At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

Officials in four provinces of Afghanistan say a series of Taliban attacks on security checkpoints have killed at least 32 members of the Afghan security forces and pro-government militias.

The attacks took place in the northern provinces of Kunduz, Baghlan, and Takhar, and in the western province of Badghis on Jan. 10, 2019.

In Kunduz, Qala-e Zal district chief Ahmad Fahim Qarluq said attacks by a large number of Taliban fighters in the early morning hours killed 10 soldiers and police and wounded 11.


Qarluq said 25 Taliban fighters were killed in those clashes.

In neighboring Baghlan and Takhar provinces, local Afghan officials said the Taliban killed 16 members of pro-government militias.

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

They said the militants also suffered heavy casualties.

Jamshid Shahabi, a spokesman for the governor of Badghis Province, said six members of the security forces were killed and 10 wounded in clashes at checkpoints and other security outposts.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attacks.

He said in a statement that Taliban fighters killed dozens of Afghan troops and had seized a large amount of ammunition and weapons.

The Taliban has ramped up attacks on security forces and government facilities in recent months, while Afghan and U.S. troops have increased operations against the militants’ field commanders.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Watch Army paratroopers jump from a perfectly good Chinook

Helicopters have long been valuable to the military for a bevy of reasons — perhaps most importantly because they expand where you can put troops down. For these versatile aircraft, landing zones can be just about any clearing that a helicopter can fit.

Sometimes, however, the best option may not be to land the helicopter at all. Why? For one thing, when a helicopter is touching down to drop off troops, it’s vulnerable. As it hovers in place, it is, for all intents and purposes, a sitting duck. So, when it’s time to put boots on the ground, a bird is sometimes better off delivering paratroopers.


The CH-47 Chinook is a very good fit for that mission. Boeing notes that this helicopter has a mission radius of 200 nautical miles, far enough to get some Rangers or Green Berets well behind enemy lines. A single helicopter can hold up to 55 troops (or 12 tons of cargo). And, to top it all off, its rear ramp is similar to those on the C-130 and C-17, both planes used by paratroopers

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

U.S. Army Paratroopers assigned to 173rd Airborne Brigade, along with British, French, Spanish and Italian Paratroopers, board a 12th Combat Aviation Brigade CH-47 Chinook helicopter for an airborne operation at Juliet Drop Zone in Pordenone, Aviano, Italy.

(U.S Army photo by Graigg Faggionato)

One reason this is so valuable is that America has a lot of Chinooks. Between CH-47D/F and MH-47G helicopters, the United States Army has 483 Chinooks on hand with another 40 on order, making for a grand total of 523 airframes. By comparison, the United States Air Force has a total of 204 C-130H and 115 C-130J airframes on hand, with another 62 C-130Js on order. These accompany 60 MC-130H/Js on hand with another 43 on order. That’s a total of 484 C-130s.

For those unfamiliar with the whole “math” thing, 523 is greater than 484.

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

From a C-130? No, these paratroopers came from a Chinook.

(U.S Army photo by Graigg Faggionato)

But how does one make a successful jump from a Chinook? Well, it’s actually not much different than jumping from a fixed-wing plane. Normal paratroopers will hook up a static line that will automatically open their parachutes. Free-fall parachutists can just run out the back ramp (again, just as you would from a fixed-wing plane).

Watch the video to below to see troops from the 173rd Airborne Brigade carry out some practice jumps from a Chinook!

MIGHTY TRENDING

China will keep growing because it can do what the West can’t

China’s biggest advantage is that other countries have left giant opportunities wide open that Beijing was able to easily fill, according to John Garnaut, a former adviser on China to Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.


Garnaut, who spoke to the US House Armed Services Committee on March 21, 2018, was giving national-security advice on state influence operations when he pointed out a common thread of China’s influence operations. Namely, that the US, Australia, and other leading nations stopped investing in Chinese education and global development, allowing China to take control.

Also read: The FBI director called out China on its massive espionage effort

“China is really filling a service we are failing to provide — that is a China capability, linguistic capability, understanding of Chinese contemporary politics and history,” Garnaut said, before putting a spotlight on China’s state-run cultural institutes around the world.

“Confucius Institutes have found a great black hole that they can fill,” he said.

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks
John Garnaut

There are over 1,500 Confucius Institutes and Classrooms, which aim to promote Chinese language and culture, in universities, primary schools, and high schools in 142 countries around the world.

While playing a key role in, by their own admission, China’s soft-power and propaganda, they have also been deemed a “trojan horse” and a source of censorship. China’s Communist Party retains ultimate control over Confucius Institutes, their budgets, activities, and curricula.

Garnaut believes the US and Australia have essentially given Beijing this influence. He said that universities “need to work hard” to rebuild their Chinese expertise so they don’t have to rely on China’s government to fill the gaps.

Related: China’s president just gave a huge threatening speech

But education isn’t the only area where China has seized opportunities. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), President Xi Jinping’s plan to link 70 countries via railways and shipping lanes, has seen an outpouring of expensive loans to poorer nations to fund infrastructure.

“With BRI, obviously again they filled a vacuum,” said Garnaut. “If we’re — between us — no longer supporting development in the way that we used to in my part of the world, in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, it provides opportunities for others. I think there’s opportunity to do more there and also to again really focus on transparency.”

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks
The Belt and Road Initiative.

US legislators want Confucius Institutes to register as foreign agents

On March 21, 2018, three US legislators, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, introduced the Foreign Influence Transparency Act which would require Confucius Institutes to register as foreign agents.

“This legislation aims to bring greater transparency to the activities of foreign governments operating in the United States,” said Rubio.

When asked about the proposed law, Garnaut said regardless of whether Confucius Institutes should be registered, “that’s the right direction.”

“What they do is partly propaganda, but even more importantly is their connection to the United Front’s Work Department system and that is they can potentially be used, and we need to stop them being used, as a platform for influencing decision-making in universities,” said Garnaut.

The United Front Work Department is the arm of China’s government that openly runs China’s soft power and influence initiatives internationally, particularly in regard to Chinese students studying abroad and the Chinese diaspora.

And the relationship between United Front Work and Confucius Institutes was made even stronger this week in a vast government shakeup. United Front Work’s role is being strengthened, and it will absorb the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office and oversee international Chinese language education.

From now on, Confucius Institutes may very well be overseen by the United Front Work Department.

But countries should be more concerned about quieter initiatives

As much as the US and Australia should be concerned about overt instances of influence, such as the Confucius Institutes, Garnaut believes there are far more serious instances of influence that need to be tackled.

More: China accidentally posted its plans for naval domination

“One thing about the Confucius Institutes is, at least we know about them and people are talking about them. In a way, that degree of transparency goes a long way to curing the problem,” Garnaut said.

“What I’m personally more concerned about is things that don’t have a big flag over their building. We see other institutes and research institutes performing similar functions but without the attention, and I think that’s where we need to pay a lot more attention.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia’s Navy Day is wrecked by a landing craft accident

Russia celebrated its Navy Day on July 29, 2018, with a naval parade on the Neva River in St. Petersburg, a day of pomp and military power that Russian President Vladimir Putin attended.

The parade, which involved 40 warships, 38 aircraft, and about 4,000 troops, was unfolding when a Serna-class landing craft collided with a bridge. Oops.


The video below shows the Ivan Pas’ko going about 8 to 10 knots as it collides with the bridge, jolting and even knocking over some of the crew members who had been standing at attention.

It’s unclear how the incident happened, and there were no reports of injuries, but the bridge and ship were partially damaged, according to Defence Blog, which first reported it. Some egos were most likely scraped up as well.

The Russian navy “will get 26 new warships, boats and vessels, four of them equipped with Kalibr missiles,” Putin said during a speech at the parade, according to TASS, a Russian state-owned media outlet.

To be sure, Moscow has a history of making predictions about its new platforms that don’t always come to pass. For example, despite several claims to the contrary, Russia’s army is unlikely to be purchasing its new T-14 Armata tank anytime soon.

Meanwhile, the Russian navy appears to have just received a new capable-looking stealth frigate, the Admiral Gorshkov, the first of Moscow’s new class of stealth frigates.

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

Articles

Army declares war on head injuries with motorcycle-style ballistic helmet

Three years from now, soldiers could be wearing a new ballistic head protection that resembles a motorcycle helmet as part of the Soldier Protection System under development at Program Executive Office Soldier.


The Integrated Head Protection System features a base helmet with add-ons such as a visor, a “mandible” portion that protects the lower jaw, and a “ballistic applique” that is much like a protective layer that attaches over the base helmet.

Related: SOCOM plans to test Iron Man suit by 2018

The base helmet on the IHPS will be similar to the polyethylene Enhanced Combat Helmet that some soldiers are already wearing. Eventually all deploying soldiers will get the IHPS with the base helmet, which is the standard configuration. Other soldiers, vehicle gunners in particular, will also get the mandible portion and the ballistic applique as well, known as the turret configuration, Lt. Col. Kathy Brown, the product manager for Personal Protective Equipment at PEO Soldier, in an Army press release.

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks
The Integrated Head Protection System is part of the Soldier Protection System. | US Army photo

The visor portion on the IHPS provides ballistic protection to a soldier’s face but doesn’t provide any protection against the sun. So soldiers wearing it will need to wear darkened sunglasses underneath the visor if they are in bright environments.

PEO Soldier has authorized soldiers to wear a special type of sunglasses the can transition from clear to shaded lens with a press of a button.

Brown said the goggles will be available for units to be able to requisition as part of the Soldier Protection System.

“If we are able to drive the price down, the Army could eventually make a decision to include that on the list of items that we carry for deploying soldiers,” Brown said.

Brown said the IHPS will likely be available to deploying Soldiers sometime between 2020 and 2021.

Articles

Here’s a way for military families to get their taxes done for free

With the tax season upon us, service members and their families can access free tax-filing software and consultations to help them navigate the task of submitting their annual taxes.


Military members and their families can visit the Military OneSource website or call 1-800-342-9647 for the no-cost “MilTax” software, explained Erika Slaton, a program analyst with Military OneSource.

The Defense Department recognizes military members and their families have unique filing situations with deployments, relocations and various deductions and credits, she said.

Related: DoD extends online military exchange shopping privileges to veterans

The MilTax software, previously known as “Military OneSource Tax Services,” was created with the military situation in mind, Slaton said.

Expert Tax Consultants Ready to Help

Tax consultants are available via phone through Military OneSource, Slaton said. In-person tax filing assistance can be accessed at military installations at a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance location.

The tax consultants can inform eligible users about the unique tax benefits available to service members and their families, Slaton said.

Tax laws change each year, Slaton pointed out, adding MilTax consultants are experts on the nuances of the law and can help users get the tax credits they earned and deserve.

“That’s why it’s such a great program because it is a program that is specifically designed for those unique military tax situations,” she said.

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks
U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Senior Airman Aubrey White

Confidential, Secure Resources

MilTax is confidential and secure, Slaton said. The online filing program allows users to submit a federal return and up to three state tax returns, she said.

Those eligible for MilTax include members of the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines and National Guard. Coast Guardsmen serving under Title 10 authority are entitled to the services as well. Retired and honorably discharged members are authorized for up to 180 days past their separation. Spouses, dependent children and survivors are able to use the free services as well.

Calculations are backed by a 100-percent accuracy guarantee, Slaton said.

The deadline to file taxes this year is Tuesday, April 18. The traditional tax deadline day is April 15, but it falls on a Saturday this year, and the following Monday, April 17, is Emancipation Day, in the District of Columbia — a legal holiday — according to the IRS.

Call, Click, Connect

Slaton wants the military community to know about the range of services and resources available at no cost through the Defense Department-funded Military OneSource, including related to health, family relationships, education, employment, financial issues, deployments and transitions.

Military members and their families, she said, can “call, click and connect today” to access these services.

“We encourage service members and their families to learn more about Military OneSource, MilTax and all of the services that are available because it is a benefit that they deserve,” she said.

Articles

This is what happens when the Army puts a laser on an Apache attack helicopter

The United States Special Operations Command just tested a high-energy laser on the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, marking the first time such a weapon has been deployed aboard a rotary-wing aircraft.


According to a press release from defense company Raytheon, the test was a complete success, “providing solid experimental evidence for the feasibility of high resolution, multi-band targeting sensor performance and beam propagation supportive of High Energy Laser capability for the rotary-wing attack mission.”

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks
Matthew Ketner, branch chief of the High Energy Laser Controls and Integration Directorate at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, Virginia, shows the effects of laser hits on materials during Lab Day in the Pentagon, May 18, 2017. (Photo Credit: Mr. David Vergun (Army News Service))

“This data collection shows we’re on the right track. By combining combat proven sensors, like the MTS, with multiple laser technologies, we can bring this capability to the battlefield sooner rather than later,” the release quoted Raytheon vice president of Advanced Concept and Technologies for Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems Art Morrish as saying.

The Apache used a HEL mated with a version of Raytheon’s Multi-Spectral Targeting System, which combined electro-optical and infrared sensors, against a number of targets. The data from this test will be used to future HEL systems to address unique challenges that stem from their installation on rotary-wing aircraft, including the effects of vibration, downwash, and dust.

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks
(DOD photo)

The Apache has had laser systems since it entered service in 1984, but the lasers were low-power systems that are used to guide AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles. A HEL will have the ability to destroy targets.

An Army release noted that the service has also tested lasers on the Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck in April 2016 and the Stryker this past February and March. In both cases, the lasers downed a number of unmanned aerial vehicles. The Navy has a laser on board USS Ponce (AFSB(I) 15, formerly LPD 15), which is currently operating in the Persian Gulf.

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks
The Afloat Forward Staging Base USS Ponce conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Laser Weapon System (LaWS) while deployed to the Arabian Gulf. | US Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released

Lasers offer a number of advantages over artillery and missiles. Notably, they are invisible, and the power of the weapon can be adjusted to handle a specific material, like steel plating or Kevlar. HELs can even be set for non-lethal effects on people.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

There is an official time frame for the US withdrawal from Syria

By the time May 1, 2019, rolls around, American troops will have rolled out of Syria entirely, according to the Wall Street Journal. The plan calls for a complete American withdrawal from the country after the last vestiges of ISIS territory have been captured by the various anti-ISIS factions in the country.


As of February, the remaining Islamic State fighters and their families are fleeing whatever strips of territory still under its control in Syria as President Donald Trump doubled down on his assertion that the Islamic State had been defeated in Syria and the time is right for American troops to return to their home bases.

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

Anti-ISIS Kurdish fighters pose with a captured ISIS flag.

The United States did not break the back of ISIS over the past five years on its own. Kurdish forces from Syria and Iraq, along with fighters from other various factions were led by U.S. forces in Syria, either through air cover, artillery support, and direction from American special operations troops. As of yet, there is no plan in place to secure these Syrian fighters, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), once their American support is gone.

President Trump’s current timeline is set to pull a significant number of American troops out of Syria by mid-March, 2019, with a full withdrawal coming by the end of April. After that time, Kurdish fighters on the ground will be open to retaliation from Turkish forces operating in Syria, who consider the Kurds terrorists in their own right. Also fighting the Kurds will be other Islamic militant groups still operating, as well as Russian-backed Syrian government troops.

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

A U.S. armored vehicle in Al-Hasakah meets with Kurdish YPG fighters in Kurdish-held territory in Northern Syria, May, 2017.

The United States is trying to reach a political agreement with the Turkish government to protect the Kurdish fighters, who did the bulk of the fighting against ISIS on the ground. Given the current timetable for withdrawal, an agreement seems unlikely unless the U.S. military slows its process. Kurdish allies will no doubt express alarm at the removal of the 2,000 Americans in Syria.

Pentagon spokespeople and the United States Central Command have all expressed that there is no official timeline for withdrawal, and no conditions are fixed for a removal of Americans from the country, but equipment and materiel support for the troops has already begun to move out of Syria.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US troops are laying miles of razor wire on the border

By the end of the day on Oct. 5, 2018, there were more than 5,000 active-duty troops deployed to the US-Mexico border, where they are laying razor wire in preparation for the arrival of migrant caravans consisting of potentially thousands of people from across Latin America.

There are roughly 2,700 active-duty troops in Texas, 1,200 in Arizona and 1,100 in California, the Department of Defense revealed Oct. 5, 2018. These figures are in addition to the more than 2,000 National Guard troops that were deployed to the border in April 2018.


At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

(US Air Force photo by Airman First Class Daniel A. Hernandez)

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

(US Air Force photo by Airman First Class Daniel A. Hernandez)

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

(US Air Force photo by Airman First Class Daniel A. Hernandez)

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

(US Air Force photo by Airman First Class Daniel A. Hernandez)

As many as 8,000 troops, if not more depending on operational demands, could eventually be deployed to the border in support of Operation Faithful Patriot

Source: The Wall Street Journal

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

(U.S. Air Force photo by SrA Alexandra Minor)

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

(U.S. Air Force photo by SrA Alexandra Minor)

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

(U.S. Air Force photo by SrA Alexandra Minor)

“Barbed wire looks like it’s going to be very effective, too, with soldiers standing in front of it,” Trump, who considers the approaching caravans an “invasion” said at a rally in Cleveland on Oct. 5, 2018.

Source: ABC News

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

(US Air Force photo by Airman First Class Daniel A. Hernandez)

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

(US Air Force photo by Airman First Class Daniel A. Hernandez)

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

(US Air Force photo by Airman First Class Daniel A. Hernandez)

“There is no plan for US military forces to be involved in the actual mission of denying people entry to the United States,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford told reporters Oct. 5, 2018, “There is no plan for the soldiers to come in contact with immigrants or to reinforce the Department of Homeland Security as they are conducting their mission. We are providing enabling capability.”

Source: CNN

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Army Veteran is unsung hero in COVID-19 battle

Army Veteran Kolan Glass is not a doctor or a nurse. Still, in the battle against COVID-19, he is one of the most critical employees at North Las Vegas VAMC. Glass is the primary housekeeper in the emergency department. After a Veteran has been released, Glass ensures the room is sanitized and prepared for the next patient.


“I clean every room as I would want it if I was the next patient to be staying in it,” says Glass. “I sanitize each room with my full attention.”

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

North Las Vegas VA housekeeper and Army Veteran Kolan Glass sanitizes the emergency department.

Using technology to ensure safety

Glass and his fellow housekeepers employ the latest technology to prevent infection. This includes a remote-controlled system that uses ultraviolet light to purify equipment, room surfaces and objects.

“Probably about 90 percent of us [housekeepers] are Vets,” he says. “That means we talk and we don’t panic. Sure, we’re dealing with a pandemic, but we still have to get the job done and keep everybody safe.”

Glass experienced first-hand how a viral outbreak can test the emergency department. In March, Glass came in contact with a COVID-19-positive patient. He and other employees were placed on a 14-day quarantine.

“I didn’t get nervous,” Glass says. “I understood it was a precautionary measure, but I was ready to get back to work.”

Glass’s supervisor recognizes his dedication and leadership.

“Even after he had to self-isolate from his family, and with the stress of waiting for testing results, he immediately picked up right where he left off,” says Jesse Diaz. Diaz is chief of environmental management safety (EMS) at North Las Vegas VAMC. “He’s been very vocal in educating the staff and his housekeeping peers in his area. He wants to develop a partnership with the clinical staff and EMS to help reduce the chances of COVID-19 infecting or impacting others.”

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

What life is like for 10 countries with mandatory draft

A recent report shows that the US is looking into its draft program, weighing options from mandating service for women to getting rid of the draft altogether.

While a reinvigorated draft may alarm US citizens, nearly 60 countries around the world still have some form of conscription.

Some, like Israel, need the draft to ensure it can maintain its armed forces. Others, like China, often have enough recruits that a draft is unnecessary.

Some countries, like Norway and Israel, have allowed transgender people to serve for decades.

This is a look at 10 countries that still require every man, or every woman and man, to serve.


At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

1. Russia

One year of military service is required for Russian men between the ages of 18 and 27.

The country allows for some exceptions — sons or brothers of men killed during their military service are released from conscription, for example.

Even with these exceptions, Russians have been evading the draft at alarming rates, and the government has considered forcing men to report even if they have not been selected.

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

2. Switzerland

Military service is mandatory for Swiss men.

As recently as 2017, Switzerland was considering adding women to its draft roles.

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

3. Israel

Israeli men must serve in the defense force for three years.

Women are conscripted for two years.

Transgender Israelis have been allowed to serve since 1993.

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

4. Norway

Norway was the first NATO country to expand conscription to include women. It was also one of the first countries in the world to allow transgender people to serve, changing its policy in 1973.

The country’s conscription is selective; everyone has to register but won’t necessarily be called to serve.

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks
(DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley)

5. China

Although China does mandate military service, it has routinely exceeded recruitment goals and has not needed to force conscription.

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

6. Iran

Conscription is mandatory for Iranian men, who must serve from 18 months to two years.

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

7. North Korea

North Korea has the longest conscription period in the world.

Men are required to serve for 10 years, starting at age 17.

Women must serve for seven years.

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

8. Egypt

Egyptian men must serve for a period of one to three years, depending on their level of education.

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

9. Austria

In Austria, men can choose between six months of military service and nine months of civil service.

Austria has allowed transgender troops to serve since 2004.

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

10. Meanwhile, other countries like Taiwan are getting rid of conscription altogether.

Taiwan pledged in 2011 to end conscription. The country is moving closer towards its goal of an all-volunteer force, but is facing hurdles as younger generations are choosing not to serve.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Navy ships back up Taiwan before important summit

The US Navy sent two warships through the Taiwan Strait Nov. 28, 2018, just days ahead of a planned meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stockdale, accompanied by the Henry J. Kaiser-class underway replenishment oiler USNS Pecos, transited the strait, US Pacific Fleet explained to Business Insider in an emailed statement.


“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Dave Werner, a Pacific Fleet spokesman, told BI. “The U.S. Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.”

The move could be seen as a message to China, which the US has accused of intimidation and coercion in the region, behavior that runs contrary to the US vision of a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” The US military has used similar rhetoric for freedom-of-navigation operations, bomber overflights, and other activities in that area that have at times run afoul of Chinese interests.

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stockdale.

The US Navy sent two warships — the destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur and the cruiser USS Antietam — through the strait in October 2018. A similar operation was carried out in July 2018, when the destroyers USS Mustin and USS Benfold sailed between mainland China and Taiwan.

Beijing is extremely sensitive to US military maneuvers near Taiwan, which it considers a breakaway province.

The US Navy’s moves through the Taiwan Strait come just before Trump is expected to sit down to dinner with Xi at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The two leaders are expected to discuss a number of different issues, ranging from trade to tensions at sea, during their meeting.

In recent months, the US Air Force has repeatedly flown B-52 bombers over the South China Sea. In September 2018, a US Navy destroyer conducted a freedom-of-navigation operation near the contested Spratly Islands, where it was challenged by a Chinese warship that forced the American vessel off course.

Despite some goodwill gestures, such as the recent port call by the USS Ronald Reagan in Hong Kong, tensions between Washington and Beijing persist.

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

Articles

This WWII veteran will be laid to rest after being MIA for 72 years

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks
Dick Lohry, the nephew of Army Pvt. John P. Sersha, took a moment to touch Sersha’s casket Tuesday after a planeside honors ceremony. (Photo: Aaron Lavinsky – Star Tribune)


The remains of a World War II veteran – who left the U.S. to serve his country 72 years ago – have been exhumed from an anonymous grave at the United States Military Cemetery in Neuville-en-Condroz, in Belgium, and brought back to the family and land that he died to protect.

Army Private John P. Sersha will be buried in his hometown of Eveleth, Minnesota today with full military honors — just in time for Memorial Day.

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks
Army Pvt. John P. Sersha

A railroad worker, John P. Sersha, was drafted into the military in 1943 and inducted into the Army at Fort Snelling later that year. He received his training in Texas, and then joined the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, Company F, of the 82nd Airborne Division in Maryland.

On September 23, 1944, he and his company landed in Holland during Operation Market Garden –  the unsuccessful mission where the Allies attempted to capture several strategically important bridges in the Netherlands. He had been entrenched in Kiekberg Forest with his company for just four days when he and two other ‘bazooka men’ were sent on an assault mission behind enemy lines. They were never seen again.

Fields of Honor – a website that gives a face to the names of the U.S. WWII soldiers buried in Belgium and the Netherlands – posted this account in its database:

Private Sersha among its ranks first saw battle when it landed near Nijmegen on 23 September 1944. Operation Market Garden had been launched on the 17th, but it took till the 23rd when the elements of the 325th were sent to Holland to join in the battle. The 325th was inserted in the frontline south east of Nijmegen, in the forest-covered hills and valleys facing the Reichwald. Between 27 and 30 September, the 325th was involved in the Battle for Kiekberg Forest. The area was full of steep hills and valleys. Opposing the 325th was the German 190th “Hammer” Infantry Division. Men of this division had infiltrated the forest and were building up in order to attack towards Nijmegen. Private Sersha was MIA during the fighting in the Kiekberg Forest.

Sersha’s family spent decades looking for closure. Three years after the war ended, the remains of two soldiers were discovered in Keikberg Woods by a local woodsman. One of the bodies was identified – and while the other was thought to be that of Pvt. Sersha, the American Graves Registration Command could not 100 percent confirm this and thus did not inform the surviving family. They laid the body in an anonymous grave marked: X7429, and Sersha’s name was later inscribed – along with 1721 others  – on the Netherlands Wall of the Missing.

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks
Wall of the Missing at Netherlands American Cemetery.

In the 1980’s Sersha’s brother Paul – now 97 years old – searched for those who could possibly shed light on the last months of his presumably deceased brother’s life.  He was able to track down a paratrooper with whom he served, but no new information came of the connection.

In 2005, Sersha’s nephew Richard Lohry picked up the quest. According to his interview with Fayetteville Observer, he was only 11 months old when his uncle had disappeared behind enemy lines, but still wanted to learn more about his Uncle John.  His grandmother kept a photo of  her son in her home.  “I was drawn to that photo for years and years,” Lohry told the paper.

In an effort to preserve and honor his life, Lohry, a pastor, began collecting whatever he could find on his uncle, which was very little information.  Finally, a couple who attended his church found a photo that had taken in 1994 while visiting the Netherlands American Cemetery. It just so happened to be the exact panel that bore his uncle’s name.  Inspired by that photo of the wall, he gave a sermon that Memorial Day titled: “God Never Forgets”.  Lohry had renewed hope in his search.

Memorial Stone in honor of Pvt. John Sersha placed in Virginia, Minnesota

In 2013, a memorial stone sponsored by Sersha’s family was placed in Virginia, Minnesota near the family home. The installation ceremony caught the media’s attention.  One day later, a family member received a call from Germany. Army sergeant Danny Keay, tracked down the relative from an article he had read online. According to Timberjay.com, Keay had put together information from Sersha’s “Individual Deceased Personnel File” with information from a file of a set of unknown remains.  That bit of information was a big first step in a lengthy, but rewarding process in determining who this unknown soldier was.

Two years later, after completing a slew of paperwork that included matching dental records and solving a height discrepancy – Lohry, with the help of U.S. Representative Rick Nolan, requested that the Secretary of the Army grant permission to exhume the body in grave marked “X7429.” Nine months later, the request was approved.  On December 16, 2015, the body was exhumed and flown to Offutt Air Base. They conducted series of lab tests including matching the DNA of Sersha’s brother Paul and Lohry, his nephew.

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks
Members of a Minnesota Army National Guard Honor Guard retrieved the casket of John P. Sersha during a planeside honors ceremony on May 24, 2016.

This final step would serve to cross one name off the long list of the missing. The results were clear. The remains of John Sersha  – an uncle, a brother , and a son – that were missing for 72 years could make a final journey home.

On Jan. 4, 2016, that World War II Veteran’s tireless nephew now had the honor of delivering the investigation results. Mesabi Daily News published part of Lohry’s letter. He wrote:

“…. this is great news. My first contact with you was in April of 2013. By then, I had already been working on a history of John’s military services since spring of 2005. And it was not until November of 2013 that we even knew that John’s remains may have been found back n 1948. It’s been a long road indeed, and now I am happy to say:
John: You haven’t been forgotten — we’re coming to bring you home!

On May 24, 2016, members of the Minnesota Army National Guard’s Honor Guard received the flag-draped casket during planeside honors. Members of Sersha’s family, including his 97-year-old brother, Paul was there for the emotional moment.

According to Star Tribune, visitation for John Sersha is scheduled on Friday, May 28th 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at Bauman Family Funeral Home, 516 1st St. S., Virginia, Minnesota with services to follow starting at 11 a.m. Saturday at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, 306 2nd St. S., Virginia, Minnesota.

To share condolences online, please see: www.baumanfuneralhome.com.

Sersha is survived by siblings Paul Sersha, of Virginia, and Julia Trunzo, of nearby Mountain Iron. Three sisters, including Lohry’s mother, Mary Pecher, and a brother are deceased.

Editor’s note: Operation Market Garden is the subject of the 1977 film: A Bridge Too Far with Sean Connery and Michael Cain.

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