Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria - We Are The Mighty
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Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria

American special operators teamed with Arab fighters in Syria are poised to take a key town north of the Islamic State stronghold in Raqqah. If they succeed it would be an important blow to the Islamic insurgency and assist the government of Iraq in taking back its second largest city.


Since late June, jets from the United States, France, and Australia have been pounding ISIS positions in the city of Manbij, a key northern crossroads town north of the ISIS-held town of Raqqah in Syria. Kurdish and Syrian-Arab fighters who make up the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, are squeezing hundreds of ISIS fighters in the town, said to be a key transit point for bootleg oil and illicit arms for the terrorist group.

“I’ve been extraordinarily pleased with the performance of our partner forces, the Syrian-Arab coalition, in particular,” said Central Command chief Army Gen. Joseph Votel during a press conference at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

“This has been a very difficult fight. This is an area that the Islamic State is trying to hold onto,” he added.

Pentagon chief Ash Carter said the campaign in Manbij is part of an effort to squeeze ISIS into Raqqah in Syria and Mosul in Iraq. Defense officials have hinted that a full-on assault on Iraq’s second largest city is imminent, with regional leaders meeting July 20 at Andrews to flesh out a post-takeover plan.

“In play after play, town after town, from every direction and in every domain, our campaign has accelerated further, squeezing ISIL and rolling it back towards Raqqah and Mosul,” Carter said. “By isolating these two cities, we’re effectively setting the stage to collapse ISIL’s control over them.”

Al Jazeera reports that ISIS has lost nearly 500 fighters in Manbij as SDF fighters with American help have squeezed the terrorist enclave. The SDF has suffered less than 100 dead.

The success in Manbij comes as an opposition watchdog group claimed a U.S.-led airstrike on the town killed 56 civilians July 19. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights report, the dead include 11 children.

Carter said the anti-ISIS coalition, dubbed Operation Inherent Resolve, is looking into the allegations.

“We’re aware of reports of civilian casualties that may be related to recent coalition airstrikes near Manbij city in Syria,” Carter said. “We’ll investigate these reports and continue to do all we can to protect civilians from harm.”

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria
A Peshmerga soldier fires at a target from his foxhole during a live-fire exercise near Erbil, Iraq, Feb. 8, 2016. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jessica Hurst/Released)

Votel added that Kurdish and Syrian-Arab parters are working to keep the 70,000 civilians in Manbij out of harms way.

“What I’ve been most impressed with is the deliberateness and the discipline with which our partner forces have conducted themselves,” Votel said. “They are moving slowly, they are moving very deliberately, mostly because they’re concerned about the civilians that still remain in the city.”

“And I think that that speaks very highly of their values and it speaks very highly of what they’re about here. We’ve picked the right partners for this operation,” he said.

 

MIGHTY TRENDING

Pentagon admits to decades of failed reporting

The Pentagon has known for at least two decades about failures to give military criminal history information to the FBI, including the type the US Air Force didn’t report about the accused Texas church killer who assaulted his then-wife and stepson while serving as an enlisted airman.


The Air Force lapse in the Devin P. Kelley case, which is now under review by the Pentagon’s inspector general, made it possible for him to buy guns before the murderous attack Nov. 5 at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Twenty-six people were killed, including multiple members of some families. About 20 other people were wounded.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria
Devin Patrick Kelley, the suspect in the recent shooting at Sutherland Springs, TX. Driver’s license photo from Texas Department of Public Safety Twitter. USAF failures to report his history of domestic violence made it possible for the suspect to purchase weaponry.

Rep. Mac Thornberry, the Texas Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he was appalled at the Air Force mistake and unsatisfied by its plans to investigate the matter.

“I don’t believe the Air Force should be left to self-police after such tragic consequences,” he said, adding that he fears the failure to report domestic violence convictions may be more widespread.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Nov. 7 he has directed the Pentagon inspector general to review circumstances of the Kelley case and “define what the problem is.”

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has been working with the Pentagon to determine the reason for reporting failure, such as in the case of Devin P. Kelley. (DOD photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley)

At its core, the problem is that military criminal investigative organizations have too frequently, for too long, failed to comply with rules for reporting service members’ criminal history data to the FBI.

As recently as February 2015, the Pentagon inspector general reported that hundreds of convicted offenders’ fingerprints were not submitted to the FBI’s criminal history database. The report found about a 30 percent failure rate for submitting fingerprints and criminal case outcomes. It did not determine the reasons for the lapses.

In February this year, the inspector general’s office launched a new review to assess compliance with updated reporting requirements. A spokesman, Bruce Anderson, said that review is ongoing.

The problem has persisted much longer.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria
As of February 1997, fingerprint cards were not submitted to the FBI criminal history files in more than 80 percent of cases in the Army and Navy. FBI emblem from FBI.gov.

A February 1997 report by the Pentagon inspector general found widespread lapses. Fingerprint cards were not submitted to the FBI criminal history files in more than 80 percent of cases in the Army and Navy, and 38 percent in the Air Force.

Failure to report the outcome of criminal cases was 79 percent in the Army and 50 percent in the Air Force, the report said. In the Navy, it was 94 percent.

Related: Air Force admits it failed to register Texas gunman in NCIC

“The lack of reporting to the FBI criminal history files prevents civilian law enforcement agencies from having significant information on military offenders,” the report concluded. It cited several reasons for the lapses, including ambiguous Pentagon guidelines and a lack of interest among the military services in submitting information to an FBI viewed as chronically overburdened with data.

“In their view, little benefit in solving cases is achieved by providing timely information,” the report said.

The 20-year-old review was prompted by an act of Congress rather than a specific instance, like the Kelley case, in which a reporting lapse allowed a violent offender to purchase weapons. Federal law prohibited him from buying or possessing firearms after his conviction. But because it was never added to the FBI’s database for background checks, Kelley was able to buy his guns.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria
Gen. Robin Rand oversaw the domestic violence case of Devin Patrick Kelley, which lead to his eventual bad conduct discharge. USAF photo by Airman 1st Class Mozer O. Da Chuna.

Air Force records show Kelley initially faced charges of domestic violence for seven alleged incidents in 2011 and 2012. Five were withdrawn as part of a plea agreement, including two involving Kelley pointing a loaded gun at his wife. He pleaded guilty to striking, choking, and kicking his wife and hitting his stepson “with a force likely to produce death or grievous bodily harm.”

He was sentenced in November 2012 to one year in confinement and reduction in rank to E-1, the lowest enlisted rank. He was given a bad conduct discharge, which was carried out in 2014. The officer overseeing the case was Robin Rand, then a three-star general and now the four-star commander of Air Force Global Strike Command in charge of the service’s bomber force and nuclear missiles.

Articles

West Point, Ranger School grad is the first female US Army infantry officer

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria
Capt. Kristen Griest participates in Ranger School. | Photo by Spc. Nikayla Shodeen, US Army


The U.S. Army has just announced that Captain Kristen Griest’s request to change her military occupational specialty from Military Police to Infantry has been approved, according to a report posted by the Ledger-Enquirer.

“Like any other officer who wishes to branch transfer, Capt. Griest applied for an exception to Army policy to transfer from military police to infantry,” Fort Benning Spokesman Bob Purtiman said. “Her transfer was approved by the Department of the Army over the weekend.”

Griest, a West Point graduate, was one of three women to successfully complete Ranger School last August. She is scheduled to graduate from the Captains Career Course at Fort Benning this week. The Army has not announced her next assignment.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria
Captain Kristen Griest | Photo by U.S. Army

MIGHTY TRENDING

Army practicing to take down enemy aircraft in Europe

The US military is shifting its focus toward preparing for great-power conflict, and on the ground in Europe, where heightened tensions with Russia have a number of countries worried about renewed conflict.

That includes new attention to short-range air-defense — a capability needed against an adversary that could deploy ground-attack aircraft, especially helicopters, and contest control of the air during a conflict.


Between late November and mid-December 2018, Battery C of the 1st Battalion, 174th Air Defense Artillery Regiment from the Ohio National Guard maneuvered across southeast Germany to practice shooting down enemy aircraft.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria

US soldiers from Battery C, 1-174 Air Defense Artillery Regiment conduct an after-action review during Combined Resolve XI at Hohenfels Training Area, Dec. 7, 2018.

(US Army photo by Charles Rosemond)

The unit worked with 5,500 troops from 16 countries during the first phase of Combined Resolve XI, a biannual US-led exercise aimed at making US forces more lethal and improving the ability of Allied militaries to work together.

At Hohenfels training area, soldiers from Battery C engaged simulated enemy aircraft with their Avenger weapons systems, which are vehicle-mounted short-range air-defense systems that fire Stinger missiles.

The unit outmanuevered opposition forces, according to an Army release, taking out 15 simulated enemy aircraft with the Avengers and Stingers.

Battery C also protected eight assets that their command unit, the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team from the 1st Cavalry Division, deemed “critical.”

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria

An Air Defense Artillery Humvee-mounted Avenger weapons system from Battery C, 1-174 Air Defense Artillery Regiment during Combined Resolve XI at Hohenfels Training Area, December 7, 2018.

(US Army photo by Charles Rosemond)

Capt. Christopher Vasquez, the commander of Battery C who acted as brigade air-defense officer for the exercise, linked his unit’s performance to its experience with armor like that used by the 1st ABCT.

“It’s given us some insight into how they fight, and how they operate,” Vasquez said. “The type of unit we are attached to dictates how we establish our air defense plan, so if we don’t understand how tanks maneuver, how they emplace, then we can’t effectively do our job.”

The second phase of the exercise, which will include live-fire drills, will take place from January 13 to January 25, 2019, at nearby Grafenwoehr training area, where Battery C is deployed.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria

A Bradley fighting vehicle provides security for Battery C, 1-174 Air Defense Artillery Regiment during Combined Resolve XI at Hohenfels Training Area, Dec. 7, 2018.

(US Army photo by Charles Rosemond)

Reestablishing air defense in Europe

The unit arrived in Europe in 2018 to provide air-defense support to US European Command under the European Deterrence Initiative, which covers Operation Atlantic Resolve.

During Operation Atlantic Resolve, the US Army has rotated units through Europe to reassure allies concerned about a more aggressive Russia, particularly after Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and incursion in Ukraine.

Air Defense Artillery units like the 1-174th were for a long time embedded in Army divisions, but the service began deactivating them in the early 2000s, as planners believed the Air Force would be able to maintain air superiority and mitigate threats from enemy aircraft.

But the Army found in 2016 that it had an air-defense-capability gap. Since then it has been trying to correct the shortfall.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria

An FIM-92 Stinger missile fired from an Army Avenger at Eglin Air Force Base, April 20, 2017.

(US Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

US soldiers in Europe have also been relearning air-defense skills that were deemphasized after the threat of a ground war waned with the end Cold War.

In January 2018, for the first time in 15 years, the US Army in Europe started training with Stingers, which have gained new value as a light antiaircraft weapon as unmanned aerial systems proliferate.

Operation Atlantic Resolve rotations have included National Guard units with Avenger defense systems to provide air-defense support on the continent. (The Army is also overhauling Avengers that were mothballed until a new air-defense system is ready.)

The service also recently reactivated the 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment in southern Germany, making it the first permanent air-defense artillery unit in Europe since the end of the Cold War.

The battalion, composed of five Stinger-equipped batteries, returned important short-range air-defense abilities to Europe, said Col. David Shank, head of 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, of which the unit is part.

“Not only is this a great day for United States Army Europe and the growth of lethal capability here,” Shank said at the activation ceremony. “It is a tremendous step forward for the Air Defense Enterprise.”

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

Articles

That time the US military sprayed toxic germs on American cities

It turns out the conspiracy theorists have one more feather in their tin-foil cap: the U.S. military really did test biological agents on Americans in U.S. cities.


In the wake of the attacks of Sept, 11, 2001, a wave of anthrax-laden envelopes came into a number of news media and Congressional offices. Five people died in those attacks, with 17 infected by the biological agent. In the days that followed, a Wall Street Journal writer recounted the times the military sprayed San Francisco, Washington, D.C., New York, and others.

In “Microbes and Mock Attacks,” Jim Carlton tells the story of Edward Nevin of San Francisco, who went to a local hospital in 1950, complaining of flu-like symptoms. The 75-year-old Nevin was dead three days later. The cause: an acute bacterial infection of Serratia marcescens.

The bacterium is now known to cause urinary tract, respiratory, and tear duct infections, as well as conjunctivitis, keratitis, and even meningitis. Strains of S. marcescens are now known to be antibiotic resistant.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria
Also, it looks like Sriracha. You’re welcome.

But all of this was unknown to the U.S. Army when they were secretly spraying the city with S. marcescens and other biological agents they thought to be harmless, in what they called a “mock biological attack” to Senate investigators. A Navy ship offshore dusted the entire 49-square-mile area with the agents.

“It was noted that a successful BW [biological warfare] attack on this area can be launched from the sea, and that effective dosages can be produced over relatively large areas.”

Over a roughly 20-year period, from the 1940s to the 1960s, the Pentagon conducted similar biological warfare tests across the United States. Cities like New York, Washington, and San Francisco had multiple bacteria tested on its unwitting populace. Serratia was again tested on Panama City and Key West, Florida.

Beyond biological agents, fluorescent compounds like zinc-cadmium-sulfide were released in the Upper Midwest. Carcinogens from these tests were found dispersed all the way in upstate New York.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria
Technicians test a bacteria at Fort Detrick circa 1940.

Military researchers filled light bulbs with bacteria and dropped them into the New York City subway system in Midtown Manhattan, distributing the bacteria for miles across the sprawling metropolis. Another test at Washington’s National Airport found 130 passengers on a plane spread a bacterium to 39 cities in seven states.

Much of what the Pentagon knows about the spread of biological agents come from the 239 tests conducted in this way, the WSJ story reports.

President Nixon ordered the Army’s biological tests stopped and its weapons destroyed after the news of these tests leaked to the American news media in the 1970s. Though many of the agents were thought to be harmless (at least, at the time) it’s not known how many people got sick and died as a result.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Mastermind of USS Cole attack confirmed dead in airstrike

The US military has killed the terrorist mastermind believed to have orchestrated the deadly USS Cole bombing eighteen years ago, the president revealed Jan. 6, 2019, confirming earlier reports.

Jamel Ahmed Mohammed Ali Al-Badawi, an al-Qaeda operative on the FBI’s most wanted list, was killed during a strike in Yemen’s Ma’rib Governorate, a US official told CNN. He was struck while driving alone. The US says there was no collateral damage.


Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria

Jamel Ahmed Mohammed Ali Al-Badawi.

(FBI photo)

That Al-Badawi was the target of Jan 1, 2019’s airstrike was confirmed by Voice of America, citing a defense official. As of Jan. 4, 2019, US forces were reportedly still assessing the results of the strike.

President Donald Trump confirmed Jan 6, 2019 that the US military successfully eliminated Al-Badawi.

The bombing of the USS Cole, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, occurred while the warship was refueling at Yemen’s Aden harbor. On Oct. 12, 2000, suicide bombers in a small boat filled with explosives attacked the ship, killing 17 US sailors and wounding another 39 people.

Al-Badawi had been picked up by Yemeni authorities multiple times since the bombing; however, he repeatedly managed to escape justice.

After being arrested in December 2000, he escaped in 2003. He was apprehended a second time in 2004, but he managed to escape again two years later.

He was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2003 and charged with 50 counts of terrorism-related offenses. The FBI has been offering a reward of up to million for information that would lead to his arrest.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is why grunts should keep a journal

Grunts may not pass literacy tests with flying colors, but it definitely isn’t any indication they’re not intelligent creatures. The infantry is full of different types of people with different ideologies and perspectives. Collectively, we can even develop philosophies based on our experience with the job. But what some of us don’t think about is recording the thoughts and ideas that bounce around inside our heads.

Keeping a journal is more than just a method of remembering events that go on in your life. Writing down your thoughts and ideas could actually help you develop your mental strength as a warrior. Additionally, there are other benefits that come with doing this, beyond just keeping track of the one thing your First Sergeant did today that really pissed you off.

Here’s why grunts should keep a journal:


Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria

It might help to write about a day like this.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Devon Burton)

A tool to fight stress

You may just want to chain smoke some cigarettes and trash talk your command with your friends, and that may work. But conversations can be cut short, and you may not even say 100% of what you’re thinking. Writing down your thoughts as they are, without a filter, can help relieve you of the stress you’re feeling on day 12 of a 10-day field op.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria

You felt a certain way about this. Why not write it down?

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Matthew Callahan

Recording your thoughts

You may not feel like sharing everything that goes on in your head with your friends. That’s okay. Write it down. This may be useful if you have a good idea regarding tactics or standard operating procedure that you feel you may not remember later. This is like taking notes but in a way that ties into the rest of your thoughts and feelings.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria

If you miss some shots on the range, you should record it to look at later so you can figure out how to avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Reba James)

Tracking your growth

At the end of the day, it helps to go over the events in your head and think about the positives and negatives. Additionally, writing these things down and writing your thoughts on how to improve yourself can help you track your personal growth. Even something like recording your physical fitness test results can help you see what you can improve on.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria

Even the worst memories are worth recording.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Amaia Unanue)

Memory improvement

Writing things down is always a good idea when you have to remember them later on. But doing something as simple as writing down the day’s events and your thoughts on them can help you keep your memory sharp which is a valuable skill no matter where you go.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria

Maybe the next time you’ll remember how you solved that problem.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Sarah Anderson)

Improve problem-solving skills

While writing your thoughts and feelings about the day’s events, you may find that there was a problem you couldn’t solve earlier, but while writing it down, you discovered the solution. It’s like thinking back on an argument and thinking of the perfect response that didn’t occur to you in the moment.

Articles

This organization matches homeless pets with vets who need them

Every day, countless men and women who served in the armed forces return home from war with wounds that are invisible — most never reach out to seek help.


As new mental health treatments are developed, many don’t want to be placed on a cocktail of medication they can’t pronounce and put them in a fog. That’s where an organization called Mutual Rescue can help.

David Whitman and Carol Novello created a national animal-welfare initiative that aims to connect loving and homeless pets with people who are in need of specialized care.

“Even before he was my cat, before he even knew me that well, Scout saved my life,” said Josh Marino, an Iraq war vet. “He put me on a different path. He gave me the confidence to try to come back from all the adversity that I was feeling.”

Check out Mutual Rescue‘s video for Josh Scout’s uplifting story of how animals can rescue their owners.

(Mutual Rescue, YouTube)

Related: SOCOM wants drugs to turn its K9s into super dogs

Articles

Here’s what it would be like if Gunny Hartman ran Santa’s Workshop

Ever wonder what it would be like if Gunny Hartman trained elves using the same foul mouth he developed in the Marine Corps?


Well, wonder no longer because the internet has mashed “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” with the audio from the famous barracks scene in “Full Metal Jacket.” The result is hilarious, so check it out below. Be warned: Very profane language (after all, it’s f-cking Gunny Hartman).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MaQ6ODrQg0g
MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Military stop-movement orders to be lifted immediately at some bases

The stop-movement order in effect for military families on permanent change-of-station moves, originally set to run through June 30, will be lifted in stages, with some installations to begin accepting transfers immediately, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.

At select installations stateside that have met White House and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on preventing COVID-19, commanders will be able to “go green immediately” on PCS moves, said Matt Donovan, under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness.


The installations approved for immediate lifting of restrictions and travel and permanent changes of station would be listed in a classified document Tuesday night and named publicly as early as Wednesday, Donovan said.

He and Lisa Hershman, the Pentagon’s chief management officer, said that, overall, the lifting of the stop-movement restrictions would depend on local conditions, both stateside and overseas.

Donovan cited the example of the Army‘s Fort Campbell, which straddles the Kentucky-Tennessee border, saying the installation commander would have to gauge whether local conditions in both states have been met.

Esper issued the stop-movement order on travel in March and on April 20 extended it to June 30, but thousands of exceptions have been approved for individual cases.

Earlier this month, U.S. Transportation Command said about 30,000 military families had received conditional permission to move before June 30.

“So those are the families who have been approved or authorized to move, if conditions allow,” Rick Marsh, director of the Defense Personal Property Program for U.S. Transportation Command, said at a May 6 Pentagon briefing.

The overall travel restrictions will be lifted in five phases, mostly dependent on local conditions stateside and overseas and on bases themselves, said Jonathan Hoffman, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman.

Both Hershman and Donovan said that there was no timeframe for going through the five phases on lifting restrictions — it was all dependent on local conditions and the decisions of installation commanders stateside and Combatant Commanders overseas.

Donovan said there were “two overarching [sets of] factors” to be considered in easing the travel and permanent change of station restrictions: first, state and local criteria on protection against COVID-19, and White House guidance on “reopening America.”

A second set of factors included conditions on the installations themselves, testing capabilities and the availability of essential services such as schools and hospitals, Donovan said.

“It’s not date-related, we’re looking at the conditions,” Hershman said.

The Pentagon building itself and other facilities on the Pentagon reservation have remained open, but entrances have been restricted and those reporting to work have been required to wear face masks and observe social distancing.

Hershman said that the move by Defense Secretary Mark Esper to ease the conditions for opening facilities will also apply to the Pentagon building itself and other facilities on the Pentagon reservation.

She said that the basic requirement for reopening moves at the Pentagon will be Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia showing a downward trend in coronavirus cases that continues for at least 14 days.

About two-thirds of the Pentagon’s workforce of more than 20,000 has been teleworking during the pandemic. Hershman said the Pentagon was looking to set conditions that would “enable their return in a controlled and steady manner,” but there was no timeframe.

She also said many in the Pentagon’s workforce could be allowed to continue teleworking.

“That’s something we’re considering. We’re encouraging the leadership to do what makes sense.”

Service members who move themselves instead of relying on a government-contracted moving company will also be paid more, effective immediately, as part of a temporary incentive, according to new guidance released by TRANSCOM Tuesday.

Typically, troops who move themselves as part of a Personally Procured Move (PPM), also known as a DITY, are reimbursed 95% of what the government would pay a contracted moving company. The new authority increases that reimbursement by 5%, putting it on par with what the moving company would be paid.

“This item revises Joint Travel Regulations … to temporarily authorize a monetary allowance that is equal to 100% of the Government’s ‘Best Value’ for personally procured moves due to COVID-19,” the guidance states.

The increase will be available for moves May 26 through December 31. The proposal, first floated by Army officials in late April, aims to clear out a backlog of PCS moves created by the Defense Department’s global stop-movement order.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

Articles

Montel Williams is asking the presidential candidates about this Marine veteran imprisoned by Iran

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria


American television personality Montel Williams wants the Democratic presidential candidates to talk about a Marine veteran imprisoned in Iran, and he’s using his star power to make it happen.

In addition to questions asked by the moderators at Tuesday’s debate, CNN is soliciting questions from anyone via Facebook and Instagram, some of which will end up being asked by Don Lemon. In a video posted to his Facebook page, Williams — who served in the Marine Corps and Navy — asks about Amir Hekmati, a Marine veteran held in Iran for more than four years, the longest of any American held there.

“What will the candidates do to bring him home so that his father’s dying wish to see his son just one more time comes true?” Williams asks.

Born in Arizona to Iranian immigrants in 1983, Amir Hekmati served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps — mostly as a translator — and he was discharged in 2005 as a sergeant. In 2011, he decided to visit his extended family in Tehran, but soon after he arrived, he was arrested and sentenced to death by an Iranian court on charges of spying for the CIA, according to Al Jazeera America.

Iran later released a videotaped confession of Hekmati, where he admitted to being recruited into companies affiliated with the CIA with the goal of infiltrating Iranian intelligence.

“Allegations that Mr. Hekmati either worked for or was sent to Iran by the CIA are simply untrue,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told CNN in 2012. “The Iranian regime has a history of falsely accusing people of being spies, of eliciting forced confessions, and of holding innocent Americans for political reasons.”

Hekmati’s death sentence was later repealed in March 2012 and a new trial was ordered, though that has yet to take place. He continues to be held in prison in Tehran with little contact with the outside world, though he was able smuggle a letter out of jail, according to The Guardian. In it, in which he addressed Secretary of State John Kerry, he wrote:

For over 2 years I have been held on false charges based solely on confessions obtained by force, threats, miserable prison conditions, and prolonged periods of solitary confinement. This is part of a propaganda and hostage taking effort by Iranian intelligence to secure the release of Iranians abroad being held on security-related charges. Iranian intelligence has suggested through my court-appointed lawyer Mr. Hussein Yazdi Samadi that I be released in exchange for 2 Iranians being held abroad. I had nothing to do with their arrest, committed no crime, and see no reason why the U.S. Government should entertain such a ridiculous proposition.

The debate airs live on CNN at 8:30 p.m. Eastern.

Articles

Here’s how Iraqi and Kurdish forces are training to destroy ISIS

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria
Royal Danish Army Premierløjtnant Mads, a coalition member attached to the Building Partner Capacity team, Task Force Al Asad, practices combat movement up a flight of stairs alongside Iraqi security-force personnel during an urban combat and tactics course at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, May 9, 2015. | CJTF – Operation Inherent Resolve


Earlier this month, a spokesman from the Combined Joint Task Force’s Operation Inherent Resolve said that ISIS lost 40% of their territory in Iraq and 20% in Syria. In December, Iraq’s armed forces recaptured the western city of Ramadi, paving the way for an expected assault on Mosul, ISIS’ de facto capital in Iraq.

Behind the successes in Ramadi and elsewhere lay the efforts of the US-led coalition to train and equip credible regional forces that can reclaim their country from the scourge of ISIS.

In addition to an impressive air campaign, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Finland, Hungary, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portrugal, Spain, and the UK have all contributed to the US-led effort to train and empower regional forces to defeat ISIS.

In the slides below, find out what the brave recruits go through when training with the US-led coalition to counter ISIS.

Here is a quick overview of Operation Inherent Resolve’s members and initiatives.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria
CJTF – Operation Inherent Resolve

Before the training started, the coalition had to move in with supplies. The coalition arms and equips Iraqi national forces and other regional groups like the Kurds.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria
Airmen from the 386th Expeditionary Operations Group and the 386th Expeditionary Logistics Squadron load two Mine Resistant Armored Personnel carriers (MRAPs) on a C-17 Globemaster III bound for Erbil, Iraq, December 30, 2014. | CJTF – Operation Inherent Resolve

A large part of the coalition’s efforts in training local forces is to build their confidence and capacity with thorough hands-on training.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria
Sgt. Jeremiah Walden, assigned to A Company, 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, checks to ensure an Iraqi trainee is observing his assigned sector of fire during infantry-squad tactical training, January 7 at Camp Taji, Iraq. | Master Sgt. Mike Lavigne, 1st Infantry Division Public Affairs | U.S. Army

Virtually every phase of the training touches on marksmanship and weapons discipline. Here, a US soldier instructs an Iraqi army recruit.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria
CJTF – Operation Inherent Resolve

Iraqi recruits are put in high-pressure simulations of real combat. Trainers light fires to simulate the chaos of combat.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria
An Iraqi Army soldier with the 72nd Brigade, 15th Iraqi Army Division, simulates shooting at the enemy during a combined training exercise at Camp Taji, Iraq, Sunday, March 22, 2015. | Sgt. Cody Quinn, CJTF-OIR Public Affairs | U.S. Army

The training is not limited to infantry operations. Coalition forces also train the troops on proper tactics and deployment of tanks and armored vehicles.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria
An Iraqi Army tank clears an obstacle while an Iraqi Army Soldier the 72nd Brigade, 15th Iraqi Army Division, looks on at Camp Taji, Iraq, Sunday, March 22, 2015. | Sgt. Cody Quinn, CJTF-OIR Public Affairs | U.S. Army

As with any military training, there is a grueling physical-training component.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria
Iraqi soldiers from the Noncommissioned Officer Academy perform push-ups as part of their physical-training test at the Iraqi Military Complex, Iraq. | CJTR – Operation Inherent Resolve

But not all of the training focuses on fighting. Here Iraqi army medics are being trained to save lives on and off the battlefield.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria
Iraqi army medics treat a simulated casualty during an exercise with Australian army nurses and medics at the Taji Military Complex, Iraq. | CJTR – Operation Inherent Resolve

As IEDs are a preferred method of attack for ISIS and other insurgent groups, the Iraqis are trained in the removal of improvised bombs.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria
A US soldier leads a counter-IED demonstration for Iraqi troops. | CJTR – Operation Inherent Resolve

The fight against ISIS happens in a number of locations, so coalition forces train the troops for urban combat and clearing houses.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria
Royal Danish Army Premierløjtnant Mads, a coalition member attached to the Building Partner Capacity team, Task Force Al Asad, practices combat movement up a flight of stairs alongside Iraqi security-force personnel during an urban combat and tactics course at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, May 9, 2015. | CJTR – Operation Inherent Resolve

As chemical warfare is a reality in Iraq and Syria, the soldiers practice operations while wearing gas masks.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria
Iraqi soldiers assigned to the 71st Iraqi Army Brigade prepare to breach a door during protective-mask training at Camp Taji, Iraq, October 15, 2015. | Spc. William Marlow | U.S. Army

Should the fight get up close and personal, Iraqi troops are trained to use bayonets.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria
An Australian soldier, assigned as a Task Group Taji Trainer, demonstrates the en garde position during the instructional portion of bayonet training at Camp Taji, Iraq, January 3, 2016. | Sgt. Kalie Jones | U.S. Army

By February 13, 2015, 1,400 Iraqis had graduated from the intensive six-week basic-training course. Thousands more would follow in their footsteps during the coming months.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria
From left: US Army Lt. Col. Scott Allen, with 1st ABCT, 1st Inf. Division, presents a ceremonial knife to Staff Brig. Gen. Sa’ad during a graduation ceremony for Sa’ad’s brigade, February 13 at Camp Taji, Iraq. | Staff Sgt. Daniel Stoutamire, 1st. ABCT, 1st Inf. Div. | U.S. Army

Once forces like the Iraqi army reclaim a piece of territory, military police are needed to make sure the area stays safe. The Italian Carabinieri (military police) train Iraqi military police on marksmanship and search and policing procedures.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria
An Italian Carabinieri officer coaches an Iraqi policeman as he fires an M16 rifle during advanced marksmanship training at Camp Dublin, Iraq, January 23, 2016. |  Staff Sgt. William Reinier| U.S. Army

In addition to the Iraqi national army and police forces, coalition troops are on the ground training the Kurdish Peshmerga, a group that has had particular success in booting ISIS out of the north of Syria and Iraq.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria
Peshmerga soldiers participate in a live-fire-assault drill under the supervision of Italian trainers near Erbil, Iraq, January 6, 2016. Coalition trainers in Northern Iraq have trained more than 6,000 Peshmerga soldiers in basic and advanced infantry skills. | Cpl. Jacob Hamby/Released | U.S. Army

Ultimately, the goal of Operation Inherent Resolve is to train credible ground forces in Iraq and Syria that can defeat ISIS and reclaim their countries on their own terms, with training, assistance, and air support from partner nations all over the world.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria
CJTR – Operation Inherent Resolve

MIGHTY TRENDING

Civilian contractors receive top valor medal for Afghan gunfight

Three retired soldiers were honored at the Pentagon on Aug. 14, 2018, for exceptional gallantry in action against an armed enemy while serving in Afghanistan as civilian contractors.

Retired Army Master Sgt. William Timothy Nix, retired Army Chief Warrant Officer Michael Anthony Dunne and retired Army Chief Warrant Officer Brandon Ray Seabolt received the Medal of Valor, the Defense Department’s highest civilian award for valor.

Nix was working as a civilian contractor at a coalition base in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 7, 2015, when he heard the massive boom of a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device.


“I just grabbed a weapon and ran out,” Nix said.

Insurgents had breached the entrance at Camp Integrity, launching the deadly attack with a vehicle-borne IED and then using direct fire, hand grenades and suicide vests.

Nix and Dunne, a fellow contractor, rushed to the fight, teaming up with military personnel to defend the camp, suppress the enemy and evacuate the wounded.

“[The insurgents] blew the whole front of the camp. The gate came off. It collapsed the guard tower out there,” Dunne said, recalling that a suicide vest exploded 30 feet away from him. He thought he would die, he said, but he kept fighting.

Top general says US commandos and Arab allies squeezing ISIS in Syria

Mr. Ray Seabolt, Mr. Tony Dunne, and Mr. Tim Nix will be presented the Secretary of Defense Medal for Valor.

(Screenshot from DoD video)

Nix was serving as an irregular warfare analyst for the NATO Special Operations Component Command Afghanistan in support of the Resolute Support mission. Dunne was an operations intelligence integrator there.

Fighting was intense and the situation was chaotic, they recalled. Army 1st Sgt. Peter “Drew” McKenna Jr., who was leading the charge against the terrorists, was killed, as were eight Afghan contractors.

Their citations laud their heroism for exposing themselves to direct enemy fire, hand grenades, suicide vests, and other explosives to suppress insurgents who had breached the camp. Their actions undoubtedly saved countless lives at great risk to their own lives, their citations read.

Bravery During Attack in Helmand

Seabolt received the Medal of Valor for his actions in response to an attack near Helmand on Dec. 17, 2015. He had spent 22 years in the Army and was serving as a civilian contractor and counter-IED expert with the Joint Improvised Threat Defeat Agency.

On a mission with U.S. Special Forces and Afghan commandos, something didn’t add up for Seabolt, he recalled. He knew very well that could be an ominous sign. “We walked inside this compound,” he said. “There was an open door, and I said, ‘That’s not normal.'”

Then, the withering, close range, semi-automatic and automatic fire from the enemy began. “We entered the compound with about 10 people, and there were two of us left in the fight,” he recalled. Two Afghan commandos were killed; the others were wounded.

Seabolt’s citation lauds his exceptional actions in exposing himself to enemy fire and suppressing the insurgents so Afghan commandos and U.S. Special Forces could move forward. He single-handedly fended off the insurgent onslaught until the return of other team members, it reads.

“Mr. Seabolt’s bravery and confidence instilled courage among the entire force, resulting in effective fires on the target, softening the objective and allowing the recovery force to approach with little resistance,” according to the citation.

Honoring Citizen-Warriors

Army Lt. Gen. Darsie Rogers, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency‘s deputy director for combat support, said he is honored and humbled to call the men Americans heroes and partners and colleagues in service to the nation.

“We honor these three men for the remarkable valor they exhibited on the battlefield, for reminding us of the awesome power of the human spirit and for symbolizing the fearless determination of great warfighters,” he said.

The men, who are all former special operators, exhibited the very best of what it means to be a servant and a citizen-warfighter, he said.

“Each of these award citations serves as a moving testament — and a fitting reminder — that the work being done by those who fight on the front lines and protect us all is exceptional, essential and extraordinary,” Rogers said.

Featured image: Left to right: Army Lt. Gen. Darsie Rogers, Defense Threat Reduction Agency deputy director for combat support, applauds after awarding the Medal of Valor to Michael Anthony Dunne, William Timothy Nix and Brandon Ray Seabolt at the Pentagon, Aug. 14, 2018. The men, retired military special operators, were recognized for their actions against an armed enemy while serving as civilian contractors in Afghanistan.

This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Defense. Follow @DeptofDefense on Twitter.

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