The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups - We Are The Mighty
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The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups


The April 2 attack in Garissa, Kenya, was the deadliest and most heinous atrocity the Somali terrorist group Al Shabaab has ever committed.

Gunmen from Al Qaeda’s affiliate in the Horn of Africa stormed a university campus in the city, killing 147 people after an hours-long siege. It’s the deadliest terrorist attack in Kenya since the 1998 Al Qaeda bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi in which 224 people were killed.

The terrorist attack demonstrates an ongoing security threat in one of the most stable and prosperous countries in sub-Saharan Africa — and it shows how jihadist groups can remain dangerous even as they lose territory and leadership.

Garissa is a mid-sized city 230 miles from Nairobi and a little over 60 miles from Dadaab, the former desert rest stop that’s now home to the world’s largest refugee camp.

On Twitter, Colby College political science professor Laura Seay noted the extraordinary sacrifice it requires for a family to even send someone to college in a place so much closer to Kenya’s arid and impoverished eastern desert frontier than it is to just about any of its major cities.

“Today’s loss is immeasurable,” she tweeted.

Al Shabaab didn’t just choose the softest of targets; it attacked a place where it could wipe out as many young, promising, and educated people as it possibly could.

In the Westgate Mall attack in September of 2013, Shabaab struck at the heart of Kenyan business and trade, attacking Nairobi’s famed status as east Africa’s cosmopolitan crossroads. The Garissa attack was even deadlier and perhaps even grimmer in its messaging. Shabaab struck Kenyan society where they knew it would hurt the most.

The Garissa attack is shocking for yet another reason. Al Shabaab has repeatedly struck outside of its safe haven in southern Somalia over the past year, carrying out a series of gun attacks around the coastal town of Mpeketoni, Kenya, that killed over 60 people during the summer of 2014.

It’s retained its external attack capabilities and command structure despite suffering what would seem to be a series of debilitating setbacks. In January, the former head of Shabaab internal intelligence, who had earlier surrendered himself to Somali authorities, publicly denounced terrorism and urged his former colleagues to lay down their arms.

A September 2014 drone strike killed Ahmed Godane, Shabaab’s domineering leader and one of the most-wanted terrorists in Africa. Another drone strike on March 18 killed Adnan Garaar, the head of Shabaab’s external operations and the mastermind of the Westgate attack.

But Shabaab has forged a new model for how declining terrorist groups can remain dangerous, as analyst Clint Watts argued in a World Politics Review article published just before the Garissa massacre.

Shabaab has done nothing but splinter, vacate territory, and lose top leadership since ruling over most of Somalia and nearly all of its capital, Mogadishu, in 2010. Even so, Watts observes that “a sizeable military coalition is still fighting in the Horn of Africa more than four years after the group’s zenith,” a reference to an ongoing African Union military mission in Somalia in which Kenya is a longtime participant.

Shabaab has kept itself intact by retreating into the southern Somali wilderness and refocusing its efforts around large-scale attacks rather than holding or governing massive swaths of territory. Just a week before the Garissa attack, Shabaab killed over 20 people during a raid on a hotel in Mogadishu, including a Somali diplomat.

Even after years of decline, Shabaab has a remote safe haven that’s preserved its ability to pull off large-scale attacks in multiple countries in consecutive weeks.

More worrying is Shabaab’s deep network in neighboring Kenya, which is home to a sizable Somali minority as well as refugees from Somalia’s devastating famine, which had killed over a quarter-million people by 2013 and was greatly exacerbated by Shabaab’s refusal to allow aid groups into areas it controlled.

As Caroline Hellyer wrote for Al Jazeera two weeks before the Garissa attack, Shabaab’s relationship with a “hardline underground group” called al-Hijra gives it a ready-made network in Kenya and Tanzania, allowing it to recruit extremist elements well beyond Somalia.

One grim upshot of the Garissa attack is that it demonstrates Shabaab’s broad operational capabilities in Kenya, East Africa’s cultural, economic, and political leader and a US strategic ally. The region doesn’t have to deal with a Shabaab-ruled Somalia — but it may have swapped that problem for a Shabaab that has even greater ambitions to strike outside of its diminished Somali safe haven.

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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9 Military terms that will make you sound crazy around civilians

The military has its own language of insider phrases and slang terms, and if you use these unique phrases when you are out, civilians around you are probably not going to know what you are talking about.


It can be challenging to transition from the military to civilian life, but you should probably leave these phrases behind when you leave the military. Otherwise, you’re going to get some crazy looks and eye rolls.

1. “Drug Deal” — You can acquire a new piece of gear from a buddy at supply through a “drug deal,” but if you get an awesome new red Swingline stapler like this, Milton may look at you funny.

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups

2. “Make a hole!” — When people are in your way, it’s no longer acceptable to yell out “make a hole,” “gangway!” or “look out.” Just try “excuse me” from now on.

3. “High speed, low drag” — This term sums up a really great piece of equipment that you use while in uniform, but civilians are going to be like:

4. “No impact, No idea” — You may not have any clue how to answer a question, but no one outside of the military is going to have any clue what you mean with this phrase.

5. “Nut to butt” — Let’s just not use this one, mmkay?

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups

6. “Pop smoke” — Now that you are no longer a ninja, you gotta drop this one.

7. “Roger that” — This one is sort of on the fence, and you may be able to say it and not confuse people. But then again, you’re probably not talking on a radio anymore.

8. “Oohrah/Hooah/Hooyah” — Just don’t.

9. “Kill” — Troops can use “kill” for its literal meaning or just as a way of saying “got it,” or “hello.” But if you say this in civilian life, they are only going to hear the literal version and you are going to scare the crap out of people.

(h/t Task Purpose, Business Insider, and Military.com)

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The Air Force’s new virtual reality video game looks pretty awesome

The US Air Force’s latest recruiting tool is probably the closest you can get to jumping out of a military plane without having to leave your living room.


Called “Air Force Special Ops: Nightfall,” and jointly developed by the service and GSDM, its longstanding creative partner, this video game aims to demonstrate a key component of a number of special operations jobs to the general public — namely, jumping out of perfectly good aircraft at altitudes so high, you’d suffocate without specialized gear.

Using Sony PlayStation’s virtual reality headset, players find themselves immersed in a graphics-rich environment where they jump from planes and make their way to drop zone markers using their parachutes.

In the game, you enter the shadowy world of Air Force Special Operations Command as a recruit undergoing training. Players can choose to enlist as special operations weathermen (yes, that’s a real thing), pararescue jumpers, or joint terminal attack controllers.

In real life, each and every one of these specialties within AFSOC is trained to serve on the ground alongside infantrymen of the Army, Marines and special operations troops, gathering environmental data, directing airstrikes, and rescuing downed aviators.

While everything in the game is geared towards realism, you’ll probably be very thankful that you don’t have to go through any of the grueling training PJs or combat controllers undertake in their pursuit of joining AFSOC’s elite units. First-person shooter fans might be slightly disappointed – there won’t be any shooting involved.

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
A familiar sight in the game – looking out the open cargo doors of an MC-130 (Photo Air Force Special Operations: Nightfall via YouTube screengrab)

But for what the game lacks in machine guns and grenades, it makes up for with the experience of a combat jump. Players get a taste of high altitude low opening jumps from an MC-130 Commando II, the Air Force’s special operations version of the C-130 Hercules.

Daytime operations are easy enough in themselves, but night ops… that’s where you earn your keep.

In fact, the game is so realistic that your night vision goggles will likely wash out and possibly blind you for a few seconds when they’re turned on for the first time — just like a real airman.

All jokes aside, however, the game has already been well-received from airmen who’ve given it a whirl.

“It is so realistic I could almost smell the airplane and feel the wind,” says active duty combat controller Master Sgt. Brian Hannigan. That’s high praise, considering Hannigan’s line of work and real-world experiences as a member of AFSOC.

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
USAF special operations troopers jump from an MC-130J Commando II over Japan (Photo US Air Force)

And echoing real-life HALO training, the instructors can be very critical, especially if you fail a jump by opening your parachute too early, too late, land outside the drop zone or steer off course.

This isn’t the first time the US military has attempted to use video game as a recruiting tool. “America’s Army,” a first-person game that puts you in the boots of a soldier from basic training to deployment, was actually hailed a success when launched in 2002.

With the advent of virtual reality systems, the Army actually turned its game into a training tool, which is still used today.

It remains to be seen whether or not the Air Force’s venture into video games will turn out to be a hit or a miss, but if you’d like to judge that for yourself, you can download a copy for free via PlayStation’s store.

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A Top US Navy Officer Thinks That One Of The F-35’s Most Hyped Capabilities is ‘Overrated’

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
Photo: Wikimedia


Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert outlined in a speech last week what the Navy would hope to see in a next-generation strike aircraft. Tellingly, Greenert’s ideal bears little resemblance to the trillion-dollar F-35, as David Larter reports for the Navy Times.

Also Read: 17 Signs That You Might Be A Military Aviator

For instance, the most senior naval officer in the U.S. Navy said that “stealth may be overrated,” a statement that could interpreted as a swipe at the troubled F-35.

“What does that next strike fighter look like?” Greenert said during the speech in Washington. “I’m not sure it’s manned, don’t know that it is. You can only go so fast, and you know that stealth may be overrated … Let’s face it, if something moves fast through the air, disrupts molecules and puts out heat — I don’t care how cool the engine can be, it’s going to be detectable. You get my point.”

Greenert’s has a long-standing skepticism of stealth, which he believes will not be able to keep up with advances in radar technology. In 2012, Greenert wrote that “[i]t is time to consider shifting our focus from platforms that rely solely on stealth to also include concepts for operating farther from adversaries using standoff weapons and unmanned systems — or employing electronic-warfare payloads to confuse or jam threat sensors rather than trying to hide from them.”

Greenert’s position on the questionable utility of stealth meshes with what certain figures in the U.S. defense industry are saying, with Boeing taking the view that electro-magnetic warfare and the use of jamming technology is fundamentally more important than stealth. Boeing and Lockheed Martin, the company that produces the F-35, often compete for similar military contracts.

“Today is kind of a paradigm shift, not unlike the shift in the early part of the 20th century when they were unsure of the need to control the skies,” Mike Gibbons, the vice president for Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler programs, told Business Insider. “Today, the need to control the EM [electro-magnetic] spectrum is much the same.”

“Stealth technology was never by itself sufficient to protect any of our own forces,” Gibbons said.

Boeing’s EA-18G Growler specializes in disrupting enemy sensors, interrupting command and control systems, and jamming weapons’ homing systems.

Boeing believes that its Growlers compliment Lockheed’s F-35. Ultimately, the Navy remains lukewarm about the acquisition of the F-35. For 2015, the Navy ordered only two F-35s, which which lawmakers increased to four. The Marines requested six and the Air Force ordered 26 of the planes for the coming year.

The U.S. plans to purchase 1,763 F-35s by 2037, according to Reuters.

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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The Inaugural events start tonight. Here’s how to watch.

On January 20, 2021, Joseph R. Biden will be sworn in as America’s 46th president. This year will look very different due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Prior to the 20th amendment, Inauguration Day was always March 4, the anniversary of the Constitution taking effect. January 20 has been “the day” since 1933, unless it falls on a Sunday. This and some of the more modern traditions are the only things that will still be the same. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has continued to ravage the globe and our country. With this in mind, the majority of the inaugural events will be virtual. The Presidential Inauguration Committee has created some special events leading up to the big day. Here’s a partial list of televised events (all times listed are in eastern time).

Image credit – Adam Schultz

Saturday, January 16 at 7pm there will be a virtual welcome event, American United: An Inauguration Welcome Event Celebrating America’s Changemakers, featuring musical guests and speakers to kick off the festivities. The focus will be on the country’s unsung heroes and the impacts they have made with their work. Sunday, January 17 at 8pm, the inaugural committee will have a concert titled, We the People

Monday, January 18 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The soon-to-be president has dedicated the day to service. To honor the spirit of King, it has been designated as the National Day of Service. The call to action is for Americans all over the country to engage in a day of volunteerism within their own communities and the event has been titled United We Serve. That evening at 8pm eastern, there will be a virtual event with entertainers and speakers who will celebrate the legacy of King. 

Tuesday, January 19, will be a somber day; the day is dedicated to American lives lost to the COVID-19 pandemic. The committee is inviting cities and communities across the country to join in on a moment of unity and remembrance at 5:30pm, by lighting their buildings and ringing their church bells. In Washington, D.C., there will be a lighting ceremony around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. 

As in years past, Biden will be sworn in on the west side of the U.S. Capitol alongside his soon to be Vice President, Kamala Harris. The attendance at the event will be minimal, with only congressional members present in accordance with safety protocols. But all across the National Mall there will be 200,000 American flags waving in the wind, in the place of Americans who would normally be there to witness the momentous event.  

Following the swearing in ceremony, the new president will make his address to the nation. The last part of this event will include the pass in review, a longstanding military tradition to reflect on the peaceful transfer of power. After that, the newly sworn in president and vice president will head to Arlington National Cemetery with their spouses to lay a wreath on the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier. They will be joined by President Barack Obama, President George W Bush, President Bill Clinton and their spouses. 

Instead of the traditional parade to the White House that Americans are used to, the new president and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, will receive a presidential escort to the White House by representatives from every military branch. There will then be a full televised virtual parade, showcasing communities and citizens from all over the country. At 8:30pm, Tom Hanks will host Celebrating America, a prime-time television event in lieu of the traditional inaugural balls. President Biden and Vice President will offer remarks as well as a host of other speakers that represent the diversity of America. After that, President Biden and Vice President Harris will go to work.

To watch all of the inauguration festivities planned for the next five days, click here. Be sure to watch the swearing in LIVE on the We Are The Mighty Facebook page.

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8 amazing facts about Harriet Tubman

There are some important things about Harriet Tubman that your teacher forgot to mention while you were in school. Aside from helping her family (and thousands more) escape slavery, she led troops in combat, cured a disease, and was generally way more badass than history generally portrays her.


The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups

Born Araminta “Minty” Ross in Maryland around 1822, “Harriet” adopted her mother’s name after escaping slavery. She lived a remarkably full life, especially for an African-American woman of that time period. She lived to the ripe age of 91, dying at a charity home she founded in Auburn, New York.  She was buried with full military honors.

1. Tubman’s codename was “Moses,” and she was illiterate her entire life.

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups

Other Underground Railroad code names included “Canaan” for Canada and Spiritual Songs for directions along the Railroad. Since few slaves were literate, the route of the Underground Railroad had to be accessible to everyone. Tubman used the stars and mosses in the woods to guide her in aiding escapees.

2. She suffered from narcolepsy.

When she was a teenage slave, an overseer threw a metal weight at another slave, but it hit Tubman instead. As a result of the head injury, she would often go into sleeping spells and was difficult to wake. She considered the dreams she had during these spells to be religious visions and her religiosity was a guiding reason to helping slaves escape.

3. Her work as “Moses” was serious business.

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups

She avoided cops, dogs, mobs, bounty hunters, and slave catchers. She and her escapees slept in swamps and moved only at night. Once with her on the Railroad, she threatened to kill anyone who lost their nerve to escape. She even once had to drug a baby. She once told a man”You go on or die.” Known as the “black ghost,” the bounty on her head was at least $12,000, equal to around $330,000 today.

4. She never lost a slave.

She recommended slave escape on Saturdays, as owners used Sundays as a day of rest and would not notice slaves missing until Monday, giving the slave a two day head start. She also preferred to move during winter, when the days are shorter. Estimates of slaves she helped range as high as 3,000.

5. Tubman was a Union scout during the Civil War.

She also served as a nurse, cook, and spy to Federal troops from 1862 to 1865. She received $200 for three years of combat service (roughly $5,400 adjusted for inflation). When she applied for veteran’s compensation, it took her 34 years to get it and only after the intervention of President Lincoln’s Secretary of State William Seward. She was 78 years old.

6. She cured dysentery.

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups

Her knowledge of the local flora in Maryland led her to find a cure for Union troops suffering from dysentery. She also helped relieve symptoms of Chicken Pox, Cholera, and Yellow Fever.

7. She was the first woman to lead a combat assault.

While under the command of Colonel James Montgomery, Harriet Tubman led 150 black Union troops across the Combahee River in South Carolina in June 1863. Using information from escaped slaves, she led Union riverboats through Confederate torpedo traps, freeing 750 slaves and dropping off Union troops. the troops burned the estates of influential Southern secessionists who supplied Confederate forces. She didn’t lose a single troop.

8. She had brain surgery to fix her sleep problems. She refused anesthesia.

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups

She opted instead to chew on a bullet, just like Civil War soldiers did when they had a limb amputated.

 

 

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17 more of the funniest military Whisper posts

Whisper is a mobile app that allows users to post anonymous messages (called “Whispers”) and receive replies from other users who might be interested in what they have to say. The messages are text superimposed over a (presumably) related photo to illustrate the point.


Whispers are questions, statements, or confessions. The app categorizes them especially for groups and subgroups of culture. Active duty, veterans, and civilians post military-related messages of all kinds, but some stand out as especially funny, nonsensical, and/or a little naive.

The first time WATM rounded up the best Whispers, they were mostly confessions about what people do in – and to – the military. This time around we found people who haven’t even joined yet are ready to sham, skate, and chase some tags.

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
I’m not sure anyone would notice.

 

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
That’s why there’s an Air Force.

 

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
Oh, you are gonna hate everything once you’re actually in.

 

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
Some people are born lifers.

 

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
I don’t know how you have the strength. You’re such a hero.

 

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups

 

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
Please wear that to basic training. Please.

 

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
More Air Force material.

 

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
Just have someone yell at you while you do push-ups. You’ll be ready.

 

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
When I was in, I saw their true colors all over barroom floors.

 

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
Don’t eat too much during meals; you’ll get fat.

 

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
You tha’ real MVP.

 

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups

 

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
Someone wanna let this woman know what happens in between?

 

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
Just try not to think about why he left that part out.

 

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups

 

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
Nothing sets a mood like reruns and public service announcements.

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The 11 most powerful weapon systems in the Russian military

The United Kingdom is planning to send 800 troops to the Russian border as tensions between Moscow and the west continue to increase.


Defence Secretary Michael Fallon announced the news after NATO called on member states to contribute to its biggest military presence on Russian borders since the Cold War. 

Relations between Vladmir Putin’s Russia and the west have been frosty since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 but have worsened in recent months over the role Russia has played in the Syrian civil war.

Also read: Here’s who would win if Russia, China, and America went to war right now

Putin’s Russia has gone through a significant transformation since the president’s re-election in 2012. It had the world’s fourth-largest defence budget in 2015, at a cost of $66.4 billion (£46 billion).

For that, the state boasts 845,000 troops, 22,550 tanks, and 1,399 combat aircraft.

The army is being split into smaller, more dynamic brigades. The focus is on new technologies rather than brute manpower. (For instance, this Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft system is basically a tank with a load of extra cannons sticking out of it.)

Here’s a review of some of Russia’s more menacing military machines.

Bora-class guided-missile hovercraft: This ship is actually a catamaran with a base that turns it into a hovercraft. Armed with eight Mosquito missiles and 20 anti-aircraft missiles, the ship has a crew of up to 68 sailors and a cruising speed of 100km per hour.

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
Imgur.com

The Pantsir-S1: A combined short-to-medium range surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft missile system. The system consists of 12 surface-to-air guided missiles and two 30-mm automatic guns effective against planes, helicopters, ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles.

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
Wiki Commons

A virtually invisible submarine: The first of six diesel-electric stealth submarines, the Novorossiysk was launched from a St. Petersburg shipyard last year. Its designers say its stealth technology makes it virtually undetectable when submerged.

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
Public domain

The Mig-35 multirole jet fighter: Effective both in air-to-air combat and precision ground strikes. Capable of reaching speeds of up to 2,400 km per hour despite being 30% larger than its predecessor, the Mig-35 is able both to dogfight and destroy sea and surface targets from long range, as well as conduct air reconnaissance missions.

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
Wiki Commons

The BUK-2 missile system: This is the battery that allegedly brought down a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine in 2014. Its 9M317 missiles can reach 46,000 feet at Mach 3, carrying 154-pound warheads.

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
Wiki Commons

The RS-24 Yars: A thermonuclear intercontinental ballistic missile system that can carry multiple independently targetable nuclear warheads with a range of 10,000 miles. Designed to replace Topol-M ballistic missiles, it has been operationally deployed since 2010. Each missile has the power of 100 “Little Boys” — the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945.

Wiki Commons Wiki Commons

“The Russian Concorde”: The Tupolev Tu-160 is the world’s largest supersonic combat aircraft. It was designed by the Soviet Union in the 1980s. It boasts the most powerful engines ever on a combat aircraft and can hold 40,000kg of weaponry. There are 16 in service.

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
Wiki Commons

The T-90: The most advanced battle tank used by the Russian armed forces. Its main weapon is a 125mm smoothbore gun with anti-tank capabilities, but it also boasts a remote-controlled anti-aircraft heavy machine gun.

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
Wiki Commons

At 14,700 tonnes, Borei-class nuclear ballistic missile submarines are slightly smaller than their predecessors, the massive Typhoon-class. But with a capacity of 16 Bulava ballistic missiles, each carrying six to 10 warheads with a range of 8,300km, they are still a force to be reckoned with.

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
Wiki Commons

The Russian Mi-28 Havoc attack helicopter: This is the go-to attack helicopter for the Russian air force and army. Its basic armament is a 30mm Shipunov underslung auto-cannon and wingstubs that can carry up to four anti-tank missiles, rocket pods, or gun pods.

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
Wiki Commons

The S-300: Another long-range surface-to-air missile system, the S-300 is a beast at bringing down aircraft. In fact, it can take out six planes at the same time, with 12 missiles per target. Anything in the air within 300km should watch out.

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
Wiki Commons

Tomas Hirst contributed to this report.

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Pentagon concerned that Arab allies have shifted focus away from ISIS threat

When the coalition of Western and Arab allies banded together to fight ISIS, the idea of fighting the good fight was met with a lot of zeal. When Jordanian fighter pilot First Lieutenant Muadh al-Kasasbeh was captured and burned alive by the terror organization, Jordan’s King Abdullah vowed “punishment and revenge” and led to the Jordanian King, an accomplished fighter pilot himself, releasing a photo of himself in his flight suit, geared for battle.


The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups

The Western world was wowed once more when a female pilot from the United Arab Emirates, Maj. Mariam Al Mansouri, led that country’s air war against Daesh. Many in the West aren’t familiar with the customs of each individual Arab country, especially when it comes to their views on the rights of women.

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups

“She is a fully qualified, highly trained, combat ready pilot, and she led the mission,” Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE’s ambassador to the U.S., told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.

“We are in a hot area so that we have to prepare every citizen,” Al Mansouri said. “Of course, everybody is responsible of defending their country — male or female. When the time will come, everybody will jump in.”

The allies still allow U.S. planes to use their bases, but now the Gulf states who spearheaded the effort against ISIS are focused elsewhere. Emirati forces joined Saudi Arabia in fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. Jordan also joined in the effort in Yemen. Qatar limited its sorties to reconnaissance missions.

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
The before and after of an American F-22 air strike on a target in Syria.

Bahrain last struck targets in Syria in February, the UAE in March, Jordan in August, and Saudi Arabia in September.

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter criticized local allies efforts, saying the Gulf states, known as the GCC or Gulf Cooperation Council, saying “some of the Gulf states are up there at 30,000 feet. If you look at where the Iranians are able to wield influence, they are in the game, on the ground.”

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
(DoD Photo)

“The reason they lack influence, and feel they lack influence in circumstances like Iraq and Syria, with [ISIS],” Carter continued, “is that they have weighted having high-end air-force fighter jets and so forth over the hard business of training and disciplining ground forces and special-operations forces.”

According to the Atlantic, the Obama Administration consistently complains about local allies, notably Turkey and the Gulf, expecting the U.S. to fight their regional enemies more than U.S. national security.

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Separation delayed for Green Beret who allegedly beat up Afghan commander

Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland is being forcibly separated from the U.S. Army because officials say he beat up an Afghan commander, but he recently received a extension on the period in which he can appeal this decision.


In 2011, the Green Beret and Bronze Star recipient admitted to assaulting a local Afghan police commander who he says laughed about raping a boy in Kunduz province. Martland was recommended for involuntary separation through the Army’s qualitative management program in 2015, but wishes to remain in the Army. Then-Army Secretary John McHugh gave him a temporary reprieve. He now has until May 1, 2016 to file an appeal.

 

Martland, an 11-year veteran currently assigned to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, had the support of California Representative Duncan Hunter, himself a Marine Corps veteran, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Hunter sent a letter to Senator Pat Roberts stating that Martland he has “the full support of his command and immediate leadership.”

The ghastly attack in Kenya proves an important point about terrorist groups
Martland (left) with General Petraeus (center).

Capt. Daniel Quinn was with Martland during the assault and has since left the army.

Quinn and Martland were told by the boy and his mother that the boy was tied to a post and raped repeatedly. Quinn verified the story with locals from other villages. The two Green Berets invited the commander to their base. Martland says he and Quinn only roughly removed the commander from their shared base, while the commander alleges Martland beat him up.

“After the child rapist laughed it off and referenced that it was only a boy, Captain Quinn picked him up and threw him,” Martland wrote in a statement ordered by Rep.Hunter. Martland then proceeded to “body slam him multiple times,” kick him in the rib cage, and put his foot on his neck. “I continued to body slam him and throw him for fifty meters until he was outside the camp,” Martland writes. “He was never knocked out, and he ran away from our camp.”

The incident lasted no more than five minutes, according to the statement.

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6 times American troops fought in foreign militaries

Modern Americans can join the military and go to war without too much fuss, since the U.S. still needs people for ongoing fights in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other hotspots around the world.


But our forefathers didn’t always have a place to go if they got the martial itch. Sometimes, they really wanted to join a war that the American people didn’t want to get involved in.

That’s when truly bold Americans would just join another country’s military and get to work.

1. Polish 7th Air Escadrille

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American pilots Merian C. Cooper and Cedric Fauntleroy pose with a plane of the Polish 7th Air Escadrille. (Photo: Public Domain)

As a victor of World War I, Poland grew in size, gained a border with Russia, and quickly found itself at war with the communist Bolsheviks. American volunteers were allowed to form the Polish 7th Air Escadrille and the aviation unit engaged in fierce ground attacks against Russian cavalry from 1919 to 1920.

The unit started with eight pilots but conducted more than 400 combat sorties. American Capt. Merian C. Cooper was awarded Poland’s highest military honors, the Virtui Militari, for his service there after he was shot down and escaped from a Soviet prisoner of war camp.

2. The gendarmeries and national guards of Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua

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U.S. Marines holding the Nicaraguan rebel leader Augusto César Sandino’s Flag. Nicaragua, 1932. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps)

In the early 1900s, Marines were sent to Caribbean nations to protect American business interests and to help shore up governments friendly to the U.S. The Marines who were dispatched to the islands often ended up holding ranks in both the U.S. military and the local forces at once. For instance, then Maj. Smedley Butler was the commandant of the Haitian Gendarmerie and then Cpl. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller was a second lieutenant in the Gendarmerie.

3. Eagle Squadrons

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American pilots in the Royal Air Force pose in front of a Hawker Hurricane in 1941. (Photo: Imperial War Museums)

Americans who wanted to take the fight to Nazi Germany before Pearl Harbor had few legal options, but some lied about their citizenship and risked exile from America to join the Royal Air Force in 1939 and 1940. Eight Americans took part in the 1940 Battle of Britain that saw the RAF narrowly defeat attempts by Luftwaffe to open the British Isles to invasion.

Dozens more Americans arrived after the Battle of Britain and helped the U.K. hold the line until America’s entry into the war after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

4. The Lincoln and Washington Battalions

When a fascist military coup failed to topple the Spanish government in 1936, a bloody civil war erupted that saw approximately 40,000 international volunteers, including 2,800 Americans, fight on behalf of the Spanish Republic. The American volunteers formed the “Lincoln” and “Washington” battalions, that were part of a larger, international brigade known as the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.

Unfortunately, the fighting went badly for the American volunteers. Nearly one-third of them died in Spain and the Republic was overthrown by Fascist Gen. Francisco Franco.

5. The Flying Tigers

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Members of the Flying Tigers volunteer squadron maintain a P-40 in China during World War II. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

The Flying Tigers of World War II were a group of American pilots and ground crew who President Franklin D. Roosevelt secretly authorized to go to China and help that country fight the Japanese invasion. Despite the presidential authorization, the Americans had to resign their military positions and travel under assumed identities.

Once in country, they crewed Curtiss P-40 Warhawks and devastated the Japanese aviators. The Flying Tigers started with 99 planes and destroyed 297 enemy birds. The unit boasted 20 ace pilots and helped China keep Japan occupied until the U.S. could start operations in the Pacific.

6. The Lafayette flying corps

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The Lafayette Escadrille at Verdun. (Photo: Public Domain)

Soon after the onset of World War I in 1914, American volunteers began flying over the skies of France and serving on the ground against the Central Powers. One of the most famous American units in the war was the Lafayette Escadrille — a flying squadron named for the French hero of the American Revolution, Gilbert du Motier, the Marquis de Lafayette.

The pilots’ exploits were covered in U.S. newspapers and they became heroes at home and in France. Thirty-eight U.S. pilots would eventually serve in the unit and it earned 57 aerial kills before it was turned over to American control in February 1918.

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Need to put some warheads on foreheads? There’s an app for that

I’m sure you are sick of hearing the phrase, “There’s an app for that!” Well, the Marines how have an app for calling in fire support – part of the new suite of gear for forward observers.


According to a Marine Corps release, the service soon will be issuing the Target Handoff System Version 2, or “THS V.2.”

Now weighing in at about 20 pounds, the THS V.2 will cut that burden in half. When the combat load of troops can reach close to 100 pounds, this is a significant relief to Marines on the move.

The THS V.2 gets this light weight by using commercial smart phones to replace the more conventional radio systems in the original THS. An app on the smart phone then allows Marines to call in fire support much more easily, and that will help minimize collateral damage.

The system even comes with a pre-installed “Start Guide” with a variety of tutorials for users.

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This fiscal year Marines will receive smart phones that make calling for fire support easier, quicker and more accurate. The Target Handoff System Version 2, or THS V.2, is a portable system designed for use by dismounted Marines to locate targets, pinpoint global positioning coordinates and call for close air, artillery and naval fire support using secure digital communications. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Joe Laws/Released)

“With the new version, Marines will obtain a lightweight device equipped to provide immediate situational awareness on where friendly and enemy locations are, and the ability to hand off target data to fire support to get quick effects on the battlefield,” Capt. Jesse Hume of Marine Corps Systems Command said. Hume serves as the THS V.2 project officer.

“THS V.2 provides embedded, real-time tactical information with ground combat element units down to the squad or platoon level,” Gunnery Sgt. Nicholas Tock added. “If we are on patrol and we take contact from machine guns in a tree line, a satellite that passes over once every few hours is not going to help an infantry unit kill that target. THS V.2 is for that close combat.”

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U.S. Soldiers with Battery C, 4th Battalion, 1st Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Task Force Al Taqaddum, fire an M109A6 Paladin howitzer during a fire mission at Al Taqaddum Air Base, Iraq, June 27, 2016. The strikes were conducted in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation aimed at eliminating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria, and the wider international community. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Donald Holbert)

The system also includes a laser-rangefinder, combat net radio, and video downlink — but there’s another benefit. In addition to cutting the weight in half, the use of off-the-shelf technology cuts the price of the system in half.

Even the bean-counters seem to win with this.

Anyone picking a firefight with Marines, though, looks to be a sure loser. And that’s a good thing.

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A judge ruled this veteran is a US citizen. Now he faces deportation to Mexico

A decorated US Marine Corps veteran, who a federal judge ruled was an American citizen, is facing deportation to Mexico in a case that has been criticized as a cruel and extraordinary application of immigration laws.


The US government’s ongoing effort to deport George Ybarra, who is currently locked up in an Arizona detention center, has shed light on the vulnerabilities of foreign-born Americans who have served in the military, along with the deportation threats that can plague even those who are deemed to be citizens and have deep ties to the country.

Ybarra, who was honorably discharged after serving in the Persian Gulf war and earning numerous badges and medals, is facing deportation due to a criminal history that his family says is tied to mental health struggles and post-traumatic stress disorder from his service. While there have been growing concerns about the removal of veterans and the harsh policies of deporting people for minor crimes, Ybarra’s case is particularly troubling to immigrant rights’ advocates given a judge’s acknowledgement that he is US citizen.

“George hopes he will be able to stay in the country he fought for,” Luis Parra, Ybarra’s attorney, told the Guardian. “He is a third-generation [US] citizen … It would be a very extreme hardship for George to have to relocate to Mexico.”

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George Ybarra during his time as a US Marine. Photo from Tucson Sentinel.

Ybarra, whose story was first reported in the Tucson Sentinel, has a complex immigration and citizenship battle dating back more than a decade, including deportation threats under Barack Obama’s administration.

Ybarra, also known as Jorge Ibarra-Lopez, was born in Nogales in Mexico, just south of the Arizona border, in 1964, according to his court filings. He moved to the US months after he was born, and his maternal grandfather was a US citizen, born in Bisbee, Arizona, his lawyers wrote. Ybarra has long argued that he has “derivative citizenship,” meaning he is a citizen by virtue of his mother’s status.

An immigration judge eventually agreed that there was “sufficient evidence” that the 52-year-old father of five should be considered a US citizen, but the US Department of Homeland Security challenged that decision in 2011 and has since continued to try to deport him, records show.

The deportation proceedings stem in part from a number of criminal offenses, including drug-related charges. He was also convicted of firing two rounds through the front door of his home in Phoenix in 2011 in the direction of two police officers, according to the Sentinel. The paper reported that no one was hurt and that Ybarra said he was suffering from a PTSD-induced episode of delusion at the time and believed federal authorities were coming to “take away” his family.

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Attorney Luis Parra. Image from Tucson Sentinel.

Ybarra ultimately served a seven-year sentence in state prison for aggravated assault, but instead of returning to his family after he completed his time, he was transferred into the custody of federal immigration authorities last month. Ybarra and his family now fear he could soon be deported.

Parra argued that Ybarra should be released while the ongoing dispute about his citizenship is resolved. US Citizenship and Immigration Services had previously denied his application for a certificate of citizenship, but there are numerous ways he can have his status formally recognized, according to Parra.

His family has argued that he should get treatment and other government support as a disabled veteran with PTSD.

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Photo courtesy of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“He basically has no family in Mexico,” said Parra, noting that Ybarra’s children and grandchildren and other relatives in Arizona are all US citizens. “He has a very supportive family living in the Phoenix area, including his mother, who depends on George.”

Ybarra is distraught and worried about his continued detention, Parra said. In a Sentinel interview last month in an Arizona state prison, Ybarra said, “I’ve got a lot of anger, a lot of anxiety over this. They know I’m a citizen, they know I’m a combat veteran. I don’t see where they’ve ever shown that they care.”

A spokeswoman for the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not respond to questions about Ybarra’s case, but said in a statement that the agency “does not knowingly place US citizens into removal proceedings”, adding, “ICE deportation officers arrest only those aliens for which the agency has probable cause to believe are amenable to removal from the United States.”

When ICE does detain US citizens, the statement said, it’s usually because there is a misunderstanding about their status.

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Image from Department of Homeland Security.

“The job for ICE deportation officers is further complicated by some aliens who falsely assert US citizenship in order to evade deportation, which is not uncommon,” the statement continued.

A Northwestern University analysis of government data found that hundreds of US citizens have, in fact, been detained by immigration authorities.

Margaret Stock, an immigration attorney and expert on military cases, said the deportation of veterans has been an ongoing challenge under both Obama and Donald Trump, but that she has never seen a case like Ybarra where the government threatens to deport someone ruled a citizen by a judge.

“If you can deport this guy, you can also try to deport all kinds of other people,” she said.