Six US air strikes on an ISIL desert camp in Libya killed 17 fighters and destroyed three vehicles, the first American attack in Libya since President Donald Trump took office in January.
US Africa Command said in a statement on Sept. 24 that strikes on Sept. 22 targeted a camp 240km southeast of Sirte, a city that was once the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant stronghold in Libya.
The camp was used to move fighters in and out of Libya, plot attacks, and store weapons, the statement said.
“ISIS and al-Qaeda have taken advantage of ungoverned spaces in Libya to establish sanctuaries for plotting, inspiring, and directing terror attacks,” it said, using another acronym for ISIL.
The strikes were carried out in coordination with Libya’s Government of National Accord, it added.
A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the air raids were carried out by armed drones.
The last-known US strike in Libya was on Jan. 19, a day before Trump’s inauguration, when more than 80 ISIL fighters, some believed to be plotting attacks in Europe, died in US air strikes on camps outside Sirte.
That attack was led by two B-2 bombers, which dropped about 100 precision-guided munitions on the camps.
Jonathan Cristol of the World Policy Institute told Al Jazeera it is somewhat surprising that it took the Trump administration this long to act militarily in Libya compared to his predecessor, Barack Obama, who ramped up air strikes in his final few months as president.
“I think [Trump] has been not as eager to get into a fight in Libya, but he will listen to what the military says. I think we will probably see more strikes,” said Cristol.
“It really represents a target of opportunity where it can be done with little risk to the US. But I certainly don’t anticipate boots on the ground or a broader escalation even if one might become warranted.”
ISIL took over Sirte in early 2015, turning it into its most important base outside the Middle East and attracting large numbers of foreign fighters to the city. The group imposed its hard-line rule on residents and extended its control along about 250km of Libya’s Mediterranean coastline.
But it struggled to keep a footing elsewhere in Libya and was forced out of Sirte by last December after a six-month campaign led by brigades from the western city of Misrata and backed by US air strikes.
ISIL has shifted to desert valleys and inland hills southeast of Tripoli as it seeks to exploit Libya’s political divisions after their defeat in Sirte.
The United Nations launched a roadmap on Sept. 20 for a renewed international effort to break a political stalemate in Libya and end the turmoil that followed the country’s 2011 uprising.
The UN-backed Government of National Accord established under a December 2015 deal never fully materialised in Tripoli, leaving Libya with three competing governments aligned with rival armed alliances.
After nearly 40 years as Zimbabwe’s leader, President Robert Mugabe appears to have lost his grip on power.
Early Nov. 15, the country’s military drove tanks into the capital, Harare, and seized control of the state broadcaster, ZBC. A senior officer of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces denied that a coup was in progress and said Mugabe, 93, was “safe and sound.”
Later Nov. 15, South African President Jacob Zuma said in a statement that he had spoken to Mugabe and that Mugabe was unharmed and under house arrest. The Guardian’s Jason Burke reported that Mugabe would step down on Nov. 17.
Zimbabwe’s first lady, Grace Mugabe, who was contending for leadership of the ruling ZANU-PF party, has fled to Namibia, The Guardian reported, citing opposition sources. The first lady has long been seen as Robert Mugabe’s chosen successor.
Mugabe’s reported removal from power is surely welcome news to his critics in a country that saw its economy collapse into a hyperinflationary spell in 2008 as Mugabe implemented price controls and printed large amounts of money, leading to a multibillion-percent inflation rate.
The human-rights group Amnesty International has also accused Mugabe and his government of repressing political expression, arbitrarily arresting activists and others, carrying out “torture and extrajudicial executions,” and fomenting mass political violence.
So what’s next?
The military’s denying a coup implies Zimbabwe’s next leader won’t be a general.
South Africa’s Independent Online reports that Emmerson Mnangagwa, whom Mugabe dismissed as vice president last week, is en route to Harare to take control of the country’s government.
Mnangagwa has the support of both the military and the wider population, according to BMI Research.
The firm says there are three possible outcomes that could play out over the coming months:
“Mugabe resigns and is replaced by Mnangagwa before year-end.”
“Mnangagwa selected to run as ZANU-PF party leader in 2018 election.”
“Mnangagwa established as constitutional successor in the event of Mugabe’s death.”
The economic impact
It is likely to take years to reverse the damage caused by Mugabe’s economic policies.
“It was the 10th-largest economy in the region in the late 1990s,” said William Jackson, the senior emerging-markets economist at Capital Economics. “But its performance has been significantly worse than many of its peers. For example, in 1998, Zimbabwe’s economy was roughly the same size as that of Angola, Tanzania, and Ethiopia. Now, those economies are three to seven times larger than Zimbabwe.”
Additionally, Mugabe’s policies have caused public external debt — most of which is already in arrears — to balloon to more than 40% of gross domestic product, the International Monetary Fund says.
It’s unclear what would happen if Zimbabweans fled to other parts of the region.
“There is already a large Zimbabwean diaspora in South Africa — the UN estimates there are around 500,000 Zimbabweans living there, although unofficial estimates suggest that it could be closer to 3 million,” Jackson wrote. “If refugee inflows did pick up again, there would be a fiscal cost to the South African government, and it could lead to social strains in an economy already struggling with very high unemployment.”
Members of the ZANU-PF party and the opposition weren’t immediately available for comment.
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.
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.
Studies and Observations Group (SOG) was a highly classified, special ops unit that conducted unconventional warfare during the Vietnam War. SOG carried out the capture of enemy prisoners, rescued downed pilots, and conducted rescue operations to retrieve prisoners of war throughout Southeast Asia. The Task Force also engaged in clandestine intelligence, propaganda and psychological operations. J.D. Bath and Bill Deacy were members of this elite group.
The tunnel rats were courageous soldiers who performed underground search and destroy missions during the Vietnam War. American and Australian troops uncovered the enemy’s intricate network of tunnels while conducting larger operations. Tunnel rats were tasked with gathering intelligence within them, and killing or capturing their occupants–often in conditions of close combat. CW Bowman, Gerry Schooler and Art Tejeda spent days maneuvering through the tunnel complexes clearing and destroying lethal booby-traps.
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.
What has formed as an organic community based around the military, there are a lot of Instagram accounts out there that have provided a valuable commentary for those who have served.
Ranging from meme accounts to those who have gone through the trials of war, military Instagram has really become its own niche community. Regardless of whether you’ve served or not, learning about these inspirational accounts is a learning process in itself, which is why we’ve provided you with a list of ten of our favorites. Check them out below:
Art 15 Clothing
Art 15 (short for Article 15- the provision that enables punishment in the US military), is a clothing brand started by vets, for vets. With an aesthetic that definitely matches their intent, Art 15 explores a lot of American military culture that’s prideful over service, as well as the audience of people wearing their shirts. Growing one of the fastest-growing communities, you’d be surprised at how responsive this team is, as well as their fans.
Yes, to get engagement like they do might require to buy Instagram followers, however, for Art 15, their base is well-ingrained in the military community, and certainly a point of pride for many members of service to represent. Check them out if you’re looking for a brand by vets for vets.
Despite never serving, Dan Bilzerian has a lot of military-friendly content that definitely resonates with a level of respect for the community most Instagram celebrities don’t have. Often known as “The King of Instagram” as well as a “man’s man”, Bilzerian has grown quite the brand for himself around travel, women, weightlifting, and of course, guns and politics.
Typically showing love to troops and our military, Bilzerian is a force be reckoned with, providing often what people perceive as the pinnacle of the American dream (including American ideals and beliefs) As one of the most entertaining accounts on the web, Dan Bilzerian is well-worth the follow for military and non-military folks alike.
As straightforward as it sounds, Military isn’t actually the official account of the US military. Instead, they’re one of the most popular content sources for soldiers, posting different anecdotes from the procedure, drills, and even random events.
With a podcast that has amassed a popular following as well, Military has made themselves a prominent voice in the military community, and definitely an account you should follow for a mix of content that’s reminiscent of being in the service.
Task and Purpose
Another popular military magazine, Task and Purpose does a great job of curating content for the military community. As one of the most popular meme accounts for military members, Task and Purpose has nailed down the culture behind being in the armed services, as well as knows how to make people laugh about the trials and tribulations they had to go through.
While you might not understand some of the jokes if you haven’t served, Task and Purpose does a great job of being an inclusive space for people who have been in the military as well as those who are trying to understand their loved ones that have been a part. Give them a glance if you’re looking for more lighthearted content about the military.
According to ViralRace, if you’re looking for what it’s really like for day-to-day military activity, then Military Ops is the account for you. Primarily posting things from real-life combat and stations, Military Ops is really out here for those who have served, providing a level of empathy a lot of people can’t match for what it’s like to be alone overseas.
While a lot of it is humorous, some of Military Ops content is focused on guns and gear, which is really reserved for those who really nerd out about those things. Especially if you’ve served, Military Ops is well worth the follow if you’re looking for a little bit of nostalgia.
If you haven’t heard, Terminal Lance is pretty famous…like, so big of an account they have a Wikipedia page big. A satire site for members of the Marines, Terminal Lance has been building quite the following for the antics and jokes that go around the military.
As a niche community, they have a lot of fun with the content they source and produce. Check them out if you’re looking a military account that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but understands what it’s like to be in the trenches.
As a vet, Derek Weida is one of those accounts you can’t help but admire. With a leg missing, Weida has transformed himself into a weight-loss and motivational coach, providing inspiration for those who haven’t quite been able to hit their mark yet.
With an encouraging message for those who are just starting out, Weida does a great job of keeping motivation consistent. Check him out if you’re looking for a service member that really has made the most out of their situation, hands down.
If you’re not familiar, Earl Granville went viral a couple of years ago for not only losing his leg in Afghanistan but by running as a Republican candidate for Pennsylvania’s 8th district. Whether you follow his political beliefs regardless, Granville is an inspiring figure to admire.
He not only has come back strong in his political motives but also understands war first-hand, which is something not a lot of leaders have the acumen for. Instead, Granville represents a different breed of a politician based on an indelible personal experience, which is why you should definitely keep an eye on his IG.
Also known as the ‘curves queen’, Sarah Maine is a military alum of the Air Force, where she’s now started her own brand called Curves and Combat Boots: a legging company with a veteran/curvy woman appeal. A savvy entrepreneur, Maine is an excellent example of someone who took to becoming their own business owner after service, which is a hard feat to overcome.
As her brand follows a lot of influencer culture, she’s done a great job of producing content and materials that really resonate with her audience. As just an overall inspiring story, Maine is someone to definitely keep track of if you’re looking to learn about someone who’s made it after serving their time.
Vincent “Rocco” Vargas
To round out our list is Vincent “Rocco” Vargas, who is a former military member turned influencer. His view on culture is very much one that a lot of military people can resonate with, providing that edge as someone who moved on to work in film but also has a base in what it’s like to serve.
Vargas is now one of the biggest influencers who are former military, which is inspiring to see. Check them out if you’re looking for someone that’s like The Rock meets military service instead of WWE.
What are some of your favorite military influencers? Comment with your insights below!
In 1944, the Allies fought their way from the beaches of Normandy towards German soil. Their sites were firmly set on pushing all the way to Hitler’s capital Berlin and putting an end to WWII. Success in Europe required soldiers with a wide variety of skills. Robert Weiss was a US Army forward observer. His mission was to move ahead of the troops and find targets for the artillery, but being out in front placed him closer to the enemy and a greater risk of being cut off from his comrades. These are his experiences In His Own Words.
Bob Hoover learned to fly as a teenager in Tennessee, flew over 50 combat missions in World War Two and went on to become a legendary test pilot. Hoover was Chuck Yeager’s backup pilot in the Bell X-1 program and flew the chase plane when Yeager first broke the sound barrier. In 1950 he joined North American Aviation as an experimental test pilot, an association that would last 36 years. This Episode is Part 2 of the remarkable story of Bob Hoover, one of the history’s greatest pilots.
An ISIS expert claims there is a glaring “Achilles heel” present in the US strategy in Iraq and Syria, stating that the lack of any planning for the political future of the region after the terrorist group is wiped out will nullify the military gains made against the group.
“Only a fool would call this a victory,” Hassan Hassan, a senior fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy and the co-author of “ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror,” told The New Yorker. “It’s only the expulsion of ISIS fighters from a wasteland. It’s not a victory, not only because of the destruction. It’s also not a victory because there’s a shameless lack of a political track to supplement the military track. That’s the Achilles heel of Operation Inherent Resolve. They don’t have a political vision about what will happen after ISIS.”
The destruction Hassan mentions is almost total in Raqqa. The activist journalism group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently claims that 90% of the city has been destroyed by the months of fighting between ISIS, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, and the US coalition.
The group has documented more than 3,829 airstrikes and 1,873 civilian deaths throughout the urban battle, and says 450,000 people remain displaced from the city.
Yet Hassan’s main argument is that the main threat to the success of the US-led mission is that there is no political plan for what will come after ISIS’s territorial defeat.
Professor Robert Pape, the director of the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism at the University of Chicago, said he agrees.
“When we invaded and conquered Iraq in 2003 we created ungoverned space for Sunni Arabs in Iraq which then spilled over in nearby Syria,” Pape says. “The worry here is that as that area of Iraq and Syria now could remain ungoverned space from the perspective of the Sunni Arabs, this problem may just simply fester and continue.”
ISIS, and the war to defeat it, has inflicted enormous violence upon the Sunni Arabs of the region, and its effects will stick with the Sunni populations of Iraq and Syria for generations.
And throughout the campaign to liberate Sunni regions previously under the the rule of ISIS, Iraq has employed Shiite militias with ties to Iran, called the Popular Mobilization Forces, which have been suspicious of Sunni villagers in conquered ISIS territory. Iraq’s own security forces have also frequently resorted to brutality against civilians in places like Mosul, which was an ISIS stronghold until recently.
Meanwhile, vast swaths of eastern Syria remain controlled by Kurdish-led militias in the form of the Syrian Democratic Forces, or by the Shiite-led Syrian government.
An additional yet significant ethnic challenge lies in how to divide power between Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis in Syria and Iraq after the dust settles. Already, Iraq’s central government is asserting itself in regions controlled by Kurds around Kirkuk and Mosul, where clashes have occurred.
Such post-conflict realities in the Sunni regions of Iraq and Syria have led to widespread distrust between locals and the governments and militaries that now control them and have deepened the same feelings of political isolation among Sunnis that led to the rise of ISIS between 2007 and 2013.
According to Hassan, the “Achilles heel” of the US-led coalition’s strategy is that it makes no preparations to resolve these complex problems, and focuses solely on a military victory over ISIS. In his view, such a limited approach will only hasten the return of another Sunni insurgent movement in the region.
June 6th, 1944…D-Day. It was the greatest military assault ever staged. Code named Operation Overlord, the massive invasion of Normandy by the Allies involved more than a quarter of a million soldiers, sailors and airmen as well as 5000 ships and 3000 aircraft.
Tom McCarthy and Francis Lamoureux were Parachute Infantrymen during the epic conflict. They tell their riveting first-hand accounts in this dramatic presentation, Airborne Assault on D-Day.