Known as Joint Task Force 2 and based near Ottawa, the unit keeps tight-lipped about its operations. That’s the case with most special ops of course, but JTF2 has seemingly dodged infamy and insider books. That stands in sharp contrast to the SEAL Team that has become well-known in the U.S. thanks to leaked details of high profile missions such as the Bin Laden raid.
Established in 1993, the unit has around 250 members. According to its official website, the unit was deployed to Afghanistan in 2001 — the first time it had been in major combat operations outside of Canada. It has also been rumored to be involved in combat against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The activities of the unit are so secretive that a query about why no one ever hears about it — unlike other nations’ special operations forces — appears as one the frequently asked questions on the Canadian Armed Forces website.
This video originally posted by Funker 530 gives an idea of some of their capabilities. Check it out:
The boys at “Terminal Boots” published a hilarious YouTube video that was deemed too risky by the higher-ups in their chain of command.
In simple Terminal Boots speak, they went “too gangster.”
In true Marine fashion, they improvised, adapted, and overcame by taking down the original and re-releasing a friendlier safe-for-work version. The end result is a funny video that serves as a navigation guide for Marines confused about the rules of the Corps. You can even say it’s educational.
Trust for Brian Williams, the most popular news anchor in America, has plummeted in one week after he admitted to embellishing a story from his war coverage.
Williams, who anchors “NBC Nightly News,” went from being the 23rd-most-trusted person in America a little over a week ago to falling to the 835th spot, The New York Times reports.
The list comes from the Marketing Arm, a research firm that creates a celebrity index for advertisers and media and marketing executives.
Before Williams admitted that he misrepresented an incident in which a helicopter ahead of his was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade while he was in Iraq covering the invasion in 2003, his trustworthiness was on par with that of Denzel Washington, Warren Buffett, and Robin Roberts, according to The Times.
Williams has recounted the Iraq story several times over the past 12 years and has embellished his role in the incident over time. His coverage of Hurricane Katrina has also been called into question. In fact, NBC executives were reportedly warned that Williams was known to embellish stories.
Earlier this month, Williams said on NBC that the helicopter he was flying in was “was forced down after being hit by an RPG.” Crew members who were on the helicopter that was actually hit by a rocket-propelled grenade then came forward to say Williams was on another helicopter that arrived at the site later.
Whether Williams’ helicopter was hit with small-arms fire (as opposed to an RPG) is in some dispute.
Williams announced over the weekend that he would step down from anchoring “NBC Nightly News” for “several days” in light of the fallout over this story. NBC is now conducting an internal investigation into what happened.
The Army Corps of Engineers was dredging the Savannah River in Georgia when a historic discovery was made. The dredging pulled up an anchor, a piece of ship timber and three old cannons. At first, they were assumed to be from the Civil War. Army archaeologists examined the artifacts with the help of the British Royal Navy to try and identify them.
The bustling coastal city of Savannah was crucial to the British effort during the Revolutionary War. The British hoped to gain the support of colonial loyalists in the American south. To do this, they occupied Savannah in 1778. However, less than a year later, the city fell under siege. In need of support, the Royal Navy dispatched the HMS Rose to relieve the beleaguered Redcoats at Savannah.
HMS Rose had already developed a reputation among American sailors. With her 20 guns and crew of 160, HMS Rose began her colonial tour intercepting smugglers around Rhode Island. She then patrolled the New York waterways and along the east coast where she clashed with Continental Navy ships before she was redeployed south.
With the patriot siege of Savannah intensifying, the French military dispatched reinforcements to sail up the river and join the colonists. In an incredible strategic decision, British commanders determined that the best way to halt the French was to scuttle HMS Rose and block the river. On September 19, 1779, the ship was sunk in the Savannah River east of where River Street runs in the city today. The ship’s sacrifice paid off for the British who broke the siege and retained control of Savannah for the majority of the war.
The five-foot-long cannons that were dredged up were determined to be of 18th century origin and coincide with HMS Rose‘s fate. The anchor and ship timber require further investigation before any conclusions are drawn. “We are looking at whether they came from a single context, or if the anchor came from a later ship,” said Corps of Engineers district archaeologist Andrea Farmer. The Savannah District Corps of Engineers has experience temporarily preserving historical artifacts after the recovery of the CSS Georgia Civil War ironclad from the river in 2015.
It is also believed that HMS Rose may have been partially salvaged after she was scuttled. The question remains, how many more artifacts from the 18th century ship remain hidden on the riverbed? “I think it’s fantastic and interesting when artifacts from maritime history come to light,” said Cmdr. Jim Morley, the British assistant naval attaché in Washington. “It just gives us an opportunity to look back at our common maritime history and history in general.” Archaeologists and historians continue to study the recovered artifacts and search for more to uncover the stories that they hold.
Lt. Danny Nee, a Marine Corps veteran turned firefighter saved a teenager’s life from a burning apartment building on Christmas Day.
His unit was responding to a call that morning when he was notified by onlookers of a woman hanging from a third-floor window. He called a ground ladder and told the woman not to jump, but then realized that the ladder would take too long to deploy and the firefighters were better off rescuing her from the interior.
They made their way through the building, broke through the apartment door and Nee went in with two other firefighters. Nee found the girl, gave her his gas mask and made it out of the building.
Charissa Littlejohn was an aspiring model before joining the Air Force, but it wasn’t until she left the service that her modeling career really took off. In this spotlight episode, Charissa tells her unconventional transition story of becoming a fashion model after serving as an Air Force medic.
When all of her roommates in Las Vegas in 2009 were sent to Korea through the Air Force, Charissa was inspired to join as well. She was trained as a medic, a field she enjoyed, and was sent to Tokyo, Japan.
After four years, she separated and moved back to Florida where her family lived, but on a trip to visit a friend in California, she fell in love with Los Angeles and the Newport Beach area. She also met with some managers at modeling agencies, and her interest in modeling quickly grew.
Modeling became her day job. She did monthly shoots for a local magazine honoring veterans, and wants to remind the people who see her work that veterans are not only defined by their military careers. Once they leave service, they can be whatever they want to be.
She also holds a Masters in Healthcare Administration, further annihilating any stereotypes that might come to mind when you think of the modeling industry.
Now, she’s shifted her focus mostly to entrepreneurship; she runs LittleGat, a holster and apparel manufacturer, with her husband, and holds the title of CEO. It just goes to show that Charissa will make anything happen.
The Nazis had plans to blow up the Hoover Dam during World War II, in an effort to cripple aircraft manufacturing in Los Angeles.
Born out of the Great Depression and completed in 1935, the dam was the largest ever built and stood as a symbol of America’s ability to overcome adversity. It fueled Southern California’s incredible growth – its large cities, its industrial base, its massive agricultural industry, and the nation’s biggest defense plants, according to the National Archives.
This video from American Heroes Channel gives an idea of what happened:
Fortunately, the government was tipped off to the plot and upped security in the area. But it kept fears of the plot secret for more than 60 years, until a historian unearthed documents while doing research at the National Archives, according to Mental Floss.
The so-called Islamic State has people exposing its daily atrocities from the inside.
While the band of terrorists of The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attempt to masquerade as a legitimate government in their de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria, a brave group of activists living inside the city have been documenting life under the brutal regime.
[The group] follows developments in ISIS very closely and appear to be well-sourced inside the city of Raqqa, which is the so-called Islamic State’s capital. The group reported on a failed Jordanian attempt to rescue Muadh al Kasasbeh, a downed pilot from the Jordan Air Force, and his subsequent execution, burned alive, weeks before the hideous video of his murder was made public by ISIS.
Now, in an exclusive video interview from The Wall Street Journal, one of the activists has given his first in-person interview.
“Young guys they just think about going to the bars, meeting girls, and having girlfriends,” the activist says in the video. “But I think about how I will expose ISIS. How I will make the world notice my city.”
A country who doesn’t have nuclear weapons isn’t necessarily just adhering to its treaty obligations with the United Nations. Just ask Iran and North Korea, who both signed the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by 1968.
But it was what North Korea figured out how to do better than Iran that keeps most countries from attempting to get nuclear weapons: creating Uranium-235.
Why would a country want nuclear weapons? They’re expensive to create and maintain, and they cause a huge headache for you once the world discovers you’re trying to build them. After that, your country is a social pariah state and crippling sanctions bring down every other aspect of your economy.
For the answers, we can look to President George W. Bush’s Axis of Evil. North Korea has nuclear weapons and isn’t worried about being invaded. Saddam Hussein is dead, killed almost four years after the United States invaded Iraq. With those two facts in mind, you can make a pretty good guess why the Iranian regime would want to pursue them.
With nuclear weapons so widespread and the earliest nukes being built during World War II, you might think that building a deployable nuclear weapon would be easy to figure out, if your spies got you all the classified information. Well, if we’re talking about how to assemble the individual parts, building a nuke could almost like reading an Ikea assembly booklet, considering how much classified info is for sale out there.
The problem comes when creating those individual parts. Sure, you can assemble the parts of your new Bjorksnas bedframe in your apartment. But could you grow, cut and refine the birchwood required to create the parts? Fashion the leather from an animal hide? Create the metal fasteners from ore? No. And you would have to build all the facilities required to fashion those parts first.
That’s what Iran is facing in its nuclear program. While much of it would be pretty easy to do for any country with all the information required (which Iran probably has), the U-235 is the hard part. They have to separate two nearly-identical parts of Uranium.
Most Uranium is Uranium-238, the isotope more commonly found in nature. But Uranium-235 is the isotope that allows for the chain reaction that will set off a nuclear blast. Separating the two out of Uranium ore is called “enrichment” and it’s a lengthy process even when the Israelis aren’t bombing your research facilities or assassinating your scientists.
The only physical difference between U-238 and the explosive U-235 is in their weight. During the Manhattan Project, researchers used gaseous diffusion plants and centrifuges that spun the two isotopes. Since U-238 weighs more than U-235, the two isotopes separated, either through the use of different pressure zones or through a series of thousands of centrifuges.
Each method comes with its own set of problems. The gaseous diffusion method requires hundreds of miles of tubing and enormous amounts of energy to keep the diffusion going. The centrifugal method requires very specific rotor configurations, difficult to manufacture under the best of circumstances.
Even more difficult is to maintain them when the CIA sends a computer virus to your facility to destroy all the rotors. No wonder the ayatollahs were so pissed.
There’s going to be sequel to “Top Gun” that brings back Tom Cruise as Maverick, but comedian/actor (and Marine veteran) Rob Riggle wants a shot to be in the movie.
With a pretty hilarious “audition” video shot last year for Funny or Die, we say he definitely needs a role. So what if “Top Gun 2” is going to be about drone warfare, Riggle would be way better than “Goose.”
Gotta love the callsign he ends up with: “Ringtone.”
How does a runner on second know when he should steal third? Does a batter automatically know when to bunt? When does a quarterback call an audible – and how can he communicate that play without the other team knowing just what he saw in their defense? Hand signals and codes are simple ciphers designed to communicate a simple message. It’s no different from what intelligence agents have been doing since days of Julius Caesar.
Sports teams have been using encrypted signals since before World War I. Most famously, the 1951 Giants put a man with a telescope in center field to read the opposing teams calls and signals. The Giants overcame an almost 14-game deficit that year to force a playoff with the Brooklyn Dodgers. From the Giants’ center field manager’s office, coach Herman Franks relayed the opposite teams’ signs to the bullpen using an electric buzzer system. The catcher’s call would then be relayed to the batter.
The scheme was simple intelligence tradecraft.
“These are simple messages being sent,” says Dr. Vince Houghton, the curator and historian of the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. “They take a basic step of encryption, the way an army encrypts tactical plans to attack or defend. You can let the enemy know what you’re going to do next, so you can’t send these messages in the clear.”
The reason the ’51 Giants encrypted their signals was the same reason they climbed back into the playoffs: unencrypted messages were easy to intercept, which made it so their hitters knew what the pitcher would do, giving them a huge advantage.
The relationship between sports cryptography and the military can go the other way, too. In Vietnam, Lt. Col. Iceal Hambleton was shot down in an EB-66 near the North-South Vietnam Demilitarized Zone. This was literally the worst situation for military intelligence. Hambleton not only had the intelligence vital to the Vietnam War, but the U.S. military’s entire Cold War-World War III contingency plans. If he was captured by the North Vietnamese, they would be able to give the Soviets the entire Strategic Air Command war plans.
Hambleton survived and the NVA knew exactly how valuable he was. While looking for extraction, he had to evade the NVA patrols looking for him while making his way to the rescue area. The problem was he had to be told how to get there over the radio – and an unencrypted radio was all he had.
Knowing Hambleton was crazy about golf – perhaps the best in the U.S. Air Force – the military fed him the info he needed to move using a simple substitution cypher. It took Hambleton a half-hour to figure out what they were doing.
“Instead of telling him to move south 100 meters, they would tell him to walk the first hole on Pebble Beach,” says Dr. Houghton. “He was tracked by using descriptions of golf course holes he knew well.”
Other codes included playing 18 holes, starting on No. 1 at Tucson National.
“They were giving me distance and direction,” Hambleton later explained. “No. 1 at Tucson National is 408 yards running southeast. They wanted me to move southeast 400 yards. The ‘course’ would lead me to water.”
Unlike using a radio, sports code has to be done in plain sight — that’s where the hand signals come in to play.
For tickets to visit the exhibits and see the largest collection of espionage-related artifacts ever placed on public display, visit https://www.spymuseum.org/tickets/. Also, there’s a $6.00 military discount!