Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine - We Are The Mighty
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Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine

For close to seven years, the Russian military has been supplying separatist forces in Ukraine with weapons and supplies that has only prolonged the conflict in the country. Now, the Russians are ratcheting up tensions in the area by massing a large army along its border with Ukraine. 

With members of the G-7 calling on the Russians to de-escalate the situation by moving some troops, Russia is standing firm telling the world, they’re only responding to NATO provocations, specifically, the movement of American ships into the Black Sea. Russia has warned the U.S. Navy not to enter those waters.

Ukraine is not currently a member of the NATO alliance, so any Russian attack on the country would not provoke a military response from NATO members. The last country to join the alliance was North Macedonia, and its membership took more than 20 years to achieve. 

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commander of U.S. Army Europe, discusses training with soldiers from the Ukrainian national guard’s 3029th Regiment May 18, 2015, as part of Fearless Guardian in Yavoriv, Ukraine. Paratroopers from the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade are in Ukraine for the first of several planned rotations to train Ukraine’s newly-formed national guard over a period of six months. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alexander Skripnichuk, 13th Public Affairs Detachment.)

The United States often sends its ship into the Black Sea, but the potential deployment of two more vessels came when the Russians sent 10 of its ships into the area. The American movement was confirmed by Turkish officials, who are notified of all American movement into the Black Sea within 14 days due to the terms of the Montreaux Convention. The two warships are scheduled to stay there for a month.

Russian officials claimed their ships were moving into the area for a training exercise. The ground forces on its border with Ukraine are the most deployed to the area since Russia’s 2014 invasion and annexation of the Crimea Peninsula.

Ukraine has been fighting the separatist movement in the area ever since. In March 2021, four Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the fighting. Shortly after, the United States began to operate reconnaissance patrols in nearby international airspace.

While the Russians aren’t currently posed for any offensive movements, the size and presence of the force so close to the border is causing international alarm. The new warships are a symbol of support for Ukraine from the Biden Administration. Some say the move by the Russians is a challenge to that support. 

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
A Ukrainian army engineer clears a mock room after his team used explosives to breach the door during training with Canadian and U.S. Army engineers to build their breaching skills, enabling them to teach those skills to Ukrainian army units who will rotate through the combat training center at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center, near Yavoriv, Ukraine, on Feb. 23. (Photo by Sgt. Anthony Jones, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team)

“The escalation of tensions in the southeast of Ukraine justifies the measures Russia is taking,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Bloomberg. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the Russian troops are there to protect Russian sovereignty and the United States has no reason to be there. 

“Questions are being asked about what Russia is doing on the border with Ukraine,” Lavrov said. “The answer is very simple. We live there, it’s our country. But what is the United States doing thousands of kilometers from its own territory with its warships and troops in Ukraine?”

A large-scale invasion on the level of Crimea or the 2008 Russian invasion of South Ossetia would be out of character for Russia’s recent military movements, which normally include small scale special operations or unconventional operations, like cyber attacks. But it’s not totally unprecedented, as recent events have shown. 

Russia does not easily deploy its troops out of country. Aside from the two previous invasion, Russia’s only current overseas deployment of ground troops is in Syria, which also relies on private contractors.

The presence of any large formation of ground troops along with naval warships conducting exercises is enough for anyone to take notice, especially so close to NATO’s doorstep. The deployments have increased the appeals by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to ramp up efforts to fast-track Ukraine’s progress to full NATO membership. 

Intel

These countries still force people into their militaries

Conscription in the United States military — also known as “the draft” — ended with the Vietnam War. Today men and women serve because they want to, not because they have to, but it wasn’t always that way.


Throughout history, when a country waged war and needed a large Army, it turned to drafting its people. The U.S. applied conscription as early as the Revolutionary War by drafting men into the militia and state Army units.

But every time a government turned to conscription, it stirred controversy, exposing fault lines of race, culture and social class. Some say it unifies the country, others argue it tears a society apart. Despite the all-volunteer force of the United States as an example of defense without conscription, there are many countries which still use a draft in 2015.

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Intel

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

The A-10 Thunderbolt II (AKA Warthog) was designed around its massive GAU-8/A Avenger nose cannon.


The gun and plane were developed in parallel, which resulted in the perfect marriage. In fact, without the nose cannon, the plane is completely off balance and can’t fly.

Developed by General Electric, the 30 mm hydraulically driven seven-barrel Gatling-type cannon was designed to combat tanks and provide close air support. Both the A-10 and its GAU-8/A gun entered service in 1977. This video explains the cannon’s role in today’s battlefield.

Watch:

 

Articles

The KGB’s Alpha Group left terrorists in fear of the Soviet Union

The massacre of Israeli athletes by terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics was a wake-up call. Like many countries in the 1970s, the Soviet Union had to come up with a way to counter the rise of domestic and international terrorism. The western countries that comprised the NATO alliance had their special units, so the Soviet Union relied on its state security service to make its own.

KGB Chief Yuri Andropov created Alpha Group, a special operations and commando unit inside his already elite organization. Their skills included counterterrorism, hostage situations, interdicting foreign intelligence services, VIP protection, and more. Unlike most federal police agencies’ special tactical units, the KGB’s Alpha Group often found itself deployed overseas. 

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Not the look of a man who has patience with terrorists (Wikimedia Commons)

The Alpha Group would leave terrorists in fear, not the other way around. 

When deployed to Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion of the country, the KGB’s special operators decapitated the Afghan government, capturing the Ministry of Defence, the presidential palace, and assassinating President Hafizullah Amin, along with every other Afghan in the Tajbeg Palace and any witnesses. 

Members of the Alpha Group would spend the next ten years in Afghanistan, waging a war of fear and intimidation against the Afghan Mujahideen. 

The KGB’s finest operation against international terrorism came in Beirut, Lebanon in the early 1980s. At the time, Lebanon was in the early stages of a long civil war, and Beirut was a city torn apart. 

Although western countries sent peacekeeping forces into Lebanon and into Beirut in particular, many western countries began to feel the effects of terrorism on their people. The Americans not only suffered the bombing of its Marine barracks, but also experienced a number of significant kidnappings. Members of many Lebanese factions would go out and abduct high-profile individuals throughout the city.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
U.S. Embassy in Beirut after the 1983 bombing (Wikimedia Commons)

Many of these victims were kept for years. The longest was held captive for nearly five years. Diplomats, aid workers, and journalists were all victims of abductions from groups like Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Liberation Organization and others. France, the United States, West Germany, Ireland, and Switzerland were all victims. 

The Soviet Union lost one diplomat of the four that were abducted. In October 1985, four officials from the USSR were kidnapped in Beirut and the KGB’s Alpha Group was dispatched to find and rescue them. By the time the KGB arrived in Lebanon, Arkady Katkov, a consular attaché, had been killed. His body was found in a Beirut street. 

The KGB’s long-standing policy was not to negotiate with terrorists. Its operatives went to work identifying each member of the Islamic Liberation Organization who had a part in the abductions. Once they found a member of ILO who helped kidnap Soviet citizens, the KGB would abduct one of the offenders’ family members. 

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Alpha Group: Not to be trifled with (Wikimedia Commons)

It’s rumored that one of those family members had their testicles forcibly removed by the KGB and mailed to the members of the ILO. The threat was clear: you can get to us, but we can also get to you. Not only were the remaining three diplomats dropped off near the Soviet embassy within the next thirty days, international terrorists left the Russians alone for the next 20 years. 

Alpha Group would go on to have significant roles in attempted coups during the fall of the Soviet Union, but could not prevent the Evil Empire’s fall. The KGB would fall with the USSR, but Alpha Group would live on with the new Russian FSB state security service. 


Feature image: Vladimir Putin shakes hands with members of Alpha Group in Chechnya in 2011 (Wikimedia Commons)

Intel

This video shows the awesome capabilities of Russia’s elite Spetsnaz troops

Much like U.S. special operations forces, Russia has its own elite troops that shine during special missions like counterterrorism and hostage rescue.


“Spetsnaz,” or special purpose, is an umbrella term for special ops in Russia and other eastern Bloc states. These elite troops traditionally fall under the GRU [intelligence service], FSB [security service], and other ministries, in addition to the traditional military structure.

Regardless, they are the “core of the best trained men the Soviet Union, now the Russian Federation, could produce,” according to SOFREP.

In this video, we get a sense of what these troops are capable of. Though it is worth pointing out that this was produced in Russia and isn’t exactly an impartial look at this force.

Watch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1fY8lblBlQ

NOW: 13 famous rock stars who served in the military

Intel

America’s rural veterans face an uphill battle for help after they return home

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Brian Stansberry


Mickey Ireson, a Marine Corps veteran in rural America, struggled with all the worse elements of the VA system. He drove three hours each way to appointments, struggled to reach doctors, and had to juggle his medical needs with school and a full-time job. He kept fighting to stay on an even footing, but he slowly gave way. Eventually, he was homeless, jobless, and kicking a drug habit.

Some vets who have learned to deal with the bureaucratic nightmare are helping out their peers. An Army veteran who knew the problems of getting care from the VA in the country met Ireson through a non-profit and helped him out. Ireson is now back in school with a 3.8 GPA, president of his student veterans club, and employed.

Still, Ireson’s story is not unique. Check out the full story on America’s rural veterans from from James Clark at Task and Purpose 

Intel

This video perfectly shows what happens when you shop for tactical gear

It’s that time of the year again. Holiday leave, time with the family, no shaving and presents!


Whether you’re shopping for a buddy or self-gifting, finding the perfect piece of kit for your rifle is tough. You could ask your friends, visit online forums or ask Jean-Pierre.

Related: Watch this man teach you now to reload in the worst possible way

Jean-Pierre knows the struggle. Gear is expensive and the possibilities are seemingly endless. But don’t stress, just sing along with him and stick to a vision.

Watch:

Intel

Could we really build a B-1B gunship?

In 2018, Boeing filed patents for a number of potential cannon mounting solutions for the supersonic heavy payload bomber, the B-1B Lancer, with the intent of creating a B-1B gunship similar in capability to the famed Spooky AC-130 and its most recent successor, the AC-130J Ghostrider. While the patents indicate Boeing’s interest in prolonging the life of the venerable Lancer, there’s been little progress toward pursuing this unusual design.

Recently, the U.S. Air Force announced plans to begin retiring its fleet of B-1Bs in favor of the forthcoming B-21 Raider, prompting us to ask ourselves: could we actually build a B-1B gunship to keep this legendary aircraft in service?

Could we really build a B-1B Gunship?

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine

Boeing’s patents indicate a number of cannon-mounting methods and even types and sizes of weapons, giving this concept a broad utilitarian appeal. America currently relies on C-130-based gunships that, while able to deliver a massive amount of firepower to a target, max out at less than half the speed that would be achievable in a B-1B gunship. The Lancer’s heavy payload capabilities and large fuel stores would also allow it to both cover a great deal of ground in a hurry, but also loiter over a battlespace, delivering precision munitions and cannon fire managed by a modular weapon control system.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine

In theory, it all sounds well and good, but there are also a number of significant limitations. The B-1B Lancer’s swing-wing design does allow it to fly more manageable at lower speeds, but it would almost certainly struggle to fly as slowly as an AC-130J can while engaging targets below. Likewise, a B-1B gunship would be just as expensive to operate as it currently is as a bomber–making it a much more expensive solution to a problem one could argue the U.S. has already solved.

But that doesn’t mean we’ll never see this concept, or even these patents, leveraged in some way. If you’d like to learn more about the concept of turning a B-1B into a gunship, you can read our full breakdown (that the video above is based on) here.

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

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US general says NORAD responded to more Russian military flights near Alaska last year than any year since the Cold War

  • Last year, the US saw more Russian military flights near Alaska than any year since the Cold War.
  • Gen. VanHerck said the flights show “Russia’s military reach and how they rehearse potential strikes.”
  • He characterized Russia as the “most acute challenge to our homeland defense mission.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The military command responsible for defending the the US and Canada from attack responded to more Russian military flights near Alaska last year than any year since the end of the Cold War, the four-star general leading the command said Tuesday.

US Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck, head of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), told the Senate Armed Services Committee in written testimony that “Russia continues to conduct frequent military operations in the approaches to North America.”

“Last year,” the general told lawmakers Tuesday, “NORAD responded to more Russian military flights off the coast of Alaska than we’ve seen in any year since the end of the Cold War.” These flights involved heavy bombers, anti-submarine aircraft, and intelligence assets.

VanHerck said that the Russian military flights near Alaska “show both Russia’s military reach and how they rehearse potential strikes on our homeland.”

The Russian military aircraft, which include Tu-160 and Tu-95 long-range bombers, Tu-142 anti-submarine warfare aircraft, Il-38 maritime patrol aircraft, and A-50 early warning and control planes that are regularly accompanied by Su-35 fighters, are typically intercepted by US Air Force F-22 Raptors assigned to NORAD whenever they fly into the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone.

No Russian military aircraft has at any point breached US or Canadian airspace, which extends out to 12 nautical miles from the US coastline.

Russian long-range air patrols were fairly common during the Cold War but became less frequent in the aftermath. In recent years, these flights have again become frequent occurrences.

The US military also conducts bomber flights near Russia, which have prompted the Russian military to scramble interceptor aircraft in response.

In addition to frequent military flights near Alaska, the Russian Navy also conducted exercises focused on maritime approaches in the Arctic and Pacific. The drills also involved anti-submarine patrols and anti-ship cruise missile launches in the US exclusive economic zone, an area that extends out 200 miles from a country’s coastline.

In his written testimony, VanHerck asserted that “Russia presents a persistent, proximate threat to the United States and Canada and remains the most acute challenge to our homeland defense mission.”

VanHerck argued that Russian leaders “seek to erode our influence, assert their regional dominance, and reclaim their status as a global power through a whole-of-government strategy that includes information operations, deception, economic coercion, and the threat of military force.”

The general said that should the US wind up in conflict with Russia, “we should expect Russia to employ its broad range of advanced capabilities—nonkinetic, conventional, and nuclear—to threaten our critical infrastructure in an attempt to limit our ability to project forces and to attempt to compel de-escalation.”

He also called attention to Russian newer offensive capabilities such as advanced cyber and counterspace weapons, as well as hypersonic weapons.

VanHerck told the Senate Armed Services Committee in the coming years, “Russia hopes to field a series of even more advanced weapons intended to ensure its ability to deliver nuclear weapons to the United States,” pointing to the Poseidon torpedo, one of several “doomsday” weapons Russian President Vladimir Putin touted a few years ago.

The general’s comments come as the US military focuses intently on China, which Department of Defense leadership has called “the pacing challenge” for the US. The Biden administration has repeatedly made a point of identifying China as the priority challenge.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Articles

Former Navy SEAL explains how civilians are evacuated from places like Afghanistan

In an August 19th news conference to address the events unfolding in the wake of U.S. troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby and U.S. Army Major General Hank Taylor referred on multiple occasions to the ongoing U.S. military operations in theatre as a “non-combatant evacuation operation.” This might sound like a bit of bureaucratic Pentagon-speak, or simply government jargon, but the term actually refers to an established military doctrine, and a systematic government (usually military) operation to evacuate Americans.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
South Vietnamese refugees aboard a U.S. Navy vessel after being evacuated as part of Operation Frequent Wind in April of 1975 (DoD photo)

Related: Up to 8,000 US troops back to Kabul as Taliban closes in

Typically shortened to NEO within the U.S. military, non-combatant evacuation operations are emergency military actions executed specifically outside of the continental United States (OCONUS), when crisis conditions in a particular country threaten American personnel located there. Those conditions thus necessitate that the American government mandates — or authorizes — the immediate evacuation of civilian and/or non-essential official U.S. government personnel from that country. In other words, it is what is happening in Afghanistan right now, as the U.S. military tries to get all Americans (and many Afghan non-combatants) out of Afghanistan. 

In a situation requiring a NEO, the U.S. government recognizes that conditions present an unacceptable threat to Americans in a particular country, and the U.S. government tells those Americans (via the State Department) that they must leave, or should leave (a voluntary evacuation) immediately. After announcing this order, the U.S. military in whichever theatre of operations the country is located, tasks appropriate units to execute the NEO.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
A Marine assigned to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) escorts a Department of State employee to be processed for evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, August 15. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Isaiah Campbell)

Related: Exclusive: Spec Ops Vets on why we must save Afghan Interpreters

An example of a “typical” NEO (in reality, they are hardly typical, or common) — apart from the current situation in Afghanistan — would be political instability and a resulting crisis in a country in Africa. I am using this example because I was a member, for a time, of a designated NEO force for Africa while I was stationed in Europe shortly after 9/11. This was before the establishment of Africa Command, so European Command (USEUCOM) was tasked with executing any NEO that might occur in Africa. Our designated force consisted of a deployed Navy SEAL Platoon (my platoon), a deployed Marine Corps Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team (FAST) company, various air and navy assets, as required, and then contingency military forces based in EUCOM, as events might necessitate.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Family members disembark from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter Oct. 30, 2015, after a mock evacuation flight during noncombatant evacuation operation training exercise at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan in Seoul (U.S. Army)

If Morocco, for example, politically imploded back in 2001, and all of the thousands of Americans located there — civilian, military, and official — were ordered to depart, some would make it out on commercial flights, some would no doubt choose to hunker down (whether the evacuation was voluntary or not), and the rest would likely attempt to find refuge at the U.S. Embassy or some other location deemed secure (an American consulate, for example, or a friendly, third-country embassy). The U.S. military (EUCOM) would then coordinate with U.S. Embassy personnel in Rabat, Morocco, to effect the evacuation via military assets of those remaining personnel.

My SEAL platoon and the FAST company would have arrived at the embassy, secured it, and held it until all Americans were evacuated. U.S. military aircraft, ground convoys, naval assets, and/or any other useful mobility platform would have been utilized for the evacuation. 

NEO is an inherently fast-changing and flexibility-demanding operation, and we trained for it extensively while stationed in Europe. We were on standby for quick response, as a NEO always demands rapid execution to have the greatest chance of success. Once completed, and all Americans are accounted for, senior American military and political leaders would then have decided if the NEO force would remain to hold the embassy/U.S. government facility, or exfiltrate the country and effectively terminate America’s official presence there.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the 10th Mountain Division stand security at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, August 15 (Photo by Sgt. Isaiah CampbellU.S. Central Command Public Affairs)

We are still in the execution phase of the current Afghanistan NEO, as the U.S. military works to evacuate Americans and designated Afghans from the country. As is every NEO — by definition — the current operation in Kabul is fluid, challenging, and likely prone to escalate in risk at a moment’s notice. The American forces deployed as the NEO force there face a challenging task and no one should doubt that they will execute it to the best of their ability, in a manner they have likely trained for prior to this deployment. We should all wish them Godspeed in completing their mission.

This article by Frumentarius was originally published by Sandboxx News. Follow Sandboxx News on Facebook.

Intel

Here is what the ISIS chain of command looks like

ISIS does not operate like a typical terrorist group. Unlike Al-Qaeda or the Taliban with a loosely connected network of terrorist cells, ISIS operates like a country with a conventional army.


In January 2014, the secret files of Samir Abd Muhammad al-Khilawi – best-known as Haji Bakr – were obtained after being killed in a firefight. Haji Bakr was a former colonel in the intelligence service of Saddam Hussein’s air defense force who later became ISIS’ head strategist. He’s been secretly pulling the strings at ISIS for years, according to a report by Spiegel.

When he died, he left the blueprint for the Islamic State. These documents show the structure of the Islamic State from top to bottom. This TestTube News video explains how ISIS’ chain of command is broken down according to Haji Bakr.

Watch:

NOW: This former ISIS fighter from New York explains why he quit after only 3 days

OR: Women of the Jihad: An inside look at the female fighters of ISIS

OR: 17 Laws Every Taliban Militant Needs To Follow 

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Elon Musk’s SpaceX wins 2 Pentagon contracts for nearly $160 million to launch missions with its Falcon 9 rockets

  • SpaceX won two contracts for $159.7 million to launch US military craft with its Falcon 9 rockets.
  • The Department of Defense also awarded the United Launch Alliance two contracts for $224.4 million.
  • They are expected to be take place by the end of 2023.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Pentagon announced Tuesday that it had signed two contracts with Elon Musk’s space company, SpaceX, for more than $159 million.

Under the agreements, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets will launch two separate missions, the US Department of Defense said in a statement.

The two contracts come to $159.7 million and are expected to be completed by the end of 2023, the Pentagon said. It did not disclose the cost of each individual mission.

The launches will take place in Vandenberg Air Force Base, in California, and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, in Florida, it added.

Another launch provider, the United Launch Alliance, was also awarded two Pentagon contracts Tuesday for $224.2 million, the DOD said.

The ULA, which is a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, will also provide its Vulcan Centaur rockets for launch services.

The ULA launches are also scheduled before the end of 2023.

This is the third time SpaceX has signed an agreement with the Pentagon. In October, the company won a $149 million contract to make missile-tracking satellites for the DOD – SpaceX’s first government contract to build satellites.

In July, SpaceX won 40% of an agreement with the US military to launch new rockets for the Space Force. The other 60% went to the ULA.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

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