D-Day The First Hours - We Are The Mighty
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D-Day The First Hours

Hours before the Allied Forces hit the beaches of Normandy, courageous British and American soldiers entered France with parachutes and gliders to secure key bridges and enemy artillery positions.  Their dangerous missions led the way for the D-Day invasion and ultimate victory in Europe.  Wally Parr, Terance Otway and Bill True recount their dramatic stories, In Their Own Words.

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Episode 219: Admiral James Stavridis

One of the most revered military leaders of our time, Admiral James Stavridis served for thirty-seven years in the United States Navy, including his last four as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. Admiral Stavridis joins Adam to share the best lessons he has learned over the course of his illustrious career, from how to lead and inspire others to how to lead your own day and life. Admiral Stavridis and Adam discuss the Admiral’s core leadership principles, misconceptions about military leaders, and job interviews with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

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Pacific War Marine in WWII

John Nicely was a Sergeant in the US Marine Corps during the brutal Pacific island campaigns of WWII.  He saw his first action in the battle for the island of Saipan on June 15th, 1944.  From there he continued fighting from island to island and eventually prepared for the invasion of Japan. Nicely and his unit entered the devastated city of Nagasaki, just 25 days after the nuclear blast.  We met up with him at a reunion of the 2nd Marine division in 1994 and he shared his vivid personal memories of front-line combat.

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Iran threatens to drop missiles on US bases if White House imposes new sanctions

The chief of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard said Oct. 8 the US should move its military bases farther from Iran’s borders if it imposes new sanctions against Tehran, the official IRNA news reported.


The Oct. 8 report quotes Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari as saying, “If new sanctions go into effect, the country should move its regional bases to a 2,000-kilometer (1,240-mile) radius” out of the range of Iranian missiles.

Currently, US military bases are located in countries neighboring Iran, including Bahrain, Iraq, Oman, and Afghanistan, less than 500 kilometers (310 miles) from Iran’s borders.

D-Day The First Hours
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Photo from CounterExtremism.com

Jafari rejected the idea of negotiating with the US over regional issues and said if the United States designates the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group, the Guard — which has suffered significant casualties fighting the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq — will also consider the US army a terrorist group.

He said such moves by the US will eliminate “any chance for engagement forever.”

President Donald Trump appears to be stepping back from his campaign pledge to tear up the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, instead aiming to take other measures against Iran and its affiliates.

D-Day The First Hours
Photo from White House Flickr.

New actions expected to be announced by the White House in the coming days will focus on the Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group blamed for sowing discord in the Middle East and seeking Israel’s demise. They include financial sanctions on anyone who does business with the Revolutionary Guard, as well as millions of dollars in rewards for information leading to the arrest of two operatives of Iran-backed Hezbollah.

On Saturday, Iran’s president defended the nuclear deal and said not even 10 Donald Trumps can roll back its benefits to Iran.

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Hitler created the largest gun ever, and it was a total disaster

Eager to invade France, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler demanded a new weapon that could easily pierce the concrete fortifications of the French Maginot Line — the only major physical barrier standing between him and the rest of western Europe.


In 1941, German steelmaker and arms manufacturer Krupp A.G. built Hitler the “Gustav Gun,” the largest gun ever used in combat, according to Military Channel’s “Top Secret Weapons” documentary.

The four-story, 155-foot-long gun, which weighs 1,350 tons, shot 10,000-pound shells from its mammoth 98-foot bore.

The massive weapon was presented to the Nazi’s free of charge to show Krupp’s contribution to the German war effort, according to historian C. Peter Chen.

In the spring of 1942, the Germans debuted the mighty “Gustuv gun”at the Siege of Sevastopol. The 31-inch gun barrel fired 300 shells on Sevastopol.

However, as the Nazi’s would soon find out, the ostentatious gun had some serious disadvantages:

  • Its size made it an easy target for Allied bombers flying overhead
  • Its weight meant that it could only be transported via a costly specialized railway (which the Nazi’s had to build in advance)
  • It required a crew of 2,000 to operate
  • The 5-part gun took four days to assemble in the field and hours to calibrate for a single shot
  • It could only fire 14 rounds a day

Within a year, the Nazi’s discontinued the “Gustav gun,” and Chen notes that Allied forces eventually scrapped the massive weapon.

Here’s a video of the Gustav:

 

Also from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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Jordan’s new Black Hawks will punish terror cells on its border

In the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, the utility helicopter almost everyone wanted was the Bell UH-1 Iroquois, best known as the “Huey.” This helicopter became very popular, selling to just about anyone who wasn’t a commie (although the communists did grab a few). Over 16,500 Hueys were purchased.


Today, it’s the UH-60 Black Hawk that is in high demand. Saudi Arabia recently bought 17 for the Saudi Arabian National Guard and the Royal Saudi Land Forces Airborne Special Security Forces. Earlier this year, the Times of Israel reported that the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan recently took delivery on the last two UH-60 Black Hawks of a 12-chopper order.

D-Day The First Hours
A Jordan Armed Forces UH-60 sits on the tarmac. (U.S. State Department photo)

The report quoted a Tweet from the United States Embassy in Jordan noting that these helicopters will help strengthen the Quick Reaction Force of the Jordanian Armed Forces. This special operations unit is composed of three airborne battalions and a squadron of UH-60M helicopters. The UH-60M, according to Lockheed Martin, can hold 11 troops or roughly one squad of infantry.

The Quick Reaction Force also had a separate aviation brigade that is being handed over to the Royal Jordanian Air Force. This unit had UH-60L Black Hawks alongside MD-530F helicopters (roughly equivalent to the MH-6/AH-6 Little Bird helicopters) and CN-235 and C-295M transport planes. The unit also has the 37th Royal Special Forces Group, which has one group responsible for carrying out special operations and another assigned to counter-terrorism missions.

Jordan has been a part of the coalition taking on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), suffering the loss of a pilot in 2015 after he was burned alive following his capture by the radical Islamic terrorist group. The al-Nusra Front, an affiliate of al-Qaeda, has operated in Syria as well.

D-Day The First Hours
UH-60 Black Hawks are on the tarmac while a mix of UH-60s and MD530Fs fly overhead. (U.S. State Department photo)

The new Black Hawks join a mix of S-70, UH-60A, and the aforementioned UH-60Ls currently in service. FlightGlobal.com noted in World Air Forces 2018 that Jordan had 20 Black Hawks of all types on hand and 10 more on order.

One thing for certain is that the helicopter of choice for most special operations units is the Black Hawk.

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The US is now claiming some of its spies were attacked in Cuba

Frightening attacks on US personnel in Havana struck the heart of America’s spy network in Cuba, with intelligence operatives among the first and most severely affected victims, The Associated Press has learned.


It wasn’t until US spies, posted to the embassy under diplomatic cover, reported hearing bizarre sounds and experiencing even stranger physical effects that the United States realized something was wrong, individuals familiar with the situation said.

While the attacks started within days of President Donald Trump’s surprise election in November, the precise timeline remains unclear, including whether intelligence officers were the first victims hit or merely the first victims to report it. The US has called the situation “ongoing.”

D-Day The First Hours
US Embassy in Havana, Cuba. AP photo via NewsEdge.

To date, the Trump administration largely has described the 21 victims as US embassy personnel or “members of the diplomatic community.” That description suggested only bona fide diplomats and their family members were struck, with no logical motivation beyond disrupting US-Cuban relations.

Behind the scenes, though, investigators immediately started searching for explanations in the darker, rougher world of spycraft and counter-espionage, given that so many of the first reported cases involved intelligence workers posted to the US embassy. That revelation, confirmed to the AP by a half-dozen officials, adds yet another element of mystery to a year-long saga that the Trump administration says may not be over.

The State Department and the CIA declined to comment for this story.

The first disturbing reports of piercing, high-pitched noises and inexplicable ailments pointed to someone deliberately targeting the US government’s intelligence network on the communist-run island, in what seemed like a bone-chilling escalation of the tit-for-tat spy games that Washington and Havana have waged over the last half century.

D-Day The First Hours
Photo from Public Domain.

But the US soon discovered that actual diplomats at the embassy had also been hit by similar attacks, officials said, further confounding the search for a culprit and a motive.

Of the 21 confirmed cases, American spies suffered some of the most acute damage, including brain injury and hearing loss that has not healed, said several US officials who weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the investigation and demanded anonymity. They heard an unsettling sound inside and in some cases outside their Havana homes, described as similar to loud crickets. Then they fell ill.

Over time, the attacks seemed to evolve.

In many of the more recent cases, victims didn’t hear noises and weren’t aware an attack was occurring, identifying the symptoms only later. That has raised concerns among investigators that the attacks may be getting more sophisticated and harder to detect, individuals briefed on the investigation said.

D-Day The First Hours
Cuba’s colorful styling is a driving force behind its tourism. Photo under public domain.

Though the State Department has called all the cases “medically confirmed,” several US officials said it’s unclear whether all of the victims’ symptoms can be conclusively tied to attacks. Considering the deep sense of alarm among Americans working in the embassy, it’s possible some workers attributed unrelated illnesses to attacks.

Almost nothing about what has transpired in Havana is perfectly clear. But this is Cuba.

Related: The Cuban Missile Crisis: 13 days that almost ended the world

For decades, Washington and Havana pushed their rivalry to unprecedented levels of covert action. The former enemies tracked each other’s personnel, turned each other’s agents, and, in the case of the CIA, even mounted a failed attempt to overthrow the Cuban government in the 1961 “Bay of Pigs” invasion.

There were hopes, though, that the two nations were starting to put that bitter history behind them after renewing diplomatic relations in 2015. When the attacks first occurred, the US and Cuban governments were hard at work on clinching new commercial and immigration agreements. No new spat among intelligence services was publicly known.

D-Day The First Hours
Cuban President Raúl Castro (left) shakes hands with former US President Barack Obama, 2015. Photo courtesy of the White House.

Eleven months on, the US cannot guarantee the threat is over. Last week, the State Department warned Americans to stay away from Cuba and ordered more than half the embassy staff to leave indefinitely. The US had previously given all embassy staff the option to come home, but even most of those struck by the mysterious attacks had opted to stay, individuals familiar with the situation said.

For those staying and new arrivals, the US has been giving instructions about what to watch and listen for to identify an attack in progress. They’re also learning steps to take if an attack occurs that could mitigate the risk, officials said.

But the US has not identified whatever device is responsible for the harm. FBI sweeps have turned up nothing.

So to better identify patterns, investigators have created a map detailing specific areas of Cuba’s capital where attacks have occurred, several individuals familiar with the matter said. Three “zones,” or geographic clusters of attacks, cover the homes where US diplomats live and several hotels where attacks occurred, including the historic Hotel Capri.

D-Day The First Hours
Havana aerial view from Jose Marti monument, 2008. Photo by Anton Zelenov.

Since first disclosing the situation in August, the United States had generally avoided the word “attacks.” It called them “incidents” instead until Sept. 29. Now, the State Department deems them “specific attacks” targeting Americans posted in Havana, without saying what new information, if any, prompted the newfound confidence they were indeed deliberate.

The most obvious motive for attacking Americans in Havana would be to drive a wedge between the US and Cuba. If that’s the case, the strategy appears to be succeeding.

Read Also: More US diplomats are allegedly being attacked by these weird weapons in Cuba

Last week’s embassy drawdown added to the growing friction between the nations. And an accompanying new travel warning deemed Havana’s hotels unsafe for visitors, threatening to drive down tourism, a backbone of Cuba’s economy.

In Havana, American diplomats are frantically selling off possessions — from mattresses to canned goods to children’s toys — and hurriedly making plans to return to the US, where some haven’t lived in years. The State Department has worked feverishly to arrange transportation, temporary jobs, and places to live for those coming back early from Cuba.

D-Day The First Hours

“Heartbroken? Me too, but this will make you feel better,” one seller posted in a chatroom for foreigners in Cuba, under a picture of a Costco artichoke hearts jar selling for $6.

For Cubans, it may be no better. The US has been providing 20,000 visas a year to Cubans moving to the United States. It has issued thousands more to Cubans wishing to visit family in America. The reduction in US staff in Havana means visa processing there has been suspended indefinitely.

Cuba has vehemently denied involvement or knowledge of the attacks. Some in the US government believe the Cubans may be telling the truth, officials said.

When President Raul Castro denied any culpability in February, he did so on the sidelines of a meeting in Havana with five visiting US members of Congress, the AP found. The US had raised complaints about the attacks to Cuba just days earlier through diplomatic channels.

D-Day The First Hours
Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, Chargé d’Affaires at US Embassy Havana. Photo from US State Department.

But the visiting lawmakers knew nothing of the attacks taking place in the country they were visiting.

Nor did they know that Castro had used the occasion of their meeting to pull aside Jeff DeLaurentis, then the top US diplomat in Cuba, to say privately that his government was equally alarmed and willing to help.

The lawmakers all declined to comment. Cuban officials say they’re disappointed in the US retaliatory measures but will continue cooperating with the investigation.

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D-Day The First Hours

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CBD Products: Usage & Legality in the Military

For many people, CBD is their bread and butter. It’s the thing that keeps them going as it treats a number of health and wellness issues that include anxiety, pain, inflammation, depression, sleep issues, skin problems, and more.


However, for America’s service men and women, CBD is off the table. The Defense Department has made it very clear that CBD is not to be used by any member of the military. Even broad spectrum CBD capsules, CBD oils, and CBD gummies, which contain no THC, are not allowed.

As you might imagine, this creates a challenge for some military members, but also for those who are managing military members. If you’re involved in the military in any way, it’s vital that you understand CBD and the only legal uses of it in the military.

THC Content Creates a Problem 

In the United States, it’s legal to sell CBD online across the United States as long as it contains less than 0.3 percent THC. This tiny trace amount isn’t enough to create any psychoactive effects, and millions enjoy the benefits of CBD without losing their mental clarity.

However, many companies sell CBD products that do not accurately label the THC content on the package. Or, they try to hide it with vague claims and promises of significant benefits.

“The problem is there is no regulatory framework to ensure that the CBD products being sold meet the Farm Act,” Patricia Deuster, director of a laboratory at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, told Military.com. She added that there is no research, other than studies done on the impact of CBD on seizures, to support many of the claims made by product manufacturers.

D-Day The First Hours

“…Don’t believe what [the companies] are telling you,” Deuster said, pointing out that there’s currently no one to regulate the production of CBD products, and people are getting hurt as a result.

Deuster also told Stars and Stripes last year that military bases all over the United States have reported more than 100 cases of military personnel falling ill due to their use of CBD laced with an illegal THC content. They experienced increased hear rates and hallucinations that nodded to a more serious health condition such as a stroke or heart attack.

In many of those cases, the CBD they took was labeled as a package of gummy bears that could homeopathically help treat anxiety. The label likely didn’t say that it contained THC at the level that it did, since that’s illegal. However, many military personnel are left to suffer the consequences.

Military Heads Struggle to Gain Control 

The military heads are working to prevent the use of CBD by demanding more regular drug testing from their constituents. If the THC content in CBD is high enough (like in full-spectrum CBD), it will show up on a drug test.

However, CBD often does not show up in a drug test. Plus, the products are so easily accessible that it’s very difficult to get any kind of control on it.

“It’s a real conundrum, and it’s going to be a major issue for the military because it is available [nearly everywhere]. You go into any store, and you can find gummy bears with a supplement fact panel on it,” said Deuster.

Their current defense against CBD is to court martial any military member who tests positive for THC or who has CBD in their possession. This means that simply misreading the label on a CBD product could mean the end of a career.

CBD Treatment for Seizures Remains Legal 

There is one exception to the all-out ban of CBD products in the military, and that’s Epidiolex, the only FDA-approved CBD-based drug on the market. It’s designed to treat seizures in severe forms of epilepsy and has shown incredible results in doing so. Other cannabis-based prescription drugs are also allowable in the military.

That being said, there are few roles for those who experience seizures or other medical problems that cannabis can treat, so the likelihood of a service member taking Epidiolex is very slim.

Still, this shows great promise for the cannabis industry. If the U.S. government recognizes this FDA-tested drug as an acceptable form of treatment in the military, it’s only a matter of time before further research and FDA-involvement creates exceptions for other CBD products prescribed under a doctor’s recommendation.

D-Day The First Hours

The Military Demands Regulation

It appears that U.S. military professionals do not have a problem with the best CBD oil as a pure substance to help treat ailments like anxiety, pain, and sleep disorders. Their problem lies in the fact that the CBD industry is simply unregulated and a huge risk.

Every day, new CBD products hit the market. Some are carefully curated and contain exactly the ingredients found on the label. Others are made by sneaky business people trying to cut corners with no regard for the safety of their customers. With no government regulation, they’re simply getting away with it.

“[CBD] is everywhere. We are waiting for the FDA to do something,” Deuster said.

Currently, the only way to ensure that you’re getting a good product with CBD is to do extra research yourself. You must check for third-party lab reports that show the potency and ingredients listed on the bottle are accurate. Sometimes, you have to call the lab to verify that the results are real.

If there was greater regulation in the industry, the military and other organizations would not have to be so strict in banning a substance that can help so many people thrive despite serious health conditions.

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Here is why business is booming for private military companies

The services of private security companies have expanded so much over the last 20 years that they are now referred to as private military companies (PMCs) in some circles. PMCs have assumed all the different roles of war, from backend logistics, to training, to consulting, to battlefield operations, and more. The private military industry was a $218 billion industry in 2014 and business is growing, according to the Vice video below.


Related: 20 private security contractors that hire vets with the skills

There are many reasons why hiring a PMC is more attractive than maintaining a military, and companies like ACADEMI (formerly Blackwater), Aegis, and others are redefining what war might look like in the future.

This VICE video explores the origins of the PMC industry and how the war on terror has fueled its growth.

Watch:

VICE, YouTube

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