American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria - We Are The Mighty
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American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria

Photos released this week by Agence France-Presse feature American special operations troops wearing the patches of the Syrian Kurdish YPG. The YPG, or People’s Protection Units, are part of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces who are rapidly advancing toward the de facto ISIS capital at Raqqa.


That campaign was launched last week from the Kurdish stronghold at Ayn Issa, some 35 miles from Raqqa. That’s also where the special operators were photographed.

 

While friendly forces’ proximity to Raqqa should delight those fighting against ISIS, one ally is not at all pleased with the photos. The Turkish government sees the YPG as the Syrian arm of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The PKK is an internationally-recognized terrorist organization and has been fighting the Turkish government for independence since 1984.

While the United States recognizes the PKK as a terror group, it disputes Turkey’s claim that the YPG is a Syrian extension. Still, Tukish President Erdoğan was probably surprised to see photos of U.S. forces wearing the YPG insignia. The U.S. spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve wrote it off as esprit de corps:

 

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the BBC the U.S. is “two-faced” and said the patches were “unacceptable.”

The U.S. military has 300 troops in Syria in an advisory capacity, 50 of those are special operations forces.

On June 1st, the SDF seized nine villages in an effort to cut off ISIS-held territory from Turkey, closing the last pathway for foreign fighters traveling to fight for the terror group.

 

 

In the meantime, the White House maintains that American special operations troops are not in direct combat.

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Marine journeys to Korean War battlefield to memorialize uncle’s ultimate sacrifice

Almost 55,000 American troops were lost during the Korean War. One Marine is on a mission to memorialize the heroic legacy of a forgotten generation of heroes. Marine Corps PFC Ruben Sanchez Adame, his uncle, was one of them.

MSgt. Samuel Castro chose to enlist in the Marine Corps in 1999, wanting to be a part of something bigger than himself, he said. A Signals Intelligence and Electromagnetic Warfare Chief, it’s a decision he remains proud of. 

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
Castro. Photo via Linkedin.

Two years after boot camp he knocked on his mother’s door. He was holding his new baby with his wife and proudly wearing his uniform. He was unprepared for her reaction. “She broke down crying and said her brother was a Marine and that he’d died in combat during the Korean War,” Castro said. 

The emotional moment would reveal a deep family history of military service that had been kept quiet. Later, other relatives would open up about their own service after being inspired by Castro.

In 2008, he had just returned from his third combat deployment and began retracing and researching Adame’s life. Castro discovered that his uncle had served in Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. “I was now stationed back home in Texas and I started to identify potential leads. I found a few names of some living Texas veterans that were with that same unit,” he explained.

Norman Callahan and Ray Broward were two of them. After receiving Callahan’s phone number, Castro said he just picked up the phone one day and called. The men embarked on a two hour conversation examining the similarities and differences of their wars. 

“I’d just come back from my third or fourth deployment and had more context of war. Not that I would ever compare my experiences deployed with what occurred during the Korean War but that was one of the key aspects of the conversation with Norm and Ray,” Castro explained. “They had a hard time understanding what war was like in Iraq and Afghanistan but then Ray said something that really stuck with me. He said ‘You fight the war you’re given’.”

Callahan had been making annual trips to Chuncheon, Gangwon Province in an effort to find the missing remains of his fallen comrades. During his final trip in 2006, he brought Adame’s graveyard dirt with him, spreading it on the old battlefield ground. He refused to let his fellow Marines be forgotten.

But the Korean War has been labeled the “Forgotten War”. 

World War II divided Korea into two parts after its liberation from Japan by the Soviet Union and the United States. The 38th parallel had Soviet Union communists occupying the northern half and Americans occupying the southern half. 

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
Men of the 1st Marine Division capture Chinese Communists during fighting on the central Korean front. Hoengsong, March 2, 1951. Pfc. C. T. Wehner. (Marine Corps) NARA FILE #: 127-N-A6759
Pfc. C. T. Wehner. (Marine Corps)

The founding of an independent South Korea would lead to a war that would take the lives of over 5 million people. In June of 1950, the 75,000 soldiers with the North Korean Communist Army invaded South Korea in a surprise attack. America immediately came to their aid with the United Nations following suit not long thereafter.

Although the allied troops eventually pushed forward and it appeared the war was going to end, China entered the conflict without warning and joined North Korea. 140,000 Chinese soldiers would overrun the Marines of Charlie Company in 1951 at the Battle of Horseshoe Ridge in South Korea. 

Adame, Callahan and Broward were in the middle of it. 

In 2016, Castro and his family were stationed in Okinawa, Japan. During a vacation in South Korea, a friend set up a surprise visit to Chuncheon. “I had gotten the pins for the hill location years ago and we used that to actually find that battle site of Horseshoe Ridge where 1 Charlie Company had basically dug in. They were involved in a level of intensity that is hard to comprehend,” he said. 

As a fellow Marine, seeing the environment his uncle was forced to fight in first hand was what Castro called “a nightmarish scene”.

Official records eventually revealed that Adame had been sent to the rear for more ammo just as the Chinese launched an offensive with those 140,000 troops. He never made it to the rear and was never seen again. During the 14-hour battle, the unit lost 60 percent of its Marines. Adame was initially labeled MIA but later changed to KIA. His remains were never found.

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
Adame

Callahan and Broward never forgot the war or Adame. For them, as long ago as it was, it still seemed like just yesterday, Castro shared. On that fateful phone call, both men shared stories of his uncle’s courage. 

“It had been so many years later but they had never forgotten Ruben’s name or his face and they were in tears when I was on the phone with them,” he said. “To them, they felt like something was missing because their brethren were never found…They are both gone now but they never gave up. That part more than anything really sticks with me.”

From the discovery of his uncle to the journey through the Korean War battlefield that took PFC Ruben Sanchez Adame, it’s an experience Castro remains grateful for. As America heads into Memorial Day, he was asked what he’d want readers to take away from his story. His response was direct. “No man is truly gone unless he is forgotten.”

Featured image: Korean War Memorial, USMC photo.

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USAF engineers fixed ISIS damage to vital airfield in prep for Mosul fight

It’s not like ISIS didn’t know the attack on Mosul was coming. After all, Mosul is one of the last major cities in Iraq that the group holds. So the radical Islamic fighters prepared for the battle that is now raging on the outskirts of Mosul by doing a few things, including destroying the runways at the vital Qayyarah West Airbase, Iraq.


Qayyarah West sits within Iraq’s Ninawa Province to the south of Mosul and is an obvious logistics base for an attack on the city.

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
U.S. Air Force Senior Airmen Timothy Williams, assigned to the 1st Expeditionary Civil Engineering Group, operates a jackhammer on a runway during repair operations at Qayyarah, West Airfield, Iraq, Oct. 7, 2016. (Photo and cutline: U.S. Army Spc. Christopher Brecht)

The same day that Iraqi forces captured the airfield in July, bloggers and journalists immediately predicted the role the base would play in the coming fight against ISIS.

There was just one major problem. According to a story by Army Sgt. 1st Class Robert Lemmons, ISIS had systematically destroyed the runways at Qayyarah West with explosives and heavy machinery for two years.

The C-130, one of the military’s most versatile cargo planes, needs at least 3,000 feet of safe runway to make an assault landing. Even then, the short runway lowers the available total weight with which aircraft can land or takeoff.

So the Air Force needed to take a base with no usable runways and get it ready to take in tons of cargo in a short period. A team of engineers from the Air Force flew to the base to attempt the task. They undid two years of ISIS destruction in only three weeks.

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
A U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules waits to unload logistical supplies in support of the fight for Mosul at Qayyarah West Airfield, Iraq, Oct. 22, 2016. This is the second aircraft to land there following completion of repairs to the runway after Da’esh damaged it. (Photo and cutline: U.S. Army Spc. Christopher Brecht)

The Air Force deployed a small team to assess the damage, then sent the full team to begin repairs. Over the three-week period, the airmen judged which parts of the runway were unsafe for operations, cut out those sections of asphalt, and then fixed just those spots.

“We show up, clear the debris out, get all the junk and everything out of there,” Air Force Staff Sgt. Tyler Charles told a military journalist. “Then we dig down, if we have to, until we hit hard surface ground.”

Once the engineers found hard surface, they ensured everything was level and firm, then rebuilt the section of runway from the ground up. And the airmen completed their work just in time. The first C-130s arrived on Oct. 21, less than a week after the Iraqi Army began their offensive to retake Mosul.

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
A U.S. Army M109A6 Paladin conducts a fire mission at Qayyarah West, Iraq, in support of the Iraqi security forces’ push toward Mosul, Oct. 17, 2016. (Photo and cutline: U.S. Army Spc. Christopher Brecht)

The repaired runway provides a more robust logistical capability for the invasion, allowing more ammunition and other supplies to fly in. And Qayyarah West has served the coalition in other ways as well, such as housing the American Paladins providing artillery support to the Iraqi advance.

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Taliban kill a 10-year-old boy for effectively defending against them last year

A few days ago, Taliban gunmen shot and killed as 10-year-old Wasil Ahmad, who was held up as a hero by his fellow Afghans for leading a militia’s defense against a Taliban siege last year.


A man on a motorcycle shot Ahmad in the head as he walked out of his house in Tarinkot in Urozgan Province, an agricultural intersection of Pashtun tribes. The Taliban immediately claimed responsibility.

The boy just left militia life to enroll in the fourth grade and was no threat to the terror group, a spokesman for the Afghan independent human rights commission told the New York Times.

The boy’s uncle is a former Taliban commander who switched sides to support the Afghan government, along with 36 of his followers, one of which was the young boy’s father. His uncle, Mullah Abdul Samad, was appointed commander of the local police militia and soon became the government’s main force fighting the Taliban in the Oruzgan province. The Taliban laid siege to Samad’s district in 2015. Young Wasil Ahmad’s father was killed in that fighting and so Wasil took command of the garrison’s defense.

“He fought like a miracle,” Samad told the New York Times, adding that Wasil had fired rockets from a roof. “He was successfully leading my men on my behalf for 44 days until I recovered.”

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How bad weather mixed with bad planning resulted in the Civil War’s ‘Mud March’

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria


The Mud March, an offensive launched into Virginia by the Union army on Jan. 20, 1863, was the perfect storm of bad luck, poor logistical planning and atrocious weather.

It was a huge operation aimed at striking a mortal blow to the Confederacy that ended up collapsing under its own sodden weight in the mud, with practically no combat to speak of.

Following the disastrous Union defeat at Fredericksburg, Virginia on Dec. 13, 1862, morale among Union soldiers and the public was hitting a new low.

The Union Army of the Potomac, under the command of the newly appointed Gen. Ambrose Burnside, had hoped to quickly cross the Rappahannock river at Fredericksburg and race to Richmond, the Confederate capital. The Army of Northern Virginia under Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was waiting for them.

The Union suffered nearly 13,000 casualties, mostly in doomed frontal assaults against dug-in rebel troops on Marye’s Heights, who had ideal shelter behind an existing stone wall. The Confederacy had taken less than half as many losses, and the Union army was sent reeling back.

Burnside was desperate to retrieve his reputation, which the slaughter at Fredericksburg had left in tatters. He proposed a bold new offensive against Lee’s left flank, drawing the enemy into the open from their defences where they could be destroyed. January had been mild and dry so far, and the need for a quick victory to make up for Fredericksburg was paramount.

But when the army departed on Jan. 20, a drizzling rain gradually became a total downpour that lasted for days. Pontoon bridges to be laid over the Rappahannock river were delayed by logistical problems and huge traffic jams developed. Two entire corps were misdirected through the same crossroads becoming completely ensnarled.

Artillery and wagons became hopelessly mired in the muddy roads. Hundreds of draft animals dropped dead of exhaustion trying to pull their loads. Some units could move less than two miles a day.

Faced with miserable soldiers shivering in the mud, Burnside decided to lift their spirits by ordering a ration of whiskey issued to the army. But the liquor was distributed a little too freely,and many units started to descend into drunken squalor. A brawl broke out between two regiments with a history of rivalry, leading a third regiment to intervene in an effort to break it up.

The resulting chaos may have been one of the largest fistfights in American history.

All surprise had been lost. Lee and his army were dug in on the other side of the Rappahannock. Confederate scouts and pickets observing the Union army jeered and shouted insults, waving signs emblazoned with “Burnside’s Army Stuck in the Mud” and “This Way to Richmond” with arrows pointing in the opposite direction.

The ill-fated offensive was called off. It was such a fiasco that Burnside was relieved as commander of the army on Jan. 25 and replaced the next day by Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker.

Burnside had never wanted the job of replacing general George B. McClellan, his predecessor, believing himself unfit for an army level command. He took it only after being informed that the command would go to Hooker, whom he greatly disliked and distrusted.

Following the disasters of Fredericksburg and the Mud March, Hooker ended up with the command anyway. Hooker went on to face calamity at the battle of Chancellorsville, where his army was routed by Lee despite outnumbering him by over 2-to-1.

The Union Army had faced a string of defeats in the Eastern Theatre, from the first Bull Run to the abattoir at Fredericksburg. But the Mud March shows how bad weather and bad planning can stop even a powerful army in its tracks as effectively as rifles and artillery.

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Here’s a glimpse at the intense battle against ISIS that cost a Navy SEAL his life

Footage obtained by the British paper The Guardian shows the intense battle that claimed the life of U.S. Navy SEAL Charlie Keating IV.


Keating was part of a quick-reaction force that moved in to relieve another group of U.S. advisors supporting the Kurdish Peshmerga when ISIS broke through the Peshmerga’s lines with a massive assault using 20 technicals, car bombs, and a bulldozer.

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
U.S. service members take shelter behind a truck during the battle which claimed the life of U.S. Navy SEAL Charlie Keating IV. Photo: YouTube/Journeyman Pictures

The efforts of Keating and the other SEALs were successful and the other U.S. advisor team survived, but Keating himself was shot. Though he was medevac’d out, he died of his wounds.

U.S. airstrikes and Peshmerga fighters succeeded in killing 58 of the attacking ISIS fighters, destroying many of the vehicles, and reclaiming the lost territory over the next 14 hours.

As the video below shows, Keating and his warrior brothers rushed to save others despite intense fire against them:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8toyJyHONA
(h/t Funker530)
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Is the White House planning to pull out of the Iran nuke deal?

US intelligence officials are under pressure from the White House to produce a justification to declare Iran in violation of a 2015 nuclear agreement, in an echo of the politicization of intelligence that led up to the Iraq invasion, according to former officials and analysts.


The collapse of the 2015 deal between Tehran, the US, and five other countries – by which Iran has significantly curbed its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief – would trigger a new crisis over nuclear proliferation at a time when the US is in a tense standoff with North Korea.

Intelligence analysts, chastened by the experience of the 2003 Iraq war, launched by the Bush administration on the basis of phony evidence of weapons of mass destruction, are said to be resisting the pressure to come up with evidence of Iranian violations.

“Anecdotally, I have heard this from members of the intelligence community – that they feel like they have come under pressure,” said Ned Price, a former CIA analyst who also served as a national security council spokesman and special assistant to Barack Obama. “They told me there was a sense of revulsion. There was a sense of déjà vu. There was a sense of ‘we’ve seen this movie before’.”

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
Former CIA analyst, Ned Price. Wikimedia Commons photo from user Dcwashguy1789.

However, Donald Trump has said he expects to declare Iran non-compliant by mid-October, the next time he is required by Congress to sign a three-monthly certification of the nuclear deal (known as the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action, or JCPOA). And the administration is pursuing another avenue that could trigger the collapse of the deal.

David Cohen, a former deputy director of the CIA, said it was “disconcerting” that Trump appeared to have come to a conclusion about Iran before finding the intelligence to back it up.

“It stands the intelligence process on its head,” Cohen told CNN. “If our intelligence is degraded because it is politicized in the way that it looks like the president wants to do here, that undermines the utility of that intelligence all across the board.”

In another move reminiscent of the Iraq debacle, the US administration is putting pressure on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to be more aggressive in its demands to investigate military sites in Iran, just as George W Bush’s team pushed for ever more intrusive inspections of Saddam Hussein’s military bases and palaces.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, visited IAEA headquarters in Vienna to press the agency to demand visits to Iran’s military sites. Haley described IAEA inspectors as “professionals and true experts in their field”.

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

“Having said that, as good as the IAEA is, it can only be as good as what they are permitted to see,” Haley told reporters on her return to New York. “Iran has publicly declared that it will not allow access to military sites, but the JCPOA makes no distinction between military and non-military sites. There are also numerous undeclared sites that have not been inspected yet. That’s a problem.”

Unlike the case of Iraq and the Bush administration, where there were deep divisions in the US intelligence community over the evidence for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, there is now a general consensus among US intelligence and foreign intelligence agencies, the state department, the IAEA and the other five countries that signed the JCPOA, as well as the European Union, that there is no significant evidence that Iran has violated its obligations under the deal. Tehran scaled down its nuclear infrastructure and its nuclear fuel stockpiles soon after the deal was signed in Vienna.

However, Trump, who denigrated the agreement throughout his election campaign, has appeared determined to torpedo it.

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
Photo by Michael Vadon

On July 17, the latest deadline for presidential certification of the JCPOA deal required by Congress, the announcement was postponed for several hours, while Trump’s senior national security officials dissuaded the president from a last-minute threat not to sign.

“If it was up to me, I would have had them non-compliant 180 days ago,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal on July 25. He hinted it was his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, who had persuaded him to certify the agreement.

“Look, I have a lot of respect for Rex and his people, good relationship. It’s easier to say they comply. It’s a lot easier. But it’s the wrong thing. They don’t comply,” the president said. “And so we’ll see what happens… But, yeah, I would be surprised if they were in compliance.”

Trump said his administration was doing “major” and “detailed” studies on the issues.

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
Vienna International Centre, Vienna, where the 61st IAEA General Conference will be held in September, 2017. Photo from IAEA.

Richard Nephew, who was principal duty coordinator for sanctions policy in the Obama administration state department and a member of the team that negotiated the JCPOA said government agencies were producing such studies all the time. He said the difference under the Trump administration was that they were being told the conclusions should be.

“Behind the scenes, there is a huge machine that is pumping up reports and updates and status checks for the administration and Congress,” Nephew, now at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, said. “You have intelligence officers and analysts in a bunch of agencies who spend literally every day scrubbing every single report they have got of what is going on inside Iran trying to find instances of non-compliance.

“What I suspect is happening now is that those intel officers have been asked to go to the cutting room floor, [and are being asked:] ‘What have you forgotten? What have you discounted? What have you said doesn’t really fit and not really relevant?’

“I actually think that’s healthy if it’s an honest question,” Nephew said, but he added: “It seems there is a faction within the administration that is trying to lay the basis for getting out [of the agreement] on the basis of cooked books.”

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
ministers of foreign affairs and other officials from the P5+1 countries, the European Union and Iran while announcing the framework of a Comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, 2015. Photo from US Department of State.

He predicted that intelligence analysts would resign if they were pushed too hard.

“The intelligence community learned the lessons of Iraq hard,” Nephew said. “And the analysts I know who are attached to this effort I am quite convinced would resign and resign loudly before they would allow… their words to be twisted and turned the way it happened with Iraq.”

Robert Malley, who was a senior US negotiator at the nuclear talks with Iran, said that the Trump administration was discounting the information it was getting from its agencies because it viewed them as the “deep state” or “Obama holdovers.” But Malley predicted it would be harder for Trump to ignore the reservations of US intelligence and US allies and drive towards confrontation with Iran than it was for George Bush to go to war in Iraq.

“The main difference is that Iraq has already happened, which means that both the American public and the international community have seen a similar movie before, and therefore might well react differently than the way they reacted the last time around,” he said.

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
Robert Malley (center) at Camp David during the Middle East Peace Summit in July 2000. Photo from the White House.

The other principal avenue of attack on the JCPOA being pursued by the Trump administration has focused on the question of inspections of Iranian military sites. Under the agreement, the IAEA can present evidence of suspect activity at any site to Iran and ask for an explanation. If the explanation is not accepted by the IAEA, Tehran would have two weeks to negotiate terms of access for the agency inspectors. If the Iranian government refuses, a joint commission of JCPOA signatories could vote to force access, andIran would have three days to comply.

“There is a mechanism, a very detailed one and one of the issues we spent the most time on in negotiation,” Malley said. But he added: “There are people on the outskirts of the administration, and who are pushing hard on the Iran file, saying they should be allowed to ask for inspection at any sensitive site for no reason whatsoever, in order to test the boundaries of the agreement.”

During her visit to Vienna, Haley suggested that Iran’s past practice of using military sites for covert nuclear development work was grounds for suspicion. But Laura Rockwood, a former legal counsel in the IAEA’s safeguards department (which carries out inspections), said the US or any other member state would have to provide solid and contemporaneous evidence to trigger an inspection.

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
US Secretary of State John Kerry prepares to sit down with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna, Austria, on July 14, 2014, before they begin a second bilateral meeting focused on Iran’s nuclear program. Photo from US Department of State.

“If the US has actionable intelligence that is useful for the IAEA to take into account, and I mean actual and honest intelligence, not fake intel that they tried to use in 2003, then I think the agency will respond to it,” Rockwood, who is now executive director of the Vienna Centre for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, said. “But if they try to create evidence or if they try to pressure the agency into simply requesting access because they can, I think it will backfire.”

Some analysts, however, believe that the Obama administration was too willing to let Iranian infractions slide and that a more skeptical view of the agreement and implementation is overdue.

“Asking the system for knowledge of violations is different than asking anyone to falsify them,” said David Albright, head of the Institute for Science and International Security. “This is a highly technical subject and the Obama administration downplayed and even hid violations and problems. So, there is a need to establish the true situation and ensure decision makers understand these issues. Spinning this as equivalent to Iraqi WMD claims is not only unfair but highly inaccurate. Certainly, the pro-JCPOA advocates would love to do that.”

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani. Photo from Moscow Kremlin.

Any Iranian objections to new inspections could be cited by Trump if he carries out his threat to withhold certification of the JCPOA in October. It would then be up to the US Congress whether to respond with new sanctions, and then Trump would have to sign them into law, in potential violation of the agreement. The Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, said this week that elements of the program that had been stopped under the agreement could be resumed “within hours” if the US walked out.

Ultimately, Tehran and the other five national signatories to the agreement would have to decide whether to try to keep the deal alive without US participation. The head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation, Ali Akbar Salehi, suggested over the weekend that if the other signatories remained committed, Iran would continue to observe the deal. It is an issue that would split Europe from the US, likely leaving the UK perched uneasily in the middle.

“As a practical matter, you’re not going to have the rest of the international community, you’re not going to have our allies in Europe, you’re certainly not going to have the Russians and the Chinese coming along with us to reimpose real pressure on the Iranians,” Cohen said. “So you’ll have this fissure between the United States and essentially the rest of the world in trying to reinstate pressure on Iran.”

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13 funniest military memes for the week of Dec. 9

So … a certain writer and content curator took two weeks of hard-earned vacation and forgot to ask anyone to fall in on the military memes rundown.


Sorry about that. I’m back now, so here are 13 of the funniest military memes we saw this week (plus two secret bonus ones hidden at the end):

1. After all, if you stay in then you can have all the joy and happiness of first sergeant.

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
If the military is the best job I’ll ever have, it might be time to look at an ultra-early retirement.

2. Don’t let them catch you with morale, they’ll steal it immediately.

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
Leadership is like a bunch of wet blankets.

3. “Hey, guys. Ready to have some fun?”

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
The best part is that the Coast Guard’s sailing ship is a former Nazi vessel, so those cadets are likely vomiting where Hitler once walked. History!

4. “Just gonna keep sleeping. Thanks.”

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
This tactic only works until the sergeant of the guard gets involved.

5. That Central Issue Facility logic:

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria

6. My biggest concern is that it appears that wrench is way too large for that nut.

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
Like, I get that isn’t the point, but I feel like any craftsman should be able to eye wrench v. bolt/nut sizes better than that.

7. Look, it’s not that we don’t want to reward you for finding Taliban for us …

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
… but if we give you a commission, we’ll eventually have to give you a platoon. And there’s no way we’re finding 40 Joes who will follow you.

8. The greatest generation is still trying to get their disability ratings.

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
Pretty nice of the VA to set up shop inside their 1940s camp, though.

9. Honoring the flag waits for no paint job, not even haze gray.

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
Of course, left-handed salutes may be worse than missing colors.

10. They’re really cute and adorable poop factories:

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
Wish they would use those cutesy paws to clean up their mess.

11. Not sure why he doesn’t melt with all that salt.

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
The heat of combat is more dangerous for him than any other soldier.

12. Probably a soldier with an unfortunate name …

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
… but possibly a military fan with no idea what is going on.

13. Grumpy cat if it was an airman with a shaving profile:

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
Mandatory fun isn’t (unless it’s the podcast).

Secret squirrel bonus 1:

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria

Secret squirrel bonus 2:

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria

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Engine falls off Air Force B-52 bomber while in flight

One of the eight engines powering a Boeing B-52 bomber flying over Minot Air Force Base on Wednesday quite literally fell right off the aircraft.


The unarmed aircraft, which was on a training flight at the North Dakota base, landed safely and none of the crew were injured, an Air Force spokesman told Defense News.

The service has already initiated an investigation into what went wrong. All crew members of a B-52 that crashed in May 2016 escaped without injury, though a 2008 crash killed all six crew members on board.

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class J.T. Armstrong

The B-52 is a long-range, heavy bomber jet aircraft powered by eight Pratt Whitney engines. It was first introduced in 1955, though it has continually been upgraded and maintained.

The Air Force has just over 75 B-52s still in service today, which are slated to last into 2040, according to Defense News.

The B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber is expected to replace the aging B-52 fleet once it’s introduced some time in the mid-2020s.

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21 things sailors who’ve served in Yokosuka will understand

The sailors assigned to the commands around Yokosuka, Japan know about high optempo. The units assigned to Forward Deployed Naval Forces Japan are either on deployment or working up for deployment.


But with limited liberty time, the sailors of Yokosuka (and Atsugi) also learn how to play hard.

Here are 21 things every sailor who’s ever been stationed there knows all too well:

Related: 7 lies sailors tell their parent while deployed

1. Your weekend begins with a Liberty plan and a designated buddy

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher S. Johnson

(The liberty plan may not apply to those before 2002 or after 2014. Lucky you.)

2. But in reality, you have alternate plans

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria

3. Instead, you pregame with a Chu-Hi or three

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
Image: Kirin

4. And head for the Honch

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Off to the Honch, Yokosuka, Japan. Image: Shissem

5. But you only stay for a while because you don’t get along with the regulars: a.k.a. ‘shore patrol’

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Instagram, zacharyattackery

6. And, trust us on this one, you won’t stand a chance if you start your Captain’s Mast like this:

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YouTube, Paul Coleman

7. Dinner options always brings out the toughest debates

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Image: Rocket News 24

(By the way, Sukiya is way better.)

8. You opt for taco, rice, and cheese because there’s no way to come to an agreement

 

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Photo Credit: Okinawa Hai!

9. Or maybe you settle on ramen (because it’s crazy delicious)

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Pinterest, Honest Cooking

10. After dinner, it’s off to Roppongi

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Giphy

11. You learn to stay away from “buy me drink” bars

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Giphy

12. You learn that trains stop running at midnight . . .

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
YouTube, kennooo93

… the hard way.

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria

12. But if you happen to miss the last train the real debauchery begins

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Giphy

13. Really, what’s a sailor to do without transportation? 

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Instagram, AgehaTokyo

15. Somehow you always manage to save just enough cash to get you back to base

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Flickr, BriYYZ

16. You know you missed your stop when signs are no longer in English

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Flickr, François Rejeté

17. Luckily, the Japanese people are very friendly

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Giphy

18. MWR (Morale Welfare and Recreation) trips are great for holding on to your money, exploring Japan and staying out of trouble. You could visit Kyoto …

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Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺), Kyoto, Kyoto prefecture, Japan. Image: Wikimedia

19. … climb Mount Fuji …

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Image: US Navy

20. … or take an epic snowboarding trip to Nagano

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Image: Orvelin Valle, We Are The Mighty

21. And you know how to make the best of a liberty incident

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VAW-115 barracks party. (Photo: Orvelin Valle, We Are The Mighty)

Articles

This Air Force general could be the first female chief of staff

General Lori Robinson experienced a meteoric rise through the ranks of the U.S. Air Force. From 2012-2014, she added a star per year to her epaulets. She was the deputy commander of the USAF’s CENTCOM area of responsibility and the vice commander of the U.S. Air Force’s global strike force. She became the first female to command USAF combat forces when she took over Pacific Air Forces, which controls Air Force operations from the United States to the east coast of Asia and from Antarctica to the Arctic Ocean.


Now, she’s poised to make history again in 2016.

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We assume she drops the mic at the end of her speeches. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Stewart/Released)

The current Air Force Chief of Staff (CSAF), General Mark Welsh III, is set to retire in the summer, and Robinson is on the short list to replace him.

She’s also in the running to head the U.S. Northern Command, which would make her the highest ranking combatant commander, tasked with defending the contiguous United States, Alaska, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico.

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria

Robinson is also a unique choice because she would be the first non-pilot to be named CSAF. Her experience, however, includes more than 900 flight hours as a “senior battle manager” in the E-3B/C and E-8C aircraft.

“As far as the woman part of it all, I’m the commander at Pacific Air Forces,” Robinson recently said during an interview. “I’m a general of the United States Air Force; I’m an airman, and I happen to be a woman.”

Articles

These photos show how eerily-similar Russian and US special ops look and operate

The best-of-the-best in the US and Russian militaries look eerily similar to each other both in appearance and in tactics.


The US Army Special Forces has some of the smartest and most lethal fighters in the world, which could explain why Russia has increasingly modeled its own Special Forces — or Spetsnaz — off its American counterparts.

Also read: Special mission faceoff: Delta Force versus Spetsnaz

Those Russian Special Forces most recently infiltrated and took over Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and they are now operating on the ground in Syria. And according to a US military official who spoke with The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, they are practically indistinguishable on the battlefield.

That’s not an accident. According to the Journal, Russia’s military chief used a meeting with US Special Operations Command to learn more about how the US operates, in order to more closely mirror his force in Russia. Moscow has also benefited from a framework of understanding signed between the two nations that offered military-to-military exchanges and operational events, orientation at the West Point military academy for Russian cadets, and sharing of ideas among both countries’ combined arms academies.

We decided to look at photos of Spetsnaz in action, along with US Special Forces. It’s sometimes hard to spot the difference.

After US Army soldiers finish their roughly year-long training to become Special Forces-qualified, they don the distinctive green beret for the first time.

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US Army Photo

Their counterparts in Russia do much the same, though their head gear is crimson. Russia’s Spetsnaz unit modeled their competition for the crimson beret from the US, after a former commander read a book by a former US special forces soldier.

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RT/screenshot

Source: Russia Beyond the Headlines

The resemblance between the two nations’ special forces don’t stop there. This US Special Forces soldier looks pretty similar…

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US Army

… To his Russian counterpart, right down to the helmet, tactical gear, and camouflage uniform pattern. The two nations do, however, use different weapons systems, with the US favoring the M4 rifle, and Russia going with its AK-style.

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The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation

“From the helmets to the kit, they look almost identical,” a US military official told the Wall Street Journal recently, of Russia’s special forces.

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Special Operations Command

Source: WSJ

It’s kind of eerie.

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Russian Ministry of Defense

Here are US Special Forces soldiers doing a room-clearing exercise.

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US Army

And here are Russian special forces soldiers doing the same thing.

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
Russian Ministry of Defense

Here’s US Special Forces securing the area after a helicopter insertion …

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US Army via BlackFive

… Which Russian special forces know how to do as well.

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
Russian Ministry of Defense

Both train for what’s called “high-altitude, high-opening” parachute jumps …

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US Air Force

… Where soldiers jump from a plane from miles above the Earth so they can basically fly into and parachute to their objective without an enemy knowing.

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Russian Ministry of Defense

The US gives some of its special forces soldiers advanced training as snipers.

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US Army

Russia does the same, teaching its soldiers the art of stalking and shooting.

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
Russian Ministry of Defense

They also learn how to rappel down a wall …

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Pfc. Steven Young/US Army

… And jump through a window to surprise an adversary.

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
Russian Ministry of Defense

It’s worth pointing out that US Special Forces trains with allied nations’ own special ops, who wear similar uniforms and learn similar tactics.

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
US Army

But it seems that Russia has, in some ways, made its special forces indistinguishable from its American counterparts.

American and Kurdish fighters advance on the ISIS capital in Syria
Russian Ministry of Defense

Articles

Why it sucks to report to the ‘Good Idea Fairy’

Air Force Capt. Mark Harper was probably worried about the lack of network connections and other technology in 2007 when he was sent to Djibouti, Africa, to take over a staff section there. Unfortunately, his colonel hadn’t gotten the message about Djibouti’s limited network access and ordered Harper and his crew to start making weather podcasts for Djibouti.


A podcast. In 2007. For a group of people with limited internet access. The “Good Idea Fairy” had struck again.

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Air Force Capt. Mark Harper and his crew record their weather podcast for the people of Djibouti. (Go90 No Sh*t There I Was screenshot)

Shocker, it had a limited listenership and the crew wasn’t happy while making it. But since the order came from a colonel, they would need at least a general to shoot it down.

Unfortunately for them, their attempts to sabotage the program in front of a visiting two-star didn’t exactly go according to plan. Check out the whole story, complete with a colonel falling asleep on a grateful captain, in the video embedded above.

Watch more No Sh*t There I Was:

Why it sucks to report to the ‘Good Idea Fairy’

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like

That time Linda Hamilton asked a Marine to the ball

This is a perfect example of how ridiculous boot camp is

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