A soldier with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) died Tuesday from injuries he sustained during a live-fire training exercise at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana.
The Army is not releasing many details until the soldier’s family has been notified, unit spokesman Master Sgt. Kevin Doheny said in a May 11 press release.
Soldiers and emergency services personnel responded to the incident and transported the soldier to Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital on Fort Polk, where he was later pronounced dead, according to the release.
It wasn’t clear if the soldier was shot during the live-fire exercise.
Seaman James “Derek” Lovelace was pulled out of the pool Friday after showing signs he was having difficulty while treading in a camouflage uniform and a dive mask, Naval Special Warfare Center spokesman Lt. Trevor Davids said.
Lovelace lost consciousness after being pulled out of the pool and was taken to a civilian hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Davids said. He was in his first week of SEAL training after joining the Navy about six months ago, Davids said.
US Marines arrived in Syria in March to support the effort to retake Raqqa with artillery fire.
The Marines, from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, came with M-777 Howitzers that can fire powerful 155 mm shells. The 11th MEU returned to the US in May, turning the operations over to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said they recaptured the city in mid-October, and, according to Army Sgt. Maj. John Wayne Troxell, the Marine fire supporting them was so intense that the barrels on two of the Howitzers burned out, making them unsafe to use.
Troxell, who is senior enlisted adviser to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, said last week that US-led coalition forces were firing on ISIS in Raqqa “every minute of every hour” in order to keep pressure on the terrorist group.
A U.S. Marine artillery unit in Syria. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Matthew Callahan)
“What we have seen is the minute we take the pressure off of ISIS they regenerate and come back in a hurry,” Troxell said, according to Military Times. “They are a very resilient enemy.”
The M-777 Howitzer is 7,500 pounds — 9,000 pounds lighter than its predecessor. It is highly maneuverable, and can be towed by 7-ton trucks or carried by MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft or by CH-53E Super Stallion or CH-47 Chinook helicopters. It can be put in place and readied to fire in less than three minutes.
Its sustained rate of fire is two rounds a minute, but it can fire four rounds a minute for up to two minutes, according to its manufacturer, BAE Systems. While it’s not clear how many rounds the Marine M-777s fired or the period over which they fired them, burning out two barrels underscores the intensity of the bombardment used against ISIS in and around Raqqa.
“I’ve never heard of it ― normally your gun goes back to depot for full reset well before that happens,” a former Army artillery officer told Military Times. “That’s a s—load of rounds though.”
A US Marine fires an M-777A2 Howitzer in Syria, June 1, 2017.Sgt. Matthew Callahan/US Marine Corps
The M-777’s maximum range is 18.6 miles (though it can fire Excalibur rounds accurately up to 25 miles, according to Military.com). Video that emerged this summer showed Marines firing 155 mm artillery shells with XM1156 Precision Guidance Kits, according to The Washington Post.
The kit is a type of fuse that turns the shell in to a semi-precision-guided munition that, on average, will hit within 100 feet of the target when fired from the M-777’s maximum range. The XM1156 has only appeared in combat a few times.
The number of rounds it takes to burn out a howitzer barrel depends on the range to the target as well as the level of charge used, which can vary based on weight of the shell and the distance it needs to be fired.
If the howitzers were being fired closer to their target, “the tube life might actually be extended some,” the former Army officer told Military Times. Open-source imagery reviewed this summer indicated that Marines were at one point within 10 miles of Raqqa.
U.S. troops and their playing cards have a long history. A large chunk of deployment is spent killing time until the action starts – and card games have long been the weapon of choice for that mission.
After more than a century, the U.S. Playing Card Company, manufacturer of playing card brands like Bee, Aviator, and Hoyle, is still the world’s leading card company. In that time, the company has been very good to U.S. troops. Its original brands were decks of Army and Navy cards, later merged to one “Army Navy” brand, featuring military imagery.
The USPCC even made a cheap deck so soldiers in World War I could easily purchase one for the battlefields.
It was the company’s signature brand, Bicycle, that did the most for troops in the field. During World War II, Bicycle teamed up with British and American intelligence agencies to create a deck of cards that peeled apart when wet. The cards then revealed secret escape maps so downed pilots and captured soldiers could navigate their way back to Allied lines.
Once the map pieces were revealed, all it took was to assemble the cards in the right order to get the full map layout.
The decks were given to POWs in Europe through the Red Cross’ special Christmas parcels, which contained (among other things) a deck of playing cards. Cards were a common occurrence among troops, so they aroused no suspicion from the Nazi camp guards.
Decks of these cards are said to have helped at least 32 people escape from Colditz Castle and prompted some 316 escape attempts. No one knows for sure how many decks were produced, but the only two known surviving decks are in the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.
1. A sunset is seen through the nose of a B-25 Mitchell during a military tattoo held at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, Sept. 16, 2015. The “warbird flight” consisted of two B-25 Mitchells, two P-40 Warhawks and a P-51 Mustang.
2. A P-51 Mustang flies over Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, during a military tattoo Sept. 16, 2015.
3. An F-15E Strike Eagle sits on the flightline at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Nov. 12, 2015.
4. An MC-130J Commando II from the 9th Special Operations Squadron airdrops a Maritime Craft Aerial Delivery System over the Gulf of Mexico during a training exercise Nov. 12, 2015.
5. C-130J Super Hercules aircraft assigned to the 317th Airlift Group, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, help U.S. Army and British paratroopers perform a static line jump at Holland Drop Zone in preparation for Combined Joint Operational Access Exercise 15-01 at Fort Bragg, N.C., April 11, 2015.
6. Thunderbirds Solo pilots perform the Opposing Knife Edge Maneuver during the Minnesota Air Spectacular practice show June 25, 2015, at Mankato Regional Airport, Minn.
7. Crew chiefs assigned to the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron prepare to launch a B-2 Spirit at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Aug. 12, 2015.
Photo by: Senior Airman Joseph A. Pagán Jr./USAF
8. Airmen push down on the wing of a U-2 after its landing at Royal Air Force Fairford, England, June 9, 2015.
9. Members of the 354th Fighter Wing inspection team walk toward first responders Jan. 26, 2015, during a major accident response exercise at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.
10. Senior Airman Gary Cole, 36th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, surveys a drop zone at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Oct. 14, 2015.
11. Soldiers from Fires Squadron, 3d Cavalry Regiment conduct training with the M777 155mm howitzer at Tactical Base Gamberi, Afghanistan, Jan. 1, 2015.
12. Soldiers assigned to 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, conduct air assault sling load training on Warrior Base, New Mexico Range, in the Demilitarized Zone, Republic of Korea, March 18, 2015, during joint training exercise Foal Eagle 2015.
13. Paratroopers assigned to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, practice a forced-entry parachute assault on Malemute drop zone at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, March 18, 2015, as part of a larger tactical field exercise.
14. A U.S. Soldier assigned to 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) salutes his fellow Soldiers while jumping out of a C-130 Hercules aircraft over a drop zone in Germany, Feb. 24, 2015.
15. A team of paratroopers assigned to the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, practice a tactical halt with the brigade’s new Light Tactical All Terrain Vehicle on Fort Pickett, Va., Feb. 26, 2015.
16. Soldiers, assigned to 1/25 SBCT “Arctic Wolves”, U.S. Army Alaska, transport equipment using snowshoes and ahkio sleds during an arctic mobility squad competition in the Yukon Training Area, Fort Wainwright, Alaska, Dec. 10, 2015.
17. Soldiers, assigned to 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team, Idaho Army National Guard, calibrate a M109A6 Paladin howitzer during Decisive Action Rotation 15-09 at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif., Aug. 16, 2015.
18. Engineers, assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division (Iron Brigade), employ a M58 Mine Clearing Line Charge (MICLIC) during a breaching exercise, at Udairi Range Complex, Kuwait, July 9, 2015.
19. Soldier, assigned to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, provides security during Decisive Action Rotation 15-05 at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif., Feb. 25, 2015.
20. An CH-47 aircrew from the Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss drops off Soldiers, assigned to 2d Brigade 1st Armored Division, during an air assault operation, part of the Network Integration Evaluation 15.2 exercise at Fort Bliss, Texas, May 16, 2015.
21. ATLANTIC OCEAN (March 30, 2015) Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Keron King signals the pilots of an MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter attached to the Vipers of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 48 during preflight preparations aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Anzio (CG 68).
22. PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 7, 2015) A family enjoys Gator Beach as an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer is underway off the coast of Southern California.
23. PEACHTREE CITY, Ga. (Oct. 31, 2015) Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Trevor Thompson presents the Star-Spangled Banner during a demonstration at The Great Georgia Air Show.
24. PACIFIC OCEAN (Oct. 19, 2015) U.S. Naval aircraft and aircraft from the Chilean Air Force participate in a fly-by adjacent to aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73).
25. SAN DIEGO (Oct 3, 2015) U.S. Navy flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, perform a high-speed diamond break-away maneuver at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Air Show.
26. WATERS NEAR GUAM (Aug. 12, 2015) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) fires a Harpoon missile during a live-fire drill.
27. GULF OF ADEN (April 18, 2015) Sailors and Marines aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) participate in a swim call.
28. WATERS EAST OF THE KOREAN PENINSULA (April 1, 2015) Landing Craft Utility (LCU) 1631, assigned to Naval Beach Unit (NBU) 7, lowers its ramp inside the well deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20).
29. ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 6, 2015) Sailors direct an E-2C Hawkeye assigned to the “Wallbangers” of Carrier Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 117, on the flight deck aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75).
30. WATERS OFF THE COAST OF HAWAII (Dec. 6, 2015) Sailors and Marines man the rails aboard Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) while passing the USS Arizona Memorial.
31. Ride the Waves: Lance Cpl. Chance Seckenger with 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, rides in a Combat Rubber Raiding Craft during launch and recovery drills from the well deck of the USS Green Bay, at sea, July 9, 2015.
32. A Marine engages targets from a UH-1Y Venom with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, during Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) above San Clemente Island, California, March 20, 2015.
33. Marines assigned to Force Reconnaissance Platoon, Maritime Raid Force, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), conduct a high altitude low opening (HALO) jump during category 3 sustainment training in Louisburg, N.C., June 2, 2015.
34. A Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey assigned to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command stages on a hasty landing zone during a tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel drill at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, Nov. 16, 2015.
35. Two FA-18 Jets are displayed in front of the Wall of Fire during the Marine Corps Community Services sponsored 2015 Air Show aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, San Diego, California, Oct. 3, 2015.
36. Marines assigned 1st Marine Division, run along hills during the Dark Horse Ajax Challenge aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Aug. 20, 2015.
37. A Marine with the “Greyhawks” of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 (Reinforced), 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), wipes down an MV-22B Osprey after takeoff and landing drills at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
38. Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit load gear onto an MV-22B Osprey before departing from the amphibious assault ship USS Essex.
39. Trinity Marines fire the BGM-71 missile during exercise Lava Viper, one of the staples of their pre-deployment training, at Range 20 aboard Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, Oct. 24, 2015.
40. Homecoming Kiss: Lance Cpl. David Sellers, a refrigeration mechanic with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, embraces his wife with a kiss during the Command Element’s homecoming at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, July 17, 2015.
41. Recruits at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, N.J., place their hands on the shoulders of those in front of them as they prepare to safely leave a fire simulator, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015.
42. Northern Lights Patrol: Aurora borealis is observed from Coast Guard Cutter Healy Oct. 4, 2015, while conducting science operations in the southern Arctic Ocean.
43. Cruise Escort: Crew members aboard a 25-foot Response Boat-Small from Maritime Safety and Security Team 91107 escort the cruise ship Pride of America out of Honolulu Harbor, Oct. 3, 2015.
44. Rescue swimmers and aircrewmen from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, Mass., conduct hoist training evolutions June 23, 2015.
45. Rescue swimmers and aircrewmen from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, Mass., conduct hoist training evolutions June 23, 2015.
46. Crews from Air Station Traverse City, Michigan, measure ice thickness in preparation for the Great Lakes shipping season and the opening of the Soo Locks in Lake Superior March 17, 2015.
47. The Coast Guard’s Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT) from Virginia participates in a training evolution in Hyannis, Mass., Thursday, Oct., 22, 2015.
48. An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Borinquen, Puerto Rico sits on the flight deck of the Coast Guard Cutter Resolute homeported in St. Petersburg, Fla., in the Caribbean, March 3, 2015.
49. Crewmembers from the Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay take a dip in Lake Erie at sunset with the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffon and the motor vessel Algoma Hansa in the background, March 8, 2015.
50. The Coast Guard Cutter Sherman departs Naval Base San Diego Jan. 16, 2015, en route to its new home port of Honolulu.
Since World War II, the Army has been using comic books to train soldiers on specific duties and reduce casualties through improved situational awareness.
The trend continued through the Vietnam War. At that time, the Army discovered a training deficiency and produced a comic book to educate soldiers about proper weapon maintenance.
Fast forward to today, the Army is facing a new challenge.
Advancements in cyber and smart technologies have the potential to alter the landscape of future military operations, according to Lt. Col. Robert Ross, threatcasting project lead at the Army Cyber Institute, West Point, New York.
The U.S. military, allied partners, and their adversaries are finding new ways to leverage networked devices on the battlefield, Ross said.
The Army Cyber Institute at West Point, New York, has partnered with Arizona State University Threatcasting Lab to produce a series of graphic novellas such as “1000 Cuts.”
(US Army photo)
“The use of networked technology is ubiquitous throughout society and the leveraging of these devices on future battlefields will become more prevalent; there is just no escape from this trend. Technology is integrated at every level of our Army,” he said.
Keeping with the Army’s legacy of producing visual literature to improve readiness, the ACI has partnered with Arizona State University Threatcasting Lab to produce a series of graphic novellas, Ross said.
The lab brings together military, government, industry, and academia experts to envision possible future threats.
The graphic seen here is from the novella titled “1000 Cuts.”
(US Army photo)
Through their research, the workshop develops potential cyber threat scenarios, and then explores options to disrupt, mitigate, and recover from these future threats.
Each graphic novella considers what cyber threats are plausible in the next 10 years — based on a combination of scientific fact and the imagination of those involved, Ross explained.
“This project is designed to deliver that understanding through visual narrative,” he said. “Technical reports and research papers do not translate as well to the audiences we are looking to influence. Graphic novellas are more influential of a medium for conveying future threats to not only Army organizations at large, but down to the soldier level.”
The graphic seen here is from the novella titled “Insider Threat.”
(US Army photo)
The novella titled “1000 Cuts” depicts the psychological impact that a cyber-attack could have on soldiers and their families. In the story, these attacks were enough to disrupt a deployed unit, leaving them open to an organized attack, Ross said.
“Given the exponential growth in soldiers’ use of [networked] devices … 1000 Cuts presents an extremely plausible threat. It demonstrates how non-state actors can leverage technical vulnerabilities within the cyber domain to their advantage in the land domain,” Ross said.
“The visual conveyance of a graphic novella enables leaders to not only envision these scenarios but retain the lessons that can be drawn from them as well,” he added.
A U.S. Navy commander was sentenced Dec. 1 to 18 months in prison for his role in a fraud and bribery scheme that cost the government about $35 million.
Cmdr. Bobby Pitts, 48, of Chesapeake, Va., was the latest person to be sentenced in connection with a decade-long scam linked to a Singapore defense contractor known as “Fat Leonard” Francis.
Francis bribed Navy officials to help him over-bill the Navy for fuel, food, and other services his company provided to ships docked in Asian ports, according to prosecutors. The bribes allegedly ranged from cash and prostitutes to Cuban cigars and Spanish suckling pigs.
Pitts pleaded guilty in 2015 to charges that alleged he tried to obstruct a federal investigation while in charge of the Navy’s Fleet Industrial Supply Command in Singapore.
In handing down the sentence against Pitts, U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino told him that he had “betrayed the Navy and betrayed the country,” prosecutors said in a news release.
“Pitts deliberately and methodically undermined government operations and in doing so, diverted his allegiance from his country and colleagues to a foreign defense contractor, and for that, he is paying a high price,” said Adam Braverman, the U.S. Attorney in San Diego.
In addition to his prison sentence, Pitts was also ordered to pay $22,500 in fines and restitution.
The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment is widely considered to be the best unit of its kind in the world. Known to recruit only the best pilots the US Army has to offer to fly its MH-60 Black Hawks, MH-6 Little Birds and MH-47 Chinooks, the 160th routinely flies in support of America’s most elite troops — Green Berets, Delta Force operators, Army Rangers, and the like.
Not much is actually known about the 160th, and for good reason — it’s still a special operations unit, as its name suggests. But even this outfit is still too “public” for some of the most clandestine missions the Army and Joint Special Operations Command wishes to send its elite operators on.
So the Army stood up an aviation unit that hides deep in the shadows
This outfit is most commonly referred to as “Flight Concepts Division,” though its name has changed many times in the past in order to preserve its cover. Though very little is known about the unit today, we can still infer its role and capability based on what little the Army has released on the Division’s past.
Originally founded as a special ops unit unto itself,first known as SEASPRAY — a highly classified aviation outfit with a number of fronts and covers to protect its identity from public view. Thousands of pilots, cherry-picked from around the Army, were invited to try out for SEASPRAY, but only a handful were selected to continue with the recruitment and training process. Once training was complete, these pilots would go on to fly top secret missions across the world, especially in Central and South America, in support of American special operations objectives.
However, in the mid-1980s, SEASPRAY was disestablished by the Army in the wake of a scandal, its components dispersed and moved to other units to fulfill a similar role.
By the 1990s, the Army had moved chunks of SEASPRAY over to Delta Force, standing up Echo (E) Squadron to support Delta operators with aerial surveillance, insertions and extractions on missions. Pilots and aircraft were transferred over and brought into the fold quickly, receiving further training in assisting Delta assault troops in taking down hijacked cruise ships, inserting operators behind enemy lines and other risky missions.
According to Sean Naylor in his book, “Relentless Strike,” E Squadron pilots were trained and rated to fly a variety of foreign aircraft, including Russian military helicopters popular in the Balkans at the time of the crises there in the mid-to-late ’90s, allowing them to blend in and fly virtually unnoticed. As time passed, whoever, E Squadron’s effectiveness grew so much that brass within Joint Special Operations Command wanted to excise it from Delta Force and stand it up as its own separate unit once more.
Fast forward to the late 1990s, and Flight Concepts Division came into play. Earlier known by a number of other covers and fronts, such as Aviation Technical Services, Quasar Talent and Latent Arrow, this unit provided immeasurable support for “black operations” troops in the Balkans, ferrying them into and out of combat zones surreptitiously without anybody the wiser.
Flight Concepts Division still remains an active unit today with a vague name and an equally obscure mission description. What it actually does in support of American special operations is anybody’s guess, especially while it operates in the shadows cast by its big brother unit, the 160th SOAR. Its aircraft are masked, painted with civilian markings and otherwise kept out of sight, its pilots and aircrew indistinguishable from the average pedestrian on any of America’s streets.
But those who serve with the division are more than likely the best of the very best, the cream of the crop – the elite black ops aviators called upon by Joint Special Operations Command and the president for top secret missions we’ll not hear of for decades to come.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley strongly condemned Iran for its alleged recruitment and use of child soldiers in battlefields across the Middle East.
“The use of child soldiers is a moral outrage that every civilized nation rejects while Iran celebrates it,” Haley said Oct. 18, 2018, during a U.N. Security Council meeting.
Haley’s remarks came two days after the U.S.Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced new sanctions targeting businesses that provide financial support to the Basij Resistance Force, a paramilitary force under the command of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
“Iran’s economy is increasingly devoted to funding Iranian repression at home and aggression abroad,” she said. “In this case, Iranian big business and finance are funding the war crime of using child soldiers. This is crony terrorism.”
The latest sanctions are part of the U.S. efforts to pressure Iran economically for what the Trump administration has described as Iran’s destabilizing role in the Middle East and its sponsorship of terrorism in the region.
The U.S. Treasury Department has listed a network of some 20 companies and economic entities that are believed to be funding the recruitment and training of child soldiers for the IRGC.
“Any company or individual that does business with this Iranian network is complicit in sending children to die on the battlefields of Syria and elsewhere,” Haley said.
The network providing financial support to the Basij is known as Bonyad Taavon Basij.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin
“This vast network provides financial infrastructure to the Basij’s efforts to recruit, train and indoctrinate child soldiers who are coerced into combat under the IRGC’s direction,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
“The international community must understand that business entanglements with the Bonyad Taavon Basij network and IRGC front companies have real-world humanitarian consequences, and help fuel the Iranian regime’s violent ambitions across the Middle East,” Mnuchin added.
Tehran called the U.S. sanctions a violation of international law.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote in a tweet on Oct. 17, 2018, that the latest U.S. sanctions violated two orders by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
“Utter disregard for rule of law human rights of an entire people. U.S. outlaw regime’s hostility toward Iranians heightened by addiction to sanctions,” Zarif said in a tweet.
Bahram Qassemi, a spokesperson for Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Oct. 18, 2018, it’s part of a psychological war waged by the U.S. against Iran.
“Such actions show the spitefulness of the U.S. government towards the Iranian people and are a clear insult to legal and international mechanisms,” the state-run IRNA news agency quoted Qassemi as saying.
Some Iranian rights activists have welcomed the U.S. move, however, and described it as a positive step to discipline the Iranian government for its actions in the region.
“Any action focused on children’s rights is important because it highlights the importance of protecting children’s rights and puts the issue of child soldiers under the spotlight,” Hamed Farmand, a Virginia-based children’s rights activist, told VOA. “Any international action with the purpose of condemning child soldiers is widely appreciated but it needs more action than just financial sanctions on some institutes involved in it.”
A 2017 Human Rights Watch report accused Iran of committing war crimes by recruiting and sending Afghan refugee children “as young as 14” to fight in Syria. The New York-based organization also has documented how the IRGC has recruited Afghan immigrant children living in Iran to fight in Syria along Syrian regime troops.
Maryam Nayeb Yazdi, also an Iranian human rights activist, said there should be an effective mechanism to force Iran to improve its human rights record.
“To change the behavior of the Iranian government, the international community needs a human rights-focused approach and must take multiple actions simultaneously,” she said during a recent Geneva Summit on Human Rights and Democracy.
Effects of sanctions
But Sadegh Hosseini, a Tehran-based analyst, said U.S. sanctions on the Basij force actually are indirect punishment inflicted on the Iranian people.
“Sanctioning the Basij could affect many Iranians who have voluntarily become members of it or have joined it in the past,” he said.
He told VOA “the purpose of this embargo is unclear but many Iranians who have bank accounts with those financial institutes could be affected, since many of them receive their employment salaries only through accounts at those targeted banks.”
Other experts say that following the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, the U.S. Treasury Department has stepped up its efforts on this front because it is the main pillar that can block Iran’s sale of oil and impose banking restrictions on the country.
“The latest move by the [U.S.] Treasury to sanction Iran’s Basij Resistance Force is an important part of that campaign,” said Farhang Jahanpour, a professor of international law at Oxford University.
“So far, other signatories to the [nuclear deal] have refused to go along with American sanctions on Iran, but many major European companies have cut back or have completely ended their dealings with Iran in fear of U.S. retaliation,” Jahanpour added.
Behnam Ben Taleblou, a researcher at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said the recent designations were different from previous measures “because they focused on the role of select financial institutions in generating revenue that was ultimately used to benefit the Basij.”
“The [U.S.] Treasury Department’s willingness to go after the entities in the Basij financial support network highlights the challenge of doing due diligence in Iran, as well as signals to the international community that the U.S. is serious about putting the squeeze on all elements of the Iranian economy tied to the IRGC,” Taleblou added.
Ballistic missiles, like the kind North Korea has been perfecting with the goal of being able to reach the U.S. with a nuclear warhead, pose a huge threat to the U.S. as they reenter the atmosphere at over a dozen times the speed of sound.
But as an ICBM takes off the launchpad and lurches up to speed, the entire missile, warhead and all, is a single target.
At that point, why not shoot it down with an air-to-air missile from an F-35?
The F-35 as a missile interceptor
The US Air Force has, for decades, had air-to-air missiles that lock on to hot, flying targets, and an ICBM in its first stage is essentially that.
In 2007, Lockheed Martin got $3 million to look into an air-to-air hit-to-kill missile system. In 2014, a test seemed to prove the concept.
But the F-35 program, usually not one to shy away from boasting about its achievements, has been hushed about the prospect of using it to defeat one of the gravest threats to the U.S.
“I can tell you that the F-35 is a multi-mission fighter,” Cmdr. Patrick Evans of the Office of the Secretary of Defense told Business Insider when asked about the program. “It would be inappropriate to speculate on future capabilities or missions of the weapon system.”
Rep. Duncan Hunter, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, was more open to speculating about why the Pentagon hadn’t gone through with missile-intercepting planes.
“Very simple — what we’re trying to do is shoot [air-to-air missiles] off F-35s in the first 300 seconds it takes for the missile to go up in the air,” Hunter said during a November meeting on Capitol Hill with the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, according to Inside Defense.
Hunter also pointed out that in some places North Korea is just 75 miles across — well within the F-35’s missile range, Aviation Week noted.
Hunter blamed a broken defense industrial complex for not picking up the air-to-air intercept sooner while spending $40 billion on ground-based missile interception.
“There’s not a retired general that works for Company A that says, ‘I would like to do that thing that costs no money and it doesn’t get me a contract,'” Hunter said, according to Inside Defense. “No one says that.”
An F-35 missile intercept over North Korea may be an act of war
The present crisis with North Korea may demand some expediency from the Pentagon regarding the F-35.
The drawback, though, is that the F-35 would need to get close to the target missile as it’s leaving the launchpad, which could mean firing interceptor missiles over enemy territory — something North Korea could see as an act of war.
“This is a great adventure we are embarking on today,” so says the official Space Force trailer that dropped on May 5 for Netflix’s new series featuring Steve Carrell and an all-star cast. How else is everyone’s favorite sixth branch of the military, Space Force, referred to in the trailer? “It’s a complete shitshow.”
Launching May 29, the made-for-Netflix series pairs an already awesome cast with sarcasm, hilarity and the best topic ever: the Space Force.
The show centers around four star general Mark R. Naird (Carell), whose ambitions included running the Air Force, not so much the newly created Space Force. With wife (Lisa Kudrow) by his side and a star-studded comedic-gold line up (John Malkovich, Ben Schwartz, Jimmy O. Yang, Noah Emmerich, Fred Willard, Tawny Newsome, Diana Silvers, Alex Sparrow and Don Lake to name a few), the acting promises to be as equally entertaining as the writing – as Space Force marks the first time long-time friends Carrell and creator Greg Daniels have worked together since they parted ways on, you guessed it, The Office.
Carell said that the show came around in a rather “atypical way.'””Netflix had this premise that they thought might make a funny show — the idea made everybody laugh in a meeting, an idea of a show about the origins of a fictitious Space Force. I heard about the idea through my agent, and Netflix pitched the show to me, and then I pitched the show to Greg, and we all had the same reaction to it. There was no show, there was no idea aside from the title. Netflix asked, ‘Do you want to do a show called Space Force?’ And I pretty much immediately said, ‘Well yeah, sure. That sounds great.’ And then I called Greg, and I said, “Hey, you want to do a show called Space Force?” And he said, “Yeah, that sounds good. Let’s do it.” And it was really based on nothing, except this name that made everybody laugh. So we were off and running.”
Daniels added after this call, he and Carell created the character and figured out what they wanted to say about the notion of making space more military. “We realized that the story had beautiful visuals and a mythic quality, and it echoed some of America’s best moments. It had a lot of heroism and yet it also had a strong satirical element. Suddenly everybody has realized that there are riches to be had on the moon, and we’ve got to stake our claim. It feels like there’s now a scramble to colonize space. The contrast between that and the super hopeful early days of NASA, when it was just such an achievement for all of mankind to get a person on the moon, is a good subject for satire,” said Daniels.
Where the Marine Corps has its Toys for Tots, the Army can count on its elderly retirees – at least one of them, anyway. As of Christmas, 2019, Army veteran Jim Annis turned 80 years old. For the past 50 Christmas seasons, the former soldier spent months creating hundreds of wooden toys for children who otherwise might not have anything to open on Christmas morning. When the Salvation Army comes through for these families, Annis comes rolling along right behind them.
Annis spends hundreds of dollars from his own pocket every year to make wooden toys for needy children. The one-man Santa’s Workshop spends much of his free time throughout the year crafting and painting these toys in preparation for Christmastime. By the time he’s ready to donate the pieces to the Salvation Army, Annis has created as many as 300 toys, finished and ready to hand out to the little ones.
In case you’re bad at math, creating 300 toys per year for the past 50 years, makes for about 15,000 toys total. But for Annis, it’s not about the money. He was one of those needy children during his childhood. He came from a working family with five children to take care for.
Jim Annis, a one-man Santa’s Workshop.
Annis gets wooden scraps for free from homeowners and pays only for the tools of production and the acrylic paint for the toys. His costs run about id=”listicle-2641673298″,000 but his return on investment is the smiles of young kids who will get a toy for Christmas this year. Kids can get an array of cool, handmade toys, from fire trucks and dolls to piggy banks. Jim Annis will also make special gifts for American veterans and their loved ones.
“I have to sort of feel right in here,” Annis told North Carolina’s Spectrum News. “That’s the joy I know I’m giving some of the kids, I’m giving them something that I didn’t have a whole lot at Christmas time.”
If you want to donate to materials to this vet’s Christmastime cause, you can call Jim Annis at 919-842-5445.
Ms. Alyce Dixon, the oldest living female veteran well known for her ‘elegant sense of style and repertoire of eyebrow raising jokes’ died in her sleep at the Washington DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center’s Community Living Center on January 27.
Brian Hawkins, the Medical Center director told a local news station: “She was one-of-a-kind; a strong-willed, funny, wise, giving and feisty WWII veteran. Her message touched a lot of people. It has been an honor to care for the oldest female veteran.”
In a release to share the news of her death, the Washington DC VA Medical Center wrote the following:
At the medical center, she was affectionately called the “Queen Bee” and was known for impeccable dress. She never left her room without fixing her makeup and hair. She always wore stylish clothes and jewelry and sported well-manicured nails. She loved to sit in the medical center Atrium and watch the people.
Born Alice Lillian Ellis in 1907, the Boston native has always lived life on her own terms. At 16, she saw a movie starring actress Alyce Mills. “I thought it was so pretty spelled like that, so I changed my name to Alyce,” she said.
One of the oldest of nine children, Ms. Dixon helped her mother raise her younger siblings. “After I got married, I never wanted children, I felt like I’d already raised a family,” she told Vantage Point, the VA’s official blog. Ms. Dixon would later divorce her husband over an $18 grocery allowance.
“I used to manage his paycheck until he found out I was sending money home to my family,” she said. He then started managing the money and gave her an allowance, a move which did not sit well with the independent young woman. “I found myself a job, an apartment and a roommate. I didn’t need him or his money,” she said with no trace of regret in her voice.
In 1943, Dixon became one of the first African American women to join the Army. She served in the Women’ s Army Corps where she was stationed in England and France with the 6888th Battalion. Her job was to ensure the ‘backlog’ of care packages and letters families were sending to their loved ones fighting on the front lines were delivered. After leaving the Army in 1946, she worked 35 more years for the federal government at the Census Bureau, and later for the Pentagon as purchasing agent – buying everything from pencils to airplanes.
Upon retiring in 1973, she served as a volunteer at local hospitals for 12 years. “I always shared what little I have, that’s why He let me live so long,” she said. “I just believe in sharing and giving. If you have a little bit of something and someone else needs it, share.”
The centenarian recently offered this advice on aging: “Don’ t worry about getting old, just live it up all the time.”
Rest in peace, Queen Bee.
Watch this hilarious video of Alyce telling jokes:
Watch this video of Alyce’s birthday party last year: