A-10 looks like it's here to stay after new Air Force upgrades - We Are The Mighty
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A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades

In another positive sign for the beloved A-10, Air Force maintainers at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona have outfitted the Warthog with an upgrade for combat search and rescue missions, or CSAR.


Dubbed the lightweight airborne recovery system, the upgrade helps A-10 pilots “communicate more effectively with individuals on the ground such as downed pilots, pararescuemen, and joint terminal attack controllers,” according to an Air Force statement.

Also read: F-35 fighter pilot says he can take on any stealth fighter in the world

Of all the fixed-wing aircraft in the US Air Force’s inventory, no plane carries out CSAR missions like the A-10.

CSAR missions jump off with little warning and often involve going deep into enemy territory, so becoming certified to perform CSAR missions takes tons of training, which only A-10 pilots undergo.

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
Senior Airman Clay Thomas, a 355th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron load crew member, loosens paneling screws from an A-10C Thunderbolt II at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. | U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley N. Steffen

The A-10’s rugged survivability, massive forward firing power, newly acquired communication capabilities, and long loiter times at low altitudes make it ideal for flying low and slow and finding the lost person.

According to the Air Force, an “urgent operational need arose in August” for increased CSAR capabilities. Within a few months, the “massive logistical challenge” that required the Air Force to “build a production machine, find facilities, manpower, equipment, tools, and make material kits (to) execute the requirement” came together, and now 19 A-10s sport the upgrade, according to the Air Force.

“A-10 pilots take the combat search and rescue role very seriously,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Hayde, 354th Fighter Squadron commander and A-10 pilot, according to the Air Force statement. “While this is just one tool, it can assist us in bringing them back to US soil safely.”

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
Government Office of Accountability

While the A-10 still faces the chopping block in 2018, new investment in the Warthog and the reopening of the production lines in October bode well for the plane’s future protecting American interests and infantry soldiers.

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 absurd military habits that stay with you forever

The thing about your regular habits in the military is that they are sometimes literally drilled into you. Chances are good you still have the urgent desire to remove your hat when you walk into a building. You probably fall into lock-step when anyone starts walking next to you and feel incredibly uncomfortable with the idea of putting your hands in your pockets. These are just the little things you’ve done for years, things you may not even notice.

There are many, many other things you probably do notice that you probably wish you could break – because you look ridiculous.


A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades

“I don’t know what you have planned for the weekend, Wayne, but I’m out.”

The bug-out bag in your trunk.

This one isn’t that big a deal. You’re basically ready to deploy to somewhere at a moment’s notice, even though you don’t need to be. Luckily, only the people who see inside your trunk (and probably also in your closet) will know about this one. But lo and behold, you are prepared for almost any eventuality, no matter when it happens. House fire? All set. Earthquake? Ready to go. Zombie apocalypse? Absolutely. Your go-bag contains food (probably an MRE), important papers, a water filter, and anything else you’ll need to survive or walk away with in case stuff hits the fan. Even if you don’t have this, you think you need to get one.

To the rest of the world, you might look like a crazy survivalist, but they’ll be dead, and you’ll be alive so who cares?

Now: 12 important things that need to be in your bug-out bag

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades

I would rather ride in silence.

Shouting in the passenger seat.

Does the driver of the vehicle you’re riding shotgun in need to know if he or she is clear on the right or left? That doesn’t matter because you’re going to tell them, and probably do it a little louder than your indoor voice. If, for some reason, there is some kind of vehicle or other object on the way, you’ll be sure to let them know exactly what it is and how far away it is from the vehicle. If not you’re letting them know: CLEAR RIGHT.

Extra points if you feel the need to fill up at half a tank and/or check the pressure of every tire, including the spare.

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades

How to gain credibility in one easy photo.

Staring at everyone’s shoes.

Sure, that guy who interviewed you was the senior reporter for the local news channel, but it looks like he polished his shoes with a Hershey bar and was thus slightly less deserving of your respect. He probably also has terrible attention to detail as all people with rough-looking shoes must have, right? You know who those people are because you’re staring at shoes for a few seconds upon meeting literally anyone and everyone.

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades

Eating too fast.

How does it taste? We may never know. Veterans could eat an entire Thanksgiving dinner during a Lions-Packers commercial break.

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades

Carrying everything in your left hand.

When you’re in the military, this is not only a regulation, it just makes sense. How are you supposed to salute when your right hand is full? The answer is that your right hand should always be empty. When you’re out of the military, this is so ingrained in your muscle memory that you’ll carry a whole week’s groceries in one hand while your right is completely free.

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades

When you find out White Castle has a free meal for veterans.

Moving with a sense of purpose for things that don’t warrant it. 

There’s no reason to make a beeline for the prime rib at Golden Corral, but the actions of hundreds of veterans on Veterans Day would make one think otherwise. There’s a high probability veterans get annoyed at civilians who don’t move through the taco bar fast enough.

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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.

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
Image: ACADEMI

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

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
Boom!

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

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

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
SMPFilms!, YouTube

4. … but it definitely helps.

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
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.

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
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.

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
Photo: Wiki Commons

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

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
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.

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
RitualMagick, YouTube

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

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
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 …

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
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 …

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
Taken, 20th Century Fox

12. Tactical driving …

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
ACADEMI, YouTube

13. … and being a bodyguard.

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
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.

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
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 …

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
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.

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
Image: ACADEMI

And much, much more.

MIGHTY TRENDING

95 year old veteran passes hours after achieving dream to visit WWII Memorial

A 95-year-old World War II veteran died during a so-called Honor Flight carrying him home from a weekend in Washington, DC.

Frank Manchel was returning home to San Diego, California, after an all-expenses-paid trip to DC honoring WWII veterans when he died on May 5, 2019, the non-profit Honor Flight San Diego said in a statement.

The American Airlines flight was about an hour from landing in San Diego when Manchel collapsed, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Dave Smith, founder of Honor Flight San Diego, told the Union-Tribune that Manchel’s death was “almost instantaneous.”

“He was laughing, chatting, having a good time — and then he collapsed,” he said.


Manchel, who served as an Army technical sergeant in WWII, had flown to DC with 82 other veterans, family members, and volunteers, to visit historic landmarks in the country’s capital.

The group visited the WWII Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Air Force Memorial, the Navy Yard’s museum, and the military electronics museum.

Manchel’s sons, Bruce and Howard, as well as his 93-year-old brother, Jerome, and nephew, David, joined him on the trip.

Bruce Manchel said in a statement on May 6, 2019 seen by INSIDER that his father died after “the most amazing weekend, surrounded by his newest best friends.”

“We thank all of you — Honor Flight San Diego, American Airlines, San Diego International Airport, friends, and supporters for your concern and for allowing the weekend to be so special for all of us to share together.”

Following Manchel’s death, an American Flag was draped over his body, and two chaplains on board the flight said prayers.

When the plane landed in San Diego, veterans saluted as they passed by his body.

Honor Flight San Diego told INSIDER that American Airlines offered to take Manchel’s remains and relatives to Detroit, Michigan, at no charge ahead of May 9, 2019’s funeral. Honor Flight San Diego’s founder will be in attendance.

This is the seventh death to happen during an Honor Flight Network flight, the Associated Press reported. Honor Flight San Diego requires veterans and their guardians to complete medical questionnaires before flying.

In 2018, fewer than 500,000 of the 16 million Americans who served in WWII were still alive, according to US Department of Veterans Affairs statistics cited by the National WWII Museum in New Orleans.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Top Chinese officer call for attacks on US ships

The South China Sea is a powder keg, and one senior Chinese military officer seems interested in lighting the fuse.

Dai Xu, a People’s Liberation Army Air Force colonel commandant and the president of China’s Institute of Marine Safety and Cooperation, suggested at a conference in Beijing on Dec. 8, 2018, that the Chinese navy should use force to counter US freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea, Taiwan News reported.

Taiwan News cited a report from Global Times, the nationalist, state-backed Chinese tabloid that hosted the conference, that quoted him as saying: “If the US warships break into Chinese waters again, I suggest that two warships should be sent: one to stop it, and another one to ram it … In our territorial waters, we won’t allow US warships to create disturbance.”


Dai, known for his hawkish rhetoric, argued that the US Navy’s operations are provocations aimed at undermining China’s sovereignty rather than an attempt to ensure freedom of navigation in international waters. The US Navy regularly sails destroyers and cruisers past Chinese-occupied territories in the South China Sea, while US Air Force bombers tear past on routine overflights that often ruffle Beijing’s feathers.

In the latest operation, in late November 2018, the US Navy sent the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville to challenge China’s claims near the Paracel Islands.

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades

The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville.

The Global Times is known for its often provocative articles, designed to differ from the more rigid state media outlets like Xinhua and appeal to an alternative audience. Dai’s rhetoric at the conference appears consistent with that, as he seemed to welcome an increase in tensions and suggest that confrontation in the South China Sea could create an opportunity for mainland China to retake Taiwan.

“It would boost the speed of our unification of Taiwan,” he was quoted as telling the conference, adding: “Let’s just be prepared and wait. Once a strategic opportunity emerges, we should be ready to take over Taiwan.”

Dai’s comments about the use of force in the South China Sea came on the heels of a near-miss incident in September 2018, in which a Chinese Luyang-class destroyer confronted the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur during an operation in the Spratly Islands.

During the incident, which the US characterized as “unsafe,” the Chinese vessel appeared to make preparations to ram the American warship and force it off course. A foreign-policy expert described the showdown as “the PLAN’s most direct and dangerous attempt to interfere with lawful US Navy navigation in the South China Sea to date.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Articles

France’s operators are reportedly hunting French militants in Iraq

France’s special operators in Iraq are collecting intelligence on their own citizens and then distributing it to Iraqi forces, according to the Wall Street Journal. The intent appears to be ensuring that as few French citizens as possible learn to fight under ISIS tutelage and then conduct attacks at home.


France has suffered many ISIS-sponsored and ISIS-inspired international attack, including the attack in Nice in July 2016 that killed 84 and the 2015 Paris attack that killed 130.

An estimated 1,700 French citizens have joined militant groups in Iraq and Syria, and France has little reason to want any of them back. Gathering intelligence on the most dangerous of them and handing it over to the Iraqis is a convenient way to reduce the threat without violating French laws on extra-judicial killings.

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
French TV news has reported that France’s special operations forces are embedded with Iraqi units. (Screen Grab from France 24 News)

The U.S. has killed Americans in drone strikes and firefights, but only one of them was specifically targeted. Anwar al-Awlaki was a New Mexico-born Muslim cleric who preached a particularly anti-American and violent reading of Islam. He was targeted and killed in a drone strike in 2011.

France appears to be sidestepping the controversy that embroiled the Obama administration after the killing of al-Awlaki by outsourcing the dirty work.

Christophe Castaner, a French spokesman, responded to questions about the special operations with, “I say to all the fighters who join (Islamic State) and who travel overseas to wage war: Waging war means taking risks. They are responsible for those risks.”

Basically, the official spokesman equivalent of, “Bye, Felicia.”

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle sails in 2009. (Photo: U.S. Navy

France was historically reluctant to join the wars in the Middle East, participating in the NATO-led operation in Afghanistan but protesting America’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.

But the rise of ISIS drew France deeper into the fight and Paris currently has large operations ongoing in North Africa and in Iraq and Syria. In 2015, France’s only aircraft carrier was en route to the Persian Gulf when the ISIS attack in Paris killed 130. The carrier was rerouted to the Mediterranean Sea where it concentrated its air strikes against ISIS forces in Syria.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How Russia gained a ‘treasure trove’ of intel on the US Air Force

In the fight against the terrorist group ISIS in Iraq and Syria, U.S. and U.S.-led-coalition jets have flown thousands of sorties and dropped tons of munitions — but in doing so, they’ve tipped their hand to Russian fighter jets that have eagerly stalked them.


“The skies over Iraq and specifically Syria have really just been a treasure trove for them to see how we operate,” Lt. Gen. VeraLinn “Dash” Jamieson said at an Air Force Association briefing hosted by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies on Jan. 4.

“Our adversaries are watching us — they’re learning from us,” said Jamieson, adding that Russia’s air force cycled most forces through Syria to give them real-world combat experience.

During the air campaign in Syria, Russia got a look at the tactics, behaviors, radar, and thermal signatures of the US’s top air-dominance fighter, the F-22.

Russia is figuring the US out and gloating over it

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
Russian Su-35 (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

In the skies over Syria, Russia’s top fighter jets came face to face with the F-22 and appeared to show it little reverence.

Russia’s air force has gloated over its dominance in such encounters, though that should be taken with a grain of salt.

“We always found ourselves ‘on their tails,’ as the pilots say, which means victory in a dogfight,” said Maksim Makolin of Russian Aerospace Forces, according to state media.

Though Russia often exaggerates or fabricates stories of its air force’s prowess, there’s reason to believe Russia gained valuable information that could help it in a fight with U.S. jets.

“Russia can learn more than just observing U.S./coalition tactics, techniques, and procedures,” Justin Bronk, an expert on aerial combat at the Royal United Services Institute, told Business Insider. “They can also ‘paint’ Western fighters and other air assets with ground-based and aerial fire control and search radars.”

Also Read: This is the reason Russian and Western tactics are changing

The F-22 relies on stealth for its major advantage against Russian jets, which perform similarly, if not better, in traditional confrontations like dogfights. If Russia gained experience tracking the F-22 with infrared-search-and-track radars, as Bronk suggested it might have, it would be “very useful stuff.”

Russia’s operating close to the U.S. most likely allowed it to tune its air- and land-based sensors to detect all varieties of U.S. and coalition aircraft operating over Syria.

Russia in Syria has been a double-edged sword

As a result, the advantages afforded to planes like the F-22 that utilize stealth — and all U.S. fighter jets that use classified tactics in combat scenarios — may have been eroded.

“Russia has gained invaluable insights and information with operating in a contested airspace alongside us in Syria, and they’re incorporating lessons learned of actually doing a first ‘away’ fight,” Jamieson said.

But as Bronk points out, the observation was most likely mutual — and most likely cut both ways.

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades

“Whilst Russia is certainly making every use that it can of the opportunity to learn about Western air operations and capabilities in the shared skies over Syria, that process goes both ways since whatever Russian military aircraft do is done within airspace heavily surveilled by Western assets,” Bronk said.

Still, as adversaries catch up, the future of U.S. air supremacy becomes less clear.

“The United States Air Force can and will maintain air supremacy today,” Lt. Gen. Chris Nowland said at the briefing. “The question is the future.”

Articles

Iconic World War II ‘nurse’ Greta Friedman dies at 92

The woman behind one of the most iconic photographs of World War II has died.


Greta Friedman, a woman dressed as a nurse pictured kissing a sailor in New York City as America announced its victory over Japan, passed away Sept. 1. She was 92.

It’s one of the most famous photos of the 20th Century and shows a sailor who celebrates by hugging a nurse (actually a dental assistant, who just happened to be walking by) and giving her a long celebratory kiss.

Good thing a world-famous Life Magazine photographer happened to be standing there.

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades

Photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt called the photo “V-J Day in Times Square” and captioned it “In New York’s Times Square a white-clad girl clutches her purse and skirt as an uninhibited sailor plants his lips squarely on hers.”

Friedman is widely believed to be the woman in the photo.

“I did not see him approaching, and before I know it I was in this tight grip,” Friedman told CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller in 2012.

A U.S. Navy photojournalist happened to be standing there as well and took a photo of his own from a different angle. He called it “Kissing the War Goodbye.”

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
Navy photographer Victor Jorgenson’s photo.

Call it what you like, the photo came to be the symbol of American sentiment as World War II ended. It has since been replicated in American pop culture from The Simpsons to Katy Perry.

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
Lance Cpl. Thomas Smith seizes the opportunity to kiss singer, Katy Perry on stage during the opening night block party for Fleet Week New York. (Official Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jeffrey Drew)

The sailor is widely believed to be George Mendonsa, who was reunited with Friedman in Times Square by CBS News.

“The excitement of the war bein’ over, plus I had a few drinks,” Mendonsa said, “so when I saw the nurse I grabbed her, and I kissed her.”

Then-Petty Officer 1st Class Mendosa is now 93 years old and lives in Rhode Island.

MIGHTY MOVIES

The Marine who bought a Harrier now has a reality show

Remember that guy who bought a Harrier? Well, now, Art Nalls is adding reality TV star to his resume as the only civilian owner of a Harrier jump jet.


According to a release by AARP Studios, Nalls is starring in Badass Pilot, which tells the tale of how he acquired a British Aerospace Sea Harrier FA2 retired by the Fleet Air Arm and made it into a civilian warbird. The series premiered Nov. 14 on the YouTube page of AARP Studios.

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
Royal Navy crewmen aboard the Invincible-class aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (R06), prepare a 801 Naval Air Squadron BAe Sea Harrier FA2 for take off from the flight deck on 12 March 1998. (Navy photo by PHC Alexander C. Hicks)

“I think the title of this show says it all. Art is, in fact, a badass pilot, and the perfect example or embodiment of how age doesn’t define anything,” AARP Studios Vice President Jeffrey Eagle said in the release. “Art certainly answers the question ‘How do you become the only civilian to own a Sea Harrier Fighter jet?’ but there’s a lot more to the series than that. Art’s purchase of the plane was just the beginning of the adventure.”

Also read: This music legend stole a helicopter and landed it at Johnny Cash’s house

Nalls has been taking the Sea Harrier to air shows around the country, including to Syracuse to pay tribute to a fallen Blue Angel in 2016. This is the first Harrier to have been owned by a civilian, although there was a 1996 attempt by John Leonard to claim one from Pepsi.

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
A Sea Harrier pilot of No 801 Squadron in his cockpit on HMS Invincible’s flight deck. (UK MOD Photo)

The Sea Harrier entered service with the Fleet Air Arm in 1978. Four years later, it proved instrumental in winning the Falklands War while flying from the carriers HMS Invincible and HMS Hermes (and, later, from the INS Vikrant). The Royal Air Force, United States Marine Corps, India, Spain, Italy, and Thailand have all flown versions of the Harrier.

According to MilitaryFactory.com, the Sea Harrier has a top speed of 734 miles per hour, a maximum range of 2,237 miles, and carries up to 5,000 pounds of ordnance. It’s able to carry various air-to-air missiles, including the AIM-9 Sidewinder, AIM-132 ASRAAM, and the AIM-120 AMRAAM.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Intense bombing brings Syrian rebels to the bargaining table

Rebels in besieged areas of southwestern Syria say they are returning to negotiations with Russia over a possible pullout after an intensive bombing campaign by Russian and Syrian forces.

The move by rebel forces on July 5, 2018, comes after a brief suspension of the Moscow-brokered negotiations that have produced agreements already to return more than 30 towns to government control in the strategic zone of southern Syria bordering both Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

A brief collapse of the talks on July 4, 2018, ushered in a blitz of Russian and Syrian air strikes, barrel bombs, and missiles, following a pattern Russia and Syria have pursued repeatedly to regain control over rebel territory.


The bombing barrage sent an estimated 320,000 civilians fleeing the area in what appeared to be one of the fastest displacements in Syria’s seven-year civil war, prompting an international outcry and meetings at the United Nations.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s goal is to recapture Syria’s entire southwest, one of the last rebel strongholds in the country.

Within 24 hours of the resumed bombing, rebels said they wanted to return to negotiations, with the talks focusing on their pullout from the territory they still control in Daraa’s western countryside and the southern half of the provincial capital.

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Daraa is considered to be the cradle of the 2011 uprising against Assad that triggered the devastating war, which has killed more than half a million people and displaced millions.

Hussein Abazeed, spokesman for the south’s joint rebel command, accused Russia of pursuing a “scorched-earth policy” to force rebels back to the negotiating table.

As rebels agreed to renewed talks, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, reported a halt to both Russian and Syrian government air strikes over the south.

Rebels say Russia has insisted that opposition factions hand over their heavy weapons all at once, while rebels want to relinquish their arms in several phases.

Moscow also reportedly has refused rebel requests for safe passage to opposition-held territory in other parts of Syria, as was granted to rebels who agreed to pull out of Eastern Ghouta and Aleppo.

During the renewed fighting, regime forces retook control of a security checkpoint on the Jordanian border for the first time in more than three years, the monitoring group said.

Rebels then handed some 275 square kilometers of territory near the border to government forces without a fight, said observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.

Nearly 150 civilians have died since the government assault in the south began two weeks ago, according to the observatory.

Many of the area’s 320,000 displaced people have been fleeing south to the borders with Jordan and the Golan Heights, the UN says.

But both Israel and Jordan have kept their borders closed, despite mounting calls to let Syrians escape to safety.

The International Rescue Committee said displaced families are struggling to cope with 45-degree heat, scorpions, and snakes in the open desert area.

Rebel territory in southern Syria was included in a cease-fire zone created last year in a deal between Washington, Amman, and Moscow, but that did little to halt the government’s assault.

Near the start of the government’s offensive, Washington indicated it would respond to violations of the cease-fire deal, but it has not done so yet and rebels said it had told them to expect no American military help.

The onslaught has sparked calls for restraint and an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council on July 5, 2018. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that an “estimated 750,000 lives are in danger.”

But Russia blocked the council from adopting a statement on the issue. A diplomat said on condition of anonymity there had been a fruitless push to persuade Moscow to accept a pause in fighting to distribute humanitarian aid.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

Articles

Here’s how to support Afghans trying to come to the United States

As the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan continues following the U.S. withdrawal, thousands of Afghans have gathered at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul trying to escape the country. Aircrafts are cramming as many passengers as possible, with hopes of getting as many out as they can. For Americans in the states wanting to support the Afghans they worked with, the situation may seem impossible; especially with the August 31 withdrawal deadline. There are, however, some steps you can take to aid your colleagues in Afghanistan and help them get to the U.S.

1. Don’t post pictures of them on social media

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
You learned this one in the Cyber Awareness Challenge; don’t disappoint Jeff (DOD)

The Taliban is not sympathetic to Afghans who supported American forces. Those who served as interpreters have been marked for death along with their families. On the 21st century battlefield, the Taliban has become adept at utilizing social media for propaganda, recruiting and targeting. Sharing pictures of Afghan interpreters who you worked with only puts them in greater danger as they make their escape from Afghanistan.

2. Guide them to the right program

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
A useful graphic for determining program eligibility (Combined Arms)

There are a few ways for Afghans to leave the country. One of the most talked about is the Special Immigrant Visa. The requirements for SIV eligibility have changed recently, so it’s important to review them and determine whether or not your Afghan friend qualifies. If they don’t, they may be eligible for a Priority 2 designation. For Afghans who don’t qualify for SIV or P2, the best option is to go through the UN. The graphic above can help you determine which program they qualify for. Another important consideration is their actual documentation. Encourage your Afghan friends to upload their documents to the cloud rather than traveling with physical copies. Paper documents can make them an easier target for the Taliban if they are discovered.

3. Send their names to the right point of contact

Afghans seeking transportation at Kabul must be approved first. At this time, an official State Department list is being referenced by Americans on the ground to manifest Afghans onto flights. While Afghans can submit their information to the State Department for consideration, Americans can also submit it on their behalf. For those in the SIV program, submit full name, date of birth, passport/visa application case numbers, and in-country contact information like email address or cell phone number to info@nooneleft.org. For civilians or others who may be in danger, contact the State Department directly at ACTF@STATE.GOV.

4. Donate to support new arrivals

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades

Afghans who are able to come to America have left everything behind to escape. Upon their arrival, they will need help settling in this new country and rebuilding their lives. No One Left Behind is the only nation-wide association of wartime allies in the US. They are dedicated to keeping America’s promise to Iraqi and Afghan interpreters who served side-by-side with American troops. You can donate to No One Left Behind and help them carry out their mission to evacuate Afghan SIVs and their families and support them in the US.

People are desperate, resources are stretched and time is running out. Our best bet in aiding our Afghan brothers and sisters is in following these steps.

Featured photo: U.S. Marine Cpl. Zach Switzer (right) and an interpreter stand with a village elder as U.S. Marines with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment (Reinforced), conduct a cordon and search mission with Afghan national police in a village in Farah province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, 2009. USMC Photo

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This insane anti-aircraft gun chased the Israelis out of the sky

The Israeli Air Force has long been dominant over the skies of the Middle East. They have superb pilots and they use their planes very well. There was a time, however, when that dominance was challenged – and it was arguably Israel’s darkest hour.


In 1973, Israel stood triumphant in the Middle East. For a quarter-century, it had fended off efforts to wipe it off the map. But on Yom Kippur, Egyptian and Syrian forces launched an attack. To protect their armored forces, the Egyptian-Syrian forces used a combination of two Soviet-designed systems: The SA-6 “Gainful” surface-to-air missile and the ZSU-23-4 “Shilka.”

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
Recognition graphic of a ZSU-23-4. (U.S. Army)

The latter system was truly deadly, considering Israeli tactics. Radar-guided and with four 23mm cannon capable of firing as many as 1,000 rounds per minute, the ZSU-23-4 was able to hit targets almost two miles away. Many Israeli pilots in A-4 Skyhawks, Mirage IIIs, Neshers, and F-4 Phantoms soon found out the hard way that flying low to avoid surface-to-air missiles was hazardous. In one strike, six aircraft were lost taking out a missile battery.

The Israelis eventually came up with workarounds to defeat the SA-6/ZSU-23 combo, but they needed aircraft replacements from the United States, due to losing roughly 100 aircraft. The Israelis would learn their lesson, and in 1982, Syrian forces found themselves on the wrong end of a turkey shoot.

Having proven itself in combat, the ZSU-23-4 was widely exported. As of 2014, 39 countries use this system to provide tactical air defense for their forces. Russia has since replaced the ZSU-23 in front-line units with the 2S6 Tunguska and the Pantsir gun-missile combo systems but this mobile gun will forever be known for the time it almost chased one of the best air forces in the world from the skies over a battlefield.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zEcPEIzekM
(Dung Tran | YouTube)
MIGHTY TRENDING

First US woman to ‘make general’ dies at age 97

On Jan. 7, the United States lost Brigadier General Anna Mae McCabe Hays, who died at the age of 97.


It took a while for women gain ground in the military. Hays didn’t let double standards or biases against her gender limit her during her military career. As a result of her fortitude and determination, she is now best-known for becoming the first female to be promoted to a General Officer rank in the United States armed forces.

Hays was born on Feb. 16, 1920, in Buffalo, NY. She had a love for music and would have applied to Julliard, but her parents could not afford the tuition.

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
Gen. Hays seated in an Army hospital during her two-year deployment to India. (U.S. Army Medical Department)

Hays also had an affinity for nursing; as a young child, she would practice tying bandages on wooden chairs and when she grew up, she decided to attend Allentown Hospital School of Nursing. After graduation in 1941, she lent her talents to the American Red Cross, but she soon learned that she could aid her country in a higher capacity.

After the attack against Pearl Harbor, Hays drove to Philadelphia where she signed up for the Army Nursing Corps. Her first assignment was a military base hospital in Assam, India, where she treated construction workers and Army engineers who had the task of building a road to China.

Amputations were a common occurrence and Hays witnessed — and assisted in — many of them. Impressively, at the end of WWII, Hays decided to stay in the Army. She went on to deploy to South Korea and set up the first hospital in the city of Ichon.

A-10 looks like it’s here to stay after new Air Force upgrades
Brigadier General Anna Mae Hays. (U.S Army)

Hays also helped lobby change for women by suggesting that married officers who became pregnant should not be automatically discharged. She also helped change the discriminatory age limitations that restricted women from joining the Army Nurse Corps Reserve.

Also read: These 6 women earned medals for gallantry in World War I

If that wasn’t enough, Hays also established the Army Institute of Nursing, which is now Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at Andrews AFB, Maryland. Her promotion to Brigadier General on June 11, 1970 was the first time a woman had worn stars on her shoulders. President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s wife, Mamie, was present at her ceremony and presented her with the very stars her husband received when he was promoted to the same rank in 1941.

After three decades of military service, Hays stated, “If I had it to do over again, I would do it longer.” A woman of steadfast fortitude and astonishing work ethic, Hays paved the way for future leaders of our armed services — men and women alike — and she will never be forgotten.

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