Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers - We Are The Mighty
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Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers

It may come as a surprise, but until President Obama signed the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in November, military working dogs who were retired while overseas were sometimes left in the country in which they were deployed, separated from their handlers instead of returning back to the U.S. Sometimes the dogs would be left on the base until they were adopted locally.


Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
A flight medic is hoisted into a medical helicopter with Luca, a Military Working Dog, during a training exercise in Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Needham)

Some handlers were able to return with their dogs, but the handler would have to pay for it out-of-pocket. If the handler couldn’t afford it, that was tough luck. The 2016 NDAA how the armed forces retires its working dogs. Those dogs will now be guaranteed a ride home thanks to a bipartisan amendment, which also allows their handlers to adopt them after their service ends.

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo

The American Humane Association lobbied for the amendment for a year. Before the bill passed through Congress and was signed by the President, theAssociation spent thousands of dollars to repatriate retired dogs and reunite them with their handlers. They handled 21 cases in 2015 alone.

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
Staff Sgt. Philip Mendoza pets his military working dog, Rico, wearing “doggles,” during air assault training aboard a helicopter at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Elizabeth Rissmiller)

The Humane Association estimates there are upwards of 2,500 dogs at work with the U.S. military overseas. They believe the bond between a dog and its handler is a mutually beneficial relationship.

“It’s not just those 2,500 precious canines it’s also their handlers at the other end of the leash,” Dr. Robin Ganzert, CEO of the American Humane Association told the Washington Free Beacon. “When they come back suffering from those invisible wounds of war, we’re hoping that their four legged battle buddy will help them heal from PTS. We know it works. We’ve seen it work.”

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
Staff Sgt. Erick Martinez, a military dog handler at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, uses an over-the-shoulder carry with his dog, Argo II. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Allen Stokes)

The Humane Association’s next push is for ongoing veterinary care for returning canine veterans.

“We also did a call to action to the private sector and said, okay guys, time to step up and provide for veterinary care,” Ganzert said. “We achieved free specialty veterinary care but I’m still calling for free primary care. These handlers that are former-military, a lot of them, to have a battle buddy in their home is a grand expense.”

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‘Pin-ups for Vets’ creatively shows appreciation for veterans

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers


When we think about ways to give back to the veteran community and show our appreciation, we often turn to the standard monetary contributions and volunteer opportunities, but there are more creative ways to show our appreciation as well. One example of such an endeavor is the organization Pinups for Vets.

I recently had the founder of Pinups for Vets, Gina Elise, on the Military Veterans in Creative Careers podcast, and I was surprised and inspired by what she had to share. Gina started the organization in 2006 as a way to give back to the veteran community. After seeing images of veterans alone in hospital beds, and watching reports on the news of the severe injuries sustained by our troops fighting in Iraq, she became convinced that she had to do something to help raise funds to support our hospitalized veterans.

She had always been a fan of World War II nose art (on the nose of the plane), so decided to use this creative passion of hers to create calendars that could be donated to veterans and raise money for VA hospitals. Now it is a reality, and Gina not only produces the calendars, but brings a group together and goes to donate the calendars at VA hospitals, dressed as the pinups. The organization has donated over $50,000 worth of rehab equipment for VA hospitals nationwide, and has visited over 7,000 ill and injured veterans.

As you would imagine with a group that visits VA hospitals, the stories Gina had to share were touching. She mentioned a man who was in the hospital for a traumatic injury, and how they were talking with him and he responded. This wouldn’t have been a big deal, except for the fact that afterward they were told that this man had not spoken in over a month.

Navy veteran Jennifer Marshall is a return volunteer for these groups that go to VA hospitals, and shared with me the story of an elderly Navy veteran who cried because she was so happy to have this visit. The video of this touching moment is below:

Jennifer had the following to say about her volunteer experience with Pinups for Vets:

Volunteering with Pin-Ups for Vets means so much to me. On every visit, we see veterans that have not had visitors in days, weeks, or even months. Reconnecting with my brothers and sisters, regardless of era served or branch, is a unique and often beautiful experience. No veteran should ever feel lonely or go without visitors while hospitalized. I do it because not only do I value our veterans, but it makes me feel good as well. I love connecting with other vets and I think volunteer work is essential for anyone who would like to make the world a little brighter.

She also had the following experience to share, which reminds us of the need of young veterans as well:

A visit that sticks out in my mind was when we walked into a room and there were two very young veterans in their late 20s to early 30s. At the hospital, they were surrounded by elderly vets and did not really have anyone to talk to. We spent a lot of time in that room just talking and reminiscing about the service. They were so happy to have company that was around their same age, and it was a really great bonding experience. We signed their calendars and took photos to remember the day by. I still think about that visit often.

Jennifer told me she feels that, through such visits, along with the organizations active social media presence, “people are able to see that there are still veterans who not only appreciate but need the companionship.”

The website for the organization includes thank you letters from the hospitals these volunteers have been able to visit, and reading these was an inspiration in itself. One line from these letters that helped me understand the importance of the visits said their visits make “every day Veterans Day” for their residents.

We don’t want anyone to end up alone in a hospital, especially anyone who dedicated themselves to serving our country. We are fortunate that Pinups for Vets is making an effort, and can see this first hand in the commitment these men and women make to showing these veterans that they care. An example below shows Gina dancing with a veteran, a touching moment that may not change the world, but certainly shows that veteran and the others who see this that people appreciate our service and are making an effort to ensure we are not alone.
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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.

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
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.

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
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.

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
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.

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
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.

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
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.

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
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.

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
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.

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
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.

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
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.

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
Wiki Commons

Tomas Hirst contributed to this report.

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The Special Forces op that supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq

From 2001 to 2003, the Kurdistan region in northern Iraq was in a state of conflict between autonomous Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces and the terror group, Ansar al-Islam. The group was made primarily of Al-Qaeda veterans of the Afghanistan War and was carving out an enclave in the major city of Halabja. Locals from the Islamic Group of Kurdistan rose up to support Ansar al-Islam. The CIA also suspected the terror group of manufacturing poison and chemical weapons in the region. To address this threat in northern Iraq and put more pressure on Baghdad, the U.S. planned to open a second front during the 2003 invasion of Iraq from the north through Turkey.

However, Turkey refused to allow U.S. forces to cross their border into Iraq for the purpose of invasion. Although this development halted the mechanized 4th Infantry Division, thousands of paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade and soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division’s 2-14 Infantry Regiment were inserted from the air to form an ad hoc northern coalition. Their push south was paralleled by paramilitary operators of the CIA’s Special Activities Division and Green Berets from the 10th Special Forces Group. The roughly 40 CIA officers and Green Berets supported the 7,000-strong Kurdish Peshmerga fighters of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdish Democratic Party who wanted to defeat Ansar and Islamic Kurdish fighters and push south to join the fight against Saddam.

On the morning of March 21, 2003, Operation Viking Hammer kicked off in northern Iraq. Directed by the U.S. advisors, a total of 64 Tomahawk cruise missiles struck Ansar and Islamic Kurdistan forces. However, the ground assault was postponed until the conventional U.S. forces were in place for their parallel push south. The attack was scheduled for March 28.

On the eve of the attack, the Islamic Group of Kurdistan surrendered. They had already lost 100 fighters during airstrikes on March 21 and were heavily demoralized. The attack the next morning was met with heavy resistance from the Ansar fighters. However, the U.S. advisors called in airstrikes on the Ansar positions and the Peshmerga were able to push through. They reached their first checkpoint, the town of Gulp, hours ahead of schedule.

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
The mountainous terrain was difficult to navigate and fight through (U.S. Army)

The bulk of the surviving Ansar forces fell back to the town of Sargat where they consolidated for a final stand. As the Peshmerga fighters and their U.S. advisors approached Sargat, they were pinned down by heavy mortar and machine gun fire. The town’s location deep in the valley blocked radio signals and prevented the Americans from calling in airstrikes or friendly reinforcements. Instead, Green Berets used a Barrett M82 .50-caliber rifle to take out Ansar machine gun crews while Peshmerga forces brought up artillery to destroy the Ansar mortar positions. It took three hours, but the Ansar forces were eventually driven from Sargat.

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
Green Berets during Operation Viking Hammer (U.S. Army)

As they routed the Ansar fighters into the hills, the Peshmerga were again pinned down by machine gun fire. However, the elevated battleground allowed U.S. advisors to call in airstrikes into the night. Once darkness fell, four AC-130 gunships battered the retreating Ansar forces as they retreated toward the Iranian border. Some fighters were reportedly arrested by Iranian forces while others were sent back across the border and captured by Kurdish forces. However, the Kurds allege that many Ansar fighters were given refuge in Iran.

Operation Viking Hammer resulted in the destruction of Ansar al-Islam in northern Iraq and allowed Kurdish fighters to continue south to attack Saddam’s forces from the north. Traces of poisonous Ricin and potassium chloride were discovered in Sargat, as well as chemical suits, nerve gas antidotes and manuals on manufacturing chemical weapons. Peshmerga casualties were light with three fighters killed and 23 wounded.

In addition to the 100 Islamic Kurds who were killed in the initial airstrikes, an estimated 150-200 Ansar fighters were killed during Viking Hammer. There were no American casualties. Seven Green Berets were awarded the Silver Star for their actions around Sargat and several CIA officers were awarded the rare Intelligence Star for extraordinary heroism in combat. The operation has been lauded as one of the greatest Special Forces engagements in modern history.

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10 responses vets can use when asked, ‘Have you ever killed anyone?’

Over the years, I’ve had my nerves scraped raw by Americans who flippantly ask the question, “Have you ever killed anyone?” The fact that those who ask completely fail to understand or truly care about the veteran experience has calloused my soul just enough to optimize the efficacy of humor as a deflection device and coping mechanism. Let my pain be your lesson and follow me to disgruntled depths!

Imagine you’ve stopped off at the gas station to grab a pack of smokes and are striking up a casual conversation with the attendant when he suddenly hits you with, “Hey, what was the worst thing you’ve ever experienced? Any recent deaths in the family? Any childhood or sexual trauma? No? Haha. Okay, well Kit-Kats are two for $1 if you’re interested.”

How would you respond to some stranger casually prying into the darkest moments of your life? If your knee-jerk reaction is to rip out their trachea and bugle their death song as they fade into the abyss, you might be a veteran. The first time a sniveling college kid asked if I’d ever killed someone, I completely fumbled my response. It was C-minus at best. I regret it every day. I’m better than that. It was my first time, and I just got a little nervous.

As the bloodthirsty, village-burning, baby-killing assassins that we American veterans (apparently) are, our response to this utterly tone-deaf question is important, and it’s our duty to rise to the challenge and represent our community when the time comes. Fortunately, I’ve worked up 10 responses any vet can use when asked the most astoundingly inappropriate question in the history of traumatic events.

Knock ’em dead!

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
Marlon Brando as Col. Walter E. Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. Screenshot from YouTube.

HOW TO RESPOND TO “HAVE YOU EVER KILLED SOMEONE?”

1. Become visibly nervous, lean forward, and then whisper, “So you see them too?”

2. “Only the short ones.”

3. Note the color or feature of their shirt. “Only people in [insert their shirt color] … There’s just something about that color …” follow with dead silence and a disconnected gaze.

4. “Yup! Wait, you meant like in the war? Haha. Oh no, I was supply.”

5. “Not on purpose.”

6. Pull out a coin and stare at the individual. Actually, you’re not trying to stare at them, you’re staring into them. Gaze deeply into their very soul and hold the coin out until the tension in the room is palpable, then simply ask, “Heads or tails?” Flip the coin, catch it, and intensely stare at the palm of your hand without letting them see the coin. Shake a little bit for dramatic effect if you want. After several moments suddenly change your expression to light and happy, then inform them that they were correct.

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh in No Country For Old Men. Screenshot from YouTube.

7. Really emphasize the word “people” in this one — “What like people? No, I’ve never killed any people.” Do not elaborate. If they persist, make a loose reference to aliens, something like “We don’t know what they were” will work fine. End with “I’ve already said too much,” and walk away.

8. If they’re young, say, “Yes, and I was one short of unlocking the Chopper Gunner.” (They’ll get it.)

9. “With what?”

10. “I’ll only answer your awkward question if you answer one of mine first.” Then proceed to ask them one of the following:

  • Have you ever heard your parents having sex?
  • In 200 words or more, describe your last shit.
  • What’s the last thing you cried about?
  • Can you meet me in the bathroom and tell me if this rash looks serious? I can’t show you here.

11. Bonus answer perfect for post-pandemic dinner parties: “Only when we were hungry.”


This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

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This video shows the US obliterating a suspected ISIS chemical weapons plant

We’ve heard this one before, but a senior U.S. military official said Sept. 13 that a swarm of coalition jets bombed a facility near Mosul, Iraq, he claimed was making chemical weapons for the Islamic State terrorist group.


The general in charge of Central Command’s air forces said the recent strike on a former pharmaceutical plant involved a dozen aircraft — from A-10 Thunderbolt IIs to B-52 Stratofortresses — on 50 different targets.

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Aaron Oelrich/Released)

“Intelligence had indicated that Daesh converted a pharmaceutical plant complex into a chemical weapons productions capability,” said Air Force Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian during a press briefing Sept. 13. “This represents just another example of [ISIS] blatant disregard for international law and norms.”

The air chief admitted there’s a long history of false reporting on chemical weapons production in the Middle East, particularly with Iraq, but said intelligence pointed to specific weapons being manufactured there.

“The target set, as we better understood it, was basically a pharmaceutical element that they were, we believe, using them for most probably chlorine or mustard gas,” Harrigian said. “We don’t know for sure at this point.”

The strike included F-15E Strike Eagles; A-10s; B-52s; Marine F/A-18D Hornets and F-16 Falcons.

“With respect to the number of airplanes we used, so as we looked at the number of points of interest … specifically, we had a pretty significant number of them,” Harrigian said. “And so to allocate the right types of weapons from the — the necessary number of platforms, we needed that many jets to be able to take out the breadth from that facility that was out there on the ground.”

 Defense officials also said Sept. 12 that an investigation had confirmed that a strike on ISIS senior recruiter and tactical planner Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani had been successful. There was some doubt on whether the attack on a vehicle in Syria had actually killed the key leader.

“The strike near Al Bab, Syria, removes from the battlefield ISIL’s chief propagandist, recruiter and architect of external terrorist operations,” said Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook. “It is one in a series of successful strikes against ISIL leaders, including those responsible for finances and military planning, that make it harder for the group to operate.”

Russia had also claimed credit for the kill, but officials say there were no Russian jets in the area at the time of the strike.

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13 funniest military memes for the week of June 9

It’s a tradition as old as time. From the days of Sun Tzu and George Patton, military leaders have taken a break every Friday to share dank memes.


These are those memes:

1. Can confirm this is the test, can give no guidance on how to complete it (via Air Force amn/nco/snco).

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
D-mned devil ball.

2. No one is out there to bother you, lots of fresh air (via Military Memes).

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
Also, bring lots of water. You’ll be out there a while.

3. This is a whole new level (via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting).

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
Can not figure out what this does. Like, at all.

Also see: This incredible rap song perfectly captures life in Marine Corps infantry

4. Why is the sky blue? God loves the infantry (via Military Memes).

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
But he only pours his liquid crayons on the tankers.

5. Better limber up those arms. This is about to get rough (via The Salty Soldier).

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers

6. Slowly, the military melts more and more of the happiness off your bones (via Air Force amn/nco/snco).

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
And, apparently, gives you two more legs.

7. “Just send iiiiit!”

(via Keep Calm and Call for Artillery)

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
All good fire missions are initiated while slightly inebriated.

8. Deliveries of donuts are pretty great at raising morale (via Coast Guard Memes).

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
Of course, doing them too often also lowers the boat in the waterline.

9. If the students weren’t so worthless, we wouldn’t have these issues (via Decelerate Your Life).

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers

10. It’s been a while since I had a class that wasn’t about sexual harassment or suicide prevention (via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting).

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers

11. Oh, if only we were all in Alpha Company …

(via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting)

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
… instead of in Charlie where dudes KEEP LOSING SENSITIVE ITEMS!

12. You ever seen an insurgent go steel-on-steel with their first round?

(via The Salty Soldier)

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
Nobody has, so stop running.

13. Oh, you made points or something?

(Via Decelerate Your Life)

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
Cool story, bro. Tell it again but, like, over there.

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

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


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

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

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
A H-6 Badger bomber. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

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

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

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

It should be noted that China boycotted the process.

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
Map of the ChiComs’ Nine-Dash Line (Illustration from Wikimedia Commons)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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US general again accuses Russia of supplying the Taliban

The United States must confront Russia for providing weapons to the Taliban for use against American-backed forces in Afghanistan, top U.S. military officials said Monday.


At a news conference with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at his side, Gen. John Nicholson, the American commander in Afghanistan, wouldn’t provide specifics about Russia’s role in Afghanistan. But said he would “not refute” that Moscow’s involvement includes giving weapons to the Taliban.

Earlier Monday, a senior U.S. military official told reporters in Kabul that Russia was giving machine guns and other medium-weight weapons. The Taliban are using the weapons in the southern provinces of Helmand, Kandahar and Uruzgan, according to the official, who briefed journalists on intelligence information on condition of anonymity.

Russia denies that it provides any such support to the Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan until the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. Russia says contacts are limited to safeguarding security and getting the hard-line religious fundamentalists to reconcile with the government — which Washington has failed for years to advance. Russia also has promoted easing global sanctions on Taliban leaders who prove cooperative.

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
Task Force Khost provide security during a raid on a suspected insurgent safe haven as part of Operation Cohort Aug. 11. Operation Cohort is a joint operation involving Task Force Khost and coalition forces that focus on specific militant targets and safe havens within Khost province in eastern Afghanistan.

Asked about Russia’s activity in Afghanistan, where it fought a bloody war in the 1980s and withdrew in defeat, Mattis alluded to the increasing U.S. concerns.

“We’ll engage with Russia diplomatically,” Mattis said. “We’ll do so where we can, but we’re going to have to confront Russia where what they’re doing is contrary to international law or denying the sovereignty of other countries.”

“For example,” Mattis told reporters in the Afghan capital, “any weapons being funneled here from a foreign country would be a violation of international law.”

Mattis met with President Ashraf Ghani and other senior government officials just hours after the nation’s defense minister and Army chief resigned over a massacre of more than 140 Afghan troops at a military base last Friday.

The insurgent assault was the biggest ever on a military base in Afghanistan, involving multiple gunmen and suicide bombers in army uniforms who penetrated the compound of the 209th Corps of the Afghan National Army in northern Balkh province on Friday, killing and wounding scores. The death toll was likely to rise further.

Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers
Members of the Afghan National Army prepare to conduct a routine patrol in the Oruzgan province of Afghanistan. US officials claim Russia is supplying arms to the Taliban in that region.

Referring to the Russians again, Nicholson said “anyone who arms belligerents who perpetuate attacks like the one we saw” isn’t focused on “the best way forward to a peaceful reconciliation.”

Given the sophisticated planning behind the attack, he also said “it’s quite possible” that the Pakistan-based Haqqani network was responsible. The Taliban claimed it carried out the attack.

Nicholson recently told Congress that he needs a few thousand more troops to keep Afghan security forces on track to eventually handling the Taliban insurgency on their own. The Trump administration is still reviewing possible troop decisions.

Mattis on Monday offered a grim assessment for Afghan forces fighting the Taliban.

“2017 is going to be another tough year,” he said.

Kabul was the final stop on Mattis’ six-nation, weeklong tour. He is the first member of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet to visit Afghanistan. As part of the administration’s review of Afghan policy, Trump’s national security adviser, Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, visited Kabul last week to consult with Nicholson and Afghan officials.

The war began in October 2001. The U.S. has about 9,800 troops in Afghanistan. They ended their combat mission against the Taliban in 2014 but are increasingly involved in backing up Afghan forces on the battlefield.

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Today in military history: Battle of Bull Run

On July 21, 1861, the first major land battle of the Civil War took place at Bull Run in Northern Virginia.

The First Battle of Bull Run, or the First Battle of Manassas as it was known in the South, focused on the railroad intersection at Manassas. The railroads that intersected there were key to Washington’s ability to send troops and supplies south into Virginia in case of an invasion of the South. Both sides knew this and wanted to control the junction.

It took more than three months after the fall of Fort Sumter, South Carolina, for Union and Confederate armies to meet on the battlefield. Groups of civilians, including women and children, joined a group of U.S. Senators to watch the first battle of the Civil War.

Many in the Union government thought the war would be a short one. The Union troops who fought the battle were mostly made up of new recruits on a 90-day enlistment. The Senators and the civilians packed lunches carried in picnic baskets to watch the grim melee. They had no idea the battle was not going to go as well as expected.

Confident the Confederacy could be defeated quickly, Union General Irvin McDowell led 34,000 troops to Manassas, Virginia. Confederate General Pierre G.T. Beauregard raised 20,000 troops to meet him. He was joined by General Joseph Johnston’s 9,000 troops, and a concealed brigade under the command of General Thomas J. Jackson.

From their position, Jackson’s brigade managed to repel a series of Union attacks, earning him the epithet “Stonewall” Jackson. 

The Confederates broke McDowell’s line and sent the Union troops scrambling in a demoralizing and scattered retreat. 

To make matters worse, the hundreds of civilian spectators who turned out to watch the battle were horrified at the bloodshed, seeing some 5,000 men killed or wounded. 

After the battle, Lincoln’s government was faced with the sober realization that the rebellion would not be so easily quelled.

Featured Image: A Union artillery battery is overran at the First Battle of Bull Run.(Sidney King, public domain via Good Free Photos)

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Today in military history: Confederate invasion of Kentucky begins

On Aug. 14, 1862, the Confederate invasion of Kentucky began.

Wanting to draw the Union army away from Chattanooga, Tennessee, and hoping to win over Kentucky and the midwest for the South, Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith led ten thousand troops toward the Cumberland Gap and spent the month of August defeating Yankee forces throughout the state. 

Smith was joined by General Braxton Bragg’s forces, and throughout the fall the Confederates would repeatedly engage with Union General Don Carlos Buell, who finally secured a Yankee victory in October, causing the Confederates to retreat back to Tennessee. 

Often referred to as the Confederate Heartland Offensive, the Kentucky Campaign was a strategic failure overall. Though it would slow Union forces down, they would regain the lost ground within a year and Kentucky would remain in Union hands for the remainder of the war.

Featured Image: The Battle of Perryville as depicted in Harper’s Weekly. (Public Domain)

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You can see the most notorious German artillery piece be fired

Nazi Germany may have been one of the most evil regimes in history, but that regime also had some very good equipment. The Tiger tank, the Bf 109 and FW 190 fighters, the U-boat, and the MG42 machine gun were all very good.


Perhaps the most notorious weapon they had was called the “88.” Technically, it was called the 8.8 centimeter Flak 18, 36, 37, or 41, but most folks just described it with the number that referred to the gun’s bore diameter in millimeters. That was a measure of how notorious the gun was.

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The seven-man crew of an 88 manhandles their gun somewhere on the Russian front. (Wikimedia Commons)

The first 88s were intended as anti-aircraft guns to kill bombers. They were very good at that – as many allied bomber crews found out to their sorrow. But the gun very quickly proved it was more than just an anti-aircraft gun, starting with its “tryout” in the Spanish Civil War. The gun also proved it could kill tanks.

According to MilitaryFactory.com, it could kill tanks from a mile away. When the Germans discovered that, they began to churn out 88mm guns as quickly as they could. As many as 20,700 were built, and they found themselves used on everything from Tiger tanks to naval vessels. Even after the war, the gun hung around, and during the war, it was something that allied forces quickly tried to neutralize. The 88 was even pressed into service with some Seventh Army units due to an ammo shortage.

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FLAK 36 88mm multipurpose gun on display in the Air Power Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The gun had a crew of seven, and weighed nine tons. The gun could be fired at targets as far as nine miles away. Very few of these guns are around now, but in World War II, many Allied troops wondered if the Germans would ever run out.

You can see video of one of the few surviving “88s” being fired below.

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The 13 funniest memes for the week of Sept. 22

Earthquakes are hitting all over, the Caribbean is under water, and Kylie Jenner is pregnant.


Everything is a disaster.

Except these military memes. These are great. And we’re here with them every week.

This week was is brought to you by an Air Force vet. Expect a lot of Air Force jokes.

1. It’s football season. Let the sh*t talk begin.

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Can’t wait to see this years’ Navy cadet video.

2. If civilians knew the truth, they’d never sleep. (via Decelerate Your Life)

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No chow hall burger ever looked this good.

2. Actually, the burgers at Air Force DFACs are great. (via Why I’m Not Re-Enlisting)

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Where’s the golf course, soldier?

3. There are more uncivilized places than Army posts.

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It was also the Emperor’s idea to put Crackie Hall next to Sh*t Creek in Hawaii. You’re welcome.

Read: This is what China will do if the US attacks North Korea

4. But the Death Star isn’t next to “Sh*t Creek.”

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5. The Air Force needs to stick up for itself. (via Decelerate Your Life)

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This guy is sporting the new Air Force PT shirt.

6. Except for nonners.

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But they all go looking for IQ: 145 when the wifi goes down.

Check Out: This sailor has one of the most impressive resumes you’ll ever see — and he’s not done yet

7. This is 80 percent of you. (via Why I’m Not Re-Enlisting )

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I read your comments, WATM people.

8. Becoming a veteran is cause for celebration. (via Decelerate Your Life)

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9. Why do they have us do this?

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We all just end up hurt.

Now read: This is how to see if you would have been drafted for Vietnam

10.  The only thing worse than a climate survey is meaningless awards night.

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Also, anything that is just a certificate is a waste of time.

11. Drill Instructors are memorable people.

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We also remember every subsequent time.

12. They should have put more effort into managing our diets.

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Thank god for our leadership.

13. No one doctored this. This is a DoD meme.

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