ISIS wants you to know it has amusement parks, too - We Are The Mighty
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ISIS wants you to know it has amusement parks, too

While many Westerners associate Islamic State propaganda with violence and beheadings, the terror group also likes to showcase its deceptively “softer” side to those within its territory in the Middle East, as a Vocativ analysis showed this week.


And given that their target audience is disaffected Sunnis living in war-torn Iraq and Syria, the plan is working.

Videotaped beheadings and action-packed fighting scenes might be effective recruitment tools for young people who are thinking about traveling to Syria to fight with the militants, but the Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL, and Daesh) knows that winning hearts and minds is just as important to its longevity.

Vocativ notes that “in the areas it already controls or is fighting to take over, almost half of what [ISIS] broadcasts has a positive theme to it. ‘Come to the Islamic State,’ is the message. ‘There is fun here, and food, and services.'”

ISIS markets itself as an Islamic utopia that can provide happiness and stability its residents. In addition to enforcing a strict interpretation of Sharia law, ISIS sets up schools and consumer protection bureaus in the areas of Iraq and Syria it holds.

And apparently, ISIS also operates a mall and amusement park near Mosul, Iraq:

The above propaganda video shows children playing and residents talking about how much better life is now that ISIS has moved in and taken control of Mosul.

And it’s not just amusement parks — earlier this year, ISIS’ media wing announced that the group had re-opened a “luxury” hotel in Mosul.

The video makes no mention of the headless bodies that can also be seen in the streets of ISIS’ self-proclaimed “caliphate,” an aspirational Islamic empire that aims to unite the world’s Muslims under a single religious and political entity.

With its civil services and positive propaganda, ISIS seeks to build a sense of community within its caliphate. And given that many ISIS members are from disaffected Sunni communities, the group has a natural advantage over Westerners in uniform trying to win hearts and minds.

Recruiting with camaraderie

ISIS also uses positive propaganda, along with more brutal propaganda,  to bring in foreign fighters replenish their ranks on the battlefield.

In an extensive analysis of ISIS propaganda for the counter-extremism think tank Quilliam Foundation, Charlie Winter noted that the idea of belonging is “one of Islamic State’s most powerful draws to new recruits,” especially Westerners who are thinking of traveling to the caliphate.

“Through their regular publication of, for example, videos and photographic reports depicting istirāḥat al-mujāhidīn — fighters relaxing with tea and singing with each other — the propagandists emphasise the idea of brotherhood in the ‘caliphate,'” Winter wrote.

“The carefully branded camaraderie that one is absorbed into upon arrival in Islamic State-held territories is, as the propagandists would have their audiences believe, almost overwhelming.”

ISIS “recognize[s] that offers of friendship, security and a sense of belonging are powerful draws for its supporters abroad,” Winter wrote.

But ISIS doesn’t just want to attract fighters who are willing to die on the battlefield for their cause. They also see women and families as crucial to their long-term quest for dominance and control of territory.

In their recent book “ISIS: The State of Terror,” Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger noted that ISIS leadership says “hijrah (or emigration) to the land of Islam is obligatory” for all Muslims. They recruit doctors, administrators, engineers, scholars, and women who could marry future martyrs and bear their children.

“They’re the first terrorist group that aren’t interested in [just] fighters, they want families to come,” Patrick Skinner, director of special projects at The Soufan Group, told Vocativ. “They need women and children, they believe they have a state, they now need a future. A lot of people are going there just to live in the caliphate.”

The propaganda depicting bucolic settings and a fully functioning society is obviously false.

ISIS’ caliphate is extremely violent, and militants loot homes, tax residents heavily, and behead opponents. Some who have decamped for ISIS territory have desperately sought to return to their home countries after realizing that the reality on the ground is vastly different from the propaganda they saw online.

Nevertheless, ISIS is still seeing foreigners stream into their territory (many through the Turkish border), and the US is trying to come up with ways to counter the propaganda and come up with an effective counter-narrative.

Check out Vocativ’s full report

More from Business Insider:

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

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Navy F/A-18 test fires high powered anti-ship missile

The Navy has released its emerging Long Range Anti-Ship Missile from an F/A-18 Super Hornet, marking a new milestone in the development of a next-generation, long range, semi-autonomous weapon designed to track and destroy enemy targets – firing from aircraft and ships.


Long Range Anti-Ship Missile was successfully released earlier this month from a U.S. Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, a Lockheed Martin statement said.

The weapon, called the LRASM, is a collaborative effort between Lockheed, the Office of Naval Research and the Defense Advanced Project Research Agency, or DARPA.

The test involved a “jettison release” of the first LRASM from the Super Hornet, used to validate the aerodynamic separation models of the missile, Lockheed developers said. The test event was designed to pave the way for flight clearance to conduct captive carry integration testing scheduled for mid-year at the Navy Air Weapons Station, China Lake, California.

The LRASM, which is 168-inches long and 2,500 pounds, is currently configured to fire from an Air Force B-1B bomber, Navy surface ship Vertical Launch Tubes and a Navy F-18 carrier-launched fighter. The current plan is to have the weapon operational on board an Air Force B-1B bomber and a Navy F-18 by 2019, Navy statements have said.

ISIS wants you to know it has amusement parks, too
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan U. Kledzik

“The first time event of releasing LRASM from the F/A-18E/F is a major milestone towards meeting early operational capability in 2019,” Mike Fleming, Lockheed Martin LRASM program director, said in a written statement.

With a range of at least 200 nautical miles, LRASM is designed to use next-generation guidance technology to help track and eliminate targets such as enemy ships, shallow submarines, drones, aircraft and land-based targets.

Navy officials told Scout Warrior that the service is making progress with an acquisition program for the air-launched variant of LRASM but is still in the early stages of planning for a ship-launch anti-ship missile.

“The objective is to give Sailors the ability to strike high-value targets from longer ranges while avoiding counter fire. The program will use autonomous guidance to find targets, reducing reliance on networking, GPS and other assets that could be compromised by enemy electronic weapons,” a Navy statement said.

Alongside the preparation of LRASM as an “air-launched” weapon, Lockheed Martin is building a new deck-mounted launcher for the emerging  engineered to semi-autonomously track and destroy enemy targets at long ranges from surface ships.

ISIS wants you to know it has amusement parks, too
A B-1B bomber deploys a LRASM. | Public Domain photo

The missile has also been test fired from a Navy ship-firing technology called Vertical Launch Systems currently on both cruisers and destroyers – as a way to provide long range surface-to-surface and surface-to-air offensive firepower.

The Navy will likely examine a range of high-tech missile possibilities to meet its requirement for a long-range anti-ship missile — and Lockheed is offering LRASM as an option for the Navy to consider.  .

A deck-mounted firing technology, would enable LRASM to fire from a much wider range of Navy ships, to include the Littoral Combat Ship and its more survivable variant, called a Frigate, Scott Callaway, Surface-Launched LRASM program manager, Lockheed Martin, told Scout Warrior in an interview last year.

“We developed a new topside or deck-mounted launcher which can go on multiple platforms or multiple ships such as an LCS or Frigates,” Callaway said.

The adaptation of the surface-launcher weapon, which could be operational by the mid-2020s, would use the same missile that fires from a Mk 41 Vertical Launch System and capitalize upon some existing Harpoon-launching technology, Callaway added.

Along with advances in electronic warfare, cyber-security and communications, LRASM is design to bring semi-autonomous targeting capability to a degree that does not yet exist. As a result, some of its guidance and seeker technology is secret, developers have said.

The goal of the program is to engineer a capable semi-autonomous, surface and air-launched weapon able to strike ships, submarines and other moving targets with precision. While many aspects of the high-tech program are secret, Lockheed officials say the available information is that the missile has a range of at least 200 nautical miles.

Once operational, LRASM will give Navy ships a more a short and long-range missile with an advanced targeting and guidance system able to partially guide its way to enemy targets and achieve pinpoint strikes in open or shallow water.

ISIS wants you to know it has amusement parks, too
An LRASM acquires its target. | Lockheed Martin image

LRASM employs a multi-mode sensor, weapon data link and an enhanced digital anti-jam global positioning system to detect and destroy specific targets within a group of ships, Lockheed officials said.

LRASM is engineered with all-weather capability and a multi-modal seeker designed to discern targets, Lockheed officials said. The multi-mode sensor, weapon data link and an enhanced digital anti-jam global positioning system can detect and destroy specific targets within a group of ships, Lockheed officials said.

LRASM is armed with a proven 1,000-pound penetrator and blast-fragmentation warhead, Lockheed officials said.

Distributed Lethality

The development of LRASM is entirely consistent with the Navy’s emerging “distributed lethality” strategy which seeks to better arm the fleet with long-range precision offensive and defensive fire power.

Part of the rationale to move back toward open or “blue water” combat capability against near peer competitors emphasized during the Cold War. While the strategic and tactical capability never disappeared, it was emphasized less during the last 10-plus years of ground wars wherein the Navy focused on counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and things like Visit Board Search and Seizure. These missions are, of course, still important, however the Navy seeks to substantially increase its offensive “lethality” in order to deter or be effective against high-tech adversaries.

Having longer-range or over-the-horizon ship and air-launched weapons is also quite relevant to the “distributed” portion of the strategy which calls for the fleet to have an ability to disperse as needed.  Having an ability to spread out and conduct dis-aggregated operations makes Navy forces less vulnerable to enemy firepower while. At the same time, have long-range precision-strike capability will enable the Navy to hold potential enemies at risk or attack if needed while retaining safer stand-off distance from incoming enemy fire.

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This C-130 crashed testing a system designed for the (second) mission to rescue the Iranian hostages

Operation Credible Sport was hatched in the wake of the disastrous Operation Eagle Claw, the attempt to rescue hostages held at the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran that resulted in a collision at a refueling point in the desert that destroyed two aircraft and killed 8 service members. The mishap caused commanders to call off the mission.


But the hostages were still in Iranian hands and a new attempt at rescue had to be made. The Air Force decided to attempt the mission using a C-130 modified with rockets to takeoff and land in short distances. The modified aircraft would land in a soccer stadium near the U.S. embassy, allow the assault team out to rescue the hostages, then pick everyone up and fly them out.

 

ISIS wants you to know it has amusement parks, too
The burned out C-130 from the failed Operation Eagle Claw sits in the Iranian Desert. At far right is the destroyed helicopter. (Photo: US Special Operations Command)

Rocket-assisted takeoffs, or RATOs, is a technique where rocket engines provide the lift necessary to let heavy aircraft takeoff on a short runway. The tactic had been in use since World War II and C-130s had already successfully employed the technique. The more well-known JATO, jet-assisted takeoffs, worked in a similar manner with jet engines doing the heavy lifting.

ISIS wants you to know it has amusement parks, too
A C-130 conducting a Rocket-Assisted Takeoff. GIF: Youtube/Crediblesport’s channel

But Operation Credible Sport called for rockets to also assist in the landing, which required three sets of rockets to fire at precise times in the process. First, a set of forward-facing rockets would act as an air brake. Then downward-facing jets would slow the aircraft’s descent and after touchdown a third set of rockets would stop the C-130 on the short runway.

Unfortunately the C-130 test flight was less than successful. When the pilots attempted to land the plane, the first set of rockets blinded the pilots. Then the flight engineer was dazzled by the first rockets and thought the plane had already reached the ground. Thinking he just needed to stop the aircraft, he fired the final braking rockets and halted the plane’s forward momentum.

This stopped the wings from creating lift. The second set of rockets, designed to slow the plane’s descent and soften the landing, had not been fired. So the plane fell the final twenty feet to the runway almost straight down.

ISIS wants you to know it has amusement parks, too
GIF: Youtube/Crediblesport’s channel

The shock of the landing broke part of the right wing off. The rockets then lit the jet fuel on fire, and the entire airplane was destroyed.

Luckily, the crew made it out of the wreckage alive. The Air Force buried the plane at the test site and ordered the rockets placed on a backup C-130 so testing could continue.

But negotiators were able to reach a settlement that freed the hostages and made the modifications unnecessary. The plans for a rocket-landed airplane were then scrapped.

Watch the modified aircraft fly below, (and check out 1:40 to see the crash):

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F-22 to receive new weapons and stealth upgrades

The Air Force is performing key maintenance on the F-22 Raptor’s stealth materials and upgrading the stealth fighter with new attack weapons to include improved air-to-air and air-to-surface strike technology, service officials said.


“In the Summer of 2019, the F22 fleet will begin to receive upgrades to its available weapons with the Increment 3.2B upgrade.  This upgrade allows full functionality for the AIM-120D and AIM-9X Air-to-Air missiles as well as enhanced Air-to-Surface target location capabilities,” 1st Lt. Carrie J. Volpe, Action Officer, Air Combat Command Public Affaris, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., told Scout Warrior.

The F22 currently carries the AIM-9X Block 1 and the current upgrade will enable carriage of AIM-9X Block 2, Volpe added.

Related: Watch the F-22 take on 5 F-15s — and dominate

Raytheon AIM-9X weapons developers explain that the Block 2 variant adds a redesigned fuze and a digital ignition safety device that enhances ground handling and in-flight safety. Block II also features updated electronics that enable significant enhancements, including lock-on-after-launch capability using a new weapon datalink to support beyond visual range engagements, a Raytheon statement said.

Another part of the weapons upgrade includes engineering the F-22 to fire the AIM-120D, a beyond visual range Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), designed for all weather day-and-night attacks; it is a “fire and forget” missile with active transmit radar guidance, Raytheon data states. The AIM-120D is built with upgrades to previous AMRAAM missiles by increasing attack range, GPS navigation, inertial measurement units and a two-way data link, Raytheon statements explain.

ISIS wants you to know it has amusement parks, too
U.S. Air National Guard photo/Senior Master Sgt. Ralph Branson

The AIM-120D also includes improved High-Angle Off-Boresight technology enabling the weapon to destroy targets at a wider range of angles. 

Additional upgrades to the stealth fighter, slated for 2021, are designed to better enable digital communications via data links with 4th and 5th generation airplanes.

“The backbone of this upgrade also includes the installation of an open systems architecture that will allow for future upgrades to be done faster and at less expense than could be previously accomplished,” Volpe said.

 Stealth Coating Maintenance

The Air Force has contracted Lockheed Martin to perform essential maintenance to the F-22’s low-observable stealth coating to ensure it is equipped to manage fast-emerging threats.

Lockheed Martin completed the first F22 Raptor at the company’s Inlet Coating Repair (ICR) Speedline, a company statement said.

“Periodic maintenance is required to maintain the special exterior coatings that contribute to the 5th Generation Raptor’s Very Low Observable radar cross-section,” Lockheed stated.

The increase in F22 deployments, including ongoing operational combat missions, has increased the demand for ICR. Additionally, Lockheed Martin is providing modification support services, analytical condition inspections, radar cross section turntable support and antenna calibration.

F-22 Attack Supercruise Technology 

As a fifth-generation stealth fighter, the F-22 is specifically engineered for air supremacy and air dominance missions, meaning its radar-evading technology is designed to elude and destroy enemy air defenses. The aircraft is also configured to function as the world’s premier air-to-air fighter able to “dogfight” and readily destroy enemy aircraft.

ISIS wants you to know it has amusement parks, too
An F-22 deploys flares. | US Air Force photo

“Air superiority, using stealth characteristics is our primary role. The air dominance mission is what we will always do first. Once we are comfortable operating in that battlespace, our airmen are going to find ways to contribute,” Col. Larry Broadwell, the Commander of the 1st Operations Group at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, told Scout Warrior in a special pilot interview last year.

The F-22’s command and control sensors and avionics help other coalition aircraft identify and destroy targets. While some of the aircraft’s technologies are not “publically discussable,” Broadwell did say that the F-22’s active and passive sensors allow it to function as an “aerial quarterback” allowing the mission to unfold.

For example, drawing upon information from a ground-based command and control center or nearby surveillance plane – such as a Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System – the F-22 can receive information or target coordinates from nearby drones, Broadwell explained.

Related: Here’s when the F-15 outperforms the F-22 or an F-35

At the moment, targeting information from drones is relayed from the ground station back up to an F-22.  However, computer algorithms and technology is fast evolving such that aircraft like an F-22s will soon be able to quickly view drone video feeds in the cockpit without needing a ground station — and eventually be able to control nearby drones from the air. These developments were highlighted in a special Scout Warrior interview with Air Force Chief Scientist Greg Zacharias.

Zacharias explained that fifth generation fighters such as the F-35 and F-22 are quickly approaching an ability to command-and-control nearby drones from the air. This would allow unmanned systems to deliver payload, test enemy air defenses and potentially extend the reach of ISR misisons.

“Because of its sensors, the F-22 is uniquely able to improve the battlefield awareness – not just for airborne F-22s but the other platforms that are airborne as well,” he said. The Raptor has an F-22-specific data link to share information with other F-22s and also has the ability to use a known data link called LINK 16 which enables it to communicate with other aircraft in the coalition, Broadwell explained in an interview last year.

Newer F-22s have a technology called Synthetic Aperture Radar, or SAR, which uses electromagnetic signals or “pings” to deliver a picture or rendering of the terrain below, allow for better target identification.

ISIS wants you to know it has amusement parks, too
F-22A Raptors with the 94th Fighter Squadron drop joint direct attack munitions. | U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II

The SAR technology sends a ping to the ground and then analyzes the return signal to calculate the contours, distance and characteristics of the ground below.

“The addition of SAR mapping has certainly enhanced our air-to-ground capability. Previously, we would have to take off with pre-determined target coordinates. Now, we have an ability to more dynamically use the SAR to pinpoint a target while airborne,” Broadwell added.

“The F-35 is needed because it is to global precision attack what the F-22 is to air superiority,” he added. “These two aircrafts were built to work together in concert. It is unfortunate that we have so few F-22s. We are going to ask the F-35 to contribute to the air superiority mission,” he said.

Overall, the Air Force operates somewhere between 80 and 100 F-22s. Dave Majumdar of The National Interest writes that many would like to see more F-22s added to the Air Force arsenal. For instance, some members of Congress, such as former Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., have requested that more F-22s be built, given its technological superiority.

Citing budget concerns, Air Force officials have said it is unlikely the service will want to build new F-22s, however it is possible the Trump administration could want to change that.

F-22 Technologies

The F-22 is known for a range of technologies including an ability called “super cruise” which enables the fighter to reach speeds of Mach 1.5 without needing to turn on its after burners.

“The F-22 engines produce more thrust than any current fighter engine. The combination of sleek aerodynamic design and increased thrust allows the F-22 to cruise at supersonic airspeeds. Super Cruise greatly expands the F-22’s operating envelope in both speed and range over current fighters, which must use fuel-consuming afterburner to operate at supersonic speeds,” Broadwell explained.

Related: Air Force upgrades F-15 to compete with Chinese J-10

The fighter jet fires a 20mm cannon and has the ability to carry and fire all the air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons including precision-guided ground bombs, such Joint Direct Attack Munitions called the GBU 32 and GBU 39, Broadwell explained. In the air-to-air configuration the Raptor carries six AIM-120 AMRAAMs and two AIM-9 Sidewinders, he added.

“The F-22 possesses a sophisticated sensor suite allowing the pilot to track, identify, shoot and kill air-to-air threats before being detected. Significant advances in cockpit design and sensor fusion improve the pilot’s situational awareness,” he said.

It also uses what’s called a radar-warning receiver – a technology which uses an updatable data base called “mission data files” to recognize a wide-range of enemy fighters, Broadwell said.

Made by Lockheed Martin and Boeing, the F-22 uses two Pratt Whitney F119-PW-100 turbofan engines with afterburners and two-dimensional thrust vectoring nozzles, an Air Force statement said.  It is 16-feet tall, 62-feet long and weighs 43,340 pounds. Its maximum take-off weight is 83,500.

The aircraft was first introduced in December of 2005, and each plane costs $143 million, Air Force statements say.

ISIS wants you to know it has amusement parks, too
F-22 Raptors sit on the flight line at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii Feb. 12. The fighters and more than 250 Airmen from the 27th Fighter Squadron at Langley Air Force Base, Va., are bound for Kadena Air Base, Japan. This is the Raptor’s first overseas operational deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo)

“Its greatest asset is the ability to target attack and kill an enemy without the enemy ever being aware they are there,” Broadwell added.

The Air Force’s stealthy F-22 Raptor fighter jet delivered some of the first strikes in the U.S.-led attacks on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, when aerial bombing began in 2014, service officials told Scout Warrior.

After delivering some of the first strikes in the U.S. Coalition-led military action against ISIS, the F-22 began to shift its focus from an air-dominance mission to one more focused on supporting attacks on the ground.

“An F-22 squadron led the first strike in OIR (Operation Inherent Resolve). The aircraft made historic contributions in the air-to-ground regime,”

Even though ISIS does not have sophisticated air defenses or fighter jets of their own to challenge the F-22, there are still impactful ways in which the F-22 continues to greatly help the ongoing attacks, Broadwell said.

“There are no issues with the air superiority mission. That is the first thing they focus on. After that, they can transition to what they have been doing over the last several months and that has been figuring out innovative ways to contribute in the air-to-ground regime to support the coalition,” Broadwell said.

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The 18 Military Facebook Pages You Should Be Following

Mat Best MBest11x

Why you should follow: Mat Best and the boys at Article 15 Clothing bring laughter in a way only veterans and active military personnel can relate to. They shoot anything that goes bang and make awesome videos.


ISIS wants you to know it has amusement parks, too

Duffel Blog

Why you should follow: Stay up-to-date with the U.S. military’s most-trusted* news source (If you aren’t aware, Duffel Blog is a parody news organization offering pitch perfect satire on military and veterans issues).

ISIS wants you to know it has amusement parks, too

Terminal Lance

Why you should follow: A weekly comic strip started by a Marine veteran, Terminal Lance offers not only hilarious comic strips, but plenty of memes and funny photos that are submitted.

ISIS wants you to know it has amusement parks, too

Ranger Up Military and MMA Apparel

Why you should follow: These vets take funny jabs at all branches of the military. Meme War Fridays are the best!

ISIS wants you to know it has amusement parks, too

Veterans in Film Television

Why you should follow: This is a must-follow page for all you veterans in the film and television industry. Learn of the latest networking, audition, and job opportunities here.

ISIS wants you to know it has amusement parks, too

Marines of Helmand and Al Anbar

Why you should follow: Connect with Marines who served in Helmand and Al Anbar and see what they’re up to.

ISIS wants you to know it has amusement parks, too

Afghanistan Combat Footage – Funker530

Why you should follow: Get the latest combat footage on your Facebook timeline.

ISIS wants you to know it has amusement parks, too

Arlington National Cemetary

Why you should follow: Get daily commemorative posts of troops who are buried at the cemetery.

ISIS wants you to know it has amusement parks, too

Military Working Dogs

Why you should follow: Learn what our latest K-9 war buddies are up to via photos, videos, and stories.

ISIS wants you to know it has amusement parks, too

USO – United Service Organizations

Why you should follow: This is a great page to follow if you’re currently serving. Get the latest military entertainment, programs, and services here.

ISIS wants you to know it has amusement parks, too

Awesome S- -t My Drill Sergeant Said

Why you should follow: Remember the crazy, off-the-wall, and hilarious stuff your drill sergeant said? Follow this page for comedy that only veterans and active troops would understand.

ISIS wants you to know it has amusement parks, too

Stolen Valor

Why you should follow: The official Guardians of Valor Facebook page. Follow this page to learn and report those who falsely claim military service and/or claim unauthorized medals or tabs.

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Operator as F- -k

Why you should follow: This is another great page for military humor. Get your funny military pictures and memes here.

ISIS wants you to know it has amusement parks, too

Make The Connection

Why you should follow: This is the official Make the Connection Facebook page. It’s an active page that connects veterans and their loved ones to stories of strength and resources for living well.

ISIS wants you to know it has amusement parks, too

NavySEALs.com

Why you should follow: Follow this page to get daily inspirational messages and SEAL stories.

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National Naval Aviation Museum

Why you should follow: Learn something new about the Navy’s aviation history every day.

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Tactical S- -t

Why you should follow: Learn about the latest tactical gear through reviews, videos and stories.

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U.S. Military On Facebook

Why you should follow: This is a great resource for military personnel, veterans, and their families.

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NOW: 18 Terms Only Soldiers Will Understand

OR: Follow us on Facebook for more exclusive content

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21 of the strangest weapons people have tried to sneak past the TSA

Most travelers have a number of things to worry about during the holiday season.


For TSA agents at the country’s airports, there’s also a variety of things to worry about — knives, fake grenades, swords hidden in canes, knives hidden in guns, throwing stars, and all sorts of other contraband.

The TSA has taken to documenting some of the weapons and other prohibited items it encounters at security checkpoints, posting them on the agency’s Instagram account, which has accumulated more than 500,000 followers and rave reviews.

“I knew it would be popular and I knew we’d have a never-ending source of content,” Bob Burns, who runs the Instagram account, told The Washington Post. “But I didn’t know how popular we’d be.”

Below, you can see a selection of strange weaponry or look-alike weaponry that the TSA has come across and put on its Instagram, which Rolling Stone recently ranked as the fourth-best account on the social-media site.

“We’re pretty sure this isn’t a letter opener. A bladed dragon claw perhaps??? Whatever it is, it should be packed in checked baggage. It was discovered in a carry-on bag at Atlanta (ATL).”

“Is this some kind of confangled rotisserie contraption for turkeys? Nope. These are Sai. If you’re a #TeenageMutantTurtle fan, you’ll know the Sai as Raphael’s weapon or choice. If you still have no clue, a Sai is a weapon used for striking, bludgeoning and punctures. Whatever it is you use them for, please know they must be packed in checked baggage. These were discovered in a carry-on bag at Boise (BOI).”

“This ornate flask of black powder was discovered in a carry-on bag at Allentown (ABE). While it is a fancy flask, the black powder contained within is an explosive and is strictly prohibited in both carry-on and checked bags.”

“Packing list: Socks. ✅ Toothbrush. ✅ Curling Iron. ✅ Post-apocalyptic bullet-adorned gas mask. ❌ While gas masks are allowed in carry-on bags, replica bullets are not. This was discovered in a carry-on bag at Miami (MIA). Maybe he was catching a one way flight to #FuryRoad?”

“Don’t pack your homemade replica suicide vest. The traveler who packed this vest in his checked bag at Richmond (RIC) stated it was a prop intended for use in a live-action role-playing game (LARP). TSA explosives experts raced to the checked baggage room and the airport police were called immediately. Fortunately, the explosives experts determined the vest posed no danger. It has yet to be determined if the officer who searched the bag needed a change of clothing.”

“While about to receive a pat-down after opting out of body scanner screening, a Chicago O’Hare (ORD) traveler remembered that he had a throwing knife necklace under his shirt. All knives are prohibited and concealed knives can lead to fines and arrest.”

“While some travelers are worried about packing nail clippers (they are allowed), others pack a pair of five-bladed floggers. You guessed it; these are not allowed in carry-on bags. If you’re in a situation where you’re going to need your floggers, they’ll have to be packed in checked baggage. These were discovered last week in a carry-on bag at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas (IAH).”

“You’ve likely heard that you’re not supposed to bring a knife to a gunfight? Well, you’re not supposed to bring either in your carry-on bag. Both replica weapons and knives are not allowed in carry-on bags. If you find yourself needing to travel with your gun knife, please pack it in your checked bag. This gun knife was discovered in a carry-on bag at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW).”

“This 4-bladed throwing star was discovered in a carry-on bag at the San Francisco International Airport (SFO). These must be packed in your checked bags. Sorry Prince Colwyn. #Krull”

“This belt buckle knife was discovered in a traveler’s carry-on property recently at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE). Concealed weapons can lead to fines and arrest.”

“Naruto’s ninja gear was discovered in a carry-on bag at Las Vegas (LAS). Please pack all ninja gear in your checked bags.”

“This knuckle knife was discovered in a carry-on bag at Memphis (MEM). Knives of any size are not allowed in carry-on bags. They must be packed in checked bags.”

“This impaler cane was discovered amongst a traveler’s carry-on property in Baltimore (BWI). These must be packed with checked baggage. Concealed weapons can lead to fines and arrest.”

“Many things can be hidden in shoes, but explosives are what concern us the most. This shoe is a replica of the bomb Richard Reid attempted to use in 2001 on his flight from Paris to Miami.”

“Your trailer hitch hand grenade is prohibited from both carry-on and checked bags. So what’s the big deal if it’s inert? First off, we don’t know it’s inert until explosives professionals take a closer look, and that takes time and slows down the line. It can even lead to a complete shutdown and evacuation. Also, imagine the person sitting next to you on the plane pulling this out of their carry-on. For these reasons, anything resembling a bomb or grenade is prohibited from both carry-on and checked bags. #TSATravelTips This inert grenade was discovered in a checked bag recently at the SBP airport.”

“And yet, another confounded #batarang has been discovered in a carry-on bag. This time it was discovered at the Charlottesville–Albemarle Airport (CHO). Batarangs, along with most other items on your utility belt must be packed in your checked bag. #Bam #Kapow #Zok #Biff #Zowie”

“These swords and throwing knives were discovered recently in a carry-on bag at the William P. Hobby Airport Houston (HOU). You guessed it! Swords and throwing knives are prohibited in carry-on bags. It perfectly acceptable to pack them in your checked bags, though.”

“This knife was discovered concealed in a bottle of pills at the San Francisco International Airport (SFO). Concealed knives can lead to fines and arrest. Please pack them in your checked bag.”

“#TBT November, 2007 – These knives were discovered concealed in a PC/DVD-ROM game case at Gulfport (GPT). Knives are prohibited, and concealed knives can lead to fines and arrest. You may pack knives, swords, machetes and other bladed items in your checked bags.”

“It’s a cane. It’s a sword. It’s a cane sword, and it’s prohibited from being packed with your carry-on items. Cane swords may be packed in your checked bag. This cane sword was discovered at LaGuardia (LGA).”

Articles

This is what South Korea is threatening if Kim ‘crosses the line’

South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office hoping to engage diplomatically with North Korea, but as tensions soar between the two countries, he’s considering his offensive options.


Moon called for South Korea to prepare to “immediately switch to offensive operations” if North Korea makes a “provocation that crosses the line,” according to NK News.

Moon told his top military officers they should “strongly push ahead with a reform of the military structure to meet [the requirements] of modern warfare so that it can immediately switch to offensive operations in case North Korea makes a provocation that crosses the line or attacks a metropolitan area,” NK News notes.

Additionally, South Korea is developing a three-axis system to respond to a North Korean attack that contains preemptive strikes on North Korea’s missile systems, air and missile defenses, and something called the “Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation system.”

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Photo from official South Korea Flickr.

Moon has tried to engage closely with North Korea, even going as far as suggesting the country host some of South Korea’s 2018 Winter Olympics, but to no avail as of yet.

At the same time, South Korea is building up a “decapitation force” meant to kill Kim Jong Un and other key North Korean leaders while building up missile defenses. Under Moon, the country has also developed an impressive ballistic-missile fleet that can drill deep underground to hit high-value targets in bunkers.

South Korean Vice Minister of National Defense Suh Choo Suk told reporters the country hoped to have perfected its offensive and defensive plan to win a war against North Korea by the early 2020s.

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9 ways to give Vietnam vets the welcome home they never received

The non-profit Vietnam Veterans of America was founded on the motto: “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”


The group is passionate about supporting their own because after they came home from fighting a war their country sent them to fight, they were largely unsupported and even treated with hostility.

Vietnam vets don’t need to hear “thank you for your service” as much as, “welcome home.” So whether you know someone who served in southeast Asia or happen to pass one on your way to work, here are 9 actions you can take to give them the welcome home they never received:

1. Listen to them and learn their stories

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lp1AKwf1YB8

Taking the time to learn and understand the experiences a veteran goes through helps you to understand them and appreciate their sacrifices on much more personal level.

2. Write them a letter

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Photo: Guudmorning!/flickr

Giving a letter to a Vietnam veteran expressing your appreciation and support of what they sacrificed is something they can read on their own time and keep as a reminder that America ultimately cares about their era of service.

3. Give them a surprise welcome back

For extra effect,  do this on the anniversary of the day they returned home from the war. Check around at local veteran organizations; you may be able to be part of a larger homecoming celebration, like the one in this video.

4. Perform community service together

Having an experience of serving together, no matter how small, is a shared experience you will both appreciate.

5. Organize a reunion for them

This may take a lot of planning, but coordinating an event that brings together Vietnam veterans who served together is going above and beyond showing how much you appreciate their service.

6. Organize their photos / records / awards into a scrapbook or shadowbox

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Photo: Evert Barnes/flickr

Many vets have their memories in boxes or in storage somewhere. Ask to take them and display them so they will not be damaged but also displayed in an honorable way.

7. Give thanks by really helping them out

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons/InSapphoWeTrust

Ask if there is are any errands and chores you can do or to get to know them more, or see if there is anywhere you can go (museum, hike, etc.).

8. Have a memorial for the fallen

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Photo: TimothyJ / flickr

By visiting a memorial with them or having one of your own together, show them you honor the fallen and will never forget them.

9. Invite them to speak at a school class or social function

Having a veteran speak in a history class or at a social community event is a great way to educate the younger generation and your community about the services and sacrifices service members make.

To all Vietnam veterans, welcome home from WATM.

SEE ALSO: Here’s how Hollywood legend Dale Dye earned the Bronze Star for heroism in Vietnam

Articles

The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Meme day! Since many of you are already enjoying your four days off for Memorial Day, you won’t have to hide your phone while you read this week. (Unless you have duty, and in that case … sorry.)


1. Is there any doubt here?

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Your troops are planning their weekend. They are always planning their weekend.

2. Mario Kart no longer has anything on real life.

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Though it will probably hurt more to crash in real life.

SEE ALSO: Video: 10 little known (and surprising) facts about al Qaeda

3. Coast Guard leads a flock of ships into safer waters.

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4.  Junior enlisted can’t get no respect (via Air Force Memes and Humor).

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… unless the Air Force forms an E4 mafia.

5. Kids restaurants are taking serious steps to prevent fraud.

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Of course, if they could just install .50-cal games, I’d be more likely to take my niece there.

6. Nothing shady about this at all (via Sh-t My LPO Says).

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Move along. Nothing to see here.

7. Dempsey discusses his plans for ISIS. (via Sh-t My LPO Says)

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Finally, the infantry arrives and things really get going.

8. Most important class in the military: how to get your travel money (via Air Force Memes and Humor).

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Of course, it’s a little more complicated than is presented here.

9. “Do you even sail, bro?”

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Those machine guns look pretty cool when there isn’t a deck gun in the photo.

10. Mattis always focuses on the strategic and tactical factors.

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You only get to give Mattis orders if you’re in his chain of command.

11. Airmen 1st Class are trained professionals. (via Air Force Memes and Humor)

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But, they aren’t necessarily experienced, and that can be important.

 12. There are different kinds of soldiers.

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If Waldo was the specialist, he would never be found.

13. “Everything needs to be tied down.” (via Sh-t My LPO Says)

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NOW: 19 of the coolest military unit mottos

AND: The 14 best military non-fiction books of all-time

Articles

“Band of Brothers” veteran Ed Tipper dies

Ed Tipper, a member of the famous D-Day-era “Easy Company,” died at his home in Lakewood, Colorado, Feb. 1.


He was 95.

According to a report by the Denver Post, the former paratrooper with the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, spent over 30 years as a teacher before retiring in 1979. He received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, among other decorations, for his service in World War II.

The Daily Caller noted that Tipper suffered severe wounds during the Battle of Carentan, including the loss of his right eye, when a German mortar shell hit while he was clearing a house. The opening credits of the HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers,” shows Tipper, played by Bart Raspoli, being comforted by Joe Liebgott, played by Ross McCall, in the aftermath of that hit.

“So much of what people talk about with him is what he did in the war. That was two years and really six days starting on D-Day,” his daughter, Kerry Tipper, told the newspaper. “Teaching was 30 years.”

Most notable, though, is that despite the wounds, which included two broken legs, Tipper managed to carry on a very active life.

“He just refused to accept people’s limitations,” his daughter Kerry told the Denver Post. The newspaper reported that Tipper took a list of things doctors said he couldn’t do and made it a checklist. He was known to be an avid skier well into his 80s.

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His daughter also added that Tipper, like many in Easy Company, felt, “a little embarrassed that their group got attention, that theirs was spotlighted when there were so many other groups that did incredible things and made sacrifices.”

According to the Denver Post, Tipper is survived by a wife who he married in 1982, a daughter and a son-in-law. A public memorial service is scheduled for June 1.

Below, see the Battle of Carentan as portrayed in “Band of Brothers.” Ed Tipper is wounded at around 7:14 into the video:

Articles

This is how the Army plans to keep soldiers more comfortable during jungle ops

In January, US Army uniform officials will begin an evaluation of the service’s new Improved Hot Weather Combat Uniform by issuing the lighter, more breathable uniform to thousands of soldiers in Hawaii.


The new IHWC is the result of a directed requirement to outfit soldier with a jungle uniform suitable for operations in the Pacific theater. This follows a similar effort that recently resulted in the Army fielding 9,000 pairs of new Jungle Combat Boots to the 25th Infantry Division’s 2nd and 3rd Brigade Combat teams in Hawaii between March and August.

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The Army Jungle Combat Boot. Army photo by C. Todd Lopez.

Up until this point, 25th ID soldiers training to operate in hot, tropical environments have been wearing Universal Camouflage Pattern Army Combat Uniforms and Hot Weather Combat Boots intended for desert environments.

“January 2018 is going to be huge,” said Capt. Daniel Ferenczy, assistant product manager for Extreme Weather Clothing and Footwear. “They are going to be pure-fleeted in the [Operation Camouflage Pattern] with jungle boots in a hot weather combat uniform.”

The new uniform, made by Source America, is a 57 percent Nylon / 43 percent cotton blend to make it “faster-drying” and have “greater airflow” than the 50-50 Nylon cotton blend on the ACU, Ferenzcy said.

“It adds a little bit more strength, which allows us to make it a lighter blend or a thinner weave … so it should dry a little quicker,” Ferenzcy said. “There are also architectural differences between the ACU uniform and this one.”

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Daniel Ferenczy wearing the Improved Hot Weather Combat Uniform. Photo from Military.com.

The new uniform has better flexibility and less layers of fabric, Ferenczy said adding that “less layers of fabric means that it retains less moisture means it dries quicker.

There are no breast pockets since soldiers in the field are typically wearing gear that covers them, and “all they end up doing is retaining moisture and heat, so we removed that extra layer there,” Ferenzcy said.

“The back pockets in the trousers are gone as well for the same reason,” he said. Uniform officials have added an ID card pocket inside the waistband.

The Improved Hot Weather Combat Uniform blouse also features a button-down front instead of a zipper closure. Uniform officials also replaced the side zipper closure on the shoulder sleeve pockets with a button-down flap at the top of the pocket, Ferenzcy said.

The new uniform features reinforced elbows and reinforced and articulated knees and a gusseted crotch, said Ferenzcy, whose office worked with the Natick Soldier Systems Center to develop the IHWCU.

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Army Spc. Jake Burley assigned to the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 1st, Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division maneuvers through a river during United Accord 2017 at the Jungle Warfare School on Achiase military base, Akim Oda, Ghana, May 26, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Brian Chaney)

“Every design feature on this uniform came straight out of the horse’s mouth,” Ferenzcy said. “The folks that designed it worked hand-in-hand with the Jungle Operations Training Center in Hawaii.”

The plan is to issue about 20,000 sets of the new uniforms to the 2nd and 3rd BCTs in Hawaii in January and then another 10,000 to 12,000 sets in March, Ferenzcy said, describing the $14 million effort.

“This is under a directed requirement, so right now they are just a one-time buy,” Ferenzcy said. “It was ‘hey, we need to get these guys ready for Pacific operations.’ We don’t know exactly yet how we are going to sustain it.”

After 25th ID soldiers have a chance to train in the new uniforms, Ferenzcy’s team plans to return in “April or May and get feedback on the uniform and then we will make adjustments as needed, Ferenzcy said.

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The IHWCU promises to dry faster; useful in environments common in the Pacific Theater. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jerome D. Johnson.

“It they don’t like this material, the 57/43 NYCO blend, we may go with something else,” he said.

Phase two of the effort involves buying another 11 brigades worth of the IHWCU in its final form for contingency stocks “in case another brigade got turned on to deploy or do a training mission in a tropical environment, we would have uniforms ready for them,” Ferenzcy said.

“This uniform is about a pound lighter than the Army Combat Uniform; it’s very comfortable and not only does it make fighting and operating in a tropical hot wet environment easier, it’s also going to potentially mitigate heat injuries because it holds less heat and less moisture,” Ferenczy said.

“There no scientific studies to back this up, but heat casualties across the force are one of the biggest things that take soldiers out of the fight.”

Articles

Two Marines punished for cyber bullying fellow Leathernecks

The military has punished the first two people linked to the Marines United cyber-bullying and sexual-denigration scandal — a pair of service members from Camp Pendleton.


A non-commissioned officer and a lower-ranking enlisted member of the 2nd Battalion, Fourth Marine Regiment at that base pleaded guilty to nonjudicial punishment, instead of going to trial in military court, for comments they made on United States Grunt Corps.

That’s an online community created after Facebook shuttered the Marines United private page following allegations that some members swapped salacious images of female service members — often without the women’s knowledge or consent — and openly derided them.

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(Photo: USMC)

On April 5, Camp Pendleton officials were alerted that the two Marines in question had used the Grunt Corps site to make contemptuous remarks against a person in their chain of command. The two Marines’ battalion commander, Lt. Col. Warren Cook, initiated an investigation and the pair admitted their guilt.

Both Marines were demoted by one pay grade, sentenced to 45 days of restriction to their barracks and given 45 days of punitive duties concurrent to the other punishments. No other details about the case, such as the two Marines’ names and what they wrote in the online forum, were disclosed.

In a statement released by the Camp Pendleton-based 1st Marine Division to The San Diego Union-Tribune, Cook said the case proved that his unit refuses “to tolerate personal attacks on their Marines, online or elsewhere.”

“This kind of behavior flies in the face of our service’s core values and this organization refuses to condone it. Each member of this battalion is a valued part of a storied and effective combat unit, and our success is based on trust, mutual respect, and teamwork,” Cook said.

The case was first reported on April 7 by the Washington Post.

Since March 22, service members in Marine units worldwide have signed counseling statements — called “Page 11s” — that are then added to their permanent records indicating that they understand and will follow the Corps’ revamped guidelines on cyber bullying.

Those tougher standards were created in the wake of the Marines United scandal.

At its peak in February, Marines United counted nearly 30,000 members — active-duty or reserve Marines and sailors, along with veterans who served in those military branches.

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As female roles within the military expand, the service members must evolve. (Photo: Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Ezekiel Kitandwe)

Most of those members didn’t share inappropriate images or cast slurs against female service members; the ongoing criminal investigation has focused on an estimated 500 men who did.

The probe involves the Marine Corps, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the FBI, the U.S. Department of Justice and law-enforcement agencies in various states.

During a Pentagon roundtable with reporters on April 7, Gen. Glenn Walters, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, vowed to continue going after online wrongdoing by Marines while enacting deeper reforms to root out an often toxic culture in the military that vilifies women.

“Our Marines and the American people deserve nothing less. Marines don’t fail. The vast majority of Marines live our ethos, and a part of that ethos is to correct or hold appropriately accountable those Marines who don’t,” Glenn said.

“Marines don’t degrade their fellow Marines. Marines don’t disrespect or discriminate based on gender, religious affiliation, sexuality or race. Semper Fidelis — always faithful — has a deep meaning that we are called to defend. The Marine Corps owns this problem and we are committed to addressing it for the long term.”

Glenn pointed to NCIS innovations that have increased information sharing and streamlined reporting of incidents to track online misconduct. NCIS agents can now ship investigative material on minor offenses or non-criminal actions to a “fusion cell” within the larger task force probing the Marines United scandal.

The info is then routed to local commanders to punish the online scofflaws, such as the two Marines at Camp Pendleton.

Part of the task force, which is led by Marine Col. Cheryl Blackstone, continues to study more than 150 potential changes to the way the Corps recruits, trains, and retains personnel to clean up an institution long deemed by critics to be corrosive to women.

Blackstone has commissioned studies exploring whether to increase the number of events where male and female Marines train together while looking at dozens of recently instituted changes to the training of Marine recruits, Glenn said.

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Future revamping could include a “Women in the Marine Corps Advisory Council” and the creation of a forum where current and former female Marines who were victimized in their careers can share their stories without fear of retaliation or reprisal.

Since the Marines United case became public, critics of the Corps’ gender policies have expressed a range of reactions.

Some have conveyed cautious optimism that top leaders of the service, including commandant Gen. Robert Neller, appear to be taking the scandal seriously.

Others had said they can’t trust the Corps to police its own because similar incidents in the past were ignored or minimized.

Still others have given support to the Corps’ current reform efforts but question whether it, NCIS, and other enforcement agencies are nimble enough to pursue violators in the rapidly shifting world of online forums.

Articles

Why you should never run through smoke you didn’t throw

When Army basic training soldier Jennifer Campbell was told to run through smoke on the obstacle course, she leaned into it and went for the awesome photo moment of charging through the thickest plume of smoke.


Want more? This is why officers should just stay in the office

Unfortunately for her, it wasn’t white smoke; it was o-chlorobenzylidene malononitrile, a potent form of tear gas used to teach basic trainees to trust their chemical masks and other gear. But Campbell wasn’t wearing chemical gear; she was running full speed and sucking down air on an obstacle course.

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Jennifer Campbell, a U.S. Army basic trainee, cries after getting hit in the face with CS gas. (Go90 No Sh*t There I Was screenshot)

So the young soldier got two lungs full of the agitating gas, forcing violent coughs as her drill sergeants got a good laugh and the other trainees scrambled to get their masks on.

But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and Campbell got her own laughs when the winds shifted and the rest of her platoon got hit unprotected, including the drill sergeant who triggered her episode. See how it all went down in the Go90 video embedded at the top.

Watch more No Sh*t There I Was:

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

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

This is why the military shouldn’t completely outlaw hazing

Smooth talking your way through gear turn-in is a stinky proposition

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