The US Army is preparing to field new night vision goggles and an integrated weapons sight that will change the way US ground forces go to war.
The new Enhanced Night Vision Goggles – Binocular (ENVG-B) and the Family of Weapons Sights – Individual (FWS-I) will make US soldiers and Marines deadlier in the dark by offering improved depth perception for better mobility and increased situational awareness at night, as well as the ability to accurately shoot around corners and from the hip.
The Army will begin fielding this capability late September 2019 at Fort Riley in Kansas, where this new technology will be delivered to the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division.
The night vision goggles offer higher-resolution imagery, as well as improved thermal capabilities, giving ground troops the ability to see through dust, fog, smoke, and other battlefield obscurants.
The Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binocular.
(US Army photo)
The goggles wirelessly connect to the weapon sight, delivering Rapid Target Acquisition capability. With a picture-in-picture setup, soldiers can see not only what is in front of them, but also whatever their weapon is aimed at, allowing them to shoot from the hip or point their weapon around a corner.
“This capability “enables soldiers to detect, recognize and engage targets accurately from any carry position and with significantly reduced exposure to enemy fire,” according to the Army.
This system was tested with US soldiers, special operators, Marines, and National Guard personnel.
Sgt. First Class Will Roth, a member of the Army Futures Command Soldier Lethality Cross-Functional Team, was skeptical when he first learned about this technology, he told the Army in a statement. “I couldn’t envision a time when soldiers would accept this product and trust it in the field,” he said.
His mind changed after he saw a Marine lie down on his back and fire over his shoulder at targets 50 to 100 meters away, relying solely on the goggles paired wirelessly to the optics on the Marine’s rifle. “He hit five out of seven. It gave me chill bumps,” Roth said.
“I decided this was an insane game changer,” he added. “I’m a believer, one hundred percent. Nothing else offers these kinds of capabilities.”
Senior Army officials are optimistic about the capabilities of this new technology.
“It is better than anything I’ve experienced in my Army career,” Lt. Gen. James Richardson, deputy commander of Army Futures Command, told Congress earlier this year, adding that Rangers had “gone from marksman to expert” with the help of the new optics.
Brig. Gen. Dave Hodne, director of the Army’s Soldier Lethality Cross-Functional Team, told reporters in October 2018 that he “can’t imagine, right now, any future sighting system that will not have that kind of capability.”
The ENVG-B and FWS-I mark the first deliverables of the US Army’s one-year-old four-star command, Army Futures Command, which is dedicated to the development of next-generation weapons and warfighting systems.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Trump will reportedly meet Kim in the same spot Kim met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on April 27, 2018, when Kim made history by being the first North Korean leader to enter the South.
CNN’s sources said there’s a possibility Kim will invite Trump to enter North Korea, and that parts of the summit may take place in the country where no sitting US president has set foot.
A spokesperson for Moon told CNN they “think Panmunjom is quite meaningful as a place to erode the divide and establish a new milestone for peace.”
“Wouldn’t Panmunjom (the name of the border village where Moon and Kim met) be the most symbolic place?” the spokesperson added.
In addition to logistical and symbolic appropriateness, the DMZ has broadcasting infrastructure in place and proved capable of capturing the historic moment of Kim and Moon’s meeting on April 27, 2018.
If you look at the enlisted ranking system put in place by every branch of the United States Armed Forces, everything makes a good deal of sense. You start at the bottom — generally at E-1, but there are ways to get in at a higher pay grade — and work your way up to a certain point where you become an NCO. Officers have their own linear path, starting at O-1, and warrant officers are half way between the two.
But the Army has its very own conundrum with the E-4 ranks. Years ago, the hierarchy of ranks looked a little different: it went private first class, then corporal, then sergeant. Today, both specialist (the highest junior enlisted rank) and corporal (the lowest NCO rank) share the same pay grade. This means that, in a sense, being a specialist is just like being a corporal — only without the NCO benefits.
To understand the specialist rank we know it today, you’ll have to look back at the Army’s long-gone specialist ranks.
The same insignia that would later be used for private first class.
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Felicia Jagdatt)
In 1920, there was a consolidation that distilled 128 different rank insignia and titles into just seven. The results of this consolidation left us with something similar to what we use today — with a few key differences.
Since warfare involves much more than just general “infantrymen,” there was a need to identify the support soldiers, those who were specialists in their given field of expertise. Back then, it was assumed that all 5th-grade soldiers (corporals) fully understood what their job entails, but there needed to be a way to offer a little incentive to a privates to become known as a “private/specialist,” which was the name of the MOS at the time. That incentive came in the form of bonus pay — despite being paid more, a private/specialist was still officially of lower rank than a private first class.
The insignia of the private/specialist was a single chevron with a single rocker.
Think of the difference like today’s version of a master sergeant and a first sergeant. Same pay grade, same respect, but two very different positions and mentalities.
(U.S. Army Reserve photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret)
The next major overhaul came in 1942 when a need arose to differentiate between those who earned their rank because of how good they were at their job and those who earned it because of leadership abilities. And so the “technician” ranks were created, ranging from technician fifth grade (or “tech/5”) up to technician third grade (or “tech/3”).
They were distinguished from their peers by placing a ‘T’ under their chevrons. For all practical purposes, a technician third grade and a staff sergeant were on equal footing — same pay and same respect — but the staff sergeant was in a leadership position while the tech/3 was more of an instructor.
The joke used back then was “the NCOs may have been the backbone of the Army, but the specialists were the brains.”
The final shakeup came in 1955 when these two previous iterations of separating specialists in their given field from general leadership culminated an entirely new ranking system — the specialists. This took the original insignia of the 1920s private/specialist, inverted it, and added the Army Eagle to it. Promotions within the specialists meant adding another rocker to the top instead of a chevron.
A young private could prove themselves ready to enter the non-commissioned officers as a corporal — or they could focus on their MOS as a specialist. Between the years 1959 and 1968, it was entirely possible to make it all the way to E-9 as a specialist. Throughout the years, the highest achievable rank dwindled down and down until 1985, when only the Spec/4 remained.
Since all other grades of specialists were obsolete, the rank is now just called “specialist.” In essence, the rank holds the same meaning as it did in the 1920s — except now it’s more of a holdover rank before most E-4s make sergeant.
Justin Bronk, an air-combat expert at the Royal United Services Institute, said the Dark Sword “represents a very different design philosophy” than US unmanned combat jet plans.
Bronk examined the photos available of the Dark Sword and concluded it appeared optimized for fast, supersonic flight as opposed to maximized stealth.
“The Chinese have gone with something that has a longer body, so it’s stable in pitch. It’s got these vertical, F-22 style vertical stabilizers,” which suggest it’s “geared towards supersonic performance and fighter-style capability.”
(Lockheed Martin photo)
Though the US once led in designing drones, it was caught off guard by militarized off-the-shelf drones used in combat in the Middle East. Now, once again, the US appears caught off guard by China moving on the idea of an unmanned fighter jet — an idea the US had and abandoned.
The US is now pushing to get a drone aboard aircraft carriers, but downgraded that mission from a possible fighter to a simple aerial tanker with no requirement for stealth or survivability in what Bronk called a “strong vote from the US Navy that it doesn’t want to go down the combat” drone road.
But a cliché saying in military circles rings true here: The enemy gets a vote.
A nightmare for the US
(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dylan McCord)
China, situated in the Pacific and surrounded to its east by US allies, has tons of airspace to defend. For that reason, a fast fighter makes sense for Beijing.
“Something like this could transit to areas very fast, and, if produced in large numbers without having to train pilots, could at the very least soak up missiles from US fighters, and at the very best be an effective fighter by itself,” said Bronk. “If you can produce lots of them, quantity has a quality all its own.”
In this scenario, US forces are fighting against supersonic, fearlessly unmanned fighter jets that can theoretically maneuver as well or better than manned jets because they do not have pilots onboard.
US left behind or China bluffing
(Lockheed Martin image)
Perhaps somewhere in a windowless room, US engineers are drawing up plans for a secret combat drone to level the playing field. Bronk suggested the US might feel so comfortable in its drone production that it could whip up a large number of unmanned fighters like this within a relatively short time.
Another possibility raised by Bronk was that China’s Dark Sword was more bark than bite. Because China tightly controls its media, “We only see leaked what the Chinese want us to see,” Bronk said.
“It may be they’re putting money into things that can look good around capabilities that might not ever materialize,” he said. But that would be “odd” because there’s such a clear case for China to pursue this technology that could really stick it to the US military, Bronk said.
So while the US may have some secret answer to the Dark Sword hidden away, and the Dark Sword itself may just be a shadow, the concept shows the Chinese have given serious thought when it comes to unseating the US as the most powerful air force in the world.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
It goes without saying that the US Army is continuously testing and adding new weapons to its arsenal.
For example, the Army recently began to replace the M9 and M11 pistols with the M17 and M18, but has only delivered them to soldiers in the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. Therefore, the pistols are not yet standard issue.
While the Army continues to stay ahead of the game, it undoubtedly has a multitude of weapons for its soldiers.
And we compiled a list of all these standard issue weapons operable by individual soldiers below, meaning that we didn’t include, for example, the Javelin anti-tank missile system because it takes more than one person to operate, nor did we include nonstandard issue weapons.
Check them out:
The M1911 is a .45 caliber sidearm that the Army has used since World War I, and has even begun phasing out.
The Army started replacing the M1911 with the 9mm M9 in the mid-1980s.
The M11 is another 9mm pistol that replaced the M1911, and is itself being replaced by the M17 and M18 pistols.
The M500 is a 12-gauge shotgun that usually comes with a five-round capacity tube. The Army began issuing shotguns to soldiers during World War I to help clear trenches, and has been issuing the M500 since the 1980s.
The 12-gauge M590 is very similar to the M500 — both of which are made by Mossberg — except for little specifications, such as triggers, barrel length and so forth.
M26 modular shotgun accessory
The M26 is “basically a secondary weapon slung underneath an M4 to allow the operator to switch between 5.56 and 12-gauge rounds quickly without taking his eyes off the target or his hands off of his rifle,” according to the US Army.
M14 enhanced battle rifle
The M14, which shoots a 7.62mm round, has been heavily criticized, and the Army is currently phasing it out. Read more about that here.
The M4 shoots 5.56mm rounds and is a shortened version of the M16A2.
The M16A2 shoots the same round and has a similar muzzle velocity as the M4. One of the main differences, though, is that it has a longer barrel length.
M16 rifle with M203 grenade launcher
The M203 shoots 40mm grenades and can be fitted under the M4 and M16, but the Army is currently phasing it out for the M320.
M249 squad automatic weapon
The SAW shoots a 5.56mm round like the M4 and M16, but it’s heavier and has a greater muzzle velocity and firing range.
M240B medium machine gun.
The M240B is a belt-fed machine gun that shoots 7.62mm rounds, but is even heavier and has a greater max range than the SAW.
There are multiple versions of the M240, and two more of those versions are Army standard issue.
M240L medium machine gun
The M240L is a much lighter version of the M240B, weighing 22.3 pounds, versus the 240B’s 27.1 pounds.
M240H medium machine gun
The M240H is an upgraded version of the M240D, which can be mounted on vehicles and aircraft.
M110 semi-automatic sniper system
The M110 shoots a 7.62x51mm round with an effective firing range of more than 2,600 feet. But the Army is currently phasing it out for the Heckler & Koch G28.
M2010 enhanced sniper rifle
The M2010 shoots a .30 caliber, or 7.62x67mm round with an even greater effective firing range than the M110 at nearly 4,000 feet.
M107 long-range sniper rifle
The M107 shoots an incredibly large 12.7x99mm round with an equally incredibly large effective firing range of more than 6,500 feet.
M2 machine gun
The M2 shoots .50 caliber rounds with an effective firing range of more than 22,000 feet. It’s also very heavy, weighing 84 pounds.
M320 grenade launcher (stand-alone)
The M320 is the Army’s new 40mm grenade launcher, which can be fitted under a rifle or used as a stand-alone launcher. The M203 could too, but rarely was.
The M320 reportedly is more accurate and has niftier features, like side-loading mechanisms and better grips.
MK19 grenade machine gun
The MK19 is a 40mm automatic grenade launcher that can mount on tripods and armored vehicles. It has an effective firing range of more than 7,000 feet, compared to the M320‘s 1,100 feet.
M3 Carl Gustaf (MAAWS)
The M3 Carl Gustaf is an 84mm recoilless rifle system that can shoot a variety of high-explosive rounds at a variety of targets, including armored vehicles.
And this graphic, updated in February 2018, and which the Army gave to Business Insider, shows all the current and future standard issue weapons.
All images featured in this article are courtesy of the Department of Defense.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Companies grateful for the military’s service show their appreciation each year with free or discounted meals. Every Nov. 11, troops and vets map out an itinerary to maximize the best day ever.
The festivities can begin a week in advance and many troops stick with their tried and true classics. Cracker Barrel for breakfast, Red Robin for lunch, Hooter’s for Dinner, Old Chicago for beer and pizza with buddies.
If you really want to maximize your day, throw in a few things to do between meals. Be sure to grab your military or veteran ID and said buddies to share the Saturday of freebies with!
You can’t go out looking like a slob and expect civilians to take you seriously. After breakfast, why not grab a free haircut?
There are countless local and chain barbershops this year — too many to name. Everyone from Great Clips and Super Cuts to that place you like down the road (probably) are giving free hair cuts.
Give them a call in advance to verify.
Free Oil Change
If that light has been on for a bit too long on your dashboard, now is the time to get it checked out. You’ll need your car working in the best shape if you plan on driving all over for more deals.
Car care centers are also giving free oil changes including Meineke, Jiffy Lube, and many other local auto shops. Give them a call in advance to make sure.
Free Car Wash
Speaking of car care things people have been pushing off for too long, it’s time to get your car cleaned if you plan on showing up in style.
The organization Grace For Vets is working with over 3,215 car wash locations across the world to offer free car washes for veterans.
And to round the night out before the bars start opening up, have everyone meet up at the bowling ally for a game on the house. If you live near a Main Event bowling center, you even get a free entrée and $10 FUNcard to use at that location.
Many locations also offer free bowling Saturday, as with all the other fun deals, be sure to call in advance so you don’t end up being “that guy” who makes a scene about not getting a free round of bowling.
Free Wedding Dress
If you’ve got that one perfect date set in mind, now is the time to check one more thing off that list if you, or your fiancé, are military or a first responder.
Hands down the most impressive freebie this year is a free wedding dress. Granted, there are many stipulations on this one including: wedding in the next 18 months, you or your fiancé deployed in the last 5 years or about to deploy, and only certain deployed locations count. But submarine, Navy, and Special Ops orders all count. You can also qualify if you’ve had a civil ceremony in the past and are now planning a formal wedding.
There’s no way to finish a perfect day of freebies than by having a beer on the house.
Places like Mockery Brewing in Denver and Beer Park at Paris Las Vegas is offering up your first beer free while the First Division Museum is giving two “tastings.” Orlando Brewing in Orlando, FL; 38 State Brewing Co in Littleton, CO; and Blackfinn Ameripub in Vienna, VA all have variations on a “buy a vet a beer” program.
Many more exist out there. It all depends on how your local bar is handling it. Chances are, if you’re a regular and they know you’re a vet, the bartender will probably just slide you one on the house.
Officials at Goodfellow determined the outdoor running course was 85 feet longer than required, which may have caused 18 airmen stationed at the base between 2010 and 2016 to fail the fitness assessment, the announcement said. The track was last measured in 2010.
At Hanscom, the track was found to be 360 feet longer than it should be, likely causing 41 airmen stationed there between 2008 and 2016 to fail. The track was last measured in 2008.
“All airmen who should have passed were notified,” Brzozowske said in an email.
“If still on active duty, their fitness scores were adjusted to the correct passing score. If there were any personnel actions taken resulting from the inaccurate [fitness assessment] failures, airmen should work with their chain of command, Force Support Squadron and legal office, and potentially the Air Force Personnel Center to correct records,” she wrote.
The service’s inspector general also plans to include the PT program “as an Air Force inspection requirement on future wing unit effectiveness inspections,” the announcement said.
In addition, each time a base redesigns or modifies a running track, it must measure it as a precaution, it said.
In the six months since its activation, the Navy’s 2nd Fleet has bulked up and is embracing its mission in the North Atlantic and the Arctic, where the US and its partners are focused on countering a sophisticated and wily Russian navy.
Second Fleet was deactivated in 2011 for budget reasons — 65 years after being set up to deter the Soviet Union in the Atlantic and around Europe. Most of its assets were shifted to Fleet Forces Command.
The fleet returns amid a shift toward a potential great-power conflict, but the new version will differ from its predecessor by being “leaner, agile, and more expeditionary,” Rear Adm. John Mustin, the fleet’s deputy commander, said Jan. 16, 2019, at the Surface Navy Association’s annual symposium.
Rear Adm. John Mustin at Naval Base San Diego, Feb. 24, 2017.
(US Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 3rd Class Craig Z. Rodarte)
“When I say lean, what does that mean? The staff complement is organized and billeted to be operational. The majority of staff will focus on operations, intelligence, plans and training,” Mustin said.
Questions have been raised about how 2nd Fleet will integrate with other numbered fleets — particularly 6th Fleet, which oversees waters around Europe, and 4th Fleet, which is responsible for the Caribbean Sea and waters around Central and South America — but Navy officials have said the goal is not to draw stark lines in the sea.
Second fleet’s primary focus will be working with 6th Fleet and 4th Fleet “to ensure a seamless command and control for force employment — ensuring there is no vulnerability, no seam in the Atlantic,” Lt. Marycate Walsh, a spokesperson for 2nd Fleet, told Business Insider in December 2018.
US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham hits heavy seas in the Atlantic Ocean, deployed in the 2nd Fleet area of operations, Dec. 18, 2018.
(Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan Clay)
Prior to its deactivation, 2nd Fleet was mostly a training command for units getting ready to deploy.
Now, however, the focus is “to develop and dynamically employ maritime forces ready to fight across multiple domains in the Atlantic and Arctic,” Mustin said at the symposium.
“Previously, forces reported to 2nd Fleet when they entered the fleet’s geographic area of operations. Under the new model forces will be assigned once in the final stage of the training cycle and through the end of the period in which forces are available for operational tasking, unless the unit transitions to the control of another numbered fleet,” Walsh told Business Insider in December 2018.
“This allows 2nd Fleet to focus its attention on the development and employment of forces at the highest level of warfare,” Walsh added.
An MH-60S Seahawk helicopter crewman watches simulated fast-attack craft approach the USS Kearsarge during a Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training exercise, June 24, 2018.
(US Navy photo Mass Comm. Specialist 2nd Class Ryre Arciaga)
Like the stand-up of 2nd Fleet, the Navy’s first East Coast use of Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training — a Top Gun-like exercise meant to impart advanced knowledge of weapons and tactics to surface crews — is part of the effort to train for warfare against an enemy fleet.
Mustin said during his remarks that he was the 18th staff member to report to 2nd Fleet and that by March the command will have 85 people assigned — a “number that will continue on a glide slope that is increasing rapidly,” he said.
To avoid bloat and redundancy, the 2nd Fleet will work with Fleet Forces whenever possible, Mustin said. Both commands are based in Norfolk, Virginia. Ships will be under Fleet Forces’ operational command, while 2nd Fleet will have tactical control.
A fire controlman trains sailors on firefighting tactics in an engine room l aboard Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham in the 2nd Fleet area of operations, Dec. 17, 2018.
(US Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan Clay)
But the fleet is growing to be fit for purpose and fit for its time, Walsh told Business Insider.
“It makes sense to describe 2nd Fleet in terms of capability rather than in terms of the number of personnel assigned,” Walsh said. Most of the personnel assigned to it will focus on operations, intelligence, plans and training, “with only a few staff members focused on higher headquarters administrative functions.”
Mustin also told attendees at the symposium that they could expect 2nd Fleet personnel to be roaming their area of operations — working from forward posts on command ships or from austere locations ashore — while keeping in touch with home base in Norfolk.
Guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham approaches fleet-replenishment oiler USNS Joshua Humphreys, right, for replenishment-at-sea in the 2nd Fleet area of operations, Dec. 19, 2018.
(US Navy photo Mass Comm. Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan Clay)
Those personnel will include staffers from allied countries and other partners who are fully integrated rather than assigned as liaisons, said Mustin, who added that surface warfare officers interested in 2nd Fleet had been approaching him at the symposium.
Moreover, plans are to rotate Navy reservists through the fleet to work alongside active-duty sailors, with the goal of keeping those reservists up-to-date. “This is not your grandfather’s 2nd Fleet, or, as my staff likes to point out, my father’s 2nd Fleet,” Mustin said.
Second Fleet will also work on development in other aspects of naval warfare.
Lt. Gen. Robert Hedelund, commander of II Marine Expeditionary Force, and Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, commander of 2nd Fleet, at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Aug. 27, 2018.
(US Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Nicholas Guevara)
Working with the Naval War College and the Warfare Development Centers, the fleet “will be a hub for the Navy’s concept development and implementation, ensuring that when the Navy operates around the world, it is prepared to compete, fight, and win in great-power competition,” Walsh told Business Insider in December 2018.
In September 2018, the Center for Executive Education at the Naval Postgraduate School led 2nd Fleet staff in a seminar to develop the fleet’s mission set, and in coming months the 2nd Fleet will work with the Naval War College on staff training to “ensure the fleet is equipped to command and control naval forces at the highest level of warfare,” Walsh said, adding that most 2nd Fleet staff will attend the school’s College of Maritime Operational Warfare.
“Going forward, this same kind of integration applies to the employment of the naval forces [that] 2nd Fleet commands,” Walsh added.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Mark Rasnake outside the hospital in October 2005. (Photo courtesy of Mark Rasnake)
Maj. Mark Rasnake was exhausted. The 32-year-old Air Force infectious disease specialist had worked through the night treating some of the worst trauma he’d seen in his life — seven soldiers who’d been brought in after sustaining catastrophic burns when their Bradley Fighting Vehicle hit an improvised explosive device near Daliaya, Iraq, and erupted in flames. But back at his bunk at Balad Air Force Base, north of Baghdad, he couldn’t sleep.
He opened his laptop and began to type a letter home. “I met a hero last night,” he wrote. “I did not realize it at the time … This is a place where the word “hero” is tossed around day in and day out, so much so that you sometimes lose sight of its true meaning. His story reminded me of it.”
As a medical professional, Rasnake never identified his patient, even in a letter only intended for family members. As it happened, though, his words would travel further than he imagined. His local newspaper in Eastern Tennessee took it as a submission and reprinted it; and eventually, Air Force officials reached out to the paper so the service could publish it too.
Rasnake’s letter survives on the Air Force’s official website as the first public account of the bravery of Army Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe, who sacrificed his life running again and again into the fiery vehicle, ignoring his own burning uniform. It has been 15 years to the day since Cashe hauled his teammates out of the Bradley on Oct. 17, 2005; but Rasnake, now the residency program director for the University of Tennessee’s Division of Infectious Diseases, says he’s never stopped thinking about him.
“I kind of think about the guy all the time,” Rasnake told Military.com in an interview earlier this month. “I’ve got a helmet bag that I use to carry stuff to and from work, and I put a 3rd Infantry Division patch on that thing, just to always have the visual thing to remember what he did. That’s just always been important to me, to at least carry that memory.”
Rasnake said he didn’t learn Cashe’s story until a few hours after he and more than a dozen other military medical professionals had finished treating the soldiers and loaded them on an air evacuation flight bound for Germany. He can’t remember who shared the account of what happened in the aftermath of the Bradley explosion. But as word spread among his colleagues and across the base, it provoked a common feeling of awe.
“The discussions we had is, you know, if his actions don’t deserve the Medal of Honor, we had trouble imagining anything that did that would,” Rasnake said.
Cashe was initially nominated for a lesser award, the Silver Star, by his battalion commander, Gary Brito, now a major general. Brito, by his own account, pushed for an upgrade to the Medal of Honor as soon as he learned of the severity of Cashe’s injuries. But as the years passed, no medal upgrade came.
At issue, according to various reports, was difficulty ascertaining accurate witness statements of what took place. While initial accounts led the Army to determine Cashe’s heroism did not take place in active combat, current descriptions — championed by lawmakers — say he dodged enemy fire while hauling body after body out of the vehicle: six soldiers plus an interpreter, who died on the scene. Cashe refused medevac until the others were taken away, according to his Silver Star citation.
Mark Rasnake (right) along with doctors Col. Ty Putnam and Maj. James Pollock, Oct 17, 2005. (Photo courtesy of Mark Rasnake)
What Rasnake saw is in none of those accounts, but speaks to the pain and trauma Cashe’s body endured because of his choice not to leave his brothers-in-arms behind.
“The surgeons worked for hours on his wounds and we worked for hours in the intensive care unit to stabilize him for transport. In the end, damage to his lungs made him too sick to be safely transported by plane to our hospital in Germany and then on to a burn center in San Antonio,” Rasnake wrote in his later-published letter home. ” … Our air evac team loaded him into the plane for the six-hour flight to Germany. They had to deliver every breath to him during that flight by squeezing a small bag by hand.”
Rasnake still has clear memories of that night, although the conditions and treatment of specific soldiers is a blur. Off-duty medical staff were called back up before the casualties arrived. A field intensive care unit was heated to treat those suffering from the hypothermia sometimes brought on by severe burns. Doctors had to intubate to keep the badly burned soldiers’ blood oxygenated, and some required surgical incisions to allow burn-traumatized limbs to swell.
Six of the men needed ICU treatment; ultimately, three would succumb to their injuries.
Rasnake had arrived in Iraq earlier that fall, and it wasn’t common for doctors at Balad to keep track of the wounded troops they’d treated once they moved on for additional care. But this case was different.
“It was heartbreaking,” he said. “For the next two weeks … Some of them didn’t make it, including Sgt. Cashe ultimately, and he was the last one to expire of the ones that ultimately died. And it was just heart-wrenching for us to hear what was happening back home … he had the entire [Air Force] 33nd Medical Group following daily what was happening.”
As Rasnake sat typing that first night in his sleeping quarters, not knowing the fate of Cashe or the other men he’d treated, he thought of a hero from his hometown of Greeneville, Tenn.: Marine Sgt. Elbert Kinser, who threw himself on a Japanese grenade in 1945, saving his men and earning the Medal of Honor. A bridge in the city of Tusculum, Tenn., bears his name.
“How many of his friends are still alive to remember the story? How many grew old and had grandchildren because of his sacrifice?” Rasnake wrote. “Did they thank him every day of their lives? The next time I cross that bridge I will stop for just a few minutes of my life to read about a man that gave all of his.”
Now 47, and 13 years out of the Air Force, Rasnake said he never lost hope that Cashe would receive the Medal of Honor that he never doubted the soldier deserved.
“The fact that he’s up for the MOH, reliving this and kind of seeing some closure for him and his family is just amazing,” Rasnake said. “I’m so glad; it’s probably the first piece of good news I’ve gotten in 2020.”
Russia and the Syrian regime warned the US in early September 2018 that they planned to carry out counterterrorism operations near a key US garrison in southeastern Syria known as al-Tanf, where several hundred Marines have been stationed since at least 2016.
In fact, the al-Tanf garrison has long drawn the ire of Moscow, Tehran and the Syrian regime — but all they’ve been able to do is complain about it.
The US is “gathering the remnants of the Islamic State at this base in order to later send them wage war on the Syrian army,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said in late September 2018, according to Sputnik, a Russian state-owned media outlet.
“According to satellite and other surveillance data, terrorist squads are stationed [at al-Tanf],” Russian General Valery Gerasimov told Russia’s Pravda in late 2017. “[Terrorists] are effectively training there.”
Iran’s Press TV also cited Gerasimov’s quote a June 2018 article titled, “US forces training terrorists at 19 camps inside Syria: Russian expert.”
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem
Without any real evidence, US adversaries have lobbed many rhetorical attacks against the US forces for supposedly harboring or training terrorists at al-Tanf.
Damascus and Russian state-owned media even claimed in June 2018 that the US was preparing a “false flag” chemical attack “identical to the kind that took place in Douma” at al-Tanf.
“The U.S. led Coalition is here to defeat ISIS, first and foremost, and that is the objective of the presence in at al-Tanf,” US Army Colonel Sean Ryan, a spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, told Business Insider in an email.
“No U.S. troops have trained ISIS and that is just incorrect and misinformation, it is truly amazing some people think that,” Ryan said.
The US has trained Syrian rebels at al-Tanf, namely a group called Maghawir al Thawra, which “is fairly secular by regional standards and has been at the forefront of the fight against ISIS,” Omar Lamrani, a senior military analyst at Stratfor, told Business Insider.
Members of Maghawir al Thawra and a US Army soldier repair a water well in an-Tanf.
But the “claim that the US is training ISIS and like-minded groups at al Tanf is certainly absurd,” Lamrani said.
“To the Russians and Iranians, almost any group fighting against the Syrian government can be labeled a terrorist group,” Lamrani said.
So why do Russia, Iran and the Syrian regime care so much about this garrison?
“I’d say that the primary reasons why Iran cares about it so much is, again, it blocks the Bagdhad-Damascus highway,” Lamrani said, which Tehran uses to transport weapons to Damascus, where the Syrian regime is based.
“The reason they want the land route is that it’s easier to bring [weapons] across land in greater quantities, and the shipping route is very vulnerable to Israeli interception, and the air route is expensive and often gets hit by Israeli airstrikes,” Lamrani added.
Moscow, on the other hand, is upset about al-Tanf because “it’s the last area in Syria where the United States is involved with rebels on the ground that are not Syrian Democratic Forces,” Lamrani said.
The Russians and Syrian regime have “open channels” with the SDF, and want to negotiate — not fight — with them, Lamrani added.
But Moscow, Tehran and the Syrian regime’s ire might go beyond just styming the flow of weapons to Damascus and training rebels.
“There’s a history at that garrison at al-Tanf,” Max Markusen, associate director and an associate fellow of the Transnational Threats Project at CSIS, told Business Insider.
“I think that the Syrian regime, the Russians and Iranians, would see it as a [symbolic] victory if the United States pulled out of there than just sort of tactical level objectives,” Markusen said, adding that there’s much resentment for the US having trained rebels at al-Tanf too.
But they’re not foolish enough to kinetically force US troops out because “the costs of escalation are too high,” Markusen said.
So they’re relegated to discrediting the al-Tanf garrison.
Going forward, “we will continue to see an escalation of rhetoric,” Markusen said, but “I don’t there’s going to be a major outbreak of conflict.”
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
United States troops stationed in Syria have yet to receive guidance on their mission, including the basic rules of engagement, according to a military official in a CNN report published Nov. 4, 2019.
Some military commanders deployed to Eastern Syria were reportedly still waiting to receive their directives to guard oil fields in the region. For some of these troops, it was unclear where their destinations would be and how long they were expected to stay there, according to CNN.
President Donald Trump and his congressional allies in recent weeks have shown interest in the oil fields in the country, even deploying additional troops and armored vehicles to protect the oil reserves.
“What I intend to do, perhaps, is make a deal with an ExxonMobil or one of our great companies to go in there and do it properly,” Trump said on Oct. 27, 2019, adding that he wanted to “spread out the wealth.”
“The oil is so valuable for many reasons,” Trump added.
US troops in northeastern Syria were called back after Trump ordered their withdrawal, ahead of Turkey’s military offensive against Kurdish forces earlier this month.
US troops in Northern Syria.
But Trump also ordered troops into the region to protect oil fields from Islamic State militants, Syria, and Russia.
Roughly 1,000 US troops were deployed to the region when Turkey embarked on its offensive on Oct. 9, 2019. After accounting for the new troops, around 900 US service members are expected to remain.
The Syrian Democratic Forces, the majority-Kurdish forces that were allied with the US for the war against ISIS, have operated the oil fields after seizing them from the terrorist group in 2017. The SDF has been selling the crude oil to the Syrian regime through a sanctioned broker, according to a Wall Street Journal report, citing sources familiar with the situation.
The confusion wrought from the abrupt military repositioning also comes shortly after artillery rounds landed about 1 kilometer away from US troops. US forces patrolling northeast Syria on Nov. 3, 2019, reportedly noticed the artillery fire, according to the Military Times. No US service members were injured.
The event follows another similar incident on Oct. 11, 2019, when Turkish artillery fire landed a few hundred meters away from a location with US forces. Following the incident, a US official demanded that Turkey “avoid actions that could result in immediate defensive action.”
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
In 2016, an Iraqi-American artist sat down with Bahjat Abdulwahed — the so-called “Walter Cronkite of Baghdad” — with the idea of launching a radio project that would be part documentary, part radio play, and part variety show.
Abdulwahed was the voice of Iraqi radio from the late 1950s to the early 1990s, but came to Philadelphia as a refugee in 2009 after receiving death threats from insurgents.
“He represented authority and respectability in relationship to the news through many different political changes,” said Elizabeth Thomas, curator of “Radio Silence,” a public art piece that resulted from the meeting with Abdulwahed.
Thomas had invited artist Michael Rakowitz to Philadelphia to create a project for Mural Arts Philadelphia, which has been expanding its public art reach from murals into new and innovative spaces.
After nearly five years of research, Rakowitz distilled his project into a radio broadcast that would involve putting the vivacious and caramel-voiced Abdulwahed back on the air, and using Philadelphia-area Iraqi refugees, and local Iraq war veterans as his field reporters. It would feature Iraqi music, remembrances of the country and vintage weather reports from a happier time in Iraq.
“One of the many initial titles was “Desert Home Companion,” Rakowitz said, riffing on “A Prairie Home Companion,” the radio variety show created by Garrison Keillor.
Rakowitz recorded an initial and very informal session with Abdulwahed in his living room in January 2016. Two weeks later, Abdulwahed collapsed. He had to have an emergency tracheostomy and was on life support until he died seven months later.
At Abdulwahed’s funeral, his friends urged Rakowitz to continue with the project, to show how much of the country they left behind was slipping away and to help fight cultural amnesia.
Rakowitz recalibrated the project, which became “Radio Silence,” a 10-part radio broadcast with each episode focusing on a synonym of silence, in homage to Abdulwahed.
“The voice of Baghdad had lost his voice,” Rakowitz said, calling him a “narrator of Iraq’s history.”
It will be hosted by Rakowitz and features fragments of that first recording session with Abdulwahed, as well as interviews with his wife and other Iraqi refugees living in Philadelphia.
Rakowitz and Thomas also worked with Warrior Writers, a nonprofit based in Philadelphia that helps war veterans work through their experiences using writing and art.
The first episode, on speechlessness, will launch Aug. 6. It will be broadcast on community radio stations across the country through Prometheus Radio Project.
One participant is Jawad Al Amiri, an Iraqi refugee who came to the United States in the 1980s. He said silence in Iraq has been a way of life for many decades.
“Silence is a way of survival. Silence is a decree by the Baath regime, not to tell what you see in front of your eyes. Silence is synonymous with fear. If you tell, you will be put through agony,” he said at a preview July 25 of the live broadcast. He said he saw his own sister poisoned and die and wasn’t allowed to speak of it.
When he came to the US in 1981, his father told him: “We send you here for education and to speak for the millions of Iraqis in the land where freedom of speech is practiced.”
Lawrence Davidson is an Army veteran who served during the Iraq War and works with Warrior Writers also contributed to the project. He said the project is a place to exchange ideas and honestly share feelings with refugees and other veterans.
The project kicks off on July 29 with a live broadcast performance on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall — what Rakowitz calls the symbolic home of American democracy. It will feature storytelling, food from refugees and discussions from the veterans with Warrior Writers.
If you didn’t pick the U.S. Army that day you walked through your local strip mall mulling over which branch to choose, then you missed out.
Let’s face it. The demonym most people use for troops and service members is soldier. And there’s a damn good reason for that!
#1. We do awesome sh*t constantly.
Can you believe that civilians actually pay to go camping or to the shooting range?
You can forever play the “Oh, you think that is cool? Well I did…” stories in the lunch room at work.
#2. Because James Earl Jones.
The Marines may have Kylo Ren from the new Star Wars films, but we had his grandpa, Darth Vader.
#3. No one ever wanted to dress up as a Marine, Sailor, or Airman as a kid.
Kids running around with toy guns? They’re playing Army.
G.I. Joe? Mostly associated with the Army.
Those little green Army men? You get my point.
#4. We actually get to play with our cool toys.
Show of hands. How many airmen and sailors actually got to fly the planes or steer the ships their branch is known for doing? Now how many soldiers got to use the weapons our branch is known for using? Thought so.
#5. The Army has style.
We have always had the freshest looking uniforms throughout military history. Even when you’ve low crawled in the mud, Army uniforms look better than whatever the hell the Navy calls their blueberry uniforms.
#6. Our boy, Captain America, is one of the most recognizable fictional characters.
Show a picture of Captain America to nearly anyone. I bet you that they can tell you exactly what his name is and his branch of service.
#7. No guts. No glory.
Yeah. Things suck some times. No denying that.
But if you don’t embrace the suck, live the suck, love the suck, and become the suck — you don’t have the privilege of calling yourself a bad ass.
#8. You personally get to deliver 5.56mm of freedom at a max effective range at 500 meters to piece of sh*t terrorists.
Every branch has POGs (Persons Other than Grunt.) Every branch has a version of a grunt. The Army has the highest “Hooah Sh*t” per capita. At least our POGs try to elevate themselves above their “glorified cheerleader” status.
The only down side is knowing that when you get out, you will never be as bad ass as you were when you were doing “Hooah Sh*t.”
#9. Almost every iconic General officer in American history was in the Army.
Crack open a history book. Nearly every great General gained their notoriety in the U.S. Army. You’re in good hands.
Not to discredit the other branches who have given our country the best military tacticians the world has ever seen (because this list is done ‘tongue in cheek’ and at the end of the day, we’re all brothers and sisters on the same team).