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DFAC or chow hall? Different names for the same things across the services

Civilians talk about feeling lost when vets start using military lingo, but even vets can get lost when talking to members from other services. Here are 8 things that are common between the branches but with wildly different names:


1. DFAC, chow hall, or galley?

Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeffry A. Willadsen

Basically, it’s the cafeteria. While the Army and Air Force both officially use the term DFAC, or dining facility, most soldiers and Marines refer to it as the “chow hall.” In the Navy, it’s the galley. All services employ “cooks” in the kitchen. In the Army, the soldiers tasked to help the cooks are KP, kitchen patrol. In the Navy, cooks are assisted by “cranks.”

2. Article 15, ninja punch, captain’s mast

Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Dietrich

There are a lot of ways to get in trouble in the military, and the services have plenty of ways to describe it. While soldiers and airmen typically refer to Article 15s and nonjudicial punishment, Marines may call NJP a “ninja punch.” When Sailors get in big trouble, they can face captain’s mast, an Article 15 from the commander of the ship. Admiral’s mast is one step worse. Serious infractions can result in a “big chicken dinner,” slang for a bad conduct discharge.

3. Shammers, skaters and broke d*cks

Photo: US Army Spc. Olanrewaju Akinwunmi

When a sailor or Marine wants to get out of duty, they “skate” out of it. The Army equivalent is “shamming.” For all the services, shamming or skating by claiming medical issues can get you labeled as a “broke d*ck.”

4. Flak vest or body armor

Photo: US Army

When someone is wearing all their armor and equipment, they’re in “full battle rattle.” For the Army, this means they’re wearing their body armor. While Marines are likely to be wearing the same armor, they’ll grab their “flak.” The flak vest, as seen in most Vietnam war movies, was the predecessor of modern body armor.

5. Deck vs. ground

Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Joseph Rivera Rebolledo

While the Army and the Air Force continue to use the normal words for ground and floor, the Navy and Marine Corps train their people to use the word “deck.” For pilots, the ground is the “hard deck,” something Top Gun apparently made a mistake translating.

6. Barracks mill, private news network, or the scuttlebutt

Photo: US Army

Rumors. The Army has a bunch of privates living in the barracks where they swap rumors like a knitting circle. Hence, “barracks mill” and “private news network.” For the Navy, their sailors congregate around water fountains referred to as the scuttlebutt. Eventually, “scuttlebutt” became the word for the rumors themselves.

7. Head and latrine

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Sailors and Marines visit the head, and soldiers hit the latrine.

8. Hooah vs. Oorah vs. Hooyah

Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Christopher Q. Stone

The services can’t even agree on how to grunt. The Army says “Hooah,” when they want to motivate each other, or really to say anything besides, “no.” The Marines prefer “Oorah” while the Navy says “Hooyah.” (The Air Force has no equivalent.)

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This Army captain is getting the Medal of Honor for tackling a suicide bomber

The Army’s newest Medal of Honor recipient will be retired Capt. Florent “Flo” Groberg from the 4th Infantry Division. President Obama will drape the medal around his neck in a White House ceremony on November 12.


Photo: US Army courtesy photo

Groberg was leading a personal security detail on Aug. 8, 2012 when he spotted a suicide bomber in Kunar Province, Afghanistan. Groberg rushed the bomber and threw him to the ground, limiting the effects of the blast. Still, four soldiers were killed in the attack when the bomber released the dead man’s trigger he was using.

Another suicide bomber hiding nearby was surprised by the explosion enough that he triggered his own bomb prematurely, which saved more lives thanks to Groberg’s actions.

Groberg survived but was severely wounded. On Sep. 21, 2015, he was called by the president and told he would be receiving the Medal of Honor.

Groberg tells the story in his own words in the video below. Read more here.

(h/t Army Times)

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The 11 most dangerous jobs in the US military

All jobs in the military carry real risks, but some jobs are much riskier than others. Here are 10 of the most dangerous:


1. Pararescue

Photo: US Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott Taylor

Pararescue jumpers are basically the world’s best ambulance service. They fly, climb, and march to battlefields, catastrophic weather areas and disaster zones to save wounded and isolated people during firefights or other emergencies.

2. Special operations

Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Adam Henderson

While this is lumping a few separate jobs together, troops such as Navy SEALs, Army green berets, Air Force combat controllers and others conduct particularly risky missions. They train allied forces, hunt enemy leaders, and go on direct action missions against the worst of America’s adversaries. They get additional training and better equipment than other units, but the challenging nature of their mission results in a lot of casualties.

3. Explosive ordnance disposal

Photo: US Navy Photographers Mate 1st Class Ted Banks

The bomb squad for the military, explosive ordnance disposal technicians used to spend the bulk of their time clearing minefields or dealing with dud munitions that didn’t go off. Those missions were dangerous enough, but the rise of improvised explosive devices changed all that and increased the risk for these service members.

4. Infantry

Not exactly shocking that infantry is one of the most dangerous jobs on the battlefield. These troops search out and destroy the enemy and respond to calls for help when other units stumble into danger. They are the primary force called on to take and hold territory from enemy forces.

5. Cavalry

Photo: US Army Sgt. William Tanner

The cavalry conducts reconnaissance and security missions and, if there is a shortage of infantry soldiers, is often called to take and hold territory against enemy formations. Their recon mission sometimes results in them fighting while vastly outnumbered.

6. Combat Engineers

Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Bryan Nygaard

Combat engineers do dangerous construction work with the added hazard of combat operations going on all around them. When the infantry is bogged down in enemy obstacles, it’s highly-trained engineers known as Sappers who go forward and clear the way. The engineers also conduct a lot of the route clearance missions to find and destroy enemy IEDs and mines.

7. Artillery

Photo: US Army

Artillery soldiers send massive rounds against enemy forces. Because artillery destroys enemy formations and demoralizes the survivors, it’s a target for enemy airstrikes and artillery barrages. Also, the artillery may be called on to assume infantry and cavalry missions that they’ve received little training on.

8. Medical

Photo: US Army Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod

Medics go forward with friendly forces to render aid under fire. While medics are protected under the Geneva Convention, this only helps when the enemy honors the conventions. Even then, artillery barrages and bombing runs can’t tell which troops are noncombatants.

9. Vehicle transportation

Photo: US Army

Truck driving is another job that became markedly more dangerous in the most recent wars. While driving vehicles in large supply convoys or moving forward with advancing troops was always risky, the rise of the IED threat multiplied the danger for these soldiers. This was complicated by how long it took the military to get up-armored vehicles to all units in Iraq and Afghanistan.

10. Aviation

Photo: US Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Daniel McClinton

Aircraft provide a lot of capabilites on the battlefield, but that makes them, their crews, and their pilots targets of enemy fire.

11. Artillery observers

Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. DeNoris A. Mickle

Like medics, these soldiers go forward with maneuver forces. They find enemy positions and call down artillery strikes to destroy them. The enemy knows to take them out as quickly as possible since they are usually carrying radios.

Articles

This Indian Air Force commando stopped terrorists cold after taking six bullets

The Indian Air Force’s Pathankot Station in Northern Punjab, very near the border with Pakistan, was attacked in the early hours of January 3, 2016.


Six terrorists from a Kashmir-based separatist group, heavily armed and dressed in Indian Army uniforms, breached the base walls and moved 400 meters into the base before being stopped by Garud Commandos. A raucous small arms battle ensued as the attackers opened up on the Indians with AK-47s and grenade launchers. The battle lasted until 4:15 pm on January 5th, ending with the death of all six attackers, six Defence Security Corps troops and one Indian Air Force Garud commando.

Garuds are the Special Forces of India’s Air Forces. Tasked with airfield seizure, reconnaissance, air assault, counterterrorism, counterintelligence, combat search and rescue, as well as air base defense, they are akin to the U.S. Army’s Delta Force operators or the British Special Air Service.

IAF Garud Commandos in an Indian Air Force training video (IAF Video Still)

Corporal Shailabh Gaur was part of a three-man team deployed outside the high value asset area of the air base. One of his teammates immediately took three bullets, so Shailabh took over his position. Fighting for nearly half an hour, Shailabh took 6 bullets in his abdomen but kept returning fire. Reinforcements would not arrive until a full hour after the initial contact between the terrorists and commandos.

Corporal Shailabh Gaur, post-surgery (Facebook)

The three man team prevented the attackers from entering the part of the base housing the aircraft and kept them from surprising other IAF personnel who might not have been as capable in their response. Shailabh was medevaced to a nearby hospital where he under went surgery for bullet wounds and ruptured intestines.

Corporal Shailabh Gaur (Facebook Image)

Articles

5 awesome facts you didn’t know about Memorial Day

Celebrated on the last Monday in May, Memorial Day brings America together to remember the 1.1 million men and women who died in service to their country.


As most of us spend our day flipping burgers, wearing pro-American attire and saving money on those amazing furniture deals, it’s important to understand the significance of the historic day.

Related: 5 interesting facts about the Marine Corps birthday

Check out these awesome facts you probably didn’t know about our beloved holiday.

1. Moment of remembrance at 3 pm

On Dec. 28th, 2000, President Bill Clinton signed the National Moment of Remembrance Act, which asks all Americans to pause on Memorial Day at 3:00 pm local time for a full minute to honor and remember all those who perished protecting our rights and freedoms.

Airmen from the 317th Airlift Group stand at parade rest during a Memorial Day ceremony at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. (Photo: Airman 1st Class Charles V. Rivezzo/ Released)

2. Wearing red poppies

You may have noticed people wearing red poppy flowers pinned to their clothing on Memorial Day. This idea was influenced by the sight of poppies growing in a battle-scarred field in WWI which prompted the popular poem “In Flanders Fields” written by former Canadian Col. John McCrae.

The American Legion adopted the tradition of wearing the red poppy flowers along with many allied countries to commemorate troops killed in battle.

Honor the dead. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

3. Flag raising procedures

Americans love to proudly display their flags and let them wave high and free. On Memorial Day, there’s a special protocol to properly raise and exhibit the ensign. Here it is.

When the flag is raised at first light, it’s to be hoisted to the top of the pole, then respectfully lowered to the half-staff position until 12:00 pm when it is re-raised to the top of the pole for the remainder of the day. Details matter.

Service members saluting the raised American flag. (Photo: Airman 1st Class Harry Brexel)

4. The origin of the holiday

Originally called “Decoration Day” by Gen. John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, in 1868, the day was intended to honor the estimated 620,000 people who died fighting in the Civil war and was celebrated on May 30th.

But it wasn’t until 1971 that Congress shifted the holiday to the last Monday of May to ensure a three-day weekend and renamed it to what we all know today.

Thank you, Congress.

Also Read: The mother of the boy in this iconic photo has a Memorial Day message all Americans should read

 5. The holiday’s birthplace

At least five separate cities claim to be the birthplace of “Decoration Day,” including Macon and Columbus, Georgia. Of course, there’s no real written record or D.N.A test to prove who is truly the mom and dad.

California, you are not the father… or mother. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

Articles

The 25 most ruthless leaders of all time

Attila the Hun | Wikimedia


One man’s hero is another man’s tyrant, a popular aphorism goes.

But while we can argue the validity and virtue of certain political agendas, the callous methods by which some leaders attain their goals are less up to interpretation.

After all, no matter how a historian tries to spin it, ordering a tower to be constructed out of live men stacked and cemented together with bricks and mortar is pretty brutal.

Business Insider put together a list of the most ruthless leaders of all time featuring men and women who employed merciless tactics to achieve their political and military agendas.

Note: All people on the list ruled prior to 1980, and no living figures were included. People are arranged in chronological order.

Qin Shi Huang

Wikimedia

Reign: 247-210 B.C.

Qin, also called Qin Shihuangdi, united China in 221 B.C. and ruled as the first emperor of the Qin dynasty. He was known to order the killing of scholars whose ideas he disagreed with and the burning of “critical” books.

During his reign, he ordered the construction of a great wall (roughly speaking, the prequel to the modern Great Wall of China), and an enormous mausoleum featuring more than 6,000 life-size terra-cotta soldier figures. Large numbers of conscripts working on the wall died, and those working on the mausoleum were killed to preserve the secrecy of the tomb.

“Every time he captured people from another country, he castrated them in order to mark them and made them into slaves,” Hong Kong University’s Xun Zhou told the BBC.

Source: British Museum, Britannica, History, BBC

Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (aka Caligula)

Wikipedia

Reign: A.D. 37-41

Caligula was quite popular at first because he freed citizens who were unjustly imprisoned and got rid of a stiff sales tax. But then he became ill, and he was never quite the same again.

He eliminated political rivals (forcing their parents to watch the execution), and declared himself a living god. According to Roman historian Suetonius, Caligula had sex with his sisters and sold their services to other men, raped and killed people, and made his horse a priest.

He was eventually attacked by a group of guardsman and stabbed 30 times.

Source: Biography.com, BBC, “Atlas of History’s Greatest Heroes and Villains” by Howard Watson.

Attila the Hun

Wikimedia

Reign: A.D. 434-453

After killing his brother, Attila became the leader of the Hunnic Empire, centered in present-day Hungary, and ended up becoming one of the most feared assailants of the Roman Empire.

He expanded the Hunnic Empire to present-day Germany, Russia, Ukraine, and the Balkans. He also invaded Gaul with the intention of conquering it, though he was defeated at the Battle of Catalaunian Plains.

“There, where I have passed, the grass will never grow gain,” he reportedly remarked on his reign.

Source: Britannica, Biography

Wu Zetian

Wikimedia

Reign: A.D. 690-705

Wu went from 14-year-old junior concubine to empress of China. She ruthlessly eliminated opponents by dismissing, exiling, or executing them — even if they were her own family.

The Chinese empire greatly expanded under her rule, and though she had brutal tactics, her decisive nature and talent for government has been praised by historians. Notably, military leaders who were handpicked by Wu took control of large parts of the Korean peninsula.

Source: Britannica

Genghis Khan

Wikimedia

Reign: 1206-1227

Khan’s father was poisoned to death when Khan was 9, and he spent time as a slave during his teenage years before he united the Mongol tribes and went on to conquer a huge chunk of Central Asia and China.

His style is characterized as brutal, and historians have pointed out that he slaughtered civilians en masse. One of the most notable examples was when he massacred the aristocrats of the Khwarezm Empire, decimating the ruling class, withunskilled workers taken to be used as human shields.

Source: “Genghis Khan and the Mongol War Machine” by Chris Peers, History.com

Tomas de Torquemada

Wikimedia

Reign: 1483-1498 (as Grand Inquisitor)

Torquemada was appointed Grand Inquisitor during the Spanish Inquisition. He established tribunals in several cities, put together 28 articles to guide other inquisitors, and authorized torture to extract confessions.

He reportedly encouraged King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to give Spanish Jews the choice between exile or baptism, causing many Jews to leave the country. Historians estimate that Torquemada was responsible for about 2,000 people burning at the stake.

Interestingly, some sources say Torquemada himself came from a family of Jewish converts.

Source: Britannica, “A Psychoanalytic History of the Jews” by Avner Falk

Timur (aka Tamerlane)

Screen grab

Reign: 1370-1405

Timur led military campaigns through a large chunk of western Asia, including modern Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria, and he founded the Timurid Empire.

In present-day Afghanistan, Timur ordered the construction of a tower made out of live men, each stacked on top of another, and cemented together with bricks and mortar.

He also once ordered a massacre to punish a rebellion, and he had 70,000 heads built up into minarets.

Source: Encyclopedia

Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia (aka Vlad Drăculea or Vlad the Impaler)

Wikimedia

Reign: 1448; 1456-1462; 1476

When Vlad III finally became the ruler of the principality of Wallachia, the region was in disarray because of the many feuding boyars. According to the stories, Vlad invited his rivals all to a banquet, where he stabbed and impaled them all. (Impaling was his favorite method of torture.)

Though it’s difficult to determine whether this story was embellished, it characterizes Vlad’s rule: He tried to bring stability and order to Wallachia through extremely ruthless methods.

Source: Huffington Post, LiveScience, Britannica

Czar Ivan IV (aka Ivan the Terrible)

Wikimedia

Reign: Grand Prince of Moscow: 1533-1547; Czar of All the Russias: 1547-1584

Ivan IV began his rule by reorganizing the central government and limiting the power of the hereditary aristocrats (the princes and the boyars).

After the death of his first wife, Ivan began his “reign of terror” by eliminating top boyar families. He also beat his pregnant daughter-in-law and killed his son in a fit of rage. He earned the nickname “Ivan Grozny” (aka “Ivan the Formidable” — which has been mistranslated to “Terrible”).

Source: Biography, Britannica

Queen Mary I (aka Bloody Mary)

Wikipedia

Reign: 1553-1558

The only child of the notorious King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, Mary I became queen of England in 1553 and soonreinstalled Catholicism (after previous rulers championed Protestantism) as the main religion and married Philip II of Spain — a Catholic.

Over the next few years, hundreds of Protestants were burned at the stake, and for that she earned the nickname “Bloody Mary.”

Source: Biography, BBC

Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed (aka the Blood Countess)

Wikipedia

Killing spree: 1590-1610

The countess lured young peasant women into her castle, promising them jobs as maids before brutally torturing them to death. According to one account, she tortured and killed as many as 600 girls, though the actual number is likely to be much lower.

Her torture methods included sticking needles under finger nails, covering girls in honey before unleashing bees on them, biting off chunks of flesh, and, most infamously, bathing in the blood of virgins to stay young and beautiful.

Source: Britannica, History

Maximilien Robespierre

Wikimedia

Reign: c. 1789-1794

One of the many influential figures involved in the French Revolution, Robespierrebecome one of the dominant players during the “Reign of Terror,” a period of extreme violence when “enemies of the revolution” were guillotined, arguing that this terror was an “emanation of virtue.”

According to historical sources, Robespierre was soon corrupted by power and was executed by guillotine as well.

Source: Biography, BBC

King Leopold II of Belgium

Wikipedia

Reign: 1865-1909

King Leopold II “founded” the Congo Free State as “his own” private colony, and went on to make a huge fortune from it by forcing the Congolese into slave labor for ivory and rubber.

Millions ended up suffering from starvation, the birth rate dropped as men and women were separated, and tens of thousands were shot in failed rebellions. Demographers estimate that from 1880 to 1920 the population fell by 50%.

This forced-labor system was later copied by the French, German, and Portuguese officials.

Source: Britannica

Mehmet Talat Paşa

Wikimedia

Reign: 1913-1918

Historians believe that Talat Paşa was the leading figure in the Armenian genocide. As minister of the interior, he was reportedly responsible for the deportation and ultimately the deaths of some 600,000 Armenians.

He was assassinated in Berlin in 1921 by an Armenian. As an unusual bit of history, Adolf Hitler sent his body back to Istanbul in 1943, hoping to persuade Turkey to join the Axis powers in World War II.

Source: Britannica, The Independent

Vladimir Lenin

Wikimedia

Reign: 1917-1924

In 1917, Lenin led the October Revolution to overturn the provisional government that had overthrown the czar. About three years of civil war followed, after which the Bolsheviks came out on top and took over the country.

“During this period of revolution, war and famine, Lenin demonstrated a chilling disregard for the sufferings of his fellow countrymen and mercilessly crushed any opposition,” the BBC reported.

Source: BBC, Biography

Benito Mussolini

YouTube

Reign: 1922-1943

After escaping military service, Mussolini founded Italy’s Fascist Party, which was supported among disillusioned war veterans, and organized them into violent units called Blackshirts. He began to disintegrate democratic government institutions, and by 1925 he became “Il Duce,” or “the leader” of Italy.

Surviving multiple assassination attempts, Mussolini once said: “If I advance, follow me. If I retreat, kill me. If I die, avenge me.”

In 1936, Mussolini formed an alliance with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in which he introduced anti-Semitic policies in Italy. In April 1945, already removed from power, Mussolini tried to flee as Allied forces closed in on him, but he was shot and killed by anti-Fascists and hung upside down in a Milanese square.

Source: Atlas of History’s Greatest Heroes and Villains” by Howard Watson.

Joseph Stalin

Wikimedia

Reign: 1922-1953

Stalin forced quick industrialization and collectivization in the 1930s that coincided with mass starvation (including the Holodomor in Ukraine), the imprisonment of millions of people in the Gulag labor camps, and the “Great Purge” of the intelligentsia, the government, and the armed forces.

During World War II, Stalin’s son Yakov was captured by or surrendered to the German army. The Germans proposed trading Yakov for Field Marshal Paulus, who was captured after the Battle of Stalingrad, but Stalin refused, saying he would never trade a field marshal for a regular soldier.

Source: RT, History, “Joseph Stalin: A Biographical Companion” by Helen Rappaport

Adolf Hitler

YouTube

Reign: 1933-1945

By the end of 1941, Hitler’s German Third Reich empire (and Axis) included almost every country in Europe plus a large part of North Africa.

He also devised a plan to create his ideal “master race” by eliminating Jews, Slavs, gypsies, homosexuals, and political opponents by forcefully sending them to concentration camps, where they were tortured and worked to death.

According to some reports, the Nazis deliberately killed about 11 million people under Hitler’s regime. After learning that Soviet forces were closing in on Berlin, Hitler and his wife killed themselves in his Führerbunker.

Source: Atlas of History’s Greatest Heroes and Villains” by Howard Watson, New York Review of Books by Timothy Snyder

Khorloogiin Choibalsan

Wikipedia

Reign: 1939-1952

After several meetings with Stalin, Choibalsan adopted the Soviet leader’s policies and methods and applied them to Mongolia. He created a dictatorial system and suppressed the opposition, and tens of thousands of people were killed.

Later in the 1930s, he “began to arrest and kill leading workers in the party, government, and various social organizations in addition to army officers, intellectuals, and other faithful workers,” according to an report published in 1968.

Source: “Historical Dictionary of Mongolia” by Alan J.K. Sanders

Francisco Franco

Wikipedia

Reign: 1938-1975

With the help of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, Gen. Franco overthrew Spain’s democratically elected Second Republic during the 1930s.

Under his regime, many Republican figures fled the country, and those who stayed were tried by military tribunals. Catholicism was the official (read: only tolerated) religion, Catalan and Basque languages were prohibited outside the home, and the regime had a vast secret police network.

As Franco got older, however, police controls and censorship began to relax, free-market reforms were introduced, and Morocco gained independence.

Source: Britannica, History.com

Mao Zedong

Wikipedia

Reign: 1949-1976

A communist leader, Mao founded the People’s Republic of China. Under his leadership, industry was put under state control, and farmers were organized into collectives. Any opposition was swiftly suppressed.

Mao’s supporters point out that he modernized and united China, and turned it into a world superpower. However, others point out that his policies led to the deaths of as many as 40 million people through starvation, forced labor, and executions.

Interestingly, he is sometimes compared to Qin Shi Huang (the first man on this list).

Source: “Atlas of History’s Greatest Heroes and Villains” by Howard Watson, Britannica,Biography, BBC, Encyclopedia

Pol Pot

YouTube

Reign: 1975-1979

Pol Pot and his communist Khmer Rouge movement in Cambodia orchestrated a brutal social engineering that aimed to create an agrarian utopia by relocating people into the countryside. Others were put in “special centers” where they were tortured and killed.

Doctors, teachers, and other professionals were forced to work in the fields to “reeducate” themselves. “Anyone thought to be an intellectual of any sort was killed,” the BBC reports. “Often people were condemned for wearing glasses or knowing a foreign language.”

Up to 2 million Cambodians were executed or overworked or starved to death in just four years.

Source: History, BBC

Idi Amin

Wikipedia

Reign: 1971-1979

Gen. Amin overthrew an elected government in Uganda via a military coup and declared himself president. He then ruthlessly ruled for eight years, during which an estimated 300,000 civilians were massacred.

He also kicked out Uganda’s Asian population (mostly Indian and Pakistani citizens), and spent large amounts on the military, both of which led to the country’s economic decline.

Source: History

Augusto Pinochet

WIkipedia

Reign: 1973-1990

Pinochet overthrew Chile’s Allende government in 1973 with the help of a US-backed coup. Reports say numerous people “disappeared” under the regime and as many as 35,000 were tortured. Pinochet died before he could stand trial on accusations of human-rights abuses.

He brought back free-market economic policies, which led to lower inflation and even an economic boom in the late ’70s. Notably, Chile was one of the best-performing economies in Latin America from the mid-’80s to the late ’90s.

Source: Britannica, GuardianIMF

Articles

‘The Marine’ packs a record number of technical errors into the first five minutes

‘The Marine’ is a classic American film and accurate portrayal of a marine transitioning to civilian life,” said no actual Marine, ever.


The film, produced in 2006 by WWE Films, stars WWE superstar John Cena as John Triton, a highly regarded Marine who is unwillingly discharged from the Corps after he disobeys an order while on a hostage rescue mission in Iraq. All of this takes place in the first 5 minutes of the film. The rest of the movie is John, now a civilian, tracking down his wife after she is . . . you know what, it doesn’t really matter.

No one expects accuracy or Academy award-winning performances in a film made for wrestling fans, but if this entire film had been a military movie, it could have possibly set the record for the most technical mistakes in a film.

(We should also note that the WWE has a fantastic relationship with the armed forces, producing an annual Tribute to the Troops show every year and John Cena is known for being especially supportive of military service members.)

So here they are, 21 major mistakes (with timestamps) in the first 5 minutes of ‘The Marine’:

1. (1:14)  John’s ribbon stack on his Dress Blues is completely out of order.

2. (1:15)  Not only is the Combat Action Ribbon out of order, it is worn backwards.

3. (1:18)  John’s salute is a good example of how not to salute. His saluting arm is not parallel to the ground, his hand angled inward far too much, and it’s far above the brim of his cover.

4. (1:19)  John’s dress blues uniform is unkempt. His white glove is noticeably wrinkled (while saluting), his coat sleeves are too long, and his pants are not tailored causing them to bunch up at his feet because they’re much too long.

5. (1:20)  JOHN IS FREAKING STANDING ON THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA! (see above image)

6. (1:50)  John is single handedly performing reconnaissance on an Al Qaeda compound with no back up.

7. (1:57)  On combat mission, John is not wearing any head or eye protection.

8. (2:22)  Check out the unrealistic and gigantic muzzle flash from John’s M16 in the image below.

9. (2:27)  The 40 MM grenade John shoots from his M203 creates a huge unrealistic fireball that engulfs three insurgents.

10. (2:31)  Bullet holes in the wall from the 7.62 mm caliber rounds fired by the insurgents are enormous.

11. (2:35)  John is not wearing any type of flak jacket.

12. (3:04)  After eliminating the insurgents in the room John turns to the bloodied hostages on the floor. Instead of checking to see if they need any immediate medical care he asks in a nonchalant manner “Are you guys ready to go home?”

13. (3:32)  There is no special operations command in Stuttgart, Germany.

14. (3:41)  No Marine Colonel dressed in his Alphas would walk in to a gym to fetch a Non Commissioned Officer. He would send one of his many aides to get him.

15. (3:46)  The Colonel’s ribbon stack is completely out of order.

16. (3:49)  John has his back turned to the Colonel the entire time when he is speaking with him. As an enlisted Marine he should face the Colonel.

17. (4:06)  The Colonel’s rifle badge is noticeably slanted out of place on his service alphas uniform.

18. (4:09)  John is not wearing an authorized Marine Corps cover in uniform.

19. (4:17)  The Colonel gives John the terrible news about the decision to discharge him out of the Marines. This would normally be done privately in an official capacity, not casually outside the base gym and in public.

20. (4:22)  The Colonel gives John his discharge paperwork in a small letter envelope. There is so much paperwork when a service member discharges they often need folders or very large envelopes to carry them.

21. (4:49)  When the Colonel is finished giving John the bad news he renders John a salute. Officers are not supposed to salute an enlisted rank first. To make matters worse, when John renders a salute back the Colonel walks away before John finishes his salute (see image below). This entire saluting sequence is entirely screwed up.

 

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These are the 5 Russian generals already fighting the new Cold War

Photo: Wikimedia Commons


The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) has prepared a dossier laying out evidence for what it calls “Russian aggression against Ukraine.”

The report alleges there are some 9,000 Russian troops deployed in Ukraine, forming 15 battalion tactical groups. The force includes about 200 tanks, more than 500 armored fighting vehicles, and some 150 artillery systems, according to the dossier.

The SBU also identifies by name five Russian generals who it says are playing leading roles in commanding and coordinating the military forces of the separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Speaking to Bloomberg, New York University professor and specialist in Russian security services Mark Galeotti said that by “embedding their senior officers,” the Russians are solidifying control over the separatist portions of Ukraine.

“Somewhere in Moscow they have made the decision this will be a long-term frozen conflict,” Galeotti told Bloomberg.

Russia has consistently denied any military involvement in the conflict there.

RFE/RL takes a closer look at the six officers who have been implicated:

Major General Oleg Tsekov

Tsekov graduated from a military institute in Chelyabinsk in 1988. He then served in various parts of the Soviet Union and Mongolia.

He graduated from the Academy of the General Staff in 2011. The same year, he was appointed commander of the 200th motorized special-forces brigade of the Northern Fleet. In September 2014, the volunteer information service InformNapalm published evidence that the unit had been mobilized from Murmansk Oblast to Rostov Oblast, together with evidence that service personnel from the 200th had been identified in Ukraine.

Tsekov was promoted to major general (equivalent of a U.S. two-star general) on February 21, 2015.

The latest SBU dossier charges that Tsekov commands the so-called 2nd brigade of the separatist forces near Donetsk.

Major General Valery Solodchuk

Born in Astrakhan, Solodchuk graduated from the paratroops institute in Ryazan in 1992. In 2012, he was named commander of the 7th guards air-assault division based in Novorossiisk. A media reference in 2014 identified Solodchuk as deputy commander of the 5th Army in the Far East.

Digital-forensic investigators have drawn attention to a soldier of the 7th guards air-assault division named Stanislav Ramensky. He posted on social media several photographs that seem to have been taken in Crimea in March 2014, when Russia annexed the peninsula from Ukraine. He also published a photograph of the medal and certificate he was given on April 14, 2014, “for the return of Crimea,” which was signed by Solodchuk.

In an interview with Rossiiskaya Gazeta in March, Solodchuk was asked if the 7th guards air-assault division is a designated rapid-reaction unit within the Russian military. He answered that there are no such units and that the entire military is in a state of constant combat readiness. Asked if that meant that his unit is prepared to be ordered into battle at any moment, Solodchuk answered, “Exactly.”

The SBU dossier charges that Solodchuk is the commander of so-called 1st Army Corps of Novorossia in the Donetsk area.

Major General Sergei Kuzovlev

Sergei Kuzovlev was born in 1967 and graduated from the paratroops institute in Ryazan in 1990. He also studied at the Academy of the General Staff. He was promoted to major general in February 2014. Since 2014, he has been chief of staff of the 58th Army based in Vladikavkaz.

In January, the Ukrainian SBU released an audio recording that it alleged showed Kuzovlev organizing the military forces of the self-proclaimed “Luhansk People’s Republic” in eastern Ukraine. The SBU says Kuzovlev goes by the pseudonyms “Tambov” and “Ignatov.”

Major General Aleksei Zavizion

Aleskei Zavizion was born in Narva, Estonia, in 1965 and graduated from a military institute in Chelyabinsk in 1986. He served in the Far East, in Chechnya, and as commander of Russian forces in Tajikistan.

In 2009, he began studies at the Academy of the General Staff.

In March, Ukraine’s SBU claimed Zavizion, using the nom de guerre Alagir, directed the shelling of Kramatorsk and Mariupol. Referring to Zavizion, SBU official Markiian Lubkivskyi wrote on Facebook that “a citizen of the Russian Federation…with the call sign Alagir is currently in Donetsk within the rotational assignment of running the Operational Headquarters since January 2015, coordinating military operations with the participation of representatives of illegal armed formations.”

“Alagir is the person in charge of the deployment of artillery, mobile rocket systems, and heavy equipment,” Lubkivskyi continued. “Major bloody attacks on Ukrainian cities, particularly on Kramatorsk and Mariupol, were carried out under his direct command and coordination.”

Lubkivskyi also wrote that Zavizion was scheduled to be replaced by Russian Major General Andrei Gurulyov.

Major General Roman Shadrin

Roman Shadrin was born in Rostov Oblast in 1967 and graduated from a military institute in Kazan. He served in the Soviet contingent in East Germany after graduating in 1988. In 1995, he was awarded the Hero of Russia medal for his service during the first war in Chechnya. After service in Armenia and the North Caucasus, Shadrin was named deputy commander of Interior Ministry troops in the Urals region. In 2008, he served during the conflict with Georgia in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia, after which he was promoted to major general.

In September 2013, he was elected to the Yekaterinburg City Duma from the ruling United Russia Party.

The SBU dossier says Shadrin is the so-called minister of state security for the self-proclaimed “Luhansk Peoples Republic” (LNR) in eastern Ukraine. According to a media report on July 3, Shadrin denies the allegation, saying he has only traveled to Ukraine’s Donbas region “with a humanitarian mission.”

The Yekaterinburg-based Novy Den news agency reported the same day that Shadrin has “repeatedly traveled to eastern Ukraine with humanitarian missions.” It also noted that Shadrin resigned as chairman of the city legislature’s security committee in January and quoted an unidentified source in the Yekaterinburg Duma as saying Shadrin “holds one of the top positions in the security service of the LNR.”

The same source said it is not known when Shadrin will return to his duties in Yekaterinburg, but there have been no efforts to strip him of his mandate.

Also from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:

This article originally appeared at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Copyright 2015.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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The 9 fastest piloted planes in the world

The world’s fastest manned planes are nothing short of engineering marvels.


Capable of flitting through the air at multiple times the speed of sound, these planes take the pilot to the fringe of science fiction.

Although a number of these aircraft have since been retired, they continue to be the fastest manned aircraft in history.

The designs and advances achieved with these planes have also left an immense impact upon the development of the planes that succeeded them.

Here’s a look at the world’s nine fastest manned aircraft ever flown.

F-4 Phantom II

Photo: Wikimedia

Maximum speed: 1,472 mph

Maximum range:1,615 miles

First flight: May 27, 1958

The supersonic F-4 Phantom II jet was originally developed just for the US Navy and officially entered into service in 1960. In the mid-1960s, the interceptor was adopted by the US Marine Corps and the US Air Force.

The F-4 carries more than 18,000 pounds of weapons, including air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, and various bombs. The primary fighter jet during the Vietnam War, the Phantom II was gradually replaced by the F-15 and the F-18 Hornet.

Convair F-106 Delta Dart

Photo: Wikimedia

Maximum speed: 1,525 mph

Maximum range:1,800 miles

First flight: December 25, 1956

First introduced into service in 1959, the Convair F-106 was designed to intercept and destroy Soviet bombers during the Cold War. The Delta Dart carried sophisticated radar, infrared missiles, and a nuclear-tipped rocket, according to the Aerospace Museum of California.

The F-106 still holds the world record as the fastest single-engine fighter at 1,525 mph. The F-106 is considered one of the most challenging fighter jets to operate because of its heavy cockpit workload.

Mikoyan MiG-31 Foxhound

Photo: Wikimedia

Maximum speed: 1,860 mph

Maximum range:2,050 miles

First flight: September 16, 1975

First introduced into service on May 6, 1981, the Soviet MiG-31 remains one of the fastest combat jets ever designed. Built as an interceptor aircraft, the Foxhound continues to serve in the Russian and Kazakh air forces.

Despite its age, Russia plans to keep the aircraft in service until 2030.

Mikoyan Ye-152

Photo: Wikimedia

Maximum speed: 1,883 mph

Maximum range: 913 miles

First flight: July 10, 1959

The Ye-152 was first introduced in 1959 and was an operational interceptor derived from the Mikoyan Ye-150. The Ye-152 is best known for paving the way for the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 Foxbat.

XB-70 Valkyrie

Photo: NASA

Maximum speed: 2,056 mph

Maximum range: 4,288 miles

First flight: September 21, 1964

The XB-70 was a prototype of the never-completed US B-70 nuclear-capable strategic bomber. The bomber was intended to bomb targets while traveling at over Mach 3 at high altitudes.

Soviet missile defenses and the expansion of the role of intercontinental ballistic missile systems ultimately led to the abandonment of the B-70 program. The only two completed XB-70 prototypes were then used as test vehicles for high-speed flight.

Bell X-2 “Starbuster”

Photo: USAF

Maximum speed: 2,094 mph

First flight: September 18, 1955

The Bell X-2, which only flew for a brief span between November 1955 and September 1956, was a research aircraft jointly constructed by the Bell Aircraft Corporation, the US Air Force, and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. The plane was developed to test flight between Mach 2 and 3.

On September 27, 1956, the X-2 reached its recorded maximum speed of 2,094 mph. During the flight, however, test pilot Milburn G. Apt died. He was the first man to break Mach 3.

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 Foxbat

Photo by Dmitriy Pichugin (Wikimedia)

Maximum speed: 2,170 mph

Maximum range: 1,599 miles

First flight: March 6, 1964

The Soviet MiG-25, which was first introduced in 1970, was built as a supersonic interceptor and reconnaissance aircraft. Due to the aircraft’s large wings, the US assumed it was a highly maneuverable fighter. Instead, the Foxbat needed the large wings due to its weight.

The MiG-25’s maximum speed of Mach 3.2 is not sustainable without causing engine damage. Its top sustainable speed is 1,920 mph (Mach 2.83).

SR-71 Blackbird

Photo: YouTube screengrab

Maximum speed: 2,200 mph

Maximum range:3,682 miles

First flight: December 22, 1964

The SR-71, designed by Lockheed Martin, was a marvel of a plane. It flew at altitudes of over 80,000 feet at speeds greater than 2,000 mph. The plane, engineered for surveillance, flew for more than 30 years and was capable of outrunning antiaircraft missiles lobbed at it.

For perspective, on its retirement flight from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., the SR-71 flew coast to coast in only 67 minutes.

X-15

Photo: NASA

Maximum speed: 4,520 mph

First flight: June 8, 1959

The world’s fastest manned aircraft is the rocket-powered X-15. The X-15 flew for the first time on June 8, 1959, after successfully deployed at 45,000 feet from another aircraft. A few years later, on October 3, 1967, the X-15 pulverized all flight-speed records with a stunning 4,520 mph, or Mach 6.72, speed.

Three X-15s were made and flew a total of 199 flights before the $300 million program was retired.

More from Business Insider:

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

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Stealth bombers strike ISIS in Libya

A training camp used by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS, was destroyed by a pair of stealth bombers today.


According to a report by FoxNews.com, two B-2A Spirit bombers attacked the training camp about 30 miles from Sirte. At least 85 members of the terrorist group are believed to have been killed in the mission, which involved the bombers dropping a total of 108 500-pound bombs. Unmanned aerial vehicles also took part in the attack, using AGM-114 Hellfire missiles to kill surviving terrorists.

A B-2 Spirit drops 32 inert Joint Direct Attack Munitions Aug. 27, 2016 at the Utah Testing and Training Range.

FoxNews.com noted that the bombers were refueled five times as they flew to and from Whiteman Air Force Base.

“This action was authorized by the President as an extension of the successful operation the U.S. military conducted last year to support Libyan forces in freeing Sirte from ISIL control,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a statement released after the attack. “The ISIL terrorists targeted included individuals who fled to the remote desert camps from Sirte in order to reorganize, and they posed a security threat to Libya, the region, and U.S. national interests.”

A B-2 Spirit soars after a refueling mission over the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday, May 30, 2006. The B-2, from the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., is part of a continuous bomber presence in the Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

The use of B-2 bombers might come as a surprise as F-15E Strike Eagles from the 48th Fighter Wing at Lakenheath Air Base had been used in the past. The Navy had the guided missile destroyers USS Porter (DDG 78) and USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) in the region as well. Last year, Marine Cobras from a Marine Expeditionary Unit took part in operations against ISIS in the country.

FoxNews.com reported that this was the first action the B-2s had seen since 2011. One possible reason was the presence of the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov. The carrier reportedly hosted a Libyan warlord who the Russians are backing to run the war-torn country. The carrier and its escorts, including a Kirov-class battlecruiser, have substantial air-defense assets, including Su-33 Flankers, MiG-29K fighters, and SA-N-6 surface-to-air missiles.

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Japan snaps surveillance pics of Chinese navy carrier battle group

China’s deployment of the Liaoning, an Admiral Kuznetsov-class carrier, has not seen anything equivalent to the Kuznetsov follies, but it is a note that China’s navy is becoming more capable by the year.


The carrier recently conducted flight deck tests of Chinese PLAN fighters and is cruising through parts of the disputed South China Sea, worrying allies in Japan and Taiwan.

Here are some photos that the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force took of Beijing’s latest show of force.

Smile, Chinese Navy, you’re on candid camera!

The Liaoning. (JMSDF photo)

According to a release by the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, the Liaoning was sailing along with two Luyang II-class destroyers (Zhengzhou and Haikou), a Luyang III-class destroyer (Changsai), and two Jiangkai II-class frigates (Yantai and Linyi).

The Zhengzhou, a Luyang II-class destroyer. (JMSDF photo)

The Luyang II-class destroyer Haikou. (JMSDF photo)

The Changsha, a Luyang III class destroyer. (JMSDF photo)

According to the 16th Edition of Combat Fleets of the World, the Luyang-class destroyers carry the HHQ-9 surface-to-air missile, which is comparable to the SA-N-6 Grumble used on the Kirov-class battlecruisers and the Slava-class cruisers. The Jiangkai II-class frigates carry the HHQ-16 missile, a knockoff of the SA-N-7 – the naval version of the SA-11 Gadfly.

The Yantai, a Jiangkai II-class frigate. (JMSDF photo)

The Jiangkai II-class frigate Linyi. (JMSDF photo)

The Liaoning can carry roughly two dozen J-15 Flankers — knock-offs of the Su-33. The carrier also will have a variety of choppers as well, most for anti-submarine warfare or for search-and-rescue missions.

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9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels

It’s well known that the fearsome Soviet spy agency, the KGB, used brutal tactics to eliminate and intimidate rivals.


Legend has it that when Soviet diplomats were kidnapped by terrorists in Lebanon in the mid-1980s, KGB officers kidnapped and killed a relative of one of the perpetrators, mailing body parts to the terrorists to demonstrate why Russia’s enemies shouldn’t poke the bear.

Now-declassified CIA documents reveal the KGB had a special team created exclusively for assassinations. The KGB’s 13th Department was called the “Directorate of Special Tasks” and used “executive actions” or “liquid affairs” (read: targeted assassinations) to eliminate threats to the Soviet state.

The directorate had two special labs that most officers didn’t know about – one for creating unique weapons and explosives, the other for developing new poisons and drugs. Poisons were a favorite for these extra-judicial killings because they attracted less attention and were often confused for natural deaths.

Here are nine KGB assassination attempts that will make you want to run background checks on your friends.

1. Leon Trotsky

Trotsky was a key player in the Bolshevik takeover of Russia in 1918. When Lenin died, many believed he would take over. But it was Stalin who won the succession struggle.

Trotsky criticized the new Soviet state for suppressing democracy and was expelled from the government for his trouble. Eventually, Stalin exiled Trotsky out of the USSR.

In Soviet Russia, dictator overthrows YOU. (Russian public domain photo)

The Mexico City suburbs became his new home, but the distance couldn’t keep him safe from the death sentence Stalin ordered. In 1940, Trotsky was done in by a Spanish Communist agent with an ice pick.

2. Franz Josip Tito

The World War II leader of Yugoslavia would not give up his country’s hard-fought independence for anything. Tito’s refusal to align himself with the Soviet Bloc frustrated Stalin to no end. So the Soviet dictator decided to get rid of Tito — as he had done with many previous political roadblocks.

The Russians tried to kill Tito using a pneumatic spray of bubonic plague, a box that sprayed poison gas when opened, and 20 other ways to end the Yugoslav leader’s life. Tito thwarted so many of Stalin’s assassin attempts , he had to send a letter to Moscow that read:

‘Stop sending people to kill me… If you don’t stop sending killers, I’ll send one to Moscow, and I won’t have to send a second.’

He only needed the one. (Library of Congress photo)

3. John Wayne

Film historian and author Michael Munn tells the story of John Wayne’s brush with a Soviet assassination order in his book, “John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth.” Wayne’s anti-Communist statements didn’t sit well with Stalin, who allegedly ordered The Duke’s murder. Two Russian filmmakers, Sergei Gerasimov and Alexei Kapler, warned film legend Orson Welles about the order. Wells told Wayne, but Wayne was also warned by the FBI and stuntman Yakima Canutt, whom Wayne once credited with saving his life.

(publicity photo)

Wayne and a screenwriter friend planned to abduct the assassins, drive them to a beach, and stage a mock execution to pump them for information. The two hitmen turned and worked for the FBI while Wayne moved to a house behind a large wall.

4. Lev Rebet

Rebet in Auschwitz (Library of Congress photo)

Rebet was a Ukrainian nationalist writer, Nazi death camp survivor, and staunch anti-Communist. He was also the leader of the Ukrainian government for a time. In 1957, Rebet died suddenly of “natural causes” while on a trip to Munich. In 1961, a KGB agent named Bohdan Stashynsky defected to the West and revealed Rebet’s death was an assassination. The weapon he used was a gun that sprayed a cloud of cyanide gas. Stashynsky also killed Rebet’s party boss, Stepan Bandera, with the gas weapon.

5. Georgi Markov

A gray-haired man waiting for a London bus in 1978 would have attracted little attention from passers-by. In this case, that man was Georgi Markov, a Communist defector from Bulgaria who made England his new home. The man next to him dropped his umbrella, hitting Markov in the leg. It hurt, but Markov barely noticed. The man apologized and they both went on their way. Markov died four days later.

His autopsy revealed a pellet in his leg which contained .2 milligrams of ricin, a deadly poison used in chemical warfare and made famous by the show “Breaking Bad.” Vladimir Kostov, another Bulgarian defector, survived a similar fate with the pellet being stuck in his back. He told the world about the attack on Radio Free Europe four days after his brush with death.

6. Georgiy Okolovich

In 1954, Nikolai Khoklov appeared at the door of Georgiy Okolovich, the leader of a Russian anti-Communist group in exile. Okolovich lived in Frankfurt, West Germany, at the time. It must have been quite a shock when Khoklov said:

“Georgiy Sergeyevich, I have come to you from Moscow. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union has ordered your assassination.”

But Khoklov didn’t kill him. Instead, the KGB agent defected to the U.S. and revealed (via press conference) the weapon he was supposed to use: a cigarette pack that was actually an electrically-operated, silenced gun that fired cyanide rounds.

7. Nikolai Khoklov

In retaliation for his defection and failed assassination of Okolovich, Khoklov’s wife was sentenced to forced resettlement in the Soviet Union and Department 13 ordered Khoklov’s own assassination. The weapon would be thallium poisoning, the first use of radiological weapons by the KGB.

Thallium is a soft metal element that was often used as a rat or ant poison but fell into disuse for its potential side effects. When Khoklov’s skin began to crack, he began to lose his hair, and bleed without clotting, he knew what was happening. German doctors irrigated him with antidotes and he survived.

8. Pope John Paul II

When Polish Cardinal Karol Józef Wojtyła was elected Pope in 1979, the Soviet Union was less than thrilled. They believed he was the single greatest threat to their power, especially in Poland. So when the Pontiff was shot and wounded on May 13, 1981, the world looked to more than his attacker, a Turkish man named Mehmet Ali Agca, for answers.

The Solidarity movement was a direct outgrowth of the Pope’s visit to Poland in 1979 and became a constant irritation in the side of the Soviet leaders. A book detailing the Mitrokhin Archive, a massive trove of Top Secret KGB documents carried over by Vasili Mitrokhin after his defection to the West, shows the KGB carried out this assassination attempt in retaliation for the Pope’s attempt to undermine Soviet regime.

9. Alexander Litvinenko

Litvinenko served with the KGB from 1986 until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. He continued serving in Russia’s internal security service long after, working to infiltrate organized crime groups. In 1998,  he accused his superiors of ordering the assassination of a Russian media mogul in a public press conference. He was arrested twice for this and personally fired by Vladimir Putin, whom the agent accused of bombing Russian apartments and murdering a Russian journalist to get elected president.

He fled to London with his family and began to write books and advise the Britain’s intelligence community on Russian activities. Allegedly a target of the KGB’s susccessor, the FSB, in 2006 he suddenly became gravely ill, growing weak and unable to walk. When he was hospitalized, specialists conducted a test for radioactive materials and discovered the element Polonium-210, a radioactive element that emits alpha radiation – only damaging to human tissue when ingested.

The UK’s Health Protection Agency discovered the Polonium poison in Litvinenko’s teacup, 200 times greater than a normally lethal dose.

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The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think

Wikipedia


Early Tuesday morning, Obama announced a four-part plan to ensure the closing of Guantanamo Bay, a goal that has eluded the president since he promised to shutter the facility during his 2008 campaign.

The plan would bring some of the 91 remaining detainees to maximum security prisons in the United States, while others would be transferred to foreigns countries. Although Obama called on Congress to lift a ban barring the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S., the White House has also left open the possibility of unilateral action should Republican lawmakers refuse to cooperate.

“The plan we’re putting forward today isn’t just about closing the facility at Guantanamo,” Obama said to the nation from the Roosevelt Room. “This is about closing a chapter in our history.”

With history in mind, it seems significant that the speech was given on this day, in this venue. Exactly 113 years ago, following the Spanish-American War, Teddy Roosevelt signed an agreement with Cuba to lease parts of Guantanamo Bay to the United States for use as a naval station.

This agreement was actually a follow-up to the Platt Amendment, a 1901 resolution that dictated seven conditions for the withdrawal of United States troops from Cuba, along with an eighth condition stipulating that Cuba include these terms in their new constitution. The amendment gave the United States full control over a 45 square-mile portion of Guantanamo Bay, in order to “enable the United States to maintain the independence of Cuba.” The deal was officiated on behalf of the Cubans by Tomás Estrada Palma, an American citizen who would become the first president of Cuba.

A cartoon protesting the Platt Amendment | Wikipedia A cartoon protesting the Platt Amendment | Wikipedia

Three decades later, the 1934 Cuban–American Treaty of Relations repealed most provisions of the Platt Amendment as part of FDR’s “good neighbor policy.” The effort, ostensibly intended to give the Cuban government greater sovereignty, made the lease on Guantanamo permanent unless the United States abandoned the base or both countries agreed to terminate the agreement. The new treaty also updated the yearly lease payment from $2000 in U.S. gold coins to $4035 in U.S. dollars. This amount has remained unchanged in the 82 years since.

Since the Cuban revolution of 1959, the Castro government has cashed only one of these checks (this one supposedly by accident), keeping the rest untouched as a means of protest against what they consider an “illegal” occupation. According to the U.S., cashing even one check renders the treaty valid.

The use of Guantanamo as a prison began in 1991, following the overthrow of Haiti’s first democratically-elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. While the CIA secretly leant support to death squads killing Aristide’s supporters, the White House announced that it would be using Guantanamo as a “tent shelter” for those fleeing violence in Haiti. Of the 30,000 refugees interned at Guantanamo, those who presented discipline problems were held on a site that would later become Camp Xray, also known as the Guantanamo detention camp.

Following Bush Sr.’s disputed decision to send the exiles back to war-torn Haiti, the Supreme Court ruled that the Haitians were not entitled to U.S. rights because Guantanamo Bay fell under the sovereignty of Cuba. Interestingly, this rationale for the United States not technically having sovereignty over the land would come up again, twelve years later, as George W. Bush’s administration argued that Guantanamo prisoners should not be constitutionally entitled to habeas review.

This is all to say that, even before it became an international symbol for the War on Terror, the policies leading to and enforcing the U.S. ownership of Guantanamo Bay have been extremely controversial. As renewed attention is focused on the use of Guantanamo as a terrorist detention center, it’s well worth considering how this small Cuban harbor became a U.S.-run prison in the first place.