9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017 - We Are The Mighty
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9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

The United States is condemning an outbreak of violence in eastern Ukraine, calling it the deadliest 24-hour period so far this year.


Ukraine’s military says nine soldiers have died in the east where Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed rebels have been fighting for more than three years.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert says that five deaths were in clashes that appear to have been initiated by what she described as Russian-led forces.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
Pro-Russian rebels shoot in the air at funeral of a fellow fighter killed in a battle for Marinka near Donetsk. Eastern Ukraine, 6 June, 2015. (Photo by Mstyslav Chernov)

Ten soldiers were also wounded and one was captured, according to the Ukrainian Ministry Defense. Two civilians were also reported wounded in Avdiivka on the morning of July 19.

Nauert said the US is asking the Russia-supported troops to abide by the terms of a ceasefire deal for eastern Ukraine that was signed in early 2015 but never fully implemented.

The US has called on those forces to allow international monitors to have “full, safe, and unfettered” access to the conflict zone, Nauert said.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
Soldiers of Ukraine’s Internal Troops in riot gear and protesters clash at Bankova str, Kiev, Ukraine. December 1, 2013. (Photo by Mstyslav Chernov)

At least 20 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and at least 35 more have been wounded in the first 20 days of July, according to tweets from Liveuamap.

 

 

 

 

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One of the last remaining Navajo Code Talkers just died at age 95

More than 400 Navajo Americans joined the military during World War II to transmit coded messages in their native language. The Japanese, even if they could break American codes, couldn’t decipher the Navajo tongue.


They were called Navajo Code Talkers, and one of the last few remaining code talkers – Joe Hosteen Kellwood – died Aug. 5. He was 95.

Kellwood joined the Marine Corps at 21 after he learned about their exploits during the Battle of Guadalcanal. He was sent to the 1st Marine Division as a Code Talker. But like most other servicemembers at the time, didn’t even know the program existed – it was still Top Secret.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
Kellwood leads a group in the Pledge of Allegiance at a veteran’s ceremony at the Heard Museum in 2014.

In a 1999 interview with the Arizona Republic’s Betty Reid, he said he told his sister “Da’ahijigaagoo deya,” or, “I’m going to war.” He was one of 540 Navajo men that would become Marines during the war and one of around 400 that would become Code Talkers. Kellwood saw combat on Cape Gloucester, Peleliu, and Okinawa.

The Native American Marines were trained to transmit messages on the battlefields of the Pacific using Morse Code, radios, and Navajo codes. What’s unique about the Navajo language is that it uses syntax and tonal qualities that are nearly impossible for a non-Navajo to learn. The language also had no written form, and many of its letters and sounds did not have equivalents in other languages.

The Code Talkers created messages by first translating Navajo words into English, then using the first letter of each English word to decipher the meaning.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
A Navajo Code Talker relays a message on a field radio. (Marine Corps photo)

The security the Navajo provided U.S. communications was later acknowledged as being critical to winning the war. But often Native American servicemembers like Kellwood were discriminated against at home and discouraged from speaking Navajo.

“I was never scared during battles because I told Mama Water to take care of me,” Kellwood told the Arizona Republic. “We had to feel like we were bigger than the enemy in battle.”

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
Joe Kellwood rides in the 2014 Phoenix Veterans Day Parade. (Photo by Lucas Carter)

The Japanese never broke the code, but the program was never officially acknowledged until 1968, when the U.S. government declassified the program. Their unique service to the war effort was first recognized by President Ronald Reagan in 1982.

According to his obituary, Kellwood’s awards include the Congressional Silver Medal; a Presidential Unit Citation; Combat Action Ribbon; a Naval Unit Commendation; Good Conduct; the American Campaign Medal; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and (of course) the WWII Victory Medal.

There are now fewer than 20 Navajo Code Talkers left.

President Reagan declared Navajo Code Talkers’ Day to be August 14th, which coincides with V-J Day, 1945 – the day Japan surrendered to the Allies and World War II officially ended.

Articles

This Army veteran’s new mission is to rebuild New Orleans’ most devastated ward

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
This post is reprinted with permission from NationSwell, new digital media company focused on American innovation and renewal.


New Orleans native Burnell Cotlon has spent the last five years on a mission. He’s turning a two-story building that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 (along with most of his Lower 9th Ward neighborhood), into a shopping plaza. Already, he’s opened a barber shop and a convenience store, and as of last November, is providing the neighborhood — identified as a food desert — with its first full-service grocery store in almost a decade.

The Lower Ninth Ward, which experienced catastrophic flooding during Hurricane Katrina, has had a much slower recovery than most New Orleans neighborhoods. Before Katrina, the area had a population of around 14,000 and boasted of the highest percentage of black homeownership in the country. According to the last census, however, only around 3,000 people live in the neighborhood. Many of its roads are still torn up, it lacks basic resources and the closest full-service grocery store is nearly 3 miles away in the neighboring city of Chalmette.

Burnell’s merchandise is still mostly limited to non-perishables and fresh produce, but he hopes to add poultry, bread and dairy this year.

Burnell Cotlon relies on a lot of second hand supplies, and with the right equipment, he could meet his goal of offering more food options for members of his community. Please consider making a donation and spreading the word in order to support his work.

Click here to show your support

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This article originally appeared at NationSwell Copyright 2015. Follow NationSwell on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Here’s what would happen if North Korea tried to shoot down a US bomber

North Korea on Monday said it interpreted a tweet from President Donald Trump as a declaration of war and threatened to shoot down US B-1B Lancer strategic bombers even if they weren’t flying in its airspace — but such an attack is easier said than done.


The US frequently responds to North Korea’s provocative missile and nuclear tests by flying its B-1B Lancer — a long-range, high-altitude, supersonic bomber — near North Korea.

Fighter jets from South Korea and Japan often accompany the bomber, and sometimes they drop dummy bombs on a practice range near North Korea’s border.

The move infuriates North Korea, which lacks the air power to make a similar display. North Korea previously discussed firing missiles at Guam, where the US bases many of the bombers, and it has now discussed shooting one down in international airspace.

Related: This is what would happen if North Korea popped off an H-bomb in the Pacific

On Tuesday, South Korean media reported that North Korea had been reshuffling its defenses, perhaps preparing to make good on its latest threat.

But the age of the country’s air defenses complicates that task.

“North Korea’s air defenses are pretty vast but very dated,” Omar Lamrani, a senior military analyst for Stratfor, a geopolitical intelligence platform, told Business Insider.

Lamrani said North Korea had a few variants of older Soviet-made jets and some “knockoff” Soviet air defenses, such as the KN-06 surface-to-air missile battery that mimics Russia’s S-300 system.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
B-1B Lancers fly in formation. Photo by US Forces Korea

From the ground, North Korea’s defenses are “not really a threat to high-flying aircraft, especially if you’re flying over water,” Lamrani said.

But North Korea does have one advantage: surprise.

When aircraft enter or come close to protected airspace, intercepts are common. Very often, military planes will fly near a group of jets and tell them they are entering or have entered guarded airspace and that they should turn back or else.

Also read: Here is what a war with North Korea could look like

Though the US, South Korea, and Japan all have advanced jets that could easily shoot down an approaching North Korean jet before it got close enough to strike, the US and North Korea are observing a cease-fire and are not actively at war. Therefore, a North Korean jet could fly right up to a US bomber or fighter and take a close-range shot with a rudimentary weapon that would have a good chance of landing.

North Korea would have “the first-mover advantage,” Lamrani said, but if the North Korean aircraft shot down the US’s, “they would pay a heavy price.”

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
Planes at the Wonsan Air Festival in Wonsan, North Korea, in September. | KCNA

For that reason, Lamrani said he found the scenario unlikely. The last time the US flew B-1s near North Korea, four advanced jet fighters accompanied it. North Korea’s air force is old and can’t train often because of fuel constraints, according to Lamrani. The US or its allies would quickly return the favor and destroy any offending North Korean planes.

Additionally, South Korean intelligence officials told NK News that North Korea couldn’t even reliably track the B-1B flights. To avoid surprising the North Koreans, the US even laid out its flight path, an official told NK News.

At this point, even North Korea must be aware it’s largely outclassed by the US and allied air forces, and that taking them on would be a “suicide mission,” Lamrani said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia has to search for a missing nuclear cruise missile

Russia lost a nuclear-powered missile during a failed test in 2017, and now Moscow is gearing up to go find it, according to CNBC, citing people familiar with a relevant US intelligence report.

Proudly claiming that the world will “listen to us now,” Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted in early March 2018 that his country had developed a new nuclear-powered cruise missile with unlimited range, but each of the four tests between November 2017 and February 2018 reportedly ended in failure, according to reports from May 2018.


“The low-flying, stealth cruise missile with a nuclear warhead with a practically unlimited range, unpredictable flight path and the ability to bypass interception lines is invulnerable to all existing and future missile defense and air defense systems,” Putin claimed.

“No one in the world has anything like it,” he added.

www.youtube.com

The reports from testing don’t support the Russian president’s claims.

The longest recorded flight, according to US assessments, lasted only a little over two minutes. Flying just 22 miles, the missile spun out of control and crashed. In each case, the nuclear-powered core of the experimental cruise missile failed, preventing the weapon from achieving the indefinite flight and unlimited range the Russian president bragged about.

The tests were apparently conducted at the request of senior Kremlin officials despite the protests of Russian engineers who argued that the platform was not ready for testing. Russian media reports claim the weapon will be ready to deploy in ten years.

During one weapons test in November 2017, the missile crashed into the Barents Sea. Three ships, one with the ability to handle radioactive material, will take part in the search operations, which have yet to be officially scheduled.

Experts are concerned about the possibility that the missile may be leaking radioactive nuclear material. The missile is suspected to rely on gasoline for takeoff but switch to nuclear power once in flight.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

How the USNS Comfort prepares for worst case

Doctors, nurses, and other embarked medical personnel aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) conducted a mass casualty training exercise in preparation for visiting medical sites in Central and South America, Oct. 13, 2018.

The exercise tested Comfort’s crew in mass casualty triage, care, and first-aid practices. Participants included multi-service members, partner nation service members, and mission volunteers.


“A mass casualty event, by nature, is chaotic,” said Lt. Jessie Paull, a general surgery resident embarked on Comfort. “Being able to practice, it gets your nerves under control.”

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

Lt. Cmdr. Cynthia Matters, from Claremore, Okla. assigns surgeries during a mass casualty exercise aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Joseph DeLuco)

The event started on the flight deck of the ship and continued down to Comfort’s casualty receiving area.

“Getting the team squared away is essential to execute this mission during a real event,” said Paull.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

Sailors, aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort, conduct stretcher bearer training during a mass casualty drill.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Devin Alexondra Lowe)

The exercise included various medical procedures, including basic medical triage techniques, blood tests, and computed tomography (CT) scans.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

Lt. Cmdr. Arthur Lammers, an anesthesiologist assigned to the hospital ship USNS Comfort, practices patient transfer during a mass casualty exercise.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Joseph DeLuco)

“This is exactly what I would hope to see coming from a group of professionals on, essentially, day three of our mission,” said Capt. William Shafley, commander, Task Force 49.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

Lt. Cmdr. Joshua Barnhill, an anesthesiologist assigned to the hospital ship USNS Comfort, conducts surgery preparation training during a mass casualty exercise.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Joseph DeLuco)

Comfort is on an 11-week medical support mission to Central and South America as part of U.S. Southern Command’s Enduring Promise initiative. Working with health and government partners in Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, and Honduras, the embarked medical team will provide care on board and at land-based medical sites, helping to relieve pressure on national medical systems caused partly by an increase in cross-border migrants. The deployment reflects the United States’ enduring promise of friendship, partnership, and solidarity with the Americas.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/NAVSOUS4THFLT and www.dvidshub.net/feature/comfort2018

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Canadian special forces got a new light combat vehicle

Through intense, specialized training, special operations units become the elite arm of any military. To make the most of their training, these units often get special tools.


According to reports, a new tool, the DAGOR ultra-light combat vehicle, has been delivered to Canadian special ops units. WATM got a good look at these vehicles at the 2017 AirSpaceCyber expo, where the DAGOR was on display with three litters and an M2 heavy machine gun.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
A soldier fires a heavy machine gun from the turret on a DAGOR. (Photo by Polaris)

So, why would a spec-ops unit not opt for something like the High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) or the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV)? Both of these vehicles can carry some heavy firepower, like the BGM-71 TOW missile or the M2 heavy machine gun.

The answer is, simply, that these vehicles are too big. While you can fit them into a C-130, you still need a good place to land to roll them out or air-drop them. Even then, when it’s time to leave, if you can’t arrange proper pickup, you now have the options of leaving it behind for the enemy to take (not a good idea) or blowing it up, and these vehicles are expensive. Yes, it is possible to have too much vehicle for a mission.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
Members of 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) and the Canadian Special Operations Regiment conducted a combined airborne operation and wing-exchange ceremony at Roger’s drop zone on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. (Photo by Sgt. Elayseah Woodard-Hinton, 20th Public Affairs Detachment)

The DAGOR is the type of vehicle that addresses these problems. Two of these can fit on a CH-47 Chinook (the Canadians have them on inventory as the CH-147F). They hold nine troops and can pack some serious firepower, including an M2 .50-caliber heavy machine gun. They can go 500 miles on a tank of diesel fuel and can carry up to 3,000 pounds.

Learn more about the Canadian purchase in the video below.

The only bad news is, while the Canadian military can buy these, Polaris still asks people who request quotes to certify that they are an “authorized government purchaser, government supplier, educational institution, non-profit organization, or representing a government agency” and “not inquiring about Polaris Defense products for personal use.” So much for that joyride…

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShMRMy_EPfM
(New Update Defence | YouTube)
MIGHTY TRENDING

Iraqi Army’s recent gains are fragile as US draws down

From their outpost on Iraq’s westernmost edge, U.S. 1st Lt. Kyle Hagerty and his troops watched civilians trickle into the area after American and Iraqi forces drove out the Islamic State group. They were, he believed, families returning to liberated homes, a hopeful sign of increasing stability.


But when he interviewed them on a recent reconnaissance patrol, he discovered he was wrong. They were families looking for shelter after being driven from their homes in a nearby town. Those who pushed them out were forces from among their “liberators” — Shiite militiamen who seized control of the area after defeating the IS militants.

It was a bitter sign of the mixed legacy from the United States’ intervention in Iraq to help defeat the militants. American-backed military firepower brought down the IS “caliphate,” but many of the divisions and problems that helped fuel the extremists’ rise remain unresolved.

The U.S.-led coalition, which launched its fight against IS in August 2014, is now reducing the numbers of American troops in Iraq, after Baghdad declared victory over the extremists. Both Iraqi and U.S. officials say the exact size of the drawdown has not yet been decided.

Also read: Twin bombings in Baghdad kill 38, shatter post-IS calm

U.S. and Iraqi commanders here in western Iraq warn that victories over IS could be undercut easily by a large-scale withdrawal. Iraq’s regular military remains dependent on U.S. support. Many within Iraq’s minority communities view the U.S. presence as a buffer against the Shiite-dominated central government. Still, Iranian-backed militias with strong voices in Baghdad are pushing for a complete U.S. withdrawal, and some Iraqis liken any American presence to a form of occupation.

That has left an uncomfortable limbo in this area that was the last battlefield against the extremists. Coalition commanders still work with Iraqi forces to develop long-term plans for stability even as a drawdown goes ahead with no one certain of its eventual extent.

Hearts and minds — again

“Let’s go win us some hearts and minds,” Sgt. Jonathan Cary, 23, joked as he and Hagerty and the patrol convoy set off from a base outside the town of Qaim, evoking a phrase used in American policy goals for Iraq ever since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
U.S. Army military police provide crowd control while Iraqi citizens line up for food and water being distributed to citizens in need in April 2003. (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Arlo K. Abrahamson.)

After just a few hours moving on foot across farmland and orchards to a cluster of modest houses, Hagerty realized the families he thought were returnees to the area were in fact newly displaced. Their homes in Qaim had been confiscated by the government-affiliated Popular Mobilization Forces, or PMF, made up mainly of Shiite paramilitary fighters backed by Iran.

“Our end goal is a stable Iraq, right?” Hagerty said later, back at the base. “But when you see stuff like that, it makes you wonder if they are ever going to be able to do it themselves.”

After victories against IS, the PMF has built up a presence in many parts of Sunni-majority provinces, including western Anbar. It formally falls under the command of the prime minister, but some Iraqi commanders accuse the PMF of being a rival to government power.

PMF flags line highways crisscrossing Anbar. At a PMF checkpoint outside al-Asad airbase — a sprawling complex used by both Iraqi and coalition forces — U.S. convoys are regularly stopped for hours while busloads of PMF fighters are waved through.

U.S. Marine Col. Seth Folsom works closely with the branches of Iraq’s security forces — Sunni tribal fighters and the Iraqi army — who are increasingly concerned about the rise in power of the PMF. Iran has given no indication of dialing back its support after the defeat of IS extremists.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
Popular Mobilization Forces fire a mortar during the Hawija offensive in 2017. (VOA photo by Dlshad Anwar)

“The biggest question I get now is, ‘how long can we count on you being here?'” Folsom said of his conversations with Iraqi commanders and local politicians.

That decision ultimately rests with Iraq’s political leadership, he said.

“I guess some people could see that as a cop-out, but at the same time it’s not my place as a lowly colonel to define how long the U.S. presence is going to be.”

‘Forward line of freedom’

For the senior officers leading the current fight against IS, decades of U.S. military intervention in Iraq has defined their careers.

The top U.S. general in Iraq — Lt. Gen. Paul Funk — served in Iraq four times: in the Gulf war in 1991; in the 2003 invasion; in the surge when some 170,000 American troops were serving in Iraq in 2007; and most recently in the fight against IS.

Related: The US is beginning to draw down from fighting in Iraq

“It will definitely be positive,” Funk said of the legacy of the U.S. role against IS in Iraq. “People see their young men and women out here defeating evil. That’s a positive thing.”

On a recent flight from Baghdad to a small U.S. outpost in northern Syria near Manbij — a trip that traversed the heart of the battlefield with IS for the past 3½ years — Funk described the future of the fight as ideological and open-ended.

“The problem is people believe it’s already over, and it’s not,” he said. “Beating the ideology, destroying the myth, that’s going to take time.”

Touching down outside an orchard on the perimeter of the Manbij base, Funk exclaimed: “Welcome to the front line of freedom!”

Funk predicts the ideological fight could take years and easily require U.S. troop deployments elsewhere. He said that is one reason he believes it’s so important to visit U.S. troops on the current front lines — to show them “the American people believe in their purpose.”

“We have got to recruit the next generation,” he said.

More reading: This is the story behind the rise and fall of the Islamic State group

Many of the young U.S. troops interviewed by The Associated Press said they didn’t know anything about the Islamic State group when they enlisted.

Rayden Simeona, a 21-year-old corporal in the Marines, enlisted in 2014, when all he knew about the U.S. military was from movies and video games.

“I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere with my life, I had no idea what IS was. I just knew I wanted to go to war,” he said. Once deployed, he said talk rarely broached the big questions of “What we are doing here?” or “Why?”

“But I do wonder all the time: Why are we spending all this money in Iraq?” he said. “There’s probably some greater plan or reason that someone much higher up than me knows.”

Is the juice worth the squeeze?

Along Iraq’s border with Syria, the two Iraqi forces charged with holding a key stretch of territory lack direct communication. Because one force falls under the Defense Ministry and the other under the Interior Ministry, their radios are incompatible.

Instead, the troops use Nokia cellphones in a part of the country where network coverage is spotty to nonexistent.

At the nearby coalition outpost near Qaim, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Brandon Payne spends much of his time filling communications gaps by relaying messages between different branches of Iraq’s military.

“The coordination is not where we hoped it would be,” Payne said. “But they do talk to each other, and we see that as a sign of progress.”

Tactical shortcomings within Iraq’s military are partially what fueled the expansion of the coalition’s footprint in Iraq in the past three years. As Iraqi ground forces demonstrated an inability to communicate and coordinate attacks across multiple fronts, U.S. forces moved closer to the fighting and sped up the pace of territorial gains.

Despite the caliphate’s collapse, those weaknesses have persisted. Iraqi forces remain dependent on coalition intelligence, reconnaissance, artillery fire, and airstrikes to hold territory and fight IS insurgent cells.

Payne regularly shuttles between his base, Qaim and the Syrian border, meeting with different members of Iraqi forces to coordinate security and repel IS attacks from the Syrian side.

Read more: ISIS’ last town in Iraq falls to Iraqi security forces

“I would say we are still needed,” Payne said. “We are getting great results with this model, but you see how much goes into it.”

The base, once a small, dusty outpost, now houses a few hundred coalition troops and is a maze of barracks, gyms, a dining facility, laundry services and a chapel.

“At some point, someone much higher up than me is going to decide the juice is just not worth the squeeze,” Payne said, referring to the cost of such a large outpost in a remote corner of the country.

Rotten leadership

Iraqi army Lt. Col. Akram Salah Hadi, who works closely with Payne’s soldiers at the Qaim outpost, said coalition training and intelligence sharing have improved the performance of his unit. But overall, the U.S. effort in Iraq gives him little hope for the future.

Corruption in the military, Hadi said, remains as bad as it was in 2014, when it was seen as a major reason why entire Iraqi divisions simply dissolved in the assault on Mosul by a few hundred IS fighters.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
This soldier instructs a motivated group of Iraqi troops. (Image from DoD)

Young Iraqi soldiers with ambition and talent can’t rise through the ranks without political connections. Top ranks are bloated with officers who have bought their promotions. Within his division alone, Hadi said he can think of 40 officers with no military background who attained their rank because of their membership in a political party.

“With leadership like this, the rest will always be rotten,” he said.

Coalition programs that have trained tens of thousands of Iraqi troops have largely focused on the infantry, not the junior officers needed to lead units and instill a culture of service that will make a professional force.

Folsom, the U.S. Marine colonel, said military power will not root out corruption or heal Iraq’s longstanding divisions.

“I have a saying out here,” he added, “‘You can’t want it more than them.'”

Articles

Fear of killer flood prompts pause in Syria offensive

U.S.-backed forces in northern Syria paused military operations near a dam held by the Islamic State group on March 27 to allow engineers to fix any problems after conflicting reports about its stability.


The decision by the Syrian Democratic Forces came a day after conflicting reports over whether civilians had begun evacuating the nearby city of Raqqa — the extremists’ de facto capital — due to concerns about the Tabqa dam on the Euphrates River.

Some activist groups opposed to IS have said residents are seeking higher ground, fearing that the collapse of the dam could cause severe flooding, while others said people were remaining in place. Conflicting reports are common in areas controlled by IS, which bans independent media.

The SDF, a U.S.-backed and Kurdish-led force, has been fighting IS in the area since Friday in an attempt to capture the dam, one of the main sources of electricity in northern Syria.

The SDF said in a statement that the cease-fire expired at 5 p.m. local time, after their engineers inspected the structure and found no faults. Photos credited to an embedded freelance journalist indicated they had just inspected the dam’s spillway, which is on SDF-controlled territory. The main dam structure and the gates lie 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) away and are still held by IS militants.

The SDF said the request for a cease-fire was made by the dam’s administrators, without specifying whether they were part of the Syrian government or IS, which operates a quasi-state in the areas under its control.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said technicians inside IS-held Tabqa did not reach the dam during the cease-fire, to reactivate its main power controls. There was no explanation given.

The engineer Ahmad Farhat, who oversaw the mechanical administration of the dam, said that it is “equipped with the necessary precautions for its own protection,” but there needs to be technical personnel on site to engage them. He spoke with The Associated Press from the rebel-held northwestern Syrian province of Idlib.

Engineer Aboud al Haj Aboud who was the head of the electricity division of the dam said on social media that if indeed the control room is busted and the gates of the dam cannot be opened, it will still take at least a month for the waters being held back by the dam to overflow the top of the structure.

The U.S.-led coalition said it is taking every precaution to ensure the integrity of the dam. “To our knowledge, the dam has not been structurally damaged,” it said on its Twitter account.

SDF fighters on Sunday captured a strategically important air base from IS in Raqqa province, marking their first major victory since the United States airlifted hundreds of forces, as well as American advisers and artillery, behind enemy lines last week.

The SDF announced they had captured the Tabqa air base, 45 kilometers (28 miles) west of Raqqa.

On Monday, IS fighters detonated a car bomb on the southern edge of the air base, but it was not clear if it inflicted casualties among SDF fighters, the activist collective Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently and the Observatory reported.

Fighting is ongoing in areas near the air base, both activist groups said. The SDF said in another statement that its fighters captured two villages north of Tabqa on Monday.

Elsewhere in Syria, authorities resumed the evacuation of the last opposition-held neighborhood in the central city of Homs in an agreement to surrender the district to the government.

Opposition activists have criticized the agreement, saying it aims to displace 12,000 al-Waer residents, including 2,500 fighters. The Observatory has called the evacuees “internally displaced” people.

The government has rejected allegations that the Homs deal and similar agreements in other besieged areas amount to the forced displacement of civilians.

On Monday, 667 militants, along with their families, for a total of 2,009 residents, were taken by bus in the direction of the rebel-held city of Jarablus, near the Turkish border, according to an official in the Homs Governorate administration.

The official requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Syrian state TV had forecast that some 700 people would leave, far fewer than the final tally.

The evacuation was planned to take place on Saturday, but no reason was given for the delay.

Opposition fighters agreed to leave al-Waer after years of siege and bombardment at the hands of pro-government forces. They were guaranteed safe passage to rebel-held parts of northern Syria.

The evacuations are expected to last weeks, after which the government will be able to claim control over the entire city for the first time in years.

Associated Press writers Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria, and Philip Issa in Beirut contributed to this report.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

These are the 50 best COVID-19 memes for the week of April 6

Another week in isolation, another week of memes. We’re grateful for the people of the internet who are using their creative energy to make us laugh. From Tiger King to overindulging on our quarantine snacks, these are our 50 favorite memes for the week.


9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

1. Shelf sustainable and so delicious

Plus, so, so cheap.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

2. We miss sports

To be fair, I think that’s a little more than six feet. Go Chiefs!

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

3. You’re open?

I’ve probably done this.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

4. Higher power + slushies

While this wasn’t original to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been retweeted lately since it’s so appropriate now.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

5. The Cure

Hahahaha. Sorry, not sorry.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

6. Ok, actually sorry

2020: Hold my beer.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

7. Need some new hobbies

Bonus points if you like to touch your face in restaurants.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

8. Poor Ernie

I wonder if he and Bert are social distancing?

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

9. Chomp

Live footage of me at Costco.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

10. Beauty and the Beast

Excited to be singing this for the next three months.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

11. Love in the time of COVID-19

The honeymoon is definitely over.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

12. Dolly has the truth

Also 11:00pm – 2:00am.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

13. No expert needed

These are a relic!

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

14. Groundhog Day

Hard to see your shadow if you’re not allowed outside…

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

15. SMWP&L ISO SWTP

Polish up on your conversation skills since ya’ll aren’t going to meet in person for awhile.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

16. Mr. Rogers

Also, carry the one.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

17. Baby Yoda knows

​Seriously, why hasn’t soap always been anecessity?

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

18. World’s Best Boss

The Michael Scott cringe is real.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

19. Rainy days

At this point, my kids would prefer a paper bag.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

20. Get it, Sheryl

Like a good neighbor, a She Shed is there.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

21. Lenten sacrifice

Friends, family, parks, dining in public, the list goes on…

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

22. The force be with you

You’re on mute, Luke!

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

23. April Fools

Spoiler alert: It didn’t happen.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

24. Refund requested

Unsubscribe us from this year, please.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

25. Spider pun

You know you’re going to repeat this one.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

26. #truth

Oh how the little things seem so big now!

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

27. The windows to the walls

Raise the roof, my friends.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

28. When you’re digging deep in the freezer

Quarantine doesn’t necessarily bring out the best in us. And kids are learning allll sorts of new vocab words.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

29. The Last Supper

Holy Week is definitely a little different this year…

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

30. 

But if there’s a taco eat-a-long, I’m in.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

31. Brady Bunch 

Pretty much every zoom classroom meeting.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

32. Oh Dwight

Stanley knows what’s up.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

33. The days

^^^ All the times I haven’t worn real pants.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

34. It all runs together

Fridays have never been so obsolete.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

35. Scrub-a-dub

Baths are the new big event.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

36. Carol for the win

You cool cats and kittens.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

37. Arts and crafts for the win

It’s a big stress relief.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

38. For-ev-er

She’s definitely aging better than most of us.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

39. The hand off

Not pictured: the wine glass handing the baton to the bourbon.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

40. Life skills

Make sure your selfie shows some sort of self-preservation ability.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

41. Joe Exotic

Or RC Cola.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

42. Mattress games 

Also excellent for sledding down stairs.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

43. Homeschool geometry

10 in 10 chance there are at least 14 Tupperware without lids or 14 extra lids. Either way, 0% likelihood it’s a one to one ratio.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

44. Roll Tide

Sorry Vols.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

45. The quarantine 15 (or 60)

But there are just so many snacks.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

46. Bobby Boucher

This education brought to you by day drinking.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

47. Dexter approved

And going into a bank with a bandana over your face is expected…

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

48. Apocalypse wear

Kinda samesies.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

49. Nemo knows

We’ve come so far… but seriously, now what?

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017

50. Every remote employee

And yet we’ll keep doing it every day…

Stay safe, keep your sense of humor and wash your hands!

Articles

This extreme winter survival course teaches troops how to stay alive in Arctic conditions

Few places on the face of the earth can be as unforgiving or as deadly as the frozen Arctic.


Because of the dangers of the Arctic environment, coupled with the growing strategic importance of this part of the world, the US Air Force runs the Arctic Survival School out of Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska.

Each year, this five-day intensive training program, also known as Cool School, teaches over 700 servicemembers the survival skills necessary to fight back against nature and survive in the Arctic.

“Mother nature does not like you in this situation,” Survival Instructor Staff Sgt. Seth Reab, tells his students in the morning freeze. “She’s violent. She’s harsh. Your job is to survive until help comes; her job is to find a way to take your life.”

The Air Force’s Cool School, which brings in more than 700 participants every year across all service branches, takes place outside Eielson Air Force Base, deep inside Alaska. Temperatures average about 30 degrees below zero.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon young Jr./USAF

At the start of the course, all participants are given the emergency equipment they would have depending upon what plane they would be flying.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
Photo: YouTube

The emergency equipment usually works. But everything else in the Arctic will try to kill the participants. This includes subzero temperatures …

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
Photo: YouTube

… and even dehydration. Despite the abundance of snow, it is extremely difficult to drink enough water under harsh Arctic conditions.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
Photo: YouTube

One of the first things students are taught is to harvest snow in parachutes, in order to melt it down for water.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon young Jr./USAF

This supply of snow can then be moved into tin cans, in which the snow can be mixed until it melts enough to easily drink.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./USAF

Warmth is just as important as water. Students are taught to find tender wood with which to build a fire.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./USAF

In Cool School, students are taught the ideal way to split wood into longer thin splints that will burn more easily and evenly.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
Photo: YouTube

Servicemembers learn to create sparks with a metal match. Though somewhat antiquated, metal matches can be used indefinitely.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
Photo: YouTube

Once students create a fire, it can be used for signaling, heat, and food preparation.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./USAF

Students also learn more basic practical skills — they have to change socks in order to keep feet dry so as to avoid hypothermia.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./USAF

On the first night of school, students are taught to create open primitive shelters that provide little insulation from the elements.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./USAF

Staff Sgt. Joseph Reimer unpacks his duffle bag during the first night of arctic field training near Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The course is five days in duration with instruction in familiarization with the arctic environment, medical, personal protection, sustenance and signaling. Reimer is an explosive ordnance disposal technician assigned to the 354th Civil Engineer Squadron

During the second day, instructors teach students to make more complex A-frame shelters out of wood and a parachute or tarp.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./USAF

Airman 1st Class Ray Simon prepares the cover for his thermalized A-frame shelter during arctic survival training at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The A-frame shelter is designed to keep the survivor warm and dry to endure harsh arctic nights. Simon is a 3rd Maintenance Support Squadron crew chief.

The A-frame is then covered with almost a foot of snow to provide insulation.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
Photo Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./USAF

Airman 1st Class Ray Simon looks out of his thermalized A-frame tent during Arctic Survival School training. The thermalized A-frame is designed to keep survivors warm and dry in arctic environments. Simon is a 3rd Maintenance Support Squadron crew chief and also a member of a crash disable damage recovery team responsible for retrieving downed aircraft in emergency situations.

Another vital principle of survival students learn is how to create an effective signal fire by placing a flare inside a base of kindling and smoke-generating tree limbs.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./USAF

Staff Sgt. Seth Reab ignites a flare in the middle of tender wood to create a smoke signal during a field training lesson at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The signal flare can be seen for up to 10 miles away and much further when rescue help is coming through the air. Reab is an Air Force Arctic Survival School instructor assigned to Det. 1, 66th Training Squadron at Eielson AFB.

Next to the smoke signal, students create a giant letter ‘V’ to alert passing pilots that they are in need of rescue.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
photo: YouTube

You can watch a recap of the Arctic Survival School below.

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

Articles

This is why North Korea is threatening to attack Guam

The North Korean army’s announcement that it is examining operational plans for attacking Guam after rising tensions with President Donald Trump has brought more global attention to the tiny U.S. territory in the Pacific than it has had in decades. Here is a rundown on the island and it strategic importance.


Geographic Basics

The strip of land in the western Pacific Ocean is roughly the size of Chicago, and just 4 miles (6 km) wide at its narrowest point. It is about 2,200 miles (3,500 km) southeast of North Korea, much closer than it is to any of the United States. Hawaii is about 4,000 miles (6,500 km) to the west. Its proximity to China, Japan, the Philippines, and the Korean Peninsula has long made the island an essential possession of the U.S. military.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo (left) of Guam discusses range distance with Maj. Gen. Raymond Fox (right). (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Scott Schmidt)

U.S. Relationship

Guam was claimed by Spain in 1565 and became a U.S. territory in 1898 during the Spanish-American War. Japan seized it for about 2½ years during World War II. In 1950, an act of Congress made it an unincorporated organized territory of the United States. It has limited self-government, with a popularly elected governor, small legislature, and non-voting delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives. Residents do not pay U.S. income taxes or vote in the general election for U.S. president. Its natives are U.S. citizens by birth.

Military History

The U.S. keeps a Naval base and Coast Guard station in the south, and an Air Force base in the north that saw heavy use during the Vietnam War. While already taking up 30 percent of the island, the American military has been seeking to increase its presence by relocating to Guam thousands of Marines who are currently based in Okinawa, Japan. Protecting the island is the U.S. Army’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, which is used to shoot down ballistic missiles.

Last month, the U.S. twice flew a pair of supersonic bombers that took off from Guam over the Korean Peninsula in a show of force after two North Korean tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles. While there has been some resistance and displeasure from the people of Guam over the U.S. military’s presence, it is also essential to the island’s economy, second only to tourism in importance.

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
The first of two Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptors is launched during a successful intercept test. DoD photo courtesy of Missile Defense Agency.

People and Government

The island was first populated about 4,000 years ago by the ancestors of the Chamorros, still the island’s largest ethnic group. Now, about 160,000 people live on Guam. Its capital city is Hagatna and its largest city is Dededo. Its chief languages are English and Chamorro. It has seen various popular movements pushing for greater self-government or even U.S. statehood, most notably a significant but failed effort in the 1980s to make it a commonwealth on par with Puerto Rico.

Articles

Navy to deploy new anti-ship surface missile

9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017
Kongsberg.com


The Navy will soon deploy a new missile aboard its Littoral Combat Ship that can find and destroy enemy ships at distances up to 100 nautical miles, service officials said.

Called the Naval Strike Missile, or NSM, the weapon is developed by a Norwegian-headquartered firm called Konigsberg; it is currently used on Norwegian Nansen-class frigates and Skjold-Class missile torpedo boats, company officials said.

“The Navy is currently planning to utilize the Foreign Comparative Testing program to procure and install the Norwegian-built Naval Strike Missile on the USS FREEDOM (LCS 1).  The objective is to demonstrate operationally-relevant installation, test, and real-world deployment on an LCS,” a Navy spokeswoman from Naval Sea Systems Command told Scout Warrior.

The deployment of the weapon is the next step in the missiles progress. In 2014NSM was successfully test fired from the flight deck of the USS CORONADO (LCS 4) at the Pt. Mugu Range Facility, California, demonstrating a surface-to-surface weapon capability, the Navy official explained.

First deployed by the Norwegian Navy in 2012, the missile is engineered to identify ships by ship class, Gary Holst, Senior Director for Naval Surface Warfare, Konigsberg, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

The NSM is fired from a deck-mounted launcher. The weapon uses an infrared imaging seeker, identify targets, has a high degree of maneuverability and flies close to the water in “sea-skim” mode to avoid ship defenses, he added.

“It can determine ships in a group of ships by ship class, locating the ship which is its designated target. It will attack only that target,” Holst said.

Holst added that the NSM was designed from the onset to have a maneuverability sufficient to defeat ships with advanced targets; the missile’s rapid radical maneuvers are built into the weapon in order to defeat what’s called “terminal defense systems,” he said.

“One of the distinguishing features of the missile is its ability to avoid terminal defense systems based on a passive signature, low-observable technologies and maneuverability. It was specifically designed to attack heavily defended targets,” Holst said.

For instance, the NSM is engineered to defeat ship defense weapons such as the Close-In-Weapons System, or CIWS – a ship-base defensive fire “area weapon” designed to fire large numbers of projectiles able intercept, hit or destroy approaching enemy fire.

CIWS is intended to defend ships from enemy fire as it approaches closer to its target, which is when the NSM’s rapid maneuverability would help it avoid being hit and proceed to strike its target, Holst added.

Holst added that the weapon is engineered with a “stealthy” configuration to avoid detection from ship detection systems and uses its sea-skimming mode to fly closer to the surface than any other missile in existence.

“It was designed against advanced CIWS systems. It is a subsonic weapon designed to bank to turn. It snaps over when it turns and the seeker stays horizontally stabilized — so the airframe turns around the seeker so it can zero-in on the seam it is looking at and hit the target,” he said.

Raytheon and Konigsberg signed a teaming agreement to identify ways we can reduce the cost of the missile by leveraging Raytheon’s supplier base and supplier management, Holst explained.

Konigsberg is working with Raytheon to establish NSM production facilities in the U.S., Ron Jenkins, director for precision standoff strike, Raytheon Missile systems, said.

Konigsberg is also working on a NSM follow-on missile engineered with an RF (radio frequency) sensor that can help the weapon find and destroy targets.

The new missile is being built to integrate into the internal weapons bay of Norway’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Konigsberg and Raytheon are submitting the missile for consideration for the Navy’s long-range beyond-the-horizon offensive missile requirement for its LCS.

“The Navy has identified a need for an over-the-horizon missile as part of their distributed lethality concept which is adding more offensive weapons to more ships throughout the fleet and they wanted to do this quickly,” Holst explained.

The Navy’s distributed lethality strategy involves numerous initiatives to better arm its fleet with offensive and defensive weapons, maintain a technological advantage over adversaries and strengthen its “blue water” combat abilities against potential near-peer rivals, among other things.

They are pitching the missile as a weapon which is already developed and operational – therefore it presents an option for the Navy that will not require additional time and extensive development, he said.

“The missile is the size, shape and weight that fits on both classes of the Littoral Combat Ship,” Holst said.

 

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