The raid on Camp Bastion was a bloody first for some Marine aviators - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY HISTORY

The raid on Camp Bastion was a bloody first for some Marine aviators

On Sept. 14, 2012, 15 heavily armed Taliban fighters disguised in U.S. Army uniforms infiltrated Camp Bastion, a large Marine Corps and British forces base and Afghan National Army training complex. Camp Bastion could accommodate some 30,000 people, so when the Taliban split into three teams to wreak havoc on the base’s interior, things could have gone very badly for the Marines.

The infiltrators made it all the way to the flight line, where their coordinated, complex attack began by targeting the Marines’ Harrier aircraft. It would be the single biggest loss of American airpower since the Vietnam War. It would also be the first time that the maintainers and pilots of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 (VMA-211) operated as riflemen since World War II.


A video released later showed the attackers dressed for the assault.

The fighting began at 10pm local time with one Taliban team engaging the flight line personnel, another targeting the refueling area, and a third focusing on destroying aircraft using explosives and RPGs. It was an aircraft explosion that signaled the start of the attack.

Within minutes, six Harriers were burning on the tarmac, the Marine helicopter area was surrounded by fires, and the cryogenics and fuel pit areas were on fire as small arms crackled and tracers lit up the night sky. The Taliban brought everything from hand grenades to heavy machine guns and caught the Marines completely off guard.

Lt. Col. Christopher Raible’s memorial.

Marines scrambled to protective barriers as RPGs exploded around the flight line. They initially believed it was an attack of opportunity from outside the base — a random, lucky hit from rockets or mortars. But after ten explosions, one every ten seconds, it was clear that this was more than a few lucky shots. The Troops in Contact alarm began to sound. They called in the British quick reaction force, but they were on the other side of the base and the Marines would have to hold their own until they arrived.

The Marines quickly moved to don their flak jackets and retrieve their rifles. The Taliban weren’t going to stop at the aircraft. They fired RPGs at the building that housed Marine workstations while another hit a building that contained the medical section. An anti-personnel RPG killed the commander of VMA-211, Lt. Col. Christopher Raible, before he could organize a defense. Shrapnel from one of the RPGs lodged in his neck as he was leading a crew full of mechanics and maintainers out into the night as a rifle unit.

By this time, every Marine was operating as a rifleman. Weapons and ammo were doled out to anyone without one and Marines began taking up their fields of fire. The air wing was a total, confusing mess as the fuel bladders blew up, temporarily turning the night into day.

A Huey aircraft commander and two enlisted Marines were the ones who brought the weapons to the flight line area. They went to check on the entry control point and began to take fire from the cryogenics area. A Huey crew chief manned an M240 to suppress the enemy fire.

At the same time, Marines were struggling to get remaining aircraft in the air to provide close-air support. All they could muster was two Hueys and a Cobra, but the Marines managed to get them ready to fly in the midst of the confusing, intense attack. Thick smoke, burning ordnance, and enemy fire loomed as flight line Marines took up defensive positions to cover the helicopters’ takeoff.

One of the Harrier jets destroyed in the raid.

When the helicopters were airborne, things changed quickly on the ground. They told the JTAC to concentrate fire toward the enemy position in the cryogenics facility. When the southern wall of that building lit up with tracers, the AH-1 Cobra helicopter peppered the building with 20mm rounds and UH-1V Venom Hueys tore through it with 300 .50-cal rounds while a gunner on the ground hit it with 600 rounds from a GAU-17.

After the aerial hit, the British quick reaction force arrived and cleared out the infiltrating Taliban in the cryogenics facility with 40mm grenade launchers. That left four Taliban hiding in the T-walls near the flight line. As Marines on the ground attempted to converge on the remaining Taliban attackers, guns from the helicopters eliminated the last of the threat.

When the smoke cleared, two Marines, Lt. Col. Raible and Sgt. Bradley Atwell, had been killed. Allied wounded numbered 17, six Harriers were completely destroyed, and another two were damaged, along with an Air Force C-130E. Three fuel bladders and a few sunshade hangars were also destroyed. All but one of the attacking Taliban fighters were killed in action. The attack caused some 0 million in damages.

Maj. Gen. Charles M. Gurganus, left, and Maj. Gen. Gregg A. Sturdevant were forced to retire just one year after the raid.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

The story doesn’t end there. The Marine Corps wanted to know how 15 heavily armed Taliban fighters were able to get onto the base in the first place. It turned out the commander of Bastion, Maj. Gen. Charles Gurganus, reduced the number of Marines patrolling the base of 30,000 from 325 to 100 just one month before the attack, leaving the base guarded by troops from Tonga. He and Maj. Gen. Gregg Sturdevant were forced to retire in the days following the incident. Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James Amos, said the two failed to accurately assess the strength and capabilities of the enemy in the area and failed to protect their troops.


Sturdevant was the Marine aviation commander of the base and was blamed for inadequate force protection measures on the flight line area that night. The two Marines who went to check the entry control point found it unmanned before they started taking fire from the cryogenics facility. Meanwhile, the British review of the attack found that only 11 of 24 guard towers were manned that night. Both generals retired with fully pay and benefits.

Later, it would be revealed that the attackers spent months posing as poppy farmers, probing the base defenses and testing reactions from perimeter guards. They were able to map out the base, its defenses, its fuel farms, and the airfield. They were even trying to target Prince Harry, who was stationed on the base at that time.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is how global leaders are fighting terrorism

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford said the meeting of more than 70 chiefs of defense at the Counter-Violent Extremist Organization Conference was a historic occasion.


The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff hosted the meeting so the chiefs could chart the progress in the struggle against violent extremists and look at ways to improve the strategies in the long war against the terrorists.

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, delivers remarks alongside special envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Brett H. McGurk, during a press conference following the 2017 Chiefs of Defense Conference at Fort Belvoir, Va., Oct. 24, 2017. The conference brought together defense chiefs from more than 70 nations to focus on countering violent-extremist organizations around the globe. DoD photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique Pineiro

Dunford; Brett McGurk, the president’s special envoy for the global coalition to defeat ISIS; and Australian Army Col. David Kelly, an exchange officer on assignment to the Joint Staff, spoke to the press following the conference.

Also read: Defeating ISIS is hard; preventing ISIS 3.0 could be harder

During the meeting, the senior leaders from every part of the globe looked at the threats posed by extremist groups and examined strategies and tactics to combat them, the chairman said. The chiefs concluded “that we are dealing with a transregional threat and it is going to require more effective collective action by nations that are affected,” Dunford said.

Wide-Ranging Threat

He noted that in Iraq and Syria the coalition saw more than 40,000 foreign fighters from 120 different countries. The chairman added that figure describes the range of the threat in a nutshell.

The chiefs spoke mostly about the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Dunford said, because they regard ISIS as the most virulent example of violent extremism in the world today. Still, he added, they envision the military network that has been built to combat ISIS will also deal with other transregional extremist threats as they arise.

The key takeaway from the conference is that “the most effective action against these groups is local action, but local action has to be informed by the nature of the trans-regional aspect and so cooperation globally is important,” the chairman said. But, he noted, global actions must be informed by local actions.

Connections

Violent extremists are connected by three things that Dunford calls the “connective tissue” of terrorism: foreign fighters, finances, and the narrative. Cutting the connectivity between these groups is key to defeating them, the general said. Doing this will enable local forces to deal with the challenges posed by these groups, he said.

One example is the five-month battle for Marawi in the Philippines, which the chiefs were briefed about yesterday, Dunford said. About 30 foreign fighters returned to the Mindanao region after fighting with ISIS and persuaded local extremist groups to pledge to ISIS and launch attacks in the city. “Small numbers of ISIS leaders are attempting to leverage local insurgencies,” the chairman said.

The coalition is seeing something similar in Africa, he said, where a number of local insurgencies rebranded themselves and pledged allegiance to ISIS.

The chiefs discussed the movement of these individuals and the need for intelligence- and information-sharing within the coalition to stop them, Dunford said.

Global Effort, Global Approach

McGurk helps coordinate the whole-of-government approach to the campaign against violent extremism. He said the chiefs spoke a great deal during the meeting about all the efforts against ISIS, including the stabilization and humanitarian programs that are included in every military campaign. He also said foreign fighters trying to get into or out of Iraq and Syria has come to a near halt. “We believe we’ve cut their revenue down to the lowest level ever,” he said.

Related: The number of counter-terrorism missions this White House has authorized will surprise you

“Most interestingly today, we did a little walk around the globe, because it is not just about Iraq and Syria,” McGurk said. “We had very detailed presentations of operations against ISIS in Marawi, in the Sahel, we talked about how we are tracking foreign fighters around the world … and we had a very good presentation from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia about the leading efforts that they have taken on to counter the narrative and leading the counter-messaging campaign in that part of the world.”

The chairman said the campaign against ISIS is at an “inflection point” and that all the chiefs discussed what’s next. “One of the points that was made several times today is the need for the coalition to stay focused on Iraq and Syria for an enduring period of time,” Dunford said.

Counter-Messaging

Defeating the narrative of the terror groups is one of the toughest nuts to crack, he said, but progress is being made. “I’m not complacent, but I am encouraged by how the success on the ground in translated into undermining the credibility of the narrative,” the chairman said. “There have been some studies of young people who are radicalized and those numbers seem to go down. There are certainly indicators that fewer young people are being radicalized, and that’s as a result of us being able to demonstrate what ISIS is. They can only behead so many people and treat people they way they did in Mosul and Raqqa before those stories came out.”

The Saudi counter-ISIS messaging effort now has 41 nations involved. “Clearly, credible Islamic voices are going to be the ones that matter most in countering the narrative of ISIS, and countering it and discrediting it for what it is,” he said.

With 75 nations and entities such as NATO and the African Union Mission in Somalia, there are some who think the coalition is too big, Kelly said. But the coalition thrives on the diversity of views the coalition offers, he noted.

“What I bring to the Joint Staff, I feel, is a diversity of perspective,” the colonel said. “It’s that diversity of perspective that we are looking for in our planning. Can [the coalition] become too big? I don’t think so. I think the price of admission is wanting to be a part of solving the problem.”

The coalition is not a formal alliance, nor does any nation want it to be one, Dunford said. It all comes down to helping local and regional forces handle their security problems, and sharing information and intelligence to sever the connective tissue and defeat the narrative. “The bigger the coalition is, the better,” the chairman said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Watch the Air Force Academy’s top commander tell racists ‘to get out’

The head of the Air Force Academy stood all his 4,000 cadets at attention Sept. 28 to deliver a message on racial slurs found written on message boards at the academy’s preparatory school.


Chins in and chests out, the cadets were flanked by 1,500 officers, sergeants, athletic coaches, and civilian professors inside cavernous Mitchell Hall. Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria told them to take out their smartphones and record his words.

“If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out,” he said.

Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria. USAF photo by Tech. Sgt. Julius Delos Reyes.

Silveria spoke as investigators interviewed cadet candidates at the prep school, where five black students woke up Sept. 26 to find “Go Home” followed by the epithet scrawled on message boards outside their rooms.

Sources at the academy said there appeared to be a single vandal involved, judging by the handwriting.

“Security Forces are looking into the matter,” Lt. Col. Allen Herritage said in an email. “We’re unable to release any additional information at this time due to the ongoing investigation.”

The preparatory school gives cadet candidates a year of rigorous tutoring so they can meet the academy’s strict academic standards. Traditionally, more than half of the students at the prep school are recruited athletes.

More than 1,300 basic cadets salute June 26 during their first reveille formation at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. USAF photo by Mike Kaplan.

Racial slurs are legal in the rest of society, but not in the military, where their use is the kind of conduct that can be court-martialed. Those who wrote the slurs could face charges of violating orders and conduct unbecoming an officer.

Silveria, who took command at the school in August, has told cadets and staff repeatedly that his highest priority is ensuring a climate of “dignity and respect.” He called that a “red line” that can’t be crossed without severe repercussions.

After the speech, he said the Sept. 28 gathering, which drew nearly all of the academy’s personnel, was not mandatory.

The general said having the school’s officers take time to come to the speech showed their dedication to stamping out racism at the school, where about a third of cadets are minorities.

Cadets march toward Stillman Parade Field Sept. 2, 2016 at the U.S. Air Force Academy. USAF photo by Jason Gutierrez.

“The most important message there was not from me,” he said.

Silveria wants his cadets and other troops angry about what happened at the preparatory school.

“You should be outraged,” he told them.

He said the Sept. 28 show of opposition to racism should counter any impact on recruiting minority cadets.

“I’m not worried at all after what we demonstrated today,” he said.

 

The public display Sept. 28 is in contrast to how the academy has dealt with controversy in recent years, with probes into a variety of issues from sexual assault to an on-campus death dealt with behind a veil of secrecy.

After the speech, Silveria said he thinks dealing with the racial slurs in public is important.

“I wanted to make it clear, this is not something I am keeping from anyone,” he said. “We have to talk about what that means.”

The academy in recent weeks has worked to address the racially-charged state of America. This week, academy dean Brig. Gen. Andy Armacost hosted a campus-wide discussion about white supremacist incidents that accompanied an August “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va.

Brig. Gen. Andy Armacost. Photo courtesy of USAF.

In his speech, Silveria said discussions about race are important.

“We should have a civil discourse, that’s a better idea,” he said.

But talking about racial issues and tolerating racism are different, he said.

“If you demean someone in any way, you need to get out,” he told the cadets.

The military has stood as a beacon of relative racial harmony since President Harry Truman issued a 1948 order that ended racial bias in the ranks.

President Harry Truman. Image from United States Library of Congress.

Since then, the military has been a leader in accepting homosexuals and transgender troops. The transgender issue was brought back into play this summer when President Donald Trump tweeted his intent to ban transgender service. The Pentagon has put the presidential proposal under study but hasn’t discharged transgender troops.

The general on Sept. 28 called the families of the five cadet candidates who were targeted in the slur incident.

He said recent events that have highlighted racial issues, from NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem to fights over confederate statues, have weighed on his mind lately.

“My point is we can’t pretend that doesn’t impact us,” he said.

But the academy can fall back on an unshakable foundation when racial incidents arise, he said.

“No one can write on a board and take away our ideals,” he said.

Articles

B-1B bombers fly training missions near Korean Peninsula

Two Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers flew near the Korean Peninsula Monday, days after North Korea conducted another ballistic missile launch, Pacific Air Forces officials tell Military.com.


The bombers departed Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to conduct “bilateral training missions with their counterparts from the Republic of Korea and Japanese air forces,” said Lt Col Lori Hodge, PACAF public affairs deputy director.

Hodge did not specify how close the bombers flew to the Korean Demilitarized Zone, known as the DMZ, but said they were escorted by South Korean fighter jets.

Related: Here is what a war with North Korea could look like

When asked if the bombers were carrying weapons, the command wouldn’t disclose, citing standard operating policy.

In September, the service put on a similar show of force over South Korea, deploying B-1B bombers alongside South Korean fighter jets after another nuclear test from North Korea.

The U.S. military has maintained a deployed strategic bomber presence in the Pacific since 2004.

A B-1B Lancer drops cluster munitions. The B-1B uses radar and inertial navigation equipment enabling aircrews to globally navigate, update mission profiles and target coordinates in-flight, and precision bomb without the need for ground-based navigation aids. | U.S. Air Force photo

While Hodge said the training was routine, the recent flyover marks another in a series of events the U.S. has taken to deter North Korea’s Kim Jong Un from additional ballistic missile tests — the latest which occurred April 28.

U.S. Pacific Command on Friday detected the missile launch near the Pukchang airfield, the command said at the time. “The missile did not leave North Korean territory,” PACOM said.

The isolated regime claims to have fired off at least seven missile tests, one space rocket and two nuclear weapons tests since 2016.

Meanwhile, the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group finally arrived in the Sea of Japan on Saturday, weeks after the U.S. announced its plans to send the Vinson to deter North Korean aggression.

The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) transits the Pacific Ocean January 30, 2017. | U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tom Tonthat

PACOM announced April 8 that the Vinson was canceling a planned port visit in Australia in order to return to the Western Pacific amid rising tensions with North Korea. But confusion soon followed when the carrier was spotted sailing the other direction — nearly 3,500 miles away.

Speaking before the House Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill last week, PACOM commander Adm. Harry Harris took the blame for the unclear message about the Vinson’s stalled deployment. Harris also said that while all options remain on the table for dealing with the rogue regime, the goal is “to bring [dictator] Kim Jong-Un to his senses, not his knees.”

Also read: That time North Korea took a shot at a Blackbird

The Air Force also plans to carry out another long-range missile test launch this week, according to Air Force Global Strike Command.

The launch, set for Wednesday, comes after the service conducted a similar launch with an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile on April 26 which traveled 4,000 miles from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and landed in the South Pacific, according to Fox News.

The next launch is scheduled between 12:01 a.m. and 6:01 a.m. Pacific Time from Vandenberg.

Articles

Starbucks is hiring 10,000 refugees – starting with interpreters for US troops

Executive orders to bar the entry of refugees from several Middle Eastern nations caused quite a stir over the weekend. The order restricts immigration from seven countries, suspends all refugee admission for 120 days, and bans all Syrian refugees indefinitely.


Starbucks employees in South Mumbai, India.

A few prominent corporate brands got creamed when their responses to the ban didn’t meet the expectations of the outraged protesters who poured into airport terminals all over the country. Others accidentally tapped the anger of the social media conservatives. One of the latter is the coffee giant Starbucks.

Related: A brief history of coffee in the US military

Anger at Starbucks Coffee boiled over when CEO Howard Schultz announced they would hire 10,000 refugees in countries where the company operates. Schultz sweetened the deal by adding that their first priority would be to hire those refugees who served as interpreters for American troops on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.

“There are more than 65 million citizens of the world recognized as refugees by the United Nations,” Schultz wrote in a company-wide letter to the coffee chain’s employees. “And we are developing plans to hire 10,000 of them over five years in the 75 countries around the world where Starbucks does business. And we will start this effort here in the U.S. by making the initial focus of our hiring efforts on those individuals who have served with U.S. troops as interpreters and support personnel in the various countries where our military has asked for such support.”

Conservatives on Twitter and Facebook accuse the company of being steeped in liberal ideology. This isn’t the first time Starbucks found itself in hot water with the #TCOT. Starbuck’s holiday cup designs drew ire in 2015 on the grounds that it filtered out typical Christmas imagery (like snowflakes and snowmen) in its design.

The next year, Starbuck released green cups to promote unity during a divisive 2016 election season. The company was accusing of liberal brainwashing. Each time a half-hearted boycott movement percolated around the brand on social media but didn’t reflect in the stores’ sales.

The chain’s dedication to hiring refugees who served with U.S. troops is consistent with the brand’s dedication to hiring American military veterans and assisting in the transition of military personnel into civilian life. The company dedicated its Starbucks College Achievement Plan to allow employee veterans (and their spouses) to earn a bachelor’s degree at Arizona State University online with full tuition reimbursement.

MIGHTY HISTORY

After 45 years, Green Beret faces his past in Vietnam — part four

The Central Highlands of Vietnam

Leaving the sights and sounds of modern day Saigon, we began our journey to the Central Highlands of Vietnam. As we left the city that I had come to feel comfortable in and approached the outlying rural areas, I felt a heightened sense of awareness.

Even though I knew this was 2017 and the war was far behind, my head was on a swivel and my eyes were constantly searching for threats. Intellectually, I understood that the jungles and hills of Vietnam held no threats, but my emotional side equally felt the need to be aware.

The pungent smells of the countryside – logs and vegetation burning to clear land, outdoor cooking alongside the road, and unrestricted vehicle exhaust were the same smells I had encountered years before and brought back a familiar feeling and sense of nostalgia. The remembered rubber plantations from my previous years in Vietnam have given way to rolling fields of coffee, but the same farmers living at the edges of the fields are the same people, just doing what needs to be done to provide for their families.

The brown soil of the areas around Saigon turned to red clay as we moved into the plateaus of the Central Highlands and the lowland farmers begin to turn in to descendants of the Montagnard tribes that I had worked with years ago.

Passing through Gia Nghia I think of an old friend, Martha Raye – comedienne, nurse, Army Reserve Officer and teammate of many Green Berets.

Stopping at a truck stop for a lunch of Pho, Jason’s favorite dish, I can look west across a valley and in the distance can see what I’m pretty sure is Cambodia. I spent a lot of time there and it feels surreal to see it in such a serene setting.

Driving into the lowering night and through a heavy rain storm, I feel my gut tightening as we approach the city of Buon Ma Thuot. It’s almost a physical action to push down the emotions that are starting to well up inside me as we get closer and closer to the city.

To be continued in Buon Ma Thuot

Follow Richard Rice’s 10-part journey:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

This article originally appeared on GORUCK. Follow @GORUCK on Twitter.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

North Korea is secretly asking for coronavirus aid from other countries while publicly denying that it has any cases

North Korea has been quietly soliciting coronavirus aid from other countries even though it has publicly denied the existence of any cases on home soil, according to a new report.

Officials in the isolated country have privately reached out to their counterparts in other countries asking for urgent help in fighting the outbreak, the Financial Times reported, citing several people familiar with the matter and an unidentified document.


The country has also asked hospitals in South Korea and several international aid agencies for masks and test machines, Reuters reported last Friday, citing two sources with knowledge of the matter.

North Korea has officially reported no cases of the coronavirus, and, in late January, shut its border with China after the outbreak started to spill out of the central Hubei province into other regions near the border.

According to the FT, the country has tested at least 590 citizens — all of whom had arrived from outside the country in January — but all of them tested negative.

Foreign media and experts doubt the official infection toll, however.

Some South Korean media outlets have reported that North Korea has recorded deaths from the coronavirus, but that the regime is concealing them from the world.

Daily NK, a news site focusing on North Korea, also reported that 180 North Korean soldiers died of the virus in January and February, and that another 3,700 were sent to quarantine.

South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo said that there were at least two suspected cases of the illness in the city of Sinuiju, which borders China. Daily NK also reported that as many as five people had died of the coronavirus in Sinuiju.

North Korea’s lack of medical supplies and weak healthcare system have left it ill-equipped to handle an outbreak like the coronavirus, Business Insider’s Paulina Cachero previously reported.

“There’s not enough medicine for the country. I’m really concerned about them facing an outbreak,” Nagi Shafik, a former World Health Organization and UNICEF official in Pyongyang, told Business Insider.

The country currently fears it doesn’t have enough testing kits for its citizens, the FT reported.

“The government has testing kits for COVID-19 and they know how to use them, but [the number of kits are] not sufficient, hence, [officials are] requesting all organizations … to support them in this regard,” a source told the FT.

Non-governmental aid agencies have also been trying to help North Korea prepare for an outbreak, but are struggling to get supplies across its shuttered border with China, Reuters reported.

Médecins Sans Frontières told the news agency that emergency supplies bound for North Korea were currently in Beijing and Dandong, a Chinese city bordering North Korea, and that officials were working to get the kit across the border despite the closure.

In a rare admission of weakness, Kim acknowledged on March 18 that his country did not have enough modern medical facilities and called for improvements, the Associated Press reported, citing the state-controlled Korea Central News Agency (KCNA).

On the orders of Kim, construction began on the new Pyongyang General Hospital on Wednesday, according to KCNA.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Kim Jong Un is afraid he’ll get assassinated in Singapore

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly fears being assassinated on his way to Singapore to meet with President Donald Trump, a trip that will take him further outside of his country than he’s been since taking power in 2011.

Kim is “extremely worried about security at the summit and is fearful of assassination attempts,” Bloomberg quoted two sources familiar with the talks as saying.

Kim has long feared assassination, even within his own country. But as the leader of a country that frequently threatens the US with nuclear war, getting on a plane and flying across international airspace to a neutral country provides him even less security.


Even along the DMZ with South Korea, Kim traveled with an impressive security detail.

But North Korea has virtually no air force, and will place its leader on a civilian airliner in a region stacked with surface-to-air threats and a large US military aviation presence. As the downing of flight MH-17 proved, airline crashes can be difficult to attribute, and can be denied.

North Korea maintains that the US has a “hostile policy” towards it and think it would attempt regime change given the chance.

Comments from Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton comparing North Korea to Libya, where its leader was killed in a US-backed intervention, may have stoked these fears.

John Bolton
(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

But while Kim’s constant fear of assassination may seem paranoid, it’s not unfounded. China is rumored to have looked into an assassination plot involving Kim’s uncle, whom Kim ended up killing.

Kim’s half brother, Kim Jong Nam, was also assassinated in neighboring Malaysia with a nerve agent that authorities suspect Kim ordered.

Furthermore, Kim is more vulnerable to assassination than his counterpart, Trump. Kim is the patriarch of a dynasty, while Trump is just the president.

If Kim dies without a clear successor, his country could descend into chaos.

If a US president dies, there’s a long-established chain of succession, and if North Korea were involved in the death, there would be hell to pay.

Singapore has taken remarkable measures to guarantee the security of the summit, including blocking off parts of the city and restricting airspace during the summit.

Insiders say Kim is seeking security guarantees from the US in exchange for acts of denuclearization, but Kim’s constant fear of assassination points to the inherent instability of his dictatorial rule.

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

Articles

How Margaret Thatcher almost sent the SAS on a raid to supply besieged Brits in Kuwait

Margaret Thatcher considered an SAS-style raid to resupply Britain’s besieged embassy in Iraqi-occupied Kuwait, which was running out of water, food, and fuel in the run-up to the Gulf War in September 1990, newly released Downing Street papers reveal.


After his shock invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, Saddam Hussein had given the diplomats three weeks to transfer their operations to Baghdad but the British along with other embassies refused to leave.

Percy Cradock, Thatcher’s veteran foreign affairs adviser, was asked to investigate the possibility of using military special forces to resupply the embassy, where four remaining diplomats, including the ambassador, were living behind 3-4-meter (10-12ft) high walls topped with barbed wire.

“Outside, the embassy is under the surveillance of guards. Kuwait City itself is dense with Iraqi infantry. The occupants reckon they have supplies to last 50 days (about the end of October with reduced communications activity). After that they will need water, food, and fuel,” Cradock reported back to Thatcher.

SAS Emblem from Wikimedia Commons

“We looked at the possibility of resupplying of our embassy by means of a military operation. This has been carefully examined in the Ministry of Defense and the military view is that the hazards in relation to benefits would be excessive. Kuwait and its approaches are heavily defended. There are mines on the beaches and plentiful air defense. The sea approaches are patrolled by Iraqi fast boats. We have no available submarine and a sea approach would involve bringing a destroyer or frigate dangerously close to shore,” he said.

A parachute drop was ruled out as impractical and while they could get a helicopter in it was unlikely to get out again, simply adding to the number of people to be fed and exposing the helicopter crew to probably fatal reprisals by the Iraqis.

Another idea considered was asking the Kuwaiti resistance to get local people to drop small quantities of supplies over the walls at night but an initial response indicates this was considered difficult and dangerous.

Nevertheless, the British remained along with the Americans, Germans, and French, who were also cut off from utilities. Nearly two months later a telegram dated 3 November 1990 appeared in the Downing Street file with a note: “From our man in Kuwait.” Signed “Burton,” it reported “regrettably there is little ‘haute’ about my cuisine, at least in these circumstances.

USAF photo by Ssgt. F. Lee Corkran

“We have one meal a day, consisting of rice and pasta alternately. We still have quite a lot of tins of tuna and a few of frankfurters, plus a lot of spices, mostly taken from the servants’ quarters.

“Unfortunately we are very short of onions, though we do have garlic, and have only a few tins of tomatoes and tomato paste. We have a little powdered milk left and ‘gram’ powder made from chickpeas, I think, so I can make white sauces. We have used up all our ordinary flour, which means I can no longer make bread, as I did in the early days.”

The besieged diplomat reported that curried tuna and tuna lasagna were both popular, and so was crab in cheese sauce: “Curried frankfurter is rather less so, though ‘sausage chasseur’ is accepted.”

In the event the British embassy held on until 16 December before making its way to Baghdad. The US-led coalition assault, known as Operation Desert Storm, started the following month, in January 1991, to drive the Iraqis out of Kuwait.

MUSIC

Check out this unintentionally hilarious Coast Guard music video

The military is getting into the music video business more and more lately. The Air Force caught a little flak for the video they put together, “American Airman,” featuring one of its bands, Max Impact — mostly because it looks like it cost more than the entire Marine Corps. They even went on to make more music videos.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Army has been in the game all along with its band, called “Pershing’s Own,” and its many iterations — the most notable of which is a bluegrass cover band, dubbed ” “Six-String Soldiers.”

Now Read: Listen to the US Army’s Bluegrass Cover Band

The Navy hasn’t really been in the music video business all that much since Cher decided to show the crew of the USS Missouri what freedom really looked like back in 1989 (hint: it looks like a one-piece swimsuit and sheer catsuit).

The Coast Guard also took a foray into music videos, with this kid’s cover of the 1959 Frankie Ford classic song, “Sea Cruise.” Say what you will, at least the song choice was appropriate.


Military Life

This is the difference between Army corporals and specialists

There aren’t many ranks throughout the U.S. Armed Forces that have a lateral promotion between two separate ranks at the same pay grade. The difference between Master Sergeants and First Sergeants is nearly the same as Sergeants Major and Command Sergeants Major. One is a command position and the other enjoys their life isn’t.


And then there is the anomaly that only exists within the Army’s E-4 pay grade system: having both a non-commissioned officer rank, Corporal, and the senior lower enlisted rank, Specialist.

The Corporal

Originally, the U.S. Army rank went from Private First Class directly into the leadership position of a Corporal — similar to the way it works in the Marine Corps. They would take their first steps into the wider world of leadership. In the past (and still to this day), they serve more as assistant leaders to their Sergeant, generally as an assistant squad leader or fire-team leader.

Today, Corporals are often rare in the U.S. Army outside of combat arms units. While a Corporal is by all definitions an NCO, they aren’t often privy to the niceties of Sergeants and above. It’s very common to hear phrases like: “We need all E-4’s and below for this duty” — that includes the Corporal. The other side of the coin is when an ass chewing comes down on the NCOs of a unit: “We need all NCOs in the training room, now” — that, too, includes the Corporal.

Corporals are the most likely to end up doing all of the paperwork no one else wants to do. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Dalton Smith)

The Specialist

A specialist exists as a mid-century relic where a separate rank system was established to differentiate someone who was a “Specialist” in their MOS but not necessarily an NCO. This would mostly apply to, for example, a member of the Army band member outside of D.C or West Point. From 1959 to 1968, this went up from E-4 (Spec/4) to E-9 (Spec/9) but it slowly tapered off until 1985 when it became just an E-4 rank.

This is more or less the concept of the modern Specialist. The idea is that a Specialist would focus on their MOS instead of leading troops. In practice, a specialist is given the responsibilities of being a buffer zone between Privates and Sergeants. In execution, they often shrug off physical duties to the lower ranks and any leadership duties to the higher ranks. This is called the “sham shield of the E-4 Mafia.”

Major Differences

A Specialist is definitely the easier rank. Think of a big fish in a little pond versus the little fish in the big pond. The Privates are required to show respect to their senior ranks, so they treat both the Specialist and the Corporal as a higher-up. But often times the Senior Enlisted ignore Specialists but toss things like paperwork onto the Corporal. Sergeants tend to treat Specialists with more leniency. If they mess up something small, it’s fine. If a Corporal messes up at all, they get an ass chewing like the big kids.

But there is a positive note for the Corporal that comes with having more responsibility. While it isn’t necessary for a Specialist to become a Corporal to move on to Sergeant, a Corporal rank shows that the soldier is ready for more responsibility and will show that the soldier is far more responsible when it comes to picking positive things like when a slot for an awesome school opens up.

The Corporal will more than likely get in before the Specialist.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This was the Hershey bar custom-built for World War II

As the tensions in Europe rose ahead of World War II, the U.S. Army was worried about the next global conflict, so they commissioned one surprising bit of materiel for the war: a life-sustaining chocolate bar from Hershey that was intentionally made less tasty and more calorie-dense than other options.


The Army Field Ration D was a chocolate bar meant to act as a snack between meals. It was known for being extremely bitter and hard to chew.

(U.S. Army Center of Military History)

It all started in 1937 when Army Capt. Paul Logan went to Hershey with a request for a pocket-sized bar that would survive high heat while providing lots of nutrients, all so paratroopers would have an emergency meal when jumping into combat.

Logan, a member of the Quartermaster Corps, met with two Hershey representatives who briefed their own superior, Milton Hershey himself. The senior brass were all in agreement that it was a good idea, so development went ahead.

The final product they came up with was the Field Ration D. It was 1-2 ounces, could survive high temperatures, and was rich in calories and some nutrients. Unfortunately, it had relatively little sweetener and a lot of cacao, giving it a bitter taste, and it was known for causing constipation. This was because the Army demanded that it “taste a little better than a boiled potato.”

The initial bar was enormously successful as a weapon of war, and the War Department and Navy Department ordered millions — but Hershey didn’t love the complaints about taste.

The Hershey’s Factory Towers

(Dominic27b, CC BY-SA 3.0)

So, when the Army needed a new formulation for the tropics in 1943, the company opted to improve the taste, bringing it back up to actual candy status. The Hershey’s Tropical Bar was even more heat resistant, surviving for up to an hour at 120 degrees, and was a hit with the troops. Almost 380 million of these bad boys left the Hershey factory, bound for the military.

The tropical bar contained more calories and some nutrients, especially B-1, and were made from chocolate liquor, skim milk powder, cocoa butter, powdered sugar, vanillin, and oat flour.

Vitamin B-1, Thiamin, was present in both bars because it prevented beriberi, a condition directly resulting from a B-1 deficiency that can cause nerve, heart, and muscle damage and weakness. In extreme cases, it can cause heart attacks. Troops in the tropics were at real risk of developing the disorder without supplements like the Field D Ration and the Tropical Bar.

A World War I Hershey’s ad with a complimentary war bond ad on the same page.

At peak production, the factory had three floors dedicated to war production and churned out 500,000 bars per shift with three shifts per day. The high production rates earned the company a wartime production award known as the Army-Navy “E” Production Award. While that might sound like the most boring and boringly named of all military awards, it was actually a big deal.

The award came with a flag to fly over the factory and lapel pins for all employees. It was one of the best ways for a company to prove its concrete contributions to the war. A major general was sent to present the first E award to the company. Hershey received the award five times during World War II. They re-started production for the Apollo 15 astronauts and for Desert Storm.

Now, the heat-resistant chocolate is making a comeback as candy companies keep fighting for market share in hot markets like India, the Middle East, South America, and Africa.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Sea Story of the Week: How duct tape fixes United States Naval aircraft

I can feel the gaze of the maintenance master chief beating down on the back of my neck from a mile away. At that moment, I exist in the paradox of being micromanaged by the front office while working a set schedule, flying sorties, and doing minimal maintenance.

Night check, on the other hand, is a different kind of ass-backwards; catch a couple of late flights in and fix whatever gripes the officers make up, including classics like:

  1. “It smells like burning toast in the back of the aircraft.”
  2. “The rudder sticks when held in position for too long.”
  3. “The seats are uncomfortable.”

VAW-125 E2C sits on a flight line

(Sung Kim)

A flight rolls in. Unphased, I throw up a salute, welcome the aircrew back, and start my inspection.

Every DET has its ups and downs. Sometimes you’re flying exercises at TOPGUN in the middle of Fallon, Nevada, sometimes you’re drinking double-shot margaritas with a parrot on your shoulder in Key West. This time, it was the latter.

I stroll into the hangar for muster a little disoriented and hungover from exploring the town the night before. Another surprising Navy DET tradition is to drink — and to drink heavily. Detachments are the only time fraternization is brushed under the rug; an E1 sailor and an officer can be seen throwing back a couple shots, calling each other by their first names, but find their military bearing by 0600 the next morning.

Naval Air Station Key West: Where magic happens.

I check the flight schedule and don my gear as I see my name scribbled on the board. My supervisor yells for me as I’m running out the door to catch my flight.

“Listen Kim, the sooner we get this sh*t done, the sooner we’re off — and the sooner we’re off, the sooner we’re at Cowboy Bill’s!”

Blurry, much like the memory of the night.

Photo by Sung Kim

On Wednesdays, the neon lights of Cowboy Bill’s is a beautiful sight for any metaphorically shipwrecked sailor, marooned far from home and looking for good times, cheap drinks, and morally flexible women. There, they honor a time-old tradition, one that’s highly recommended by the saltier vets in the squadron: topless mechanical bull riding. And it’s every bit of Christmas your six-year-old heart could ever dream of.

Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” will exist for as long as strip clubs do.

I’m one flight away from having Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” ring in my ears and I’ve already picked up scent of the drunken regret ahead of me when I get the call over the radio: My pilot discovered a hole in one of the stabilizing rudders. Unlike most complaints, this was an actual gripe that downs an aircraft. And if the aircraft is down, pilots can’t get their hours in.

I mourn the loss of the wonderland filled with inebriated bachelorettes slow-grinding on a mechanical bull that I’d built in my foolish imagination.

A quarter-sized divot in the rudder stands between me and my paradise; a quarter-sized problem that’s about to be fixed with a dollar-sized piece of duct tape. I run into the shop, grab a roll of duct tape, patch the hole, and epoxy the sides so that the integrity of the tape stays flush while in flight. My supervisor signs off on it, calls maintenance control, and we’ve got the green light.

Upon pre-flight inspection, my pilot calls me up to the top of the aircraft. “What is that, Kim? Duct tape?” I panic.

“No sir, it’s high-speed aero-tape sir,” I lie, reflexively. What am I doing? Why wouldn’t he know what duct tape looks like?

He’s puzzled because he’s never heard of it, so he summons my supervisor. He hasn’t heard of it because it doesn’t exist, just like my soon-to-be-over naval career.

“High-speed aero-tape?” My supervisor chuckles. “You’re lucky we’re on DET son, as soon as this b*tch comes back, write that sh*t up for day check. We’re going to Cowboy Bill’s.”

I was bailed out. My supervisor had my back like he always did and confirmed that the hardware store duct tape my lieutenant (with an engineering degree) saw, was, in fact, a fictional, quick temporary fix patch substance called, “High-Speed Aero-Tape.”

But hey, if you can’t fix it with duct tape, it can’t be fixed.