Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area

Afghan officials said unknown aircraft hit Taliban forces in a province along the border with Tajikistan, killing eight militants, a day after a shooting that left at least two Tajiks killed.

The origin of the aircraft was unclear. Tajik officials denied its warplanes or helicopters were involved, as did Russia, which has a sizable military contingent in Tajikistan.


Khalil Asir, spokesman for police in Afghanistan’s Takhar province, said the aircraft struck early on Aug. 27, 2018, in the Darqad district near the border area. In addition to the dead, six other militants were wounded, he said.

Cross-border clashes are rare along Afghanistan’s 1,400-kilometer border with Tajikistan. However, security in some border provinces, including Takhar, has deteriorated over the past few months and regular clashes have broken out between Afghan security forces and militant groups, including the Taliban.

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area

Spokesman Khalil Asir says eight Taliban militants were killed in the attack.

(RFE/RL photo)

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, confirmed the attack, saying it broke out between drug smugglers and Tajik border guards. Mujahid said the aircraft bombed a forested area used by smugglers.

Mohammad Jawid Hejri, the provincial governor’s spokesman, also said the clash had occurred between drug smugglers in Afghanistan and Tajik border guards. He said the area is under Taliban control.

Asked by RFE/RL’s Tajik Service about the reported airstrike, border guard spokesman Muhammadjon Ulughkhojaev said he could not confirm it.

“An operation to search for and detain armed individuals is ongoing” in a neighboring region, he said. “But the Border Guards Service didn’t use helicopters there.”

The Russian Defense Ministry told the RIA Novosti news agency that Russian jets were not involved.

Other Tajik security agencies did not immediately respond to queries about other aircraft in the area.

The incident came one day after two Tajik foresters were killed in a shooting incident along the border. A Tajik security official, who asked not to be named, told RFE/RL’s Tajik Service that the shooting — either gunfire or mortars — came from the Afghan side of the border.

A third Tajik forester was also wounded in the Aug. 26, 2018 shooting, according to Sulton Valizoda, the head of the Farkhor district.

“Foresters, along with an employee of a livestock farm, were out gathering hay. They had official permission,” Valizoda told RFE/RL’s Tajik Service. “But they were attacked, and two were killed. The case is being investigated.”

The Tajik Border Guard Service said in a statement on Aug. 26, 2018 that the three were all forest rangers.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Massive Chinese air drills warn US ‘not to provoke Pyongyang’

With each passing day, tensions flare anew on the Korean Peninsula. By now, we all know that North Korea’s been hard at work dong what they do best: Launching test missiles and fiery rhetoric.


On Dec. 4, the U.S. and South Korea kicked off their largest joint air exercise yet, dubbed Vigilant Ace 18, involving hundreds of aircraft and tends of thousands of troops on the ground. As you might expect, Pyongyang wasn’t too happy about the drills, going as far as saying Dec. 2 that Trump’s Administration is “begging for nuclear war.”

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area
F-15s from Kadena Air Base, Japan, taxi for takeoff at Gwangju Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 04, 2017. The fighter aircraft are participating in the pinensula-wide routine exercise, Vigilant Ace-18. (U.S Air Force photo by Senior Airmnan Jessica H. Smith)

While we’re at a point now where North Korean threats are as routine as the sunrise, China has sent an aggressive message in passive support of the belligerent state that warrants more serious attention.

Related: China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge

People’s Liberation Army Air Force Spokesman Shen Jinke announced Dec. 4 (the same day as Vigilant Ace 18 kicked off) that China would be running drills through “routes and areas it has never flown before.” These new routes are expected to cover airspace over the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan. The exercises will involve all variety of aircraft, from reconnaissance planes to fighter jets, in joint operation with surface-to-air missiles. Simultaneously, China launched drills Dec. 2 that involve sending new Shaanxi Y-9 transport aircraft over the South China Sea, simulating an airdrop over an island in contested waters.

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area
A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II fighter aircraft, assigned to the 25th Fighter Squadron, taxis down a runway during Exercise VIGILANT ACE 18 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 3, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos)

Though Chinese military officials will likely claim that the new drills are not in direct response to U.S. and South Korean actions, military experts agree that this show of force warns against the continued provocation of North Korea.

The U.S. and China have a rocky history, but are far from going to blows. That being said, should conflict erupt on the Korea Peninsula, we’ll quickly see how the chips fall.

 

MIGHTY TRENDING

Pakistani military allegedly hacked US and partner phones

The Pakistani military allegedly coordinated a surveillance operation which collected data from US, UK, and Australian officials and diplomats.

Researchers from US mobile-security company Lookout found Western officials were unintentionally caught up in a data-gathering operation which used surveillanceware tools dubbed Stealth Mango (for Android) and Tangel (for iOS).


In a report released in May 2018, Lookout researchers said they believe Pakistani military members were responsible for hacks targeting civilians, government officials, diplomats, and military personnel in Pakistan, India, Iraq and the UAE.

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area
US military hardware
(Lookout photo)

“These tools have been part of a highly targeted intelligence gathering campaign we believe is
operated by members of the Pakistani military,” the report read. “Our investigation indicates this actor has used these surveillanceware tools to successfully compromise the mobile devices of government officials, members of the military, medical professionals, and civilians.”

According to Lookout, which analyzed 15gb of compromised data, perpetrators largely targeted victims via phishing messages which linked to a third-party Android app store.

Once a surveillanceware app was downloaded it was able to access text messages, audio recordings, photos, calendars, contact lists for apps including Skype, and the phone’s GPS location. It also had the ability to detect when a victim was driving and turn off SMS and internet reception during that time.

On at least one occasion the app store URL was sent via Facebook messenger which, according to Lookout, suggests “the attackers are using fake personas to connect with their targets and coerce them into installing the malware onto their devices.”

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area
A letter from the Pakistan High Commission to the US Ambassador.
(Lookout photo)

The individuals targeted in this campaign unknowingly gave hackers access to pictures of IDs and passports, the GPS locations of photos, legal and medical documents, internal government communications, and photos of military and government officials from closed-door meetings.

Officials and civilians from the US and Iran, as well as British and Australian diplomats, were not targeted in the operation but their data was compromised after interacting with Stealth Mango victims.

Some of the victims’ compromised data included:

  • A letter from the United States Central Command to the Afghanistan Assistant Minister of Defense for Intelligence
  • A letter from the High Commission for Pakistan to the United States Director of the Foreign Security Office Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Details of visits to Quetta, Balochistan, Pakistan by Australian Diplomats
  • Details of visits to Quetta, Balochistan, Pakistan by German Diplomats
  • Photos of Afghan and Pakistani military officials

It’s unknown when Stealth Mango was launched, but its latest release was made in April 2018.

Lookout believes it was created by freelance developers with physical presences in Pakistan, India, and the United States, but actively managed by actors in Pakistan who are most likely members of the military.

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area
Australian diplomat’s travel details in Pakistan.
(Lookout photo)

The main developer is thought to be a full-time app creator. Lookout suspects he once worked for a company based in Sydney, Australia. On LinkedIn, most of the company’s employees are based in Pakistan.

When contacted by Lookout, Google said the apps used in this operation were not available on the Google Play Store, but “Google Play Protect has been updated to protect user devices from these apps and is in the process of removing them from all affected devices.”

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

Articles

Someone is desecrating World War II graveyards off the Indonesian coast

Three war graves have vanished – looted in the name of the almighty dollar.


Or in this case, the currency in question is the Indonesia rupiah. And others — including two of the most famous losses of World War II — are at grave risk.

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area
The HNLMS Java. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

According to a report by NavalToday.com, three Dutch vessels lost during the Battle of the Java Sea have now been completely looted. Nothing is left of the cruisers HNLMS De Ruyter and HNLMS Java, or the destroyer HNLMS Kortenear, which were the graves of almost 900 Dutch sailors who perished when they sank.

The Battle of the Java Sea was a serious defeat for the Allies in the early stages of World War II.

In a night-time surface battle, Japanese ships sank the De Ruyter, Java, Kortenear, and the British destroyers HMS Jupiter and HMS Electra. The British heavy cruiser HMS Exeter was badly damaged in the battle, which cost the lives of 2,300 Allied personnel.

The Dutch vessels are not the only ones at risk.

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area
The USS Houston in the 1930s. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth and the American heavy cruiser USS Houston (CA 30), sunk in the Battle of the Sunda Strait, also have been looted for scrap metal, although not to the extent of the Dutch vessels.

Also, two capital ships sunk in the early days of the war — the battleship HMS Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser HMS Repulse, both war graves, have been desecrated by looters.

Even wrecks off the United States have not been immune to looters paying a visit.

According to a 2003 U.S. Navy release, the Nazi submarine U-85, sunk in 1942 by the destroyer USS Roper (DD 147) about 15 miles off the coast of North Carolina, was visited by private divers who took the vessel’s Enigma machine.

The divers claimed to not realize they weren’t supposed to take items from the wreck. The United States Navy eventually allowed the code machine to be donated to the Altantic Graveyard Museum.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Veteran gets his diploma 76 years after missing graduation to fight in WWII

A Chicago veteran missed his graduation day in 1944 serving in World War II. But on June 13, 2019, he walked across the stage, officially graduating with the Class of 2019.

William Wagner, 94, was drafted during the last half of his senior year at Tilden High School on Chicago’s South Side, ABC7 reported.

“They told me to take history and civics to get my diploma,” Wagner told ABC7. “I went to the draft board and they said, ‘Punk you got a number, you got to go.'”


WWII veteran graduates from Tilden High School at age 94

www.youtube.com

On June 12, 1943, a date he said he can easily recall, he joined the Navy, serving as a cook onboard the USS Yosemite, whose company repaired ships destroyed in the war, according to ABC7.

Forrest Wagner, the WWII vet’s son, arranged for the school to send him the diploma, which came a day before William Wagner’s birthday on March 7, ABC7 reported. The diploma then became his birthday present, complete with balloons and a graduation cap.

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area

USS Yosemite.

“How awesome is that for a young teenager to sit back and put his country before his own wants and needs,” Forrest told ABC7. “What he scarified for me and my brothers and sisters, and then also for his country, I believe I will never be able to repay.”

William told ABC7 that walking across the stage at this year’s graduation ceremony came at a close second as the best moment in his life, with the first being his marriage.

“Seventy-six years,” William said. “It took me that long to get my diploma, instead of going through four years.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Hawaii’s big island volcano eruption can be seen from space

The ongoing volcanic eruptions from Hawaii have been so massive that astronauts can see them from space — and the pictures are incredible.

Ricky Arnold and AJ Feustel, US astronauts stationed on to the International Space Station, posted dramatic photos to Twitter of the ash plume emerging from the Kilauea volcano on the east of the Big Island.



Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area
(Ricky Arnold / Twitter)

The volcano erupted on May 10, 2018, and is showing no signs of slowing down.

The crater is already emitting noxious fumes which can make breathing difficult for children and elderly people. The ash cloud has reached as high as 12,000 feet about sea level.

Feustal wrote: “It is easy to see the activity on Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano from the International Space Station. We hope those in the vicinity of the eruption can stay out of harm’s way.”

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area
(Ricky Arnold / Twitter)

Lava and molten rock bursting from the volcano’s fissures also destroyed at least 26 homes and four other buildings over the weekend, forcing 1,700 people to evacuate.

The US Geological Survey issued a rare “red alert” warning, which means a major volcanic eruptions is imminent or underway, and that the ash clouds could affect air traffic.

Here’s a shot of the volcano from a lot closer to the ground:

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area
A US Geological Survey photo of ash rising from the Puu Oo vent on Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano.
(Kevan Kamibayashi / US Geological Survey)

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

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of June 1st

The Air Force has officially pushed back the required uniform change for the OCP uniform from today until September 1, because, you know, literally everything that’s going on in the world right now.

That’s awesome for the troops who’ve been preoccupied and a nice pat on the back for the few that actually took the initiative early. But kicking that can down the road just means that there’s still going to be a bunch of E-2’s in three months still showing up to formation with the wrong boots.

Anyway, here are some memes.


Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area

(Meme via Call for Fire)

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area

(Meme via Not CID)

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area

(Meme via Infantry Follow Me)

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area

(Meme via The Army’s Fckups)

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area

(Meme via Hooah My Ass Off)

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area

(Meme via US Army WTF Moments Memes)

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area

(Meme via US Space Force WTF Moments)

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area

(Meme via Dank MP Memes)

I’ll defend my answer from the board. There is nothing in the truck of damn near every flagpole. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

If the “razor, match and bullet” thing were true, you’d think there’d be a single recorded instance of it somewhere in any of the military’s vast catalogue of regulations, documents and photos. And even if it were true, the idea that the bullet is supposed to be used for the pistol also buried somewhere nearby is also extremely counter-productive. But sure. I’m the dumba** for saying it’s nothing because I’m not willing to believe a superstition.

Yes. I’m still sour about that one.

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area

(Meme via Air Force amn/nco/snco)


MIGHTY TRENDING

Army vet sues VA over scalpel left in body after surgery

An Army veteran who says someone left a scalpel inside him after surgery is suing a Veterans Affairs hospital.


Bridgeport resident Glenford Turner says the scalpel was only discovered years later, after he suffered from long-term abdominal pain. He sued the VA in U.S. District Court last week, seeking unspecified compensatory damages.

Court papers say Turner had surgery at the VA hospital in West Haven in 2013. Nearly four years later, he went back to the VA with dizziness and severe abdominal pain. An X-Ray showed there was a scalpel inside his body.

Related: Affidavit claims VA nurse was drunk during surgery

Turner had to undergo surgery to remove the scalpel. His lawyer, Joel Faxon, said doctors confirmed it was the same one. Faxon called it “an incomprehensible level of incompetence.”

The VA said Jan. 15 it doesn’t typically comment on pending litigation.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, said he was appalled and stunned by the “egregious medical malpractice case.”

“I have asked for a detailed explanation from VA of this deeply troubling report,” he said in a statement. “I am demanding also full accountability so this kind of horrific negligence never happens again.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Troops have rescued and evacuated hundreds from Florence

Thousands of active-duty and National Guard troops are using amphibious vehicles and search-and-rescue aircraft to move people and equipment after Hurricane Florence battered the East Coast, even as some of their own bases were damaged by the storm.

Rainfall and rising water levels continue to threaten areas of North and South Carolina four days after Florence made landfall as a Category 1 storm.

Air Force Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, head of U.S. Northern Command, said the military has been able to work seamlessly with state and federal authorities leading relief efforts; 13,000 service members are responding to some of those agencies’ requests, including 6,000 active-duty forces and about 7,000 National Guard members, he said Tuesday from Raleigh, North Carolina.


Troops from Fort Bragg, Camp Lejeune, and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina; Fort Jackson in South Carolina; and Moody Air Force Base in Georgia have pitched in.

In coordination with local, state and federal authorities, the Defense Department not only pre-staged meals and water, but also vehicles that could operate in floodwaters and helicopters for search-and-rescue and transport missions.

“As it turns out, that’s exactly what we needed to have,” O’Shaughnessy said.

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area

Members of the 106th Rescue Squadron, 106th Rescue Wing, New York Air National Guard, drop from an HH-60 Pavehawk during a rescue mission during Hurricane Florence, Sept. 17, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kyle Hagan)

Army personnel in high-water vehicles have helped evacuate about 300 people. And Marines from Camp Lejeune used amphibious vehicles to assist people stranded by floodwaters. In one mission, they were able to rescue 20 people at once, O’Shaughnessy said.

Cherry Point was also turned into a makeshift shelter after another nearby began to flood.

“A local state center was flooding so we took them to Cherry Point where we could house them overnight and feed them,” he added.

The storm didn’t bring the damaging winds initially feared, but it hovered over land for days, moving at just 2 mph and dumping about 3 feet of rain in some of the hardest-hit areas. That has caused rivers and streams to swell and spill over. In some areas where waterways haven’t crested yet, the threat still exists.

“The concern has turned to flooding, and that’s still the concern over the next 48 hours,” O’Shaughnessy said.

That threat even led the Defense Department to move some of its own supplies and equipment out of the danger zone, he added, since some of the trucks and food were stored at Fort Bragg, which was affected by the storm.

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area

Members of Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team Miami and Coast Guard Tactical Law Enforcement Team South rescue an elderly woman

(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Trevor Lilburn)

The Coast Guard continues to lead search-and-rescue missions in coordination with state agencies. The Navy‘s amphibious assault ship Kearsarge and amphibious transport dock ship Arlington, which headed out to sea in advance of Florence, are also now about 10 miles off the coast of the North and South Carolina border, where they can assist.

There are MV-22B Ospreys aboard the Kearsarge, O’Shaughnessy said, which can help move people and materials in hard-to-reach areas.

Overall, the coordination between the states, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Defense Department has been “executed exactly as designed,” he said. “My hat is off to the first responders, the local counties. The collaboration between the state and FEMA and FEMA and the Department of Defense has been phenomenal.

“That’s what has allowed us … to have such a strong response,” he added.

Featured image: Staff Sgt. Nick Carey from the 102nd Rescue squadron, New York Air National Guard, scans for people in need of rescue over Kinston, North Carolina, Sept. 16, 2018.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

The first Space Force commissioned officers will graduate this spring

If you thought the first commissioned officers would be graduating from Starfleet Academy after passing the Kobayashi Maru test, you thought wrong.


It turns out they will be earning their commission this spring in Colorado Springs.

The Air Force said about 60 of the 1,000 cadets graduating will earn commissions in the new United States Space Force. The practice is called cross-commissioning and is similar but not exactly the same as Navy Midshipmen commissioning into the United States Marine Corps. Officials from the Air Force Academy and Air Force will be traveling to Annapolis to see how cross-commissioning works for them, but stress that the Naval Academy way is just “one solution and not the solution.”

As of now, there is no plan to offer cross-commissions into the Space Force for Cadets at the United States Military Academy or Midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy. Officers from the Space Force will be transferred from the Air Force or commissioned via the Air Force Academy, Air Force ROTC and Officer Training School. However, Army and Navy enlisted personnel will be able to transfer to the Space Force in the next few years. The only rank currently is General, although the rest of the rank structure is expected to mirror the Air Force.

Juniors at the Academy are already being counseled on potential career paths in the Air Force, including intelligence, cyber, acquisitions and engineering.

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area

“It’s important for the Air Force Academy’s long-term mission, and not only in near-term Air Force strategy, but long-term space strategy and tactics to have that sort of core knowledge here,” said Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner.

The cadets that will be the first Space Force Commissioned Officers will have a job simply referred to as Space Operations. The majority of the Officers commissioned will have jobs that focus on the direct mission at hand. As of now, officer and enlisted roles that are considered support will have those spots filled by members of the Air Force.

There are 16,000 individuals assigned to the Space Force and one official Officer, the Chief of Space Operations, General John “Jay” Raymond. The military portion of the 16,000 personnel will, at some point, have to transfer into the Space Force. Officers will have to resign their commissions, and enlisted will have to re-enlist into the new branch. The Air Force will be the first to be allowed to transfer in starting this year. The Army and Navy will have to wait until 2022 for the option to transfer.

Space Force personnel will be located primarily in three states; California, Colorado and Florida.

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area
Articles

This makeshift armored vehicle is actually an ISIS suicide bomb truck

As anti-ISIS forces retake Mosul and march on Raqqa, more and more of the terror group’s mystique is falling away. It’s hard to be the international bogeyman when your forces are suffering defeats across your caliphate.


Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area
Not pictured: ISIS victories. (Photo: CJTF Operation Inherent Resolve YouTube)

But one of ISIS’s most prominent battlefield weapons is still deadly frightening, the armored vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. While VBIEDs were already common in Iraq and Afghanistan, ISIS upped the ante by creating especially effective armored versions and then employing them like artillery — softening their enemy’s lines and breaking up attacks.

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area
A captured ISIS vehicle-borne improvised explosive device is displayed where it is held by the Kurdish Peshmerga in Iraq. (Photo: YouTube/ Sky News)

For the Iraqi Army, the Kurdish Peshmerga, and other anti-ISIS forces, understanding these weapons is a matter of life or death. But typically, the weapons are destroyed before they can be captured, either because the soldiers hit it with a rocket, tank, or artillery round, or because the operator triggers his explosive cargo.

This makes it relatively rare that a suicide vehicle is captured intact. But there have been a few, and Sky News got the chance to tour one of these captured vehicles during the Iraqi military’s initial punch into Mosul.

The vehicle, captured by Kurdish Peshmerga, had been heavily modified with the removal of any unnecessary weight, the addition of thick, heavy armor, and the installation of a massive amount of explosives.

See the full tour of the vehicle in the video below:

MIGHTY TRENDING

ISIS still has 30,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria

Despite the military defeat of the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and most of Syria, the extremist group still has around 20,000 to 30,000 militants in the two countries, according to a United Nations report.

The report circulated on Aug. 13, 2018, said the estimate came from governments it did not identify. It includes a “significant component” of foreign fighters.


The militants were equally divided between Iraq and Syria, said the report to the Security Council by experts monitoring sanctions against the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda.

Many of the key IS operatives were being relocated to Afghanistan, where the group has between 3,500 and 4,000 fighters and is growing, the experts said.

The militant group led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi also has significant affiliated supporters in Libya, Southeast Asia, and West Africa.

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area

Military training in Erbil, Iraq, Jan. 25, 2018. This training is critical to enabling local security forces to secure their homeland from ISIS. Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve is the global Coalition to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

(U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Anthony Zendejas IV)

Islamic State overran large parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014, but by January 2018, the group was confined to small pockets of territory in Syria.

According to the UN report, IS “is still able to mount attacks inside Syrian territory. It does not fully control any territory in Iraq, but it remains active through sleeper cells.”

The flow of foreign fighters to IS in Syria and Iraq has come to a halt, the experts said, but “the reverse flow, although slower than expected, remains a serious challenge.”

They said Al-Qaeda’s global network also “continues to show resilience,” with its affiliates and allies much stronger than the IS group in some spots, including Somalia, Yemen, South Asia, and Africa’s Sahel region.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

What happens when lightning tears a giant hole in the tail of a B-52

On Dec. 19, 2017, B-52 Stratorfortress (60-0051), with the 93rd Bomb Squadron/307th BW AFRC was about to land at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, when the crew heard something that sounded like a thud coming from the outside of the bomber. The aircraft landed safely, but once on the ground the crew discovered that the sound they heard was actually a lightning strike that tore a person-sized gash completely through the tail of the aircraft.


“Close encounters” between civil and military aircraft and lightnings occur every now and then around the globe.

In the 1980s, some F-16 Fighting Falcon jets were lost after being struck by lightinings. In one case, the lightning ignited the vapors in the empty centerline tank, which exploded causing extended damage to the aircraft’s hydraulic system.

Since lightning strikes are quite rare (1 event each year on average) these are seldom a real risk to military or civil aviation.

Also read: How the 65-year old B-52 Stratofortress just keeps getting better with age

Furthermore, planes are shielded by a so-called Faraday Cage made by a conducting material, that blocks out external static electrical fields: charges redistribute on the conducting material and don’t affect the cage’s interior.

All commercial and mil planes have to meet several safety lightining-related requirements to get the airworthiness certifications required in the U.S. and Europe. For instance, they must be able to withstand a lightning strike without suffering significant airframe damage, without any possibility of accidental fuel ignition in the tanks and preserving the avionics and systems failures induced by the electromagnetic field created by the electrical charges of the lightning.

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area
The old tail from aircraft 60-051, a B-52 Stratofortress assigned to the 307th Bomb Wing, bears a gaping hole from lightning damage incurred at the end of a routine training mission. The tail could not be repaired and had to be replaced. Changing an entire tail on the B-52 is an uncommon and difficult task, but maintainers from the 307th Maintenance Squadron were able to accomplish the feat in about 10 hours of work time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Ted Daigle)

After assessing the damage, it was determined that the tail was damaged beyond repair and would have to be replaced: a large-scale, and uncommon, repair.

The B-52 is equipped with a lightning arrester designed to mitigate damage from lightning strikes, but this one was too strong even for the jet’s safeguards. “We see a handful of strikes every year, but out of all the maintainers we have, no one had seen lightning damage that bad,” said Lt. Col. George P. Cole, III, 307th Maintenance Squadron commander in a public release.

“I’ve been with the unit for fifteen years and this is the first time we have had to change a tail,” said Senior Master Sgt. Michael Nelson, 307th MXS flight maintenance superintendent. “We only had one other maintainer on our team that has ever changed one.”

Related: This is how the B-52 rained fire in Vietnam

According to the U.S. Air Force, Master Sgt. Eric Allison, 307th MXS B-52 aircraft mechanic, was the only maintainer on the eight person team with experience replacing a tail prior to the lighting strike. “It’s challenging because you have to position the tail just right and it is a two-thousand pound piece of metal,” he said. “It is like lining up the hinges when replacing a door,” said Tech. Sgt. David Emberton, 307th MXS B-52 aircraft mechanic. “You have to line it up correctly and the whole time it is twisting and flexing.”

Another possible obstacle was finding a replacement but instead of ordering it from the 309th AMARG (Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group), the maintainers from the 307th Maintenance Squadron found that one tail was available from a retired jet.

More: Wing commander praises crew of wrecked B-52 for averting a larger catastrophe

“Having that tail on hand saved us a great deal of time because ordering it from AMARG would have taken months,” Nelson said.

So, the 307th MXS completed the works and made the B-52 available for flight operations in just a couple of weeks. Sporting a different tail reclaimed from another decommissioned B-52, still able to take to air again.

By the way, the Stratofortress has already proved it can fly with damages to the tail: actually, even with a detached vertical stabilizer, as happened 54 years ago, when a B-52H involved in a test flight lost its tail at about 14,000 feet over New Mexico. Six hours later, the civilian test pilot Chuck Fisher and his three-man crew managed to perform the first and only Stratofortress’s tailless landing.

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