Stan McChrystal Talks About His Inspiration For the Franklin Project - We Are The Mighty
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Stan McChrystal Talks About His Inspiration For the Franklin Project

We Are the Mighty’s own editor in chief talks with former army general Stan McChrystal about the Franklin Project, cultivating the next generation of leaders.

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This Green Beret lived in a cave before receiving the Medal of Honor

After spending two years in college, Gary Beikrich decided he wanted to join the Army and become a distinguished member of the Green Berets — and that’s precisely what he did.


Once Gary enlisted, he trained his way through the tough pipeline and earned the elite title of Green Beret. With a sincere desire to help others, he received advanced training as a combat medic before shipping out to the dangerous terrains of Vietnam.

In 1967, Gary was assigned to 5th Special Forces Group stationed in the Kon Tum Province.

Related: This was the first African American to receive the Medal of Honor

Gary and his team were ordered to protect and teach a group of Montagnards tribesmen located in the area. The experience of working with the loyal tribesmen allowed Gary to go “native,” spending days without speaking a word of English.

On the early morning of Apr. 1, 1970, the NVA decided to attack Gary’s camp — one he worked so hard building up. As the enemy rained down heavy artillery into the area, the massive force tore through the peaceful compound — causing allied forces to suffer terrible casualties.

Gary sprang into action and rendered treatment. Then, boom!

A 122mm artillery shell landed near Gary and shrapnel ripped into his back, causing a spinal cord concussion. Now immobile, two of Gary’s trusted Montagnards tribesmen came to his aid. The men assisted Gary around the compound so he could patch up the other wounded as quickly as they could — until he finally collapsed.

Bleeding and severely wounded, Gary was placed on a medevac and was sent back home to the States. After recovering, Gary went back to college as a pre-med student. But his time in the classroom didn’t last long; Vietnam protesters tormented him, shouting hateful remarks.

Gary decided to pack his van and drive away, eventually finding a peaceful area all to himself — a cave.

Literally.

One day, Gary went to the post office where he received his mail, and an unexpected message was waiting for him. The Army veteran was to receive the Medal of Honor for his bravery and service during that enemy raid.

Also Read: This Green Beret was the first Medal of Honor recipient in Vietnam

 

Check out Medal of Honor Book’s video below to hear Gary’s story from the Green Beret legend himself.

Medal of Honor Book, YouTube

Editor’s note: This article originally identified Gary Beikrich as completing only two months of college. Mr. Beikrich completed two years of college. The update has been made and WATM regrets the error. 

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There are still no answers for the KC-130 crash that killed 16 Marines

Military investigators are trying to piece together the cause of a crash that killed 15 Marines and a sailor in Mississippi in July, but it could be a year or more until any information becomes public.


In the meantime, the Marine Corps’ fleet of KC130T transport planes remains grounded. That plane is similar to the one that crashed near Itta Bena on July 10.

April Phillips, a spokeswoman for the Naval Safety Center, said August 21 that final reports often don’t become public for 12 to 18 months following a crash. Even then, much of the information in the reports is often withheld from public view.

Stan McChrystal Talks About His Inspiration For the Franklin Project
KC-130 Hercules. DOD Photo by Senior Airman Tyler Woodward.

“Ours are done solely to ensure what happened doesn’t happen again,” Phillips said, saying that various military commanders must endorse the report before it’s finished.

Marines and other investigators finished collecting debris August 3, recovering all of the plane’s major components, said Marine Forces Reserve spokeswoman Lt. Stephanie L. Leguizamon. She said last week that there’s still work going on to clean up the crash area.

Naval Safety Center investigators are both reconstructing the wreckage and interviewing witnesses. Their report will ultimately include recommendations to enhance safety.

Victims included nine Marines based at Stewart Air National Guard base in Newburgh, New York, who flew and crewed the plane, plus six Marines and a Navy Corpsman from an elite Marine Raider battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The passengers were headed for pre-deployment training in Yuma, Arizona. Cargo included at least some ammunition.

Stan McChrystal Talks About His Inspiration For the Franklin Project
Screen capture from DoD.

Brig. Gen. Bradley S. James has told reporters that whatever went wrong began when the plane was at cruising altitude. Most of the plane pancaked upside down into a field, but part of it, including the cockpit, broke off and landed far from the fuselage and wings. Debris was scattered for miles over fields, woods, and ponds.

Witnesses said they saw the plane descend from high altitude with an engine smoking, with some describing what pilots call a “flat spin,” where a plane twirls around like a boomerang.

Phillips said the plane didn’t have an in-flight data recorder. That, plus the lack of survivors, could make the debris crucial to determining what happened.

Stan McChrystal Talks About His Inspiration For the Franklin Project
KC-130T. Wikimedia Commons photo by Jerry Gunner.

“A lot it, in this case, is likely to come from forensic evidence,” she said.

Phillips said the C-130 and its variants have historically been one of the safest planes operated by the Marine Corps. The Navy classifies its most serious incidents as Class A mishaps, involving death, permanent disability, or more than $2 million in damage. Only two in-flight Class A mishaps were recorded before the Mississippi crash, both in 2002. A KC-130R experienced a flash fire and crashed into a mountain in Pakistan while nearing an airfield, killing seven people. A KC130F crash landed shortly after taking off inCalifornia, causing injuries but no deaths.

The New York squadron is the last Marine unit flying the KC-130T version and is scheduled to upgrade to a newer version in 2019. Only the remaining 12 KC-130Ts are affected by the grounding.

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The 5 weirdest examples of military-inspired fashion

There’s no need to leave your love of military fashion at the parade grounds when you get off duty. Here are five great designs that’ll let you show your colors while turning heads. Or just make you look really weird. Either way will work.


1. RAF high heels

Stan McChrystal Talks About His Inspiration For the Franklin Project
Photo: Amy Hart/Pinterest

For the fashion-forward ace fighter pilot in your life, complete with five rivets annotating the number of kills the wearer has.

2. Digital camo crop top

Stan McChrystal Talks About His Inspiration For the Franklin Project
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Vitaly V. Kuzmin

Perfect for hiding out in the woods or standing out in a crowd.

3. Who wore it better?

Stan McChrystal Talks About His Inspiration For the Franklin Project
Photos: Wikimedia Commons

It takes a lot of personality to pull off this look, but the King of Pop rocked a sequined military jacket while receiving an award from President Ronald Reagan. Jimi Hendrix, a former member of the Army, rocked a more subdued version of the military dress jacket.

4. Dueling medals

Stan McChrystal Talks About His Inspiration For the Franklin Project
Photo: Ida Leo/Pinterest

Today’s fashionistas shouldn’t fear showing allegiance to multiple regimes. Here, a woman displays her love for the U.S. military, the bail enforcers, and communism, all displayed on a military style coat. The pistol belt allows wearers to quickly dispatch enemies of the state, subdue bail jumpers, or protect the freedoms of civilians, depending on which medal is given precedence that day.

5. Classic spats for modern women

Stan McChrystal Talks About His Inspiration For the Franklin Project
Photo: Ida Leo/Pinterest

This great design takes the gaiters, formerly relegated to protecting boots during marches in the backcountry, to the catwalk. Pair it with high heels and a matching purse.

NOW: 9 military uniform items that Jennifer Aniston made into fashion staples

OR: ‘You’re really pretty for being in the Army’

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This pilot landed his F-15 with only one wing

The F-15 is an amazing aircraft that was designed to go head-to-head with the Soviet’s MiG-25 and was the top dog for years, most notably during Desert Storm where American and Saudi Eagles took it to the Iraqis in a big way.


The F-15 has endured because its design was years ahead of its time, and a great data point behind that fact is the time Israeli pilot Zivi Nedivi landed his jet with only one wing. Nedivi had one of his wings sheared off in a midair collision with an A-4 Skyhawk during a training event. Nedivi’s Eagle went into a rapid roll by the crash and he told his navigator to prepare the eject.

Nedivi turned on his afterburners in an attempt to stabilize the jet. The move worked. After his aircraft stabilized, he decided to attempt to land at a base 10 miles away. Because of the fuel coming from the damaged fuselage, neither he nor his wingman knew that the F-15 was missing a wing.

Hear the rest of this amazing story from Nedivi himself in this video:

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This is why German submarines attacked civilian vessels during World War I

In retrospect, Germany’s decision to attack merchant ships and carry out unrestricted submarine warfare seems incredibly stupid. They knew – or should have known – that killing citizens of a neutral country (specifically the United States) even unintentionally was a damn good way to get America in the war on the side of the Allies.


Well, it turns out that Germany was relying on submarines to throttle British commerce. When the war started, the Germans had their submarines play by what had been the accepted rules of warfare when it came to merchant ships.

Stan McChrystal Talks About His Inspiration For the Franklin Project
A German U-boat under fire during World War I. (Youtube screenshot)

You approached them, you got them to stop, and you allowed the passengers and crew to abandon ship before you sank the ship. When it came to warfare, it was reasonably civilized, given that you were sending those people from a relatively safe merchant vessel and into open lifeboats and rafts, with only oars and the ocean current for travel and not that much in the way of supplies.

As you might imagine, the folks on those merchant ships didn’t want to go through that kind of ordeal of they could avoid it. So, the British started by arming merchant ships. Soon the submarines were being fired on as they surfaced. The invention of the Q-ship made following the rules for submarines even more hazardous – and a good way for the sub to be sunk. When subs sank, the casualty rate amongst the crew often was 100 percent.

Stan McChrystal Talks About His Inspiration For the Franklin Project
A U-boat’ victim starts its plunge to the bottom of the ocean. (Youtube screenshot)

German sub commanders didn’t want to have that sort of end-of-life experience. Nor did their crews, for that matter. So, the Germans decided to carry out unrestricted submarine warfare where they shot the merchant ships on sight. And thus began the chain of events that would bring the United States into World War I on the side of the Allies.

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The US is amping up its cyber war force

A decade ago, he was a young Army soldier training Iraqi troops when he noticed their primitive filing system: handwritten notes threaded with different colors of yarn, stacked in piles. For organization’s sake, he built them a simple computer database.


Now an Army reservist, the major is taking a break from his civilian high-tech job to help America’s technological fight against Islamic State extremists, part of a growing force of cyberexperts the Pentagon has assembled to defeat the group.

“The ability to participate in some way in a real mission, that is actually something that’s rare, that you can’t find in private sector,” said the 38-year-old Nebraska native who is working at U.S. Cyber Command at Fort Meade, Maryland.

“You’re part of a larger team putting your skills to use, not just optimizing clicks for a digital ad, but optimizing the ability to counter ISIS or contribute to the security of our nation.”

Last year, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter expressed frustration that the United States was losing the cyberwar against Islamic States militants. He pushed the Cyber Command to be more aggressive.

Stan McChrystal Talks About His Inspiration For the Franklin Project
The files are in the computer. It’s so simple. (Dept. of Defense photo)

In response, the Pentagon launched an effort to incorporate cyber technology into its daily military fight, including new ways to disrupt the enemy’s communications, recruiting, fundraising, and propaganda.

To speak with someone at the front lines of the cyber campaign, The Associated Press agreed to withhold the major’s name. The military says he could be threatened or targeted by the militants if he is identified publicly. The major and other officials wouldn’t provide precise details on the highly classified work he is doing.

But Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, commander of U.S. Army Cyber Command, said the major is bringing new expertise for identifying enemy networks, pinpointing system administrators or developers, and potentially monitoring how the Islamic State’s online traffic moves.

He “has the ability to bring an analytic focus of what the threat is doing, coupled with a really deep understanding of how networks run,” Nakasone said, describing such contributions as “really helpful for us.” He outlined a key question for the military: “How do you impact an adversary that’s using cyberspace against us?”

The military services are looking for new ways to bring in more civilians with high-tech skills who can help against IS, and prepare for the new range of technological threats the nation will face.

Nakasone said that means getting Guard and Reserve members with technical expertise in digital forensics, math crypto-analysis and writing computer code. The challenge is how to find them.

“I would like to say it’s this great database that we have, that we’ve been able to plug in and say, ‘Show me the best tool developers and analysts that you have out there,'” Nakasone said. “We don’t have that yet. We are going to have one, though, by June.”

The Army Reserve is starting a pilot program cataloging soldiers’ talents. Among 190,000 Army reservists, Nakasone said there might be up to 15,000 with some type of cyber-related skills. But there are legal and privacy hurdles, and any database hinges on reservists voluntarily and accurately providing information on their capabilities.

Stan McChrystal Talks About His Inspiration For the Franklin Project
Marines with I Marine Expeditionary Force and sailors with 553 Cyber Protection Team, monitor network activity during I MEF Large Scale Exercise 2016 at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Aug 22, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps)

Normally, Nakasone said a reservist’s record includes background, training, assignments, and schools attended.

“I would like to know every single person that has been trained as a certified ethical hacker,” he said.

The Army has been steadily building cyber mission teams, as part of a broader Defense Department undertaking. Of the 41 Army teams, just over half come from theArmy National Guard and Army Reserve.

Nakasone said officials were still working out costs.

“The money will come,” he said, because building a ready cyber force is necessary.

The Army major said others in the civilian high-tech industry are interested in helping.

Many would like to participate “in something bigger than themselves, something that has intrinsic value for the nation,” he said.

The major said he has signed up for a second one-year tour in his cyber job. He is looking at options for staying longer.

“I find what I’m doing very satisfying, because I have an opportunity to implement things, to get things done and see them work and see tangible results,” he said. “I’m not making as much as I was on the civilian side. But the satisfaction is that strong, and is that valuable, that it’s worth it.”

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The ‘Kuznetsov Follies’ continue with another jet in the drink

Well, now we know why Russia is operating its carrier jets from land bases. It seems that when it tries to conduct actual air operations on the Admiral Kuznetsov carrier, the planes end up going in the drink.


Stan McChrystal Talks About His Inspiration For the Franklin Project
Sukhoi Su-33 launching from the Admiral Kuznetsov in 2012. | Russian MoD Photo

According to a report by the Washington Post, the Russians lost an Su-33 “Flanker D” when an arresting cable on the Kuznetsov snapped. The pilot of the Flanker ejected and was safely recovered. The Su-33 went into the Mediterranean Sea, joining a MiG-29K that crashed last month after its own mechanical failures.

An arresting cable snapping can be very dangerous. A video of one incident on USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) where an E-2C Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft shows the violence of such an accident. The Hawkeye did not fall into the sea due to superb airmanship on the part of the pilots, but eight sailors on board the Nimitz-class carrier were injured.

Russia had intended to use the Kuznetsov, which was commissioned in 1991 by the Soviet Union, to demonstrate its arrival to carrier aviation. The ship can carry roughly 40 aircraft, and deployed with both the Su-33 “Flanker D” and the MiG-29K “Fulcrum” along with Ka-27 “Helix” anti-submarine and Ka-31RLD “Helix” airborne early-warning helicopters. The 55,000-ton vessel can reach speeds of up to 29 knots, and carries 12 SS-N-19 “Shipwreck” anti-ship missiles.

The Russians had hoped to use a successful combat deployment of the Kuznetsov to market its weapons. Syria has become a testing ground for weapons that Russia has deployed, notably, the SS-N-27 Sizzler, a multi-mission cruise missile. The designers of the MiG-29K had particularly been hoping to do well, as they had seen export sales dry up after the fall of the Soviet Union. However, two losses from operations on the carrier have put an apparent damper on sales.

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Here is a look at the 16-inch turrets on a battleship

The three-gun turrets on an Iowa-class battleship are perhaps some of the best-known (and most-loved) naval guns. When they are fired, there is a sense of immense power — and they have a reputation for being able to take out just about anything.


Stan McChrystal Talks About His Inspiration For the Franklin Project

It’s a well-deserved reputation. During Operation Desert Storm, a bunch of Iraqi troops saw the RQ-2 Pioneer unmanned aerial vehicle circling overhead. Knowing that a lot of powerful shells were going to come soon, the Iraqis decided not to wait to get hit and surrendered to the drone.

Stan McChrystal Talks About His Inspiration For the Franklin Project
A RQ-2 Pioneer UAV is recovered on an Iowa-class battleship. (U.S. Navy photo)

So, how do these three-gun turrets work?

Now, this is a key distinction to keep in mind. A triple turret raises and lowers all three guns at the same time. A three-gun turret can raise and lower each of the guns separately. Don’t call ’em a triple turret — that could end up getting you in almost as much trouble as getting on the clip/magazine thing wrong.

Stan McChrystal Talks About His Inspiration For the Franklin Project
A cutaway diagram showing a three-gun turret from an Iowa-class battleship. (Youtube screenshot)

The Iowa-class battleships have served off and on since World War II. Two of them, USS Missouri (BB 63) and USS Wisconsin (BB 64) saw action during Operation Desert Storm. All four were reactivated in the 1980s and equipped with BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles, RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and Mk 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems.

Stan McChrystal Talks About His Inspiration For the Franklin Project
USS Wisconsin (BB 64) launches Tomahawks during Desert Storm. (Dept. of Defense photo)

The Iowa-class fast battleships (they had a top speed of 35 knots) displaced 45,000 tons, and their main armament was nine 16-inch guns in three three-gun turrets. When built, they had twenty five-inch guns in ten two-gun turrets. Six were ordered, but only four were commissioned. Two ships, USS Illinois (BB 65) and USS Kentucky (BB 66) were scrapped after World War II.

Stan McChrystal Talks About His Inspiration For the Franklin Project
USS Wisconsin fires her main battery during Desert Storm. (U.S. Navy photo)

Take a look at this 1955 training film about the big guns on the Iowa-class battleships. Then think about how they no longer sail the seas, and mourn.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wT1xkRpCKk
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John Glenn’s incredible response to a political opponent said he ‘never held a job’

Stan McChrystal Talks About His Inspiration For the Franklin Project
Wikimedia Commons


John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, a former US senator, and former Marine aviator who saw combat in World War II and Korea, has died at 95.

Glenn is known for a number of accolades throughout his life of service, from the military to the astronaut program and eventually, into politics. So it’s worth looking back on his entry into politics, when he first ran for office against an incumbent named Howard Metzenbaum.

Also read: This is the little-known combat career of John Glenn

In 1974, Glenn’s military record offered an opening for criticism by his opponent, who was mindful of Americans’ anti-war fervor during the Vietnam War. Metzenbaum began calling him “Col. Glenn” to highlight his time in the Marine Corps, and later told him that he “had never met a payroll,” which Glenn perceived as being told that his military record and service with NASA didn’t qualify as “having held a job.”

His response during the debate was remarkable, and at the end of it, he received more than 20 seconds of sustained applause, according to PBS. Here’s what he said:

“I spent 23 years in the United States Marine Corps. I lived through two wars. I flew 149 missions. I was in the space program. It wasn’t my checkbook, it was my life that was on the line.

You go with me as I did out to a veterans’ hospital and look those men with their mangled bodies in the eye and tell them that they didn’t hold a job. You go with me to any Gold Star mother and you look her in the eye and you tell her that her son did not hold a job. You go to Arlington National Cemetery — where I have more friends than I’d like to remember — and you think about this nation, and you tell me that those people didn’t have a job.

I tell you, Howard Metzenbaum, you should be on your knees every day of your life thanking God that there were some men, some men, who held a job. And they required a dedication to purpose, a love of country, and a dedication to duty that was more important than life itself.

And their self-sacrifice is what has made this nation possible.

I have held a job, Howard.”

Glenn went on to defeat Metzenbaum in the primary and win the general election. He served in the Senate from 1974 to 1999. His speech was also used to motivate a group of US Marines before they went into combat in Marjah, Afghanistan in 2010.

Watch the video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNyqiHuutkM
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How close is North Korea to being a nuclear threat really?

While a leaked US intelligence report suggests North Korea now can build warheads small and light enough to fit inside its intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear weapons experts doubt that Pyongyang can develop an operational ICBM with a reliable warhead capable of hitting the US mainland.


Reports about the intelligence community’s consensus on North Korea’s weapons capability came this week as Pyongyang and Washington exchanged war threats.

The July 28 analysis from the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency, disclosed August 8 by The Washington Post, concludes that Pyongyang has “produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles.” On August 10, NBC News quoted unnamed US officials as saying the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, as well as other intelligence agencies, agreed with the assessment.

Stan McChrystal Talks About His Inspiration For the Franklin Project
US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kyla Gifford

Key questions unanswered

Miniaturization technology was one of the major hurdles in Kim Jong Un’s nuclear and missile programs. If the DIA assessment holds true, the regime is now closer to achieving its ambition: striking the continental US with a nuclear-tipped ICBM.

Determined as North Korea is to become a full-fledged nuclear power, experts say several important questions about its capabilities remain.

David Albright, a former UN nuclear inspector, told VOA’s Korean service the DIA assessment appeared to have ignored “uncertainties and caveats” about the reliability of the miniaturized warhead, once it is loaded atop an ICBM, and little is known about the chances that the payload will reach its target.

Pyongyang already can miniaturize nuclear warheads and mount them on its medium-range Rodong missiles, which have been test-launched repeatedly since the early 1990s. Albright said it might be possible, but less likely, that they could do the same with an ICBM.

Stan McChrystal Talks About His Inspiration For the Franklin Project
Image from Wikimedia Commons

Difficulties only begin at launch

Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, explained that a nuclear warhead must survive the entire ICBM mission – the rigors of blastoff, possibly from a mobile launch vehicle, the flight into space and then a blazing re-entry into the atmosphere – before it can detonate above its target.

Failures can occur, Albright noted, because of the much more exacting requirements of the Hwasong-14 ICBM missile system, which has been tested only twice, and just within the past month – not enough to establish its reliability.

“Countries spend a lot of time working this problem to try to build up what they call the reliability of the warhead in a delivery system, and it just takes time,” Albright said. “I think I would be skeptical that North Korea can do it right now.”

Michael Elleman, senior fellow for missile defense at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, had similar views. But in terms of volume, he said, if a warhead can fit inside the payload bay of Pyongyang’s Scud-type short-range missile, which has a relatively narrow diameter, any of the regime’s other missiles, including the Hwasong-14, certainly could accommodate it.

Stan McChrystal Talks About His Inspiration For the Franklin Project
Hwasong missile (North Korean variant). (Photo: KCNA)

Lighter warheads travel farther

It is not yet clear by how much the North Koreans can lighten their missiles’ payloads, which would extend their range.

“It is still a question mark as to whether they can threaten deep into the United States,” Elleman said.

However, he told VOA, it appears the North Koreans’ rockets could deliver a 500-kilogram warhead as far the western portions of the continental US

Further undercutting confidence in the North’s technical capabilities is a lack of clarity about the Kim regime’s mastery of atmospheric re-entry technology for the warhead, a crucial requirement for operational ICBMs.

For long-range flights, Elleman said, “the re-entry velocity, when it comes back into the Earth’s atmosphere, is much higher, and so the protection mechanisms for the re-entry vehicle [must be] more rigorous, to survive the much greater amount of heat and the vibrations as it slows down, passing through … thicker and thicker [air] as you get closer to the surface.”

Tests show ‘substantial progress’

Siegfried Hecker, a former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, is now a professor at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, and he has visited North Korea seven times and toured its nuclear facilities.

Hecker said in an interview with The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that making miniaturized warheads robust enough to survive the extreme conditions of ICBM flight “is very demanding and takes time, particularly because warheads contain materials such as plutonium, highly enriched uranium, high explosives and the like.”

“These are not,” he added, “your ordinary industrial materials.”

However, Hecker added in a separate interview this week, Pyongyang’s latest two missile tests, of their ICBMs, “demonstrate substantial progress, and most likely mean they will be able to master the technology in the next year or two.”

Stan McChrystal Talks About His Inspiration For the Franklin Project

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, founded in 1945 by scientists who worked on the US Manhattan Project and built the first atomic bomb, has for 70 years published the “Doomsday Clock,” intended as a measure of how close the world is to a thermonuclear war – or to midnight, on the clock, because that could lead to a worldwide cataclysm.

The Doomsday Clock stood at three minutes to midnight in 2016. The scientists involved advanced it in late January this year, and it is now just two minutes and 30 seconds short of midnight.

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

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US forces are quickly cutting off ISIS’ only escape route in Syria

The offensive to destroy ISIS in Syria took a big step forward recently with US military advisers, helicopters, and artillery helping position a force of about 500 soldiers near a strategic damn outside of Raqqa, ISIS’s Syrian capital.


The US military, along with Kurdish forces and the multi-ethnic Syrian Democratic Foces rebel group, have moved to put a stranglehold on Raqqa with shelling, air support, and ground forces at the last route in and out of the city, according to a press release.

Related: US asks Europe to deploy more troops for ISIS fight

Operation Inherent Resolve, the 68-nation mission to destroy ISIS, flew in fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed rebel group, behind enemy lines to a strategic dam.

“It takes a special breed of warrior to pull of an airborne operation or air assault behind enemy lines,” Col. Joe Scrocca, a spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve told the Times.

Stan McChrystal Talks About His Inspiration For the Franklin Project
Marines with the 11th MEU train in Djibouti. Leathernecks from the 11th MEU reportedly just deployed to Syria to bolster an assault on Raqqa. | US Marine Corps photo

“Seizing Tabqah Dam will isolate Raqqah from three sides and give the SDF the strategic advantage and launching point needed for the liberation of the city,” said the release. But while the US says they’re mainly backing local forces, they seem poised to take on a more active role with conventional forces fighting ISIS on the ground in Raqqa.

The Pentagon has been considering sending as many as 1,000 ground troops to help take back Raqqa from ISIS, which would signal a reversal of the Obama-era policy to fight ISIS via train and equip methods and airstrikes.

The coalition says they’ve conducted more than 300 airstrikes around Raqqa in the past month.

Raqqa, situated along the Euphrates river in the mostly barren Easter Syria has been ISIS’ main Syrian stronghold since 2014.

The US, Inherent Resolve coalition partners, and local forces have been involved in a massive air and ground campaign to rid the country of the terrorist group while simultaneously carrying out similar operations in neighboring Iraq.

Stan McChrystal Talks About His Inspiration For the Franklin Project
ISW

A spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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