One of America's top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections - We Are The Mighty
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One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

For five years, Muqtada al-Sadr’s personal insurgent army fought American troops during the Iraq War and commited heinous crimes against Iraq Sunni minorities. Now, a decade later, the Shia cleric’s Sairoon Alliance is leading Iraq’s parliamentary elections. His populist candidacy upset the U.S. favorite, incumbent Haider al-Abadi, and al-Sadr is set to be the kingmaker in Iraq.


In the years following his two uprisings against American forces, the “radical cleric” (as he was often called in Western media) continued his fight against the Baghdad government and against Sunni insurgent groups in Iraq. He eventually withdrew from public life until 2012, when he made a comeback, rebranding himself as a leader intent on bringing Sunnis and Shia together.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections
For most of the Iraq War, however, he was intent on blowing Sunnis apart.

With the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq, al-Sadr also rebranded his Mahdi Army, forming the “Peace Companies,” intended to protect Shia believers from the strict form of Sunni Islam and personal violence inflicted upon Iraqis by ISIS. He continued his rebranding to become an anti-poverty, anti-corruption populist who rejects the outside influence of both Iran and the United States.

Al-Sadr’s stated purpose for Sairoon was clearing corruption, rejecting the sectarian quotas, and putting skilled thought leaders (aka technocrats) in key ministerial positions.

“The ascendancy of the list sponsored by al-Sadr shows that anti-establishment sentiment and anti-corruption have driven the choice of most voters,” said Rend al-Rahim, a former Iraqi ambassador to the United States. “None of the lists had an electoral program that outlined priorities and a plan of action. All used vague terms to lure voters. Many of the lists also used populist and demagogic tactics that played on the emotions of voters.”

Some American veterans of the 2003-2011 Iraq War are not happy with his 53-seat win.

Understandably, no one who fought the Mahdi Army or lost a friend in Sadr City wants him to wield legitimate political power in Iraq. But Al-Sadr didn’t launch a revolt in Iraq. He didn’t put a gun to Haider al-Abadi’s head to force him to step down. The cleric’s bloc was elected in a legitimate Iraqi election by the people of Iraq, none of whom were punished for not voting for Sairoon. The democracy we fought to establish in Iraq is functioning.

Sometimes the candidate you want to win doesn’t win, no matter who they might be running against.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections
Ask Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Al Gore, Bob Dole, Etc.

The peaceful transfer of power is another hallmark of democracy, and we should credit Prime Minister al-Abadi when he implored the people of Iraq to accept this change.

“I call on Iraqis to respect the results of the elections,” he said.

Iraq has bigger things to worry about than the United States’ opinion on their domestic politics. This was the first election held since ISIS was pushed out of Iraq — after decimating Iraqi infrastructure. The country also faces rampant unemployment, one of the main triggers of domestic terrorism in the region.

American veterans of the Iraq War should see this as a major victory. In the first post-Saddam election of 2005, with the start of the Mahdi Army’s rise to power, did we ever believe we would see the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr with purple ink on his finger?

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections
And yet, here we are.

The biggest issue for the anti-Iran cleric will be integrating Iraq’s militia’s into its official armed forces and security structure — especially since most of those are backed by Iran. Iran has publicly stated it will not allow al-Sadr’s coalition to lead the government. Al-Sadr has made moves to align himself with the king of Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional adversary, to push back against the Islamic Republic.

Al-Sadr’s fight for power is far from over. Despite having ties to Iran, the Islamic Republic is no fan of the cleric, who has resisted Iranian influence in Iraq since the days of the Iraq War. And al-Sadr will no longer be able to criticize the government from the sidelines. Instead, it will be on him and his Sairoon bloc to guide Iraq to the future he promised to desperate Iraqi voters.

popular

These photos show what our veteran presidents looked like in uniform

Twenty-six of the 44 American Presidents served in the Armed Forces of the United States. Most served in the Army or Navy, and they all looked pretty sharp in uniform.


1. George Washington: Revolutionary War (Continental Army)

 

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections
You wish you were that stoic.

Washington’s greatness stems from his precedents. He set the standard for civilian control of the military by resigning as General of the Army before becoming President. Photography wasn’t invented during Washington’s lifetime, but you can rest assured that the image of the man was larger than life.

2. James Monroe: Revolutionary War (Continental Army)

President Monroe also served during the Revolution and was the last founding father to serve as president. Unfortunately, no photos of him exist, either in uniform or out. The foreign policy laid out by Monroe still bears his name. The Monroe Doctrine states that any effort by European nations to colonize or interfere with affairs in the Western Hemisphere would be viewed as acts of aggression requiring U.S. intervention.

3. Andrew Jackson: War of 1812, Seminole War (Army)

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

This photo may not be of President Jackson in uniform, but is it not amazing that there is a photograph of Andrew Jackson at all? Jackson’s legendary defeat of the British at the Battle of New Orleans propelled him into the White House.

4. William Henry Harrison: Indian Campaigns, War of 1812 (Army)

The same reason that a photo of President Jackson in uniform doesn’t exist applies to William Henry Harrison, as well as President John Tyler. When they served, photography just wasn’t invented yet. Harrison subdued the Shawnee chief Tecumseh. During the War of 1812, Harrison pushed the British out of Ohio and Indiana, recaptured Detroit and successfully invaded Canada.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

5. John Tyler: War of 1812 (Army)

Amazingly, daguerreotypes (a kind of early photography which used silver and mercury) exist of some early presidents, including Harrison and Tyler. Tyler organized a militia to defend Richmond, Virginia during the War of 1812 if a British attack ever came. It didn’t, but the British were in nearby Hampton, threatening Richmond.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

6. Zachary Taylor: War of 1812, Black Hawk War, Second Seminole War, Mexican-American War (Army)

Gen. Taylor served the U.S. in a number of wars. It was almost a given that someone who served so masterfully that the press compared him to George Washington and Andrew Jackson would also be President like those generals before him.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

7. Franklin Pierce: Mexican War (Army)

Pierce was a Brigadier General in Winfield Scott’s army fighting in the Mexican-American War. His experience in the Battle of Contreras was less-than-stellar, however. His horse tripped and he was thrown groin-first into his saddle. The horse fell onto Pierce’s knee, giving him a permanent injury.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

8. Abraham Lincoln: Black Hawk War (Indian Wars) (Army)

Unfortunately, the nascent technology of photography couldn’t capture Abraham Lincoln in his Illinois Militia uniform. He was 23 at the time. The first known photo of Lincoln is below. The then-36-year-old was just elected to a two-year term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

9. Andrew Johnson: Civil War (Army)

Johnson was made a Brigadier General when President Lincoln appointed him military governor of Tennessee. He did not have full control of the state until 1863. There are very few images of Johnson in uniform, and no photographs exist.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

10. Ulysses S. Grant: Mexican War and Civil War (Army)

Grant was the architect of the Confederacy’s final defeat. Just a year after President Lincoln gave Grant control of all Union Armies, Grant oversaw the surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House. He gave generous terms to all rebels and began the long Reconstruction of the South.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

11. Rutherford B. Hayes: Civil War (Army)

Hayes joined the Union Army after the shelling of Fort Sumter and was commissioned a Major. One of the Privates under his command was a young William McKinley. He served honorably throughout the war, garnering attention from General Grant, who wrote:

“His conduct on the field was marked by conspicuous gallantry as well as the display of qualities of a higher order than that of mere personal daring.”

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

12. James A. Garfield: Civil War (Army)

Garfield had no military training but still received a colonel’s commission and was tasked with raising a regiment of Ohioans to drive the Confederates out of Eastern Kentucky. Garfield was so successful, he was promoted to General and later fought at the Battle of Shiloh.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

13. Chester A. Arthur: Civil War (Army)

Arthur was appointed Quartermaster General of the State of New York. He was in charge of provisioning and housing New York troops.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

14. Benjamin Harrison: Civil War (Army)

Harrison was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in 1862 and rose to Brig. Gen. by 1865. He led armies with Gen. William T. Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

15. William McKinley: Civil War (Army)

McKinley, unlike most of the men on this list, started his career as an enlisted Private. He was promoted to Commissary Sergeant before his regiment was sent East. He fought at the Battle of Antietam, where his actions earned him a commission to 2nd Lieutenant.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

16. Theodore Roosevelt: Spanish-American War (Army)

Theodore Roosevelt served in the New York National Guard, quickly becoming his unit’s commanding officer. When war broke out in Cuba, Roosevelt resigned from his civilian job and quickly raised the 1st U.S. Volunteer Regiment. His actions in Cuba earned Roosevelt the Medal of Honor, the only president to receive it.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

17. Harry Truman: World War I (Army)

Truman had poor eyesight and couldn’t get into West Point, so he enlisted in the Missouri National Guard. He memorized the eye chart to pass the vision test. Eventually elected Lieutenant, Truman led men in battle in WWI Europe. During one encounter where his men began to run away, Truman let out a string of profanity so surprising his men stayed to fight.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

18. Dwight Eisenhower: World War I and World War II (Army)

The Supreme Allied Commander and General of the Army never actually saw combat. He was masterful at strategy, planning, and logistics. It was almost a given that Ike would run for President.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

19. John F. Kennedy: World War II (Navy)

After his PT boat was struck by a Japanese destroyer in WWII, he and his crew swam to an island three miles away. Kennedy, with an injured back, carried a wounded crewmember to the island via a life jacket strap clenched between his teeth.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

20. Lyndon B. Johnson: World War II (Navy)

Johnson was on the Staff of Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Australia in 1942. While there, he was also personally reporting to President Roosevelt on the status of the Pacific Southwest.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections
The White House released this photo October 14, 1966, showing Lt. Cmdr. Lyndon Johnson in the headquarters of Gen. Douglas MacArthur near Melbourne, Australia, in June 1942. The young Navy officer is pointing to New Guinea where he received the Silver Star on a bombing mission.

21. Richard Nixon: World War II (Navy)

Nixon was a birthright Quaker and could have been exempted from service and from the draft. Instead, Nixon joined the Navy in 1942. After some time in Iowa, he requested a transfer to the Pacific where he was made Officer in Charge of the Combat Air Transport Command at Guadalcanal and the Solomons.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

22. Gerald Ford: World War II (Navy)

Ford signed up for the Navy after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. He served aboard aircraft carriers in the third and fifth fleets. He fought at the Philippine Sea, Wake Island, and LeEyte landings, among other places.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

23. Jimmy Carter: Cold War-Era (Navy)

President Carter is also a nuclear physicist who helped develop the U.S. Navy’s nuclear submarine program. He worked on the USS Seawolf, the second nuclear submarine ever built. Carter is the only president to qualify for submarine duty, which is why the Navy deemed it appropriate to name a submarine the USS Jimmy Carter.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

24. Ronald Reagan: World War II (Army Air Corps)

Originally landing in the Army Cavalry, he was transferred to the Army Air Forces’ First Motion Picture Unit and sent to the Provisional Task Force Show Unit called “This Is the Army.” He also managed the Sixth War Loan Drive in 1944.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections
No wonder we elected this guy twice.

25. George H.W. Bush: World War II (Navy)

Bush joined the Navy shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. At age 19, he was the youngest naval aviator to date. Bush was a brave bomber pilot and was shot down after hitting Chichijima. He flew 58 missions over the Philippine Sea and received the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Air Medals, and the Presidential Unit Citation awarded to his ship, the USS San Jacinto.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections
Lt. George H.W. Bush

26. George W. Bush: Vietnam War era (Texas Air National Guard)

The younger Bush was commissioned in 1968. He flew F-102 Convair Delta Daggers. He was honorably discharged in 1974.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘Mandalorian’ showrunner confirms Baby Yoda is NOT Yoda

Everyone loves Baby Yoda. For parents, the Mandalorian caring for Baby Yoda has made the bleak space saga relevant to parenthood. In just a few short weeks Star Wars has suddenly become more relevant than ever to all sorts of people, and it’s all thanks to an adorable character called “The Child” who never speaks. But who is the Child? Is he somehow a clone of Yoda? Is he Yoda reincarnated? If you’re fuzzy on the timeline of The Mandalorian, did you think this was baby Yoda?

Here’s the deal. Baby Yoda is not Yoda and the guy who runs The Mandalorian just made that pretty clear. Jon Favreau (you know, the guy who made Iron Man) has been doing a pretty solid job steering The Mandalorian ship thus far, and recently he’s answered a few questions about why everyone loves “Baby Yoda” so much. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Favreau made it pretty clear, just in case you were confused, that this little creature is not the Yoda.


“I think what’s great about what George [Lucas] created is that Yoda proper — the character that we grew up watching— was always shrouded in mystery, and that was what made him so archetypal and so mythic.” Obviously, because another creature of Yoda’s species is being featured so heavily, some of that shroud is being lifted, but Favreau is quick to point out there’s still plenty to discover.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections
Giphy

“We know who he is based on his behavior and what he stands for, but we don’t know a lot of details about where he comes from or his species. I think that’s why people are so curious about this little one of the same species.”

The keywords to focus on here are these: this little one of the same species.

Baby Yoda is not actual Yoda, because The Mandalorian happens six years after Return of the Jedi, the movie in which Yoda died. It was a peaceful death though, and before he died he told Luke “there is another…Skywalker.” Funny he didn’t mention another Yoda!

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

WATCH

WATCH: Why the Viet Cong tunnels were so deadly

During the Vietnam war, America and its South Vietnamese allies forces faced a deadly enemy that not only fought on the jungle’s surface but could raise up from concealed underground bunkers and tunnels to ambush troops as well; the Viet Cong tunnel. 


Travel an hour from Ho Chi Minh City, and you’ll arrive at the Cu Chi District where Communist guerrilla soldiers dug elaborate tunnels to store and transport supplies to combat American and South Vietnamese forces.

Related: Once upon a time, this ‘little kid’ was a lethal Vietnam War fighter

After completion, the Cu Chi tunnels stretched approximately 120 miles long, were buried 30-feet deep and helped provide the enemy cover from aerial attacks.

These tunnels were specifically designed to act as underground villages and could support months of living, making it simple for VC troops to ambush American forces and slip away nearly undetected.

 

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections
One of many Cu Chi tunnel entrances that exist today which is relatively the size of a large shoe box and incredibly hard to locate. (Source: Pixabay)

The VC were masters at camouflaging the tunnel entrances and used neighboring villages to blend in with regular foot traffic to and from the tunnels.

Typically, the entrances were hidden underneath heavy cooking pots, large supplies of rice and leaves found in the jungle which made them tough to discover.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections
Two U.S. Marines search a discovered Viet Cong Tunnel. (Source: Flickr)

After discovering a tunnel, a detailed search began with the hopes of finding valuable intelligence, weapons, and enemy personnel who were detained for questioning.

Also Read: That time CBS captured an intense firefight in Vietnam

Although considered very efficient, the tunnels also brought extreme dangers to the VC units that called it home, like flooding, disease, poor ventilation, and snake bites just to name a few.

Check out HISTORY‘s video to explore the ingenuity behind the Viet Cong’s tunnel systems that still exist today.

(HISTORY, YouTube)

Lists

5 insane things about North Korea’s legal system

Here in America, land of the free, when we hear news about North Korea, it further reinforces our desire to never step foot in the reclusive nation. All the negative press that comes from within the DPRK has us sure that it’s the worst place to live — ever.

It has been run by Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un since 2012 and, under his rule and the regimes of his father and grandfather, many rules and regulations have been put in place to control the people that call the country home. Many countries around the world have laws that must be enforced — usually for good reason — but some of North Korea’s laws seem to defy both reason and ethics.

To give you a little taste of the hermit kingdom’s skewed sense of justice, we’ve compiled a list of some the most insane legal aspects of North Korea.


One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

Pyongyang, North Korea.

You need legal approval to live in the city

If you’re rich and powerful, chances are you’ve already been approved to live in Pyongyang — the largest city in the country. If you’re poor as f*ck, then good luck ever getting a taste of your nation’s capital city. The government must approve of all the citizens seeking to call Pyongyang home.

Weed is legal

We came across this shocker while doing our research. According to a few North Korean defectors, marijuana can be purchased at local markets and you can watch it grow in nearby fields. Who would’ve thought a country ruled by an authoritarian would permit such a thing?

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

Their hair cuts are regulated

North Korea isn’t known for being fashion-forward. In fact, the people who reside in the strict country may only select from a number of predetermined hairstyles when it comes time to get a cut. It’s said that the government only allows people to sport one of 28 different styles.

If you don’t comply, you face serious penalties. That’s right, people. North Korea has actual fashion police.

You must vote

In most countries, voting is a right. In North Korea, voting is mandatory. If you don’t, you face severe punishment. Elections are held every five years and the same family always seems to win.

Seems legit…

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

Commit a crime, you and your family could do the time

In most countries, only those that commit the crime are punished. North Korea, however, goes a few steps further. To send the message that the country won’t tolerate any lawbreakers, the government can imprison an offender’s entire family for their actions.

In fact, they can send up to three generations of a family to the big house for a single crime.

Articles

Paris-based ‘Charlie Hebdo’ magazine has a new cover taunting ISIS

In its new issue, the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo reacted to the gruesome attacks that shook Paris on Friday.


The cover depicted a man dancing around, with a bottle of Champagne in one hand and drinking out of a flute while the Champagne poured out of apparent bullet holes in his body. The text surrounding the image says: “They have arms. F— them. We have the Champagne!”

The cover was posted on social media ahead of the magazine’s release on Wednesday by a columnist for Charlie Hebdo, Mathieu Madénian.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections
Photo: Twitter/@Mathieu Madénian

Last week’s attacks on Paris left at least 129 people dead and hundreds more injured, after a wave of shootings and suicide bombings at restaurants, bars, a concert hall, and a sports stadium. The incidents constituted the deadliest attack on French soil since World War II. The Islamic State group, also known as ISIS and ISIL, claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Charlie Hebdo was itself attacked early this year. On January 7, 12 people were killed in a shooting at Charlie Hebdo’s offices in Paris. Five others were killed in several related attacks throughout the capital, including a hostage situation at a Kosher market.

The magazine was targeted in part for its often controversial depictions of religious and political leaders, including the Prophet Muhammad.

The two men behind the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Said and Cherif Kouachi, had been well known to French authorities. Cherif had been jailed before and was reportedly influenced by a radical preacher in France.

Two days after the attack, a top cleric from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was intended as “revenge for the honor” of the Prophet Muhammad.

The slogan, “Je suis Charlie” — French for, “I am Charlie” — became a popular rallying cry across social media after the shootings. After the attacks, hundreds of thousands of people rallied in France and around the world to show their support for the victims and to defend free speech.

This week’s cover is already being shared widely on social media. It embodies a sentiment shared by many Parisians after the attacks: resilience.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Massive Russian wargames signal worries about NATO

The Russian military is getting ready for what is said to be an “unprecedented” military exercise, but as thousands of men and machines gather in Russia’s east, leaders in Moscow may be increasingly concerned about what’s going on in the West.

Early August 2018, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu called the upcoming Vostok-2018, or East-2018, exercises “the largest preparatory action for the armed forces since Zapad-81,” referring to a Soviet military exercise in 1981 involving about 100,000 to 150,000 troops, according to a CIA estimate at the time.


Shoigu said on Aug. 28, 2018, that the Vostok-2018 exercise, scheduled for Sept. 11-15, 2018, will have some similarities to Zapad-81 but involve vastly more personnel.

“In some ways, they resemble the Zapad-81 drills but in other ways they are, perhaps, even larger,” Shoigu said, according to Russian state-owned media outlet Tass.

“Over 1,000 aircraft, almost 300,000 servicemen at almost all the training ranges of the Central and Eastern Military Districts and, naturally, the Pacific and Northern Fleets and the Airborne Force will be fully employed.”

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

Russian troops participating in Zapad-2017.

(Russian Ministry of Defense)

The Russian military has already begun evaluating its forces’ combat readiness and logistical support with “snap inspections” that involve special drills and are done under the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Just imagine that 36,000 pieces of military hardware are simultaneously in motion: these are tanks, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles and all this is, naturally, checked in conditions close to a combat environment,” Shoigu said on Aug. 28, 2018, according to Tass.

Russia has invited military attaches from NATO countries to observe the upcoming exercises — an offer that a NATO spokesman told Reuters was under consideration.

Russia conducted another large-scale exercise, Zapad-17, or West-17, in September 2017. About 70,000 personnel took part in that — though only about 13,000 of them were part of the main event that took place in Belarus and western Russia. (The number of troops involved became a point of contention between Russia and NATO.)

Russian forces will not be the only ones taking part this time around. Chinese and Mongolian units will also take part, with Beijing reportedly sending more than 3,000 troops, 30 helicopters, and more than 900 pieces of other military hardware.

Chinese participation in Russian military exercises “speaks about the expansion of interaction of the two allies in all the spheres,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Aug, 28, 2018, according to Tass.

‘It fits into a pattern we have seen over some time’

Peskov was asked if the expense of the Vostok-18 exercise was necessary at a time when Russia’s economy is struggling and demands for more social spending are rising.

“The social security network and the pension system are a constant element of state policy and a very important component,” Peskov responded, according to Tass. “But the country’s defense capability in the current international situation, which is frequently quite aggressive and unfriendly for our country, is justified, needed and has no alternative.”

Russia has consistently condemned Western military activity and NATO maneuvers as provocative, but Peskov’s reply may hint at a growing unease in Moscow, which is still uncertain about President Donald Trump as it watches the defense alliance deploy an array of units to its eastern flank.

Trump has signaled a conciliatory stance toward Russia and hostility toward NATO, but those attitudes haven’t translated significantly into US or NATO policy.

“We don’t like the picture we are seeing,” Vladimir Frolov, an independent political analyst in Moscow, told Defense News.

“NATO is getting serious about its combat capabilities and readiness levels. Trump may trash NATO and his European allies,” he said, “but it is the capabilities that matter, and those have been growing under Trump.”

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

President Donald J. Trump and President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation, July 16, 2018.

(Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

NATO members have been boosting their defense spending and working to build military readiness — moves stoked recently by the combination of uncertainty about Trump and concern about assertive Russian action, like the incursion in Ukraine in 2014.

NATO troops, including US forces, are practicing tactics that have been little used since the Cold War. A number of former Soviet republics have embraced the West. NATO units have forward deployed to the alliance’s eastern flank, and Poland has even offered to pay to host a permanent US military presence.

Some European countries are also debating augmenting their own militaries and defense sectors. Germany, long averse to a large military footprint, is looking to recruit more troops, and some there have restarted debate about whether Berlin should seek its own nuclear-weapons capability.

Moscow has long used confrontation with the West to bolster its domestic political standing, and many leaders in the West have come to identify Russia as a main geopolitical foe — a dynamic that is likely to perpetuate tensions.

Early 2018 Russian officials called military exercises involving NATO and Ukrainian personnel “an attempt to once again provoke tension in southeastern Ukraine and in the entire Black Sea region” and said “countries … constantly accusing Russia of threatening regional stability shall be held responsible for possible negative consequences.”

NATO spokesman Dylan White told Reuters that countries have a right to conduct military exercises, “but it is essential that this is done in a transparent and predictable manner.”

“Vostok demonstrates Russia’s focus on exercising large-scale conflict,” White added. “It fits into a pattern we have seen over some time: a more assertive Russia, significantly increasing its defense budget and its military presence.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

FBI searches for grenade throwers who attacked embassy

Hours before the inauguration of Mexico’s new president in Mexico City, two grenades were thrown at the US consulate in Guadalajara, the country’s second-biggest city and home to one of the largest US expatriate communities in the world.

A little before 11 p.m. local time on Nov. 30, 2018, an unidentified person was caught on film throwing two grenades into the consulate compound in central Guadalajara, which is also the capital of Jalisco state in western Mexico.


The consulate was closed at the time, and no one was killed or injured, but the blast left a 16-inch hole in an exterior wall, and grenade fragments were found at the scene.

The US consulate said the following day that the damage was minimal and that US and Mexican authorities were investigating and “strengthening the security posture” around the consulate. Jalisco state prosecutors also said that federal authorities had taken over the investigation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QERRt7JLpk
U.S. consulate in Mexico attacked with grenade

www.youtube.com

The consulate’s operations were limited on Dec. 3, 2018, but it resumed normal business on Dec. 4, 2018.

Also on Dec. 4, 2018, the FBI said it was seeking help from the public to identify the person or people involved, offering up to ,000 for information leading to those responsible.

“All information can remain anonymous and confidentiality is guaranteed,” a notice on the consulate’s website said.

Mixed messages

The attack came shortly before Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was sworn in as Mexico’s president, and it illustrates the challenging criminal dynamics he confronts.

Attacks on US facilities and personnel in Mexico have been rare, and when they have happened, the response has been forceful.

Pressure from Washington after the 1985 kidnapping and killing of of DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena led to the breakup of the powerful Guadalajara cartel, and the US response to the 2011 killing of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata helped cripple the Zetas cartel, which was linked to the incident.

While it’s possible the attack Nov. 30, 2018, could be unrelated to organized crime, the timing and nature of the attack suggest it could be tied to political and criminal dynamics in the country.

Guadalajara is the home turf of the Jalisco New Generation cartel, or CJNG, which has grown rapidly over the past decade to become one of Mexico’s largest and most violent criminal groups.

Its rise was boosted by the 2015 shoot-down of a Mexican army helicopter in western Jalisco, killing six soldiers, which came during an operation to capture the cartel’s leader, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, or “El Mencho,” who is among the US Drug Enforcement Administration’s most wanted fugitives.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

Purported members of Mexico’s Jalisco New Generation cartel.

(Screen grab)

Two weeks before the grenades were thrown at the consulate, the cartel purportedly posted a video online in which it threatened to attack the consulate.

In the recording, a bandaged man says he was ordered to attack the consulate and capture Central American men, women, and children for ransom with which to pay Mexican officials to ignore other criminal activity, according to The Dallas Morning News, which could not independently verify the footage.

That attack, the man reportedly said, was to be a message to the US to leave “Mencho alone.”

The Nov. 30, 2018 attack comes a few weeks into the trial of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in New York City. Guzman is the longtime leader of the Sinaloa cartel, one of Mexico’s most powerful criminal groups and a main rival of the CJNG.

In the past, the arrest or death of criminal leaders has triggered more violence, as others fight to fill the void.

Criminal groups may also be hurting because of Central American migrant caravans crossing Mexico that don’t need protection from criminal groups or help from those groups’ human-smuggling networks.

Losing that business ahead of the holiday season have put a strain on cartel leaders, security experts told The Dallas Morning News.

Mexico’s political transition — from the center-right government of Enrique Peña Nieto and his establishment Institutional Revolutionary Party to leftist Lopez Obrador and his new National Regeneration Movement party — may also be stirring turmoil in the underworld.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

Enrique Peña Nieto.

In the past, such changes have led to more violence, as criminals and corrupt officials adjust to a new political environment — an attack designed to avoid death or injury may be a signal to those assuming power 12 years into Mexico’s bloody war on drugs.

The CJNG in recent months has also been challenged in Guadalajara. A new group, called Nueva Plaza, is believed to be led by a one-time confidant of Oseguera, and some have said other rivals, namely the Sinaloa cartel, could be backing the new group.

In the past, criminal groups have committed high-profile acts, like dumping bodies in public, on rivals’ turf to draw authorities’ attention there.

“Remember that the [New Generation] grew exponentially and became what it is now since the beginning of the Peña Nieto government,” Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, a political science professor at George Mason University and expert on security in Mexico, told The Morning News. “But they should not be attracting attention, and with this attack you’re calling for a response from two governments. Why?”

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

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These are America’s most intense electronic weapons

Control of the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum is a major asset in military operations.


The Marines have demonstrated their painful “heat ray,” a weapon that blasts intruders with a wave beam that targets the skin and makes victims feel like they’ve stepped in front of a blazing oven — all without killing them.

It doesn’t cause irreversible damage, but will make someone instinctively back off.

Modern weapons systems employ radio, radar, infrared, optical, ultraviolet, electro-optical, and laser technologies.

“The Russians and the Chinese have designed specific electronic warfare platforms to go after all our high-value assets,” said Lieutenant General Herbert Carlisle, the Air Force’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, as reported by Aviation Week.

The US military is developing cyber-capabilities to gain a tactical edge.

Electronic warfare consists of three subdivisions: electronic attack, electronic protection, and electronic warfare support.

According to US military doctrine for electronic warfare planning, electronic attack (EA) involves “the use of electromagnetic energy, directed energy or anti-radiation weapons to attack personnel, facilities, or equipment with the intent of degrading, neutralizing, or destroying enemy combat capability.”

Basically, the aim is to wipe out the enemy without getting too dirty.

The Marine Corps “Heat Ray” raises the temperature on the target’s skin by 130 degrees

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Sgt. Maj. of the USMC Michael P. Barrett ran for it after feeling the ADS. (Photo: Daniel Wetzel/USMC)

But it won’t kill you.

The Active Denial System (ADS) creates an intense heated sensation lasting 1-2 seconds. It’s caused by a radio frequency wave, not radiation or microwave.

“You’re not going to see it, you’re not going to hear it, you’re not going to smell it. You’re going to feel it,” said director of the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, Marine Col. Tracy Tafolla, according to Stars and Stripes.

The 95 GHz millimeter wave has a range of up to 1000 meters. The directed-energy beam only penetrates 1/64th of an inch into the skin.

As a nonlethal weapon, it can be used for crowd control or determining hostile intent before engaging with lethal weapons. That way, ADS can buy life-saving time without inflicting lethal injury on its targets.

This hand-held laser system can temporary blind you

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Photo: Wikimedia

The Phasr was introduced in 2005 by the Air Force.

As another directed-energy weapon, the Phasr employs a two-wavelength laser system that temporarily blocks an aggressor’s ability to see.

It’s like opening your eyes in the middle of the night to someone shoving a blinding flashlight in your face. The Air Force casually calls this effect “dazzling” or “illuminating.” Whatever you call it, this hand-held device effectively impairs anyone targeted.

The “Death Ray” can detect and destroy missiles with a deadly laser beam

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections
The military’s lethal answer to Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer. (Photo: Northrop Grummann)

The US has run several test flight experiments on the Airborne Laser Test Bed (ALTB). So far, they’ve worked out this killer firing sequence:

1. The ALTB uses one of its six infrared sensors to detect the exhaust plume of a boosting missile.

2. A kilowatt-class solid state laser, the Track Illuminator, tracks the missile and determines a precise aim point.

3. The Beacon Illuminator, a second laser, then measures disturbances in the atmosphere, which are corrected by the adaptive optics system to accurately point and focus the High Energy Laser (HEL) at its target.

4. Using a large telescope located in the nose turret, the beam control/fire control system focuses the HEL beam onto a pressurized area of the missile, holding it there until laser energy compromises the missile’s structural integrity causing it to fail.

Radar jamming takes out the enemy’s ability to communicate

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections
ITT Exelis is one of the teams working on a Next Generation Jammer.

You may have heard of the Navy’s Next Generation Jammer program (NGJ).

Radar jamming can disable the enemy’s command and control system ahead of an offensive attack. NGJ will be used on the Boeing EA-18G, the aircraft for airborne electronic attack operations.

Another example of electromagnetic jamming is Counter-RCIEDs (Radio Controlled Improvised Explosive Device). You can see the Marine Corps’ Chameleon system here.

Military Deception manipulates the enemy’s combat decisions and generally messes with their heads

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections
SLQ 32 electronic warfare system aboard the USS George Washington.

Troops can mislead enemy decision-makers about their intentions, prompting the enemy to take specific actions or inactions and making it difficult for the enemy to establish an accurate perception of reality.

Using the EM spectrum, they can disrupt communication and intelligence systems to insert deceptive information.

Military Deception (MILDEC) operations apply four basic deception techniques: feints, demonstrations, ruses, and display.

The anti-radiation missile is a smokeless, rocket-propelled missile that destroys radar-equipped defense systems

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections
Photo: Raytheon

The AGM-88 HARM (High-speed anti-radiation missile) is used throughout the Air Force for suppressing surface-to-air radar warning systems.

Anti-radiation missiles help neutralize hostile airspace and take out the enemy’s ability to defend itself.

As Air Force officials have noted, “Coalition forces in Operation Desert Storm operated ‘at will’ over Iraq and Kuwait after gaining control of the EM spectrum early in the war.”

Boeing has test-flown a nonlethal missile that fries electronics while minimizing collateral damage (like civilian deaths). You can read about CHAMP here.

Expendables are active decoys that throw enemy missiles off target or seductively lure them away

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections
The fire-optic towed decoy can lure missiles away by becoming the target. (photo: BAE brochure)

The AN/ALE-55 fibre-optic decoy is towed behind to protect fighters, bombers, and transport aircraft from radio frequency-related threats, such as an incoming missile’s tracking on the aircraft.

There are three layers of protection though, so the idea is that a target track is eliminated from the start.

If all else fails, the intelligent decoy will lure the missile away to become the target and deny the enemy a hit.

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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After years of declining military spending, the world is now re-arming

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Lockheed Martin photo


For the first time since 2011, the world has spent more on troops and weapons than in the previous year, according to new data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

The researchers estimate that countries spent $1.676 trillion on their militaries in 2015, a one-percent increase over 2014. This is equivalent to around 2.3 percent of the world’s economic output.

But as is often the case with these kinds of statistics, the details are actually more interesting than the headline figures. For starters, there are stark regional differences. Only Eastern Europe and Asia and Oceania boosted their spending. The rest of the world spent less — a lot less.

Africa reduced its spending by 5.3 percent, the first reduction in 11 years. But a closer look at the data makes clear that the continent’s governments haven’t suddenly become radical pacifists. Instead, all North African countries with the exception of Morocco actually increased military spending at rates comparable to previous years. And in Sub-Saharan Africa, most countries stayed on their previous trajectories, as well.

The big outlier is Angola. The southern Africa country cut its military budget by a whopping 42 percent, the first real reduction since it embarked on a spending spree in 2002 after the government had regained control of all diamond mines and oil wells in the aftermath of the civil war.

Angola is still essentially a military dictatorship, so the spending cuts are not representative of a changing government doctrine. Instead, historically low oil prices have battered the heavily oil-dependent economy and government budget, making drastic cuts to military spending all but inevitable.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections
SIPRI chart

Some other oil-reliant governments across Africa also cut their spending, but more modestly than Angola did. This seems to indicate that these countries have either diversified their economy much better than Angola has …. or have much more pressing security concerns that make continued high spending necessary despite eventual financial collapse.

Overall, Africa spent 68 percent more on its militaries in 2015 than it did in 2006.

In South America, the situation is comparable to Africa, with Venezuela taking the role of Angola and cutting its military spending by 64 percent. Overall, South America and North America slightly decreased their spending, while Central America and the Caribbean increased spending by 3.7 percent.

Obviously, the United States is North America’s most prolific military spender — $596 billion in 2015, a 36-percent share of the whole world’s spending on troops and weapons.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections
Iraqi M-1 tanks on parade | Wikimedia photo

This is actually more than 20 percent below America’s most recent spending peak in 2010, a result of troop draw-downs in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the automatic “sequestration” budget cuts.

Western and Central Europe essentially maintained their military spending, laying out 0.2 percent less than in the previous year. European spending is down 8.5 percent since 2006.

But the researchers believe that military spending could rise again in this part of the world. “For the first time since 2009, the number of countries in the subregion that increased expenditure was higher than the number of those that reduced spending.” Austerity measures are declining while the threat from terrorism — and Russia — seems to be increasing.

This brings us to the regions that have actually increased spending. All sub-regions of Asia and Oceania boosted their military budgets by at least 0.9 percent — and most individual countries did, as well.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections
Russian Su-30 fighter | Wikimedia photo

China is obviously the most relevant in this part of the world, representing 49 percent of the regional total. Beijing boosted outlays by 7.4 percent and retained its position as the world’s second-biggest spender. The region at large increased military spending by 64 percent from 2006 to 2015, with only Fiji recording a significant decrease of 23 percent.

But no region increased spending more drastically than Eastern Europe did, at 7.5 percent, contributing to an overall 80-percent boost in military budgets over the last decade. Russia obviously drives this development, both directly by way of Moscow’s own 7.5-percent increase in spending, and indirectly by compelling neighboring countries to re-arm in order to deter Russian aggression.

Still, Russia actually lost its third place in the world rankings to Saudi Arabia. The Middle East country now spends $87.2 billion a year on its military, which actually represents only a 5.7-percent increase over 2014. Saudi Arabia placed before Russia due to the weak ruble, which made Russian military investments cheaper in dollar terms.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections
A Saudi F-15 during a Red Flag exercise in the United States | U.S. Defense Department photo

SIPRI’s researchers did not include estimates for the Middle East overall because too many countries in the region did not provide public military expenditure data — and independent estimates are unreliable.

Apart from Saudi Arabia, the most interesting country with sufficient data is Iraq, which stands out for its record spending increases over the last decade as it tries to rebuild its shattered armed forces. The Iraqi government increased military spending by 536 percent since 2006 and 35 percent since 2014, bringing the total in 2015 to $13.1 billion.

In contrast, Iran’s military expenditure decreased by 30 percent since 2006, with the largest part of these cuts taking place in 2012 and 2013, after the European Union enacted economic and financial sanctions. As sanctions began to lift in January 2016, experts expect Iran’s military spending to increase in coming years.

Looking at the long-term data, military spending seems to rise and fall based more on economic cycles and long-term policy decisions than on short-term shocks and conflicts. Russia’s recent spate of foreign interventions came after Pres. Vladimir Putin boosted military spending.

Western and Central Europe seem to spend mostly in years when their overall balance sheets look good — and Saudi Arabia is decreasing its rate of spending growth despite its ongoing intervention in Yemen.

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5 ways ‘San Andreas’ highlights the best of military families

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections
Photo: Warner Bros.


“San Andreas” is a disaster movie that is true to what you think it should be based on the trailer. There are some great effects, a lot of danger, and some thrills.

Ray, a helicopter pilot played by Dwayne Johnson, moves around southern California on different vehicles and on foot, trying to save his wife and daughter.

But “San Andreas” rises above its genre in a surprising way: Ray isn’t the only action hero in the movie. His wife and daughter, instead of being damsels in distress, save the day a few times themselves.

Since Ray is a combat veteran, his family was a military family that endured multiple deployments and prepared to face emergencies on their own. While trying to avoid spoilers, here are some great military family traits the film highlights:

1. Calm leadership

Emma, the wife of Ray played by Carla Gugino, is near the top of a tower when the first main quake hits California. Ray is nearby and tells her she can get him. Emma immediately begins trying to move other survivors with her to the roof. Emma has to fight through the crumbling building to reach her rendezvous. Due to the destruction, Ray’s original plan clearly won’t work, and it’s Emma who directs Ray on where to go to complete the pickup.

The daughter, named Blake (played by Alexandra Daddario), faces her own challenges when the quake strikes. Though she at first must be saved by a boy and his little brother, she quickly takes over leading the male pair. She directs them on the safest places to go as they face crisis after crisis and she figures out Plan B when the main plan becomes impossible.

2. Resourcefulness

Emma displays resourcefulness a few times, but this category mainly belongs to Blake. She breaks into an electronics store to establish communications with her father. She finds a way to listen in on the emergency channels to stay in touch with what’s happening in the city. After another survivor is injured, she even improvises bandages and renders aid.

These are skills that the military demands of its members, and many members pass them on to their families.

3. Bravery

This is a category we don’t want to talk about in too much detail because it will spoil the movie. But, both Emma and Blake fight through terrifying moments and tackle their fears. Between the two of them, they muster their courage to keep fighting while falling through buildings, being trapped, crashing, and facing other dangers.

4. Selflessness

Again, this is a category that, if we gave you all the details, it would ruin key parts of the movie. But, Emma puts herself in danger a few times to save Blake. And Blake really shines as she sends away rescuers multiple times when she thinks it’s too risky for them to save her. Emma, Blake, and Ray make many sacrifices for each other after everything goes to hell. Surprisingly, the film also shows the family making healthy sacrifices for each other before the quakes, balancing their own needs against each others. This even includes Ray and Emma, who are going through a divorce.

5. Training

Of course, some of the things Blake and Emma are doing require knowledge and physical strength, which implies they prepared to be on their own during an emergency. Preparing for natural disasters is something all families should do, but few actually accomplish. Blake and Emma, like many military families, knew they would face crises on their own and clearly prepared well.

To see what Ray, Emma, and Blake overcome in the movie and who makes it out alive, check out “San Andreas” in theaters May 29.

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The U.S. Navy has deployed the MQ-4C Triton for the first time

The two Broad Area Maritime System aircraft arrived in Guam in January.


The U.S. Navy deployed the MQ-4C Triton Broad Area Maritime System (BAMS) to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, for the first operational deployment. According to the official photos, the two aircraft arrived at their forward operating base on Jan. 12, 2020, even though the deployment was announced only on January 26.

The Triton is operated by Unmanned Patrol Squadron (VUP) 19, the first Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) squadron of the US Navy, in an Early Operational Capability (EOC). VUP-19 will develop the concept of operations for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions with the MQ-4C in the 7th Fleet, where it will complement the P-8A Poseidon. The Initial Operational Capability (IOC), planned for 2021, will include four air vehicles with capacity to support 24/7 operations, according to the Navy.

“The introduction of MQ-4C Triton to the Seventh Fleet area of operations expands the reach of the U.S. Navy’s maritime patrol and reconnaissance force in the Western Pacific,” said Capt. Matt Rutherford, commander of Commander, Task Force (CTF) 72. “Coupling the capabilities of the MQ-4C with the proven performance of P-8, P-3 and EP-3 will enable improved maritime domain awareness in support of regional and national security objectives.”

The Triton will bring in the Pacific theater new capabilities with an increased persistence, as wrote in a previous article by our Editor David Cenciotti:

The U.S. Navy’s MQ-4C “Triton” Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) is an ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) platform that will complement the P-8A Poseidon within the Navy’s Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force family of systems: for instance, testing has already proved the MQ-4C’s ability to pass FMV (Full Motion Video) to a Poseidon MPA (Maritime Patrol Aircraft). An advanced version than the first generation Global Hawk Block 10, the drone it is believed to be a sort of Block 20 and Block 30 Global Hawk hybrid, carrying Navy payload including an AN/ZPY-3 multi-function active-sensor (MFAS) radar system, that gives the Triton the ability to cover more than 2.7 million square miles in a single mission that can last as long as 24 hours at a time, at altitudes higher than 10 miles, with an operational range of 8,200 nautical miles.
One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

An MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system (UAS) taxis after landing at Andersen Air Force Base for a deployment as part of an early operational capability (EOC) to further develop the concept of operations and fleet learning associated with operating a high-altitude, long-endurance system in the maritime domain. Unmanned Patrol Squadron (VUP) 19, the first Triton UAS squadron, will operate and maintain two aircraft in Guam under Commander, Task Force (CTF) 72, the U.S. Navy’s lead for patrol, reconnaissance and surveillance forces in U.S. 7th Fleet.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan Brooks)

This first deployment was actually expected to happen in late 2018, after the MQ-4C was officially inducted into service on May 31, 2018. However, in September 2018, VUP-19 had to temporarily stand down its operation following a Class A mishap with the new aircraft. As stated by Cmdr. Dave Hecht, a spokesman for Naval Air Force Atlantic, to USNI News in that occasion, the Triton “had an issue during flight and the decision was made to bring it back to base. While heading in for landing, the engine was shut down but the landing gear did not extend. The aircraft landed on its belly on the runway. No one was hurt and there was no collateral damage.”

The announcement of this first deployment arrived just as Germany canceled its plans to buy four MQ-4C for signals intelligence missions (SIGINT), opting instead for the Bombardier Global 6000, as the Triton would be unable to meet the safety standards needed for flying through European airspace by 2025, as reported by DefenseNews.

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

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More US boots on the ground in Afghanistan

With the Pentagon poised to announce details of a troop increase for the US mission in Afghanistan, the pending decision raises questions about the effect additional boots on the ground will have on the 16-year conflict.


Defense Secretary James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford made the rounds July 19 on Capitol Hill, reportedly briefing lawmakers on the White House’s strategy for Afghanistan and on the ongoing coalition campaign to defeat Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The Pentagon repeatedly has said its Afghanistan war plan would be on President Trump’s desk by mid-July.

For several weeks, defense officials led by Mr. Mattis have been assessing the progress of the Afghanistan war, determining what level of support — including a 3,000- to 5,000-troop increase — will be required to stabilize the country’s security forces.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections
DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith

Government-led analysis and reviews by private sector analysts say upwards of 60 percent of Afghanistan is heavily influenced by or under the direct sway of the Taliban. Afghan troops, advised by US and NATO forces, have suffered heavy casualties to maintain control over the 40 percent of the country ruled by the central government in Kabul.

The war in Afghanistan received little attention on the campaign trail last year, with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump focusing on the US-led coalition to defeat the terrorist group known as ISIS or ISIL. But Washington refocused on Southwest Asia amid Taliban gains this spring and the increased Islamic State presence in the eastern half of Afghanistan.

“We are not winning in Afghanistan,” Mr. Mattis told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee last month.

His comments echoed those of US Central Command chief Gen. Joseph Votel and Gen. John Nicholson, the top American commander in the country.

Currently 8,400 US troops are in Afghanistan, training and advising local security forces. Should the top-end troop increase proposal go into effect, it would raise the number of US forces in the country to more than 10,000.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections
DoD photo by Sgt. Edward Siguenza

On top of the increases sought by the Pentagon, NATO leaders have agreed to send surge forces into the war-torn country. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced the decision during an alliance ministerial earlier this year.

Inside the Pentagon, hopes were high that President Trump’s emphasis on military might to achieve US national security objectives coupled with a hands-off management style would give the department the resources and leeway it needed to bring the Afghan war to an end. Those hopes were bolstered when the administration announced decisions on troop numbers would be the exclusive domain of Mr. Mattis and his staff.

But recent reports claiming that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster instituted a soft cap of 3,900 soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines that could be sent to Afghanistan has put a damper on such assumptions.

The Trump White House’s management of the Pentagon “is not the free hand that has been advertised,” said Bill Roggio, managing editor of the Long War Journal and an adjunct fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections
DoD photo by EJ Hersom

Furthermore, any close study of Mr. Trump’s rhetoric during the campaign would have proven things would be business as usual at the Pentagon. “The [war] policies are fundamentally the same at this point in time just with the reins loosened,” Mr. Roggio said.

The proposed 3,900-man troop cap is less an example of the war micromanagement of the Obama administration and more a way to get some breathing room as the Trump administration pulls together a long-term Afghan strategy, he added.

“It is a stopgap until we can come up with a complete strategy. It is not a permanent cap,” said Mr. Roggio.

Congressional hawks, led by Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, have taken Mr. Trump’s national security team to task over its lack of an Afghanistan war plan.

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections
Arizona Senator John McCain. DoD photo by Chief Petty Officer James Foehl

Last month Mr. McCain told Mr. Mattis and Gen. Dunford that he hopes they can “understand the dilemma you are presenting to us” each day the Trump administration holds off on issuing a new strategy for America’s longest war.

But for all the rhetoric, the US does have an Afghanistan strategy in place — the one drafted by the Obama White House.

Mr. Roggio said he understands the frustration at the Defense Department and on Capitol Hill regarding the White House’s slow pace on the Afghanistan plan.

“But there is a strategy in place right now, and until there is a new one, you follow that,” he said, referring to the Obama plan.

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