Army goes dark with new PT uniform - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Army goes dark with new PT uniform

Just five months ago, about half of the Soldiers participating in organized physical fitness training here were seen wearing the grey Improved Physical Fitness Uniform.


On the morning of Sept. 14, inside the Gaffney Field House and outside track, there were only a couple of Soldiers still in the IPFU. Dozens of others were seen sporting the new, black Army Physical Fitness Uniform.

By Oct. 1, that number wearing the IPFU will reach zero Army-wide, as the wear-out date expires with “mandatory possession” kicking in for the APFU, per All Army Activities message 209/2014, which was released Sept. 3, 2014.

Soldiers seem happy with their new APFUs, according to a small opinion sampling conducted here.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t some sentimental feelings about the IPFU, however.

Spc. Lafavien Dixon, from Company C, 742nd Military Intelligence Battalion here, said he plans to wear the IPFU for organized PT right up to the wear-out date, out of a “sense of nostalgia.”

Any time a uniform changes, Soldiers will look back with a sense of fondness and happy memories, but not necessarily regret, he said.

The black with gold lettering design in particular, is something Dixon said he likes on the new uniform, as well as the two small ID card or key pockets in the shorts. The built-in spandex in the shorts is another improvement, he added.

Army goes dark with new PT uniform
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey joins Soldiers from Company B., 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division for a morning workout during Iron Horse Week at Fort Carson, Colorado, August 17, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Ashleigh E. Torres)

Sgt. Christopher Davis Garland, from Co. C., 742nd MI Bn., said he likes the overall look and feel of the new uniform and is supportive of the switch, but will miss the “cottony feel” of the grey reflective shirt.

Rather than discard the IPFU, he said he plans to wear parts of it when doing yard work.

Garland, a self-described “PT freak,” said he will also wear parts of the IPFU when participating in off-duty Spartan races, which include a number of obstacles that must be negotiated. He said he didn’t want to tear up his APFU doing that.

Specialist Douglas Banbury, from Co. C., 742nd MI Bn., said he purchased his APFU a year ago “to weigh the differences between them.”

Like other Soldiers, he said he’s pleased with the look and feel of the APFU, particularly the material, which he said enables the uniform to dry out faster when wet.

The other difference, he said, is that in his personal view the APFU feels a bit less comfortable in cold weather than the IPFU, but more comfortable in hot and humid conditions.

The only malfunction with his own APFU thus far, he said, is one of the key/card pockets detached. He reasoned that since he got the uniform early on when they first became available, he thinks it was a problem in the initial assembly production run. But the other pocket is OK, he added, so he can still carry his key/ID card.

Army goes dark with new PT uniform
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey sprints with Soldiers from Company B., 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at a morning workout during Iron Horse Week at Fort Carson, Colorado, August 17, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Daniel G. Parker)

Spc. Jarvis Smith, who was PTing after-hours with the other three co-workers from 742nd MI Bn., said the APFU shorts are longer than the IPFU, and this is a positive when it comes to modesty.

Like the others, he said he approves of the switch and plans to continue to wear parts of the IPFU around the house and yard to get as much mileage out of them as he can before they eventually fall apart.

Another Soldier interviewed said she plans to give her old IPFU to her wife — who is not a Soldier — to wear.

A main goal of the PT uniform switch “was to use high-performance fabrics in the APFU without increasing the cost from the IPFU,” according to the ALARACT, which noted 32 improvements, including the “identification/key pockets, a redesigned stretchable lining in the trunks and heat mitigation and female sizing.”

All of the changes were incorporated based on Soldier input and extensive technical and user testing in various climates, the ALARACT added.

Articles

Russia fires sub-launched cruise missiles at ISIS fighters

Russian warships in the Mediterranean Sea have fired four cruise missiles at the Islamic State group’s positions in Syria, the Russian defense ministry said on May 31.


The announcement came as Syrian government troops pushed ahead in their offensive against IS and militants in central and northern Syria.

Moscow said in a statement that the Admiral Essen frigate and the Krasnodar submarine launched the missiles at IS targets in the area of the ancient town of Palmyra. There was no information on when the missiles were launched.

Syrian troops have been on the offensive for weeks in northern, central and southern part of the country against IS and U.S.-backed rebels under the cover of Russian airstrikes, gaining an area almost half the size of neighboring Lebanon.

Army goes dark with new PT uniform
Hmeymim airfield in Syria. | Photo via Russian Ministry of Defense

Most recently, Syrian troops and their allies have been marching toward the IS stronghold of Sukhna, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) northeast of Palmyra.

The strategic juncture in the Syrian desert aids government plans to go after IS in Deir el-Zour, one of the militants’ last major strongholds in Syria. The oil-rich province straddles the border with Iraq and is the extremist group’s last gateway to the outside world.

Russia, a staunch Damascus ally, has been providing air cover to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s offensive on IS and other insurgents since 2015. Moscow had fired cruise missiles from warships in the past, as well as from mainland Russia against Assad’s opponents.

Also read: Israeli air strike hits huge Hezbollah weapons stockpile in Syria

As the fighting against IS militants is underway near Palmyra, Syrian troops clashed with U.S.-backed rebels in the country’s south on May 31, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Mozahem al-Salloum, of the activist-run Hammurabi Justice News network that tracks developments in eastern Syria.

The fighting came days after the United States told Syrian government forces and their allies to move away from an area near the Jordanian border where the coalition is training allied rebels.

The warning comes less than two weeks after the Americans bombed Iranian-backed troops there after they failed to heed similar warnings.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said on May 30 that the U.S. dropped leaflets over the weekend telling the forces to leave the established protected zone.

In the northern city of Raqqa, the de-facto capital of IS, warplanes of the U.S.-led coalition destroyed the main telecommunications center in the city, the IS-linked Aamaq news agency said. The Sound and Picture Organization, which documents IS violations, said land telecommunications were cut in most parts of the city after the center was hit.

Army goes dark with new PT uniform
The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) conducts strike operations against Syrian airfield while in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017 local time. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams)

The bombing came a day after U.S.-backed Syrian fighters reached the northern and eastern gates of Raqqa ahead of what will likely be a long and deadly battle. The city has been subjected to intense airstrikes in recent days.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces militia that is fighting IS in northern Syria had struck a deal with the IS offering it a safe corridor out of Raqqa. He added that soon after the Russian Defense Ministry had spoken about the agreement, some IS fighters started moving toward Palmyra.

The SDF has denied reports that it allowed IS fighters to leave the city.

“The Russian military spotted the movement and struck the convoy so it never reached Palmyra,” Lavrov said. “And so it will be in all situations when the IS is spotted anywhere on the Syrian territory. It’s an absolutely legitimate target along with all its facilities, bases, and training camps.”

“The current situation shows gaps in coordination between all those who are fighting terrorism in Syria,” Lavrov added, voicing hope that the U.S.-led coalition wouldn’t allow the IS to escape from Raqqa.

Syrian troops backed by Russian airstrikes captured Palmyra in March 2016 and Moscow even flew in one of its best classical musicians to play a triumphant concert at Palmyra’s ancient theater. IS forces, however, recaptured Palmyra eight months later, before Syrian government troops drove them out again in March 2017.

Russia’s defense ministry said its statement that the strikes successfully hit IS heavy weapons and fighters whom the group who had deployed and moved to Palmyra from the IS stronghold of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Sunni militant group and its self-proclaimed caliphate.

Related: US special ops are trying to figure out how to counter Russia’s new way of warfare

Moscow said it had notified the U.S., Turkish, and Israeli militaries beforehand of the upcoming strike. It added that the Russian strike was promptly executed following the order, a testimony to the navy’s high readiness and capabilities.

Russia has been busy mediating between Assad and Turkey and the West who seek his removal. Earlier this month Russia, Iran, and Turkey agreed to establish safe zones in Syria, signing on to a Russian plan under which Assad’s air force would halt flights over designated areas across the war-torn country. Russia says maps delineating the zones should be ready by June 4.

Associated Press writer Bassem Mroue in Beirut contributed to this report.

Articles

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs

Some vets with a tendency toward showmanship like to take their talents to YouTube or Hollywood when they hit the post-service world.


Army goes dark with new PT uniform
These guys sang a couple songs that pissed their CO off (bravo!). (Photo: Amazon.com)

But the former F-16 fighter pilots behind Operation Encore took the old-school approach and are working to shatter some of the caricatures of veterans through music. The result is a blend of music genres from a variety of military-affiliated artists that range from folksy bluegrass to present-day pop rock — all of it relating to experiences of war that poke fun at life in the service and lament the tragedy of war.

Chris Kurek is the co-founder and partner with Viper Driver Productions. He’s better known as “Snooze,” one of the two founding members of the band Dos Gringos, a pair of F-16 pilots who released four satirical albums full of songs with titles like “I Wish I Had a Gun Just Like the A-10” to the NSFW drinking song “Jeremiah Weed” to the Willie Nelson-esque “TDY Again.”

The band kicked off when Kurek and his fellow jet jock Robert “Trip” Raymond were deployed to Kuwait for Operation Southern Watch and later Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“We were out there for six months, there was nothing else to do,” Kurek said. He and Raymond wrote some songs and performed for the rest of their squadron.

Their songs drew what Kurek described as “wonky eyes” from some, but their squadron commander was very supportive, encouraging them to record the songs on CD, even offering to put up the money.

“We were kind of writing on stuff that pointed out things that drive you crazy in the military,” he said.

After the band’s return stateside, they went to Texas to record their first CD, “Live at the Sand Trap.”

Turns out Dos Gringos’ wing commander was less than pleased with their extracurricular enterprise and barred them from performing at the Cannon Air Force Base Officer’s Club.

But the band went viral in a 2003 sorta way via the enlisted maintenance personnel who particularly dug the song, “I’m a Pilot,” Kurek said. The semi-satirical ditty about a self-centered fighter jock — which evokes a sound similar to some songs from the 80s band Warrant — was passed around the flightline.

Eventually, Dos Gringos would put out three more albums —”2,” “Live at Tommy Rockers,” and “El Cuatro” — before the band had to go on hiatus due to pressure from higher ups as Raymond rose through the ranks.

They were not done with music, though. Both felt some frustration with how some caricatured vets and with what they perceived as an effort by Nashville to cash in on the veteran experience.

Kurek recounted that the war wasn’t always patriotism or sadness, pointing out there was a lot of “goofing off and laughter” because of “boredom.”

Army goes dark with new PT uniform
Stephen Covell, a former Army medic who contributes to Operation Encore. (From OperationEncoreMusic.com)

“Vets can write about anything,” Kurek said. Eventually, in a conversation with Erik Brine, a C-17 pilot who was a later addition to Dos Gringos, Kurek recounted someone asking, “I wonder if there are any other people who did what we did on deployment – bring a guitar and write songs.”

They began a search, and it was a pair of submissions from Stephen Covell, an Army medic who served with the 82nd Airborne Division, that prompted them to create Operation Encore.

“Those two alone were the best I ever heard,” Kurek said. “They conveyed a combat vet’s experience.”

Covell’s submissions pushed Kurek and Raymond to launch a Kickstarter campaign to pay for airfare, studio time, mixing and mastering.

Army goes dark with new PT uniform
Rachel Harvey Hill, a military spouse who has contributed to Operation Encore. (From OperationEncoreMusic.com)

While two albums, “Volume 1” and “Monuments,” have so far been released, Kurek notes the process has been a challenge, largely due to the way the music industry has changed. Kurek recounted that when the first Dos Gringos album came out, CDs were still king. The rise of iTunes and digital downloads were one shift which evened out – the volume increased, even as they got less per song.

With Operation Encore, though, the big challenge has been the fact that the music industry has shifted once again to streaming services, and it takes hundreds of thousands of streams to get real money. Furthermore, Kurek pointed out that Dos Gringos was a niche market, and their audience knew what they would get.

Operation Encore is different.

“Operation Encore is a compilation, not one band, sound, or genre,” he explained, pointing out some of the songs were pop rock, others country or bluegrass. Furthermore, the singers who appear are scattered all over the world. Just getting the performers together for a concert would entail airfare, hotel rooms, and equipment rental. Not to mention all the stuff that is in the riders for the artists.

Army goes dark with new PT uniform

Kurek, though, is still hot on his Iraq War-era band.

“I wish we could do one more Dos Gringos album,” he said.

Operation Encore’s CDs can be purchased at CDBaby.com, or bought as digital downloads from iTunes, Amazon.com, and Google Play. Dos Gringos CDs are also available at CDBaby.com, and can be purchased from iTunes, Amazon.com, and Google Play.

MIGHTY TRENDING

3 powerful upgrades Bradley Fighting Vehicles could get in 2018

The Army is working on a future Bradley Fighting Vehicle variant possibly armed with lasers, counter-drone missiles, active protection systems, vastly improved targeting sights, and increased on-board power to accommodate next-generation weapons and technologies.


Also designed to be lighter weight, more mobile, and much better protected, the emerging Bradley A5 lethality upgrade is already underway — as the Army works vigorously to ensure it is fully prepared if it is called upon to engage in major mechanized, force-on-force land war against a technically advanced near-peer rival.

As the Army pursues a more advanced A5, engineered to succeed the current upgraded A4, it is integrating 3rd Generation Forward Looking Infrared sensors for Commanders and Gunners sights, spot trackers for dismounted soldiers to identify targets and an upgraded chassis with increased underbelly protections, and a new ammunition storage configuration, Col. James, Schirmer Project Manager Armored Fighting Vehicles, said earlier this Fall at AUSA.

Read More: The Army’s ‘Hard Kill’ tank defenses are a high-tech upgrade

BAE Systems, maker of the Bradley, told Warrior the platform’s modernization effort is designed in three specific stages. The first stage in the modernization process was the Bradley Track Suspension to address suspension upgrades, BAE statements said. The subsequent Bradley A4 Engineering Change Proposal, soon to enter production, improves mobility and increases electrical power generation. More on-board power can bring the technical means to greatly support advanced electronics, command and control systems, computing power, sensors, networks, and even electronic warfare technologies.

Maj. Gen. David Bassett, former Program Executive Officer for Ground Combat Systems, described the upgrades in terms of A3 and A4 focusing upon the Bradley from the turret ring down — leading the A5 effort to more heavily modernize Bradley systems from the turret up. This includes weapons sights, guns, optics, next-generation signals intelligence, and even early iterations of artificial intelligence, and increased computer automation.

Army goes dark with new PT uniform
Bradley Fighting Vehicles from Company A, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, get loaded on 805th Transportation Detachment, Logistics Support Vessel 8, U.S. Army Vessel, Maj Gen. Robert Smalls at Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait, March 25, 2013. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. William E. Henry, 38th Sustainment Brigade)

During several previous interviews with Warrior, Bassett has explained that computer-enabled autonomous drones will likely be operated by nearby armored combat vehicles, using fast emerging iterations of artificial intelligence. These unmanned systems, operated by human crews performing command and control from nearby vehicles, could carry ammunition, conduct reconnaissance missions, test enemy defenses or even fire weapons – all while allowing manned crews to remain at a safer stand-off distance. At one point, Bassett told Warrior that, in the future, virtually all armored vehicles will have an ability to be tele-operated, if necessary.

Also, while Army Bradley developers did not specifically say they planned to arm Bradleys with laser weapons, such innovation is well within the realm of the possible. Working with industry, the Army has already shot down drone targets with Stryker-fired laser weapons, and the service currently has several laser weapons programs at various stages of development. This includes ground-fired Forward Operating Base protection laser weapons as well as vehicle-mounted lasers. A key focus for this effort, which involves a move to engineer a much stronger 100-kilowatt vehicle-fired laser, is heavily reliant upon an ability to integrate substantial amounts of mobile electrical power into armored vehicles.

Articles

9 of the most evil weapons of all time

Of course, anything made to kill another human being has an element of dubiousness about it; but some designs go above and beyond merely killing and add suffering to the equation. Here are nine of these evil weapons:


1. Boiling Oil/Hot Tar

Army goes dark with new PT uniform

One of the earliest forms of evil weapons. When defending a castle, use arrows and spears and rocks to simply kill. Use hot tar to terrorize and demoralize the enemy as well as kill him.

2. Mustard Gas

Army goes dark with new PT uniform

Mustard gas was first used in battle by the Germans in World War I with the expressed intent of demoralizing the enemy rather than kill him. The skin of victims of mustard gas blistered, their eyes became very sore and they began to vomit. Mustard gas caused internal and external bleeding and attacked the bronchial tubes, stripping off the mucous membrane. This was extremely painful. Fatally injured victims sometimes took four or five weeks to die of mustard gas exposure. (Source: Wikipedia)

3. V-1 Buzz Bomb

Army goes dark with new PT uniform

The V-1 rockets were not intended to hit specific targets, but instead, they were designed terrorize the population of England during World War II.

4. Flamethrower

Army goes dark with new PT uniform

What do you do when you don’t want to crawl into tunnels and pull Japanese soldiers out of their hiding places one-by-one? You strap on your flamethrower and burn them out — a torturous way to go.

5. Firebombing

Army goes dark with new PT uniform

Firebombing is an air attack technique that combines blast bombing with incendiaries to yield much more destruction than blast bombs would alone. The Germans firebombed Coventry and London in 1940, and the British paid them back in spades toward the end of the war, most notably at Dresden.

6. Atomic Bomb

Army goes dark with new PT uniform

Since August of 1945 service academies and war colleges have studied the calculus of using the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but regardless of whether the strategy ultimately saved lives that would have been lost during a manned invasion of the Japanese homeland, it inflicted great suffering on the population in the form of destruction on an unprecedented scale and the follow-on radiation poisoning.

7. Anti-personnel Mines

Army goes dark with new PT uniform

These mines are designed to maim, not necessarily to kill. Stepping on them causes the mechanism to bounce up to pelvis level before exploding, causing maximum suffering before a slow painful death.

8. Punji Sticks

Army goes dark with new PT uniform

An evil booby trap most notoriously associated with the Vietnam War, Punji Sticks were a low-fi weapon used by the Vietcong to terrorize American forces patrolling the jungle. The sharp sticks were hidden under tarps or trap doors covered with brush, and they inflicted nasty and painful wounds to lower extremities.

9. Napalm

Army goes dark with new PT uniform

A bomb full of a gelling agent and petroleum, Napalm was originally used against buildings but later became an anti-personnel weapon. The flaming goo that erupts when the weapon goes high order sticks to skin and causes severe burns.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Should we change the name of Army bases named after Confederate generals?

With Confederate statues coming down across the nation, it’s time to ask: Should we change the name of Army bases named after Confederate Generals?

I think it’s a good discussion for us to have as a nation and an Army. When we can assess the problem and make rational decisions, I trust the Army leadership to make the best decision for our force and nation. We may not all agree on that or those decisions, but one of the greatest parts of America is civil discourse. It’s not difficult to see the pain these names may cause or why the current names don’t matter.


I’ve been to countries where they’ve torn down statues and changed names, erasing history without dialogue. There were many more significant issues, but none of those places have peace and prosperity. A statue or name change alone will not change society or bring a land of opportunity. When not done correctly, it divides people. However, this is an opportunity to do something right for the current and future generations.

We can have discussions and study our Civil War for years. There are a few undeniable conclusions. The Confederates attempted to succeed from the Union and the score was Union – 1, Confederates – 0. The Confederates implicitly or tacitly endorsed slavery of people based upon the color of their skin. We can learn from these difficult times in our nation’s history, so as not to repeat them. We should not honor these generals that fought against their country and therefore the right to own slaves.

In my 20-plus year military career, I never once cared about a base’s name, let alone whether the name of a general inspired me. What motivated me were the units that called those bases home. The famed 82nd Airborne, 101st Airborne, 10th Mountain Division and United States Army Special Forces — these and other storied units are what inspired me. We stand on the shoulders of giants. I’d read about these units in books and watched them in movies. The unit lineage is what mattered to me, and I’m willing to bet most of those I served with would agree.

I also didn’t care that they were named after famous generals. They didn’t inspire me or give me a sense of pride. Truthfully no generals, living or dead, ever inspired me. I had the privilege to work with some of the finest generals of our time. I have immense respect for these men and what I learned from them is invaluable. However, I wouldn’t say I was inspired. Why, you might ask? These generals are so removed from the fight that I find it hard to gain inspiration. Those that inspired me were leaders closer to us out conducting missions in the dirt, and my brothers and sisters that I served with.

I will not lose sleep if we change the names of our bases to Fort Tomato or Fort Pine Tree. I hope that we make these decisions with a thorough process. If Army leadership is considering such a process, I do have some excellent suggestions. Medal of Honor recipient, MSG Roy P. Benavidez, Fort Benavidez. Commander of the Tuskegee airmen, General Benjamin O. Davis, Fort Davis. The list of worthy American soldiers is much longer than the number of bases.

The truth is, we are hurting as a country. If this can help our nation heal, I’m all for it. It’s absurd not to have the discussion. Let’s reinvigorate patriotism and pride in our Army. We can run major marketing campaigns sharing the stories of these worthy soldiers. We can all be proud to say “I’m reporting to” or “served at” Fort (insert great American name).

I leave you with only one question: Will you be part of the discussion with me?

Articles

This Army veteran running for Senate assembles an AR-15 blindfolded in a new ad

Army veteran Jason Kander is running for the US Senate to unseat Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and he just dropped an incredibly effective ad pushing back on criticism of his gun rights positions.


He assembles an AR-15 blindfolded while simultaneously talking about his time serving as an intelligence officer in Afghanistan. “I approve this message, because I would like to see Sen. Blunt do this,” he says, holding up the finished rifle, in what is the political equivalent of a mic drop.

Last week, the National Rifle Association released an ad that criticized “liberal Jason Kander” for a 2009 vote against the defensive use of guns. The spot criticized the Democrat as being weak on Second Amendment rights.

Army goes dark with new PT uniform
Missourians for Kander | YouTube

In response, Kander is seen blindfolded in a new ad released Wednesday, pushing back on that view.

“Sen. Blunt has been attacking me on guns. In Afghanistan, I volunteered to be an extra gun in a convoy of unarmored SUVs,” Kander says. “And in the state legislature, I supported Second Amendment rights. I also believe in background checks so that terrorists can’t get their hands on one of these.”

Brandon Friedman, a former Army officer and CEO of public relations firm McPherson Square Group, told Business Insider the spot was “a masterpiece.”

Still, Kander has an uphill battle in the race. His opponent Roy Blunt scored the endorsement of the influential NRA in April, and he currently leads the challenger by three points, according to the RealClearPolitics average of Missouri’s US senate race.

Watch the ad below:

MIGHTY CULTURE

The fall of Soviet Russia hysterically explained through memes

The reign of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (or USSR) came to a screeching halt in 1991. After 68 years of reign, the collective of socialist countries were dissolved and reformed into new borders and republic entities.

This month, we look back on the August Coup, when Soviet Communists failed their takeover, and eventually, to the dissolution to the Soviet Union as a whole.


Take a look at the best memes we found commemorating this important event in world history.

Army goes dark with new PT uniform

(Know Your Meme)

Army goes dark with new PT uniform

(Reddit)

Army goes dark with new PT uniform

(Memecenter)

Army goes dark with new PT uniform

(Me.me)

Army goes dark with new PT uniform

(Imgflip)

Army goes dark with new PT uniform

(Makeameme)

Army goes dark with new PT uniform

(memes-4ever.tumblr.com)

Army goes dark with new PT uniform

(Ballmemes)

Army goes dark with new PT uniform
Army goes dark with new PT uniform

Ice Age baby is actually to blame after all.

What’s your favorite USSR meme? Tell us below.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Venezuela’s new ‘interim president’ is in hiding

Juan Guaidó, the Venezuelan opposition leader who declared himself interim president in January 2019, appeared to be in hiding as the country’s military leaders declared their support for his rival, President Nicolás Maduro.

The whereabouts of Guaidó, 35, remains unknown after he symbolically swore in as the country’s interim president on Jan. 23, 2019, before tens of thousands of supporters, promising to remove Maduro from power.


Guaidó has said that he needs support from three groups: The Venezuelan people, the international community, and the military, The Associated Press reported.

He hasn’t passed all three tests yet.

The long list of countries supporting his claim — including the US, the EU, and most of Venezuela’s neighbors — gives him a good argument that he has persuaded the international community.

Army goes dark with new PT uniform

President Nicolás Maduro.

It is difficult to measure Guaidó’s popular support, though his rallies have pulled in huge crowds. Tens of thousands of Venezuelans marched in support of Guaidó in January 2019.

Venezuela’s military, however, is much more clear-cut. Its leaders have remained staunchly loyal to Maduro.

Guaidó told the Univision TV channel from an undisclosed location on Jan. 24, 2019, that he would not rule out granting amnesty to Maduro and his military allies if he secures power.

“Amnesty is on the table. Those guarantees are for all those who are willing to side with the Constitution to recover the constitutional order,” he told Univision.

He appeared on a low-resolution video feed against a blank background, with poor-quality audio.

Army goes dark with new PT uniform

Guaidó spoke to Univision from an undisclosed location on January 24, 2019.

(Univision)

Venezuelans protested against Maduro for days, describing his presidency as unconstitutional and fraudulent.

Under Maduro’s rule, Venezuela is going through one of the world’s worst economic crises, with hyperinflation, power cuts, and food shortages.

More than a million Venezuelans have fled the country into neighboring Colombia, with hundreds of thousands more in Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, and Brazil.

US President Donald Trump declared his support for Guaidó on Jan. 23, 2019, shortly after he swore in as the country’s interim president.

Shortly after Trump’s announcement, Maduro told all US diplomats in the country to leave within three days. Washington has refused to comply.

The EU, Canada, and almost every country in Latin America also recognized Guaidó as president.

Russia, Turkey, Bolivia, and Cuba have explicitly declared support for Maduro.

China, Iran, and Syria condemned what they called US interference in Venezuela’s domestic affairs.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Strange weapons are afoot at a secretive Russian ‘doomsday’ weapons test base in the Arctic

KYIV, Ukraine — Residents of a northern Russian village were informed this week that they were living in a “danger zone” due to unspecified “work” being done a little more than 1 mile away at a secretive weapons testing site where the Russian military has been developing its new arsenal of so-called doomsday weapons.

An internet post advised the roughly 500 residents of the White Sea coastal village of Nyonoksa that five buses were ready to evacuate them as a precaution due to activity planned for July 7 to 8 at the nearby military weapons facility, which has been operational since the 1950s for the development and testing of sea- and land-based cruise missiles.


The warning paralleled another for mariners in the White Sea, issued by the port authorities of Arkhangelsk, which was to last from July 6 to 10. The maritime warning proscribed sea vessels from entering an area beginning off the coast of Nyonoksa and the nearby town of Severodvinsk and extending northeast.

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A Russian Federation air force Su-27 fighter participates in Vigilant Eagle 13. Photo by Mary Kavanagh, Canadian Forces Artist Program/Released.

No further information was given regarding the exact nature of this week’s test. But the Nyonoksa weapons testing facility has seen extraordinary activity in recent years — including some high-profile accidents that put civilian lives at risk.

In December 2015, an errant cruise missile from the facility hit an apartment block in Nyonoksa, starting a fire. There were no injuries, according to news reports at the time. And in August last year, the botched test of a nuclear-powered cruise missile off the coast of Nyonoksa killed five civilian and military specialists, injured others, and spiked radiation levels in nearby civilian settlements.

The explosion happened when a barge reportedly attempted to recover a nuclear-powered Burevestnik cruise missile from the seabed. Those killed included members of a special nuclear reactor development team from Rosatom, Russia’s national nuclear energy corporation.

The 9M730 Burevestnik — known as the “Skyfall” among NATO militaries — is a nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed cruise missile with virtually unlimited range. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the experimental weapon in March 2018 along with several other “doomsday” weapons. A video presentation of one weapon system showed a simulated attack on Florida.

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A U.S. F-22 Raptor intercepts a Russian bomber near Alaska on June 10. Photo courtesy of NORAD.

Putin, who touted Russia’s new weapons as “invincible,” warned the U.S. to take Russia’s military might seriously.

“You will have to assess that new reality and become convinced that what I said today isn’t a bluff,” the Russian president said. “It’s not a bluff, trust me.”

However, the Burevestnik has reportedly hit some snags, the August 2019 nuclear accident most notable among them. Moscow never confirmed that its Burevestnik cruise missile was behind last August’s accident. Yet, referring to the NATO name for the Russian weapon, in a tweet last year President Donald Trump cited the “failed missile explosion in Russia” as the “‘Skyfall’ explosion.”

Following the breakdown of the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty between the United States and Russia last year, and with Moscow and Washington increasingly at loggerheads over a broad gamut of geopolitical issues, Putin has embarked his country’s military on a crash-course program to develop new weapons.

Apart from the Burevestnik, in 2018 Putin unveiled other new weapons that he touted would be able to defeat U.S. missile defense systems. Among those was the Avangard hypersonic vehicle, supposedly capable of flying at Mach 27. The Avangard reportedly went operational in December.

Russia is also reportedly developing a nuclear-powered underwater drone — the “Poseidon” — that will creep up to an adversary’s coast, detonate a nuclear weapon, and create a 500-meter, or 1,640-foot, tsunami.

According to some scientific journal reports, Russia may also be resurrecting some Soviet-era antisatellite missile programs, particularly one missile known as Kontakt, which was meant to be fired from a MiG-31D fighter.

Whereas the Soviet-era Kontakt system comprised a kinetic weapon intended to literally smash into U.S. satellites to destroy them, the contemporary Russian program — incidentally, also named Burevestnik, although unrelated to the novel nuclear-powered cruise missile — will likely carry a payload of micro “interceptor” satellites that can effectively ambush enemy satellites.

Thus, with Russia’s many advanced weapons systems in development, this week’s so-called optional evacuation of Nyonoksa is not necessarily suggestive of any extraordinary development, experts say. However, the news also comes amid reports in late June that radiation levels across northern Europe were reading above normal — a phenomenon that some scientists attributed to likely weapons tests by Russia in the Arctic.

On June 23, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) reported that scientists in Sweden had detected unusually high levels of radiation. Weather patterns suggested northern Russia was the point of origin.

According to open-source radar satellite imagery, a Russian ship previously associated with testing of the Poseidon nuclear-powered underwater drone was off the coast of Nyonoksa on June 23. Some experts speculate that a failed test of the Poseidon could be the culprit behind the recent radiation spike.

Moscow denies that any such incident took place.

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.


MIGHTY TRENDING

What happens if the US pulls out of the INF treaty

Experts and analysts are struggling to grasp the implications of the growing likelihood that the United States will withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. As U.S. national-security adviser John Bolton holds talks on the matter with counterparts in Moscow, RFE/RL takes a look at some of the more interesting reactions.


Political ploy?

While most Russian analysts have been slow to comment, state media in Russia have been putting forward the notion that U.S. President Donald Trump’s statements against the INF Treaty are not to be taken at face value.

The state RIA Novosti news agency quoted an unidentified “diplomatic source” in Brussels as saying Trump’s statement has “an election context.”

“Just days before the elections to Congress, he wants to show his electorate that he can make decisions that will upset the president of Russia,” the source was quoted as saying.

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The pro-Kremlin tabloid website Argumenty Nedeli quoted an unidentified “high-ranking Russian diplomatic-military source” as saying that Trump’s statement was a ploy to get the upper hand in talks with Russia on nuclear issues.

“The business president is simply raising the stakes before negotiations like he always does,” the source said. “Now a banal exchange of concessions both by us and by the Americans will begin.”

Thomas Graham, former specialist on Russia for the National Security Council under President George W. Bush, told the daily Kommersant that the withdrawal indications could just mean that Bolton, who has long opposed any arms-control treaties with Russia, has caught the president’s ear.

“Only time will tell if this decision is final,” he said. “In the administration there are high-ranking figures who support the treaty and who would like to continue working with Russia to regulate contentious issues.”

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National Security Advisor John Bolton

(U.S. Embassy in Ukraine)

Russian violation?


Since 2014, the United States has argued that Russia has been in violation of the INF Treaty because it is developing an intermediate-range, ground-launched cruise missile that is provisionally known as the 9M729. The Trump administration said in 2017 that Moscow had begun deploying the new weapon.

Russia has denied that it was violating the treaty and has countercharged that some elements of a U.S. antimissile system in Europe violate it.

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Russia fires an Iskander-K ballistic missile during Zapad 2017 drills. The 9M729 is said to be a variant of this missile.

(Russian Ministry of Defense)

Writing for the Brookings Institution, former high-ranking U.S. diplomat Steven Pifer has argued that unilaterally withdrawing from the agreement in this way would be a mistake that would leave Washington to blame for killing a major element of global arms control.

Withdrawing from the treaty would also enable Moscow to deploy the 9M729 without any restraints, Pifer added. It could also further the erosion of U.S. relations with its allies in Europe, he said, noting that no European countries have expressed concerns over the 9M729.

Pifer concludes that a smarter approach would be to get on one page with Europe and urge NATO allies to raise the possible violation directly with Moscow. At the same time, Washington could take “treaty compliant” steps such as deploying additional bombers in Europe that would send a serious signal to Russia.

“The INF Treaty likely has entered its final days,” Pifer wrote. “That’s unfortunate. The Trump administration should make one last push, with the help of allies, to get Moscow back into compliance. And, if that fails, it should have ready a presentation that will win the inevitable fight over who killed the treaty.”

Demonstrating Russia’s alleged violations would probably require the United States to declassify some sensitive intelligence information, Pifer noted.

Stephen Sestanovich, a former U.S. National Security Council senior director for policy development under Reagan, writing in The American Interest, largely agreed with Pifer, saying that keeping the treaty is important because it “keeps Russian capabilities under legal limits.”

“Yes, Moscow will probably keep nibbling at the edges of the INF deal, but the only way it can launch a big buildup is by withdrawing from the treaty itself — something it clearly hesitates to do,” he wrote.

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A missile test in China in August, 2018.

(Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China)

China gambit

Sestanovich notes that U.S. military planners are concerned about the INF Treaty because it restricts Russia and the United States but leaves China free to develop the weapons it bans.

“Military competition between China and the United States will obviously be the Pentagon’s top priority in coming years,” he wrote. “But the idea that this need decisively devalues the INF Treaty seems — at the very least — premature.”

He says that for the foreseeable future, the United States and its allies deter China with a combination of air- and sea-launched weapons.

“It’s not impossible to imagine that over time we and our allies will come to think that medium-range, ground-based missiles — the kind the INF Treaty keeps us from having — would add meaningfully to deterrence of China,” he wrote. “But this is not a near-term prospect. In fact, virtually every U.S. ally in the region would reject the idea.”

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

Articles

USS Mahan has close encounter with Iranian vessel

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG 72) had what one report described as a “close encounter” with an Iranian vessel on April 24.


According to a report by Fox News, the Iranian vessel was a “fast attack craft” used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy. USS Mahan was forced to change course, the crew manned weapons, fired flares, and sounded a danger signal. The Iranian vessel stayed over 1,000 yards from the Mahan, but its weapons were manned.

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USS Mahan (DDG 72). (U.S. Navy photo)

According to the 16th Edition of Combat Fleets of the World, Iran has over 100 “fast attack craft” of varying types. The most notorious of these are roughly 30 Boghammers, which can reach speeds of up to 45 knots, and are armed with .50-caliber machine guns or twin 23mm anti-aircraft guns and either a 12-round 107mm rocket launcher, a 106mm recoilless rifle, or a RPG-7. American forces destroyed at least five of these vessels during naval clashes with Iran in 1987 and 1988.

This is not the first time USS Mahan has had a close call with Iranian vessels. In January, 2017, the Mahan had to fire warning shots at similar craft that came within 900 yards. The Iranian vessels backed off.

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In March, 2017, the missile-range instrumentation vessel USNS Invincible (T AGM 24) was harassed by Iranian forces twice. In one incident, an Iranian frigate came within 150 yards of the Military Sealift Command vessel.  The second incident saw IRGC speedboats approach within 600 yards of the Invincible.

That same month, the commander of United States Central Command, Army Gen. James Votel told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Iran was the primary concern in the region.

“We are also dealing with a range of malign activities perpetrated by Iran and its proxies operating in the region,” said Votel, citing Iran’s support for terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Bashir Assad’s regime in Syria. “It is my view that Iran poses the greatest long-term threat to stability for this part of the world.”

 

MIGHTY TRENDING

Afghan elections suffered record levels of violence

The United Nations says attacks and intimidation by the Taliban against October 2018’s parliamentary elections in Afghanistan resulted in a record number of civilian casualties.

In a Nov. 6, 2018 report, the UN said militants had waged “a deliberate campaign intended to disrupt and undermine the electoral process.”

It said at least 435 civilian casualties were recorded — 56 people killed and 379 wounded — during the Oct. 20, 2018 election and subsequent days when delayed polling took place.


The Taliban, fighting to force foreign troops out of Afghanistan and defeat Kabul’s Western-backed government, issued a series of threats against the elections that included three separate warnings in the days leading up to the vote.

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(Flickr photo by Todd Huffman)

There also were several attacks on voter-registration centers in the months before the election, some claimed by the Islamic State group.

The UN said attacks by antigovernment elements, mostly the Taliban, were carried out with rockets, grenades, mortars, and improvised explosive devices.

The United Nations also noted to a campaign of threats, intimidation, and harassment, including abductions before the election.

Featured image: Task Force Southeast hosts an elections security shura for Afghan government and military leaders in the southeast zone of Afghanistan at Advisor Platform Lightning, April 11, 2018. The group discussed the importance of secure and credible elections in Afghanistan.

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

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