With the help of U.S. special forces, the Armed Forces of the Philippines have been battling radical Islamic terrorists in the south Pacific island chain since 2002. The Philippines, a former Spanish colony, is a predominantly Christian nation. However, its southern islands are home to a large Muslim population. Since the late 60s, there has been some form of push, political or terrorist, to create an independent Muslim state in the southern Philippines. The most prominent terror organization in Philippines since the early 2000s is the Abu Sayyaf Group.
Known officially by their ISIS counterparts as Islamic State — East Asia Province, ASG first had ties to Al-Qaeda. They operated extensively throughout southeast Asia, especially in Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. ASG conducted bombings, kidnappings, assassinations, and drug trafficking to further their cause for an Islamic caliphate. Under the leadership of Isnilon Hapilon, who swore allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ASG began conducting kidnappings and killings in the name of ISIS in 2014.
Simultaneously, brothers Omar and Abdullah Maute, founded their own Islamic terrorist organization in their hometown of Marawi in the southern Philippines. The brothers were educated in Muslim nations overseas where they were radicalized. Bringing this ideology back to the Philippines, they recruited other Muslim Filipinos to their cause. Working alongside Hapilon, Maute group and ASG stockpiled weapons and ammo in Marawi for a planned offensive. It would be their opening attack to establish an Islamic caliphate in the Philippines.
By May 2017, Maute group and ASG had amassed a huge stockpile of arms in Marawi. However, their planned offensive was forced to be accelerated. Working with the Philippine National Police, AFP Intelligence learned that Hapilon, who was on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list with a reward of $5 million, was in Marawi. A surgical operation was launched on May 23, 2017 to capture the ASG leader. However, when Philippine special forces entered the city, they found much more than they bargained for.
Prepping for the planned offensive, roughly 1,000 militants had amassed in Marawi, some of whom came from foreign countries. Heavily armed, they quickly took over the city, burning churches, homes, and executing known Christians on sight. As civilians fled, some Muslims harbored their Christian neighbors who could not get out and hid them from the extremists. ASG and Maute group blocked all roads in and out of the city and took hostages demanding that the AFP cease all military operations in and around Marawi. At the same time, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared a state of martial law for the entire island of Mindanao.
The next day, additional military forces arrived and 120 hostages at the hospital were freed. Key buildings like city hall and a university were recaptured by AFP forces who established command posts in preparation for the coming operations. The Philippine Air Force began airstrikes on Marawi. Army units pushed into the city and battled against heavy resistance. Although AFP ground troops were able to re-secure much of Marawi by May 31, the sections of the city under militant control were a maze of tight alleys and closely packed buildings. It would require Fallujah-style house-to-house room-by-room clearing to secure the rest of the city.
Moreover, Hapilon and the Maute brothers were still at large. Even if the majority of the militants were killed or captured, the escape of the terrorist leaders would be a major victory for ISIS. Heavy street fighting raged through the contested areas of the city as AFP troops rooted out pockets of resistance in search of the high value targets. To complicate the already arduous task of urban combat, the militants dug tunnels throughout the city. Like the Vietcong in Vietnam or the Soviets in Stalingrad, this allowed them to escape quickly and covertly from an engagement and reappear in an unexpected location.
Fighting continued through June with the AFP announcing that it had killed over 200 militants. Still, resistance in the city was stiff and Marawi seemed no closer to being secured. Additionally, an estimated 2,000 civilians remained trapped in the city. On the morning of June 25, a unilateral ceasefire began in recognition of the Islamic holiday of Eid. This allowed Muslims on both sides of the fighting to observe the end of the month-long period of Ramadan. It also gave many civilians the opportunity to escape. Despite the ceasefire, militant snipers continued to engage AFP positions. At the end of the ceasefire, combat operations resumed in full.
In addition to technical support from the United States in hunting the wanted terrorist leaders, the Philippines accepted the aid of the Australians. Two AP-3C Orion surveillance planes were sent to the Philippines to support the battle. By July, AFP reported nearly 400 militants had been killed and over 700 civilians had been rescued. Still, 93 AFP service members were KIA and at least 45 civilians were dead.
On July 20, AFP forces scored a major strategic victory. Mapandi bridge, which provides access to Marawi’s commercial center, was retaken. This allowed AFP armored vehicles to push further into the city. Intense close-quarter fighting continued in the city’s rubble. IEDs and militant snipers made progress slow and deadly. However, AFP forces scored a major victory when Abdullah Maute was killed in an airstrike on August 7. His death was a morale boost for the weary Filipino troops who had been engaged in heavy and constant combat for months.
On August 18, the AFP announced that the combat zone had been reduced to an area covering 800×600 meters. Still, this section of the city contained 400 buildings which would have to be cleared one-by-one in search of Hapilon and Omar Maute.
By September, the combat zone had been reduced to an area of 500 square meters. However, these gains came at a high cost. Hundreds of Filipino troops had been wounded and dozens killed. On September 24, the last key bridge in Marawi was captured by the AFP, effectively isolating the remaining militants. Although Islamic representatives lobbied for a peace agreement, the Philippine government rejected them, saying that it was too little, too late. They would accept nothing less than total victory over the terrorists. In October, a major development occurred that would help bring the fighting to an end.
A hostage who had been held by Hapilon and Maute managed to escape to AFP lines and informed them of the location of the terrorist leaders. Army Special Forces Command quickly planned a top-tier operation. Elements of the 1st Scout Ranger Regiment and the Light Reaction Regiment, modeled after the 75th Ranger Regiment and Delta Force respectively, were tasked with clearing the suspected location and killing or capturing Hapilon and Maute. Trained by their American counterparts, these were the best men for the job. Supported by armored fighting vehicles, the commandos executed the operation on October 16.
As the special forces troops assaulted the target building, Hapilon and Maute escaped out the back. However, they were engaged by the remainder of the commandos and the armored vehicles who had secured the rear of the building. Maute was almost immediately killed by the .50-cal gunner in one of the vehicles. However, the gunner was unable it identify the fleeing militant as Maute through his thermal sight. Meanwhile, Hapilon was engaged by Ranger sniper teams who struck him three times in the chest. Despite going down, Hapilon harmlessly returned fire until he succumbed to his wounds.
The commandos killed a further 8 militants in securing the target building. 17 hostages including women, children, and a 2-month-old baby, were rescued. There were no AFP or civilian casualties. Once the target area was secure, the commandos went through the bodies and identified Hapilon and Maute. The announcement of their deaths was met with celebration across Marawi. DNA samples were sent to the FBI in the United States who confirmed the identities of the terrorist leaders.
The next day, President Duterte flew down to Marawi and declared the city’s liberation from the Islamic state. Fighting continued until October 23, exactly five months from the start of the battle, when the last pockets of ASG and Maute fighters were eliminated. The victory was hard-won. 168 Philippine service members were killed and over 1,400 were wounded. Sadly, 87 civilians also lost their lives during the five months of fighting. Still, 978 militants were killed and 12 were captured. The Battle of Marawi dealt a major blow to ASG and all but eliminated Maute group.
Marawi itself suffered greatly. 95% of structures in the 4 square kilometer combat zone were damaged, if not completely destroyed. This left 200,000 civilians displaced. The battle was the most intense and destructive in the Philippines since WWII. Rehabilitation and recovery efforts continue to this day.
The Battle of Marawi was the ultimate failure for ISIS in southeast Asia and a display of strength and unity for the Filipino people. ASG and Maute group were unable to establish their caliphate. Moreover, the Filipino people, Muslims, Christians, soldiers, and civilians alike, stood side-by-side against the violence and terror brought upon them and prevailed.
The guys over at World of Tanks and Google have made a 360-degree video of a World War II combat reenactment. Of course, World of Tanks made sure there were plenty of tanks in the video.
There are also infantrymen moving through trenches to shoot at the enemy and howitzers firing across the battlefield.
Check it out below. Click and drag the screen with your mouse cursor to look in any direction you like. Try watching it a few times and looking in different angles. We found new stuff our first few times watching it.
As foreign air defenses become more and more sophisticated, Air Force planners are working solutions to keep America’s technical edge, an edge that has been narrowing for the past few years. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh wants cyber solutions to enemy systems like the Russian Buk, the probable weapon that downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. He’s looking for cyber weapons that do things like filling an operator’s screen with false contacts, stopping a missile from launching or, the ultimate solution, allowing a missile to launch before redirecting it to attack its own launcher.
For the full rundown, check out this article at Defense One
New Jersey Air National Guardsman Tech. Sgt. Justin Gielski is a contestant this year on “American Ninja Warrior.” He competed in the San Pedro, California, qualifiers and finals filmed in front of the USS Iowa.
In the qualifying round, Gielski placed 14th and was invited back the next night for the San Pedro finals where he placed 5th. He will compete in the Las Vegas National finals which begin airing on NBC this Monday night. Gielski told Kent Reporter journalist Heidi Sanders that, “Going into it I thought it would be a one-time thing, but now I am going to try to come back as many years as they let me.”
See him describe what drove him to ANW and how he trains for the competition in the video below.
This video documents what it’s like to have Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The words spoken in this video are those of real soldiers — soldiers who have personally suffered from TBI and PTSD most common injuries in returning soldiers. Sadly, too many of these injuries go undiagnosed or untreated — affecting not just soldiers, but their families. Join NAPA and the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund in our mission to help soldiers and their families have a safe and effective place to heal.
The Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) is a slingshot on steroids.
Compared to steam catapults, the new launch system is lighter, smaller and requires less maintenance while increasing controllability, reliability, and efficiency, according to the Naval Air Warfare Center. The system is designed tolaunch up to 25 percent more aircraft – manned or unmanned – with greater precision.
By eliminating the use of steam, the EMALS system may contribute to the quality of life for sailors sleeping below decks. “The water brake has been removed, so from that perspective, the [catapult] will get quieter,” said Donnelly in an interview with Defense Media Network. “You’ll continue to hear the shuttle noise, jet blast deflectors and hooks hitting the flight deck in the arresting gear area.”
The EMALS system is over 15 years in the making. The system was tested from land-based sites, but this video shows the system being tested from the pre-commissioned USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78).
The ad begins with a slow build as images of young people, whose options are limited because of the COVID-19 pandemic, few job prospects and skyrocketing tuition, are projected on the screen.
“Who do you think is going to fix all this?’’ the narrator asks.
In a recruiting campaign called “The Next Greatest Generation is Now,’’ which launched last week, the Army National Guard is trying to reach Generation Z.
Gen Z, generally defined as people born between 1997 and the early to mid-2010s, comprises about 20% of the 331 million Americans.
“Ultimately, the ARNG hopes to connect with young people who are interested in making a difference for their communities and our nation, but haven’t considered part-time ARNG service as a means to accomplishing their own life goals and staying true to their other interests,’’ spokeswoman Cheryle Rivas said in an email.
Kathryn Bigelow produces and directs the spots. Bigelow, 69, won the 2010 Academy Award for best director for “The Hurt Locker,’’ a film about the Iraq War starring Jeremy Renner. She was selected after submitting a bid to the Army’s advertising agency.
Three ads were produced in varying formats and will appear on national and local outlets, Rivas said. Ads will be produced in different lengths; one minute is the longest, six seconds the shortest.
“The campaign will employ a mix of youth-targeting advertising media to reach Gen Z prospects across their preferred platforms and areas of interest, including esports and college sports,’’ Rivas said.
The ads began appearing on Monday, Jan. 26, on several online video channels, including CBS, ESPN and Fox Sports, and Hulu. Digital media is slated for Bleacher Report, Twitch, CNN and Gamespot, among others, with a social media push slated for Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and Reddit.
The campaign will appear during regular-season college basketball games and through March Madness. In hoops terminology, the Army National Guard is planning a full-court press to entice new recruits from Gen Z.
“The ads include actual Army National Guard soldiers who are currently serving and are the same age demographics of Gen Z,’’ Rivas said. “Activities depicted in the ads range from the soldiers’ civilian pursuits to their military occupations and scenarios related to the Army National Guard’s federal and domestic missions.’’
More than 100 pieces of contents have been created, Rivas said. The Army National Guard expects them to be in use for up to two years, she said.
It’s an ambitious program — and not a subtle one.
As the action picks up in the one-minute ad, Guard members are shown in rapid-fire sequences as the narrator discusses the opportunities potentially awaiting Gen Zers.
He mentions building bridges and hospitals, saving families from disaster and assisting others in need.
“We’re going to do all this and more, because we have an appointment with destiny,’’ the narrator said. “We invite you to join us.’’
Early returns are that this recruiting mission is having an impact.
After viewing the ad online, one commenter said he was 19 and was motivated to “help my fellow citizens.’’ He said he plans to join the Guard.
That’s exactly what the Army National Guard wants to hear.
“‘The Next Greatest Generation Is Now’ campaign lets Gen Z know that the ARNG understands that they are the future of our organization and is confident that Gen Z’s energy, creativity and determination will solve the complicated problems facing our nation and its communities,’’ Rivas said.
The US Lockheed U-2 Spy plane is arguably one of the most capable platforms in the sky, but it needs backup when it comes in for a landing.
With only two wheels, the aircraft is incredibly unsteady when it touches down, and pilots have their hands full during the entire landing process.
The solution? Send a back-up pilot to trail the plane in a car while offering control inputs. The ground pilot can reach speeds around 140 mph while attempting to keep up with the aircraft. And without his help the plane could ground loop or worse.
Navy Rear Adm. Dave Thomas took part in an “Undercover Boss”-like segment for a local news channel where he dressed up as a junior enlisted seaman.
When the world’s saltiest “E-3” arrives with a camera crew, it’s like a “Hello, my name is Matt” moment, but the sailors play along. The admiral attempts to scrape rust and load an amphibious landing vehicle under the careful watch of petty officers before the big reveal.
Weapons that have uncontrollable effects or cause unjustifiable suffering are banned from being used in war. These weapons are so insidious that more than 115 nations have signed The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) also known as the Inhumane Weapons Convention.
Despite the CCW and various other treaties that prohibit these weapons, some countries continue to use them. This video shows the types of weapons that are illegal under the CCW and why.
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.
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.
The U.S. Navy Blue Angels and U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds unveiled their new “Super Delta” formation during a joint training session over the Imperial Valley in California on Tuesday. The Blue Angels and Thunderbirds are the two services’ flight demonstration squads, known the world over for their spectacular shows and incredible aircraft control.
“The formation grew out of a series of joint training opportunities held in 2020 and 2021, and serves as a symbol of the teamwork, discipline, and skill of the men and women of our United States military forces deployed around the globe,” read the Blue Angels’ Instagram post.
The “Super Delta” formation consists of six U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets operated by the Blue Angels flying in their standard delta formation while flanked on either side by six F-16 Fighting Falcons from the Air Force’s Thunderbirds. Three F-16s flank the Delta formation on either side, forming a massive flying wing made up of some of America’s top-tier 4th generation fighters.
This unveiling is of particular import for the Navy’s Blue Angels, who are entering their 75th performance season. 2021 also marks the first year the Blue Angels operate with Super Hornets, as opposed to the team’s previous legacy F/A-18 Hornets.
Over the past year, with many of each team’s performances cut due to Covid, the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels traveled around the country performing complex maneuvers over communities and hospitals struggling to control the spread of the virus. The high-performance jets gave the folks below a small morale boost, while also allowing the pilots to continue honing their skills behind the stick.
However, even amid working together for these morale flights, the two teams have never formed a single formation like the “super delta” before. According to the Thunderbirds Twitter account, the teams plan to unveil this new formation during a nation-wide broadcast of the National Memorial Day Parade later this year.