkey on Monday, noting that “Foreign and US tourists have been explicitly targeted by international and indigenous terrorist organizations,” in a warning posted on the department’s website.

The US consulate is working to determine if US citizens are among the airport attack’s victims, the State Department tweeted.

Many passengers are now stranded outside of the airport:

ISIS has claimed responsibility for multiple terrorist attacks on Turkish soil since mid-2015.

In January, 13 people were killed and 14 injured in a suicide bombing in a popular central square in Istanbul. The perpetrator was identified as Nabil Fadli, an ISIS follower from Syria.

Last July, ISIS claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in southeastern Turkey that killed 33 young activists. Three months later, a n ISIS-linked suicide bombing at a peace rally in Ankara killed over 100 people.

Michael Weiss, co-author of “ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror,” noted on Twitter that ISIS has a “lot of motives for attacking Ataturk airport, including the imminent loss of Manbij [in Syria], Turkish shelling of ISIS, and of course Turkish-Israel rapprochement.”

The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons — a breakaway faction of the PKK — claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Ankara in February that killed 29 people and another in March that killed 37. A car bomb claimed by Kurdish separatists ripped through a police bus in central Istanbul on June 7 during the morning rush hour, killing 11 people and wounding 36 near the main tourist district, a major university, and the mayor’s office.

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The US Navy might pull these old combat ships out of mothballs

In order to meet the goal of a Navy numbering 355 ships, Naval Sea Systems Command will consider resurrecting a number of retired combat vessels from the dead and refitting them for active service.


Though nothing has been set in stone just yet, some of the “younger” ships parked at the various Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facilities around the country could get a new lease on life, thanks to dialed-down purchases of Littoral Combat Ships and the next-generation Zumwalt class destroyer.

Upon decommissioning, warships are often stripped for reusable parts, and sensitive equipment and gear are removed, along with the ship’s weapon systems. Frigates, destroyers and cruisers could lose their deck guns, their radars, and electronics suites — some of which will be used as spare parts for active ships, and the rest of which will be stored until the Navy determines that it has absolutely no use for these retired vessels anymore, heralding the start of the process of their dismantling.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
The inactive USS Kitty Hawk berthed near Bremerton, WA (Wikimedia Commons)

A number of ships will also be sold to allied nations for parts or for active use.

Currently, the Navy retains less than 50 ships within its inactive “ghost” fleet, among them Oliver Hazard-Perry frigates, Ticonderoga guided missile cruisers, Kitty Hawk-class aircraft carriers, and a variety of other types, including fleet replenishment ships and amphibious assault ships.

Among the ships to be evaluated for a potential return to service are a handful of Oliver Hazard-Perry class frigates and the USS Kitty Hawk, a conventionally-powered super carrier mothballed in Bremerton, Washington.

The Kitty Hawk, now over 57 years old, is apparently the only carrier in the Navy’s inactive fleet worthy of consideration for a return to duty. Having been retired in 2009, the Kitty Hawk was modernized enough to support and field all Navy carrier-borne aircraft currently active today.

However, the ship has since been heavily stripped down; many of her combat systems destroyed or sent around the Navy for use with other vessels. The extensive refurbishment this 63,000 ton behemoth would have to undergo would likely prove to be the limiting factor in bringing it back to duty.

This wouldn’t be the first time the Navy has explored the possibility of returning mothballed ships to active duty. In fact, in the 1980s as part of then-President Reagan’s 600 Ship initiative, the Navy recommissioned the legendary WWII-era Iowa class battleships, three of which had been inactive since the late ’50s and one of which had been retired in the late ’60s. All four vessels underwent a costly multi-million dollar overhaul and were ushered back into service.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
An aerial view of the Bremerton Ghost Fleet, circa 2012 (Wikimedia Commons)

Two of these battleships — the Wisconsin and the Missouri — would go on to see action during the Persian Gulf War before being quickly retired in 1990 along with their sister ships, the Iowa and the New Jersey.

Bringing back the Hazard-Perry frigates could be far more of a distinct possibility than any of the other ships in the inactive fleet. With the Navy reducing its planned buy of LCS vessels, originally designed to be the successor to the Hazard-Perry boats, and constant engineering issues plaguing the active LCS fleet, a gap has gradually emerged with many clamoring for a more effective frigate-type vessel… or a return to the ships which were previously to be replaced.

A number of Hazard-Perry ships have indeed been sold for scrap, or have been earmarked for a transfer to allied nations, though a few still remain in the inactive reserve, ready to be revamped and returned to service should the need arise.

Ultimately, it will be the bean counters who determine the final fate of the ships in the ghost fleet, and whether or not un-retiring them is a viable option. The cost of refitting and overhauling these vessels to be able to stay relevant against more modern threats, including boat swarms, could prove to be too much for the Navy to foot, especially for a short term investment.

Further options could include hastening the construction of current combat vessels on-order, while retaining more of the older ships in the fleet for an extended service term. However, given the Navy’s needs at the moment, it’s safe to say that NAVSEA will give returning some of these old veterans back to duty serious consideration.

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Here is how to go from grunt to security contractor

There are many military specialties that translate into thriving careers in the civilian sector. These are usually POG jobs—personnel other than grunts in military speak—like engineering, communications, and any other skills outside of the trigger pulling.


While there’s a future in police work after the military, there is also an opportunity in private security contracting (PSC), usually a more lucrative one. The latest example of PSCs in action are the real heroes from Benghazi, who’s story is based on in “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” These military veterans turned private contractors were hired to protect CIA agents. Here’s how you too can join their ranks:

1. First, don’t let anyone tell you that being in the infantry doesn’t translate to a career in the civilian world.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Image: ACADEMI

2. If you like kicking down doors and blowing stuff up, private security contractors are looking for you!

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Boom!

These firms are also knowns as private military contractors (PMCs).

3. Some firms do not require that you have prior military service …

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
SMPFilms!, YouTube

4. … but it definitely helps.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
U.S. Army photo by Capt. Charlie Emmons

5. ACADEMI, one of the leading private military contractors, claims that more than eighty percent of all its employees are former military or law enforcement.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
ACADEMI operators training. (Image: ACADEMI)

ACADEMI, formerly known as “Blackwater,” was founded by former Navy SEAL Erik Prince in 1997. Prince is famous for explaining his firm’s purpose by stating: “We are trying to do for the national security apparatus what FedEx did for the Postal Service”.

6. The most lucrative contractor jobs typically go to those with former special operations backgrounds such as Special Forces and Navy SEAL troops.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Photo: Wiki Commons

7. Like in the military, these are tier 1 operators.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
John Krasinski plays Jack Silva in 13 Hours. Image: 13 Hours, Paramount

Jack Silva was a former Navy SEAL turned Global Response Service (GRS) operator in 13 Hours.

8. But good news, there’s a growing need for operators with infantry and combat arms experience.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
RitualMagick, YouTube

9. Training companies also exist for those who want to be contractors but didn’t serve in the military.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Image: C.R.I.

C.R.I. is a VA-approved school that offers training in how to be a badass.

10. C.R.I. has courses in anti-terrorism …

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Roman Garcia instructing rifle disarmament during a C.R.I. Professional Bodyguard/PSD Operator Course June 2-20. Image: C.R.I.

11. Counter kidnapping …

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Taken, 20th Century Fox

12. Tactical driving …

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
ACADEMI, YouTube

13. … and being a bodyguard.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Heavily-armed bodyguards from SEAL Team Six provide close protection for Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Image: Wikimedia

14. But many contractors are tasked with defending compounds or military installations.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
CIA security. 13 Hours, Paramount

. . . like the CIA outpost in Benghazi.

15. The job sometimes requires deployments that last for months in dangerous areas around the world …

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Image: Adademi Training Center

16. … but there’s also need for contractors to guard federal installations in the U.S. like nuclear storage sites and important infrastructure.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Image: ACADEMI

And much, much more.

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This former SEAL Team 6 member is climbing Everest for vets

A former member of SEAL Team 6 and founder of Frogman Charities is headed to Mount Everest to try and become the first Navy SEAL to summit the world’s highest peak.


17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Former Navy SEAL and adventure racer Don Mann. Photo: Will Ramos Photography

Don Mann is an accomplished athlete and climber with the goal of standing on top of the tallest summit on each continent. He’s starting with a climb up Everest, and at the same time he hopes to draw attention to the challenges that the military community faces every day.

“The challenge seems almost insurmountable with the conditioning required, the funding required, and the non-stop worries of altitude mountain sickness, avalanches, crevices, hypothermia, frostbite, etc.,” Mann said in a press release. “But the prize, to have an opportunity to stand on top of the world while raising awareness for the needs of our military personnel and their families, is beyond description.”

Mann has proved that he has the athletic chops for such a climb. Besides being selected as a member of SEAL Team 6, he was once rated as the 38th best triathlete in the world and has been climbing mountains for years.

Still, he acknowledges that weather and the mountain often decide who will and will not survive the climb. In 1996, a record eight people died in a single day on the mountain when a sudden blizzard descended on the mountain. Dozens have died attempting to climb the mountain since 1922.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Adventure racer and former Navy SEAL Team 6 member Don Mann poses on Mount Denali, Alaska, a mountain with a 20,310-foot summit. Photo: Courtesy Don Mann

During his attempt, Frogman Charities, a nonprofit organization that hosts virtual run and walk events to raise money for Navy SEAL charities, will be updating their Facebook page and website every day with stories from veterans and with organizations that support veterans and service members.

After the Everest climb, Mann wants to climb the rest of the continent’s highest peaks and to bring other veterans with him on the climbs. As with his Everest attempt, he hopes to raise public awareness of veterans’ causes.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Don Mann will be carrying a custom flag from a business sponsor during his climb. Photo: Courtesy Don Mann

The team that Mann will be climbing with aims to summit between May 13 and 25 but the buildup to the final summit attempt starts in early April. The climbers will trek to base camp from Apr. 3 to Apr. 12 and then begin the process of acclimating and climbing

Mann’s climb is being financially supported through business sponsorships and a GoFundMe page.

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North Korea claims they have a hydrogen bomb and the world shrugs

Through the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Kim Jong-Un, North Korea’s supreme leader, announced his country is “ready to detonate a self-reliant A-bomb and H-bomb to reliably defend its sovereignty and the dignity of the nation.” American and South Korean officials are dismissing the claim.


17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Confirmed North Korean Technologies: Potato Guns

“The information that we have access to calls into serious question those claims, but we take very seriously the risk and the threat that is posed by the North Korean regime in their ambitions to develop a nuclear weapon,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Confirmed North Korean Technologies: Binoculars

Kim made the announcement while inspecting an historical military site in Pyongyang. The regime first became a confirmed nuclear power in 2006 under Kim’s predecessor and father Kim Jong-Il when North Korea detonated the first of three nuclear bombs.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Confirmed North Korean Technologies: Flash Mobs

North Korea’s regime detonates nukes at “secret” underground nuclear tests sites. The announcement comes on the heels of the discovery of new nuclear testing tunnels, uncovered by satellite photos, at Punggye-ri in the northeast area of the country.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Confirmed North Korean Technologies: Phones

This is the first time the Kim regime claimed to have hydrogen bomb technology and the announcement may be a response to the recent U.S. sanctions targeting North Korea’s Strategic Rocket Force and banks involved in North Korean arms proliferation.

North Korea has a history of acting out in response to Western actions it sees as provocative. When the U.S. and South Korea performed its yearly joint Foal Eagle exercise in 2015, the North launched two scud missiles into the sea outside of South Korea. When the South conducted a combined arms exercise near Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong Islands near the maritime border with the North, North Korean artillery batteries shelled the island for an hour.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
Confirmed North Korean Technologies: Gloop

The North is not yet able to put a nuclear weapon on one of its rockets, but its nuclear capabilities do threaten U.S. allies in the region.

“We don’t have any information that North Korea has developed an H-bomb,” a South Korean intelligence official told the South’s Yonhap News Agency. “We do not believe that North Korea, which has not succeeded in miniaturizing nuclear bombs, has the technology to produce an H-bomb.”

North Korea claimed in 2010 that it had successfully developed fusion technology.

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Air Force just released new details about the B-1 strike on Libya

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
A B-1B Lancer takes off from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., March 27, 2011, on a mission in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Marc I. Lane)


Five years ago, a phone rang in the 28th Bomb Wing vice commander’s office and made history.

Less than 72 hours later, on March 27, 2011, more than 1,100 maintenance personnel launched four B-1B Lancer bombers from the Ellsworth Air Force Base flightline in blizzard conditions to support Operation Odyssey Dawn. It was the first time the aircraft had ever launched from a continental U.S. location in support of combat operations.

Two B-1s and their eight-person crew would continue on and strike targets in Libya; however, the mission required communication and personnel working round-the-clock to be executed.

“I was about halfway through the planning process (of a training sortie), and rumors were making their way around about base leadership convening at the command post,” said Maj. Matthew, a weapons system officer for the operation’s lead B-1. “At about 1 p.m., I was called to the command post with a pilot in my squadron. We were both qualified mission commanders, which clued me in that whatever was going on was likely a real-world event.”

Matthew and many aviators within the 34th and 37th bomb squadrons, as well as maintenance and munitions personnel, were briefed that preparations were underway to organize a strike mission more than 6,000 miles away in Libya.

In less than 20 hours, the conventional munitions element built approximately 145 munitions, enough to load seven B-1s. On the aviation side of the base, aircrews were preparing for takeoff.

“We had the pre-brief, and flew a practice profile in the simulator as well to make sure everyone on the crew had the opportunity to practice the bomb runs,” said Maj. Christopher, co-pilot for the operation’s lead B-1. “The biggest thing going through my mind was trying to absorb every bit of information so that we didn’t mess it up.”

This specific weapons build was the first time many had ever built bombs that would leave a CONUS location to bomb targets.

“Seeing these guys doing their job for real, I was proud of them. I couldn’t have asked for a better crew at the time,” said Master Sgt. Matthew, the 28th Munitions Squadron munitions control section chief.

Maintenance personnel and aircrew were executing their duties in the worst imaginable weather. It was roughly 35 degrees outside with heavy fog and pilots on the runway could only see ahead one hash-mark.

Maj. Brian, a weapons system officer for the operation’s lead B-1, confessed to slipping multiple times on his way to transportation vehicles, while Maj. Matthew added the most memorable part of the mission was takeoff.

Brian said it was an honor to be selected as one of the crew members, and that he felt it was his duty to reward the faith previous commanders put in him by executing the mission to a weapons officer level.

B-1s arrived in the Libya area of operations 12 hours after takeoff and the crews checked in with command and control. Many aspects had changed between pre-brief and check-in, but the crews divvied up targets and went in for their first strike.

“The mission was the deepest strike made into Libya during OOD, which kept us in hostile airspace for over an hour and a half,” Maj. Matthew said. “(Previous missile strikes) alerted the enemy to our presence, and we immediately saw anti-aircraft artillery fire coming from the ground. It was the first time any of us had seen AAA.”

Poorly aimed artillery fire didn’t concern the aviators, who hit their marks and recovered at a forward operating location. Twenty-four hours later, the second launch began. Nearly 100 targets were hit during the two days.

At only 72 hours, the mission marked a significant milestone, not only for Ellsworth AFB, but also for the B-1 fleet as a whole.

Maj. Matthew added the mission solidified the B-1 and its aircrew members’ role as a flexible, rapidly-deployable strategic asset. Brian agreed that it showed the skill, dedication and professionalism of the 28th Maintenance Group.

“The fact they were able to generate five green jets, build 145 munitions, all while in the middle of a snow storm on only two days’ notice still amazes me to this day,” Brian said. “We train every day to do precisely that, but the maintainers and weapons troops can’t simulate extreme weather and harsh temperatures. They were the MVPs of Odyssey Dawn in my opinion.”

Master Sgt. Matthew, who led the munitions crew, added the lessons learned from the operation are always an example he brings up when training his fellow munitions Airmen.

“It’s hard to overstate how important the ground support teams were to our success,” Maj. Matthew said. “Without all of the support agencies, from maintenance to airfield operations, transportation, etc., we wouldn’t have been nearly as successful.”

According to mission planners, the B-1 was the only aircraft that could meet the demands of the mission, such as the timeframe and the number of weapons required to hit that many targets.

“Executing the strike proved the aircraft is capable of holding any target in the world at risk, at any time,” said Maj. Donavon, commander of the operation’s lead B-1.

Editor’s note: Last names were removed due to security concerns.

(h/t: Stephen Trimble at flightglobal.com)

Articles

This is the helicopter that will replace Marine One

The VH-3 Sea King has faithfully served Marine Helicopter Squadron One since 1962, operating as the official rotary transport for every president for over 55 years. But even though the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” rings through for many pieces of military hardware, these aging Sea Kings, known as “Marine One” whenever a president is aboard, need to be replaced.


A lack of parts, considerable flight hours, and performance inefficiency (by today’s standards) make a worthy case for why the Sea King needs to be supplanted by something newer, faster and more capable. Just last week, Sikorsky’s answer to HMX-1’s request for a new helicopter took to the skies above Owego, New York, for the first time.

Known as the VH-92A, Sikorsky and its parent corporation, Lockheed Martin, hopes that this helicopter will be what finally sends the Sea King to a museum in the coming years.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
A depiction of the VXX proposal – a modified S-92 (Photo Lockheed Martin)

The VH-92 is based upon Sikorsky’s S-92, a proven multipurpose utility helicopter that has been functioning in the civilian world as medium-lift platform since 2004. When it enters service with HMX-1, the VH-92 will have been refitted with a new interior and a slew of other features needed for presidential transport.

It has taken years for a suitable replacement for the VH-3 to materialize as part of the Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program (VXX). The program was initialized in 2003, though it suffered a setback in 2009 when Lockheed Martin’s proposal – the VH-71 Kestrel – was nixed even though the Department of the Navy had already spent billions of dollars building 9 Kestrals for HMX-1.

The following year, VXX was restarted, and a joint Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky team offered a revamped S-92, replete with a comfortable and plush interior worthy of the president and other VIPs who would be using the aircraft from time to time. In 2014, the S-92 proposal was selected and the VH-92 began taking shape.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke

These new presidential transports will only bear an external resemblance to their civilian counterparts. Their insides will be completely redone as per the requirements of HMX-1 and the Secret Service.

This includes defensive systems that afford each VH-92 a degree of protection against threats on the ground, from shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, to heavy-caliber machine gun rounds.

In addition to armoring the VH-92, all fleet helicopters will receive advanced communications systems, allowing the president to interact with members of the government and military while flying. Redundancy and safety systems round off the rest of the tricked-out VH-92’s modifications list.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
A VH-3D Sea King operating as Marine One (Photo US Air Force)

HMX-1 also operates the VH-60N White Hawk, essentially UH-60 Black Hawks reconfigured for VIP transport. These aircraft have been serving in the presidential fleet since the late 1980s, and will also be replaced in part, or as a whole, by the new VH-92s.

The VH-92, like its soon-to-be predecessor, won’t just operate in North America… it will also serve as the president’s short-range transport overseas on official visits. Like the VH-60N, it will be able to be folded up and stowed inside US Air Force strategic airlifters like the C-5M Super Galaxy for foreign travel.

17 photos that show that the military’s water-survival training is no joke
A VH-60N White Hawk parked while a VC-25 takes off in the background (Photo US Air Force)

Replacing the Sea King isn’t the only big move HMX-1 has made in an effort to modernize its fleet. The squadron’s complement of CH-53 Sea Stallions were recently replaced with newer, more versatile MV-22 Osprey tiltrotors, which can function like both a helicopter and a fixed wing aircraft. Older CH-46 Sea Knights, formerly used as support aircraft, are also on their way out.

HMX-1 is expected to begin taking delivery of its new VH-92As in 2020, phasing out the VH-3D and VH-60N soon afterward.

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