The Syrian war is a mess, and it doesn’t seem to be getting better any time soon.
Hundreds of thousands of people have died, millions have been displaced and a new terror group has emerged called ISIS. What started off as a civil war is now a proxy war dividing most of the Middle East that has drawn in both Russia and the United States.
This Vox video attempts to decipher the tangled web of who’s fighting who and why in Syria.
The MTV Music Video Awards was filled with stars that support the military. Our hosts, Marine Corps veteran Weston Scott and Air Force veteran Skye P. Marshall ran into Tito Ortiz, Kool Mo Dee, Jasmine Villegas and more.
We asked our celebrity supporters to snap to attention and give us their best salute, here’s how they fared:
Medal of Honor recipient and Afghan War Veteran Dakota Meyer recently penned an essay on Trump’s plan to ban all Muslims from entering the country.
Meyer, who fought beside Muslims while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, points out that Trump’s tactics will likely aid ISIS recruiting and threaten American security. It would also keep out the translators whose services saved American lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the interpreter who Meyer worked to get into America safely.
The Danish film ‘A War’ is about an officer who had to make a hard decision under fire and the legal charges he faced when he returned home. It’s an unflinching look at military families, the strains of separation during deployment, and the unforgiving nature of commanding troops under fire while wrestling with restrictive rules of engagement.
The film has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and will be released in limited theaters starting February 12.
The SR-71 is one of the greatest planes ever made and no military jet has beaten or matched its capabilities since it was retired in 1989.
“It’s the world’s fastest, it holds all the speed records, it goes higher than any other airplane in the world,” said retired Air Force Col. Rich Graham in the video below. “It flew across the entire United States in 64 minutes.”
That being said, flying this bird took more than the typical pilot gear and pre-flight preparations. Traveling at 80,000 feet meant that crews could not use a standard mask and flight suit. They wore specialized protective suits and helmets. Every flight was subject to a series of meticulous steps before, during, and after any mission.
Col. Rich Graham is one of the few people who flew the SR-71, and he explains what a typical mission aboard the Blackbird was like in this video.
The so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is notorious for its cruel treatment of women, subjecting female citizens to stringent dress codes, curfews, and corporal punishment.
Women who live under ISIS-enforced Sharia law cannot wear makeup, color or travel without a male chaperone. Burqas are also required, and refusal to conform to dress code can result in torture for both the woman in question and her husband.
When ISIS seized large swathes of territory in Iraq last year, the United Nations reported that the group “attacked and killed female doctors, lawyers, among other professionals.” Women doctors who weren’t killed were told to abide by the strict dress code while working, and were threatened with the destruction of their homes when they went on strike. The U.N. also received reports of female politicians and community leaders subjected to abduction, torture and murder.
Despite the terrorist organization’s heinous violence towards females, however, many women are flocking to serve alongside their husbands under ISIL by monitoring and punishing other women under Sharia law.
In Frontline’s recently released documentary, “Escaping ISIS,” women who formerly upheld the jihad recount their duties as agents of ISIL.
“The first thing we’d do is take her and whip her,” Umm Abaid, a former female ISIL fighter, told Frontline. “Then we’d take her clothes and replace them with clothes required by Sharia law. Then we would take her husband’s money to pay for the clothes. Then we’d whip him as well.”
The documentary focuses on both the women who rally behind ISIL’s cause and those who were forced into the organization as wives or slaves of terrorist leaders — using undercover footage and victim testimony to paint a haunting picture of what life “behind the veil” is truly like.
“Escaping ISIS” premieres Tuesday, July 14, at 10 p.m. EST both on-air and on FRONTLINE’s website.
ISIS loves social media. It took the Al Qaeda recruiting manual “A Course in the Art of Recruiting” and put it on steroids with the use of Facebook and Twitter. The terror group is notoriously audacious in luring impressionable young adults to the Middle East and the number of recruits coming from the U.S. and other western countries is alarming.
This video shows what the path to extremism is like for a recruit. It follows a young man’s journey from civilian to ISIS soldier through the public postings on his Facebook account. These are the same techniques used to lure young men and women from the U.S.
A video posted online by Kurdish media purportedly shows a portion of the joint U.S.-Kurdish raid on an ISIS prison complex in Iraq that resulted in the rescue of approximately 70 hostages.
The video, which appears to show a helmet-cam view from a Kurdish Peshmerga fighter, shows scenes of freed prisoners running across a danger area as gunfire can be heard in the background, along with U.S. Army Delta operators waiting inside a room as hostages are searched.
In one part of the video, a black flag of ISIS can be seen clearly on the wall.
The hostage rescue operation — which involved U.S. special operations troops along with Kurdish and Iraq forces — took place last week in northern Iraq’s Kirkuk province in the town of Hawija, according to CNN. At around 3 a.m. on Oct. 22, the area was bombed by coalition air power in support of two helicopters used to land in the vicinity of the makeshift prison, The Guardian reported.
Commandos entered the makeshift detention facility, killing several ISIS militants, and detaining five others, according to Army Times. Four Peshmerga soldiers were wounded, and one American soldier was killed: Master Sgt. Joshua L. Wheeler.
A Taliban sniper team thought it would be a good idea to snipe some American soldiers, little did they know what they’d be facing in retaliation. America’s military doesn’t respond with just a little firepower, it responds with jets and bombs.
In this Hornet’s Nest clip on the American Heroes Channel, a father-son journalism team embedded with the 101st Airborne captured footage of the unit pinned down by Taliban snipers. The snipers come dangerously close to killing some of the soldiers. At first, the soldiers respond with machine gun fire, which managed to injure one of the insurgents but nothing too serious. “They’re reporting that everything is okay,” said the translator listening to the enemy radio chatter. “Good, it’s not going to be okay,” said Lt. Col. Joel Vowell in the video below.
The soldiers were using the shots to lock in the enemy’s position. Air support is called in and BOOM! Game over terrorists.
The military’s embedded program give journalists and filmmakers access to wars like never before, so it’s no surprise that the latest conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have been some of the best documented in history. Here’s the footage:
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.
As we prepare to scale down our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Military is rapidly shifting its focus from regional kinetic engagements to theater-level strategic positioning. In many ways, this new posture will leave the military looking a lot like it did before the wars in the Middle East. In short, it means a renewed reliance on our Naval and Air Force deterrent technologies: think stealth bombers and nuclear submarines.
The Navy and Air Force represent two parts of the United States’ nuclear defense triad. The Navy’s SSBN submarines silently swim the world’s oceans waiting for a first or second strike command. Likewise, Air Force bombers are positioned worldwide, ready to drop munitions on our enemies. But the backbone of the nuclear triad has always been our land-launched nuclear missiles.
Now, new reports from the Pentagon and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) suggest that the standby strategy for nuclear deterrence is getting a technological facelift in the form of the Hypersonic Air-Breathing Weapon Concept, or HAWC.
HAWC is essentially an inter-continental ballistic missile that can be launched from an aircraft. Traveling at hypersonic speeds, the HAWC would provide “longer ranges with shorter response times and enhanced effectiveness compared to current military systems,” according to Andrew Knoedler, Program Manager of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office.
“Such systems could provide significant payoff for future U.S. offensive strike operations, particularly as adversaries’ capabilities advance,” Knoedler added.
To put that in perspective, consider that the top speed for your standard-issue Tomahawk cruise missile is about 550 miles per hour; this is slower than mach 1. The Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept will travel at five times the speed of sound. It will be capable of hitting any target on the planet within one hour from launch.
DARPA and the U.S. Air Force have been working on HAWC for a while, and today the Pentagon announced that the program will be joining forces with its Australian counterpart Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment, or SCIFiRE. According to the press release, by joining the two programs, the Pentagon is hoping to “advance air-breathing hypersonic technologies into full-size prototypes that are affordable and provide a flexible, long range capability, culminating in flight demonstrations in operationally relevant conditions.”
The latest concepts of the HAWC offer much more than simple warhead delivery. In fact, the newest system, nicknamed Mayhem, will be able to be launched from a much smaller aircraft — like a strike fighter jet — and will be able to be fitted with a series of different payloads. In addition to munitions, the Mayhem will be able to carry sensors, surveillance equipment, or communications devices.
According to a September report from Defense News, both Lockheed Martin and Ratheon have completed prototypes; both prototypes are currently being tested. These flight tests will evaluate whether the weapons’ propulsion and thermal management systems will be able to withstand hypersonic cruise speeds, according to DARPA.
“These tests provide us a large measure of confidence – already well informed by years of simulation and wind tunnel work,” said Knoedler.
“That gives us faith [that] the unique design path we embarked on will provide unmatched capability to U.S. forces.”
This article was originally published on November 30, 2020.