Everything you need to know about Iran's threat in the Middle East - We Are The Mighty
Intel

Everything you need to know about Iran’s threat in the Middle East

With the United States’ coming withdrawal from Afghanistan it may seem like the focus of the U.S. military is shifting from the Middle East to the Great Powers conflicts brewing with Russia and China. 

But America’s enemies in the region are still very much a threat, especially the Islamic Republic of Iran. A recently published Rand Corporation report detailed just how big a threat Iran is in the Middle East, what its goals are, and how it will seek to achieve those goals. 

rand report on iran
Cover image of the latest report on the Middle East by the Rand Corporation.

The report doesn’t just list Iran as a single entity. Rand Corporation’s research details that Iran’s threat is actually a massive fighting force, a network of potentially tens of thousands of fighters, all willing to answer the call of the Iranian government, the Revolutionary Guards Corps, or the Ayatollah himself. 

Rand breaks the network down into four separate classes: Targeters, Deterrers, Stabilizers, and Influencers.

Targeters’ sole purpose is to bleed the United States in terms of manpower, materiel, and especially money. Iran supports certain groups just to keep up attacks on American forces in the region to increase the costs of keeping them deployed. Beyond attacking U.S. troops, they also make it as difficult as possible for the U.S. to operate in the region, deterring their movements and forcing them to consider an Iranian or militia response when planning operations. 

Everything you need to know about Iran’s threat in the Middle East
Iraqi national police Sgt. Maj. Abu Hayder and U.S. Army Capt. Troy Thomas from Alpha Troop, 3-1 Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, talk about the launch sleds and aimed direction of the four 107 mm Iranian rockets which they found hidden under some woven bamboo sticks, in a small village outside of Patrol Base Assassin, Iraq

The deterrers are similar actors, not affiliated with any state, but designed to increase the costs of other countries in the region to operate. This group targets Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. 

Stabilizers are paid to do just what the name implies, to stabilize certain countries or major groups within those countries, usually Iranian allies. Stabilizers are used in place like Syria, which is experiencing massive instability due to the ongoing civil war, but also deals with instability based on its ethnic and religious diversity.

Iranian influencers aren’t on instagram snapping photos, they are used by the Iranian network to expand Iranian influence in the region, giving Iran a bigger say in the area’s greater political affairs. 

This means Iran will never directly attack the United States – or anyone else if it can avoid it. Iran’s military goal is to keep the fighting and instability experienced by other countries far from inside Iranian territory. Instead it will use this network to project its power, influence, and physical attacks. 

Everything you need to know about Iran’s threat in the Middle East
Afghan National Army Lt. Col. Mohammad Taheed meets with village representatives of the Afghan border town of Ghurian to persuade them to implement the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration program.

In the meantime, the United States and its regional allies will have to contend with the threat network’s mission, dictated by the government of the Islamic Republic. The cost of that contention will depend on the American military’s desired goals and the political establishment’s willingness to pursue those goals, likely at as high a cost as Iran can inflict on the United States. 

This also means that the U.S. will have to develop a means of countering the network, which blunt force is unlikely to achieve on its own. Rand recommends the U.S. defense apparatus develop a counter for each of Iran’s classes. 

Because of the American desire to cooperate with locals in the region, Rand recommends caution in choosing which groups to cooperate with, as they could be a member of the Iran Threat Network. To bolster its regional partners while countering Iranian influence, Rand recommends  increasing military-to-military partnerships to build the capacity of friendly forces in the Middle East. 

It all sounds easier said than done, but the United States can be a powerful ally to any regional partner. The U.S. military has defeated networks of enemy operations in the past, including in Iraq, where Iran’s threat network holds increasing sway – so victory is still possible.

Articles

9 seriously strange designs showcased at drone conference

It’s no secret the military is committed to drones, and manufacturers from around the world are coming up with crazy designs to capture defense dollars. To wit, at this year’s Atlanta Unmanned Systems conference, drones that resembled everything from miniature death stars to flying saucers were showcased. Check out this video to see some of them in action:


And see the designs and full story at Defense One.

NOW: The 9 weirdest projects DARPA is working on

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Articles

The reason the British military formed the Special Air Service

In World War II, the British needed a special group of men to tip the scales in North Africa and they came up with the Special Air Service.


The SAS, originally put together as L Detachment of the Special Air Services Brigade in an effort to mislead the Germans and Italians as to the size of the unit, was tasked with conducting desert raids behind enemy lines.

Everything you need to know about Iran’s threat in the Middle East
An SAS jeep manned by Sgt. Schofield and Trooper Jeavons of 1st SAS near Geilenkirchen, Germany, on November 18, 1944. (Photo: British Army Sgt. Hewitt)

The paratroopers of the SAS failed in their first mission but were stunningly successful in their second when they destroyed 60 enemy aircraft on the ground with no casualties.

As the unit continued to rack up victories, they were given more daring missions and better equipment. One team was even tasked with assassinating German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel in France but was unable to reach him before he was injured and evacuated in an unrelated incident.

The SAS history is clearly and quickly laid out in this video from Simple History. Check it out below:

Intel

5 plants you can eat to survive in the wild

We all remember sitting around the dinner table as kids, staring down a bunch of vegetables that we didn’t want to eat. Sure, that assortment of broccoli and cauliflower might not be so appetizing, but it’s all worth it for the dessert.

Fast forward to today — you’re lost in the middle of nowhere and your cell phone is dead. You’re searching for a way out of your sticky situation when something crappy happens: your stomach growls with hunger.

What do you do? Luckily, you’ve got options — five of them. These are a few plants that you can eat to fight off starvation. These might not be the chocolate cake you were hoping for, but when you get hungry enough, mama won’t have to tell you twice to eat these.


Everything you need to know about Iran’s threat in the Middle East

The yummy broadleaf plantain

Broadleaf Plantain

This small plant can be identified by its rubbery texture and the parallel veins that run along the leaves. The broadleaf plantain is packed with such vitamin as A, C, and K. Although the entire plant is edible, it’s recommended that you only eat the leaves, as they’re nice and tender.

Everything you need to know about Iran’s threat in the Middle East

It’s chow time.

Wild Bee Balm

Mainly identified by its lavender flowers, it grows mostly in dry thickets and woodland edges. Known for its edible leaves, wild bee balm can also be boiled to make for a tasty, pre-bedtime tea.

Everything you need to know about Iran’s threat in the Middle East

Dig in.

Prickly Pear Cactus

Found in the deserts of North America, this fruit looks like reddish, purplish pear. Before consuming this potential life-saving plant, be sure to remove all the spines from the outer skin. If you don’t, you’re in for a world of hurt.

Everything you need to know about Iran’s threat in the Middle East

Mayapple

This plant grows in woodland areas and is considered dangerous to eat before it’s ripe. Once the fruit has from green and firm to yellow and soft, it’s safe to consume.

Everything you need to know about Iran’s threat in the Middle East

Almost too pretty to eat.

Mallow

This pretty flower is totally edible and is commonly used as an alternative to lettuce. Mallow is loaded with vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron. You’ll find this plant most often in tropical or subtropical environments and it can be easily identified by its five pink or white petals

As always, be extremely careful if decided to consume one of these plants. It’s possible to have allergies to any new food source.

Intel

This is how VPNs are useless against the FBI

Back in 2013, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the federal government was collecting our personal data. Ever since, Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, are used to encrypt a person’s activity on the internet. The sophistication of these companies has improved and usage of the software is as easy as turning on a light switch. Everyone has that one friend that spews out conspiracy theories that are just flat out wrong. Keep in mind, even a broken clock is right twice a day, this time the government is watching you.

Most VPN services log your activities

VPN logs are the data that providers keep regarding usage of their service. When it comes to what they could store, you have to remember that your provider has access to all of your internet activity. So everything your ISP would normally see is technically now accessible by your VPN provider. Of course, if providers actually logged and stored all of that data, they wouldn’t be offering a very attractive service, and would no doubt lose a lot of customers. Instead, the lack of logs is one of the main selling features broadcast by many providers in a bid to win over consumers.

AIMEE O’DRISCOLL VPN AND CYBERSECURITY EXPERT

Having a VPN that keeps logs of your activity defeats the purpose of a VPN in the first place. All U.S. based VPN providers have to hand over logs to the federal government when ordered to do so. In fact, they’re strictly prohibited on directly telling you if they have been subpoenaed by the feds. A Warrant Canary is one workaround. It is a webpage that they update once a month stating that no secret government subpoenas have been issued. If you use a US based VPN with a Warrant Canary and an outdated page, the canary is dead. So is your privacy.

Foreign based VPNS also cooperate with federal agencies

You may not have heard of 5 Eyes and 14 Eyes countries and that is by design. The 5 Eyes alliance (FVEY) is an agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. They collect telephone calls, texts, emails, signals to weapon systems or radars and share that information. The FVEY is also a convenient workaround to spying on US citizens by having an ally do the dirty work and handing the information over.

CIA director speaking with the President. VPNs are useless against the CIA.
The CIA director can access pretty much any information he wants, VPN or not.

The alliance expanded to Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and Norway and became the 9 Eyes alliance. We now have the 14 Eyes alliance with Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden. The FBI and other agencies can see you if your VPN service is headquartered in any of these countries.

The intention of this alliance is to form a united front against state sponsored intelligence attacks by China, Russia, Iran, and other enemies of the west. What does that have to do with you? Your activity does not have anything to do with national security so it does not apply, right? Wrong. On, March 11, 2020 the House of Representatives passed H.R. 6172, here is the executive summary provided by senate.gov.

The USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020 prohibits the government from using FISA authority to collect call details records on an ongoing basis and prohibits the use of tangible business records to obtain cell site location and global positioning system location, with exception. This act extends the authorization for the reformed expiring FISA authorities, along with the “roving wiretap” authorities and “lone wolf” provision to December 1, 2023. It also requires the attorney general to approve a FISA application to surveil any elected federal officials and candidates for federal office and increases the penalty for making false statements to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court from five to eight years imprisonment. Provisions in the legislation also require extensive reporting on FISA applications, FISC and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review decisions, and investigative techniques used by the federal government.

All an agency has to do is slap a national security label on the subpoena and slap a lone wolf label on you. You do not have to fix in the box, they build it to order around you.

I understand the need to protect our national security and the FBI’s defense against foreign intelligence attacks. I applaud their fervor and dedication to capturing child predators as well. What I do not agree with is the violation of our rights as citizens of the United States. If the federal government wants to hunt down the scum of the earth, by all means do it. They should do it without jeopardizing the confidence of The People.

You can never fully hide on the internet

One of my favorite quotes from The Social Network is by Erica Albright denying Facebook’s founders apology for writing nasty blogs after they broke up. ‘It didn’t stop you from writing it. As if every thought that tumbles through your head was so clever it would be a crime for it not to be shared. The Internet’s not written in pencil, Mark, it’s written in ink.’

So, why does it matter if the government has your information or not? Using a VPN to protect your passwords, banking information, transfer of sensitive documents, etcetera, is a good reason to protect yourself on the internet. Using encryption technology to protect yourself from identity theft is what it is there for. Government websites and commercial websites, like Google, can and will be hacked by foreign adversaries. No one is invulnerable on the internet, not even Uncle Sam. Doxing is when an individual obtains information available on the internet about you and makes it public with malicious intent. If an incel on the internet can find information about you, then a highly trained federal agent can too.

Intel

The Army’s top NCO wants soldiers to design his first tattoo

Everything you need to know about Iran’s threat in the Middle East


Sgt. Maj. of the Army Dan Dailey is known for responding to soldier concerns. He’s overhauled the Army tattoo policy and encouraged the Army to allow headphones with the physical training uniform.

Now, he’s floated the idea of getting a tattoo selected by soldiers.

“I’m a big morale guy. I’m a positive person,” Dailey told the Army Times. “We’re always trying to raise morale, so I said one day, ‘let’s set up a website and the soldiers get to pick my tattoo; they vote on it.’ Could you imagine?”

See the Army Times article and learn how to submit your own ideas for SMOTA’s ink here.

NOW: 21 amazing tattoos inspired by Navy life

OR: 9 texts from First Sergeant you never want to read

Intel

The second season of the incredibly popular ‘Serial’ podcast may focus on Bowe Bergdahl

The second season of the incredibly popular “Serial” podcast produced by NPR will focus on the Bowe Bergdahl case, The Hollywood Reporter is confirming.


The Bergdahl case has attracted plenty of interest nationwide, following the soldier’s release from Haqqani Network captivity in exchange for five Taliban detainees. The Army sergeant is currently facing charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy at his court-martial after he allegedly walked away from his combat outpost in 2009.

Bergdahl’s attorneys claim he was trying to reach a nearby base to report troubling conditions in his unit, while many soldiers he served with believe him to be a deserter responsible for lives that were lost while they searched for him.

Via Maxim:

All of this is ripe material for Serial host Sarah Koenig’s Rashomon approach to investigative journalism, which she deftly applied to the case of Adnan Syed, a man currently serving a life sentence for the 1999 murder of his high school ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee.

Koenig went to great lengths to examine the case from every possible angle—interviewing witnesses whose testimonies were never heard in court, and pursuing other leads abandoned during the investigation that led to Syed’s conviction.

First debuted in 2014, the “Serial” podcast quickly rocketed to the top spot as the most popular podcast of all time. According to Maxim’s reporting, reporters from “Serial” have been seen inside the courtroom at Bergdahl’s trial.

NOW: These rare colorized photos show World War I like never before

Intel

The Smartest and Most Hilarious Army-Navy Video Shot This Year

Like any genre or series, over the years the Army-Navy game “Spirit Spot” videos have run the gamut in terms of production values, imagination, and humor. This one gets the WATM vote for best one produced this year:


Watch the 2014 Army-Navy game live from MT Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland on CBS at 3 PM EST.

NOW: Watch Leonard Nimoy In A Marine Corps Instructional Video From 1954

OR WATCH: From US Marine To Successful Photographer

Intel

Physicists say both sides are lying about the downed Russian jet

Two Belgian physicists have analyzed both Russia and Turkey’s stories surrounding the Russian Su-24 that was shot down by a Turkish F-16 on Nov. 24. Their conclusion is that both countries are making claims that are physically impossible.


Physicists Tom van Doorsslaere and Giovanni Lapenta checked into Turkey’s claims and concluded that two of them were likely false. They reject the claim that the jet spent 17 seconds in Turkish air space and that the Turkish military issued ten warnings to the Russian jet.

Everything you need to know about Iran’s threat in the Middle East
The red line is what Russia claims is the path of their Su-24 jet, the purple is the Turkish border, and the blue line is the path of the Turkish F-16. Map: Russian Ministry of Defense

The physicists also assert that Russia’s map showing the route of their jet is also bogus because the course change claimed by Russia could not have been caused by the relatively small missile that hit it.

To see the physicists logic and math, check out the full story at Motherboard.

Intel

Every way not to use social media in the military summed up in recent video

Social media is a beautiful tool, especially to the military community. It allows troops to keep in contact with friends and family while also giving them a platform to share what’s on their mind. However, when used inappropriately, it can have disastrous effects. Recently, a U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. from the 99th Force Support Squadron made headlines for an expletive-filled and racially charged video she posted to a private Facebook forum. When it was reposted onto a public page, it went viral, getting over 3 million views at the time of writing.


The 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs Chief, Maj. Christina Sukach, responded that it is “inappropriate and unacceptable behavior in today’s society and especially for anyone in uniform. Leadership is aware and is taking appropriate action.” Administrative action is being taken against her. It seems to fit the old military adage, “play stupid games and win stupid prizes.”

Related: This is how the Army teaches you to ‘see green’ -not brown, black, or white

Author’s Note: While the discussions prompted by this video cannot be overlooked, We Are The Mighty will not give a platform to something entirely unbecoming of not only the NCO Corps or the U.S. Air Force, but the entire U.S. Armed Forces. It will not be reproduced here.

Not only is the content of the video disturbing, the 91-second video also manages to go against many of the Department of Defense’s Web and Internet-based Capabilities Policies. Here are a few of the more egregious violations.

Appearance of governmental sanction

Posting comments or videos while in uniform, on a military installation, or during military hours to social media could be misconstrued as an official statement from the U.S. Armed Forces. It’s for this same reason that troops are not allowed to attend many public events in uniform, regardless of rank.

This is why many officials were quick to disavow the video. Despite clearly going against military values, any inaction from up top can still be misconstrued as acknowledgment.

Everything you need to know about Iran’s threat in the Middle East
Even military parades need to go through red-tape. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Berry)

Conduct unbecoming of an NCO

Non-commissioned officers are supposed to lead by example. If a situation arises, the NCO will do everything in their power to correct the issue and move forward.

The video was sparked after the Technical Sergeant wasn’t addressed as “ma’am” by subordinates. A real leader would never complain on social media. Be an NCO — clearly communicate your requirements and make sure your troops address you properly.

Everything you need to know about Iran’s threat in the Middle East
Everything taught at the NCO Academy was undone in 1 minute and 31 seconds. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany Lundberg)

Willingly damaging the reputation of the U.S. Armed Forces

Many of the articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, especially Article 134, cover “offenses [involving] disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces.”

When you upload a rant video — even to a private forum like this video originally was — you can never expect that it will stay private. At this moment, if you type “Air Force” into Google, you will see every news outlet talking about this video.

Everything you need to know about Iran’s threat in the Middle East
This is the image the world should have of the U.S. Air Force — not one of hate. (Image via Air Force)

Intel

Russia may be using directed-energy weapons on US troops

At the end of April 2021, intelligence reports indicated the use of directed-energy attacks on American troops over the course of the previous year. Politico reported that two groups of lawmakers were briefed about an investigation into the use of the weapons, both in writing and in person. 

According to those intelligence briefings, the Pentagon believes intelligence points to the energy attacks on American service members in Syria and they believe that Russia is responsible. Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, later told Congress he had seen “no evidence” of the attack.

In the fall of 2020, a number of U.S. troops in Syria began presenting with flu-like symptoms, the Politico report says. Similar symptoms have affected American diplomatic officials in Havana, Cuba since 2016. The “Havana Syndrome,” as it’s come to be called, is believed to be caused by a kind of directed-energy weapon. 

Everything you need to know about Iran’s threat in the Middle East
Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus delivers remarks during the 2015 Directed Energy Summit in McLean, Va. Mabus spoke about the role the Department of the Navy has in energy innovation, as well as the broader relationship between energy and national security. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Sam Shavers/Released)

The symptoms of those affected in Cuba not only include flu-like symptoms, but far-ranging and more severe symptoms. American diplomats have reported ringing and pressure in their ears, loss of equilibrium, and persistent headaches. The worst reports confirm long-term brain damage. 

When U.S. troops in the vicinity of Russians began to mysteriously develop the same early symptoms, the Pentagon allegedly set up a task force to investigate. Politico says the details about the attacks and the suspected weapons systems aren’t clear.

What is known is that the attack used concentrated beams of electromagnetic energy, high-frequency radio waves, particle beams, or microwaves to hit their targets.The attacks disrupt electronic equipment and cause neurological and other kinds of injuries. 

In Havana, researchers discovered the effects of the weapons can create air pockets in the fluids near the inner ear. Those bubbles float in the paths that carry blood to the brain. Once the cavities reach the brain, they can cause stroke-like effects.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has declined to comment about the reports but insiders told Politico that Congress has been briefed about Russia’s use of the weapons in Syria, but the only response from Congress came from Sen. Jim Inhofe, who only said that they would be talking about it and that discussion would be classified. 

Everything you need to know about Iran’s threat in the Middle East
Dr. Chris Lloyd – a Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) engineer – briefs directed energy capabilities at the second DoD Lab Day held at the Pentagon. Innovations from 63 Navy, Marine Corps, Army and Air Force laboratories and engineering centers were displayed during the collaborative event. Navy leaders have made directed-energy weapons a top priority to counter asymmetric threats.

Amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, and without any direct intelligence of the weapons involved, it’s difficult to know for certain if the attacks on Americans in Syria are really directed-energy attacks or if they are in any way similar to the Cuba attacks. 

Not much is known about the energy attacks on the U.S. embassy in Havana. Without knowing for certain the weapon exists, it’s unlikely the United States would blame Russia for an attack that could just be an unrelated illness. 

Scientists and researchers conducted thorough tests on more than 100 other embassy personnel in Cuba. Since some of the embassy workers were attacked in their homes, they also tested other people living in their respective buildings. No one else appeared to have been the victim, as they displayed none of the neurological damage or symptoms associated with the mysterious “Havana Syndrome.” 

The team that investigated those attacks ruled out any kind of head injury, instead finding that 100 percent of those who claimed to be affected suddenly began suffering from acute onset balance disorders, cognitive issues, and other neurological problems.

Featured image: Image created for the Directed Energy Weapons section of the “Competing in Space” unclassified report, depicting threats that can temporarily impair or permanently damage space-based systems.

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