We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS' mysterious and reclusive leader - We Are The Mighty
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We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader


The world knows little of the Islamic State terror group’s brutal leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, but a new article from counterterrorism expert Will McCants provides one of the most extensive accounts yet of his background.

McCants, director of the Project on US Relations with the Islamic World at the Brookings Institution, wrote an upcoming book on the Islamic State — aka ISIS, ISIL, and Daesh — and researched Baghdadi’s life to explain his rise to become one of the most wanted terrorists in the world.

Since Baghdadi became the self-proclaimed “caliph” of ISIS in 2014, he has only appeared in public once, at a mosque in Mosul, Iraq. He was rumored to have died in an air strike earlier this year, but ISIS subsequently released a statement from him along with proof that he was still alive.

Even with new information about his life tricking out in the press, Baghdadi — aka Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Al-Badri — remains a mysterious and reclusive figure.

Here’s what we know now about his background, as laid out by McCants in his Brookings essay:

  • Baghdadi was raised in a lower-middle-class family in Iraq. His relatives claimed to be descendants of the Prophet Muhammad.
  • His father taught at a mosque. When Baghdadi was a teenager, he led neighborhood children in Quran recitations.
  • Baghdadi’s family had ties to late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party. Two of his uncles were involved with Saddam’s security services, and two of his brothers served in the military under Saddam. One died during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.
  • Members of Baghdadi’s family were also thought to be Salafis, who follow a strict form of Islam that has been associated with ISIS’ extreme interpretation.
  • Baghdadi was thought of as a quiet type, but when he read the Quran, his “quiet voice would come to life” and he would pronounce “the letters in firm, reverberating tones,” according to McCants.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

  • He was also known for having a temper. Once, when he saw women and men dancing together at a wedding, he got upset and forced them to stop.
  • Even in his youth, Baghdadi developed a reputation for being pious and following a strict interpretation of Islam. His nickname was “The Believer,” and one of his brothers told McCants that Baghdadi “was quick to admonish anyone who strayed from the strictures of Islamic law.”
  • Baghdadi wasn’t a strong student in high school, but he went on to earn a doctorate degree in Quranic studies. He reportedly wanted to study law for his undergraduate degree, but his grades weren’t good enough, so he studied the Quran instead.
  • He became a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that seeks to establish Islamic states across the Middle East, but his views were more extreme than those of many of the others in the group. Baghdadi was reportedly drawn to the extremists, including his older brother, who wanted to overthrow un-Islamic rulers.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
Photo: Youtube.com

  • Outside his religious studies, Baghdadi was fond of soccer. He was the star of a soccer club at a mosque at which he taught, and people compared him to the famous Argentinian player Lionel Messi. (This fits with an interview published earlier this year with a man who said he knew Baghdadi before he became ISIS’ “caliph.”)
  • Baghdadi is thought to have two wives and six children. McCants reports that the caliph’s first wife, Asma, was the daughter of Baghdadi’s maternal uncle.
  • He was initially involved with al-Qaida, which sent him to Syria after he was released from his detainment at the US-run Camp Bucca in Iraq in the early 2000s. There, he was tasked with “ensuring that AQI’s online propaganda was in line with its brand of ultraconservative Islam,” according to McCants. Today, ISIS is known for its online propaganda that’s highly effective at recruiting young people to join the terror group.
  • After ISIS broke away from al-Qaida, he was put in charge of religious affairs in some areas of Iraq. He became valuable to ISIS because the group needed religious scholars to establish legitimacy.

This telling of Baghdadi’s background suggests that his radicalization began long before he was imprisoned at Camp Bucca in the early 2000s. Although he was captured as a “civilian detainee” while he was visiting a friend who was wanted by American authorities, it’s clear Baghdadi had already begun forming his extremist ideology by this point.

These details water down the notion that Baghdadi was radicalized while in American detention.

And Baghdadi likely knew what he was doing.

“For the ten months he remained in custody, Baghdadi hid his militancy and devoted himself to religious instruction,” McCants wrote.

He was also able to meet and befriend ex-Baathists who would later join him in ISIS. The group’s leadership is now thought to be made up largely of former Saddam loyalists, but that doesn’t mean Baghdadi isn’t devout or that he’s just a religious figurehead for the organization.

McCants concluded: “The bare facts of Baghdadi’s biography show an unusually capable man. … Although the New York Times recently reported that he himself is making arrangements for a succession in the event of his demise by devolving many of his military powers to subordinates, his blend of religious scholarship and political cunning won’t be easily replaced.”

More from Business Insider:

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

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9 things you didn’t know about General George S. Patton

Some of the lore around “Old Blood n’ Guts” Patton is common knowledge: He carried distinctive ivory-handled revolvers, he believed in reincarnation, and he infamously slapped two of his soldiers who were suffering from “battle fatigue.” But here are a few things you might not have known about “Old Blood n’ Guts.”


1. He was a terrible student at West Point

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
Patton in the West Point yearbook, 1909.

The man who would become one of America’s greatest fighting generals struggled during his first year at the U.S. Military Academy. He had to repeat his plebe year because he failed mathematics. He worked with a tutor for the rest of his time there, graduating 46th in a class of 103.

2. He predicted the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor

Patton served in Hawaii before World War II as the G-2 (intelligence) on the General Staff. He watched the rise of Japanese militancy in the Pacific, especially their aggression against the Chinese. In 1935, he wrote a paper called “Surprise” that predicted the Japanese attack on the U.S. islands with what one biographer called “chilling accuracy.”

3. He was an Olympic athlete

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
Patton (at Right) in the 1912 Olympics.

The first-ever modern pentathlon was held at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm. The event is comprised of fencing, shooting, swimming, riding, and cross-country running. Patton placed fifth in the competition and was the only non-Swede to place.

4. He designed the sword his cavalry troops would use

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

After the Olympics, he studied fencing in France at the French Cavalry School near Saumur. Based on his training there, he not only redesigned the saber fighting style for the U.S. Army, he also designed a new sword to fit the doctrine. His new sword was built for thrusting over slashing attacks and was designated the Model 1913 Cavalry Saber.

5. He awarded a chaplain a Bronze Star for composing a prayer

During the Battle of the Bulge, Patton’s Third Army was tasked to relieve the 101st Airborne, who were surrounded in Bastogne. He asked chaplain James Hugh O’Neill to compose a prayer for good weather that would help the Third Army get to Bastogne and to air cover while en route. Here’s the prayer:

“Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen.”

When the weather did clear, Patton pinned the Bronze Star on O’Neill personally.

6. He was sickened by the sight of a concentration camp

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Eisenhower, Bradley and Patton inspect a cremation pyre at the Ohrdruf concentration camp on April 12, 1945. (Army photo)

The Ohrdruf concentration camp was one in the string of Buchenwald camps. It was also the first such camp liberated by U.S. troops, on April 4, 1945. Eight days later, Eisenhower toured the camp with Patton and General Omar Bradley. Ike wrote in his diary:

The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick. In one room, where they were piled up twenty or thirty naked men, killed by starvation, George Patton would not even enter. He said that he would get sick if he did so.

Patton described it as “one of the most appalling sights that I have ever seen.”

7. He was the first general to integrate his riflemen

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
Patton pins a Silver Star Medal on Private Ernest A. Jenkins, a soldier under his command, October 1944 (Army photo)

The general’s main source of inspiration for his men came from his ability to address them in speech. He demanded a lot from his soldiers, no matter what color they were. Addressing on tank battalion he said the following:

“Men, you are the first Negro tankers ever to fight in the American Army. I would never have asked for you if you weren’t good. I have nothing but the best in my army. I don’t care what color you are, so long as you go up there and kill those Kraut sonsabitches! Everyone has their eyes on you and is expecting great things from you. Most of all, your race is looking forward to you. Don’t let them down and, damn you, don’t let me down!”

8. He was No. 3 when Eisenhower ranked his generals

In February 1945, Eisenhower was Supreme Allied Commander and the war was going well. Taking stock of the best military minds he had under his command, he wrote out a list, ranking the capabilities of his American generals in Europe. Omar Bradley and Carl Spaatz were tied for first with Walter B. Smith in second place. Patton was a solid three.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
Patton in a Welcome Home Parade in Los Angeles, June 1945 (Army photo)

To Ike, Bradley was a planner of the success in Europe, Patton simply executed that plan.

9. The Germans admired him more than the British

The nicest thing most generals from Britain had to say about Patton was that he was good for operations requiring lighting thrusts but at a loss in any operation requiring skill and judgment.

Conversely, the German High Command (as well as the Free French) thought Patton one of the ablest generals of the American Army. German Generals Erwin Rommel, Albert Kesselring, and Alfred Jodl are all known to have remarked to other on Patton’s brilliance on the battlefield.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

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The A-10 ‘sparks panic’ in ISIS fighters, so why does the Air Force want to kill it?

The A-10 Thunderbolt II (often called the “Warthog” for its aggressive look and the teeth often painted on its nose cone) is beloved by the troops who need its close-air support and by its pilots — who hear the calls for that support from the controllers on the ground.


“We have this close, personal connection with the guy on the ground,” one pilot said in a recent video touting the A-10’s capabilities. “We hear him getting scared. We hear him getting excited. We hear the bullets flying … it becomes a very personal mission. It hits very close to home.”

Speaking of hitting close to home, ISIS forces met the A-10 for the first time in 2015. In an area near Mosul, the A-10 caused ISIS fighters to break and run as four USAF Warthogs wreaked havoc on their forces there.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

“The aircraft sparked panic in the ranks of ISIS after bombing its elements and flying in spaces close to the ground,” Iraqi News quoted an Iraqi Army source as saying. “Elements of the terrorist organization targeted the aircraft with 4 Strela missiles but that did not cause it any damage, prompting the remaining elements of the organization to leave the bodies of their dead and carry the wounded to escape.”

The A-10 also gets love from its pilots. The plane flies close to the ground but is protected by a titanium “bathtub” shell which surrounds the cockpit and allows the pilot to get low and hit the opposing forces with its seven-barreled, 3,900 rounds per minute, depleted uranium ammunition. Its designers made it to be the most survivable aircraft ever built. It also features three sets of backup controls and a foam-lined fuel tank. Ground fire is not going to get this bird easily.

“The [A-10’s GAU-8 30mm] gun really does scare people and that’s nice to know,” Air National Guard Col. Michael Stohler, an A-10 pilot currently flying sorties (air missions) against ISIS forces, told Military.com. “I can tell you we know there’s a real threat there,” he says. “A lot of people have handguns and things to shoot at aircraft.”

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

The “Warthog” is as popular with senior Air Force leadership as it is with ISIS. In a fight which already cost one major general his job, the Air Force brass are looking to send its battle-hardened, reliable A-10 fleet to the boneyards in order to save $4 billion, probably so they can put that money toward the new, overly expensive and accident-prone F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

In January, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James claimed the A-10 had only flown 11 percent of the 16,000 sorties (manned air missions) against ISIS. Which would be significant if the Warthog arrived in theatre at the same time as other combat platforms. F-16s, F-15Es. B-1 bombers, and the F-22 Raptor all started missions against ISIS in August 2014. The A-10 didn’t arrive until November 2014.

The evidence shows the A-10 works and it’s cheap. As early as 2012, the Air Force’s cost to operate per hour for the A-10 was $17,716. There was no data available for the F-35, but the F-22’s cost per hour $68,362. So while the Air Force actively tries to kill the program, they’re still deploying more A-10s to the theater because Congress won’t let the USAF kill the ground troops’ favorite plane until they come up with a real, viable close air support replacement.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=38v=IMMGywAxBmg

NOW: The awesome A-10 video the Air Force doesn’t want you to see

OR: Looks like the A-10 will square off against the F-35 for CAS dominance after all

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The best A-10 memes on the Internet

A while back, Team Mighty posted a story about song lyrics airmen shouldn’t text to each other to avoid punishment from the Air Force. For that list, we created this meme:


We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

Airmen did not love seeing Miley riding their beloved A-10 Thunderbolt II. To repay our debt for defiling the most beloved of Close Air Support airframes, we collected the best memes and internet humor with the A-10 and/or the GAU-8 Avenger. Netizens love the A-10 as much as ground combat troops, so A-10 humor isn’t hard to find.

There are motivational posters.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

There are newer jokes.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

 

And old favorites.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

And even Star Wars A-10 Jokes.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

There are digs at ISIS.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

And digs at the Air Force for trying to get rid of the A-10.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

We love the GAU-8 Avenger, the massive 30mm hydraulic-driven gun, around which the plane is built.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

Most importantly, we love the BRRRRRRRRRRRT

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

And the A-10 is a great way to show your appreciation on Facebook.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader

 

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The Special Forces op that supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq

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

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

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

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

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
The mountainous terrain was difficult to navigate and fight through (U.S. Army)

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

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
Green Berets during Operation Viking Hammer (U.S. Army)

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

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

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

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This is why General John Kelly could comfort families of fallen troops

In his April 2017 book “Make Your Bed,” Admiral William McRaven described what it was like for him as a leader and military officer to receive the families of fallen troops — including those who died under his command.


We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Navy Adm. William McRaven, then-commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command. (AFSOC photo)

The former SEAL officer vividly paints a scene at Dover Air Force Base, the first stop on American soil for the remains of U.S. troops killed in combat. The waiting rooms are filled with “wives with a far-off look of disbelief, … inconsolable children, … [and] parents holding hands hoping to gain strength from one another.”

A number of Navy SEALs died in 2011 when their helicopter was shot down over Afghanistan – all 38 men aboard were killed, including 30 Americans. It was the single greatest U.S. loss in the War on Terror. Then-President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and the military’s senior leadership were all present to receive the flag-draped coffins.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), assist in a transfer of remains at Dover Air Force Base, Del. (U.S. Army photo)

The admiral and his wife were there too. He writes in his book that he began to wonder if his words were any solace to the families, if they made any difference at all, or if the shock made his words incomprehensible to the bereaved. He knew what he said was never going to be enough, but he tried to empathize with them.

That’s when he noticed a then-Marine Lt. Gen. John Kelly talking to  a number of the families. He could tell that what Kelly was saying was actually hitting home to those who lost their loved ones. The effect was what McRaven described as “profound.” He hugged them and they hugged him in turn.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
General John Kelly (right), speaks with Lieutenant Col. George Hasseltine, commanding officer of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force South aboard the USS America. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

General Kelly talked to every person in the room.

The Marine’s word hit home because they weren’t the words of comfort from a commander to his troops’ families, they were the words of a parent who lost a son in combat, just as they had.

Marine 1st Lt. John Kelly was killed in Afghanistan in 2010 after stepping on a land mine. John Kelly knew exactly what the people in that waiting room were feeling and what the days ahead held for the families of the departed.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
(Photo by Arlington National Cemetery )

Only General Kelly could have said anything that would mean something to those who lost their children, parents, and spouses in combat. As McRaven puts it:

“When you lose a soldier, you grieve for the families but you also fear that the same fate may one day befall you. You wonder whether you could survive the loss of a child. Or you wonder how your family would get along without you by their side. You hope and pray that God will be merciful and not have you shoulder this unthinkable burden.”
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North Koreans are defecting from the country in droves

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
Female soldiers in North Korea military parade | Wikimedia Commons


With everything from the fear of deadly snakes to alleged executions by anti-aircraft guns, it’s understandable why many North Koreans desire to flee the Hermit Kingdom.

What’s interesting to note, however, is the economic class of defectors that have found their way out of North Korea. According to a survey from the Korean Unification Ministry, the percentage of defectors from the “middle-class” rose from 19 percent in 2001 to 55.9 percent after 2014.

The increase stems from the fact that more defectors from higher statuses in the North possess the resources to escape, said the Unification Ministry.

So far this year, 894 North Koreans have escaped the country, compared to the 777 in the previous year during the same period. The Unification Ministry claims that this 15 percent increase is on track to bring the total amount of defectors to 30,000 by the end of the year.

Although the reasons to cross the border, or in some exceptional cases remain away from, are numerous, it’s noteworthy that one of their highly publicized punishments in North Korea seems to have decreased: North Korea leader Kim Jong Un is estimated to have executed about 130 officials in the 5 years he’s been in power, while Kim Jong Il, his father, had put to death over 2,000 officials in a 6 year span.

The latest high-profile defection comes from Thae Yong-Ho, North Korea’s deputy ambassador to London, who has since been accused by his former country of leaking state secrets, embezzlement, and child rape. As one of the highest-ranking North Korean officials to have defected, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to believe that others will eventually follow suit.

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Here are the best military photos of the week

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


AIR FORCE:

National VFW Honor Guard in dress whites.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Air Force photo

Airmen in their dress blues during a Veterans Day ceremony.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Air Force photo

ARMY:

Soldiers assigned to 10th Special Forces Group, maneuver through a shooting range during a weapons training exercise at the Panzer Range Complex, Boeblingen, Germany, Nov. 08, 2016.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Jason Johnston

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
Free to enter. 5 will win. Ends November 30, 2016

A US Army Golden Knights Soldier lands after jumping into the Girls’ Science and Engineering Day at UAHuntsville in Huntsville, Ala., Nov. 5, 2016.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Army photo

NAVY:

PEARL HARBOR (Nov. 3, 2016) Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur (DDG 73) render honors to the Battleship Missouri Memorial as Decatur prepares to moor at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Decatur, along with guided-missile destroyers USS Momsen (DDG 92) and USS Spruance (DDG 111) are deployed in support of maritime security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific as part of a U.S. 3rd Fleet Pacific Surface Action Group (PAC SAG) under Commander, Destroyer Squadron 31 (CDS 31).

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Gerald Dudley Reynolds

PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 11, 2016) A Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 78 MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter prepares to take off from the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) flight deck. Carl Vinson is currently underway conducting Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) in preperation for an upcoming deployment.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Sean M. Castellano

MARINE CORPS:

The sun sets over the USS Green Bay (LPD-20) at White Beach Naval Base, Okinawa, Japan, August 21, 2016.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Darien J. Bjorndal

Marines with the Maritime Raid Force, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, conduct combat marksmanship and close-quarters tactics training during a “deck shoot” aboard the USS Makin Island, while afloat in the Pacific Ocean, Nov. 2, 2016.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Devan Gowans

COAST GUARD:

Servicemembers from all five branches participated in the New York Giants vs. the Philadelphia Eagles Military Appreciation Game at MetLife Stadium today. More than 100 service members from the New York and New Jersey area volunteered to represent their branch of service during the pre-game and halftime ceremonies.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Sabrina Clarke

They say practice makes perfect, which is exactly why our crews are always training. A crewmember aboard the USCG Cutter Active, a 210-foot medium-endurance cutter homeported in Port Angeles, Wash., fires a 25mm gun during underway training.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Coast Guard photo

Photo submission:

Lt. Colonel Shannon Stambersky takes a selfie with her UCLA Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) cadets after completion of an annual field training exercise (FTX) at Camp Pendleton and filming of the first ROTC Virtual Reality recruitment video.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
Photo by Sgt. Dae McDonald, Sgt. Derek Sherwood, Brian L. Tan

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22 photos that prove the US military has the best office views

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Navy photo by Ensign Joseph Pfaff


Mountain vistas, Arctic panoramas, and rolling steppe are some of the locations that members of the US military can claim as their “offices.”

As members of the sister-service branches continue to work around the world, troops have seen places that the vast majority of Americans may never experience. What’s more, troops can easily claim that their offices are among the most exotic in the world.

Below, we have picked some of our favorite US military photos showing the amazing views military members have from their rotating offices.

A sailor guides an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the “Dragon Whales” of Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28 during a night vertical replenishment aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58).

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Navy photo

Lance Cpl. Chance Seckenger with 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, rides in a Combat Rubber Raiding Craft during launch and recovery drills from the well deck of the USS Green Bay, at sea, July 9, 2015.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brian Bekkala

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Bradley J. Gee

Two F-15E Strike Eagles wait to receive fuel from a KC-135R Stratotanker January 23, 2015, on their way to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, in support of Red Flag 15-1.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
USAF/Airman 1st Class Aaron J. Jenne

An F-16 Fighting Falcon from the 80th Fighter Squadron at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, takes off at Jungwon AB, South Korea, during Buddy Wing 15-6 on July 8, 2015. Buddy Wing exercises are conducted multiple times throughout the year to sharpen interoperability between US and South Korean forces.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nick Wilson

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) transits the South China Sea.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Navy

A Marine engages targets from a UH-1Y Venom with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, during Composite Training Unit Exercise above San Clemente Island, California, March 20, 2015.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Marine Corps

Members of the Mongolian Armed Forces, along with their US Marine and Alaska Army National Guard instructors, hike down a valley during the survival-training course portion of Khaan Quest 2014 at Five Hills Training Area, Mongolia, June 26, 2014.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Edward Eagerton

Sailors and Marines aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) participate in a swim call. Iwo Jima is the flagship for the Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (24th MEU), provides a versatile, sea-based expeditionary force that can be tailored to a variety of missions in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Navy photo

A C-130 Hercules flies over Izu Peninsula, Japan, Oct. 14, 2015. Performing regular in-flight operations gives all related personnel real-world experience to stay prepared for contingency situations and regular operations.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Baker

Gunnery Sgt. Eddie Myers, parachute safety officer assigned to Detachment 4th Force Reconnaissance Company, prepares to jump out of a UH-1Y Venom helicopter during airborne insertion training at the flight line aboard Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay June 10th, 2015.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Marine Corps

Aircraft land aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) during nighttime flight operations in the Arabian Sea.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Navy

Lance Cpl. Zachery Johnson prepares to engage targets from a UH-1Y Venom during Amphibious Squadron/Marine Expeditionary Unit Integration Training above San Clemente Island February 28, 2015.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Marine Corps

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Navy

A Marine attached to Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment – “The Lava Dogs” fires a Javelin at a simulated enemy tank during Lava Viper aboard Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, May 29, 2015.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Marine Corps

US Marines with Alpha Battery, 1st Battalion, 12th Marines fire the M777-A2 Howitzer down range during Integrated Training Exercise 2-15 at Blacktop Training Area aboard Camp Wilson, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, January 31st, 2015.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Marine Corps

A Marine with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 367 sits on the ramp of a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter after completing a portion of a joint Downed Aircraft Recovery Team exercise aboard Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, July 30, 2015.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Marine Corps

US Army Soldiers, assigned to 1/25 SBCT “Arctic Wolves”, US Army Alaska, transport equipment using snowshoes and ahkio sleds during an arctic mobility squad competition in the Yukon Training Area, Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. James Gallagher

An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the Black Knights of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron participates in a helicopter exercise off the coast of the Hawaiian Island of Kauai during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Navy photo by Ensign Joseph Pfaff

The crew of the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Hampton posted a sign reading “North Pole” made by the crew after surfacing in the polar ice cap region.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
US Navy photo by Chief Journalist Kevin Elliott

A naval air crewman assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 9 jumps from an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter during simulated search and rescue operations.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kevin J. Steinberg

The Coast Guard Cutter SPAR transiting Glacier Bay National Park Saturday, July 22, 2012, in Southeast Alaska. The SPAR is a 225-foot buoy tender stationed in Kodiak, Alaska.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Justin Hergert

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Navy Secretary said the F-35 will likely be the last manned strike fighter

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
Photo: Wikimedia


Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will likely be the last manned strike fighter ever bought or flown by the Navy.

“Unmanned systems, particularly autonomous ones, have to be the new normal in ever-increasing areas. For example, as good as it is, and as much as we need it and look forward to having it in the fleet for many years, the F-35 should be, and almost certainly will be, the last manned strike fighter aircraft the Department of the Navy will ever buy or fly,” said Mabus, speaking to the Navy League’s 2015 Sea Air Space symposium at National Harbor, Md.

Citing unmanned systems as a key element of needed innovation in a fast-changing global technological environment, Mabus said he plans to stand up a new Navy office for unmanned systems and appoint a new Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Unmanned Systems. The new office, called N-9, will seek to streamline various unmanned systems efforts and technology, Mabus told the crowd.

Mabus specified 3-D printing as an example of encouraging progress in innovation, holding up a small hand-held drone called the Close-In-Autonomous Disposable Aircraft, or CICADA.

“This Close-In Autonomous Disposable Aircraft can be made with a 3-D printer, and is a GPS-guided disposable unmanned aerial vehicle that can be deployed in large numbers to ‘seed’ an area with miniature electronic payloads, such as communication nodes or sensors,” he said.

“The potential for technology like this- and the fact that we can print them — make them – ourselves, almost anywhere, is incredible.  This is going to fundamentally change manufacturing and logistics, not just in the Department of the Navy, but also in the entire U.S.”

The creation of a new Navy UAS office could carry implications for a handful of high-profile developmental programs for the service. For instance, it could impact the ongoing debates about needed requirements for the Navy’s carrier-launched drone program, the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike program (UCLASS).

Some members of Congress are demanding the platform have maximum stealth and weapons capability so the drone can penetrate advanced enemy air defenses and deliver weapons as well as conduct long-range intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR, missions.

In addition, Mabus’ comments seem to indicate that the Navy’s conceptual developmental effort to envision a new carrier-launched fighter to replace the F/A-18 Super Hornet – called the F/A-XX program – may wind up engineering an unmanned platform for the mission.

Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee, told Military.com he supported Mabus’ announcement to create a new UAS office and Deputy Secretary of the Navy for Unmanned Systems.

“Creating a senior post focused on unmanned aviation is an important recognition by the Navy that this technology will do much to determine the service’s future and requires senior leadership within the Department to ensure its successful utilization. The future of the Carrier Air Wing is linked with the development of an unmanned system able to execute long-range, penetrating strike missions in anti-access environments. I am hopeful that whoever fills this new post will take a holistic, strategic look at the Navy’s unmanned portfolio and be a strong advocate for that vision moving forward,” Forbes said in a written statement.

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This article originally appeared at Military.com Copyright 2014. Follow Military.com on Twitter.

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It’s official: Two women have earned the Army Ranger tab

Two female officers will make history on Friday by becoming the first women to graduate from the traditionally all-male U.S. Army Ranger School, officials said.


The West Point graduates, who have not been identified, are in their final days of the grueling two-month leadership training program. Two separate sources told Military.com that they will receive the highly coveted Ranger tab on Friday.

The service later confirmed in a press release that two women and 94 men completed the 62-day course, which includes everything from PT and swim tests, to land navigation exercises and a 12-mile foot march, to obstsacle courses and parachute jumps, to mountaineering tests and mock patrols.

“Congratulations to all of our new Rangers,” Army Secretary John McHugh said in the release. “Each Ranger School graduate has shown the physical and mental toughness to successfully lead organizations at any level.”

He added, “This course has proven that every Soldier, regardless of gender, can achieve his or her full potential. We owe Soldiers the opportunity to serve successfully in any position where they are qualified and capable, and we continue to look for ways to select, train, and retain the best Soldiers to meet our Nation’s needs.”

The Army had already sent out invitations to more than 30 media outlets, including Military.com, to attend the ceremony. The female candidates and their male Ranger buddies plan to sit down for an interview the day before the event.

The two were among a trio of women who since April have been participating in the physically and mentally exhausting leadership course held in three phases at Fort Benning in Georgia and Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. The third woman is currently repeating the second or “mountain” phase of the program.

Fort Benning began its first co-ed Ranger course on April 20. Nineteen women and 380 men were pre-screened for the program. Eight women made it through the first week, called Ranger Assessment Phase, but didn’t pass the subsequent Benning Phase. They were “recycled,” or allowed to attempt the Benning Phase a second time, but failed. Five women were then dropped from the program and three were invited to start over from day one, along with five male candidates.

The Army said more than a third — or 34 percent — of students who enter Ranger School recycle at least one phase of the course, adding to the student’s physical and mental fatigue.

The integration of women at Ranger School is a key part of the Army’s effort to study how to open direct-action combat jobs such as infantry to women. Under a 2013 directive from then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the military services must open all combat jobs to women by next year or explain why any must stay closed.

While the female Army officers will be entitled to wear the Ranger tab, they still won’t be allowed to serve in the 75th Ranger Regiment, the special operations forces unit, or receive the special skill identifier code added to the end of their military occupational specialty — unless existing rules and regulations are changed.

— Brendan McGarry contributed to this report.

— Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com

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This article originally appeared at Military.com Copyright 2015. Follow Military.com on Twitter.

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This pharmacy has a deep military tradition

Charles R. Walgreen, Sr. was more than an innovator and business owner — he was also a veteran.


The son of Swedish immigrants, Walgreen interrupted his budding pharmacy career to enlist with the Illinois National Guard and fight in the Spanish-American War in Cuba in 1898. His primary assignment was working in a hospital dispensary, which exposed him to yellow fever, complicated by malaria, a combination that was nearly fatal to him.

In time he recovered, returned to civilian life, and spent the following years working in various Chicago drugstores, sometimes for short periods at each. Thus he gained knowledge of the practice of pharmacy and experience with business techniques that distinguished the successful drugstore from the less so.  He learned a lot about the art and value of good customer service. Before long he wanted to be his own boss and, in 1901, bought the pharmacy he worked at in Chicago. Walgreens, the company, was born.

In its first few years, Walgreens became known for its “two-minute stunt.”  Customers who were in the immediate vicinity of the drugstore would call to order non-prescription items, and Walgreen would slowly repeat the order and delivery address back to the customer, loud enough for an assistant to take down the details. Walgreen would then chat up the customer long enough for the assistant to make the trip to the delivery address. Sometimes, with Walgreen still on the phone, the customer would excuse him or herself from the phone to answer the door, and return in amazement at how quickly the order had arrived. It was a feat of sufficient theatricality that it earned good word-of-mouth advertising.

Eight years after the first Walgreens opened its doors, the second location in Chicago opened.

By 1916, there were nine stores and by the time of the company’s 25th anniversary of service, 92 stores were operating in the Chicago area alone, many featuring soda fountains.

During World War II, more than 2,500 Walgreens employees served in the military, 20 percent of its workforce.  Forty-eight did not survive the war.

In 1943, Walgreens supported the war effort by opening a nonprofit, 6,000-square-foot store inside the Pentagon. Elsewhere, stores around the country sold $41 million in war bonds and stamps.

Walgreens continued to grow with the post war boom, and by 1975, hit $1 billion in sales. By 1984 Walgreens opened its 1,000th store.

Over the decades, the community and civic engagement for which Charles Walgreen was known evolved with the company to become a corporate-wide commitment to social responsibility. In addition to supporting numerous philanthropic causes, Walgreens has shown innovations in environmental sustainability, mirrored the diversity of America through its employment and vendor policies, and earned an international reputation as a model employer of people with disabilities.

From its humble early aspirations to make a name in Chicago, to its current aspiration to be America’s most-loved pharmacy-led health, wellbeing and beauty retailer, Walgreens in 2016 boasts a total of over 8,100 stores in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U. S. Virgin Islands.

After 115 years of service to the country, Walgreens is honored to also serve those in the military who have defended our country.

As part of the Express Scripts network of pharmacy providers, Walgreens stands ready to give Tricare members the excellent service for which it is famous. With over 8,000 in-network pharmacies from which to choose, Walgreens is well-positioned to champion every Tricare members’ right to be happy and healthy.

 

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Special operators just rescued a high-profile prisoner from al-Qaeda

Ali Haider Gillani, the son of an ex-Pakistani prime minister, was rescued by U.S. special operators and Afghan commandos in a joint operation in Paktika province May 10.


We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
A U.S. Special Forces soldier patrols with Afghan Commands from the 2nd Commando Kandak. Photo: US Army

The strike force killed four enemy combatants in the raid with no reported loss to friendly forces. Gillani was unharmed in the rescue mission.

The focus of the operation, “was to go after al-Qaida-related targets in the area, and there was an indication that there may have been a hostage being held with them,” U.S. Army Brig. Gen Charles Cleveland told the AP. “So it was a nice surprise to get that.”

Gillani and his father are members of the Pakistan People’s Party, a group which has sponsored and led several major offensives aimed at Islamic militants.

Gillani was originally kidnapped in May 2013 while campaigning for the Punjab provincial assembly. Pakistani leaders are often threatened or attacked by the Pakistani Taliban, especially if the leaders are perceived as likely to threaten the Taliban.

We just got our most extensive picture yet of ISIS’ mysterious and reclusive leader
Then-Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani speaks with President Barack Obama in a 2012 nuclear summit. Photo: White House Pete Souza

The kidnappers had been attempting to negotiate the release of several high-profile al-Qaeda prisoners in exchange for Gillani’s safe return.

Gillani was flown to Bagram for medical evaluation and is scheduled to return to Pakistan once cleared by doctors.

The raid was conducted as part of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, the current campaign of America’s mission in Afghanistan. It is part of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission.

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