Catching up with triple amputee Bryan Anderson - We Are The Mighty
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Catching up with triple amputee Bryan Anderson


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Bryan Anderson is an Iraq War veteran turned model, actor, motivational speaker, book author, and more. He achieved all of these noteworthy accomplishments while dealing with life as a triple amputee.

Bryan enlisted in the Army in early 2001 and shipped out to his duty station on September 11, 2001. He served two tours in Iraq as an MP (Military Police) Sergeant before being injured by an IED that resulted in the loss of both legs and his left hand. He was awarded a Purple Heart and spent over a year rehabilitating at Walter Reed Hospital.

Bryan’s story has received extensive media coverage including features in Esquire Magazine and articles in major publications, such as LA Times, New York Times, and Chicago Sun. He appeared in the HBO documentary, Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq with the late James Gandolfini, CSI: NY, The Wrestler with Mickey Rourke, and American Sniper with Bradley Cooper.

As you’ll hear in this special edition of the WATM podcast, Bryan’s energy is contagious.

Hosted by:

Selected links and show notes from the episode

• [00:00] Bryan Anderson website

• [02:05] Quantum Rehab

• [05:17] iLevel Power Chairs

• [07:25] Bryan Style

• [07:40] Bryan Anderson YouTube channel

• [11:15] This former SEAL Team 6 members is climbing Everest for vets

• [12:20] This Marine could be the first combat-wounded veteran to climb Everest

• [20:50] Watch these 5 vets admit what branch they’d pick if they joined again

• [22:10] Fort Hood is the black hole of the Army: The 7 funniest Yelp reviews for military bases

• [25:30] Bryan Anderson’s film career

• [31:50] Meeting Gary Sinise and working for his foundation

• [37:45] Gary Sinise Foundation 

• [40:20] Building houses for fellow vets with Gary Sinise

Music license by Jingle Punks

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Articles

How to sham out of work and get promoted while doing it

So, you’re a high-speed, low-drag new trooper who wants to have a successful and rewarding military career. The only problem is that you’re lazy.


Not “I can’t get out of bed without a personal pep talk from Richard Simmons” lazy, but more, “I’m not going to make my bed because I’m just going to ruin it tonight” lazy.

In the civilian world, that’s fine. But in the military, you can actually get demoted for not making your bed. So how do you get ahead in Uncle Sam’s Rifle Club with minimum effort? Easy. You learn to sham (or if you joined the sea services, “skate”).

Catching up with triple amputee Bryan Anderson
It’s a lot like this, but with less work. (Photo: US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Christopher L. Vallee)

Shamming and skating are the fine arts of doing little to no work while avoiding friction and punishments from command.

The trick is to pace yourself throughout the day, doing work only when necessary but also giving the perception of constant activity.

A top-shelf sham day starts with not doing physical training. The most obvious way to get out of this is a pass from the medics. WATM does not encourage this…but here’s our guide. If you can get a full-day pass to stay in the barracks, your shamming is now in easy mode.

But sick call slips and chits are rationed, and remaining on quarters for too long can get you kicked out for “malingering.” If you want to get promoted, you’ll have to get more creative.

First, always know who is instructing PT in the morning and what the planned activity is. If Spc. McMuffin is leading the platoon on a slow jog down the main strip, just bite the bullet and do PT. But if Sgt. Creatine is leading a ruck-run and circuit-training Crossfit extravaganza, then you need to volunteer for a work detail.

Catching up with triple amputee Bryan Anderson
These aren’t exactly fun. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jorge Intriago)

But wait, wait, wait! I thought you said I wasn’t going to have to actually work?

Sure, volunteering for work may seem counterproductive. But pulling a 12-hour guard shift on some ammo in a field while you’re playing the newest Candy Crush level and taking turns napping with the other guard is way better than playing log throw with Capt. America and then spending all day at a desk.

Speaking of desk work, there are ways to sham through that if you get stuck in it. If you permanently work in an office, the best thing you can do is create the impression that you’re always working way too hard to be interrupted.

Catching up with triple amputee Bryan Anderson
Getting someone to take photos of you from interesting angles can only help your cause. (Photo: U.S Army Staff Sgt. Mike Pryor)

This can be achieved with multiple little green notebooks, legal pads, and an endless number of browser windows. Spread the legal pads and notebooks around the desk and fill the open pages with illegible writing. Draw lots of arrows between areas of text.

If anyone asks what you’re doing, start talking a lot about guidance from headquarters and how it affects 3rd quarter mandatory training. There’s not an NCO in the world that will stick around.

When you’re only working the office for the day, the best thing you can do is offer to shred things and take the trash out. No one is timing these tasks, so there’s plenty of time to joke around with buddies or check your phone. You should take the trash out at least three or four times in a regular duty day.

And, once you volunteer to take the trash out enough times or to run other errands, people will start thinking that you must be doing said errands when they can’t see you.

Now you’re in business. Once they stop checking up on you, start adding a 20-minute nap to each errand and trash run that you do.

Another place you can work constant naps into the day is the motor pool. Avoid emptying and reloading connexes by volunteering to PMCI vehicles. At each vehicle, open the front doors and raise the hood, then rack out in the back seat for a few minutes. Finally, declare the vehicle ready to go, close everything up, and move on to the next one.

Catching up with triple amputee Bryan Anderson
This guy is inspecting the inside of the gas tank. Instead, look inside the gas tank when you refill it and use the time you save during inspection to nap. (Photo: U.S. Army Pfc. James Dutkavich)

At the end of the day, there’s always the risk that a pleased platoon or first sergeant will want to inspect the room of such a squared-away individual.

Fear not — passing room inspections is easy. The trick is to get the barracks super clean one time. We’re talking perfection here. No dust anywhere, scrub the backs of the appliances, secure the bedspread with bungee cords and glue the hospital corners into place. Tie up your roommate and hide him in the woodline.

Place neatly organized study cards next to your computer, which should have exactly one browser window open to whatever your branch’s promotions and accessions guidance is.

The platoon and first sergeant will not believe their eyes. They’ll praise you in front of the formation and talk amongst themselves for days about how polished you are.

Then they’ll become complacent and they won’t inspect you anymore. They might come by for payday inspections and the company change of command, but that’s about it.

The rest of the year you can walk around in your room dripping marinara sauce onto the floor, and no one will know or care.

Catching up with triple amputee Bryan Anderson
Photo: Terminal Lance/Facebook

That barracks will become your palace of filth, and no one will be the wiser. In fact, they’ll be so impressed by that one inspection and all those guard details you volunteered for that they’ll promote you ahead of your peers until you get paid to move out of the barracks — you won’t even have to get a contract marriage to the first person you meet off-base.

Congrats, shammer. You have arrived.

 

(Also, maybe retrieve your roommate from the woodline at some point. He could legitimately die).

Articles

The ‘Phantom Division’ and ten minutes that shortened World War II in Europe

By May 8, 1945, V-E Day, the 9th Armored Division gained a wealth of combat experience in a relatively short amount of time. Though untested, the division would distinguish itself during the Battle of the Bulge, buying precious time for Allied units to regroup and disrupting the precise German timetable. Due to their ability to seemingly show up all along the line of advance and thwart German efforts, the 9th was bestowed the nickname the “Phantom Division.”  The 9th then participated in the drive to push the Germans back and through determination and a little bit of luck, managed to open up the first bridgehead across the Rhine. The sheer tenacity of the 9th Armored Division shortened the Allies’ war in the European Theatre.


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The Battle of the Bulge

The 9th Armored entered the line shortly before the Battle of the Bulge and conducted patrols in what was deemed a quiet sector. On 16 December 1944,  it became one of the units that bore the brunt of the German onslaught. The 9th received their baptism by fire fighting the Nazis smashing through the Ardennes Forest. The division’s three combat commands – similar in structure to modern brigades – were spread across the front lines and found themselves defending some of the most important sectors.

There are widely considered to be two crucial fights during the battle that proved to be turning points: the siege of Bastogne in the south and the Battle of Elsenborn Ridge. The 9th Armored’s Combat Command B (CCB) was deployed to St. Vith, Belgium in the vicinity of Elsenborn Ridge, Combat Command Reserve (CCR) was around Bastogne when the Germans attacked while Combat Command A (CCA) was in Luxembourg.

Catching up with triple amputee Bryan Anderson
A column of U.S. troops from the 9th Armored Division, an armored car of the headquarters company, moving on winter road (U.S. Army photo)

Combat Command A faced off against the Wehrmacht Seventh Army in the vicinity of Echternach, Luxembourg. It was the task of the Seventh Army to secure the southern flank of the entire German operation. However, CCA held their sector of the front against relentless attacks denying the Germans of their goals. During the fighting CCA’s 60th Armored Infantry Battalion had been surrounded, Stars and Stripes reported:

Nobody told the doughs of the 60th Armd. Inf. Bn. to pull out, so they stayed and fought until word finally got through to them. A few days later they showed up in German helmets and with blankets draped over their shoulders, their rifles slung with bayonets fixed. They walked through German lines that way… They kept right on going until they reached the U.S. lines. After that, they fought some more.

After being relieved by elements of the 6th Armored Division, Combat Command A was immediately pressed into the drive to relieve the beleaguered defenders of Bastogne.

Combat Command B was deployed further north near St. Vith, Belgium having planned to support the 2nd Infantry Division in an upcoming offensive action. When the Germans attacked the 2nd Infantry Division alongside the rookie 99th Infantry Division blunted the advance at Elsenborn Ridge while CCB drove south to help secure the vital crossroads at St. Vith with the remnants of the 7th Armored Division, 28th Infantry Division, and the 106th Infantry Division which had lost two-thirds of its fighting strength. With things going poorly to the north further German units poured south to St. Vith but the units of CCB put up a stubborn resistance. Finally, on 23 December, after delaying the Germans for 6 days CCB withdrew from St. Vith. However, during the fighting the BBC had reported that “the brightest spot along the western front is at St. Vith.” To which an American soldier replied “if this is a bright spot what the hell is going everywhere else?” But the actions of the 9th had severely disrupted the German plans.

While the 9th Armored’s other two commands were fighting elsewhere Combat Command Reserve was fighting a delaying action at Bastogne. CCR was tasked with blocking German forces advancing on Bastogne at all costs and did so for nearly 48 hours before falling back onto Bastogne itself. The Reserve Command’s delaying action gave the 101st Airborne Division time to reach Bastogne and establish a defense. Once Bastogne was surrounded the survivors of CCR fell under the command of Combat Command B, 10th Armored Division where they were formed into a provisional “fire brigade” known as Task Force SNAFU. This mobile reserve acted as a rapid response force to threatened areas of the line. As history has shown the battle at Bastogne proved to be pivotal and if it weren’t for 9th Armored’s Reserve Command the battle might not have even taken place. For their actions during the battle, Combat Command Reserve was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.

Had the Germans been successful in any of the areas in which the 9th Armored Division was operating, the Allies could have incurred significantly more casualties or even prolonged the war. As the units of the 9th were relieved they were pulled off the line and sent to the rear to recuperate and rearm for the upcoming counter-offensive. The American forces pushed the Germans back and drove toward the Rhine and an entrance into the German heartland while the Phantom Division waited for its opportunity to rejoin the fight. That opportunity came on 28 February 1945.

Catching up with triple amputee Bryan Anderson

Seizing the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen

On that day, the 9th Armored Division began its own attack toward the Rhine making good progress against the German opposition. In the days follow American units reached bridge after bridge on the Rhine just in time to see the Germans blow the bridge they were hoping to capture. As luck would have it, one American unit – the 9th – arrived to find one still intact, the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen. The lead elements of CCB reached Remagen to find the Germans retreating. Tanks and infantry were ordered to move quickly but quietly through the town. However, multiple sources reported the bridge was scheduled for demolition at 1600, and when word reached the Commanding Officer of CCB it was already 1515 – they had 45 minutes to take the bridge. He immediately informed the commander of the assault forces and told them to get to the bridge as quickly as possible to which the commander replied: “Sir, I’m already there.”

Though they were at the bridge, it was still in the hands of the Germans who were determined not to let the Americans take it intact. Upon seeing the Americans, German engineers set off an explosion in the roadway hoping to slow the American advance. They also opened up with everything they had from the opposite bank. By the time the Americans were ready it was 1550, they had 10 minutes to save the bridge. The lead elements of the 27th Armored Infantry Battalion began the assault and charge onto the bridge. Just as they did the Germans set of an explosion at the far side of the bridge; a final failed attempt at demolishing the bridge. The blast momentarily stunned the infantrymen but they quickly regained their senses and again set up across the bridge followed closely by combat engineers who climbed under the bridge set about cutting the wires to the explosives. The soldiers pressed on not knowing if the bridge would be blown up underneath them at any moment. They captured the German machine gun positions in the towers overlooking the bridge, then Sgt. Alexander Drabik led his squad in a mad dash for the far side of the bridge, dodging German fire and returning some of their own as they went. Sgt. Drabik and his squad arrived unscathed and were the first Americans across the Rhine – the 9th had grasped the slightest of holds.

As more men arrived they began clearing the Germans defending the far side of the bridge. They stormed the towers and captured the machine gun crew before throwing their guns in the river. They climbed up the cliffs to take out snipers and they endured mortar and artillery barrages but they were holding on. At night fall only a reinforced company, about 120 men, held the far side of the bridge but by midnight the engineers had cleared the armor to begin crossing.

Initially, before reports of the bridges capture had reached higher headquarters, CCB, 9th Armored Division had been order to continue south to link up with other forces. Brigadier General Hoge, CO CCB made the fateful decision to disobey those orders and reinforce his small contingent that had already crossed the bridge. Finally, as word began to spread Gen. Omar Bradley ordered other units diverted to Remagen to cross the bridge and get into Germany. Though the 9th Armored had captured the bridge at Remagen that was not part of the initial plan and in fact there were other plans underway in other areas designed to cross the Rhine. When Eisenhower’s dinner was interrupted by the news he told his guests “that was Brad. He’s got a bridge across the Rhine. And he apologized for it, said it was badly located at Remagen.”

Catching up with triple amputee Bryan Anderson
Americans from 9th Armored across the bridge at Remagen.

Meanwhile, the American build up continued as units from all around, particularly anti-aircraft battalions, moved to the area to defend the bridgehead. No sooner was this done than the Germans began throwing everything they had at destroying the bridge. Counterattacks were made, air raids were launched, and sappers even attempted an infiltration downstream to blow the bridge but the Americans held and the bridge stood. The men of the 9th even erected a sign saying “Cross the Rhine with dry feet courtesy of the 9th Armored Division.” Finally, on March 17th after continual pounding the bridge collapsed but not before it had allowed 5 divisions to cross the Rhine and gave time for two pontoon bridges to be built nearby.

Catching up with triple amputee Bryan Anderson

The actions of the men of the 9th Armored at Remagen contributed immeasurably to shortening the war in Europe. It took the Allies four months to cross the Roer River and the Germans were expecting to be able to rest and refit before putting up a staunch defense of the Rhine. The 9th’s breakthrough caused a lot of confusion and meant the Germans could no longer conduct a prolonged defense. It also allowed Eisenhower to alter his plans for ending the war. He praised the troops for seizing the opportunity, while others, such as General Patton, took the opportunity to gloat that they had beaten Montgomery across the Rhine. If not for the 9th Armored Division’s decisive actions and tenacity during the Battle of the Bulge and in capturing the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen, it is likely the war in Europe would have continued past May 1945 and cost many more Allied soldiers their lives.

Catching up with triple amputee Bryan Anderson

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This is the world’s military handgun of choice

Catching up with triple amputee Bryan Anderson
A British soldier aims a Browning Hi-Power 9 mm pistol on a shooting range in Basra, Iraq. (Photo: Ministry of Defense)


For more than seven decades, if a soldier carried a 9mm pistol into battle as part of his weaponry there was a good chance it was a Browning Hi-Power.

The Hi-Power is a pistol that has been on both sides of almost every world conflict during the 20th Century, wielded by the good, the bad, and almost certainly by the opposing force.

Even during the current age of pistols made of polymers and exotic metals, the Hi-Power is still in the holsters of many warriors.

It was once the standard NATO sidearm. In fact, more than 90 nations used weapons genius John Moses Browning‘s last pistol design – at least 50 countries still have it in their arsenals.

“Soldiers will continue to face one another with a Hi-Power in their hands,” said Doug Wicklund, senior curator at the NRA National Firearms Museum in Virginia. “It happened during World War II, it happened during the Falklands, and it will happen again.”

It seems like everyone wanted a Hi-Power.

Saddam Hussein carried one that he frequently fired into the air to excite crowds of his Iraqi followers. Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi owned a customized, gold-plated Hi-Power that had an image of his face etched into the grips.

During World War II, both the Waffen-SS and the special operators who opposed them such as agents of the Office of Strategic Services or the Special Operations Executive often carried the pistol. When the British and the Argentines faced off during the Falklands War in 1982, both sides carried the Hi-Power – and frequently captured the pistols and its ammunition from each other.

There is even a version of the Hi-Power with an adjustable tangent sight and detachable shoulder stock that transforms the pistol into a pint-sized carbine.  The combination has its flaws (the pistol’s attachment to the stock is wobbly at best) but in the hands of a skilled marksman the Hi-Power could hit even distant targets.

The Hi-Power is really history’s first high-capacity pistol – and you can thank the French Army for the idea .

During the early 1920s, the French army sought a new pistol that would have a high-capacity magazine of least 10 rounds and chamber 9 mm Parabellum ammunition. Impressed with the power and reliability of the M1911 .45-caliber pistol designed by Browning, the French generals in charge of new ordnance established a standard they called grande puissance – literally “high power” – that the new pistol would have to meet.

In 1923, Browning filed a patent for a prototype pistol that was the forerunner of the Hi-Power. However, he died in 1926 before he refined the design.

Dieudonné Saive of the Belgian weapons company Fabrique Nationale Herstal took up the project and completed the pistol’s design. By 1934, FN began production of the Hi-Power in earnest – too late, though, for the fickle French who decided to adopt another pistol.

But the Belgian Army seized the opportunity and adopted the gun. The pistol’s magazine capacity set it apart:  A Hi-Power magazine holds 13 rounds of 9 mm Parabellum ammunition, 14 rounds if it is a Canadian-made Inglis magazine.

“That’s quite a bit more than a Luger,” Wicklund said, noting that no other combat handgun in the world at the time could compare.

After occupying Belgium in 1940, German forces took over the FN plant. German airborne and SS troops often used the Hi-Power pistols manufactured under German control. Those weapons have the designation Pistole 640(b) (“b” for belgisch, “Belgian”) and are highly-desired collector’s items today.

A number of FN designers and engineers escaped Belgium ahead of the Nazi invasion with the plans for the Hi-Power. Canadian manufacturer John Inglis and Co. in Toronto re-tooled their factory and began production of the pistol, which were issued to a variety of British imperial forces.

But there were also large batches of Inglis-produced Hi-Powers made for a special purpose – as so-called “sterile weapons.” Made without serial numbers or other markings, they were issued to covert operators as one more ruse that could protect the cover of the agent or commando who carried the pistol as a sidearm.

In fact, many of those sterile pistols remained in the inventory of the British SAS well into the 1980s.

By the 1990s, the Hi-Power was beginning to show its age. One name began to make world militaries think twice about maintaining the venerable weapon as their main battle pistol: Glock.

“The polymer-framed pistol captured imaginations around the world,” Wicklund said. “The Hi-Power really had its heyday during the period of steel-framed pistols from the 1940s to the 1980s. It is still sought after, but it is just not in the same demand.”

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Canadian soldiers of Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Regiment, Canadian Royal Army, inspect their Browning Hi-Power 9 mm pistols prior to training on the firing range at Camp Blanding, Fla., in support of Partnership of the Americas 2009. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher J. Gallagher.

However, there are good reasons why the Hi-Power is still in use. It is robust and reliable, capable of withstanding battlefield abuse, and its 9mm ammo is widely used around the world.

What’s more, it is easy to field strip and clean, a feature always beloved by the common soldier who has to clean his or her weapon.

The Hi-Power’s magazine capacity, ergonomics, ease of maintenance, reliance on a commonly produced ammunition and solid construction virtually guarantee it will stay in use throughout the 21st Century.

Articles

ISIS’s finances are taking a serious hit, and it’s hurting morale inside the terrorist group

Catching up with triple amputee Bryan Anderson
Photo: Youtube screenshot


As a US-led coalition hammers ISIS’s oil infrastructure and other financial institutions in the Middle East, the terrorist group has cut salaries and infighting has broken out within the rank and file and senior leadership.

Reports of infighting within ISIS — aka the Islamic State, ISIL, or Daesh — aren’t new, but increased financial and territorial losses might be worsening the stress fractures that are splintering the group.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that ISIS is now facing an “unprecedented cash crunch” as the coalition ramps up strikes on its sources of wealth. Strikes have been hitting oil refineries and tankers as well as banks and buildings that hold hard cash.

ISIS salaries are taking a hit as a result of the financial losses. Some units reportedly aren’t being paid at all, and some fighters’ salaries have been cut in half, according to The Post.

The salary cuts specifically appear “to have significantly hit the organization’s morale,” according to Charles Lister, a resident fellow at the Middle East Institute.

“There are more and more frequent reports … of infighting, armed clashes breaking out in the middle of the night in places like Raqqa between rival factions,” Lister said on Friday during a panel discussion in Washington, DC, referring to ISIS’s de-facto capital in Syria.

“These are all indications of a significant drop in morale and a decrease in internal cohesion. And the cohesion argument was always something that analysts like myself always said was one of ISIS’ strongest strengths,” he said.

Part of what has made ISIS’s message so potent is the money that has come along with it — which is said to be a major factor in ISIS’s recruiting success. For locals in war-torn Syria especially, ISIS has been able to offer more money than people could hope to make elsewhere.

But the salary cuts have strained the loyalties of fighters to the group.

Abu Sara, a 33-year-old engineer from Iraq, told The Post that ISIS members are becoming disillusioned.

“Their members are getting quite angry. Either they are not getting salaries or getting much less than they used to earn,” Sara said. “All of the people I am in contact with want to escape, but they don’t know how.”

Some fighters “throw down their weapons and mingle with the civilians” in battle, according to Sara.

ISIS’s financial problems are compounded by the group’s territorial losses. Syrian forces recently retook the ancient city of Palmyra, while Iraqi forces are starting to move in toward Mosul, ISIS’s stronghold in Iraq.

Territorial losses could hurt ISIS’s recruiting efforts because they run counter to the group’s central message of “remaining and expanding.”

The losses also hit at ISIS’s coffers because taxation and extortion make up a large share of ISIS’s revenues. Unlike other terrorist groups that rely on outside donations from wealthy individuals, ISIS squeezes money from the local populations it controls.

But ISIS isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon.

Hisham al-Hashimi, an Iraqi military strategist, told The Post that ISIS still controls significant oil resources across the territory it holds in Iraq and Syria.

“They’re not going through a financial crisis that will lead to their collapse,” Hashimi told the newspaper. “They still have 60 percent of Syrian oil wells and 5 percent of Iraq’s.”

 

Articles

Chinese troops are reportedly patrolling in Afghanistan

Chinese troops are reportedly operating in Afghanistan, but it is unclear what they’re doing there.


There is evidence that China has security forces operating inside eastern Afghanistan, and the Pentagon is reportedly very aware of their presence. “We know that they are there, that they are present,” a Pentagon spokesman revealed to Military Times, without going into specifics.

Catching up with triple amputee Bryan Anderson
China is worried that increasing instability in Afghanistan will stir unrest in Xinjiang Province, which is home to the Uighurs, a Muslim minority which maintains a rocky relationship with the Chinese government. (Photo: U.S. Military)

Late last year, India’s Wion News Agency released photos of suspected Chinese military vehicles in Little Pamir. Franz J. Marty at the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute claimed in February that “overwhelming evidence,” including “photographs, an eyewitness account and several confirming statements of diplomats and observers, among them a Chinese official familiar with the matter,” indicated the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is conducting joint drills in Afghanistan.

The governments of Afghanistan and China have both denied reports of joint patrols. Towards the end of last month, China conceded that security forces have been conducting counter-terrorism operations along the shared border. Ren Guoqiang, a PLA spokesman, intimated that “the law enforcement authorities of the two sides have conducted joint law enforcement operations in border areas to fight against terrorism,” adding that, “Reports in foreign media of Chinese military vehicles patrolling inside Afghanistan do not accord with the facts.”

Ren also denied that there were non-military patrols being carried out in Afghanistan, further adding to the mystery of exactly what China is doing in the region.

Although Beijing denies engaging in military operations in Afghanistan, there was a strange, albeit unconfirmed, Chinese media report claiming Chinese soldiers in Afghanistan rescued U.S. special forces. While the story is likely untrue, it suggests that there may be more to Chinese activities in Afghanistan than meets the eye.

China has made its counter-terrorism concerns, particularly in Afghanistan, known numerous times. The Asian powerhouse is worried that increasing instability in Afghanistan will stir unrest in Xinjiang Province, which is home to the Uighurs, a Muslim minority which maintains a rocky relationship with the Chinese government. Beijing fears that Afghanistan will become a base of operations for militant Uighur separatists, specifically the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

China has been working with Afghanistan on countering this threat for several years now.

Afghanistan assured China in 2014 that “it would never allow the ETIM to take advantage of the Afghan territory to engage in activities endangering China, and will continuously deepen security cooperation with the Chinese side.” China agreed to “continue to offer training and material assistance to Afghan military and police” to “strengthen cooperation in aspects such as anti-terrorism, the fight against the East Turkistan Islamic Movement and transnational crimes.” The following year, Afghanistan turned several captured Uighur militants over to Beijing. China provided tens of millions of dollars to support Afghanistan’s security forces.

In recent weeks, Beijing has been putting increased pressure on Uighur militants at home. Last Monday, around 10,000 Chinese troops marched on Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, in a massive show of force against terrorism. That same day, Uighur militants fighting with the Islamic State threatened to return to China and “shed blood like rivers,” giving China a reason to step up its involvement regional counter-terrorism activities.

Furthermore, the withdrawal of coalition forces has created an eroding security situation in Afghanistan which could facilitate the rise of dangerous militant groups along China’s western border.

Beyond security concerns, China also has significant commercial interests in the war-torn region. China’s massive Silk Road Economic Belt will span parts of Central Asia and the Middle East, possibly including Afghanistan.

China has motive for increased involvement, but it is unclear what China is doing in Afghanistan. China may have soldiers, armed police, security personnel, or some combination of the three in the area. Beijing has, so far, not been particularly forthcoming about its activities and intentions in Afghanistan.

Some observers suggest that Chinese involvement in Afghanistan might actually be beneficial for both the U.S. and China, arguing that China might be considering taking on a greater security role in the region after the U.S. and its allies withdraw; however, Chinese troops are unlikely to push far beyond the shared border as long as the U.S. coalition forces maintain a presence in Afghanistan.

There is also the possibility that China is training its military under the guise of counter-terrorism operations, just as it has used peacekeeping and anti-piracy missions to enhance the capabilities of its armed forces in the past.

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The 9 weirdest projects DARPA is working on

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) works on some very outlandish projects. One of its stated mission goals is to cause “technological surprise” for America’s enemies. Basically, they want enemy fighters to get to the battlefield, look at what they’re facing off against, and go, “What the hell?”


These are the DARPA projects that make that a reality.

1. Airships that can haul 2 million pounds of gear

Yeah, they’re back. DARPA’s attempt at new airships was scrapped in 2006 due to technology shortcomings, but the project was revived in 2013. The goal is for a craft that can carry up to two million pounds halfway around the world in five days. This would allow units to quickly deploy with all of their gear. Tank units would be left out though, unless they suddenly had a …

2. A super-fast lightweight vehicle that drives itself

The Ground X-Vehicle looks like a spider mated with a four-wheeler. Troops could directly control it or simply select a destination and focus on the intel the vehicle provides. Either way, the vehicle would decide how to deal with incoming attacks, ducking, sidestepping, or absorbing them as necessary.

3. Aerial platforms that allow drones to land and refuel

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Photo: DARPA

Flying platforms for landing and fueling drones would keep the U.S. drone program well ahead of its enemies, especially combined with the project to have drones fight as a pack. Hopefully these will be more successful than the last airborne carriers the military made.

4. Robots that gather intel and eat plants for fuel

The unmanned ground vehicle programs at DARPA want a UGV that could conduct reconnaissance indefinitely without needing to be refueled. The Energy Autonomous Tactical Robot will do that by eating plants and converting them to energy. It would also be able to steal enemy fuel when necessary.

5. Remote-controlled bugs that spy on the bad guys

Basically, remote control bugs that provide power to sensor backpacks. DARPA has already implanted control devices into pupae (insects transitioning into adults) and created electrical generators that use the insects movements for power. Now, they just have to couple those technologies with tiny sensors and find a way to make them communicate with each other and an operator who would collect intelligence from the insects.

6. Cameras that can see from every angle

DARPA isn’t sure yet how this would work, but they’re looking for ways to use the plenoptic function to create a sensor that can see an area from every angle. Though it would work differently, this would give capabilities like Jack Black has in “Enemy of the State.”

7. Nuclear-powered GPS trackers

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Photo: DARPA

Don’t worry, the nuclear material is for determining velocity, not powering anything or exploding. The military has trouble directing vehicles and missiles in areas where GPS signals might be blocked or scrambled, like when submarines are underwater. Chip-Scale Combinatorial Atomic Navigator (C-SCAN) is very technical, but it would allow precise navigation without a GPS signal by precisely measuring atoms from nuclear decay.

8. Brain implants that could hold the key to defeating post-traumatic stress.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Strictly for therapy, DARPA promises. The idea may be a little unsettling, but SUBNETS (Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies)  would allow electrical currents in the brain to be mapped and then altered. This could be a major breakthrough for PTSD and traumatic brain injury sufferers.

9. Pathogens that fight back against enemy biological weapons.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons by Bruce Wetzel

One of the emerging threats to U.S. operations is biological weapons using antibiotic resistant bacteria. DARPA wants to nip it in the bud before an enemy can cause massive infections to American forces or civilians. To do so, they’re investigating pathogens that could be cultured and deployed in victims of attacks. These killers would seek out the bacteria wreaking havoc and murder it on a microscopic level.

AND: This Retired Navy Jet Is Finding New Life In The Fight Against ISIL 

OR: DARPA wants to implant chips in soldiers’ brains 

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13 funniest military memes for the week of March 17

Funny military memes are like little morale pellets to keep everyone going throughout the year. And if your week was anything like ours, you could probably use some quick morale.


So here are 13 funny military memes to make your barracks and field exercises survivable for another week:

1. That fire team is definitely going to have some AAR notes (via The Salty Soldier).

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2. Don’t make fun of your Uber driver if he’s the only one in town (via Sh-t my LPO says).

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3. Fort Drum is like Narnia under the White Witch. Always winter, never Christmas (via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting).

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ALSO SEE: That time pirates mistook a Navy warship for a target

4. “I just want to address the speeding off base that’s been happening the last few weeks.”

(via The Salty Soldier)

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5. Marines really are the sum of their stereotypes (via Decelerate Your Life).

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It’s awkward when you’re standing in a Hobby Lobby with them, pretty great when you’re on the beach.

6. Yeah, it’s basically balmy out here, chief (via Coast Guard Memes).

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I’m gonna go cool off with a .50-cal popsicle.

7. When the recruiting ads and the service reality collide (via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting).

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8. Seaman Corgi is going to have a bad, bad day (via Sh-t my LPO says).

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Maybe should’ve skipped a couple of those shots last night, little guy.

9. Why have scouts go ahead of the vehicle if you’re not going to listen to their reports?

(via Pop smoke)

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10. This is me talking to my younger self (via Air Force amn/nco/snco).

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Could really use a deployment right about now. Are the Kurds still looking for volunteers?

11. “Let me just say, I wasn’t at that bar. I wasn’t with those guys. And I didn’t do any of those things.”

(via Sh-t my LPO says)

Catching up with triple amputee Bryan Anderson

12. Marines double-tap and double-wrap (via Pop smoke).

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Depending on what base this is, that Marine may need to go to MOPP 4.

13. Get Out!

(via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting)

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This is the real #GETOUT challenge.

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Mat Best’s biggest battle yet

Ever wonder what members of Special Forces do in their free time?


We do, too.

Unfortunately they’re not too keen on disclosing information — go figure. But lucky for you we’ve found the next best thing; in fact, even his name backs that statement.

Meet former Army Ranger, Mat Best, best known for the Bikini Snap and Article 15 clothing apparel. And of course… the most epic of epic rap battles.

Image credit: Recoil Web

 

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The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 17 edition)

Now: This ill-fated PR flight kept the B-70 Valkyrie from changing Air Force history

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These high-tech Long Johns could protect you from a mustard gas attack

With threats of a mustard gas attack on U.S. troops re-emerging in ISIS-infested Iraq, a leading clothing technology company has developed an ingenious way to protect troops from the horrors of chem-bio warfare.


Known more for its waterproof and breathable coating for rainwear and other outdoor equipment, W.L. Gore — the folks who make Gore-Tex — has developed a next-to-skin clothing system that protects against both chemical and biological warfare agents with just a thin layer of its so-called “Chempak” material.

So, say goodbye to that hot, bulky, carbon-impregnated MOPP suit.

“The big thing you think about with chem-bio suits is the thermal burden,” said Gore’s Mike Merrick. “You want to make sure you’re keeping that user as effective as possible which means you have to relieve heat stress and reduce that mobility restriction. That’s how we’ve designed this garment — to address that mobility restriction and range of motion and thermal burden.”

The new Chemical/Biological Protective Clothing System developed by Gore is light, stretchy and thin, so it allows the operator unrestricted movement when things go kinetic. Gore also claims it 20 percent cooler than the current chem-bio suit.

The best part is most observers would have no idea a soldier is wearing it, so for public events where security is worried about a potential terrorist attacks, the crowd won’t freak out seeing troops or police wearing bulky chem-bio space suits.

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The two-piece chem-bio protection system developed by Gore gives troops a high level of protection from attack while remaining covert. (Photo from We Are The Mighty)

“The benefits of this is it’s very concealable you could be wearing it under your clothes right now and I’d have no idea,” Merrick said during an interview at the annual Association of the U.S. Army conference in Washington.

“Think of something like the Olympics where you don’t want to alert a stadium full of people that their could be a threat — you don’t want to walk around there in a big chem-bio suit,” he added. “But in the event something happens, you have a backpack, you pull a mask on you put gloves on and you’re good to go.”

Another advantage of the Chempak material, Merrick says, is that it protects against both vapor-based chemical warfare agents as well as liquid-based biological weapons which the current MOPP suit does a poor job repelling.

Gore has also developed a more robust system that includes a one-piece Union-Suit-like undergarment and a thin coverall. The advantage with this option is that it can be doffed and donned over a trooper’s uniform and can be configured for different missions depending on the environment. The inner protective layer can be worn under a coverall that matches the camo pattern of the service or agency, for example, rather than forcing units to buy entire suits in one color or pattern.

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The CPSU-2 developed by Gore allows operators to tailor their outer garment to a specific mission while delivering both chemical and biological protection at a fraction of the bulk and heat of today’s MOPP suit. (Photo from We Are The Mighty)

“The benefit is that it’s got this removable outer shell. So that’s good for tailorability to the unit,” Merrick said. “If they want to change that outer garment for a jungle uniform or you’re Coast Guard and you’re doing a drug interdiction mission — its’ one chem-bio suit with two different outer garment coveralls, so the logistics burden is reduced and you don’t have to carry two different chem-bio suits.”

American special operations units are already wearing the two-piece chem-bio undergarment on some missions, but Gore is gunning for the Pentagon’s replacement for the dreaded MOPP suit.

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This ’65 war movie was so bad that Eisenhower came out of retirement to publicly slam it

The 1965 movie “The Battle of the Bulge” is generally considered by war movie buffs to be the most inaccurate war movie ever made. It stars Henry Fonda leading a large cast of fictional characters (though Fonda’s Lt. Col. Kiley was based on a real U.S. troop). The film was made to be viewed on a curved Cinerama screen using three projectors. Watching it on DVD doesn’t give the viewer the intended look, which especially hurts the tank battle scenes, according to the film rating website
Rotten Tomatoes.


There are so many inaccuracies in the film that it comes off as interpretive instead of dramatic. In the film’s opening, a precursor to the errors to come, the narrator describes how Montgomery’s 8th Army was in the north of Europe; they were actually in Italy. The inaccuracies don’t stop there.

The weather was so bad at the launch of the German offensive that it completely negated Allied air superiority and allowed the Nazi armies to move much further, much fast than they would have had the weather been clear. In the 1965 film, the weather is always clear. When the film does use aircraft, the first one they show is a Cessna L-19 Bird Dog, a 1950s-era plane.

 

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Despite the time frame of the real battle, December 1944- January 1945, and the well-documented struggles with ice and snow in the Ardennes at the time, there is no snow in the movie’s tank battle scenes. Also, there are few trees in the movie’s Ardennes Forest.

 

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In an affront to the men who fought and won the battle, the film uses the M47 Patton tank as the German King Tiger tanks. The filmmakers show U.S. tanks being sacrificed to make the Tiger tank use their fuel so the Germans will run out. The U.S. didn’t need to use this tactic in the actual battle, as the Germans didn’t have the fuel to reach their objectives anyway.

 

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Speaking of tactics, a German general in the film orders infantry to protect tanks by walking ahead of them after a Tiger hits a mine, which ignores the fact that a man’s weight is not enough to trigger an anti-tank mine and therefore none of them would have exploded until tanks hit them anyway.

Other inaccuracies include:

  • The uniforms are all wrong.
  • Jeeps in the film are models that were not yet developed in WWII.
  • Salutes are fast, terrible and often indoors.
  • The bazookas used in the films are 1950s Spanish rocket launchers (the film was shot in Spain)
  • American engineers use C-4, which wasn’t invented until 11 years after the war’s end.
  • Soldiers read Playboy Magazine from 1964.

 

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The technical advisor on the film was Col. Meinrad von Lauchert, who commanded tanks at the Bulge… for the Nazis. He commanded the 2nd Panzer Division, penetrating deeper into the American lines than any other German commander. Like the rest of the Nazis, he too ran out of fuel and drove his unit back to the Rhine. He swam over then went home, giving up on a hopeless situation.

The reaction to the movie was swift: That same year, President Eisenhower came out of retirement to hold a press conference just to denounce the movie for its historical inaccuracies.

 

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The Army is creating remote-control mortars

The Army wants its mortar systems to be even more mobile, accurate, and quick to fire. Moreover, they want mortar crews to be able to park a Humvee with a tube mounted to it and then get out of there.


The Advanced Direct Indirect Fire Mortar system gives them all of that and a direct-fire capability too.

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Photo: Army.mil

The ADIMs is currently being tested and displayed as an 81mm system on a Humvee, but it could be adapted to other calibers and light tactical vehicles. A “soft-recoil” system allows larger mortars — historically limited to larger, heavy vehicles like the Stryker — to be mounted on the Humvee or its replacement, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

Humvees are able to reach a lot of places Strykers and other larger vehicles can’t, allowing the mortars to quickly reach parts of the battlefield they otherwise couldn’t.

Once the mortar is in position, it can be manually worked by a standard mortar crew or remotely operated by a fire direction center. In theory, this would allow the weapon to be dropped or driven into position and then fired without a human mortar crew. Someone would still have to secure it though, since it’s a powerful, advanced weapons system.

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Graphic: Army.mil

But then mortarmen could just emplace the weapon and play spades while the FDC worries about firing it. Once the weapon is fired, it’s capable of being moved within 50 seconds to avoid enemy counter fire.

The weapon generated excitement during a display at Fort Benning in Jan. where it fired 174 rounds, rapidly changing targets and missions between shots. And, the direct fire capability of the mortar would allow it to fill a gap in the American mortar arsenal.

Of course, the ADIM only really matters if it makes it to the battlefield. The ADIM shares a lot of traits with the Marine Corps Dragon Fire and Dragon Fire II mortar systems.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5wE1HEtSLQ

The Dragon Fire was tested by the Marine Corps, upgraded to the Dragon Fire II, and then shelved. Instead, the Marine Corps adopted the M327, a highly-mobile, rifled mortar without the automation of the ADIM or Dragon Fire systems.