Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg - We Are The Mighty
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Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
Staff Sgt. August O’Neil, Air Force Wounded Warrior, and fellow pararescueman and Wounded Warrior, Staff Sgt. Nick Robillard, prepare to deliver the Care Beyond Duty flag during the opening ceremony of the 2016 U.S. Air Force Trials at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Feb. 26, 2016. | U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Taylor Curry


In July 2011, Air Force Staff Sgt. August O’Neill, a pararescueman, was sent to rescue a group of Marines pinned down in Afghanistan when enemy insurgents opened fire on his team’s helicopter.

A round bounced off the helicopter’s door, tearing through both of O’Neill’s lower legs and critically wounding his left, resulting in 20 surgeries over the next three-and-a-half years as doctors tried to save the limb.

O’Neill finally told doctors to remove his left leg last year, but he remains determined to continue his career as a pararescueman.

Determined to Resume Career

“I haven’t looked back since,” said O’Neill, who’s training with the 342nd Training Squadron here, as he prepares to requalify for assignment to a pararescue team.

“I knew I wasn’t done doing this job,” he added.

Pararescue isn’t an easy job for any airman, let alone one who’s had their leg amputated just above the knee, but O’Neill believes he’s still up to the task.

“There are going to be issues that come up here and there,” O’Neill said. “But I’m sure I’ll make it back on a team. Just like anybody who hasn’t been in their job for a long time … I basically need to make sure everybody else knows that I’m capable of doing the job, and … I need to make sure I haven’t lost anything that I need.”

Pararescumen serve in one of the most physically demanding fields in the armed forces, with the journey from basic training to joining an operational unit spanning almost two years, according to the technical training course guide.

Seeking a ‘New Normal’

O’Neill said he isn’t expecting any special treatment as he trains over the next few months to demonstrate his mission readiness.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
Wounded warriors and Air Force pararescuemen Staff Sgt. August O’Neill, right, and Staff Sgt. Nick Robillard pose for a portrait with the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program flag at the 2016 U.S. Air Force Trials at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Feb. 26, 2016. | Air Force photo by Senior Airman Taylor Curry

“I wouldn’t want to do this job if I couldn’t meet the same qualifications as everybody else, because that would put the people on my team at risk,” he explained. “You’re only as strong as your weakest member, so if I can’t keep up with them, that means they’re carrying me and that’s not something that I want.”

Living with a prosthetic is a minor annoyance in terms of his daily routine, O’Neill said. He doesn’t sleep with the leg on, for example, so he has to hop to the bathroom or the refrigerator when he wakes in the middle of the night.

“It’s just finding a ‘new normal’ for all the things I was able to do with two legs before,” he explained. “I’ve just been finding ways to get everything done.”

That minor annoyance turns into a bigger challenge during pararescue training, where O’Neill will have to depend on his ingenuity and adaptability to meet the other demands to the job.

“Anything from picking up a patient — where I can’t just roll down on a knee and lift them up — I have to find a different way to brace myself to get people up and move out,” he noted. “Everything is challenging, but it’s just a matter of finding out how to do it.”

As if navigating this “new normal” wasn’t enough, O’Neill said his training has been grueling.

“It’s tough mentally and physically,” he said. “You aren’t pushed to your limit — you’re pushed beyond that — to the limits that the instructors know you can reach. There are so many qualifications that you need to keep up with that you … can’t do so without being mentally prepared.”

One thing, at least, hasn’t changed for O’Neill since returning from his injury.

“I don’t like running,” he chuckled. “I’ve never been a distance runner and after four years of not running … that’s still difficult, but I can still run. It’s not as pretty as it was before, but I’m able to at least get the job done.”

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This is how Viagra was used to entice warlords in Afghanistan

In a foreign policy world full of different carrots and sticks, the CIA used an interesting incentive to dangle from a pole of enticements: Viagra.


Where money and guns have been the traditional tools of clandestine diplomacy, the New York Times’ CIA sources say the big blue pill was renowned by aging Afghan warlords who have multiple wives to satisfy.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
Staff Sgt. Michael Heimann, center, from Nemesis Troop 4-2 Cavalry Scouts helps inspect weapons as Spc. Alexander Moses clears his rifle at a clearing barrel. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Chad A. Dulac)

Running money to informants is difficult for the Agency. To keep their assets in place (that is to say, to keep them alive and feeding information) money isn’t always the best motivator. According to the New York Times’ CIA source, the informant will run out and buy conspicuous items with his new funds.

It won’t be hard to figure out where he got those funds.

Guns are another troublesome carrot for potential informants. The CIA has to assume that – in the Afghan world of fluid allegiances – any arms given to today’s ally could be used against American troops by tomorrow’s enemy.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
Staff Sgt. Jeremy Nabors (left), a propulsion technician from the 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, clears his weapon. (U.S. Air Force photo)

So a magic blue pill that revitalizes an aging man’s libido while invigorating the same man’s ego is a perfect way to cement an uneasy alliance. The nature of the gift keeps the reward from being too obvious or flashy while at the same time, not being something potentially dangerous to U.S. troops in the country.

Other potential incentives for Afghan assets include medical procedures they can’t get in Afghanistan, such as the bypass surgery given to one warlord, as reported by the Washington Post.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
Soldiers from Alpha Battery 2-12 Field Artillery Security Force and Provincial Reconstruction Team Farah clear their weapons in clearing barrels. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Chad A. Dulac)

While Viagra is relatively well-known in Afghanistan (and reportedly sold in markets in the country), CIA officers operating in remote areas have to earn the trust of tribal leaders and be careful not to offend their religious sensibilities when making the initial pitch.

They also have to be careful not to offend anyone’s ego when explaining just what the pill does.

No word on whether Cialis is planning an expansion into the Afghan marketplace.

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This woman had a kamikaze mission to take down an airliner on 9/11

The September 11, 2001, attacks saw numerous acts of bravery and courage from Americans from many walks of life — be they ordinary citizens, emergency services personnel or members of the military.


Of special note was the sacrifice this National Guard fighter pilot and her comrades were willing to make when their fighters were sent up without any armament to protect the nation’s capital soon after word of the attacks spread.

Among the many fighter pilots sent to the skies in the immediate aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York was Heather “Lucky” Penney, a fighter pilot with the District of Columbia Air National Guard. At the time a 1st lieutenant with the 121st Fighter Squadron, Lucky was the only female in her fighter training class, and the only female pilot serving with the squadron.

When air traffic controllers in Cleveland, Ohio, saw a potential hijacking aboard a United Airlines flight, Penney and her flight lead, Lt. Col. Marc Sasseville, were called into action.

Launching from Andrews AFB near Washington, D.C., at 10:42 local time, the pair saw smoke billowing out from Arlington, Virginia, the site of the Pentagon. A second pair of fighters piloted by Brandon Rasmussen and Daniel Caine – also of the DCANG – were sent up as well.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
A firefighter looks at the remains of the South Tower at Ground Zero (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

The Secret Service and defense sector controllers responsible for watching over the airspace surrounding the capital requested an aerial presence to ward away or destroy any other hijacked airliners, lest they attack juicier targets like the White House or the Capitol, or hit crowded civilian areas.

The F-16 Fighting Falcon – the fighters these four pilots flew – is very capable in the air-to-air arena. However, in the rush to get airborne, none of the four DCANG F-16s were armed with missiles or live rounds for their cannons – not that any were immediately available.

Sasseville and Penney briefly discussed a plan of action, noting that their lack of armament would make downing a larger airliner considerably more difficult. The two agreed that the only option would be using their aircraft as rams, where Sasseville would hit the cockpit and Penney the tail.

Though, hypothetically, the two pilots could have aimed their fighters for the engines of the aircraft and ejected quickly after, they knew that the only way they could be sure of bringing down their quarry was if they stayed with their F-16s all the way through.

This would have to be a suicide mission – there was no other alternative.

Word came in over their radios that an aircraft was heading at a low altitude over the Potomac River, possibly towards the White House. This ultimately proved to be a false alarm, though military and Secret Service operations officers initially concluded that the inbound aircraft was United 93, a Boeing 757 similar to the American Airlines jet which had slammed into the Pentagon earlier in the day.

United 93 never showed up in Washington. After recovering at Andrews AFB, the four DCANG pilots would learn that United 93 had crashed in Pennsylvania. Penney, Sasseville, Rasmussen and Caine would soon refuel and have their aircraft armed with weaponry before returning to the skies for their second sortie on Sept. 11.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
The crater where United 93 impacted near Shanksville, PA (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

This time, Penney and Sasseville were directed to fly as escorts for Air Force One, carrying President George W. Bush from Offutt AFB to Andrews AFB. The duo were almost engaged in combat yet again when a Learjet approached Air Force One at high speed, though the event was short-lived with the private aircraft diverted, having been on its way to finding a suitable airport to land.

Both Penney and Sasseville went on, post-9/11, to fly combat missions overseas in support of the Global War On Terror. Penney has since left the DC ANG and works with Lockheed Martin in a senior position, while Sasseville remains active in the Guard, now as a major general.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

In about face, Army restores ability to shoot down Russian jets

The US Army in Europe has made a number of changes in recent months as part of a broader effort by the Pentagon to prepare for a potential fight against an adversary with advanced military capabilities, like Russia or China.

The latest move came on November 28, when the Army activated the 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, in a ceremony at Shipton Barracks in Ansbach, near the city of Nuremberg in southern Germany.

The battalion has a long history, serving in artillery and antiaircraft artillery roles in the War of 1812, the Civil War, World War II, and the Vietnam War. It was deactivated in the late 1990s, after the US military withdrew from the Cold War.


Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg

Lt. Col. Todd Daniels, commander of the 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, uncovers the battalion colors during the activation and assumption of command ceremony at Shipton Kaserne, Germany, on November 28, 2018.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jason Epperson)

Its return brings new and important short-range-air-defense, or SHORAD, capabilities, according to Col. David Shank, the head of 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, of which the new unit is part.”Not only is this a great day for United States Army Europe and the growth of lethal capability here. It is a tremendous step forward for the Air Defense Enterprise,” Shank said at the ceremony.

The battalion will be composed of five battery-level units equipped with FIM-92 Stinger missiles, according to Stars and Stripes.

Three of those batteries will be certified before the end of the summer, Shank said, adding that battalion personnel would also “build and sustain a strong Army family-support program, and become the subject-matter experts in Europe for short-range-air-defense to not just the Army, but our allies.”

Those troops “will have a hard road in from of them,” Shank said.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg

Stinger missiles are fired from the Avenger Air Defense System.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

Air Defense Artillery units were for a long time embedded in Army divisions, but the service started divesting itself of those units in the early 2000s, as military planners believed the Air Force could maintain air superiority and mitigate threats posed by enemy aircraft.

But in 2016, after finding a gap in its SHORAD capabilities, the Army started trying to address the shortfall.

In January, for the first time in 15 years, the US Army in Europe began training with Stinger missiles, a light antiaircraft weapon that can be fired from shoulder- and vehicle-mounted launchers.

Lightweight, short-range antiaircraft missiles are mainly meant to defend against ground-attack aircraft, especially helicopters, that target infantry and armored vehicles. Unmanned aerial vehicles — used by both sides in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine — are also a source concern.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg

A 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade member loads a Stinger onto an Avenger Air Defense System.

(U.S. Army photo by Capt. Rachael Jeffcoat)

US Army Europe has been relying on Avengers defense systems and Stinger missiles from Army National Guard units rotating through the continent as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, which began in 2014 as a way to reassure allies in Europe of the US commitment to their defense.

Guard units rotating through Europe have been training with the Stinger for months, but the 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, will be the only one stationed in Europe that fields the Avenger, a short-range-air-defense system that can be mounted on a Humvee and fires Stinger missiles.

The Army has also been pulling Avenger systems that had been mothballed in order to supply active units until a new weapon system is available, according to Defense News, which said earlier this year that Army Materiel Command was overhauling Avengers that had been sitting in a Pennsylvania field waiting to be scrapped.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg

A U.S. Army Avenger team during qualification in South Korea, October 24, 2018.

(U.S. Army photo by Capt. Marion Jo Nederhoed)

The Army has also fast-tracked its Interim Short Range Air Defense (IM-SHORAD) program to provide air- and missile-defense for Stryker and Armored Brigade Combat Teams in Europe.

The Army plans to develop IM-SHORAD systems around the Stryker, equipping the vehicle with an unmanned turret developed by defense firm Leonardo DRS. The system includes Stinger and Hellfire missiles and an automatic 30 mm cannon, as well as the M230 chain gun and a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun. It will also be equipped with electronic-warfare and radar systems.

Final prototypes of that package are expected in the last quarter of 2019, according to Defense News, with the Army aiming to have the first battery by the fourth quarter of 2020.

The activation of the 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, is part of a broader troop increase the Army announced earlier this year, saying that the increase in forces stationed in Europe permanently would come from activating new units rather than relocating them from elsewhere.

The new units would bring 1,500 soldiers and their families back to Europe. (Some 300,000 US troops were stationed on the continent during the Cold War, but that number has dwindled to about 30,000 now.)

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg

A member of the Florida National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 265 Air Defense Artillery Regiment, uses a touchscreen from the driver’s seat of an Army Avenger.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

In addition to the short-range-air-defense battalion and supporting units at Ansbach, the new units will include a field-artillery brigade headquarters and two multiple-launch-rocket-system battalions and supporting units in Grafenwoehr Training Area, and other supporting units at Hohenfels Training Area and the garrison in Baumholder.

The activations were scheduled to begin this year and should be finished by September 2020, the Army said in a statement.

“The addition of these forces increases US Army readiness in Europe and ensures we are better able to respond to any crisis,” the Army said.

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

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The elite law enforcement division that stopped Bonnie & Clyde (and others!)

This post is sponsored by The CW’s Walker, premiering on January 21st, Thursday 8/7c!

You don’t mess with Texas. Everyone knows that. You especially don’t mess with the Texas Ranger Division. Better known as the Texas Rangers, these gunslingers have been maintaining law and order in the Lone Star State since 1823. But, criminals will be criminals, and some still decide to try their luck against the Rangers. Many high-profile outlaws have had the misfortune of falling in their crosshairs and, for many, it was their last mistake.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
John Wesley Hardin, the meanest man alive (Public Domain)

John Wesley Hardin was one of Texas’ deadliest outlaws and was reputed to be the meanest man alive. At the age of 15, he committed his first murder when he stabbed a fellow student in the school yard. He went on to murder more than 40 people over the next 27 years, including a man he killed for snoring. In May 1874, Hardin murdered Charles Webb, a deputy sheriff of Brown County and former Texas Ranger. In response, Texas Ranger John Barclay Armstrong requested and received permission to arrest Hardin. Armstrong served with the Texas Ranger Special Force as a sergeant and was Captain Leander McNelly’s right hand man, earning him the nickname “McNelly’s Bulldog.”

Armstrong pursued Hardin across Alabama and into Florida where he caught up to him in Pensacola. On July 23, 1877, Armstrong confronted Hardin and four of his gang on a train. Colt pistol in hand, Armstrong called Hardin out. The outlaw drew his own pistol and shouted, “Texas, by God!” In the skirmish that followed, Armstrong shot one of the gang members dead and knocked Hardin out with a blow from his gun. Armstrong emerged with a single bullet hole through his hat, and arrested Hardin and his surviving gang. Hardin was tried in Comanche for Webb’s murder, convicted, and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Despite multiple attempts to escape, he was pardoned 17 years later by Governor Jim Hogg and released from prison on March 16, 1894. He practiced law in El Paso until he was killed the next year on August 19, 1895 over a personal disagreement during a poker game at the Acme Saloon.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
Outlaw and robber Sam Bass (Public Domain)

Sam Bass and his gang began a series of bank and stagecoach robberies in 1877. The next spring, they held up two stagecoaches and four trains less than 25 miles outside of Dallas. In April, Governor Richard Poke commissioned 2nd Lt. Junius “June” Peak of Company B of the Frontier Battalion to hunt Bass and his gang down. Peak was promoted to Captain and given command of a special company of Texas Rangers. Aided by local posses, Peak and his Rangers harassed Bass for several months and drove him from North Texas. Bass managed to evade the Rangers until one of his posse betrayed him.

As the gang rode south, gang member Jim Murphy decided to save his own skin and wrote a letter to Major John B. Jones, commander of the Texas Rangers’ Frontier Battalion. Murphy tipped the Rangers off to a planned bank robbery at the Williamson County Bank in Round Rock in exchange for a deal. The offer was accepted and the Rangers set up an ambush at Round Rock. On July 19, 1878, Bass and his gang scouted Round Rock in preparation for the robbery. Before the ambush could be triggered, Williamson County Sheriff Ahijah “Caige” Grimes noticed the outlaws. Grimes confronted the gang and was shot dead. This began a heavy gunfight between Bass’ gang and the Rangers who were joined the local lawmen. During the fighting, Bass and a deputy were mortally wounded. As the gang mounted their horses and tried to evacuate their leader, Ranger George Herold got one last shot in on Bass from behind. Bass was later found abandoned in a pasture north of town. He was taken into custody, returned to Round Rock and succumbed to his wounds the next day.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
Infamous outlaws Bonnie and Clyde (Public Domain)

Of course, the most famous outlaws taken down by the Texas Rangers were Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. The duo sprung prisoner and fellow gang member Joe Palmer from the Eastham Prison Farm in Houston County. During the escape, the gang killed one of the guards. Additionally, the Barrow gang was responsible for numerous murders, robberies and car thefts across Texas and the United States. Nine law enforcement officers had already lost their lives in confrontations with them. To bring an end to their crime spree, Col. Lee Simmons, head of the prison system, asked a retired Ranger to bring the duo to justice.

Frank A. Hamer enlisted in the Rangers in 1906. He served as a Ranger captain until he retired in 1932. However, he retained his commission as a Ranger and took the position of special investigator for the Texas prison system in 1934 to hunt down Bonnie and Clyde. Along with former Ranger B. M. “Manny” Gault, Hamer pursued them across nine states before he caught up with them in Louisiana. With the help of a posse of local law enforcement officers, the Rangers set up an ambush on a rural road between Gibsland and Sailes. At 9 PM on May 22, the law enforcement posse set up their ambush. After 12 hours, with no Bonnie and Clyde in sight, the Rangers thought their ambush was a bust. That is, until they heard the rumble of Clyde’s stolen Ford V8 approaching. The lawmen opened fire and poured a hail of over 130 bullets into the car. For killing Bonnie and Clyde, Hamer was awarded a special citation by the United States Congress.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
Texas Rangers in El Paso, 1896 (Public Domain)

Countless other criminals and outlaws have crossed paths with the Texas Rangers and lost. Today, they continue to add names to the list of criminals they’ve taken down. Don’t mess with Texas and you won’t join them.

If you want to watch the toughest of law enforcement bring justice to West Texas, be sure to check out the reboot of TV’s most famous Texas Ranger. Walker premieres on January 21st, Thursday 8/7c on The CW. Don’t miss it!

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Navy will now fly Super Hornets until the 2040s

The Navy budget gives the service its long-sought-after F/A-18 Super Hornet increase by adding 14 fighters and more than $1 billion in procurement funds — all as part of a sweeping effort to increase the F-18 fleet size, meet mission requirements, accommodate new technologies, and ultimately fly alongside the F-35C through the 2040s.


Given the recent war-driven op-tempo involving global deployments and air strikes on ISIS, most of the F/A-18 E/F fleet, on average, has already consumed more half of its 6,000-flight hour expected service life. As a result, there has been a long-standing, multi-year Navy effort to acquire new F/A-18s in larger numbers to address urgent needs from combatant commanders.

Also read: This is the inside story behind the F-18 Super Hornet’s first enemy jet kill

When the F/A-18A and F/A-18C reach 8,000 flight hours, they are sent to the depot for service life extension upgrades with the hope of getting the airframes to 10,000 hours. However, many of the older aircraft are in need of substantial repairs and, in recent years, a large percentage of the Navy’s fleet of older Hornets have not been in service.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
Two U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets of Strike Fighter Squadron 31 fly a combat patrol over Afghanistan, Dec. 15, 2008. (Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon, U.S. Air Force)

“Extension of legacy Hornet life requires additional inspections and deep maintenance that were not originally envisioned for the aircraft. Average repair time has significantly increased because of required engineering of unanticipated repairs, material lead times, and increased corrosion of airframes,” the Navy budget document writes.

As part of a specific effort to address this scenario, the Navy’s new budget request increases fund for civilian maintenance personnel hiring, depot-level maintenance work, and sustainment initiatives. The goal of this, according to Navy budget documents, is to “decrease the time to complete depot level maintenance caused by the number of high flight hours.”

Related: Watch this crazy video of a Navy F-18 intercepting a UFO

Navy officials have told Warrior Maven that modifications include replacing the center barrel (section) and ensuring the airframe structures achieve 100% service life. Additional modifications increase the total landing limit and modifications to catapult attachment components can be incorporated to extend total catapults, service developers have described.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
A US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet, Strike Fighter Squadron 41. (TSGT Rob Tabor, U.S. Air Force)

A carrier air wing consists of about 44 strike aircraft made up of two 10-aircraft squadrons and two 12-plane squadrons complemented by several electrical jamming aircraft.

More: Coming to a highway near you: Finnish F-18s

The current composition of most carrier-based air wings includes 24 Super Hornets and 20 Hornets, however the Navy plans to replace some of its existing Hornets with F-35Cs. Although the budget does increase F-35C acquisition as well, the emergence of the carrier-launched stealth fighter will not remove combatant commanders need for the F-18.

The Navy had been planning for the Super Hornets to serve well into the 2030s, but now service leaders say that timeline will need to extend into the 2040s.

The Navy plans to acquire as many as 60 new F-35C aircraft over the next five years, according to the service budget request.

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ISIS is throwing reinforcements into Mosul battle as coalition tightens the noose

The Islamic State is throwing as many fighters as it can into the Iraqi city of Mosul in a desperate attempt to push back against coalition forces, according to the Pentagon.


Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
A U.S. Army M109A6 Paladin conducts a fire mission at Qayyarah West, Iraq, in support of the Iraqi security forces’ push toward Mosul, Oct. 17, 2016. The support provided by the Paladin teams denies the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant safe havens while providing the ISF with vital artillery capabilities during their advance. The United States stands with a Coalition of more than 60 international partners to assist and support the Iraqi security forces to degrade and defeat ISIL. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Christopher Brecht)

ISIS reinforcements from Syria and Iraq are entering Mosul from areas west of the city, which are still under the terrorist group’s control. ISIS leaders inside the city have been forced to conscript administration officials and other non-traditional fighters in order to counter the coalition’s offensive.

“ISIL continues to augment its manpower from the outside,” Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters Monday. “We see them taking administrative and support personnel, people who are not normally involved in arms, and they are arming them.”

Davis noted that despite the reinforcements, ISIS is having difficulty with its command and control capabilities thanks in part to coalition air strikes.

ISIS’s decision to arm every potential fighter it can is not surprising. The terrorist group is woefully outnumbered, with less than 5,000 fighters in the city. In turn, the Iraqi Security Forces have deployed 18,000 men, while the Kurdish Peshmerga have fielded around 10,000. Approximately 2,000 Iraqi federal police are also supplementing the coalition force.

While coalition forces clearly have the upper hand, Davis noted they are experiencing “heavy resistance” from ISIS as they move closer to the Mosul city limits. ISIS has engaged in increasingly desperate tactics as they lose control of the city, including waves of suicide bombers, car bombs and burning oil fields. In some cases, they have resorted to using suicide bombers to cover the retreat of their personnel.

The Pentagon expects foreign fighters to be particularly dangerous targets, as many of them burned their passports upon entering the so-called caliphate.

“Those are the people we expect to stay in Mosul and fight to the death, they don’t have a lot of other good options,” said Davis.

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The 5 best ways US troops can blow down enemy doors

A good, stout door will protect people from a lot of dangers. It will not, however, save enemies of the U.S. from America’s armed forces. While troops can usually open a door with a swift donkey kick or a battering ram, they also have more violent ways of making an entrance.


1. Rifle-fired grenades

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmRxCGskdAI

The Simon grenade rifle entry munition, or GREM, is mounted on the end of a M-16 rifle or M-4 carbine. The weapon’s standard 5.56mm round is fired, striking the grenade and sending it 15-30 meters to the target door. Once the grenade’s standoff rod strikes the target, the grenade detonates and opens the door — violently.

2. Standard breaching charges

When firing a grenade isn’t an option, troops can just plant an explosive on the door.

3. Water charge

A modification of the standard explosive charge, water charges reduce the risk of injury to the breachers or the people on the other side of the door. Standard explosives sandwiched between containers of water are placed on the door and detonated. Water bottles are commonly used, but this video was filmed using IV bags.

4. Shotgun

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pmt8NyvcJgY

Of course, service members who are already carrying a shotgun would probably prefer to just use it. Troops press the barrel against the frame, aiming for hinge points or where bolts pass through the frame. Once the round rips through the wood, the door can be quickly kicked or pushed open.

5. Blowing out an entire wall

Sometimes it’s not a good idea to go through the door at all. In that case, there are a few ways to rig explosives to make a new opening in a wall. In this video, det cord was placed on a marksmanship target to create a large, oval-shaped explosive and the whole thing was stuck to the wall. When detonated, it makes a hole big enough to run through. To go straight to the explosion in the video, skip to 2:20.

NOW: The most ridiculous weapons ever designed

OR WATCH: The 7 Coolest Current High Tech Military Projects | Military Insider

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This training film showed how American machine guns outshot German machine guns

Believe it or not, folks, gun debates raged long before there was an Internet. Though in some cases, it was rather important to “diss” some guns. Like in World War II.


Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
(WATM Archive)

The Nazis had some pretty respectable designs. The MP40, a submachine gun chambered for the 9mm Luger cartridge, with a 32-round magazine was pretty close to their standard submachine gun.

Compare that to the American M1928 Thompson submachine gun, which fired the .45 ACP round and could fire a 30-round magazine or drum holding 50 or 100 rounds, or the M3 “Grease Gun,” also firing the .45 ACP round and with a 30-round magazine.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
(WATM Archive)

Two of the major Nazi machine guns were the MG34 and the MG42. Both fired the 7.92x57mm round. They could fire very quickly – as much as 1,500 rounds per minute in the case of the MG42. The major machine guns the Americans used were the M1917 and M1919. Both fired the .30-06 round and could shoot about 500 rounds a minute.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
German paratroopers open fire with a MG 42 general purpose machine gun. German Bundesarchiv photo.

That said, the primary Nazi rifle, the Mauser Karabiner 98k, was outclassed by the American M1 Garand. The Germans also didn’t have a weapon to match the M1 Carbine, a semi-auto rifle that had a 15 or 30-round magazine.

And the Walther P38 and Luger didn’t even come close to the M1911 when it came to sidearms. That much is indisputable.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
GIs from the 77th Infantry Division man a machine gun nest on the island of Shima, May 3, 1945. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

But it isn’t all about the rate of fire in full-auto – although it probably is good for devout spray-and-pray shooters. It’s about how many rounds are on target – and which put the bad guys down. The German guns may not have been all that when it came to actually hitting their targets, at least according to the United States Army training film below.


MIGHTY TRENDING

Strikes on Syria were a public spanking of the Assad regime

President Donald Trump pulled off a large-scale attack on sites thought to contribute to Syria’s chemical weapons program — but even the Pentagon acknowledges the attack’s limitations.

The Pentagon says the strikes, made by the US, France, and the UK, took out the “heart” of Syria’s chemical weapons program. But Syrian President Bashar Assad, whom the UN has linked to dozens of gas attacks, still maintains “residual” capabilities of creating and using chemical weapons, the Pentagon said.


Assad still has his jets, and helicopters. The air wing in Assad’s army that the US suspects of having carried out a chemical attack early April 2018, on the town of Douma went unpunished. The US-led strike did not target any personnel suspected of carrying out illegal orders to drop gas bombs on civilians.

“It is very important to stress it is not an attempt to change the tide of the war in Syria or to have a regime change,” Boris Johnson, the UK’s foreign secretary, said. “I’m afraid the Syrian war will go on in its horrible, miserable way. But it was the world saying that we’ve had enough of the use of chemical weapons.”

“The American strikes did not change anything for Syrians,” Osama Shoghari, an anti-government activist from Douma, told The New York Times. “They did not change anything on the ground.”

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called the strike “precise and proportionate,” but while it may have involved precise, smart, new weapons, it’s unclear what Mattis thinks the strike proportional to.

What did the strikes change on the ground?

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
One of the US’s targets before and after the strike.
(DigitalGlobe satelite photo)

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed during the country’s seven-year civil war, which kicked off when Assad violently responded to pro-democracy rallies in 2011.

Millions in Syria have been displaced by the conflict; many have been tortured and abducted. Large swaths of the country fell under jihadist rule. A generation of Syrian children are growing up knowing only war.

The strikes on April 13, 2018, addressed none of that. The 105 weapons used against three facilities across Syria targeted only chemical weapons production in Syria, and they didn’t even remove all of those weapons or capabilities.

Instead, the strikes made a big show of punishing the Assad government over the attack on Douma that the US and local aid groups said involved chemical weapons, and it did so on a shaky legal premise.

Chemical warfare may continue in Syria. Widespread fighting, casualties, and abuses of power in the deeply unstable country will continue with near certainty. A hundred missiles, or even a thousand, couldn’t hope to reverse the deep problems faced by Syrians every day, or to punish Assad and his inner circle as much as they have punished their own people, but Trump never actually tried to.

Performative allyship in cruise-missile form

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
A poster of Bashar al-Assad at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Damascus

Assad, a leader whom Trump calls an animal who gasses his own people, remains in power. Chemical weapons remain in Syria. The world is no closer to finding peace there.

But Assad has been publicly spanked by the US, the UK, and France. Three nations told Syria, and its Russian backers, they meant business after years of turning a blind eye to reports of horrors in the country.

The Syria strike, viewed as a public spanking rather than a decisive military campaign, was a “mission accomplished” not because it changed anything, but because they made it loud.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Air Force Academy cadets are building satellites

“Learning space by doing space” is the motto of the Air Force Academy’s unique FalconSAT senior capstone engineering program, a program unlike any other undergraduate space program in the world.

Each year Astro Department faculty, aided by experts from other departments, NCOs, technicians and contractors, provide cadets with the real hands-on experience of designing, building, testing, and launching and operating satellites for the Air Force.


FalconSAT’s roots trace back to the early 1980s when the first cadet experiments were designed for space shuttle missions. These later morphed into balloon-launched testbeds and small payloads followed by free-flying satellites launched in the early 2000s. Since the mid-2000s, the Air Force Research Lab has sponsored the FalconSAT program, providing funding and payloads to give cadets this unique opportunity. Each FalconSAT has included payloads intended to provide flight heritage and experimental data to researchers at AFRL, the Academy, NASA, Air Force Space Command and major contractors.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg

U.S. Air Force Academy cadets clean the components of the FalconSat-6 satellite they and their instructors built at the Academy at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The satellite successfully launched into space Dec. 3, 2018 from Vandenberg.

FalconSAT experience is invaluable to the development of future Air Force leaders. Graduates of the program have earned numerous nationally competitive scholarships, including two Rhodes scholarships and three Holaday Fellowships in the last 15 years, and have gone on to do similar work at the Space and Missile Systems Center, the AFRL, National Reconnaissance Office, and in operational space and rated duties. Many cite their real-world FalconSAT lessons as the best, most effective preparation for active duty that they received during their cadet career.

This article originally appeared on Airman Magazine. Follow @AirmanMagazine on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Online commissary privileges finally available to newly eligible shoppers

Nearly 4 million veterans and caregivers who were granted privileges to shop at commissaries and exchanges Jan. 1 can finally enjoy access to online features, a Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) news release said Friday.


However, the new patrons’ access to American Forces Travel (AFT), the official Morale, Welfare and Recreation travel site, is still spotty, according to the latest AFT Facebook post.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg

Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war, veterans with any service-connected disability, and caregivers registered with the VA’s Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers program became eligible to shop at commissaries, exchanges and MWR facilities beginning Jan. 1.

Since then, these new shoppers have experienced issues, including not being able to bring guests on base and trouble accessing MyCommissary and AFT online portals.

DeCA officials said they had to work with Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC), which is used to confirm shopping privileges, to let new patrons register their Commissary Rewards cards online to access coupons and to use, as available, the Click2Go curbside service.

“In the event a new shopper is still receiving an error message when trying to create an account, they should check with the [Department of Veterans Affairs] to ensure their information and privileges are correctly entered into the system,” DeCA system engineer Clayton Nobles said in a statement. “For those receiving a new Veterans Health Identification Card (VHIC), there may be a delay between when the veteran receives the card and when the system allows them access. This delay can take up to 30 days.”

Eligible veterans must have a VHIC to access bases for shopping or MWR use.

Customers who had access before Jan. 1, such as retired service members, Medal of Honor recipients and veterans with a service-related disability rating of 100%, are not affected.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg

images02.military.com

Meanwhile, AFT is still updating its customer database of “millions of records.”

“We have sent examples to DMDC and they were able to see why some patrons are having issues,” AFT said on Facebook, the only place it is providing updates on the issue. “We will let you know when that resolve has been made and then ask you to try logging on again. Records are being updated every hour.”

But some veterans are getting tired of waiting.

“No luck today. Last week they said it would be fixed this week,” one Facebook user wrote. “The week before, it was going to be fixed last week. I sent a private message this afternoon and got an automated response to call the DMDC help desk at 1-800-727-3677. That number is for the Commissary. After 35 minutes, someone answered the phone and said they could not help me to get verified.”

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

Articles

This is how the Marines groom their top operators

An average of 11 months of grueling training and the mastery of seven weapons are just some of the hurdles to join the elite tier of the Corps’.


After serving three years as a Marine, MARSOC candidates arrive at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, in the best shape of their lives.

Some of the physical assessments include a 300 yard swim in cammies and a brutal 12-mile timed rucksack run carrying 45 pounds of gear.

Come along to MARSOC and see what the training is like.

MARSOC training begins with Phase One, a 10 week long course that focuses on basic skills that all operators will need to master.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
Sgt. Kyle McNally | U.S. Marine Corps

These skills include general fitness …

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
Cpl. Thomas Provost | U.S. Marine Corps

… And significantly more advanced swimming skills.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
Cpl. Steven Fox | U.S. Marine Corps

All Marines must also master survival skills such as Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) training and Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC).

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
Sgt. Larry Carpenter | U.S. Marine Corps

After a successful completion of Phase One, Marines enter into 8 weeks of Small Unit Tactics in Phase Two.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
Cpl. Steven Fox | U.S. Marine Corps

This second phase involves small boat operations and information collection.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
Staff Sgt. Robert Storm | Wikimedia Commons

Urban and rural reconnaissance is also a focus of this phase.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
Sgt. Kyle McNally | U.S. Marine Corps

After completion of Phase Two, successful Marines enter into 5 weeks of Close Quarters Battles training.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
U.S. Marine Corps

Phase Three focuses on the necessary martial skills that all MARSOC operators must master to survive during their missions.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
Master Sgt. Larry Carpenter | U.S. Air Force

This includes rifle and pistol marksmanship lessons …

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
GySgt. Josh Higgins | U.S. Marine Corps

… As well as learning the tactics and techniques required for successfully conducting raids on urban, rural, and maritime objects.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
Gunnery Sgt. Robert Storm | U.S. Marine Corps

Phase Four is the final section of the course and lasts seven weeks.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
YouTube

This phase, dubbed Irregular Warfare, requires that Marines demonstrate a complete mastery of all preceding skills.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
Staff Sgt. Robert Storm | U.S. Marine Corps

In the fourth phase, operators will pair with soldiers from a participating partner nation.

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg
Gunnery Sgt. Robert Storm | U.S. Marine Corps

MARSOC operators are required to then train, advise, and successfully operate with the partner nation forces. MARSOC has operated in more than 40 countries.

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