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.
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.
International Committee of the Red Cross delegates have met with a US citizen held at an undisclosed location as an enemy combatant, the humanitarian agency said Oct. 2.
The man was handed over to US forces about three weeks ago by the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-allied militia made up mostly of Kurds. His name has yet to be released, but the Associated Press reported last week, citing unnamed “senior US officials,” that the American captive was being held at a detention center in Iraq, suggesting he was perhaps in Kurdistan. A Department of Defense spokesman declined to comment.
“The ICRC confirms that it has been able to visit a US citizen, captured in Syria and currently held by the US authorities,” spokesman Marc Kilstein said Oct. 2. “In accordance with our confidential approach, we are not in a position to comment on the individual’s identity, location, or conditions of detention.”
The Department of Defense, likewise, has been short on details about the man — his age, name, where he is held, what would become of him — after initially disclosing the existence of the only known American citizen in US military custody who is held as an Islamic State fighter. A Pentagon statement called him a “known enemy combatant” who was handed over to US forces “on or about Sept. 21.”
The capture has created a policy conundrum for the Trump administration. President Donald Trump campaigned on a vow to load up Guantánamo with prisoners. But if the American is to be charged with a crime, he cannot go to Guantánamo, where by law only non-citizens can be tried by military commission. Moreover, if he were to be sent to the war-on-terror detention center in southeast Cuba, he could not be later sent to a federal court for prosecution under a different provision of US law enacted during the Obama administration that prevents the transfer of Guantánamo detainees to US soil.
On Sept. 29, a day after the ICRC said it had been notified about the captive, Anthony Romero of the American Civil Liberties Union wrote Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Attorney General Jeff Sessions that, based on reports of a US citizen in detention, “his ongoing military detention is unlawful as a matter of domestic law, and his constitutional rights to habeas corpus and to a lawyer must be respected.
“If the government has legitimate grounds to suspect the citizen fought with ISIS, he should immediately be transferred to the federal criminal justice system for criminal charges,” he added.
Romero also copied in Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on his correspondence. As of Oct. 2, he had not received a response.
After watching for years as the United States called the shots in the region, Russian President Vladimir Putin is seizing the reins of diplomacy in the Middle East, establishing footholds, and striking alliances with unlikely partners.
From the battlefields of Syria to its burgeoning relationships with Iran and Turkey to its deepening ties with Saudi Arabia, Russia is stepping in to fill a void left by the United States first under the Obama administration and now in the vastly inconsistent and largely hands-off policies of Donald Trump.
Embroiled in controversy at home and loathe to engaging in the strife-riddled region beyond fighting the Islamic State group, Trump has largely stayed on the sidelines of attempts to help find a political settlement for Syria’s long-running civil war.
Those efforts are now led by Russia, in partnership with Iran and Turkey, organizing local cease-fires and creating “de-escalation zones” that have significantly reduced the violence in the country. Russia’s role in Syria has raised its international profile and allowed it to claim fighting terrorist groups such as the Islamic State group while it shored up President Bashar Assad’s government.
Moscow has stood by Tehran while Trump has refused to re-certify the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers — a stance reiterated by Putin himself Nov. 2 on a visit to Tehran. It has also reached out to Iran’s Mideast rival Saudi Arabia in recent weeks, promising weapons deals and other investments to the Sunni power house.
Bilal Saab, a senior fellow and director of the Defense and Security Program at the Middle East Institute, said that while Russia has clearly become a more influential interlocutor on Syria, there are clear limits to its overall foray into the region.
“What Russia offers is transactional, as opposed to strategic. Arms sales are no substitute for deep political rapport, which is what Washington provides, despite lingering tensions with key partners,” he said.
Still, Putin appears to be positioning himself as Mideast broker, seeking to expand his influence in a region where the US remains the most dominant military actor.
Syria Power Broker
Moscow’s military involvement in the Syrian war since 2015 has propped up Assad’s forces and turned the conflict in his favor, while Russian mediation earlier this year launched cease-fire talks in Astana, Kazakhstan. The talks, sponsored jointly with Iran and Turkey, have brokered local deals that have significantly reduced violence in the war-torn country.
This week, Russia announced plans to host Syrian groups and government representatives for political talks on Nov. 18 — just 10 days before a new round of UN-sponsored talks are to start in Geneva. The invitation has roiled Syrian opposition groups who described it as an attempt to “bypass” UN efforts to resolve the country’s conflict and dictate the terms of any settlement.
Russia invited over a dozen groups, a mix of government representatives and political opposition parties, including for the first time the main US-backed Kurdish party now in control of northern Syria. The Syrian Kurdish PYD has previously been barred from participation in political negotiations at the Geneva Talks, at Turkey’s insistence.
The invitation by Russia has led to speculation that Russia may use the conference to broker a wider reconciliation between Assad and the Syrian Kurds under conditions that preclude long-term US influence in Syria.
“Russia is accelerating its effort to subvert the Syrian political process by establishing a new diplomatic framework that sets conditions to expel the US from Northern Syria,” said an analysis by the Institute for the Study of War this week.
Badran Ciya Kurd, an adviser for the Kurdish-led self-administration who met with Russian officials ahead of the invite to Sochi, said Russia supports the Kurdish federal project while the US strategy has been vague.
“It is not yet clear what their (Americans) strategy is after Raqqa, and we would like to understand,” he said, referring to the northern city liberated from Raqqa last month.
Shared interests with Iran
While Iran promised a foreign policy that would be “neither East nor West” after its 1979 Islamic Revolution, Tehran has tilted toward Russia given its antipathy for Washington. Tehran relied on Moscow’s support to complete its Bushehr nuclear power plant in 2011 and received Russia’s S-300 surface-to-air missile system in 2016.
In that time, Russia and Iran also found themselves fighting to support the embattled Syrian president. The countries regularly coordinate on Syria and have provided overwhelming military and political aid to prop up Assad’s government and army.
On a visit to Tehran on Nov. 2, Putin strongly backed Iran and its nuclear deal with world powers, saying Moscow opposed “any unilateral change” to the accord after Trump refused to re-certify it.
Putin made the comments on a one-day trip to Tehran for trilateral talks between Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia, during which he met with both Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Across the Gulf Arab states, the US has been the guarantor of security since the 1991 Gulf War. In recent years, however, Gulf countries have increasingly looked toward making defense deals with Russia, especially after growing wary of the US detente with Iran under President Barack Obama. In the last weeks alone, Russia has gone big into Saudi Arabia, which supported the Afghan mujahedeen against Soviet troops in the 1980s.
King Salman of Saudi Arabia visited Moscow last month and signed multi-billion dollar energy deals with Russia, which also agreed to sell the Iranian rival its advanced S-400 missile system, which Tehran does not possess. Other deals would include Saudi Arabia locally producing Russian anti-tank missiles, rocket launchers, and automatic grenade launchers, as well as the latest version of the Kalashnikov assault rifle.
King Salman’s visit marked the first by any Saudi monarch to Moscow and heralded a new era of cooperation and a thawing in a bilateral relation that has been severely strained since Russia’s military intervention in Syria on behalf of Assad.
Close cooperation with Israel
Israel and Russia maintain a close, if sometimes uneasy, relationship on regional issues — particularly when it comes to the war in neighboring Syria. In recent years, the Israeli and Russian air forces have been active in Syrian skies and have maintained, throughout the fighting, a hotline to prevent clashes between their air forces. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has also held a number of meetings and phone conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, to discuss the situation in Syria.
Still, Israeli officials are concerned about Russia’s cooperation with Iran. But they also believe that Russian and Iranian interests could diverge as both countries compete for lucrative reconstruction contracts and political influence in postwar Syria. Israeli officials believe that Russia considers Iran a potentially destabilizing force in postwar Syria, and are cautiously optimistic that Russia understands Israel’s security concerns.
“Russian and Israeli interests in Syria may not be the same but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Russia cannot play a constructive role in Syria in Israel’s view or that certain understandings can’t be reached between Russia and Israel with regard to Syria,” said Chagai Tzuriel, the director general of Israel’s Intelligence Ministry.
D-Day was only the beginning. The Allied assault on June 6th, 1944 launched a bloody offensive that wouldn’t end until Hitler’s Reich lay in ruins.
The battlefields are forever etched in the memories of the men who were there… the hedgerows of Normandy, to the breakthrough at St. Lo, The Battle of the Bulge, and the capture of Berlin. In this episode, veterans of the 3rd Armored Division, Belton Cooper and Bertrand Close, transport us to the Race Across Europe in World War Two.
They are known as America’s first military stealth aircraft. Under cover of darkness, the Waco CG-4A combat glider carried U.S. troops and materiel into battle during World War II. William Horn and Leo Cordier, pilots who flew these unarmed and un-powered planes, landed behind enemy lines before the invasion troops arrived in Europe on D-Day. Their courageous stories are a little known chapter in the Allied march to victory during WWII.
As the Islamic State group loses its remaining strongholds in Iraq and Syria, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is facing a growing chorus of questions from NATO allies and partners about what the next steps will be in the region to preserve peace and ensure the militants don’t rise again.
Heading into a week of meetings with Nordic countries and allies across Europe, Mattis must begin to articulate what has been a murky American policy on how the future of Syria unfolds.
Speaking to reporters traveling with him to Finland, Mattis said the main question from US allies is: what comes next? And he said the key is to get the peace process on track.
“We’re trying to get this into the diplomatic mode so we can get things sorted out,” said Mattis, who will meet with NATO defense ministers later this week. “and make certain (that) minorities — whoever they are — are not just subject to more of what we’ve seen” under Syrian President Bashar Assad until now.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in late October repeated Washington’s call for Assad to surrender control, looking past recent battlefield gains by his Russian-backed forces to insist that “the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end.”
Tillerson made the comments after meeting with the UN’s envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, who later announced plans to resume UN-mediated peace talks Nov. 28. It will be the eighth such round under his mediation in Geneva since early 2016.
Mattis said intelligence assessments two to three months ago made it clear that the Islamic State group was “going down.” He said information based on the number of IS individuals taken prisoner and the number of fighters who were getting wounded or were deserting the group made it clear that “the whole bottom was dropping out.”
But while he said the effort now is to get the diplomatic process shifted to Geneva and the United Nations, he offered few details that suggest the effort is moving forward.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Photo from US Embassy Consulate in Korea.
In addition to the diplomatic efforts, Mattis said the US is still working to resolve conflicts with Russia in the increasingly crowded skies over the Iraq and Syria border, where a lot of the fighting has shifted.
On Nov. 3, Assad’s military announced the capture of the eastern Syrian city of Deir ez-Zour, while Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi proclaimed victory in retaking the town of Qaim on the border, the militants’ last significant urban area in Iraq.
Focus has now turned to Boukamal, the last urban center for the militants in both Iraq and Syria where Syrian troops —backed by Russia and Iranian-supported militias — and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are vying for control of the strategic border town.
The proximity of forces in the area has raised concerns about potential clashes between them as they approach Boukamal from opposite sides of the Euphrates River, and now from across the border with Iraq.
Mattis said that as forces close in, the fighting is getting “much more complex,” and there is a lot of effort on settling air space issues with the Russians.
He also declined to say whether the US will begin to take back weapons provided to Syrian Kurdish fighters, known as the YPG. The US has argued that the YPG has been the most effective fighting group in the battle to oust IS from Raqqa, but Turkey opposed the arming effort because it believes the YPG is linked to a militant group in Turkey.
The US has pledged to carefully monitor the weapons, to insure that they don’t make their way to the hands of insurgents in Turkey, known as the PKK. The US also considers the PKK a terrorist organization, and has vowed it would never provide weapons to that group.
Turkish officials have said that Mattis reassured them by letter that arms given to the Syrian Kurds would be taken back and that the US would provide Turkey with a regular list of arms given to the fighters.
While in Finland, Mattis will attend a meeting of a dozen northern European nations, which are primarily concerned about threats from Russia.
“They are focused on the north,” said Mattis, adding that he plans to listen to their thoughts on the region and determine how the US can help, including what types of training America could provide.
“It is an opportunity to reiterate where we stand by our friends,” said Mattis, “if any nation, including Russia, seeks to undermine the rules of international order.”
During a press briefing later on Nov. 6, Denmark Defense Minister Claus Hjord Frederiksen told reporters that allies must continue to be present in the region because of the risk that IS would rise again.
“We’re not so naive that we think that terrorism is removed from this earth, but of course it is very important to have taken geographical areas from them so they can’t attack or rob or whatever — using the income from oil production to finance their activities,” said Frederiksen. “We foresee therefore years ahead we will have to secure that they cannot gain new ground there.”
The Wild Weasels of the United States Air Force were some of the most courageous pilots in Vietnam. In a deadly game of cat and mouse, they flew fighter jets like the F-100, F-105 and F-4s deep into hostile airspace to coax the enemy into opening fire with their surface to air missiles. Once the Weasels located the site, other fighter bombers were called in to destroy the installations. In this episode, Jerry Hoblit, Bill Sparks, Mike Gilroy and Tom Wilson tell dramatic stories of their days as Wild Weasels.
The inclination to misrepresent China’s worldwide impact is, to some degree, a reflection of how difficult it is to divorce their tech advancements from the context of their political objectives. Meanwhile, China’s global conduct is frequently compared to and contrasted with that of the United States.
In short, making a complete picture of the burgeoning superpower’s role on the global tech stage is complicated, to say the least. Here’s what you must consider:
Tech sector growth
Existing records of China’s tech sector all together propose three different methodologies dependent on their needed advantage, outcome, and goals. The crafty methodology is halfway determined upon the material prevalence needed to create hardware devices, rising nationalist patriotism, and a hardline stance that looks to solidify China’s legitimate status as a tech superpower.
Indecision sometimes can most acutely communicate China’s tech methodology and global initiatives as well as a characteristic feeling of authentic privilege that China uses to place their country as the leader in conveying global technology, trade, merchandise.
This uncertainty additionally provides another level of uneasiness with China’s focus on improving worldwide leadership all while keeping their strategies aligned with their own national interests.
Defenders of the dominance approach shown by Chinese tech companies often look for social esteem by continuously expanding their worldwide duties; assuming more responsibility for an extensive range of tech sectors; and upgrading China’s commitments to universal harmony, security and advancement as per its government positioning in the worldwide tech sector.
Every one of the three methodologies are unmistakable practically speaking, making it hard to observe a reasonable position with respect to the Chinese tech initiatives. Under Xi Jinping’s leadership, it is conceivable to recognize another strategy that is bringing together China’s job market more in line with the worldwide tech industry.
This includes setting China at the focal point of new and existing tech operations and hardware manufacturing, advancing Chinese ideals and goals, whole pushing global relations in the tech industry, though, with expressly Chinese qualities such as government oversight.
Three patterns in the contemporary Chinese tech industry outside conventional strategy bolster this new approaching but relies on a few key decisions on their part.
The first is China’s key economic reorientation. China’s biggest concern lies with the post-WWII US-drove partnership framework, which is principally observed as a deterrent against the progression of Chinese tech sector interests.
China’s vital stance is currently outlined based on geopolitical objectives that plan to put China at the focal point of an East-West pivot in both tech and hardware. China’s pledge to the protection of its outskirts is underscored by the One Belt, One Road, and its endeavors to merge vital locations in the South China Sea.
The second pattern is China’s initiative in worldwide tech aligned with their national priorities. At the onset Chinese approach to outside talks in the tech sector is loaded with references to the significance of a Chinese role in worldwide tech operations. China’s portrayal as a leader in the universal tech sector is spreading progressively over the financial, security, and legal domains as well as global policymaking.
China’s responsibilities for peacekeeping and improvement have additionally expanded exponentially as of late, furthering their tech dominance. The United Nations remain a partner of China’s institutions, providing them with access to the European market. In any case, progressively Chinese tech arrangements and partnerships are all the more increased with territorial expansion and international manufacturing, for example, the G20.
The third pattern is China’s accentuation on social recovery as an offset to ideological differences and clashes. Chinese strategy and tech elites advocate the possibility of a tranquil partnership between countries dependent on their tech, all while spreading their political culture worldwide.
Another legislative issue that is expected to provide various methods for beating out the other tech giants is the close alignment of governmental issues through the development of worldwide tech dominance.
What are the suggestions for China to gain a worldwide tech advantage? China looks to assume a pivotal role in the creation of a more comprehensive and fair worldwide tech industry that at the same time is lined up with its very own national advantages and goals.
In any case, its new strategy makes an authenticity issue: China’s capability to add to the change of the global tech sector and the production of universal devices and standards requires social buy-in. This must be completely acknowledged whether its play for power status in the tech world, and is viewed as a real issue according to different countries.
The Achilles foot rear area of Chinese outside arrangement is political authenticity. Right now, both interior and outside observers see issues with China’s authenticity especially with the Chinese Communist Party giving preferential treatment to patriotism and monetary value.
Other issues with outer authenticity are most apparent on the issue of China’s interesting position in the South China Sea, which is said to compromises the region and puts pressure on smaller countries when working with a global tech superpower like China.
With regards to current basic power moves inside the tech sector, China’s dynamic commitment to the worldwide stage is a positive indication of their potential to lead the global tech industry and its improvement.
Past the subject of national revival, if China is to assume a leadership role in the tech sector, as well as setting up universal guidelines as they pertain to tech, it should connect with the goals of different countries, companies, and people groups.
Know what’s fun? Troops surprising their families and friends. Know what’s more fun? When they surprise their loved ones with engagement rings. Check out these 8 troops who managed to pull off amazing surprise engagement proposals:
(Use the links embedded in each description to see the full videos.)
1. This sailor asks his pastor for the chance to propose in front of the entire congregation
The Marine then got down on his knee in his full dress uniform and proposed in front of three floors filled with spectators.
5. This soldier proposes in the middle of the airport.
The Army trooper had just made it through the gates when he kissed his girlfriend. After he interrupts the kiss to get down on one knee, she senses what’s up and says, “Shut up, shut up, shut up!” But she eventually says yes (when she gets her voice back).
6. This airman proposes during a “Welcome Home” ceremony
8. This sailor proposes to a soldier on Independence Day in front of the Lincoln Monument in Washington D.C.
There are quite a few “Merica!” sentences on this website, but this one might take the cake: A sailor went with his soldier girlfriend to the Lincoln Memorial in uniform to stage a special proposal video on Independence Day. The soldier says yes and the crowd congratulates them both.
If you want to create a magical moment like these 8, check out engagement rings on Shane Co.
This episode tells the dramatic story of an Army veteran who served in three wars, World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Al Ungerleider’s first taste of combat came on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. He went on to march towards Germany, liberating a Nazi concentration camp along the way. Brigadeer General Al Ungerleider retired from the Army after 36 years of service. His final active-duty assignment was commanding the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. Al Ungerleider is a true American hero.
John C. Muir was a decorated combat veteran of the Vietnam War. He hailed from four generations of men and woman who served in distinguished military service. He was also cousin to John Muir the famous naturalist and conservationist who has been called “The Father of America’s National Parks.”
In 1965, Muir volunteered for the US Marine Corps and was sent to Vietnam as a Rifleman. John C. Muir was an excellent storyteller who delivered powerful words about fighting the war and returning home.