3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths

Over the past few years, public awareness of veteran suicide has increased and, more importantly, people are more aware than ever before of the resources available to help struggling veterans and active-duty service members. However, in the past year, we’ve noticed a disturbing new aspect of the problem — there have been a number of recent suicides among high-profile veterans who stood as beacons of hope for others in the suicide prevention movement.


At the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), our Red Team has been reflecting on these losses and their impact on suicide prevention and postvention efforts across the military and veteran community.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths
The late Pfc. Kevin S. Jacobs, United States Marine Corps infantryman. Pfc. Kevin Jacobs struggled with anxiety, emotional pain, and grief due to his experiences at war. Both he and his brother Bryan Keith Jacobs a veteran U.S. Navy Corpsman suffered from PTSD and emotionally began to drift apart. Kevin’s experiences eventually got the best of him, and on Memorial Day, May 28, 2014, Kevin died by suicide. (Guest Photo by Bryan Keith Jacobs, U.S. Navy Veteran)

If any among us believes that suicide is an act of weakness, we should alter our thinking: even the strongest of us — the fierce tribe of warriors who fight our wars — sometimes die by suicide. A man or woman can be a hero to many, noted for his or her uncommon bravery and unconquerable fighting spirit, and still be at risk. Such a man or woman is a true hero.

A second truth is that death by suicide leaves a wake of loss, risk, and regret that is devastating to our community. Many times, I have witnessed and walked with veterans who are cut to the core by this kind of loss. They often say that they “did not see it coming.” In addition to shock and overwhelming grief, they often feel angry that their brother or sister did not reach out to them. Far too often have I heard, “I would have dropped everything to be there if I had only known.”

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths
Soldiers with 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, behavioral health team, host a Cars Against Suicide Car Show Dec. 1, 2017 at Fort Stewart, Ga. The Cars against Suicide event was hosted by 2nd ABCT in an effort to  promote awareness and offer resources to help prevent suicide. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Robert Winns)

They also express a deep sense of helplessness, a kind of helplessness that puts them directly at risk for self-destructive actions. And sometimes, when they think of losing a leader among them to suicide, they feel great fear. If this fear had a voice, it might say, “if suicide felt like the only option for a person this strong, what does that mean for me?”

These reactions are the last thing their hero would have wanted them to think and feel.

A family and an entire community can be changed forever based on a decision made in one day of suffocating despair. There is the heroic life lived, but also the death that leaves behind more loss and destruction. How can we make sense of senseless loss?

Based on our work with veterans and military service members over the past ten years, here are 3 things we offer for the community to consider.

3. The tribe is stronger than the power of despair.

To learn to be seamlessly interdependent is to reach the summit of our human potential — it is not a sign of weakness. The lifeblood of those who do battle together is love and trust between those who would lay their lives down for each other.

Connection with the tribe is the protective factor that buffers against despair and disconnection, even in the most extreme situations. This bond of trust is stronger than despair and, when the tribe comes together and locks shields, it has a power that can defeat demons.

2. Balancing legacy and prevention.

Suicidal thinking arises in the context of a perfect storm of events; there’s never just one precipitating event. Self-destructive acts are most often the result of a combination of overwhelming mental anguish, physical pain, a biochemistry altered by chronically poor sleep, and events that create a perception of acute hopelessness. What are we to do if a perfect storm presents itself to us? Here, we can continue to find meaning and hope from the life of a hero and the things that he or she stood for.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths
Silkies Hike participants pose for a photo Oct. 21 in Bakersfield, California. The hike brought veterans for a 22-kilometer ruck march through town to bring awareness to the veteran suicide. (Courtesy photo by Susumu Uchiyama)

While it is important to honor the life lived, it is equally important to balance that message with education, resources, and support around preventing additional suicides. We must think about the message that he or she carried over many years of life, while also understanding the contributing factors of that single, perfect-storm day. What did the person argue for with all of their energies while they were alive? Can their death be used to support the message that was so important during their life? Did this person advocate for turning to one’s tribe, for trusting in one’s community to supply the strength to fight demons? Was this person able to do for themselves what they encouraged in others?

These are the lessons learned on the look back that balance preventing another loss of life with the heroic life lived.

1. Leaders also need the tribe.

Finally, those who stand as a beacon of hope may have some under-appreciated vulnerabilities. Veterans are often driven to find a next mission and derive a great sense of purpose — sometimes even life-saving purpose — from inspiring others to stay in the fight. However, when veterans become caregivers and public examples of strength, there is an additional pressure that is placed on their shoulders as they hold the hope of their brothers and sisters. Veterans have expressed to us that as soon as they became a caregiver of other veterans, they have felt, in some indescribable way, a door is closed to them in terms of seeking help for themselves.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths
Bryan Watson, secretary for the Defenders of Freedom Pittsburgh, a nonprofit organization out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, carries the American flag and leads volunteers during the 2nd Annual Stop 22 Ruck March, at North Park in Allison Park, Pennsylvania on November 11, 2017. The ruck march is held on Veterans Day to raise awareness about veteran suicide. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Miguel Alvarez, 354th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

As we work with veteran and military leaders, we have observed that their first instinct is often to isolate in the hope of “getting it together” when their stress feels overwhelming. It runs against their instincts, developed through training and culture, to turn to their tribe when they themselves need support. This does not mean that they do not believe in the value of help-seeking, but may feel shame and guilt when they need it for themselves.

Maybe these leaders and heroes become like a lighthouse, helping keep other people safe, holding strong against the storm. But what happens when the lighthouse itself becomes enveloped by lashing waves and raging seas? How does it signal distress? Who looks out for the lighthouse and how can we make sure that all can turn towards the tribe of those they love and trust to lend them strength to fight their demons? Leaders also need the tribe.

When we’re aware a perfect storm is brewing, one of the best things we can do is connect the person with their tribe and with resources that can help — whether that person is a peer or a leader.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths
Members of the 111th Attack Wing volunteered their Sunday to participate in the Doylestown, Pa. March for the 22 to help raise awareness about the veteran suicide rate in the U.S., Oct. 22, 2017. The 111th Communications Flight mustered the entire ruck sack team and was comprised of Senior Airman Jarrod Ziegler, client systems technician (left), Airman 1st Class Jonathon Zang and Maj. Danielle Minamyer, flight commander. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Christopher Botzum)

TAPS offers comprehensive, best-practice postvention support services for suicide loss survivors, including the 24/7 Helpline (1-800-959-TAPS), virtual groups and chats for survivors, and on-the-ground events and gatherings.

Veterans and their loved ones can call the Veterans Crisis Line by dialing 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths
Shauna Springer, Ph.D.

Shauna Springer is the Senior Director of TAPS Red Team within the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. Dr. Springer is a licensed psychologist with an undergraduate degree from Harvard University and a Doctoral degree from the University of Florida. Known to many veterans as “Doc Springer,” she has helped hundreds of warriors reconnect with their tribe, strengthen their most important relationships, and build lives that are driven by their deepest values. TAPS Red Team provides training and consultation related to suicide prevention and postvention to clinicians, military leadership, policymakers, and organizations.

Articles

This is why some Marines wear the ‘French Fourragere,’ and some don’t

You may have noticed a select few Marines and sailors walking around in their uniforms with a green rope wrapped around their left arm — it’s not just for decoration.


That green rope is called a “French Fourragere,” and it was awarded to the members of the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments for their heroic actions during the Battle of Belleau Wood from the French government in WWI.

This rite of passage extends to Marines who serve in those respected units today to commemorate their brothers in that historic battle.

The Fourragere is authorized on all service uniforms, and dress coats or jackets where medals or ribbons are prescribed.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths

During the bloody summer months of 1918, the Marines and the Germans fiercely fought one another just northwest of the Paris-to-Metz road. For weeks, German Gen. Erich Ludendorff had his troops attack U.S. forces with artillery, machine guns, and deadly gas.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths

Although the Marines sustained thousands of casualties during the skirmish, the infantrymen charged their opposition through the wooded area with fixed bayonets.

It’s reported the French urged the Marines to turn back, but the grunts proceeded onward frequently engaging the enemy in hand-to-hand combat.

By June 26, 1918, the war-hardened Marines confirmed that they secured the woods from German forces and took many prisoners.

And the French Fourragere reminds Leathernecks in this storied units of their World War I bravery.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Navy celebrates its massive World War I railroad guns

The Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) held a commemoration ceremony for the 100th anniversary of the first combat firing of the naval railway gun, Sept. 6, 2018.

The ceremony took place at Admiral Willard Park at the Washington Navy Yard where on display is a naval railway gun still mounted on a railway carriage.

Master Chief Yeoman Nathaniel Colding, senior enlisted leader at NHHC, was the master of ceremonies for the event and shared the history of the naval railway gun with the guests in attendance.

Upon entering World War I in April 1917, the Navy was already developing long-range artillery primarily to counter the German army’s heavy guns capable of bombarding the English Channel ports used by the Allies.


The Navy’s initial idea was to employ several 14-inch 50-caliber Mark IV naval rifles, with a complete train of equipment for each gun, on railway mountings behind British lines in France. However, changing military conditions prevented British authorities from stating definitively at which port these batteries were to be debarked.

The Navy ultimately offered the guns to General John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force, who readily accepted them.

“In the summer of 1918, five U.S. naval railway guns made the journey across the Atlantic Ocean for use in France during the First World War,” said Colding. “Although they were assigned to the First Army’s Railway Artillery Reserve, the guns operated as independent units under the command of Rear Admiral Charles P. Plunkett. In early September 1918, Battery Number 2 went into action with a bombardment of a German-occupied railroad hub more than 20 miles away.”

Retired Rear Adm. Sam Cox, director of NHHC, was the guest speaker for the commemoration ceremony and spoke about why this event is important for us to remember today.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths

British 12-inch howitzers on top-carriage traversing mounts.

“The U.S. Navy was able to provide a quick solution using guns that were normally intended for battleships,” said Cox. “The key point of the U.S. Navy’s participation in the war was that although we only lost about 430 Sailors during the entire course of the war, we were able to get two million U.S. Army troops to France a lot faster than the Germans ever thought was possible. The Navy did this without any losses to U-boats, ending a war that at that point was the bloodiest in human history.”

While the naval railway guns were in operation, the crew had no support from the Army should the Germans unit advance on them and they were expected to “fight alone.” They did not have to face that fate, however; the Germans were in retreat throughout their period of service.

“The increased use and effectiveness of aircraft, particularly bombers, with their greater flexibility and mobility, meant that the naval railway battery would not be a mainstay in future wars,” said Conrad. “Nonetheless, its development and deployment highlights the U.S. Navy’s ability to think innovatively and create and deploy new and effective programs quickly. That skill is transferable and is a hallmark of the U.S. Navy in the twentieth century.”

Although the naval railway guns operated well behind the front lines and were not subject to the constant bombardment received by more forward positions, the U.S. naval railway batteries were hardly immune from enemy fire. Many of the units took counter-fire from German artillery. German observation planes flew above their positions during the day, and bomber aircraft were active at night. The units lost only one Sailor to enemy fire and other battery personnel were wounded.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths

French 370 mm railway howitzer of World War I.

According to Dennis Conrad, Ph.D., a historian at NHHC, 530 officers and men made up the Naval Railway Guns command. The unit was subdivided into six groups, one for each battery and these groups were further subdivided into crews: a train crew, a construction crew and a gun crew.

The Naval History and Heritage Command, located at the Washington Navy Yard, is responsible for the preservation, analysis, and dissemination of U.S. naval history and heritage. It provides the knowledge foundation for the Navy by maintaining historically relevant resources and products that reflect the Navy’s unique and enduring contributions through our nation’s history, and supports the fleet by assisting with and delivering professional research, analysis, and interpretive services. NHHC is composed of many activities including the Navy Department Library, the Navy Operational Archives, the Navy art and artifact collections, underwater archeology, Navy histories, ten museums, USS Constitution repair facility and the historic ship Nautilus.

This article originally appeared on the United States Navy. Follow @USNavy on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire

Aaron Shamo went from being a clean-cut Eagle Scout and deacon in the Mormon church to a clean-cut but alleged fentanyl drug lord on the darknet. When police raided his home in 2016, they found $1.2 million, another $2.2 million worth of product – some 95,000 pills.


Shamo was just 26-years-old, living in a quiet, affluent suburb in Utah when police took him into custody. He was playing his Xbox like any other twenty-something when DEA agents and a SWAT team kicked in his door.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths

Shamo grew up like most kids in Suburban Utah, a member of the church of Latter-Day Saints, and a pretty normal kid by his sister’s account. He may not have been good at sports and didn’t excel at his studies, but he wasn’t in any serious trouble as a teen, either. His parents still thought he was headed down a bad path because he rebelled against their authority, skipped school and church, and began smoking marijuana, so they sent him to a “lockdown facility” in La Verkin, Utah. That’s where Aaron graduated from high school and earned his Eagle Scout status.

He seemed to have changed, no longer had a temper, and was even pleasant to be around. He soon went to college, but that wasn’t for him. He would much rather spend time outdoors than going to class. His parents soon stopped paying his tuition. It was in college he got interested in Bitcoin, the popular cryptocurrency. He thought he could make real money in Bitcoin. But he went a different route.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths

A Dark web drugstore similar to the one Aaron Shamo ran as “Pharm-Master.”

Shortly after his interest in Bitcoin grew, around 2014, he and a partner ordered latex gloves, postage, bubble wrap and gelatin capsules – everything needed to set up a pill press. His skills using the dark web for Bitcoin also provided an area of exchange to ship those pills. Aaron Shamo was now Pharma-Master on AlphaBay, the biggest darknet market. He was ordering his product from China and having it delivered to the homes of nearby friends and was the only bulk distributor around.

Pharma-Master offered anything from valium, Xanax, oxycodone, and MDMA, to Viagra and fentanyl powder. His wealth surged during this time, and everyone thought it was solely due to Bitcoin. Because few people truly understand how Bitcoin works, that was usually as far as the questioning went. Not for U.S. Customs or the Drug Enforcement Agency, however.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths

Pure fentanyl is so powerful, it can cause an overdose with direct skin contact. Officers wore HAZMAT suits to raid Shamo’s house.

The Feds began seizing his shipments in June 2016, but that didn’t stop Shamo from conducting business as usual. His longtime partner became less involved with the business. Shamo began to feel like he was being followed, and he was right. Homeland Security flipped a number of confidential informants who spilled the beans on his whole operation. Shamo was shipping fentanyl labeled as oxycodone around the country, significantly contributing to the nationwide opioid crisis and causing potential overdoses everywhere he shipped.

On Aug. 30, 2019, Shamo was convicted by a federal jury in Salt Lake City of organizing and directing a drug trafficking organization that imported fentanyl and alprazolam from China and used the drugs to manufacture fake oxycodone pills made with fentanyl and counterfeit Xanax tablets.

“The opioid crisis has devastated individuals, families, and entire communities across the nation. Aaron Shamo controlled and led a highly profitable organization that delivered fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills to every state in the union. Though his customers remained faceless on the dark web, their despair was real. Shamo profited off that despair and a jury of his peers has held him accountable,” U.S. Attorney John W. Huber said.

Shamo will be sentenced on Dec. 3, 2019. Prosecutors want him to spend the rest of his life in prison.

MIGHTY CULTURE

A woman is about to become a Green Beret and the military will be stronger for it

This week, historic news filtered out of North Carolina saying that a female National Guardsman will be the first woman to pass the Special Forces Qualification Course (Q-Course) and will earn the title of Green Beret. While the enlisted soldier has not passed the course yet, officials say that at this point barring a medical injury, she is practically guaranteed to graduate.


This morning, the New York Times reported that in 1980, a woman named Kate Wilder did indeed graduate the course but was told the day before graduation she was not allowed to graduate with her class, because of her gender. Ms. Wilder fought back and six months later was finally given the certificate stating she had earned the right to wear the Green Beret, but Wilder had already left the Fifth Special Forces Group and eventually transitioned to the Reserves.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths

Prior to now, only a few women have passed the Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course but none of them passed the year long Q-Course. The soldier is going to be an 18C or Engineer Sergeant.

According to the Army, the Special Forces Engineer Sergeant is a construction and demolitions specialist. As a builder, the engineer sergeant can create bridges, buildings and field fortifications. As a demolitions specialist, the engineer sergeant can carry out demolition raids against enemy targets, such as bridges, railroads, fuel depots and critical components of infrastructure.

The New York Times also reported a second female soldier is working through a longer Q-Course (the course length will depend on the prospective Green Berets MOS) as a 18D or Medical Sergeant.

This is no small feat. As we all know, making it into the Special Forces required many attributes including superior physical fitness, an ability to handle traversing rugged terrain, weapons proficiency and strong mental aptitude to solve problems on the fly. Green Berets deploy and execute nine doctrinal missions: unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, direct action, counter-insurgency, special reconnaissance, counter-terrorism, information operations, counterproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and security force assistance. Also, passing the Q-Course is one thing. The constant tempo of deployments and training while keeping up with high physical fitness standards and training can take a toll on even the most seasoned Green Berets.

There is no doubt the newly minted Green Beret will have tough challenges in her career in the Special Forces. And there will probably be resistance from a few people that struggle to accept that a woman made it through such an arduous course. (The course has been modified due to feedback from active Green Berets so it could be more compatible with deployments and retention but the standards are still the same.)

However, the potential benefits to having women as part of the Special Forces community are too great to ignore.

Retired Lt. Gen. Steve Blum, a 42-year Army veteran who spent 16 years with the Green Berets said, “I applaud and celebrate the fact because half of the world that we have to deal with when we’re out there, half of the people we have to help, are women. The days of men fighting men without the presence of women is long gone.”

When it comes to unconventional warfare, it’s safe to say pretty much every engagement we are involved with nowadays is unconventional. The role of women has expanded dramatically during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and women have been decorated for bravery on the battlefield.

In recent years, we have seen ISIS be thoroughly beaten when engaged by Kurdish forces comprised of women. Having a female advisor in those units would allow better access, more trust, and better control when it comes to directing forces to defeat our enemy.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths

The same can be said for counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism. The Green Berets were some of the first troops to go into Vietnam as advisors to the South Vietnamese who were fighting a counter-insurgency campaign against the Viet Cong. The Viet Cong and many other insurgent troops have used local females as fighters, transporters and for intelligence gathering. Having a female Green beret engage local women could potentially make counter insurgency easier.

When it comes to reconnaissance, we all know there are places that are harder to get close to because men would stick out like a sore thumb. Certain places in the Middle East and elsewhere have places where men can’t get into and having a highly trained female would be a great way to circumvent that potential issue.

William Denn, an Army Captain who served multiple combat tours said in an interview with the Washington Post that, “Most Iraqi men were reticent to speak with us for fear of retribution from al-Qaeda. Iraqi women, often fed up with the violence in their neighborhoods, could be persuaded to provide information, but first we had to bridge the gender gap, build rapport and earn their trust, all of which took valuable time.” Denn went on to write that “including women in front-line units would be more than an exercise in social equality; it would be a valuable enhancement of military effectiveness and national security.”

While we won’t know her identity anytime soon, it will be awesome to see the path she trailblazes for other women who seek to serve in the Special Forces and how it can help us earn victories in the toughest environments.

Articles

Let’s talk about how many US troops are really in Afghanistan

The Pentagon, on Aug. 30, sharply raised its estimate of the number of US troops currently in Afghanistan, ahead of a decision on adding thousands more under President Donald Trump’s new strategy for the war-wracked country.


Pentagon Joint Staff Director Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie said a comprehensive review showed that there were approximately 11,000 uniformed US servicemen and women in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon has said previously that there were roughly 8,400 US troops in Afghanistan, under a cap set during former President Barack Obama’s administration.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths
Army Reserve photo by Tulara McCauley

Military officials have long quietly acknowledged there were far more forces in the country than the cap allowed, but commanders shuffled troops in and out, labeled many “temporary,” and used other personnel-accounting tactics to artificially keep the public count low.

“This is not a troop increase,” but rather an effort to be more transparent about the total size of the US force, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said.

The new count, which includes temporary and covert units as well as regular forces, was made to establish the basis for an increase in troops — possibly by around 4,000 — under Trump’s revised strategy to better support Afghan troops in the fight against the Taliban.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russian space executives arrested for attempted fraud

The deputy director and two other top executives of Russia’s Energia Rocket and Space Corporation have been arrested on suspicion of attempted fraud, investigators say.

“Energia’s deputy director, Aleksei Beloborodov, and two of his subordinates were arrested and charged with attempted fraud,” the Investigative Committee of Russia said on Aug. 19, 2018.


Russia’s state-run TASS news agency reported that Beloborodov has been working with Energia since 2016 and served in the military for 13 years prior to that.

Energia, a major player in Russia’s space industry, designs and manufactures the Soyuz and Progress spacecrafts and also produces ballistic missiles.

The Investigative Committee statement said the arrests were made as part of a probe undertaken “with the active assistance” of the Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the country’s main intelligence agency.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths

Soyuz spacecraft.

Russian media reported that the FSB carried out several searches targeting the Russian space industry as part of an investigation into “high treason.”

Russian daily Kommersant said a dozen Russian space industry employees are suspected of having sent classified information about Russian hypersonic weapon projects to Western security services.

Investigators did not mention those accusations in the statement on August 19, only that the charges are in reference to an alleged “attempt at fraud by an organized group in an especially large amount.”

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Israel just made these huge changes to its most elite special ops units

The Israeli Defense Force has been known as one of the world’s best militaries. This is particularly true of its commando units.


In a new move the government hopes will professionalize the force, those elite special operations units will likely become even more effective.

According to a report by IsraelNationalNews.com, usually Israeli conscripts serve three years – pilots have a nine-year service term – and most commandos are extended one year. That will now change, with troops going into commando units now being obligated to serve eight years.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths
A Sayeret Matkal commando. (Wikimedia Commons)

The units affected by this move are the Sayeret Matkal, Shayetet 13 naval commandos, Shaldag heli-borne commandos, and 669 search-and-rescue unit. The extended term of service, though, will also come with a pay increase of 17.6 percent and an Israeli version of the GI Bill.

The commando units were hard hit by the old policy, since it took anywhere from 18 months to two years to fully train members of these elite units, which are often referred to as “Tier One” units.

This means that the Israeli commando units will operate closer to the model used by elite American and British units like the Green Berets, Rangers, SEALs, and Special Air Service. In those units, operators are usually career personnel. Both the United States and United Kingdom also have all-volunteer military forces.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths
The IDF’s paratroopers brigade operate within the Gaza Strip to find and disable Hamas’ network terror tunnels and eliminate their threat to Israeli civilians. (Photo from Israeli Defense Forces Flickr)

Sayeret Matkal is best known for being the unit that carried out the 1976 rescue operation at Entebbe. That operation, commanded by Yonatan Netanyahu (whose younger brother, Benjamin, became prime minister of Israel), rescued 102 out of 106 hostages for the loss of one commando (Yonatan).

Shayetet 13, a unit similar to Navy SEALs, was credited with sinking five Egyptian ships during the Yom Kippur War. Shaldog was credited with taking part in a 2007 air raid on a Syrian nuclear reactor. Unit 669 is similar to the Air Force pararescue units, and in 2003 were noted for rescuing ten Turkish sailors during a storm in the Mediterranean Sea.

These units, already among the best in the world, will now be much better. Israel’s friends will likely rest easier, while Israel’s enemies will probably lose sleep.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is SecState’s plan to welcome Taliban into Afghan government

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Oct. 20 there is a place for moderate elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan’s government as long as they renounce violence and terrorism and commit to stability. He also delivered a blunt warning to neighboring Pakistan, insisting Islamabad must step up action against terrorist groups that have found safehaven within its borders.


Speaking on an unannounced trip to Afghanistan where he met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, and other senior officials at Bagram Air Base north of Kabul, Tillerson said the Taliban must understand that they will never win a military victory and should prepare to negotiate with the government.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. Photo from US Department of State.

“Clearly, we have to continue to fight against the Taliban, against others, in order for them to understand they will never win a military victory,” Tillerson told a small group of reporters allowed to accompany him from the Qatari capital of Doha. “And there are, we believe, moderate voices among the Taliban, voices that do not want to continue to fight forever. They don’t want their children to fight forever. So we are looking to engage with those voices and have them engage in a reconciliation process leading to a peace process and their full involvement and participation in the government.”

Also read: Here’s what Mattis has to say about his loyalty to the White House

“There’s a place for them in the government if they are ready to come, renouncing terrorism, renouncing violence and being committed to a stable, prosperous Afghanistan,” Tillerson said.

Tillerson outlined to Ghani and Abdullah the Trump administration’s new South Asia policy, which the president rolled out last month and views the region through a lens that includes Afghanistan as well as Pakistan and India, both of which he will visit later this week. The approach is heavy on combatting and beating extremist groups in all three countries.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Photo from US Embassy Consulate in Korea.

“We also want to work with regional partners to ensure that there are no threats in the region,” he said. “This is very much a regional effort as you saw. It was rolled out in the strategy itself, demanding that others deny safehaven to terrorists anywhere in the region. We are working closely with Pakistan as well.”

Tillerson will visit Islamabad on Oct. 21 and said he would be telling Pakistani officials that their cooperation in fighting extremists and driving them from hideouts on their territory is imperative to a good relationship with the US.

“It will be based upon whether they take action that we feel is necessary to move the process forward for both creating opportunity for reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan but also ensuring a stable future Pakistan,” he said. ” Pakistan needs to, I think, take a clear-eyed view of the situation that they are confronted with in terms of the number of terrorist organizations that find safehaven inside of Pakistan. So we want to work closely Pakistan to create a more stable and secure Pakistan as well.”

The administration’s strategy for South Asia envisions it as part of what Tillerson referred to in a speech last week as Indian-Pacific Ocean platform, anchored by four democracies: India, Australia, Japan, and the United States. The US is placing high hopes on India’s contributions in South Asia, especially in Afghanistan where Tillerson said New Delhi could have significant influence and presence by creating jobs and “the right environment for the future of Afghanistan.”

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths
Gen. John Nicholson. Photo from Dept of Defense.

Tillerson also met at Bagram with senior members of the US military contingent, including Army Gen. John Nicholson, the top US commander in Afghanistan. He underscored the ongoing US commitment to stabilizing Afghanistan but stressed it is “conditions based,” meaning that the government must meet certain benchmarks. He praised Ghani for his efforts to curb corruption and prepare for the country parliamentary elections next year.

Related: Former Pentagon chief warns against putting too much trust in generals to lead US through political fights

“It is imperative in the end that we are denying safehaven to any terrorist organizations or any extremists to any part of this world,” Tillerson said.

He arrived in Afghanistan cloaked in secrecy and under heavy security. He had slipped out of Qatar in the pre-dawn hours and flew a gray C-17 military plane to Bagram, jettisoning his public schedule, which had him meeting with staffers at the US Embassy in Doha.

Tillerson, a one-time private pilot, rode in the cockpit wearing a headset and chatting with the crew as the plane took off from the Al-Udeid Air Base outside Doha.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Multi-Purpose Canine retires with his handler

For an average service member, it takes an obligation of 20 years to retire from the military. For their furry four-legged counterparts, it takes over 30 years to accomplish the same goal in dog years of course. Marine Corps working dogs date back to Nov. 1, 1943, during World War II when 1st Marine War Dog Platoon out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina attacked the beach of Bougainville, Solomon Islands.

Today, working dogs lead regular Marine Corps careers by deploying, taking official photos and even attaining rank. A Marine Special Operations Command working dog, however, has much more rigorous training, increased mission capability and known as a Multi-Purpose Canine (MPC).


“A dog handler is around for about five years,” said U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. John Koman, multi-purpose canine handler, Marine Special Operations Command, “around the same time as them leaving we try to retire their dog.”

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U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. John Koman, multi-purpose canine handler with Delta Company, 1st Marine Raider Support Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, awaits command during the retirement ceremony of his multi-purpose canine, Roy, at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, March 29, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Drake Nickels)

Roy is one such multi-purpose canine with MARSOC, and Koman just so happens to be his handler. On March 29, 2019, the command held a formal retirement ceremony to honor Roy’s five years of faithful service as a specialized force multiplier within the special operations world. After spending 16 weeks developing skills in explosives detection, tracking, controlled aggression, Roy’s amphibious capabilities, such as water insertion and extraction techniques, prepared him to serve in combat. For this accomplishment, Roy received the Military Working Dog Service Award, an award presented to working dogs and MPCs that deploy into combat.

As a Marine receives a ceremony after 20 years, MARSOC conducts the same for MPCs. Once the MPC retires, it is put up for adoption and given priority to the owner. According to results from recent data from the Department Of Defense Military Working Dog Adoption Program, more than 90 percent of military working dogs and MPC’s adopted by their handlers.

“The handler and dog have been through so much together,” said an unnamed MPC master trainer with MARSOC. “It’s a no brainer for the dog to go to the handlers.”

Before Roy was ready to transition into civilian life, the unit was required to ensure that there are no signs of aggression towards humans and animals. After this assessment, Koman was able to proceed in filing the necessary paperwork for adoption.

“When I first saw him I knew he was the dog I wanted,” added Koman, “it’s just surreal that he’s officially mine today!”

When asked about his and Roy’s plans for the future, Koman stated that he plans to give Roy the most relaxing life possible.

This article originally appeared on Marines. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Scientists have discovered a mysterious lump on the moon’s far side

The far side of the moon is hiding a colossal secret beneath its airless, pockmarked surface.

No one is quite sure what it is — the most precise wording researchers can muster is a “large excess of mass.”

The feature lurks dozens of miles beneath a 1,550-mile-wide impact crater called the South Pole-Aitken Basin, which we can’t see from Earth. Ideas for what the mysterious lump may be include the splattered core of a giant metallic asteroid or an ocean of red-hot magma that slowly froze in place.

“Imagine taking a pile of metal five times larger than the Big Island of Hawaii and burying it underground,” Peter B. James, a geoscientist at Baylor University, said in a press release. “That’s roughly how much unexpected mass we detected.”


James is one of a handful of US scientists who announced their discovery in a study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

The gravitational force of “whatever it is, wherever it came from,” James said, is so great that it drags down the floor of the basin by more than half a mile.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths

A rendering of a lunar rover for China’s Chang’e-4 moon mission.

(China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation)

A giant secret below the solar system’s oldest, biggest preserved crater

The South Pole-Aitken Basin is believed to be the site of a horrendous collision that occurred about 500 million years after the moon formed. It’s thought to be the largest and oldest intact crater on any planetary body within the solar system.

Whatever formed the basin nearly 4 billion years ago remains a mystery, but the blow was so strong that it likely punched all the way through the moon’s crust and tossed part of the lunar mantle — a deeper geologic layer — onto the surface.

For these reasons, geologists are eager to explore the basin to glean clues about the moon’s formation and composition. In fact, China recently landed its Chang’e 4 mission there (specifically within a roughly 111-mile-wide crater called Von Kármán) to study part of the basin.

James and his colleagues discovered the anomaly beneath the basin by merging data from two NASA missions at the moon. One is the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which continues to constantly photograph the lunar surface and has led to high-definition surface elevation maps.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths

The mysterious lunar lump exists below the surface of the lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin (in blues and purples).

(NASA/LROC/Arizona State University)

The other mission was the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL), which involved two spacecraft — GRAIL A and GRAIL B — working in tandem to detect variations in the strength of the moon’s gravitational field. Larger variations helped tease out information about the moon’s core, and subtler ones revealed unseen mineral deposits, asteroid impact sites, and subsurface features.

“When we combined that with lunar topography data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, we discovered the unexpectedly large amount of mass hundreds of miles underneath the South Pole-Aitken basin,” James said. “One of the explanations of this extra mass is that the metal from the asteroid that formed this crater is still embedded in the moon’s mantle.”

If the mass is a metallic asteroid core, it didn’t get stuck inside the moon intact; instead, computer simulations suggest it could have spread out as it struck. The researchers think such splattering may have kept the metal floating about 186 miles beneath the crust; otherwise it might have sunk down into the moon’s core, which starts about 310 miles deep.

Another explanation is that, following the impact that formed the basin, a huge ocean of metal-rich magma pooled inside of the lunar crust and solidified into a dense slab.

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

Articles

This is how Viagra was used to entice warlords in Afghanistan

In a foreign policy world full of different carrots and sticks, the CIA used an interesting incentive to dangle from a pole of enticements: Viagra.


Where money and guns have been the traditional tools of clandestine diplomacy, the New York Times’ CIA sources say the big blue pill was renowned by aging Afghan warlords who have multiple wives to satisfy.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths
Staff Sgt. Michael Heimann, center, from Nemesis Troop 4-2 Cavalry Scouts helps inspect weapons as Spc. Alexander Moses clears his rifle at a clearing barrel. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Chad A. Dulac)

Running money to informants is difficult for the Agency. To keep their assets in place (that is to say, to keep them alive and feeding information) money isn’t always the best motivator. According to the New York Times’ CIA source, the informant will run out and buy conspicuous items with his new funds.

It won’t be hard to figure out where he got those funds.

Guns are another troublesome carrot for potential informants. The CIA has to assume that – in the Afghan world of fluid allegiances – any arms given to today’s ally could be used against American troops by tomorrow’s enemy.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths
Staff Sgt. Jeremy Nabors (left), a propulsion technician from the 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, clears his weapon. (U.S. Air Force photo)

So a magic blue pill that revitalizes an aging man’s libido while invigorating the same man’s ego is a perfect way to cement an uneasy alliance. The nature of the gift keeps the reward from being too obvious or flashy while at the same time, not being something potentially dangerous to U.S. troops in the country.

Other potential incentives for Afghan assets include medical procedures they can’t get in Afghanistan, such as the bypass surgery given to one warlord, as reported by the Washington Post.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths
Soldiers from Alpha Battery 2-12 Field Artillery Security Force and Provincial Reconstruction Team Farah clear their weapons in clearing barrels. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Chad A. Dulac)

While Viagra is relatively well-known in Afghanistan (and reportedly sold in markets in the country), CIA officers operating in remote areas have to earn the trust of tribal leaders and be careful not to offend their religious sensibilities when making the initial pitch.

They also have to be careful not to offend anyone’s ego when explaining just what the pill does.

No word on whether Cialis is planning an expansion into the Afghan marketplace.

Articles

7 ‘oh crap!’ revelations about the state of today’s military

In early February, the vice chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines testified before before lawmakers on Capitol Hill about the state of the U.S. military as the Trump administration takes office.


And many of the revelations from that testimony are disconcerting, to put it mildly. Here are some of the moments that will have you saying, “Oh, crap!”

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths
Photo: U.S. National Guard Master Sgt. Mark A. Moore

1. The average age of Air Force aircraft is 27 years old

Take an average Air Force plane, and it was made in 1990, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. The last KC-135 was produced in 1965, the last B-52 was produced in 1962, the last F-15C was built in 1985, and the last F-16C for the Air Force was built in 2001. These are planes that will be around well into the next decade and beyond.

In other words, many of the planes the Air Force relies on are OLD.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths
A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 18th Aggressor Squadron at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, May 4, 2016, takes off from the base during RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-1. Aggressor pilots are trained to act as opposing forces in exercises like RF-A to better prepare U.S. and allied forces for aerial combat. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Turner)

2. The Air Force has only 55 fighter squadrons

Not only are the planes old, the number of fighter squadrons in the Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard has declined from 134 in 1991, the year of Operation Desert Storm, to 55 today. That is a decline of nearly 60 percent.

Yes, today’s precision weapons allow fighters to destroy multiples targets in one sortie, but sometimes, you still need numbers. The few active units we have are running their planes into the ground.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths
An F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, assigned to Detachment 1, 138th Fighter Wing, dons his helmet before a flight. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Tech. Sgt. Drew A. Egnoske)

3. The Air Force is short by over 1,500 pilots

The Air Force’s pilot shortage was reported by FoxNews.com to be around 700 last year. Now, the service is reporting the total is over twice that estimate. This is not a good situation, senior leaders say.

Planes are no good without pilots – and even new technology to make any plane an unmanned aerial vehicle will have some limits. If the balloon were to go up, where would the pilots come from? Probably the instructor cadres – which could be bad news for keeping a sufficient supply of pilots trained up in times of war.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths
Photo: US Army Pfc. Victor Ayala

4. Only three Brigade Combat Teams are ready to fight in the event of a major war

The Army cut its force structure from 45 brigade combat teams to what became an eventual total of 30. Yet despite the reduction of combat brigades, 1/3 of the Army’s brigade combat teams are considered ready, according to Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel Allyn.

Of those 10 brigades supposedly ready for combat, only three of these could fight today if the balloon went up. Three out of 30 – and that is the active-duty component. Just what, exactly, is the state of the National Guard? Do we really want to know?

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths
The Apache racked up 240 hours of combat during Just Cause. (Photo: U.S. Army)

5. 75 percent of Army Combat Aviation Brigades are not ready

Believe it or not, the Army’s Brigade Combat Teams are in better shape than its Combat Aviation Brigades. Only 1/4 of those units are ready – and these provide AH-64 Apaches for close support, as well as the Chinook and Blackhawk helicopters needed to transport troops and supplies.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths
Photo: US Marine Corps

6. 80 percent of Marine aviation units can’t train properly

Remember how the Marines had to pull about two dozen Hornets from the boneyard? Well, even with that, four in five Marine units cannot give their pilots and air crews proper training because they do not have planes.

3 ways to keep heroic lives from ending in devastating deaths
Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Mahan (DDG 72) and USS Cole (DDG 67) maneuver into position behind three Japanese destroyers during a photo exercise. USS Cole is in the center of the photograph. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford/Released)

7. The Navy is smaller than it has been since 1916

Today’s ships are very capable combatants. An Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer could probably sink or cripple most of a carrier’s escorts from a battle group off the coast of Vietnam fifty years ago.

But today, the Navy has a grand total of 274 ships. According to the Naval History and Heritage Command, in 1916, the Navy had all of 245 ships. Even if we were to reach the proposed 355-ship level, it would only have the Navy to roughly the size it was in 1997.

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