9 places where ISIS is still a major threat - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

ISIS’ territorial control in Iraq and Syria is eroding.


In Syria, the fall of its self-declared capital in Raqqa and its last military bastion in Deir ez-Zor have forced ISIS toward the Iraqi border.

In Iraq, the liberation of Mosul and Tal Afar have ISIS fighters retreating toward the Syrian border, where they are being hunted down in a final push by Iraqi forces.

On October 21, President Trump said “the end of the ISIS caliphate is in sight.”

Also read: Defeating ISIS is hard; preventing ISIS 3.0 could be harder

This week, Vladimir Shamanov, a former military officer who leads the Defense Committee in Russia’s lower house of parliament, said that by the end of this year ISIS “won’t exist anymore as an organized military structure.”

While ISIS is losing large swaths of its home turf, it still operates in a number of countries. Here are nine places where the fight against ISIS is not slowing down.

9. Egypt

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
U.S. Marines with India Company, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit run on the beach during an amphibious assault demonstration conducted as part of Exercise Bright Star 2009 in Alexandria, Egypt, on Oct. 12, 2009. DoD photo by Cpl. Theodore W. Ritchie, U.S. Marine Corps. (Released)

The Egyptian government has been fighting Islamist insurgents since the military took power in 2013. Most of the fighting has happened in the Sinai Peninsula, where ISIS proclaimed a province in 2014.

Egypt has been under an official state of emergency since April, after a attack killed dozens of members of Egypt’s minority Christian population.

Hundreds of Egyptian police and military servicemen have been killed in battles with jihadists. In an ISIS attack on an army outpost in Sinai in July 2016, 23 soldiers were killed and at least 26 were wounded.

In late October, at least 54 policemen and conscripts, including several officers, were killed in what appeared to be a well-planned ambush. Though no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, authorities have not ruled out ISIS.

The latest attack took place in the Giza governorate, which means the insurgency is spreading beyond the Sinai Peninsula — a worrisome sign that may have led President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to reorganize his security leadership.

8. Libya

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
Part of a group of six Palmaria heavy howitzers of the Gaddafi forces, destroyed by French Rafale airplanes at the west-southern outskirts of Benghazi, Libya.

Libya became a safe haven for terrorist groups after Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown in 2011. It currently has three different governments claiming authority over the country, and the lack of a strong central authority and a unified security force has allowed militias to fill the void.

ISIS seized the coastal city of Sirte — Gadhafi’s hometown — in 2015. At its peak, ISIS was thought to have over 5,000 militants in Libya. In addition to causing chaos there, they were aiding jihadist groups in Egypt and other parts of North and West Africa.

Though ISIS lost control of Sirte in December 2016, they still have what officials have described as a “desert army” operating in the regions south of the city. That army has shown signs of trying to gain ground in the country.

The US launched its first airstrike in Libya under President Donald Trump in September, 150 miles south of Sirte, reportedly killing 17 militants.

A major concern among European officials is that as ISIS loses territory in Iraq and Syria, its fighters could relocate to Libya. Among those fighters may be Westerners who could use Libya’s role as a transit point for migrants to return home.

7. Yemen

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
The Yemeni capital of Sana’a. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Yemen has long been a battleground in the fight against Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups. While the Saudi-led military campaign against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in country has received much of the attention, ISIS’ presence there has gotten the notice of the US.

ISIS created its Yemen branch in 2014, during the chaos that followed the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2012. Since then, its attacks have killed hundreds.

US forces launched more than 100 airstrikes against Al Qaeda in Yemen this year, according to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. October saw the first US airstrikes against ISIS in Yemen. According to US Central Command, the three strikes on ISIS training camps reportedly killed 60 militants.

6. Afghanistan

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
Afghan National Army soldiers with 2nd Kandak, 4th Brigade, 215th Corps chant their unit’s battle song during a graduation ceremony at Camp Shorabak, Afghanistan, July 24, 2017. Hundreds of soldiers completed an operational readiness cycle at the Helmand Province Regional Military Training Center, an eight-week course designed to enhance its students’ infantry and warfighting capabilities. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Lucas Hopkins)

ISIS’s Afghan affiliate, known as Islamic State in Khorasan, or ISIS-K, was declared in 2014. The group mostly made up of Taliban defectors and new recruits.

Though the group only controls small patches of territory, it has been a main focus for the US military. On April 13, the US dropped its largest nonnuclear bomb on an ISIS-K compound. Estimates of the number killed range between 36 and 96 militants.

Militants affiliated with ISIS and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan have also clashed with each other, resulting in deaths on both sides.

A drone strike in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province on October 12 reportedly killed 14 ISIS militants — though an Afghan MP, Shahzada Shaheed, claimed all the casualties were civilians.

The US estimates that there are roughly 600 to 800 ISIS-affiliated militants still in the country, mostly in Nangarhar province in northeast Afghanistan.

5 – 3. Mali, Niger, and Nigeria

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
Nigerian troops during Operation Flintlock 2007 (U.S. Navy Photo)

West Africa is becoming an increasingly important front in the fight against ISIS. Islamist violence is not new in the region. There was an insurgency that took over northern Mali in 2013, and the jihadist group Boko Haram declared allegiance to ISIS in 2015.But the violence has showed no signs of slowing down.

New groups like the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara — which reportedly carried out the early-October ambush that killed four US soldiers while they were on a mission with local partners in Niger — are being formed, and the number of militants joining these groups seems to be increasing.

On October 23, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford said that ISIS “has aspirations to establish a larger presence” in Africa.

“We’re going to see more actions in Africa, not less,” Dunford said, adding that the US military will be making recommendations to Trump and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and that US forces will remain in the area despite the casualties in Niger.

2. Somalia

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
Talk about harsh conditions…The FAL has also been the chosen weapons of many of the world’s insurgent armies. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

As in West Africa, Islamist violence is not new to Somalia. For the last decade, the most feared jihadist group in the country has been Al Shabab, an Al Qaeda ally. ISIS unsuccessfully tried to recruit Al Shabab in 2015, and now the two groups fight each other in addition to government forces.

Though smaller than Al Shabab, ISIS’ affiliate in Somalia has made its mark as a deadly terrorist organization. It has routinely conducted bombings and attacks that have killed hundreds. It is also outgaining Al Shabab in terms of foreign volunteers, as most aspiring jihadists want to be part of the ISIS brand.

In October, the largest bombing in the history of Mogadishu, the Somali capital, left at least 300 civilians dead and caused more than 275 injuries.

No group has claimed responsibility, but it is a troubling sign as it could lead to more violent competition between Al Shabab and ISIS, as they try to become the dominant Islamist group in the country.

The Trump administration sent US troops to Somalia in May — the first such deployment in more than 20 years — to aid antiterrorism efforts. On Friday, the US military carried out its first two drone strikes on ISIS targets in Somalia, killing “several terrorists,” according to US Africa Command.

1. Philippines

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
Philippine Navy Special Forces Sailors confront U.S. Sailors portraying crewmembers aboard military sealift command rescue and salvage ship USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50), during an at-sea boarding exercise for Southeast Asia Cooperation Against Terrorism (SEACAT) 2009. SEACAT is a weeklong at-sea exercise designed to highlight the value of information sharing and multinational coordination within a scenario that gives participating navies practical maritime interception training opportunities. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Troy Roat/Released)

ISIS made its mark in the Philippines in a manner similar to that in Iraq and Syria — suddenly emerging with a large and organized force, seizing large amounts of territory.

Led by Isnilon Hapilon and the Maute Brothers — who formally lead Abu Sayyaf and the Maute Group, respectively — forces that pledged loyalty to ISIS took over the city of Marawi in Lanao del Sur province on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao.

The siege that followed resulted in the deaths of 962 ISIS militants, including Hapilon and at least one of the Maute Brothers; 165 Philippine soldiers were killed, and nearly 1.1 million people were displaced.

Though Philippine soldiers liberated the city, ISIS remains a threat in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia as a whole.

Lists

23 incredible photos that capture US Navy’s intense year

2017 was an unsurprisingly eventful year for the US Navy.


New ships, such as the USS Washington and USS Gerald R. Ford, were commissioned. The USS Fitzgerald and USS John McCain were involved in collisions. Hurricane victims in the mainland U.S. and Puerto Rico were aided. The terrorist group ISIS and Syrian forces were hit with cruise-missile strikes.

See More: Here are the best military photos for the week of December 9th

These are just a few of the developments and events. With 2017 coming to a close, we rounded up some of the best Navy photos taken this year that highlight its missions and duties.

Take a look:

23. Sailors create snow angels on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower on Jan. 7 after returning home from a deployment.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
(Photo from U.S. Navy)

22. The USS John S. McCain conducts a patrol in the South China Sea on Jan. 22 while supporting security efforts in the region.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
(Photo from U.S. Navy)

21. A member of the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5 traverses a mud-filled pit while participating in the endurance course at the Jungle Warfare Training Center in Okinawa, Japan, on Feb. 17.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
(Photo from U.S. Navy)

20. The amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island transits the Arabian Sea on March 3.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
(Photo from U.S. Navy)

19. An electrician’s mate fireman and damage controlman practice pipe-patching drills during a damage-control training team exercise on the flight deck of the USS Barry on March 5.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
(Photo from U.S. Navy)

18. Members of the Leap Frogs, a U.S. Navy parachute team, jump out of a C-130 Hercules during a skydiving demonstration above Biloxi High School in Mississippi on April 6.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
(Photo from U.S. Navy)

17. Sailors assigned to Underwater Construction Team 2 conduct a pier inspection in Apra Harbor, Guam, on June 13.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
(Photo from U.S. Navy)

16. A medium-range ballistic-missile target is launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii. It was successfully intercepted by SM-6 missiles fired from the USS John Paul Jones on Aug. 29.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
(Photo from U.S. Navy)

15. A Naval aircrewman rescues two dogs at Houston’s Pine Forest Elementary School, a shelter that required evacuation after floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey reached its grounds on Aug. 31.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
(Photo from U.S. Navy)

14. The USS Oscar Austin fires its Mark 45 5-inch gun during a live-fire exercise in the Arctic Circle on Sept. 12.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
(Photo from U.S. Navy)

13. A sailor interacts with students during a community engagement event at Lumut Naval Base in Malaysia on Sept. 20.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
(Photo from U.S. Navy)

12. A Naval aircrewman comforts a Puerto Rican evacuee following the landfall of Hurricane Maria on Sept. 25.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
(Photo from U.S. Navy)

11. Sailors bring the USS Washington to life during the commissioning ceremony for the Virginia-class attack submarine at Naval Station Norfolk on Oct. 7.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
(Photo from U.S. Navy)

10. US Navy search-and-rescue swimmers assigned to the USS Howard save a loggerhead sea turtle entangled in a half-sunken fishing boat on Oct. 16.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
(Photo from U.S. Navy)

9. Seabees fill a crater using a “super sack” during a rapid airfield damage repair exercise on Oct. 17.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
(Photo from U.S. Navy)

8. A sailor assigned to the USS Wasp reunites with her grandma (right) and aunt during a family assessment in Puerto Rico on Oct. 25 in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
(Photo from U.S. Navy)

7. Sailors man the rails of the USS Oscar Austin as the ship departs Oslo, Norway, following a port visit on Oct. 31.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
(Photo from U.S. Navy)

6. The USS Nimitz, USS Ronald Reagan, and USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carriers and their strike groups in the Pacific Ocean on Nov. 12.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
(Photo from U.S. Navy)

5. A sailor signals the launch of an F/A-18E Super Hornet from the flight deck of the USS Reagan on Nov. 18.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
(Photo from U.S. Navy)

4. Airmen install a bleed air valve on an F/A-18C Hornet in the hangar bay of the USS Roosevelt on Dec. 4.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
(Photo from U.S. Navy)

3. A sailor returning home from a deployment aboard the USS Nimitz in support of Operation Inherent Resolve kisses his wife on Dec. 10.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
(Photo from U.S. Navy)

2. A US Navy diver performs underwater cutting operations using a Broco torch on a mooring system in Guam on Dec. 12.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
(Photo from U.S. Navy)

1. The new USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier transits the Atlantic Ocean on Dec. 13.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
(Photo from U.S. Navy)

MIGHTY MEMES

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of April 5th

It’s not that I have anything against the good-natured jokes of April Fool’s Day, it’s just that I don’t believe anything for an entire day. Sure, you have your ridiculous ads from companies, like the McPickle burger from McDonald’s, but then there’s the ones that sound plausible until you stop and think about it for more than a second.

Tom Brady saying he’s going to retire? The dude still has four more fingers to go. Lockheed Martin saying they now have the technology to smell Space? That’s not how Space works. The Army announces that it’ll take the well-being of the troops into consideration and allow them to wear protective masks, under AR 670-1, in areas of with hazardous air quality? Good one.


At least there was a solid selection of memes to choose from this week! Enjoy!

(In all seriousness, the protective mask one is real — and it’s about freakin’ time.)

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

(Meme via Broken and Unreadable)

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

(Meme via I Am An American Soldier)

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

(Meme via Sh*t My LPO Says)

It took me longer than I’m willing to admit to get that the left side was port and right was starboard.

And the only way I still remember it is because ‘left’ has four letters, and so does ‘port.’ Don’t judge me.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

(Meme via 1st Civ Division)

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

(Meme via Private News Network)

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

(Screengrab via The Salty Soldier, Credit to Reddit user u/patientbearr)

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

(Meme via Air Force amn/nco/snco)

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

(Meme by Ranger Up)

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

(Meme via US Army WTF Moments)

MIGHTY TRENDING

The new ‘Snowflake’ recruitment ads for the British Army are actually ingenious

The British Army has had many iconic recruitment ad campaigns over the years. From Lord Kitchener’s, “Your Country Needs You” that became the basis of nearly every other recruitment poster to WWI’s famous, “Your chums are fighting. Why aren’t you?”

Today, the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom are at some of the lowest numbers in centuries. Now, they’re trying out a new recruitment strategy:


9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

(British Army)

On the surface, it might seem belittling to potential recruits and, to be fair, that’s how most people are interpreting it. But if you take a step back and read the full poster and evaluated the entire campaign as a whole, it’s actually brilliant.

The poster above is a part of the British Army’s “This is Belonging” campaign, which also includes TV ads that showcases young people who feel undervalued in their jobs. Other posters also call for “me me me millennials” and their self-belief, “binge gamers” and their drive, “selfie addicts” and their confidence, “class clowns” and their spirit, and “phone zombies” and their focus.

It’s a call to action to a younger generation that may not believe they’re right for anywhere. The TV ad for the binge gamer shows the person being scolded for playing too many games, but he keeps pushing himself after every “Game Over.” Next, the commercial cuts to this same gamer as a soldier, and he’s pushing himself further and further. At its core, that’s what this campaign is really about.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

I don’t want to be the guy to point it out, but… the oldest millennials are now 37 and the youngest are 25. Let’s not get them confused with Gen-Z, the 17 to 24 year olds that are more commonly associated with these stereotypes. Just sayin’…

(British Army)

British Army recruiters have long labelled service as a means to better one’s self. Sure, it’s patronizing to call a potential recruit a “me me me millennial,” but it’s also breaking conventional by attributing a positive quality, “self-belief,” to that same person — a quality desired by the military.

The reception has been, let’s say, highly polarizing. One side is complaining that it’s demeaning and desperate while the other is complaining that the British Army doesn’t need snowflakes. The bigger picture is that it’s a marketing strategy geared towards getting the attention of disenfranchised youth who just happen to be the perfect age for military service.

Since it was just released, only time will tell whether it’s effective in bringing in young Brits. But it has certainly gone viral and everyone is talking about it, which was definitely the objective.

Articles

The Pentagon has changed how it will lay off civilian workers

Performance will be the primary factor in the future if the Defense Department has to resort to a civilian reduction in force, DoD officials said today.


The department revamped the rules for the reduction-in-force process as a result of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016.

That law requires the department to establish procedures to provide that, in any reduction in force of civilian positions in the competitive or excepted service, the determination of which employees shall be separated from employment shall be made primarily on basis of performance.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
(from left) Officers Jacob Hughett and Adam Cruea, both with the 88th Security Forces Squadron, stand ready to answer any emergency or call for help, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Sept. 12, 2016. Both officers work as GS level employees and are part of a civilian contingent within the 88th SFS. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Al Bright)

A reduction in force, or RIF, as it is known, is the term used when the government lays off employees. The RIF procedures determine whether an employee keeps his or her present position, whether the employee has a right to a different position or whether the employee must be let go.

In the past, tenure was the primary factor when making RIF calculations. Now, an employee’s performance rating of record will carry the greatest weight followed by tenure group, performance average score, veterans’ preference and DoD service computation date-RIF.

“The DoD civilian workforce is one of the department’s most important assets,” said Julie Blanks, acting assistant secretary of defense for civilian personnel policy. “However, there are times when the department must make difficult decisions that impact our civilians, and in doing so, it is imperative these decisions result in our continued ability to seamlessly execute our national security mission. When circumstances necessitate a RIF, the department must ensure we are retaining our highest performing employees.”

The changes will apply to almost all of DoD’s 750,000 civilian employees. This change in the RIF process only applies to DoD. The government-wide provisions that rank four retention factors by tenure of employment; veterans’ preference; length of service; and performance remain in place for other federal agencies.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
(U.S. Navy photo by Mark Burrell)

Under the new system, if an agency is forced to employ a RIF, employees will be placed on a retention register based on periods of assessed performance of 12 months or more or less than 12 months. The idea is to give an equitable comparison for employees whose performance has been assessed over a comparable period of time.

The first retention factor is rating of record. The rating of record is the average drawn from the two most recent performance appraisals received by the employee within the four-year period preceding the cutoff date for the RIF.

The second factor is tenure group. There are three tenure groups, with group III being temporary or term employees, these employees will be ranked at the bottom of the retention register below groups I and II.

Tenure group I and II employees are those serving on permanent appointments. Tenure group I includes employees who are not on probation and whose appointments are not career-conditional.

Tenure group II employees are those hired into permanent appointments in a career-conditional or probationary status. In general, tenure group II employees must have three years of creditable service and meet all other stated conditions of their probationary period in order to attain Tenure group I status. Tenure group I will be ranked above employees in tenure group II within each rating of record group.

The third factor is an employee’s average score. In general, an employee’s average score for one performance appraisal is derived by dividing the sum of the employee’s performance element ratings by the number of performance elements. For purposes of RIF, average score is the average of the average scores drawn from the two most recent performance appraisals received by the employee within the four year period preceding the “cutoff date” for the RIF.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
Under new rules, the Pentagon will evaluate job performance first before letting civilian employees go as part of any downsizing. (DoD photo)

Veterans’ preference is the fourth factor. “Veterans are a key part of the civilian workforce, representing a highly skilled, extremely well-qualified cadre of employees,” Blanks said. “The department firmly believes that highly performing veterans in the civilian workforce will not be disadvantaged by the new RIF policy.”

The final factor is the DoD service computation date-RIF, with those serving the longest having the edge.

DoD officials stress that a RIF is always the last resort for the department. They will do everything they can to mitigate the size of reductions, including the use of voluntary early retirement authority or voluntary separation incentive payments. Agencies will also use hiring freezes, termination of temporary appointments, and any other pre-RIF placement options.

The new DoD RIF policy and procedures are consistent with the implementation of the DoD Performance Management and Appraisal Program. This program standardizes the civilian performance appraisal system throughout the department.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US-Taliban peace talks end with ‘real strides made’ but no deal

The longest round of peace talks between the United States and the Taliban has ended with “real strides” being made but without an agreement on troop withdrawals from Afghanistan, U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said on March 12, 2019.

“The conditions for peace have improved. It’s clear all sides want to end the war. Despite ups and downs, we kept things on track and made real strides,” Khalilzad said on Twitter, adding that another round is possible later this month after the 16 days of negotiations in Qatar’s capital, Doha.


But Khalilzad said “there is no final agreement until everything is agreed.”

U.S. and Taliban negotiators have been attempting to hammer out the details of the framework agreement reached in January 2019.

The main disagreements are over four interconnected issues, including the Taliban breaking off ties with groups designated as terrorists by Washington; the timetable of a U.S. military withdrawal; a cease-fire in Afghanistan; and an intra-Afghan dialogue that would include the Taliban and government representatives.

A U.S. State Department spokesman said negotiators made “meaningful progress” during the talks.

The spokesman said the Taliban agreed that peace will require agreement on counterterrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, and a cease-fire.

“Progress was achieved regarding both these issues,” said a Taliban spokesman, referring to the U.S. troop withdrawal and assurances that foreign militants would not use Afghanistan’s territory to stage future terrorist attacks.

Neither side mentioned any progress made on reversing the Taliban’s refusal to negotiate with the government in Kabul. The militant group says the Western-backed government is a U.S. “puppet” that must be toppled.

Afghan Chief Executive: Foreign Troops Still Needed ‘Until War Over’

www.youtube.com

The Afghan government has been angered and frustrated at being sidelined at the peace talks.

Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah told RFE/RL that he was skeptical of the Taliban’s motives and urged Washington to keep troops in the country until a formal settlement that includes the Kabul has been signed with the militants.

Abdullah also said Afghans were “concerned” that the Kabul government has been sidelined from the talks in Qatar but insisted it had not caused a rift with Washington.

“Unless the Afghan government has direct negotiations with the Taliban, Afghan people have the right to be concerned,” Abdullah, who is the de facto prime minister in the national unity government, said in an interview in Kabul on March 12, 2019.

“The Taliban wants to use these peace talks for political and propaganda purposes instead of using this as a step towards peace,” he added.

U.S. President Donald Trump wants to pull out the roughly 14,000 American troops in Afghanistan and has tasked U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad with reaching a settlement with the militants.

During a round of talks in Doha in January 2019, U.S. and Taliban negotiators reached the basic framework of a potential peace deal in which the militants would prevent international terrorist groups from basing themselves in Afghanistan in exchange of a withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan.

But Abdullah urged Washington to keep U.S. forces in Afghanistan until a comprehensive peace settlement is reached between the United States, the Taliban, and Kabul.

“The Taliban wants foreign troops to leave Afghanistan,” he said. “It’s also the demand of the Afghan people. But our opinion, and that of the Afghan people, is that until the war is over and peace is restored, there is a need for the presence of these troops.”

U.S. and other foreign troops have been in Afghanistan since an October 2001 invasion that brought down the Taliban government after it refused to hand over Al-Qaeda terrorists, including Osama bin Laden, who launched the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

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

Articles

The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Look, we know that it’s Apr. 1 and you can’t trust anything, but there really are 13 funny military memes below this line.


1. Sailors, don’t go too crazy with the new tattoo regs (via Sh-t my LPO says).

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
If it works in the Navy, the other branches may finally let up as well.

2. Welcome to the military’s fine dining facility (via Sh-t my LPO says).

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
Would you like your eggs boiled or tartare?

SEE ALSO: Watch one of the baddest A-10 pilots ever land after being hit by a missile

3. Weather reports in ISIS-Land:

(via Military Memes)

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

4. “We found some sand on the inside of one of the liners. Take everything back and re-clean.”

(via Do You Even Airborne, Bro?)

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

5. If you’re going to lie for someone, make sure everyone is on the same page (via Devil Dog Nation).

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
And who says he’s buying map pens? Appointments get excused. Errands do not.

6. He’s a weekend warrior. Why should he moderate his diet on weekdays?

(via Pop Smoke)

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
Gooey, gooey chocolate.

7. This run builds esprit de corps … somehow (via Air Force Nation).

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
After the run, we’ll all build camaraderie by cleaning weapons and emptying connexes.

8. The elite Air Force Arts and Crafts Squadron:

(via Coast Guard Memes)

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
In World War II, they crossed the Rhine on bridges made of popscicle sticks.

9. Oddly enough, the spelling doesn’t bother me as much as the fact that they used an upside-down “W” for the first “M” (via Coast Guard Memes).

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
Frist sargeent is going to be pissed when he sees this.

10. “I want back in the plane! I want back in the plane!”

(via The Salty Soldier)

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

11. Maybe some nice squats or something?

(via Team Non-Rec)

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
Calf raises? No? Alright then.

12. Looks like we’re never making it home after all (via The Salty Soldier).

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
Everyone empty out the footlockers! It’s time for games!

13. The Army keeps this up, they’ll be able to join the Corps (via Team Non-Rec).

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
Except the Army probably still won’t have any swim training.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Marine Corps could soon have its first female infantry officer

It took a while, but the United States Marine Corps could have its first female infantry platoon commander soon. The milestone will be possible if a lieutenant currently taking part in the Infantry Officer Course graduates on Monday.


According to a report by the Washington Post, the candidate just finished a three-week combat exercise, the last of the graded exercises in the grueling course. Prior to this female candidate, at least 30 others have entered, but failed to graduate for one reason or another.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
Pfc. Christina Fuentes Montenegro is one of the first women to graduate infantry training with Delta Company, Infantry Training Battalion. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Paul S. Mancuso/Released)

After graduation, she will command an infantry platoon, usually with three squads of Marines. The integration of women into ground combat roles with the Marine Corps drew controversy due to actions by then-Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus who was an outspoken proponent of the change. Mabus criticized a Marine Corps study showing that all-male units out-performed gender-integrated units in nearly 70 percent of the tasks.

Mabus’s comments drew fire from Marine Sgt. Maj. Justin Lehew, a Navy Cross recipient from Operation Iraqi Freedom. Lehew’s Navy Cross citation noted that he led the team that rescued survivors of the 507th Maintenance Company, the unit in which Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch served with at the time, and also ran back and forth to retrieve Marine casualties from a destroyed amphibious assault vehicle.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
Sgt. Major Justin LeHew aboard a P781- RAM/RS Amphibious Assault Vehicle at Camp Shoup, Kuwait on March 17, 2003.

The Infantry Officer Course is seen as one of the toughest schools in the U.S. military, and roughly one out of four officers who enter the course do not compete it. Earlier this year, three female enlisted Marines were assigned to an infantry battalion. At least 10 women have graduated from the Army’s Infantry Officer Course.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Army is upgrading its M4 rifles to be more durable and lethal

The U.S. Army has now produced at least 117,000 battle-tested, upgraded M4A1 rifles engineered to more quickly identify, attack, and destroy enemy targets with full auto-capability, consistent trigger-pull, and a slightly heavier barrel, service officials said.


The service’s so-called M4 Product Improvement Program, or PIP, is a far-reaching initiative to upgrade the Army’s entire current inventory of M4 rifles into higher-tech, durable, and more lethal M4A1 weapons, Army spokesman Pete Rowland, spokesman for PM Soldier Weapons, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

“The heavier barrel is more durable and has greater capacity to maintain accuracy and zero while withstanding the heat produced by high volumes of fire. New and upgraded M4A1s will also receive ambidextrous fire control,” an Army statement said.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
(USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Suzanne M. Day)

To date, the Army has completed more than 117,000 M4A1 upgrades on the way to the eventual transformation of more than 480,000 M4 rifles. The service recently marked a milestone of having completed one-fourth of its intended upgrades to benefit Soldiers in combat.

The Army is planning to convert all currently fielded M4 carbines to M4A1 carbines; approximately 483,000,” Rowland said. “Most of the enhancements resulted from Soldier surveys conducted over time.” Rowland explained that the PIP involves a two-pronged effort; one part involves depot work to quickly transform existing M4s into M4A1s alongside a commensurate effort to acquire new M4A1 weapons from FN Herstal and Colt.

Army developers explain that conversions to the M4A1 represents the latest iteration in a long-standing service effort to improve the weapon.

“We continuously perform market research and maintain communications with the user for continuous improvements and to meet emerging requirements,” Army statements said.

Also Read: Army fielding new magazine optimized for M4/M4A1 Carbine and M855A1

The Army has already made more than 90 performance “Engineering Change Proposals” to the M4 Carbine since its introduction, an Army document describes.

“Improvements have been made to the trigger assembly, extractor spring, recoil buffer, barrel chamber, magazine, and bolt, as well as ergonomic changes to allow Soldiers to tailor the system to meet their needs,” and Army statement said.

Today’s M4 is quite different “under the hood” than its predecessors and tomorrow’s M4A1 will be even further refined to provide Soldiers with an even more effective and reliable weapon system, Army statements said.

The M4A1 is also engineered to fire the emerging M885A1 Enhanced Performance Round, .556 ammunition designed with new, better penetrating and more lethal contours to exact more damage upon enemy targets.

“The M4A1 has improvements which take advantage of the M885A1. The round is better performing and is effective against light armor,” an Army official told Scout Warrior.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Marcus Fichtl)

Prior to the emergence of the M4A1 program, the Army had planned to acquire a new M4; numerous tests, industry demonstrations and requirements development exercises informed this effort, including a “shoot off” among potential suppliers.

Before its conversion into the M4A1, the M4 – while a battle tested weapon and known for many success – had become controversial due to combat Soldier complaints, such as reports of the weapon “jamming.”

Future M4 Rifle Improvements?

While Army officials are not yet discussing any additional improvements to the M1A4 or planning to launch a new program of any kind, service officials do acknowledge ongoing conceptual discussion regarding ways to further integrate emerging technology into the weapon.

Within the last few years, the Army did conduct a “market survey” with which to explore a host of additional upgrades to the M4A1; These previous considerations, called the M4A1+ effort, analyzed by Army developers and then shelved. Among the options explored by the Army and industry included the use of a “flash suppressor,” camoflauge, removable iron sights, and a single-stage trigger, according to numerous news reports and a formal government solicitation.

The M4A1+ effort was designed to look for add-on components that will “seamlessly integrate with the current M4A1 Carbine … without negatively impacting or affecting the performance or operation of the M4A1 weapon,” a FedBizOpps document states.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Branden Quintana, left, and Sgt. Cory Ballentine pull security with an M4 carbines on the roof of an Iraqi police station in Habaniyah, Anbar province, Iraq, July 13, 2011. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Kissta Feldner)

Additional details of the M4A1+ effort were outlined in a a report from Military.com’s Matt Cox.

“One of the upgrades is an improved extended forward rail that will “provide for a hand guard allowing for a free-floated barrel” for improved accuracy. The improved rail will also have to include a low-profile gas block that could spell the end of the M16/M4 design’s traditional gas block and triangular fixed front sight,” the report says.

Despite the fact that the particular M4A1+ effort did not move forward, Army officials explain that market surveys regarding improvements to the weapon will continue; in addition, Army developers explain that the service is consistently immersed in effort to identify and integrate emerging technologies into the rifle as they become available. As a result, it is entirely conceivable that the Army will explore new requirements and technologies for the M4A1 as time goes on.

MIGHTY HISTORY

11 photos of the awesome Super Cobra after 50 years

The venerable Sea Cobra first flew in 1969. Now, 50 years later, it’s descendant the Super Cobra is still a mainstay of Marine offense and defense, using missiles to destroy enemy strong points and firing its cannon to break up maneuver forces trying to hit American lines. Here are 11 photos from the Super Cobras of today and history.


9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

(U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Jason Grogan)

AH-1W Super Cobra sends 2.75-inch rockets into an enemy mortar position during a close air support mission at Wadi-us-Salaam cemetery, near Najaf, Iraq, in Aug. 2004.

The Sea and Super Cobra variants of the AH-1 have decades of service. But their predecessor, the AH-1 Cobra, dates back even further to Vietnam. It was originally pitched to the Army as the UH-1G, basically a “tweaked” utility helicopter.

While anyone with eyes could easily see the design was something new, Bell had just lost an attack helicopter competition to Lockheed, and a brand new attack helicopter would’ve required another competition, delaying the weapon’s debut and potentially setting up the craft for a loss to another manufacturer. So Bell played fast and loose with the rules and the Army played along.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

(U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Reece Lodder)

An AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter and UH-1Y Huey helicopter fly off the coast of the island of Oahu, toward Marine Corps Base Hawaii during maintenance and readiness flights, June 13, 2013.

But the Army eventually admitted the UH-1G Huey Cobra was an all-new craft, and it was re-designated the AH-1. According to an Air Space history, “Cobras would launch with twice as much ammunition as Huey gunships, would get to the target in half the time, and could linger there three times longer.” Troops loved it.

The Marines in Vietnam loved the helicopter as much as soldiers did, but when the Corps went shopping, they wanted a bird with two engines so that an engine failure between ship and shore wouldn’t doom the crew.

And so the AH-1J Sea Cobra was born, first flying in 1969 and making its combat debut in 1975, barely making it into the Vietnam War. Over the following years, the Marines upgraded the guns, missiles, and rockets and proceeded to the AH-1W Super Cobra designation in 1986.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Patrick Dionne)

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Patrick Henry braces Airmen Andrew Jerauld as he signals to an AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter as it lands on the flight deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay.

But the era of the Super Cobra is coming to an end. With the debut of the AH-1Z, the Marine Corps moved to the “Viper” designation, and the Vipers have already proven themselves in combat. So the last Super Cobras in the American inventory, the AH-1Ws, are slated to be pulled from active units in 2020 and sold or gifted to overseas allies.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

(U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Matthew Casbarro)

A Marine Corps AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter supports a beach assault during Rim of the Pacific 2016, a maritime exercise in Hawaii, July 30, 2016.

The Super Cobras are all-weather and have carried a slew of weapons like the XM197 20mm Gatling cannon, Hydra 70 rockets, 5-inch Zuni rockets, TOW missiles, Hellfire missiles, Sidewinder missiles, and AGM-122 SideArm anti-radiation missile.

Typically, it carries the 20mm cannon as well as pods for 2.75-inch Hydra rockets and Hellfire missiles, but it can still carry and employ those other missiles and rockets easily when necessary, giving commanders a flexible, fast platform that can kill everything from enemy radar sites to helicopters to ground troops and vehicles.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

(U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Gabriela Garcia)

U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Philip A. Gilbert supervises the preflight ground maintenance of an AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter on Camp Bastion in Helmand province, Afghanistan, June 24, 2013.

Updates to the AH-1W granted it the ability to see in night vision and infrared, helping pilots to more quickly acquire and destroy targets at night or in bad weather. During Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield, 48 AH-1Ws destroyed 97 tanks, 104 armored personnel carriers and other vehicles, 16 bunkers, and two anti-aircraft artillery sites with zero losses.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

(U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Mackenzie Gibson)

A UH-1Y Venom and an AH-1W Super Cobra shoot 2.75 inch rockets through the night sky and meet their targets during close air support training operations at a range near Fort Drum, N.Y., March 16, 2017.

Typically, the AH-1Ws, and now the AH-1Z Vipers, are deployed alongside UH-1s in Marine light attack helicopter squadrons. These units specialize in close air support, reconnaissance, and even air interdiction. The Super Cobras’ Sidewinder missiles are crucial for that last mission, allowing the Marine pilots to take out enemy jets and helicopters.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

(U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Samuel A. Nasso)

A U.S. Marine Corps Bell UH-1Y Huey helicopter and a Bell AH-1W Super Cobra take off on one of the first flights for the new Huey from Bastion Airfield, Helmand Province, Afghanistan in 2009.

While the Super Cobras are faster and have more weapons, the Hueys can carry multiple gunners which can spray fire in all directions. And the UH-1Y Hueys can also carry and deploy up to 10 Marines each, allowing the helicopters to drop an entire squad on the ground and then protect it as it goes to work.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

(U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Kevin Jones)

An AH-1W Super Cobra Helicopter takes part in a live fire exercise at Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, May 15, 2013.

The aircraft can fly up to 18,700 feet above sea level, allowing it to clear many mountain ranges while serving on the frontlines. But commanders have to be careful sending the helicopter into the thin air that high as its crews aren’t typically equipped with the robust oxygen equipment of bombers or jet fighters. So the Super Cobras try to stay at 10,000 feet or below.

Check out more photos of the Super Cobra:

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

(U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Ashley McLaughlin)

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

(U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Russell Midori)

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

(U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Dean B. Verschoor)

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Marines drop photo requirements for promotion, selection process

The Marine Corps is the latest service branch to announce a policy removing official photos from promotion considerations.

The directive states “photographs are not authorized information for promotion boards and selection processes pertaining to assignment, training, education, and command,” according to MARADMIN 491/20. It takes effect Tuesday.

The Army implemented a similar policy in August.

For those Marines who have already submitted promotion packages or have included recently-updated selection photos to their Official Military Personnel File (OMPF), those photos will not be considered by the board when selecting candidates for promotion, assignment, training, education, or command.


The move is in response to a larger effort to address diversity in the military, which includes the establishment of a Department of Defense Board on Diversity and Inclusion by Secretary Dr. Mark Esper.

Esper released a memorandum in mid-summer calling for “immediate actions to address diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunity in the military services.” The document outlines several tasks on how the different branches are to address these issues within the services including updating the department’s equal opportunity and diversity inclusion policies, increasing training regarding diversity, racial bias, and equal opportunity, updating policies on grooming with regards to racial differences and removing photographs from promotion boards and selection processes.

Read the full memo here: Immediate Actions to Address Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity in the Military Services

Though photographs will be removed from OMPFs, additional guidance is expected that includes “provisions for establishing diverse selection panels and the removal of all references to race, ethnicity, and gender in personnel packets reviewed by panel members.” These processes will help to ensure that promotion boards and selection processes “enable equal opportunity for all service members, promote diversity … and are free from bias based on race, ethnicity, gender or national origin.” The USD(PR) has until the end of September to provide this additional guidance to all branches.

The Council of Foreign Relations examined diversity rates across all branches of the military. For the Marine Corps, about 90% of male enlisted recruits and 70% of female enlisted recruits are white. Only 15% of male and female enlisted recruits are Black, and Asians only represent about 5% of the enlisted recruit population. However, the Marine Corps has a higher rate of Hispanics than any other branch — outweighing the civilian workforce — with about 30% male and almost 40% of female recruits being of Hispanic ethnicity.

CFR also found that racial diversity decreases at the upper ranks with data showing generals to be disproportionately white. Complete findings can be found at Demographics of the U.S. Military.

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

Articles

US servicemember killed in Afghanistan during anti-ISIS operation

The Pentagon has confirmed that a U.S. servicemember was killed in Nangarhar Achin Province, Afghanistan, though officials declined to release any more details, including the casualty’s name and branch.


Some media outlets are reporting that the he was a special operations commando.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers from the 3rd Special Forces Group patrol a field in the Gulistan district of Farah, Afghanistan. (Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Joseph A. Wilson)

The commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan Gen. John W. Nicholson confirmed that the servicemember was killed during a raid on ISIS fighters with Afghan special forces by a roadside bomb that detonated during a patrol.

“On behalf of all of U.S. Forces – Afghanistan, we are heartbroken by this loss and we extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the service member,” Nicholson said. “Despite this tragic event, we remain committed to defeating the terrorists of the Islamic State, Khorasan Province and helping our Afghan partners defend their nation.”

This is at least the fourth service member to be killed in anti-ISIS operations. Navy SEAL Petty Officer Charles Keating was killed in May while rescuing other U.S. forces who had become encircled by ISIS fighters. Marine Staff Sgt. Louis Cardin was killed in March when his artillery unit came under rocket attack. Army Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler was killed in 2015 during a raid to rescue ISIS hostages.

Articles

The US may restart production of the world’s most lethal combat plane

U.S. Air Force Gen. Mark Welsh made comments at an Air Force Association event on Thursday that were uncharacteristically bullish on the prospect of restarting the F-22 program.


Lockheed Martin shuttered the F-22 program almost five years ago. Since then, the top Air Force brass has been focused on the troubled F-35 program as well as looking decades forward to the Next Generation Air Dominance program.

In April, however, Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio said in Congress: “In light of growing threats from a resurgent Russia and an aggressive China, further exploration into restarting the F-22 line is deserved.”

Welsh’s comments on Thursday represented a shift in the Air Force’s official attitude toward reviving the F-22; it had previously said doing so would not be cost effective.

“I don’t think it’s a wild idea,”Welsh said, as Defensenews.com notes. “I mean the success of the F-22 and the capability of the airplane and the crews that fly it are pretty exceptional. I think it’s proven that the airplane is exactly what everybody hoped it would be.”

“We’re using it in new and different ways and it’s been spectacularly successful and its potential is really, really remarkable,” Welsh continued. “And so going back and looking and certainly raising the idea well, could you build more? It’s not a crazy idea.”

The Air Force could not only reboot the F-22, but improve on it as well. The jet’s thrust vectoring could stand to be revisited, which would give the plane an edge in engagements that occur within visual range, as The Aviationist’s Dario Leone notes.

9 places where ISIS is still a major threat
John Dibbs / Code One

Also, a helmet-mounted display, similar to the kind found in the F-35, could increase the fighter’s abilities.

As Jamie Hunter, editor of Combat Aircraft Monthly, wrote in 2015: “How about a risk-reduced approach for NGAD? Take the almost perfect Raptor and put it back into production, albeit this time with the tweaks that make it truly the best fighter ever it can be. That approach may just help mitigate against the early cost overruns and delays and provide capability faster and when it’s needed.”

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