Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue - We Are The Mighty
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Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue

On July 2nd, 2021, the Pentagon’s top spokesman announced that command of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan would be transferred to the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) from NATO’s Resolute Support Mission, which previously commanded U.S. forces in the country, and which was most recently led by former U.S. Army former Delta Force officer, General Scott Miller. CENTCOM commander General Frank McKenzie, a career U.S. Marine officer, will now command the U.S. forces remaining in the country.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue
Gen. McKenzie, U.S. CENTCOM commander, greets a Special Forces Commander at a Special Forces base in Southwest Asia July 22, 2019. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kyle Alvarez)

Embedded in that announcement — in addition to the fact that command of U.S. forces in Afghanistan will now fall under a regional combatant commander instead of a specific operational commander — was the news that a new operational command was being established in Afghanistan: U.S. Forces Afghanistan Forward, to be led by Navy SEAL Rear Admiral Peter Vasely. 

What exactly do these announcements signify, as far as the nature of future American military operations in Afghanistan? Are we not completely pulling out of the country, as has been alluded to by members of the Biden administration, as well as by some press reports and commentary? It would appear that we are not, or at least, not so comprehensively. 

The establishment of the new U.S. Forces Afghanistan Forward command was described in the press release as a “smaller security mission,” based in Kabul, which would report directly to CENTCOM and be supported by the Defense Security Cooperation Management Office – Afghanistan, based in Qatar and led by U.S. Army Brigadier General Curtis Buzzard. We can glean an assessment of the nature of the U.S. mission going forward in Afghanistan by looking at these latter two commands, and who is leading them. 

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue
Advisors from the 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade conduct an advisory mission in Afghanistan in May 2019. (U.S. Army photo/ Maj. Johnathan Camire)

First, Rear Admiral Vasely is a Navy SEAL officer, he previously served at SEAL Team 6, he was recently assigned to Joint Special Operations Task Force (JSOTF) Afghanistan, and he has also served at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). All of that tells us that he has experience operating in and commanding SOF in theatre, as well as in Department of Defense HUMINT collection (from a management position, anyway). Secondly, General Buzzard (this author exercises great restraint in not referencing a potential new GI Joe villain name) was previously assigned to a number of G3 (staff operations) positions in the U.S. Army, including in the 3rd Infantry Division, the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, and the 82nd Airborne. This tells us that he has largely specialized in operational planning at the command level, presumably including in areas like force demobilization and allocation of resources.

In other words, we know that remaining in Afghanistan is this forward operations element (ostensibly for security, but commanded by a Navy SEAL flag officer), which reports operationally to the combatant commander of U.S. Central Command, and is supported by a more staff-oriented command with “defense security cooperation management” in its name. In addition, there are undoubtedly CIA operations personnel — both core collectors and likely paramilitary officers — who will remain in place in the country, dispersed throughout various strategic locations as they have been for two decades.

The conclusions we can draw based on these facts are: 

— Some number of U.S. Special Operations Forces will remain in country, “advising and assisting” Afghan forces on the ground in their struggle against the Taliban, and providing some level of quick reaction force to respond to both American and Afghan forces in extremis. This will likely entail seeing at least some amount of combat operations. Those same U.S. SOF will also possibly be involved in operations directed against various high-value terrorism targets that pop up in the country from time-to-time.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue
Though the scale of U.S. “advisory and assistance” to Afghan military and security forces is sure to be much smaller, lower-profile military operations in Afghanistan figure be present for the foreseeable future (U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez)

— U.S. military and intelligence cooperation, including a financial component, will continue for the foreseeable future, though no longer emanating from the platform of a large deployed force at war. The relationship will likely shift to a more advisory-focused one, and for simplicity’s sake, can likely be described as an enhanced Foreign Internal Defense/Counterterrorism relationship. The day-to-day logistics and details of that relationship will likely be handled by a mix of diplomats, CIA officers, and military/DOD personnel such as General Buzzard.

— U.S. intelligence operations will continue in the country, and throughout the wider theatre, with counterterrorism personnel primarily focused on preventing a resurgence of al-Qaeda and other transnational terrorist groups, and additional intelligence personnel focused on issues related to great power politics. I am, of course, assuming that such a shift — to a greater focus on traditional intel targets in addition to counterterrorism targets — was not already effected by the CIA in recent years.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue
The drawdown of military operations in Afghanistan and removal of the U.S. main body of forces does not mean we will not maintain a Special Operations and intelligence presence there (U.S. Army)

Frankly, the above configuration of missions and forces seemed the most likely to take shape when the Biden administration first announced its intention to bring “all American forces home” from Afghanistan by 9/11/2021. Realistically, the United States was never going to completely abandon its hard-won strategic foothold in Central Asia, especially with a still-active al-Qaeda and ISIS there, and strategic rivals like Russia, China, and Iran located in the same general neighborhood. That would have been strategically short-sighted, and such a move would have been argued against — undoubtedly vociferously — by the national security establishment in Washington.

It appears, given what we know at this time about the American stay-behind elements that will remain in Afghanistan, that those national security voices ultimately prevailed on the politicians serving in the Biden administration.  

This article by Frumentarius was originally published by Sandboxx News. Follow Sandboxx News on Facebook.

Feature image: U.S. Marine Corps/ Staff Sgt. John Jackson

Lists

9 reasons you should have joined the Air Force instead

You had choices when you showed up at the recruiting offices at your local strip mall. If you didn’t pick USAF you missed out, and here are 9 reasons why:


1. We call each other by our first names and don’t get hung up on rank. (It helps us prepare for not working as a grocery store bagger when we separate.)

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue

2. Because Chuck Norris.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue

3. The Air Force coined the term “counterspace operations” because it couldn’t be contained to just this planet.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue

4. The Air Force has the best and the most expensive toys. This is why the Air Force budget is the largest. You’ve only seen the B-2 because we wanted you to see the B-2. The other ones are the //redacted//, the //redacted//, and best of all the //redacted//.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue

5. The Air Force ages gracefully. (The SR-71 Blackbird is still the coolest thing ever made for the US military.)

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue

6. Iron Man and the War Machine are stationed at Nellis Air Force Base.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue
Photo: Wikimedia

7. The enlisted have the same or better operational survival rate than the officers.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue

8. No service delivers more freedom in one serving.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue

9. We have more female general officers than any other branch.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue
That’s four more stars than you’ll ever have.

NOW: 6 tips for being the perfect wingman

OR: 79 cringeworthy technical errors in the movie ‘Top Gun’

MIGHTY CULTURE

Here’s how active and former military members can get Amazon discounts

Amazon is giving massive discounts on Prime memberships to current and former military members in recognition of Veterans Day, the company said Nov. 5, 2019.

The offer cuts the cost of Amazon’s yearlong Prime membership by more than 30%, to $79 from $119.

Amazon is offering the promotion to US veterans, as well as active-duty, Reserve, and National Guard members. Both new and existing Prime members can take advantage of the offer, the company said.


To receive the discount, military members must visit this landing page on Amazon’s site between Nov. 6 and Nov. 11, 2019, to verify their eligibility.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue

(Photo by Bryan Angelo)

Once eligibility is verified, the discounted Prime membership will be added to the customer’s cart, and the customer will be directed to complete the process by checking out.

People interested in the promotion should also know:

  • The discounted rate applies to only one year of Prime membership.
  • The promotion will extend the memberships of current Prime members by one year.
  • Customers can attempt eligibility verification only three times online. Amazon instructs anyone having trouble with verification to contact its customer-support team by email after the first failed attempt.
  • Prime Student and other discounted Prime members are not eligible to receive the discount.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How DoD is fighting a drug 10K times more powerful than morphine

Ten thousand times more potent than morphine, the drug carfentanil poses a risk to both civilians and warfighters.


The powerful opioid, with lethal amounts smaller than a poppy seed, was developed as a tranquilizer for use on large animals and is now part of the illicit drug trade. Easily obtained, concern about weaponization has led researcher Michael Feasel, Ph.D., of the Army’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, with support from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Chemical and Biological Technologies Department, to determine how to treat exposure to the drug.

Also read: Special ops may try to develop ‘super soldiers’ with performance-enhancing drugs

There is significant interest in opioids and their impact on the population, from the public health crisis of heroin and fentanyl abuse, to events like the Dubrovka Theater siege. According to an article published by researchers at the United Kingdom’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, carfentanil and remifentanil were the main components used by the Russian government to subdue the terrorists.

Carfentanil activates the body’s opioid receptors, depressing the respiratory drive and other central nervous system functions. The anti-overdose drug naloxone (an opioid antagonist) can reverse the effects of the narcotic. However, carfentanil is so potent that larger doses of naloxone may be required to counter its effects. Currently, little research on the effective dosage is available.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue
Michael Feasel, Ph.D., ECBC, studies the metabolic effects of carfentanil. (US Defense Department photo)

“Higher potency versions of naloxone are available, however the Food and Drug Administration has not seen a need to get them approved for human use, until now. These ultra-potent opioid exposures are not only a chemical defense issue, but they are also a public health issue,” Feasel stated.

Feasel is working to understand the effects carfentanil at the cellular and systemic levels. His work will help determine the dosage of naloxone needed to resuscitate casualties of carfentanil exposure. In collaboration with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the ECBC scientist set out to identify metabolites in carfentanil using hepatocytes, or human liver cells. Feasel identified twelve metabolites in a 2-D, in vitro platform, which showed slower clearance. This advancement provides insight into the duration of carfentanil’s effects on the human body.

The follow-on study uses 3-D spheroids which mimic human liver activity and provide more complex results.

Related: How some special operators are turning to illegal drugs to deal with deployment stress

“By using a 3-D subculture we are enabling the access to realistic data,” observed Feasel. With conclusions on the research forthcoming, he is continuing to address the issues of chemical and biological defense and public health to develop methodology which can be applied to relevant compounds.

In fact, his research is so pivotal that Chemical Engineering News, a publication from the American Chemical Society, recently named Feasel as one of the “Talented 12.” Each year, this distinction is given to 12 path-paving researchers and entrepreneurs identified to revolutionize industry and solve global problems.

Feasel’s groundbreaking research not only aids the Department of Defense in protecting the nation and our warfighters from emerging chemical weapons, but has broader applicability to the White House initiative for the war on opioids. By finding the proper dosage to treat exposure, strides in research will reduce the impact if a weaponized version is used on the battlefield or in terrorist attacks.

MIGHTY FIT

Olympian Army spouse becomes Titan for the Central Region

Chantae McMillian Langhorst is an Army spouse of two years, currently stationed in Georgia while her husband trains to be a helicopter pilot. She’s also a mama to one-year-old Otto, Olympic athlete and just won the coveted title of “Titan” for the central region on NBC’s the Titan Games, hosted by “The Rock” Dwayne Johnson.

She’s just a little busy.


Even before her husband decided to join the Army, Langhorst’s life was already deeply rooted in the military. Both of her parents were in the Army when they met, while stationed overseas in Germany. They would go on to serve and retire after 20 years each. Langhorst shared that she absolutely believes being a military kid helped her become more adaptable and independent. She knows those experiences served her well and helped mold her into the person and competitive athlete that she is today.

Langhorst graduated from Rolla High School in Missouri as a track and field athlete. She was also selected as a Nike All American. She received a scholarship to the University of Nebraska and began competing in the heptathlon. During her time in college, she received the coveted title of All-American five times while competing. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in art, she was approached by a coach who suggested she continue competing.

This time, in the Olympics.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue

“One of the best times of my life was learning about myself, how hard I could work and being able to dig deep and figure things out,” said Langhorst. In 2011 while training to compete in the Olympics, she suffered a devastating injury to her patellar-tendon in her knee during a high jump. Although she would never want to go back to that time in her life, Langhorst believes pushing through to heal from that injury to qualify for the Olympics made her a stronger athlete in the end.

Despite that injury, she made the U.S. Olympic team. Although Langhorst didn’t medal, she credits making it to the London 2012 Summer Olympics was one of the greatest achievements of her life.

In 2014, she found herself in Ohio training for the 2016 Olympics. Langhorst became a track and field coach at the University of Dayton. She also met her future husband, who was a sports trainer at the time. In 2015, she was selected for ESPN’s famous body issue. Although she didn’t make it past the trials for the 2016 Olympics, she didn’t give up. Langhorst began exploring the winter Olympics but stopped once she was faced with a surprise.

She was pregnant with little Otto.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue

Langhorst’s husband had begun the process of joining the Army and knowing that little Otto was on the way, they were even more excited for their new journey. They married in 2018 and he went off to Army training in 2019. After his graduation, they were stationed in Fort Rucker, Alabama, where he began helicopter pilot training. Then, Langhorst received an interesting phone call.

The Titan Games wanted her to try out.

They flew her out to Los Angeles in January of 2020 for a combine. A few days later, she was told she made the cut and would need to get to Atlanta to start filming. For 20 straight days she was involved in competitions twice a day and filming 12 hours a day. Langhorst describes it as an amazing experience but also exhausting. She also shared that there wasn’t much food. “I look so shredded on TV because I was eating like a bird,” she said laughing.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue

Langhorst became a Titan, swiftly eliminating her competition in the first episode.

“I hope I can inspire people,” she shared. Langhorst said that she understands how easy it is to get lost in being a military spouse and putting the service member’s career before your own. She found herself doing it before that call from The Titan Games. “Spouses need to know that they can still achieve a lot – even with a kid,” she explained. Langhorst said that having Otto gave her more purpose and the fuel to work even harder to make him proud.

These days, Langhorst is training for the Olympics again with the goal of medaling. Even with her super athletic abilities and tunnel vision goals, she’s absolutely human. She loves donuts, although she doesn’t indulge often. Fun fact: She loves training barefoot. Langhorst is also an artist who loves to paint and still searches for four-leaf clovers, something she always did with her dad who passed a few years ago. Now when she finds one, she feels him with her.

Langhorst has come a long way from the young girl who had her goals written on her bedroom ceiling. She hopes that her story of persistence and drive will encourage others to live their purpose. Langhorst has achieved so much in her life already, but she isn’t done yet. She’s just getting started.

To learn more about Langhorst, check out her website. You can also follow her on Instagram and Facebook as she takes you on her journey to the Olympic trials.
MIGHTY TRENDING

China’s powerful new weapons could be sending a message

China ran report after report on Chinese military developments, leading some observers to suspect that the country is trying to send a message to its rivals and citizens at a time of heightened tensions with the US.

China is “on the verge of fielding some of the most modern weapon systems in the world,” a new US defense intelligence assessment said in mid-January 2019. The Chinese media seems determined to let the world, especially the US, know it’s developing powerful new weapons.

The Chinese military is reportedly working on everything from railguns and knife guns to “carrier killer” anti-ship missiles. Here are seven of the weapons China’s been showing off.


Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue

A record firing of an electromagnetic railgun, or EMRG, at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Virginia.

(US Navy photo)

1. Electromagnetic railgun

Photos of an old tank-landing ship carrying a railgun prototype surfaced online in 2018, and Chinese state media said January 2019 that Chinese warships will “soon” be equipped with naval railguns capable of hitting targets at great distances.

“Chinese warships will ‘soon’ be equipped with world-leading electromagnetic railguns, as breakthroughs have been made,” China’s Global Times reported, citing state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV). Chinese media said “China’s naval electromagnetic weapon and equipment have surpassed other countries and become a world leader.”

While it appears that China is making progress, railguns are militarily useless compared with existing alternatives, experts have told Business Insider.

“This is a part of China’s strategic communication plan to show that it is a rising power with next-generation military capabilities,” Bryan Clark, a naval-affairs expert, said.

China has suggested that the technology could be used to develop electromagnetic catapults for China’s future aircraft carriers.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue

China’s “Mother of All Bombs.”

(Youtube screenshot)

2. China’s version of the ‘Mother of All Bombs’

China North Industries Group Corporation Limited, a major Chinese defense-industry corporation, has, according to Chinese media, developed a massive conventional weapon for China’s bombers known as the “Chinese version of the ‘Mother of All Bombs.'”

The weapon is China’s largest nonnuclear bomb, the Global Times said, citing the state-run Xinhua News Agency.

Although China is using the same nickname for its bomb, the Chinese weapon is smaller and lighter than its American counterpart, a 21,600-pound bomb that the US dropped on Islamic State targets in Afghanistan in 2017.

The weapon would likely be carried by the Chinese Xi’an H-6K bombers. The American version is so large that it has to be carried by a C-130.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue

DF-26 ballistic missile.

(Youtube screenshot)

3. ‘Carrier-killer’ missiles

The DF-26 ballistic missile is not a new weapon, but China recently released, for the first time, video footage of a recent exercise involving the weapon, which is reportedly able to carry conventional and nuclear warheads for strikes against land and sea targets.

The DF-26 is commonly referred to as a “carrier killer.” The video revealed certain features suggesting the missile is a capable anti-ship weapon with the ability to take out a US aircraft carrier. These missiles are also known as “Guam-killer” missiles because they are believed to be capable of ranging US military installations in the Pacific.

Analysts said China released the video of its DF-26 ballistic missiles to send a message to the US.

The exercise sent “a clear message to the US about China’s growing missile capability, and that it can hold at risk US strategic assets, such as carriers and bases,” Adam Ni, a researcher at Macquarie University in Sydney, told the South China Morning Post.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue

Chinese soldier with a “corner-shot pistol.”

(CCTV/Youtube Screenshot)

4. Super-soldiers armed with guns that shoot around corners

Chinese state media said January 2019 that the Chinese military is arming its special forces with “sci-fi” weapons — “futuristic individual combat weapons like grenade-launching assault rifles, corner shot pistols and knife guns.”

Citing a Beijing military expert, the Global Times said China was developing “super” soldiers who will be able to take on 10 enemy combatants at one time.

CCTV said these weapons highlight the People’s Liberation Army’s modernization, according to Chinese state media. The Chinese military is undergoing a massive overhaul with the goal of creating a world-class fighting force.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue

Stealth drone “Sky Hawk.”

(CCTV Screenshot)

5. Stealth drones

CCTV aired a video showcasing China’s stealth drone “Sky Hawk” taking flight for the first time in January 2019.

The drone, which made an appearance at Airshow China 2018 in Zhuhai in November 2018, was shown taking off and landing at an undisclosed location, the Global Times reported. Experts suggested that the unmanned aircraft could be launched from China’s future aircraft carriers.

Another Chinese stealth drone in the works, according to Chinese media, includes the CH-7, which was also on display at the event in Zhuhai.

Chinese military experts said the US maintains an edge in this area, having developed the X-47B carrier-based drone, but both China and Russia are both rushing to develop stealth drones for future missions.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue

J-20 stealth fighter.

6. Upgraded stealth fighter

China is considering the development of a twin-seat variant of the J-20 stealth fighter, which would be a first for fifth-generation aircraft, the Global Times reported January 2019, citing CCTV.

Chinese media said the aircraft would be capable of tactical bombing missions or electronic warfare, not just air superiority.

Having aircraft variations “that other countries do not possess will greatly expand the Chinese military’s capability in an asymmetric warfare,” the Global Times said, citing Chinese analysts.

China has also, according to Chinese media, been looking at the possibility of creating a twin-seat variant of the carrier-based J-15s to expand the combat capability of the fighters, which are considered problematic and are expected to eventually be replaced.

In a related report, China’s Global Times said the advanced J-16 strike fighters now possess “near stealth capability” thanks to a new paint job. Detection may be more of a challenge, but it is unlikely the aircraft could be considered stealthy.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue

A DF-5B missile is displayed in a military parade.

7. Underground bunkers and intercontinental-ballistic-missile strikes

Chinese troops have reportedly been conducting simulated intercontinental-ballistic-missile (ICBM) strike exercises from underground bunkers, the Global Times reported January 2019, citing CCTV.

The nuclear-attack exercises, which are aimed at simulated enemies, are designed to improve China’s counterattack (second-strike) capability in the event a war breaks out, Chinese media explained. The strategic bunkers where the drills were staged are referred to as China’s “underground Great Wall” by Qian Qihu, the man who designed them.

The drill was “about signaling China’s modernizing nuclear deterrence. It is about telling the Americans and others that China has a credible second-strike capability and that it is determined to use it if it comes under nuclear attack,” Ni told the South China Morning Post, adding that he believes it is “in part a message from Beijing to the US about the ultimate perils of escalation.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Navy’s first-ever F-35 carrier just deployed in the Pacific

The US Navy made history on March 5, 2018, by putting to sea, for the first time ever, an aircraft carrier with F-35B jets.


And by deploying them in the Pacific, it’s a message China and North Korea are sure to hear loud and clear.

The US Marine Corps’s Fighter Attack Squadron 121 deployed aboard the USS Wasp, a smaller-deck aircraft carrier that used to operate harrier jump jets and helicopters before getting special modifications to field the F-35.

Also read: Mattis wants the F-35 to be part of the US nuclear triad

“This is a historic deployment,” said Col. Tye R. Wallace, 31st MEU Commanding Officer in a US Navy press release. “The F-35B is the most capable aircraft ever to support a Marine rifleman on the ground.”

The deployment marks the culmination of years of planning. Since its inception, the F-35 has been designed with the idea of accommodating short takeoff, vertical landing variants. Initially, the design compromises forced by the massive tail fan and unique capabilities caused complications, compromises, and long and expensive delays.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue
F-35B Lightning II aircraft assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211, Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW). (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Becky Calhoun)

But the US has still beaten China, Russia, and the entire world to the punch with a navalized stealth fighter that can fight for air superiority, pull off precision strikes, penetrate enemy airspaces, and coordinate with the two US Navy guided-missile destroyers to guide ship-fired missiles to targets ashore.

The squadron aboard the Wasp has also trained heavily on a new set of tactics meant to keep the US dominant in the Pacific region. Leveraging the short-takeoff, vertical landing ability of the F-35B, the pilots and maintainers drilled on setting up improvised refuel and reloading points, and how to quickly restock the jet for battle, much like mechanics performing pit stops during NASCAR races.

More: Japan now has F-35s to challenge Chinese aggression

Additionally, the F-35B has the option of equipping a gun and opening it up as a close-air-support platform to support Marines making a beach landing.

The result is a stealth fighter/bomber/reconnaissance jet well-suited to the Asia-Pacific region, which US adversaries, like China and North Korea, will be sure to recognize.

US competition in the region and around the world put on notice

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue
Four F-35B Lightning II aircraft perform a flyover above the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) during the Lightning Carrier Proof of Concept Demonstration. (US Navy photo by Andy Wolfe)

“You’re about to put, for the first time ever, fifth-generation fighters on a ship at sea and put it into a highly contested area that is fraught with geopolitical risk and controversy and tensions,” retired US Marine Corps Lt. Col. David Berke, a former F-35B squadron commander, previously told Business Insider.

“The implications of a fifth-generation airplane being in [the Pacific] is impossible to overstate,” he added. “They’re going to provide capability that nobody knows exists yet.”

Related: Japan now has F-35s to challenge Chinese aggression

As Beijing pushes on with its massive land grab in the South China Sea by militarizing artificial islands, intruding in territorial waters of its neighbors, and performing increasingly aggressive fighter jet drills around the Pacific, the F-35B deployment gives the US an advantage in terms of air power at sea.

China has struggled to field its own stealth jets that many see as an answer to US air power in the region.

North Korea, not a powerful nation in terms of air power, will now feel the added pressure of stealth jets it cannot track sitting near its shores in Okinawa or on deployment around the region.

Here’s a video of the F-35B landing vertically on the Wasp at sea:

MIGHTY SPORTS

US Army men’s rugby takes gold at Armed Forces Championship

The men’s All-Army Rugby Sevens team won their seventh straight U.S. Armed Forces Championship at RugbyTown Sevens in Glendale, Colorado, on Aug. 24, 2019, beating the Air Force 33-5.

“To win seven times in a row means everything,” said Mark Drown, the All-Army Rugby Sevens head coach. “Everything we do is about representing the Army and winning that Armed Forces championship.”

The soldier-athletes beat the Navy, the Marines, the Air Force and the Coast Guard, advancing them to the championship game where they won gold over the Air Force.


The Army outscored their opponents 198-22 in five games, similar to last year, 159-2. They also went on to earn the Plate Championship of RugbyTown Sevens over 20 national and international teams for the second year in a row.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue

Sgt. Dacoda Worth reaching for the ball during a line out while playing the Air Force at the U.S. Armed Forces Rugby Sevens tournament.

(Photo by Brittany Nelson)

After sweeping the competition, the soldier-athletes mentally prepared for the finals.

“These are good teams and these services are representing all their men and women, and you can take nothing for granted ever,” said Drown. “We wanted to spread the Air Force, expose their defensive gaps and then exploit them, and that’s exactly what our guys did.”

The team was composed of Soldiers from all over the country including soldier-athletes in the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program.

The championship team receives support from the entire Army because all soldier-athletes must have permission from their command to compete.

“The fact that we have been able to get the people out and away from their commands for seven straight years and have good enough players to win a championship has been amazing,” said Cpt. William Holder, the team’s captain since 2017. “The support we’ve received from the commands is great.”

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue

Sgt. Dacoda Worth during the Army vs Coast Guard game at the U.S. Armed Forces Rugby Sevens tournament.

(Photo by Brittany Nelson)

A week prior to the tournament, the soldier-athletes meet to train at Camp Williams in Utah.

“We are able to train two-a-days with no distractions of Glendale or any other teams,” said Sgt. Dacoda Worth, an intelligence analyst at Fort Belvoir. “We get to focus on us and rugby.”

Drown, a retired colonel, uses the camp to work toward his two goals: creating a brotherhood-like culture and winning the Armed Forces Championship.

“The first step is for us to become brothers, coach really emphasizes that,” said Worth, a soldier-athlete of the team for three years. “If we can’t become brothers we aren’t going to mesh on the field. We are from all over so we don’t get to practice every day together. Building the team relationship is important.”

Once in Glendale, the team made their annual visit to Children’s Hospital Colorado to spend time with the children.

“It is an amazing experience to see the kids,” said Worth. “For us to go in and share time with them and uplift their spirits is a great time for us.”

Holder said that all of the soldier-athletes directly support Army readiness because of what they bring back to their units after the tournament.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue

The men’s All-Army Rugby Sevens team won first place at the 2019 U.S. Armed Forces tournament for the seventh time in a row.

(Photo by Brittany Nelson)

“We expect and demand so much from these soldiers,” said Holder. “We hold them to a very high standard. They are able to go back to their units and share what they have learned in the process.”

Holder mentioned that the team meets the Army’s new Chief of Staff’s priorities.

“He has three priorities: winning, which we have showed the past seven years; people, we are constantly looking for the best people; and team, we strive to have the best one,” said Holder.

Holder said the team truly believes in the priorities and appreciates that the team is able to emulate them.

“We have won the Armed Forces championship but we do not want it to stop there,” said Holder, a member of the team since its establishment in 2013. “We have shown that we can compete with the best teams in the world.”

The All-Army Sports program is a part of the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, G9, department of the Installation Management Command. The program is open to soldiers from active duty, Reserve and National Guard to compete in a variety of sports at the highest levels including Armed Forces, USA Nationals and Military World Games.

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Hundreds rescued from wildfires by military helicopters

The situation in California has worsened as 25 separate wildfires are currently burning across the state torching property and stranding fleeing citizens. Overwhelmed, California firefighters summoned National Guard and USN helicopters to aid in the extraction of hundreds of individuals trapped by the flames.

Over the holiday weekend, many people went to the Sierra National Forest, staying at the Mammoth Pool Reservoir, a popular camping spot. The “Creek Fire,” which reportedly started Friday night, quickly began spreading and trapped over 200 people. The fire was aided by record-breaking temperatures and accompanying dry air and winds.


Massive “Creek Fire” Threatens Town of Auberry – RAW Footage

www.youtube.com

Raw footage from ON SCENE TV on September 8, 2020.

Ch-47 Chinooks and UH-60 Black Hawks began responding to the area to evacuate the trapped campers. The rescues began Saturday night and went into Sunday morning. In total, helicopter crews rescued 214 people, several of whom were severely injured. It was reported that the helos were within 50 feet of the flames while loading people on.

Outside of Fresno, wildfires trapped more people as they were trying to escape the burning forest, in the areas of Lake Edison and Chinese Peak.

On Monday night, National Guard and U.S. Navy helicopter crews were dispatched to the area to conduct rescue operations. Heavy smoke thwarted rescue attempts and helicopters were kept at bay until flight conditions improved.

Helicopters were able to access the area by Monday night and began extracting those trapped by the flames. Equipped with night vision, helicopter crews flew through the darkness, rescuing 35 more people, some of whom were reported to have had injuries. Rescue flights continued throughout the day on Tuesday, rescuing another 148 people as the inferno ripped through the California forests.

At the time of this report, some 385 people and 27 animals have been saved from the wildfires by the helicopter crews. It is unknown how many people are still trapped.

Cal Fire’s firefighters have been fighting these aggressive wildfires non-stop since Saturday. One firefighter has already been killed. Three others were injured when their remote fire station was overtaken by the fire. Fourteen firefighters were at the location and were forced to deploy their emergency shelters. The three firefighters injured suffered smoke inhalation and burns. They were airlifted to Fresno; two are stable and one is in critical condition.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, this year so far 87 wildfires have burned, resulting in 4.7 million acres burned; 2.2 million of those acres have been in California. This is a new worrisome record for California, as experts say that peak wildfire season has not yet arrived.

This article originally appeared on SOFREP. Follow @sofrepofficial on Twitter.


MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

This year’s ‘Best Warrior’ tests will be based on actual combat incidents

New events for this year’s Best Warrior Competition will come from the experiences of operational advisors deployed around the world by the Asymmetric Warfare Group, the lead organizer said Sept. 25, 2019.

The competition will take place Oct. 6-11, 2019, at Forts Lee and A.P. Hill, Virginia, with 22 competitors from the Army’s major commands and components vying for Soldier of the Year and NCO of the Year. Winners will be announced at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C., Oct. 14, 2019.

A small Asymmetric Warfare Group detachment at Fort A.P. Hill has been preparing for the competition since February 2019 under the leadership of 1st Sgt. Hunter Conrad.


Conrad served as an AWG operational advisor for three years, undergoing half a dozen deployments to nations such as Senegal, Uganda, Somalia and Tunisia. He also served for a year on AWG’s Leadership Development Troop, teaching brigade combat teams how to operate in a subterranean environment.

The competition’s events, though, don’t just come from his experiences; they’re based on real-world situations observed by operational advisors across all combatant commands, he said.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue

Spc. Hunter Olson, Maryland National Guard, dominates a water survival event involving a 100-meter swim in full uniform at the 2019 Region II Best Warrior Competition.

(Photo by aj. Kurt M. Rauschenberg)

“It’s been a team effort,” Conrad said, and that doesn’t just stop with the preparations. A team of about 15 soldiers from First U.S. Army at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, will be joining his detachment to conduct the competition.

Another 20 or so soldiers from AWG at Fort Meade, Maryland, will be going to A.P. Hill to help run the competition, he said, and a handful from the Army Medical Command will also be there.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael A. Grinston went to Fort A.P. Hill September 2019 for a validation and mission rehearsal of the competition. He made minor course corrections, Conrad said, based on his preference for enhanced, realistic training.

“The Best Warrior Competition is the essence of what we want to accomplish,” Grinston said. “We want to enhance Army readiness by building cohesive teams who are highly trained, disciplined and physically fit. Cohesive teams are the key to winning on any battlefield.”​

In order to enhance the realism, Conrad spent hours studying after-action reports that describe recent incidents around the world that tested the combat proficiency of soldiers. Many of those incidents will be re-created for the competition.

The competition actually begins at Fort Lee with the new Army Combat Fitness Test. Then competitors depart for the operational phase of Best Warrior at Fort A.P. Hill. There they will be tested on various soldier skills as part of a fictional combatant command scenario, Conrad said.

Every year, different skill level 1 tasks are tested, he said, in order to keep competitors guessing. They don’t know ahead of time what skills will be assessed, or in what order, so Conrad said they must be proficient in all of them.

Competitors won’t be able to “just memorize the sequence of events and perform them in a sterile environment,” like they do in warrior task testing lanes at many units, he said.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue

Spc. Collin George, U.S. Army Reserve Soldier of the Year, reassebles an M240B machine gun with his eyes covered during a crew-served weapons class at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, Aug. 14, 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. Kevin Long)

“We actually try to place them in a real-world scenario and grade them on their ability to execute the same tasks in a more stressful, realistically-simulated environment,” he said.

Last year the operational phase of the competition began with a ruck march in the dark carrying 50 pounds of gear. The initial event will be different this year, but Conrad added competitors “can expect to exert themselves physically.”

Additionally, Grinston noted, as the Army continues to study ways to enhance readiness, it must better understand biomechanics and cognitive performance to quantify soldier lethality.

“We need to establish a baseline for soldier performance through the Soldier Performance Model,” he said. “We have a team who will place sensors on each competitor to measure everything from stress and fatigue, to how their bodies process nutrition during the competition.”

“This will help us collect data to evaluate the impact of those factors, and others, on soldiers, and what we can do to help them perform better,” Grinston said.

Last year, Cpl. Matthew Hagensick from the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Georgia, earned the Soldier of the Year title. Sgt. 1st Class Sean Acosta, a civil affairs specialist with the 1st Special Warfare Training Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, became NCO of the Year.

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Why actors who served make such iconic movie villains

Some of the best and greatest actors once served in the military. After they left the service, they came out to Hollywood with a hope and a dream — just like everyone else in LA. But what these veterans had that so many others didn’t was a will to fight hard for the roles they wanted. If you look back at many of the great, veteran actors, you’ll also notice a trend: They all played iconic villains.

From James Earl Jones’ performance as Darth Vader to Adam Driver’s as Kylo Ren, from Mr. T as Clubber Lang in Rocky III to Rob Riggle as the drug-dealing coach in 21 Jump Street, the list goes on. Hell, you could even classify Dorothy from Golden Girls as an antagonistic main character if you wanted to (which I totally do). If you didn’t know, Bea Arthur was a Marine and one of the first female Marine reservists.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue
I’m not going to lie. All In The Family would have been so much betteru00a0if Maude went around and knife-handed the stupid out of Archie.

Now, this isn’t to say that veterans aren’t capable of portraying outstanding protagonists — just look at the biggest stars of the Hollywood Golden Age: Former Navy communications officer Lt. JG Kirk Douglas and Army Air Corps radio operator Staff Sgt. Charlton Heston come to mind.


In fact, all the actors from the infamous three-way standoff in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly served in the U.S. military: Clint Eastwood (Army) as Blondie, Eli Wallach (Army) as Tuco, and Lee Van Cleef (Navy) as Angel Eyes.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Fb3mSVYbDLvow8.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.giphy.com&s=585&h=f309ee6481f5630185f04b80c80ba59ae3f5fe78dd10ba2f8596c982857d6897&size=980x&c=4280914885 image-library=”0″ pin_description=”” caption=”This entire scene is between actors who are veterans.” crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Fb3mSVYbDLvow8.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.giphy.com%26s%3D585%26h%3Df309ee6481f5630185f04b80c80ba59ae3f5fe78dd10ba2f8596c982857d6897%26size%3D980x%26c%3D4280914885%22%7D” expand=1 photo_credit=””]

Van Cleef made a name for himself by playing the antagonists in many films, from westerns to sci-fi flicks (including a role as Commissioner Hauk in Escape From New York). Another actor who made an entire career out of playing villains was Christopher Lee (RAF), who was a bad ass in his own right — even if other people exaggerated his stories. Even the comic-book epitome of villainy, The Joker, was first portrayed by Chief Boatswain’s Mate Cesar Romero.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue
If anyone wants to sh*t talk the Coast Guard, just remember: The Joker was a coastieu00a0(Then again, that may give the haters more ammo. Do what you will with that information).

Veterans make fantastic actors after they leave the service and when they put their heart and soul into portraying the “bad guy,” you can feel it.

Great movie villains are deep. They must convey power and complexity. They shouldn’t ever come off as the old “mustache-twirling” baddie. Veterans who become actors know how to balance this and give fantastic performances.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is where you can read the newly released JFK documents


  • The National Archives is releasing approximately 3,100 classified documents relating to President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
  • The documents are likely to both clear up and inflame conspiracy theories, which have swirled for decades, surrounding the assassination.

The US National Archives on Thursday is releasing thousands of previously classified documents related to President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 assassination.

You can read the documents on the National Archives site.

Sure to be fodder for conspiracy theorists, the files all relate to Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. Following his murder, more than 30,000 government documents — totaling millions of pages — have been incrementally released to the public, although many of them have been redacted or only partially released.

Also read: Here is the story behind John F. Kennedy’s Purple Heart

Much of the public stayed in the dark about the presence of these files until Oliver Stone’s 1991 film “JFK,” in which a closing statement told the public about the secret documents. Movie-goers quickly turned into letter-writers, as concerned citizens began demanding that Washington make the full set of files available.

Congress accelerated the choice to declassify them, and then-President George H.W. Bush signed the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act a year later in 1992. The Act created a review board known as the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) that oversaw the documents’ release.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue

President Donald Trump announced on Saturday that he would not block the planned release of the files, many of which have been classified since the 1960s.

The October 26 release date was not determined by the Trump administration, but instead by the 25-year-old Records Collection Act.

Trump sparked controversy when, during the 2016 presidential primary, he suggested that Sen. Ted Cruz’s father was involved in Kennedy’s assassination and had contacts with Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who pulled the trigger. Trump hasn’t yet apologized for the claim.

Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, just over two years into his presidency. Conspiracy theories about his murder have swirled ever since.

Of the tens of thousands of documents already partially released, approximately 3,100 still remain classified. No one knows exactly what information is contained in the files; the only guide is an index that vaguely lists the contents of the secret documents.

The index does, however, present eyebrow-raising file names that seem to implicate a connection between the Assassination Records Review Board and the CIA. One such batch of files is listed with the subject line “CIA CORRESPONDENCE RE ARRB,” Politico reported.

MIGHTY TRENDING

West backs up Ukraine as it tries to recover captured sailors

A Russian court has ordered several of the Ukrainian sailors who were captured by Russian coast-guard forces during a confrontation at sea off Crimea to be held in custody for two months.

The Nov. 27, 2018, rulings by the court in Simferopol, the capital of Russian-controlled Crimea, signaled the Kremlin’s defiance of calls by Kyiv and the West to release two dozen crew members who were seized along with three Ukrainian Navy vessels following hours of hostility at sea two days earlier.


Raising the stakes after tensions spiked when Russian coast-guard craft rammed and fired on the Ukrainian boats on Nov. 25, 2018, the court was holding custody hearings for 12 of the crewmen. A Russian official said nine others would face hearings on Nov. 28, 2018.

So far, four have been ordered held in pretrial detention — which usually means custody behind bars in a jail — until Jan. 25, 2019. Under Russian law, detention terms can be extended by courts at the request of prosecutors, and it was not immediately clear when the sailors might face trial.

Officials identified the Ukrainians as Volodymyr Varemez, the captain of a navy tugboat that was rammed by a Russian vessel, and sailors Serhiy Tsybizov, Andriy Oprysko, and Viktor Bespalchenko.

The Russian news agency Interfax reported that the Ukrainians were charged with “illegal border crossing by a group of individuals acting in collusion, or by an organized group, or with the use of or the threat to use violence.”

The court hearings came hours after Western leaders, speaking on Nov. 26, 2018, condemned what they called Russia’s “outrageous” violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty as well as international maritime treaties, and called on Moscow to immediately release the detainees.

Conflicting reports have put the number of Ukrainians detained at 23 and 24. The court rulings put them in a situation similar to that of several Ukrainians, including film director Oleh Sentsov, who are being held in Russian prisons and jails for what Kyiv and Western governments say are political reasons.

In the running confrontation off Crimea on Nov. 25, 2018, a Russian coast-guard vessel rammed the Ukrainian tugboat in an initial encounter, and a few hours later the Russian vessels opened fire before special forces stormed the three Ukrainian boats. Six Ukrainians were injured.

The hostilities injected yet more animus into the badly damaged relationship between Kyiv and Moscow, which seized Crimea in March 2014 and backs armed separatists in a simmering war that has killed more than 10,300 people in eastern Ukraine since that April.

Those Russian actions, a response to the downfall of a Moscow-friendly Ukrainian president who was pushed from power by the pro-European protest movement known as the Euromaidan, have also severely damaged its ties with the West.

The confrontation came days before Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to hold talks with U.S. President Donald Trump ion the sidelines of a G20 summit in Buenos Aires on Nov. 30-Dec. 1, 2018.

It followed months of growing tension over the waters in and around the Kerch Strait — the narrow body of water, now spanned by a bridge from Russia to Crimea, that is the only route for ships traveling between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, where Ukraine has several ports, including Mariupol.

On Nov. 26, 2018, Ukraine declared martial law in 10 of its 27 regions — including all of those that border Russia or have coastlines — following what it called a Russian “act of aggression.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned “this aggressive Russian action,” and called on Moscow to return the vessels and crews, and abide by Ukraine’s “internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters.”

Pompeo said both sides should “exercise restraint and abide by their international obligations and commitments” and said Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Poroshenko, should “engage directly to resolve this situation.”

Speaking at a meeting of the UN Security Council on Nov. 26, 2018, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley called the incident an “outrageous violation of sovereign Ukrainian territory” and a “reckless Russian escalation” of its conflict with Ukraine.

Britain’s Deputy UN Ambassador Jonathan Allen said Russia “wants to consolidate its illegal annexation of Crimea and annex the Sea of Azov.”

The international community will not accept this, he said, insisting that Russia “must not be allowed to rewrite history by establishing new realities on the ground.”

Martial law will come into force on Nov. 28, 2018, in 10 Ukrainian regions that Poroshenko said are the most vulnerable to “aggression from Russia,” and will be in place for 30 days.

The measure includes a partial mobilization of forces, a strengthening of Ukraine’s air defenses, and other unspecified steps “to strengthen the counterintelligence, counterterrorism, and countersabotage regime.”

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue

Putin expressed “serious concern” over the Ukrainian decision in a phone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Kremlin said on Nov. 27, 2018.

The Russian leader also said he hoped “Berlin could influence the Ukrainian authorities to dissuade them from further reckless acts,” a statement said.

“The imposition of martial law in various regions potentially could lead to the threat of an escalation of tension in the conflict region, in the southeast” of Ukraine, Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, later told reporters.

Hours before the court hearings, Russian state-run TV channel Rossia-24 showed images of several of the detained Ukrainians that were apparently recorded during interrogations by Russia’s security services.

One of them parroted the version of events put forward by Russian authorities, saying, “The actions of the Ukrainian armed vessels in the Kerch Strait had a provocative character.”

One of the detained appeared to be reading his statement. Russian law enforcement agencies frequently provide state media with footage of suspects being questioned under duress.

In Kyiv, Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) confirmed that a number of its officers were among those captured.

Former SEAL & CIA officer on how US operations in Afghanistan will continue

One of them was seriously wounded after a Russian aircraft fired two missiles at the Ukrainian boats, SBU head Vasyl Hrytsak said in a statement.

Calling Russia’s capture of Ukrainian crews “unacceptable,” the European Union’s foreign-policy chief, Federica Mogherini, urged Russia to “immediately release” those detained and provide them with medical aid.

She also called on both sides to use “utmost restraint” to prevent the only live war in Europe from escalating.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia “has to understand that its actions have consequences. We will remain in contact with the Ukrainian government to underline our support.”

Unlike other U.S. officials, who vocally backed Ukraine and criticized Russia, President Trump did not name either country in a brief response to a reporter’s question about the confrontation.

“Either way, we don’t like what’s happening. And hopefully they’ll get straightened out. I know Europe is not — they are not thrilled. They are working on it, too. We are all working on it together,” Trump said.

Russia’s acting UN ambassador, Dmitry Polyansky, accused the Ukrainian Navy of “staging an aggressive provocation,” which he claimed was aimed at drumming up public support for Poroshenko ahead of Ukraine’s presidential election in March.

“They have no hope to remain in power otherwise,” he said, while condemning Western leaders for condoning what he called their “puppets” in Kyiv.

“I want to warn you that the policy run by Kyiv in coordination with the EU and the U.S. of provoking conflict with Russia is fraught with most serious consequences,” Polyansky said.

At the outset of the UN Security Council meeting on the incident, Russia suffered a setback after it sought to discuss the clash under an agenda item that described the incident as a violation of Russia’s borders.

This was rejected in a procedural vote, with only China, Bolivia, and Kazakhstan siding with Russia. The Security Council then discussed the clash under terms laid out by Ukraine.

The naval confrontation took place as the Ukrainian vessels were approaching the Kerch Strait, the only access to the Sea of Azov.

A 2003 treaty between Russia and Ukraine designates the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov as shared territorial waters.

But Moscow has been asserting greater control since its takeover of Crimea — particularly since May 2018, when it opened a bridge linking the peninsula to Russian territory on the eastern side of the Kerch Strait.

“I have to emphasize that, according to the international law, Crimea and respective territorial waters are the Ukrainian territory temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation,” Ukraine’s UN Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko told the Security Council.

“Hence, there are no Russian borders in the area where the incident happened. I repeat — there are no Russian state borders around the Crimean Peninsula,” he said.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

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