The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think - We Are The Mighty
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The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think
Wikipedia


Early Tuesday morning, Obama announced a four-part plan to ensure the closing of Guantanamo Bay, a goal that has eluded the president since he promised to shutter the facility during his 2008 campaign.

The plan would bring some of the 91 remaining detainees to maximum security prisons in the United States, while others would be transferred to foreigns countries. Although Obama called on Congress to lift a ban barring the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S., the White House has also left open the possibility of unilateral action should Republican lawmakers refuse to cooperate.

“The plan we’re putting forward today isn’t just about closing the facility at Guantanamo,” Obama said to the nation from the Roosevelt Room. “This is about closing a chapter in our history.”

With history in mind, it seems significant that the speech was given on this day, in this venue. Exactly 113 years ago, following the Spanish-American War, Teddy Roosevelt signed an agreement with Cuba to lease parts of Guantanamo Bay to the United States for use as a naval station.

This agreement was actually a follow-up to the Platt Amendment, a 1901 resolution that dictated seven conditions for the withdrawal of United States troops from Cuba, along with an eighth condition stipulating that Cuba include these terms in their new constitution. The amendment gave the United States full control over a 45 square-mile portion of Guantanamo Bay, in order to “enable the United States to maintain the independence of Cuba.” The deal was officiated on behalf of the Cubans by Tomás Estrada Palma, an American citizen who would become the first president of Cuba.

A cartoon protesting the Platt Amendment | Wikipedia A cartoon protesting the Platt Amendment | Wikipedia

Three decades later, the 1934 Cuban–American Treaty of Relations repealed most provisions of the Platt Amendment as part of FDR’s “good neighbor policy.” The effort, ostensibly intended to give the Cuban government greater sovereignty, made the lease on Guantanamo permanent unless the United States abandoned the base or both countries agreed to terminate the agreement. The new treaty also updated the yearly lease payment from $2000 in U.S. gold coins to $4035 in U.S. dollars. This amount has remained unchanged in the 82 years since.

Since the Cuban revolution of 1959, the Castro government has cashed only one of these checks (this one supposedly by accident), keeping the rest untouched as a means of protest against what they consider an “illegal” occupation. According to the U.S., cashing even one check renders the treaty valid.

The use of Guantanamo as a prison began in 1991, following the overthrow of Haiti’s first democratically-elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. While the CIA secretly leant support to death squads killing Aristide’s supporters, the White House announced that it would be using Guantanamo as a “tent shelter” for those fleeing violence in Haiti. Of the 30,000 refugees interned at Guantanamo, those who presented discipline problems were held on a site that would later become Camp Xray, also known as the Guantanamo detention camp.

Following Bush Sr.’s disputed decision to send the exiles back to war-torn Haiti, the Supreme Court ruled that the Haitians were not entitled to U.S. rights because Guantanamo Bay fell under the sovereignty of Cuba. Interestingly, this rationale for the United States not technically having sovereignty over the land would come up again, twelve years later, as George W. Bush’s administration argued that Guantanamo prisoners should not be constitutionally entitled to habeas review.

This is all to say that, even before it became an international symbol for the War on Terror, the policies leading to and enforcing the U.S. ownership of Guantanamo Bay have been extremely controversial. As renewed attention is focused on the use of Guantanamo as a terrorist detention center, it’s well worth considering how this small Cuban harbor became a U.S.-run prison in the first place.

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This congressman wants to change the title of Department of Navy

As US Rep. Walter Jones continues a 15-year effort in Washington to re-designate the title of the Department of Navy, not everyone in his North Carolina home and military community sees the need.


Retired Marine Col. Pete Grimes of Hubert refers to the adage “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” when asked about Jones’ fight to re-name the Department of Navy the Department of Navy and Marine Corps.

Beyond the surface of the name change, Grimes doesn’t see any benefit to the organization by disrupting the status quo.

“Why change the name? What does it achieve? At the end, I can’t think of anything that would improve the stature of the Marine Corps,” Grimes.

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think
Emblems courtesy of US Navy and USMC

Jones has seen things differently.

He first introduced a proposal to change the title of the department to Department of the Navy and Marine Corps in 2001 and has stuck to his belief that the two separate services deserve equal recognition.

The House Armed Services Committee passed the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2018. As a member of the committee, Jones was involved in drafting the defense bill and has several measures attached, including the re-designation of the Department of Navy title.

“The Marine Corps is an equal member of this department, and therefore, deserves equal recognition in its title,” Jones said in remarks on getting the language included in the defense bill.

Jones said the defense bill is expected to go to the House floor for a vote in July. If successful, NDAA will then go to the Senate.

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think
Navy photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Joe Kane

Retired Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Ball of Jacksonville, who served 23 years in the Marine Corps, said whatever name is used is a matter of perception and will vary by a person’s point of view. Regardless of the name, Ball said the operations of the two services are separate and should stay that way.

He said the organization as it is now has been working well.

“Leave it the way it is,” Ball said.

Brian Kramer, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel, said the unique Navy-Marine Corps relationship is an exceptional one within the Department of Defense that should not be changed. He questions whether a name change now could lead to larger, negative changes later.

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think
Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tim D. Godbee

“I am a traditionalist, and on this issue I think the longstanding relationship between the Navy and the Marine Corps should remain unchanged. This relationship has served both services exceptionally well over the centuries. We ( Marines) are called ‘Soldiers of the Sea’ for a reason,” Kramer said. “Our roots are with the Navy, and I see the short-term ‘feel-good’ benefit of a name change having possible long-term negative consequences. Might this be a first step to the Corps being a separate service? I am not certain we want to go there.”

Retired Navy Capt. Rick Welton of Swansboro doesn’t have a particular opinion on the proposed change the Department of Navy’s title but agreed that the two services have long had a history of working together.

“We’ve been working as a team from the beginning,” Welton said. “We have depended on each other, worked with each other, and done outstanding things together.”

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These massive balloons are key to cruise missile defense

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think
Photo: US Army


The white craft look innocuous, like small blimps, but veterans of the war in Afghanistan may remember the difference they made in combat, allowing friendly forces to constantly see everything happening in an area.

The aerostats have traded their cameras for sophisticated radars and are now part of a cruise missile shield for America’s capital.

Cruise missiles can be armed with either conventional or nuclear warheads. Russia is inventing new missiles and disguising old ones, according to the Atlantic Council. One Russian missile, the Club-K, can be smuggled in civilian shipping containers.

The blimps work in pairs to defeat these threats. One collects 360 degrees of radar information at all times while the other holds a fire control radar that hones in on specific threats. Flying from 10,000 feet, they can cover an area nearly the size of Texas. The targeting information can be passed on to defending forces in the area. Adm. William Gortney, NORAD and U.S. Northern Commander, wants the aerostats’ radars to be integrated with Navy ships and Air Force fighter jets in the area.

If the upgrades are approved, ships and planes would be able to collect targeting data from the ships and launch missiles to bring down the threat immediately.

Like the video above states, the blimps don’t only watch out for cruise missiles. They can also see approaching ships and vehicles, allowing defenders to identify cruise missile launchers and other threats as well. This would allow forces to target the launchers before the missiles are in the air, a much cheaper and safer option than going after in-flight missiles.

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ISIS beheads Russian, tells nation ‘we will kill your children’

The ISIS media group in Raqqa, Syria released another execution video. This time, the victim is Khasiev Magomid, an alleged member of the Russian Federal Security Service, or FSB – successor to the Soviet-era KGB.


Magomid admitted he entered ISIS territory to gather names, photos, and information about Daesh fighters.

The video, titled “You Shall be Disappointed and Humiliated O Russians,” shows the standard Daesh execution video, with Magomid on his knees. His captor, standing above him, claims he’s a Russian national from Chechnya before cutting the victim’s throat.

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think

The video also criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin and threatens all of Russia’s citizens.

“Listen, Putin the dog, the [Assad] regime bombed us before you came and then America and its coward allies bombed us. Oh Russian infidels, we’ve been waiting for you…You have been taken to a new defeat. You will find no security in your homes and we will kill your children for every child you killed here.”

Putin vowed retaliation against ISIS for the bombing of a Russian commercial jet over the Sinai Peninsula in October 2015. There has not yet been any official reaction from the Russian security forces or foreign ministry over the murder of Magomid.

In January 2015, Chechen leadership told the Interfax News Agency, Russia did have an intelligence network inside ISIS.

“This allows us to track the movement of those who are of interest to us,” said Ramzan Kadyrov, former Chechen rebel and now head of the Chechen Republic. “Moreover, it allows us to send those who, even as a joke, direct the barrel towards Russian on an eternal trip with a one-way ticket.”

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think

Kadyrov confirmed the Russian in the video was indeed a Chechen citizen and expressed his desire to join the anti-terror operation in Syria with Chechen special operations units. He promised to avenge Magomid’s death.

“Chechens remember, know and will not leave this unanswered,” he said.  “Those who slaughtered our citizen will not live long.”

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think

Articles

This country plans on using fighter jets to hunt down poachers

Ever see those signs on the highway that read “speed limit enforced by aircraft”?


Well, if you’re in South Africa, you might just start seeing similar signage declaring anti-poaching laws are being enforced by the country’s Saab JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets.

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that illegal hunting could be dealt with using a JDAM strike, or even a gun run with the Gripen’s 27 mm Mauser cannon. However, it definitely does herald a new mission for the South African Air Force, and brings to the forefront the struggles the country has had over the years with curbing rampant poaching across its outback.

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think
Swedish JAS 39 Gripens at Nellis AFB during the multi-national Red Flag exercise (Photo US Air Force)

The SAAF aims to use the Litening III pod to track poachers at night near the South Africa-Zimbabwe border. Built by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems of Israel, the Litening is widely used as to designate targets for guided munitions, enhancing their effectiveness in combat situations.

Instead of designating poachers for an airstrike, the SAAF will use Litening’s reconnaissance capabilities, allowing them to see activity on the ground clearly, even while flying at night. The pod can be slung underneath the aircraft on its wings, or beneath its fuselage on a “belly pylon.”

Litening has already more than proven its worth in night operations in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past 15 years.

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think
A Litening pod attached to an A-10 Thunderbolt II (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

Using a datalink developed in South Africa known as “Link ZA,” information on the location of poachers as well images of them in action can be shared with other aircraft in the area, or even controllers on the ground. This would presumably be used to vector rangers on the ground to the general location of the poachers.

Poaching has been a widespread and seemingly unstoppable issue in South Africa for decades, causing an alarming decrease in the country’s rhino population. Combat veterans, hired by private security companies and smaller organizations such as Vetpaw have been deployed to the area to combat poaching  in recent years.

The Gripen is a multirole fighter with air-to-ground and air-to-air capabilities, serving with a number of countries across the world. Designed and manufactured in Sweden, it was built as a versatile competitor to the likes of the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale and other similar fighters of the current era.

The single-engine fighter currently flies in Thailand, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Sweden, in addition to South Africa, and will soon enter service with the Brazilian Air Force. Saab is still aggressively courting a next-generation version of the Gripen, called the Gripen NG – slightly more on par with Boeing’s Advanced Super Hornet.

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think
One of nine two-seater ‘D’ model Gripens operated by the SAAF (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

South Africa began taking delivery of its Gripens in 2008, purchasing a total of 26 planes — a mix of single and two-seaters. In 2013, less than half of these aircraft were operational at any given time. Slashes made to the country’s defense budget forced the SAAF to limit flight operations while placing a group of its brand new fighters in storage as they could not be flown.

It was reported last year that the SAAF began rotating its Gripens in and out of storage, activating some of the mothballed fighters to return to service, while storing others to be reactivated later on. Since South Africa does not face any military threats, none of these Gripens have ever been involved in combat situations.

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think
Rhinos grazing in a nature preserve near Gauteng, South Africa (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

It’s possible that using fighters in such a role might prove to be too expensive for the South African government, though, necessitating the SAAF to explore utilizing a different aircraft for its anti-poaching operations. However, this in itself could be problematic as the Litening pod can only be equipped to fighter and attack jets.

Using Gripens, orbiting high above poaching target zones, will likely turn out to be a decent interim solution while the South African government comes up with a cheaper and more cost-effective solution. Until then, poachers beware, you’re being watched by state-of-the-art fighter jets in night skies above.

 

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The Harrier versus the Lightning II: Which does close air support better?

With the debate on close-air support raging between those who think the F-35 Lightning can perform the role versus those who think the A-10 Thunderbolt II (aka the Warthog) can’t be beaten, one other plane that excels in this role has been all but forgotten.


The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think
Marine Corps Air Station Cherry , North Carolina – Maj. James S. Tanis lands an AV-8B Harrier during field carrier landing practice sustainment training at Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue, N.C., Dec. 5, 2014. (Photo By: Cpl. J. R. Heins)

The McDonnell-Douglas/British Aerospace AV-8B+ Harrier has played a role for decades supporting troops on the ground in combat.

The Harrier had caught the fancy of Hollywood for a while – notably being used to evacuate a defector in the beginning of “The Living Daylights” – and especially after it proved to be a war-winning weapon in the Falklands in 1982. The U.S. Marines had a similar plane in the AV-8A Harrier.

Then, around 1985, the AV-8B and GR.5 entered service, offering a greater payload for ground attack. The 1990s saw the AV-8B+ enter service with the APG-65 radar used on the F/A-18 Hornet.

So, how does this plane stack up against the competition is a close-air support mission?

In a max-payload configuration, the AV-8B+ can carry 14 Mk 82 500-pound bombs. The AV-8B+ can carry a wide variety of other weapons as well, including the Mk 84 2,000 pound bomb, CBU-87 and CBU-100 cluster bombs, the AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missile, GPS-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs), and laser-guided bombs.

The Harrier also features an internal gun – the 25mm GAU-12 — with 300 rounds of ammo. While not as powerful as the A-10’s GAU-12, this gun still packs a punch.

So, how does this stack up to the F-35B which the Marines are using to replace the Harrier?

The F-35B can carry JDAMs, but cannot carry any 2,000-pound bombs. As this Military.com video shows, 2,000 pound bombs are sometimes needed to support grunts.

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think
U.S. Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, conduct the first ever hot load on the F-35B Lightning II in support of Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course 1-17 at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., Sept. 22, 2016. (Staff Sgt. Artur Shvartsberg)

Even though the F-35 has a larger maximum payload (15,000 pounds to the AV-8B’s 9,200 pounds), not being able to drop the bigger bombs can be a problem. The F-35 also doesn’t carry the Maverick missile, which can be a problem when there are ground-based air defenses.

The lack of an internal gun is another killer. Sometimes, you don’t need a big bang, especially when you have to be aware of collateral damage. When you drop a 500-pound bomb, that’s still a lot of high explosives going off.

Even the AGM-114 Hellfire used on drones has caused some civilian casualties when taking out high-ranking terrorists.

The Marines need new aircraft, particularly since they had to be bailed out by the boneyard earlier this year. The high-tech F-35B may be a good replacement for the F/A-18C Hornets the Marines desperately need to replace, but the AV-8B+ may need to stick around a while to help with the close-air support mission.

Because like the Hog, it can do stuff that the F-35 just can’t do.

Articles

13 memes showing how it feels to get your DD-214

For the uninitiated, the DD-214 is the Department of Defense form issued when a military service member retires, separates, or is otherwise discharged from active-duty service.

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think

Sometimes the wait seems like forever.

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think

When it’s so close to your hands, some units try to convince you to reenlist.

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think

But you’ve done your job and it’s time to move on.

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think

You might “drop your pack” a little while waiting for that day.

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think

You’ll never forget the day you first lay eyes on it …

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think

… Looking at that glorious golden ticket.

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think

And then you become a civilian, which comes with its own set of problems.

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think

Not everyone handles it well.

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think

But you won’t be deterred:

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think

But even so, this is true for all branches:

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think

NOW CHECK OUT: Amazing WWII photographs you’ve never seen before 

MIGHTY TRENDING

North Korea claims successful test of ‘high-tech tactical weapon’

North Korea’s state-run outlet said on Nov. 16, 2018, that its country successfully carried out tests of a new “high-tech tactical weapon” that met “all superior and powerful designing indicators.”

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited a test site to inspect the weapon, according to a Korean Central News Agency statement first reported by South Korean news organization Yonhap News.

“The state-of-the-art weapon that has been long developed under the leadership of our party’s dynamic leadership has a meaning of completely safeguarding our territory and significantly improving the combat power of our people’s army,” KCNA said.


The weapons test is the first reported by North Korea since Kim and the President Donald Trump met during a joint summit in Singapore in 2018.

North Korea’s media reportedly did not mention any specifics about the weapon itself, but did state it had been in development since his father, Kim Jong Il, was in power. High-ranking officials were also said to have attended the event, include Jung Cheon Park, an artillery commissioner.

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and United States President Donald Trump in Singapore.

Signs of an underground nuclear test, such as seismic activity, were not reported, according to North Korea monitoring organization NK News.

The report of the weapons test comes shortly after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was supposed to have met with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Yong Chol, in New York earlier in November 2018. The talks were scrapped abruptly by the North Koreans, according to the State Department. The government agency says the discussions are ongoing.

Word of the weapons test comes amid the reaffirmation of a potential second summit between Trump and Kim. On Nov. 15, 2018, Vice President Mike Pence said Trump plans to meet Kim in 2019, the second such meeting after the two met in Singapore in June 2018.

“The plans are ongoing,” Pence said. “We believe that the summit will likely occur after the first of 2019, but then when and the where of that is still being worked out.”

Pence added that the meeting would not be predicated on the US’ previous demand that North Korea disclose a full list of nuclear arms, but he stressed that the leaders must “come away with a plan for identifying all of the weapons in question.”

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Russia announces a new plane that might already be obsolete

The CEO of the Russian MiG corporation said on Aug. 17, 2018, that work on an experimental design for a MiG-41 fifth-generation interceptor will begin “in the immediate future.”

“No, this is not a mythical project, this is a long-standing project for the MiG and now we are carrying out intensive work under the aegis of the [the United Aircraft Corporation] and will present it to the public soon,” Ilya Tarasenko said, according to TASS, a Russian state-owned media outlet.


The MiG-41, or Prospective Aviation Complex of Long-Range Interception, would be the successor to the speedy fourth-generation MiG-31 interceptor, which was known to have chased away SR-71 Blackbirds.

Tarasenko, who previously claimed that the MiG-41 would be able to “operate in space,” a highly unlikely prospect, also said that the MiG-41s are expected to start being delivered to the Russia military in the mid-2020s.

But Vasily Kashin, a Russian defense analyst at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, told The National Interest in 2017 that he thought the MiG-41 wouldn’t fly until the mid-2020s, and wouldn’t be delivered to the Russian Air Force until 2035-2040.

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think

An SR-71B “Blackbird” over the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California in 1994.

“I don’t hold out much hope for an even less proven design concept to make it into series production anytime soon,” Justin Bronk, a combat-aviation expert at the Royal United Services Institute, told Business Insider in an email.

“The Mig-31BM is already a highly capable interceptor platform and there are plans for a second modernisation upgrade of what is a relatively new aircraft for a very specific Russian territorial defence requirement,” Bronk said.

And given that the T-14 Armata tank and Su-57 stealth fighter “have had series production cancelled recently,” Bronk said, “my take is, ‘I’ll believe it when I see it,’ and will remain extremely skeptical until that point.”

But “never say never I suppose,” Bronk added.

Richard L. Aboulafia, Vice President of Analysis at Teal Group, told Business Insider that Tarasenko’s announcement “keeps the idea alive, and you never know, even a chance in a 100 is better than no chance at all.”

“It also, of course, doesn’t hurt in sales campaigns for current generation planes, like the [MiG-29SM],” Aboulafia said. “In other words, people don’t like buying fighter planes from a company with no future.”

Aboulafia also said that the idea of creating a pure next-generation interceptor is like “living in the past” since surface-to-air missiles “are generally a better way of intercepting things.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Pentagon will restrict information about the 16-year war in Afghanistan

The Pentagon has ordered an independent federal auditor to stop providing the public with key information about US war efforts in Afghanistan, accelerating a clampdown on data, such as the size of the Afghan military and police forces, that indicate how the 16-year-old stalemated war is going.


The crackdown on information comes just months after President Donald Trump announced a new Afghanistan strategy aimed at breaking a battlefield stalemate by accelerating Afghan-led operations against the Taliban and other insurgent groups in the country. Trump railed against the recent string of attacks in Afghanistan, and ruled out any US discussions with the Taliban as part of the effort to seek peace talks between the Afghan government and the insurgents.

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think
US soldiers, including some from the 101st Airborne, in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. (ResoluteSupportMedia/Flickr)

The auditing agency, established by Congress and known as the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, revealed the new gag order in its latest three-month assessment of conditions in Afghanistan. The restrictions fly in the face of Pentagon assertions over the past year that it was striving to be more transparent about the US war campaigns across Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

Also read: How troops use a combat scythe in Afghanistan

Over the years, the SIGAR auditing effort has revealed many dubious practices by the US, including instances of contractor fraud. Since January 2016 it had published data on the number of governing districts controlled by Kabul, the number controlled by the Taliban, and the number that are contested.

John F. Sopko, head of the auditing organization, expressed disappointment that the Pentagon had forbidden release of the data on relative control of the governing districts.

“This development is troubling for a number of reasons, not least of which is that this is the first time SIGAR has been specifically instructed not to release information marked ‘unclassified’ to the American taxpayer,” Sopko wrote.

“Aside from that, the number of districts controlled or influenced by the Afghan government had been one of the last remaining publicly available indicators for members of Congress — many of whose staff do not have access to the classified annexes to SIGAR reports — and for the American public of how the 16-year-long US effort to secure Afghanistan is faring,” he added.

In response, the Pentagon said the US-led coalition of NATO and allied nations in Afghanistan made the decision to restrict the public release of the information.

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think
Hospitalman Stephen Wescott, assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, provides security during a census patrol in Sangin, Afghanistan, January 10, 2011. (Flickr/Official U.S. Navy Page)

The Defense Department told SIGAR that it doesn’t “have the authority to overrule the classification determination made by NATO Resolute Support,” said Lt. Col. Michael Andrews. He said that similar information was included in the department’s December 2017 semi-annual report to Congress, and the Pentagon encouraged SIGAR to use that data.

More reading: Green Berets remember first mission in Afghanistan after 9/11 (Part I)

The Defense Department report said the Afghan government has control or influence over 60% of the population, while insurgents had control or influence over approximately 10 percent of the population, with the remainder contested.

In November 2017 Gen. John Nicholson described the Afghan government control during remarks to reporters at the Pentagon. He said it remained “roughly the same” as in 2016. “About 64% of the population is controlled by the government, about 24% live in contested areas, and the Taliban control the remaining 12%,” he said. He did not reveal the number of districts held by each side.

Sopko wrote that historically, the number of districts controlled or influenced by the government has been falling since his office began reporting on it, while the number controlled or influenced by the insurgents has been rising — “a fact that should cause even more concern about its disappearance from public disclosure and discussion.”

Related: The top general in Afghanistan says he needs more troops for the President’s war plan

The war effort has sometimes faded from US public attention, even though the US has invested about $120 billion in reconstructing Afghanistan since 2002.

Sopko said in his report that the Pentagon also classified or otherwise restricted information that his organization had previously reported publicly, including such “fundamental metrics” of the Afghan military and police performance as Afghan casualty figures and most measurements of the battlefield capabilities of the Afghans military.

Articles

How an aspiring sergeant major became a stand-up comedian


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In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Blake, Tim, and O.V. speak with Mitch Burrow, a funny burly-guy who went from being a Marine to becoming a stand-up comedian.

When we join the military all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, we have sort of an idea of what we want to do with our lives — but we change our minds dozens of times before landing a career that we hopefully love.

Related: This is how drunken shenanigans influence pilot callsigns

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think
Mitch Burrow doing his monthly workout. (Source: Mitch Burrow)

Mitch is a Marine Corps veteran that served in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. He then started a career in manufacturing before realizing that it sucked. Now, Mitch has found his true calling in acting silly on a stage in front of strangers on a nightly basis.

So why did Mitch decide to jump on stage and be a comedian after getting out of the Marines?

“I love stand up comedy, so I was like you know what? If this is working at a party or a social group, let me try it on stage,” Mitch humorously recalls. “So I drove down to San Diego to the Comedy Store in La Jolla and had three shots of tequila, and I drank a couple of Budweisers then I got on stage. I’ve been told it went pretty good.”

Also Read: Dale Dye wants to make this epic World War II movie with veterans

To follow Mitch or check out one of his shows visit his website: Mitchburrow.com.

Hosted By:

Blake Stilwell: Air Force veteran and Managing Editor

Tim Kirkpatrick: Navy veteran and Editorial Coordinator

Orvelin Valle (AKA O.V.): Navy veteran and Podcast Producer

MIGHTY TRENDING

5 ways you can help veterans in your community

This article is sponsored by Disabled American Veterans.

Disabled American Veterans, a non-profit originally started by World War I vets and civic leaders in the 1920s, is looking to help veterans and volunteers meet up so that America’s former service members can get the help they’ve earned and volunteers can find opportunities to be helpful.


DAV_Volunteering_AHv1

vimeo.com

1. Get hands-on, especially for disabled vets

Many veterans have projects around the house that might be challenging for them to complete, especially if they were disabled during their service. So, DAV has built a new online platform to allow veterans, their caregivers, and friends of veterans to sign up and list projects where the veterans or caregivers could use some help.

Volunteers can peruse the list and find opportunities in their local areas. The listings include everything from clearing snow off of driveways to garage painting to meal prep and camaraderie. Chances are, someone needs something that you can help with. The tool is new many vets are still discovering it, so feel free to check back if you don’t see anything local immediately.

2. Help veterans voice their needs through social media and online platforms

As a matter of fact, if you know a veteran who could use some help, you can create a listing for them on the service, and the tool makes it easy to share the listing through Facebook, Twitter, or email.

Listings can cover any need that doesn’t require a specific license or certification for safety, and the pre-made general categories cover a lot of territory as well. These can include asking for help teaching less tech-savvy veterans learn to work their phones, helping mobility-challenged vets grocery shop or do meal prep, or even conducting veteran remembrance projects.

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think

Student Conservation Association members assist with recovery after Hurricane Sandy.

(National Park Service)

3. Recruit your kids and other young people (and potentially get them scholarships)

Youth may be wasted on the young, but sometimes you can get those whipper-snappers to volunteer their time and youth to help others. As an added benefit, those helping out may be eligible for the potential rewards for altruism, like merit badges or college scholarships.

And volunteering on platforms like the DAV’s new platform makes it easy to track volunteer hours. DAV even offers scholarships for students who have volunteered to help veterans, whether the student found those opportunities on volunteerforveterans.org or elsewhere.

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think

​Darlene Neubert, Step Saver carts driver of Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, prepares to go out to WHASC’s parking areas to pick up patients. Around the military and veteran community, volunteers can make a big difference in terms of what medical care patients can receive.

(U.S. Air Force Daniel J. Calderón)

4. Donate your own time (and maybe your wheels)

Of course, the youth have some limitations, like the fact that many of them can’t drive. So, it may be necessary to donate your own time and potentially your car’s time, especially if you find a veteran who needs to get some help getting to or from their medical appointments.

DAV and Ford got a fleet of vans set up to help veterans who live relatively close to VA medical centers, but these vans need volunteer drivers. And vets do live outside of the areas these vans can service, so there’s a good chance that vets in your area need help getting to appointments or to places like the grocery store.

5. Share this video 

The video at top, clearly, is all about helping people find out about opportunities to help veterans in their local areas, especially through DAV programs.

But as a savvy WATM reader, you’re likely the kind of person who already thinks about veterans a lot (and there’s a decent chance you’re a veteran yourself). So, help get the word out by sharing this video, and we can recruit more volunteers to help veterans in need.

This article is sponsored by Disabled American Veterans.

MIGHTY TRENDING

An American just tried (and failed) to join up with North Korea

South Korean authorities arrested a 58-year-old man trying to cross the demilitarized border zone to defect into North Korea, The Washington Post reported on Nov. 13.


The man, who hails from Louisiana, tried to defect “for political reasons,” authorities told The Post.

Also Read: Here’s what happened to 6 American soldiers who defected to North Korea

Coincidentally, on the same day as the US man failed to make his political statement, a North Korean soldier was shot twice by his own military as he ran through the DMZ so he could defect into South Korea.

The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think
Korean Demilitarized Zone. ROK and US Soldiers at Observation Post Ouellette, South Korea. Army Photo by Edward N. Johnson.

South Korean forces had to crawl toward the defector who had been downed by gunfire from North Korea and drag him out of danger, according to Reuters.

While around 1,000 North Koreans defect to South Korea each year, the authoritarian state has some allure among leftists in the US who may be deceived by propaganda from Pyongyang that depicts the country as a socialist paradise.

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