Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban

Senior Afghan officials have praised voters who cast ballots in parliamentary elections that were plagued by violence and organizational problems, saying the turnout shows that Afghans are rejecting the ideology of Taliban militants.

“The Taliban wanted to build a stream of blood, but the Taliban was defeated and the Taliban’s thoughts and ideas were rejected,” Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah told a cabinet meeting on Oct. 22, 2018.


Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.

(US Department of State)

Around 4 million out of 8.8 million registered voters in a country of more than 30 million cast their ballots over the two-day voting at more than 4,500 polling centers across the country, according to election authorities, despite deadly militant attacks in which dozens of people were killed and delays caused by technical and organizational problems.

The Taliban had issued several warnings in the days leading up to the poll demanding the more than 2,500 candidates for the lower house of parliament withdraw from the race and for voters to stay home.

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban

(US Department of State)

Preliminary results of the parliamentary elections, which were seen as a key test of the government’s ability to provide security across the country, were expected to be released on Nov. 10, 2018, at the earliest. Final results will likely be out sometime in December 2018, an election commission spokesman has said.

Originally scheduled for 2015, the vote was delayed for three years amid disputes over electoral reforms and because of the instability following NATO’s handover of security responsibilities to Afghan forces at the end of 2014.

“The Afghan people want a system based on the people’s vote, and in fact, we have witnessed a historical moment,” said Abdullah, who also admitted there were shortcomings during the vote.

Voting was extended to a second day on Oct. 21, 2018, after hundreds of polling stations were closed on the first day of voting due to technical and security issues.

But only 253 of the 401 polling centers that were scheduled to be open on Oct. 21, 2018 were operational, with the remainder closed for security reasons, election authorities said.

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban

An Afghan man prepares to vote in a villiage near Kabul, Afghanistan Sept. 18, 2010

(Photo by Tech. Sgt. Gloria Wilson)

At some of the centers that opened for voting, there were insufficient ballot papers and voter rolls were “either incomplete or nonexistent,” Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) spokesman Ali Reza Rohani said, adding, “most of the problems we had yesterday still exist today.”

The ECC said it had received more than 5,000 complaints of irregularities from voters and candidates, and the Interior Ministry said 44 people had been charged with “illegal interference in the election and fraud.”

However, President Ashraf Ghani said in a televised address to the nation after polls closed on Oct. 21, 2018, that the election turnout showed that voters “have the power and will to defeat their enemies.”

Ghani also challenged the Taliban to “show if your way or the way of democracy is preferred by the people.”

In a tweet on Oct. 21, 2018, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg commended “the millions of Afghan men women who have exercised their democratic right to vote the Afghan security forces who have provided security for the elections despite great challenges.”

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a statement released on Oct. 20, 2018, that it was “encouraged by the high numbers” of Afghans who braved security threats and waited long hours to cast their votes.

UNAMA said the elections, which it described as “the first completely run by Afghan authorities since 2001,” were an “important milestone in Afghanistan’s transition to self-reliance.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Venezuela in crisis as US-backed opposition attempts coup

The Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared a military coup against the government of President Nicolás Maduro on Tuesday, April 30, 2019, sparking a confrontation that escalated into an armed conflict.

In a message to supporters online, Guaidó announced the beginning of what he called “Operation Liberty” and called for supporters to rally at a military air base in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas.

Reporters for the news agency Reuters reported that the gathering at the military air base — called La Carlota — came under fire Tuesday morning and shot back. Reuters said both sides appeared to be using live rounds.


Part of the clash can be seen in this video, broadcast by the Latin American TV channel NTN24. A noise that sounds like gunfire can be heard:

The opposition leader then held a rally at Francia de Altamira square where he told supporters: “Today it became clear that the armed forces are with the people and not with the dictator.”

Maduro called for his supporters to maintain “nerves of steel,” tweeting that he still has complete loyalty from his commanders.

His government also said it was taking action against “a small group of traitors” in the military who had defected to Guaidó.

In his announcement Tuesday morning, Guaidó was seen surrounded by uniformed men whom he described as Venezuelan soldiers who switched their loyalty to him.

“People of Venezuela, the end of the usurpation has begun,” Guaidó said on Twitter. “At the moment I am meeting with the principal military units from the armed forces to start the final phase of Operation Liberty.”

He said the gathering at La Carlota would set in motion the “definitive end” to Maduro’s rule.

Guaidó was joined by Leopoldo López, another opposition leader who had been under house arrest for two years. López tweeted that he was freed by soldiers supporting Guaidó.

Venezuela’s government said it was working to stop the uprising.

Jorge Rodríguez, the Vice President of Communications, said on Twitter that the state was “confronting and deactivating a small group of traitors in our military personnel.”

Venezuela’s defense minister, Vladimir Padrino, tweeted: “The armed forces are firmly in defense of the national constitution and its legitimate authorities.”

Diosdado Cabello, the leader of Maduro’s socialist party, urged Maduro supporters to rally in front of the presidential palace, according to the AP.

The White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, said President Donald Trump had been briefed. “We are monitoring the ongoing situation,” BBC News reported her as saying.

Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, tweeted that the US government “fully supports the Venezuelan people in their quest for freedom and democracy.”

Russian news agencies reported that President Vladimir Putin, an ally of Maduro, had scheduled a meeting to discuss the uprisings with his Security Council, according to the AP.

Guaidó has been trying to oust Maduro since January 2019, when Guaidó declared himself the legitimate interim president of Venezuela. He cited emergency powers in the constitution that he argued gave him the right to rule.

More than 50 countries, including the US, the UK, and all the nations of the European Union, have backed Guaidó’s claim to power.

Besides calling for new elections, one of Guaidó’s main goals was to win support from Maduro’s power base: the army.

The power is especially concentrated among high-ranking officers who hold important government positions and run influential companies under the socialist government.

Though hundreds of soldiers have defected to neighboring countries and pledged allegiance to Guaidó, most of these are from the lower ranks.

Guaidó has said that he will offer amnesty to any member of the armed forces who has not committed crimes against humanity.

Featured image: andresAzp (CC BY-ND 2.0)

This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia’s old flying boat fleet is getting new upgrades

When you can’t afford to buy a lot of new planes, refurbishing the ones you have is a viable alternative. We’re seeing this play out, to an extent, in the ongoing saga of re-winging A-10 Thunderbolts in the Air Force inventory. But the United States is not the only country polishing up old birds.


According to a report by NavyRecognition.com, Russia is taking a bunch of Soviet-era flying boats in for some serious upgrades. The anti-submarine sensors in these airframes, including the radar and magnetic anomaly detectors, are being updated. They’ll also be outfitted with the latest Russian anti-submarine torpedoes and depth charges.

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban
A right-side view of a Soviet Be-12 Mail patrol/anti-submarine warfare aircraft in flight. (U.S. Navy photo)

Flying boats have been on the decline since the end of World War II. Despite the fact that having them means any bay, inlet, or atoll can be a base, they have a somewhat shorter range than land-based planes and typically hold less of a payload. Russia, however, has found itself short on ASW planes, especially since the end of the Cold War.

The Soviets built all of 62 Il-38 May maritime patrol planes, 100 Tu-142 Bear F anti-submarine planes, and 143 Be-12 flying boats. That’s a total of 305 anti-submarine planes – and this total includes planes that were exported. By comparison, the United States and Japan have combined to produce 757 P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft. The United States has also produced 280 Lockheed S-3 Vikings for carrier-borne ASW operations.

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban
A front view of a Soviet Be-12 Mail patrol/anti-submarine warfare aircraft in flight. (DOD photo)

Today, the numbers for Russia look even worse. Russia has a grand total of 20 Il-38s and 24 Tu-142s in service, plus a half-dozen Be-12s for search-and-rescue missions. By comparison, the United States Navy has 67 P-3s in service, plus 69 P-8 Poseidon multi-mission planes. That figure does not include 30 P-8s on order.

Russia, it seems, is on the short end of the anti-submarine warfare stick. With this glaring shortage, you can see why Russia is looking to modernize some old planes.

Check out the video below to learn more about Russia’s refurbishing.

 

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

New website gives military exclusive travel discounts

Military personnel, retirees and their family members now have access to an exclusive discount travel website managed by Priceline.

American Forces Travel is a full-service travel booking site, offering hotel, flight, car rental and cruise deals as well as bundled or package deals that Priceline spokesman Devon Nagle said can save travelers an average of $240 per person.

The site, which is available to active-duty military, National Guard members, Reservists, retirees and family members, as well as 100 percent disabled veterans and civilian Defense Department employees, officially went live Jan. 22, 2019, after having been beta-tested on several military bases.


According to Nagle, the site offers discounts that have been negotiated specifically for military personnel, including hotel deals up to 60 percent off and cruise deals up to 80 percent off. Roughly 1.2 million hotels can be booked through the site, as well as the most popular flight and car rental brands, he said.

Brett Keller, Priceline chief executive officer, said that the company was thrilled to be selected by the DoD to “bring the site to life.”

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban

(Flickr photo by LoadedAaron)

“American Forces Travel was developed for a simple reason. The people who support the United States of America through military service have earned access to the world’s most exclusive travel deals,” Keller said.

A recent review of the site by Military.com found hotel deals in San Diego ranging from to off prices found on non-military travel websites, and car rental discounts ranging from to off per day for a minivan, SUV or convertible.

A non-stop round trip airline fare from the Washington, D.C., area to San Diego for a weekend in February 2019 was available for 3 on Alaska Airlines, while the same flight was advertised as 4 other travel websites. Still, non-stop flights for the same weekend on United could be purchased for significantly less on another website — between 0 to 0 less.

Advantages to booking air travel through American Forces Travel include reduced fees for reservation changes and all flights being cancellable within 24 hours, according to the site. For cars, benefits include free cancellation on post-paid cars and larger discounts for prepaid rates.

Each AmericanForcesTravel.com transaction also will generate a commission that will go to the military services’ Morale, Welfare and Recreation and quality-of-life programs.

Nagle described the new site as a “labor of love for Priceline.”

“Members of the military are a unique community and deserve the opportunity to access great deals when they take vacations. With American Forces Travel, they can search for deals 24 hours a day,” he said.

Users can access the site by inputting their last name, date of birth and last four digits of their Social Security number when prompted. The DoD then verifies the information, and future travelers are ready to shop.

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban

(Flickr photo by m01229)

Nagle said Priceline does not capture or retain any of the verification data that is provided.

In addition to Defense Department service members, National Guard and Reserve and civilian employees, Coast Guard men and women and their families also can use the site.

Military members have had access to travel deals through base ticket and tour offices, as well as lodging through the Armed Forces Vacation Club, a no-fee membership group that offers week-long stays at resorts, apartments, condominiums and homes — usually timeshare destinations — in more than 100 countries on a space-available basis for about 0 a week.

Armed Forces Vacation Club is managed by Wyndham Worldwide.

According to Nagle, Priceline was chosen to run AmericanForcesTravel.com by a competitive bidding process. Company executives said they — and the Defense Department — see their website as a way to thank the military community.

“Until now, leisure travel was typically handled by travel agents on military bases. The DoD chose to create a new online platform that was modern, fast and widely accessible and to populate the site with the broadest and deepest collection of travel deals,” the Priceline release states.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

Articles

Watch a US-led coalition airstrike destroy part of ISIS’ oil network near the Iraq-Syria border

While fighting in western Syria seems to have turned in favor of dictator Bashar Assad and his allies in Iran and Russia, US-led coalition strikes on ISIS continue in the eastern part of the country.


The terror group’s oil infrastructure remains a prime target, and a November 25 airstrike near Abu Kamal, close to the Iraqi border, went after several oil wellheads and a pump jack, an important piece of equipment for getting oil out of the ground.

Related: 7 coolest ways to blow up the enemy’s HQ

You can see a clip of the strike below.

The US-led coalition launched three strikes near Abu Kamal on November 25, destroying four oil wellheads and an oil pump jack.

That same day, slightly west of Abu Kamal in Dayr Az Zawr, two strikes reportedly destroyed three pieces of oil-refinement equipment, three oil-storage tanks, and an oil wellhead.

ISIS has relied heavily on oil revenue to finance its operations, and the US-led coalition has put special emphasis on attacking the infrastructure needed to get that oil out of the ground and to the market.

A few weeks after the November 25 airstrikes, coalition aircraft destroyed 168 oil-tanker trucks on the ground near Palmyra, in central Syria. That destruction cost the terrorist group about $2 million in revenue, according to Operation Inherent Resolve officials.

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban
Makeshift oil refinery in Syria. (Rozh Ahmad/YouTube screen grab)

While the coalition has been able to target ISIS’ oil infrastructure, fighting positions, and other resources from the air, progress against the group on the ground in eastern Syria has been somewhat halting.

While efforts by Kurdish militants and their Arab partners in Syria to recapture Raqqa, ISIS’ capital city, have been bogged down in recent weeks, the coalition announced on December 12 that Syrian Democratic Forces had liberated 700 square miles of ISIS-controlled territory, retaking dozens of villages around the city, and were starting the next phase of their operation to isolate Raqqa.

These developments come after Syrian government forces, backed by Iran and Russia, retook the northwestern city of Aleppo, parts of which had been held by rebels for years.

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban
Putin with president of Syria Bashar al-Assad. (Russian government photo)

That victory appears to have buoyed the outlook in Moscow, Tehran, and Damascus.

The recently reported outline of a deal being discussed by Russia, Iran, and Turkey would divide Syria into zones of influence for those countries, leaving Assad in power as president for at least a few years.

The purported deal appears after numerous fruitless attempts by the US and other western powers to broker a peace in Syria’s bloody, over five-year-long civil war — and may in part be inspired by Moscow’s desire to reassert itself on the world stage.

“It’s a very big prize for them if they can show they’re out there in front changing the world,” Sir Tony Brenton, Britain’s former ambassador to Moscow, told Reuters. “We’ve all grown used to the United States doing that and had rather forgotten that Russia used to play at the same level.”

Articles

7 sailors killed in Navy ship collision off Japan coast

Seven   sailors who went missing following a collision between their destroyer and a Philippine-flagged cargo ship were found dead on Sunday, the  7th Fleet said in a statement.


The bodies of the missing sailors “were located in the flooded berthing compartments” after rescue workers were able to gain access to areas of the Fitzgerald that were damaged in the collision with the ACX Crystal.

The sailors’ bodies are being transferred to the  Hospital in Yokosuka, Japan, where the  7th Fleet is headquartered, to proceed with the identification process, the statement added.

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returns to Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka following a collision with a merchant vessel while operating southwest of Yokosuka, Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter Burghart/Released)

The Fitzgerald and ACX Crystal collided on Saturday at 2.30 am local time in Japanese waters.

Two people injured during the incident, including the destroyer’s commander Bryce Benson, were evacuated.

Read More: 5 times severely-damaged ships returned to the fleet

Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen KK, which charters the Philippine cargo ship, said none of the 20 crew members on board were hurt.

Both ships were severely damaged and had to be towed by the Japanese Coast Guard.

The  destroyer suffered damage on the starboard side, above and below the waterline, which led to the flooding of the berthing compartments, a machinery room and the radio room.

The ship, with around 330 crew members, is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, among the largest and most advanced destroyers built by the .

It was deployed at the Yokosuka base, from where it was supporting peace and security missions in the Asia-Pacific.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How a change in warfare set men’s style for almost 100 years

It’s a common lament among male troops and veterans these days — you don’t need to be clean-shaven to seal a gas mask. That might be true today, but in the trenches of World War I, it was not the case. The Doughboys and Tommies in WWI Europe absolutely needed to be clean-shaven to seal their masks.

World War I and chemical warfare changed the way men groomed themselves for combat. And, when the troops came home, the American public kinda liked the change, cementing the nation’s universal preference for (a lack of) facial hair.


Just twenty years prior, beards were a common sight in the Spanish-American War. Troops and their officers thought nothing of a well-grown face of whiskers. And because safety razors weren’t as common as they are today, it was a good thing that sporting beards was still in vogue.

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban

That’s the kind of facial hair that remembers the USS Maine.

But by 1901, there was finally an option to make it safer to shave the faces fighting to make the world safe for democracy. Before this, men had to use a straight razor or go to a barber. This was both dangerous and expensive, especially in the middle of a war.

When the Germans started using poison gas on World War I battlefields, the Army started issuing gas masks — and these new safety razors. Suddenly, shaving was a requirement as well as a lifesaving tactic. In order for these early gas masks to fit properly, the men needed to be clean-shaven.

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban

You can tell he’s in regs because he’s alive.

When WWI-era soldiers returned to the United States, they appeared in newsreels and newspapers as well as their hometowns. They were all shaven to within stringent Army regulations — and America liked the new look. Facial hair would fall out of favor until the 1960s and, even then, it was mostly American counterculture that re-embraced the beard.

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban

Goddamn hippies.

It all makes sense when you think about it. Generations of children grew up watching the fighting men of World War I and World War II become the qrsenal of Democracy over the course of some 30 years. Who wouldn’t want to emulate their heroes?

But it wasn’t heroism alone that inspired America’s smooth faces. The 20th Century was when advertising and big American corporations came of age. In the days before the “clutter” of ads Americans are inundated with every second of every day, advertising was remarkably effective. Even today, when an ad campaign hits a nerve in society, it changes the way people think and act.

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban

But you’re too smart for that, right?

MIGHTY MOVIES

The reason LEGO cancelled its V-22 Osprey set

On July 21, 2020, LEGO announced that the upcoming LEGO Technic V-22 Osprey had been cancelled. Set number 42113 was an officially licensed model of the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft used by the US Navy, Marines, Air Force and Japanese Self-Defense Forces.


Despite being just 10 days away from its August 1 release date, LEGO pulled the Osprey from its website and announced that shipments of the new set would not go out to retailers. In their official statement, LEGO said:

The LEGO Technic Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey was designed to highlight the important role the aircraft plays in search and rescue efforts. While the set clearly depicts how a rescue version of the plane might look, the aircraft is only used by the military. We have a long-standing policy not to create sets which feature real military vehicles, so it has been decided not to proceed with the launch of this product. We appreciate that some fans who were looking forward to this set may be disappointed, but we believe it’s important to ensure that we uphold our brand values.

LEGO’s policy of not making sets based on military vehicles goes back to its very beginning. In fact, the original LEGO brick colors in the 1950s didn’t even include grey because LEGO feared that they could be used to make military vehicles like tanks.

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban

Orange trim wasn’t enough to distance the V-22 from its military use (LEGO)

In recent years, LEGO has limited the scope of their military restriction to modern military vehicles. This allowed them to create sets based on historic military vehicles like the WWI-era Sopwith Camel biplane and Fokker Dr.1 triplane.

Licensed IPs like Indiana Jones and Star Wars have also allowed LEGO to make sets with military themes that weren’t modern or real. Indiana Jones set number 7198 included an armed Pilatus P-2 with Luftwaffe markings from The Last Crusade and set number 7683 featured the fictional Nazi flying wing bomber from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Under the Star Wars license, LEGO has created molds for fictional blasters that come from the galaxy far, far away.

However, while LEGO has not released a licensed modern military set, it has released some that bear striking resemblances to modern military vehicles. LEGO Creator 3-in-1 sets have featured vehicles that look remarkably like the AH-64 Apache (31023), F-14 Tomcat (4953), Rafale M (5892), F-35 Lightning II (31039) and even the V-22 (31020). LEGO City set number 60021 City Cargo Heliplane is a dedicated set that also bears a striking resemblance to the V-22. The main difference between the aforementioned sets and the cancelled V-22 seems to be the official licensing by Bell and Boeing, who make the real-life aircraft.

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban

It looks like a V-22, but it isn’t (LEGO)

In July, the German Peace Society issued a warning against LEGO releasing the licensed V-22. Despite rebranding of the aircraft in the set to make it a search and rescue aircraft, the German Peace Society released a statement saying:

On 1. August 2020 LEGO® plans to release its first ever military set while internal corporate value documents forbid the production of current military vehicles. The German DFG-VK also criticises the license placed on the set. With every buy, customers help to finance arms companies.

Despite the set being ready for release with advertisements and stock ready to go, LEGO has marked all packaged sets of the V-22 for return to circulation. While LEGO stores will never receive the set, some smaller retailers did receive their first orders early and buyers have been quick to scoop up the rare sets. New Zealand seems to have received the most shipments as Ebay listings for the V-22 all ship from New Zealand and are selling for well over id=”listicle-2646785825″,000. Some retailers are even returning their stock to LEGO rather than selling them.

While this turn of events has been a major disappointment for LEGO fans, the fact that the set got so close to release can be seen as a sign of things to come. While the V-22 is used exclusively by armed forces, it’s not unreasonable to think that military aircraft with civilian variants like the C-130 Hercules or the CH-47 Chinook might be turned into licensed LEGO sets in the future.

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban

Commercials were filmed and ready. Note the “Rescue” markings. (LEGO)

Articles

Trump picks controversial general for National Security Advisor post

President-elect Donald Trump named three members of his national-security team Nov. 18, including his pick for Attorney General, CIA director and National Security Advisor.


Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban
Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn previously led the Defense Intelligence Agency. He retired after political backlash from his harsh criticism of the Obama administration’s war on terrorism. (Photo from Defense Department)

According to multiple media reports, retired Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn was selected to be Trump’s National Security Advisor, while Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions was chosen for the Attorney General slot.

Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo was asked to serve as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban
Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo was picked to head the Central Intelligence Agency. (Official congressional portrait)

Flynn, who had been a strong supporter of Trump on the campaign train and was a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, served in a number of posts during his Army career. He took part in Operations Urgent Fury and Restore Democracy, then served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan prior to taking charge of the DIA.

Flynn’s service decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Bronze Star with three oak leaf clusters, the Meritorious Service medal with five oak leaf clusters, and the Army Commendation Medal with five oak leaf clusters.

Flynn’s tenure as DIA director was marked by controversy, leading him to retire in August 2014.

Representative Pompeo was first elected to Congress in 2010 and was re-elected to his fourth term in 2016. Prior to entering Congress, Pompeo served for five years in the United States Army, reaching the rank of captain, then went to Harvard Law School before founding an aerospace firm and becoming president of an oilfield equipment company.

Pompeo has been an advocate of a hard line with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Pompeo has served on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Select Committee on Benghazi.

Senator Sessions is in his fourth term, having first been elected in 1996. Prior to his election, he served as a United States Attorney for 12 years.

During his service as a U.S. Attorney, his 1986 nomination as a federal judge was derailed. Sessions later ran for Attorney General of Alabama serving two years before winning his seat in the U.S. Senate.

While best known for his tough positions on illegal immigration and border security, Sessions was the sponsor of the HEROES Act of 2005, which boosted the death gratuity benefit to $100,000, and upped Serviceman’s Group Life Insurance coverage to $400,000. The legislation became law later that year.

Sessions served on the Senate Committee on Armed Services, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, the Senate Committee on the Budget, and the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Sessions also served in the Army Reserve from 1973-1977, reaching the rank of captain.

Both Flynn and Sessions had been reportedly under consideration to serve as Secretary of Defense in a Trump administration. Had Flynn been nominated for that post, he would have needed a special exemption from rules mandating civilian leadership of the Pentagon.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Pentagon is making up to 5 million masks available for the coronavirus fight

To support ongoing domestic efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus, which causes the illness COVID-19, the US military will provide millions of masks to support civilian public health agencies and other responders, Pentagon leadership said Tuesday.


“The Department of Defense will make available up to 5 million N95 respirator masks and other personal protective equipment from our own strategic reserves to Health and Human Services for distribution,” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said.

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban

“The first 1 million masks will be made available immediately,” he added.

“The Pentagon will be providing 5 million respirator masks and 2,000 specialized ventilators to aid in our whole of America Coronavirus response. This critical equipment will keep our health care providers safe as they care for patients,” Vice President Mike Pence said on Twitter.

COVID-19 has spread to more than 5,800 people and killed nearly 100 people in the US. As the illness spreads domestically, masks and other protective equipment are becoming harder to find.

Additional support measures include providing up to 2,000 deployable ventilators to HHS and making 14 certified coronavirus testing labs available to test non-DoD personnel. “We hope this will provide excess capacity to the civilian population,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said.

He added that the Pentagon is also looking at the activation of National Guard and Reserve units to assist states as needed. The National Guard is already assisting in 22 states.

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USNS Comfort at Naval Station Norfolk after a five-month deployment, November 15, 2019.

US Navy

The military is preparing its hospital ships for possible deployment to assist during the crisis, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The US Navy has two hospital ships available, the USNS Comfort in Norfolk, Virginia, and the USNS Mercy in San Diego.

“The Comfort is undergoing maintenance, and the Mercy is at port.” Esper told reporters Tuesday, revealing that the Department of Defense has already given Navy orders “to lean forward in terms of getting them ready to deploy.”

The defense secretary explained that US military assets like hospital ships and field hospitals are designed for trauma response rather than matters like infectious diseases, so these assets would likely be used to take the pressure off civilian medical facilities with regard to trauma care.

Esper also said that the Army Corps of Engineers could be made available to assist states in need but suggested there might be more effective options.

The secretary stressed to reporters that “if we can dramatically reduce the spread of the virus over the next 15 days, together we can help restore public health and the economy and hasten a return to our normal way of life.”

Update: This post has been updated to include the vice president’s tweet, as well as clarify that the masks are going to HHS to support civilian public health agencies and other responders.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The female Viper pilot with bigger balls than you is blazing trails

Capt. Zoe “SiS” Kotnik is the new commander of the F-16 of the Viper Demo Team (VDT).

On Jan. 29, 2019, Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, certified the new F-16 Viper Demonstration Team pilot and commander ahead of the 2019 season, at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. The final certification by the ACC Commander follows extensive training including four certifications, off-station training flights and more than 30 practice missions.


With over 1,000 flying hours in her eight years of military service “SiS”, originally assigned to the 55th Fighter Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, is the Air Force’s first female single-ship aerial demonstration pilot.

She will lead the team in about 20 locations across the world during the upcoming airshow season.

“What I’m looking forward to most is the potential to have an influence on younger generations,” said Kotnik in a public release. “I know firsthand how impactful airshows can be and what a difference it makes to young people to see just one example of what they too can do and who they can become. I hope to be a source of inspiration and motivation they can draw from to apply in their own lives.”

The F-16 VDT performs an aerobatic display whose aim is to demonstrate the unique capabilities of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, better known as “Viper” in the pilot community.

“These shows allow us to demonstrate the capabilities of the F-16 to a world-wide audience while highlighting the work of the airmen who keep the Viper flying,” said Master Sgt. Chris Schneider, F-16 VDT superintendent. “It’s not every day people get the chance to hear the sound of freedom roaring over their heads or watch a team of maintainers working together to make it happen.”

If you are interested in learning a bit more about her, here’s an interview “Sis” gave to LiveAirshowTV in fall 2018:

Meet Capt. Zoe “Sis” Kotnik – F-16 Viper Demo Team Pilot-Commander

www.youtube.com

This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Restored P-51 Mustang returns for mission over Germany

A restored P-51 Mustang, once flown by the late Brig. Gen. Robin Olds, iconic US Air Force fighter pilot, flew with 480th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcons during an event at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, May 28, 2019.

The event included aerial maneuvers by the P-51, formation flight training with F-16s and a presentation about Robin’s accomplishments by his daughter, Christina Olds.

Robin was a triple-ace fighter pilot who had 16 kills by the end of his career. The P-51 that arrived to Spangdahlem, named SCAT VII, was Robin’s seventh airplane which he flew in the last days of World War II. It was restored and is still flying around Europe in the same color scheme it had nearly 75 years ago.


Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban

SCAT VII, a P-51 Mustang, on the runway at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, May 28, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Preston Cherry)

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban

Scat VII, a P-51 Mustang once flown by triple-ace fighter pilot Robin Olds, over Spangdahlem Air Base, May 28, 2019.

(Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Roidan Carlson)

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban

Scat VII, a P-51 Mustang once flown by triple-ace fighter pilot Robin Olds, alongside four F-16C Fighting Falcons at Spangdahlem Air Base, May 28, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Roidan Carlson)

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban

Scat VII, a P-51 Mustang once flown by triple-ace fighter pilot Robin Olds, alongside four F-16C Fighting Falcons at Spangdahlem Air Base, May 28, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Roidan Carlson)

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban

Scat VII, a P-51 Mustang once flown by triple-ace fighter pilot Robin Olds, alongside an F-16C Fighting Falcon at Spangdahlem Air Base, May 28, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Roidan Carlson)

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban

Scat VII, a P-51 Mustang once flown by triple-ace fighter pilot Robin Olds, with an F-16C Fighting Falcon at Spangdahlem Air Base, May 28, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Roidan Carlson)

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban

Scat VII, a P-51 Mustang once flown by triple-ace fighter pilot Robin Olds, with an F-16C Fighting Falcon at Spangdahlem Air Base, May 28, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Roidan Carlson)

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban

Scat VII, a P-51 Mustang once flown by triple-ace fighter pilot Robin Olds, alongside an F-16C Fighting Falcon at Spangdahlem Air Base, May 28, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Roidan Carlson)

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Air Force will get money needed to keep the A-10 flying

The Air Force is set to acquire new wings for its A-10 Thunderbolts in order to keep the vaunted attack aircraft in operation until the 2030s.

The Air Force told Congress in 2017 that 110 of its 283 A-10s were at risk of being permanently grounded unless money was apportioned to restart production and rewing the remaining planes.


The service has already paid to replace the wings on 173 of its A-10s, but Boeing, which originally built the wings, has since shut down production, and the Air Force didn’t have funding for new wings for the remainder — 40 of which would have to be grounded by 2021, according to CNN. Those aircraft are still flying with wings from the late 1970s, according to Aviation Week.

The $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill signed by President Donald Trump in March 2018, included $103 million requested by the Air Force to fund the rewinging. That is enough to cover the production of four new sets of wings, but going forward, Boeing might not be supplying them.

The program is considered a “new start,” and under it, the new wings will come with a higher price, as engineers work through the hiccups of the design phase.

Air Force Gen. Mike Holmes, head of Air Combat Command, mentioned that the service was looking for a new partner on the A-10 early 2018.

“The previous contract that we had was with Boeing, and it kind of came to the end of its life for cost and for other reasons,” he said in January 2018. “It was a contract that was no longer cost-effective for Boeing to produce wings under, and there were options there that we weren’t sure where we were going to go, and so now we’re working through the process of getting another contract.”

Because of the potential for A-10s to be grounded if they don’t get new wings, “acquisition is being expedited to the maximum extent possible,” according to a draft request for proposal for A-10 wings, issued in February 2018.

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban
US Air Force Lt. Col. Ryan Haden, 74th Fighter Squadron commander, lands an A-10 Thunderbolt, Dec. 3, 2014.
US Air Force

According to the anticipated schedule included in the draft request, a final request is expected by April 3, 2018, a proposal due date on June 5, 2018, and the awarding of the contract by the end of the March 2019. (The 2019 fiscal year runs from October 2018 to September 2019.)

The service has committed to maintaining six of the nine A-10 squadrons it has, but the contract will ultimately determine how many wings the service can actually buy, an Air Force spokeswoman told Aviation Week, saying “the majority of the A-10 fleet will fly and fight for the foreseeable future.”


The hard-fighting A-10 emerged in 2017 from a debate between lawmakers and the Air Force over whether it would stay in service, and in recent years it has seen duty all over the world.

It was a workhorse in Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, releasing 13,856 weapons between Aug. 8, 2014 and mid-2016 — second only to the F-15E Strike Eagle, which released 14,995 weapons over the same period.

The Thunderbolt has also seen duty in Afghanistan, where the government requested the A-10 return in late 2017. A squadron of 12 A-10s arrived in the country in January 2018, where it has taken part in an intensified air campaign against militants in the country — in particular the Taliban and its drug-producing facilities.

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban
US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Chris Drzazgowski

The venerable aircraft will soon face competition closer to home however, with comparison testing between it and the F-35— the plane originally meant to replace the A-10 — happening as soon as summer 2018, when the F-35 is scheduled for testing in close-air-support and reconnaissance operations.

Congress has said that the Air Force cannot shed any A-10s until that evaluation takes place. But whatever the results, the Thunderbolt looks likely to have vocal supporters.

“If I were to sit down to design a heavy attack platform, it would look just like the A-10,” Air Force Lt. Col. Bryan France told The Aviationist. “Our airframe was built to extend loiter times over the battlefield, deliver a substantial amount of ordnance, and survive significant battle damage. It does these things exceptionally well.”

“It is built to withstand more damage than any other frame that I know of. It’s known for its ruggedness,” A-10 pilot Lt. Col. Ryan Haden told Scout Warrior. “It’s deliberate, measured, hefty, impactful, calculated, and sound. There’s nothing flimsy or fragile about the way it is constructed or about the way that it flies.”

“I happen to be a fan of the A-10,” Wilson, the Air Force secretary, told lawmakers in December 2017.

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