N. Korea returns possible US troop remains from Korean War - We Are The Mighty
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N. Korea returns possible US troop remains from Korean War

The United Nations Command said 55 cases of remains were retrieved from North Korea

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Veterans and the substance abuse problem

Substance abuse among veterans is a growing problem in the United States. Many members of the military come home from deployment in war-torn areas with mental health and physical problems. The disabilities caused by their experiences in deployment makes substance abuse a more prevalent problem. Today, many women and men that have served or still serve in the US military struggle with drug addiction. Some of the veterans that have been involved or seen combat have co-occurring disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder or depression and addiction.


Such veterans turn to drugs like alcohol as a way of coping with stress and war challenges. Easy availability of alcohol and other drugs makes engaging in dangerous activities like binge drinking easy for veterans. Eventually, many veterans end up battling an addiction to illicit drugs, prescription drugs, and alcohol.

If a serviceman or woman you love has a substance abuse problem, call AddictionResource drug addiction helpline. This will enable you to get the help that your loved one needs to beat the substance abuse problem. Hotline numbers for addiction are manned by trained professionals that understand the pain that callers and their loved ones go through. They provide useful information about the available treatment options and guidance for those ready to undergo addiction treatment. Many veterans have received treatment after making this call and are now recovering.

Substance abuse among active service men and women

Research indicates that alcohol, prescription drug, and tobacco abuse is steadily increasing and more prevalent among members of the armed forces as compared to civilians. However, the use of illicit drugs is lower in the military than in the civilian population in the U.S. So, what compels active military members to abuse prescription drugs and alcohol?

A major cause of substance abuse among military men and women is the stress that comes with deployment to war-torn areas. Spending months away from home in challenging environments, fatigue, and loneliness, expose these men and women to substance abuse vulnerability. The unique military culture and strict discipline can also lead to addictive behaviors among active servicemen and women.

Unfortunately, many active servicemen and women do not call drug addiction hotline seeking help due to the stigma that is associated with the problem. Others fear that their confidentiality will be compromised if they speak about their problem.

Substance abuse problem among veterans

For some veterans, the substance abuse problem starts when in active service. However, some develop the problem after retiring from active service. Many veterans face complex economic and health challenges. Combat experiences come with psychological stress that veterans have to deal with. The demanding military life environment can also lead to substance use disorders.

Frequent moves and long deployments can strain relationships with their loved ones. Many veterans face problems like homelessness and unemployment. These are some of the challenges that lead veterans to alcohol and drug use as a way of readjusting to civilian life or coping with hardships.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, an estimated 7% of veterans in the U.S struggle with a substance use disorder. About 20% of the ex-servicemen and women that have been to Iraq and Afghanistan have depression, PTSD, or traumatic brain injury. All these conditions predispose veterans to addiction. Substance abuse and mental health issues are the major causes of U.S troops’ hospitalizations.

Statistics that reveal the reality

The Department of Defense has a strict, zero-tolerance drug use policy among the active members of the military. This may explain why many active servicemen with substance abuse problems opt not to call a drug abuse hotline. Nevertheless, tobacco and prescription drug abuse, as well as, alcoholism remains high among the active members of the military than among the civilians. And, substance abuse by veterans is increasing steadily.

For instance, the Substance Abuse and Mental health Service Administration reports that 7.1% of veterans were diagnosed with substance use disorder between 2004 and 2006.

Out of 10 veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, 2 develop substance use disorder. And out of 6 veterans involved in Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns experience PTSD symptoms. 20% of the female veterans that served in Afghanistan and Iraq have PTSD. Out of 4 veterans involved in the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns, 1 reports signs of the mental health disorder.

25% of veterans between the age of 18 and 25 years reported symptoms of mental health disorders like SUD from 2004 to 2006. This is double the number of veterans that reported similar symptoms between the age of 26 and 54 years. It’s also 5 times the number of veterans that reported the same symptoms from the age of 55 years and above.

Major causes of substance abuse among veterans

Many soldiers face alcoholism and substance abuse problems after serving in wars. Both veterans and active military personnel can call rehab numbers seeking help with a substance abuse problem. However, the stigma associated with seeking help for addiction hinders them from getting assistance. Here are the major reasons why veterans and active members of the military can develop an addiction to prescription pills, illicit drugs, and alcohol.

  • Mental health problems
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Exposure to combat
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Substance misuse while in active service
  • Chronic pain caused by injuries and overuse
  • Challenges coping with stress
  • Challenges in adjusting to civilian life
  • Inability to acknowledge or recognize the problem
  • Stigma about seeking assistance
  • Stressors of serving in the military as a woman

Deployment to war-torn areas exposes members of the military to constant risks of permanent injury or death. As such, returning home to their loved ones should be a happy experience. However, getting back to civilian life after serving in the military is not easy for many veterans. Transitioning to a civilian life entails finding employment and housing. A veteran has to adjust to a life without the unit camaraderie and military benefits. Many veterans see unit members as their family because they share similar experiences. Therefore, civilian life feels alien to most of them. They feel disconnected and without a purpose. This prompts them to turn to addictive substances as a way of coping.

The bottom line

Substance abuse among veterans is a pressing issue. These people are susceptible to substance abuse and addiction because of the intense experience they get during combat and deployment. Reducing substance abuse among veterans has many challenges because the majority of them have co-occurring conditions like PTSD and depression. Nevertheless, veterans can call rehab numbers to seek help with their substance abuse problem.

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Forward Air Controllers in Vietnam

Forward Air Controllers or FACs choreographed this skies over the battlefield in Vietnam. They courageously flew low, slow and unarmed over enemy territory in small, propeller driven aircraft like the Cessna 0-1 Bird Dog and 0-2 Skymaster. The FACs were experts at spotting an evasive, well camouflaged enemy and they often braved a battery of enemy ground fire to target the opposing force.  In this episode, Forward Air Controllers William Platt and Bill Townsley tell their dramatic stories, In Their Own Words. 

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What will China’s role be on the global tech stage?

Thinking and talking about China’s rapid rise in technological capability in recent years is naturally going to create a wide range of opinions and emotions.

For a few, it brings out most noticeably bad feelings of totalitarianism with the rising revisionist control China shows; but others yearn to know what the Chinese tech sector will focus on in the future on the global technology stage.

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.

Patterns

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 Chinese sponsorship of an Asian Tech Infrastructure Investment Bank shows the direction of the government to put China at the focal point of changes in the worldwide financial market as it relates to tech.

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.

N. Korea returns possible US troop remains from Korean War

Authenticity issues

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.

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Top US general says there was something fishy going on during Russia’s war games

The US Army’s commander in Europe says Russia broke up its Zapad war games with Belarus into parts to avoid having international monitors watch the weeklong exercises last month.


Lieutenant General Ben Hodges said Oct. 2 that the two countries deployed “way over 12,700” personnel, the limit beyond which Europe’s OSCE security organization should be allowed to send observers.

Hodges said, “My guess is that there probably were over 40,000 service members.”

N. Korea returns possible US troop remains from Korean War
Russian Zapad ’17 military exercises. Photo from Moscow Kremlin.

He told reporters at NATO headquarters that Russia and Belarus “broke it up into all these little exercises” but that “these were all connected, because this was a whole of government effort.”

Russia’s defense ministry said the Zapad exercises would involve 12,700 Russian and Belarusian troops, about 70 aircraft, up to 250 tanks, 200 artillery systems, and 10 warships.

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Here’s how US Air Force pilots learn to fly French Mirage fighters

The pilots in the U.S. Air Force fly a bunch of planes. The F-15 Eagle, the C-17 Globemaster, the A-10 Thunderbolt II, and the Mirage 2000D… Wait, that can’t be right. The Mirage 2000D is a French plane, and not in service with the Air Force.


N. Korea returns possible US troop remains from Korean War
Four 2,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions are released from an F-15E during a developmental test at Edwards Air Force Base in 2002. Photo courtesy of USAF.

Yet, that list is accurate. Right now, Maj. Raymond “Banzai” Rounds of the U.S. Air Force is based out of Ochey Air Base in France, flying with the Armee de l’Air. The French have three squadrons of Mirage 2000Ds.

In one sense, the Mirage 2000D is like the F-15E. Both are multi-role fighters that are based on air-superiority planes (the Mirage 2000C and the F-15).

N. Korea returns possible US troop remains from Korean War
A Mirage 2000D at Kandahar air base. (Wikimedia Commons)

According to Military-Today.com, the Mirage 2000D is capable of carrying a wide variety of air-to-surface weapons, including dumb bombs, laser-guided bombs, Exocet anti-ship missiles, APACHE and SCALP missiles, the AS-30L missile, and rocket pods. It can also carry Magic 2 air-to-air missiles.

N. Korea returns possible US troop remains from Korean War
This is just one possible loadout the Mirage 2000D can carry. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Air Force has a program that enables pilots like Rounds to do exchange tours with other countries’ militaries. But that’s not the only exchange.

There are also inter-service exchanges, where members of American military services fly with a unit in another American service. Perhaps the most famous of those pilots is Marine John Glenn, who scored three MiG kills while flying with the Air Force’s 51st Fighter Wing.

N. Korea returns possible US troop remains from Korean War
The F-86F flown by John Glenn during his exchange tour with the 51st Tactical Fighter Wing. (USAF photo)

Rounds’s exchange tour will last for two years. After that, he will return the Air Force and bring over lessons he’s learned from the French.

You can see a video from the Joint Forces Channel that not only discusses Rounds’s exchange tour, but also what it takes to support the airmen who taken on these tours, below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqxUtiCyQHI
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Why ‘The Janson Directive’ is going to an electrifying spy film

Seven Bucks Productions recently announced plans to adapt the critically-acclaimed novel The Janson Directive into a live-action film. Dwayne Johnson is producing the film and John Cena is cast in the lead role, playing Paul Janson. While that alone should be enough to get audiences excited, everything else about the film has it set to be an outstanding spy flick.


The author of the source material, Robert Ludlum, served in the U.S. Marine Corps and, during his assignment to Pearl Harbor, he spent every possible day in the library — learning the craft of storytelling and immersing himself in classical history. His other works include The Osterman Weekend and, most notably, The Bourne Identity.

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Just to set the stage for this man’s fantastic bibliography… and naming convention.
(Universal Pictures)

The script is being written by Akiva Goldsman, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of A Beautiful Mind, and adapted by James Vanderbilt, writer of Zodiac and White House Down.

Originally, Dwayne Johnson was cast as Janson but stepped back to produce it.

The novel is a spy thriller set after the Vietnam War. The protagonist is a former Navy SEAL and covert operative for a fictional spy agency turned corporate security consultancy. After a job to protect a Nobel Peace Prize-winning laureate goes horrible awry, Janson is blamed for their death.

In order to clear his name, Janson must single-handedly infiltrate his former spy agency to earn his freedom, but risks revealing countless government secrets that could shatter world peace in the process.

Outside of the insanely awesome plot, the novel actually delves deep into the psyche of a man living through post-traumatic stress as he struggles to determine whether his own life is worth revealing a placating lie that is keeping the world safe.

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Headlines

Writing a great headline is hard. Here’s how to do it.

In the digital age, writing a headline is extremely important. There are so many places out there on the web competing for people’s attention and WATM is not just competing with Military Times or Military.com, or other military-related websites. It is competing with the entire web — whatever is in the user’s Facebook news feed — for attention. A good headline grabs someone. Not only that, it should immediately get an emotional reaction. In hardly any instance is it wise to save the important part for the story, and do a straight, boring, newspaper headline. The headline is what makes a person click through to read. Put simply, if they are not interested in the headline, they aren’t going to even give you the opportunity to show them why it’s a cool story. You already lost them.


First, some formatting notes that are important:

  • Headlines should be in sentence case.
    • This is a properly-formatted headline
    • This is Not a Properly-Formatted Headline
  • Avoid swears in the headline unless absolutely necessary. There may be times when this would work, so they are not absolutely forbidden. But avoid them if you can.

Constructing a great headline

What is a great headline? This varies from person to person, but a headline should be informative and interesting, without lying to the reader. Headlines are much more important nowadays.

Your goal is to post good content and get people to view it without resorting to unfair tricks. This isn’t a magazine, where people will read whatever is on the page. It is a ruthlessly competitive environment, where people are choosing between dozens of stories on our page, hundreds of stories on twitter, and infinite stories on the Internet.

People will only click news if they understand its significance, so focus on significance when necessary to reach a wider audience. When news becomes old, which happens fast on the Internet, then further coverage of a story should focus on compelling analysis, exciting details, or other added value. Compelling analysis and exciting concepts can also be good without a news hook.

Rhetorical techniques can help increase clicks but should not be overused. Obfuscation can create intrigue and works well when a headline reads naturally and conveys some information already, but it can be annoying if too teasing. Dramatic language can heighten interest, but it backfires when overused or overstated.

Now instead of writing on and on about how to create a headline, let’s look at some examples that did well and work backwards. Here’s the headline:

11 Things New Soldiers Complain About During Basic Training

This is a great headline because it tells the reader exactly what they are going to get without overselling it. It doesn’t need to be “Incredible Things” or “Awesome Things.” It’s enough as it is, and the subject is interesting while being a little teasing. What are these things? Let’s definitely click and see what they are.

Soldiers want to click this headline to see if their complaint is in it, and civilians want to click it to get a view into the world of a soldier. It’s a great headline (and a great post).

27 Incredible Photos Of Life On A US Navy Submarine

Another example of an interesting premise that both sides want to read about: sailors and civilian. This headline promises something you don’t normally get to see. Not only are you going to check out life on a Navy submarine, but it’ll include incredible photos.

7 Key Military Life Hacks That Matter In Civilian Life

This headline uses the term “life hacks” which everyone knows with a military spin on it. What can we learn from the military and really use? There is a promise give the reader something new they can learn.

Headline analyzer

CoSchedule, a website publishing app, made a tool that helps compose headlines. Although it’s not perfect, feel free to use it as a guide.

Visit the headline analyzer

Key takeways:

  1. Start with a solid premise that is accessible to a large audience
  2. Make the point in the headline. Don’t save it for the story.
  3. Use as few words as possible. Always shoot for brevity.

Here is a look at our best posts over the past few months. Check out the headlines for ideas:

N. Korea returns possible US troop remains from Korean War

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Putin is playing all the angles in the Middle East

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.

N. Korea returns possible US troop remains from Korean War
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) meets with Hassan Rouhani, President of Iran, in Tehran. Nov. 1, 2017. Photo from Russian Kremlin.

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.

N. Korea returns possible US troop remains from Korean War
Russia President Vladimir Putin (right) meets with Syrian President Assad. Photo from Moscow Kremlin.

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.

N. Korea returns possible US troop remains from Korean War
Photo courtesy of Kurdish YPG Fighters Flickr. The People’s Protection Units (YPG) were initially formed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD).

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.

Related: The US is supplying weapons to Kurdish fighters in Syria

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.

N. Korea returns possible US troop remains from Korean War
Russian President Putin (left) finds common ground with Iranian President Rouhani.

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.

N. Korea returns possible US troop remains from Korean War
Russian and Saudi government officials, including President Putin of Russia and King Salman, meet in expanded format, Oct. 5, 2017. Photo from Moscow Kremlin.

Gulf Contracts

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.

N. Korea returns possible US troop remains from Korean War
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, on a visit to Sochi, Aug. 23, 2017. Photo from Moscow Kremlin.

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.

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Belgium is the next country to replace its F-16 fleet with F-35s

The Lockheed F-35 Lightning is replacing the F-16 in many countries. For the most part, if a country is flying F-16s, then it’s a safe bet that they will get the F-35. There may be some exceptions to that rule, of course, but for the most part, it rings true.


One country slated to receive the F-35 is Belgium. F-16.net reports that, at one point, the Belgian Air Component had as many as 160 F-16A/B Fighting Falcons. Many of these planes were manufactured as part of a consortium with Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands.

N. Korea returns possible US troop remains from Korean War
One of the first F-16s built for the Belgian Air Force. The F-16s currently in service will be replaced by F-35s. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Rob Schleiffert)

Today, that total stands at 45 F-16AM and nine F-16BM Fighting Falcons. These planes are divided into four operational fighter squadrons primarily equipped with F-16AMs, and one operational conversion unit equipped solely with F-16BMs. This comes out to roughly 11 F-16AMs per squadron.

According to a release on the Defense Security Cooperation Agency website, Belgium will begin to replace its F-16s with F-35s. The planned purchase total, coming in at just over $6.5 billion, is 34 F-35A Lightnings and 38 F135 engines (one for each F-35, plus four spares). This comes out to eight and a half F-35s per squadron.

N. Korea returns possible US troop remains from Korean War
The second F-35 for the Netherlands rolls out of the hangar. The Dutch also helped produce the F-16. (Lockheed Martin photo)

Now, this may just be the first batch of planes, in which case, it comes out to a more reasonable 17 planes per squadron. A Belgian media report in 2016 noted that the Saab Gripen, Eurofighter Typhoon, the Dassault Rafale, and the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet were also considered by the Belgian government.

In what seems to be a repeat of history, Belgium, Norway, the Netherlands, and Denmark are all buying the F-35 to replace the F-16. In recent years, the Belgian Air Component has seen action in the War on Terror, the NATO intervention in Libya, and has also taken part in the Baltic Air Policing mission, often using F-16AMs.

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