How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins - We Are The Mighty
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How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
Photo: US Navy Chief Mass Communication Specialist Shawn P. Eklund


The Arctic is full of mineral and oil resources, and international sea lanes are opening up there as global warming melts more of the ice.

Though ownership of the resources has been largely settled for years, rising international tensions between Russia and most of the other countries with Arctic claims could lead to a confrontation in the ice. The U.S. and four of its NATO allies have rights to Arctic shipping and minerals. Russia has probed the defenses or otherwise threatened each of them in recent months. (Iceland, Norway, Denmark, and Canada.)

While Russia has shown some cooperation in the Arctic, they’ve also staged massive war games there including “38,000 servicemen, more than 50 surface ships and submarines and 110 aircraft,” according to the Canadian Broadcasting Company. NATO allies have staged sub-Arctic exercises since, but they were conducted further south and later in the Spring, meaning two factors combined to make the rigors of fighting in the frozen North less pronounced.

Russia is simply better prepared to fight there. Here’s how.

Icebreakers

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
Photo: US Coast Guard chart 2013

Icebreakers are perhaps the biggest difference between the two nations. The Coast Guard has two heavy icebreakers, one of which has been sidelined for years due to a need for repairs and the other risking becoming stranded every time it pushes north. Meanwhile, Russia has over 40 icebreakers including the only nuclear icebreakers, and it is building the world’s largest icebreaker in St. Petersburg.

Russia has better maps and more experience

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Wofratz

Russia’s maps of the Canadian Arctic are better than Canada’s, according to The Globe and Mail. While the U.S. Navy rarely sails surface ships there and maintains limited submarine patrols, Russia spent the Cold War under the Arctic ice. Their military still has many of the maps and other documents on how the Soviets learned to operate, and Russia still conducts large exercises like the one described above.

The U.S. has held few exercises and had to cut a February exercise short. America is working on this, predominantly through an air role. This is partially because most Navy surface ships can’t exercise in the cold waters.

Navy surface vessels need to be “ice-hardened”

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Karl Anderson

The cold waters of the Arctic can wreak havoc on ships. Part of the reason the Titanic sunk was that its hull become too brittle at cold temperatures. For the Navy to protect its ships from a similar problem in the much colder Arctic, the ships would need to be “ice hardened,” but that process costs as much as 33 percent of the price of buying a completely new temperate ship.

Russia has been expanding its fleet with an eye on the North Pole for years.

The U.S. has no deepwater ports in the Arctic

While the Coast Guard’s limited Arctic capabilities allow it to conduct limited rescue missions on the ice, neither it nor the Navy can park any ships that far north due to a complete absence of American deepwater ports. This increases reaction times for any emergency or military operation.

Russia, meanwhile, has 16.

The Navy isn’t even planning on being fully Arctic-capable until 2030

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
Photo: Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tiffini M. Jones

While the Navy understands its problems in the Arctic, budget constraints and other missions keep it from being able to pivot north. The long-term plan for the Arctic doesn’t even call for full operational capability there until 2030, though they want more sailors trained and prepared by 2020.

There is good news, however. Russian military spending is coming under tight pressure as economic sanctions and oil prices continue to constrict the country’s revenue. The Iran nuclear deal may increase this pressure as Iranian gas hits the market.

Hopefully, the Navy can increase its capabilities before its called on to fight over the North Pole.

NOW: This extreme winter survival course teaches troops how to stay alive in Arctic conditions

OR: Here’s a hilarious look at what life is like for Marines on a Navy ship

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The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Happy New Year’s! We didn’t do anything special. It’s the same basic idea from last year: 13 awesome memes from around the Internet.


1. Gen. Washington believed in proper accountability (via Team Non-Rec).

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
No one went anywhere in Valley Forge without their weapon and night vision.

2. When the pilot can’t find the KC-130 and has to stop and ask for directions:

(via Air Force Nation)

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
Now he just has to find somewhere to turn around and take off.

SEE ALSO: 5 real-world covert operations in FX’s ‘Archer’

3. Dream big, Marines (via Sh-t my LPO says).

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
If this were real, Starkiller Base would become the top re-enlistment destination.

4. Because professionalism and talent are completely separate traits:

(via Air Force Nation)

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
This saved screen probably got someone in trouble.

5. It’ll be great. A nice, country drive (via Military Memes).

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
Just remember to do 5 to 25-meter checks for IEDs at every stop.

6. Diamonds are a soldier’s best friend (via The Most Combat Engineer Man in the World).

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
Maybe do legs some days, just to balance it out.

7. It’s probably not a Facebook hoax this time (via Coast Guard Memes).

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
Finally, a ship perfect for all those unpatrolled puddles.

8. How combat engineers announce their arrival:

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
They probably didn’t bring cookies.

9. That lance corporal life:

(via Military Memes)

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
Don’t hate the lance corporal, hate the promotion system and attrition problems that leave you stuck with him.

10. 10 bucks says this was a profile pic within 24 hours (via Humor During Deployment).

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
Would’ve gotten more likes if the airmen carried weapons up there.

11. Try to be more specific, photographer (via U.S. Army W.T.F! moments).

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins

12. Everyone makes fun of the PX Ranger until he’s the only one who gets to duel the Jedi wannabe (via Broken and Unreadable).

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins

13. Yes, first sergeant hates you (via Marine Corps Memes).

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins

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The US Air Force may make history and buy this ridiculously cheap jet

Years after initial development, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II finally seems like it’s well on its way to enter the US’s fleet of fighter jets. That doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that the DoD isn’t seeking alternative jets to supplement their squadrons.


According to Defense News, the US Air Force announced that it would begin testing aircraft that were not currently planned to be in its inventory. After signing a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Textron AirLand, the Air Force will begin a series of tests to determine if Textron AirLand’s flagship jet, dubbed “Scorpion”, will be airworthy.

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
Textron AirLand’s Armed Scorpion | Photo courtesy of Textron AirLand

“This is the first of its kind, we have not done a CRADA like this before and we have never had a partnership with industry to assess aircraft that are not under a USAF acquisition contract,” an Air Force representative explained in a statement from Defense News.

The Scorpion is a different beast compared to the other jets around the globe. Starting with its cost, Textron AirLand’s President Bill Anderson explained in a Bloomberg video, “The Scorpion … was designed to be very effective and very affordable.”

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
Photo courtesy of Textron AirLand

“The goal was to create a very mission-relevant aircraft for today’s security environment that’s below $20 million in acquisition costs, and below $3,000 an hour to operate.”

By comparison, a Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) costs about $13 million and $1,500 per hour to operate, while the conventional F-35A costs $98 million per unit and $42,200 an hour in 2015.

The Scorpion features a tandem cockpit and a composite airframe in order to keep its weight and costs down. In addition to its twin turbofan engines that are able to achieve a flight speed up to 517 mph, it houses an internal payload bay that’s capable of holding 3,000 pounds.

“It’s quite maneuverable,” explained Scorpion test pilot Andy Vaughan. “It reminds me of my days when I used to fly the A-10 in the US Air Force.”

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
Courtesy of Textron AirLand

From start to finish, the construction of the Scorpion was kept secret to maintain a competitive advantage. Nevertheless, the secret wasn’t kept very long — Textron AirLand was able to conduct testing soon after the aircraft’s conception.

“In a classic DoD acquisition program, they can spend up to 10 years just developing and fielding an aircraft — and we’ve done it in less than 2,” Anderson said.

However, it’s still too early to determine whether this move by the Air Force will also move the sale of Scorpion units both in the US and abroad — according to Defense News, the program has attracted only one potential customer.

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Satellites show N. Korea is amping up nuke program

In a revelation that has strategic implications for Japan, analysis of satellite imagery shows the existence of North Korea’s second submersible test-stand barge — a sign that the nuclear-armed country could be ramping up development of its submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) program.


According to the analysis released May 1 by the 38 North website, a project of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, the barge was identified in commercial satellite images taken April 19 of the Nampo Naval Shipyard on the country’s west coast.

The isolated nation already operates one barge on the country’s eastern coast, at the Sinpo South Shipyard, from where it has conducted at least four — but as many as six — test-launches of the Pukguksong-1, or KN-11, SLBM since 2014, when that barge was first seen.

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins

According to the report, the newly detected barge appears to be identical in size and layout to the original. Such barges are used by navies to test underwater new and modified submarine missile launch tubes and systems, and to conduct initial test-launches before the systems are installed in submarines.

“The discovery of a second missile test barge may have a number of implications for the future of North Korea’s SLBM program that appears to be an important priority for Kim Jong Un,” the report said, adding that the timing of the barges’ acquisition could help reveal the direction of the program.

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

If both were acquired at the same time, the report said, it would imply that Pyongyang is planning a more extensive test program than it has conducted so far.

It is unclear if the new barge was acquired or manufactured by the North, but since there have been no indications of barge construction work at the North’s west coast naval shipyards over the past year, that suggests the vessel had been acquired from abroad.

“Since the second barge seems to have been acquired three years after the first, this could mean that North Korea is planning to accelerate its SLBM test program to include a west coast component or develop new SLBM designs, or that it may deploy a ballistic missile submarine with the West Sea Fleet,” the report said. “None of these possibilities are mutually exclusive.”

The Pukguksong-1 would give the reclusive state a credible sea-based nuclear deterrent since the threat of a retaliatory second-strike would throw a wrench into any scenario where the U.S., South Korea, and Japan attempt to preemptively destroy North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.

Related: US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea

According to David Wright of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Pukguksong-1 has a maximum range similar to the North’s Rodong missile of about 1,250 km, allowing it reach most or all of Japan from a submarine located near the Korean coast.

However, the North’s submarine fleet remains limited in range as it is undergoing a modernization revamp, and would currently be easily detectable by superior U.S., South Korean, and Japanese anti-submarine warfare technology.

Experts say any scenario involving an attempted firing of a Pukguksong-1 from the Sea of Japan by submarine would effectively be a suicide mission for the North.

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Why this French nobleman’s Paris gravesite is filled with dirt from Massachusetts

The United States owes its success in the Revolutionary War to help from France. The chief architect of that help was Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette. In America, we simply call him “Lafayette.”

When France needed help during World War I, a squadron of American airmen volunteered their skills to fight against Germany. They called themselves the Lafayette Escadrille. When American troops finally arrived in France years later, their leaders walked into the tomb of the nobleman and announced, “Lafayette, we are here.”

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
The Escadrille Lafayette in July 1917 (U.S. Air Force photo)

The relationship between the Marquis and the United States has endured for many centuries because of his admiration and service to a country that was not his own. That admiration runs so deep, that the nobleman is buried in American soil – in Paris. 

When the Marquis de Lafayette came to the United States to fight the British in the Revolution, he was so committed to the cause that he volunteered to serve without pay. Unlike other French officers volunteering, Lafayette had the military pedigree to be of use and soon came to be the right hand man to Gen. George Washington himself. 

That pedigree didn’t come with much experience. Lafayette would be learning as he served the American cause. Luckily, as a wealthy man, his personal contributions more than made up for what he lacked in military experience. But as he gained that valuable experience, he proved himself an able commander.

A dedicated Enlightenment thinker, his devotion to the cause of American ideals led him to fight in several battles, to be wounded at the battle of Brandywine, and encourage France to recognize American independence. Most crucially, it was Lafayette’s forces that harassed Cornwallis on his way to Yorktown.

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
John Ward Dunsmore’s 1907 depiction of Lafayette (right) and Washington at Valley Forge (Wikimedia Commons)

This forced the British to move across the James River, where they were eventually trapped by Washington, Lafayette and Comte de Rochambeau  by land and the French fleet by sea. He was forced to surrender his army after an almost three-week siege. It was the beginning of the end of the war, and the start of the American experiment.

Lafayette fought in the Continental Army all over the colonies, from New England to the Mid-Atlantic to the South, and was one of the few things that all the new states of the United States had in common. He so loved the ideals of the American Revolution that he tried to export them to France when he returned home. 

His advocacy for American liberty would serve him and his wife well in the coming years of the French Revolution. The French admiration for American values saved the lives of the noble and his wife. 

Lafayette would return to the United States many times in the years following the revolution. His visits would confirm the idea that the Founding Fathers had created a functioning democracy, based on the egalitarian values of the Enlightenment. He came to love the United States and proclaimed that he wanted to be buried in American soil.

Marquis de Lafayette
Lafayette’s grave (Wikimedia Commons)

On his final visit to the United States, Lafayette filled a trunk full of earth from the land near Boston’s Bunker Hill. When the noble died in 1834, his son interred him in the dirt from America. The American flag has flown over his grave continuously since 1850, a simple site behind an innocuous high stone wall.

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How one military spouse is changing the face of employment at Amazon

Five years ago, Amazon committed to employing 25,000 military spouses and veterans in the United States by 2021. As of February 2021, they employ over 40,000. One military spouse is helping them go even further.

Beth Conlin is the Senior Program Manager for Military Spouses for Amazon. It isn’t just a job for her — it’s more personal than that. It’s a calling. As the spouse to Army Lieutenant Colonel Shaun Conlin, the employment struggle has been a part of her life for a very long time. 

“Early in my career, I would remove my wedding ring and remove locations from my resume. I’d say he [my husband] worked in logistics,” Conlin said with a laugh. “For me, my career is the thing that drives me….When we moved to Germany in 2013 and I had to quit due to SOFA [Status of Forces Agreement] I was just dumbfounded. How could an external factor that had nothing to do with what I did take away my economic opportunity, my professional development and a big part of my identity?”

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
Beth and her husband reunited after a deployment

This experience led Conlin to advocate for all military spouses. She eventually created a small business that essentially developed and built employment opportunities for military spouses. Five years later, she was back in the states and approached Blue Star Families to partner in effort to support the issue. They offered her a job instead. 

She soon recognized how pivotal her new role at BSF was. “It was the first time that it hit me that it mattered. We PCSed from DC to Georgia and I didn’t have to quit,” Conlin explained. 

Her continued engagement with the civilian and military change makers led to her employment with Amazon in 2020. “Through a series of my own advocacy work and nonprofit work, I met my now-boss at a working group… I was talking about military spouses and the employment I had built and he was like, ‘Wait a minute, can you come do that at Amazon?’” Conlin shared. 

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
Beth (left) moderating the Blue Star Families Survey

Her role within the global product and services company is extensive. “I build programs to connect military spouses to employment and I also build educational programs internally to help our recruiters and hiring managers understand the value of hiring military spouses,” Conlin explained. She also developed the platform which allows military spouse employees to flag their profile when they have orders for an upcoming PCS, allowing the internal hiring teams to find new roles for the spouse at the new duty station. 

Conlin also does a lot of work within community engagement, working alongside prominent nonprofit organizations serving the military community. She frequently briefs the White House and Department of Defense on military spouse employment needs and concerns. “The conversation is definitely shifting. Companies now encourage you to self-identify as a military spouse,” Conlin said. 

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
Beth and her husband, Lieutenant Colonel Shaun Conlin at an event

When she was asked to name her favorite part about working for Amazon, it was too hard to pick just one. “Amazon encourages you to fail fast. They want you to be curious, creative and innovative when you solve problems. If you’ve gotten it wrong, find out quickly and move on. That allows me to experiment with a variety of solutions,” Conlin explained. She also loves the customer obsession Amazon stands behind and the collective support and family vibe the company embodies every day. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States in 2020, military spouses were the foundation of resiliency for Amazon as a whole. “They put their collective arms around the rest of Amazon and said, ‘We know how to thrive in uncertainty. Just follow us,” Conlin shared. The value we add is intentionally recognized by what we bring to the workforce.”

May 7, 2021 is Military Spouse Appreciation Day. At Amazon, they’ve been celebrating all week long. The company focused on the intersectionality of military spouses, creating an internal campaign called, “What’s your and?”

“A lot of us are military spouses and parents, and, and, and,” Conlin explained. “It was incredible to openly share what that means for us — especially after hiding that for so long.”

Conlin was honest in saying she could never have imagined her journey of tackling military spouse employment unfolding the way it did. It’s an evolution she’s proud of, and with her new role deep in the trenches of the issue for Amazon, she’s grateful. “It is more than just a job, it is a problem that is solvable and it is really really inspiring to be with a company that believes it’s solvable too.”

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6 Army Chaplains who made the ultimate sacrifice

Chaplains have long held a special place in many troops’ hearts. In fact, at times, they become legends. In the Army, the first chaplains were authorized on July 29, 1775. They’ve been with the troops on the front lines ever since.


Some chaplains have made the ultimate sacrifice. The most famous instance was that of the “Four Chaplains” who were on board the transport SS Dorchester when it was torpedoed by U-223 at 12:55AM on Feb. 3, 1943.

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
Painting of the rescue of USAT Dorchester survivors by USCGC Escanaba (WPG-77) on Feb. 3, 1943, in the North Atlantic Ocean. (U.S. Coast Guard image)

According to HomeofHeroes.com, when the transport was hit, the four chaplains, Rabbi Alexander Goode, Rev. George L. Fox, Rev. Clark V. Poling, and Father John P. Washington promptly began to aid the troops who were on the stricken vessel.

One sailor was heading back to his bunk for gloves, but Rabbi Goode instead handed his over. Despite a loss of power, they got some of the troops to the deck. Then, they began handing out life jackets, even as the Dorchester was rapidly headed to a watery grave.

Finally, when the life jackets ran out, they gave up their own. They were among the 668 who went down with the Dorchester, but many of the 230 men who were saved owed their lives to the Four Chaplains, each of whom received the Distinguished Service Cross posthumously.

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
Army Capt. (Chaplain) Emil Kapaun performs Mass in the field, Oct. 7, 1950. (Photo: U.S. Army Col. Raymond Skeehan)

In the Korean War, two other chaplains notably made the ultimate sacrifice. Chaplain Emil Kapuan, a Catholic priest, was captured during the Chinese offensive of 1950 — and shortly after his capture, he shoved a Chinese soldier who was trying to execute an America.

Then, while held as a POW, he would steal drugs and smuggle them to a doctor. He continued to steal supplies and bolster the morale of his fellow prisoners. He would die in captivity on May 25, 1951. In 2013, he was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
Chaplain Herman Gilbert Felhoelter. (U.S. Army photo)

Then there was the case of Chaplain Herman G. Felhoelter, also a Catholic priest, who, during the initial salvos of the Korean War, offered to stay behind with a medic to help the wounded. As he was providing comfort, North Korean troops attacked and wounded the medic, who escaped.

The North Koreans then proceeded to carry out what became known as the Chaplain-Medic massacre, killing the wounded Americans and the chaplain. Felhoelter received the Distinguished Service Cross posthumously for his actions.

These cases only begin to scratch the surface of why the troops love their chaplains.

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6 reasons why the guys from ‘The Hangover’ are like an Army unit

The internet has previously noticed that the guys from “The Hangover” bear certain similarities to a military unit, but these guys function a lot more like an Army unit than drunk civilians have any right to. Here are six reasons why “The Hangover” is really about bad soldier stereotypes.


How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins

1. The lieutenant is only there because the commanding officer said he should be and he screws everything up.

For the eight of you who haven’t seen the movie, “The Hangover” centers around a group of guys who lost their friend, Doug (labeled “The CO” in the meme), and have to find him before his wedding.

How did they lose their friend? Alan, “The lieutenant,” roofied them. Alan is the brother of the bride and so Doug said he should be allowed to come. Two other characters tell Doug he should leave Alan behind, but the Doug insists on bringing him. Alan repays this kindness by attempting a blood pact and then drugging the group.

2. The senior enlisted is obsessed with the paperwork and is always on his phone.

Stu, the “Senior Enlisted,” wants to keep everything under the radar and so he is obsessed with the paper trail. He wants to use cash rather than credit cards, needs to get his marriage annulled and out of the public record, and is always on his phone lying to his girlfriend.

Extra bonus: Stu fits the worst enlisted stereotypes in a few additional ways. He eloped with a stripper/escort at a chapel with military discounts and he constantly tries to sound more important than he is (calling himself a doctor when everyone insists he go by dentist).

3. The CO thinks everyone will follow the rules despite all evidence pointing to the contrary.

Doug picks up the rest of the pack in a Mercedes his future father-in-law loaned him. On the way to the hotel, he seems to honestly believe that everyone will act like responsible adults. He even gives some ground rules for the car even though it’s clear his friends can’t be trusted.

At this point, Alan has revealed he can’t go within 200 feet of a school or Chuck E. Cheese. Phil, “The Enlisted,” has screamed profanities in a neighborhood and is currently drinking in the car. Stu, “The Senior Enlisted,” has asked the team for their help lying to his girlfriend so she won’t know they went to Vegas. Doug goes right on trusting them, even after Alan discusses a plan to count cards and Phil tricks Stu into paying for a villa on the strip.

4. The junior enlisted causes a lot of the chaos but takes none of the responsibility.

As the meme noted, the enlisted guy does all the work. But he shouldn’t really complain since he caused most of the chaos after they woke up in the hotel. When the group finds out they stole a cop car, he drives it onto a curb, turns the lights on, and uses the speakers to hit on women. After the cops catch up with them, he gets the group shocked with stun guns. While visiting a chapel, he leaves a baby in a hot car, telling the others, “It’s fine. I cracked the window.”

5. The lieutenant won’t stop asking dumb questions and saying stupid things.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEXyeWPfZZ4

Alan just can’t find his way in the world, much like a new lieutenant. He asks the hotel receptionist if the hotel is “pager-friendly.” He gives an awkward, prepared speech before he roofies the group. When he learns Stu accidentally gave away his grandmother’s “Holocaust ring,” Alan tells the group he “didn’t know they gave out rings at the Holocaust.”

6. CO can’t solve problems without help from the unit.

Doug, like a bad commander stereotype, can’t get stuff done without his unit. For most of the first movie, he is trapped on the roof of a hotel. It’s revealed that he tried to get help by throwing his mattress off the roof. That’s a good start, but he was up there for more than 24 hours. He was fully clothed with a sheet but didn’t yell for help, turn the sheet into a flag, or use the sheet to prevent his serious sunburn. He could’ve gotten attention by cutting an air conditioning hose, or at least tried to get back inside through the access door.

NOW: The 16 best military movies of all time

AND: 69 painful mistakes in ‘Basic’ –the worst Army movie ever

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This soldier showed up without an eye and was reprimanded…then given the MOH

When Army Staff Sgt. Jesse Ray Drowley arrived alone at an American camp on the Solomon Islands with a gaping wound in his chest, a missing eye, and a shredded uniform, a junior officer threatened to court-martial him for abandoning his defense post.


Instead, Drowley was put on the path to history.

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins

On Jan. 30, 1944, Drowley was a rifle squad leader with B Company, 132nd Infantry Regiment, Americal Division, when he displayed the bravery that would earn him the Medal of Honor.

The Americal Division arrived on Bougainville on Dec. 25, 1943, as part of the Solomon Islands and New Guinea campaigns. The division was unique in World War II as it carried a name and not a numerical designation.

It got its name from “American, New Caledonia,” the South Pacific island on which the unit was provisionally formed for defense in May 1942. Though officially known later as the 23rd Infantry Division, the Americal name remained.

Also read: Meet the 4 heroes who earned Medals of Honor for heroism on D-Day

A month after the unit’s arrival, Drowley was assigned a defensive role with his company as a neighboring unit launched an attack against Japanese defensive positions.

The staff sergeant witnessed three wounded soldiers from the neighboring company collapse. Intense enemy fire prevented their rescue. That’s when Drowley made a fateful decision.

Fearless Rescue

According to his Medal of Honor citation, Drowley “fearlessly rushed forward to carry the wounded” one-by-one to cover.

After moving two of the men to safety amid a hail of gunfire, Drowley discovered an enemy pillbox that American assault tanks had missed. The enemy fighters within were “inflicting heavy casualties upon the attacking force and…a chief obstacle to the success of the advance.”

The dire situation didn’t deter him.

Drowley directed another soldier to complete the rescue of the third wounded soldier. Meanwhile, he darted out across open terrain to one of the American tanks. Drowley climbed the turret and signaled the crew.

He exchanged his weapon for a submachine gun and rode the deck of the tank while firing toward the pillbox with tracer fire.

As the tank ambled closer to the enemy position, Drowley received a severe wound to the chest. He refused to leave his position for medical treatment, instead continuing to direct the tank’s driver to the pillbox.

He was shot again — losing his left eye — and knocked to the ground.

But Drowley remained undaunted. Despite his injuries, he continued to walk alongside the tank until it was able to open fire on the enemy pillbox and destroy it. In the process, American forces discovered another pillbox behind the first and destroyed it as well.

Heroes: Audie Murphy is one of the most decorated war heroes of World War II

With his mission finally completed, Drowley returned to camp for medical treatment.

When he reached the safety of the American outpost, his platoon leader admonished him for leaving his post. But the reason he left was quickly learned, and he was eventually recommended for the nation’s highest military honor.

Drowley was awarded the Medal of Honor on Sept. 6, 1944.

After receiving the accolade, he was offered a commission and a chance to speak at war rallies, but Drowley declined and eventually left the service. He lived a quiet life for the rest of his years.

In 1991, he told The Spokesman Review of Spokane, Washington, that he shied away from the title of hero.

‘What Did You Do?’

“People say, ‘What did you do to get the Medal of Honor?’ You were only doing your job,” Drowley said. “You’re fearless, all right. You’re so damned scared you’re past fearless. But you’re going to get killed if you don’t do anything.”

Along with the Medal of Honor, Drowley was also awarded the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Clusters and two Bronze Stars.

He was the first Americal soldier to be awarded the medal and the division’s lone recipient for action in World War II.

While recovering from his wounds at a hospital in Spokane, he met his future wife, Kathleen McAvoy. He returned to Washington after the war from his native St. Charles, Michigan. He operated a service station before working as a civilian employee at Fairchild Air Force Base. He retired in 1980.

Drowley died May 20, 1996. He was 76. He was buried at Fairmount Memorial Park in Spokane.

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How Venezuela became unstable after losing its most heavy-handed dictator

Venezuela’s possession of the largest oil reserve in the world should have made her, at least according to economists, the global economic leader. For decades, Venezuela was a nation rich in petroleum reserves. There was a time when former President Hugo Chavez invested considerable amounts in socialist programs to provide free heating oil for the poor – in America. Yes, our America.

However, the current economic turmoil isn’t what one would think of. There are socialist and communist countries worldwide still hobbling along; why is Venezuela such a sh*t show? Starting in 2014, the country’s GDP plunged to a level that not even the U.S. reached during the Great Depression. Aside from its inhabitants’ inability to access food, resource-deprived hospitals lacked soap, necessities, antibiotics, and the political sphere was slowly spiraled into turmoil. President Nicholas Maduro’s 2018 re-election was marred with accusations of polling irregularities and voter intimidation. This was coupled with colossal street protests and a massive military uprising triggered by the opposition.

Who is the president?

This should not be an explicit question, but it remains one of the most speculative things in Venezuela. Shortly after president Maduro had been sworn into a second-year term, the opposition chief, Juan Guaidó, declared himself acting president. Unsurprisingly, the sitting president did not take his rival’s move lightly – calling it a U.S. plot to oust him.

Despite several attempts by the opposition chief to switch the military’s allegiance, the armed forces remained loyal to President Maduro. The military maintained that his constitutional presidency would remain unchanged.

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Guaidó (left) has the support of the U.S., but not the Venezuelan military (White House)

During his first term, president Maduro reigned in an era encapsulated with a free-fall of the country’s economy. After the death of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, many Venezuelans blamed him for the spiraling economic turmoil and political uncertainties. At the same time, several candidates had been barred from contesting, others imprisoned or fleeing the country for fear of being jailed.

The opposition-controlled national assembly did not recognize Maduro’s re-election by arguing that the presidency was vacant. Despite the overwhelming support Mr. Guaidó received from the U.S. and many Latin American countries, he does not exercise much power pragmatically.

The Security Forces

As the impasse between the disgruntlement among the Venezuelan population intensifies by Mr. Guaidó’s failure to oust President Maduro, armed forces have been a critical key player in the crisis. This is evidenced by unfruitful talks between the government and opposition coupled with continuous sweeping sanctions from the U.S. Given that president Maduro has frequently awarded the army frequent pay raises and control of major industry sectors, some analysts fear that U.S. sanctions will not be enough to drive Maduro out of office. Still, the economy continues to plummet.

Distribute all ‘zero’ of the wealth

In a once-prosperous economy that no one ever imagined would experience astronomical poverty levels, the hyperinflationary Venezuela economy continued for the sixth year in a row, according to Aljazeera. In a 2019 ENCOVI study, close to 96% of the Venezuelan population is composed of consumers with no access to education and critical social amenities. That was 14% higher than the 50% figure recorded the previous year and the most significant year-over-year leap yet recorded. When measured exclusively in terms of income levels, over 96% of the population lives in abject poverty – showcasing metrics unmatched in Latin American countries.

Although president Nicholas Maduro frequently blames the U.S. government’s sanctions for his woes, the rise in poverty is greatly attributed to inequality. At the same time, rampant inflation has rocked the country and left citizens with an average daily income of 72 U.S. cents in 2020. Despite having the world’s richest oil fields, Venezuela does not produce domestically-made goods, resulting in overreliance on imports. Soaring inflation, a broken healthcare system and rising political temperatures have plunged an already jeopardized Venezuelan economy into a meltdown never witnessed before.

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Germany and Italy have completed their withdrawals from Afghanistan

Alongside the United States and Great Britain, Germany and Italy have been major contributors to the coalition support of the democratic Afghan government. As part of the International Security Assistance Force, Afghanistan marked the first deployment of German troops against an organized enemy since WWII. On June 29, 2021, the German military completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan. Italy flew the last of its soldiers out the next day.

After nearly 20 years of constant military operations, the last German troops boarded an A400M transport plane and flew out of Mazar-i-Sharif. “Our last troops left Afghanistan this night after almost 20 years and are on their way home,” announced German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. About 150,000 German troops have served in Afghanistan with a casualty figure of 59 soldiers according to the Bundeswehr.

The German withdrawal began in May with an in-country strength of about 1,100 personnel. Leading up to the June 29 withdrawal completion, the Bundeswehr also withdrew about 750 containers of equipment, 120 armored vehicles, and six helicopters.

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
Italian soldiers conduct rescue training at Bagram Air Field (U.S. Air Force)

Officials stated that 50,000 Italian soldiers served in Afghanistan over the past 20 years. During that time, 53 lost their lives in-country.

Germany and Italy are followed closely by the United States and Great Britain in their withdrawals from Afghanistan. President Joe Biden set the full withdrawal deadline for the United States and NATO as September 11, 2021. Approaching the 20th anniversary of the infamous attacks that sparked the war in Afghanistan, the British have quietly withdrawn the majority of their troops. The MOD has said British Special Forces could maintain a presence in Afghanistan along with a small contingent of regular troops if the UK decides, as is likely, to keep an embassy open. The United States, meanwhile, has sent an additional six B-52 bombers and 12 F/A-18 fighters to bolster security in the region amidst increased violence. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley said that the additional air power is “postured to offer contingency support.” The USS Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group’s presence in the Middle East has also been extended to support the coalition withdrawal.

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
U.S. and other coalition forces continue to hand bases over to Afghan defense forces before the September 11 deadline (MOD)

Featured photo: service members heading to the last Airbus A400M leaving the Mazar-e-Sharif airfield. (Torsten Kraatz/German army)

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This is how a zombie apocalypse is most likely to start in China

A zombie outbreak in pop culture usually starts in the United Kingdom or the United States. However, western countries do not keep quiet for long when it come to a worldwide threat. Communist countries have time and again chosen to suppress information until it is no longer deniable. In 1986, when the Chernobyl disaster happened, the Soviet Union refused to acknowledge a problem until other countries had irrefutable proof something was wrong.

China continues this motif of lies and propaganda to save face when they mess up. In Chinese culture, losing face is worse than the actual mistake. Worse yet is owning up to it because it is seen a sign of weakness.

China would suppress news of an out break

By refusing to admit the truth of the zombie outbreak to the world, the Communist Chinese government aided its spread due to misinformation about what was actually happening.

Zombiepedia, World War Z by Max Brooks

Digging deeper into the cultural phenomena of losing face, the Chinese people, not just the government, would actively deny they are powerless. The country as a whole would lose face if the world called out the CCP when caught in a lie. They would rather invent a scenario where the cause of the outbreak was natural rather than criminal negligence. The Chinese not knowing how the virus is spreading would be another losing face situation. To be seen as ignorant of that knowledge is shameful in Chinese culture.

While the Chinese government is squabbling over how to present the situation on the world stage, the Z virus would spread exponentially. China’s population is around 1.4 billion people – that’s a lot of zombies. In 2019 Chinese “authorities deliberately sacrificed health workers to maintain their lies.” We know what the first thing the CCP would do if there was a zombie virus: lie.

They would use a zombie vaccine as leverage

The civilized world would put politics aside and band together to achieve a common goal. Yet, the Chinese government would use the zombie outbreak as an excuse to profit from the vaccines, blackmail countries to do their bidding and deny them life saving medicine. Once they can no longer deny that there is a problem, they will do everything in their power to make the rest of the world suffer the consequences.

A weaponized Z virus

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“No, don’t be silly. These are just a precaution. Nothing to see here.” (DoD photo by Senior Airman Carlye D. La Pointe, U.S. Air Force)

China’s bioweapons ambitions are no secret. They actively pursue diseases, then engineer deadlier versions. Regardless of whether a zombie virus was manmade or developed in a lab, the cat is out of the bag. Conveniently, the CCP has been trying to cleanse China of undesirables. All they would have to do is do nothing, as the wanton destruction of the Communist Zombies eats away their political enemies.

Ground Zero

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
“You guys make Raccoon City look like a minor hiccup.” (Sony Pictures)

Instead of China having a Resident Evil Umbrella Corporation-like deliberate response to a zombie outbreak, they would most likely fall flat on their faces. The politicians at the top would continue their caricature-like information suppression tactics. The poor and disenfranchised would suffer the most. Eventually, the rest of the world would have to clean up their mess like always. When you deal with a problem when it’s small, it stays small. Bad news doesn’t get better with time. The Communists will always deny, deflect and lie until it’s too late. The zombie apocalypse is most likely to start in China, not because of deliberate evil, but because of President Winnie the Pooh’s hubris.

Feature image: ahmadreza heidaripoor from Pixabay

Editor’s note: This is an opinion piece.

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Canada to buy Super Hornets as F-35 hits setbacks

The Canadian government is in negotiations to buy 18 Super Hornet fighter jets, a blow to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, which was originally envisioned to replace Canada’s 30-plus-year-old CF-18 Hornet fleet.


Canadian officials will explore upgrading the country’s aircraft to the Super Hornet as an interim option before final decisions are made for an open competition — a process that could still include procuring the F-35 for its aging fleet.

Just not yet.

The Liberal Party of Canada, headed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on Tuesday announced an urgent need for “a new squadron of interim aircraft” and turned to Boeing to recapitalize the country’s CF-18s.

How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins
U.S. Air Force F/A-18Fs being refueled over Afghanistan in 2010. | U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andy M. Kin

Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said during a press conference in Ottawa that the overuse of Canada’s McDonnell Douglas-made CF-18 fleet “would carry risk this government is not willing to take” to sustain current supplemental operations in NATO and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD.

Competition to purchase an entirely new fighter jet will come at a later date, Sajjan said.

“The government will launch, in its current mandate, a wide-open and transparent competition to replace the CF-18 fleet,” he said.

Even though Canada has been in discussions for years to purchase approximately 60  F-35 jets, lawmakers have grown weary of setbacks in the stealth jet program.

In June, Trudeau called the aircraft one that “does not work and is far from working.”

In the latest setback, a Marine Corps F-35B based out of Beaufort, South Carolina, caught fire in mid-air last month. The service is investigating the incident.

In September, the Air Force ordered a temporary stand-down of 13 out of 104 F-35s in its fleet “due to the discovery of peeling and crumbling insulation in avionics cooling lines inside the fuel tanks,” according to a statement at the time. Two additional aircraft, belonging to Norway and stationed atLuke Air Force Base, Arizona, also were affected.

The 13 F-35s, plus the two belonging to Norway, are back up and running, according to a story from Defense News on Friday.

In a statement Tuesday, Lockheed Martin said that although it is “disappointed with this decision, we remain confident the F-35 is the best solution to meet Canada’s operational requirements at the most affordable price, and the F-35 has proven in all competitions to be lower in cost than 4th generation competitors.”

“The F-35 is combat ready and available today to meet Canada’s needs for the next 40 years,” the statement said.

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