9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels - We Are The Mighty
Articles

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels

It’s well known that the fearsome Soviet spy agency, the KGB, used brutal tactics to eliminate and intimidate rivals.


Legend has it that when Soviet diplomats were kidnapped by terrorists in Lebanon in the mid-1980s, KGB officers kidnapped and killed a relative of one of the perpetrators, mailing body parts to the terrorists to demonstrate why Russia’s enemies shouldn’t poke the bear.

Now-declassified CIA documents reveal the KGB had a special team created exclusively for assassinations. The KGB’s 13th Department was called the “Directorate of Special Tasks” and used “executive actions” or “liquid affairs” (read: targeted assassinations) to eliminate threats to the Soviet state.

The directorate had two special labs that most officers didn’t know about – one for creating unique weapons and explosives, the other for developing new poisons and drugs. Poisons were a favorite for these extra-judicial killings because they attracted less attention and were often confused for natural deaths.

Here are nine KGB assassination attempts that will make you want to run background checks on your friends.

1. Leon Trotsky

Trotsky was a key player in the Bolshevik takeover of Russia in 1918. When Lenin died, many believed he would take over. But it was Stalin who won the succession struggle.

Trotsky criticized the new Soviet state for suppressing democracy and was expelled from the government for his trouble. Eventually, Stalin exiled Trotsky out of the USSR.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
In Soviet Russia, dictator overthrows YOU. (Russian public domain photo)

The Mexico City suburbs became his new home, but the distance couldn’t keep him safe from the death sentence Stalin ordered. In 1940, Trotsky was done in by a Spanish Communist agent with an ice pick.

2. Franz Josip Tito

The World War II leader of Yugoslavia would not give up his country’s hard-fought independence for anything. Tito’s refusal to align himself with the Soviet Bloc frustrated Stalin to no end. So the Soviet dictator decided to get rid of Tito — as he had done with many previous political roadblocks.

The Russians tried to kill Tito using a pneumatic spray of bubonic plague, a box that sprayed poison gas when opened, and 20 other ways to end the Yugoslav leader’s life. Tito thwarted so many of Stalin’s assassin attempts , he had to send a letter to Moscow that read:

‘Stop sending people to kill me… If you don’t stop sending killers, I’ll send one to Moscow, and I won’t have to send a second.’

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
He only needed the one. (Library of Congress photo)

3. John Wayne

Film historian and author Michael Munn tells the story of John Wayne’s brush with a Soviet assassination order in his book, “John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth.” Wayne’s anti-Communist statements didn’t sit well with Stalin, who allegedly ordered The Duke’s murder. Two Russian filmmakers, Sergei Gerasimov and Alexei Kapler, warned film legend Orson Welles about the order. Wells told Wayne, but Wayne was also warned by the FBI and stuntman Yakima Canutt, whom Wayne once credited with saving his life.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
(publicity photo)

Wayne and a screenwriter friend planned to abduct the assassins, drive them to a beach, and stage a mock execution to pump them for information. The two hitmen turned and worked for the FBI while Wayne moved to a house behind a large wall.

4. Lev Rebet

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
Rebet in Auschwitz (Library of Congress photo)

Rebet was a Ukrainian nationalist writer, Nazi death camp survivor, and staunch anti-Communist. He was also the leader of the Ukrainian government for a time. In 1957, Rebet died suddenly of “natural causes” while on a trip to Munich. In 1961, a KGB agent named Bohdan Stashynsky defected to the West and revealed Rebet’s death was an assassination. The weapon he used was a gun that sprayed a cloud of cyanide gas. Stashynsky also killed Rebet’s party boss, Stepan Bandera, with the gas weapon.

5. Georgi Markov

A gray-haired man waiting for a London bus in 1978 would have attracted little attention from passers-by. In this case, that man was Georgi Markov, a Communist defector from Bulgaria who made England his new home. The man next to him dropped his umbrella, hitting Markov in the leg. It hurt, but Markov barely noticed. The man apologized and they both went on their way. Markov died four days later.

His autopsy revealed a pellet in his leg which contained .2 milligrams of ricin, a deadly poison used in chemical warfare and made famous by the show “Breaking Bad.” Vladimir Kostov, another Bulgarian defector, survived a similar fate with the pellet being stuck in his back. He told the world about the attack on Radio Free Europe four days after his brush with death.

6. Georgiy Okolovich

In 1954, Nikolai Khoklov appeared at the door of Georgiy Okolovich, the leader of a Russian anti-Communist group in exile. Okolovich lived in Frankfurt, West Germany, at the time. It must have been quite a shock when Khoklov said:

“Georgiy Sergeyevich, I have come to you from Moscow. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union has ordered your assassination.”

But Khoklov didn’t kill him. Instead, the KGB agent defected to the U.S. and revealed (via press conference) the weapon he was supposed to use: a cigarette pack that was actually an electrically-operated, silenced gun that fired cyanide rounds.

7. Nikolai Khoklov

In retaliation for his defection and failed assassination of Okolovich, Khoklov’s wife was sentenced to forced resettlement in the Soviet Union and Department 13 ordered Khoklov’s own assassination. The weapon would be thallium poisoning, the first use of radiological weapons by the KGB.

Thallium is a soft metal element that was often used as a rat or ant poison but fell into disuse for its potential side effects. When Khoklov’s skin began to crack, he began to lose his hair, and bleed without clotting, he knew what was happening. German doctors irrigated him with antidotes and he survived.

8. Pope John Paul II

When Polish Cardinal Karol Józef Wojtyła was elected Pope in 1979, the Soviet Union was less than thrilled. They believed he was the single greatest threat to their power, especially in Poland. So when the Pontiff was shot and wounded on May 13, 1981, the world looked to more than his attacker, a Turkish man named Mehmet Ali Agca, for answers.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels

The Solidarity movement was a direct outgrowth of the Pope’s visit to Poland in 1979 and became a constant irritation in the side of the Soviet leaders. A book detailing the Mitrokhin Archive, a massive trove of Top Secret KGB documents carried over by Vasili Mitrokhin after his defection to the West, shows the KGB carried out this assassination attempt in retaliation for the Pope’s attempt to undermine Soviet regime.

9. Alexander Litvinenko

Litvinenko served with the KGB from 1986 until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. He continued serving in Russia’s internal security service long after, working to infiltrate organized crime groups. In 1998,  he accused his superiors of ordering the assassination of a Russian media mogul in a public press conference. He was arrested twice for this and personally fired by Vladimir Putin, whom the agent accused of bombing Russian apartments and murdering a Russian journalist to get elected president.

He fled to London with his family and began to write books and advise the Britain’s intelligence community on Russian activities. Allegedly a target of the KGB’s susccessor, the FSB, in 2006 he suddenly became gravely ill, growing weak and unable to walk. When he was hospitalized, specialists conducted a test for radioactive materials and discovered the element Polonium-210, a radioactive element that emits alpha radiation – only damaging to human tissue when ingested.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels

The UK’s Health Protection Agency discovered the Polonium poison in Litvinenko’s teacup, 200 times greater than a normally lethal dose.

Articles

That time the Nazis invaded the US in 1942

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels


On the morning of June 13, 1942, a German submarine stole up to the coast of New York. Inside was Hitler’s hope of an America in flames. Four Nazi saboteurs with crates of explosives, costumes, and money, climbed out of the hatch and moved to shore in a rowboat with two German sailors.

Their objective was to cripple the power of America to make war, primarily by disabling industrial necessities like aluminum and hydroelectric power production but also by terrifying the American populace so they’d vote to get out of it.

As the men made their way in the rowboat to the New York coast, another team was in the Atlantic, bearing down on Florida. Operation Pastorius, the German invasion of the U.S. by sabotage, was in effect.

The Teams

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
The New York Team. Photos: FBI

The New York and Florida teams were each composed of four men. All were German, all had spent time in America, and all were trained in a special school for sabotage.

The leader of the first team was George J. Dasch, a veteran of World War I who had fought for Germany but emigrated to America after the war. In 1939, he had returned to Germany and was recruited into the sabotage plot soon after America joined the war.

Dasch had three more men on his team. Ernest P. Burger was a long-time Nazi who had taken part in Hitler’s first grab for power at the Munich Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. He fled to America to escape brawling charges, living there for six years and becoming a citizen. Heinrich Heinck and Richard Quirin were machinists who had lived in America for 12 years each.

If it sounds like the team members were misfits, it’s because they were. Burger, the long-time Nazi and veteran of the Beer Hall Putsch, had even spent time in a concentration camp for writing a college paper critical of the Gestapo.

They had received only 18 days of special training, mostly Jiu Jitsu, weapons, and explosives instruction in the German woods with some field trips to power plants. Dasch, the team leader, was known to nap through much it.

The first team lands in New York and the mission immediately goes awry

The Florida team left from a submarine base at Lorient, France on May 26, 1942. Dasch and the New York team left on May 28, but since the New York route was shorter, they arrived at the American coast first on June 13.

The mission faced problems from the start. The submarine they were riding in accidentally ran aground 200 meters off the coast before launching the rowboat. So, as the saboteurs were approaching the shore, the German captain was struggling to get his boat out to sea before the rising sun exposed it to growing traffic on the coastal road.

On the boat, the saboteurs were dressed as German marines. When they arrived on the coast, they immediately changed into civilian cloths. While the rest of the team began burying their crates of explosives and money, Dasch and another man crossed over a nearby dune. After cresting the hill, they saw a flashlight approaching the group through thick fog.

Coast Guard Seaman 2nd Class John Cullen came upon the wet German on his normal foot patrol. Dasch claimed he was part of a fishing party that had run ashore. When Cullen offered them shelter and food at the nearby Coast Guard station, Dasch refused and claimed the men were worried because they had been fishing without a license.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
John C. Cullen. Photo: US Coast Guard Oral History Program

Cullen was already suspicious, but then Dasch asked if Cullen would like to ever see his mother and father again. As Cullen realized they were threatening to murder him, a third German came over the dune with a sea bag and yelled something to the first two in German.

Cullen realized then what he was dealing with: German spies or saboteurs. Dasch ordered the third man back behind the sea dune and turned back to Cullen. “We’ll give you some money, and you forget about this,” Dasch said according to Cullen’s account in a Coast Guard History interview. He took the money to prove his story and ran back to the Coast Guard station.

Using the money as proof, Cullen convinced the other men at the station and four of them returned to the beach to find it empty except for a pack of German cigarettes. As the men searched the beach, they smelled diesel exhaust. Suddenly, they felt a large vibration as the German submarine escaped the sand bar and headed out to sea.

They called another station to report the incident, and soon, the island was swarming with soldiers and artillery. Coast Guardsmen and a Naval intelligence officer dug up the buried explosives cache and turned it over to the FBI, who then took over the investigation.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
All of the saboteurs crates were recovered. Photo: FBI

As the island was being locked down, the FBI was beginning the largest manhunt in its history and George Dasch was putting his own plan into motion.

Dasch betrays the conspiracy

The FBI rushed to keep the story quiet while hunting down the men as fast as they could, but they didn’t have any real leads. Still, they needn’t have worried. Dasch had been ordered to kill anyone who saw them, and the reason he didn’t appears to be because he was already planning on betraying the mission.

Once they had stowed the gear on the beach, the Germans moved to a train station and split up. Dasch revealed his plan to Burger, the saboteur who had spent time in a German concentration camp. Dasch wanted to turn all the evidence over to the FBI, expecting to be accepted as heroes by the American government. Burger agreed to the new plan and Dasch called FBI headquarters.

Unfortunately, the agent on duty who fielded the call thought it was a prank and hung up on Dasch. Dasch slowly made his way to D.C. to reveal the plot.

When he arrived, he was punted from agent to agent who all thought he was pulling their leg until, in frustration, he dumped the entire bag mission money, $84,000 (worth $1 million today) onto the agent’s desk. Finally, he had their attention and was able to expose the whole plot.

Dasch handed over a handkerchief that showed where all of the mission’s American contacts lived, but he couldn’t remember how to make the invisible ink appear since he had slept through those classes. Agents in the FBI’s lab eventually figured the ink out, and agents staked out all the addresses listed. They quickly captured the rest of the New York team as well as all four members of the Florida team.

J. Edgar Hoover, when reporting the events to President Franklin Roosevelt, failed to mention that one of the German’s had turned evidence and claimed full credit for the FBI. Roosevelt ordered military tribunals and sought the death penalty against each spy, including Dasch and Burger.

Trials and executions

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
The Germans were tried in a secret military tribunal. Photo: US Army Signal Corps

A short trial was held in a Washington, D.C. basement and all eight men were given the death penalty. Roosevelt read the transcripts from the trial and, learning that Dasch and Burger had betrayed the plot and turned state’s evidence, commuted their sentences to 30 years of hard labor for Dasch and life imprisonment for Burger.

In secret, the other six members of Operation Pastorius were executed.

Burger and Dasch would serve six years in prison before being released by order of President Harry Truman and deported to Germany where they were received as traitors. Cullen received a Legion of Merit from the Army for his part in stopping the Germans.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
Photo: US Coast Guard Oral History Program

Hitler attempted one more time to send spies into America, landing two spies on the coast of Maine. Those men were caught after the FBI received a tip from a Boy Scout.

(h/t Stuff You Should Know podcast)

Articles

ISIS chief Abu al-Baghdadi may still be at large

As the Islamic State’s so-called caliphate collapses across Iraq and Syria under unrelenting pressure by the US-backed coalition, the whereabouts of the group’s chieftain, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, remain a mystery.


Since fleeing the group’s Syrian stronghold of Raqqa in May, various reports over recent weeks allege the terrorist leader either has been killed by Russian or coalition forces or is still at large in the group’s redoubts in central Syria.

The impetus inside the White House and Pentagon to kill or capture al-Baghdadi has seemingly been lukewarm at best compared to the hunt for al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, which ended with the Navy SEAL raid on the terrorist leader’s Pakistani hideout in May 2011.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
Former President Barack Obama and members of the national security team receive updates on Operation Neptune’s Spear, a target and kill operation against Osama bin Laden in the White House Situation Room, May 1, 2011 (White House photo)

The defeat of the terrorist group also known as ISIS or ISIL, along with the death of its emir, has been the clearest objective of President Trump’s national security and foreign policy strategy, and one that critics claim has been heavy on rhetoric and little else.

What remains unclear is how the Trump White House plans to carry on the fight against Islamic State once al-Baghdadi is no longer in the picture.

US military officials have reiterated that al-Baghdadi’s death remains a top priority for the American-led coalition battling Islamic State. However, coalition commanders and Pentagon officials also claim that the Islamic State chieftain has been effectively sidelined from any command-and-control role over the group’s operations in the Middle East and across the globe.

The Islamic State leader “is somebody who we would like to see dead,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters July 17.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

US and coalition-led operations to kill or capture Baghdadi and other Islamic State leaders are integral to the mission to dismantle and destroy the terrorist group and its affiliates worldwide, Capt. Davis said during a briefing at the Pentagon.

“Leadership strikes are important,” he said of the coalition’s operations to hunt down the upper echelon of Islamic State, starting with al-Baghdadi. Such missions provide the “moral authority or imperative” to American and coalition forces fighting to curb Islamic State in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere.

But the Pentagon spokesman made clear that while the hunt for al-Baghdadi may be morally essential, his loss will mean little on the battlefield.

“Militarily speaking, he is already irrelevant,” Capt. Davis said.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
ISIS patrol the streets of Raqqa, Syria. (Image from Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.)

Those comments echo those of Defense Secretary James Mattis, who said al-Baghdadi’s death would create “disarray in the enemy’s ranks” and upend efforts by Islamic State to hold onto its territorial gains in the Middle East.

“We’re not here to help him through his midlife crisis. We’re here to give him one,” the Pentagon chief said.

Top Islamic State leaders, including al-Baghdadi, reportedly began fleeing Raqqa for Deir-e-zour and Madan en masse in May ahead of the coalition’s operation to liberate the Syrian city of Raqqa, which had been the group’s self-styled capital in the country since taking the city three years ago.

Since his departure from Raqqa, unconfirmed reports of the Islamic State leader’s demise have permeated across a number of media outlets over the last several weeks.

Russian news outlets, citing defense officials in Moscow, had reported al-Baghdadi’s demise months earlier, saying he had been killed during Russian airstrikes on Islamic State positions outside Raqqa in May.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
DoD photo from Staff Sgt. Charles Rivezzo.

Most recently, members of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights — which has a strong track record for accuracy in the chaotic Syrian struggle — claimed they had irrefutable evidence al-Baghdadi had been killed in counter-terrorism operations in the Deir-e-Zour area in eastern Syria.

Those claims were upended by reports from Kurdish intelligence officials who said al-Baghdadi remains alive.

“It is not about Baghdadi necessarily, there are other leaders waiting” who are former Iraqi military under Saddam Hussein, Lahur Talabani, head of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s intelligence services, told Reuters July 17. “Do not expect the game to be over anytime soon for the Islamic State.”

Articles

This was probably the most one-sided air battle in the Pacific during WW2

Raymond A. Spruance gets plaudits for what he did at the Battle of Midway. And deservedly so, since he won the battle while outnumbered and against a very capable foe.


But he arguably pulled off a much more incredible feat of arms two years after Midway, when the U.S. Fifth Fleet appeared off the Mariana Islands.

When the Japanese learned the Americans were off the Aleutians, they sent their fleet — a much larger force than Spruance faced at Midway, including nine carriers with 430 aircraft, escorted by a powerful force of surface combatants. Japan also had planes based on the Marianas.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
Raymond A. Spruance, the victor of Midway, and commander of the American fleet during the Battle of the Philippine Sea. (U.S. Navy photo)

To protect the transports, Spruance had to operate west of the Marianas. His 15 carriers were equipped with the F6F Hellcat, a plane designed with lessons from combat against the Mitsubishi A6M Zero in mind (of course, finding a nearly-intact Zero on Akutan Island didn’t hurt).

According to CombinedFleet.com, Japanese admiral Jisaburo Ozawa planned to use the Japanese bases on the Mariana Islands to hit the Americans from long range — essentially shuttling his planes back and forth between the islands and the carriers. He was dealing with pilots who were very inexperienced after nearly three years of war had devastated Japan’s pilots.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters. (Wikipedia)

Spruance, though, had enough time to hit the land-based airfields first. Then he set his cruisers and battleships in a gun line ahead of his carriers. In essence, his plan was to use the advanced radar on his ships to first vector in the Hellcats. Then, the battleships and cruisers would further thin out the enemy planes.

Spruance’s plan would work almost to perfection. According to Samuel Eliot Morison in “New Guinea and the Marianas,” between 10:00 a.m. and 2:50 p.m., four major strikes totaling 326 planes came at Spruance’s fleet. Of those planes, 219 failed to return to their carriers. The Americans called it “The Marianas Turkey Shoot.”

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
Sailors aboard USS Birmingham (CL 62) watch the Marianas Turkey Shoot. (US Navy photo)

The worst was yet to come. On June 19, American submarines sank the Japanese carriers Taiho and Shokaku. The next day, Spruance began his pursuit. Late in the evening of June 20 the Americans sent out a strike of their own with 226 aircraft. The attack would sink the Japanese carrier Hiyo and two oilers.

A Japanese log said it all: “Surviving carrier air power: 35 aircraft operational.”

Spruance had just won a devastating victory – perhaps the most one-sided in the Pacific Theater.

Articles

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 15 edition)

Here you go. Read this and then tell your CO, “I’m informed, sir.” He’ll appreciate that.


Now: 24 historic photos made even more amazing with color 

Articles

The ‘most hated units’ in the Army are some of the best

They’re the units that everyone wants to beat, that every commander wants to squash under their heel, and that most average Joes accuse of cheating at least once — the “Opposing Forces” units at military training centers.


The OPFOR units are comprised of active duty soldiers stationed at major training centers and are tasked with playing enemy combatants in training exercises for the units that rotate into their center. They spend years acting as the adversary in every modern training exercise their base can come up with.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
American Army Pfc. Sean P. Stieren, a rifleman with A Company, 1st Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment (Airborne), fires a mock Stinger missile launcher at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, La., April 19, 2014. Paratroopers with 1st Bn., 509th Inf. Reg. (A), act as insurgent and conventional opposing forces during decisive action training environment exercises at JRTC. (Photo: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Klutts)

So while most units do a rotation at a major training center every couple of years, soldiers assigned to OPFOR units often conduct major training rotations every month. This results in their practicing the deployed lifestyle for weeks at a time about a dozen times per year.

Through all this training, they get good. Really good.

And since they typically conduct their missions at a single installation or, in rare cases, at a few training areas in a single region, they’re experts in their assigned battlespace.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
A U.S. Army soldier with 1st Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment (Airborne) fires blank rounds at soldiers from a rotational training unit during an exercise at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, La., April 22, 2014. Paratroopers with 1st Bn., 509th Inf. Reg. (A) role-play as multiple enemy forces including a near-peer military, insurgent cells and a crime family. (Photo: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Klutts)

All this adds up to units with lots of experience against the best units the military has to deploy — units that are at the cutting edge of new tactics, techniques, and procedures; units that have the home field advantage.

“The first time you fight against the OpFor is a daunting experience,” Maj. Jared Nichols, a battalion executive officer that rotated through the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, said during a 2016 training iteration. “You’re fighting an enemy that knows the terrain and knows how American forces fight, so they know how to fight against us and they do it very well.”

So yeah, despite typically fighting at a 2-to-1 or even a 3-to-1 disadvantage, OPFOR units often decimate their opponents.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
An OPFOR Surrogate Vehicle from Coldsteel Troop, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, travels through the city of Dezashah en route to the objective, during NTC rotation 17-01, at the National Training Center, Oct. 7, 2016. The purpose of this phase of the rotation was to challenge the Greywolf Brigade’s ability to conduct a deliberate defense of an area while being engaged by conventional and hybrid threats. (Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. David Edge)

For the military, this arrangement is a win-win. First, rotational units cut their teeth against realistic, experienced, and determined opponents before they deploy. This tests and stresses deploying units — usually brigades — and allows them to see where their weak points are. Do their soldiers need a tool they don’t have? Are there leaders being over or under utilized? Does all the equipment work together as expected?

But the training units aren’t expected to get everything right.

“One of the largest challenges I face as the OPFOR battalion commander is conveying the message to the other nations that it’s OK to make a mistake,” Lt. Col. Mathew Archambault said during a 2016 training rotation. “When they come here it’s a training exercise, and I want them to take risks and try new things. I want them to maximize their training experience; it helps them learn and grow.”

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
A UH-72 Lakota helicopter from the OPFOR Platoon, NTC Aviation Company provides air support to 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment ground forces during an engagement during rotation 16-08 at the National Training Center, Aug. 3, 2016. The Lakota aircraft participated in an exercise that challenged the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division’s ability to conduct a deliberate defense. (Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. David Edge)

But the military also gets a group of soldiers that, over a two or three-year tour of duty at a training center as opposing forces, have seen dozens of ways to conduct different missions. They’ve seen different tactics for resupplying maneuver forces in the field, different ways of hiding communications, different ways of feinting attacks. And, they know which tactics are successful and which don’t work in the field.

When it’s time for these soldiers to rotate to another unit, they take these lessons with them and share them with their new units.

Articles

9 tanks that changed armored warfare

Tank warfare has changed a lot from 1914 when rolling fortresses were first proposed to today when Russia’s T-14 Armata currently in development hopes to shoot down enemy rounds before they can even reach the armor.


From the tank’s debut in 1916 to the fielding of ceramic armor on modern tanks, here are nine armored behemoths that changed tank warfare:

1. British Mark I clears the way for tank warfare

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
(Photo: Public Domain/British Government)

The first tank to see combat was the British Mark I, a slow-moving vehicle that provided relatively little protection from infantry and was prone to breakdowns but which ushered in the tank as a weapon of warfare and was able to grab nearly a mile of German-held ground in its first attempt.

2. French Renault FT blazes across the battlefield (at least, in relation to heavy tanks)

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
Army Lt. Col. George S. Patton with a Renault tank. He became America’s first-ever tank officer the previous year as a captain. (Photo: U.S. Army)

The first operational light tank, the Renault FT was one of France’s first tanks and it set the template for tank design that has carried through to the present day.

While the British favored their heavy tank designs, the French adopted light tanks early with the FT. These were faster, capable of matching the speed of marching infantry, and pioneered the cabin design favored by nearly all modern tanks today with a driver in front, commander and turret operator directly behind, and the engine in the rear of the vehicle.

3. Panzer II is a master of coordination (if nothing else)

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
(Photo: German Army Archives)

The Panzer II was one of Germany’s first tanks and a major staple of the army at the start of World War II, but it was a lackluster design that was unremarkable except for one detail: it was the first tank designed with a radio for every tank and an operator assigned as a specific role in the crew.

4. The French S35 featured sloped and cast armor

Frankreich, Panzer Somua S35, Geschütz French S35 tanks captured in World War II. (Photo: German Army Archives)

The S35 was designed and manufactured with a sloped armor hull that was cast in four molds during manufacture. This resulted in armor with fewer seams that could split or give during heavy combat and fewer flat surfaces against which enemy rounds could hit at right angles, reducing the chance they would punch through.

5. The Mk. VII Tetrarch was the first airborne tank

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
(Photo: Imperial War Museum)

The British Mk. VII Tetrarch tank was a fine light tank that wouldn’t be on this list if it weren’t for a very specific adaptation after it was initially fielded: The Tetrarch was taught to fly.

The first British paratroopers looked for a tank they could take with them on jumps and glider insertions and realized that the Tetrarch was light enough to ride in specialized gliders. British airborne forces took the Tetrarch tanks with them into Normandy on D-Day, but the tanks struggled in combat.

6. The Soviet T-34 had armor that could survive multiple hits from enemy main guns

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
A Russian T-34 tank burns during World War II. Hey, they weren’t immortal, just super tough and widely fielded. (Photo: Bundesarchiv)

While there were certainly previous tanks that had survived direct hits from enemy main guns, the T-34 medium tank was possibly the first tank to be fast and well-armed — while also being capable of shrugging off most rounds fired at it.

The Soviets had begun experimenting with sloped armor designs at the same time the French S35 was entering production, and that innovation served the T-34 well. The Germans were forced to rely on artillery and dive bombing to reliably shut the T-34s down until new tank designs with heavier guns could reach the front.

As an added side note, the M4 Sherman was originally going to be on this list as a tank that proved manufacturability (how easy it is to produce mass numbers of the tank) can change the way armored battles are fought. But the T-34 actually predated the Sherman and was manufactured in larger numbers during the war.

7. Tigers could win almost any fight, especially at range

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
A German Tiger in Sicily, 1943. (U.S. Army photo)

The Tiger was designed at least partially as a direct counter to the T-34, and it became one of the most feared and famed tanks on World War II battlefields. It featured a massive, 88mm main gun that could kill anything on the battlefield while its own armor took hits from 75mm guns from approximately 55 yards and the tank kept fighting.

 

7. Sheridan was the first operational tank with a functioning barrel-fired anti-tank missile

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
The M551 Sheridan tank firing a Shillelagh missile. (Photo: U.S. Army)

The M551 Sheridan was a light airborne and amphibious tank that featured a number of attempted innovations, including the barrel-fired anti-tank guided missile.

The Sheridan’s MGM-51 Shillelagh has its issues, though. While it allowed the tank to engage targets at long ranges, it also featured sensitive electronics that could be knocked out of commission by firing the main gun and a problem with the target designating system left it incapable of engaging target in the mid range.

8. Soviet T-62 was the first tank with a smoothbore main gun

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
A Soviet T-55 medium tank at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California. (Photo: Department of Defense)

The T-62 was designed with the primary goal of countering new NATO designs which featured 105mm rifled bores and armor that could withstand most hits from the same weapon. For the Soviets, this meant that their armored formations would be at a disadvantage.

The tank which would become the T-62 was being developed at the same time as a smoothbore anti-tank gun that allowed for greater penetration of enemy armor by high-explosive, anti-tank rounds that were not spin stabilized. The Soviets replaced the prototype’s weapon with the smoothbore weapon, and nearly all modern tanks now use smoothbores.

9. The M1 Abrams debuts ceramic armor for tanks

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
M1A2 Abrams Tanks belonging to 1st Battalion, 68th Armored Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade, 4th Infantry Division fires off a round Jan. 26, 2017 during a gunnery range. (Photo: Department of Defense)

While the M1 Abrams was revolutionary in the West for a few reasons, it was the first NATO tank to use a turbine engine and to carry a smoothbore cannon, other tanks in the Warsaw Pact and Sweden had incorporated those elements before the Abrams.

The one thing the Abrams had that was truly revolutionary was its Chobham ceramic armor, a set of sandwiched layers with air pockets and special materials that are still classifed and defeat most enemy tank rounds and missiles.

Notably, the U.S.-made tank’s revolutionary armor did not come from the U.S. It was actually provided by British allies who later fielded the armor on their Challenger tanks.

Articles

US suggests NATO should train Iraqi army

Washington wants NATO to assume responsibility for Iraqi troops once the Islamic State forces are defeated, a top military commander said on Wednesday.


A top US military commander has floated the idea of the Washington-led NATO military coalition to assume some responsibility for training troops in Iraq after Islamic State group militants are defeated there.

The 28-member Atlantic alliance “might be uniquely posturing to provide a training mission for an enduring period of time” in Iraq, General Joe Dunford told reporters during his flight back to the US from Brussels, where he attended a planning meeting ahead of next week’s NATO summit.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
Iraqi soldiers train to fight ISIS in April 2010. (Photo: US Army Sgt. Deja Borden)

“You might see NATO making a contribution to logistics, acquisitions, institutional capacity building, leadership schools, academies – those kind of things,” Dunford, who is Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said.

The issue is at the top of the agenda for next week’s summit, with US President Donald Trump pushing the allies to take on a greater role in combatting terrorism.

After months of brutal, street-by-street combat, IS has lost control of most of its stronghold of Mosul in Iraq, while the jihadi force is now largely isolated in Raqqa, over the border in Syria.

A change in who leads the training mission would likely also mean revamping the nature of the effort, Dunford said.

“We are not talking about NATO doing what we are doing now for combat advising in places like Mosul or Raqqa,” the general said.

“I don’t think we are at the point now where we can envision or discuss NATO taking over” all missions of the anti- IS coalition in Iraq, he added.

NATO’s top brass said on Wednesday they believed the alliance should consider joining the anti- Islamic State group coalition put together by Washington to fight IS in Syria and Iraq.

General Petr Pavel, head of NATO’s military committee, told reporters after chiefs of defense staff met in Brussels that it was time to look at this option.

“NATO members are all in the anti- IS coalition. The discussion now is – is NATO to become a member of that coalition,” he said.

Articles

That time a Coast Guard icebreaker made a massive drug bust off the coast of Jamaica

Nope, that headline isn’t a mad lib. A Coast Guard icebreaker was sailing near Jamaica, the hot island in the tropics, and seized a boatload of marijuana.


The capture came in 1984 and represented the first narcotics bust for an Arctic icebreaker.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Northwind was based out of Wilmington, North Carolina, and spent most of its time breaking ice in the Great Lakes, Arctic, and Antarctic regions. But it was known to do some cruises in warmer climes, occasionally even the tropics.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
The U.S. Coast Guard Icebreaker Northwind in 1986, assisting Greenland in repopulating musk-ox herds. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

In 1984, the Northwind was operating in the Atlantic. It MEDEVACed a woman from a sailboat one day, put out a fire with the U.S. Navy on another, and captured 20 tons of marijuana on its own on another day.

The seizure came on Nov. 4, 1984. The Alexi I was sailing 240 miles from Jamaica when it was spotted by the Northwind and stopped. The Coast Guardsmen found 20 tons of marijuana onboard.

That had to be rough for the crew of the CGC Glover, which had made news three days before with a 13-ton record-setting bust. At the time, the Northwind’s was the largest maritime marijuana capture in history, breaking a 1976 record established by the CGC Sherman.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
The U.S. Coast Guard Icebreaker Northwind was heavily armed for its class. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

The Northwind served for another five years after the incident but was decommissioned in 1989 and sent to the James River Reserve Fleet. The ship was later broken down for scrap.

Articles

This is why Cheyenne Mountain is one of the most secure bases in the US

According to legend, Colorado’s Cheyenne Mountain is a sleeping dragon that many years ago saved the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. In the Native American story, the Great Spirit punished the people by sending a massive flood, but after they repented, it sent a dragon to drink the water away. The dragon, engorged by the massive amount of water, fell asleep, was petrified and then became the mountain.


Unlike the dragon of legend, the Cheyenne Mountain Complex has never slept during 50 years of operations. Since being declared fully operational in April 1966, the installation has played a vital role in the Department of Defense during both peacetime and wartime.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
The Cheyenne Mountain Complex is a military installation and nuclear bunker located in Colorado Springs, Colorado at the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station. The mountain itself is about 9,500 feet tall, and the tunnel entrance sits about 2,000 feet from the top. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

Though the complex may have changed names during the past five decades, its mission has never strayed from defending the U.S. and its allies. Today, it is known as Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, with a primary role of collecting information from satellites and ground-based sensors throughout the world and disseminating the data to North American Aerospace Defense Command, U.S. Northern Command and U.S. Strategic Command — a process Steven Rose, Cheyenne Mountain AFS deputy director, compares to the work done by the stem of the human brain.

“Those sensors are your nerves out there sensing that information,” Rose said, “but the nerves all come back to one spot in the human body, together in the brain stem, entangled in a coherent piece. We are the brain stem that’s pulling it all together, correlating it, making sense of it, and passing it up to the brain — whether it’s the commander at NORAD, NORTHCOM or STRATCOM — for someone to make a decision on what that means. That is the most critical part of the nervous system and the most vulnerable. Cheyenne Mountain provides that shield around that single place where all of that correlation and data comes into.”

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
Cheyenne Mountain Complex is a military installation and nuclear bunker located at the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

In the 1950s, the DOD decided to build the installation as a command and control center defense against long-range Soviet bombers. As the “brain stem,” it would be one of the first installations on the enemy’s target list, so it was built to withstand a direct nuclear attack.

Cheyenne Mountain’s 15 buildings rest on more than 1,300 springs, 18 inches from the mountain’s rock walls, so they could move independently in the event of a nuclear blast and the inherent seismic event. In addition, an EMP, being a natural component of a nuclear blast, was already considered in Cheyenne Mountain’s original design and construction features, Rose said.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
The Cheyenne Mountain Complex is a military installation and nuclear bunker located at the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Its entrance is equipped with two 23-ton blast doors and the mountain has a facility with 15 buildings that rest on more than 1,300 springs, 18 inches from the mountain’s rock walls so they could move independently in the event of a nuclear blast or earthquake. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

“Back then, it was just part of the effect of a nuclear blast that we were designed for at Cheyenne Mountain,” he added. “If you fast forward 50 years from our construction, the EMP threat has become more important to today’s society because of the investment that has been made into electronics. Just by sheer coincidence, since we were designed in the 50s and 60s for a nuclear blast and its EMP component, we are sitting here today as the number one rated EMP protected facility. The uniqueness of the mountain is that the entire installation is surrounded by granite, which is a natural EMP shield.”

The station, built 7,000 feet above sea level, opened as the NORAD Combat Operations Center. When NORAD and the newly stood up NORTHCOM moved their main command center to Peterson Air Force Base in 2008, many believed Cheyenne Mountain had closed. Today, Cheyenne Mountain hosts an alternate command center for NORAD and is landlord to more than a dozen DOD agencies, such as the Defense Intelligence Agency.

“When I bring official visitors up here, not only are they surprised that we’re still open,” said Colonel Gary Cornn, Cheyenne Mountain AFS Installation Commander. “Many are impressed by the original construction, the blasting of the tunnels, how the buildings are constructed inside, and some of the things we show them, such as the survivability and capability we have in the blast valves, the springs, the way we do our air in the Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) filtering and the huge blast doors. It’s funny to see senior officers and civilians become sort of amazed like little kids again.”

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
The two 23-ton blast doors at the entrance inside the Cheyenne Mountain Complex are made of steel and can take up to 20 seconds to close with the assistance of hydraulics. If the hydraulics were to fail, the military guards stationed in the tunnel can close the doors in 40 seconds. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

The threats and sources have drastically changed from when the station opened at the height of the Cold War, but the station’s iconic 25-ton steel doors remain the same, ready to seal the mountain in 40 seconds to protect it from any threat. The underground city beneath 2,000 feet of granite still provides the protection to keep the station relevant as it begins its next half-century as “America’s Fortress.”

Longtime Cheyenne Mountain employees like Rose and Russell Mullins, the 721st Communications Squadron deputy director, call themselves “mountain men.” Mullins’ time in the mountain goes back to the Cold War era, about halfway through its history to 1984.

Although the Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal was the main focus, today’s Airmen conduct essentially the same mission: detect and track incoming threats to the United States; however, the points of origin for those threats have multiplied and are not as clearly defined.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
Senior Airman Ricardo Collie, a 721st Security Forces member, patrols the north gate of the Cheyenne Mountain Complex at Cheyenne Air Force Station, Colorado. Collie is one of many security layers to enter more than a mile inside a Colorado mountain to a complex of steel buildings that sit in caves. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

“The tension in here wasn’t high from what might happen,” Mullins said. “The tension was high to be sure you could always detect (a missile launch). We didn’t dwell on the fact that the Soviet Union was the big enemy. We dwelled on the fact that we could detect anything they could throw at us.

“There was a little bit of stress back then, but that hasn’t changed. I would say the stress now is just as great as during the Cold War, but the stress today is the great unknown.”

The 9/11 attacks added another mission to NORAD and the Cheyenne Mountain Directorate – the monitoring of the U.S. and Canadian interior air space. They stand ready to assist the Federal Aviation Administration and Navigation Canada to respond to threats from the air within the continental U.S. and Canada.

Airplane icons blot out most of the national map on the NORAD/NORTHCOM Battle Cab Traffic Situation Display in the alternate command center. To the right another screen shows the Washington, D.C., area, called the Special Flight Restrictions Area, which was also added after 9/11.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
Tech. Sgts. Alex Gaviria and Sarah Haydon, both senior system controllers, answer phone calls inside the 721st Communications Squadron Systems Center in the Cheyenne Mountain Complex. The systems center monitors around the world for support and missile warning. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

Whenever a crisis would affect NORAD’s vulnerability or ability to operate, the commander would move his command center and advisors to the Battle Cab, said Lt. Col. Tim Schwamb, the Cheyenne Mountain AFS branch chief for NORAD/NORTHCOM.

“I would say that on any given day, the operations center would be a center of controlled chaos; where many different things may be happening at once,” Schwamb said. “We’re all trying to ensure that we’re taking care of whatever threat may be presenting itself in as short an amount of time as possible.

“I would describe it as the nerve center of our homeland defense operations. This is where the best minds in NORAD and U.S. Northern Command are, so that we can see, predict, and counter any threats that would happen to the homeland and North American region. It’s really a room full of systems that we monitor throughout the day, 24-hours a day, seven-days a week, that give us the information to help us accomplish the mission.”

Protecting America’s Fortress is a responsibility that falls to a group of firefighters and security forces members, but fighting fires and guarding such a valuable asset in a mountain presents challenges quite different from any other Air Force base, said Matthew Backeberg, a 721st Civil Engineer Squadron supervisor firefighter. Firefighters train on high-angle rescues because of the mountain’s unique environment, but even the most common fire can be especially challenging.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
Kenny Geates and Eric Skinner, both firefighters with Cheyenne Mountain’s Fire and Emergency Services Flight, put out a simulated fire in an area underneath the facility during an exercise. With no room to drive throughout the facility to reach the fires, firefighters have to run to them. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

“Cheyenne Mountain is unique in that we have super challenges as far as ventilation, smoke and occupancy,” Backeberg said. “In a normal building, you pull the fire alarm, and the people are able to leave. Inside the mountain, if you pull the fire alarm, the people are depending on me to tell them a safer route to get out.

“If a fire happens inside (the mountain), we pretty much have to take care of it,” Backeberg added. “We’re dependent on our counterparts in the CE world to help us ventilate the facility, keep the fire going in the direction we want it to go, and allow the occupants of the building to get to a safe location – outside the half mile long tunnel.”

Although Cheyenne Mountain, the site of movies and television series such as “WarGames,” “Interstellar,” “Stargate SG-1” and “Terminator,” attracts occasional trespassers and protesters, security forces members more often chase away photographers, said Senior Airman Ricardo Pierre Collie, a 721st Security Forces Squadron member.

“The biggest part of security forces’ day is spent responding to alarms and getting accustomed to not seeing the sun on a 12-hour shift when working inside the mountain,” Collie said.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
Steven Rose (left), the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station deputy director, and the safety chief paddle a boat toward the back of one of Cheyenne Mountain Complex’s underground reservoirs to place a floating device. The underground reservoirs carved from solid rock provide drinking and cooling water, while a lake of diesel fuel sits ready for the six locomotive-sized diesel generators capable of powering a small city. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

Security forces must also be ready to respond at a moment’s notice because, when charged with protecting an installation like Cheyenne Mountain AFS, the reaction time is even more crucial. Airmen like Collie feel their responsibly to protect America’s Fortress remains as vital today as it was during the Cold War.

“The important day at Cheyenne Mountain wasn’t the day we opened in 1966,” Rose said. “The next important date isn’t in April 2016 (the installation’s 50-year anniversary), it’s about all those days in between. The Airmen who come here to Cheyenne Mountain every day will be watching your skies and shores in (the nation’s) defense.”

As Cheyenne Mountain AFS enters its next 50 years, the dragon remains awake and alert to all threats against the U.S.

AirmanMagazineOnline, YouTube
Articles

This how the Army introduced the plastic explosive in the 1960s

Today, plastic explosives are a given. But 50 years ago, they were the latest in demolition technology. One of the most notable, of course, is C4.


Officially, it is called the M118 demolition charge, and was called Flex-X back then. Prior to the introduction of Flex-X, explosives had to be secured to what the engineers wanted to blow up.

C4, though, was more like Play-Doh or used chewing gum in that it could be stuck to whatever needs to go away.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
Composition C-4 demolition charges await use as explosive ordnance disposal technicians conduct demolition operations supervisor training. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Kathryn Whittenberger)

The explosive had some other advantages as well. It could be used underwater, which means that divers could plant it on a pier without having to surface and risk being seen.

The explosive was also very insensitive. The video below shows troops dropping a weight on the Flex-X to no effect. It wouldn’t even go off when shot by multiple rounds from a M14 service rifle or when tossed into a campfire.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
Those two shots from a M14 rifle did not set off the M118 charge. The third wasn’t the charm, either. (Youtube screenshot)

It also took much less time to set up – almost 60 percent less – when compared to earlier explosives, thanks to that Play-Doh/chewing gum consistency. That would save the lives of the engineers, who would spend less time away from cover.

Cold weather had little effect on the explosive’s ability to stick to whatever needed to be blown up. Other explosives needed to be taped or otherwise secured to the target.

According to the Federation of American Scientists, the M118 came in a box of 20 charges, each of which had four eight-ounce sheets of C4. A sales sheet from one manufacturer notes that the M118 is intended for breaching, ordnance disposal, demolition, and cutting metal.

The explosive replaced stocks of TNT, dynamite, and PETN in U.S. military stockpiles.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUJd_jKeStY
Articles

US to remain in Iraq for ‘years to come’

Top Pentagon leaders are warning that the long war is going to get even longer.


Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford told Senate leaders on Wednesday that even after ISIS is defeated in Syria and Iraq, U.S. troops will be stationed in the region for at least a few years afterward.

“I believe it’s in our national interest that we keep Iraqi security forces in a position to keep our mutual enemies on their back foot,” Mattis told members of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Defense.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
A cavalry scout assigned to the 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, scans his sector during his guard shift near Makhmour, Iraq on Jan. 27, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ian Ryan)

“I don’t see any reason to pull out again and face the same lesson,” he added, referencing the removal of all U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011.

Though President Barack Obama in 2008 campaigned on a promise to pull troops out of Iraq, the move has been criticized by conservatives in the years since as helping fuel the rise of ISIS.

In 2014, as ISIS militants seized vast swaths of Iraq and Syria, one senior military officer told Business Insider the rise of the terror group in the wake of U.S. troop departures was inevitable.

“We said we won some success but this is reversible,” the retired senior U.S. military officer said, on condition of anonymity. “So what we’re seeing now is exactly what we forecasted.”

So far, Mattis seems more comfortable placing troops closer to harm’s way than his predecessor.

Though the Pentagon has long downplayed the role of U.S. ground troops in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, recent deployments of many more “boots on the ground” suggest they may be front-and-center in the coming months.

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
Green Berets flood a room while practicing close quarters combat techniques. (3rd Special Forces Group)

In addition to roughly 500 U.S. special operations forces, the military has sent conventional ground troops inside Syria, to include a contingent of Army Rangers, soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division, and artillerymen from 1st Battalion, 4th Marines to provide fire support just 20-30 miles from Raqqa, the ISIS capital.

“The Iraqi security forces will need that kind of support for years to come,” Dunford told the Senate committee.

Articles

Ride service’s military hiring program hits 50,000 drivers

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels
(Photo courtesy of Uber)


In 2014 the ride service Uber launched “Uber Military,” a veteran hiring initiative designed to get transitioning service members interested in becoming a “partner,” as the company calls its drivers. Since that time Uber has signed up more than 50,000 veterans as drivers.

As a result of the milestone, Uber just announced that they are donating $1 million dollars to a host of veteran charities including the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and Homes for our Troops.

“Over the past 18 months, we’ve crisscrossed the country to hear the stories of servicemembers and veterans,” Uber’s Emil Michael wrote in a company blog post. “Everywhere we go, they tell us that they want opportunities to make money on their own terms and set their own schedules. We’re thrilled to be able to give more servicemembers and veterans the on-demand work opportunities they’ve been asking for.”

The charities were picked by the Uber Military Advisory Board, an impressive collection of veterans that includes former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, former ISAF commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal, and former Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen (who’s also on WATM’s Board of Directors).

There are other elements to the Uber Military initiative beyond a big donation to military charities. Uber has incentivized drivers to begin or end a ride on military installations by paying higher rates for those trips. The company has also partnered with Mothers Against Drunk Driving to create awareness about the perils of driving while intoxicated, particularly in military communities that tend to be spread out and require the use of cars to get around.

The Uber Military promotional campaigns are currently centered around the big military populations in California, Texas, and Florida, but the company wants to encourage veterans nationwide to sign up to be drivers.

Kia Hamel is a Navy vet as well as a Navy spouse. Her husband is stationed in Hampton Roads as the executive officer of an amphibious ship, and she has remained in the DC Metro region to keep working as a paralegal while she pursues her master’s degree. Kia has a 4th-grader at home and a son nearby who’s attending college. She first heard about Uber through an email from a third-party employment company, and almost on a whim she clicked on the company’s site link.

“The first thing I noticed was that the drivers didn’t fit the classic cabbie profile,” Hamel says. “I filled out the forms and two weeks later I downloaded the partner app and I was an Uber driver.”

Before Hamel got her part-time job with the law firm, she was driving more than 40 hours a week. “You can make a living wage,” she says. Now she drives when her schedule allows — in the morning during rush hour or on weekends. “For me it’s all about the flexibility.”

// ![CDATA[/pp(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1version=v2.3”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));/pp// ]]

Thank You | UberMILITARYTo the veterans and military family members who have chosen to hit the road with us—thank you. ubr.to/50k

Posted by Uber on Thursday, April 7, 2016

 

Todd Bowers, Marine veteran and Uber’s director of military outreach, points out that Uber’s military vet drivers have driven in 175 cities in all 50 states and that their combined trip distance to date adds up to 78,309,082 miles.

As Bowers travels around the country trying to create awareness in military communities and with veterans everywhere, he’s always amazed at the wide range of profiles of those driving with Uber. “I went to an MBA program a couple of days ago and asked if any of them had driven for Uber, and five officers in the classroom raised their hands,” Bowers says.

“We understand our utility in the veteran employment timeline,” Bowers says. “We’re probably not anyone’s ‘forever’ job, but we’re a great way for vets to earn income when they’re in transition or in need of a part-time job that has max flexibility.”

Here’s some more at-a-glance data:

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels

If you’re a military veteran or active duty servicemember who wants to know more about how to get started as an Uber driver go here.