Vladimir Putin's Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage - We Are The Mighty
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Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage

Vladimir Putin may be the wild card in world affairs right now, but he didn’t gain that influence overnight.


The Russian President’s ascension to power is filled with spies, armed conflicts, oligarchs, oil and (of course) judo.

So here’s how a onetime “nobody” climbed up the ranks to become the “World’s Most Powerful Person.”

Vladimir Putin was born in Leningrad on Oct. 7, 1952.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Putin, Age 4. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is the only child of a decorated war veteran and factory worker in the slums of Leningrad. He grew up in a Soviet Union styled communal apartment with two other families — as was typical at the time.

Source: Encyclopedia, TIME

As a teen Putin worked at his school’s radio station, where he reportedly played music by the Beatles and other Western rock bands.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Photo: Wikimedia

The photographer Platon — who took Putin’s infamous Time Magazine cover in 2007 — said that Paul is Putin’s favorite Beatle, and “Yesterday” is his favorite song.

However, “by [Putin’s] own account, his favorite songs are Soviet standards, not Western rock. He has been deeply conservative his whole life,” Karen Dawisha wrote in her new book, “Putin’s Kleptocracy.”

Source: Encyclopedia

Early on in life, Putin got into judo. He was his university’s judo champion in 1974.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Photo: Jedimentat44/Flickr

Former deputy finance minister and first deputy chairman of the Central Bank Sergey Alaksashenko believes that Putin’s love of judo says something about his foreign policy.

“Unlike chess, a judo fighter should not wait for the opponent’s move. His strategy is to wait until he gets a chance to execute a single quick move — and then take a step back. Successful judo fighters must anticipate their opponents’ actions, make a decisive, preemptive move and try to disable them,” he wrote in the Moscow Times.

Source: Encyclopedia

He also really loved spy novels and TV shows — especially one about a Soviet double agent.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Fictional character Stierlitz, the double-spy, portrayed by Vyacheslav Tikhonov. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Putin reportedly loved the popular 1960s book series turned TV series “17 Moments of Spring” starring the Soviet double-agent Max Otto von Stierlitz (né Vsevolod Vladimirovich Vladimirov) who rose up the ranks into Nazi elite during World War II.

Putin said about the series: “What amazed me most of all was how one man’s effort could achieve what whole armies could not.”

Source: Putin: Russia’s Choice 

And in a moment of life imitating art, in 1985 the KGB sent Putin to Dresden, East Germany where he lived undercover as a “Mr. Adamov.”

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
A former KGB prison in Potsdam. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Reportedly, Putin mastered the German language so well that he could imitate regional dialects. Unlike most KGB agents, Putin liked hanging out with Germans. He was particularly fond of the “German discipline.”

But how exactly Putin spent his time in East Germany is relatively unknown. According to the Kremlin, he was awarded the bronze medal “For Faithful Service to the National People’s Army.”

Source: Newsweek

In 1989 the Berlin wall fell, and within a year Putin was back in Leningrad where he took a job under the first democratic mayor of Leningrad, Anatoly Sobchak (who was Putin’s former law professor.)

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
The Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate. (Photo: Wikimedia)

By 1991, Putin officially resigned from the KGB’s active reserve.

Sobchak took his former student with him into office, and thus Putin began a life in public government work.

Source: Kremlin

There’s a group of St. Petersburg democrats who believe that Putin was assigned to the mayor’s office by the KGB … but there is no definitive proof.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Anatoly Sobchak, standing. (Photo: Wikimedia)

For the most part, people didn’t really care either way because they knew that they “were under surveillance” in general at the time, according to Newsweek.

Publically, Putin has never tried to deny his involvement with the KGB.

Source: Newsweek

While working under the Leningrad mayor, Putin earned the nickname “Gray Cardinal” and was “the man to see if things needed to get done.”

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Photo: Wikimedia

Putin was always behind the scenes and kept a low profile. Reportedly, he was “the man to see if things needed to get done” and “Sobchak’s indispensable man.”

Source: Barbarians of Wealth: Protecting Yourself from Today’s Financial Attilas

Additionally, Putin was once investigated for “allegations of favoritism in granting import and export licenses.”

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Photo: World Economic Forum/Flickr

… but the case was dismissed pretty quickly “due to lack of evidence.”

Back in the early 1990s, Putin was in charge of a deal where $100 million worth of raw materials would be exported in exchange for food for the citizens of St. Petersburg. Although the materials were exported, the St. Petersburg citizens never got the food.

Reportedly, Putin was the one who signed off on the deal — but the Kremlin denies this.

Source: Barbarians of Wealth: Protecting Yourself from Today’s Financial Attilas

When Sobchak lost the re-election for mayor, the victor offered Putin a job. However, Putin turned it down saying: “It’s better to be hanged for loyalty than be rewarded for betrayal.”

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Putin and Yakovlev meeting again in the future, 2000. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Putin was the campaign manager for Sobchak’s re-election. Vladimir Yakovlev, who had the support of the powerful Moscow mayor, ran against Sobchak and won. He offered Putin a gig in his office, but Putin declined it.

Source: Newsweek

Next up: the big leagues. In 1996 Putin and his family relocated to Moscow, where he quickly climbed up the ladder and became the head of the FSB.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Putin as the FSB director, dated January 1, 1998. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Putin held a variety jobs in Moscow from 1996 to 1999, eventually ending up as the head of the FSB (aka the KGB’s successor.)

“In July 1998, Yeltsin named Putin head of the FSB, the successor agency to the KGB. It was a job the president would have given only to the most trusted of aides,” according to Newsweek.

Source: Kremlin

Interestingly, Putin isn’t particularly fond of Moscow. He considers it to be “a European city.”

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Photo: Wikimedia

utin has said about the Russian capital: “I can’t say that I didn’t love Moscow. I just loved St. Petersburg more. But Moscow, it’s completely obvious — it’s a European city.”

Source: Kremlin

 

And on top of his rapid career growth, Putin allegedly still found time to defend his economics thesis.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
St Petersburg Mining Institute. (Photo: Wikimedia)

“Despite the workload, in 1997 he defended his Ph.D thesis in economics in the St. Petersburg State Mining Institute,” according to the Kremlin.

However, Putin’s economics expertise has been called into question.

The man who used to be the “Kremlin’s Banker,” Sergei Pugachev, said: “Vladimir Putin does not understand economics. He does not like it. It is dry. It’s boring to hear these reports, to read them.”

Source: Kremlin

In August 1999, President Boris Yeltsin appointed Putin the prime minister. One month later, Putin’s popularity rating was at 2%.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Boris Yeltsin, then-president and Putin, then-prime minister, in December 1999. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Putin was the fifth Prime Minister in less than two years, and nobody believed Yeltsin when he declared Putin as his successor.

In fact, everyone was expecting Yevgeny Primakov to be the next president because he had a more impressive career and was a “friend of everyone from Madeleine Albright to Saddam Hussein.”

Source: Newsweek

And then — seemingly out of nowhere — Yelstin stepped down as president and named Putin the acting president on New Year’s in 1999.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Boris Yeltsin being awarded the Order of Merit for the Fatherland 1st Class, 2001. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Many people believed that Yeltsin propelled Putin to presidency in order to protect himself: The war in Chechnya was starting to curdle, and his ratings were starting to drop.

Interestingly, one of Putin’s first moves was to pardon Yeltsin “immunity from criminal or administrative investigations, including protection of his papers, residence and other possessions from search and seizure.”

Source: New York Times

In his first speech as acting president, Putin promised freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of the press, the right to private property …

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Putin’s first public speech as Russia’s Acting President, December 31,1999. (Photo: YouTube)

The exact quote from his speech is:

“I want to warn that by any attempts to go beyond the Russian laws, beyond the Constitution of Russia, will be strongly suppressed. Freedom of speech. Freedom of conscience. Freedom of mass media. Property rights. These basic principles of the civilized society will be safe under the protection of the state.

You can watch the whole speech here on YouTube.

During his first presidential term, Putin focused primarily on domestic affairs. He had two items on the agenda: the war with Chechnya and the Yeltsin-era oligarchs.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Alexei Makhotin, an internal service colonel who fought in Chechnya, being given the title the title of Hero of Russia at a state award ceremony. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Putin inherited Russia during a particularly complicated time. The country was in the midst of a conflict with Chechnya — a region that’s officially considered a Russian subject.

Additionally, Yeltsin-era oligarchs were increasingly interested in expanding their political influence.

Source: The Guardian

Putin recognized that the Yeltsin-era oligarchs had the potential to be more powerful than him … so he struck a deal with them.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Boris Berezovsky. (Photo: AJ Berezovsky/Flickr)

“In July of [2000], Putin told the oligarchs that he would not interfere with their businesses or renationalize state resources as long as they stayed out of politics — that is, as long as they did not challenge or criticize the president,” according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

Source: The Council on Foreign RelationsThe Guardian.

And then Putin established his reputation as a “man of action” with his handling of the Second Chechen War.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
A farewell ceremony for the 331st Airborne Regiment of the 98th Airborne Division withdrawn from Chechnya. (Photo: Wikimedia)

In 2002, a Moscow theatre was seized by 40 Chechen militants, who were led by the warlord Movsar Barayev, and 129 out of the 912 hostages died during this three-day ordeal.

This was a critical moment for Putin, and many expected his domestic approval to plummet. But his “ruthless handling of the siege and his refusal to negotiate with the hostage-takers further shored up his reputation as a man of action.”

His approval rating was up at 83% after it was all over.

Source: BBC

In 2004, Putin was re-elected for a second term. He continued to focus on domestic affairs, but drew major criticisms for his crackdowns on the media.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Photo: Wikimedia

Journalist Anna Politkovskaya was murdered in her apartment lobby after she wrote about corruption in the Russian army with respect to Chechnya. Many in the Western media criticized Putin for failing to protect the media.

Those accused of the murder “testified that Akhmed Zakayev and Boris Berezovksy (one of the Yeltsin-era oligarchs) could be the clients, who ordered the murder of Anna Politkovskaya,” according to TASS.

Source: Independent

But overall, Putin was well-liked. During his first two terms, the Russian economy grew at an incredible rate.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
The Russian economy since the fall of the Soviet Union. (Photo: Wikimedia)

During Putin’s first two terms, Russia’s GDP went up 70%, and investments went up by 125%.

“Russia’s GDP in 2007 reached the 1990 level, which means that the country has overcome the consequences of the economic crisis that devastated the 1990s,” following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

But Putin’s Russia was really lucky in that the country largely relied on oil. (The recent drop in oil prices reflects how much of a difference it makes.)

Source: Sputnik News

In 2008, Dmitry Medvedev was elected president. One day later, he made Putin the new Prime Minister … And then Russia got clobbered by the financial crisis.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Medvedev and Merkel in 2008. (Photo: Wikimedia)

When the global financial crisis hit, things got really got bad. The Russian economy was slammed particularly hard because it relied heavily on Western investment.

Additionally, the financial crisis really showed just how dependent the Russian economy is on oil and gas, and how intertwined the industry was with the country’s political economy, according to the Brookings Institute.

Source: Brookings Institute

In that same year, Russia got involved in a five-day international conflict — the Russo-Georgian War.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Border between Russia and Georgia. (Photo: Wikimedia)

The Russo-Georgia conflict involving Russia, Georgia, and the two regions South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The two regions have been trying to get formal independence since the 1990s — Russia recognizes the independence, which has been condemned by Western nations.

“After the 2008 conflict, Moscow declared that it would formally recognize the independence of both South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia’s allies Nicaragua and Venezuela followed suit, as did a number of small Pacific island states,” according to the BBC.

Internationally, South Ossetia is still considered to be “officially part of Georgia.” And Georgia considers Abkhazia to be a “breakaway region.”

Source: BBC

Fast forward to 2012: Putin wins his third presidential election with 63.6% of the vote. (This one’s a six-year term, rather than four.)

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Putin’s 2012 inauguration. (Photo: Wikimedia)

There was some controversy over this election. The constitutionality of his third term was called into question, and critics believed that there was electoral fraud.

However, officially, Putin registered nearly 64% of the vote.

Source: The Guardian

Two years later, in March 2014, Putin annexed Crimea in one of the most complicated and controversial geopolitical moves of the year.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Ceremony signing the laws on admitting Crimea and Sevastopol to Russia, 21 March 2014. (Photo: Wikimedia)

The ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych “sent a letter to” Putin “requesting that he use Russia’s military to restore law and order in Ukraine.”

The Russian Parliament granted Putin “broad authority to use military force in response to the political upheaval in Ukraine that dislodged a Kremlin ally and installed a new, staunchly pro-Western government, the Ukrainian government in Kiev threatened war if Russia sent troops further into Ukraine,” reported The New York Times.

On March 2, Russia took complete control of Crimea, and on March 16, an “overwhelming majority” of Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.

Source: NBC News

Most recently, Putin has started exploring a relationship with China — mostly because Russia needs other trading partners following the Western sanctions.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Photo: Wikimedia

Russia has a deal to build a $70 billion gas pipeline with China. The two nations are also considering building “a high-speed rail line thousands of kilometers from Moscow to Beijing.”

“Isolated over Ukraine, Russia is relying on China for the investment it needs to avert a recession,” three people involved in policy planning told Bloomberg.

Source: Bloomberg News

No one’s quite sure what Putin’s next move will be, but since he’s considering a fourth term, we may be seeing much more from him until at least 2024 …

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Photo: Wikimedia

Back when Putin was a deputy mayor in St. Petersburg, his inner circle cronies referred to him as “Boss.” Today, they refer to him as “Tsar,” and Forbes just named him the most powerful person in 2014.

And there’s no telling what people will call him next.

More from Business Insider:

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

Articles

This Walt Disney film taught World War II soldiers how to use an anti-tank rifle

Before Lady met Tramp and Captain Jack Sparrow was dependent on rum, Walt Disney Productions’ humble beginnings included informational videos.


Amazingly, one of these educational videos was a theatrical short on how to effectively operate a high-caliber rifle used to take down tanks.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Walt Disney Productions

Developed in 1942, “Stop That Tank!” was a 22-minute instructional film produced by Walt Disney Productions in partnership with the National Film Board of Canada.

In it, a cartoon rendition of a prancing Adolf Hitler breaks the monotony of the forthcoming chore: sitting through another instructional film that the soldiers would soon be watching. Afterwards, Disney’s signature vintage mix of using actual characters, cartoons, and a narrator, provide detailed instructions on the proper techniques of using the rifle — such as loading, aiming, firing, and cleaning.

The rifle mentioned in the film happened to be a Mk.1 “Boys Anti-Tank Rifle” that was originally manufactured in Britain. Weighing in at 36 pounds, this monstrous .55 caliber rifle .55 — slightly reminiscent of Barrett’s M82 — stood at 63.5 inches tall and had a 36-inch barrel.

Here’s what the film’s animation looked like:

Watch the entire video below:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnhlD0HZAm4
Articles

Stryker armored vehicles spotted rolling into Syria

In would could herald a major escalation in America’s effort to fight ISIS in Syria, photos emerged in early March appearing to show a convoy of specially-modified U.S. armored vehicles rolling toward a town recently liberated by anti-ISIS allies.


Media outlets in Syria posted photos and video footage of what look like tricked-out M1126 Stryker infantry carrier vehicles rolling across the Euphrates river into Syria headed toward the town of Manbij, now the front line in the anti-ISIS coalition’s fight to take the last remaining militant stronghold in Raqqa.

The vehicles appeared to be carrying U.S. special operations troops and were flying American flags on their antennae.

Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Air Force Col. John Dorrian confirmed the influx of American armor in a March 4 statement via Twitter, saying the armored push was a “deliberate action” to reassure allies and to defeat ISIS.

The armored escalation comes just days after top Pentagon brass reportedly delivered a new plan to President Donald Trump on how to defeat ISIS. In a Feb. 28 speech to a joint session of Congress, Trump vowed to “demolish and destroy ISIS” and to “extinguish this vile enemy from our planet.”

Though details of the new plan have not been publicly released, the Washington Post reports one preferred option weighs heavily on an increase in U.S. combat power into Syria, including ground troops, helicopters and artillery. There are currently an estimated 500 U.S. special operations troops operating in Syria in a largely advisory role.

The Stryker vehicles rolling into Syria appear to have incorporated modifications that make it more like an ultra-up-armored Humvee as opposed to an armored combat vehicle. Some of the photos show an open crew compartment and a unique driver capsule that sits above the usual eye line.

A fleet of up-armored Humvees are also pictured rolling into Syria accompanying the Strykers.

Lists

These awesome dogs are full-on MARSOC operators

The Raiders of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command are some of the world’s greatest warrior-athletes, specializing in taking the fight to America’s enemies across the globe. But not all fighting members of MARSOC are the human Raiders. Some are specially trained canines who deploy across the world and support Marines wherever they’re called upon.


Here they are, in 14 photos:

1. MARSOC dogs are highly-trained animals who work with their multipurpose canine handlers to execute missions around the world.

 

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maricela M. Bryant)

2. The dogs train to accompany their handlers on a variety of missions and can enter the battlefield via Zodiac boat.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maricela M. Bryant)

3. When necessary, they can also swim stealthily to shore.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maricela M. Bryant)

4. The canines and handlers will then make their way through the surf and toward their objective.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Tabitha A. Markovich)

5. When the target is far from shore, the dogs and their handlers can even insert by parachute.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Scott Achtemeier)

 

6. Once they reach the objective, the dogs are capable of completing many missions. Some engage in direct action, helping MARSOC Raiders clear buildings and hunt down bad guys.

 

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Tabitha A. Markovich)

7. The dogs have to move tactically with the other operators and perform their tasks as a member of the team.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Tabitha A. Markovich)

8. One of their specialties is seeking out enemies who’ve tried to hide or escape.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Roderick Jacquote)

9. To work well together, the dogs and handlers have to train together in all their essential tasks, including range qualifications.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Roderick Jacquote)

10. They also swim together.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Brian Bekkala)

11. They dive together.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
(Cpl. Brian Bekkala)

12. They even complete obstacle courses together. Here, a U.S. Army soldier navigates the course with a Marine Corps canine.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Tyler S. Dietrich)

13. The obstacle courses at Camp Pendleton, California, give the dogs and handlers plenty of realistic barriers to navigate.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Tyler S. Dietrich)

14. We’re not sure whether the dogs take the training quite as seriously as their handlers, but they’re pretty darn impressive nonetheless.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Brian Bekkala)

Articles

300 Marines heading back to Helmand

The US Marine Corps has returned to Helmand, the restive province in southern Afghanistan where it fought years of bloody battles with the Taliban, to help train Afghan forces struggling to contain the insurgency.


Many of the 300 Marines coming to Helmand as part of the NATO-led Resolute Support training mission are veterans of previous tours in the province, where almost 1,000 coalition troops, mostly US and British, were killed fighting the Taliban.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Dustin D. March)

When they left in 2014, handing over the sprawling desert base they knew as Camp Leatherneck to the Afghan army, the Marines never expected to return. The fact that they are back underlines the problems Afghan forces have faced since being left to fight alone.

Intel

Meet the American raising a Christian army to fight ISIS

Former Georgetown grad Matthew VanDyke is fighting ISIS the only way he knows how — through a grassroots military training initiative he calls Sons of Liberty International (SOLI).


The self-made nonprofit aims to equip the Christian north of Iraq against the threat of the so-called Islamic State, mobilizing local volunteers against insurgents that have devastated Assyrian communities since ISIS invaded last year.

Despite VanDyke’s zeal for the cause, reactions to SOLI and the involvement of fellow Westerners in the Arab conflict are greatly divided. The American Evangelical community hails VanDyke’s work as revolutionary, while others are suspicious of SOLI, which has zero backing from Iraqi or American governments.

SOLI’s main objective is to empower the Ninevah Plain Protection Units (NPU), a volunteer Christian militia that is comprised of Iraqi civilians, American ex-soldiers and everything in between. Originally operating as a ragtag defense unit, VanDyke and senior NPU members are shifting the group to the offensive, hoping to reclaim ISIS-occupied Assyrian villages and eventually join the fight for the ISIS-stronghold of Mosul.

VanDyke himself has no formal military training, but he’s no stranger to Middle Eastern conflict. The 36-year-old ‘s rap sheet includes living as a POW after fighting with Libyan rebels in 2010, as well as working alongside war journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff while filming a documentary short to promote the Free Syrian Army.

In an interview with Adam Linehan of Maxim, VanDyke expressed his fierce belief in SOLI and its work:

“Sometimes I question if it was a wise decision,” he said. “But once you become aware of the brutality of the modern world, there’s no plugging back into the matrix. There’s no un-ringing that bell.” Then, after a long pause, he added: “I’m fully committed to the cause. I’ll do whatever it takes.”

For the full story, check out Maxim

To watch SOLI train, watch the video below:

NOW: ISIS may be on the verge of losing its biggest asset

OR: An American has died fighting ISIS in Syria

Articles

This music festival is hitting military bases and we’re amped

A new festival experience is coming to military bases this year and we’re pretty pumped up about it. Base*FEST Powered by USAA will launch at Camp Lejeune this 4th of July weekend and continue the party through Labor Day.


Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Did we mention it’s free?

To celebrate, we’ve put together some playlists to get you amped (may I recommend “The Double Tap Ensemble”?) and we’re teaming up with some bad ass vets who will be sharing their own musical inspiration for things like, you know, fighting terrorism and defending the free world.

Also read: 8 epic deployment music videos you need to watch

We’re also powering up with USAA and To The Fallen Entertainment to bring you a music competition that will let veterans and their families bring down the house, so stick around.

Comment below and tell us which song we absolutely cannot leave out of our ultimate Battle Mix.

Articles

The Punisher revealed its episodes via Morse Code

On Twitter this morning, the official twitter handle for the upcoming “Punisher” series on Netflix released a series of cryptic tweets.


Quick translation into the regular alphabet gives you: “3am, two dead men, and Kandahar.” Kandahar, Afghanistan, is more than likely where Frank Castle was deployed, since he mentioned to an old Marine veteran back in Daredevil Season 2 that he was in Afghanistan.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
…and definitely where this scene takes place, given the headgear (Screengrab via Marvel)

The name of all of the episodes are:

  1. “3 AM”
  2. “Two Dead Men”
  3. “Kandahar”
  4. “Resupply”
  5. “Gunner”
  6. “The Judas Goat”
  7. “Crosshairs”
  8. “Cold Steel”
  9. “Front Toward Enemy”
  10. “Virtue of the Vicious”
  11. “Danger Close”
  12. “Home”
  13. “Memento Mori”

Following the standard 13 episode format for all of the series, this seems to make sense. The series of tweets ends with a very cryptic video meant to invoke the feeling of something being classified by the military.

The video ends with an ambiguous date in 2017. However, I have my own personal theory on this.

One of the directors on The Punisher accidentally revealed the show’s premiere month. The director said Netflix was planning to release his episode in November. Knowing the structure of every Netflix’s television show, this basically means that every episode drops with the whole season for maximum binging results. Netflix also releases a lot of their shows on a Friday, once again for maximum binging results.

If Marvel and Netflix were to drop it on any Friday to get the best results, it would be over Veteran’s Day weekend. The day before Veteran’s Day is also the Marine Corps’ Birthday. What better way to celebrate the anniversary of the Corps than by having its favorite fictional son’s television show released on the same day?

I’m open to criticism if I’m wrong, but if I’m right this could be one of the best birthday gifts ever.

Articles

This is the best Navy life at sea video you’ll see today

A new YouTube channel dubbed “White Scope Media” shows what life is like for sailors in an EA-18G Growler squadron.


But it’s not like your typical Discovery Channel documentary or MTV “Cribs” special.

These Navy videos don’t have voice over narration. With only music and footage, they paint an intimate, true-to-form sailor experience.

Related: 37 Awesome photos of life on a US Navy carrier

While this is everyday life for active-duty sailors, veterans will get a prideful sense of nostalgia — especially after watching the second one, “Chapter 2: Meet the Patriots.”

It’s the type of intimate footage you’d expect from a family gathering. It’s why some veterans consider their shipmates their second family.

Like family, these sailors do everything together, from washing the birds, to relaxing, to preparing for war. But unlike family, this is every day, not just during a family picnic or reunion.

Life on a carrier is not the same as life on a cruise liner. Sailors don’t get the awesome hotel-style living quarters. Instead, they live in berthings with up to 100 other sailors — sometimes even more. But that’s okay because the friendships forged on deployment are way deeper than any cruise liner could ever deliver.

Watch:

White Scope Media, YouTube
Articles

9 essential items soldiers should have in their barracks rooms

1. Water filter

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Photo: Youtube.com


Soldiers drink enough crappy water in the field when a lieutenant decides the platoon needs to practice using iodine tablets. While relaxing in the barracks, they need a decent filter. Pitcher filters allow the water to chill in the fridge, but faucet-mounted units provide water on demand.

2. Headphones

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Photo: US Army

No one wants to hear their roommates’ music, movie, or video game, so headphones should be on everyone’s list.

3. Coffeemaker

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Photo: Youtube.com

For a cup of coffee before PT, the DFAC is no help. Plus, coffee in the room is great for troops during lazy weekends when throwing on a hoodie and walking to chow is too much work. A cheap coffee maker allows a soldier to create their own brew on demand. For those under strict barracks policies against coffee makers, French presses aren’t forbidden and are nearly as easy to use.

4. Hot plate

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Photo: Flickr.com/George Alexander Ishida Newman

The DFAC won’t serve grilled cheese at 2 a.m. on a Saturday morning when soldiers are craving it. Hot plates with a couple of pans allow for diner quality meals at home. For those who only grill, griddles allow for mass production or George Foreman grills are good for chicken and hot dogs. Keep an eye out for inspections however, since few commands allow hotplates. Some barracks now have stoves, so troops there can just buy pans.

5. Rugs (or a carpet for the swanky)

Rugs and carpets hide a lot of the stuff first sergeant looks for on the floor, and they grab up lots of the hair and debris that forms dust bunnies. Plus, carpet is more comfortable on sensitive toes after a long ruck march.

6. Vacuum

Vaccum cleaner for the barracks automated Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Nohau

Of course, carpets and rugs necessitate vacuums. There’s only a few hundred square feet to cover though, so a cheap vacuum is generally fine. Roombas can wait until the soldier marries out of the barracks.

7. Family photos, whether of a real family or not

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Evil Erin

Units want to see that soldiers are settling into the barracks, and that means personal items should be up on the walls. If the family is normal, the trooper can put up actual photos. For those with hot sisters and creepy roommates, a trip to a stock image site could be helpful. Just print and frame.

8. Plunger/Toilet Brush

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Photo: Youtube.com

Troops go to the field, even the human administration folks. They are fed MREs. They need a plunger, and they need a toilet brush.

9. Tons of cleaning wipes and air fresheners

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage

Surprise inspections center on a few things. 1. Dishes in the sink. 2. Dust accumulated on ledges. 3. Smells. The dishes are simple enough. The best way to deal with dust and any odd smells is to stock up on cleaning wipes and air freshener. The wipes make cleaning the lips of door frames and the fridge easy, dealing with the dust. Air freshener helps the room at least smell clean so first sergeant will move on to the next area.

EXTRA BONUS: A hot tub.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Photo: Terminal Lance/Facebook

Because that’s how you win at barracks life.

NOW: Heres a hilarious look at what life is like for Marines on a Navy ship

OR: 6 reasons why the guys from The Hangover are like an Army unit

Articles

Air Force gives F-15 major air-to-air superiority upgrade

The Air Force is reving up electronic warfare upgrades for its F-15 fighter as a way to better protect against enemy fire and electronic attacks, service officials said.


Boeing has secured a $478 million deal to continue work on a new technology called with a system called the Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System, or EPAWSS.

Also read: Navy Super Hornets hit targets hard as Mosul offensive heats up

“This allows the aircraft to identify a threat and actively prosecute that threat through avoidance, deception or jamming techniques,” Mike Gibbons, Vice President of the Boeing F-15 program, told Scout Warrior in an interview a few months ago.

 These updated EW capabilities replace the Tactical Electronic Warfare Suite, which has been used since the 1980s, not long after the F-15 first deployed. The service plans to operate the fleet until the mid-2040’s, so an overhaul of the Eagle’s electronic systems helps maintain U.S. air supremacy, the contract announcement said.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
US Air Force photo

Boeing won the initial contract for the EPAWSS project last year and hired BAE Systems as the primary subcontractor. 

Overall, the US Air Force is vigorously upgrading the 1980s-era F-15 fighter by giving new weapons and sensors in the hope of maintaining air-to-air superiority over the Chinese J-10 equivalent.

The multi-pronged effort not only includes the current addition of electronic warfare technology but also extends to super-fast high-speed computers, infrared search and track enemy targeting systems, increased networking ability and upgraded weapons-firing capability, Air Force and Boeing officials said.

“The Air Force plans to keep the F-15 fleet in service until the mid-2040’s.  Many of the F-15 systems date back to the 1970’s and must be upgraded if the aircraft is to remain operationally effective. Various upgrades will be complete as early as 2021 for the F-15C AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar and as late as 2032 for the various EW (electronic warfare) upgrades,” Air Force spokesman Maj. Rob Leese told Scout Warrior a few months ago.

The Air Force currently operates roughly 400 F-15C, D and E variants. A key impetus for the upgrade was well articulate in a Congressional report on the US and China in 2014. (US-China Economic and Security Review Commission —www.uscc.gov). Among other things, the report cited rapid Chinese technological progress and explained that the US margin of superiority has massively decreased since the 1980s.

As an example, the report said that in the 1980s, the US F-15 was vastly superior to the Chinese equivalent – the J-10. However, Chinese technical advances in recent years have considerably narrowed that gap to the point where the Chinese J-10 is now roughly comparable to the US F-15, the report explained.

Air Force and Boeing developers maintain that ongoing upgrades to the F-15 will ensure that this equivalence is not the case and that, instead, they will ensure the superiority of the F-15.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
A F-15 Eagle on the flight line in St. Louis. | Boeing photo

Among the upgrades is an ongoing effort to equip the F-15 with the fastest jet-computer processer in the world, called the Advanced Display Core Processor, or ADCPII.

“It is capable of processing 87 billion instructions per second of computing throughput, translating into faster and more reliable mission processing capability for an aircrew,” Boeing spokesman Randy Jackson told Scout Warrior.

High tech targeting and tracking technology is also being integrated onto the F-15, Gibbons added. This includes the addition of a passive long-range sensor called Infrared Search and Track, or IRST.

The technology is also being engineered into the Navy F-18 Super Hornet. The technology can detect the heat signature, often called infrared emissions, of enemy aircraft.

“The system can simultaneously track multiple targets and provide a highly effective air-to-air targeting capability, even when encountering advanced threats equipped with radar-jamming technology,” Navy officials said.

IRST also provides an alternate air-to-air targeting system in a high threat electronic attack environment, Navy, Air Force and industry developers said.

The F-15 is also being engineered for additional speed and range, along with weapons-firing ability. The weapons-carrying ability is being increased from 8 up to 16 weapons; this includes an ability to fire an AIM-9x or AIM-120 missile. In addition, upgrades to the aircraft include adding an increased ability to integrate or accommodate new emerging weapons systems as they become available. This is being done through both hardware and software-oriented “open standards” IP protocol and architecture.

The aircraft is also getting a “fly-by-wire” automated flight control system.

“Fly by wire means when the pilot provides the input – straight to a computer than then determines how to have the aircraft perform the way it wants – provides electrical signals for the more quickly and more safely move from point to point as opposed to using a mechanical controls stick,” Gibbons explained.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
A formation of F-15C Eagles, assigned to the 493rd Fighter Squadron, and an F-15E Strike Eagle, assigned to the 492nd Fighter Squadron, fly over Gloucestershire, England. | U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Erin Trower

Along with these weapons upgrades and other modifications, the F-15 is also getting upgrades to the pilot’s digital helmet and some radar signature reducing, or stealthy characteristics.

However, at the same time, the F-15 is not a stealthy aircraft and is expected to be used in combat environments in what is called “less contested” environments where the Air Force already has a margin of air superiority over advanced enemy air defenses.

For this reason, the F-15 will also be increasing networked so as to better support existing 5th-generation platforms such as the F-22 and F-35, Air Force officials said.

The intent of these F-15 upgrades is to effectively perform the missions assigned to the F-15 fleet, which are to support the F-22 in providing air superiority and the F-35 in providing precision attack capabilities, Leese said.

“While these upgrades will not make these aircraft equivalent to 5th generation fighters, they will allow the F-15 to support 5th generation fighters in performing their missions, and will also allow F-15s to assume missions in more permissive environments where capabilities of 5th generation fighters are not required,” Leese added.

Gibbons added that the upgrades to the F-15 will ensure that the fighter aircraft remains superior to its Chinese equivalent.

“The F-15 as a vital platform that still has a capability that cannot be matched in terms of ability to fly high, fly fast, go very far carry a lot. It is an air dominance machine,” Gibbons explained.

Articles

4 military fails so awful they’re actually hilarious

1. That one time the Australian Army fought a bunch of emus … and lost

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Pretty intimidating, no? Photo: Flickr


Australia’s known for being a pretty badass country — a worthy reputation when your nation is populated by a bunch of outlaws on one of the world’s harshest continents. What Australia doesn’t want you to know, however, is that in between all that crocodile-wrangling and kangaroo-eating, it got its butt kicked once by a bunch of flightless birds.

The year was 1932. Australian farmers were struggling to save their wheat crops from a fierce, egg-laying pack of scavengers that had migrated into the area. And we’re not talking a pesky flock of chickens, either. This was a battalion of 20,000 emus.

Being Australian, the farmers figured they could probably take out these birds themselves. That plan quickly failed, since there were simply too many birds to handle, though one does wonder how they attempted to solve the problem in the first place (maybe some vegemite traps?).

Regardless, the crops were failing and it was decided reinforcements were necessary. Enter the Royal Australian Artillery. Major G.P.W. Meredith led two regiments of machine-gun wielding Australian soldiers against the bird infestation, figuring the issue would be taken care of in a few days.

He was wrong.

The emus proved wilier than expected. They dodged bullets with shocking finesse, weaving in and out of troops and scattering into the brush before they could be herded together. Many of the birds that were hit still got away — whether because of their dense feathers or sheer force of will, they would not not bend to the Aussie military.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
These guys don’t mess around. Photo: unrealfacts.com

Meredith decided to up the ante, organizing a surprise ambush near a dam where 1,000 emus were gathered unawares. This failed as well. Ego bruised, Meredith decided that the only way to destroy an army of demon emus is to do it yourself. In what no doubt would have made a soul-stirring slow-motion montage, Meredith climbed in the back of a truck and manned its machine gun, firing at the birds as he sped beside them.

The emus outran the truck, leading it through terrain so uneven and wild that the vehicle ended up crashing through a fence in its pursuit. As the emus disappeared into the sunset, the AA had no choice but to accept defeat.

According to Scientific American, Dr. Murray Johnson’s entries in Journal of Australian Studies reflect Australia’s humorous response to the skirmish:

“On 8 November, it was reported that Major Meredith’s party had used 2,500 rounds of ammunition – twenty-five per cent of the allotted total – to destroy 200 emus,” says Johnson. “When one New South Wales state Labor politician inquired whether ‘a medal was to be struck for those taking part in this war’, his federal counterpart in Western Australia, responded that they should rightly go to the emus who ‘have won every round so far’.”

In the end, less than 1,000 of the 20,000 emus were killed, and the farmers were left to weep over their wheat and gather an army of wallabies to fight back. Totally kidding — the government decided to cut out the middleman and give the farmers the ammunition they needed to finally fry the birds, taking the lives of 57,034 emus and restoring peace once and for all.

2. The time Japan deployed a new battleship and flooded Nagasaki

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
There’s no flooding, just go about your business… Photo: Getty Images

The saying “bigger is better” is traditionally an American mantra, but the Japanese Navy tried it on for size in 1940, and the results were pretty hilarious.

Not yet at war with the United States, Japan still wanted to assert military dominance. The plan? Build the biggest battleship it had ever commissioned, and call it the Musashi.

Now, Japan understood that an incredibly large battleship would not be impressive unless it was also outfitted with incredibly large weapons. To remedy this, the Japanese Navy decked out the Musashi with the best of the best. Amongst the weapons on board were cannons that could fire 18-inch shells over 26 miles and 9×450 mm guns — stats that were impressive for any military at the time.

What Japan did not take into account, apparently, was how much this thing would weigh. When the Japanese Navy joyously deployed the ship into the sea, the mammoth watercraft displaced so much water (63,000 tons) it caused a four foot high tidal wave, flooding the riverbank homes of Nagasaki and totally killing the mood.

The Musashi‘s wake capsized nearly all of the ships in the surrounding harbor, and did some serious damage to the shops and houses closest to the water’s edge. Frightened citizens rushed into the streets as water poured through their doors, completely bewildered by the source of the flooding.

They were quickly urged back inside their water-sogged homes by the Imperial Navy, which was too embarrassed to tell the people of Nagasaki what had actually gone down. It makes you wonder what they did blame it on…

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Photo: Flickr

3. A pilot ejects from his plane and watches it fly itself

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage

Sometimes in life, things go incredibly wrong. And other times, they just go incredibly weird. 1st Lt. Gary Foust was preparing for the first scenario during a test flight in 1970, when his fighter jet began an uncontrollable flat spin. After struggling to regain control of the F-106 interceptor jet for a few moments, he did the smart thing and pressed the eject button 8,000 feet above the ground.

Or … he thought it was the smart thing. Once his chute deployed and buoyed him up in the air, Foust looked down towards the ground, expecting his plane to light up like the Fourth of July upon impact. What he saw instead was his plane cruising along, as if the spin had never happened and it was being piloted by a very casual, aircraft-savvy ghost.

One of Foust’s wingmen, Maj. Jim Lowe reportedly shouted over the radio “Gary, you better get back in it!” But Gary could not get back in. All he could do was watch with wonder as his plane flew itself in a straight line before landing gently in a snow-covered wheat field.

When police arrived on the scene, the F-106’s engine was still running. Wary of whatever had possessed this thing, the Air Force suggest the cops wait until the plane ran out of fuel, rather than attempt shutting it off. It took a while.

When the plane finally breathed its last it was collected and repaired by the Air Force, and eventually returned to active service. Freaky.

Check out the video below to hear Foust recount the events of that day:

4. Helicopter pilots nosedive into Lake Tahoe for a Facebook pic

Back in 2010, two presumably experienced and level-headed pilots from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 41 (HSM-41) were flying MH-6OR helicopters over Lake Tahoe. Everything appeared to be normal, when suddenly one of the aircrafts took a dip in the water, like a pelican trying to nab a fish.

Civilian witnesses caught the whole thing on video, and everyone wondered what the heck was going on. Had the engine failed? Were they trying to practice a mock search and rescue mission? The women in the video below seem to think its some sort of elaborate training exercise:

The answer is no. The pilots had the $33 million chopper surface-hover incredibly low over the water to try and get a cool profile picture for their squad’s Facebook page. And no, we’re not kidding.

The pilots allegedly took their hands off the controls to snap photos of one another flying the choppers. Then one helicopter began to plummet through the air, quickly losing altitude and skimming the water. The pilot was able to regain control and bring the chopper back up out of the water, but the stunt cost a cool half-a-million dollars worth in damages to the electronic flying antenna and other expensive equipment.

When they returned to base, the unnamed pair immediately lost flight status — shocker. Let it be a lesson to us all to not do it for the Vine, or the Facebook profile picture.

NOW: 4 amazing military stories that should totally be movies

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Articles

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea

North Korea and the U.S. flexed their military muscles April 25 as Pyongyang marked the 85th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army — without testing a nuclear weapon or conducting a major missile test.


Instead, amid soaring tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the nuclear-armed North carried out large-scale, live-fire drills in areas around the city of Wonsan on the country’s east coast, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said.

The Yonhap news agency said the drill, which involved 300-400 artillery pieces, was overseen by leader Kim Jong Un and was thought to be the “largest ever.”

Some observers had anticipated the regime would test an atomic bomb on the occasion.

The massive live-fire drills came the same day a U.S. guided-missile nuclear submarine arrived in South Korea and as diplomats from the United States, Japan, and South Korea gathered in Tokyo for a trilateral dialogue aimed at discussing measures to “maximize” pressure on the North over its nuclear and missile programs.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
The test-fire of Pukguksong-2. Described as ‘nuclear-capable’, its first test flight was on Feb. 12, 2017. (Photo: KCNA/Handout)

Kenji Kanasugi, director-general of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, told reporters that the three countries had agreed to further cooperate in their effort to take “resolute” actions against nuclear provocations by the North.

Also read: The tension between North Korea and the US is not good

Kanasugi said the trio also shared the recognition that China — North Korea’s largest trade partner — had a “significant” role to play in reining in Pyongyang’s saber-rattling. He did not elaborate.

South Korea’s envoy on North Korean nuclear issues, Kim Hong-kyun, warned that Pyongyang’s failure to discontinue its missile and atomic tests will be met with “unbearable” punitive sanctions, and that the three countries will seek to “maximize” pressure against the reclusive state.

This could come in the form of tightened oil exports to the North by China, something reports in Chinese state-run media have alluded to in recent days.

Kanasugi is scheduled to meet his visiting Chinese counterpart, Wu Dawei, special representative for Korean Peninsula Affairs, on May 3. In meeting with Wu, Kanasugi said he will discuss the possibility of China cutting off its supply of oil to North Korea.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
One of the most threatening things in the North’s arsenal is its powerful conventional artillery, with hundreds of these 170mm Koksan guns threatening South Korea. (Photo: Reuters/KCNA)

The three envoys said they would “continue to work very closely with China” and “coordinate all actions — diplomatic, military, economic — regarding North Korea,” Joseph Yun, special representative for North Korea policy from the U.S., told reporters after the meeting.

“We really do not believe North Korea is ready to engage us toward denuclearization,” Yun said. “We make clear among ourselves that denuclearlization remains the goal and we very much want North Korea to take steps toward that.”

Meanwhile, the USS Michigan — one of the largest submarines in the world — arrived at the South Korean port city of Busan “for a routine visit during a regularly scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific,” U.S. Forces Korea said in a statement.

The vessel, which began service as a ballistic missile sub but was converted to a land-based attack vessel in the early 2000s, can carry up to 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles and embark up to 66 special operations personnel, according to the U.S. Navy.

The move came less than three weeks after the U.S. launched a barrage of 59 cruise missiles against a Syrian military target in response to a chemical weapons attack by that country’s regime.

That strike was also seen by some as sending a message to Pyongyang that military action remains a credible option for Washington in dealing with the North.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage

The Michigan may have been what U.S. President Donald Trump was referring to in an April 11 interview with the Fox Business Network in which he described powerful submarines that were to link up with a U.S. “armada” — led by the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier — that was heading toward the region.

“We are sending an armada, very powerful,” Trump said. “We have submarines, very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier. That I can tell you.”

Related: Here is what a war with North Korea could look like

On April 23, the Maritime Self-Defense Force held joint drills with the Carl Vinson and its escort vessels in the Western Pacific as the carrier strike group made its way toward the Sea of Japan.

The Trump administration had in recent days faced criticism over the strike group’s whereabouts after officials had portrayed it as steaming toward the Korean Peninsula when it was, in fact, still thousands of kilometers away.

The carrier group’s last reported location was in the Philippine Sea on April 23.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
The USS Carl Vinson sails during a training mission in the Pacific on July 17, 2016. (Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class D’Andre L. Roden)

The North has called the moves “undisguised military blackmail” and a dangerous action that plunges the peninsula into a “touch-and-go situation.”

“If the enemies recklessly provoke the DPRK, its revolutionary armed forces will promptly give deadly blows to them and counter any total war with all-out war and nuclear war with a merciless nuclear strike of Korean style,” the North’s ruling party newspaper Rodong Shinmun said April 24. DPRK stands for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

International concern that the North is preparing for its sixth atomic test or a major missile launch has surged in recent months as the Kim’s regime butts heads with Trump.

Speaking to a gathering of United Nations Security Council ambassadors in Washington on April 24, Trump pushed for more pressure on the North, saying that maintaining the status quo was “unacceptable” and the council should take action to tighten the screws on Pyongyang with additional sanctions.

Further reading: How China could potentially stop a US strike on North Korea — without starting World War III

Trump said the North “is a real threat to the world, whether we want to talk about it or not.”

“People have put blindfolds on for decades, and now it’s time to solve the problem,” he added.

Also April 24, the White House confirmed reports that it would host a briefing on the North Korean nuclear issue for all 100 U.S. senators. Press secretary Sean Spicer said the briefing would be delivered by four top administration officials: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
Potential ranges for North Korea’s ballistic missile program. (Center for Strategic and International Studies/Missile Defense Project)

While administration officials often travel to Capitol Hill to speak with Congress about policy issues, it is rare for the entire Senate to visit the White House.

Earlier April 24, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, threatened military strikes on the North if Kim orders attacks on any military base in the U.S. or in allied countries, or tests a long-range missile.

“We’re not going to do anything unless he gives us a reason to do something. So our goal is not to start a fight,” Haley said on NBC’s “Today” when asked if the U.S. is seriously considering a preemptive strike against the North.

However, when pressed on what would prompt a U.S. military response, Haley appeared to draw a line in the sand.

“If you see him attack a military base, if you see some sort of intercontinental ballistic missile. Then obviously we’re going to do that,” she said. “But right now, we’re saying, ‘Don’t test, don’t use nuclear missiles, don’t try and do any more actions’ and I think he’s understanding that.”

North Korea has kicked its weapons programs into overdrive over the last 16 months, conducting two nuclear blasts and a spate of new missile tests.

In one particularly worrisome development for Japan, the North conducted a near-simultaneous launch of four extended-range Scud missiles in March as a rehearsal for striking U.S. military bases in the country.

Experts who analyzed photographs of the drill told The Japan Times at the time that the hypothetical target of those test-launches appeared to be U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture — meant as a simulated nuclear attack on the base. The exercise showed the North’s first explicit intent to attack U.S. Forces in Japan, they said.

Vladimir Putin’s Extraordinary Path From Soviet Slums To The World Stage
The largest part of the military is the Korean People’s Army Ground Force, which includes about 1.2 million active personnel and millions more civilians who are effectively reservists. (Photo: Reuters/KCNA)

In the event of conflict on the Korean Peninsula, U.S. troops and equipment from Iwakuni would likely be among the first deployed.

Also April 24, the U.S. State Department announced that Tillerson will chair a special meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss North Korea. That meeting is widely seen as an effort to drum up support for increased pressure on the North.

“The DPRK poses one of the gravest threats to international peace and security through its pursuit of nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and other weapons of mass destruction as well as its other prohibited activities,” the State Department said in a statement.

“The meeting will give Security Council members an opportunity to discuss ways to maximize the impact of existing Security Council measures and show their resolve to respond to further provocations with appropriate new measures.”

Analysts said the White House was taking a multipronged approach to the issue as it ratchets up pressure on Pyongyang.

“Clearly, the Trump administration is looking to employ a swarm-tactic approach to apply pressure on North Korea through a combination of levers,” said J. Berkshire Miller, a Tokyo-based international affairs fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations.

Miller, however, said that while this might look as if it was a new way of tackling the nuclear issue, it differed little from the approach taken by Trump’s predecessor.

“While it may appear that Trump has a newly defined approach to the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, the reality is that his administration is still largely following the path of the Obama administration through an ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach,” Miller said.

“The pace and scope of joint exercises with South Korea and Japan may be increasing — as are political consultations — but there still has been no demonstrable change in the U.S. approach, except the loose talk and uncoordinated planning, as evidenced by the USS Vinson deployment flap.”

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