This is what this year's US/UK carrier strike group will look like - We Are The Mighty
Intel

This is what this year’s US/UK carrier strike group will look like

Earlier this week, defense officials from the United States and the United Kingdom signed an agreement that will allow the two nations to merge forces into a joint U.S./U.K. carrier strike group in 2021. The joint strike group will be led by the U.K.’s new flagship carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, and will include a U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, as well as a compliment of U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Joint Strike Fighters.

“This deployment underscores the strength of our bilateral ties and demonstrates U.S.-U.K. interoperability, both of which are key tenets of the U.S. National Defense Strategy,” a Pentagon’s announcement on the agreement reads.

Carrier strike groups represent some of the most potent means of force projection in any nation’s military, made up of an aircraft carrier and assorted ships tasked with defending and supporting carrier operations. The standard U.S. Navy carrier strike group is led by one of America’s supercarriers from the Nimitz class of ships (with Ford-class carriers expected to enter operational service in the near future as well). Each carrier maintains a carrier air wing made up of as many as 70 aircraft, allowing a single ship to leverage more destructive power than some entire nations. The U.S. Navy operates F/A-18 Super Hornets and will soon fly F-35C Joint Strike Fighters from the decks of its flat tops.

That carrier is usually accompanied by at least one cruiser, two destroyers or frigates, and other ships that may support specific operations like nuclear submarines or supply ships. All told, a single American carrier strike group usually boasts more than 7,500 personnel and wields enough conventional firepower to achieve tactical and strategic objectives on a broad scale. At any given time, the United States maintains 10 such carrier strike groups around the world.

This is what this year’s US/UK carrier strike group will look like
U.S. Navy ships assigned to the USS George Washington Carrier Strike Group sail in formation in the Atlantic Ocean (U.S. Navy photo)

The U.K. maintains only one carrier strike group, which is smaller in scale than any of America’s. Today’s UKCSG (U.K. Carrier Strike Group) is comprised of nine total ships, including the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier, two frigates, two destroyers, one replenishment ship, and a solid support ship. The Queen Elizabeth, which is the largest warship ever built for the Royal Navy, is not nuclear powered like America’s Nimitz-class carriers and is notably smaller–displacing 65,000 tons compared to the Nimitz’s 100,000.

While the Queen’s carrier may not be as large as its American counterparts, it still packs one hell of a punch. The HMS Queen Elizabeth is capable of supporting more than 65 aircraft and intends to field between 24 and 35 F-35B Joint Strike Fighters, alongside another 14 helicopters, at any given time.

This is what this year’s US/UK carrier strike group will look like
Royal Navy Cmdr. Nathan Gray, an F-35 Patuxent River Integrated Test Force test pilot, continues first of class flight trials (fixed wing) developmental test flights aboard the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin by Dane Wiedmann/Released)

“Next year, HMS Queen Elizabeth will lead a British and allied task group on our most ambitious deployment for two decades,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. “We shall forward-deploy more of our naval assets in the world’s most important regions, protecting the shipping lanes that supply our nation.”

This is what this year’s US/UK carrier strike group will look like
Pictured in formation are, RFA Tideforce (lead), HMS Northumberland (her right), USS Truxton (her far right), HMS Dragon (her left), USS Philippine Sea (her far left) with HMS Queen Elizabeth at the rear during Exercise Westlant 19. (UK MOD)

The UKCSG currently includes the HMS Diamond, HMS Defender, HMS Kent, HMS Richmond, at least one attack submarine, the RFA Fort Victoria supply ship, and a Tide-class tanker for fuel.

The HMS Diamond and the HMS Defender are both Daring-class air-defense destroyers with a suite of onboard weapon systems, including up to 48 Aster 15 and Aster 30 missiles. The Kent is a Duke-class frigate with anti-submarine torpedoes, 8 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and 32 anti-air missiles, and the Richmond is an older Type 23 frigate with a similar loadout. The subs used in the carrier strike group hail from either the older Trafalgar or the latest Astute-class of nuclear attack submarines.

This is what this year’s US/UK carrier strike group will look like
This image of the UKCSG includes destroyers from the Netherlands and U.S. Navy, making it a reasonable approximation of what the joint carrier strike group will look like later this year.
(U.S. Navy photo courtesy of the Royal Navy)

In 2021, the UKCSG will be joined by the USS The Sullivans, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer homeported in Mayport, Florida. The 505-foot ship displaces around 6,800 tons and carries a crew complement of around 280. Each Arleigh Burke-class vessel can carry 56 Raytheon Tomahawk cruise missiles. Each Tomahawk can strike targets as far away as 1,550 miles.

This is what this year’s US/UK carrier strike group will look like
U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Halsey firing a Tomahawk cruise missile. (U.S. Navy photo)

The joint strike group will be bolstered in the air by 10 of the U.S. Marine Corps’ short take-off, vertical landing variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. While the U.S. Navy operates F-35C’s off the decks of its own flattops, the F-35B has been considered a better option for the Queen Elizabeth’s sloping deck. The F-35B is the only version of the stealth fighter that can land vertically, eliminating the need for arresting wires during landing. The U.S. Marine Corps has been operating F-35Bs off the deck of amphibious assault ships in recent years in a similar fashion, earning the colloquial name of “Lightning Carriers.”

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

Articles

This Army Spouse Was Hacked By ISIS And She Didn’t Flinch

This is what this year’s US/UK carrier strike group will look like


It’s not every day that you can say “Today I got a personalized tweet from someone claiming to be with ISIS.” And that’s probably a good thing.

It happened like this: The Twitter account of a military spouse who owns a spouse-focused non-profit was hacked by a group apparently affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The hackers then tweeted messages aimed at specific military spouses, including myself.

“Amy Bushatz! You think you’re safe but the IS is already here, #CyberCaliphate got into your PC and smartphone,” is, I’m told, what the tweet said (I did not actually see it before it was deleted, presumably by Twitter).

Not long thereafter I received a friend request from someone named “Gasper CyberCaliphate Sadz.” When I viewed their profile it was clear that they were not the sort of person I wanted to let into my social life. Within a few seconds the profile had been deleted. And yes, it was really creepy. The same photo and images were used in this account as were used during the CENTCOM hack.

Every spouse quoted in this CNN article was singled out in the tweets.

You might be thinking “that’s what you get for being stupid enough to be quoted by name in a CNN article about ISIS and cyber threats.” However, the decision to have my name used in that story wasn’t a hard one. My name is everywhere — here, on Military.com and in other national publications. I am a public person. That ship has sailed.

I’m told the FBI is investigating the situation, and all the proper military officials have been notified by those of us involved. My husband suggested I not let anyone dressed as a terrorist into our house.

I want to face this whole situation with a resolute jaw and a loud “being afraid means the terrorists win.” I’m not the type of person to live in fear or change my life just because some person on the internet wants to scare me. I’ve never done that before and I have no intention of doing it now.

Personal attacks bring up a variety of feelings. On the one hand, I’m super pissed. How dare they threaten me and my friends? Then there’s the maniacal laughter and the semi-inappropriate jokes about not opening the door for anyone in a bomb vest. I’ve got lots of those.

But then, underneath all of that somewhere deep in my core, I am trying to shake off the tiniest bit of what feels an awful lot like fear.

Because being singled out by someone claiming to be with a fairly terrifying terrorist organization? That’s scary. Knowing that, thanks to my job and public profile, my town of residence, spouse’s name and occupation, base, kid’s names and more wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to locate online? More than unnerving.

But I don’t think it’s the fear itself that matters. I think it’s what I choose to do about the fear that is the key. Do I let it change my habits? Do I ignore it completely and hope nothing bad happens?

Do I use it as a cautionary tale to be more vigilant — much like you would react to a story of a home robbery in your neighborhood?

Or do I completely change my life, delete my social media presence and lock down my family because I am afraid?

Being afraid doesn’t mean the terrorists won — it’s the living in fear that gives them the victory. I’m not giving them the victory.

More from Military.com:

Intel

Borne the Battle #235: VA Secretary Denis McDonough

On Feb. 8, 2021, Denis McDonough was confirmed by the Senate to be the United States’ 11th Secretary of Veterans Affairs. He heads into the job with a rich background filled with experience navigating the government’s complex bureaucracy. Being a veteran of Capitol Hill, he aims to leverage his knowledge to better serve our nation’s military Veterans.

In this episode of Borne the Battle, McDonough touches on topics important to many Veterans:

While being VA Secretary is a new position for McDonough, he has taken steps to bridge the gaps in his knowledge by renewing a tradition that he followed as White House chief of staff. He reached out to as many former VA Secretaries he could to ask them for advice. In the interview, McDonough said the conversations have served him well so far and he intends to maintain these relationships moving forward.

And while McDonough is not a Veteran, he contacted multiple Veterans during his first weeks as secretary to solicit their advice and general thoughts on the state of VA. In doing so, McDonough said he has learned valuable information on what issues are important to Veterans and has used those discussions to shape his priorities.

Many of the comments McDonough made in this episode reflect the statements he made during his Senate confirmation hearing:

Being a lifelong civil servant, McDonough enters his new position with a vast wealth of knowledge about navigating the federal government to achieve goals. Whether he successfully leverages his extensive experience from Capitol Hill to effectively serve America’s Veterans – he says that will ultimately be decided by you.

In addition to listening to full episodes on your favorite podcatcher, you can also catch Borne the Battle interviews on YouTube:


Borne the Battle Veteran of the Week:


Mentioned in this Episode:



Calvin Wong is an intern with VA’s Digital Media Engagement team. He studies History as an undergraduate at the University of California, Davis.

This article originally appeared on U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

Intel

Chinese troops showcase super soldier exoskeleton suits

China’s no-holds-barred military modernization program has included some attention-grabbing new technologies seemingly drawn from the recesses of science fiction. In addition to the development of artificial intelligence technology, experiments in weather control, and the development of microwave “heat ray” weapons, Beijing has also reportedly pursued programs to genetically engineer super soldiers.

And if a recent Chinese news report is to be taken at face value, the Chinese military has already deployed troops equipped with strength-enhancing exoskeleton suits to the disputed Sino-Indian Himalayan border.

According to a report by the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, a detachment of Chinese border guard troops wearing the exoskeleton suits hauled a supply delivery to a mountaintop outpost in China’s southwestern Ngari prefecture — a Himalayan territory within the Tibetan Autonomous Region that includes portions of China’s contested border with India. In a video news report posted online, Chinese soldiers don devices that attach to their legs and waists, providing extra propulsion and support as they shouldered loads (containing food parcels to celebrate the Lunar New Year) up a rugged mountain trail at a reported altitude of roughly 16,700 feet.

Chinese forces first advertised their use of the exoskeletons in the Himalayan region in February, according to Chinese news reports, which touted the technology as a way to increase an individual soldier’s load-carrying capacity — especially at high altitude. An October CCTV video showed Chinese soldiers lifting heavy crates with the assistance of another, more substantial exoskeleton suit variant with a brace that extends the length of the wearer’s spine.

While eye-catching, the varied Chinese exoskeleton suits are more or less analogous to the designs currently being tested by the US military. Last year, the US Army began a four-year, $6.9 million research program to evaluate exoskeleton suits for military use. The suits under review are designed to artificially enhance the physical performance limits of a soldier — allowing him or her to run faster, jump higher, and carry heavier loads.

“As we explore the more mature exoskeleton options available to us and engage users, the more we learn about where the possible value of these systems is to army operations,” David Audet, a division chief in the Soldier Effectiveness Directorate at the US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, told Army-technology.com.

The US Army is currently evaluating multiple exoskeleton variants, including designs by American defense firms such as Lockheed Martin and Dephy.

Lockheed Martin’s Onyx suit includes leg attachments that resemble therapeutic leg braces connecting to a waist belt. The Onyx uses electromechanical knee actuators, multiple sensors, and an artificial intelligence computer to boost human strength and endurance, according to Army-technology.com.

“Before the army can consider investing in any development above what industry has done on their own, we need to make sure that users are on board with human augmentation concepts and that the systems are worth investing in,” Audet said.

US Special Operations Command (SOCCOM) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have also built exoskeleton suits of their own. Comprising a roughly 700-pound suit replete with anti-ballistic, full-body armor and an array of sophisticated sensors, the SOCCOM design was deemed unwieldy and unworkable and was ultimately canceled, according to industry reports.

The DARPA exoskeleton is a so-called soft suit that facilitates easier freedom of movement while providing extra power to a soldier’s waist, hips, thighs, and calves.

China and India share a 2,000-mile-long border in the Himalayas, which includes some of the harshest terrain and environmental conditions on earth. It is an ideal testing ground for China’s burgeoning exoskeleton technology.

Much of the region is above 14,000 feet in altitude. It is arid and cold, with severe exposure in places. The unfiltered sunlight at high altitude can cause blindness if not wearing the right sunglasses. And the lack of oxygen can cause lethal afflictions like pulmonary and cerebral edemas to strike without warning.

Deployed troops have to spend weeks acclimating to the reduced oxygen levels at such heights before they’re able to perform their duties. For the Indian army, this takes place at an outpost on the Chang La pass — which, at 17,586 feet in altitude, is roughly the same height as Mount Everest base camp.

This is what this year’s US/UK carrier strike group will look like
Indian and Chinese forces have competing claims over Pangong Lake. Photo by Nolan Peterson.

Tensions between China and India inflamed in May after reports of fistfights between Chinese and Indian border patrols at two different sites along the so-called Line of Actual Control, or LAC, which denotes the two countries’ Himalayan frontier in a remote Indian region called Ladakh.

Chinese units have also claimed territory near Pangong Tso, a high-altitude lake that marks part of the Himalayan frontier between the two countries. The two sides have overlapping claims on the lake. A hand-to-hand brawl in June left 20 Indian soldiers dead; Chinese troops have also used microwave weapons to harass Indian troops, according to news reports.

Both Indian and Chinese forces are in the midst of a phased withdrawal from the contested Himalayan border region, Indian news outlets report. The bilateral moves are intended to restore the border area to its status prior to last summer’s escalated tensions.

“Both sides will cease their forward deployments in a phased, coordinated and verified manner,” Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said Feb. 11.

Feature photo: Screenshot from YouTube courtesy of Chinese Media Perspective

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

Intel

This Coast Guard Cutter led the rescue efforts on 9/11 but is facing abandonment

September 11, 2001 is a day that will always be remembered for the horrific loss of American life. However, it is also a day that can be remembered for extraordinary courage and heroism. A prime example of this can be seen in the actions of the crew of the USCGC Adak (WPB-1333).

On 9/11, Adak arrived in New York Harbor one hour after the Coast Guard tug Hawser and took over On-Scene Commander responsibilities. Amidst the chaos, Adak coordinated the rescue of civilians from Manhattan. She led a makeshift fleet of military, merchant, city, and private vessels. Thanks to her efforts, 500,000 people were evacuated from Lower Manhattan on that fateful day. In recognition of her service, Adak received the Secretary of Transportation Outstanding Unit Award.

After 9/11, Adak was part of the Coast Guard force that reinforced the Navy in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Although the Navy’s ships were too large to maneuver well off the Iraqi coast and in the Northern Persian Gulf, Coast Guard Cutters like Adak were able to navigate the waters with relative ease. She famously provided maritime security for the Navy SEAL attack on the Khor al-Amaya and Mina al Bakr Oil Terminals, preventing Iraqi escape or reinforcement from the sea. The attack marked the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom on March 20, 2003.

This is what this year’s US/UK carrier strike group will look like
George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush visit the Adak in 2002 (U.S. Coast Guard)

Afterwards, Adak was assigned to patrol the Khor Abd Allah Waterway which leads to Iraq’s primary port of Umm Qasr. There, she supported the British and Australian shelling and amphibious assault on the Al-Faw Peninsula. During the landings, an Iraqi PB-90 patrol boat was spotted and destroyed by an AC-130 Spectre gunship. Adak conducted Combat Search and Rescue operations and pulled three hypothermic Iraqis from the water. The men, later identified as warrant officers of the Republican Guard, were the first Iraqi prisoners taken during the operation.

Adak continued to conduct maritime operations throughout Operation Iraqi Freedom. In fact, she has patrolled the Arabian Gulf ever since. However, the Coast Guard has announced its intention to decommission to hero ship. In service since 1989, Adak has reached the end of her service life. Tragically, the Coast Guard has determined that the only ways to dispose of the ship are selling her through a GSA auction or giving her to an allied nation through the Foreign Assistance Act. Her location in the Arabian Gulf makes it too expensive for the Coast Guard to bring her home.

This is what this year’s US/UK carrier strike group will look like
Adak on patrol in the North Arabian Sea (U.S. Coast Guard)

Dissatisfied with abandoning such an important vessel, the USCGC Adak Historical Society has started a petition to bring the ship home. At this point, nothing short of an order from the President of the United States will be enough to save her. The USCGC Adak Historical Society is fighting to preserve the historically important ship as a museum and 9/11 memorial in the United States. As of April 19, the petition has received 3,000 signatures of its 5,000 signature goal.

Intel

New bill aims to give Coast Guard voting seat in Joint Chiefs of Staff

America’s oldest continuing seagoing service may finally get a voting position on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Congressman Charlie Crist of Florida is one of the representatives working hard to make sure of it. 

“I was the Governor during the Deep Water Horizon oil spill in 2010. I witnessed the tarballs on the beaches and in fact witnessed it with President Obama,” Crist shared. “I’ll never forget working alongside the Coast Guard and flying in a chopper above the ocean and seeing miles of oil while trying to assess the damage… I just wanted to offer legislation to make sure coasties are dealt with as any other branch of our military. It’s the right thing to do.”

On March 24, Crist introduced H.R.2136 alongside Congressman Steven Palazzo which seeks to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for the membership of the Commandant of the Coast Guard on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Despite being a military branch of service, the Coast Guard is only considered a de facto member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

This is what this year’s US/UK carrier strike group will look like
PENSACOLA, Fla – Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Gov. Charlie Crist, and Coast Guard Adm. Thad W. Allen, national incident commander, tour the Coast Guard Cutter Oak, a 225-foot buoy tender homeported in Charleston, South Carolina, that has been working to remove oil using the Vessel of Opportunity Skimming System, June 29, 2010. Coast Guard Photo By Petty Officer 3rd Class Walter Shinn.

The Coast Guard’s unique role in national security is undeniable. Main missions include maritime interception operations, deployed port operations/security and defense, peacetime engagement and environmental defense operations. Throughout history the Coast Guard held a place beside the U.S. Navy as a partner in defense while also maintaining a command role in U.S. Maritime Defense. The time for them to have a voice at the table could never be more timely, considering the continuing and escalating threats facing our nation. 

After witnessing the 2019 Government Shutdown and watching the Coast Guard go without pay but continuing to serve and protect, Crist said he was moved to fight even harder for them. “That experience really led me to this legislation to make the Commandant a full voting member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I just think it’s essential,” he explained. “When we are talking about national defense and keeping Florida and American families safe, I want all of our leaders to be at the table advising President Biden, that undoubtedly must include the Coast Guard.”

This is what this year’s US/UK carrier strike group will look like
Congressman Charlie Crist, U.S. Representative for Florida’s 13th District, waves to beachgoers Tuesday, May 30, 2017, alongside Petty Officer 3rd Class Justin Kuchar, crew member at Air Station Clearwater, during an aerial assessment of erosion along Pinellas County, Florida’s coast. U.S. Coast Guard by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael De Nyse

Often, the Coast Guard can feel like an afterthought for many within the public when considering military service despite having fought in almost every major conflict the United States has been a part of. This bill will help change that perception. “Left behind no more. We gotta get this thing passed and done. It’s just respect,” Crist said. “I can’t imagine any member voting against doing this. It isn’t right versus left, it’s right versus wrong.”

In the Press Release Crist released it states, “The Coast Guard is playing an increasingly important role in our national defense – from countering China, to protecting national security in the Arctic, to preventing illegal fishing and drug smuggling. The bill offered by Crist and Palazzo reinforces the value of the Coast Guard’s role in our national security by promoting the Commandant of the Coast Guard to a full voting member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, bringing parity with the other branches of the Armed Forces.”

The Joint Chiefs of Staff originated during World War II after the attacks on Pearl Harbor as an advisory panel for the President and other civilian leaders on military issues. In 2012 the National Guard was given a seat at the table followed by the Space Force in 2020. The Coast Guard was established in 1790 and is America’s oldest continuous seagoing service but still hasn’t been given voting privileges. With the passing of this bill, they’ll finally receive their full seat and voice at the table alongside the other branch Chiefs.  

“I think we need to do everything we can to right what I feel has been wrong in the past and get the Coast Guard on par with every branch of the military in our country,” Crist implored. “This is about the dedication by members of the Coast Guard, how much they care about their mission and also doing what’s right for the American people.”

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. 

This is what this year’s US/UK carrier strike group will look like
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.

This is what this year’s US/UK carrier strike group will look like
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. 

This is what this year’s US/UK carrier strike group will look like
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

Army Special Forces are in Nepal helping with earthquake relief efforts

This is what this year’s US/UK carrier strike group will look like
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Krish Dulal


By lucky coincidence, two U.S. special forces operational detachments, each with approximately 13 men, were training in Nepal when the 7.8-magnitude quake hit on April 25. Both teams switched from training to actual operations. The first, training on Mt. Everest, began rendering medical aid and providing humanitarian assistance. The other, which had been training in the jungle near the capital, began coordinating medical response to the mass casualty event. Both teams are working closely with Nepalese forces.

See the full article at SOFREP.com where, in addition to the hard news, a former special forces team member gives a breakdown of what each team member would likely be responsible for in the coming days.

Intel

Why CIA analysts are often sent into combat zones

In the first season of Amazon’s Jack Ryan, the eponymous character begins as a low-level financial analyst within the CIA. The series is, essentially, one big prequel, connecting to what will ultimately become Tom Clancy’s Ryanverse, a fictional reality that’s the basis for many great films, like The Hunt for Red October and The Sum of All Fears.

At the series’ start, Ryan is just a lowly desk-jockey, reluctant to embrace danger — he begins the series complaining about being sent into a combat zone. Now, it’s not necessarily a plot hole, but a CIA analyst being reluctant to get into the mix is a lot like a young private complaining that they’re being sent to Afghanistan: It happens so often that they should kind of expect their number to be called.


CIA analysts often provide the Department of Defense with the actionable intelligence they need to conduct their missions. That being said, the life of a CIA analyst isn’t the fun, high-stakes adventure that films often make it out to be. Since information about specific events is rarely released to the public, we often only hear about their missions well after the fact, or in some broad, vague way.

Each analyst is specifically trained in a given field and is sent to a specific region to learn one specific thing. This is fairly well represented in the show — Ryan is sent to Yemen to learn about terrorist spending habits there. Actual analysts would be given more mundane tasks, yes, but their missions would be along those lines.

Even if it’s a tad unrealistic, upping the ante makes for a great show.

This is what this year’s US/UK carrier strike group will look like

Hacking in the real world is more like using software to crack passwords than improvising lines of written code, just to demystify that one, too.

For the most part, analysts often only report local happenings to their higher ups. Sure, a deep-undercover operative sent to Afghanistan in 2000 may have been doing all that secret-squirrel stuff and agents sent to Berlin in the 70s could have been living it up like James Bond — but analysts might be sent anywhere for any reason, like to get a feel of the trends in the Kazakh media.

The whole spy world gets demystified when you realize that it’s actually kinda boring. Take the often-misunderstood CIA cyber analysts, for example. Moments where you can flex your super-hacker muscles like they do in the movies probably exists, but you’re mostly just gathering intelligence via social media analysis.

This is what this year’s US/UK carrier strike group will look like

Don’t get that twisted, though. They’re still going to be involved with the cool moments you see in spy films — just not very often.

Hamid Karzai with Special Forces and CIA Paramilitary in late 2001.

Then there’re the analysts that get embedded with the troops. On one extreme, they’re working hand-in-hand with the special operations community to collect as much information as possible about any given threat, like on the Abbottabad Compound where Osama Bin Laden hid. Or they could be working with conventional forces to gather whatever the troops learn while deployed.

Everything just comes down to the second word in the CIA’s name — intelligence — and learning what they can from anywhere and everyone.

Intel

The history behind Veterans Day in two minutes

In the United States, November 11th is the day we commemorate the men and women who swore an oath to protect and defend our constitution against our enemies with service in the military. What is now known as Veterans Day was originally observed for a different reasons than it is today.


To begin with, it was called Armistice day in commemoration of the cease-fire between Germany and the Allied Nations during World War I. Although the war didn’t officially end until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919, the real fighting stopped on November 11, 1918 — “at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.”

Also read: This is how 12 other countries celebrate their version of Veterans Day

That’s just one fact in the evolution of Veterans Day as we know it today. This History Channel video tells you everything you need to know in two minutes.

Watch the full video below: 

And for all our veterans out there, thank you for your service — and enjoy these tips on how to make the most out of your day!
Intel

These are the veteran stars of the GI Film Festival

The GI Film Festival is an annual event that introduces new and established filmmakers that honor the stories of the American Armed Forces.


“From the very beginning, it has been about fostering a positive image for men and women in uniform,” said Brandon Millet, co-founder and director of the GI Film Festival. “We’ve expanded that image to also connecting service members to society given that only one percent serve. We want people to come to the event and be highly entertained and walk away with a greater sense of appreciation for what are men and women in uniform do for us on a daily basis and if we accomplish those two missions we’re happy.”

The GI Film Festival is open to filmmakers of every level, from first-timers to veteran directors and producers. Here’s a short video featuring some of the directors, actors, and producers at the GI Film Festival this year:

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Intel

Watch Rob Riggle hilariously ‘audition’ for a part in ‘Top Gun 2’

There’s going to be sequel to “Top Gun” that brings back Tom Cruise as Maverick, but comedian/actor (and Marine veteran) Rob Riggle wants a shot to be in the movie.


With a pretty hilarious “audition” video shot last year for Funny or Die, we say he definitely needs a role. So what if “Top Gun 2” is going to be about drone warfare, Riggle would be way better than “Goose.”

Gotta love the callsign he ends up with: “Ringtone.”

Watch:

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