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Gunny does Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day from Gunny and Gunny, Sr.! #fathersday
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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.

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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.

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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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Navy to deploy first underwater drones from submarines

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Remus 600 (Photo: Office of Naval Research)


The Navy will deploy its first underwater drones from Virginia-class attack submarines for the first time in history later this year, the Navy’s director of undersea warfare said Monday.

The deployment will include the use of the Remus 600 Unmanned Underwater Vehicles, or UUVs, performing undersea missions in strategic locations around the globe, Rear Adm. Joseph Tofalo, told Military.com at the Navy League’s Sea Air Space annual symposium at National Harbor, Md.

“Now you are talking about a submarine CO who can essentially be in two places at the same time – with a UUV out deployed which can do dull, dirty and dangerous type missions. This allows the submarine to be doing something else at the same time,” Tofalo said.  “UUVs can help us better meet our combatant command demand signal. Right now, we only meet about two-thirds of our combatant commanders demand signals and having unmanned systems is a huge force multiplier.”

The Remus 600 is a 500-pound, 3.25-meter long UUV equipped with dual-frequency side-scanning sonar technology, synthetic aperture sonar, acoustic imaging, video cameras and GPS devices, according to information from its maker, Hyrdoid.

The Remus 600 is similar to the BLUEFIN Robotics UUVs, such as the BLUEFIN 21, that were used to scan the ocean floor in search of the wreckage of the downed Malaysian airliner last year.

The upcoming deployment of the Remus 600 is part of a larger Navy effort to use existing commercial off-the-shelf technology, Tofalo explained.

“We’re using commercial off-the-shelf technologies to do real world missions for the combatant commander. The oil and gas industry uses these things for all kinds of functions. The submarine force will be adapting this. The sensors are similar to the sensors that the oil and gas industry might use. They might be surveying where their oil pipes are, whereas we might want to be looking for a mine field,” Tofalo said.

The Remus 600s will launch from a 11-meter long module on the Virginia-class submarines called the dry deck shelter which can launch divers and UUVs while submerged.

Sonar technology uses acoustic or sound-wave technology to bounce signals off an object and analyze their return to learn the size, shape, distance and dimensions, Tofalo explained.

“It is similar to radar (electromagnetic) except from an acoustic standpoint. Sonar sensors use acoustics to create a picture that a trained operator can use to discern what they are looking at. It has gotten so good that it is almost like looking at a picture,” he added.

Alongside efforts to make preparations for the first deployment of commercially available UUVs from the Virginia-class attack submarines, the Navy is also planning at-sea tests this year of a UUV launching technology which uses the boat’s torpedo tubes. The at-sea test will examine the technological interface between a UUV and the missile tube as a launcher, Tofalo explained.

The Navy has been working on developing an 85-foot long section of the Virginia-class submarines called the Virginia Payload Modules. This would help submarines launch both missiles and UUVs from the submarine.

“For the large diameter UUV itself, what we want to have is an interface that allows it to come out of that Virginia Payload Module tube. To do that we need an arm that can extend itself with a little platform that can extend itself and go to the vertical,” Tofalo said.

At the same time, the Office of Naval Research is preparing to unveil a new autonomous 30-foot UUV prototype called the Large Displacement Unmanned Undersea Vehicle, or LDUUV.

The LDUUV is a prototype which may take a variety of different forms in coming years as the technology evolves, said Bob Freeman, ONR spokesman. The LDUUV is being engineered for greater endurance and energy, he added. It will also be autonomous and able to navigate itself through the undersea domain.

Alongside UUVs, the Navy is also experimenting with launching aerial drones from submarines as well, Tofalo said.

The service is testing the Switchblade, which can launch from a small signal injector tube from the side of the submarine. The Switchblade, built by AeroVironment, is a battery-powered unmanned aerial vehicle that can carry three pounds worth of explosives, Tofalo added.

He added that the Navy is also testing a longer-endurance submarine-launched UAV called XFC, an acronym for experimental fuel cell. XFC, which can be launched from a torpedo tube, can stay in the air for nine to ten hours.

“These are ways that a submarine can extend its horizon. They have been tested and we’re continuing to work on making them more definitive programs of record,” Tofalo said.

Here’s the Remus 600 being deployed from a surface ship:

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This article originally appeared at Military.com Copyright 2014. Follow Military.com on Twitter.

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The USS Squall fired shots after an ‘incident’ with Iranian navy ships

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The USS Squall transits the Persian Gulf during exercise Spartan Kopis on December 9, 2013. | MC1 Michelle Turner


Just one day after video emerged of Iranian ships swarming and harassing the USS Nitze, Business Insider has confirmed a separate incident on Wednesday involving the USS Squall, a coastal patrol ship, in the northern Arabian Gulf.

CNN’s Barbara Starr reports that the Squall was harassed by Iranian fast-attack craft that came within 200 yards of the ship.

After repeated attempts to contact the boats by radio, the Squall had to resort to firing warning shots, according to Starr.

Business Insider has reached out to US naval officials for comment.

Asperiores odit

Here are the best military photos for the week of Apr. 22

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


Air Force:

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and Patrouille de France fly together over Death Valley, Calif., April 17, 2017. The Thunderbirds and Patrouille de France are two of the oldest aerial demonstration teams in the world.

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U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Christopher Boitz

F-35A Lightning II’s from the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, land at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, April 15, 2017. The aircraft arrival marks the first F-35A fighter training deployment to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility.

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U.S. Air Force photo byTech. Sgt. Matthew Plew

Army:

U.S. Army Paratroopers assigned to the 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, drop off their gear at the rally point at the 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command’s Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, April 13, 2017.

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U.S. Army photo by Spc. Javon Spence

U.S. Army Paratroopers assigned to the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, descend over Malamute Drop Zone during airborne training at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, April 13, 2017. The Soldiers of 4/25 belong to the only American airborne brigade in the Pacific and are trained to execute airborne maneuvers in extreme cold weather and high altitude environments in support of combat, partnership and disaster relief operations.

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U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Pena

Navy:

ATLANTIC OCEAN (April 9, 2017) An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Gunslingers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 105 prepares to make an arrested landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike). Ike and its carrier strike group are underway participating in a sustainment exercise designed to maintain deployment readiness as part of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP).

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Anderson W. Branch

POHANG, Republic of Korea (April 10, 2017) U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Army personnel offload equipment from the Military Sealift Command maritime prepositioning force ship USNS Pililaau (T-AK 304).The offload utilized a roll-on, roll-off discharge facility anchored off the coast of Pohang during the Combined Joint Logistics Over the Shore (CJLOTS) exercise. CJLOTS is a biennial exercise conducted by military and civilian personnel from the United States and the Republic of Korea, training to deliver and redeploy military cargo as a part of exercise Foal Eagle 2017.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua Fulton

Marine Corps:

Marines with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, discuss a plan of action for events the following day with each other at dusk during a Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., March 24 to April 4, 2017. A MCCRE is a large-scale exercise held to test Marines on their ability to complete a set of missions and evaluate how prepared they are for upcoming deployments.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Justin Huffty

Marines with Battery B, 1st Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, fire the M777 towed 155 mm howitzer during the assault support tactics 1 (AST-1) exercise in support of Weapons and Tactics Instructors course (WTI) 2-17 at Fire Base Burt, Calif., April 17, 2017. AST-1 is a battalion reinforced air assault exercise, supported by fixed wing and rotary wing aviation fires, aviation delivered artillery, and mortars.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Clare J. Shaffer

Coast Guard:

A crew from Coast Guard Station Boston conducts a security patrol in Boston Harbor in a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium, Monday, April 17, 2017. The patrol was part of an increased security presence during the Boston Marathon.

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U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Barresi

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau (WHEC 722) in full dress at the decommissioning ceremony in Honolulu, April 18, 2017. Morgenthau was commissioned in 1969 and has been home to more than 4,000 crewmembers during its 48 years of service.

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U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Levasseur

Asperiores odit

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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

Asperiores odit

These are the 3 soldiers going to the 2018 Winter Olympics

Every time the Olympics roll around, we’re proud to cheer for the American veterans who make the team. Not only have they made their country proud with their service; as world-class athletes, they’ll represent the United States and try to bring home the gold.


For the 2018 Winter Olympics, three of the current 102 American competitors are U.S. Army soldiers, part of Army’s World Class Athlete Program. They are Sgt. Emily Sweeny, Sgt. Taylor Morris, and Sgt. Matt Mortensen.

Sgt. Emily Sweeny — Women’s Singles Luge

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(Image via Army MWR)

Sweeny was the first soldier to secure a spot on the 2018 U.S. Olympic team. She is a military police officer in the New York National Guard. After joining the Guard in 2011, she took on more of a leadership role within the USA Luge team where she not only competes, but helps identify and recruit talented youth to the sport.

She won the Gold Medal at the 2017 Winterberg Germany World Cup sprint race. Currently, she is ranked 8th in the world for women’s luge.

Sgt. Taylor Morris — Men’s Singles Luge

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(Image via Army MWR)

Morris secured his place at the Olympics when he earned the Bronze medal at the Lake Placid World Cup sprint race. He solidified his position on the USA Luge team after his career-best run. He joined the U.S. Army in 2011 as a Human Resource Specialist in the New York National Guard.

Sgt. Matthew Mortensen — Doubles Luge

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(Image via Army MWR)

Mortensen is an Engineer out of the New York Army National Guard, joining in February 2010. He is a two-time Olympian who missed the bronze at the 2014 Sochi Olympics by a mere 0.005 seconds with his luge teammate, Sgt. Preston Griffall. For PyeonChang, Griffall chose to focus on his studies and Jayson Terdiman stepped into his role.

Mortensen and his new teammate finished the 2016-2017 seasons ranked 3rd internationally and together have won three straight Norton National Championships.

The 2018 Winter Olympics will begin Feb. 9, 2018 and end on Feb. 25, 2018.

Go Team USA!

Asperiores odit

The movie ‘Titanic’ inspired this North Korean to defect

Jung Gwang-Il thought James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster film, Titanic, was the most subversive thing he’d ever seen. His expertise in that regard was very limited — he spent his entire life under the Kim Regime in North Korea.


He fled Pyongyang for Seoul in 2004 and has since founded a nonprofit designed to undermine the regime’s biggest weapon in its mission to maintain power: information. Jung formed No Chain for North Korea, a non-governmental organization whose mission is to send even the tiniest packets of information into the “Hermit Kingdom.”

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Fighting Kim Jong-Un with Vin Diesel.

South Korean soap operas and American movies via USB drives in plastic bottles are his weapons of choice. He tosses them into rivers and lets them float downstream. These are considered subversive in North Korea and are illegal. The punishment for North Koreans viewing this material is usually death, but it can also land them in one of the state’s Siberian gulags.

His hope is that these drives find their way into the North Korean black market and are accessed by families and households who have USB-reading devices. An estimated 50 percent of urban North Koreans have some kind of device that can read them.


And it all started with Titanic.

He watched the film from a pirated Chinese DVD that was smuggled across the border. The love story left him mesmerized, he told the Times of London.

In North Korea, and in North Korean films, love is reserved to the party and leader,” Jung said. “Love is political because it means putting feelings for an individual before loyalty to the state.

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These kinds of water bottles contain USB drives full of Western media. (Photo from No Chain for North Korea)

It was this Hollywood influence that convinced him the state was lying to him about everything. After his 2004 escape, he founded No Chain for North Korea to influence his former countrymen the way he was influenced.

“We want to use information to overthrow the regime, rather than military force, because that would bring so many casualties,” he said.

Jung is a veteran of the North Korean People’s Army. He spent his compulsory 10 years of military service with an artillery unit on the North-South Korean border. He says the military doesn’t ever question the regime’s hard line on anything. Why should they? They have no information to counter it.

Until now.

Asperiores odit

The best World War II anime series

This may not be the most popular genre of Japanese animation, but all of these shows are worth checking out if you’re looking for something new to watch.


This poll includes video clips of each show, so if you haven’t seen one, you can watch it right here on this page. Take a trip back to when the world was at war, and get a new perspective on what happened from a different point of view. The shows that are listed may have different sub-genres, but they’re all about World War II in one way or another. List features Zipang, First Squad – The Moment Of Truth and more anime. What is the greatest World War II anime of all time? Scroll down and find out for yourself!

The Best World War II Anime Series

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