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Need to see bad guys at night? This vet-run company helps MAWL the opposition

The company that makes some of the military’s most advanced laser and infrared beam illuminators has just released a civilian-legal version of it’s rifle-mounted sight used by some of America’s top troopers.


Laser and IR sight maker BE Meyers Co. commercialized its MAWL-DA laser illumination and designation device and dubbed it the “MAWL-C1+.” The sight complies with federal mandates on civilian-legal laser strength and performs almost as well is the ones special operators use in the field.

This is a big deal — but to understand why it’s a big deal, one must know a little more about the company and about the original MAWL itself.

Many of you reading this already know BE Meyers Co., albeit indirectly. If you’ve ever been in a contact while a Forward Air Controller laser designated a target, or stood by while a TACP pointed out a place that needed a little special CAS love, you know BE Meyers. They’re the folks who designed and built the IZLID for air-to-ground integration.

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They’re also the company behind the GLARE RECOIL some of you gyrenes have picked up for some additional less-lethal capability (that’s some effective Hail and Warning right there).

Additionally, the IZLID makes for an excellent force multiplier if you need to zap someone (or at least point them out for someone in an aircraft to zap) or obtain PID a klick away…with a beam that’s invisible to the naked eye.

So, now you know where they’re coming from.

Last summer BE Meyers Co. released the MAWL-DA. Modular Advanced Weapon Laser (Direct Action). By numerous user accounts, the MAWL-DA was the greatest innovation in weaponized photonics (hell, any photonics) in a generation.

Apparently it really is that good.

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Here’s a photo representation of what the MAWL-C1+ can do in using its IR pointer in low-light conditions. (Photo: BE Meyers)

The MAWL is an aiming laser that features a visible green laser, an IR pointer and a predetermined battery of IR illuminators (each intended for a specific operating environment). It’s ambi operated, low profile, tucked in close to the bore (so you don’t have to worry about mechanical offset), and easy to operate under stress (in the dark, wearing gloves, while dudes are trying to kill you or keep from being killed).

Every anecdotal report we’ve heard — and there have been several — indicate this thing performs significantly better than the PEQ-15. And because it’s modular, it’s easier to maintain.

Did we mention the HMFIC over at BE Meyers is an infantry combat veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan?

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BE Meyers President Matthew Meyers served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. (Photo: BE Meyers)

Requests for a commercial “civilian” version of the MAWL that doesn’t break the Federally mandated 0.7mW barrier have been incessant. We know, because we’re some of those who’ve been asking.

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Now a device very nearly as good as the military version, but still far superior to anything else out there we’re familiar with, is available for individual purchase. So whether you’re about to deploy and your unit doesn’t have them, a LEO who understands the significant advantages of a device like this, or a responsible armed citizen who wants one Because Reasons, you’re good to go.

What the company tell us about the civilian-legal MAWL-C1+ is big brain speak. Up front though, what the end user needs to know is that you can use it intuitively and in a wide variety of operational conditions; for instance you can roll from a stack outdoors to indoors and back out adjusting the intensity and flood as you go without ever having to fumble-fart around with knobs and buttons and dials.

Just as importantly, you can punch way out there with it when you need to, even in an environment filled with photonic barriers like fog, smoke, or ambient light.

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Learn more about the BE Meyers MAWL-C1+ right here.

 

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This is the Dunkirk hero who deserted then changed his name to rejoin the army

In 1916, nine-year-old Paddy Ryan was caught in a shootout between the Irish Republican Army and British troops. One of the British men pushed Ryan to the ground, taking a bullet for the young boy. It inspired Ryan to join the Army.


Except Paddy Ryan wouldn’t join the British Army until 1930. But Alfonsus Gilligan, as Ryan was known at the time joined as soon as he could. And deserted shortly after.

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Deserters in the era of the second world war left for many reasons; few of them were actually for cowardice. Most of them were actually because months and years of endless combat pushed many of the frontline British troops past their breaking point.

The British Empire abolished the death penalty for desertion after World War I. In World War II Europe, deserters ran the black markets of occupied countries like France and the Netherlands. In Africa, deserters were often recruited into special operations forces like the British SAS.

Alfonsus Gilligan deserted because he wanted to avoid a court martial.

The 17-year-old wore his Irish Guards uniform to a public event in County Cork, Ireland — in defiance of British Army rules. The Irish, who just fought a war of independence against Britain, started a riot. Gilligan escaped unharmed, but was brought up on charges. He never returned to his London-based unit.

He spent a few years as an itinerant farmer and day laborer before he rejoined the British Army with a new name: Frank “Paddy” Ryan.

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Frank Paddy Ryan in uniform with his wife Molly and son David taken in 1942. (via Birmingham Mail)

He and his fellow Royal Warwickshires deployed to France in 1940. He was part of the rear guard that held back the Nazis at Dunkirk, delaying them long enough for most of the men to make it off the beaches.

The Royal Warwickshire Regiment was overrun at Wormhoudt, in northern France, by the German army. They ran out of ammunition and surrendered with the expectation of proper treatment under the Geneva Convention.

Instead, a Nazi Waffen SS division called Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler took many of Ryan’s friends and brothers from the Royal Warwickshires, along with members of the Cheshire Regiment, Royal Artillery and a handful of French soldiers, to a barn near Wormhoudt, and then murdered them with grenades and rifle fire.

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This became known as the Wormhoudt Massacre. Paddy Ryan was not among those killed. He fought on along the Ypres-Comines Canal as they made their way to the beach, being evacuated and returning to England on June 1, 1940.

His daughter didn’t discover her father’s first life until after his death in 2000. It inspired her and her husband to explore his life in more detail.

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These women served by serving booze to soldiers in battle

Lately, it seems everyone has an opinion on the role of women in combat. Recently two female officers passed Army Ranger training and the Marines completed a study on gender integration, and some government officials are upset about all of it. But the notion of women in combat is not new. They’ve been in the thick of it for centuries, and not just as camp followers and nurses.


With a few exceptions, women in leadership and direct combat roles were (forcefully) restricted by men (unless God tells a sixteen-year-old French girl how to beat the English. But, of course, that doesn’t count because God is a dude, right?).

God’s mansplaining of how to win the Hundred Years’ War aside, in the days when armies would forage food and supplies, officially licensed small business people known as “sutlers” or “vivandiers” would follow the armies to sell tobacco, food, and drinks.

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Booze: The Rip-Its of yesteryear.

The Napoleonic Wars and the wars of Napoleon III brought the rise of the vivandière, often the daughters and wives of those enterprising businesses. They came to battle with a tonnelet (a small barrel) of brandy to give soldiers as they fought in a battle.

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They would deliver much-needed shots to the wounded and would even carry them back to aid stations in the rear during the entire course of a battle. The vivandière marched with the troops everywhere they went and endured the same weather and combat conditions as the armies they followed. Some even carried a musket and fought in the battle. Unsurprisingly, the troops loved them for their bravery and generosity. The loss of a vivandière in battle was a loss to the entire army.

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Paintings were made about them, and operas were composed, like Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment and Verdi’s La Forza del Destino. (Don’t say We Are the Mighty doesn’t expose its readership to high art. We at Team Mighty love this sh*t.)

The vivandière caught on overseas. During the American Civil War, they served with both Confederate and Union armies during battles, where their tradition of bravery continued. The U.S. Army calls them “the Forgotten Women of the Civil War” who “deserve to be remembered.” Women continued this role well into WWI, but were no longer allowed to go into combat.

The troops love for their vivandières goes beyond the normal desire a man has for women. Though some troops did marry their vivandière, the bond between these women and their regiments was more akin to the bonds people form after serving in combat with one another. Songs were written about the women who could handle themselves around love-struck men, like this song about a woman named Madelon (translated from French):

“A corporal in fancy cap

Went one morning to find Madelon

And, mad with love, told her she was beautiful

And he came to ask for her hand

Madelon, not stupid, after all,

He replied with a smile:

‘And why would I take one man

When I love a whole regiment?

Your friends will come. You shall have my hand

I have too need to pour their wine! ”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pq8Kc93p2Pc

NOW: The Marine Corps says it’s not trying to keep female Marines out of combat

OR: This Female Vet Is One Of History’s Most Decorated Combat Photographers

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How the P-51 Mustang almost became the A-10

The P-51 Mustang had a long combat career – seeing action in the Soccer War between El Salvador and Honduras over two decades after the end of World War II. In fact, the Mustang was serving with the Dominican Republic well into the 1980s.


But it nearly made a comeback with the United States Air Force – long after it was retired and sold off after the Korean War. Not for the air superiority role it held in World War II, but as a counter-insurgency plane.

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PA-48 Enforcer during Air Force trials in the 1980s. (USAF photo)

But in the years after World War II, the Mustang underwent a metamorphosis of sorts. Aviation historian Joe Baugher noted that the P-51 line was sold by North American to a company known as Cavalier Aircraft Corporation. That company turned the one-time air-superiority fighter into a fighter-bomber, giving the plane eight hardpoints, with a usual warload of six five-inch rockets and two 1,000-pound bombs.

But the design could be pushed further, and Cavalier soon sold the Mustang to Piper Aviation. That company decided to try putting a turboprop engine in the Mustang airframe. That and other modifications lead to the PA-48 Enforcer. By the time they were done, the Enforcer had some Mustang lineage, but was ready for modern counter-insurgency work. It had GPU-5 gun pods – in essence, the Mustang would have two guns delivering BRRRRRT!

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The PA-48 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (USAF photo)

The Air Force kicked the tires around the Vietnam War, but didn’t buy any. Not that you could blame ’em – there were plenty of A-1 Skyraiders around.

But in 1981, Congress pushed the Air Force into ordering two prototypes. After some testing in 1983, the Air Force decided to pass. One Enforcer found its way to the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB. The other is at Edwards Air Force Base.

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The 25 most ruthless leaders of all time

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Attila the Hun | Wikimedia


One man’s hero is another man’s tyrant, a popular aphorism goes.

But while we can argue the validity and virtue of certain political agendas, the callous methods by which some leaders attain their goals are less up to interpretation.

After all, no matter how a historian tries to spin it, ordering a tower to be constructed out of live men stacked and cemented together with bricks and mortar is pretty brutal.

Business Insider put together a list of the most ruthless leaders of all time featuring men and women who employed merciless tactics to achieve their political and military agendas.

Note: All people on the list ruled prior to 1980, and no living figures were included. People are arranged in chronological order.

Qin Shi Huang

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Wikimedia

Reign: 247-210 B.C.

Qin, also called Qin Shihuangdi, united China in 221 B.C. and ruled as the first emperor of the Qin dynasty. He was known to order the killing of scholars whose ideas he disagreed with and the burning of “critical” books.

During his reign, he ordered the construction of a great wall (roughly speaking, the prequel to the modern Great Wall of China), and an enormous mausoleum featuring more than 6,000 life-size terra-cotta soldier figures. Large numbers of conscripts working on the wall died, and those working on the mausoleum were killed to preserve the secrecy of the tomb.

“Every time he captured people from another country, he castrated them in order to mark them and made them into slaves,” Hong Kong University’s Xun Zhou told the BBC.

Source: British Museum, Britannica, History, BBC

Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (aka Caligula)

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Wikipedia

Reign: A.D. 37-41

Caligula was quite popular at first because he freed citizens who were unjustly imprisoned and got rid of a stiff sales tax. But then he became ill, and he was never quite the same again.

He eliminated political rivals (forcing their parents to watch the execution), and declared himself a living god. According to Roman historian Suetonius, Caligula had sex with his sisters and sold their services to other men, raped and killed people, and made his horse a priest.

He was eventually attacked by a group of guardsman and stabbed 30 times.

Source: Biography.com, BBC, “Atlas of History’s Greatest Heroes and Villains” by Howard Watson.

Attila the Hun

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Wikimedia

Reign: A.D. 434-453

After killing his brother, Attila became the leader of the Hunnic Empire, centered in present-day Hungary, and ended up becoming one of the most feared assailants of the Roman Empire.

He expanded the Hunnic Empire to present-day Germany, Russia, Ukraine, and the Balkans. He also invaded Gaul with the intention of conquering it, though he was defeated at the Battle of Catalaunian Plains.

“There, where I have passed, the grass will never grow gain,” he reportedly remarked on his reign.

Source: Britannica, Biography

Wu Zetian

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Wikimedia

Reign: A.D. 690-705

Wu went from 14-year-old junior concubine to empress of China. She ruthlessly eliminated opponents by dismissing, exiling, or executing them — even if they were her own family.

The Chinese empire greatly expanded under her rule, and though she had brutal tactics, her decisive nature and talent for government has been praised by historians. Notably, military leaders who were handpicked by Wu took control of large parts of the Korean peninsula.

Source: Britannica

Genghis Khan

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Wikimedia

Reign: 1206-1227

Khan’s father was poisoned to death when Khan was 9, and he spent time as a slave during his teenage years before he united the Mongol tribes and went on to conquer a huge chunk of Central Asia and China.

His style is characterized as brutal, and historians have pointed out that he slaughtered civilians en masse. One of the most notable examples was when he massacred the aristocrats of the Khwarezm Empire, decimating the ruling class, withunskilled workers taken to be used as human shields.

Source: “Genghis Khan and the Mongol War Machine” by Chris Peers, History.com

Tomas de Torquemada

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Wikimedia

Reign: 1483-1498 (as Grand Inquisitor)

Torquemada was appointed Grand Inquisitor during the Spanish Inquisition. He established tribunals in several cities, put together 28 articles to guide other inquisitors, and authorized torture to extract confessions.

He reportedly encouraged King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to give Spanish Jews the choice between exile or baptism, causing many Jews to leave the country. Historians estimate that Torquemada was responsible for about 2,000 people burning at the stake.

Interestingly, some sources say Torquemada himself came from a family of Jewish converts.

Source: Britannica, “A Psychoanalytic History of the Jews” by Avner Falk

Timur (aka Tamerlane)

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Screen grab

Reign: 1370-1405

Timur led military campaigns through a large chunk of western Asia, including modern Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria, and he founded the Timurid Empire.

In present-day Afghanistan, Timur ordered the construction of a tower made out of live men, each stacked on top of another, and cemented together with bricks and mortar.

He also once ordered a massacre to punish a rebellion, and he had 70,000 heads built up into minarets.

Source: Encyclopedia

Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia (aka Vlad Drăculea or Vlad the Impaler)

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Wikimedia

Reign: 1448; 1456-1462; 1476

When Vlad III finally became the ruler of the principality of Wallachia, the region was in disarray because of the many feuding boyars. According to the stories, Vlad invited his rivals all to a banquet, where he stabbed and impaled them all. (Impaling was his favorite method of torture.)

Though it’s difficult to determine whether this story was embellished, it characterizes Vlad’s rule: He tried to bring stability and order to Wallachia through extremely ruthless methods.

Source: Huffington Post, LiveScience, Britannica

Czar Ivan IV (aka Ivan the Terrible)

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Wikimedia

Reign: Grand Prince of Moscow: 1533-1547; Czar of All the Russias: 1547-1584

Ivan IV began his rule by reorganizing the central government and limiting the power of the hereditary aristocrats (the princes and the boyars).

After the death of his first wife, Ivan began his “reign of terror” by eliminating top boyar families. He also beat his pregnant daughter-in-law and killed his son in a fit of rage. He earned the nickname “Ivan Grozny” (aka “Ivan the Formidable” — which has been mistranslated to “Terrible”).

Source: Biography, Britannica

Queen Mary I (aka Bloody Mary)

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Wikipedia

Reign: 1553-1558

The only child of the notorious King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, Mary I became queen of England in 1553 and soonreinstalled Catholicism (after previous rulers championed Protestantism) as the main religion and married Philip II of Spain — a Catholic.

Over the next few years, hundreds of Protestants were burned at the stake, and for that she earned the nickname “Bloody Mary.”

Source: Biography, BBC

Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed (aka the Blood Countess)

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Wikipedia

Killing spree: 1590-1610

The countess lured young peasant women into her castle, promising them jobs as maids before brutally torturing them to death. According to one account, she tortured and killed as many as 600 girls, though the actual number is likely to be much lower.

Her torture methods included sticking needles under finger nails, covering girls in honey before unleashing bees on them, biting off chunks of flesh, and, most infamously, bathing in the blood of virgins to stay young and beautiful.

Source: Britannica, History

Maximilien Robespierre

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Wikimedia

Reign: c. 1789-1794

One of the many influential figures involved in the French Revolution, Robespierrebecome one of the dominant players during the “Reign of Terror,” a period of extreme violence when “enemies of the revolution” were guillotined, arguing that this terror was an “emanation of virtue.”

According to historical sources, Robespierre was soon corrupted by power and was executed by guillotine as well.

Source: Biography, BBC

King Leopold II of Belgium

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Wikipedia

Reign: 1865-1909

King Leopold II “founded” the Congo Free State as “his own” private colony, and went on to make a huge fortune from it by forcing the Congolese into slave labor for ivory and rubber.

Millions ended up suffering from starvation, the birth rate dropped as men and women were separated, and tens of thousands were shot in failed rebellions. Demographers estimate that from 1880 to 1920 the population fell by 50%.

This forced-labor system was later copied by the French, German, and Portuguese officials.

Source: Britannica

Mehmet Talat Paşa

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Wikimedia

Reign: 1913-1918

Historians believe that Talat Paşa was the leading figure in the Armenian genocide. As minister of the interior, he was reportedly responsible for the deportation and ultimately the deaths of some 600,000 Armenians.

He was assassinated in Berlin in 1921 by an Armenian. As an unusual bit of history, Adolf Hitler sent his body back to Istanbul in 1943, hoping to persuade Turkey to join the Axis powers in World War II.

Source: Britannica, The Independent

Vladimir Lenin

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Wikimedia

Reign: 1917-1924

In 1917, Lenin led the October Revolution to overturn the provisional government that had overthrown the czar. About three years of civil war followed, after which the Bolsheviks came out on top and took over the country.

“During this period of revolution, war and famine, Lenin demonstrated a chilling disregard for the sufferings of his fellow countrymen and mercilessly crushed any opposition,” the BBC reported.

Source: BBC, Biography

Benito Mussolini

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YouTube

Reign: 1922-1943

After escaping military service, Mussolini founded Italy’s Fascist Party, which was supported among disillusioned war veterans, and organized them into violent units called Blackshirts. He began to disintegrate democratic government institutions, and by 1925 he became “Il Duce,” or “the leader” of Italy.

Surviving multiple assassination attempts, Mussolini once said: “If I advance, follow me. If I retreat, kill me. If I die, avenge me.”

In 1936, Mussolini formed an alliance with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in which he introduced anti-Semitic policies in Italy. In April 1945, already removed from power, Mussolini tried to flee as Allied forces closed in on him, but he was shot and killed by anti-Fascists and hung upside down in a Milanese square.

Source: Atlas of History’s Greatest Heroes and Villains” by Howard Watson.

Joseph Stalin

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Wikimedia

Reign: 1922-1953

Stalin forced quick industrialization and collectivization in the 1930s that coincided with mass starvation (including the Holodomor in Ukraine), the imprisonment of millions of people in the Gulag labor camps, and the “Great Purge” of the intelligentsia, the government, and the armed forces.

During World War II, Stalin’s son Yakov was captured by or surrendered to the German army. The Germans proposed trading Yakov for Field Marshal Paulus, who was captured after the Battle of Stalingrad, but Stalin refused, saying he would never trade a field marshal for a regular soldier.

Source: RT, History, “Joseph Stalin: A Biographical Companion” by Helen Rappaport

Adolf Hitler

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YouTube

Reign: 1933-1945

By the end of 1941, Hitler’s German Third Reich empire (and Axis) included almost every country in Europe plus a large part of North Africa.

He also devised a plan to create his ideal “master race” by eliminating Jews, Slavs, gypsies, homosexuals, and political opponents by forcefully sending them to concentration camps, where they were tortured and worked to death.

According to some reports, the Nazis deliberately killed about 11 million people under Hitler’s regime. After learning that Soviet forces were closing in on Berlin, Hitler and his wife killed themselves in his Führerbunker.

Source: Atlas of History’s Greatest Heroes and Villains” by Howard Watson, New York Review of Books by Timothy Snyder

Khorloogiin Choibalsan

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Wikipedia

Reign: 1939-1952

After several meetings with Stalin, Choibalsan adopted the Soviet leader’s policies and methods and applied them to Mongolia. He created a dictatorial system and suppressed the opposition, and tens of thousands of people were killed.

Later in the 1930s, he “began to arrest and kill leading workers in the party, government, and various social organizations in addition to army officers, intellectuals, and other faithful workers,” according to an report published in 1968.

Source: “Historical Dictionary of Mongolia” by Alan J.K. Sanders

Francisco Franco

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Wikipedia

Reign: 1938-1975

With the help of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, Gen. Franco overthrew Spain’s democratically elected Second Republic during the 1930s.

Under his regime, many Republican figures fled the country, and those who stayed were tried by military tribunals. Catholicism was the official (read: only tolerated) religion, Catalan and Basque languages were prohibited outside the home, and the regime had a vast secret police network.

As Franco got older, however, police controls and censorship began to relax, free-market reforms were introduced, and Morocco gained independence.

Source: Britannica, History.com

Mao Zedong

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Wikipedia

Reign: 1949-1976

A communist leader, Mao founded the People’s Republic of China. Under his leadership, industry was put under state control, and farmers were organized into collectives. Any opposition was swiftly suppressed.

Mao’s supporters point out that he modernized and united China, and turned it into a world superpower. However, others point out that his policies led to the deaths of as many as 40 million people through starvation, forced labor, and executions.

Interestingly, he is sometimes compared to Qin Shi Huang (the first man on this list).

Source: “Atlas of History’s Greatest Heroes and Villains” by Howard Watson, Britannica,Biography, BBC, Encyclopedia

Pol Pot

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YouTube

Reign: 1975-1979

Pol Pot and his communist Khmer Rouge movement in Cambodia orchestrated a brutal social engineering that aimed to create an agrarian utopia by relocating people into the countryside. Others were put in “special centers” where they were tortured and killed.

Doctors, teachers, and other professionals were forced to work in the fields to “reeducate” themselves. “Anyone thought to be an intellectual of any sort was killed,” the BBC reports. “Often people were condemned for wearing glasses or knowing a foreign language.”

Up to 2 million Cambodians were executed or overworked or starved to death in just four years.

Source: History, BBC

Idi Amin

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Wikipedia

Reign: 1971-1979

Gen. Amin overthrew an elected government in Uganda via a military coup and declared himself president. He then ruthlessly ruled for eight years, during which an estimated 300,000 civilians were massacred.

He also kicked out Uganda’s Asian population (mostly Indian and Pakistani citizens), and spent large amounts on the military, both of which led to the country’s economic decline.

Source: History

Augusto Pinochet

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WIkipedia

Reign: 1973-1990

Pinochet overthrew Chile’s Allende government in 1973 with the help of a US-backed coup. Reports say numerous people “disappeared” under the regime and as many as 35,000 were tortured. Pinochet died before he could stand trial on accusations of human-rights abuses.

He brought back free-market economic policies, which led to lower inflation and even an economic boom in the late ’70s. Notably, Chile was one of the best-performing economies in Latin America from the mid-’80s to the late ’90s.

Source: Britannica, GuardianIMF

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The best naval air-defense system just went ashore

The major surface combatants in the United States Navy (plus a number of ships in foreign navies) use the Aegis combat system. Centered around the AN/SPY-1 radar, this system has been used to protect the United States Navy’s aircraft carriers from aerial threats. But this system is now being used to protect more valuable things – on land – like your city.


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The Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) launches a RIM-161 SM-3 surface-to-air missile.

(U.S. Navy photo)

According to materials obtained at the 2018 SeaAirSpace expo in National Harbor, Maryland, one active-duty system is already active in Romania — and by the end of this year a second system will be active in Poland. These systems use the RIM-156 Standard SM-2 Extended Range Block IV missile, the RIM-161 Standard SM-3, and the RIM-174 Standard SM-6 Extended Range Active Missile.

The primary missile is the RIM-161. This missile has already proven it can hit targets in orbit – one was used by the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) to shoot down an errant satellite in 2008. The missile is designed primarily for the anti-ballistic missile role, and is designed to secure a direct impact on targets.

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A RIM-161 SM-3 launches from a Mk41 vertical launch system.

(Missile Defense Agency photo)

Japan has also acquired Aegis Ashore to protect against North Korean missiles. The system has been involved in 46 tests, and has succeeded 37 times, an 80.4 percent success rate against ballistic targets. With a track record like this, it’s hard to understand why Aegis Ashore is not being placed on land in the United States.

This has not been a new development. A number of U.S. Navy ships – and some Japanese ships – with Aegis have been modified to shoot down ballistic missiles. But Aegis is also going ashore for active duty, protecting against the threat of ballistic missiles. This seems to be a very natural approach, after all. Much research and development has already been done on the system, and it’s easy to train personnel to use it.

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This K-9 ‘battle buddy’ is helping a Marine veteran at home

Kenny Bass liked his job. As a 22-year-old Marine participating in the initial invasion of Iraq, life couldn’t have been more exciting.


“I was part of the combined anti-armor platoon,” he explained. “It was the ‘CAAT platoon.’ We were doing a lot of counter-ambush patrols, the insurgents were attacking Red Cross personnel, civilian contractors and other non-combatants. So we were tasked with going out and trying to solicit an attack. We were Infantry Marines, and young, so most of us were pretty excited about doing that kind of work. We had heavy-duty machine guns and anti-tank missiles.”

Nothing Major

About four months into his tour, the odds caught up with the young Infantry Marine. The unarmored Humvee he was riding in struck an IED.

“I was sitting in the passenger side rear, and the IED blew up by the right front bumper,” he said. “Nobody got killed, and I just took a couple pieces of shrapnel to my face, nothing major. I think the blast wave injury was the major thing.”

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When Veteran Kenny Bass was at the Dayton VA, receiving medical attention for a kidney stone, Atlas was there by his side.

Nevertheless, by the time he returned home from Iraq in early 2004, Bass was a different man.

“My friends noticed a change in me,” he said. “I was depressed. And I was anxious. I remember going to a flea market one time and that’s when I had my first panic attack, because of all the people there. It was like I was still in Iraq, where just about everyone you see is a potential threat. I hated going out to eat or going to the mall or anything like that.”

104 in a 65 Zone

As if depression, anxiety and panic weren’t enough, another symptom began to surface.Anger.

“I was walking around with an anger level of about seven or eight,” Bass explained. “One time I got pulled over by the California Highway Patrol for doing 104 mph. I got mad at the cop for pulling me over. I was such a jerk. It didn’t take much to tip me off.”

At home, the 33-year-old Veteran’s garage became his haven.

“I’d sit out there all day smoking cigarettes,” he said. “I could see the street from there, which made me feel safe, and I could also hear what was going on in the house. So I had everything covered.”

From Bad to Worse

To dull the anxiety and the fear, the former Marine turned to alcohol.

I started drinking a lot,” he said. “Of course the alcohol just made things worse. I got to the point where I hated to wake up in the morning. I hated my life. I wanted to be healthy again. I wanted to work again and not be on disability.”

In an effort to get his life back, Bass headed over to the Dayton VA Medical Center in 2007. There he began therapy sessions with Bill Wall, a clinical social worker who had served in the military for 30 years.

“Kenny went through our therapy program here at Dayton,” Wall explained, “but it was clear that he was still having some issues with personality changes, hyper-vigilance, anxiety, depression, anger and other symptoms related to post traumatic stress. When he would go out in public, he just didn’t feel safe or in control. I thought maybe a psychiatric service dog might be a good next step for him, so I recommended he look into it.”

Safety Net

Wall, a Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, had good reasons for thinking a service dog might be the game-changer Kenny Bass was desperately in need of.

“You can feel a lot more safe with a dog around you,” the social worker observed. “The dog has been trained to pick up on any fear or anxiety you might be feeling. They can actually smell it. The dog then does something to distract you or make you feel less anxious. When you become overloaded, the dog knows it and helps you refocus. Even before you realize you’re overloaded, the dog will pick up on it. For example, if you’re in a crowd of people and you begin showing subtle signs of distress, your dog will try to create a buffer zone around you. The dog is trying to give you a sense of safety.”

“A psychiatric service dog is…always focused on taking care of you.”

And when the world seems like a safer place, chances are you’re more likely to get out there and participate in it, Wall observed.

“The dog can help you have successful outings,” he said, “and the more successful outings you experience, the better you get at it. Your new experiences gradually begin to replace your old, traumatic experiences. You’re re-learning your behavioral script.”

Back From the Brink

In 2012, after doing a little research, Kenny Bass was able to get himself paired up with an 18-month-old German Shepard named Atlas, a highly-trained service dog provided by a non-profit called Instinctive Guardians.

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Kenny Bass and his dog Atlas

“If you’re a Veteran, and suicidal, a little thing like that can be lifesaving,” Bass continued. “Atlas definitely brought me back from the brink. He’s such a character now. He gets me laughing.”“Atlas became my support system,” Bass said. “He could tell when I was having nightmares. He’d jump on the bed, lick my face and wake me up. A few weeks after I got him I was sitting alone in my garage, as usual. He came over and dropped his ball in my lap. Five minutes later I was out in the backyard with him, in the sunshine, throwing the ball for him.

The Watcher

Aside from being a natural comedian, Atlas also serves as a competent body guard.

“When we’re out, I can trust Atlas to be vigilant for me,” Bass said. “I’m experiencing more things now because of him. When we’re somewhere crowded, he’ll block for me. He’ll walk back and forth behind me to keep people from getting too close.

“And when I tell him to ‘post,’ he sits down on my right side, facing the other way. If somebody approaches me from behind, he’ll nudge me. He’s alerting me. It’s a good feeling knowing he’s watching and that I don’t have to.”

Having turned his life around two years ago with the help of Atlas, Bass decided it was time to start giving back. In 2013 he helped found The Battle Buddy Foundation, a non-profit that trains service dogs for Veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress.

“When you’re in combat, you don’t go anywhere without a buddy, someone to watch your back,” Bass said. “That’s where the term ‘Battle Buddy’ comes from.”

He added: “It’s a good feeling to know someone always has your back.”

To learn more about how VA is helping Veterans with PTSD, visit the VA National Center for PTSD Website at www.ptsd.va.gov

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How SEALs were caught in ‘ferocious’ firefight during Yemen counter-terrorism raid

New details have emerged about the Jan. 28 raid on a compound used by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula that resulted in the death of a Navy SEAL and the loss of an MV-22 Osprey.


According to a report by the Washington Post, the raid had been intended to nab Yemeni tribal leaders and get intelligence on their ties with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The snatch operation turned into a firefight when terrorists launched a counter-attack.

Among the militants firing at the SEALs were women, an several were believed to have been among the 14 terrorists killed in the raid. The SEALs were forced to call in air support from AH-1Z Cobras and AV-8B+ Harriers based on the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) as the firefight went on, the Post report says.

Additionally, officials with Central Command said Feb. 1 that investigators are looking into allegations that among the dead were civilians in the compound targeted by the SEALs. Officials said in a release that civilians were “likely” killed and “may include children.”

“The ongoing credibility assessment seeks to determine whether any still-undetected civilian casualties took place in the ferocious firefight,” CENTCOM said. “The known possible civilian casualties appear to have been potentially caught up in aerial gunfire that was called in to assist U.S. forces in contact against a determined enemy that included armed women firing from prepared fighting positions and U.S. special operations members receiving fire from all sides, including from houses and other buildings.”

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An AH-1Z Cobra helicopter assigned to Rotary Wing Aircraft Test Squadron (HX) 21, based in Patuxent River, Md., Approaches the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1). (US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Rebekah Adler)

To get the SEALs out, elements of what the report called “an elite Special Operations air regiment,” likely referring to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, also called the Nightstalkers. After retrieving the SEALs, the Nightstalkers intended to meet up with a Marine quick reaction force on MV-22 Ospreys to transfer the SEALs to the Makin Island, where the wounded could receive medical treatment.

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A group of U.S. Navy SEALs clear a room during a no-light live-fire drill near San Diego. Naval Special Warfare reservists from a Combat Service Support unit attached to a West Coast-based Sea, Air, Land (SEAL) Team conducted a field training exercise based on principles from the expeditionary warfare community. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Stevenson/Released)

That meet-up went wrong. One of the V-22s made a “hard landing” – more akin to a crash – which ended up leaving three Marines injured.

In an interview with reporters Feb. 1, Deputy Commandant for Aviation Lt. Gen. John Davis said officials are still investigating what went wrong with the Osprey, adding his suspicion was that brown-out conditions might have played a role.

“They were going into a firefight at night.  … But what’s the good news? A lot of people don’t walk away from hard landings, and everybody walked away from this one,” Davis said. “There’s a Marine who kind of bumped his head, but everyone walked away.”

After evacuating the wounded, the inoperable tilt-rotor was destroyed by an AV-8B using a Joint Direct Attack Munition, according to officials who spoke with the Post. During that time, Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens died from his wounds.

A Department of Defense release noted that the operation was “one in a series of aggressive moves against terrorist planners in Yemen and worldwide. Similar operations have produced intelligence on al-Qa’ida logistics, recruiting and financing efforts.”

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Seen through the greenish glow of night vision goggles, Navy SEALs prepare to breach a locked door in Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Columbia Pictures’ hyper-realistic new action thriller from director Kathryn Bigelow, ZERO DARK THIRTY.

According to a report by FoxNews.com, President Trump attended the return of the remains of Chief Owens and had a private meeting with the fallen SEAL’s family during a two-hour visit.

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‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan

Canadian filmmaker Paul Gross was never a soldier, but he has great respect for them. He comes from a military family; his grandfather and his father both served. Gross ended up in the arts, but he believes that soldiers represent their countries with an enormous amount of dignity and honor and they should be acknowledged for that.


“A soldier signed a piece of paper at one point, saying ‘I am willing to die for my country,'” Gross says. “That’s an extraordinary fucking thing. Did you ever sign such a piece of paper? I know I sure as shit didn’t.”

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Gross wrote, directed, and stars in Hyena Road, a film about a Canadian Forces effort to build a road into the heart of enemy-held territory in Afghanistan. Gross plays Pete Mitchell, a sage intelligence officer responsible for convincing the local warlords to stop planting improvised explosive devices along the construction path .

“My character is loosely based on this real officer who was my guide,” Gross says. “Through this intelligence guy I started to learn stuff about Afghanistan. Not just the combat, I started to learn about Afghans.”

Mitchell needs to understand Afghan culture as he tries to bring a mysterious former Mujahid known as “the Ghost” to his side of the fight. The Ghost, played by Niamatullah Arghandabi, is a local Afghan elder who has a hidden identity as a legendary warlord who disappeared after the Russians withdrew.

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Niamatullah Arghandabi with filmmaker Paul Gross. (Photo courtesy of Paul Gross)

Gross made two trips to Afghanistan to visit the Canadian Forces fighting there. The second time, he decided to film everything he could. He didn’t have a story at the time. A lot of that footage wound up in the final cut of Hyena Road. He talked to a lot of soldiers and took a lot of notes. When he returned to Ontario, he wrote a screenplay.

“Everything in the movie is pretty much based on stuff that I either heard or witnessed or was sort of common knowledge,” Gross says. “In other words, I didn’t make up anything.”

The film also features a very non-traditional actor in Arghandabi. He now serves an advisor to the Afghan government, and in 1979 he was a mujahid during the Soviet invasion.

“Since he was a kid, he was fighting Soviets,” the director says. “When he was 16, he was living in a cave coming out with Stinger missiles to knock down helicopters. I dragged him out and made him an actor.”

The director met the Arghandabi at Kandahar Airfield while on a visit there in 2011.

“I sat down with this guy and talked with him through an interpreter for about two and a half hours,” Gross recalls “I thought to myself, ‘I could spend the rest of my life with this guy and I would not understand one thing about him.’ That’s how different our cultures are.”

‘The Ghost’ told Gross of the time he met Osama bin Laden. To him Bin Laden wasn’t a fighter; he was a “clown.”

“It’s the weirdest thing,”Gross remembers of Arghandabi. “Talking to these people who knew all these bad guys. Bin Laden was one of the baddest guys we ever thought of, and [Arghandabi] thought he was a clown.”

Gross wants people to walk away from the film entertained, but also better informed because in his opinion, everyone should understand what it is they’re asking their military forces to do.

“That doesn’t mean you have to be against war,” Gross says. “It’s just that most of us wander around with blinders on. We should know what our neighbors, our cousins, our friends are doing there because we’re the one sending them there.”

Hyena Road is in theaters and on iTunes on March 11th.

 

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The body of Britain’s most legendary admiral was shipped home in a cask of booze

Vice-Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson remains Britain’s most famous naval hero. It was the fear of Lord Nelson and his fleet that kept Napoleon’s armies from crossing the English Channel. He was known for his supreme understanding of naval combat tactics and his unconventional strategies.


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Also, his legendary death… we’re getting to that.

“Something must be left to chance; nothing is certain in a sea fight” – Lord Nelson

Lord Nelson was wounded many times in his career. He lost sight in his right eye during a campaign in Corsica. He lost his right arm trying to conquer an island in the Portuguese Azores. He also destroyed most of the French fleet at the Battle of the Nile, effectively stranding Napoleon and the French Army in Egypt.

Let me alone: I have yet my legs and one arm. Tell the surgeon to make haste and his instruments. I know I must lose my right arm, so the sooner it’s off the better.” – Lord Nelson

He met his fate in another decisive fight against Napoleonic France, at the Battle of Trafalgar. He fought a combined French and Spanish fleet, sinking twenty two enemy ships without losing a single one of his own. Nelson was shot in the shoulder by a French musketeer during the battle. The bullet would make its way to his spine, and he succumbed to this wound shortly after. He lived long enough to know he’d won the battle.

Nelson’s victory secured English rule over the seas for the rest of the Napoleonic Wars, even though the Vice-Admiral wouldn’t be around for them.

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Nelson’s death at Trafalgar (Wikimedia Commons)

After the battle, a storm threatened the admiral’s flagship, HMS Victory, which was missing its mainmast and would not be able to return to England quickly. The ship’s surgeon, rather than bury England’s greatest hero at sea, wanted to get Nelson’s body back home for a state funeral. His solution? Shove the Vice-Admiral’s body in a cask of brandy to preserve it during the trip home.

“If I had been censured every time I have run my ship, or fleets under my command, into great danger, I should have long ago been out of the Service and never in the House of Peers.” – Lord Nelson

After the long trip home and Nelson’s elaborate state funeral, Nelson’s body had spent 80 unrefrigerated days before his final burial. In the days that followed, people questioned the decisions of the ship’ surgeon, wondering why he didn’t use the ship’s supply of rum to preserve Nelson’s body. In his official account, the surgeon maintained that brandy was better suited for preservation, but public opinion was so strong, people just assumed he used the rum. It was so prevalent that Navy rum soon became known as “Nelson’s Blood.”

After the body was removed, it was found that the Victory’s sailors had drilled a hole in the cask, and drank from it. though some speculate the sailors drank all of the brandy, no one knows for sure. But henceforth, the act of drilling a hole in a cask became known as “tapping the admiral.”

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Nelson’s Column in London (wikimedia commons)

Nelson is so pivotal to the history of Britain that in 2002 BBC poll, Nelson still rated #8 on a list of the most important Britons. His likeness towers over London’s Trafalgar Square atop  a 169-foot-tall column surrounded by giant lions. The Victory, first laid down in 1759, is preserved as the flagship of England’s First Sea Lord, and is currently the oldest ship still in commission.

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HMS Victory docked at Portsmouth

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How the SAS has deployed to London’s streets to stop another terrorist attack

In the wake of a recent spate of terrorist attacks in London, the government of Prime Minister Theresa May has turned to the country’s elite Special Air Service counter-terrorist forces to blend into the city’s landscape in hopes of stopping another attack before it starts.


While they’re reportedly deploying alongside police units wearing special uniforms and carrying the latest commando gear, the SAS troopers are also said to be disguising themselves as homeless people and sleeping on city streets.

“The threat level is still assessed by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre as severe and that means an attack is highly likely so we must be ready,” a military source told the Daily Mail. “These soldiers provide a very good layer of immediate response at least to ­minimize casualties or stop injuries or deaths if they react quickly.”

Other SAS operators posing as civilians are offering handouts to the “homeless” commandos to keep them fed and supplied, the paper said.

Unlike the United States, the United Kingdom doesn’t have a Posse Comitatus Act that prohibits the deployment of military forces within the country at the direction of the government. While this might have some scratching their heads, it has many feeling much safer in the wake of recent terrorist attacks which have left scores wounded and killed.

In order to diminish the threat to UK residents and citizens, May has not-so-subtly authorized the British military to turn the SAS loose throughout the country in an effort to prevent further attacks and to hunt down would-be terrorists before they can carry out their dastardly plans.

Soon after initial reports on the May 22 bombing in the lobby of the Manchester Arena surfaced, Blue Eurocopter Dauphins belonging to the British Army Air Corps’ 658 Squadron appeared on rooftops of the city, offloading kitted-out SAS troops, armed to the teeth with assault rifles and sub-machine guns.

In the days since, news media across the UK have noted that these SAS warfighters have been assisting British police teams in assaulting the hideouts of terrorists around the country, sweeping for accomplices who may have been involved in the planning and execution of various terror attacks this year.

According to The Mirror, troops from the SAS’s G-Squadron and Counter Revolutionary Warfare Wing have also been posted in the UK’s largest cities, walking among the general public without anybody the wiser in the hopes of catching terrorists unawares while they attempt to attack unassuming civilians going about their daily lives. These fully operational troops have been trained to blend in, only stepping out with their weapons drawn if the need arises.

The Special Air Service was formed during the Second World War in Africa, an asymmetric warfare detachment of the British Army equipped with jeeps and machine guns to harass German military units when they least expected it. First led by eccentric officer and adventurer, Sir David Stirling, the SAS proved its worth and began operating in the European theater during the war.

In the Cold War, its mission evolved along with the threats the rest of the world faced, and counter-terrorism became a priority, remaining its top directive to this very day.

Recruits vying for a shot at joining the SAS and earning its coveted beige beret face an arduous journey ahead, involving grueling physical tests, sleep and meal deprivation, and a long-distance forced march across a mountain in Wales which has to be accomplished within a time limit. The attrition rates have consistently been incredibly high throughout the selection course’s history and, controversially, the course has even claimed the lives of a few of its attendees.

Upon being selected to the SAS, candidates are trained to be master marksmen, expert drivers, free-fall skydivers and more in a diverse array of climates and environments.

By the end of their training, these soldiers stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best of the very best special operations forces in the world.

This is not the first time the SAS has seen action inside British borders. In early 1980, the unit was deployed to London to take down the Iranian embassy after terrorists seized control of the diplomatic house, taking a number of civilians hostage. After negotiations failed, SAS teams assaulted the embassy, killing all but one of the perpetrators while arresting the sole survivor. This event is recounted in vivid detail in the upcoming movie “6 Days.”

In the years since the Iranian embassy siege, the SAS has been sent to a number of combat zones throughout the world, operating from the Falklands in the early 1980s to the Middle East in the present day. In Iraq, members of the SAS served as part of a joint multinational hunter-killer unit known as Task Force Black/Knight, systematically rooting out and eliminating terrorists in-country. More recently, it has been rumored that the SAS is once again active in the Middle East, functioning alongside allied partners with the goal of destroying ISIS through both pinpoint attacks and brute force.

While British citizens can sleep well at night, now knowing that their nations’ finest walk incognito in their midst, potential terrorists will likely quiver with the knowledge that these elite operators stand ready in the shadows to visit violence upon those who would do their countrymen harm.

 

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LA vets concerned history repeating itself as the VA negotiates stadium deal with UCLA

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VA Secretary Bob McDonald in Los Angeles. (Photo: VA blog)


On January 28 Secretary Bob McDonald put his name to the draft master plan for the future of the West Los Angeles VA campus, a year after the agency won a settlement in a class action lawsuit brought before the courts to reverse years of encroachment on the campus. In his remarks at a ceremony marking the signing, McDonald spoke about the accomplishments of those involved in crafting the plan, crediting the veterans who’d assisted along the way.

“We know this is a team sport,” McDonald said of the process.  “It has to be done collaboratively.”

The effort that gave McDonald confidence that the master plan he was signing incorporated enough input from local vets involved collaboration on a massive scale. Marine vet Mike Dowling, We Are The Mighty‘s director of outreach, and Anthony Allman of Vets Advocacy helped organize a number of veteran service organizations to get membership mobilized to create the focus of the draft master plan.

Under the guidance of Dowling and others, dozens of VSO reps met weekly after work for six months hammering out formal comments while carrying the message back to their membership to make sure the direction behind the plan was as comprehensive as possible.

Vets Advocacy, the organization formed to settle the litigation and implement the settlement agreement, created a website, www.vatherightway.org, as the primary tool to inform veterans and get their input. The site allowed veterans to learn the history of the campus and the associated encroachment issues, see the schedule of the 12 town hall events, and — most importantly — conduct a survey that asked veterans for their opinions about how the campus could better serve the veteran community. More than 1,000 vets commented and those recommendations were filed to the Federal Register, the official government record of the plan.

That result was no small feat. Veterans answered the call to see to their own well-being in the same way they might have tackled an objective during their time on active duty. It was hard work, and the vets were proud of the fact that they might actually make a difference and be part of the solution.

But during his speech McDonald also credited the leadership of UCLA for their part in making the campus better for veterans, which struck many of the veterans in attendance as odd.  The university was arguably the worst offender in terms of encroachment by virtue of the fact that Jackie Robinson Stadium — home to the Bruins’ baseball team — was illegally built on VA property. What those vets didn’t know at the time was that McDonald was about to sign a document that outlined the terms of an “enhanced use” land agreement that would allow UCLA to continue to use the stadium for another 10 years, at least.

Curiously, the VA remained mum while UCLA issued a press release that outlined several million dollars worth of veteran initiatives that the university intends to carry out in the years to come in return for keeping the stadium.

Some veterans who were active in the draft master planning process expressed concerns that history is in danger of repeating itself by allowing the VA to sign deals with third parties without oversight or veteran buy-in for reasons that have no bearing on the VA’s mission.

“It feels like the VA put the cart before the horse by agreeing to terms before the enabling legislation passes and before any vets saw the deal,” said Seth Smith, a UCLA alumnus and Navy vet. “That timing leaves a bad taste in vets’ mouths. It’s a step in the wrong direction in terms of regaining the Los Angeles community’s trust.”

Richard Valdez, a Marine veteran and chairman of the VSO coalition in Los Angeles, said concerns from vets like Smith are premature because the agreement between the VA and UCLA is not legally effective and requires passage of the Los Angeles Homeless Veterans Leasing Act, which is expected this spring.

“Veterans need to understand that what was just signed isn’t a contract,” Valdez said. “It’s merely an agreement in principle.”

That fact notwithstanding, vet advocates who put a lot of work into the draft master plan question the VA’s timing and wonder why they weren’t given a heads up that the signing of terms with UCLA was going to happen. But VA officials were unflinching when asked about the circumstances surrounding the arrangement.

“We do everything with veterans in mind,” said Vince Kane, the director of the VA’s National Homeless Center. “And we got a good deal for them.”

Veteran expectations about the magnitude of change on the campus may have also been shaped by the language in the federal court’s findings in the original lawsuit (Valentini v. McDonald), which stated that all of the enhanced use land agreements on the VA campus were illegal. That may have led veterans to believe that the agreements would be terminated indefinitely (and even that the stadium might be demolished) in favor of more pressing priorities. After all, where does a Division I baseball stadium fit among the needs of homeless veterans and patients?

Valdez thinks that those who thought that would happen were naive. “Enhanced use leases are a fact of life, and that’s not going to change,” Valdez said. “If we have an issue within that reality, that’s where the vet community needs to focus.”

Dr. Jon Sherin, a physician who ran mental health services for the West Los Angeles VA hospital and serves as a senior member of the Vets Advocacy team, recommended that veterans remain vigilant and not grow cynical. “The work isn’t over,” he said.

“The master plan itself is a monumental achievement on behalf of the vet community,” Dowling said.  “No matter what happens, vets in LA set an example for communities across the nation in coming together to take our future in our own hands.”

MIGHTY TACTICAL

These 8 fighters served decades beyond “retirement” as drones

You may think that when a plane is retired by the Air Force, the Department of Defense is simply done with it. The only options from here are being sold second-hand, getting scrapped, becoming a museum installation, or getting lucky and becoming a civilian warbird. Well, there is another option – planes can continue to serve, but that service usually comes to a fiery end.

That’s because old fighters make for useful target drones. These eight successful fighters all found use well after retirement.


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A F6F Hellcat meets its end at the hands of an AIM-9B Sidewinder missile in 1957, more than a decade after the end of World War II.

(U.S. Navy)

1. F6F Hellcat

Over 11,000 F6F Hellcats were produced, so it’s no surprise that this classic ended up doing target drone duty. In the late 1950s, Hellcats served as targets for the early versions of the AIM-9 Sidewinder. Today, the FAA shows only 11 registered Hellcats.

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The QF-86 Sabre was still in service with the United States military in 1991 – four decades after F-86 Sabres blasted Commies out of the sky.

(U.S. Navy photo by PH2 Bruce Trombecky)

2. F-86 Sabre

The most famous plane of the Korean War didn’t leave service when the Air National Guard retired its last F-86 in the 1970s. Instead, F-86s served as target drones in the 1990s — long after they dominated MiG Alley.

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A F-16 Fighting Falcon takes down a QF-100 Super Sabre in a test of the AIM-120 AMRAAM.

(USAF)

3. F-100 Super Sabre

The F-100 Super Sabre also saw years of post-retirement service as a target for missiles. The AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile’s deadliness was honed on QF-100 Super Sabres.

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The F-102 served as a target drone into the 1980s.

(USAF)

4. F-102 Delta Dagger

Former President George W. Bush’s old steed saw some service as a target drone for a decade after its retirement. The last of the QF-102/PQM-102s were shot down in 1986.

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The Air Force bought less than 300 F-104s, but some became target drones.

(USAF)

5. F-104 Starfighter

This plane didn’t see much service with the United States, but was purchased in large numbers by American allies. The QF-104 extended the F-104’s otherwise brief service with the United States military.

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The F-106 Delta Dart was replaced by the F-15 in the 1980s, but those that were turned into target drones came within a couple of years of serving into the 21st century.

(NASA photo)

6. F-106 Delta Dart

The F-106 Delta Dart succeeded the F-102 as an interceptor in the 1960s, so it seems natural the QF-106 would succeed the QF-102/PQM-102 force as targets. The Delta Dart’s last mission as a target drone was in 1997.

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The QF-4 Phantom served for over two decades as an oversized clay pigeon for various missile tests.

(Wikimedia Commons photo by Jon Hurd)

7. F-4 Phantom

The F-4 was a workhorse for the United States Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps for decades. However, it also put in roughly two decades as a drone. It finally flew its last mission in 2016.

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The QF-16 Fighting Falcon will be serving as a target drone for the foreseeable future.

(USAF photo by MSgt. J. Scott Wilcox)

8. F-16 Fighting Falcon

The F-16 replaced some F-4s in active United States Air Force service – as well as in the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. Now, the first QF-16 target drones are taking flight as targets for missile tests.

The fighters that end up as target drones meet a noble end. Though they no longer fly missions in-theater, they ensure that the missiles used by American military personnel are reliable.

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