Joint operation kills 100 extremists in the Sahel - We Are The Mighty
Intel

Joint operation kills 100 extremists in the Sahel

In an extensive joint operation, Mali’s armed forces, working with the French military, killed 100 jihadist terrorists and captured 20 more according to a statement released by the Malian military. “One hundred terrorists were neutralized, about 20 captured and several motorbikes and war equipment were seized” during the joint operation with France’s troops, which aims to root out Islamic jihadists in the arid Sahel region, the Malian army said on its website.

The army said the extended operation lasted from January 2nd to the 20th. It targeted areas along the border with Burkina Faso where jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS) control large remote areas of the desert. The national government has little influence in those areas and the jihadists regularly carry out raids on small army outposts and civilians.

“The purpose of this operation was to force the enemy out of its areas of refuge,” the Malian army added.

Mali has struggled with an insurgency since 2012 when Taureg separatists rebelled against the national government. Their insurgency was quickly hijacked by Islamic terrorist groups which saw an opening and seized the chance to spread their vision of an Islamic caliphate in the region as they were being squeezed in the Middle East. 

Soon, the Islamist insurgency spread into the neighboring countries of Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad. The four countries, along with Mali, comprise the G5 Sahel group, which coordinates in battling the insurgency and promoting security in the region.

Joint operation kills 100 extremists in the Sahel
A simplified map of the G5 Sahel. (Source: AFP)

The tri-border region joining Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, known as the Liptako Gourma region, has become a hub for a range of security threats perpetrated by armed state and non-state religious and political groups. Such groups include criminal organizations, bandits, and kidnappers.

France, Mali’s former colonial ruler, came to the aid of the country by moving 4,100 troops into the West African nation in 2013. It pushed the insurgents, who were closing on the capital of Bamako, back into the country’s outlying regions. But the insurgents reorganized, regrouped, and have since continued to threaten security in the region. Read Next: French Airstrikes Kill Fifty al-Qaeda Jihadists in Mali

Last year, France sent an additional 1,000 troops into the country. It has also created the Special Operations Task Force – Takuba. The task force is comprised of special operations troops from Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. They advise, assist, and accompany troops from the G5 Sahel nations. 

France is holding a summit of French and Sahel leaders in Chad in February, where the French are expected to announce a troop reduction. The French had held a similar meeting in France a year ago.

President Emmanuel Macron has publicly stated that he plans to “adjust French efforts.” Defense Minister Florence Parly has issued similar statements. It is expected that the French will at least withdraw the additional 1,000 troops that they had deployed last year.

Public sentiment in France is against the country’s long military commitment in Mali. So far, this year, five French soldiers have been killed by IEDs.

Doctors Without Borders, a humanitarian NGO, reported on its website that the deteriorating security situation has resulted in the massive forced displacement of the civilian population. Across Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger 1,930,482 people have been internally displaced and 851,338 have fled to other countries as of November 2020.

And the violence has spread south to Nigeria. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that almost three million people are displaced across the four countries, with more than two million people displaced in Nigeria alone.

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

Intel

This tradition has two churches fighting a holy rocket war

The Greek town of Vrontados on the island of Chios has an Easter tradition they call Rouketopolemos, which literally means Rocket War.


This annual event pits two rival parishes against each other by firing tens of thousands of home-made rockets at the opposing side’s bell tower. The next day, both congregations count the direct hits to determine the winner, but no matter the results, each parish claims victory. Since both sides end in disagreement, they agree to settle the score next year, thus perpetuating the rivalry.

The origins of this tradition are unclear, but one popular story states that it was born from the Turkish occupation of Greece. People from the island were prohibited from celebrating Easter the way they used to. So, the Christians from the churches of San Maria and San Marco decided to have a fake war with rockets to keep the Turkish away. Frightened by the sudden violence, the Turkish kept their distance. In the meantime, the communities celebrated Easter they way they were accustomed to, according to Rocketwar.

The midnight rocket war is truly a spectacle, the action begins at 3:40 of this video:

NOW: This guy built the ultimate gatling gun out of Roman candles

OR: 13 signs you’re an infantryman

Intel

Marine Corps vet turned Star Wars villain is hilarious in this SNL sketch

Adam Driver’s star is shining bright, thanks to the blockbuster success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.


Related: Meet the Marine veteran turned ‘Star Wars’ villain

If you’ve seen the flick, then you know that his character, the evil Sith Lord Kylo Ren, has a bit of a temper. Some hilariously associate his character to being emo, which is fitting given the way he spoofed himself on Saturday Night Live. As the sketch goes, Kylo Ren infiltrates Starkiller Base Undercover Boss style as a radar technician to find out what his employees think of him. It turns out that the truth hurts, and Kylo reacts in typical Kylo fashion.

Watch:

Articles

The AC-130 ‘Ultimate Battle Plane’ Is Getting Even More Firepower

Joint operation kills 100 extremists in the Sahel
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons


Air Force Special Operations Command is taking the mantra of “you can never have too much firepower” to heart.

The AC-130 — a modified cargo plane-turned-close air support platform outfitted with a deadly array of weaponry — is about to get a big weapons upgrade, to include another 105mm cannon added to the rear of the plane.

Also Read: V-22 Osprey Rockin’ Rockets Now 

“I want to have two guns,” AFSOC Commander Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold said at a recent Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla, while also calling it “the ultimate battle plane,” according to the Air Force Times.

The Air Force Times has more:

AFSOC plans to add a 105mm cannon to the rear of the plane. That is in addition to the weapons the aircraft is already slated to carry — dual electro-optical infrared sensors, a 30mm cannon, AGM-176A Griffin missiles, all-weather synthetic aperture radar and GBU-30 small diameter bombs. The package was developed to let the gunship identify friendlies and targets at night and in adverse weather.

The upgraded AC-130J “Ghostrider” is currently in the test phase and is slated to replace the AC-130H “Spectre,” AC-130U “Spooky,” and the AC-130W “Stinger II.”

With sophisticated sensors and electronics, the plane is a favorite among ground troops in need of close air support. The AC-130 was used extensively over the skies of Fallujah in 2004, where a reporter embedded with the Marines there remarked: “It’s the air power that really [tipped] the balance towards the Marines.”

NOW: This Powerful Film Tells How Marines Fought ‘One Day Of Hell’ In Fallujah 

OR: This Remarkable Video Shows What It’s Like For Medevac Crews To Rescue Troops Under Fire

Articles

Why the Glock is the sidearm of choice in Special Operations

When people think of U.S. military pistols, the M1911 and M9 come to mind. The former is iconic for being in service in some capacity for over a century and winning two World Wars. The latter is well-known as the standard-issue sidearm since 1985. However, the Glock 19 has quickly become a favorite in Special Operations. After all, these top-tier operators get to cherry-pick the best equipment available over the standard-issue gear.

Joint operation kills 100 extremists in the Sahel
A MARSOC Raider fires a Glock 17 (U.S. Marine Corps)

Introduced in 1982, the Glock is arguably the most iconic handgun in the world. Its boxy shape and common depiction in media make it instantly recognizable. Moreover, its lightweight polymer frame revolutionized the firearm industry. Even the new standard-issue sidearm, the Sig P320-derived M17/M18, follows this design methodology. Despite initial doubts over the strength of a polymer-framed handgun, the Glock has proven its dependability over decades of use in the hands of soldiers and law enforcement officers all over the world.

Despite its track record, the Glock lost to the aforementioned Sig for the contract as the U.S. military’s standard-issue sidearm. A major factor in this decision was the fact that the Sig provided the modularity that the contract called for with its interchangeable chassis system while the Glock did not. After all, it was called the XM17 Modular Handgun System competition. Sig also bid with a specialized ammunition package from Winchester which reportedly edged it out over Glock.

Joint operation kills 100 extremists in the Sahel
General Miller, the top man in Afghanistan for years, and former Delta operator, with a tricked out Glock on his hip (U.S. Army)

The cost of arming and rearming an organization the size of the U.S. military is an enormous one. However, Special Operations has a much smaller population to supply and a bigger budget per capita. As a result, SOCOM is able to supply its operators with the best gear for the job at hand. Delta Force has reportedly used the .40 S&W-chambered Glock 22 heavily in the Global War on Terror. However, advancements in 9mm ammo and reduced maintenance have led to reports that they have switched to the Glock 19. The Navy SEALs famously used the Sig Sauer P226-based MK25 before making the switch to the Glock 19. Even the MARSOC Raiders have traded in their steel-framed .45 ACP 1911s for Glocks. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention General Austin “Scott” Miller and his tricked out Glock.

As part of a system, the Glock 19 makes sense a lot of sense. Its compact size and polymer frame save weight on an operator’s total kit. Remember, ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain. The Glock 19 is also accurate enough to serve as a combat sidearm while being small enough to conceal for the more covert operations that SOCOM undertakes. Although the majority of the U.S. military has modernized with the adoption of the M17/M18, SOCOM continues to field the tried and true Glock.

MARSOC Marines go through the Tactical Driving and Shooting Course with carbines and Glocks (U.S. Marine Corps)

Feature image: A representative assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group fires a Glock 19 Pistol during range training in support of Emerald Warrior Feb. 24, 2021 at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Emerald Warrior is the largest joint special operations exercise where U.S. Special Operations Command forces train to respond to various threats across the spectrum of conflict. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Gabriel Macdonald)

Intel

Why British intelligence officials believe Russian power is in decline

Richard Moore hasn’t been the head of the United Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Service (also known as MI6) for very long, but he has learned one important thing, something he recently divulged to the British people through the London Times Radio.

It’s the first time any MI6 chief has ever given a radio interview and the only one whose identity was ever made public.

While discussing the recent allegations that Russia’s GRU intelligence service destroyed a Czech arms factory, he began talking about recent tensions between Russia and NATO due to the Russian buildup of troops along its border with Ukraine. 

“When you get that pattern of reckless behavior, of course you then look at what is happening around Ukraine and of course it worries us,” Moore told the Times.

Russia has since withdrawn 10,000 of the total 30,000 troops in the area in an effort to de-escalate the situation. Moore says the United States and the United Kingdom warned President Vladimir Putin about the damage a Russian invasion of Ukraine would cause, despite it not being a member of the NATO alliance. 

Joint operation kills 100 extremists in the Sahel
Vladimir Putin at the Victory Day Parade (President of the Russian Federation CC BY 4.0)

He then went on to say that Russian influence and power is in decline. 

“Russia is an objectively declining power economically and demographically,” he said. “It is an extremely challenged place. And clearly the treatment of Alexei Navalny, as we saw with the thousands of protesters on the streets of … a number of cities, shows that there is a deal of disaffection with Mr. Putin.”

Alexei Navalny is the most prominent critic of Putin and the Kremlin. The lawyer and anti-corruption activist has been described as “the man Vladimir Putin fears most.” He has been in the custody of Russian officials since returning to Russia after recovering from a poisoning attempt in Germany by the Russian internal security service. 

Navalny recently ended a hunger strike in prison to protest his treatment by prison officials. He has widespread support inside Russia. 

In response to the Russian buildup, Britain moved two of its ships into the Black Sea area off the coast of both Russia and Ukraine, along with two American ships that made the same move. Both are said to be public displays of support for Kiev by the two NATO allies.

A recent UK defense review order by Prime Minister Boris Johnson listed Russia as Britain’s top security concern. The periodic defense reviews decide how the country will structure its defense posture and how it will allocate money and resources to meet those needs. 

The most recent review, finished in March 2021, promoted an intelligence-driven military that could compete with Russian capabilities in warfare that isn’t necessarily conducted on a physical battlefield – also known as “gray zone warfare.” the review also called for the construction of new ships designed to protect underwater communications cables from Russian interference. 

Joint operation kills 100 extremists in the Sahel
North American Aerospace Defense Command F-22 Raptors, supported by KC-135 Stratotankers and an E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System, successfully completed two intercepts of Russian bomber aircraft formations entering the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone in June 2020

This also means that physical battlefield hardware will have to be reduced, including armored infantry fighting vehicles and the vaunted Challenger 2 tank as the British military focuses on data-driven combat. 

While the reduction in force alarmed some American military officials, it made sense to many high-ranking officers in Britain. While MI6 believes Russia is a power in decline, recent events show that a large movement of Russian troops shows that the Russian Bear still has plenty of teeth left for the time being. The British simply believe where, when, and how it chooses to use its remaining power won’t necessarily be on the battlefields of Eastern Europe.

Articles

President ponders review of terrorist suspect interrogation and black sites

President Donald Trump is reportedly considering an executive order setting up a review of interrogation practices, including whether to re-open so-called “black sites” run by the CIA under the George W. Bush administration.


According to a report by CBSNews.com on a leaked draft of the order, the initiative would reverse executive orders issued by President Obama regarding Guantanamo Bay and interrogation techniques. Those orders were signed on Jan. 22, 2009.

Joint operation kills 100 extremists in the Sahel
Photo provided by Crown Publishing

The draft order raises the specter of the return of enhanced interrogation techniques. One of those who developed the techniques, retired Air Force Lt. Col. James Mitchell, fiercely denied they were torture in a forum at the American Enterprise Institute this past December.

The order also would keep the detention facilities at the U.S. Navy’s base at Guantanamo Bay open, saying, “The detention facilities at United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, are legal, safe, and humane, and are consistent with international conventions regarding the laws of war.”

Joint operation kills 100 extremists in the Sahel
Detainees in orange jumpsuits sit in a holding area under the watchful eyes of Military Police at Camp X-Ray at Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during in-processing to the temporary detention facility on Jan. 11, 2002. The detainees will be given a basic physical exam by a doctor, to include a chest x-ray and blood samples drawn to assess their health. (DoD photo by Petty Officer 1st class Shane T. McCoy, U.S. Navy)

“If it was torture, they wouldn’t have to pass a law in 2015 outlawing it because torture is already illegal, right?” Mitchell asked. “The highest Justice Department in the land wouldn’t have opined five times that it wasn’t torture — one time after I personally waterboarded an assistant attorney general before he made that decision three or four days later, right?”

When contacted for comments on the draft executive order, Mitchell said, “I would hope they just take a look at it.” He admitted he had not been contacted by the Trump administration or the Trump transition team, but pointed to an ACLU lawsuit that made him “damaged goods,” but did wish that they would “talk with someone who has interrogated a terrorist.”

Joint operation kills 100 extremists in the Sahel
Senator John McCain campaigns for re-election to the senate in 2016. Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

In a statement released after the reports of the draft order emerged, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain said, “The Army Field Manual does not include waterboarding or other forms of enhanced interrogation. The law requires the field manual to be updated to ensure it ‘complies with the legal obligations of the United States and reflects current, evidence-based, best practices for interrogation that are designed to elicit reliable and voluntary statements and do not involve the use or threat of force.’ Furthermore, the law requires any revisions to the field manual be made available to the public 30 days prior to the date the revisions take effect.”

Mitchell was very critical of McCain’s statement, noting that it essentially boils down to relying on terrorists to voluntarily give statements about their pending operations. “It’s nuts,” he said, after pointing out that counter-terrorist units don’t reveal their tactics. He also noted that “beer and cigarettes” or social influence tactics, like those Secretary of Defense James Mattis favored, are not included in the manual.

Joint operation kills 100 extremists in the Sahel
Detainees at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay during prayer (DoD photo)

Retired Army Lt. Col. Bob Maginnis backed up Mitchell’s comments.

“I favor giving the interrogation decisions to those with the need to know.  Not all threats are the same and there are situations where tough techniques are justified,” Maginnis told WATM. “I’m not with the camp that says tough interrogation techniques seldom if ever deliver useful outcomes. That’s for the experienced operator to know.”

Maginnis also expressed support for the use of “black sites” to keep suspected terrorists out of the reach of the American judicial system. He also noted, “Some of our allies are pretty effective at getting useful information from deadbeats.”

Senator McCain’s office did not return multiple calls asking follow-up questions regarding the senator’s Jan. 25 statement on the draft executive order.

Articles

These are the 10 rules the CIA used for spying on the Soviet Union in Moscow

During the Cold War, fighting had grown hot in many countries, but never ignited between the two global superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union. For the intelligence agencies of East and West, however, the Cold War was a daily war, with real losses and real victories. 

There were many hotspots of international espionage. These were places like West Berlin, Vienna and Washington, where Eastern Bloc agents and Western operatives had a relatively free hand in movement and recruiting. In the Soviet-dominated cities of the world, spying was an entirely different matter. Agents caught by security services risked torture and death. CIA officers risked being exposed and sent back home to a potentially ended career. 

In cities like Moscow, the KGB reigned supreme and CIA officers had to bring their best game with them while working there. CIA Officer Tony Mendez (of Argo fame) wrote three memoirs about his time in the CIA, and listed 10 unwritten rules officers and agents had to follow while working in Moscow, appropriately dubbed “the Moscow Rules.” 

Joint operation kills 100 extremists in the Sahel
No no, I said Moscow RULES (Photo by Gary Meulemans on Unsplash)

1. Assume nothing

This is just helpful for everyone in everyday life. Everyone could use a dose of skepticism, but it’s especially important for CIA officers working one of the Cold War’s harshest posts. Mendez says it was imperative to remind yourself that nothing was ever what it seemed to be.

2. Never go against your gut

If a situation doesn’t feel right, especially for a seasoned CIA intelligence officer, it probably isn’t right. Even the best get beaten and sometimes it’s important to just walk away rather than push your luck. Getting caught could put your life and the life of an agent in the field at risk. 

3. Everyone is potentially under opposition control

This goes for literally anyone, Mendez wrote in one of his memoirs. Whether it’s someone shoveling snow in the winter or an ice cream salesman in Gorky Park in the summertime. Mendez also mentions that every bartender in the Soviet-era hard-currency bars were working for the state security service, as were half of Moscow’s cab drivers. 

Joint operation kills 100 extremists in the Sahel
“Tell me your troubles, comrade. No, really…” (Photo by Aurélien Lemasson-Théobald on Unsplash)

4. Don’t look back; you are never completely alone

This means they were never alone, even in their own dwellings. The KGB had everything that was of potential intelligence value wired for the best possible audio. They were not just looking for information, they would also look for ways to blackmail suspected enemy operatives and agents. 

5. Go with the flow, blend in

It was of prime importance for officers to blend in and maintain their “legend” – the cover story for the person they were supposed to be while on a two-year tour in Moscow. Any deviation or suspicious action could destroy the legend or an operation. Even something as simple as running stop signs could be interpreted as trying to break away from a surveillance team. 

6. Vary your pattern and stay within your cover

Every suspected American intelligence operative was under 24/7 surveillance by a team of KGB operatives. This means that any CIA officer had to check their public behavior at all times, and sometimes even their private behavior. Any step out of line would only mean an increase in the number of people or means used to track their movements.

Joint operation kills 100 extremists in the Sahel
Smile, you’re on Kremlin Camera (Image by Shutterbug75 from Pixabay)

7. Lull them into a sense of complacency

This means staying within your cover always, never trying to break surveillance, and acting the way you’re supposed to at all times in accordance with your legend. It’s basically a reminder to follow all the rules that came before. This will give your surveillance team the reassurance that you are not an operative and they may begin to make mistakes in following your movement. 

8. Don’t harass the opposition

Remember, you’re undercover, trying to lull them into complacency, not daring them to catch you doing some spycraft. Don’t give the KGB a reason to want to catch you in the act. They’re the KGB and if they want to make up a reason to expel you, they will. 

9. Pick the time and place for action

Arranging any kind of meeting with an agent (if it has to be a meeting, most of the time communications were done via one-way radio or through dead drops) should be done on the case officer’s terms. The officer needs to have control over the environment for any kind of meeting or exchange. When the agent demands a meeting on their terms, see rule number two.

10. Keep your options open

The intelligence landscape in Moscow was an ever-changing environment where agents could turn and be turned at any time. It was important for officers to be open to new potential sources and never be fixated on a certain doctrine or plan.

Except for these 10 rules.

Intel

Russian media’s Putin coverage is North Korea-kind of ridiculous

You may have heard stories from North Korea’s state media that sound just plain silly. Like the time, Kim Jong-Il phoned the North Korean soccer coach during their World Cup match against Brazil with the invisible phone he invented. Or the time Kim Jong-Il played golf for the first time and finished with 11 holes-in-one. The list goes on.


Related: 11 things you didn’t know about North Korea

Russian state media is following North Korea’s playbook in the way it presents President Vladimir Putin. After all, there isn’t anything Putin can’t do.

He’s skilled in Judo martial arts . . .

Joint operation kills 100 extremists in the Sahel
YouTube, Vox

He’s a race car driver …

Joint operation kills 100 extremists in the Sahel
YouTube, Vox

He’s an archeologist …

Joint operation kills 100 extremists in the Sahel
Image: Shirtless Putin Doing Things

 

… And he’s a stud who goes hunting shirtless.

Joint operation kills 100 extremists in the Sahel
Image: Shirtless Putin Doing Things

But he also has a soft side.

Joint operation kills 100 extremists in the Sahel
Image: Shirtless Putin Doing Things

Although this may seem silly to the rest of the western world, there’s a reason behind this image.

Watch:

Articles

Russia boosts its propaganda division

The Russian Defense Ministry has formalized its information-warfare efforts with a dedicated propaganda division, Russian state-run media said on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports.


“Propaganda needs to be clever, smart and efficient,” said Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in reference to the new unit.

Retired Russian Gen. Vladimir Shamanov, who leads the defense-affairs committee in the lower house of parliament, said the unit would “protect the national defense interests and engage in information warfare.”

Joint operation kills 100 extremists in the Sahel
The U.S. may have the stronger military, but Russia reigns when it comes to propaganda. (Image of Vladimir Putin)

But Russia has long been accused of spreading propaganda in the West. Business Insider’s Barbara Tasch detailed one case where Russian outlets spread a false story of a Russian-born 13-year-old being raped in Germany by a group of three refugees.

In December, US intelligence agencies concluded that Russia had meddled in the US election and that its interference may have been directed by Russian President Vladimir Putin himself.

Russia’s use of propaganda as an element of “hybrid warfare” proved instrumental during the 2014 annexation of Crimea and the later insurgency in Ukraine.

Russia has vastly improved their conventional and nuclear military assets as well. An Associated Press report on Wednesday said that Russia will deliver 170 new aircraft, 905 new tanks and other armored vehicles, and 17 new naval ships.

Russia’s forces in Eastern Europe now vastly outmatch NATO’s.

A NATO spokeswoman told Reuters earlier this month that “NATO has been dealing with a significant increase in Russian propaganda and disinformation since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.”

Intel

Terrorists in Syria are using flying condoms as weapons

ISIS militants have begun deploying aerial mines made of condoms and small packages of explosives, according to a report from Russia Insider, a Pro-Russian volunteer media outlet. The prophylactics are filled with a lighter-than-air gas and floated into the sky near Idlib, Syria.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRrnYUqZfFQ

There’s speculation that the bombs are actually being deployed by other militant groups. Popular Science pointed out that Idlib is controlled by the al-Nusra Front, not ISIS. Rebel factions fighting against Assad like al-Nusra have been the primary target of Russia’s bombing campaign in the area and it may be them resorting to extreme measures to try and get out from under the constant airstrikes.

The mines would be largely ineffective against the jets that conduct most of the attacks since the bombers fly at such a high altitude. They may have better luck against Russian helicopters that fly close to the ground, but it’s still a desperate action that’s unlikely to be successful. Protection from STDs and protection from aerial attacks don’t normally require the same equipment.

There’s no news on how the militants ended up with all these extra condoms. Maybe jihadists don’t get all the wives ISIS keeps promising.

(h/t War Is Boring)

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