During the initial invasion of Iraq on March 25, 2003, then-1st Lt. Brian Chontosh responded to an enemy ambush on his convoy in a way most would expect to see only in a Hollywood action movie. After being attacked by Iraqi forces with mortars, automatic weapons, and rocket-propelled grenades — and caught in the kill zone — Chontosh directed his driver to go straight toward the enemy position as his .50 cal gunner fired.
But wait, there’s more. From his citation for the Navy Cross, the nation’s second-highest award:
He then directed his driver into the enemy trench, where he exited his vehicle and began to clear the trench with an M16A2 service rile and 9 millimeter pistol. His ammunition depleted, First Lieutenant Chontosh, with complete disregard for his safety, twice picked up discarded enemy rifles and continued his ferocious attack. When a Marine following him found an enemy rocket propelled grenade launcher, First Lieutenant Chontosh used it to destroy yet another group of enemy soldiers.
“I was just doing my job, I did the same thing every other Marine would have done, it was just a passion and love for my Marines, the experience put a lot into perspective,” Chontosh told Marine Corps News at his award ceremony.
When it was all over, Chontosh had cleared 200 meters of the enemy trench, killed more than 20 enemy soldiers, and wounded several others. Still, he didn’t want to take all the credit — instead commending the Marines with him that day for saving his life.
“They saved my life, multiple times that day, during the ambush,” Chontosh told Stripes. “That’s all them. If it wasn’t for them, I would be the lieutenant who would be reported as … a case of what not to do.”
Do you know someone we should highlight for the next Warrior Wednesday? Email us info [at] wearethemighty.com with their name, rank, award received, and any other information you think is relevant.
“They’ve got the wife of a prominent figure in the defense industry — who happens to hold dual Bulgarian-Russian passports — coordinating a bunch of agents herself and she’s on video taking meetings at the embassy and in public with Russian officials,” said a NATO counterintelligence official who works undercover and cannot be named.
“And who is running this woman — again married to one of the top agents — on the Russian side? The top two Russian diplomats at the embassy in Sofia run her themselves to the point they’re caught on video with her,” said the NATO official. “This isn’t a bunch of dumb thugs from the GRU [Russian military intelligence] either, this is the proper SVD [a premier Russian intelligence service previously known as KGB] running operations from an embassy in a NATO capital.”
The counterintelligence official was particularly shocked at both the clumsy nature of the operation and the bizarre lack of language skills of those running it, considering the spies involved would have been elite intelligence officials with extensive language training who were working in Bulgarian, a Slavic language with close ties to Russia. (There is a lengthy Twitter thread discussing details of the failed operation here, by the journalist Christo Grozev of Bellingcat.)
“The tasking memo was pretty amateurish but normal I guess, they wanted as much info on anything related to NATO that wasn’t Bulgarian because they don’t care about Bulgaria they clearly only care about foreign NATO officers. But that it’s in illiterate Bulgarian makes me crazy. An American or French officer with terrible Bulgarian — but good Russian — would make sense but the SVD has no excuse,” the official told Insider.
‘That’s a major mistake to leave all the sub-agents exposed in a single trail’
After months of closely watching the two Russian officers meet the handler and his wife, Bulgarian authorities became convinced that they had the entire cell under surveillance because of the single point of contact between the spies: The woman who was married to the top official involved, nicknamed “The Resident” by Bulgarian officials, a play on an old KGB term for a spy.
“It looks like maybe the Russians recruited this single MOD official, who then expanded the network to include others and it was all run through that central point,” said the NATO official of the spycraft involved.
“That’s a major mistake to leave all the sub-agents exposed in a single trail: In this case [if you] figure out The Resident or his wife then you have caught all the agents, not just one,” said the official. “It can be hard to arrange but this is a valuable agent in a NATO MOD [Ministry of Defence]. They should have taken the time and been more careful to isolate each agent so that they didn’t all end up starring in a YouTube video.”
‘It’s as if they don’t really care’
The NATO official said that Bulgaria’s success in the past at catching Russian agents should have been a warning that the situation posed challenges to spy operations:
In 2020, Bulgaria deported four top Russian diplomats for spying.
In 2019 it banned a former Russian intelligence official from entering Bulgaria over spying claims.
And in 2015 Bulgaria saw the first use of the Novichok nerve agent by Russian spies in an attempt to kill a Bulgarian arms dealer who had run afoul of the Kremlin. Novichok was later used in Salisbury in 2018 on a defected Russian spy and his daughter and in 2020 the same substance was used to poison Russian dissident politician Alexei Navalny.
“We end up seeing so many Russian operations because they’re crazy: America isn’t sending a guy to your house to kill you with a hammer, but the Russians will. And if you send a guy to kill someone with a hammer or nerve agents the message you send is that you don’t care if you get caught.”
ISIS loves social media. It took the Al Qaeda recruiting manual “A Course in the Art of Recruiting” and put it on steroids with the use of Facebook and Twitter. The terror group is notoriously audacious in luring impressionable young adults to the Middle East and the number of recruits coming from the U.S. and other western countries is alarming.
This video shows what the path to extremism is like for a recruit. It follows a young man’s journey from civilian to ISIS soldier through the public postings on his Facebook account. These are the same techniques used to lure young men and women from the U.S.
It was revealed today that NBC anchor Brian Williams has been telling a story about the Iraq invasion that turned out to be well, untrue. As Travis Tritten reported in Stars and Stripes on Wednesday, the anchor’s long-told story of being on a helicopter in 2003 in Iraq that was hit by RPG fire was a false claim repeated by him and the network for years.
Here at WATM, we strive to go above and beyond. We researched other times there was gunfire or battles occurring, and we found that in all these other instances, Brian Williams was again, nowhere to be found.
The Capture of Saddam Hussein
If Brian Williams was on site, we probably could have seen awesome footage of Delta Force operators kicking down doors, clearing rooms, and ultimately, capturing one of the world’s most-wanted men. But sadly, Brian Williams wasn’t there.
The Battle of Tora Bora
Though it would’ve been pretty sweet if he was around to watch U.S. Special Forces search for Bin Laden and other Al Qaeda fighters, we checked and it turns out that Brian Williams wasn’t there.
All those times the U.S. hit militants in Yemen with drone strikes
We meticulously researched through Air Force and CIA records and it turns out that Brian Williams was not on a drone when it struck militants in Yemen. Even more shocking though, he wasn’t there in Pakistan, Afghanistan or any drone strikes.
The Osama bin Laden raid
Oh man. It would’ve been awesome if he was there to report on Bin Laden taking a couple bullets to the grape, but Brian Williams was in fact, not there.
French allies confirmed that Brian Williams may have taken the operation name literally and actually went out for dinner.
On the rooftop with Blackwater fighters shooting militants in the Battle of Najaf
It was a pretty controversial time when military contractors were found to be helping — and sometimes directing — soldiers in the defense of their compound. Brian Williams could have been there to report on what was happening at the time, but, as the video shows, he wasn’t even there.
WATM Executive Editor Paul Szoldra helped with this masterpiece.
Conscription in the United States military — also known as “the draft” — ended with the Vietnam War. Today men and women serve because they want to, not because they have to, but it wasn’t always that way.
Throughout history, when a country waged war and needed a large Army, it turned to drafting its people. The U.S. applied conscription as early as the Revolutionary War by drafting men into the militia and state Army units.
But every time a government turned to conscription, it stirred controversy, exposing fault lines of race, culture and social class. Some say it unifies the country, others argue it tears a society apart. Despite the all-volunteer force of the United States as an example of defense without conscription, there are many countries which still use a draft in 2015.
If you have a problem with Somali pirates, South Korean Navy SEALs know how to solve it.
Case in point comes in this remarkable footage captured by one of the operator’s helmet-mounted cameras, while rescuing the crew of a hijacked freighter. The recently uploaded video shows how the Somali pirates’ chances of getting away quickly decimate once the team boards the ship.
The footage is just over four minutes long, but the mission began long before boarding the ship. A South Korean destroyer chased the Samho Jewelry – an 11,500-ton chemical carrier – for eight days before it was safe enough to carry out the pre-dawn rescue. Once on board, another five hours would pass until the operation was over.
Officials in Seoul said all 21 members of the crew – 11 Burmese, eight Koreans, and two Indonesians – were safe after the rescue mission, according to The Guardian.
Here’s the footage captured from the helmet-mounted camera. Check it out:
As the Chairman and CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, Vince McMahon knows a thing or two about leadership, business, and being successful.
So when he offers advice, it’s a good idea to listen. McMahon did just that in a question answer session specifically for veterans in partnership with American Corporate Partners, a mentorship non-profit for vets (Disclosure: This writer went through ACP’s year-long program in 2011).
On how to keep people motivated without stifling their creativity:
“One of my expressions is to ‘treat every day like it’s your first day on the job.’ When you do that, it either confirms what was done yesterday was right—or it gives you an opportunity to take a fresh look at something. I always ask our employees not to think traditionally in a non-traditional world.”
On what veterans offer to civilian employers:
“Work ethic, leadership, communication skills and time management, as well as the ability to multi-task and work under pressure are traits I believe veterans can offer any organization. At WWE, we recruit experienced talent from a variety of industries and pride ourselves on promoting from within the company.”
On what veterans should do when they are transitioning out of the military:
“Don’t just be satisfied getting a job. Determine what it is you really want to do and be passionate about it. Be tenacious and don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”
On how to choose what to do with your life:
“My advice to anyone is to follow your heart and passion, and reach for the brass ring. You shouldn’t be afraid to try new things. This may mean working long hours in your current career field and then going into business for yourself in your spare time.
You’ll know when the time is right to make the jump in its entirety, but be totally prepared. You need a well-thought out plan of action. Obtain as much professional advice as you possibly can and don’t let your ego get in the way.”
China has been implementing a system that looks something out of George Orwell’s 1984 called a social credit score. Yet, it has been widely accepted across the territories it operates in and applauded by the population. How can something that on paper sounds terrifying be championed by the public? Is it propaganda or does it really work?
You instantly know who will never pay back a loan
It’s hard to trust people, its harder to trust civilians when you’re a vet. We’ve all been burned by a friend or family member who needed money and tugged at our heart strings. So, we came to their aid only to be met with excuses. Now, I’m not talking about those who are genuinely having a hard time and it is hard to say when they will actually be able to pay you back. No, I’m talking about those who willingly misled people with no intention of ever paying you back. There’s a reason they couldn’t go to the bank and you should be able to know why. It’s a loan, not a gift, especially if it’s interest free.
The police can identify criminals easier
Surveillance is not uniquely communist or capitalist. Federal agencies already know everything about you. In the United States, it may not be actively observed by a person but if the need arises to investigate what you’ve been up to, the U.S. Government sure as hell has logs on your data. VPNs and The Onion Router network won’t help you against Uncle Sam. He practically invented the game of surveillance.
Using a system that knows where everyone is at all times is only a threat to criminals. If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear. Contrary to popular belief, Joseph Goebbels did not come up with the phrase, we did. Upton Sinclair used it in 1918 in The Profits of Religion: An Essay in Economic Interpretation. The Social Credit System can reduce both violent and white-collar crimes by action or deterrent.
The government will reward you for being a good citizen
Once the person had enacted the “honest” behavior, which happened in all the “positive” reports we analyzed, the narratives ended with a virtue cascade. Take, for example, cases in which individuals found and returned lost property to an owner. Here, all four cases assigned to the topic “return lost property to owner” ended by further attributing “self-discipline”, “helpfulness”, “care-taking for others”, and a “sense of responsibility” to the protagonist as part of a virtue cascade.
University of Munich, How China’s Social Credit System Currently Defines “Good” and “Bad” Behavior
Veterans are a selfless group of people, albeit, not always approachable. We have a moral compass that points true. Veterans have integrity. The public trusts us. Veterans are law abiding citizens, even if we get into mischief from time to time. The Social Credit System rewards people who donate money to charity, return lost items to the police, and engage in selfless acts of heroism. The SCS shows who is trustworthy, honest, and hardworking. Many of the virtues valued by the CSC are virtues that beat inside the hearts of veterans anyway.
You can better gauge if someone is a potential spouse
Divorce rates for military members who have been deployed are higher: It’s 12.52% for those in the U.S. Navy, 8.9% in the Marines, 8.48% in the Army and 14.6% in Air Force, according to Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch data.
When I was in Afghanistan, I could only use the satellite phone once a month when it came to the patrol base if we were lucky. I could either call my mother or my girlfriend. They lived together while I was deployed so I could call one and speak to them both. Most deployed troops do not have the luxury of such an arrangement.
We’ve all heard the horror stories of cheating spouses. Some of you reading this may have been victims of disloyal spouses. Looking at your spouse’s Social Credit Score can give you peace of mind. When you see hers plummeting because of immoral behavior, you’re going to know why in real time.
When dating someone and getting to know them you can scan them and see immediately if they’re going to screw you over. Only unethical people would be opposed the system. With a quick scan you can see if your tinder date is just using you to score a meal or if they’re financially independent. A profile on your phone will show you if they’re in soul crushing debt or have a prison record.
You get priority access to privileges and reputable companies
As a model citizen you will get privileges like favorite interest rates on loans, first class travel tickets at better prices, rentals without a deposit and much more financially speaking. For employers, it works better than a background check. For investors, the government will show you how reputable a company is and if they’re operating in good faith. Consumers can avoid companies that are dishonest about their food safety protocols, fraudulent, and downright illegal.
A Social Credit Score is actually a good idea in theory. The system is about trust – but verify.
No matter where you try to hide, Army Special Forces will find you.
That message is clear by watching this video. Special Forces soldiers catch up with some insurgents in what looks like the only structure in the middle of nowhere. Seriously, it’s like finding Luke Skywalker’s house on Tattooine.
However, Skywalker didn’t have SF hunting him down. The door opens and all hell breaks loose. ISIS should know that, especially since they just freed 70 hostages from their clutches.
Top U.S. and United Kingdom defense officials signed an agreement this week to merge some military forces in 2021 to form a combined carrier strike group.
Marine CorpsF-35B Joint Strike Fighter aircraft and the Navy destroyer The Sullivans will deploy as part of the strike group, former Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller announced Monday. The U.K.-U.S. combined strike group will be led by the U.K. aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth.
The agreement was signed by Miller and U.K. Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace. The strike group is scheduled to sail out of Portsmouth, U.K., later this year.
“This deployment underscores the strength of our bilateral ties and demonstrates U.S.-U.K. interoperability, both of which are key tenets of the U.S. National Defense Strategy,” the Pentagon’s announcement on the agreement states.Advertisement
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in November that the task force will operate in the Mediterranean Sea, Indian Ocean and East Asia.
“Next year, HMS Queen Elizabeth will lead a British and allied task group on our most ambitious deployment for two decades,” he said. “… We shall forward-deploy more of our naval assets in the world’s most important regions, protecting the shipping lanes that supply our nation.”
Ten Marine F-35B Lightning II fighter jets embarked on the Queen Elizabeth in September as part of a training deployment. The embark was in preparation for this year’s full-length deployment, Marine officials said last year.
Lt. Gen. Steven Rudder, the former head of Marine Corps aviation, said in 2019 that the F-35 embark would serve as a “new norm” for how the U.S. will conduct operations with maritime partners.
Wallace said the deployment embodies the strength of bilateral ties between the U.S. and U.K., and reflects the depth of the vital defense and security partnership.
“I am delighted that the U.K. now possesses a 21st-century carrier strike capability, which has been greatly assisted by the unswerving support and cooperation of the United States at all levels over the past decade,” he said.
Topical humor has always been a big part of Saturday Night Live history and there have been plenty of military stories in the news to inspire its writers over the last four decades. As the show celebrated its 40th anniversary with a three-hour special that aired on Sunday, February 15th, we’ve combed through the SNL archives and selected the 10 best military-themed sketches.
1. Bruce Willis wants to bring some John McClane-style Die Hard heroics to a Black Ops mission in Afghanistan.
2. General David Petraeus (Will Forte) testifies to Congress about the progress of the surge in Iraq.
3. It’s time to build a coalition to fight Iraq’s nuclear capabilities, but General Colin Powell (Kenan Thompson) seems to have turned into Fred Sanford since his retirement.
4. A TV pitchman (Harry Shearer) explains why you need to spend $50,000 on a Pentagon-approved MacDouglass Drummond wrench.
5. An Air Force fighter pilot (NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon) wins elementary school Career Day over carpet salesman Seth Meyers.
6. Weekend Update’s Seth Meyers examines the Winners Losers in the General David Petraeus/Paula Broadwell/Jill Kelley/General John Allen scandal.
7. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (Darrell Hammond) updates the media on progress after the United States invades Afghanistan.
8. Tired of the Congressional debate about whether to invade Iraq, Vice President Dick Cheney (Darrell Hammond) goes all Doctor Strangelove and rides a missile to Baghdad.
9. Test Pilot Mustang Calhoun (Dennis Quaid) is just plain crazy.
10. Two dumb Marines (Kevin Nealon and Dana Carvey) bring spies to the US Embassy in Moscow.
These just skim the surface. There are dozens of military-themed sketches from SNL. Tell us your favorites in the comments below.
Called the “TEC Torch,” the compact, handheld thermal breaching tool is made up of a handle and cartridge which weigh less than a pound each. The incredibly powerful flame produced by the torch reaches temperatures around 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, a heat which can rip through steel in less than a second.
The TEC Torch was developed after Special Operations Forces (SOF) operating in war-zone environments requested a compact, lightweight, and hand-held tool which would allow them to cut through locks, bars, and other barriers, according to Air Force.
Unlike the lightsabers used by Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, this blade flame burns out after two seconds.
“Confusion Through Sand” tells the story of a young infantryman confronted by overwhelming conflict when he’s sent to a small, sandy village. Scared and alone, he has to fight his way out of an ambush.
The nine-minute short reveals the confusion of war from the warfighter’s perspective. It explores the spectrum of haze experienced by today’s soldiers in the desert, interpreting what happens when training encounters circumstances beyond the realm of human control.
The story is on the ground and under the helmet of a 19-year-old infantryman, according to the video’s Kickstarter campaign.