The Pentagon says the US State Department has approved the possible sale of the advanced THAAD missile-defense system to Saudi Arabia for $15 billion, citing Iran among threats in the Middle East.
The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in an Oct. 6 statement that it had notified the US Congress about the possible sale, saying the deal would “support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States.”
“This sale furthers US national security and foreign policy interests, and supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of Iranian and other regional threats,” the statement said.
Washington deployed THAAD, which is used to guard against ballistic-missile attacks, to South Korea this year for defense against North Korea.
Iran maintains one of the largest ballistic-missile programs in the Middle East, seeing it as a key element of defense against the United States and other opponents, including Israel and Gulf Arab states.
Both Washington and Saudi Arabia accuse Tehran of aggressive and disruptive behavior in the region.
Standing in front of a projector that displays the remains of a deceased man, an Army Reserve instructor is not explaining to his 11 students the gruesomeness of what happened to the man, but the proper way to effectively serve in a unique and honorable job as a mortuary affairs specialist.
“Being in mortuary affairs isn’t easy because I know everybody can’t deal with remains,” said Staff Sgt. Luis Garcia, the lead instructor for the Mortuary Affairs Specialist Course held at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico, May 12-28, 2018.
“The thing about our job is take those heroes and do all the preparation and help with the valuable effects,” said Garcia, who is assigned to the 5th Multifunctional Battalion, 94th Training Division – Force Sustainment, 80th Training Command (Total Army School System).
The mortuary affairs course falls under the command and control of the 94th Training Division, and the 94th Training Division supports the 80th Training Command’s mission of more than 2,700 instructors providing essential training to Army Reserve, National Guard and Active Duty Soldiers.
“When you are dealing with the remains, you are thinking of the families and focused on treating the fallen hero with the utmost respect and dignity,” said Garcia. “It’s an honor to be here and to instruct because this job is like no other.”
Garcia’s students will graduate and move on to serve as combat-ready leaders in their units, but a few received first-hand experience shortly after switching to this military occupational specialty in 2017, and helped when Hurricane Maria hit land.
(U.S. Army photo by Master Sgt. Brian Hamilton)
“One day I’m learning at the morgue. Then I graduate from the mortuary affairs reclass course, and one day later I’m at the morgue again. This time I’m helping them because of the hurricane,” said Sgt. Pedro Cruz, assigned to the 311th Quartermaster Company. “We were working over there every day. I’m doing things I won’t do on deployment because as I hear, ‘you don’t work with remains every day on deployments.'”
Sgt. Adrian Roman-Perez, also assigned 311th Quartermaster Company, was another student who stepped out of the classroom and put what he learned to use shortly after the class ended.
“I worked alongside our instructor because we had to provide support to the morgue,” Roman-Perez said. “It wasn’t that the hurricane happened; it was about the aftermath after it happened.”
“In the Army, we train as we fight but you can’t do that in this job,” said Roman. “Most of the time, you are dealing with a mannequin and never have the opportunity to experience remains or have your body have that kind of stress.”
“For me it was kind of useful and it will be useful on my deployment because it helped prepare me for what is coming up,” Roman-Perez said. “That type of stressful situation helped me and taught me how to cope with it.”
According to Staff Sgt. Izander Estrada, a soldier assigned to 5th Battalion and helping Garcia with the mortuary affairs course, said that Hurricane Maria left a lasting impression not only on the students, but the instructors and staff at the organization.
“There were no trees, and it was so quiet,” he said. “You didn’t hear cars or birds or anything. It was completely quiet. It was a surreal experience.”
“It was a lot of stuff that if you’re not here, living there it’s impossible to understand or to explain,” he added. “Seeing people not having water and electricity, you start think about how important things are and that you take them for granted. Like when the air conditioning is always on, that’s electricity that you’re using.”
(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Emily Anderson)
Despite dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Estrada was one of several individuals tasked with ensuring the future courses at the schoolhouse could still happen.
“This area had buildings actually demolished because of Maria,” he said. “This was September and we had to demonstrate that we could conduct the next class in February.”
The staff at the 5th Battalion worked with the 94th Training Division, the 80th Training Command and Fort Buchanan to secure a building, equipment, power and so on to ensure the next course could take place.
Eight months later classes are still steadily scheduled through the rest of the year, and staff and students are working hard to show why mortuary affairs is a crucial piece of the Army Reserve.
“One of the things I’m grateful for in the class is that I’ve been able to know the instructors and know how they work aside from them instructing,” said Roman. “I can ensure you, they are people that know their job. They know what they are doing, and they know their material and are experienced instructors.”
Both Cruz and Roman-Perez agreed that this job specialty is one that many may not consider, but is worth doing and instructing, if given the opportunity.
“I’ve thought about being an instructor. It is not an easy task but it’s a rewarding one you’ve got the ability to mold soldiers and help them, tell them the proper way of doing stuff, prevent them from slacking and taking up bad habits,” said Roman Perez.
“Mortuary affairs is not for everyone. I will say if new soldiers decide to join mortuary affairs, they will not regret it, ever,” said Cruz. “Maybe they’ll stay there forever because I don’t know if it’s just me, but I really love this MOS. It makes me feel like I’m really doing something for my nation.”
On June 6, 1944, the Allies launched the largest amphibious military assault in history known as D-Day. More than 150,000 American, British and Canadian forces landed on five beaches along the heavily fortified coast of France’s Normandy region. The invasion involved nearly 5,000 landing and assault craft, 289 escort vessels, and 277 minesweepers. Some of the first men to hit the beach on D-Day were the U.S. Navy Combat Demolition Unit. Jerry Markham and John Talton were members of this elite group. In this episode, these courageous veterans tell their dramatic stories, In Their Own Words.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As the U.S. continues to develop the B-21 Raider, a long-range, stealth strategic bomber, peers and rivals around the world are working to stay competitive. While Russia works on the PAK DA, Communist China is trying to counter the future backbone of the United States Air Force’s strategic bomber force with a design of their own.
This new bomber, which will likely be operated by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, is being called the H-20. Details remain sparse, but reports state that it will have a top speed of 600 miles per hour and a maximum range of 5,282 miles. Although we’re not certain about the ordnance it’ll carry, it’s likely that it’ll carry a variety of dumb bombs, smart bombs, and missiles, just like the B-2.
Currently, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force leans heavily on the H-6 Badger as the primary airframe in their strategic bomber force. This plane is a far cry from the original Soviet Tu-16 on which it’s based. The current version, according to MilitaryFactory.com, has a range of 3,728 miles and a top speed of 652 miles per hour. Unlike the up-and-coming H-20, the H-6 doesn’t have stealth technology, and while its range allows it to operate against naval units in the South China Sea, it doesn’t have the reach to hit American bases in Guam or Okinawa.
The Chinese Communists used the H-6 to send a message in December 2016, when one of these bombers flew along the so-called “nine-dash line,” which delineates Chinese claims in the South China Sea. About 180 of these bombers were built and the People’s Liberation Army Air Force has roughly 120 H-6s in service, with another 30 in service with the People’s Liberation Army Navy Air Force.
The H-20 is slated to enter service in 2025, coincidentally around the time that the B-21 Raider is set to deploy.
Argunners will be publishing a series of amazing WWII photographs recently uncovered from the archives of General Charles Day Palmer, who was a four-star General. Most of the photographs were confidential photographs taken by the U.S. Signal Corps not fit for publication, Brig. Gen. was allowed to have them for private use after censoring (names of places etc.).
Charles Day Palmer was born in Chicago, Illinois on February 20, 1902. After graduating from Washington High School in Washington, D.C., he entered the United States Military Academy, where he graduated in 1924. During World War II, he worked in the British West Indies to establish military bases and ran projects on anti-submarine warfare. In 1944, he became the Chief-of-Staff of the 2nd Armored Division, nicknamed “Hell on Wheels”, participating in the Invasion of Normandy, break-out from Saint-Lo and the crossing of the Siegfried Line. In October, he was transferred as Chief-of-Staff to the VI Corps, where he received a battlefield promotion to Brigadier-General.
After World War II, Palmer took part in the Korean War. During his career, he received various valor and service awards such as the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit and the Bronze and Silver Star. He passed away on June 7, 1999 in Washington, D.C. The photographs were shared by his grandson, Daniel Palmer, honoring the memories and service of his grandfather.
U.S. soldier examines the grave of an unknown U.S. soldier, who was buried by the enemy before retreating. The first American soldier that noticed the grave decorated it with mortar shells and ferns. (#P03)
Dead American and German soldiers at a cemetery before burial, place unknown. Each body is placed in a mattress cover. German prisoners are doing the work of digging the graves and placing the bodies in them. (#P04)
M-10 Tank Destroyer from the 636th Tank Destroyer Battalion supporting the 143rd Infantry Regiment, 36th Division in Rohrwiller, February 4, 1945. You can see the town’s church damaged by shell blasts. (Backside – #P06)
Prisoners of War from the German Military Police force and Gestapo agents of the city of Strasbourg are led to the 3rd Infantry Division. POW are escorted by the French FFI. (#P07)
Dead horses and wrecked vehicles equipment of a German convoy are strewn along the road in the vicinity of Lug, Germany, following an attack from U.S. artillery. The Germans were trying to escape encirclement by 3rd and 7th Armies. (#P08)
A German underground ball-bearing factory in Germany, where all size bearings were made. Shown is a row of polishing and grinding machines used to finish the bearings. This might be in Schweinfurt? (#P09)
English M-5 Anti-tank mines are used to blow up German pill boxes. 400 lbs of TNT are being set off inside the pill box. (#P11)
American forces try to recapture Wingen-sur-Moder from German Mountain 6. SS-Gebirgsjäger Division troops, who infiltrated it during the night, dislodging American troops and taking a number of prisoners. The Hotel ‘Wenk’ had gasoline are in yard and it was hit by a tracer bullet, resulting in the burning seen in photograph. In the church tower on the left is a German lookout, who is also sniping at the U.S. soldiers. (#P12)
Helmet and rifle mark the spot in a ditch by road where two Infantrymen gave their lives, during a new drive by Seventh Army which opened on a front of fifty miles from Saarbrücken to the Rhine. (#P13)
Seventh Army men looking for snipers in the Bobenthal, Germany. (#P14)
When this wrecker towing a 155mm Howitzer became stuck in the mud in a road, nothing less than a bulldozer could budge it. (#P15)
Path of a B-17 as it crash-landed into a snow covered field on the Seventh Army front. Pilot escaped with minor cuts when he rode the plane in after the crew bailed out. Note: The pole in foreground was clipped by the plane as it came in. (#P16)
Obliterated German town (#P17)
Another Obliterated German town (#P18)
Charred remains of a German pilot, the plane was brought down by small arms fire on March 15, first day of Seventh Army offensive in Germany. – Interesting note, thanks to this forum, the plane was I.D. and it turns out that it is most likely an U.S. P-47! (#P19)
A German bridge is blown sky high by U.S. Engineers, destroying span as a defensive measure against German troops pressing towards the town. (#P20)
U.S. soldier standing next to the remains of a German soldier he just discovered near German Howitzers, which were destroyed by the Seventh Army. (#P21)
Argunners Magazine is looking for help identifying some of the places, personalities, equipment, or units that are shown on the photographs, as many of the backsides are unreadable due to age and wartime censoring. Contact us, if you can help. Supply the referral number in the e-mail (ex. Backside – #P01) so we know which photograph you are talking about.
In the mid-1990s, the U.S. Army recognized a problem with their existing combatives program. At that point, the program had withered to having whatever martial arts enthusiast they happened to command at the moment teach techniques to units. For the Army, being a fighting force and all, this was a huge no-go and a revamp ultimately led to the advent of the Modern Army Combatives Program, which has been all the rage since the beginning of the All-Army tournament in 2004.
We all know the Air Force likes to copy big brother Army in a lot of areas, and this one is no different. Well, it is a little different. Did you even know there’s an Air Force Combatives Program? No worries, most of us didn’t.
The difference, and the problem, is that the AFCP isn’t nearly as widespread nor is proficiency in combatives seen as important as it is to Soldiers or Marines. Nonetheless, there is an Air Force Combatives Program and here are 5 of the best moves.
This is a basic flow that could be very useful in real-world situations where the goal isn’t just tapping out your rolling partner.
These two basic positions, along with a sweep, are taught in AFCP/MACP and are consistent with traditional Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training. The basic idea here is to gain top position. With some practice, this becomes a vital combination for any airman.
When to use: After you’ve established dominant position from the bottom (i.e. closed guard).
4. Rear naked choke
The rear naked choke is one of the most popular submissions in existence. It’s seen on film and television, it was once used by law enforcement, and everyone seems to know it. At least everyone thinks they know it.
There are some finer points (hint: hand placement and back contraction) to the move that take it from a good positional hold on an opponent to an almost-immediate night-night for any unruly tough guys you encounter.
When to use: When your opponent has surrendered their back.
3. Guillotine choke
Another super well-known submission, the guillotine choke also has some finer points that many of us that “know” the move tend to miss.
This is much more than just a headlock. Master the fine points and this move becomes a sometimes-lethal fight-ender.
When to use: When your opponent is charging/rushing you with their head down, in a tackling motion.
2. Arm triangle
A much less popular but equally valuable move is the arm triangle. This move can be applied in all circumstances. Standing, laying, from the top or the bottom, the arm triangle can be thrown and landed to subdue an overly aggressive opponent with relative ease.
It’s essentially choking your opponent with their own failing/punching arms.
When to use: When your opponent is throwing punching or extending their arms.
Military analysts say North Korea doesn’t have either the capability or the intent to attack US bombers and fighter jets, despite the country’s top diplomat saying it has every right do so.
They view the remark by North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and a recent propaganda video simulating such an attack as tit-for-tat responses to fiery rhetoric by US President Donald Trump and his hardening stance against the North’s nuclear weapons program.
By highlighting the possibility of a potential military clash on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea may be trying to create a distraction as it works behind the scenes to advance its nuclear weapons development, said Du Hyeogn Cha, a visiting scholar at Seoul’s Asan Institute for Policy Studies. Another possibility is that North Korea is trying to win space to save face as it contemplates whether to de-escalate its standoff with Washington, he said Sept. 26.
Speaking to reporters before leaving a UN meeting in New York, Ri said Trump had “declared war” on his country by tweeting that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “won’t be around much longer.” Ri said North Korea has “every right” to take countermeasures, including shooting down US strategic bombers, even when they’re not in North Korean airspace.
Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!
The US frequently sends advanced warplanes to the Korean Peninsula for patrols or drills during times of animosity. Last weekend, US bombers and fighter escorts flew in international airspace east of North Korea to the farthest point north of the border between North and South Korea that they have in this century, according to the Pentagon.
Hours after the flights Sept. 24, a North Korean government propaganda website posted a video portraying US warplanes and an aircraft carrier being destroyed by attacks. The video on DPRK Today, which was patched together from photos and crude computer-generated animation, also included footage of North Korean solid-fuel missiles being fired from land mobile launchers and a submarine. The North was clearly trying to claim it has the ability to conduct retaliatory strikes against US attacks, said Hong Min, an analyst at Seoul’s Korea Institute for National Unification.
Moon Seong Mook, a former South Korean military official and current senior analyst for the Seoul-based Korea Research Institute for National Strategy, said it’s highly unlikely North Korea has the real-world capability to match Ri’s words. North Korea’s aging MiG fighters won’t stance a chance against much more powerful US fighters escorting long-range bombers. And while North Korea touted in May that it’s ready to deploy new surface-to-air missiles that analysts say could potentially hit targets as far as 150 kilometers (93 miles) away, it’s questionable how much of a threat the unproven system could pose to US aircraft operating far off the country’s coast, Moon said.
It’s also unclear whether North Korea would be able to even see the advanced US warplanes when they come. South Korea’s National Intelligence Service told lawmakers in a closed-door briefing on Sept. 26 that the North’s inadequate radar systems failed to detect the B-1B bombers as they flew east of North Korea.
The last time North Korea fired on a US aircraft was in 1994 when it shot down a US Army helicopter around the heavily armed inter-Korean border, killing one of the pilots and capturing the other. The surviving pilot said after his release he was pressured by North Korean officials to confess that the helicopter had crossed into North Korea. In 1969, a North Korean fighter jet shot down an unarmed US reconnaissance plane and killed all 31 crewmembers on board.
It’s highly unlikely North Korea would attempt a similar attack now, experts say. Amid tension created by the North’s nuclear weapons tests and threat to detonate a thermonuclear missile over the Pacific Ocean, such an attack would pretty much guarantee retaliation from the United States that could lead to war, Cha said.
“The most obvious reason Ri made those comments was because North Korea simply can’t tolerate such high-profile insults to its supreme leadership,” Cha said. It’s also possible that the North is trying to fan concerns about a potential military clash in the region now so that it can win room to save face later when it tries to de-escalate, he said.
“If Kim Jong Un ever offers a moratorium on his missile tests or makes whatever other compromise, he could say he made a big-picture decision to reduce military tension in the Korean Peninsula,” Cha said. He said Ri’s comments also allow China and Russian to restate their calls for a “dual suspension” of North Korean weapons tests and displays of military capability by the US and South Korea.
The Trump administration’s stance on North Korea has been hardening in recent months as the North has been stepping up the aggressiveness of its nuclear and missile tests. It conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3, which it said was a thermonuclear weapon built for intercontinental ballistic missiles. It tested two ICBMs in July, displaying their potential ability to reach deep into the continental United States. North Korea has also fired two powerful midrange missiles over Japan in recent weeks.
Trump in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly last week said the United States would “totally destroy” North Korea if provoked, which prompted Kim to pledge to take the “highest-level” action against the United States. Ri then said North Korea might conduct the “most powerful” atmospheric hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific Ocean, but added that no one knew what Kim would decide.
Charles L. Phillips was a 26-year-old Captain in the U.S. Army Air Corps, piloting B-29 bombers in the Pacific theater during the final years of WWII. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroics during the strategic bombing campaign over Japan. One of Phillip’s last missions was on August 6, 1945, the same day the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. During the air battle he was forced to ditch his B-29 into the sea. We interviewed Charles Phillips in 1991 and he told us remarkable stories, from his early training in Texas to the firebombing of Tokyo.