Ministers say Tehran won't hand over 'damaged' black box of downed Ukrainian plane - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane

The black box of a Ukrainian passenger airliner shot down by Iranian forces in Tehran in January is damaged and Iran will not hand it over to another country, despite pressure for access, state media quoted top Iranian ministers as saying on February 1.


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week that he had “impressed upon” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that a complete and independent investigation into the shooting down of the airliner had to be carried out.

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane

Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 was brought down by Iranian air defenses after it took off from Tehran on January 8, killing everyone on board. Iran says the shoot-down was a mistake. The 176 victims included 82 Iranian citizens and 63 Canadians, many of them of Iranian origin.

The crash occurred with Iran’s air-defense forces on high alert following an Iranian ballistic-missile attack a few hours earlier against U.S. forces in Iraq. The strikes came days after Iran’s most prominent military commander, Qasem Soleimani, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad.

“We have a right to read the black box ourselves. We have a right to be present at any examination of the black box,” Zarif said.

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane

“If we are supposed to give the black box to others for them to read it in our place then this is something we will definitely not do,” he said.

However, Iran is in discussions with other countries, particularly Ukraine, about the investigation, Zarif said.
Defense Minister Amir Hatami said the flight data recording box had “sustained noticeable damage and the defense industry has been requested to help in reconstructing (it).”

“The reconstruction of the black box is supposed to take place first and then the reading,” Hatami said.

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

Articles

This is why the US could leave Al Udeid

The sudden move by a coalition of Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia, in early June to cut ties with and blockade Qatar perplexed US military officials and policymakers.


The Saudi-led coalition has made a series of demands of Doha for dropping the blockade, to which Qatar has shown no sign of assenting.

The spike in tension concerns US officials because of the massive Al Udeid military base in Qatar, where some 11,000 US personnel are stationed and from which US Central Command has run much of the war against ISIS in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

According to President Donald Trump, who has publicly backed the Saudi-led effort and criticized Qatar, relocating from Al Udeid would be no significant obstacle.

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane
President Donald Trump and King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia sign a Joint Strategic Vision Statement. (Photo from The White House Flickr.)

Trump was asked about the effect of the crisis on Al Udeid during an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network that aired on July 12.

“If we ever have to leave” Al Udeid, he said, “we would have 10 countries willing to build us another one, believe me, and they will pay for it.”

Trump did try to downplay potential conflict with Doha, saying, “We are going to have a good relationship with Qatar. We are not going to have problems with the military base.” But, he said, “if we ever needed another military base, you have other countries that would gladly build it.”

When asked this week about the situation around Al Udeid, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said the US has weighed other basing options as part of what he described has standard operational planning.

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane
The sun sets over Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. (USAF photo by Tech. Sgt. Amy M. Lovgren)

“I think any time you are doing military operations, you are always thinking ahead to Plan Bs and Plan Cs … we would be remiss if we didn’t do that,” he said, according to Military Times. “In this case, we have confidence that our base in Qatar is still able to be used.”

The break between Qatar and its neighbors was a departure from the relative stability seen in that part of the Middle East. The Saudi-led bloc’s initial condemnation of Doha came days after Trump left a friendly meeting with Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia, and the US president appears to have thrown his weight behind Riyadh’s efforts — accusing Qatar of backing terrorism on several occasions, including during his remarks to CBN.

Trump has also joined with the Saudi-led coalition in rebuking Iran for what they see as Tehran’s meddling in the region. But the the conflict with Qatar appears to have strengthened Tehran’s position.

And since Al Udeid would be the jumping-off point for any anti-Iran operations in the region, deteriorating relations between Qatar and its neighbors and the US could affect their plans to contain Iran.

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane
B-52 Stratofortress aircraft arrive at Al Udeid Air Base. (USAF photo by Tech. Sgt. Nathan Lipscomb)

Despite the tensions, the US has kept up operations at Al Udeid and with Qatar.

The US and Qatari navies completed exercises in the waters east of Qatar in mid-June, running air-defense and surface-missile drills. The US also signed off on a weapons deal with Qatar less than a week after Trump spoke approvingly of Saudi-led action against Doha.

Pentagon officials have said tensions around Qatar were affecting their long-term planning ability, echoing comments made by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson prior to Trump’s first remarks supporting the blockade.

But Davis, the Pentagon spokesman, said operations there are continuing as before.

“Despite the situation going on with Qatar, we continue to have full use and access of the base there,” he told Military Times. “We are able to re-supply it, we’re able to conduct operations.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Some relatives of Ukrainian airliner victims complain of pressure from Iranian authorities

A man who lost his wife in Iran’s January 8 downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet says he fled the country after being pressured by authorities for criticizing the way the government handled the tragedy.


Javad Soleimani’s wife, Elnaz Nabiyi, was among 176 people killed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) missile attack against the civilian airliner.

He says he was summoned by Iranian intelligence agents for “insulting” state officials.

“I decided to leave the country as soon as possible because I wasn’t the person to go to their office and apologize for my criticism, so I decided to leave Iran immediately and be the voice of the victims and their families,” Soleimani said in a January 30 interview with Canada’s CBC News Network.

Soleimani, a postgraduate student at the Alberta School of Business in Canada, says Iranian authorities also interfered in his wife’s funeral to prevent potential protests.

“They didn’t let us have our own funeral. They controlled everything because they were afraid of any protest against the government,” Soleimani said, adding that his family tolerated the pressure “because our first priority was to bury my wife.”

The IRGC admitted three days after the tragedy that it had shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752, saying the incident was the result of a “human mistake.” Iran says an investigation has been launched and that arrests have been made.

But so far, no official has resigned over the tragedy — which occurred just hours after Iran fired ballistic missiles at U.S. forces in Iraq as retaliation for the January 3 assassination of the IRGC’s Quds Force commander, Qasem Soleimani, in a U.S. air strike.

Tehran’s admission after three days of persistent denials spawned protests in the Iranian capital and other cities, with demonstrators calling for the resignation of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Javad Soleimani says senior officials, including Khamenei, should be held responsible for the crash. He says many Iranians were upset that Khamenei did not personally apologize for the loss of innocent lives.

“When you kill someone intentionally or unintentionally, the first thing to do is to say, ‘I apologize.’ But [Khamenei] didn’t say it, and he made people in Iran angry and more upset,” Soleimani told CBC News.

He says he also was upset that Iranian authorities referred to his wife as a “martyr.”

“They said the victims are martyrs and they wrote down congratulations,” he complained. “It was terrible.”

Alireza Ghandchi, whose wife, daughter, and son were killed in the plane crash, said those responsible should face justice.

“We would not accept it if [authorities] find an individual and say he mistakenly pushed the button” in order to end the case, Ghandchi said in a January 10 interview with the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran.

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane

persian.iranhumanrights.org

“It’s my right to know [who was responsible] and ask for them to be put on trial,” Ghandchi said.

Ghandchi said regime agents were present at his family’s funeral at Tehran’s Behesht Zahra Cemetery.

He said authorities have neither pressured his family nor provided any support.

“The government didn’t give us any support, except for using the term ‘martyr’ and creating somewhat better conditions for us during the burial. That is all,” he said.

Ghandchi said the term “martyr,” which is used in Iran to describe soldiers killed during the 1980-88 war with Iraq, should not be used when referring to the victims of the plane downing.

“The term martyr is used for people who are [killed] in a war in conditions when there’s an enemy. But it’s not correct to use it when referring to my children, who were returning [to Canada] from their trip,” he said.

Hamed Esmaeilion, who lost his wife and daughter in the plane crash, said officials at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport harassed the relatives of victims when they left Iran to attend memorial services in Canada.

“Let the family members leave to attend the funerals with ease. It is none of your business if Canada has easily issued entry visas within hours for the relatives,” Esmaeilion said on Facebook on January 27.

Esmaeilion did not provide more details about why he thinks relatives of the victims are being harassed.

Other reports suggest some relatives of victims were told by authorities not to speak to Farsi-language media based outside the country but were encouraged to speak to Iran’s tightly controlled media.

“They said, ‘Come and talk to our own media, not to the anti-regime media,'” one mother who lost her son in the tragedy told the news site Iranwire.com on January 15.

“I said, ‘You want me to say that it was America’s fault? You will never hear me whitewash [this for] you’.”

Khamenei on January 17 accused Iran’s “enemies” of using the Ukrainian airline tragedy to question the Islamic republic and the IRGC, which he said “maintained the security” of Iran.

In his first public remarks about the incident, Khamenei said on January 17 that the downing of the Ukrainian plane was a “bitter accident” that “burned through our heart.”

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

Articles

4 key differences between the Green Berets and Delta Force

The Army’s 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment – Delta — or “Delta Force” or CAG (for Combat Applications Group) or whatever its latest code name might be — is one of the best door kicking-units in the world.


From raining hell on al Qaeda in the early days of the war in Afghanistan to going after the “deck of cards” in Iraq, the super-secretive counterterrorism unit knows how to dispatch America’s top targets.

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane
Delta Force operators in Afghanistan, their faces censored to protect their privacy. Courtesy of Dalton Fury.

But during the wars after 9/11, Delta’s brethren in the Army Special Forces were tasked with many similar missions, going after top targets and kicking in a few doors for themselves. And Delta has a lot of former Special Forces soldiers in its ranks, so their cultures became even more closely aligned.

That’s why it’s not surprising that some might be a bit confused on who does what and how each of the units is separate and distinct from one another.

In fact, as America’s involvement in Iraq started to wind down, the new commander of the Army Special Warfare Center and School — the place where all SF soldiers are trained — made it a point to draw the distinction between his former teammates in Delta and the warriors of the Green Berets.

“I hate analogies like the ‘pointy end of the spear,’ ” said then school chief Maj. Gen. Bennett Sacolick.

“We’re not designed to hunt people down and kill them,” Sacolick said. “We have that capability and we have forces that specialize in that. But ultimately what we do that nobody else does is work with our indigenous partner nations.”

So, in case you were among the confused, here are four key differences between Delta and Special Forces:

1. Delta, what Delta?

With the modern media market, blogs, 24-hour news cycles and social media streams where everyone’s an expert, it’s tough to keep a secret these days. And particularly after 9/11 with the insatiable appetite for news and information on the war against al Qaeda, it was going to be hard to keep “Delta Force” from becoming a household name.

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane
Delta Force is part of Joint Special Operations Command, which targets high value individuals and terrorist groups. (Photo from U.S. Army)

The dam actually broke with Mark Bowden’s seminal work on a night of pitched fighting in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993, which later became the book “Black Hawk Down.” Delta figured prominently in that work — and the movie that followed.

Previously, Delta Force had been deemed secret, it’s members signing legally-binding agreements that subjected them to prison if they spoke about “The Unit.” Known as a “Tier 1” special operations unit, Delta, along with SEAL Team 6, are supposed to remain “black” and unknown to the public.

Even when they’re killed in battle, the Army refuses to disclose their true unit.

Special Forces, on the other hand, are considered Tier 2 or “white SOF,” with many missions that are known to the public and even encourage media coverage. Sure, the Green Berets often operate in secret, but unlike Delta, their existence isn’t one.

2. Building guerrilla armies.

This is where the Special Forces differs from every other unit in the U.S. military. When the Green Berets were established in the 1950s, Army leaders recognized that the fight against Soviet Communism would involve counter insurgencies and guerrilla warfare fought in the shadows rather than armored divisions rolling across the Fulda Gap.

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane
This Green Beret is helping Afghan soldiers battle insurgents and terrorists in that country. (Photo from U.S. Army)

So the Army Special Forces, later known as the Green Berets, were created with the primary mission of what would later be called “unconventional warfare” — the covert assistance of foreign resistance forces and subversion of local governments.

“Unconventional warfare missions allow U.S. Army soldiers to enter a country covertly and build relationships with local militia,” the Army says. “Operatives train the militia in a variety of tactics, including subversion, sabotage, intelligence collection and unconventional assisted recovery, which can be employed against enemy threats.”

According to Sean Naylor’s “Relentless Strike” — which chronicles the formation of Joint Special Operations Command that includes Delta, SEAL Team 6 and other covert commando units — Delta’s main mission was to execute “small, high-intensity operations of short duration” like raids and capture missions. While Delta operators surely know how to advise and work with foreign guerrilla groups, like they did during operations in Tora Bora in Afghanistan, that’s not their main funtion like it is for Green Berets.

3. Assessment and selection.

When Col. Charles Beckwith established Delta Force in 1977, he’d spent some time with the British Special Air Service to model much of his new unit’s organization and mission structure. In fact, Delta has units dubbed “squadrons” in homage to that SAS lineage.

But most significantly, Beckwith adopted a so-called “assessment and selection” regime that aligns closely with how the Brits pick their top commandos. Delta operators have to already have some time in the service (the unit primarily picks from soldiers, but other service troops like Marines have been known to try out) and be at least an E4 with more than two years left in their enlistment.

From what former operators have written, the selection is a brutal, mind-bending hike through (nowadays) the West Virginia mountains where candidates are given vague instructions, miles of ruck humps and psychological examinations to see if they can be trusted to work in the most extreme environments alone or in small teams under great risk of capture or death.

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane
Army Special Forces are the only special operations group trained specifically to aid insurgents in overthrowing foreign governments. (Photo from U.S. Army)

Special Forces, on the other hand, have fairly standard physical selection (that doesn’t mean it’s easy) and training dubbed the Q Course that culminates in a major guerrilla wargame called “Robin Sage.”

The point of Robin Sage is to put the wannabe Green Berets through a simulated unconventional warfare scenario to see how they could adapt to a constantly changing environment and still keep their mission on track.

4. Size matters

Army Special Forces is a much larger organization than Delta Force, which is a small subset of Army Special Operations Command.

The Green Berets are divided up into five active duty and two National Guard groups, comprised of multiple battalions of Special Forces soldiers divided into Operational Detachments, typically dubbed “ODAs.” These are the troopers who parachute into bad guy land and help make holy hell for the dictator du jour.

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane
Delta is a small, elite unit that specializes in direct action and other counter-terrorism missions. (Photo from YouTube)

It was ODA teams that infiltrated Afghanistan with the Northern Alliance and Pashtun groups like the one run by Hamid Karzai that overturned the Taliban.

These Special Forces Groups are regionally focused and based throughout the U.S. and overseas.

Delta, on the other hand, has a much smaller footprint, with estimates ranging from 1,000 to 1,500 operators divided into four assault squadrons and three support squadrons. Naylor’s “Relentless Strike” even hints that Delta might have women in its ranks to help infiltrate operators into foreign countries for reconnaissance missions.

And while Special Forces units are based around the world, Delta has a single headquarters in a compound ringed with concertina wire at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Marine Corps Selects Trijicon VCOG as Squad Common Optic

Marine Corps Systems Command just announced a contract award in its Squad Common Optic program to Trijicon. The Corps chose to outfit its Fleet Marine Force, basically all of its line units, with Trijicon’s VCOG 1-8x variable magnification optic.


According to Matt Gonzales at MARCORSYSCOM’s Office of Public Affairs:

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane
Six months after seeking industry proposals, Marine Corps Systems Command awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, firm-fixed-price contract to Trijicon, Inc., of Wixom, Michigan, Feb. 21 to produce Squad Common Optic systems.
The contract has a maximum ceiling of million, and Trijicon is slated to produce approximately 19,000 units. The purchase also includes spare parts, training, nonfunctional units, interim contractor logistics support and refurbishment of test articles.
Fielding to Fleet Marine Forces will begin in the first quarter of fiscal year 2021 and will be completed by fiscal year 2023.
Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane

This article originally appeared on Recoilweb. Follow @RecoilMag on Twitter.

Articles

This retired Navy pilot rocks the nation with speed metal karaoke at 82 years old

John Hetlinger left the Navy pilot ranks for aerospace engineering. He succeeded in that field, working for NASA on the Hubble Space Telescope for NASA before retiring in his late 60s.


That’s when he got into karaoke, singing at karaoke bars in pleated shorts and pants and nice polo shirts. He’s apparently got a thing for polos with toucans, which is kind of sweet.

Oh, but the songs he sings are heavy metal, and Drowning Pool’s “Bodies” appears to be one of his favorites to perform:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfR5O2PXzfc
That’s Hetlinger on his recently aired episode of “America’s Got Talent” where he wowed the judges with his performance. You can see Hetlinger perform a longer version of the song, where he includes some profanity, in this 2014 show from when he was a spry 80 years old.
(H/T NPR)
MIGHTY CULTURE

What it’s like to be honored as ‘Hero of the Game’ for the LA Kings

“The Hero Of The Game program is a season long commitment made by the LA Kings to pay tribute to local military personnel and their families. The LA Kings host one military family at each home game to show our gratitude for their continued commitment and sacrifice. As the Hero Of The Game, honorees are treated to dinner in the Lexus Club prior to the game and are recognized on ice during the National Anthem and again during the second period.” — The Official Site of the LA Kings

On March 18, 2019, I was honored by the LA Kings — and it was one of the most patriotic moments of my life.

Here’s why:


What it’s like to be Hero of the Game!

www.youtube.com

Related video:

Being the ‘Hero of the Game’ really wasn’t about me — it was about the service of our nation’s military. The truth is, most of the veterans I’ve spoken with have an uncomfortable relationship with the word “hero.” Few of us personally feel like we live up to the title.

What I tell every veteran who carries survivor’s guilt or who feels like they didn’t do enough is this: you answered your nation’s call. You volunteered, you took an oath, and you were ready to give your life to protect and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies. That’s pretty heroic.

Still, deep down, I don’t personally feel heroic.

I think most of us struggle with this, so when I was informed by a representative of the L.A. Kings that they would like to honor me, I wasn’t really sure what to expect — and honestly, I wasn’t really sure if I deserved it.

Here’s what the night entails:

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane

From left to right: Pin-Ups for Vets founder Gina Elise, U.S. Air Force veteran Shannon Corbeil, Forest Corbeil, Monica Kay

The L.A. Kings have this process down. I was given a very clean itinerary for the evening, including details about complimentary parking, when to pick up my tickets (for myself and three guests), and where to meet a rep from the L.A. Kings who would escort my group to dinner.

In fact, the process is so streamlined that Kings fans know about it and wait to greet that night’s Hero. One woman with season tickets likes to meet the service members and take photos before the game with a touching art print of what it means to be a hero.

Before we even made it inside the Staples Center, patriotic fans were eager to meet me and thank me for my service.

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane

We had no idea what was in store.

The Kings treated us to a delicious (and customized) dinner at the Lexus Club with a great view of L.A. Live and Downtown Los Angeles. We had an hour to eat (and grab some candy) before our rep came back for us and brought me to the ice.

I was informed ahead of time that I would stand on the ice during the National Anthem — and as the Kings were playing the Winnipeg Jets, both the Canadian National Anthem and the U.S. National Anthem would be performed.

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane

The National Anthem during the opening ceremony of the Kings vs Jets.

(Photo by Simone Lara, California Army National Guard)

I don’t know if I should admit this, but I probably cared more about proper protocol and uniform standards during this event than I ever did while on active duty. It was very important to me to reflect well upon my branch and the military as a whole. Strangely, Air Force Instruction 34-1201 doesn’t expressly state uniform guidance for the Hero of the Game — an indoor event with a formation of…me…so I was left to interpret the manual for myself (with the help of previous honorees).

I decided to wear my cover so I could salute the flags during both anthems — and I found myself proud that it is tradition in the United States to infuse a moment of patriotism into our sporting events.

I had been nominated for my work in the veteran community — and specifically for my volunteer efforts with Pin-Ups for Vets, a non-profit organization that helps hospitalized and deployed service members and their families. To make the night even more special, the Kings offered Pin-Ups for Vets ambassadors and their guests free tickets, so after this high-visibility moment, I started receiving messages from fellow vets in the crowd.

Then we were escorted to our holy sh** seats.

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane

One of our neighbors said we were in Eric Stonestreet’s seats — and if this is true, someone please thank him for me.

Seats for the Hero of the Game are graciously donated by a patriotic donor for the season. We got lucky that night because our seats were upgraded further — right up against the glass. That’s how we discovered that hockey is exhilarating and completely vicious.

If it wasn’t the puck flying at my face and ricocheting off the glass, it was the players slamming each other into the wall twelve inches from where we were sitting. Most of the other fans seated next to us held season tickets, so this was normal for them — but for us, it was thrilling.

Oh — and you’re allowed to bang on the glass. I highly recommend it.

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane

As I walked around, people approached to greet me and thank me for my service or, my favorite, tell me about their own time in the military or their family’s service. It was great to connect with people who were excited about the military. It made me realize how far our country has come.

Hero of the Game – Los Angeles Kings

youtu.be

Hero of the Game – Los Angeles Kings

Then, during the first period I really learned what it meant to be the Hero of the Game.

My name came up on the Jumbotron and I looked up, a bit embarrassed, as pictures of me in uniform flashed across the screen. I turned to give my sister a disparaging look and realized she was standing.

The entire arena was standing.

At that moment, I didn’t feel like me, Shannon — I felt like a veteran of the United States Air Force.

As someone who shares military stories on We Are The Mighty, I’m well-versed in how poorly our country treated our Vietnam War Veterans. I have stood witness to the devastation that has been inflicted upon the men and women who have worn the uniform throughout history. I’ve watched my fellow veterans struggle with seen and unseen wounds. I’ve experienced them myself.

Yet that night, as thousands of people stood to honor the Hero of the Game, I felt a deep sense of gratitude and hope. I’m thankful that our countrymen and women support the troops and that Americans recognize and appreciate the sacrifices of our military and want to give back.

I felt so grateful that there are advocates for veterans and that there are non-profits serving them. It was as if I was in a room of people who want the best for each other, which is why we have a military in the first place.

The military stands for the best in the American people, and that night, the American people were standing for the military.

Thank you to the LA Kings, not just for the incredible experience you gave me, but for supporting the military all season long. It means more than you know.

You can nominate a deserving service member as Hero of the Game right here.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Mark Hamill hints Skywalker’s return in the next Star Wars

At the end of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker said: “see ya around, kid.” And now, it seems like Luke and is real world alter-ego, Mark Hamill, weren’t kidding around. It’s not exactly confirmed yet, but Mark Hamill is strongly suggesting that he will return to the role of Luke Skywalker for the final installment of the newest Star Wars trilogy, the yet-untitled Star Wars Episode IX, debuting on Dec. 20, 2019.

On July 5, 2018, Hamill posted a countdown to Episode IX on Twitter with the words “Who’s counting? #9WillBeFineAllInGoodTime.”


Although Hamill is an expert at lovingly messing with Star Wars fans online, posting this reminder that the next Star Wars film is over a year away seems pointed. Ask yourself this question: why would Mark Hamill be posting about Star Wars: Episode IX on Twitter if he had absolutely nothing to do with it? Then, ask yourself another question: because Episode IX is possibly the very last installment of numbered Star Wars films in the main “saga,” would J.J. Abrams really not include the most beloved and famous character of all time for the grand finale? Search your feelings, you know it to be true! Mark Hamill is will return as Luke Skywalker, and if he doesn’t then he’s trolled people on Twitter harder than usual, and the powers-that-be at Disney and Lucasfilm have really dropped the lightsaber.

From a canonical, nerdy standpoint, one might wonder how Luke Skywalker could return in Episode IX since he clearly became one with the Force at the end of The Last Jedi. But, that question answers itself. We all saw Luke fade away into the Force, just like Yoda and Obi-Wan did, meaning his spirit will doubtlessly live on and guide Rey, and maybe even Ben Solo, from beyond the grave.

To put it another way, if Luke could project his image halfway across the universe just to play mind games with Kylo Ren, then it stands to reason his ghost will show up in Episode IX. And if Mark Hamill can play mind games with Star Wars fans on Twitter, then it also stands to reason he’s full of more than just a few surprises.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

North Korea may stop launching missiles for the winter

North Korea hasn’t fired a missile for 60 days, but that may have more to do with its own winter training cycle than with Pyongyang easing off on provocations.


Since Kim Jong Un took power in late 2011, only five of the isolated nation’s 85 rocket launches have taken place in the October-December quarter, according to The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies’ North Korea Missile Test Database.

The Korean People’s Army regularly enters its training cycle every winter “and getting ready for it involves a calm before the storm,” said Van Jackson, a strategy fellow at the Center for Strategic Studies at Victoria University of Wellington.

“Fall is the harvest season, and a lot of military labor is dedicated to agricultural output when not in war mode; inefficient, but it’s the nature of the North Korean system,” said Jackson, a former U.S. Department of Defense adviser. “It’s a routine, recurring pattern, which means we should expect a surge in provocations in the early months next year.”

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane
North Korea’s Hwasong-14 missile. (Photo from KCNA)

North Korea’s last launch was on Sept. 15, when the isolated state fired its second missile over Japan in as many months. That missile flew far enough to put the U.S. territory of Guam in range.

Joseph Yun, the United States’ top North Korean official, was reported by The Washington Post as saying on Oct. 30 that if the regime halted nuclear and missile testing for about 60 days, it would be the signal Washington needs to resume direct dialogue with Pyongyang. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Nov. 10 denied the U.S. had any such window.

Related: South Korean troops on DMZ are ready for anything

Yun arrived in South Korea on Nov. 14, a visit that comes as hopes rise for an easing of tensions on the peninsula in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit and a lull in missile testing.

Yun, the U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, will meet with South Korean and international officials, according to the U.S. State Department, although there is no indication his visit will include talks with the North.

Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said Yun is scheduled for talks with his South Korean counterpart, Lee Do-hoon, on Nov. 17 on the sidelines of an international conference on disarmament, jointly hosted by the ministry and the United Nations on the resort island of Jeju.

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane
Jeju Island. (NASA photo by Robert Simmon.)

South Korea-born Yun has been at the heart of reported direct diplomacy in recent months with the Kim regime.

Using the so-called New York channel, he has been in contact with diplomats at Pyongyang’s United Nations mission, a senior State Department official said earlier this month.

Even as Trump called talks a waste of time, Yun has quietly tried to lower the temperature in a dangerous nuclear standoff in which each side shows little interest in compromise.

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane
Photo from White House Flickr.

In a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations on Oct. 30, Yun reportedly said that if the North halts nuclear and missile tests for about 60 days, it would be a sign that Washington needs to seek a restart of dialogue with Pyongyang.

Some analysts say it is too early to read much into the break in testing, which is the longest lull so far this year.

And there is no sign that the behind-the-scenes communications have improved a relationship vexed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests as well as Trump’s heated statements.

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane
South Korea’s Gen. Sun Jin Lee, Republic of Korea Army chairman and joint chiefs of staff visits Guam’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, site Nov. 1, 2016, along with Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, commander of the combined US forces in South Korea. (USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Riedel.)

During his visit to Seoul last week, Trump warned North Korea he was prepared to use the full range of U.S. military power to stop any attack, but in a more conciliatory appeal than ever before he urged Pyongyang to “make a deal” to end the nuclear standoff.

Trump also urged North Korea to “do the right thing” and added that: “I do see some movement,” though he declined to elaborate.

While his comments seemed to reassure many in South Korea, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry called Trump a “destroyer of the world peace and stability,” and said his “reckless remarks” only made the regime more committed to building up its nuclear force.

Trump muddied the water later on his Asia visit by Tweeting that North Korean leader Kim had insulted him by calling him “old” and said he would never call Kim “short and fat.”

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane
President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump visit South Korea, November 7, 2017 (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

He also said “it would be very, very nice” if he and Kim became friends.

“It is indeed noteworthy that the president, at several junctures, seemed to open the door to negotiations with North Korea,” said David Pressman, a partner at the law firm Boies Schiller Flexner who helped lead North Korea sanctions negotiations as ambassador to the United Nations under former President Barack Obama.

“However, it is entirely unclear if the president’s suggestions are reflective of a strategic shift or merely reflective of what the last person he happened to speak with about North Korea said before the president made those comments.”

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘Avengers’ directors just undid that major ‘Endgame’ twist

One of if not the most dramatic moments in Avengers: Endgame is the scene in which a shieldless Captain America wields Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer that Odin enchanted so that only the worthy are able to lift it. There’s an entire scene in Age of Ultron showing the other Avengers trying and failing to pick it up. Or at least that’s what we thought was happening.

In a new interview, Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo were asked why Cap is able to pick up Mjolnir in Endgame but not in Age of Ultron. What changed between the two films, about nine years of Marvel Cinematic Universe time?


Anthony replied: “In our heads, he was able to wield it. He didn’t know that until that moment in Ultron when he tried to pick it up. But Cap’s sense of character and humility and, out of deference to Thor’s ego, Cap, in that moment realizing he can move the hammer, decides not to.”

Avengers: Age of Ultron – Lifting Thor’s Hammer – Movie CLIP HD

www.youtube.com

There is a brief moment in that Ultron scene in which the hammer appears to move ever so slightly and a look of panic flashes across Thor’s face, so it’s not as though Russo’s explanation comes completely out of left-field. The problem is simply that his version is just not as interesting as the prevailing theory.

Many thought that in Ultron, Cap couldn’t quite pick up the hammer because he was keeping a huge secret from Tony. In Captain America: Civil War he was forced to admit that Bucky was the one who killed the Starks. So by the time that scene in Endgame rolls around, he is worthy of wielding Mjolnir. It’s a nice arc that makes narrative sense and puts adherence to a moral code, the foundation of any good superhero story, at the forefront.

And now the Russos have deflated it. Because as nice as it is to be humble and not show up your friends, it’s not nearly as interesting as telling your friend that you’ve been keeping the identity of his parents’ murderers a secret.

J.K. Rowling learned the hard way that fans don’t particularly like it when architects of elaborate fictional worlds make statements outside of their work that alters their experience.

So while theorizing about this stuff is fun, creators have to know that when they do it comes from a place of authority that can have the effect of erasing fan speculation. That robs fans of the fun of speculating themselves and, as in this case, it can provide a less interesting “answer” to the most exciting questions the work in question raises.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

18 Air Force F-15s square off in a ‘Turkey Shoot’

The 48th Fighter Wing held an inter-fighter squadron “Turkey Shoot,” at RAF Lakenheath, England, on Sept. 26, 2019.

The Turkey Shoot is an operational competition that tests the preparation and performance of fighter pilots, intelligence professionals, aircraft maintainers, and air battle managers.

“The event takes the newest flight leads, instructors and wingmen from each squadron, puts them together into one four-ship formation to represent that squadron, and then hands them a demanding tactical problem to solve,” said Capt. Sam Wozniak, 492nd Fighter Squadron weapons system operator flight lead.


The competition is executed as a Defensive Counter Air mission. Competition planners, known as “White Forces,” set the parameters for each fighter squadron’s “blue air” team.

“The White Forces provided the special instructions, rules of the competition, and a point system matrix,” Wozniak said. “For example, successful target defense equated 20 points and achieving missile kills equated 5 points and the team with the most points at the end wins.”

The scenario pitted four blue air F-15s against 14 “red air” F-15s to defend specified targets.

In preparation, blue players had to determine the desired combat air patrol locations, distance triggers to advancing enemy forces, and inter-flight contacts for each formation to optimize mission success.

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane

An F-15C Eagle from the 493rd Fighter Squadron prepares for takeoff in support of an inter-fighter squadron “Turkey Shoot” competition at RAF Lakenheath, England, Sept. 26, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhonda Smith)

“From the mass brief, each formation splits off for flight-specific briefs to discuss the execution plan and expectations/responsibilities for each flight member during the fight,” Wozniak said.

In this iteration of the Turkey Shoot, the squadrons had the opportunity to incorporate interoperability tactics to enhance the effectiveness of their pre-coordinated strategy.

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane

An F-15E Strike Eagle from the 492nd Fighter Squadron kicks off the Turkey Shoot competition at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, Sept. 26, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhonda Smith)

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane

An F-15E Strike Eagle from the 494th Fighter Squadron, takes flight in support of an inter-fighter squadron “Turkey Shoot” competition at RAF Lakenheath, England, Sept. 26, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhonda Smith)

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane

An F-15E Strike Eagle from the 494th Fighter Squadron, launches in support of an inter-fighter squadron “Turkey Shoot” competition at RAF Lakenheath, England, Sept. 26, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhonda Smith)

“Broadly speaking, fighter pilots and fighter weapons systems officers need three things to survive and thrive … readiness, competition, and camaraderie,” said Col. Jason Camilletti, 48th Operations Group commander.

“Turkey shoots advance our wing’s readiness by stressing our newest flight leads and wingmen in a very challenging high-end scenario, and the adrenaline rush of competing to win is the closest thing we can do short of actual combat,” Camilletti said.

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane

An F-15E Strike Eagle from the 494th Fighter Squadron, launches in support of an inter-fighter squadron “Turkey Shoot” competition at RAF Lakenheath, England, Sept. 26, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhonda Smith)

As US Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa’s premier combat wing, complex exercises such as this ensure the 48th Fighter Wing remains ready to defend sovereign skies and deter any aggressor.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

The Brimstone missile is Europe’s equivalent of the Hellfire missile. Like the Hellfire, it’s designed to take out tanks and other armored targets, it can be fired with different seeker and warheads, and it’s battle-tested, especially in the Middle East. Now, its manufacturer has packed an insane number of them into small, all-terrain drones that could break apart Russian armor formations.


First, a quick background on the threat. While the U.S. is torn between competing threats in the Middle East, China, and Russia, Europe has a clear top priority in Russia. Europe gets a ton of energy from Russia, but the relationship is tense.

Russia has already invaded Ukraine twice, and it’s still supporting separatists in the Donbas region of that country. It has also allegedly violated the territorial sovereignty of Estonia by kidnapping an intelligence officer. (Russia claims the capture happened on their side of the border, Estonia disagrees, and U.S. and NATO intelligence backs Estonia.)

And Russia rattles its sabers every time a Baltic state or Eastern European country makes stronger ties with the U.S. or NATO. So if you were a small European country, especially one north of the Suwalki Gap, where Russia can amputate part of Europe with a 60-mile armored thrust, countering Russian forces is a major part of your defense needs.

Russia still has the largest fleet of armored land vehicles in the world, with an estimated 22,000 combat tanks, according to GlobalFirepower.com. The largest European armored fleet in NATO comes from Turkey with about 3,200 tanks, and it’s moving into a Russian orbit. The total tank force of European NATO countries only totals a little over 11,000. Adding the U.S. and Canadian armored fleets only gets NATO to about 18,000 tanks.

So, yeah, Russia’s massive armored forces could cause legitimate heartburn in the rest of Europe. No one wants to be the next Ukraine or the next Georgia. (Russia successfully annexed a portion of Georgia in a 2008 invasion.)

But how do you brush back Russia without an armored corps, a massive attack helicopter fleet, or some other costly investment?

THeMIS UGV with the PROTECTOR RWS

youtu.be

Well, if you need to intimidate an armored corps and can’t afford hundreds of attack helicopters with air-to-ground anti-tank missiles, maybe you could just put those missiles on a small drone on the ground.

“This cassette magazine, with its high weapon loadout, is optimised to counter mass armour,” said Andy Allen, MBDA U.K. Head of Land Domain Sales and Business Development. “Pairing the combat-proven MBDA Brimstone missile with a flexible and mission deployed UGV such as the Milrem Robotics’ THeMIS provides the tactical commander with the capability to rapidly and remotely deliver high volumes of precision anti-armour effects, importantly in all weathers, against all known DAS and at extended ranges.”

At least that’s the logic behind the pairing of the Brimstone missile and the MILREM Robotics THeMIS unmanned ground vehicle. The resulting product looks a bit like WALL-E if you switched out the cute eyes and body for a six-pack of abs missiles.

The THeMIS UGV is an unmanned infantry support vehicle, and MILREM Robotics sells it in a number of configurations, from transport to remote weapon platform to explosive ordnance disposal. But the most robust anti-tank version on MILREM’s website has a single Javelin missile. MBDA’s proposal would pack six Brimstones instead.

This could be especially potent when MILREM finishes the “swarming” control protocol that’s currently in development.

And Europe might invest in the solution. Europe is already heavily invested in Brimstone, and some countries already own a few THeMIS, so a paired solution shouldn’t be an insanely hard sell. So, hey, next time you head to Europe for an exercise, you might see a European soldier with a loyal attack robot following him. An attack robot with six tank-killing missiles.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 ways troops can make the most of their time in the field

Being in the field sucks for almost everyone involved. Lower enlisted get thrown into collective tents, leaders have to train their troops in crappy conditions, that one staff officer never shuts up about how they could “kill for a Starbucks,” and everyone has to deal with everyone else’s crap. Your experience and level of suckitude may differ.

Civilians pay money to go camping and feel “more rugged” when they wake up outdoors to the sound of birds chirping, so it can’t be all bad, right? In the famous words of nearly every old-timer who never shuts up about how much harder it was back in the day: Suck it up, buttercup. Things will be alright once you learn to look at the positives.


Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane

Unfortunately, you can’t substitute the food. Hope you enjoy your eggs with extra salt…

(U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Nancy Lugo)

Bring personal gear with you

It’s no secret that the military buys from the lowest bidder. The gear you’ve been issued has been used repeatedly by several other troops before it finally got to you. If you don’t have complete faith in the gear that was handed to you, you can always pick something up with your own cash.

Of course, you should always stay within regulations for most gear, like rucksacks and body armor, but unless you’re specifically told not to do so, you can probably get away with bringing a personal sleeping system in addition to the one your unit supplied.

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane

You never truly know someone until you’ve played with them as your partner in Spades.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Opal Vaughn)

Bring stuff to do outside of training

There will be downtime. Exactly how much will differ between units, but you’ll at least get a moment to breathe every now and then. In those moments, you’ll need something to do other than lose your mind.

It’s the field, so it’s obviously a stupid idea to bring a TV and video games. If you do, you deserve to be mocked for it. But you can never go wrong with bringing a deck of cards and getting a game of Spades going.

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane

With profit margins like that, you can put it on your resume when you leave the service.

(Photo via U.S. Army WTF Moments)

Sell wanted stuff to other troops

No one ever brings everything they need to last the entire time in the field. Some may load up their hygiene kit but forget razors. Your unit may be just given MREs and mermites and nobody thinks to bring a bottle of Tabasco. You’ll even find people who think a single pack of cigarettes will last them the full two weeks. You could be the guy who makes a quick buck off of the under-prepared.

Even if you don’t smoke or dip, there will be others in your unit that do. You’ll see them start to get on edge after they’ve run out by the end of the first week. At that point, no one will bat an eye if you sell them a pack for . I mean, technically, MPs might because it’s frowned upon by the court of law to sell tobacco without a license, but those profit margins are mighty fine.

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane

No one will blame you if you take pre-CS chamber selfies. We don’t want to see your face covered in snot and tears.

(U.S. Army photo by Cpt. Gregory McElwain)

Take photos

Of all the regrets veterans might have few about their time in the service, few rank higher than failing to take advantage of photo opportunities with the squad. Years down the road, when those vets are reflecting on how awesome they once were, they’ll be disappointed to find the only hard evidence is a handful of photos from promotion ceremonies and an awkward snapshot from a unit ball.

Don’t be that guy. Bring a camera or have your phone’s camera primed. If it seems like a dumb idea or if things generally sucks, take a photo. Tragedy plus time almost always equals comedy gold. You’ll thank yourself later.

Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane

Your leaders are wellsprings of information, both good and bad. It’s up to you to learn the difference.

(U.S. Army photo courtesy of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 8th Special Troops Battalion)

Actually listen to what your leader wants to teach you

There aren’t too opportunities for a leader to truly break down training and give you a hands-on experience outside of being in the field. That’s why you’re there in the first place.

They’ll have everything planned out to try and prepare you for what’s coming later. Listen to them. They’ve got much to tell you. Believe me when I say this: Your leader wants to teach you everything they know to make you better. If they don’t, they’re not a leader.

Do Not Sell My Personal Information