Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea - We Are The Mighty
Intel

Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea

KYIV, Ukraine — A Russian Su-27 “Flanker” fighter scrambled to intercept a pair of US Air Force B-1B Lancer supersonic bombers on a training mission over the Baltic Sea on Wednesday, underscoring Moscow’s discontent with a more assertive American airpower presence in the Arctic and on NATO’s eastern flank.

According to Moscow, the US bombers approached but never violated Russian sovereign airspace. The scrambled Su-27 “shadowed” the two B-1Bs over the Baltic Sea, Russia’s National Defense Control Center announced Wednesday.

“The flight of the Russian fighter jet took place in strict accordance with international airspace rules,” the Russian military said in its statement.

The US Air Force acknowledged the incident in a statement to Coffee or Die Magazine.

“Yesterday, U.S. B-1B aircraft were conducting operations in international airspace exercising our freedom of navigation and overflight when the aircraft had routine interaction with the Russian aircraft operating in the region,” a representative for US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa wrote in an email, adding that the US bombers obeyed all international air traffic rules.

Highlighting how the Arctic region has risen to the top rung of the US military’s geographic priorities, B-1B bombers from Dyess Air Force Base in Texas are currently deployed to Norway’s Ørland Air Station for a month of training exercises; this is the first time US bombers have operated out of Norway.

Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
A B-1B Lancer assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron takes off from Ørland Air Force Station, Norway, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Colin Hollowell.

Two of the deployed American bombers took off from Norway on Wednesday as part of Bone Saw, a NATO training mission over the North Sea and Baltic Sea. (The B-1B is commonly known among US pilots as the “Bone.”) Danish and Polish F-16s, as well as Eurofighter Typhoons from Germany and Italy, also participated in the flight, the US Air Force said in a release.

“This mission sends a clear message that our commitment to our NATO allies is unshakeable,” Gen. Jeff Harrigian, US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa commander, said in a statement. “We’re in this together to get after the mission and pursue our shared goal of regional security.”

Russia has also stepped up its military presence in the Arctic with reopened Soviet-era bases, new radars, an expanded Northern Fleet, and the redeployment of airpower assets farther north. This week, for example, Russian Tu-22M3 “Backfire” supersonic, long-range bombers conducted training missions in the country’s northwestern Murmansk Oblast. Located on the Kola Peninsula extending into the Barents Sea, the oblast’s capital city of Murmansk is located only about 60 miles from the border with Norway.

The Tu-22M3 is a supersonic, variable-sweep wing, long-range strategic and strike bomber developed in the 1960s. A staple of the Soviet Union’s air force, the Tu-22M3 has a maximum speed of about Mach 1.88 and a combat range of roughly 1,500 miles. Based on its performance and general mission set, the Tu-22M3 is roughly analogous, although technologically inferior, to the US B-1B.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?creatorScreenName=coffeeordiemag&dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1367019410892988416&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fcoffeeordie.com%2Frussia-fighter-shadowed-us-bombers%2F&siteScreenName=coffeeordiemag&theme=light&widgetsVersion=e1ffbdb%3A1614796141937&width=500px

The B-1B Lancer is a Cold War-era, supersonic heavy bomber. As America’s vanguard long-range bomber, the B-1B carries the largest conventional payload of guided and unguided weapons in the Air Force inventory. On Friday, B-1B bombers conducted a joint mission with Norwegian F-35s and naval units, marking the first mission of the historic American bomber deployment to Norway.

“This type of interoperability is especially critical in the Arctic where no one nation has the infrastructure or capacity to operate alone,” Harrigian said.

Norway shares a 122-mile border with Russia. The headquarters of Russia’s Northern Fleet in the port city of Severomorsk is situated along the Murmansk Fjord less than 70 miles from Norway’s border.

Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
A US Marine with Kilo Company, Marine Rotational Force Europe 21.1, Marine Forces Europe and Africa, provides suppressive fire during a live-fire range in Setermoen, Norway, Feb. 23, 2021. US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Patrick King, courtesy of DVIDS.

James Stavridis, a retired US Navy admiral who formerly served as NATO’s supreme allied commander in Europe, warned that the Arctic is a “zone of competition” that could devolve into a “zone of conflict.”

To bolster its military reach in the Arctic, the Pentagon has cultivated closer ties to Norway, including plans to use the country’s northern port city of Tromsø to service US nuclear submarines. According to an Air Force statement: “Department of Defense cooperation with allies and partners in the Arctic strengthens our shared approach to regional security and helps deter strategic competitors from seeking to unilaterally change the existing rules-based order.”

Some 1,000 US Marines deployed to Norway in January for extreme cold-weather training. However, due to coronavirus concerns the Norwegian government canceled what was to be an international Arctic warfare training exercise.

For its part, the Kremlin has pushed back against America’s defense relationship with Norway. According to Moscow, the US has unnecessarily increased tensions by pre-positioning military hardware closer to Russia’s borders.

“One can hardly talk about ‘tranquility’ when tensions are increasing near Russian borders, and when an extremely powerful bridgehead for conducting hostilities against Russia is being established,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said during a Feb. 11 press briefing.

Zakharova added: “We believe that such activities on the part of Oslo threaten regional security and put an end to Norway’s traditional policy not to deploy permanent foreign military bases on its territory in peacetime.”

Today, Russia has at least 34 military installations in or near the Arctic.

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

Intel

An epic Blue Angels beach flyby sends tents and umbrellas flying

Sometimes a military jet providing the overhead “sound of freedom” brings with it a very strong gust of wind.


A video posted to YouTube recently shows the Navy Blue Angels practicing near a Pensacola, Florida beach, with Angel no. 5 getting so close to the shore that tents, toys, and umbrellas go flying in the air with it. No one was hurt at the time, which was on July 11, according to Fox News.

Most of the beachgoers laugh and cheer after the stunt.

Watch:

NOW: Stunning footage shows pilot’s eye view from inside a Blue Angel cockpit

Intel

The Metal Storm gun can fire at 1 million rounds per minute

The highest rate of fire for a machine gun in service is the M134 Minigun. The weapon was designed in the late 1960s for helicopters and armored vehicles. It fires 7.62 mm calibre rounds at a blistering rate of 6,000 rounds per minute, or 100 rounds per second — about ten times that of an ordinary machine gun, according to the Guinness World Records.


Related: This video vividly shows that the A-10 is all about the BBRRRRTT!

The Metal Storm gun, on the other hand, makes the M134 look like a toy. The prototype gun system was rated at 16,000 rounds per second or 1,000,000 rounds per minute. The gun system was developed by an Australian weapons company by the same name. In 2007, Metal Storm Inc. started delivering its gun systems to the US Navy for surface ships. This video shows how the Metal Storm gun achieves its head spinning firing rate.

Watch:

History

Intel

Enlisted women are going to serve on Navy submarines for the first time ever

Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
Female sailors visit USS Ohio Photo: Flickr


The U.S. Navy is now recruiting enlisted servicewomen to serve on submarines in 2016.

This move will take the 2011 decision to integrate female officers into the submarine force one step further, assigning female chief petty officers and senior petty officers to co-ed crews.

Navy officers are reportedly optimistic about the transition process — even despite a video-taped shower scandal that took place aboard the USS Wyoming — one of the first subs to be assigned female officers in late 2011.

For more on this story, check out military.com

NOW: Meet the wounded Iraq war veteran being honored by ESPN

OR: Navy to deploy first underwater drones from submarines

Intel

Here’s the messy way military planes are tested to withstand bird strikes

Airplane manufacturers have to make sure their planes can survive striking birds while the plane is at full speed. So, (dead) chickens are fired from large cannons at aircraft and engines to test their durability. The results can be messy, to say the least.


The testing is crucial to pilot safety and the survivability of the aircraft. The video below shows how much an F-16 canopy can flex without breaking, protecting pilots from taking a bird to the face at supersonic speeds.
Engines get similar treatment to make sure they’ll chop up and spit out a bird and keep running. The planes and their engines are also tested for how they perform when ice or liquid water is sucked through the engine.

NOW: 4 of the weirdest things the Nazis ever did

Articles

This is why Andrew Jackson gets our vote for ‘most badass American president’

Andrew Jackson’s future as a badass started at the tender age of 13 during the Revolutionary War. He joined the Continental Army as a courier and was taken prisoner along with his brother Robert in April 1781.


Related: Here’s what America’s 6 sailor presidents did when they were in the fleet

When a British officer ordered him to spit shine his boots during captivity, Jackson refused. Not amused by the boy’s defiance, the redcoat drew his sword and slashed Jackson’s left hand and head, which left him with a permanent scar. The brothers were released from captivity after two weeks as part of a prisoner exchange, but Robert died within days due to an illness contracted during detention. Another one of Jackson’s brothers and his mother died before the war ended, leaving him with a lifelong hatred toward the Brits.

Jackson earned the nickname “Old Hickory” because he used to carry a hickory cane, which doubled as a weapon. He dished out his most famous cane beating to Richard Lawrence, who attempted to assassinate him while Jackson was serving as President. Lawrence approached Jackson with two pistols —plan A and plan B—both of which misfired. After noticing he was out of danger, Jackson proceeded to beat Lawrence to a bloody pulp.

Jackson was known for being a serial duelist; historians estimate “Old Hickory” participate in anywhere between 13 and 100 duels. (That is too many duels by any standard.) Jackson fought his most famous duel in 1806 against Charles Dickinson, who was an excellent shot. Despite knowing about Dickinson’s pistol prowess, Jackson insisted that he fire first. This American Heroes Channel video illustrates the events leading to the duel and why he gets our vote for ‘most badass American president.’

Watch:

American Heroes Channel, YouTube

Articles

These are the United States’ top 5 allies from around the world, based on capability

Forget what you read in the news, America is still the leader of freedom in the world. There’s no shortage of allies that have our back, either. Whether the President of the United States is Joe Biden, Donald Trump or Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho, countries will still be lining up to be on the right side of history.

Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
The latter might be here before the year 2505…

No matter what the obstacle or threat to freedom the world over, the United States can count on a slew of allies to have its back. They may not all be world or even regional powers, but they are there; ready and willing to do whatever it takes. 

It’s a lot more helpful if they’re militarily capable, however, so when these five countries say they’re in, victory comes a lot smoother and faster. 

1. The United Kingdom

The UK is America’s ride-or-die, and vice versa. There’s a reason we all call our alliance a “special relationship.” Some people will say the United Kingdom is a shadow of its former imperial glory, but those people are fools. If you mess with the queen’s possessions, she’s coming for you, whether you’re fighting in Europe, the Pacific, or – God help you – the Falkland Islands. 

Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
Not to be trifled with (Joel Rouse/MoD)

The UK was there for America in Afghanistan because they were obligated by article five of the NATO treaty. But you know they would have been there, treaty or no treaty. Even when the intelligence on Iraq was dubious at best, Britain didn’t even hesitate to smoke out Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces in Basra. The UK ensured the “Coalition of the Willing” sent a message to America’s enemies: all your base are belong to us. 

2. France

France gets a lot of undeserved flak for losing World War II (at first). Anyone who goes toe-to-toe with the French these days is fighting an army trying to shake off the perception of being cheese eating surrender monkeys. God help anyone who gets on the wrong side of a Franco-American alliance, because this usually means an empire is about to fall. 

Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
Double dog dare you to ask this Frenchman about the surrender (National Records and Archives)

There’s a reason France and the United States rarely join forces, because there’s no stopping the pain train the two can inflict on literally any country or alliance. Our two countries don’t often see eye-to-eye on many issues, so teaming up against a common foe is rare these days. When it does happen, however, an alliance between France and the United States means some serious threats to democracy are about to be put in their place. 

3. India

India is constantly preparing to fight a war on two fronts, most likely between perennial arch-nemesis Pakistan and crouching tiger China. Although the United States maintains an uneasy alliance with Pakistan, the term “frenemies” is much more apt. If stuff hits the fan and the U.S. has to choose sides, the world’s largest democracy is going to be our ally.

Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
Indian paratroopers training with U.S. troops in Alaska in 2010 (DVIDS/ Wikimedia Commons)

And that just makes sense. India lives in a tough neighborhood but is ready to come out swinging, as they’ve shown time and again. In an all-out war with China, there will be no ally more crucial or more capable than that of India and its billion-plus people, massive submarine force, and mountaineering Gurkhas that are bound to show China what real pain feels like.

4. Israel 

The United States has had its geopolitical differences with Israel – and who hasn’t? If we’re talking about living in a tough neighborhood, America’s Jewish best friend has had the hardest time living in one, historically. Israel is the U.S.’ foothold in the Middle East. Israelis can sleep comfortably at night knowing that if, somehow, the Israel Defense Forces gets overrun by all its Arab neighbors, there will be a fleet of United States Marines in Tel Aviv and Haifa in 24 hours. 

Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
The IDF has no qualms with sending women to have our back, as well (Wikimedia Commons)

The United States doesn’t often need the help of outside nations, but if it did, Israel would be the first in line to send troops, doctors, aircraft and whatever else was required for victory. This has nothing to do with America’s unending support for the Jewish state since it won independence in 1948, that’s just how the IDF rolls: no better friend, no worse enemy. 

5. Turkey

Although it may not seem like a close ally lately, buying Russian S-300 missile batteries and giving up on the NATO alliance’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Turkey has long been a friend to the United States and its interests in a complex area of the world. Ankara allows the U.S. to operate its most devastating air-to-ground support weapon from its shores: the A-10 Thunderbolt II, which helped topple ISIS in Syria.

Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
As the ancient proverb reads: “For he who lets me have nukes in his back yard, shall forever be my brother.” (U.S. Air Force)

Most importantly, Turkey is the crossroads of the global east to the global west. It bridges a number of worlds. It’s not only the strategic gateway from Europe to Asia. It’s also the key entry point from the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea, and its place in the world allows the U.S. to position key ships, aircraft, and nuclear weapons where they’re most needed. 

Intel

Inside the Marine Corps’ new recon sniper course- a visual journey

Yesterday, Coffee or Die Magazine broke the story that the Marines have developed a new course to train snipers for the Corps’ elite Reconnaissance units.

That means we can now reveal that Coffee or Die staffers have been embedded with the Marines of Reconnaissance Training Company on Camp Pendleton off and on for the past month as they train 10 students in the first-ever Reconnaissance Sniper Course. We are following this first class of Recon Snipers all the way through the pilot course, which concludes March 19.

As always, we’re committed to what we do best, which is put boots on the ground to produce detailed multimedia coverage of these types of historical developments and, in this case, provide our readers an intimate view of how some of our most elite warriors are trained.

We have a lot more coverage on the Recon Sniper Course coming, but for now, here’s a taste of some of our best photos so far.

Read Next: How PIGs Become HOGs — A Visual Journey in Marine Corps Scout Sniper Training

Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
A student in the Reconnaissance Sniper Course trains with the .50-caliber M107 Special Application Scoped Rifle (SASR) during known-distance marksmanship training on Camp Pendleton Feb. 11. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
Students in the Reconnaissance Sniper Course get a briefing during known-distance marksmanship training on Camp Pendleton Feb. 11. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
A Reconnaissance Sniper Course student engages targets with the M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System (SASS) during marksmanship training on Camp Pendleton Feb. 25. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
Through their extensive training, Recon Marines earn the Combatant Diver insignia and the Navy and Marine Corps Parachutist Insignia. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
A student in the Reconnaissance Sniper Course fires the .50-caliber M107 Special Application Scoped Rifle (SASR) during known-distance marksmanship training on Camp Pendleton Feb. 10. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
Reconnaissance Sniper Course students collected spent .50-caliber shell casings after firing the M107 Special Application Scoped Rifle (SASR) during known-distance marksmanship training on Camp Pendleton Feb. 11. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
A student in the Reconnaissance Sniper Course fires the .50-caliber M107 Special Application Scoped Rifle (SASR) during known-distance marksmanship training on Camp Pendleton Feb. 11. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
Reconnaissance Sniper Course students on the range with .50-caliber M107 Special Application Scoped Rifles during known-distance marksmanship training on Camp Pendleton Feb. 11. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
A Reconnaissance Sniper Course student during stalking training Feb. 26. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
Reconnaissance Sniper Course students during stalking training Feb. 26. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
A Reconnaissance Sniper Course student carries his rifle during stalking training Feb. 26. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
RSC students carry equipment while running to the starting point for a stalk during stalking training Feb. 26. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
A student takes instructions from an RSC instructor while gathering vegetation from the surrounding environment to improve his camouflage, or “veg up,” during the early phase of stalking training Feb. 26. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
A Reconnaissance Sniper Course student during stalking training Feb. 26. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
A student prepares for stalking training at the RSC, Feb. 26. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
RSC students carry equipment while running to the starting point for a stalk during stalking training Feb. 26. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
A student during stalking training at the RSC, Feb. 26. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
An RSC student watches an instructor while gathering vegetation from the surrounding environment to improve his camouflage, or “veg up,” during the early phase of stalking training Feb. 26. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

Intel

Here is the smallest manned tank ever made

The Badger is officially the smallest passenger tank on Earth, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. It’s a one-man, all-terrain vehicle designed to breach buildings and other fortified positions. It’s powerful enough to break down doors yet small enough to fit in a lift.


Make no mistake, this tank is not a novelty. Howe Howe Technologies, the makers of this little beast, have experience making vehicles for the military. Howe Howe specializes in the fabrication and design of armored and military-grade vehicles. The Badger, however, is currently being used by SWAT teams.

Watch:

Intel

The Israeli Air Force doesn’t need stealth, they have chutzpah

It’s not a secret the Israeli Defense Forces get a lot of help from their longtime ally, the United States. One IDF general even stated his belief the IDF gets more support from the American taxpayer than the Israeli taxpayer, though the math on that is fuzzy and he was probably just exaggerating for emphasis. The U.S. spent $3.15 billion every year from 2013-2015.


So when Israel sends a list of military hardware to purchase from the United States, one would assume it always includes the latest and greatest in military technology. After all, Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, capable of detecting and intercepting incoming rocket attacks from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, can intercept most missiles fired at population centers and even operate automatically.

 

Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
An Iron Dome missile launches against a missile launched from Gaza

So why would the Israelis request an airframe without stealth capability? Though they did request some of the developing F-35s, they opted to buy a proposed, unmade version of the F-15. Aircraft with stealth capability are designed that way at conception, since much to do with the stealth capability is about the shape of the aircraft (see: B-2 Bomber), which means, the Israelis are buying an undeveloped, much less stealthy plane, one which is inferior to the F-35, for a discount of only $10 million less.

Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
F-15SE Silent Eagle Concept

Defeating stealth technology is a goal for defense manufacturers and U.S. rivals worldwide and has been for decades. The Israelis’ primary threats operate at many different levels of technology and capability. Even without stealth technology, the IDF has proven itself time and again, throughout Israel’s history to be efficient, lethal, and accurate while taking minimal losses in manpower and equipment.

There could be a number of reasons why the Israelis opted for a less invisible fighter, but the top of the list could be that they just don’t care, they’re just that good. In the Six-Day war, the IDF almost entirely destroyed the Egyptian Air Force while crippling Jordan, Syria, and Iraq’s. In 1973’s Yom Kippur War, the Israeli Air Force was outnumbered 3-to-1 and took heavy losses from Egyptian surface-to-air (SAM) missiles, but still bested the Syrians and Egyptians in less than a month.

Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea

Israel’s current fleet of fighters and attack aircraft is made up of F-15 Strike Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons. The F-16 already beat an F-35 in a dogfight … maybe the Israeli Air Force is onto something.

Intel

For years ‘The Daily Show’ host Jon Stewart has given veterans their big showbiz breaks

Although “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart pulls no punches when talking foreign policy, specifically that which pertains to the war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, he’s a strong supporter of the people serving in the military. When American Corporate Partners approached him about mentoring a veteran, he responded by creating the Veteran Immersion Program and taking on 24 veterans instead of one, according to ACP.


The program is a five-week boot camp for veterans looking to break into the entertainment industry. Participants learn first hand about the technical and creative opportunities that exist by working at The Daily Show. The program ends with a career fair with over twenty influential production organizations.

Even though Jon Stewart is ending his run with “The Daily Show,” rumor has it that he’s just getting started with helping veterans.

In the meantime, this video hosted by our very own August Dannehl and Veteran Immersion Program alumni shows the impact the program has had on those who’ve attended.

Watch:

NOW: This Navy veteran went behind the scenes of ‘The Daily Show’ with Jon Stewart

OR: 5 times when Jon Stewart made a difference for America’s veterans

Intel

6 things you may not know about North Korea and dictator Kim Jong Un

North Korea is an enigmatic place with a virtually unknown leader, though tales often slip out of the tyrannical domination of the ruling Kim family.

Through snippets of information leaked from the Hermit Kingdom (as North Korea is commonly known), experts have gleaned a picture of the country, its society and its leader, 37-year-old Kim Jong Un.

A new National Geographic documentary, “North Korea: Inside the Mind of a Dictator,” examines the country and the people who live there and delves into the psychology of its young leader.

The series is full of interviews with experts, childhood friends, escaped bodyguards and even former U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton, who sat down with Kim during his summits with President Donald Trump.

Before you watch, here are some fundamental things to know about the country and its equally closed-off leader, courtesy of North Korea expert B.R Meyers and his book, “The Cleanest Race.”

1. North Korea has its own brand of communism.

Much to the chagrin of other communist countries, North Korea slowly developed its own kind of “socialist utopia,” seen in the symbolism used by its ruling party. Where most communist countries use the hammer and sickle to symbolize the union of the peasantry and the working class, the Korean Workers Party integrates a Korean calligraphy brush, to incorporate Korean intelligentsia.

Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
The symbol of the Korean Workers Party replaces the communist hammer and sickle in North Korea. (KCNA)

In traditional Leninism, intelligentsia were considered part of the bourgeoisie, and many found themselves jailed, deported or executed in other communist states. After the fall of the Soviet Union, North Korea purged itself of any link Marxism-Leninism in favor of its own policy, “Juche.”

2. “Juche” is North Korea’s guiding philosophy — and it’s bunk.

In the earliest days of North Korean nationalism, founder Kim Il Sung needed to come up with a guide for his people, similar to Mao Zedong’s “Little Red Book.”

North Korea expert B.R. Meyers says Kim’s official ideology, “Juche,” reads like a college term paper, designed to fill a certain amount of space while ensuring no one actually reads it. The result, he says, is thick books with little substance.

In short, the doctrine pushes for North Korea’s total self-reliance and independence from the outside world. Forget that the country was completely dependent on the Soviet Union for the first 50 years of its existence, Meyers says. North Korea isn’t anywhere close to self-reliant.

“Juche” was meant to be worshipped, not read.

3. North Korea makes money like the Mafia because it has to.

When news stories report that North Korea lives under “crippling sanctions,” that’s both true and misleading. It’s true that the country lives under sanctions that block everything from military equipment to coal. It can’t even get foreign currency. To get around that, North Korea reportedly operates an underground crime syndicate.

It allegedly runs black markets in human trafficking; illegal drug production and smuggling; counterfeiting foreign currency and legal drugs; wildlife trafficking; and arms dealing. There’s even a special office designed just to create a slush fund of cash for Kim Jong Un’s personal use.

4. The North Koreans think they’re better than you.

Not in so many words, but that’s what it amounts to. North Korea’s propaganda machine finds its origins in an ideology similar to that of the Japanese before and during World War II. One of the central tenets of that ideology is that Koreans have a moral superiority above that of all other races.

According to Meyers, this innate goodness is the reason they’ve been invaded and mistreated by foreign powers so often over the years. The goodness of the Korean people is exactly why they need a powerful, charismatic leader to protect them. Someone like, say … the Kims.

Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
North Korean founder Kim Il-Sung featured in a propaganda art depicting his more parental qualities.

5. Each Kim had his own personality cult.

In “The Cleanest Race,” Meyers describes the pillars that hold up the legitimacy of each successive North Korean ruler. Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Un’s grandfather and founder of the North Korean state, had a cult of personality that relied on protecting the good Korean people from the excesses and evils of outsiders. His strength and military skills kept them safe from being killed by invaders or starving to death.

His son, Kim Jong Il, took over with an entirely different set of issues. He rose to power after the fall of the Soviet Union and amid a growing famine in North Korea. His personality cult centered around his military ability. The famine would undermine his economic abilities, so instead his cult created the idea of a looming threat from outside North Korea — America.

He implemented the infamous “military first” policy that left many North Koreans to fend for themselves, redirecting what few resources the state had to what was then the fourth-largest army in the world and a developing nuclear program.

The famine lasted four years and killed somewhere between 2 million and 3.5 million North Koreans.

6. Kim Jong Un was expected to be a reformer.

Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
Kim’s official titles include General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Chairman of the Central Military Commission, and Chairman of the State Affairs Commission. (KCNA)

After Kim Jong Il’s 2011 death, his son Kim Jong Un took over. Given his extensive experience with the West, many thought he would be more willing to open North Korea up to Western culture and ideas. Others thought he might abandon the country’s nuclear program and turn North Korea into a Chinese-model economy. Others, Like Foreign Policy Magazine’s Victor Cha, weren’t so certain.

Instead, Kim Jong Un developed a nuclear missile capable of reaching the United States. He also consolidated his power by executing rivals. Kim even told Trump about how he executed his own uncle and displayed the body. It’s now believed that Kim Jong Un is empowering his sister Kim Yo Jong to do the dirty work, while he works on becoming more of a world leader.

Learn more about the life and regime of Kim Jong Un by watching “North Korea: Inside the Mind of a Dictator” on Monday, Feb. 15, on the National Geographic Channel.

— Blake Stilwell can be reached at blake.stilwell@military.com. He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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. 

Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
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. 

Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea
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.

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