Haka, (Maori: “dance”) Maori posture dance that involves the entire body in vigorous rhythmic movements, which may include swaying, slapping of the chest and thighs, stamping, and gestures of stylized violence. It is accompanied by a chant and, in some cases, by fierce facial expressions meant to intimidate, such as bulging eyes and the sticking out of the tongue. Though often associated with the traditional battle preparations of male warriors, haka may be performed by both men and women, and several varieties of the dance fulfill social functions within Maori culture.
This video shows the soldiers of 2/1 RNZIR Battalion performing their unit haka as a final farewell to their fallen comrades:
The so-called Islamic State has people exposing its daily atrocities from the inside.
While the band of terrorists of The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attempt to masquerade as a legitimate government in their de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria, a brave group of activists living inside the city have been documenting life under the brutal regime.
[The group] follows developments in ISIS very closely and appear to be well-sourced inside the city of Raqqa, which is the so-called Islamic State’s capital. The group reported on a failed Jordanian attempt to rescue Muadh al Kasasbeh, a downed pilot from the Jordan Air Force, and his subsequent execution, burned alive, weeks before the hideous video of his murder was made public by ISIS.
Now, in an exclusive video interview from The Wall Street Journal, one of the activists has given his first in-person interview.
“Young guys they just think about going to the bars, meeting girls, and having girlfriends,” the activist says in the video. “But I think about how I will expose ISIS. How I will make the world notice my city.”
Military working dogs are among the world’s most elite four legged warriors. Serving side by side with U.S. troops since World War II these brave animals have saved thousands of lives and earned their stripes by performing as critical military assets. But before they ever patrol a base or go on a combat mission they must meet the very high standards of military dogs.
These are 11 steps to turning a puppy into a badass military working dog:
1. Breeding Procurement
The Department of Defense acquires puppies from breeders overseas as well as in the United States, but many now come from DoD’s own military working dog breeding program at Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio, Texas. Established in 1998, the DoD’s state of the art whelping facility has dedicated “puppy development specialists” who take care of them until they are about 8-10 weeks old.
2. Fostering Program
If you live within two hours of Lackland and meet certain requirements you could qualify to foster a future K9 hero. The foster program allows the dogs to have a normal puppyhood by being exposed to different environments and become socially sound. Volunteer foster families take great pride in raising the puppies, like the one pictured above. See if you qualify to foster a puppy by clicking here.
3. Selection Evaluation
The dog will return to Lackland when he or she is around 7 months old and go through puppy training. In the same way civilians must be screened by military recruiters to see if they are a fit for the armed services, the puppies are evaluated to see if they display the attributes needed of military working dogs. If they don’t get selected to move on they may still qualify to be used at another agency or they will be adopted out.
4. Dog Training School
The few dogs selected go to Dog Training School, the military working dog boot camp. The dog trainers at DTS are experienced handlers from all military branches, and for many it’s a dream job to get assigned there. The entire mission of DTS is to train and certify dogs in the fundamentals of being an MWD. Each dog is different but typically they will be at DTS anywhere from 4 – 7 months. The head trainers will then assess the dog’s ability in detection and patrol work. Even here dogs can fail and wash out of the program. Some wash outs become training dogs for brand new handlers going through basic handlers course. The dogs who pass earn the coveted title of military working dog — but they are still not mission-ready.
5. Base assignment
Each newly-minted MWD will get orders to a kennels at a U.S. military base around the world. Normally, a MWD will work his or her entire career at one base.
6. Handler assigned
Every kennel in the military has a kennel master in charge of all operations of the unit. Once a new MWD arrives the kennel master will assign a handler. Now the MWD has finally been partnered with their first MWD handler, and the real training begins.
7. Obedience Training
Simply because a handler and MWD are assigned to each other does not mean they can function as a team yet by any means. The dog needs to learn to trust and respect the handler, and that starts with obedience training — the foundation of all good MWD teams. Handlers give basic obedience commands followed by lots of praise, and the team starts to create trust, mutual respect, and an overall bond.
8. Patrol Training
MWD’s have an innate drive to pursue (and bite) bad guys. Once a dog team has established a foundation of trust, allowing the MWD to do patrol training helps strengthen that trust while also creating in the MWD a sense of protection over the handler, and it keeps the MWD’s morale high.
9. Detection Training
While a few MWD’s won’t be certified in patrol, every MWD must be certified in detection as it is the primary mission of an MWD team. A dog’s nose can detect up to 10,000 – 100,000 times better than a human’s, they just need guidance on how to properly maximize their gifted olfactory skills. While each MWD is trained to detect either explosives or narcotics by the time they graduate DTS, handlers must train with them to learn each dog’s specific behavior when they pick up a scent.
10. Train, Train, Train
Every single day dog teams must train. Whether it’s patrol work, detection, or simple obedience they must develop an unbreakable bond in which they fully trust one another with their lives. In order for a dog team to work efficiently they must both be good, not one or the other. In the same way an infantryman must know his weapon inside and out and maintain it every single day, a handler must train, groom, and know everything about his or her MWD. Once the kennel master feels confident the team can work effectively together, an official MWD team certification is scheduled.
11. Dog team certification
To be certified as an official MWD team and granted authority to operate as one, the kennel master puts together a real-life detection training scenario that involves all of the odors the MWD is trained to detect. The commanding officer of the unit must be present and personally witness the MWD team successfully locate every odor. Once complete, they become an official military working dog team. And any handler will tell you that handling a military working dog is not only a tremendous responsibility but also a lifetime honor.
Known as Joint Task Force 2 and based near Ottawa, the unit keeps tight-lipped about its operations. That’s the case with most special ops of course, but JTF2 has seemingly dodged infamy and insider books. That stands in sharp contrast to the SEAL Team that has become well-known in the U.S. thanks to leaked details of high profile missions such as the Bin Laden raid.
Established in 1993, the unit has around 250 members. According to its official website, the unit was deployed to Afghanistan in 2001 — the first time it had been in major combat operations outside of Canada. It has also been rumored to be involved in combat against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The activities of the unit are so secretive that a query about why no one ever hears about it — unlike other nations’ special operations forces — appears as one the frequently asked questions on the Canadian Armed Forces website.
This video originally posted by Funker 530 gives an idea of some of their capabilities. Check it out:
Hosted by Katie Pavlich, “Safe Haven: Gun Free Zones in America” features interviews with a number of experts on self-defense, victims of gun violence, and educators to shine a light on why so-called “gun-free” zones don’t always stay that way.
“It appears that [criminals] are seeking a spot that will keep them from being prevented in accomplishing their mission,” J. Eric Deitz, a homeland security researcher at Purdue University’s College of Technology, says in the documentary. “And if their mission is mass casualties, they’re going to want to be undisturbed in that process until they’ve completed it.”
Deitz provides a computer model that shows the use of armed resource officers along with some citizens with concealed-carry firearms, can often result in fewer people being killed by an active shooter. As others mention in the film, the researcher talks about police response time not being fast enough to stop a shooting in progress.
It’s not just a pool of pro-gun advocates, however. There are some interviewees who think arming people in schools may not be the best approach. Via Guns.com:
The problem with hiring more guards in schools across the country is that “you’re starting to look another $15 billion a year,” said Steven Strauss, a Weinberg/Goldman Sachs visiting professor of public policy at Princeton University.
Strauss said that the amount of school shootings is so small thatthe probability someone’s child will be killed over the course of a year is one in several million.
“Shooting incidents at schools is so low that you run into a real risk that the cure is going to be worse than the disease,” Strauss said.
Although a large part of the documentary focuses on high-profile mass shootings such as in Newtown, Conn. and Aurora, Colo., it also features a heartbreaking interview with Amanda Collins, who recounts being raped while she walked to her car after class at the University of Nevada-Reno.
“My story is not that uncommon,” Colins says. “I could have defended myself.”
Grabbed from behind in a parking garage less than 100 yards from the classroom she just left, Collins didn’t have her licensed firearm at the time because her university was a gun-free zone. She was worried about expulsion from school and jail time, she says, but her rapist did have a gun.
“I’m not saying I could have prevented the rape from starting with the way that I was grabbed,” she says. “But I know that I would have been able to stop it.”
Last month the Navy Research Lab powered a radio-controlled P-51 model using a “gas to liquid” process that takes seawater and turns it into fuel.
According to a jargon-rich NRL press release, the process goes something like this: An innovative and proprietary NRL electrolytic cation exchange module (E-CEM), both dissolved and bound CO2 are removed from seawater at 92 percent efficiency by re-equilibrating carbonate and bicarbonate to CO2 and simultaneously producing H2. The gases are then converted to liquid hydrocarbons by a metal catalyst in a reactor system.
In other words, seawater goes in the tank and the motor cranks up and the airplane flies.
“In close collaboration with the Office of Naval Research P38 Naval Reserve program, NRL has developed a game changing technology for extracting, simultaneously, CO2 and H2 from seawater,” said Dr. Heather Willauer, NRL research chemist. “This is the first time technology of this nature has been demonstrated with the potential for transition, from the laboratory, to full-scale commercial implementation.”
Equally amazing is how nobody seemed to notice, or if they noticed they didn’t seem to care. (This is when conspiracy theorists blame Big Oil.)
Universal pictures has the option for former Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia’s memoir of the Second Battle of Fallujah, “House to House.” They’ve selected their writer to adapt the book into a screenplay and it’s another Army infantry veteran, Max Adams.
Staff Sergeant David Bellavia captures the brutal action and raw intensity of leading his Third Platoon, Alpha Company, into a lethally choreographed kill zone: the booby-trapped, explosive-laden houses of Fallujah’s militant insurgents. Bringing to searing life the terrifying intimacy of hand-to-hand infantry combat, this stunning war memoir features an indelibly drawn cast of characters, not all of whom would make it out of the city alive, as well as chilling accounts of Bellavia’s singular courage: Entering one house alone, he used every weapon at his disposal in the fight of his life against America’s most implacable enemy.
Bellavia was nominated for the Medal of Honor for his part in clearing a building of insurgents after he and his men were ambushed. He ultimately received the Silver Star. Adams served with the Rangers during 11 years of service from 1995-2006. He recently produced two movies, “Bus 657” starring Robert De Niro and “Precious Cargo” starring Bruce Willis.
As mankind turns their eyes back to space and technology edges us ever closer to a life outside of the atmosphere, there must also be contingency plans established in case the worst happens to astronauts. To date, there is no defined protocol for returning remains back to Earth. This will need to change as more and more astronauts take to the skies.
There have been eighteen deaths during spaceflight. The three deaths to occur in space (above 100 km elevation) were also the only remains properly recovered. The crew of the Soyuz 11 perished on June 29th, 1971 while they were preparing for re-entry. Their names are Georgy Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov, and Viktor Patsayev. Their remains were recovered at the intended landing site — an autopsy ruled the cause of death a capsule-decompression failure — and the astronauts were properly laid to rest. They may be the first and only astronauts to be given this respect.
If an astronaut were to die on a spacewalk and his or her body went unrecovered, they would float lifelessly until caught in the atmosphere, at which point they’d burn in the reentry process. Until then, no bacteria could survive to decompose the body, so it would remain frozen as the days passed.
However, due to the UN’s strict “no littering” policy in space, the family and nation of the astronaut would be required to recover the remains and lay them rest with dignity. A space free-float wouldn’t happen.
This also rules out all possible funerals, like the one given to Spock. (Paramount Pictures’ Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)
According to Col. Chris Hadfield in his book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Earth, today’s astronauts conduct simulations for onboard deaths, but taking care of the body is tricky and very unpleasant. The remains are placed inside of a GoreTex bodybag. Then, it is isolated immediately in the airlock to avoid contamination to the air supply.
The funeral rites are then given to the deceased. This would include speeches by world leaders, the deceased’s family, and the crew. The body is then exposed to space to freeze. A robotic arm then takes the corpse and vibrates it outside of the spacecraft until the body breaks down into a powder, which is then released into space. As morbid as it is, it saves valuable room in the spacecraft and keeps the other astronauts safe. In a way, the astronaut becomes a part of space.
The powder that remains in the bag is then given to the family on the next return voyage, allowing them to pay the proper respects.
The Army estimates that over 7,500 service members who died during the Korean War remain unidentified to this day. Of those 7,500, 867 are buried as “Unknowns” at the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. It is the job of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to identify these fallen heroes. On March 2, 2021, they identified one very special soldier.
Chaplain (Capt.) Emil J. Kapaun was a member of the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. His unit was one of the first to cross the border into North Korea during the Korean War. On November 1, 1950, Kapaun and his comrades were attacked by Chinese Communist Forces near Unsan. Though the troopers fought bravely, the Chinese soldiers outnumbered them. As the surrounded Americans fought bravely, Kapaun made his way across the lines to provide medical aid to the wounded and last rites to the dying. 3-8’s command ordered a retreat, but Kapaun refused to leave any soldiers behind.
Hand-to-hand combat ensued as the Chinese forces overran the Americans who stayed behind. Kapaun spotted a wounded Chinese officer and negotiated with him for the safe surrender of the survivors. He was taken prisoner with more than a dozen other soldiers. As the Americans were marched away from the battlefield, Kapaun spotted a Chinese soldier standing over a wounded American, ready to execute him. Kapaun pushed the Chinese soldier aside, picked up the wounded soldier, and carried him.
Kapaun and the other POWs were taken to the Old Pyoktong prison camp on the Yalu River’s south bank in North Korea. The chaplain continued to care for his fellow soldiers. He stole food for them, said mass in the camp, and shared the clothes off his own back to keep them warm during the freezing Korean winter. On May 23, 1951, Kapain died in captivity of exhaustion and possible heart failure.
Though he never made it back to America during his life, Kapaun’s bravery and dedication to his fellow soldiers has earned recognition. His story was brought to the attention of the Vatican and Pope John Paul II declared him a Servant of God, the first step toward sainthood, in 1993. The Father Kapaun Guild continues to lobby for his canonization. In November 2015, the Catholic Church began the lengthy review of more than 8,000 pages of documentation in support of Kapaun’s sainthood.
On April 11, 2013, President Obama posthumously awarded Kapaun the Medal of Honor. “This is the valor we honor today: An American soldier who didn’t fire a gun, but who wielded the mightiest weapon of all – a love so pure that he was willing to die so they might live,” the President said. Remember the wounded soldier that Kapaun saved from a Chinese soldier and carried to safety? His name is Sgt. First Class Herbert Miller. 63 years after that event, Miller was in attendance at Kapaun’s Medal of Honor ceremony at the White House.
Chaplain (Capt.) Kapaun’s story is one of service, sacrifice, and dedication. His identification reaffirms the Army’s commitment in the Soldier’s Creed to never leave a fallen comrade. DPAA continues to work tirelessly to identify every single unknown casualty and honor them with the respect that they deserve.
But if the tests prove successful and the carrier’s design is deemed plausible, the research center will follow through with a 1:1 scale metal mock-up of the carrier (China may have just constructed its own mock-up of a new carrier).
According to Russia’s TV Vezda, the carrier would be able to stow 100 aircraft onboard. The body of the carrier is also being designed to minimize drag by 20 percent compared to past Russian carriers. If built, the vessel would be Russia’s first carrier to debut since the Admiral Kuznetsov, which launched in 1985. The Kuznetsov is Russia’s only functioning carrier.
TV Vezda also stated that the ship would feature catapults on the ship’s top to launch aircraft during storms. However, this claim is countered by the fact that the carrier’s models feature a ski-ramp style aircraft in the front aircraft takeoff like older Soviet models, which did not have catapults.
The Russian carrier, if constructed, would be slightly larger than the US’s current Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, which can carry around 90 aircraft.
However, any indication of Russian plans should be taken with skepticism. The carrier is still in a conceptual phase and only a scaled mockup has been built so far. Any plans for Russia’s construction of the carrier could also be seriously hampered as Moscow is expected to enter a recession due to current economic sanctions and the falling value of the Russian ruble. It might not have the money for this ambitious of a military project, especially with so many other needs.
Russia’s drive to modernize its navy comes as its force is deteriorating rapidly. The vast majority of Russia’s Navy is a holdover from the country’s Soviet fleet. These ships are older than Moscow would like and suffer from frequent mechanical failures.
Of Russia’s 270 strong navy, only about 125 vessels are functional. Only approximately 45 of those 125 ships and submarines are functional and deployable, according to War Is Boring.
Russia was meant to have received two Mistral-class assault ships from France in 2014 as part of its fleet modernization, but the deal was put on hold over the crisis in Ukraine.
In Oct. 2014, China’s Xinhua reported that Russia would seek to acquire an advanced aircraft carrier by the 2030s. The vessel would be capable of operating in diverse environments and could accommodate both manned and unmanned systems.
“Sorry if it sounds like I am yelling when I talk,” Hewad said when we met up recently on a rainy Connecticut afternoon. “My friends have told me I have been talking louder recently. It’s my hearing. I think it’s from the explosion during that attack on FOB Salerno.”
I immediately knew what he was talking about. I, like almost every service member who served in Afghanistan in 2012, had heard about the explosion at Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khost province, and had seen the security footage. The power and magnitude of the explosion were unforgettable.
The Taliban packed a large jingle truck full of nearly 2,000 pounds of explosives and – in a suicide attack- drove it into the perimeter of the FOB. The blast’s mushroom cloud quickly rose and darkened the midday sky and its shockwave shook every building on the sprawling base. Two American soldiers and five Afghan allies were killed in the blast and the dining facility was destroyed. After the blast, about a dozen suicide attackers stumbled out of a van that followed behind the truck. The blast’s shockwave had noticeably affected the attackers and they looked drunk as they staggered towards the smoking hole in the base’s perimeter. They were quickly engaged and shot by U.S. forces, except for the last attacker, who found a corner in the remaining perimeter of Hesco barriers, crouched down, and detonated his suicide vest.
“Were you there too?” Hewad asked.
“No, I was in a different province. I got there a few weeks after, but everyone was still talking about it,” I said. I was an Army Civil Affairs Officer leading a team in Afghanistan when I first met Hewad.
“I was lucky that day, I was working in my b-hut and was late going to lunch. I was about to walk out the door with three other linguists when the explosion went off,” he said.
Since returning from Afghanistan, I worry about my hearing too. And, like Hewad, when I hear the now familiar ringing, I speculate about what specific day permanent damage was caused. I can go to the VA and get my ears checked, but I felt a deep sympathy for my friend when I realized Hewad cannot get help at the VA, despite being in the same conflict and bearing many of the same risks.
Hewad worked for the U.S. from 2006 to 2013. He started as a linguist and was promoted to an operations manager for a popular U.S. funded radio broadcast program that delivered radio programming to most of Eastern Afghanistan. His program mostly aired music. “But “we sometimes aired education programs aimed at influencing the youth by teaching that violence is not goodness,” Hewad said. “I was proud of that because I believe in order to preach goodness you have to be good, and not violent. That’s also why I think I was targeted,” Hewad explained.
A few months after surviving the attack on FOB Salerno, extremists texted Hewad on his personal cell phone. The text said “We know you, we know your father. Pay us 150,000 Afghani (approximately $2,000) or we will kill you and your family.”
Hewad walked into his U.S. counterpart’s office and showed them the text. Within thirty minutes they had verified the threat, told him he was in real danger and advised him to move himself and his family to Kabul immediately.
It was in Kabul Hewad learned about the Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) for Afghans who were employed by the U.S. Government; an effort to protect America’s Afghan allies who are living in danger as a result of their employment by giving them expedited Visas. It took two years for his application to get approved and Hewad moved to the U.S. in 2014.
Hewad is one of nearly 20,000 Afghans that have benefitted from the SIV program and have escaped threats to their families by moving to the United States. An estimated 18,864 Afghans, however, are still waiting for approval in a process that has significantly slowed in the past few years. “The [SIV] process is very, very slow….You could literally land a rover on Mars within seven months,” Retired General David Petraus recently said. “But this takes something like three and a half years – and that’s when it’s working.” Under the former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the process was not working at all. It took a legal win in a lawsuit filed against Pompeo by the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), on behalf of Iraqi and Afghan SIV applicants, to get the approval process moving again.
With violence against civilians and targeted killings increasing in Afghanistan, and with an eventual U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan looming in the near future, many SIV applicants worry that their visas will come too late, if at all.
Now in the U.S., Hewad still actively advocates for former U.S. employees living in constant danger in Afghanistan while waiting for SIV approval. He has met with numerous lawmakers at town halls and conferences to remind them of the plight of SIV applicants. As Senator Richard Blumenthal’s guest at a conference in 2017, Hewad met many of the nation’s most influential politicians.
“One of my favorites was Senator John McCain,” Hewad told me. “We were shaking hands and when he found out I was a refugee because of my work with the U.S. military, he told me that a hand shake wasn’t good enough, and he gave me a big hug.”
Hewad says many SIV applicants doubt the SIV process. “I tell them that there are many good Americans fighting for us, and not to lose hope,” he said.
One organization that Hewad recognizes as making a large impact is No One Left Behind, an all-volunteer non-profit charity that works with the Executive and Legislative branches of the U.S. government to advocate for Iraqi and Afghan allies.
“You can protest and hold a sign on the street, but because America is a country of laws, the most important thing to do is to work with the proper branches of government to get the laws changed,” Hewad said. And this is where No One Left Behind has been the most impactful. As the only organization dedicated to ensuring America keeps its promise to Iraqi and Afghan allies that served side by side with U.S. military and government personnel, they have been leading the fight in advocating for those left behind by the stagnant SIV program. They have worked with almost every major media outlet in the U.S. to keep the message alive, and continue to be the most reliable source of SIV news and information for both Afghanistan and Iraq military veterans and SIV applicants.
“It is hard to look through all of the government documents and know what is happening. No One Left Behind is doing a good job of giving regular updates and for many, they are the only thing that is giving us all hope that the SIV program will work again,” Hewad said.
No One Left Behind’s efforts seems to be paying off. On February 4, the Biden Administration issued Executive Order 14013, which called for a review of the Iraqi and Afghan SIV programs and a report to the president within 180 days with recommendations to address any concerns identified.
After the executive order was signed, and with the support of former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and No One Left Behind advisory board member, Retired General David Petraeus, No One Left Behind submitted a 22 page report to the Office of the Inspector General that outlined recommendations to streamline the SIV process. Many of these recommendations were instrumental in improving the process going forward.
“You’re right, you do yell when you talk sometimes,” I say to Hewad when we are discussing the latest updates on the No One Left Behind Facebook page. I want to laugh but I remember all he has been through; surviving bombs, suddenly packing up his home and moving his family to Kabul, waiting two years for his SIV to process, slowly losing his hearing and building a life in a new country.
It makes me think about the nearly 19,000 SIV applicants waiting for their chance to escape danger and start a new life in safety. Most of them probably have stories similar to Hewad’s; have survived moments of real danger, have fled from extremists and have risked their own family’s safety to support their American allies. My friend’s hearing loss makes me wonder how many of the waiting SIV applicants bear physical scars of their service to America. I wonder if any of them still have hope that they won’t be left behind when America’s memory of its involvement in Afghanistan fades.
Air Force Capt. Roger Moseley was a test pilot who got on the bad side of base’s vice commander when he told a group of pilots that — in a world of unmanned aircraft and precision guided munitions — only dinosaurs cared about things like flying faster and higher. He was told he’d never test fly again, but the next morning he was called into the middle of the Nevada desert and offered a top-secret job that he had to agree to on the spot. Moseley did and became one of the first pilot to fly the F-117, the stealth fighter that carried the day in the skies over Iraq during Desert Storm.