Russian fighter in 'near miss' with US aircraft over Syria - We Are The Mighty
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Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria

On the first day of the Mosul offensive in Iraq, a Russian fighter came close to colliding with a U.S. warplane in a “near miss” over northeastern Syria, U.S. military officials said Friday.


Air Force Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, commander of U.S. Air Force Central Command, told NBC News that the nighttime incident Oct. 17 was a “near miss” but said he tended to believe the Russians’ explanation that their pilot simply did not see the U.S. aircraft in the dark.

Also read: NATO is boosting deployments after Russian threats

However, Harrigian said similar close calls between Russian and U.S. aircraft over Syria have increased in the past six weeks amid rising tensions between Moscow and Washington over Syria’s civil war and now occur about every 10 days.

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria
Two Russian Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft flying over USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea on April 12, 2016. | U.S. Navy photo

In a later statement on the incident, Air Force Central Command said that the Russian fighter was escorting a Russian surveillance aircraft and inadvertently flew across the nose of the U.S. aircraft.

The close call was the result of a “mistake” by the Russians and the U.S. believed that it was “fully unintentional,” the statement said.

“The Russians cooperated by looking into the incident, calling back, and explaining themselves and their pilots actions as an error,” it said.

In a separate briefing to the Pentagon, Air Force Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said the Russian fighter came within a half-mile of the U.S. aircraft, but “we don’t believe there was any nefarious intent” on the part of the Russians.

Dorrian did not name the types of aircraft involved, saying only that the Russian aircraft was a fighter and the U.S. plane was a “larger aircraft.” He said the Russian fighter “passed close enough that the jet wash from that flight was felt within the larger aircraft,” but “no one declared an in-flight emergency or anything of that nature.”

Immediately after the incident, the Russians were contacted over the “deconfliction” hotline set up by the Russian and U.S. militaries to avoid close calls by aircraft on missions in the region.

Harrigian, speaking from a U.S. base in the Mideast, said that, in some cases, U.S. and Russian aircraft flying in close proximity are “not a big deal,” but added, “I think it’s important to recognize this one got our attention.”

“We called the Russians about it and made sure they knew we were concerned,” Harrigian said. “They didn’t have the situational awareness to know how close some of our airplanes were.”

When asked why the Oct. 17 incident wasn’t disclosed until Oct. 28, Dorrian said, “There wasn’t anybody playing ‘I’ve got a secret.’ ”

He said Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the task force commander, was immediately informed of the close call but did not feel that it merited being disclosed as a “breaking news event.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Air Force needs more pilots – and this is where it’s looking

The Air Force has made a number of moves to reduce its shortage of active-duty pilots, including bringing on more retired pilots to administrative roles in order to keep qualified fliers in the air.


Now the service is looking to expand the number of pilots it draws in from the Air National Guard and Reserve to fill vacancies across the active-duty force.

On Oct. 1, the Total Force Aircrew Management — Assignment Augmentation Process grew from 10 positions to 30, in an effort to bring active reserve-component fighter pilots who are available and interested into the active-duty force for two to three years, according to an Air Force release.

“This is a growing total-force program,” said Maj. Walt Ehman, head of the TFAM-AAP. “It enables all air components to help fill pilot-assignment positions around the world.” (Positions are only open to fighter pilots and fighter-combat-systems officers, however.)

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria
An F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, assigned to Detachment 1, 138th Fighter Wing, dons his helmet in preparation of a barnstorming performance for reporters, Feb. 1, 2017, in Houston. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Tech. Sgt. Drew A. Egnoske)

The TFAM-AAP, started in 2014, brings together the management of active-duty, Air Guard, and Reserve aircrew resources, whereas previously each component had its own office overseeing officers and career enlisted airmen.

“TFAM enables the use of a single agreed-upon model, in one office, to make training and resource decisions, provide policy guidance, and make integrated recommendations to solving problems like aircrew shortfalls,” Ehman said.

Boosting TFAM-AAP openings is one of many initiatives the Air Force is pursuing to improve retention, production, and absorption.

Related: Air Force says no plan to recall retired pilots

On the retention side, a number of quality-of-life improvements have been implemented, including reducing administrative duties for pilots and increasing pay and bonuses.

To boost production, the Air Force is considering outsourcing some aspects of training, like adversary-pilot duties, as well as partnering with external organizations to augment the training process.

The Air Force’s Voluntary Rated Return to Active Duty, or VRRAD, program is also open to up to 25 retired fliers from any pilot specialty code who elect to return to fill “critical-rated staff positions,” allowing active-duty pilots to stay with units where they are needed to meet mission requirements.

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria

An amended executive order signed by President Donald Trump earlier this month also allows the Air Force to recall up to 1,000 pilots to active duty for up to three years. However, Brig. Gen. Mike Koscheski, director of the Air Force’s aircrew crisis task force, has said the service doesn’t intended to force anyone back into active duty.

Rather, he told Military.com, the executive order is an addendum to the VRRAD, giving the Air Force “more access to more retirees” for a longer period of time. Koscheski said the order opened the VRRAD program to personnel who could act as instructors.

The Air Force’s component forces are about 1,500 pilots short of the 20,300 they are required to have. According to Koscheski, 1,300 of those absent are fighter pilots.

MIGHTY MOVIES

4 war movies rumored to release in 2019

There are definitely epic and unforgettable war films out there ( Saving Private Ryan, Full Metal Jacket, Top Gun*), but every year many war films are released under the radar (how many of you watched Thank You For Your Service? WELL YOU MISSED OUT. IT WAS FANTASTIC).

Service members have high standards for military movies — after all, they portray a life we led, and it’s not always easy to get it right. That won’t stop Hollywood from trying.

Nor should it. Films about the military inspire men and women to volunteer every day. They memorialize our heroes. And most importantly, they remind us of the horrors of war so we can, hopefully, pave a peaceful future for those who will serve after us.

Here are a few films on the slate for this year:

*Don’t be a hater — you know it’s 83% the reason why we have pilots


The Last Full Measure,2019,Sebastian Stan,Samuel L. Jackson,First Look

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The Last Full Measure

During the Vietnam War, an Air Force Pararescueman named William Pitsenbarger saved the lives of 60 soldiers and, when offered the chance to evacuate on a helicopter, he stayed behind to defend the lives of his men. 34 years later, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Acquired by Roadside Attractions and starring Captain America’s Sebastian Stan, Samuel L. Jackson, Ed Harris, Jeremy Irvine, and more, The Last Full Measure will recount Pitsenbarger’s heroism — and the survivors’ efforts to honor his memory.

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria

Greyhound

A World War II drama starring Tom Hanks, Greyhound is based on the C.S. Forester (ahem creator of Horatio Hornblower ahem) novel The Good Shepherd, in which a convoy of 37 Allied ships crosses the German U-boat infested Atlantic ocean. Hanks plays Ernest Krause, leader of the convoy and in command of his first ship, the Greyhound.

The screenplay is by Hanks himself and directed by Aaron Schneider. It is set to release on March 22, 2019,

Battle of Midway Tactical Overview – World War II | History

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Midway

Set to open during Veterans Day weekend, Midway is a World War II epic about the Battle of Midway in the Pacific, which would go down in history as the turning point in the war.

Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment hired Roland Emmerich to direct, with a cast that includes Woody Harrelson, Aaron Eckhart, Mandy Moore, and Luke Evans.

THE AFTERMATH | Official Trailer | FOX Searchlight

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The Aftermath

Set in a post-World War II Germany, Executive Producer Ridley Scott’s The Aftermath follows a British colonel (Jason Clarke) who oversees the reconstruction of a German city, his wife (Keira Knightley), and the German widower and father (played by Alexander Skarsgard) who previously occupied their new home.

Looks like this film will ponder the phrase “all’s fair in love and war.”

What’s your favorite war movie or tv show of all time? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

5 ways to spread the love this Valentine’s Day

As the confetti of the New Year celebration is swept away, love begins to take over. We watch the red and pink heart covered “things” fill the stores in anticipation of February 14th – Valentine’s Day. The history of this day is long and can be traced back to ritualistic goat sacrificing for fertility long before we heard the ruminants of “roses are red and violets are blue” poems and exchanged sweet cards.


Weird sacrifices aside, the modern-day Valentine’s Day is aimed at celebrating love. Gone are the days of it just being about the special someone in your life. Now, Americans are also buying gifts for family members, children’s classmates, coworkers, and even 27% of Americans are celebrating with gifts for their pets!

The National Retail Federation reports that 2020 will be the biggest spending year for Valentine’s Day; the average person is planning to spend upwards of $196.31 each this February 14. Although spending is definitely up, that same report showed that only half of Americans are actually celebrating the holiday down from 61% in years past. Those that are choosing to rebel against all things V-Day related in strong protest against what they feel is an over-commercialized and single person ostracizing holiday.

For a military spouse, this day can come with its own set of challenges, especially if their service member is deployed. When the service member is gone, military spouses are already fighting internal debilitating mental health battles and balancing already overloaded plates. The idea of celebrating a day which is traditionally aimed at couples – hurts. But who says love has to hurt?

Love has long been associated with kindness. Did you know that random acts of kindness have been found to increase heart health by lowering blood pressure for the person performing the act? That same study also found that it reduces feelings of stress, anxiety, and increases happiness. This year, random acts of kindness week kicks off on February 13th – the day before Valentine’s Day! It’s a sign.

So, despite the disdain for cupid’s day – whatever your reasons – you can make it your own special kindness-filled day. Here’s are 5 ways to spread the love this Valentine’s Day:

Spread kindness

Go buy those annoyingly pink cards and candies, then leave them for strangers to find. Their smiles will make you forget how much you dislike V-Day, promise.

Give a valentine to your community

Remember that park filled with trash? Clean it up. That foul-mouthed graffiti on the wall? Scrub it off. Love doesn’t have to be directed at a person, go love on your community.

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria

Visit a nursing home

Feeling blue about being alone? I promise the residents of your local nursing homes are even more lonely. Go spend some time with those that are forgotten, you’ll feel better for it. One study found that those that are kind to others have reduced feelings of depression.

Go serve a meal

The best way to the heart is through the stomach, right? Go feed a meal to those with next to nothing. Volunteers taper off after Thanksgiving and Christmas – shelters are desperate for help to continue their good work. Find your local homeless shelter and get to work.

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria

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Spend time with Fido and all his friends

The Humane Society is always in need of someone to love on the animals in their care. Did you know that when humans love on dogs, the love hormone oxytocin increases for both man and their best friend? Go walk some dogs and snuggle some kittens.

This Valentine’s Day, try and check your automatic reflex to grimace as you walk through the stores covered in pink. Instead, make the day your own special day filled with love and kindness. What are you waiting for?

MIGHTY SPORTS

After losing her leg in Iraq, Army vet shares life on social media

The alarm goes off early, like it always does.

Melissa Stockwell has another busy day at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs where she’ll swim, run, bike, and go through strength training for hours on end.

Then, like most moms, it’s a rush to fit in as much family time with her husband and 2- and 4-year-old children as the clock allows: pick up the kids, take them to swim lessons, grab dinner, read them a story, and get them tucked into bed.

In between, she might send an inspirational photo or tweet to her 7,000-plus social media followers.

It’s not just the mom-athlete thing that makes Stockwell special.

She does it all with one leg.


Stockwell was an Army officer in Iraq when she lost her left leg in a roadside bomb. She competed in swimming in the 2008 Paralympic Games, won the bronze medal in triathlon for the 2016 Games, and is currently training with hopes of making the U.S. team for the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.

And people think she’s pretty rad.

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria

Melissa Stockwell shows her Purple Heart certificate while still recovering in the hospital. She said there were others in the hospital worse off than her, so she didn’t feel sorry for herself.

“To the mailman who yelled out ‘you’re an American badass’ as I was on #6/10 of my hill repeats, thank you. You sure lit that fire for the last 4,” she tweeted out Aug. 16, 2019.

“There weren’t a lot of ‘poor me’ kind of days. I did my rehab at Walter Reed, and was surrounded by a lot of soldiers who lost a lot more than I did. It almost wasn’t fair to feel sorry for myself. I chose to accept my leg early on.” — Melissa Stockwell, discussing her recovery after losing her leg in Iraq

Stockwell is just as likely to post a video of herself training in the gym, a poolside photo with her prosthetic leg, or a poignant goodbye letter to her service dog, Jake, she lost last year. Plus, there are plenty of posts about her children and mom life.

“I just saw a mom grocery shopping with 2 sets of twins, and another boy who all looked to be under 6 years old. If I ever get overwhelmed with momming for two, I’ll remember her. Her and my sister with 5 kids. Ah, perspective… ” she tweeted recently.

Or this inspirational burst first thing in the day: “This morning I took a moment to look around and just appreciate being alive. Take some time to do that today, it’s a day changer.”

And on many Fridays, you can find her posing with Old Glory for a #FlagFriday post.

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria

Army Veteran Melissa Stockwell typically posts photos of herself and her love of the American flag on her Twitter feed. “This is me,” she said. “This is the beauty of America.”

“I’m proud of our country, that’s all,” she said. “This is me. This is the beauty of America. We all get to think and choose what we want, whether or not we agree on what everyone says or how they express it. I’m going to choose to express myself this way, but that’s the beauty of our country.”

Whatever she posts, she said, it’s not for ego.

“I do the things in my life because I enjoy them,” Stockwell said. “I like to be busy. I like having dreams. I don’t do anything to impress anybody. I guess I do it so I can inspire someone else — if not for those who came before me, but those who came after who can think, ‘I can do this, also.’

“Look, I have hard days, too,” she added. “Not everyone is perfect. I post pictures of my kids and dreams because that makes it more real. If someone is having a hard day and sees my posts, maybe they’re a mom, maybe they’re having trouble with their kids, I want to inspire them that there’s always tomorrow.”

That’s pretty much been her attitude since April 13, 2004, when she lost her leg.

“There weren’t a lot of ‘poor me’ kind of days,” she said. “I did my rehab at Walter Reed, and was surrounded by a lot of soldiers who lost a lot more than I did. It almost wasn’t fair to feel sorry for myself. I chose to accept my leg early on.”

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria

Melissa Stockwell fits a lot into her day between family life and training. She posts regularly about her life for more than 7,000 followers on Twitter.

Getting into adaptive sports

Despite countless surgeries and infections, she took her first steps on her prosthetic leg 52 days after getting injured. Stockwell started adaptive sports and hasn’t looked back. She focused on the Paralympics after meeting fellow athlete and veteran John Register in 2005. She made the 2008 team, but didn’t medal.

“I learned that in life, sometimes the journey is more important than the destination,” she wrote on her web site. “And as I carried that American flag into that sold out Bird’s Nest Stadium at the closing ceremony, I had never been so proud. A proud American. And a proud Paralympian.”

Her friend, Keri Serota, said the Melissa Stockwell people see online, is the same in person.

“You know, I think what she does is amazing,” Serota said. “It’s hard not to be motivated, moved and inspired by Melissa. I always considered myself a proud American, but I learned more about what that means from Melissa. She makes you pause and realize what it means to be an American and why we have that freedom.

“But she’s also my best friend and I get to spend a lot of time with her and she has no ego. It’s this relatability. She has been in the room with all the living presidents, but she doesn’t take that for granted or have an ego about it. It’s very much Melissa. She can be with President Bush one day and buying ice cream for her kids the next day. She shares all of it — the highlights, lowlights, successes and losses. People, whether they know her or not, have that relationship with her because she is so impressive and exciting, but humble and grateful.”

She first met Bush after he invited her and other wounded Veterans to his ranch, and got to dance with him, a moment caught in an iconic photo shared around the world. She also gave the Pledge of Allegiance at his library opening.

“He’s amazing,” she said of the former president. “He is accountable for the actions taken while he was in office, and he has always gone above and beyond to show he has not forgotten the lives he impacted. I think that’s wonderful. That’s a pretty great man.”

Besides training, she also started the nonprofit Dare2Tri along with Serota and another friend, and signed endorsement deals with Toyota and Under Armour.

Back on the home front, beyond the training center and social media spotlight, Stockwell focuses on raising her son, Dallas, born in 2014; and daughter, Millie, born in 2017.

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria

Melissa Stockwell posted a tweet of thanks to Barbie after her daughter got a doll with a prosthetic leg for her birthday.

“Sometimes I forget she is an amputee,” said her husband, Brian Tolsma. “She doesn’t let it define her, and she is so driven and motivated. She does a lot of things people with two legs can’t do.

“But it always goes back to the kids for me,” he said. “I know the regiment she does during the day, beating up her body daily to get faster, to reach that goal. Then she comes home and it’s just an abundance of energy and patience with the kids. She’s always going, and always has time for the kids, always coming up with new activities. That’s the most impressive thing about her.”

Millie recently celebrated her 2nd birthday. She received a Barbie Doll with a prosthetic leg from Serota, which also made its way to Stockwell’s Twitter page.

“It just shows kids we are just like anybody else,” she said. “Why can’t we have parties and dolls? Kids can play with them and see we are normal, no different,” Stockwell said.

And that’s why she doesn’t mind posting photos online or showing off her red, white and blue, American-themed prosthetic in public.

“If I can educate, I will,” she added. “I am proud to have worn the uniform. I’m proud of how I lost my leg. Plus, it’s really cool to look at. Technology has come so far, even in the past 10, 15 years. Veterans are coming back home and they’re young, they’re active.

“They’re going to continue to help advance the field of prosthetics because they aren’t going to take no for an answer.”

You can follow Melissa’s journey on her web site, Twitter and Facebook.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why some Marines in combat zones don’t get Combat Action Ribbons

The Marines in Afghanistan are definitely in combat, even if they are not being awarded the Combat Action Ribbon, the former commander of Task Force Southwest said on Feb. 1.


“It’s absolutely a combat mission,” Brig. Gen. Roger Turner Jr. told reporters at a roundtable. “The only difference is we’re not maneuvering directly on the enemy. From the command element perspective: It’s full spectrum combat. We shoot at the enemy, they shoot at us.”

Turner led the task force of roughly 300 Marines from April 2017 until January 2018. During that time, Marines helped Afghan troops and interior ministry forces go on the offensive in Helmand province, the home of many senior Taliban leaders and a significant source of the opium that feeds the Taliban’s coffers, he said.

Despite being deployed to Afghanistan for nine months, none of the Marines in the task force were awarded the Combat Action Ribbon, Marine Corps Times has reported. The CAR is a coveted decoration, especially by younger Marines, because it certifies combat experience.

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria
Combat Action Ribbon awarded by the United States Department of the Navy. (Image Wikipedia)

But on Feb. 1, Turner cautioned against using the CAR as a litmus test to determine if the Marines in Afghanistan are on a combat mission.

“It’s too simplistic to say that nobody earned the Combat Action Ribbon; therefore, they weren’t in combat,” Turner said. “They’re very much in combat. We just weren’t achieving the criteria of the Combat Action Ribbon.”
Sgt. Mohamed Amin and his cadre of fellow instructors at the Camp Commando School of Excellence outside Kabul have their work cut out for them. They have been given the arduous task of executing President Ashraf Ghani’s order to double the commando force in four years, without sacrificing quality.

The CAR recognizes Marines who have taken part in direct action against the enemy, according to the decoration’s requirements. Marines who come under direct fire or are exposed to explosions can be eligible for the award. The CAR is typically not given to Marines who come under indirect fire unless they engage in offensive counter-fire operations.

Also Read: Sailors and Marines are now eligible for these new award devices

With help from the Marines, Afghan security forces went on the offensive for 250 days of the 280-day deployment, Turner said. The Marines advised the Afghans at various levels of command and helped coordinate artillery and air support.

Even though the Marines did not fight alongside Afghan units, they were attacked by Taliban rockets and mortars about 20 times during the deployment, Turner said. None of the Marines were wounded.

On Jan. 15, Turner transferred command to Brig. Gen. Benjamin Watson, who commands a larger task force that will be able to have U.S. military advisers permanently assigned to Afghan battalions, Turner said.

Watson has told Task Purpose that he has the authority to allow Marines to accompany Afghan troops and police into battle, if needed.

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria
A U.S. Marine with Task Force Southwest fires the M-27 Infantry Automatic Rifle as part of the combat marksmanship program at Camp Shorabak, Afghanistan, Jan. 26, 2018. Task Force Southwest is continually working on combat marksmanship to ensure proper sustainment of basic Marine combat skills, so they can better train, advise and assist the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Conner Robbins)

“Whether or not we exercise that authority is going to depend on how we assess the situation at the time, and obviously I’m not going to get into specifics on that,” Watson said in a Jan. 15 interview.

After nearly 16 years of war in Afghanistan, it is not clear how much of territory the Taliban controls outright or is contesting. Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., director of the Joint Staff, said the U.S. estimates that the Afghan government controls about 60%of the country, but a recent BBC report claims the Taliban is active in 70% of Afghanistan.

McKenzie said he does not believe the BBC story is accurate, adding that he “couldn’t completely follow their logic as stated in the article.”

“We certainly don’t think that the Taliban has a presence to some degree in 70% of the countryside – and we would disagree with that,” McKenzie told reporters Feb. 1 during a Pentagon news briefing.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This hero horse of the Marine Corps got her own statue

Staff Sgt. Reckless, a Marine Corps horse who resupplied her fellow troops during some of the hottest fighting in the Korean War, was honored with a monument in Camp Pendleton, California.


 

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria
Camp Pendleton hosts a ceremony in honor of Staff Sgt. Reckless at the Pacific Views Event Center here, Oct. 26. Staff Sgt. Reckless was a Korean War era pack horse known for her heroics in the war that saved many Marines’ lives. (Photo and cutline: Marine Corps Pfc. Dylan Overbay)

Reckless retired at Camp Pendleton and was buried at the Stepp Stables there after her death.

During the five-day Battle for Outpost Vegas in 1953, then-Pvt. Reckless spent three days transporting recoilless rifle rounds to embattled Marines under heavy fire. On the worst day of the battle, she ferried 386 rounds that weighed 24 pounds each and traveled a total of 35 miles while suffering two wounds from shrapnel. One of the cuts was a bad wound just above her eye.

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria
Then Pvt. Reckless operating under fire in Korea. (Photo: US Marine Corps)

After her heroics on the front lines of the Korean War, Lt. Gen. Randolph Pate promoted Reckless to sergeant. Reckless was transported to the U.S. where she became a Marine Corps celebrity, gave birth to four children, and was promoted to staff sergeant before retiring to Camp Pendleton.

Over the course of her career, Reckless received two Purple Hearts, a Good Conduct Medal, the Presidential Unit Citation with star, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal, and the United Nations Service Medal.

Since her death, Reckless has been honored with a memorial at the Camp Pendleton stables, a Dickin Medal for animal bravery, and now a statue at Camp Pendleton.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Afghans are more hopeful for the future than you might think

Afghans are slightly more optimistic about the future than they were last year, despite a stagnant economy and near-constant attacks by a revitalized Taliban, according to the results of a nationwide poll released Nov. 14.


The annual survey by the San Francisco-based Asia Foundation, released in Kabul, found that 32.8 percent of Afghans believe their country is moving in the right direction, up from 29.3 percent in 2016. Another 61.2 percent said the country is heading in the wrong direction, down from 65.9 percent — a record high — in 2016.

The foundation acknowledged that the slight increase in optimism is “difficult to explain.”

The country has been mired in war since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. The Taliban have regrouped and driven the Afghanistan’s beleaguered security forces from a number of districts across the country. An upstart Islamic State group affiliate has meanwhile carried out several attacks targeting civilians.

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria
Members of the Afghan National Army salute in their newly acquired uniforms. (Image from SIGAR.)

The foundation polled 10,012 Afghan men and women in face-to-face interviews conducted between July 5 and July 23 in all 34 provinces. The poll has a 1.4 percent margin of error.

Also read: This is the sad story behind the Great Buddhas of Afghanistan

“The main finding for this year’s survey, if you look at overall the public perception, it is starting to stabilize in term of how people view the future of Afghanistan and public optimism is increasing in a variety of areas although there are issues around people’s desire to leave the country and live abroad if provided with an opportunity,” Abdullah Ahmadzai, country representative for The Asia Foundation said after announcing the study in Kabul.

The findings marked the reversal of a decade-long downward trajectory, the foundation said. However, most respondents expressed concern about the security and future of the country, and 38.8 percent said they would leave Afghanistan if they had the opportunity, the second-highest number recorded since the survey began in 2004.

“So overall 2017 compared to 2016 shows a trend that is more positive and optimistic compared to last year, where we had the public pessimism at its highest and public optimism at its lowest levels,” Ahmadzai said.

Reactions to the survey from residents in the capital differed. While some didn’t agree with the results, university student Mir Hussain said it makes sense to him that most Afghans are hopeful for the future.

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria
Afghan National Army soldiers with 2nd Kandak, 4th Brigade, 215th Corps chant their unit’s battle song during a graduation ceremony at Camp Shorabak, Afghanistan, July 24, 2017. Hundreds of soldiers completed an operational readiness cycle at the Helmand Province Regional Military Training Center, an eight-week course designed to enhance its students’ infantry and warfighting capabilities. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Lucas Hopkins)

“If we think that our country is not moving forward it is not going to help us, we are not willing to move backward,” he said. “We are optimistic and our country has to move forward.”

Ahmadzai said there are specific reasons why some Afghans are not hopeful for the future.

“When it comes to public pessimism in terms of where they see the country is heading, the main issues are around security, unemployment, or the economic situation and the fact that the unemployment rate is reported to be quite high in the reporting year.”

Ahmadzai said confidence in public institutions has slightly improved, though nearly all Afghans say the country’s rampant corruption affects their lives, consistent with last year’s findings.

Articles

Here are the criteria that entitle a servicemember to the Purple Heart

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria
(Photo: AP)


The web blew up once again today around something Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said on the campaign trail. During a rally in Ashburn, Va. retired Lt.Col. Louis Dorfman gave Trump his Purple Heart medal, saying, according to the candidate, “I have such confidence in you.” While relating the story to the crowd gathered at the rally, Trump went on to say, “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart, but this was much easier.”

While those who wear the Purple Heart Medal are highly respected, most troops familiar with the criteria that entitle one to it don’t “want” one, and a quick scan of those criteria illustrates why.

This excerpt below was taken from the U.S. Army’s instruction (AR-600-8-22), but the wording is similar across all branches of service.

The instruction reads as follows:

a. The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President of the United States to any member of an Armed Force or any civilian national of the United States who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with one of the U.S. Armed Services after 5 April 1917, has been wounded or killed, or who has died or may hereafter die after being wounded

(1) In any action against an enemy of the United States.

(2) In any action with an opposing armed force of a foreign country in which the Armed Forces of the United States are or have been engaged.

(3) While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

(4) As a result of an act of any such enemy of opposing armed forces.

(5) As the result of an act of any hostile foreign force.

(6) After 28 March 1973, as a result of an international terrorist attack against the United States or a foreign nation friendly to the United States, recognized as such an attack by the Secretary of the Army, or jointly by the Secretaries of the separate armed Services concerned if persons from more than one service are wounded in the attack.

(7) After 28 March 1973, as a result of military operations while serving outside the territory of the United States as part of a peacekeeping force.

b. While clearly an individual decoration, the Purple Heart differs from all other decorations in that an individual is not “recommended” for the decoration; rather he or she is entitled to it upon meeting specific criteria.

(1) A Purple Heart is authorized for the first wound suffered under conditions indicated above, but for each subsequent award an Oak Leaf Cluster will be awarded to be worn on the medal or ribbon. Not more than one award will be made for more than one wound or injury received at the same instant or from the same missile, force, explosion, or agent.

(2) A wound is defined as an injury to any part of the body from an outside force or agent sustained under one or more of the conditions listed above.  A physical lesion is not required, however, the wound for which the award is made must have required treatment by a medical officer and records of medical treatment for wounds or injuries received in action must have been made a matter of official record.

(3) When contemplating an award of this decoration, the key issue that commanders must take into consideration is the degree to which the enemy caused the injury. The fact that the proposed recipient was participating in direct or indirect combat operations is a necessary prerequisite, but is not sole justification for award.

(4) Examples of enemy-related injuries which clearly justify award of the Purple Heart are as follows:

(a) Injury caused by enemy bullet, shrapnel, or other projectile created by enemy action.

(b) Injury caused by enemy placed mine or trap.

(c) Injury caused by enemy released chemical, biological or nuclear agent.

(d) Injury caused by vehicle or aircraft accident resulting from enemy fire.

(e) Concussion injuries caused as a result of enemy generated explosions.

(5) Examples of injuries or wounds which clearly do not qualify for award of the Purple Heart are as follows:

(a) Frostbite or trench foot injuries.

(b) Heat stroke.

(c) Food poisoning not caused by enemy agents.

(d) Chemical, biological, or nuclear agents not released by the enemy.

(e) Battle fatigue.

(f) Disease not directly caused by enemy agents.

(g) Accidents, to include explosive, aircraft, vehicular, and other accidental wounding not related to or caused by enemy action.

(h) Self-inflicted wounds, except when in the heat of battle, and not involving gross negligence.

(i) Post traumatic stress disorders.

(j) Jump injuries not caused by enemy action.

(6) It is not intended that such a strict interpretation of the requirement for the wound or injury to be caused by direct result of hostile action be taken that it would preclude the award being made to deserving personnel. Commanders must also take into consideration, the circumstances surrounding an injury, even if it appears to meet the criteria. Note the following examples:

(a) In case such as an individual injured while making a parachute landing from an aircraft that had been brought down enemy fire; or, an individual injured as a result of a vehicle accident caused by enemy fire, the decision will be made in favor of the individual and the award will be made.

(b) Individuals wounded or killed as a result of “friendly fire” in the “heat of battle” will be awarded the Purple Heart as long as the “friendly” projectile or agent was released with the full intent of inflicting damage or destroying enemy troops or equipment.

(c) Individuals injured as a result of their own negligence; for example, driving or walking through an unauthorized area known to have been mined or placed off limits or searching for or picking up unexploded munitions as war souvenirs, will not be awarded the Purple Heart as they clearly were not injured as a result of enemy action, but rather by their own negligence.

c. A Purple Heart will be issued to the next of kin of each person entitled to a posthumous award. Issue will be made automatically by the Commanding General, PERSCOM, upon receiving a report of death indicating entitlement.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Retired military officers are urging against a war with Iran

Iran just conducted a massive rapid deployment exercise that consisted of 12,000 coordinated troops – the Islamic Republic was saying to the world that any attackers would face a “crushing blow.” Over two days, Iran’s regular military forces used ground troops, fighter planes, armored vehicles, and drones to practice its methods of repelling invaders over 190 square miles.


The exercises are aimed at Israel and the United States, both of which Iran considers a regional menace. Back in the United States, regardless of Iranian training exercises, a growing portion of the military community is urging against a war with Iran, and the effort is being led by retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton.

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria

Eaton is best known for his command of training Iraqi troops during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Led by Eaton, a cadre of former General-grade officers wrote an open letter to Congress, urging against provoking a war with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Iranian military exercises played no role in the letter, which had been in the works for some time. In the letter, Eaton, the other officers, and the non-profit Vet Voice Foundation remind Congress about the costs of the current wars the United States is still engaged in right now.

“A full-scale military conflict with Iran would be a huge and costly undertaking,” the letter reads. “It’s a lesson we’ve learned before as a nation, at great cost. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost us a lot in blood and treasure. We know that war with Iran would require hundreds of thousands of American service members to deploy and could result in even larger numbers of American casualties and injuries―alongside an unknown number of civilian deaths.”

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria

While the United States does not have any kind of motive to attack Iran as of this writing, the letter is urging Congress to pass legislation to keep the White House from using military force without direct Congressional approval. The current authorization for the use of military force used by the Trump Administration to conduct military operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere is the same one used by his predecessors Obama and Bush, signed into law by President Bush after the Sep. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington. The new National Defense Authorization Act could bar the use of force in Iran.

Specifically, the letter endorsed a bi-partisan detail in the 2020 NDAA that would prevent “unauthorized” military force in or against Iran, sponsored by Pennsylvania Democrat Rep. Ro Khanna and ardent Trump supporter and Florida Republican Congressman, Rep. Matt Gaetz. There is no current language in the Senate version of the bill. Before going to the President’s desk, the NDAA would need to be reconciled and passed by both houses. The letter urged the inclusion of the Iran language in the final bill.

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria

U.S. troops are deployed to hundreds of countries – Iran is not one of them.

The group of military officers believes the interests of the United States are better served by focusing on the confrontations with Russia and China, instead of expanding into another Middle East conflict.

“The idea that we would enter yet another war in the Middle East without a clear national security interest, defined mission, and withdrawal strategy is unacceptable to America’s veterans and our allies across the political spectrum,” the letter reads.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of August 17th

Remember back when they first announced that the 1st Security Forces Assistance Brigade would be a thing and everyone lost their collective sh*ts because they’re conventional troops that wear berets like special operations, rock a unit patch that looks like special operations, and even share their first two initials (SF) with special forces?

Yeah. Well, they’re currently deployed doing grunt things with the Green Berets while your ass is setting up a Powerpoint presentation on how to teach drill and ceremony.

Funny how that works out, huh? Anyways, have some memes before you get too butthurt.


Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria

(Meme via Smokepit Fairytales)

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria

(Meme via Shammers United)

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria

(Meme via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting)

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria

(Meme via Lost in the Sauce)

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria

(Meme via Geekly)

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria

(Meme via r/Army)

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria

(Meme via Sh*t My LPO Says)

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

MIGHTY TRENDING

A US Air Force A-10 accidentally fired off a rocket over Arizona

A US Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt II accidentally fired off a rocket outside of the designated firing range in Arizona on Sep. 5, 2019.

The attack aircraft, assigned to the 354th Fighter Squadron from the 355th Wing, “unintentionally” released an M-156 rocket while on a training mission, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base said in a statement.

The M-156, according to CBS News, is a white phosphorous projectile used to mark targets. The rocket landed in the Jackal Military Operations Area, located about 60 miles northeast of Tucson, Arizona.


The Air Force says that no injuries, damages, or fires have been reported.

Sep. 5, 2019’s incident, which is currently under investigation, is the second time in a little over two months an A-10 has accidentally opened fire in an area where it wasn’t supposed to do so.

Russian fighter in ‘near miss’ with US aircraft over Syria

An A-10 Thunderbolt II.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Zachary Perras)

At the start of July 2019, an Air Force A-10 out of Moody Air Force Base in Georgia accidentally dropped three training bombs over Florida after hitting a bird. The three BDU-33s, non-explosive ordnance designed to simulate M1a-82 bombs, fell somewhere off Highway 129 near Suwannee Springs in northern Florida.

While the dummy bombs were inert, they did include a pyrotechnic charge that could be dangerous if mishandled.

A bird strike, a problem that has cost the Air Force millions of dollars over the years, was identified as the cause of the accidental weapons release in July. It is currently unclear what caused Thursday’s incident.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Video shows sheriff’s deputy get hit by train and survive

A sheriff’s deputy received minor injuries after his vehicle was struck by a train in Midland, Texas on May 21, 2019.

Two Midland County Sheriff’s Office SUVs attempted to drive around a slow-moving, west-bound train at a railroad crossing when an east-bound train struck the lead vehicle.

The west-bound train had offloaded some cars and was trying to get out of the deputy’s way, Midland County sheriff Gary Painter said during an interview with KWES. The west-bound train; however, blocked the deputy’s view of the incoming east-bound train that was moving “at a high rate of speed.”


The railroad crossing sign was functioning at the time of the crash, but the deputy made the decision to cross the railroad tracks, Midland Reporter-Telegram reported.

The deputy’s vehicle flipped over after it was struck by the moving train. Video footage from a witness showed the scene:

The deputy behind the impacted vehicle pulled the injured deputy through his windshield, according to KWES. The deputy who was hit sustained minor injuries and was taken to a hospital.

The deputies were initially responding to a call of a baby who wasn’t breathing, KWES reported. (The baby is alright, Painter told KWES.)

The Federal Railroad Administration estimated in 2015 that motorists are 20 times more likely to die in a collision with a train than with a vehicle. Most of the collisions involved trains traveling less than 30 miles per hour.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

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