ISIS is using water as a weapon - We Are The Mighty
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ISIS is using water as a weapon

Islamic State (IS) militants have closed some dam gates on the Euphrates River near Ramadi in western Iraq, reducing the vital flow of water to government-held areas while giving the militants greater freedom to attack government forces downstream.


The move on June 3 threatens the drinking water, irrigation water, and water-treatment plants for thousands of residents and troops in areas held by the Iraqi government.

And it also poses a threat to security forces fighting to recapture Ramadi.

If water levels drop significantly, said Anbar Province councilman Taha Abdul-Ghani, the insurgents could cross the Euphrates on foot and attack troops deployed along the river and stationed at nearby Habaniya military base.

The base has been used as a staging ground for Iraqi troops and allied Shi’ite militias in the fight to retake Ramadi.

It is not the first time the IS group has used water as a weapon. Earlier this year, it reduced the flow through a lock outside the town of Fallujah, also in Anbar Province, though it soon reopened the lock after criticism from residents.

ISIS is using water as a weapon
ISIS trucks driving around Mosul, Iraq. (Photo: ISIS sources on the web)

Last summer, IS took control of the Mosul dam — the largest in Iraq — and threatened to flood Baghdad and other cities downstream. But Iraqi and Kurdish forces, backed by U.S. air strikes, later recaptured the facility.

Outside Ramadi, thousands of people in the government-held towns of Khalidiya and Habaniya are already suffering from shortages of drinking water because purification plants along the Euphrates have all but shut down due to low water levels caused by the summer heat.

The residents of the towns get only two hours a day of water through their pipes, Abdul-Ghani said.

“With the summer heat and lack of water, the lives of these people are in danger and some are thinking of leaving their homes,” he said.

Abu Ahmad, who owns a vegetable farm near Khalidiya, said he could lose all his crops because of lack of irrigation water. Now, the water is lower than the level of his water-pumping machines.

“I used to irrigate my crops every three days. If the situation continues like this, my vegetables will die,” said Abu Ahmad, using a nickname because of fears for his life.

The United Nations said on June 3 it was looking into reports that IS had reduced the flow of water through the Al-Warar dam.

“The use of water as a tool of war is to be condemned in no uncertain terms,” said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN secretary-general. “These kinds of reports are disturbing, to say the least.”

ISIS is using water as a weapon
Photo Credit: Vice News/screenshot

The move is also worrying for an array of troops fighting IS.

The Euphrates has acted as a barrier between the militants, who control its northern bank, and pro-government forces who are trying to advance toward Ramadi on the other side.

A spokesman for the governor of Anbar Province said security forces would now have to redeploy along the river to prevent the insurgents from infiltrating.

“Previously they had to monitor only the bridges and certain areas, but now all of the river will be crossable,” Hikmat Suleiman said.

The government has found a temporary countermeasure. The partial closure of the Ramadi dam has forced more water into a tributary running south to Habbaniya lake, officials said.

Falih al-Issawi, a senior provincial security official, said the government had opened another dam to channel water from Habbaniya lake back into the Euphrates and prevent shortages in the southern provinces.

But he said this was only a temporary measure that would not be effective for more than three days.

“The government must act immediately otherwise dire consequences and an environmental catastrophe will be inevitable,” he said.

With reporting by AP and Reuters

Also from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:

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

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

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The 4 times Sam Shepard played an outstanding military officer

Hollywood has suffered yet another loss. Iconic TV and film actor Sam Shepard recently passed away at the age of 73 from complications with ALS. The Oscar-nominated and award-winning playwright’s career lasted almost five decades, and he’s accredited with over 65 movies roles.


The Illinois native was the son of Army officer, Samuel Shepard Rogers Jr., who served during World War II as a bomber pilot — which probably contributed to the longtime actor’s acumen in military roles.

Related: 5 nuggets of wisdom in ‘Black Hawk Down’ you may have missed

Here are the four times Shepard played an outstanding military officer.

1. Stealth

In 2005, Shepard played Capt. George Cummings, a “mission before the man” thinker, in charge of three radical Navy pilots picked to team up with a new fourth wing man — an independently thinking stealth jet.

After a fierce lightning strike, the AI stealth jet begins to create havoc and now must be taken down and destroyed at all costs.

ISIS is using water as a weapon

2. Black Hawk Down

In 2001, Ridley Scott decided to cast Shepard as Maj. Gen. William Garrison, the overall commander of Task Force Ranger and the chief of Joint Special Operations Command. According to most accounts, Garrison did everything in his power to retrieve his men from the battlefield after a raid in Mogadishu quickly went south.

ISIS is using water as a weapon

3. One Kill

Shepard starred as Maj. Nelson Gray alongside Anne Heche in 2000’s crime drama”One Kill.” The two actors played Marine officers who began an affair with one another in this TV movie directed by Christopher Menaul.

ISIS is using water as a weapon

4. The Right Stuff

In 1983, Shepard took on the role of legendary Air Force test pilot Charles Elwood “Chuck” Yeager who became the first man to exceed the speed of sound during flight. In the film, Yeager has to help the original Mercury 7 astronauts get prepared for their upcoming space mission.

ISIS is using water as a weapon
Shepard as Air Force legend Chuck Yeager. (Source: WB/Screenshot)

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This Marine vet took his sick dog on a life-changing road trip

Marine veteran Robert Kugler traveled with his dog, Bella, across the country and throughout the East Coast after doctors told him that Bella’s bone cancer would kill her within a year.


Now, 16 months after that notice, Kugler and Bella have proved the doctors wrong and are still moving together and making the most of what time she has left.

My ball now, suckas!! #GoBellaGo #JustKeepSwimming #LiveNowTour

A photo posted by Robert Kugler (@robkugler) on Jul 25, 2016 at 4:59pm PDT

Kugler was getting ready to graduate college on the GI Bill in 2015 when he heard the news that Bella had bone cancer. A May 2015 amputation of Bella’s front left leg bought her some time, but veterinarians were still pessimistic about her chances. That’s when Kugler decided that he wanted to give her a proper send-off.

“I just was kind of looking at her, and just imagining her being gone when I came home from work,” he told WATM. “I just said, ‘You know what? Let’s take off for a little while.'”

A photo posted by Robert Kugler (@robkugler) on Jul 28, 2016 at 7:59am PDT

Since that decision, Bella and Kugler have been traveling together around the country. Like Kugler, Bella loves being in nature.

“We were in the Adirondacks, in upstate New York,” Kugler said. “That has been some of our best nature time together during this period. … Our hikes in the Adirondacks are probably some of my favorite times that we’ve had together, like near Lake Placid.”

Bella, who Kugler adopted in 2007 with his then-wife, is great with people and is known for enthusiastically greeting almost anyone she meets.

“Bella’s still very independent,” Kugler said. “She wants to meet new people, but she’s also just very curious about how they smell, if they have food for her. ‘You got food? Who’s got food? Do you have food for me?’ She gets a little spoiled.”

This has allowed Kugler to meet and help encourage people he wouldn’t have connected with otherwise.

“We meet a little girl in a wheelchair that just falls in love with Bella before she even realizes that she has three legs. Bella stands up, and the girl is like, ‘Oh my gosh, she’s like me,’ ” Kugler said.

A photo posted by Robert Kugler (@robkugler) on Jul 16, 2016 at 2:21pm PDT

As Kugler describes it, he and Bella are just, “Out exploring the world with my dog, and encouraging people to get outside and drop their social barriers and their boundaries, to just live on this tiny blue speck together as one.”

While Bella has done brilliantly on their trip, staying active and outgoing despite her cancer, Kugler says that traveling with Bella has helped him nearly as much as it has helped her.

“When I’m with her, and I’m paying attention to her, I’m outside myself, and I’m focusing on giving her the best life, I feel at that point in time that I am the best version of myself,” he said. “That is one of the reasons I like really spending time with her and doing our thing.”

Kugler is overjoyed that Bella has been able to fight for so long and has helped so many people, but he keeps people updated on her progress in his Instagram feed where he acknowledges that Bella is still facing death.

Our adventures in the western slopes were a great refresher of what we love to do and see. Get out into the wild, be a little wild, and meet a few more wildlings along the way. Now, today’s adventure begins. We’re on our way back to Ft. Collins to visit with Vets at CSU Animal Cancer Center for a consult for the CT scan. The plan is to actually get 2. One, focused on her mouth to see exactly where the cancer is and how far it’s spread. The second, a full body scan to see if she’s healthy enough for treatment. Though I’m not abandoning hope, I am prepared to hear the words “there’s nothing we can really do.” See, Bella started coughing recently. It’s a cough that starts from the chest and ends with a hack. Usually it doesn’t produce anything. This morning, and one other time last week, she actually hacked up some bloody phlegm. Again, my first and utmost priority is her quality of life, her comfort, and her happiness. We will be okay, as we have each other. Obviously I won’t have her in the flesh form forever, but she’ll have me by her side until the moment she closes her eyes for the last time. Again, I’m not abandoning hope, rather preparing for reality. I’d like to share a perspective that helps me with the grief associated with death. What can keep my spirits up and prevent me from being a blubbering indecisive mess. See…impending death isn’t the “worst news.” Bella has lived an incredibly adventurous and joyous life that should be celebrated. The end shall not define her legacy. Death is a chapter in all of our books, but definitely not the last. It is this perspective, that allows me to appreciate every day with her and to walk into CSU today without the fear of losing her, because I never will. She is mine, and I am hers, forever.

A photo posted by Robert Kugler (@robkugler) on Sep 21, 2016 at 6:31am PDT

Hopefully, Rob and Bella have a lot of great adventures left together. But Bella has made a lasting impact on plenty of people either way.

In addition to his Instagram feed, Kugler posts photos of his road trip with Bella and other adventures at his website, RKLifeIllustrated.com.

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The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block

ISIS is using water as a weapon
Department of Defense


This article by  was originally published on Task Purpose, news and culture site for the next great generation of American veterans.

During the height of the Cold War, the U.S. Army deployed a nuclear-tipped rocket launcher that could be carried by a fire team.

Davy Crockett was a renowned frontier hero steeped in myth and legend, much of it probably based on tales invented by himself. Supposedly Crockett was such a crack shot he could split a bullet on an axe blade using a musket.

The Cold War weapon that bore his name was many things, but dead accuracy wasn’t one of them. The M28/29 Davy Crockett Weapon System was a man-portable recoilless rifle that could fire a 76-pound W54 nuclear warhead up to two and half miles, and provided the terrible power of fission in a system that could be carried and operated by three men.

The simmering tensions between NATO and the Soviet Union led to huge numbers of nuclear weapons being built, enough to destroy most of the planet 20 times over. By 1967, the United States had a nuclear stockpile of 31,255 warheads, spread out among many types of weapons systems. It included thousands of so-called tactical nuclear weapons that were meant for general battlefield use, like theW48 155mm nuclear artillery shell or the AIR-2 Genie air-to-air missile.

Developed in the 1950s, the Davy Crockett was envisioned for use at the Fulda Gap, considered a prime invasion route for Soviet army divisions driving into West Germany and widely anticipated as where the first big battles of World War III would be fought.

Faced with overwhelming numbers of Soviet tanks, it was hoped weapons like the Crockett and the W48 shell could devastate large armored formations and keep the Soviet Union bottled up in the Fulda Gap. This even included nuclear landmines such as the Special Atomic Demolition Munition, which could also be used by Special Forces parachuting behind enemy lines to destroy key infrastructure.

By nuclear standards, the W54 warhead used by the Davy Crockett was tiny, with an explosive yield of .01-.02 kilotons, or the equivalent of 10 to 20 tons of TNT. By comparison, the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima had a yield of 15 kilotons, or 15,000 tons of TNT, nearly a thousand times more powerful.

But though a shrimp compared to most nukes, the warhead still carried plenty of bang. The largest conventional bomb fielded by the U.S. military, the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or MOAB, weighs 22,600 pounds and has a blast yield of 11 tons of TNT. The Crockett could deliver double that with a bomb .3% of the mass.

The blast was powerful enough to collapse buildings and cause third-degree burns hundreds of feet away, but the real lethality of the weapon lay in its radiation effects, which could be fatal over a quarter of a mile away. Residual fallout would contaminate the area and make it dangerous for any exposed personnel to pass through, making it a potent barrier weapon.

But the Davy Crockett had a number of problems that seem obvious in retrospect. The weapon was highly inaccurate, often hundreds of feet off target, and its limited range made it highly probable that users could be exposed to radioactive fallout. Though designed primarily to engage Soviet tank formations, the slow setup and inaccuracy of the weapon made targeting fast-moving tanks problematic.

The fact that mass use of the weapon could contaminate huge areas of land for years to come also made it dubious as a defensive weapon, since it would effectively deny territory to either side. It would also create a huge risk of escalation that could lead to a world-destroying nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union.

With its many deficiencies in mind, and perhaps a glimpse of sanity among military planners, it was phased out of use by 1971 and not replaced.

The United States nuclear stockpile has declined from its horrifying height in 1967 to a little over 70,000 today. A little over 2,000 of those are actually deployed, with the rest being held in reserve or awaiting dismantlement.

We may be past the days where the military fielded nuclear weapons on the scale seen in Western Germany during the Cold War, and the nuclear forces of the U.S. are aging and suffering from a long period of neglect from the Pentagon. But it is worth remembering that nuclear weapons were once so prevalent it was thought necessary to turn them into an infantry weapon.

This article, “The Man-Portable Rocket Launcher That Could Destroy A City Block,” originally appeared on Task Purpose. Follow Task Purpose on Twitter @Taskandpurpose.

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© 2016 Hirepurpose. All rights reserved.

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Could a wreath shortage leave Arlington Cemetery graves bare this Christmas?

Every year, Wreaths Across America works to ensure that every one of the nearly 250,000 graves at Arlington National Cemetery has a wreath on it for Christmas. This year, though, they are very short, and whether they succeed is very much in doubt.


ISIS is using water as a weapon
U.S. Air Force Airmen Erin O’Shea lays wreath on grave site at Arlington National Cemetary, Va., Dec. 15, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Nesha Humes)

According to a report by the Washington Examiner, this year the group is almost 120,000 wreaths short of being able to accomplish its mission. That means nearly half the graves at the cemetery where two presidents (John F. Kennedy and William Howard Taft), 367 recipients of the Medal of Honor, Thomas G. Lanphier Jr. (the pilot who shot down the plane carrying Isoroku Yamamoto), Apollo 1 astronauts Gus Grissom and Roger Chafee, the crew of the space shuttle Challenger, Admiral Hyman G. Rickover and General of the Armies John J. Pershing would not be decorated.

“Last year at this time we were still short, but not by quite as many. I think a lot of people drive by the cemetery in December and see all those wreaths and unfortunately people still believe that the government does that like they do the flags on Memorial Day,” Wayne Hanson, the chairman of the board for Wreaths Across America told the Examiner.

The origins of Wreaths Across America go back to 1992, when 5,000 surplus wreaths were donated to decorate headstones at Arlington. The ceremony continued until taking off in 2002. In 2007, the organization was recognized as a not-for-profit 501(c)3.

According to the organization’s website, in 2015 over 168 companies delivered over 300 truckloads of wreaths to be placed on the graves of veterans.

For more information on Wreaths Across America, to make a donation, or to get involved, go to www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.

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The 7 people you meet in basic training

1. Baby-Faced Bryan

ISIS is using water as a weapon
Photo: playbuzz.com


Congratulations, you’ve just become a parent. In order to survive basic training, you must now not only cover your own ass, but watch out for this guy’s as well. Because if you don’t, your platoon is going to get slapped with mass punishment, and no one wants that. Bryan somehow managed to make it through his young life without developing skills of any kind. He’s the kind of guy who hesitates when you ask him how to spell his own name.

You will watch him struggle to make his bed with his gangly 18-year-old arms and be torn between the desire to help him or to strangle him with his own sheets. But you will help Bryan, because he needs you. And because if you don’t, he will forget his kit, wear white socks to inspection, and make your life a living hell. And who knows, maybe after a few days he’ll start to pick up on things. Totally kidding — you’re probably  stuck with this kid for the long haul.

Something Bryan might say: “Hey … hey guys? Can somebody show me how to shave?”

2. Renaissance Richard

The antithesis of Baby-Faced Bryan, Renaissance Richard is a super-smart, talented, and accomplished guy. Unfortunately for you, this also makes him a bit of an annoying a–hole. Richard is usually around 30, and he won’t let you forget how he managed to be the valedictorian at his private college, build his own house, and become a brain surgeon in the time between high school graduation and now.

Richard can do anything — except keep his mouth shut. He’s the guy who makes a big show of “helping” recruits, and letting everyone know how he would do something. No one asked you, Richard. He’s also notorious for crashing your conversations so he can chime in on things like his opinions on Syria, when all you were discussing is what’s for dinner. Rich is a fine recruit, but your drill sergeant will hate him. Why? The same reason you do: he’s a pretentious a–hole. Nobody wants to work with someone who can’t accept rank and needs his ego stroked.

Something Richard might say: “Sure it would be interesting to invade Easter Island, but you need to consider the political ramifications … ”

3.  The Dreamer

ISIS is using water as a weapon
Photo: Black Hawk Down

The Dreamer has wanted to join the military since he first saw “Saving Private Ryan” at an elementary school sleepover. He dreams of not only becoming a great soldier, but the greatest soldier America — and the world — has ever seen. Just a teenager, he’s the guy who gets too distracted by his daydream of running through battle in slow-motion to shine his shoes, and can be heard quoting “Top Gun” and “Band of Brothers” in the DFAC.

The Dreamer’s all talk, and has no real-world experience when it comes to surviving anything more than a Hot Pocket shortage. Because of this, he will often take on tasks that are way too much for him to handle, bringing down your drill sergeant’s wrath on all of you when he fails. Think of him as Baby-Faced Bryan’s annoying half-brother. Eventually he should focus a little more on the task at hand instead of his “military destiny,” but until then you’ll just have to tune him out.

4. Shady Steve

Steve’s a little older than some of the guys in basic training, but you’re never positive what this dude’s age is — and that’s just the way Steve likes it. When pressed about his past, his stories never quite match up, leaving you wondering just what is true (hold up, did he say that he was a parole officer, or was he talking about his own parole?).

You don’t know him at all, but he just seems like the type of guy who decided to enlist because his meth ring went south. One thing you do know for sure is the fact that any outing with Steve quickly devolves into “Hangover”-level catastrophe, so you better steer clear of that. He’s not a bad trainee. And he’s probably not a bad guy — but he’s got your drill sergeant keeping an eye on him, so you probably should too.

5. The Old Dude

This salt and pepper recruit may not actually be that old by civilian standards, but 34 is pretty ancient in basic. And since it took a colonel to approve his age waiver, maybe he should have just stayed home and played Risk instead. Whether he enlisted because the Army’s his last chance to retire before 65 or because of a mid-life crisis is anyone’s guess, but don’t write this guy off right away.

The Old Dude is usually in surprisingly great shape, and that’s because he’s old school. While most of the recruits in their twenties have spent their pre-military lives playing Call of Duty and chowing down on Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, he’s been downing raw eggs for breakfast and running five miles a day. Also, The Old Dude has lived a lot longer than you — he’s seen things, and he’s wiser for it. When you need some advice or perspective on life, he’s the person you’ll want to turn to.

6. Gun-Happy Garret

Garret is a simple man. He joined the military because it allowed him to pursue his three passions: shooting, chewing dip, and spitting. Garret does not know that tobacco isn’t allowed in basic. He is furious when he finds out. Garret barely managed to complete his GED, and it shows. You are not confident that he can spell America, and are terrified of the day this neanderthal gets his hands on an automatic weapon.

To your surprise, however, Garret is actually kind of a genius when it comes to weapons. He can disassemble and reassemble his weapon with his eyes closed. He can tell you every part of his rifle and how it works, and help you with your own. Your rifle will never shine quite like his does. He is a weapons savant, and you start to wonder if there’s more to Garret than meets the eye. Trust us, there isn’t. He’s the best mark in the platoon because he spent his childhood shooting mice and raccoons behind a trailer park, not because he’s the chosen one.

 7. The Blue Falcon

This guy. This guy is the absolute worst. If you could combine a weasel and that stoner kid from your Spanish class who would constantly beg you for test answers, you’d have something close to a Blue Falcon. The Blue Falcon of your platoon is lazy, disloyal, and just a textbook pain in the ass. Can’t find your extra pair of socks? Did part of someone’s kit go missing? Check the Blue Falcon’s nest. And God forbid you screw up in front of this guy — he’ll rat you out to your drill sergeant faster than you’ll know what’s happening.

The Blue Falcon’s sneaky, so it sometimes takes a while to know who yours will be. But every unit has one, and they will become the bane of your existence.

Something The Blue Falcon would say: “First sergeant, first sergeant! Private Snuffy is … ”

Associate Editor David Nye contributed to this article.

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The VA is set to lower copays for prescriptions

ISIS is using water as a weapon
Col. Teresa Bisnett, Department of Defense – Veterans Affairs Joint Venture Hospital and 673rd Medical Group commander, and Maj. Suzanne Green, 673rd Medical Group Emergency Department Flight commander on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, speak with Robert McDonald, secretary of Veterans Affairs, as part of a tour around DoD/VA Joint Venture Hospital


The Department of Veterans Affairs says that it is “amending its regulation” on the copays that veterans pay for medications they receive that are not for service related conditions.

Currently, veterans pay $8 and $9 for a 30-day (or less) supply of prescriptions.

The VA says that the new system will “keep outpatient medication costs low for Veterans.”

Dr. David J. Shulkin, the VA Undersecretary for Health, said “Reducing their out-of-pocket costs encourages greater adherence to priscribed outpatient medications and reduces the risk of fragmented care that results when multiple pharmacies are used.”

The new system tossed out the old way of determining costs, which was based on the Medical Consumer Price Index.

Three classes of outpatient medications have been designed to help curb the costs.

  • Tier 1 is for preferred generics, and will cost veterans $5 for a 30-day or less supply.
  • Tier 2 is for non-preferred generics, which includes over the counter medications, and will cost veterans $8 for a 30-day or less supply.
  • Tier 3 is for brand name medications, and will cost veterans $11 for a 30-day or less supply.

The new system will go into effect February 27th, 2017, and only apply to medications that are not for service connected issues.

Veterans who are former Prisoners of War, catastrophically disabled, or are covered by other exceptions will not have to pay copays.

Veterans who fall into Priority Groups 2-8 will have a $700 cap on copays, at which point the copays do not apply. To find out which Priority Group you fall into, check out the VA’s list of Priority Groups in their Health Benefits tab (here).

According to 38 U.S.C. 1722A(a), the VA is compelled to require veterans to pay a minimum copay of $2 for every 30-day (or less) supply of medications which are prescribed for non-service related disabilities or connections, unless there is an exemption for the veteran. 38 U.S.C. 1722A(b) gives the VA the authority to set the copay amount higher and to put caps on the amount veterans pay.

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This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about situational awareness

I think this should go without saying, but, here’s your obligatory Spoiler Warning.


If you saw Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 6 (or you don’t really care about spoilers) then read on. If you haven’t watched the episode but you’re reading articles about the show…here’s an article we did about cats.

Still around? Cool. Let’s get into it.

For last week’s episode, check out – This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about squad composition

Situational awareness isn’t a skill a warfighter picks up overnight. It’s the concept of living your life with your head on a swivel. It’s why so many veterans and active duty troops keep their back to a wall and an eye on the door like they’re Jason Bourne.

This is what Jeff Cooper described in his book “Principles of Personal Defense” as “living in Condition: Yellow.”

ISIS is using water as a weapon
(Scale by Jeff Cooper via Principles of Personal Defense)

White is being blissfully ignorant and Orange being hyper-vigilant to the point of paranoia. Yellow is the perfect middle ground of quietly observing. It’s also referred to as “relaxed alert.”

Red, Gray, and Black are the states of action with varying degrees of how one reacts in confrontation to a threat. Red or “primed for action” is the desired state when sh*t hits the fan. Grey is a state of chaos and Black is total panic, both causing the war fighter to ignore or forget their surroundings.

We can break down the reactions of how the team of Westeros’ greatest fighters devised a strategy to capture and extract a wight (the reanimated skeletons that fight for the Night King.)

ISIS is using water as a weapon
Deep in conversation, they’re still watch their surroundings (Photo via Army.mil Screen grab via HBO Go)

As the team of badasses move through the frozen north, they generally maintain Condition: Yellow. Tormund may be joking about his three best ways to keep warm, but he’s still eyeing his surroundings.

It’s only Gendry, the fighter with the least experience, who is in Orange. He’s uneasy about his “squad mates.” He’s never been beyond the wall, or even acclimated to the snow. He’s nervous and it shows.

When the group comes to the open field shrouded in snowfall, the group loses their control of situational awareness. And this is common in every battle.

The Prussian military analyst Carl von Clausewitz said of this: “War is the realm of uncertainty; three quarters of the factors on which action in war is based are wrapped in a fog of greater or lesser uncertainty. A sensitive and discriminating judgment is called for; a skilled intelligence to scent out the truth.”

This has since been called the “fog of war.” Same concept as in video games, but our heroes also have to contend with a literal fog that hide their enemies as well as allies. With the probable threat nearby, they form up and prepare to engage.

ISIS is using water as a weapon
Note the 360° Perimeter (Photo via Wikimedia Screen grab via HBO Go)

The squad isn’t able to spot the zombie bear in time and after it caught on fire, Sandor Clegane is terrified. He is a prime example of how even the greatest of war fighters can still lose their composure. He’s in Condition: Gray.

They find their stray wight with a white walker and his soldiers. The rest of the steps in maintaining situational awareness are further explained in fighter pilot and military strategist John Boyd’s OODA Loop, which is the constant cycle of Observing, Orienting, Deciding, and Acting.

ISIS is using water as a weapon
(Chart via Wikicommons)

Through the OODA Loop, they observe the valley and have a count how many enemies there are. They orient themselves to position themselves to push through with the exit to their front. They decide who is attacking whom, with John (the only one with a Valerian Steel sword) attacking the leader.

And in action, it works flawlessly. They capture and bind the enemy. But not before it calls for reinforcements.

They send Gendry as a runner to get the message back to Daenerys. Keeping higher command aware of what’s going on in the field is paramount for operation success. But Gendry has another critical mission: to call in air support.

As the undead horde swarms the squad, they come across a lake with thin ice and an island with a high observation point. They use this perfectly to their advantage. The ice shatters, creating a moat-like barrier around their island. They can hold the island long enough for extraction.

If it looks stupid but works — it ain’t stupid.

ISIS is using water as a weapon
A good fighting position makes all the world. (Photo via Army.mil Screen grab via HBO Go)

Operationally, everything has been relatively smooth. Only one character with a name has died so far. It’s cold, but they have eyes on every target, including the enemy leaders — who’s elimination would end their magically undead army. You can point out everything thus far as prime examples of things you should do before and after first contact.

Now comes the example of what happens when you march into battle with no situational awareness, no understanding of your enemy, very little experience, and way too much confidence.

ISIS is using water as a weapon
If everyone is waiting on you…move. (Photo via Defense.mil Screen grab via HBO Go)

Air Extraction has touched down on the landing zone and air support is (literally) lighting up the enemy. Daenerys and her dragons have arrived. Minutes before, she didn’t believe the enemy existed and now she’s fighting the massive army of the dead.

Her dragons have been injured before; Drogon has taken spears from Sons of the Harpy and the Lannister’s Scorpion and he survived. And in battle, we all think we are invincible…until we’re not.

Viserion, the golden dragon of Daenerys, is slain after the Night King impales him with an ice spear.

It was the lack of situational awareness that kept the group from identifying not one but two ice spears. Jon Snow, with all of his experience in combat, really is a slow-learner as far as battle tactics go. He spots the second spear in time to send off a warning, but is left stranded on the battlefield with plan.

Sure, he’s alright and thanks to plot armor he makes it out of there alive, but really Jon, it’s time to start studying combat strategy. It’s almost as if he forgot everything he had learned about situational awareness up until this point…

Articles

Veteran launches ‘The War Horse’ to tell stories of Iraq, Afghanistan

ISIS is using water as a weapon
Cindy Schepers | The War Horse


One Marine veteran is on a mission to make sure the war stories of his generation are told — and told right.

Thomas Brennan, a medically retired sergeant-turned-journalist, is preparing for the launch of The War Horse, an independent journalism site dedicated to chronicling the effects of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The website brands itself “the authority on the post-9/11 conflict and the ONLY digital magazine profiling all men, women, interpreters, and dogs killed since 9/11.”The idea for the site came to Brennan while he was working as a staff writer for The Daily News out of Jacksonville, North Carolina, a town adjacent to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

“It all started with me getting aggravated that stories weren’t being gathered about World War II vets and World War I vets and we’ve waited so long to tell the stories of years prior,” Brennan, 30, told Military.com. “War has been a constant in human existence since the very beginning, and I just think it’s about time that we really report on it and understand and conceptualize everything that war is.”

Brennan is in a unique position to tell those stories, as someone who has experienced the realities of war as a Marine and who has reported on the military as a civilian. Brennan served nearly nine years in the Marine Corps as an infantry assaultman before retiring in 2012. On Nov. 1, 2010, Brennan was wounded on a deployment to Afghanistan when a rocket-propelled grenade detonated next to him. He was diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury, and has since also documented his struggles with post-traumatic stress.

He began freelancing for The New York Times’ At War blog while still in uniform, documenting his medical appointments, his combat memories, and even, wrenchingly, of his suicide attempt in November 2013 as he battled war wounds and feelings of worthlessness.

In 2014, determined to hone his craft as a writer, he enrolled in the investigative program at Columbia University’s School of Journalism.

“I like to think that [The War Horse] is my master’s thesis that I was working on,” Brennan said. “I used everything up there to my advantage.”

Brennan envisions his project as a collaboration of freelance writers and photographers to produce long-form stories about veterans complete with photographs and multimedia elements. He has assembled a board of advisers including Bruce Shapiro, director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia, and Kevin Cullen, a journalist and columnist at the Boston Globe and Pulitzer Prize recipient.

The Institute for Nonprofit News is assisting him with the administrative elements of running a startup. To fund the first phase of his site, he is launching a Kickstarter campaign in early 2016 aimed at raising $50,000. That money will fund the first four long-form stories and assist with grant-writing and development to allow the website to grow, Brennan said.

Early stories on the site will focus on redefining intimacy after genital mutilation from war, military sexual trauma, and the military awards system, among other topics, he said. Brennan is also planning a special project on Marine veteran Kyle Carpenter, who received the Medal of Honor in 2014.

In addition to the works of journalism, the site will also feature a compilation of multimedia profiles for all US personnel killed in combat since Sept. 11, 2001. Called the Echoes Project, it will also provide an opportunity for those who knew the fallen service members to share stories about them.

While good reporting on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and those who fought in them already exists, Brennan said his background and goals may give troops and veterans more confidence to come forward and tell their stories.

“I think the one common thread that I bring to the table is I know the fear that exists [among troops] when it comes to approaching journalists,” he said. “Having people who are personally involved in these different worlds is going to open up the possibilities.”

Learn more about the project at http://www.thewarhorse.org/

Articles

This infographic shows how the machine gun revolutionized World War I combat

WWI was one of the first truly modern conflicts. Fought mainly along trenches, the war saw the introduction of chemical weapons, tanks, and aerial combat.


Thought of as the war to end war, over 9 million soldiers were killed in the conflict and 21 million were injured. These casualties were largely helped along by the war being the first to feature widespread use of machine guns.

The following graphic, from Norwich University’s Online Masters in Military History program, shows the destructive impact and history of the machine gun on the war.

ISIS is using water as a weapon
Norwich University’s Online Masters in Military History

Articles

This is why every British armored vehicle has tea-making gear

Tea has been an essential element of British culture for centuries, so it makes total sense that the British feature a tea kettle in the designs for their armored vehicles.


ISIS is using water as a weapon
Americans are still on the fence about tea. Old grudges die hard.

Since developing the 1950s-era Centurion Tank, UK-designed armored vehicles have featured a boiling-cooking apparatus, nominally designed for tea.

Also Read: The Centurion Tank was tough enough to survive an atomic blast

The reason for this nod to British tradition is actually much more pragmatic than just making teatime. Tommy tankers fighting in WWII France would leave their armored vehicles to brew tea by the side of the road.

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And trust me. That takes some time. (Author’s photo)

It might be a little hard to make a proper thrust through the enemy-held hedgerows when most of your tankers stop to have a spot of proper British tea by the roadside at certain times of day. Not to mention the fact that the area was full of Nazis, bent on throwing English tankers back in their Channel.

This all came to a head on D-Day+6, when the British 22d Armored Brigade stopped outside Caen for morning tea, all the time being eyed by four hastily-assembled German Tigers.

War Is Boring’s pathos-filled account describes the tea party that ended with the British losing 14 tanks, nine half-tracks, four gun carriers and two anti-tank guns in 15 minutes.

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A study done after the war found that 37 percent of all armor unit casualties occurred when the crew member was outside of the vehicle.

They won’t make that mistake again. The water boiler and ration heater in modern British tanks is a pretty nifty innovation. It guarantees access to hot food and water and keeps troops safely inside their armor.

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Unfortunately, they still have to eat British food, like the boiled pizza featured here.

A good idea, is a good idea, is a good idea — and the boiling vessel is a good idea. Whatever keeps tank crews inside their tanks is probably for the best.

Articles

ISIS is throwing reinforcements into Mosul battle as coalition tightens the noose

The Islamic State is throwing as many fighters as it can into the Iraqi city of Mosul in a desperate attempt to push back against coalition forces, according to the Pentagon.


ISIS is using water as a weapon
A U.S. Army M109A6 Paladin conducts a fire mission at Qayyarah West, Iraq, in support of the Iraqi security forces’ push toward Mosul, Oct. 17, 2016. The support provided by the Paladin teams denies the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant safe havens while providing the ISF with vital artillery capabilities during their advance. The United States stands with a Coalition of more than 60 international partners to assist and support the Iraqi security forces to degrade and defeat ISIL. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Christopher Brecht)

ISIS reinforcements from Syria and Iraq are entering Mosul from areas west of the city, which are still under the terrorist group’s control. ISIS leaders inside the city have been forced to conscript administration officials and other non-traditional fighters in order to counter the coalition’s offensive.

“ISIL continues to augment its manpower from the outside,” Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters Monday. “We see them taking administrative and support personnel, people who are not normally involved in arms, and they are arming them.”

Davis noted that despite the reinforcements, ISIS is having difficulty with its command and control capabilities thanks in part to coalition air strikes.

ISIS’s decision to arm every potential fighter it can is not surprising. The terrorist group is woefully outnumbered, with less than 5,000 fighters in the city. In turn, the Iraqi Security Forces have deployed 18,000 men, while the Kurdish Peshmerga have fielded around 10,000. Approximately 2,000 Iraqi federal police are also supplementing the coalition force.

While coalition forces clearly have the upper hand, Davis noted they are experiencing “heavy resistance” from ISIS as they move closer to the Mosul city limits. ISIS has engaged in increasingly desperate tactics as they lose control of the city, including waves of suicide bombers, car bombs and burning oil fields. In some cases, they have resorted to using suicide bombers to cover the retreat of their personnel.

The Pentagon expects foreign fighters to be particularly dangerous targets, as many of them burned their passports upon entering the so-called caliphate.

“Those are the people we expect to stay in Mosul and fight to the death, they don’t have a lot of other good options,” said Davis.

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Articles

The US military took these incredible photos this week

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


AIR FORCE:

This F-16A Fighting Falcon, tail No. 80-0504, was last assigned to the 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, N.Y., as a ground maintenance trainer before it was retired from service and disassembled Nov. 5, 2015. The aircraft is set to be reassembled and placed at the main entrance of the New York National Guard headquarters in Latham.

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Photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Call/USAF

Airmen from the 305th, 514th and 60th Air Mobility Wings demonstrated the United States’ air refueling capabilities by simultaneously launching eight KC-10 Extender aircraft to air refuel seven C-17 Globemasters.

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Photo by USAF

ARMY:

Capt. (Ret.) Florent Groberg receives the Medal Of Honor from President Obama at The White House, Nov. 12, 2015, for his heroic actions during Operation Enduring Freedom.

“And at that moment, Flo did something extraordinary — he grabbed the bomber by his vest and kept pushing him away. And all those years of training on the track, in the classroom, out in the field — all of it came together. In those few seconds, he had the instincts and the courage to do what was needed,” said President Barack Obama, speaking about Groberg’s selfless act in Afghanistan.

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Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Matthew MacRoberts/US Army

A US Army Soldier For Life salutes during a Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home Ceremony hosted by 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley’s Marshall Army Airfield, Kan., Nov. 6, 2015. The ceremony, held in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, honored the sacrifice of the veterans and formally welcomed them home.

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Photo by US Army

NAVY:

NEW YORK (Nov. 11, 2015) Sailors hold the national ensign as they march during the NYC Veterans Day Parade.

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Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Martin L. Carey/USN

PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 7, 2015) A family enjoys Gator Beach as an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer is underway off the coast of Southern California.

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Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy M. Black/USN

MARINE CORPS:

The Cake was a Lie: Marines march in a formation through the rain during the Marine Corps birthday run at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., Nov. 9, 2015. More than 1,500 Marines and Sailors with 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing and MCAS Cherry Point participated in the motivational run to commemorate the Marine Corps’ 240th birthday. The run is held annually to celebrate the traditions of the Marine Corps and the camaraderie of the service members.

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Photo by Cpl. N.W. Huertas/USMC

WASHINGTON – Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller cuts the cake Nov. 9 at the Pentagon during the cake cutting ceremony for the Marine Corps’ 240th birthday. Marines worldwide cut a cake in celebration of the birth of the Marine Corps every year.

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Photo by Lance Cpl. Brian Burdett/USMC

COAST GUARD:

Happy Veterans Day to all who have served, and are currently serving, in all branches of our armed forces.

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Photo by USCG

Goodnight from  USCG Station Philadelphia … we have the watch.

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Photo by USCG

NOW: More awesome military photos

OR: The 13 funniest military memes of the week

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