“A Joint Coalition Special Operations Unit, including 40 SAS soldiers, have reportedly been flown in to Syria on a covert mission to find Hamza and his gang,” The Mirrror reported.
“He is now considered in the top 10 ‘high-value’ targets being hunted by Coalition forces deployed on Operation Shader.”
The United States added Hamza bin Laden to its terrorist blacklist in January.
The US Treasury estimates that he was born in 1989 in the Saudi city of Jeddah. His mother was Khairiah Sabar, one of the Al-Qaeda founder’s three wives.
Last year, the fifth anniversary of the death of the man who ordered the 9/11 attacks on the United States, experts began to note his son’s increasing prominence in the movement. The State Department has designated him a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist,” freezing any assets he holds in areas under US jurisdiction.
Experts believe Hamza is preparing to take over the leadership of al-Qaeda and exploit ISIS defeats in Syria and Iraq to unify the global militant movement under the banner of al-Qaeda.
The top US admiral in the Middle East said on Sept. 18 that Iran continues to smuggle illicit weapons and technology into Yemen, stoking the civil strife there and enabling Iranian-backed rebels to fire missiles into neighboring Saudi Arabia that are more precise and far-reaching.
Iran has been repeatedly accused of providing arms helping to fuel one side of the war in Yemen, in which rebels from the country’s north, Al Houthis, ousted the government from the capital of Sana’a in 2014.
The officer, Vice Admiral Kevin M. Donegan, said that Iran is sustaining Al Houthis with an increasingly potent arsenal of anti-ship and ballistic missiles, deadly sea mines, and even explosive boats that have attacked allied ships in the Red Sea or Saudi territory across Yemen’s northern border. The US, the Yemeni government and their allies in the region have retaliated with strikes of their own and recaptured some Al Houthi-held coastal areas to help blunt threats to international shipping, but the peril persists, the admiral said.
“These types of weapons did not exist in Yemen before the conflict,” said Donegan. “It’s not rocket science to conclude that Al Houthwis are getting not only these systems but likely training and advice and assistance in how to use them.”
Donegan gave his assessment in an hour-long telephone interview from his 5th Fleet headquarters in Bahrain as he prepared to conclude his two-year tour, and take a new assignment at the Pentagon.
In the wide-ranging interview, Donegan said that the bitter rift between Qatar and many of its Gulf neighbors, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who accuse Qatar of financing militants and having overly cozy relations with Iran, has not yet hindered coalition efforts to battle terrorism, piracy, or other mutual maritime scourges. Donegan’s most pointed accusations focused on suspected Iranian assistance to Al Houthi rebels. The US and other Western governments have provided vast quantities of weapons, and other forms of military support, to the embattled Yemeni government and its allies in a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, contributing to violence that the UN says has caused more than 10,000 civilian casualties.
The admiral’s charges appear supported, at least in part, by findings in a report late last year by Conflict Armament Research, a private arms consultancy. The report concluded that the available evidence pointed to an apparent “weapon pipeline, extending from Iran to Somalia and Yemen, which involves the transfer, by dhow, of significant quantities of Iranian-manufactured weapons and weapons that plausibly derive from Iranian stockpiles.”
For years, Iran has been under a series of international sanctions prohibiting it from exporting arms. The US has frequently claimed that Tehran has violated the sanctions in support of proxy forces in many conflicts, including in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and the Palestinian territories.
Between September 2015 through March 2016, allied warships interdicted four Iranian dhows that yielded, in total, more than 80 anti-tank guided missiles and 5,000 Kalashnikov rifles as well as sniper rifles, machine guns and almost 300 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, according to data provided by the US Navy.
Donegan said that while there have been no seizures since, he said he suspects Iran’s hand in Al Houthis’ apparent ability to replenish and improve their arms stockpiles. “It is not something that was a one-time deal and stopped,” Donegan said. “It appears to be progressive.”
By 1943, the war in the Pacific burned in its full fury. On November 20th, the Allies launched the first amphibious assault against heavily defended beaches in US history. The 2nd division of the US Marine Corps, used amphibious tractors and assault boats to reach the beaches of the Tarawa atoll, an enemy stronghold protected by 5,000 hardened Imperial Japanese marines. Ed Moore and Tommy Reed were decorated veterans of the 2nd Marine Division during the island campaigns in the Pacific War.
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.
As the Islamic State group loses its remaining strongholds in Iraq and Syria, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is facing a growing chorus of questions from NATO allies and partners about what the next steps will be in the region to preserve peace and ensure the militants don’t rise again.
Heading into a week of meetings with Nordic countries and allies across Europe, Mattis must begin to articulate what has been a murky American policy on how the future of Syria unfolds.
Speaking to reporters traveling with him to Finland, Mattis said the main question from US allies is: what comes next? And he said the key is to get the peace process on track.
“We’re trying to get this into the diplomatic mode so we can get things sorted out,” said Mattis, who will meet with NATO defense ministers later this week. “and make certain (that) minorities — whoever they are — are not just subject to more of what we’ve seen” under Syrian President Bashar Assad until now.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in late October repeated Washington’s call for Assad to surrender control, looking past recent battlefield gains by his Russian-backed forces to insist that “the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end.”
Tillerson made the comments after meeting with the UN’s envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, who later announced plans to resume UN-mediated peace talks Nov. 28. It will be the eighth such round under his mediation in Geneva since early 2016.
Mattis said intelligence assessments two to three months ago made it clear that the Islamic State group was “going down.” He said information based on the number of IS individuals taken prisoner and the number of fighters who were getting wounded or were deserting the group made it clear that “the whole bottom was dropping out.”
But while he said the effort now is to get the diplomatic process shifted to Geneva and the United Nations, he offered few details that suggest the effort is moving forward.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Photo from US Embassy Consulate in Korea.
In addition to the diplomatic efforts, Mattis said the US is still working to resolve conflicts with Russia in the increasingly crowded skies over the Iraq and Syria border, where a lot of the fighting has shifted.
On Nov. 3, Assad’s military announced the capture of the eastern Syrian city of Deir ez-Zour, while Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi proclaimed victory in retaking the town of Qaim on the border, the militants’ last significant urban area in Iraq.
Focus has now turned to Boukamal, the last urban center for the militants in both Iraq and Syria where Syrian troops —backed by Russia and Iranian-supported militias — and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are vying for control of the strategic border town.
The proximity of forces in the area has raised concerns about potential clashes between them as they approach Boukamal from opposite sides of the Euphrates River, and now from across the border with Iraq.
Mattis said that as forces close in, the fighting is getting “much more complex,” and there is a lot of effort on settling air space issues with the Russians.
He also declined to say whether the US will begin to take back weapons provided to Syrian Kurdish fighters, known as the YPG. The US has argued that the YPG has been the most effective fighting group in the battle to oust IS from Raqqa, but Turkey opposed the arming effort because it believes the YPG is linked to a militant group in Turkey.
The US has pledged to carefully monitor the weapons, to insure that they don’t make their way to the hands of insurgents in Turkey, known as the PKK. The US also considers the PKK a terrorist organization, and has vowed it would never provide weapons to that group.
Turkish officials have said that Mattis reassured them by letter that arms given to the Syrian Kurds would be taken back and that the US would provide Turkey with a regular list of arms given to the fighters.
While in Finland, Mattis will attend a meeting of a dozen northern European nations, which are primarily concerned about threats from Russia.
“They are focused on the north,” said Mattis, adding that he plans to listen to their thoughts on the region and determine how the US can help, including what types of training America could provide.
“It is an opportunity to reiterate where we stand by our friends,” said Mattis, “if any nation, including Russia, seeks to undermine the rules of international order.”
During a press briefing later on Nov. 6, Denmark Defense Minister Claus Hjord Frederiksen told reporters that allies must continue to be present in the region because of the risk that IS would rise again.
“We’re not so naive that we think that terrorism is removed from this earth, but of course it is very important to have taken geographical areas from them so they can’t attack or rob or whatever — using the income from oil production to finance their activities,” said Frederiksen. “We foresee therefore years ahead we will have to secure that they cannot gain new ground there.”
This Episode tells the tale of two American pilots of World War II. One, R.T. Smith, was a fighter ace in Burma flying P-40s with the legendary Flying Tigers. He recorded 9 confirmed victories, aiding the Chinese in their conflict with Japan. The other, Al Freiburger, was a bomber pilot in Europe flying B-26 Marauders with his unit, the Silver Streaks. He logged numerous missions in the twin engine, medium bomber including key bombing runs on D-Day. Both men were engaging characters with very unique and dramatic war time experiences.
They are known as America’s first military stealth aircraft. Under cover of darkness, the Waco CG-4A combat glider carried U.S. troops and materiel into battle during World War II. William Horn and Leo Cordier, pilots who flew these unarmed and un-powered planes, landed behind enemy lines before the invasion troops arrived in Europe on D-Day. Their courageous stories are a little known chapter in the Allied march to victory during WWII.
The Marine Raiders were elite units established by the United States Marine Corp during World War II to conduct special amphibious assault missions, operating behind the lines. The Raiders were created by an order from President Franklin D. Roosevelt with the first battalions activated in February 1942. The Marine Raiders are said to be the first U.S. special forces operations to form and see combat in World War II. William Lansford was a member of the 2nd Raider Battalion during the Pacific campaigns. These are his dramatic stories told in his own words.
This episode features the dramatic role of the U.S Rangers on D-Day during World War II. Leonard Lomell and Sidney Salomon, from the 2nd Ranger Battalion, were among those who comprised America’s first Special Forces group. They were part of the first wave landing on Omaha Beach on June 6th, 1944.
On Easter Sunday, April 2, 1972, two EB-66 aircraft, call signs Bat 21 and Bat 22 were flying pathfinder escort for three B-52s, which were assigned to bomb the two primary access routes to the Ho Chi Minh Trail through Laos. Gene Hambleton, a navigator aboard Bat 21, was shot down behind North Vietnamese lines. His rescue became known as the largest, longest, and most complex search-and-rescue operation during the entire Vietnam War. In this episode, Gene Hambleton recounts his dramatic story, in his own words.
For many people, CBD is their bread and butter. It’s the thing that keeps them going as it treats a number of health and wellness issues that include anxiety, pain, inflammation, depression, sleep issues, skin problems, and more.
However, for America’s service men and women, CBD is off the table. The Defense Department has made it very clear that CBD is not to be used by any member of the military. Even broad spectrum CBD capsules, CBD oils, and CBD gummies, which contain no THC, are not allowed.
As you might imagine, this creates a challenge for some military members, but also for those who are managing military members. If you’re involved in the military in any way, it’s vital that you understand CBD and the only legal uses of it in the military.
THC Content Creates a Problem
In the United States, it’s legal to sell CBD online across the United States as long as it contains less than 0.3 percent THC. This tiny trace amount isn’t enough to create any psychoactive effects, and millions enjoy the benefits of CBD without losing their mental clarity.
However, many companies sell CBD products that do not accurately label the THC content on the package. Or, they try to hide it with vague claims and promises of significant benefits.
“The problem is there is no regulatory framework to ensure that the CBD products being sold meet the Farm Act,” Patricia Deuster, director of a laboratory at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, told Military.com. She added that there is no research, other than studies done on the impact of CBD on seizures, to support many of the claims made by product manufacturers.
“…Don’t believe what [the companies] are telling you,” Deuster said, pointing out that there’s currently no one to regulate the production of CBD products, and people are getting hurt as a result.
Deuster also told Stars and Stripes last year that military bases all over the United States have reported more than 100 cases of military personnel falling ill due to their use of CBD laced with an illegal THC content. They experienced increased hear rates and hallucinations that nodded to a more serious health condition such as a stroke or heart attack.
In many of those cases, the CBD they took was labeled as a package of gummy bears that could homeopathically help treat anxiety. The label likely didn’t say that it contained THC at the level that it did, since that’s illegal. However, many military personnel are left to suffer the consequences.
Military Heads Struggle to Gain Control
The military heads are working to prevent the use of CBD by demanding more regular drug testing from their constituents. If the THC content in CBD is high enough (like in full-spectrum CBD), it will show up on a drug test.
However, CBD often does not show up in a drug test. Plus, the products are so easily accessible that it’s very difficult to get any kind of control on it.
“It’s a real conundrum, and it’s going to be a major issue for the military because it is available [nearly everywhere]. You go into any store, and you can find gummy bears with a supplement fact panel on it,” said Deuster.
Their current defense against CBD is to court martial any military member who tests positive for THC or who has CBD in their possession. This means that simply misreading the label on a CBD product could mean the end of a career.
CBD Treatment for Seizures Remains Legal
There is one exception to the all-out ban of CBD products in the military, and that’s Epidiolex, the only FDA-approved CBD-based drug on the market. It’s designed to treat seizures in severe forms of epilepsy and has shown incredible results in doing so. Other cannabis-based prescription drugs are also allowable in the military.
That being said, there are few roles for those who experience seizures or other medical problems that cannabis can treat, so the likelihood of a service member taking Epidiolex is very slim.
Still, this shows great promise for the cannabis industry. If the U.S. government recognizes this FDA-tested drug as an acceptable form of treatment in the military, it’s only a matter of time before further research and FDA-involvement creates exceptions for other CBD products prescribed under a doctor’s recommendation.
The Military Demands Regulation
It appears that U.S. military professionals do not have a problem with the best CBD oil as a pure substance to help treat ailments like anxiety, pain, and sleep disorders. Their problem lies in the fact that the CBD industry is simply unregulated and a huge risk.
Every day, new CBD products hit the market. Some are carefully curated and contain exactly the ingredients found on the label. Others are made by sneaky business people trying to cut corners with no regard for the safety of their customers. With no government regulation, they’re simply getting away with it.
“[CBD] is everywhere. We are waiting for the FDA to do something,” Deuster said.
Currently, the only way to ensure that you’re getting a good product with CBD is to do extra research yourself. You must check for third-party lab reports that show the potency and ingredients listed on the bottle are accurate. Sometimes, you have to call the lab to verify that the results are real.
If there was greater regulation in the industry, the military and other organizations would not have to be so strict in banning a substance that can help so many people thrive despite serious health conditions.
The HH-65 Dolphin is the Coast Guard’s most ubiquitous helicopter. The search and rescue aircraft is certified for operation in all-weather conditions and at night. While typically deployed from shore, HH-65s can also be operated from Coast Guard cutters and polar icebreakers.
In the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, the utility helicopter almost everyone wanted was the Bell UH-1 Iroquois, best known as the “Huey.” This helicopter became very popular, selling to just about anyone who wasn’t a commie (although the communists did grab a few). Over 16,500 Hueys were purchased.
Today, it’s the UH-60 Black Hawk that is in high demand. Saudi Arabia recently bought 17 for the Saudi Arabian National Guard and the Royal Saudi Land Forces Airborne Special Security Forces. Earlier this year, the Times of Israel reported that the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan recently took delivery on the last two UH-60 Black Hawks of a 12-chopper order.
The report quoted a Tweet from the United States Embassy in Jordan noting that these helicopters will help strengthen the Quick Reaction Force of the Jordanian Armed Forces. This special operations unit is composed of three airborne battalions and a squadron of UH-60M helicopters. The UH-60M, according to Lockheed Martin, can hold 11 troops or roughly one squad of infantry.
The Quick Reaction Force also had a separate aviation brigade that is being handed over to the Royal Jordanian Air Force. This unit had UH-60L Black Hawks alongside MD-530F helicopters (roughly equivalent to the MH-6/AH-6 Little Bird helicopters) and CN-235 and C-295M transport planes. The unit also has the 37th Royal Special Forces Group, which has one group responsible for carrying out special operations and another assigned to counter-terrorism missions.
Jordan has been a part of the coalition taking on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), suffering the loss of a pilot in 2015 after he was burned alive following his capture by the radical Islamic terrorist group. The al-Nusra Front, an affiliate of al-Qaeda, has operated in Syria as well.
The new Black Hawks join a mix of S-70, UH-60A, and the aforementioned UH-60Ls currently in service. FlightGlobal.com noted in World Air Forces 2018 that Jordan had 20 Black Hawks of all types on hand and 10 more on order.
One thing for certain is that the helicopter of choice for most special operations units is the Black Hawk.