The Army uses a defensive weapon stripped from Navy vessels to shoot down enemy rockets and mortars before they can reach friendly troops. And, as a free bonus, they tell nearby artillery units where the enemy’s shot came from, allowing for quick retaliation.
Phalanx weapons were originally fielded as a Close-In Weapon Systems on Navy ships. Raytheon — responding to an Army request for weapons that would shut down mortar and rocket attacks on coalition bases in Iraq — pitched the Phalanx for the new mission.
And the Land-Based Phalanx Weapons System performs. A radar scans the air near protected bases. When it sees an incoming round that could threaten personnel or equipment, the gun and a camera-based tracking system turn to watch it.
The armor-piercing rounds disable or destroy the enemy munitions. The rounds self-destruct after a set distance, ensuring that they don’t rain down on civilians or friendly forces in the area.
Of course, the system can’t always down the incoming round, especially when the system is undergoing maintenance. So most C-RAM equipped bases are equipped with a warning system to alert troops when enemy munitions are incoming.
Either way, the system calculates the most likely point of origin for the enemy round and feeds that information to the fire direction center of nearby artillery units.
When that unit can get eyes on the shooter, they’re able to quickly fire counter artillery, destroying the jerks who took the shot in the first place.
George W. Bush doesn’t believe the United States should withdraw from Afghanistan. As Taliban fighters begin to make huge gains across large swathes of the country and the Afghan government in Kabul looks more and more endangered, Bush told reporters he disagrees with the drawdown.
When asked if he thought the withdrawal was a mistake, the former U.S. president told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, “I think it is, yeah. Because I think the consequences are going to be unbelievably bad and sad.”
Bush was talking to the German news agency about German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s support for sending German troops into Afghanistan when she came to power in 2005. One of the reasons why Merkel supported the troops, Bush surmised, was because she saw the potential for the growth of women and girls in Afghanistan.
Now, the former president believes the progress made by women in the country may soon be all for naught.
“I’m afraid Afghan women and girls are going to suffer unspeakable harm,” he said. Bush also discussed his concern for translators and other supporters along with the families who aided U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan. “They’re just going to be left behind to be slaughtered by these very brutal people, and it breaks my heart.”
When the U.S. drawdown began in earnest in May 2021, there were 1,100 German troops left, along with forces from 36 other partner countries.
Bush can look back on the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, which was launched under his order in October 2001 over the Taliban government’s refusal to extradite Osama bin Laden in the wake of the September 11th terror attacks.
While the current administration remains bizarrely optimistic in many ways about the survival of the U.S.-backed government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, the Taliban keep gaining ground.
In the beginning of July, the Taliban had been gaining ground at a furious pace, sometimes unopposed. The Long War Journal keeps a regular weekly time-lapse map of how many of Afghanistan’s 407 districts fall to the Islamist terror group. The first week of July saw the group capture an astonishing 10% of the country in just six days.
Despite the facts on the ground, President Joe Biden denied the Taliban are on track to take over the country, giving a speech at the White House that kept with the message that the Afghan government could hold its own.
“The likelihood that there’s going to be a Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely.”
Biden’s assessment doesn’t jive with those of Gen. Austin Miller, the war’s final commanding general, or those of the U.S. intelligence community, who believe the Afghan government could fall in as little as six weeks after foreign troops completely withdraw.
Former President George W. Bush had long been known not to publicly criticize successive presidents, keeping mum during the Obama and Trump administrations. Biden said he even consulted with Presidents Bush and Obama. Obama called it the right thing to do but Bush remained concerned with maintaining the progress made in the country.
Upon hearing President Bush’s concerns, critics were quick to criticize Bush and his handling of the war’s early years, which some believe led to the Taliban’s enduring staying power and eventual resurgence.
Feature image: President Bush visits Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, 2008 (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse)
Five hundred and forty-eight Department of Veterans Affairs employees have been terminated since President Donald Trump took office, indicating that his campaign pledge to clean up “probably the most incompetently run agency in the United States” by relentlessly putting his TV catch phrase “you’re fired” into action was more than just empty rhetoric.
Another 200 VA workers were suspended and 33 demoted, according to data newly published by the department as part of VA Secretary David Shulkin’s commitment to greater transparency. Those disciplined include 22 senior leaders, more than 70 nurses, 14 police officers, and 25 physicians.
Also disciplined were a program analyst dealing with the Government Accountability Office, which audits the department, a public affairs specialist, a chief of police, and a chief of surgery.
Many housekeeping aides and food service workers — lower-level jobs in which the department has employed felons and convicted sex offenders — were also fired.
Scores of veterans have died waiting for care while VA bureaucrats falsified data to procure monetary bonuses, but fixes have been slow to come by largely because the union that represents VA employees has used its political muscle with Democrats to emphasize job security for government employees.
Former President Barack Obama originally appointed Shulkin as a VA undersecretary. By the end of the Obama administration, however, Shulkin had grown increasingly frustrated with the American Federation of Government Employees union and other groups defending bad employees’ supposed right to a government check even when they hurt veterans.
“Just last week we were forced to take back an employee after they were convicted no more than three times for DWI and had served a 60 day jail sentence … Our accountability processes are clearly broken,” Shulkin said at the White House.
In addition to reluctance by managers to vigorously pursue firings, the overturning of firings after the fact by the Merit Systems Protection Board — often with little public acknowledgment — has been a longstanding problem.
Shulkin asked for new legislation that reduces the role of MSPB, especially when firing senior leaders. Congress passed the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act in answer, and Trump signed the bill in June.
The published data predates those new powers, and does not note which disciplinary actions were later overturned.
One record shows a “senior leader” being removed January 20, while another record shows a “senior leader” being demoted April 21. Those appear to refer to the same person — disgraced Puerto Rico VA director DeWayne Hamlin — who returned to work in a lesser job after he appealed to the MSPB.
Former Obama Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald seemed to have so little grasp on firing employees that in August 2016, he said that he had fired 140,000 employees, a figure that made little sense since that would be nearly half the workforce.
Former Puerto Rico VA director DeWayne Hamlin. DoD Photo by Joseph Rivera Rebolledo.
He said “you can’t fire your way to excellence” and blamed “negative news articles” for a morose culture, rather than the individuals perpetrating the misconduct described in those articles.
Though high-level hospital officials were affected, according to the data covering the first six months of the Trump administration, relatively few disciplinary actions occurred in the central offices where Washington bureaucrats work. Those employ fewer people than the hospitals, but repeated scandals have also shown such employees looking out for one another to preserve each others’ jobs.
There were five firings in the Veterans Health Administration Central Office, including one senior leader. There were also two in the Office of General Counsel, and one in the office of Congressional and Legislative affairs.
The data does not include employees’ names, and does not show which employees were on new-employee probationary status. Employees can be fired much more easily during their first year.
During the Obama administration, McDonald lamented that in the private sector “you cut a deal with the employee and you’re able to buy them out,” but said you cannot do that in government.
Yet VA repeatedly made five and six-figure payments to bad employees to get them to quit after they threatened to gum up the works by appealing disciplinary actions. The department even allowed Hamlin to offer a low-level employee $300,000 to quit after she refused to help management retaliate against a whistleblower who exposed Hamlin’s arrest.
The agency paid more than $5 million in settlements to employees under McDonald, which had the effect of encouraging bad employees to relentlessly appeal and make unsupported charges of discrimination when they were targeted for discipline, in an often-successful attempt to convert punishment into reward.
Shulkin said he “will look to settle with employees only when they clearly have been wronged … and not as a matter of ordinary business.”
France’s special operators in Iraq are collecting intelligence on their own citizens and then distributing it to Iraqi forces, according to the Wall Street Journal. The intent appears to be ensuring that as few French citizens as possible learn to fight under ISIS tutelage and then conduct attacks at home.
An estimated 1,700 French citizens have joined militant groups in Iraq and Syria, and France has little reason to want any of them back. Gathering intelligence on the most dangerous of them and handing it over to the Iraqis is a convenient way to reduce the threat without violating French laws on extra-judicial killings.
The U.S. has killed Americans in drone strikes and firefights, but only one of them was specifically targeted. Anwar al-Awlaki was a New Mexico-born Muslim cleric who preached a particularly anti-American and violent reading of Islam. He was targeted and killed in a drone strike in 2011.
France appears to be sidestepping the controversy that embroiled the Obama administration after the killing of al-Awlaki by outsourcing the dirty work.
In Afghanistan’s Farah province, Reza Ghul watched her son’s murder before her eyes, then reportedly picked up arms and helped wax 25 Taliban militants in response to the attack on the local police checkpoint.
Now, we write reportedly because at the moment, the story is sourced only to Khaama Press and Tolo News, which are both local newspapers in Afghanistan. No western sources have picked up on it yet, so a healthy dose of skepticism should apply here.
Still, this is definitely a “whoa if true” story. Seema, Gul’s daughter-in-law, told Tolo News: “We were committed to fight until the last bullet.”
She was supported by her daughter and daughter-in-law during the gun battle which lasted for almost 7 hours that left at least 25 Taliban militants dead and five others injured.
Sediq Sediq, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said the armed campaign by women against the Taliban militants is a symbol of a major revolution and public uprising against the group.
“It was around 5 a.m. when my son’s check post came under the attack of Taliban,” Reza Gul told Tolo News. “When the fighting intensified, I couldn’t stop myself and picked up a weapon, went to the check post and began shooting back.”
If other Afghans fight back against the Taliban with just half the apparent ferocity of this family, things may be alright.
A Jordanian police officer shot five people, including two U.S. security trainers, at the King Abdullah Training Center in Amman, Jordan on November 9th. Though not the dictionary definition of a “Green-on-Blue” attack, it does show a rise in these types of insider attacks against U.S. personnel. A Green on Blue attack is how NATO describes attacks on NATO and Coalition forces in Afghanistan by Afghan security forces. It’s important to remember that U.S. and Jordan have a long history of cooperation that predates 1991’s Operation Desert Storm.
Green on Blue attacks, by their nature, are difficult to predict. They are damaging to morale, unit cohesion, and international relations. They sap public support for training missions from the people of the United States and cause a loss of credibility for U.S. allies. As the U.S. begins to increase its presence in Iraq to combat ISIS, the shift in Green on Blue tactics is troubling, considering the already-strained U.S. training missions in Iraq.
There are 91 incidents of Green on Blue attack in the Afghan War so far, with 148 Coalition troops killed and 186 wounded. 15% of all Coalition casualties in Afghanistan were Green on Blue attacks in 2012. Security measures were put in place to ensure NATO forces have overwatch when these attacks are likely to occur. The Long War Journal blog keeps a tally on Green on Blue attacks.
April 8, 2015
An Afghan soldier kills a U.S. troop and wounds two more at the governor’s compound in Jalalabad. U.S. troops kill the gunman.
January 29, 2015
One Afghan soldier, a Taliban infiltrator working security, kills three U.S. security contractors and wounds one more at Kabul International Airport.
Sept. 15, 2014:
An Afghan soldier shoots at ISAF trainers in Farah province, killing a trainer and wounding another and an interpreter before being killed.
Aug. 5, 2014:
An Afghan fires on US officers at a key leader engagement at the Marshal Fahim National Defense University in Kabul City. U.S. Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene is killed and 16 ISAF personnel are wounded. The attacker was killed by Afghan soldiers.
Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Chuck Hagel, and the U.S. assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology, Heidi Shyu, participate in singing the congregational hymn during a military funeral in honor of U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene. Greene is the highest-ranking service member killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Bernardo Fuller)
June 23, 2014:
Two U.S. military advisers are wounded when an Afghan policeman shoots at them as they arrive at the Paktia provincial police headquarters in Gardez. The attacker is killed in return fire. The Taliban claimed credit for the attack.
Feb. 12, 2014:
Two US soldiers are shot and killed with four wounded by two men wearing Afghan National Security Force uniforms in eastern Afghanistan. Several civilians are also wounded by crossfire. The two are killed by Coalition troops.
Oct. 26, 2013:
A member of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) wounds two NATO troops in a firefight at a base on the outskirts of Kabul; the Afghan soldier is shot and killed during the clash. The Taliban denied responsibility for the attack and appears to be a result of a dispute between Australian and Afghan troops.
Oct. 13, 2013:
A member of the Afghan National Security Forces kills a US soldier in Paktika province and wounds another. The Afghan escapes.
Oct. 5, 2013:
A local security guard kills a senior ISAF member in southern Afghanistan; the gunman is killed following the incident.
Sept. 26, 2013:
An Afghan soldier shoots at ISAF troops in Paktia, killing an American soldier and injuring several others. The attacker is then shot and killed. The Taliban claimed the attack.
Sept. 21, 2013:
An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier shoots up ISAF special forces in Paktia province, killing three and injuring one. The attacker is shot and killed.
July 9, 2013:
A “rogue” ANA soldier fires at Slovakian troops at Kandahar Airfield, killing one and injuring at least two more. The attacker was captured by Afghan forces. He later escapes from a detention facility and joins the Taliban.
June 8, 2013:
ANA soldiers kill two US soldiers and a civilian adviser in Paktika and wound three other Americans. One of the attackers is killed and another captured.
May 4, 2013:
An ANA soldier kills two ISAF troops in an attack in Western Afghanistan.
April 7, 2013:
An ANA soldier fires on Lithuanian soldiers in an armored vehicle at a post in the village of Kasi, wounding two Lithuanian soldiers. The attacker is captured and handed to the Afghans.
April 7, 2013:
Afghan Local Police fire on a US outpost after US troops attempted to arrest a Taliban commander visiting the ALP. No one is hurt.
March 11, 2013:
An Afghan Local Policeman fires on US Special Forces at a military base in Wardak province, killing two and wounding eight. The attacker and two Afghan policemen are killed.
March 8, 2013:
Three ANSF soldiers in an ANSF vehicle drive onto a US military base in Kapisa province, and fire on US troops and civilians, killing one civilian contractor and wounding four US troops. The three attackers are killed.
Jan. 6, 2013:
An ANA soldier fires on British and Afghan troops at Patrol Base Hazrat. He kills one British soldier and wounds six more. He is shot by Afghan security forces while fleeing. The Taliban take credit.
Dec. 31, 2012:
Two ANA soldiers fire on Spanish troops as they patrol in Herat province; no one was killed or injured in the incident.
Dec. 24, 2012:
An Afghan policewoman kills a US civilian adviser inside the Interior Ministry building. The shooter is captured.
Nov. 11, 2012:
An Afghan soldier fires at British troops in Helmand province. One British soldier is killed and one wounded. The Afghan shooter is wounded.
Nov. 10, 2012:
Two Afghan soldiers fire at Spanish troops from the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Badghis province. The two Afghan soldiers are captured; one wounded. One Spanish soldier is wounded.
Oct. 30, 2012:
An Afghan policeman shoots and kills two British soldiers in Helmand province. The policeman escapes.
Oct. 25, 2012:
A “trusted” Afghan policeman kills two US soldiers at a police headquarters in Uruzgan province. The attacker escapes to join the Taliban.
Oct. 13, 2012:
An employee of the National Security Directorate kills a US soldier and a US State Department employee in a suicide attack in Kandahar province. Also killed in the attack were the deputy NDS chief for Kandahar and three other Afghans.
Sept. 29, 2012:
An Afghan soldier shoots at Coalition forces in Wardak province. One US soldier and a civilian contractor are killed and two US soldiers were wounded. Three other Afghan soldiers are also killed with several others wounded.
Sept. 16, 2012:
An Afghan soldier fires on a vehicle inside Camp Garmser in Helmand province; six NATO troops and a foreign civilian worker are wounded in the attack.
Sept. 16, 2012:
Afghan policemen open fire on a group of Coalition soldiers in Zabul province, killing four and wounding two. The attacker is killed in an exchange with several other Afghan policemen wounded.
Sept. 15, 2012:
A member of the Afghan Local Police fires on a group of British soldiers in Helmand province, killing two and wounding two. The attacker was killed in a firefight.
Aug. 28, 2012:
An Afghan soldier shoots and kills three Australian soldiers in Uruzgan province. Two more Australian soldiers were wounded in the attack.
Aug. 27, 2012:
An Afghan soldier kills two ISAF soldiers in Laghman province. The attacker was killed by ISAF soldiers.
Aug. 19, 2012:
A member of the Afghan Uniformed Police turns his weapon on a group of ISAF soldiers in southern Afghanistan, killing one soldier and wounding another.
Aug. 17, 2012:
An Afghan Local Police officer kills a Marine and a Navy Corpsman and wounds an ISAF soldier during a training exercise on an Afghan base in Farah province. He was killed in the ensuing firefight.
Aug. 17, 2012:
An Afghan soldier shoots and wounds two NATO soldiers in Kandahar province; the attacker is killed.
Aug. 13, 2012:
A policeman wounds two US soldiers in Nangarhar province. The attacker flees.
Aug. 10, 2012:
Three US Marines are killed and one wounded in an attack in Helmand province. The attacker was captured.
Aug. 10, 2012:
Three US soldiers are killed and one wounded in an attack by an Afghan Local Police commander and his men in Helmand province. The Afghan police commander flees.
Aug. 9, 2012:
US troops kill an Afghan soldier who was attempting to gun them down at a training center in Methar Lam district in Laghman province; two US soldiers are wounded.
Aug. 7, 2012:
Two Afghan soldiers kill a US soldier and wound three others in Paktia province before defecting to the Taliban.
Aug. 3, 2012:
An Afghan Local Policeman wounds one ISAF soldier at a base in Panjwai district in Kandahar province.
July 23, 2012:
Two ISAF soldiers are wounded in an attack in Faryab province. The attacker is killed by ISAF troops.
July 22, 2012:
A member of the Afghan National Police (ANP) kills three civilian trainers who worked for ISAF in Herat province, wounding another. The attacker is killed.
July 5, 2012:
Five ISAF are wounded by an Afghan soldier in Wardak province.
July 1, 2012:
Three British military advisers are killed and another ISAF member is wounded in an attack by an Afghan Civil Order policeman in Helmand province.
June 18, 2012:
An ISAF soldier is killed by “three individuals in Afghan Police uniforms” in the south.
May 12, 2012:
Members of the Afghan Uniformed Police kill two British soldiers and wound two more in Helmand province.
May 11, 2012:
An Afghan soldier kills a US soldier and wounds two others in Kunar province. The attacker flees to the Taliban.
May 6, 2012:
An Afghan soldier kills one US Marine and wounds another in the Marjah district of Helmand province. The gunman is killed by return fire.
April 26, 2012:
An Afghan commando kills a US Special Forces soldier and an Afghan interpreter in Kandahar province. The Commando is killed by returned fire.
April 25, 2012:
An Afghan Uniformed Policeman wounds two ISAF soldiers in Kandahar province.
April 16, 2012:
An Afghan soldier attacks ISAF soldiers in Kandahar province; no casualties or injuries.
March 26, 2012:
An ISAF service member dies after a shooting in eastern Afghanistan. He was shot by an alleged member of the Afghan Local Police. The attacker was killed by return fire.
March 26, 2012:
An Afghan soldier kills two British troops and wounds another ISAF service member in Helmand province. The attacker is killed by return fire.
March 14, 2012:
An Afghan interpreter hijacks an SUV, wounds a British soldier, then attempts to run down a group of US Marines. The attacker crashes his truck and sets himself on fire.
March 2, 2012:
An Afghan soldier attacks ISAF soldiers at Camp Morehead in Kabul; no casualties.
March 1, 2012:
An Afghan soldier and a teacher open fire on NATO troops in Kandahar province, killing two and wounding two more, before being killed in returned fire.
Feb. 25, 2012:
An Afghan policeman guns down two US military officers in the Interior Ministry in Kabul before escaping.
Feb. 23, 2012:
An Afghan soldier kills two US troops in Nangarhar province.
Feb. 20, 2012:
A member of the Afghan Uniformed Police kills an ISAF soldier in southern Afghanistan and wounds two.
Jan. 31, 2012:
An Afghan soldier kills an ISAF soldier in Helmand province; the Afghan commander says it was an accident, but the shooter was detained.
Jan. 20, 2012:
An Afghan soldier kills four ISAF soldiers in eastern Afghanistan. According to AFP, the attacker shot and killed four unarmed French soldiers and wounded another 15 at their base in Kapisa.
Jan. 8, 2012:
An Afghan soldier kills an ISAF soldier and wounds three others in southern Afghanistan. The attacker is shot and killed by another US soldier.
Dec. 29, 2011:
An Afghan soldier kills two ISAF soldiers in eastern Afghanistan. The dead are two non-commissioned officers of the French Foreign Legion. The Taliban claimed the attack.
Nov. 9, 2011:
Three Australian soldiers are wounded when an Afghan soldier shoots them at an Australian base in Uruzgan province.
Oct. 29, 2011:
An Afghan army trainee fires at a forward operating base in Kandahar province being used to train ANA troops. He kills three Australian soldiers and one interpreter, wounding at least nine others.
Aug. 4, 2011:
An Afghan soldier kills an ISAF soldier while dressed as a policeman in eastern Afghanistan.
July 16, 2011:
An Afghan soldier kills an ISAF soldier in southern Afghanistan after a joint patrol. The attacker runs away.
May 30, 2011:
An Afghan soldier kills an ISAF soldier in southern Afghanistan. The two were in guard towers. The Afghan flees the scene.
May 13, 2011:
Two NATO soldiers mentoring an Afghan National Civil Order brigade are shot and killed inside a police compound in Helmand province.
April 27, 2011:
A veteran Afghan air force pilot opens fire inside a NATO military base in Kabul, killing eight and a contractor.
April 16, 2011:
A newly recruited Afghan soldier who was a Taliban suicide bomber detonated at Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Laghman, killing five NATO and four Afghan soldiers. Eight other Afghans were wounded, including four interpreters.
April 4, 2011:
An Afghan soldier opens fire on ISAF vehicles in Kandahar province
April 4, 2011:
An Afghan Border Police officer in Maimana, the capital of Faryab province, shoots and kills two US soldiers, then flees. ISAF reports on April 7 the attacker was killed when he displayed hostile intent after being tracked down in Maimana.
March 19, 2011:
An Afghan hired to provide security at Forward Operating Base Frontenac in Kandahar province shot six US soldiers as they were cleaning their weapons, killing two and wounding four more. The attacker was killed by three other US soldiers.
Feb. 18, 2011:
An Afghan soldier fires on German soldiers at a base in Baghlan province, killing three and wounding six others. The attacker was killed.
Jan. 18, 2011:
An Afghan soldier shoots two Italian soldiers at a combat outpost in Badghis province, killing one and wounding the other before escaping.
Jan. 15, 2011:
An Afghan soldier argues with a Marine in Helmand, threatens him, and later returns and aims his weapon at the Marine. When the Afghan soldier fails to put his rifle down, the Marine shoots him.
Nov. 29, 2010:
An individual in an Afghan Border Police uniform kills six ISAF soldiers during a training mission in eastern Afghanistan; the attacker is killed in the incident.
Nov. 6, 2010:
Two US Marines are killed by an Afghan soldier at a military base in Helmand province. The shooter flees to the Taliban.
Aug. 26, 2010:
Two Spanish police officers and their interpreter are shot dead by their Afghan driver on a Spanish base in Badghis province. The shootings set off a riot outside the base; shots were fired at the base and fires were set. Officials say 25 people were wounded. The attacker was shot dead by other Spanish officers.
July 20, 2010:
An Afghan soldier kills two US civilian trainers at a training base in northern Afghanistan. One NATO soldier is wounded. The attacker dies.
July 13, 2010:
An Afghan soldier kills three British troops in Helmand province. The attacker flees to the Taliban.
Dec. 29, 2009:
An Afghan soldier fires on NATO troops preventing them from approaching a helicopter. He kills a US soldier and injures two Italian soldiers before being injured by NATO troops’ return fire.
Nov. 3, 2009:
An Afghan policeman shoots and kills three UK Grenadier Guards and two members of the UK Royal Military Police; six other British troops are severely wounded alongside two Afghans. The incident occurred while the soldiers were resting after a joint patrol.
Oct. 28, 2009:
An Afghan policeman fires on American soldiers during a joint patrol in Wardak province, killing two and injuring two more before fleeing.
Oct. 2, 2009:
An Afghan policeman kills two American soldiers in Wardak province.
March 27, 2009:
An Afghan soldier shoots and kills two US Navy officers in Balkh province. According to theMilitary Times, the attacker also wounded another US Navy officer. The attacker then fatally shot himself.
Oct. 18, 2008:
An Afghan policeman standing on a tower hurls a grenade and fires on a US military foot patrol as it returned to a base in Paktika province, killing one US soldier. The U.S. returns fire, killing the policeman.
Sept. 29, 2008:
An Afghan policeman fires at a police station in Paktia province, killing one US soldier and wounding three others before being shot himself.
The budget overview states that “this budget fully funds the entire fleet of 283 A-10 Thunderbolt IIs. Fleet strategy and viability will be assessed as the Air Force determines a long term strategy.”
While the A-10 was supposed to slowly be sidelined beginning in fiscal year 2018 on paper, it appears the budget is proposing the exact opposite, though during the close of the Obama administration, then-Secretary of the Air Force Deborah James said in October that the service is thinking about keeping the A-10 around for a longer period of time.
The A-10 has seen extensive use in Iraq and Syria to fight against Islamic State militants, and the fighter jet has turned out to be so useful that the Air Force put out a $2 billion contract to replace the fleet’s wings.
In the past, Air Force leadership has pushed hard to mothball the A-10, in order to devote those resources to the F-35, which has seen incredible cost overruns and delays as the military’s most expensive weapons system in history.
And although Congress has thwarted this attempt multiple times, Air Force officials have still been looking to replace the A-10 with other aircraft like the A-29 Super Tucano, the AT-6 Wolverine and the AirLand Scorpion. The Air Force intends to test these three jets in July.
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There may be a big stick involved in President Trump’s foreign policy, but there is no speaking softly.
Asian markets tanked as news of Donald Trump’s imminent election hit newswires worldwide last night. The Australian markets lost $34 billion. In Japan, the Nikkei was down 4.8 percent, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong dropped 2.7 percent. The economic impact wasn’t all bad; gold prices rose sharply – as they often do in times of instability.
The reason for mass market fluctuations is due to the President-Elect’s protectionist rhetoric. Many times during his campaign, Trump blasted the deals made by previous administrations, Democrat and Republican alike. Some he’s simply not a fan of, others he calls a huge mistake. There’s more than one he wants to “rip up” on his first day in office.
During the presidential debate, Trump called the North American Free Trade Agreement “the worst trade deal ever signed.” He said it kills American Jobs. lowers trade restrictions between the U.S. and Canada and Mexico.
NAFTA, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993, lowers trade restrictions between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. After the debate, Fortune Magazine agreed there was some truth to that statement, though “the truth lies somewhere in between.”
2. Trans-Pacific Partnership
Donald Trump is on the record as not being China’s biggest fan when it comes to business practices. The President-Elect is not down with TPP and was an outspoken critic long before he became a candidate.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative told The New York Times the TPP would end more than 18,000 tariffs that the participating countries have placed on American exports, including autos, machinery, information technology and consumer goods, chemicals and agricultural products. It wasn’t very popular among Bernie Sanders supporters, either.
“TPP is now in the history dustbin for sure,” Gary Hufbauer, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told POLITICO Pro.
3. Iran Nuclear Agreement
The deal that lifted most sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic is touted as a foreign policy achievement by the Obama administration. Trump was opposed to the deal when it was signed, calling it a “disaster” and “the worst deal ever negotiated.”
In March 2016, he told the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC that dismantling the deal would be his top priority.
One of Trump’s campaign promises was to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to the ancient city.
Russia celebrated the news of Trump’s victory, telling CBS News that President Putin is ready to restore full diplomatic relations with the United States. Trump hinted during his campaign that Europe was not investing enough in its own defense and that the U.S. might not defend its allies so quickly.
NATO Secretary Gen. Jens Stoltenberg made a statement Nov. 9, reminding Europeans – and the incoming President – that the only time the collective defense clause was invoked was because of an attack on the United States.
6. Gulf States
This is one of the most important relationships the U.S. has with allies anywhere in the world. The U.S. Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain, a Gulf Cooperation Council member. The Fifth Fleet defends the Strait of Hormuz and keeps international trade flowing from the region. Bahrain’s close partner Saudi Arabia has been the target of much of Trump’s criticism.
In August 2015, candidate Trump said he “wasn’t a big fan” of the country and that the United States had paid too much to “back them up.” He believes Saudi Arabia “is going to be in big trouble pretty soon and they’re going to need help. … We get nothing for it and they’re making a billion dollars a day.”
Trump once remarked that he wanted to create a Middle East “safe zone” for refugees and migrants – and that the Gulf States would pay for it.
7. South Korea and Japan
To counter the rising strength of China in the region, candidate Trump announced his intention to maintain the U.S. “rebalance” of power in the region but increase the number of ships in the U.S. Navy from 274 to 350.
To pay for manpower and equipment increases, Trump intends to talk with Tokyo and Seoul about ways they can help pay for it. Some experts fear this may shake the certainty other countries have as U.S. allies, prompting them to seek their own nuclear weapons as a deterrent from Chinese aggression.
An explosion inside an Army ammunition factory in Missouri on April 11 left one person dead and four others injured.
The Army Joint Munitions Command, which is tasked with managing military weapons and equipment, confirmed that the explosion occurred in a mixing building at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in the city of Independence, local outlet KY3 News reports.
The man killed in the explosion reportedly worked at the plant for 36 years.
Manufacturing ammunition is “dangerous work, and our employees risk their lives to protect our men and women in uniform,” said Lt. Col. Eric Dennis, commander of the plant, according to KSHB Kansas City. “This is a sacrifice they make to support our country, and I am humbled by the ultimate sacrifice this employee made today.”
An explosion injured six people at the same factory in 2011 in a construction area where the powder is loaded. All of the nearly 1,800 employees were sent home following the most recent unexpected detonation. Investigators are still trying to decipher how the explosion occurred.
Federal investigators fined the 707,000-square foot facility three times in the last decade (2008, 2011, 2012) for workplace safety violations.
The private contractor operating the plant in 2011 was initially charged $28,000 for safety issues, and paid $5,600 to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which cited “serious” problems with the handling of potentially dangerous chemicals.
The property holds more than 400 buildings, including nine warehouses. The plant primarily generates and tests small-caliber ammunition.
Nate Parker’s film The Birth of a Nation won Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury and Audience prizes for a drama, just days after the production company signed a record $17.5 million distribution deal with Fox Searchlight. The film is about what happens to a former slave after he leads a liberation movement to free other slaves.
The movie is based on actual events, and the uprising did not end well for the slaves or Nat Turner, the man who led it.
Turner would have visions that guided him through his life. He conducted Baptist church services and was dubbed “The Prophet” by his fellow slaves. While working in his owner’s fields one day, Turner heard “a loud noise in the heavens, and the Spirit instantly appeared to me and said the Serpent was loosened, and Christ had laid down the yoke he had borne for the sins of men, and that I should take it on and fight against the Serpent, for the time was fast approaching when the first should be last and the last should be first.”
In 1830, a man named Joseph Travis purchased Turner. It was while under Travis’ ownership Turner would make his move. The next year, an atmospheric disturbance made the sun appear bluish-green in Virginia. Turner took this as a sign, and prepared to start his rebellion.
On August 22, 1831, thirty years before the Civil War, Turner and an inner circle of trusted slaves gathered. They killed the Travis family as they slept, then went house-to-house freeing slaves and killing white people. His number soon grew to over 40 slaves, most on horseback.
Sixty whites were killed before Turner’s rebellion was put down. Even then, it took twice the number of men in the responding Federal and Virginia militias, along with three artillery companies to defeat the uprising. His rebellion crushed, Turner hid around the Travis farm until his capture on October 30. He was quickly tried, convicted, hanged, and skinned.
Retaliatory attacks from white mobs killed 200 more slave and free black men, women, and children. The state legislature of Virginia considered abolishing slavery, but decided instead to keep it and its repressive policy against all black people in the state, especially enforced illiteracy among slaves.
The Turner Rebellion is one of the defining events in the lead up to the American Civil War, on par with John Brown’s raid on the arsenal at Harper’s Ferry.
The battle to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa from the Islamic State terror group is a fight increasingly without front lines.
The US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have breached the old city and control about a quarter of the terror group’s de facto capital, say American officials, but holding what has already been seized is proving a struggle.
Disputes between the SDF and some Free Syrian Army militias who have started to participate in the battle isn’t helping the advance, but the biggest obstacle remains the determined defense of IS fighters, who are using similar urban warfare tactics seen in the past nine months in the terror group’s fight to delay the retaking of Mosul by Iraqi security forces.
A month into the Raqqa assault, improvised explosive devices, sniper fire, and the use of an elaborate network of tunnels to mount ambushes — as well as exploiting civilians as human shields — are all being deployed by the militants. IS militants have also been using drones to drop explosives on SDF militiamen.
A watchdog rights organization says in the assault’s first month it has documented 650 deaths — 224 of them civilians.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based group that relies on a network of activists for its reporting, 311 IS fighters, including a handful of commanders, and 106 fighters of the American-backed “Euphrates Wrath” forces have died so far.
“In addition, airstrikes left hundreds of civilians injured, with various degrees of severity, some of whom had their limbs amputated, some were left with permanent disabilities and some are still in a critical condition, which means that the death toll is still likely to rise,” the observatory says.
Long battle ahead
Despite being only a tenth the size of Mosul, US officials say they expect the house-to-house fighting to last several weeks. Estimates on how many militants remain in the city range from between 2,000 to 3,000. Most of them are thought to be from eastern Syria or foreign fighters drawn mainly from North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia.
According to local activists, some Raqqa-born IS fighters have defected and are providing intelligence to the SDF. Hassan Hassan, an analyst at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, a Washington-based think tank, and co-author of the book “ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror,” says local fighters have proven less than committed in the battle.
“The Islamic State will likely have to rely on the city’s still likely large population of foreign fighters as well as a new generation of young fighters brainwashed by the group’s ideology who typically fight viciously to the end,” Hassan argues in the current issue of CTC Sentinel, a publication of the West Point military academy.
YPJ and YPG forces work together. (Photo from Flickr user Kurdishstruggle (CC by 2.0)
Despite the participation of experienced, battle-hardened Kurdish fighters, private security advisers say the SDF doesn’t have the same capabilities and training as the elite Iraqi units who have been confronting IS militants in Mosul since August.
“They are spread much thinner,” one European security adviser told Voice of America. “They are also not as well equipped and lack the armor the Iraqis have been able to use,” he added.
Keeping the advance going, and trying to pin the militants into smaller and smaller pockets, is proving grueling, he said.
On July 9, Iraqi Prime Minister Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived in Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, to declare his security forces had wrested the wrecked city from the Islamic State, despite some continued fighting in at least one west Mosul neighborhood. Some US officials are reckoning IS fighters may be able to hold out in Raqqa for up to three months.
In a bid to disrupt the SDF momentum, IS is now more regularly using suicide bombers driving reinforced vehicles packed with explosives — although not to the same degree as seen in the battle for Mosul. Last week, one suicide bomber managed to destroy a forward HQ used by the SDF.
Tens of thousands of refugees have fled, braving mines and savage IS sniper fire. Local activists estimate the number of civilians remaining in the city at about 60,000. They fault the international coalition for failing to have prepared for the handling of large numbers of displaced families.
Civilians have been gathering in nearby camps lacking basic amenities such as healthcare, clean drinking water, and food,” says the activist network Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.
The group has accused the attacking forces of using a scorched-earth strategy, utilizing indiscriminate aerial bombardment in order to force militants to withdraw. US officials admit there have been civilian deaths but say they are doing all they can to minimize casualties among non-combatants.
Chinese military personnel departed a naval base in Zhanjiang on July 18, destined for Beijing’s new base in the East African country of Djibouti.
China started construction on the base, which it officially calls a “logistics facility,” in February 2016, and it has not said when the base might formally start operations.
The Chinese navy has been assisting anti-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden and peacekeeping missions in Africa for some time, but the base in Djibouti will be Beijing’s first such facility overseas.
“The base will ensure China’s performance of missions, such as escorting, peacekeeping, and humanitarian aid in Africa and west Asia,” state news agency Xinhua said. “The base will also be conducive to overseas tasks including military cooperation, joint exercises, evacuating and protecting overseas Chinese, and emergency rescue, as well as jointly maintaining security of international strategic seaways.”
Djibouti, home to about 800,000 people, also has French and Japanese troops, is strategically located in the Horn of Africa, sitting on the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a gateway to Egypt’s Suez Canal and one of the world’s busiest shipping corridors.
And the new Chinese base is just a few miles from Camp Lemonnier, a major US special-operations outpost.
“We’ve never had a base of, let’s just say a peer competitor, as close as this one happens to be,” US Africom Command chief Marine Gen. Thomas Waldhauser said in March.
Camp Lemonnier, a US military base in Djibouti, is strategically located between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. (Google Maps)
“Yes, there are some very significant operational security concerns, and I think that our base there is significant to US because it’s not only AFRICOM that utilizes” it, Waldhauser said at the time. US Central Command, which operates in the Middle East, Joint Special Operations Command, and European Command are active there as well.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said July 12 that the Djibouti base was “primarily used for the better fulfillment of international obligations,” and that, “China’s defense policy is defensive in nature. This has not changed.”
State-run media outlet the Global Times was less reserved, saying in an editorial on July 12, “It is certainly the PLA’s first foreign naval base … It is not a supply point for commercial use.”
The base in Djibouti is just one project China has undertaken in the East African country.
Chinese banks have funded at least 14 infrastructure projects in the country, including a railway connecting Djibouti and Ethiopia, valued at $14.4 billion. Beijing has made similar investments throughout the continent.
US officials, as well as countries in the region, have expressed concern about the capabilities the new base gives Beijing and what it may augur about Chinese ambitions abroad.
The US Defense Department said in a June report that the Djibouti base, “along with regular naval vessel visits to foreign ports, both reflects and amplifies China’s growing influence, extending the reach of its armed forces.”
“China most likely will seek to establish additional military bases in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan, and in which there is a precedent for hosting foreign militaries,” the report said.
Other countries in South Asia — India in particular — are concerned about Chinese activity in the region and see the Djibouti base as another part of Beijing’s “string of pearls,” which refers to Chinese facilities and alliances among Indian Ocean countries, including Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.
China is already heavily involved in the Pakistan port of Gwadar and is building a network of roads and power plants under a project known as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Civilian ports that Beijing has helped build in places like Pakistan and Sri Lanka can also receive naval vessels, fueling suspicions that China aims to deepen its strategic capacities in the region.
India sees the Djibouti base as a potential hub for Chinese surveillance operations and has objected to China’s planned shipping network with Pakistan, saying it cuts through disputed parts of Kashmir.
Analysts have also said New Delhi is worried by Chinese submarines, warships, and tankers present in the Indian Ocean. India has tracked Chinese submarines entering the Indian Ocean since 2013, and a 2015 US Defense Department report also confirmed that Chinese attack and missile submarines were operating in the Indian Ocean.
“The pretext is anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden,” a Indian defense source told The Times of India in May. “But what role can submarines play against pirates and their dhows?”
“If I were Indian I would be very worried about what China is up to in Djibouti,” a Western diplomat briefed on Chinese plans said in March 2016.
Other countries in the region have looked for ways to balance against what is seen as China’s growing influence. Australia and India, along with countries like Vietnam and Japan, have considered informal alliances to bolster regional security in light of growing Chinese influence and doubts about US commitment under President Donald Trump.
This week, the Indian, Japanese, and US navies started the Malabar 2017 exercise in the Bay of Bengal. The exercise, which this year features three aircraft carriers, is seen by some as a effort to check Chinese activity in the region.
China has criticized such military balancing and has dismissed suggestions that it plans to expand its footprint abroad. After the US Defense Department report issued in June, Beijing said it did “not seek a sphere of influence.”
The Pentagon is trying to finalize an order for 12 new ballistic missile submarines, the lead ship of which will be named USS Columbia (SSBN 826).
The Navy hopes to place the order before the Trump administration takes office.
According to reports by the Daily Caller and USNI News, the order will permit the Navy to start the process of designing and building the submarines. The Congressional Research Service reports that the sub will carry 16 Trident ballistic missiles, a decrease from the 24 missiles carried by the 14 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines presently in service.
Four other Ohio-class submarines were converted to fire BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles and to support SEALs with covert commando raids.
According to the CRS report, the Columbia-class submarines are expected to be 560 feet long and 43 feet in diameter, roughly the size of the Ohio-class submarine. The vessels will have technological improvements, notably a reactor that will not require refueling as well as taking advantage of techniques used to build the Virginia-class submarines, including modular construction and the use of open architecture to make upgrades easier.
Earlier this year, BreakingDefense.com reported that the vessels will be built by Electric Boat.
This would be the ninth ship to carry the name USS Columbia in U.S. Navy service. The eighth, a Los Angeles-class attack submarine, is still in service and has the hull number SSN 771.
A 2013 Navy release states that the first Columbia-class boomer is expected to begin construction in 2021, enter service in 2027, and undertake its first deterrence patrol in 2031. According to a report by USNI News, each sub is expected to cost about $8 billion.