US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash

A US Army soldier from Skagway, Alaska, was killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan Oct. 27, military officials and the man’s family said.


Chief Warrant Officer Jacob Michael Sims, 36, died in a helicopter crash in Logar Province, Afghanistan, the Department of Defense said in a statement.

Six other US crew members were injured. The cause of the crash is under investigation, according to NATO’s Operation Resolute Support in Afghanistan.

A provincial governor’s spokesman told Stars and Stripes that the helicopter had “taken troops to the Kharwar district for a night raid” when it hit a tree, according to the newspaper.

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash
On Camp Marmal in Afghanistan, Blackhawk crew members from the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade’s Alpha Company 5th Battalion 158th Aviation perform after-operations checks on their UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter following night-operations in RC-North. US Army Photo by Capt. Michael Barranti.

Stars and Stripes reported that the NATO coalition denied that the crash was the result of enemy action. It’s not clear whether Sims was the pilot of the helicopter that crashed.

Sims joined the Army in 1999 and trained as a combat engineer before becoming a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter pilot, according to a biographical statement from the US Army’s Special Operations Command.

Related: US military helicopter crashes off southern coast of Yemen

The Department of Defense listed his hometown as Juneau. But Sims’ sister-in-law Trisha Sims said he grew up in Skagway and graduated from school there. Sims’ parents briefly lived in Juneau around the time that he joined the military, Trisha Sims said.

Sims was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 160 Special Operations Aviation Regiment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State. The unit is known as the “Night Stalkers.”

He was a decorated veteran of numerous overseas operations in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan, according to his biography. His awards included an Air Medal and a Joint Service Commendation Medal.

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash
A crew member from the C/4-160th SOAR (Night Stalkers) collects a rappel rope used by the Airmen of the 142nd Fighter Wing, 125th Special Tactics Squadron in Alternate Insertion Extraction training from a UH-60 Blackhawk, March 19, 2017, Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore. US Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel.

“Jacob lived by a creed that few understand and even fewer embody,” said Colonel Philip Ryan, the commander of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. “He will not be forgotten and his legacy will endure through his family, friends, and fellow Night Stalkers.”

Alaska Governor Bill Walker on Oct. 29 ordered that US and Alaska flags be lowered to half-staff in honor of Sims.

“Chief Warrant Officer Sims and his family made the ultimate sacrifice for the rest of us,” Walker said in a statement. “Byron, Toni, Donna, and I are holding his parents, his wife, and his children in our daily prayers. While our state and our country lost a dedicated soldier, they lost their son, husband and father. Our military service members put themselves on the line in defense of the values we hold dear. We owe them a debt of gratitude.”

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.


US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash
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.

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash
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 Army is relaxing its standards to get enough recruits to sign up

The Army has made it easier to grant waivers for marijuana use as part of its effort to meet recruiting goals. The service has also increased spending on recruiting bonuses to over $420 million, compared to just $8.2 million in fiscal year 2014.


According to a report by USA Today, the Army has been dipping into so-called “Category Four” recruits to try to meet a goal of recruiting 80,000 new soldiers, up from 69,000 new soldiers in fiscal year 2017.

The report stated that about 2 percent of the 69,000 recruits were from that category, which involves people who score in the bottom third of ASVAB tests.

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash
Marijuana, along with nine other substances, is specifically prohibited under Article 112a of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and penalties for its use can range from a general discharge to dishonorable discharge (for positive results of a urinalysis) and even imprisonment for possession.

The Army says that these waivers are not going to compromise quality, but the low unemployment rate has caused challenges.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow told the paper.

One of the ways that the Army is trying to meet the challenge is to grant more waivers to prospective soldiers who admit to using marijuana. The authority for the waivers has been delegated to recruiting officers who hold the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Previously, only two-stars grant the waiver.

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash
US Army Photo by Cherie A. Thurlby

The increased waivers may be an unintended consequence of the legalization of marijuana for either medicinal purposes or recreational use in a number of states. According to Me2 Enterprises, a number of jobs in Washington are going unfilled because people cannot pass drug tests, despite that state’s legalization of marijuana.

Federal law still prohibits marijuana use.

This is not the first time that the military has dipped heavily into the Category Four pool. During the height of the fight against insurgents during Operation Iraqi Freedom, the services at times saw the “Category Four” portion of the recruit pool reach levels of over four percent, exceeding the Pentagon’s cap.

Articles

The 13 funniest military memes of the week

(Most of our memes this week came straight from Facebook, so thanks to everyone who shares on social media.)


1. E4 mafia? They can disappear faster than a Predator.

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash
E4 mafia runs the Army – except when there is a detail. Then they run from the Army.

2. You know there’s at least one sergeant warning everyone about sunburn. (via Military Memes)

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash

SEE ALSO: The top 7 videos of ISIS getting blown away

3. Inspections are done every 6 months, typically unannounced. (via Military Memes)

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash
I like to think Goose is in the back, taking pictures of everyone they fly close to.

 4. I’m a sniper, but I’m cross-trained in other sorts of bad*ssery. (via Military Memes)

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash

5. The Air Force is shocked to see that many planes in such a small place. (via Military Memes)

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash
The soldiers are jealous because they could only pack two duffel bags and the sailors got to bring their floating fortress.

6. Pilots are jocks. They don’t have much time for that book learnin’. (via Military Memes)

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash
Surprisingly, the mechanics are the nerds.

7. This airman is here to get sh*t done.

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash
Mostly folding towels, but GETS. IT. DONE.

8. Study hard, be prepared, then Christmas tree it. (via Sh-t My LPO Says)

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash

9. There are a lot of ways to assess your branch of service. (via Military Memes)

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash
Air Force rarely uses how tough their basic is.

10. Gunner’s mate chief is about to fire his button. (via Sh-t My LPO Says)

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash
At that tension, release velocity is about 450 meters per second.

11. Best way to compare civilian and military experiences.

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash
Of course, when the DI walks in, your heart doesn’t drop so much as stop. Which is good, because he can find you when it’s beating.

 12. “I just want it to frame my face.” (via Military Memes)

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash

13. “Here, a school of sharks sight easy prey.” (via Military Memes)

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash

NOW: 11 things your recruiter told you (and what they really mean)

OR: Watch the top 10 military comedy shows.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Army schedules hearing to consider Bowe Bergdahl plea

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will appear in court next week to enter an expected guilty plea to charges that he endangered comrades by walking off his remote post in Afghanistan in 2009.


The Army announced that Bergdahl will enter a plea Oct. 16 at Fort Bragg. The news release didn’t elaborate on what his plea would entail, but two individuals with knowledge of the case told The Associated Press last week that Bergdahl is expected to plead guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. They were not authorized to discuss the case and demanded anonymity.

Prosecutors aren’t saying whether they have agreed to limit Bergdahl’s punishment. The misbehavior charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, while the desertion charge is punishable by up to five years.

A lawyer for Bergdahl didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment Oct. 12.

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash
Photo via US Army

His trial had been scheduled to begin Oct. 23, but those dates are expected to be used for sentencing now. While guilty pleas allow Bergdahl to avoid trial, his sentencing is still likely to include dramatic testimony about service members injured searching for him.

Legal scholars say it will be revealed at the Oct. 16 hearing whether Bergdahl struck a deal with prosecutors, or is simply pleading guilty with hopes of leniency from the judge. His five years of imprisonment by the Taliban and its allies could be a factor in his sentencing in either scenario.

Military judges are supposed to make unbiased decisions, so if prosecutors have proposed a more limited punishment, this judge won’t know exactly what they’re calling for until after he decides on a sentence. Military jurisprudence calls for Bergdahl to ultimately be sentenced to the lesser of the two punishments, legal scholars said.

Because the defense has lost several pretrial rulings, government prosecutors have a strong hand to pursue punishment and little to gain from a lenient plea deal, said Rachel Van Landingham, a former Air Force lawyer who teaches at Southwestern Law School in California.

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash
Bowe Bergdahl watches as one of his captors displays his identity tag in this still from a Taliban-released video.

“The Army has gone after this case with a vengeance – why not continue that pursuit by asking for a stiff punishment?” she said. “But who knows, this case has been quite topsy-turvy.”

Bergdahl could admit guilt without a plea agreement — known colloquially as a “naked plea” — which would be a risky move with some possible benefits. Such a plea wouldn’t require Bergdahl to agree with prosecutors on certain facts of the case, as he would under a deal, said former Army lawyer Eric Carpenter, who teaches law at Florida International University.

But, Carpenter said, “The military judge can sentence you to whatever he wants, so that’s the real risk that they would be taking.”

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash
Photo courtesy of USAF.

Prosecutors gained leverage when the judge, Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance, decided to allow evidence of serious wounds to service members who searched for Bergdahl at the sentencing phase. The judge said a Navy SEAL and an Army National Guard sergeant wouldn’t have wound up in separate firefights that left them wounded if they hadn’t been searching for Bergdahl.

The defense also was rebuffed in an effort to prove President Donald Trump had unfairly swayed the case with scathing criticism of Bergdahl, including suggestions of harsh punishment. The judge wrote in a February ruling that Trump’s campaign-trail comments were “disturbing and disappointing” but did not constitute unlawful command influence by the soon-to-be commander in chief.

Defense attorneys have acknowledged that Bergdahl walked off his base without authorization. Bergdahl himself told a general during a preliminary investigation that he left intending to cause alarm and draw attention to what he saw as problems with his unit. He was captured soon after by the Taliban and its allies.

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash
Photo from US Coast Guard.

But the defense team has argued that Bergdahl can’t be held responsible for a long chain of events that included many decisions by others on how to conduct the searches.

The military probe of Bergdahl began soon after he was freed from captivity on May 31, 2014 in exchange for five Taliban prisoners. Former President Barack Obama was criticized by Republicans who claimed he jeopardized the nation’s security with the trade, but Obama said: ” The United States of America does not ever leave our men and women in uniform behind.”

Bergdahl, who’s from Hailey, Idaho, has been assigned to desk duty at a Texas Army base pending the outcome of his legal case.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is the Marine Corps’ first female infantry officer

A female Marine graduated from the Corps’ grueling Infantry Officer Course Monday, marking a historic feat as the first woman to earn the 0302 infantry officer military occupational specialty.


The woman, who has asked to keep her identity private, will now be assigned to the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California, the service said in a release.

“I am proud of this officer and those in her class‎ who have earned the infantry officer MOS,” Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said in a statement.

Infantry Officer Course is one of the Corps’ toughest schools, where officers learn combat skills, patrolling, and leadership over 13 weeks of training. Just 88 Marines graduated from the latest class, which started with 131 students.

IOC was first opened to women in 2012 so that Marine leaders could research the feasibility of integrating all-male infantry units. Eventually, the Pentagon removed all restrictions on women in 2015.

Since the course opened up, more than 30 female officers have attempted it and failed. Meanwhile, a handful of enlisted female Marines have been able to graduate from the Corps’ Infantry Training Battalion.

“This is such a huge deal,” Kate Germano, a retired lieutenant colonel who previously commanded the all-female 4th Recruit Training Battalion, wrote on Twitter.

The Corps released a short video with clips of the female lieutenant during the course:

MIGHTY TRENDING

North Koreans are tired of all the Kim Jong Un photos

Kim Jong Un may enjoy being photographed frequently, but his desire to be at the center of state media attention may be irritating ordinary North Koreans.


Kim’s recurring presence in North Korean newspapers, like the Rodong Sinmun, now means major state visits must be commemorated with dozens of Kim photographs per issue, Daily NK reported Dec. 18.

On Dec. 9, Kim’s visit to Samjiyon in Yanggang Province was announced in the newspaper with 60 photographs from the location, with 50 out of the 60 pictures including Kim.

The attention-seeking Kim is drawing criticism from North Koreans, who say he is trying to repair his image following the execution of his uncle-in-law Jang Song Taek.

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash
(Photo from North Korean State Media)

One North Korea source told Daily NK the “very common” photographs are a problem for smokers.

“People don’t like it,” the source said. “Among workers, who are looking for spare newspaper to roll up a cigarette, it is becoming increasingly hard to find a fragment without a portrait of Kim Jong Un.”

North Korea law forbids people from using pictures of Kim in derogatory ways, and travelers to North Korea have previously told UPI they are not allowed to fold a crease across a picture of Kim’s face or damage an image of him in newspapers.

Also Read: 7 nasty ways Kim Jong Un executes people

Kim may be tightening his grip as he concludes his fifth full year in power.

Analysts at Seoul’s Institute for National Security Strategy said Dec. 18 that Kim has purged top officials Hwang Pyong So and Kim Won Hong, less than a week after a South Korean newspaper reported Hwang may have been expelled from the Workers’ Party for taking bribes.

The INSS also said economic sanctions could hit the elites, and Kim could purge more economic officials to assign blame as conditions worsen in the country, Yonhap reported.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Divers wore 1940s gear to inter Pearl Harbor survivor on USS Arizona

Pearl Harbor survivor Lauren Bruner was laid to rest aboard the sunken remains of the USS Arizona with the help of two Army divers in diving gear from the period.

Army 7th Dive Detachment Divers SSG Fred Bible and SPC Julio Melendez wore lead boots and a drysuit — weighing a total of 220 pounds — and the last two Mark 5 vintage hard hats certified for operational use on the dive.

Bruner, who died on Sept. 10, 2019, at 98 years old, was interred on the wreck of the Arizona on December 7, the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.


US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash

(Library of Congress)

After Bruner’s death, only three Arizona crew members are still alive today.

According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Bruner survived the attack on the Arizona by going hand over hand across a rope stretched 70 feet above the harbor. Forty-four other survivors have had their remains interred on the ship, alongside their more than 900 shipmates who went down with the ship during the attack.

Bruner will be the last survivor to be interred on the wreckage, the Star-Advertiser reports; he was the second-to-last man to escape the flaming ship, according to CNN.

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash

Attendees salute Bruner’s ashes.

(Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Holly L. Herline/US Navy)

SSG Fred Bible and SPC Julio Melendez wore vintage diving suits to place Bruner’s ashes in the well of barbette number four.

Bruner suffered burns on 80% of his body, but went back into service after he healed. He served aboard the USS Coghlan in eight other battles against Japan’s forces, CNN reports.

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash

US Army 7th Dive Detachment Divers SSG Fred Bible and SPC Julio Melendez interred the remains of Pearl Harbor Survivor Lauren Bruner amongst the remains of his fellow crewman on board the sunken USS Arizona.

(Screengrab/Sgt. Laura Martin/US Army/DVIDS)

The diving suits are similar to what salvage divers would have worn on salvage missions into Pearl Harbor.

The Mark 5 helmet and dive suit was used from 1916 until the 1980s, according to the US Naval Undersea Museum.

“In retrospect, it’s very historical and super-cool, but it’s kind of uncomfortable,” Melendez told the Star-Advertiser. “It’s super heavy and it’s kind of amazing to think that it took so long to kind of upgrade it.”

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash

US Army 7th Dive Detachment Divers SSG Fred Bible and SPC Julio Melendez interred the remains of Pearl Harbor Survivor Lauren Bruner aboard the USS Arizona.

(Screengrab/Sgt. Laura Martin/US Army/DVIDS)

Underwater, Melendez and Bible walked about 200 feet along the wreckage of the Arizona before they brought Bruner’s remains to their final resting place.

While the Navy has performed this kind of ceremony before for other Pearl Harbor survivors, the divers have always worn modern diving kits.

“I think it was a really fitting tribute and I think it’s an interesting way to kind of close out the last of the interments — to have it done not only with the ceremony that we normally do, but to have historic hardhats like it would have been during the salvage in World War II,” Brett Seymour, the deputy chief of the National Park Service’s Submerged Resources Center, told the Star-Advertiser.

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash

(Screengrab/Sgt. Laura Martin/US Army/ DVIDS)

“We’ve never done an interment with hardhats for sure,” Seymour told the Star-Advertiser.

“It was historical. I was left speechless, honestly,” Melendez told the Star-Advertiser. “It was a very in-the-moment experience. Just kind of taking it all in and realizing what we were doing and the history that’s being made and remembering Lauren Bruner and everything that he had done.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Marines are ditching one of their latest mortar systems

In a push to build its modernization budget and invest in new technologies, the Marine Corps has hauled at least one program of record to the curb — and is looking for more to cut.


The Corps has already divested of the 120mm Expeditionary Fire Support System to make way for other capabilities, Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, told Military.com in an interview.

The EFSS, fielded in the early 2000s, was designed to be extremely portable, small enough to be towed by an all-terrain vehicle that fits easily inside an MV-22 Osprey.

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash
(Photo: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Pablo N. Piedra)

Made by General Dynamics, the full system weighs roughly 18 pounds and can fire high-explosive, smoke and illumination rounds. The system was fired in combat for the first time in 2011.

The news that the Marine Corps is cutting ties with the program is something of a surprise, considering the service was in the process of acquiring a new round: the Raytheon-made GPS-guided precision extended range munition, or PERM, expected to increase the accuracy of the system and extend its range from roughly five miles to 10.

In 2015, Raytheon inked a $98 million contract with the Corps for the delivery of PERM; the round was to have been fielded to Marine units next year.

But Walsh said the Marine Corps is working to extend the range of its artillery arsenal, particularly its M777 howitzer. With its limited range, the EFSS may not be well suited to what Marine leaders perceive as the Corps’ future mission.

“We made that decision to divest of it, and we’re going to move that money into some other area, probably into the precision fires area,” Walsh said. “So programs that we see as not as viable, this [program objective memorandum] development that we’re doing right now is to really look at those areas critically and see what can we divest of to free money up to modernize.”

Walsh said the Marine Corps wants to see a boost of about 5 percent in its modernization budget. The just-passed Fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act included a modest bump in procurement, with much of the additional money earmarked for investment in ground vehicles.

Also Read: This SPEAR can deliver 120mm hurt to the bad guys from the back of a Jeep

As the Corps plans for 2020 and beyond, Walsh said the service is looking inside the organization to find savings and “investment trade-offs” in order to get the money it needs.

While Walsh said he could not yet identify other Marine Corps programs that had been marked for divestiture, he noted that operations and maintenance funding may also be examined in order to move more money into modernization.

“The commandant has told us … I wouldn’t say that he has modernization over readiness — readiness is important — but he’s told us to look real hard at our ops and maintenance accounts that aren’t tied specifically to unit readiness,” he said.

“We can look … to determine across the [Marine Air-Ground Task Force] where we can find money and move it into the modernization area to get that slope up higher within the Marine Corps,” Walsh said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Congress wants to cyber attack countries who meddle in elections

As part of the fiscal 2019 defense budget, the Senate Armed Services Committee wants the U.S. to launch offensive cyber attacks in retaliation against Russia or any other country that tries to “significantly disrupt the normal functioning of our democratic society or government.”

The language appeared in the committee’s newly released conference report of the “John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019” a week after lawmakers on both sides of the aisle criticized President Donald Trump for not taking a hard stance on Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections during his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.


The NDAA “authorizes the National Command Authority to direct U.S. Cyber Command to take appropriate and proportional action through cyberspace to disrupt, defeat, and deter systematic and ongoing attacks by Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran in cyberspace.”

“Defense committees have long expressed concern with the lack of an effective strategy and policy for the information domain, including cyberspace and electronic warfare,” the document states.

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash

President Donald Trump

(Photo by Michael Vadon)

To assist the Defense Department in this challenge, the NDAA “establishes a policy that the United States should employ all instruments of national power, including the use of offensive cyber capabilities, to deter if possible, and respond when necessary, to cyber attacks that target U.S. interests with the intent to cause casualties, significantly disrupt the normal functioning of our democratic society or government, threaten the Armed Forces or the critical infrastructure they rely upon, achieve an effect comparable to an armed attack, or imperil a U.S. vital interest,” the document states.

Lawmakers became increasingly vocal in their concerns about Russian meddling in U.S. elections after Trump appeared to question his own intelligence agencies’ findings on the issue and take Putin’s word at the Helsinki summit that Russia had no part in interfering with the 2016 election.

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash

United States President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.


“I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” Trump said, according to The Associated Press.

“He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: ‘I don’t see any reason why it would be,’ ” Trump said.

He later clarified his comments, saying he told Putin the U.S. won’t tolerate any election interference in the future.

“I let him know we can’t have this,” Trump said, according to an AP report. “We’re not going to have it, and that’s the way it’s going to be.”

In addition to the new language, Senate lawmakers increased research and development spending on cyber, and other emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, hypersonics and directed energy, by more than 0 million, the document states.

If signed by Trump, “the FY19 NDAA will help provide our men and women in uniform the resources and tools they need to face today’s increasingly complex and dangerous world,” according to a recent Senate Armed Services Committee press release.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

There’s serious activity at a major North Korean nuclear test site

Significant activity has been spotted at North Korea’s main atomic test site’s west portal — an as-of-yet unused tunnel complex where little or no activity had been observed over the past several months — raising the possibility of preparations for a fresh nuclear test, an analysis of new satellite imagery showed Nov. 6.


In the report on the Punggye-ri atomic test site, the North Korea-watching website 38 North said that the imagery, dating from Sept. 8 to Nov. 1, showed “significant movement of equipment, mining carts, material, and netting within the area” of the west portal after Pyongyang’s sixth and most powerful nuclear blast on Sept. 3.

That test — which North Korea has claimed was of a hydrogen bomb — was held at the site’s north portal, where the isolated country’s last five nuclear tests were conducted.

According to the imagery, two temporary structures near that portal’s entrance believed to be associated with the September test have been removed, and no vehicles, mining equipment, or materials have been observed there since the test.

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash
KCNA, the state run media out of North Korea, released a photo of what it claims is the launch of a surface-to-surface medium long range ballistic missile. (KCNA).

“While it is not possible to determine the exact purpose of these activities from imagery alone, they could be associated with new nuclear test preparations at the west portal, further maintenance on the west portal in general and/or the abandonment of the north portal,” the report said.

While noting little change at the test site’s south portal, the report maintained 38 North’s long-held stance that tunnels there “have been sufficiently prepared to accommodate a test at any time.”

The analysis also said that the available imagery could not corroborate a recent report by TV Asahi citing an unnamed North Korean source said that more than 200 personnel and rescuers had been trapped and feared dead in tunnel collapses at the site.

TV Asahi reported Oct. 31 that the accident had killed scores around Sept. 10. North Korea lashed out at Japan on Nov. 2, dismissing the report as “misinformation” and part of a bid “to secure a pretext for sending the Japan ‘Self-Defense Forces’ into the Korean peninsula on their own initiative by building up the public opinion over [the] ‘nuclear threat’ from the DPRK.”

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash
North Korea’s Hwasong-14 missile. Photo from KCNA.

The Japan Times could not independently confirm the report, but North Korea rarely acknowledges major accidents, and any incident related to its nuclear program would be especially taboo.

The Nov. 6 analysis by 38 North, however, said the movement of equipment and material at the west portal provided “sufficient evidence that mining personnel have been inside” at least some tunnels at the site.

It said that while the three most recent post-test tremors could have damaged the tunnel networks, there were no observable signs of such a tunnel collapse or intensive rescue or recovery operations outside any of the portals or within any of the support areas.

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

“While it is possible that the north portal has been at least temporarily abandoned in the aftermath of the Sept. 3 nuclear test, the overall Punggye-ri nuclear test site is neither abandoned nor mothballed,” the report concluded. “Significant tunnel related operations continue at the west portal, while the south portal remains in a continuing state of nuclear test readiness.”

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho warned in September that Pyongyang may consider conducting “the most powerful detonation” of a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean amid rising tensions with the United States.

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash

The country’s top diplomat made the comment after US President Donald Trump warned that North Korea, which has ramped up its development of nuclear-tipped missiles capable of hitting the United States, would be “totally destroyed” if it threatened the US or its allies.

A senior diplomat with the North’s Foreign Ministry said in an Oct. 25 interview with CNN that the threat of an atmospheric test over the Pacific should be taken “literally.”

Experts say that conducting such a test would be a way of demonstrating the North’s capability of striking the United States with nuclear weapons, since all of its previous tests have been underground.

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The ‘most significant’ veterans bill in history is in the Senate right now

So-called “burn pits” have been used to dispose of waste material at American military bases overseas since the 1990s. They were used to keep potentially sensitive materials out of local waste dumps and to leave as small a footprint as possible when U.S. troops leave an area. 

Installations have used burn pits to destroy all kinds of material, from standard trash and food waste to chemicals, paint, human waste, metal containers, petroleum products, rubber and even unexploded ordnance. 

In the years since, we’ve learned the fumes created by those burning pits of various trash materials have exposed veterans to harmful, toxic substances and were potentially inhaled by everyone in the area. The veteran service organization Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America has dubbed the burn pits of the Middle East “the Agent Orange of our generation.”

While the Department of Veterans Affairs has yet to recognize the burn pits as the Agent Orange of the post-9/11 era of veterans, some members of Congress have decided to take up the issue for themselves, introducing what some call the most significant veterans legislation in history. 

Veterans affected by burn pit exposure can feel a wide range of symptoms, from mild irritations and sore throats to long-term headaches, nausea and difficulty breathing. The long-term effect of burn pit exposure is not fully known at this time. 

US Soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. Matthew Butler

Through the VA’s Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, where veterans potentially exposed to burn pit toxins have registered to report their service in various affected areas, we’ve learned that an incredible 3.5 million veterans have been exposed to the toxic fumes of the burn pits. A full 89% of those who reported exposure have reported ongoing symptoms as a result of that exposure. That number only grows as more veterans register. 

Worst of all, the burn pits are still in use in deployed facilities around the world. The VA currently requires veterans to prove their symptoms are a result of toxic exposure. Agent Orange exposure has a number of “presumptive” conditions of exposure, such as respiratory cancer, Hodgkin’s Disease and Parkinson’s-like symptoms. Any one of these symptoms is automatically recognized by the VA as a result of Agent Orange and is immediately service-connected. 

There are currently no presumptive symptoms of burn pit exposure – nor is there any way for many veterans to prove their symptoms are a result. 

In March 2021, the Senate introduced the Comprehensive and Overdue Support for Troops (COST) of War Act, which would force the VA to recognize 11 presumptive conditions for veterans suffering from burn pit exposure. It would apply immediately to veterans of all eras. It would also add hypertension to the VA’s Agent Orange exposure list. 

Instead of forcing veterans to prove their conditions are a result of burn pit fumes, the COST of War Act would put the onus on the Department of Veterans Affairs, making the federal government responsible for reviewing veteran records for toxic substance exposure. 

The bill will also establish a transparent system for determining which cases have their causes in the burn pits, and increasing training requirements and funding for Veterans Affairs health care and disability claims processing. 

The act was also introduced into the House of Representatives on July 1, 2021, and despite a hefty $1 trillion price tag, is expected to pass through both houses of Congress.

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