Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court - We Are The Mighty
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Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court

The new rules would allow Defense Secretary James Mattis to retain troops who had been serving openly

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The 5 biggest stories in the military world right now (June 29)

Good morning! Here’s what’s happening around the national security space:


NOW CHECK OUT: 5 mind-blowing facts about the US Military

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Guadalcanal

The unrelenting ferocity of the Pacific War was without a doubt the bloodiest and most savage of the two theaters of World War II. The memories of brutal battles like Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Midway and Iwo Jima are forever seared into minds of the courageous men who fought there.  The island of Guadalcanal represented one of the last chances for the Allies to turn back the Japanese advance in the Pacific.  Marine veteran Victor Croizat experienced the “hell of earth” of the battle for Guadalcanal.

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That’s A Recap Of 2019: Top 5 Mobile Game Releases

Whether you are a fan of gaming as a whole or you have recently joined the masses when it comes to trying your hand at some of the new titles for your mobile, there is no denying that 2019 was a great year for this industry. With a number of highly anticipated titles as well as quite a few new and emerging indie companies, it can be difficult to determine who came out on top.


In this article, we have created a list of the top 5 mobile applications of 2019 that positively impacted the industry.

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court

1. Call Of Duty Mobile

When looking at some of the biggest mobile games of 2019, there were a number of highly anticipated titles that many gamers were looking forward to playing, one of which was Call of Duty Mobile. This mobile application was released on October 1, 2019 and received over 100 million downloads in the first week following its release. This comes as no surprise to those that have been a fan of the franchise for some time now as many of their leading console titles see unprecedented sales year after year.

2. War Commander: Rogue Assault 

For those that are a fan of the real-time strategy genre, there are a number of games that may cater to your gaming preference. But with the sheer number of RTS games out there, the market has become bloated. However, War Commander is the perfect free-to-play game that does everything right from start to finish. With very minimal in-game purchases and the ability to build structures right away, you can begin to enjoy the game as a whole without a disjointed experience, making this a popular choice for many.

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court

3. PUB G

2019 also saw the year of the battle royale taking over the first-person shooting genre with the likes of Fortnite gaining a huge amount of popularity. But with slightly more realistic graphics and a number of other benefits, it was PUB G that became one of the most popular mobile applications launched last year. The player is able to make a much more competitive experience for themselves as they can set about creating clans, put together a team and begin practicing strategies. This then allows them to go up against one another to get the best possible outcome at the end of the battle royale. This is ideal for those looking for an enjoyable free-to-play mobile game as you can play with as many or as few people as you want for the perfect tailored experience.

4. Tropico 

Another game that was highly popular throughout the course of 2019 was Tropico. Unlike the others on this list, you will have to pay in order to enjoy the thrill of this game, but the price of £11.99 gives you all the fun of the main title game in your pocket. Run your own island and line your pockets and create the best place for you and your loyal followers as you deal with the trials and tribulations that come along with being El Presidente. Though this application was originally released on just Apple devices, it has since released on Android devices with a large amount of success and has become one of the most popular applications in this genre. Whether you want to build the perfect island or customize your look to rule in style, this is the perfect game for you to choose in the long term.

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court

5. Fortnite Mobile Edition

The final game that was highly popular in 2019 within this genre was Fortnite. With millions of users online on games consoles, PC and on mobile this truly was one of the most popular battle royale titles of 2019. With over 100 million downloads in just 138 days, it was one that many people were looking to play on a regular basis. As the hype continued to grow, there were hundreds of millions of people with registered accounts. Fortnite was by far one of the most stand-out games of 2019 with a record number of views on platforms such as Youtube and Twitch as well as dances that begun to take over—but can 2020 be just as successful?

With this in mind, 2019 was a stand-out year for the genre of mobile gaming as popularity increased. However, with a number of highly anticipated applications on the horizon for this new year, can 2020 outdo the last when it comes to providing a new and exciting experience for users?

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Combat Medics in Vietnam

Combat Medics courageously fought to save lives as the war raged around them in Vietnam. Helicopters became virtual hospitals in the air, buying the combat medic valuable time to heal the wounded.  Max Cleland, a future US Senator from Georgia, lost three limbs when a grenade exploded in his hand. His life was saved by four beleaguered field medics. In this dramatic episode, Max Cleland recounts his story and we also hear from Clarence Sasser, who earned the Medal of Honor for his actions as a Combat Medic in Vietnam.

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This is Mattis’ response to skepticism about ISIS plans

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.

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court
Russia President Vladimir Putin (right) meets with Syrian President Assad. Photo from Moscow Kremlin.

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.

Related: How the US is caught between Turkey and the Kurds

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.

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court
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.

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court
Fighters of the Euphrates Liberation Brigade, part of the Manbij Military Council of the Syrian Democratic Forces, in the city of Manbij in northern Syria. Wikimedia Commons photo from user Kurdishstruggle.

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.

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court
A Kurdish YPG militant. The US has provided arms to this group, with a stated intent to recollect them. Photo from Kurdishstruggle Flickr

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.

Also Read: 17 Brilliant Insights From Legendary Marine General James Mattis

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.

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court
DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith

“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.”

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This is the ‘Achilles Heel’ for the US’ fight against ISIS

An ISIS expert claims there is a glaring “Achilles heel” present in the US strategy in Iraq and Syria, stating that the lack of any planning for the political future of the region after the terrorist group is wiped out will nullify the military gains made against the group.


And while the fall of ISIS’s de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria might mark a significant gain against the terrorist group also known as the Islamic State, there is much work left to be done.

“Only a fool would call this a victory,” Hassan Hassan, a senior fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy and the co-author of “ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror,” told The New Yorker. “It’s only the expulsion of ISIS fighters from a wasteland. It’s not a victory, not only because of the destruction. It’s also not a victory because there’s a shameless lack of a political track to supplement the military track. That’s the Achilles heel of Operation Inherent Resolve. They don’t have a political vision about what will happen after ISIS.”

Related: Defeating ISIS is hard; preventing ISIS 3.0 could be harder

The destruction Hassan mentions is almost total in Raqqa. The activist journalism group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently claims that 90% of the city has been destroyed by the months of fighting between ISIS, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, and the US coalition.

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court
SDF fighters among rubble in Raqqa. Photo from VOA.

The group has documented more than 3,829 airstrikes and 1,873 civilian deaths throughout the urban battle, and says 450,000 people remain displaced from the city.

Yet Hassan’s main argument is that the main threat to the success of the US-led mission is that there is no political plan for what will come after ISIS’s territorial defeat.

Also Read: ISIS has finally been defeated in Raqqa

Professor Robert Pape, the director of the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism at the University of Chicago, said he agrees.

“When we invaded and conquered Iraq in 2003 we created ungoverned space for Sunni Arabs in Iraq which then spilled over in nearby Syria,” Pape says. “The worry here is that as that area of Iraq and Syria now could remain ungoverned space from the perspective of the Sunni Arabs, this problem may just simply fester and continue.”

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court
Under ISIS reign, the city of Raqqa was been turned into a veritable hell for its residents. Photo from Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.

ISIS, and the war to defeat it, has inflicted enormous violence upon the Sunni Arabs of the region, and its effects will stick with the Sunni populations of Iraq and Syria for generations.

And throughout the campaign to liberate Sunni regions previously under the the rule of ISIS, Iraq has employed Shiite militias with ties to Iran, called the Popular Mobilization Forces, which have been suspicious of Sunni villagers in conquered ISIS territory. Iraq’s own security forces have also frequently resorted to brutality against civilians in places like Mosul, which was an ISIS stronghold until recently.

Meanwhile, vast swaths of eastern Syria remain controlled by Kurdish-led militias in the form of the Syrian Democratic Forces, or by the Shiite-led Syrian government.

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court
An instructor with the Syrian Democratic Forces observes a trainee clearing his rifle during small arms training in Northern Syria, July 31, 2017. Army photo by Sgt. Mitchell Ryan.

An additional yet significant ethnic challenge lies in how to divide power between Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis in Syria and Iraq after the dust settles. Already, Iraq’s central government is asserting itself in regions controlled by Kurds around Kirkuk and Mosul, where clashes have occurred.

Such post-conflict realities in the Sunni regions of Iraq and Syria have led to widespread distrust between locals and the governments and militaries that now control them and have deepened the same feelings of political isolation among Sunnis that led to the rise of ISIS between 2007 and 2013.

According to Hassan, the “Achilles heel” of the US-led coalition’s strategy is that it makes no preparations to resolve these complex problems, and focuses solely on a military victory over ISIS. In his view, such a limited approach will only hasten the return of another Sunni insurgent movement in the region.

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Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court
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How the ‘bandit queen’ went from rebel leader to Parliament

Phoolan Devi was born to a low-caste family, endured rape and torture, went on to kill the men who hurt her and harbored her enemies, and then was elected to Parliament. So it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that many thought of her as an incarnation of Durga, a warrior goddess.


She was born on Aug. 10, 1963, in a small rural village. She was married at the age of 11 to a man in his 30s, and there are varying stories of what happened to her next. She was raped and abused by her husband, but Phoolan Devi managed to escape, to survive, and years later, to join a band of dacoits, a gang of rebels and armed robbers. She would ultimately lead this band.

When she was 18, a rival gang attacked her group, holding her hostage for weeks and brutally raping her.

But Phoolan Devi would have her revenge.

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court

She led her dacoits to a village in Behmai, where Lala Ram Singh and Sri Ram Singh, leaders of rival dacoits were hiding. Armed with a Sten gun, bands of ammo across her chest and red nails, she issued an ultimatum: give them both up or die.

More badass women: How a prostitute turned pirate queen defeated 3 navies at once

Her men searched for an hour, but found no trace of the Ram brothers. Phoolan Devi warned the villagers one last time, then rounded up thirty men and shot them. Twenty-two were killed. It was the second largest dacoit massacre since the founding of modern India.

It was also led by a woman of a lower caste against men of a vastly higher one.

A price was put on her head but she evaded capture for two years until she surrendered on her own terms in exchange for the return of her father’s land, a job for her brother, and a reduced sentence for members of her gang. She was held without trial for 11 years before she was released.

But Phoolan Devi’s story was far from over.

“They wouldn’t let us live in peace; you will never understand what kind of humiliation that is. If they wanted to rape us, to molest us, and our families objected, then they’d rape us in front of our families,” Phoolan Devi told Mary Anne Weaver of The Atlantic in 1996.

She was angry — rightfully so — and she chose to use that anger toward a higher purpose.

Also read: Saudi women still need a man’s permission to join the military

She chose to run for a seat in the lower house of the Indian Parliament — and she won. A woman and a member of a lower caste, she inspired the people of India who had long been oppressed. It was a new era in caste politics, but Phoolan Devi would not live long to see it.

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court
Phoolan Devi (Photo by India Today)

On July 25, 2001, she was shot and killed by three masked men who were never caught, though it is suspected that they acted in the name of vengeance for Behmai.

Phoolan Devi is remembered as a powerful public speaker, a woman of unerring instinct, a cunning and charming politician, a leader, and a survivor.

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These narcos are going old school with their latest drug smuggling vessels

Since June, Coast Guard vessels patrolling the US’s southern approaches have stopped seven low-profile smuggling vessels — stealthy ships that ride low in the water to spirit illicit cargos from South America to Mexico and the US.


Akin to self-propelled semi-submersibles used by smugglers for the same purpose, low-profile vessels are boats designed to run near or at surface level to present the smallest possible radar signature.

Low-profile vessels usually have a sharp bow to cut through the water and an elongated body to transport cargo — typically high-value drugs like cocaine. Some only have masts or conning towers that stick out above water, and they are often outfitted with multiple outboard engines and painted to blend in with the water.

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court
A Coast Guard Cutter Stratton boarding team seizes cocaine bales from a self-propelled semi-submersible. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Petty Officer 2nd Class LaNola Stone.

The Coast Guard said the last time a low-profile vessel was stopped prior to the current fiscal year was in late May 2016. Six narco subs were caught during that fiscal year (and one was intercepted in September, the first month of fiscal year 2017).

The seven interdictions since June occurred in drug-transit areas in the eastern Pacific, off the coasts of South and Central America.

In mid-August, Coast Guard cutter Steadfast intercepted a suspected low-profile vessel several hundred miles off the coast of Central America, seizing more than 6,000 pounds of cocaine and arresting four suspected traffickers.

Another low-profile vessel — six feet wide and 54 feet long — was stopped by Coast Guard cutter Waesche off the Central American coast in early June, after the cutter tracked the vessel for almost 100 miles. The Waesche’s crew arrested four suspected smugglers and seized 2.79 tons of cocaine.

 

 

The US and partner forces have stepped up their activity in the eastern Pacific, and cocaine production has risen considerably in Colombia, the world’s biggest producer of the drug.

The result has been “a significant increase in narcotics removal” in drug-transit areas off South and Central America, the Coast Guard said.

During fiscal year 2016, the Coast Guard set a record by seizing more than 443,000 pounds of cocaine bound for the US. The service says it is on pace for another record-setting amount of seizures this fiscal year, though officials have warned that it doesn’t have the resources to fully address the trafficking activity it detects.

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court
Photo courtesy of US Coast Guard.

The ocean area from Colombia to the Galapagos and up to the Mexican and US coasts is about the size of the continental US, Vice Adm. Charles Ray, the Coast Guard’s deputy commandant for operations, said at a hearing earlier this month.

“On any given day, we’ll have between six to 10 Coast Guard cutters down here,” Ray added. “If you imagine placing that on [an area the size of] the United States … it’s a capacity challenge.”

US officials believe about 90% of the cocaine shipped to the US traverses the sea at some point, typically arriving somewhere in Central America or Mexico and being smuggled over the US-Mexico land border.

The Drug Enforcement Administration says about 93% of the cocaine sent to the US comes through the Mexico/Central America corridor.

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court
Suspected trafficking routes detected during 2016. US Southern Command photo via Adam Isacson.

US anti-narcotics officials also think they intercept about one of every four tons of cocaine headed for the US, with about 69% of it stopped in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

Narco subs — a category that includes fully submersible vessels, semi-submersible vessels, or towed containers — appeared in the 1990s, as Colombian smugglers sought to stay ahead of law-enforcement’s detection abilities.

Fully submersible and semi-submersible vessels are hard to detect and expensive to build (though their cargos are valuable enough that a single trip can cover the price), so interceptions of them are not that common.

Low-profile vessels, which are not technically semi-submersible, are the majority of seized drug-smuggling vessels, according to a 2014 report.

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court
Coast Guard photo courtesy of Petty Officer 2nd Class LaNola Stone.

Low-profile vessels can come in various forms, often balancing speed and stealth in different ways. A more recent variation appears to be what naval expert HI Sutton called “very slender vessels” — elongated vessels that go through waves rather than over them. In April, Guatemalan forces found an abandoned vessel that appeared to be a VSV, as did the crew of the Waesche in June.

VSVs sacrifice cargo size for stealthiness and speed, and their appearance suggests a maturation in the designs of Colombian traffickers — in particular Los Urabeños, the country’s most powerful criminal group — Sutton notes.

Narco subs are typically constructed near Colombia’s Pacific coast, assembled under cover of jungle canopy.

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court
US Coast Guard photo.

They’re moved through rivers and mangroves to the coast once completed, and their smuggling routes typically take them out into the Pacific — sometimes around the Galapagos Islands — before turning north.

“In recent years, ‘narco-sub’ vessels (mostly LPVs) have been built with upper lead shielding which helps to minimize their heat signature and hence they can evade infrared sensors,” according to a 2014 paper in Small Wars Journal. “Some of the newer models have piping along the bottom to allow the water to cool the exhaust as the ship moves, making it even less susceptible to infrared detection.”

In addition to the Coast Guard air and sea assets deployed to stop traffickers, US Customs and Border Patrol have eight P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft converted into Long Range Trackers. The former Navy aircraft have been upgraded with radars originally designed for the F-16 fighter jet, as well as optical sensors.

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First Helicopter Combat Rescue Mission

Welcome to the first episode of Season Two of Warriors In Their Own Words. This episode is about the first Combat Helicopters. Today these aircraft carry the firepower of an artillery battery and can strike targets deep behind every lines, flying day or night in any weather. But back in 1944 helicopters were a brand new technology.  Aviation pioneer Igor Sikorsky supplied the first primitive choppers to the US Army and four pilots were trained to fly the untested aircraft in the jungles of Burma.  Carter Harman was one of those first courageous pilots and he performed the world’s first helicopter combat rescue mission. 

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