A brief history of North Korea's nuclear programs - We Are The Mighty
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A brief history of North Korea’s nuclear programs

North Korea hasn’t always been a nuclear pariah. For most of its history, it was just a regular pariah. Even the Soviet Union wasn’t thrilled with Kim Il-Sung’s special brand of communism, but as time went on other communists became hard to come by, so they cut the North Koreans a break. 

Time definitely took its toll on communist countries. These days, there are very few communist countries left; Cuba, Laos, Vietnam and China all stand with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). But North Korea is the only one that still goes around threatening its neighbors. For most of the post-Cold War era, no one really cared much. Then they got nukes. 

A brief history of North Korea’s nuclear programs
North Korea before they hit puberty and started taking “supplements.”

But it wasn’t always that way. In 1985, the DPRK actually signed the worldwide Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), committing it to halting the spread of nuclear weapons and associated technologies. It also promoted the peaceful use of nuclear energy. North Korea even had a nuclear power plant. This might have been at the behest of its Soviet benefactors, but it was still a good step forward.

Just before the fall of the Soviet Union, the USSR and the United States signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, which limited the deployment of nuclear weapons around the world. As part of this 1991 treaty, the United States removed its nuclear arsenal from the Korean Peninsula. The decision was celebrated in North Korea, where the two Koreas agreed not to produce or receive nuclear weapons or process uranium the very next year. 

But like most things in North Korea, it was short-lived. In 1993, the country was suspected of having an underground nuclear enrichment program and refused inspections from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). As tensions mounted, the DPRK threatened to withdraw from the NPT. Cooler heads prevailed after the U.S. intervened and talked it out. 

Tensions soon mounted yet again and it looked like North Korea and South Korea were on a collision course for war. In 1994, former President Jimmy Carter met with Korean leader Kim Il-Sung and defused the situation, paving the way for a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and the DPRK. 

A brief history of North Korea’s nuclear programs
Jimmy Carter and Kim Il-Sung, 1994 (Screen capture from YouTube)

During this time, the founder and President of North Korea, Kim Il-Sung died and his son, Kim Jong-Il took over amid a worsening famine there. That same year, the two countries agreed on a framework to halt North Korea’s illegal nuclear program in exchange for food aid, oil, food and two light-water reactors for energy.

Within five years, construction on the light-water reactors had begun and North Korea issued a moratorium on nuclear-capable missile testing. Its willingness to put its arsenal on hold led to the first Inter-Korean Summit in 2000. South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung visited Pyongyang after five decades of constant threats and conflict. The two left the summit with an agreement to begin multiple joint business ventures and cultural cooperation projects. Families separated by the Korean War were reunified and the U.S. eased economic sanctions on the DPRK. 

The warming relations between the two countries lead to a state visit in Pyongyang from U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright. The two countries talked about an end to North Korea’s missile program but were unable to seal a deal before the end of President Bill Clinton’s time in office. 

Clinton’s successor, George W. Bush, listed North Korea as part of an “Axis of Evil” in his 2002 State of the Union address and his administration refused to certify North Korea’s compliance with the 1994 Agreed Framework. North Korea responded by leaving the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and disregarding all agreements with South Korea. It expelled all IAEA inspectors and reactivated its nuclear plant in Yongbyon.

A brief history of North Korea’s nuclear programs
The Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center (Wikimedia Commons)

To ease tensions, leaders from North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Russia, the United States and China agreed to meet in Beijing in 2003. The Six-Party Talks (as they became known) succeeded in getting everyone together but no agreements were made. Two years later, the Six-Party Talks bore fruit, resulting in a North Korean agreement to end its nuclear program. It didn’t rejoin the NPT, but agreed to its terms. 

Until 2006, that is, when North Korea conducted its first underground nuclear test, along with seven ballistic missile tests. North Korea had officially joined the nuclear club. Since then, the effort to get North Korea to end its nuclear and missile programs has been a mess of quick starts and stops. Every time progress is made in negotiations, the DPRK finds a way to destroy it and advance the programs. 

A brief history of North Korea’s nuclear programs
Musudan Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missiles (IRBM) seen in military parades in Pyongyang (Korean Central news Agency)

Kim Jong-Il died in 2011, and his successor (and son) Kim Jong-Un briefly halted the nuclear program. The new leader briefly raised hopes of a nuclear-free Korea, but even those were soon dashed. Today, no one knows how many nuclear weapons the North has, or even how many missiles, but it is known that it is capable of striking the west coast of the United States – and everywhere in between. 

Feature image: Wikimedia Commons

Intel

A Russian weather girl gave a forecast for bombing runs in Syria

A brief history of North Korea’s nuclear programs


In a story that should have most certainly been Duffel Blog but is actually real-life, a Russian weather forecaster proclaimed the skies over Syria were perfect “flying weather” for Russian jets bombing rebel positions, The Guardian reported.

“Experts say the timing for [the airstrikes] was chosen very well in terms of weather,” Ekaterina Grigorova said in her report for Rossiya 24 on Sunday, according to The Washington Post.

The Russian military has carried out more than 100 sorties in Syria since its aerial campaign began last week. Moscow has claimed it has been bombing militants affiliated with ISIS, but so far strikes have overwhelmingly targeted anti-Assad and Kurdish forces instead.

“In these meteorological conditions, planes can dive below the clouds and conduct effective strikes on ground targets, and only climb higher if there’s active anti-aircraft fire,” Grigorova said in front of a graphic depicting a Sukhoi Su-24 strike aircraft dropping bombs on an enemy tank from the “optimal height for targeting and bombing” of three to five kilometers off the ground, according to the translation from The Guardian.

Here’s the Russian-language report:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmM7YD8cBS8

Check out the full story at the Washington Post

Articles

Here is how aerial gunners were trained to fight their way past the Luftwaffe

The United States Army Air Force’s daylight bombing campaign in Europe involved thousands of bombers, and tens of thousands of crewmen. While there were pilots, crew chiefs, radiomen, bombardiers, and navigators on planes like the B-17, about 40 percent of the crew were aerial gunners.


A brief history of North Korea’s nuclear programs
A U.S. Army Air Forces Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress flying through flak over a target. A hit by flak lead to the capture of Brigadier General Arthur Vanaman, placing ULTRA at risk. (USAF photo)

What did it take to get these specialists ready? In some ways, it didn’t take long – maybe a few weeks. But these gunners had to learn a lot. Maintenance of their machine guns was vitally important. But they also had to learn to hit a moving target – because the Nazi fighters trying to shoot the bombers down were not going to make things easy for them.

A brief history of North Korea’s nuclear programs
Messerschmidt Bf 109. (Photo: Kogo CC BY-SA 2.0)

So, what did it take to teach gunners how to hit a moving target? Well, for starters, there were lessons on maintenance for both a .30-caliber machine gun (mostly used early in the war) and the M2 .50-caliber machine gun, and how fix them when they jammed. Then, they had to learn how bullets traveled downrange, and how to adjust for the drop of the bullets from the guns.

A brief history of North Korea’s nuclear programs
A look at the ball turret of a B-17 Flying Fortress, carrying a pair of M2 .50-caliber machine guns. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

When that was done, the trainees were started on full-auto BB guns at an indoor range. Once that was mastered, they then did a lot of skeet shooting with 12-gauge shotguns.

Yep, a popular shooting sport was used to train the folks whose job involved keeping Nazi fighters from shooting down a bomber with ten airmen on board.

A brief history of North Korea’s nuclear programs

The training went on to include live-fire of the machine guns, as well as how the turrets used on planes like the B-17 and B-24 worked. Aircraft recognition — including knowing an enemy fighter’s wingspan — was also very important.

Following that, they took to the air, and learned how to fire the guns while wearing the gear they’d need on board a bomber – including a life vest, parachute, and the helmet.

A brief history of North Korea’s nuclear programs
B-17 gunners wearing bulky sheep-shearling flying clothing to protect against the deadly cold at the altitudes typically flown in Europe.— At 25,000 feet, the temperature could drop below -60 degrees Fahrenheit. (U.S. Air Force photo)

As you can imagine, this included a lot of learning and skills to master. You can see an introductory video for aerial gunners made during World War II below.

Articles

Why the only woman training to be a Navy SEAL dropped out

The only woman in the Navy SEAL training pipeline has dropped out, a Navy special warfare official confirmed Aug. 11.


The female midshipman voluntarily decided to not continue participating in a summer course that’s required of officers who want to be selected for SEAL training, Lt. Cmdr. Mark Walton, a Naval special warfare spokesman, told The Associated Press. The Navy has not released the woman’s name, part of a policy against publicly identifying SEALs or candidates for the force.

No other woman has started the long process required to become a Navy SEAL, Walton said.

Another woman has set her sights on becoming a Special Warfare Combatant Crewman, another job that recently opened to women. They often support the SEALs but also conduct missions of their own using state-of-the art, high-performance boats. She has started the various evaluations and standard Navy training.

A brief history of North Korea’s nuclear programs
U.S. Navy SEAL candidates from class 284 participate in Hell Week at the Naval Special Warfare Center at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado in San Diego, California. (U.S. Navy photo)

Officials have said it would be premature to speculate when the Navy will see its first female SEAL or Special Warfare Combatant Crewman.

The entry of women in one of the military’s most elite fighting forces is part of ongoing efforts to comply with then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s directive in December 2015 to open all military jobs to women, including the most dangerous commando posts.

That decision was formal recognition of the thousands of female servicewomen who fought in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars in recent years, including those who were killed or wounded.

The woman dropped out of the SEAL Officer Assessment and Selection program. It is open to Naval academy and Navy ROTC midshipmen and cadets during the summer before their senior year.

A brief history of North Korea’s nuclear programs
A Navy SEAL instructor assists students from BUD/S class 245 with learning the importance of listening during a Hell Week surf drill evolution. (ENS Bashon Mann, Public Affairs Officer Naval Special Warfare Center.)

The three-week-long program in Coronado, across the bay from San Diego, tests participants’ physical and psychological strength along with water competency and leadership skills. The program is the first in-person evaluation of a candidate who desires to become a Navy SEAL officer, and it allows sailors to compete against peers in an equitable training environment.

All sailors must go through the program before being selected to take part in SEAL basic training, a six-month program so grueling that 75 percent of candidates drop out by the end of the first month.

The services have been slowly integrating women into previously male-only roles. Those in special operations are among the most demanding jobs in the military. Two women in 2015 graduated from the Army’s grueling Ranger course.

MIGHTY HISTORY

German POWs hit the gridiron for the Barbwire Bowl Classic

Throughout the course of World War II German prisoners of war were commonly sent to the U.S. mainland, to be incarcerated in POW camps. This incarceration did not immediately end upon the conclusion of the war, and during this period enemy POWs underwent time in reeducation camps as they awaited repatriation to Germany. In January of 1946, 44 German POWs would get the opportunity to participate in a uniquely American autumn tradition, competition on the gridiron.


POW camps were a mainstay throughout the U.S. mainland in WWII. Upon conclusion of the war, prisoners were not immediately repatriated to Germany; rather many remaining incarcerated until they could be sent home. Many of these camps were located throughout the South and Midwestern states, but California had a handful of these camps as well.

One, located in Stockton, California would host an event that would become known as the Barbwire Bowl Classic, in which 44 German prisoners of war volunteered to participate in a game that would have thousands of spectators and gain national attention.

The commanding officer of the Stockton Ordnance Depot Colonel Kenneth Barager proposed a football game between POWs located at the stockade and POWs located at a smaller camp known as the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds, commanded by John M. Kiernan Jr. Barager hoped that this experience would spread football to Europe upon the POWs returning home. So, after posting an announcement asking for volunteers, those men that showed up were shown an instructional film and demonstration about American football, issued equipment provided by local area football teams, and began their preparation for the big game.

A brief history of North Korea’s nuclear programs

Kiernan’s Krushers

(http://warfarehistorynetwork.com)

The teams were coached by two former collegiate players. Sgt. Ed Tipton, a former player for the University of Texas would lead one squad, initially naming them Stockton Tech, but later changing their name to the Barager Bears. The other side was led by Sgt. Johnny Polczynski who played his college days at Marquette. Polczynski would call his team the Fairground Aggies, later changing their name to Kiernan’s Krushers.

The game was played on January 13, 1946 in front of an estimated 2,000 to 5,000 fans. Both teams struggled in the contest as they didn’t completely understand the rules. The teams had trouble throwing the ball, so they primarily stuck to the wing formation and T-formation, in an attempt to establish a rushing attack. A couple of fights apparently broke out, and the culprits were sent to the locker rooms for the remainder of the game.

In the 3rd quarter the Krushers QB Hubert Lüngen scored the games first points on a sneak play. The extra point was no good. The game would come down to the wire in the 4th quarter, with the Bears mounting some offense, driving all the way down to the ten-yard line before being stopped on 4th down. The final score was 6-0 in favor of Kiernan’s Krushers.

After the game the teams changed back into their military uniforms and were treated to a banquet at the Officer’s Club, and were sent back to their POW camps with plenty of leftovers. The teams decided to hold a rematch 4 weeks later, but this time Barager’s Bears would win 30-0.

Articles

This DNC delegate joined the Army after spending 22 years as a state lawmaker

A brief history of North Korea’s nuclear programs
Massachusetts state congressman, DNC delegate, and Army reservist Hank Naughton at the Philadelphia Convention Center for the Democratic National Convention. (Photo: Ward Carroll)


PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Hank Naughton had been a Massachusetts state lawmaker for 22 years when 9/11 happened. Like many Americans, the horror and tragedy of that day compelled him to try and do something to support the wounded nation he loved. And in his case, even though he was 42 years old, he decided to join the Army Reserve.

“I had a great life to that point — family, political career, law practice — and I thought I needed to step up and do something,” Naughton says. “I joined the Army. It took some effort at 42 years of age. I showed up at basic 17 years older than the next younger guy.”

Since Naughton was a lawyer, the Army naturally put him into the JAG Corps. “I thought I would just do my duty at Fort Devens in Massachusetts doing wills and legal work for ‘Pvt. Snuffy,” he says. “But then things started coming down the pike.”

Naughton wound up deploying multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan, supporting the highest levels of the war effort — commands like the 3rd Army, Multinational Force Iraq, and 4th Infantry Division in Kandahar — with legal rulings on rules of engagement and the laws of armed conflict. He also started the first women’s shelter during his time in Afghanistan, an effort for which he’s particularly proud.

Following those tours in the Middle East, he served in the Congo, an effort that he sums up as “trying to teach the soldiers there that rape is not a legitimate form of warfare.”

Between deployments, Naughton mounted a bid for Attorney General in Massachusetts, but “it didn’t work out,” as he puts it, so he continued to serve in the House. In 2015, he was sent back to the Middle East as part of Task Force 2010, an anti-corruption effort in Afghanistan, and then as a law of armed conflict advisor to the war effort in Syria.

This week Naughton is in Philadelphia where, among other duties, he’s serving as a Massachusetts delegate to the Democratic National Convention. He brings with him a legal and legislative background combined with years of recent firsthand war experience that give him a unique perspective on American foreign policy, the efficacy of which, he believes, has been convoluted during the current election cycle.

“President Obama and Secretary Clinton have been dealing a hand they were dealt by the Bush Administration,” he says. “There are a series of questions as to whether or not the Iraq War ever should have happened. Without the Iraq War, ISIS — Daesh — would never have come to fruition.”

Referring to the political opposition, Naughton adds, “They can be as critical as they want, but the decisions were made based on actions taken long before Barack Obama became President of the United States. They lose sight of the fact that there are still a significant number of our military brothers and sisters still there and a growing number back in Iraq.”

He’s also concerned that the political arguments between the parties are framing the solutions to the threats in dangerously simplistic ways.

“The Syria operation in the most complicated military/political/diplomatic/personnel operation that we’ve been involved in since World War II,” Naughton says. “There are 1,1oo different militias on the ground all with varying loyalties to each other and to parties outside the country.” He adds that he was in country when the Russians came in last summer, and he says that that “incredibly complicated the situation.”

Beyond the geopolitical realities, on a more personal level as a soldier-statesman, Naughton is worried how the campaign rhetoric is affecting troops’ morale.

“When I was on the Syria mission last year deployed with CENTCOM-Forward, we were not sensing a lot of support from our congressional leaders,” he says. “They can say all they want — ‘thank you for your service’ and pat us on the back — but they need to give us the resources we need and positive suggestions. Don’t just pull down for political profit.”

In spite of those fears, Naughton feels like gains have been made in the fight. “ISIS has lost close to 50 percent of the territory they had because of our efforts in the last year and a half,” he points out. “As we’re seeing, [ISIS] — because they want to have an effect on this election — they will continue to strike out on an international basis. I think we need to be prepared for that.

“And Donald Trump and the rest of his crowd can continue to blame immigrants and everybody else about these lone wolf attacks in Dallas and Baton Rouge, but the truth is our service members and homeland security have done a tremendous job preventing attacks,” he says. “One attack is one too many, but think of all that we’ve avoided.”

Putting on his Army JAG hat, Naughton takes issue with some of the Republican nominee’s recommendations on how to deal with the enemy. “The suggestion that we go after the families of terrorists is against the law of war, and any officer in the military has to recognize a lawful order,” he says. “What he suggests is counter productive. Breaking up NATO — the most successful alliance in the history of the world? I question the sanity of that.”

Naughton points out that he served with Peshmerga and Turkish officers who’ve questioned Trump’s proposed policy of banning all Muslims from entering the United States until “we figure it out,” as he said on the campaign trail some months ago.

“These are the bravest soldiers I’ve ever seen in my life and they wonder, ‘these are our allies? They’re questioning us because of our faith?'” Naughton says.

Naughton blames a lot of the political dialectic on the fact that none of the candidates have served in the military. “When my father came back from World War II and returned to the little town of Clinton, Massachusetts they’d stop after work for a couple of pops at the local pub,” he explains. “And if you didn’t know the guy sitting on the barstool beside you, the conversation starter wasn’t ‘were you in the war?’ it was ‘where we you in the war?” because everybody served. We don’t have that anymore. That’s not good, bad, or indifferent; it’s just the way it is.

“But when supposedly knowledgeable people say ‘kill the relatives of the terrorist’ or ‘turn the desert to glass’ or ‘carpet bomb them’ they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about, and that affects the men and women downrange. It’s obscene, and it’s insulting to the members of the military. Worse, it puts lives at risk.”

Naughton continues to drill as an Army reservist with a civil affairs unit at the Newport Naval Station while serving in the Massachusetts House, representing the 12th District (Worchester) and chairing the Public Safety and Homeland Security committee.

While at the DNC he’s taken on the role of “whip” among the state delegates, making sure they’re on the floor of the convention and “voting appropriately,” as he says.

Overall, Naughton sees this as a crucial time in American history, saying, “I’m 56 years old, served four tours in war zones, I have a son at the Naval Academy who will probably have a career much more stellar than mine, and I honestly think this is the most important election of my life.”

Tech

Here’s what it’s like inside a giant C-17 cargo plane at JB Charleston

Joint Base Charleston serves two factions of the US military: the Air Force and the Navy. Before 2010, the Charleston Air Force Base and the Navy Naval Support Activity Charleston had separate facilities. This Joint Base is the result of their merging. However, jurisdiction for the base lies with the Air Force. Located near Charleston, South Carolina, Joint Base Charleston also shares runways with Charleston International Airport. 

All Hail the 437th Airlift Wing

The 437th Airlift Wing controls the premier active-duty flying wing at the base, flying and maintaining a large fleet of C-17 aircraft, one of the largest in the entire Air Force. That gives Joint Base Charleston a pretty important role, as the fleet provides a significant chunk of Air Mobility Command’s Global Reach airlift capability. They are tasked with providing safe, reliable, and precise airlift to anywhere in the world. 

C-17s Are Out There Making the World Better

Their C-17 fleet contains roughly 41 aircraft. The fleet’s value rings in at about $9.2 billion. Each aircraft is with $212 million alone. Every three minutes day or night, one of the aircraft from the 437th Airlift Wing is either taking off or landing somewhere around the globe. These aircraft typically carry humanitarian supplies, war supplies, troops, or medical personnel. If there is trouble or conflict, Charleston’s planes are often the ones called upon to go and help out in some way. 

An Aircraft to Write Home About 

The C-17 fleet is so capable that it can carry many types of bulk cargo. It can fit two big buses, one large Army tank, or three helicopters, for reference. That means these aircraft are simply enormous, so big it’s hard to truly imagine without seeing it with your own eyes. The tail of one of these planes is more than 55 feet tall, the cockpit is around 20 feet tall, and its wingspan reaches nearly 170 feet. 

At full capacity, a C-17 can hold about 600,000 pounds on the ground with a maximum load of 170,900 pounds. It can land in precarious spots as well, on runways as short as 3,000 feet, even with a full load. Now that is one impressive machine. Operating these the 437th Airlift Wing is a workforce of 1,300 personnel, some military and some civilian. They all support the Department of Defense tactical airdrop, aeromedical evacuation support, and worldwide airlift. 

Articles

How the Chinese used a Badger bomber to send Trump a message

After feeling slighted by President-elect Donald Trump’s accepting a phone call from Taiwanese president Ing-wen Tsai, the Beijing sent a little message of its own.


According to a report by FoxNews.com, the People’s Liberation Army sent an H-6 Badger bomber, a plane in the inventories of both the People’s Liberation Army Air Force and the People’s Liberation Army Navy, on a mission over the South China Sea to assert China’s claims in the maritime hot spot.

The bomber, which can carry nuclear weapons or long-range missiles, is a copy of the Soviet-era Tu-16 Badger, a medium bomber now out of service in Russia and the former Soviet Union.

A brief history of North Korea’s nuclear programs
A H-6 Badger bomber. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Around the time the bomber’s flight hit the news, the Daily Caller reported that Trump demanded that the Chinese “play by the rules.”

“They haven’t played by the rules, and I know it’s time that they’re going to start,” the president-elect said during an event in Des Moines, Iowa, where he introduced Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad as his pick to be ambassador to China.

The Chinese Badger flew a path covering the so-called “Nine-Dash Line,” a demarcation of the country’s claims in the South China Sea. China’s claims were thrown out by a panel from the International Court of Justice, which issued a stinging rebuke.

It should be noted that China boycotted the process.

A brief history of North Korea’s nuclear programs
Map of the ChiComs’ Nine-Dash Line (Illustration from Wikimedia Commons)

The Chinese military has built bases on artificial islands in the South China Sea, notably at Scarborough Shoal. From those bases, they have flown J-11 Flankers, a knockoff of the Su-27.

The Chinese have backed up their claims aggressively, resulting in close calls for Navy planes on some occasions.

One incident in May 2016 involved an EP-3E Aries II electronic surveillance plane from the United States Navy. In 2014, a Navy P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft had a close call with a J-11 that came very close.

The Department of Defense criticized China in the wake of these incidents.

Concern about an accident is very valid – in 2001, a People’s Liberation Army Navy J-8 Finback collided with an EP-3E on a surveillance mission. The EP-3E made an emergency landing on Hainan Island, while the J-8 crashed, killing the pilot, Wang Wei.

The EP-3E crew was detained for ten days by the Chinese until a diplomatic solution was reached.

MIGHTY HISTORY

How Pepsi became the 6th largest military in the world

Almost everyone in the world has a favorite soda that they enjoy whenever they get the opportunity. But, is your favorite tasty drink worth giving up a military arsenal big enough to stock a whole country? Well, at one point in history, the Russians thought so.


In 1959, then-President Dwight Eisenhower wanted to bring our America culture to citizens of the Soviet Union and show them the benefits of capitalism.

To showcase their ideologies, the American government arranged the “American National Exhibition” in Moscow and sent then-Vice President Richard Nixon to attend the opening — but things were about to take a turn for the worse.

Related: This is the cheesy ‘Top Gun’ commercial Pepsi made in the 1980s

Nixon and Soviet leader Khrushchev got into an argument over the topic of capitalism versus communism. Their conversation got so heated that the vice president of Pepsi intervened and offered the Soviet leader a cup of his delicious, sugary beverage — and he drank it.

A brief history of North Korea’s nuclear programs
Pepsi saves the day!

Years later, the people of the Soviet Union wanted to strike a deal that would bring Pepsi products to their country permanently. However, there was an issue of how they would pay for their newest beverage, as their money wasn’t accepted throughout the world.

So, the clever country decided to buy Pepsi using a universal currency: vodka!

In the late-1980s, Russia’s initial agreement to serve Pepsi in their country was about to expire, but this time, their vodka wasn’t going to be enough to cover the cost.

So, the Russians did what any country would do in desperate times: They traded Pepsi a fleet of subs and boats for a whole lot of soda. The new agreement included 17 submarines, a cruiser, a frigate, and a destroyer.

A brief history of North Korea’s nuclear programs
A Soviet diesel submarine.

The combined fleet was traded for three billion dollars worth of Pepsi. Yes, you read that right. Russia loves their Pepsi.

The historical exchange caused Pepsi to become the 6th most powerful military in the world, for a moment, before they sold the fleet to a Swedish company for scrap recycling.

Also Read: That time someone sued Pepsi because they didn’t give him a Harrier jet

Check out Not Exactly Normal‘s video below to get the complete rundown of this sweet story for yourself.

 

(Not Exactly Normal | YouTube)
MIGHTY HISTORY

This raid was one of the Americas’s first overseas military operations

A daring raid launched to recover or destroy a captured ship 212 years ago marks the most celebrated episode of the United States first overseas military operations. Lieutenant Stephen Decatur and a small group of volunteers composed mostly of U.S. Marines covertly entered the port of Tripoli and successfully burned the captured USS Philadelphia.


 

A brief history of North Korea’s nuclear programs
Stephen Decatur, American Naval Officer, badass.

 

Corsairs from what were known as the Barbary States, composed of of Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, had been ravaging the Mediterranean for centuries, capturing merchant vessels and enslaving or ransoming their crews. Some estimates place the number of Europeans sold into slavery between the 16th and 19th centuries by the Barbary pirates at well over a million.

American shipping had traditionally relied on British naval protection, but following the American Revolution the British let the Barbary States know that U.S. vessels were fair game. In 1785 Dey Mohammed of Algiers seized several American vessels and held their crews for ransom. The weak U.S. government at the time could not raise the money or the naval power to get the sailors back.

Though the U.S. managed to successfully conclude a treaty with Morocco, it wasn’t until until 1795 that an agreement to pay exorbitant tribute to Algiers, Tripoli, and Tunis bought the captured sailors back. These tributes and later payments eventually began to consume up to 10 percent of the national budget.

Due to the situation with Algiers, Congress had authorized the construction of the first six ships of the U.S. Navy. When Tripoli declared open season on U.S. ships in 1801 over late payments of tribute, newly elected President Thomas Jefferson dispatched a small fleet to enforce a blockade of Tripoli and sent envoys to Sicily in order to secure a base to operate from.

After several skirmishes the U.S. Navy was largely able to maintain the blockade, its ships unchallenged at sea. But in October of 1803 the brand-new frigate USS Philadelphia ran aground a reef while patrolling the port of Tripoli. The captain and crew were captured and taken ashore for later ransom, and the Philadelphia was anchored in the harbor.

In order to deny the use of the Philadelphia to Tripoli, Lt. Decatur, commander of the schooner USS Enterprise, came up with an elaborate plan. A small vessel from Tripoli had recently been captured and rechristened as the USS Intrepid. Decatur would disguise the Intrepid as a regular merchant ship, enter the harbor at night, and lead a small force of mostly U.S. Marines to recapture or burn the Philadelphia; a raid. The USS Syren would stand by to offer fire support.

 

A brief history of North Korea’s nuclear programs
Philadelphia burning in Tripoli harbor.

 

On the night of Feb. 16, 1804, the raid plan was a go. Sicilian volunteers who could speak Arabic functioned as pilots for the Intrepid, and they called out in Arabic as the Intrepid entered the harbor to allay the harbormasters suspicions. Decatur and his men were disguised as Maltese seamen and Arabs.

When the Intrepid pulled alongside the Philadelphia, they took the Tripolitan guards completely by surprise with swords and boarding pikes. Without the loss of a single man they recaptured the ship, killing many of the guards and sending the rest overboard, but the Philadelphia was in no condition to return to sea. After the raiders set the Philadelphia on fire, they reboarded the Intrepid and made their escape as the Syren and Tripolitan shore batteries exchanged fire. The operation had been a spectacular success and was widely celebrated back home.

The U.S. ransomed the crew of the Philadelphia back in 1805, and Decatur went on to have a distinguished career through the War of 1812, and as fleet commander led a second operation against the Barbary States in 1815. After defeating the Dey of Algiers, Decatur negotiated a series of treaties that ended the Barbary threat to U.S. ships for good, and marked the end of one the first overseas operations by the United States. Even today, the raid is one of the most memorable in US history.

 

Articles

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC

Retired Marine Colonel Peter Barnett spent 30 years in the Corps as a Naval Aviator, Intelligence Officer and a recruiter, before taking his leadership skills to Hollywood to become a successful executive. Barnett joined the Corps in 1983 and became a Naval Aviator and Huey helicopter pilot. He deployed to Desert Shield, which was the buildup for Desert Storm as an IO for the air wing and then shifted to the reserves in 1994. He started in Hollywood in the early 80s working on independent films and such productions as Con Air and The Rock. His producing work includes The Sopranos, East Bound and Down, Arli$$, and Barnett supervised the productions of Narcos and Hannibal. He credits the Corps with changing his life and providing him with great opportunities.

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Photo courtesy of Peter Barnett.

This is our ongoing series that features former and retired Marines that have transitioned out of the Corps into new roles within civilian society. Barnett comes to Hollywood with a unique and pragmatic Marine Corps perspective that has served him well.

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Barnett flew both the UH-1 Huey and AH-1 Cobra helicopters. Photo courtesy of ebay.com.

Barnett was the oldest child. He raised his two younger siblings after his parents divorced when he was 10. He was a member of the Boy Scouts and then attended Cal State Northridge for Film and TV production. He shared about the key values stressed in his home life: “Work ethic. Being on time. Education. Both of my parents were highly educated people.” Barnett sought out the Corps during the writer’s strike in Hollywood in the early 1980s. He said, “I wanted to be a pilot and fly…my attraction to the Corps was leadership, brotherhood and traditions. The other services didn’t do it for me.” The Corps was challenging for him as he shared, “If I was going to go in the service, I was going to go all the way. If you fail, you fail and if you succeed you succeed. The bravado of the Marines impressed me as well, especially the Gunny at my OSO.”

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The cast of The Sopranos.

Barnett’s class started out with 128 aviation candidates on June 6th, 1983, and graduated 70 aviation candidates from TBS. Only 38 of the 128 were qualified candidates, later winged as Naval Aviators. He stated, “I joined the Corps to fly, do my eight years and get out. After 10 years I had flown every helicopter there was in the Corps and ended.”

Barnett returned to Hollywood following his active-duty service and then transitioned to the reserves. From his earlier contacts made while working in the 80s in Hollywood, he was able to restart his career quickly through a friend and producer Mark Bakshi. He started at Disney working in accounting on big-budget films. He credits the experiences and training of the Corps with his successful return to the movie business with, “Leadership roles, team building, planning and keeping a cool head under fire. Be the calming force in the room and let everyone know it will be the day.” 

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The cast of Con Air. Photo courtesy of whiterabbitcabaret.com.

He has spent time on lots of film and TV show sets and he stated:

“Every show is different; the characters are different. Every show has its own paintbrush, everything does not apply from one show to the next where what you learned on the last show may not apply to the next. It is personality, chain of command, logistics and operations driven. You have to figure it out. Marines love solving problems and can figure it out. We have many different plans where we can get to the objective. You make the best possible show you can with the money you have.”

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The blockbuster hit The Rock. Photo courtesy of IMDB.com.

Barnett likes to hire fellow veterans on projects when able. He does have some insights into how Marines view the entertainment industry. He explained, “Everybody gets out of the Marine Corps and thinks they can be a technical adviser. There are about four technical advisers consistently working in the industry. You have to be current. Once you leave active service your knowledge level becomes outdated.” He elaborated, “You cannot hire an Afghanistan veteran to be an adviser on an Iraq war movie.” He does have positive words for a fellow Marine veteran and Hollywood professional, “The skills Marines bring with them with their integrity and work ethic. I have worked several times with fellow Marine Kevin Collins. We can get things done with a wink and head nod. Kevin is a great professional.” Retired Marine Major Kevin Collins is a First Assistant Director with the Director’s Guild of America. Barnett added, “I would absolutely hire a veteran if it fits what I need.”

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The cast of Arli$$. Photo courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter.

He has been in on lots of pitches and been a consultant on shows to get them made. He shared key insights into getting more Marine stories into Hollywood, “Selling anything in Hollywood is like winning the lotto. It is so hard to sell any story or script in Hollywood.” He offered a good point with, “The best stories Marines can write are personal stories from their life that may not always be a military story. Military stories are a niche thing at times.”  One of his best insights is, “In Hollywood, you are walking into a room where you are pitching to people that have been making shows for 30 or 40 years. If they don’t love your story, then they don’t really care. They won’t do it just because you love it.” Barnett continued, “Many times, writers write for themselves which doesn’t sell. If you want to sell your project, it better be appealing to a general audience. It’s not ‘show friends’, it is ‘show business.’ Think big and what can sell. Who is your audience?” He knows that we as Marines love to tell stories, but they must be for a mass audience to sell.

When asked about what he wants to do next, Barnett answered, “I would like to sell some of my projects and my stories. Most are based on historical fact that people don’t know about. I want to work with great people and people that I like and enjoy. We continually learn on every project that we do. We want to solve problems and get to that objective. You want to have fun though too.”

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The cast of East Bound and Down. Photo courtesy of screenrant.com.

Barnett does offer mentorship to Marines entering the industry with, “It’s great to meet new Marines and help them out and mentor them. If I can help others avoid the pitfalls I had then that is a success. You also have to be careful how you flash the Eagle, Globe & Anchor — sometimes we are not welcome in the industry as Marines.” He understands where and when to drop the Marine Corps card and what impact it has on the potential audience in the room. He believes that we learn continuously on every project that we do. Barnett knows Marines want to solve problems and get to the objective but want to have fun, too. That is his goal for his next projects: to make what he wants and have fun in the process.

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Pedro Pascal and Boyd Holbrook in Narcos. Photo courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter.

When asked about his many accomplishments, Barnett said, “I am most proud of my children and then the Marine Corps. My accomplishments and my friendships are important, especially the relationships I still have from the Marines. We are family til today, and I have been a Marine since 1983. I am the organizer of a bi-annual reunion of fellow Marines. My TV and Entertainment career is my third proudest achievement. It is fun, exciting, different and you work with great people, but there is nothing like being a Marine.”

MIGHTY HISTORY

5 facts to know about the French and Indian War

The French and Indian War is known as the North American theater and the beginning of the Seven Years’ War. The shots fired in Pennsylvania would become the first in the world’s “first global war.” But how much do you know about the early career of George Washington and the catalyst for the American Revolution?


1. It all began in the Ohio River Valley.

With British America slowly grabbing land westward from the colonies and New French creeping south from modern-day Canada, the two were bound to crash into each other. New France ranged from The Saint Lawrence River Valley through Quebec, Detroit, St. Louis, to New Orleans. British America consisted of what would be the 13 colonies, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Rupert’s Land.

Both sides pushed into the Ohio River Valley for its vast resources and strategic advantage.

2. The rise of a 21 year old Lieutenant Colonel by the name of George Washington.

 

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Washington as Captain in the French and Indian War by Junius Brutus Stearns (Painting via Virginia Museum of Fine Arts)

In 1753, a young George Washington was sent as an emissary to the French officials to deliver the British demands that they leave Ohio Country. On his way, he traveled with “Half King” Tanacharison and three of his tribesmen. After the demands were declined, Washington learned of the French plans to “take possession of the Ohio.”

Washington, Tanacharison, and men from both sides ambushed a camp of 35 Canadiens (French Canadians) under the command of Joseph Coulon de Jumonville. Washington himself ordered the shots starting the French and Indian War. After ten French soldiers were killed and 21 captured, Tanacharison, without warning, struck Jumonville in the head with a tomahawk. Historians are unsure why he did this, but he was sold as a slave by the French as a child.

Bonus Fact: If you haven’t been keeping up with your simple math skills, the Battle of Jumonville Glenn was in 1754 and the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1763 — meaning the war lasted technically nine years. (Great Britain declared it a war two years later. Hence the name.)

3. Both sides found allies in the Native Tribes and other European Kingdoms.

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(Map via The Thomson Corporation)

Despite the name of “The French and Indian War,” not all Native Americans fought along side the French. The Iroquois Confederacy chose no side until they joined the British in 1758.

The ragtag colonists that fought along side the British were the inspiration for the song “Yankee Doodle.” Meant as an insult, it became a badge of honor for patriots during the Revolution.

Outside of North America, Great Britain was joined by Prussia and Portugal. While France made allies of Spain, The Holy Roman Empire, Russia, and Sweden.

4. The British lost much of the war until money was poured in.

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The monument to William Pitt the Elder, in the Guildhall, London. (Via Wikimedia Commons)

The Brits didn’t have nearly the right supplies or the amount of troops needed to take on France. They were pushed back to the 13 colonies. This changed when William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham (and namesake for Pittsburgh, PA) took control of the British war effort. He doubled the British national debt to £140 Million — or £26.46 Billion today, adjusted for inflation. 

Great Britain won the won at the Battle of Quebec. This forced France to sign the Treaty of Paris, establishing British dominance outside of Europe.

5. Great Britain’s war debt is why they taxed American colonies to the point of revolution.

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And how does a nation pay for its substantial debt? By taxing the hell out of its subjects, of course! In this sense, the French and Indian war was a catalyst for future conflict.

The Sugar Act and Stamp Act were enacted. These taxes highly punished American colonists for the wars of other nations. This was done without the acknowledgement or consent of the colonists.

In case you didn’t know, American colonists weren’t exactly fans of taxation without representation.

For more videos check out HISTORY Videos down below:

(YouTube, History)

MIGHTY HISTORY

4 times Russian psychics got war and combat predictions right

Russians love psychics. They love mysticism. Even the Russian military is claiming to have received psychic technology from dolphins – in an official Russian Army publication, written by a Russian military officer that the Russian military not only isn’t disavowing but is actually doubling down on.


Also read: Um, Russian ministry report claims soldiers have dolphin-derived telepathy?

But whether the Russian military and Russian people believe it or not, Russians have a long history of loving their gifted predictions and the people who make those predictions. Even the Tsar’s wife had Rasputin around to make sure the future was going to be okay.

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Spoiler: It was not okay.

One of Russia’s most popular TV shows is a reality show called Battle of the Psychics. One-fifth of all Russians have visited a psychic, and 63 percent of Russians believe in astrology, fortune telling, or the evil eye. Russians have never lost their love for the metaphysical, even throughout the Soviet years. Superstitions die hard, and mystics are still popular.

One such mystic was Baba Vanga, a Bulgarian clairvoyant who lived in a rural mountainous area, who died in 1996. But Eastern Europeans still make pilgrimages to her gravesite. She made a number of seemingly insane predictions about war and geopolitical affairs that seem to have come true.

So maybe the dolphins aren’t that crazy after all.

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1. The fall of the Soviet Union

Long before the USSR’s fate was sealed, Baba Vanga predicted the fall of the Evil Empire. This was a particularly bold move, considering it could have put her in a gulag and/or put a bullet in her. She also predicted the death of Joseph Stalin, which is probably why Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev once personally came to visit her.

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2. The 9/11 attacks

In 1989, Baba Vanga predicted the attacks on New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001:

Horror, horror! The American brethren (the two ‘brother’ towers) will fall after being attacked by the steel birds. “The wolves will be howling in a bush and innocent blood will gush.”
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3. The sinking of the Russian submarine Kursk

A full two decades before the fateful event, the old Bulgarian woman predicted the sinking of a submarine that didn’t yet exist in an accident she couldn’t possibly understand.

“At the turn of the century, in August of 1999 or 2000, Kursk will be covered with water, and the whole world will be weeping over it.”
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4. President Barack Obama

Baba Vanga predicted that the 44th President would be an African-American, but she also predicted that he would be the last president. Some sources believe she predicted the next president (that would be Trump) would fall ill with brain problems and tinnitus and that Russian President Vladimir Putin would face an assassination attempt.

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