China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge

After 10 years and 420,000 tons of steel, and at a devastating cost in lives and renminbi, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge is officially open — and the announcement came by a strangely curt Chinese President Xi Jinping in the port city of Zhuhai.

The opening ceremony was shrouded in some of the trademark confusion that has dogged the megaproject since its inception in 2009, with the big day having only just been announced in late October 2018.

In an unexpected and breathtaking display of brevity, Xi declared the world’s longest sea crossing — a 35-mile (55-kilometer) bridge and underwater tunnel connecting Hong Kong, Macau, and the mainland Chinese port city of Zhuhai — as open with an abrupt two-second speech that, it is fair to say, was not what everyone was expecting.


“I announce the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge is officially open,” Xi said.

With those accurate, though perhaps less-than-memorable words, China’s strongest leader since Mao Zedong caught the 700-strong audience, which included media members and dignitaries, on the hop.

It was an exercise in concision from a president who, almost a year ago to the day, opened the Communist Party congress in Beijing with a granular 3-hour, 23-minute speech summarizing his thoughts on a new era in socialism with Chinese characteristics.

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge

Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Instead, before an audience of top officials including Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng and Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, Xi said his piece at the strategically located port of Zhuhai and left the podium as electronic fireworks flailed about on a television in the background.

Reporters on the ground, including Bloomberg’s Fion Li, were quick to express their surprise and disappointment.

Rhetorical revelry is a party tradition

Chinese leaders have a proud tradition of ponying up when history calls for it.

Deng Xiaoping, who while diminutive in stature was a political juggernaut in the 1980s, made a career with pithy insights that Chinese speakers around the world still quote and reexamine.

And while Mao Zedong may have presided over some of the least poetic policies of the 20th century, the Great Helmsman could turn a phrase when he had to, like this brutal and blunt firecracker from 1957.

As president, general secretary of the Central Committee of China’s Communist Party, and chairman of the Central Military Commission, Xi has quickly and effectively concentrated influence into his sphere.

And Oct. 23, 2018’s event seemed tailor-made for a long-winded reflection on China’s increasingly successful exercise of soft power, its sheer engineering audacity, and the political genius of building a 55-kilometer crossing that continues to grow the mainland’s security apparatus and authority on both the semiautonomous gambling enclave of Macau and the city-state financial powerhouse of Hong Kong.

But in the end, the president perhaps decided to let the massive, looming achievement speak for itself.

It’s all part of the plan

The bridge is part of China’s ambitious “Greater Bay Area Master Plan” to integrate Hong Kong, Macau, and the manufacturing powerhouse Guangdong province’s nine biggest cities to create a combined id=”listicle-2614804819″.5 trillion tech and science hub intended to rival even Silicon Valley.

The 55-kilometer megastructure is a typically intimidating, awe-inspiring, and slightly pointless statement of state authority and universal purpose. It rises from the Sun and Moon Bay in the Zhuhai port like some giant, disoriented concrete serpent, snaking off mercurially into the distance.

The air is very thick too, with southern Chinese humidity and the ever-present eerie gray-brown pollution that wafts in blooms from heavy manufacturing out of the Pearl River Delta — the factory floor of the world — ensuring the megabridge in all its glory will be largely obscured from view year-round.

What it does provide, however, is direct access to both potentially wayward semiautonomous regions, binding the gambling enclave and the city-state tighter to the breast of the motherland. Indeed, it may be the angst of an ever-encroaching China that has tilted the president to such a rare and unexpected pithiness.

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Site under construction in 2015.

Commentators have been quick to describe the project as a white elephant, noting that the lightly traveled crossing can hardly be a push for convenience but rather another covert expansion by Beijing as it extends its reach back into the supposedly autonomous enclaves of Hong Kong and Macau.

The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge is the second major infrastructure project binding Hong Kong to the mainland opened in just a few weeks, following a new high-speed rail connection that opened in September 2018 — the first time Chinese security were stationed on and bestowed authority in Hong Kong territory.

Certainly, there is anxiety in Hong Kong, with critics fearing the increasing inroads into the special administrative region’s territory by an ever-assertive mainland, while some local media has suggested that drivers on the bridge will be closely scrutinized by cameras that examine even their physical condition and how fatigued a driver is becoming.

The issues of territoriality may dominate the project for years to come; most of the bridge is considered mainland territory and Hong Kong vehicles and drivers, already hit by restricted access, will be traveling under the laws of the mainland, Hong Kong’s transportation department has warned.

“The Hong Kong government is always out of the picture and is under the control of the Chinese government,” the Hongkonger lawmaker Tanya Chan told AFP last week. Construction of the bridge began in 2009 and was targeted for completion two years ago.

According to the South China Morning Post, 10 workers died and 600 were injured in the construction of the typhoon-proof, two-way, six-lane expressway bridge that the government expects to carry 29,100 vehicles and 126,000 single-day passenger trips by 2030.

But for now, the bridge is open to some traffic, including certain buses, freight, and selected permit-holding passenger vehicles.

It’s also a gorgeous trip by ferry.

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

Humor

5 reasons why ‘POG’ is not a slur

Personnel other than grunts, or POGs, are an essential part of the fight. POGs make up the majority of the military and they perform every job that is not specifically reserved for infantry.


Any non-03 or 11B (Marine and Army infantry MOSs) that gets butthurt when someone reminds them that they do not hold a very specific MOS may need to look in the mirror and do some soul-searching. The offended are, essentially, upset that someone said they aren’t a security guard.

Infantry soldiers and Marines enjoy ribbing non-infantry personnel with the term, but when examined further, there is really nothing condescending about it.

Related: 7 things you didn’t know about the Marine Jungle Warfare Training Center

1. It doesn’t mean you won’t see combat.

Talk to any motor transport operator serving in Iraq between 2003 and 2008 and they will tell you that there is no guarantee of safety provided by your occupational specialty.

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge
(Gail Braymen)

2. Infantry is ineffective without them.

This one might cause some friction, but any unit that thinks they can sustain themselves without food, water, supplies, and munitions is kidding themselves.

There are zero infantry leaders that aren’t appreciative of their logistician peers.

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge
(Photo by 1st Lt. Henry Chan)

3. It’s a fact, not a state of being.

Whether you hold an administrative position behind a desk at the headquarters building on mainside or you’re an explosives ordinance disposal specialist clearing enemy IEDs, you are a POG. The only people who are not have an 03 or an 11B on their occupational specialty.

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge
(Photo by Tech Sgt. DeNoris A. Mickle)

4. POGs learn useful skills for future employment.

Unless you want to be a security guard or security contractor, the skills mastered by infantry are not very relevant on the outside.

Of course, leadership and ability to operate under extreme pressure are handy, but these skills are not exclusive to the infantry.

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge
(Terminal Lance)

Also Read: 5 things you need to know to become a Marine HRST master

5. Your job doesn’t make you hard.

Every grunt has stories of the guy who shouldn’t have been infantry and those same grunts will have POG friends they consider brothers. Your job doesn’t make you hard — you do.

So, knock that chip off your shoulder and embrace what you are, whether that’s a grunt or water purification specialist, we are all necessary cogs in the machine.

popular

Happy little trees: Bob Ross’s first career was in the Air Force

Before he was teaching folks how to paint beautiful landscape sceneries, the late artist Bob Ross served in the U.S. Air Force. In fact, it was where he gained his inspiration for future paintings. 

While working as a first sergeant at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, Ross is said to have been acquainted with snow-capped mountains that made regular appearances in his paintings. He began painting them during work breaks, where he was able to create a fast technique that allowed him to make art, even with little downtime. 

One of the things Bob Ross is known for is his calm and quiet demeanor. This can also be traced back to his time serving in the military. He said, with his role of keeping others in line, he had to be mean. “[I was] the guy who makes you scrub the latrine, the guy who makes you make your bed, the guy who screams at you for being late to work.” Because of this, he vowed to raise his voice once retiring from the military. This, of course, led to his signature of speaking softly. 

The beginning of a military career and a love for art

At 18 years old, Ross enlisted. It was 1961 and after basic training, he was given a job as a medical records technician. He served for 20 years, retiring as a master sergeant. 

After going to a U.S.O class in Anchorage, Ross began painting as a hobby. However, he soon found that his style differed from his instructors, who were more apt to create abstract pieces. He later found a television show called The Magic of Oil Painting. The show’s unique style, led by Bill Alexander, a German painter, taught Ross to paint quickly. The method is commonly known as “alla prima” or “wet on wet,” allowing the artist to create an entire painting in 30 minutes. This is the same method that Ross would become famous for in his own right.

bob ross
Image via YouTube

With the help of the show, Ross studied the technique and began adding his own skills, creating an entire style of landscape painting. He began selling his paintings and quickly found success, even making more from his paintings than he did from his Air Force salary. 

In 1981, he retired from the service and turned to painting full time. Ross soon returned to his home state of Florida and joined his mentor, painting coach Bill Alexander, as a salesman and tutor for his brand, Alexander Magic Art Supplies Company. 

Eventually, Bob Ross founded his own painting company.

Bob Ross Inc. incorporated his signature permed hair into its logo. Because of the popularity, Ross kept his permed hair going forward.  Through the company, he was able to gain popularity and star in The Joy of Painting, which aired for 12 seasons on PBS from 1983-1994. The show allowed Ross to teach his own style of painting, narrating how to achieve certain results while using the wet-on-wet technique. His son, Steve, also appeared on the show and eventually became a Ross-certified painting instructor. 

Ross passed away in 1995 from complications of lymphoma, leaving behind a $15 million business in art classes and painting supplies. His shows still air on PBS reruns, continuing to teach the masses his landscaping techniques. To see him at work, check out the following video:

MIGHTY TRENDING

Veteran unemployment rate drops in first signs of economic rebound

Veteran unemployment rates fell in May by nearly three points to 9%, from 11.7% in April — the first signs of an economic rebound from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Labor Department reported Friday.

The drop in the unemployment rate for veterans of all generations exceeded the 1.4% decrease in the rate for the general population, from 14.7% to 13.3%, reflecting “a limited resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed” by the virus, the monthly report said.


May’s 9% jobless rate for all veterans compared to 2.7% overall in May 2019 during the economic surge, and 3.8% in March before the first effects of the novel coronavirus hit the economy, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

The unemployment rate for all female veterans in May was 7.8%, compared to 2.7% in May 2019, BLS said.

For post-9/11, or Gulf War II, veterans, the unemployment rate remained in double digits at 10.3%, but was down from 13.0% in April, BLS said. A year ago, the unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans was 2.8%.

The figures showed remarkable resiliency in a hard-hit economy among older veterans who began their service in the 1990s, referred to as Gulf War-I veterans by BLS. For those veterans, the unemployment rate was 4.8% in May, BLS said.

However, the unemployment rates remained in double digits for the oldest generation of veterans from Vietnam, Korea and World War II, it said. For those veterans, the unemployment rate in May was 11.9% compared to 2.7% in May 2019.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Wall Street analysts had warned that the overall unemployment rate could approach 20% in May and June and remain in double digits through the end of this year, depending on a range of variables.

However, BLS Commissioner William Beach, in a statement accompanying the report, said that non-farm payroll jobs increased by 2.5 million in May despite the pandemic “and efforts to contain it.”

The 2.5 million figure was the largest monthly gain in new jobs since BLS began tracking the data in 1939, it said.

At the White House, President Donald Trump hailed the unexpected drop in the unemployment rates as “an affirmation of all the work we’ve been doing.”

He called predictions of jobless rates in the range of 20% “the greatest miscalculation in the history of business shows” and said the economy is now poised to take off “like a rocketship.”

In a statement, Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said the May jobs report showed “much higher job creation and lower unemployment than expected, reflecting that the reopening of the economy in May was earlier, and more robust, than projected.”

He said, “It appears the worst of the coronavirus’s impact on the nation’s job markets is behind us.”

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How this soldier became the first enlisted female Army ranger

As Staff Sgt. Amanda Kelley made her way through mountainous terrain in the midst of a scorching Georgia summer in 2018, she admittedly struggled, carrying more than 50 pounds of gear during a patrol exercise.

Tired and physically drained, her body had withstood nearly a month of training in the Army’s most challenging training school. She had already suffered a fracture in her back in an earlier phase and suffered other physical ailments.

But then she looked to her left and right and saw her fellow Ranger School teammates, many of whom she outranked.

“I know that I have to keep going,” said Kelley, the first enlisted female graduate of the Army Ranger School at Fort Benning. “Because if I quit, or if I show any signs of weakness, they’re going to quit.”


In the middle of 21 grueling training days in northeast Georgia, Kelley knew if she could weather the mountain phase of the Army’s Ranger School, she and her teammates would reach a new pinnacle, a critical rite of passage for Ranger students. The electronic warfare specialist spent 21 days in the mountains which includes four days of mountaineering, five days of survival techniques training and a nine-day field training exercise. She had already been recycled in the school’s first phase and didn’t want to relive that experience.

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge

Staff Sgt. Amanda F. Kelley marches in formation during her Ranger School graduation at Fort Benning, Ga., Aug. 31, 2018.

(Photo by Patrick A. Albright)

“It’s not about you at that moment,” Kelley said. “It’s about the people around you. You don’t realize in that moment how many people look up to you until you complete it. Everybody has those trying periods because those mountains are really rough.”

Her graduation from Ranger School paved the way for her current assignment as an electronic warfare specialist with the Third Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Since 2016, more than 1,200 female soldiers have entered combat career fields, including field artillery, armor and infantry.

Kelley said the Ranger training pushed her to meet the same standards as her male counterparts. She finished the 16-mile ruck march in under three hours.

“You literally go through the same thing,” Kelley said. “It’s not any different … You do the same thing that they do. That’s the greatest thing about Ranger School: there’s one set standard, across the board.”

Taking the easy road has never been how Kelley has lived her life. As a teenager she competed as a centerfielder on boy’s baseball teams. She also was on her high school’s track team. Growing up in the small rural community of Easley, South Carolina, she had few mentors as a teen.

“I just wanted to be somebody,” Kelley said. “And I also want to be someone that others can look up to. I didn’t have that growing up. We don’t all come from a silver spoon background; some of us have to fight for things.”

She joined the Army on a whim in 2011, considering joining the service only six months prior to enlisting. She admired the Army’s rigid discipline and high standards.

“Better opportunities,” was one reason Kelley said she joined the Army. “I wanted to get out of where I was.”

Kelley wanted to reach even higher. The 30-year-old wanted to one day become sergeant major of the Army and let her supervisors know that it wasn’t some pipe dream. After an Iraq deployment with the 1st Armored Division, Kelley’s battalion commander, Lt. Col. Mike Vandy, told her that attending Ranger School would help chart her path to success.

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge

A family member places the Army Ranger tab on Staff Sgt. Amanda Kelley’s uniform.

(Photo by Patrick A. Albright)

“When I went to Ranger School, I didn’t go so I could be the first (enlisted female),” Kelley said. “I went so that I could be sergeant major of the Army. And I want to be competitive with my peers.”

After Kelley decided to apply for Ranger School, she spent five months physically preparing herself and studying while deployed. Her roommate in Iraq, former Staff Sgt. Mychal Loria, said Kelley would work 12-hour shifts, workout twice a day and still found time for study. At the same time, she helped mentor other soldiers.

“She just exemplified the perfect NCO; always there for her soldiers,” Loria said.

Kelley praised former Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey for helping create more opportunities for women in combat career fields. Since the first two female graduates — Capt. Kristen Griest and then-1st Lt. Shaye Haver — completed Ranger training in 2015, more than 30 female soldiers have earned their Ranger tab. Sgt. 1st Class Janina Simmons became the first African American woman to graduate from the course earlier this year.

Kelley said has begun preparation for a six-month deployment to an undisclosed location. The South Carolina native said she looks forward to using many of the skills she learned during her time training to be an Army Ranger.

The eight-year Army vet said the Third Special Forces group has fostered a welcome environment for unit members, offering a wealth of training opportunities to help advance her career, including electronics and intelligence courses.

Kelley offered some advice for soldiers who may be considering Ranger School or other certifications to advance their careers.

“Soldiers need to understand that sometimes things you had planned change,” she said. “So just be open-minded to new things and don’t be scared to go after things that seem impossible. Because nothing’s impossible if somebody’s done it before you.”

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

Articles

How the US Navy wants to handle Iran’s naval provocations in the Persian Gulf

At a recent conference at the Center for American Progress, Chief of Naval Operations John M. Richardson discussed at length naval operations in Asia and the Pacific, touching on how he’d like to deal with the Iranian navy, which has made a habit of harassing US Navy ships in the Persian Gulf.


Throughout the conference, Richardson praised the Code of Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) that has helped Chinese and US naval vessels operate safely and at a distance in the South China Sea.

Also read: Why Iran is ‘playing with fire’ in the Persian Gulf against US Navy ships

However, the US and Iran have no such agreements, or even a diplomatic relationship for establishing them.

In fact, Iran seems rather content to provoke the US.

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge
Iranian fast-attack boats during a naval exercise in 2015. | Wikimedia photo by Sayyed Shahaboddin Vajedi

In January of this year, Iranian fast attack craft surrounded a broken down US Navy ship and captured 11 sailors. The incident was shown on Iranian TV and has been consistently milked for propaganda purposes. Reports indicate that Iran plans to build a statue commemorating the incident as a tourist attraction.

Iran has threatened, though not credibly, to close the Strait of Hormuz, and thereby access to the Persian Gulf. The country has threatened to shoot down US surveillance aircraft flying near Iran. Most recently, Tehran unveiled a new 180 foot naval vessel with a banner that read”America should go to the Bay of Pigs, the Persian Gulf is our house.”

While Cliff Kupchan, chairman of Eurasia Group and an expert on Iran, told Business Insider that Iran’s naval posturing and provocations are “one of the ways the Iranian political system lets off steam,” the threat of miscalculation, fatalities, and escalation remains very real.

How the Navy wants to deal with Iran

When asked what the Navy is prepared to do when being harassed by Iranian vessels, and if there were any limits on the way it could respond, Richardson responded unequivocally.

“Nothing limits the way they can respond,” said Richardson, leaving kinetic, or shooting solutions to this problem firmly on the table.

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge
The amphibious assault ship USS Bataan transits the Strait of Hormuz. | U.S. Navy photo by Quartermaster 1st Class Thomas E. Dowling

When asked what the Navy is prepared to do when being harassed by Iranian vessels, and if there were any limits on the way it could respond, Richardson responded unequivocally.

“Nothing limits the way they can respond,” said Richardson, leaving kinetic, or shooting solutions to this problem firmly on the table.

As far as capabilities go, the US wields the greatest Navy in the world, which Iran couldn’t really hope to challenge in a conventional fight.

“Is our navy ready to respond? Yes. In every respect.”

“In some super dynamic situations, and you’ve seen some of these unfold in video, the decisions are often made in extremely short periods of time,” said Richardson, referencing videos that have been released of close encounters at sea with swarming and harassing Iranian speedboats.

“We always strive to make sure that our commanders have the situational awareness, the capability, and the rules of engagement that they need to manage those situations.”

So essentially, in any given incident, if a ship’s commander makes the choice to sink an Iranian vessel, he’s well within his rights to do so, as the fast, unexpected incidents don’t “allow time to phone home to get permission.”

However, sinking and likely killing Iranians at sea doesn’t represent a diplomatic or stabilizing solution, and as such it isn’t Richardson’s preferred route.

In this case, what the US Navy can do and what it would like to do couldn’t be more starkly different. Richardson repeatedly stressed the need for the US and Iran to come to an understanding about encounters at sea, like the US and China have established.

The incidents at sea are “destabilizing things, and risking tactical miscalculations,” that could result in injury, the loss of ships, and the loss of life, Richardson said.

“Nothing good can come from it,” Richardson said of the incidents. “This advocates for the power of a leader to leader dialogue, we’re working to see our way though to what are the possibilities there.”

MIGHTY GAMING

Check out these great Black Friday deals on gaming headsets

So Santa is gonna hook you up with a new console? In that case, you need a new gaming headset. Think of it as a gift for yourself. A gift you deserve. And one you can’t pass up, because you truly can’t beat these Black Friday prices on everything from Xbox headsets to PS4 headphones.


China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge

One of the most beloved gaming headsets you can buy if you love your PS4, and it’s down from 9.99.

SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC Wired Gaming Headset

Buy now 5.99

When you’re ready to up your gaming game, get this stellar headset. You get audiophile-grade sound quality, and a bidirectional microphone that gives you studio quality voice clarity, plus background noise cancelation. It works with PS4 and PC.

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge

This wireless gaming headset has killer 7.1-channel surround sound and is normally 9.99.

HyperX Cloud Revolver S – Gaming Headset

Buy now 8.00

The fully immersive sound aside, we dig this gaming headset because it’s also mad-comfortable and made with memory foam. It’s not wireless, but its eight foot long cable makes it very user-friendly. It can connect to PS4 Pro, PC and any other devices that support USB sound. You can get a jack to plug it into your phone or the Xbox.

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge

This wireless gaming headset normally runs you 9.99.

HyperX Cloud Flight – Wireless Gaming Headset

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You get up to 30 hours of battery life with this wireless gaming headset. It’s the go-to for PS4 and PS Pro gamers. It has 90 degree rotating ear cups, and a detachable noise cancellation microphone.

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge

This versatile wireless gaming headset with surround sound is regularly 9.99 and perfect if you adore your Xbox One.

LucidSound LS35X Wireless Surround Sound Gaming Headset

Buy now 9.99

This gaming headset instantly syncs with Xbox wireless technology and connects directly to your Xbox One console and configures on its own. It’s also compatible with Sony PS4, PlayStation 4, PC, Mac, Windows, iOS Android, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, iPad, 3DS, and PS Vita. Yeah. It has a dual microphone with advance noise cancellation to reduce noise.

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge

Normally 9.99, this gaming headset has best-in-class speaker drivers with high-density neodymium magnets.

SteelSeries Arctis Pro High Fidelity Gaming Headset

Buy now 3.93

If you’re hungry for the best in sound quality and comfort, take a look at this gaming headset. It has a self-adjusting ski goggle headband that contours to your head. It works with PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Mac, VR, and mobile.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

How a tuba led to the National Guard training allies in Europe

In some ways, the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program — which pairs National Guard elements with partner nations worldwide — started with a tuba.

“The Latvian military band needed a big tuba,” said retired Air Force Maj. Gen. John Conaway, the 22nd chief of the NGB and “father” of the SPP. “And we hauled a tuba over there.”


The trip with the tuba was part of the early planning stages for the program, which turns 25 in 2018.

“We delivered that tuba to the Latvian band and they were amazed to get it,” said Conaway. “That started the program with the first, initial visit.”

That first visit lead the way to a program that now has 74 partnerships with countries throughout the world. But it all started with three: Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

“We were received in grand fashion in all three places,” said Conaway, referring to that initial trip. Where it would go from there, he added, was then still unknown.

“We didn’t know what was going to happen,” he said. “But, we had the visit. That was the start.”

That first visit was the result of a simple directive from Army Gen. John Shalikashvili, then-supreme allied commander in Europe with NATO, and who would be appointed chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1993.

“He called me up and said “we’ve got to help these new emerging democracies [in the Baltics],'” said Conaway, adding that after additional planning with Pentagon officials, he formed a small team and they started working with the State Department. That led to meeting with the presidents of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, as well as military officials in those countries.

“It looked like they wanted our help and we started talking about putting liaison officers from the National Guard on orders with them,” said Conaway. “Our role was to help make the transition [to democracy] as smooth as we could.”

The idea of liaison officers grew into tying specific Guard elements with specific countries.

“The [team] and I huddled and thought, “We’ve got tons of Lithuanians and Lithuanian-Americans living in Pennsylvania,'” Conaway said. “It fit. We’ll tie Lithuania to the Pennsylvania National Guard.”

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge
Sgt. 1st Class Harry R. Martinez, right, with the New Jersey Army National Guard, demonstrates how to load an ammunition drum on a M249 squad automatic weapon to Albanian Officer Candidate Endri Deda while training at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.
(U.S. Army photo by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen)

The idea grew from there.

“There were a lot of Latvian-Americans in Michigan, so we got with the adjutant general [of the Michigan National Guard] and tied them together with Latvia,” said Conaway. “There are Estonian-Americans in Baltimore, and so we tied [Estonia] together with the Maryland National Guard.”

Conaway added there was little precedent to follow while developing the program.

“We were doing this off the back of an envelope back then,” he said. “It was happening so fast.”

By the time Conaway retired in November 1993, the SPP had 13 partnerships, primarily with former Eastern Bloc countries in Europe.

The following years saw new partnerships added from across the globe.

“It’s grown to 74 partnerships and that’s been an incremental growth of about two to three partnerships a year,” said Air Force Col. Donald McGuire, chief of the international affairs branch at the NGB.

As the program has expanded, the process for adding new partnerships has become more refined.

First, the country has to request to be a member of the program, said McGuire, adding that input from the State Department and the combatant command — the U.S. military command element overseeing specific geographic regions — goes along with that request.

“They collectively decide that this is a good country we want to nominate for selection into the program,” said McGuire, adding that from there staff work is done to determine the best course of action with pairing up elements for a partnership.

“It’s very analytical what the staff here does,” said McGuire. “They put a lot of hard work and brain cells against making sure they’re doing a good analysis to give the chief [of the NGB] the best recommendation they can.”

The long-term success of the program has come about, in part, from that intrinsic relationship with both the State Department and the combatant command, said McGuire. The SPP is nested with the command’s theater security cooperation plan and the State Department’s country study plan.

“It’s in tune with the combatant commanders, therefore, it’s in tune or synchronized with the National Defense Strategy,” McGuire said.

Building relationships, said McGuire, is one of the hallmarks of the program.

“This provides, perhaps, the most well-known and established international partnership capability the National Guard is involved with,” he said. “These are relationships that have grown over the course of time and continue to grow.”

Those relationships have not only seen partners in the program train together, but also work together in the wake of natural disasters and large-scale emergencies.

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge
Soldiers of the Tennessee Army National Guard demonstrate how to properly apply camouflage concealment to the face at Babadag Training Area in eastern Romania

It’s also seen co-deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan and other areas.

“You wouldn’t have these countries and units deploying together, necessarily, if they didn’t already have this relationship.”

McGuire added that’s a significant element.

“That tells you a lot about the program,” he said. “These co-deployments are real-world operations, named contingencies that represent the next level of collaboration and coordination.”

Building collaboration and coordination is also key to building greater regional security, said Army Brig. Gen. Christopher F. Lawson, the NGB’s vice director of strategy, policy, plans and international affairs.

“In order to promote greater peace and stability in the world long into the future, we will need a program like the SPP because it helps nations transition from security consumers to security providers,” he said.

For Conaway, the continued growth of the program is more than he imagined 25 years ago.

“It is beyond my wildest dreams and imagination that it would be this passionate and this popular and the good the National Guard has done,” he said. “Here we are, 25 years after it started and the National Guard is just as enthusiastic as ever.”

The pairing of the West Virginia National Guard with Qatar was announced in April 2018, and McGuire said additional partnerships are in the coordination phase.

“We have a few more partnerships in the queue,” he said, adding he sees continued growth of the program over the next 25 years and beyond.

“It really is the entry point to a lot of good things that happen,” McGuire said.

This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @usarmy on Twitter.

Articles

SecDef says failed coup in Turkey won’t affect ISIS campaign

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge
Ash Carter shakes hands with French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian at a meeting of defense ministers from the coalition to counter ISIS at Joint Base Andrews, Md., July 20, 2016. | DoD photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley


Defense Secretary Ashton Carter sought to minimize Wednesday the impact of the failed coup in Turkey and the ensuing purge of military officers on the NATO alliance and the campaign against ISIS.

Despite the recent anti-U.S. rhetoric from the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which has demanded the extradition of a Muslim cleric in Pennsylvania, Carter said, “We support the democratically elected government.”

The secretary added, “I don’t have any indication” that the failed coup and Erdogan’s tough response would affect Turkey’s continuing membership in NATO. “The alliance is very strong, our relationship is very strong,” he said of Turkey, a founding member of NATO.

Carter also said he expected commercial power that was cut to the U.S. air base at Incirlik in southeastern Turkey following the coup attempt last Friday to be restored shortly, along with full flight operations that are vital to the air campaign against ISIS in Syria.

In a statement, the Pentagon said that Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford phoned his Turkish counterpart, Gen. Hulusi Akar, on Wednesday and they “broadly discussed operations in Incirlik and the deep commitment the U.S. has to Turkey.”

Carter spoke at a news conference at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, following the opening session of two days of meetings with the defense and foreign ministers of more than 30 nations in the anti-ISIS coalition on the next steps to eliminate the terror group’s remaining strongholds.

Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu were no-shows at Andrews. Turkey’s ambassador to the U.S., Serdar Kilic, represented his government at the meetings, which will continue at the State Department on Thursday.

After failing to make contact with Isik in the aftermath of the coup, Carter said they spoke by phone Tuesday and he told Isik, “I was glad that he was safe and the ministry was functioning. He assured me very clearly that nothing that happened over the weekend will interrupt their support” for the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.”

Erdogan responded to the attempted coup with a wide-ranging purge of the ranks of the military, police, judiciary, media and academia.

By some counts, more than 50,000 people have been fired or suspended, and more than 9,000 have been detained on suspicion of supporting the coup that Erdogan has blamed on supporters of exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, now living in Pennsylvania.

Gulen has denied any involvement in the coup, but the Turkish government on Tuesday said that paperwork had been filed with the State Department demanding his extradition. Secretary of State John Kerry has pledged to review the extradition request while adding that the U.S. would adhere strictly to the law.

The purge has devastated the ranks of the Turkish military, with at least 118 generals and admirals now under detention, including the commander of Incirlik air base, which is shared by the U.S. 39th Air Base Wing and the Turkish air force.

Erdogan told Al Jazeera on Wednesday that the attempted coup, which left at least 240 dead and more than 1,000 wounded, was carried out by a minority within the armed forces.

“It is clear that they are in the minority,” Erdogan said. “This organization that we called a terrorist organization [Gulen’s] is trying to make the minority dominate the majority. We have taken all the steps necessary to prevent such an event.”

In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, analyst Steven Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations said the failed coup and Erdogan’s harsh response had reduced U.S.-Turkey relations to their “lowest point” in recent times.

“It’s hard to refer to Turkey as a democracy,” Cook said. The U.S. “has to start asking questions about the value of Turkey as an ally,” but has been reluctant to do so because of Turkey’s membership in NATO and the importance of Incirlik air base in the fight against ISIS, Cook said.

However, “the Turks have been reluctant to get involved in fight against the Islamic State,” Cook said. “By their own admission, they’re much more concerned about Kurdish nationalism.”

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Russia doubles down on its version of the beloved A-10

The Su-25 Frogfoot, known as the Grach or “Rook” by Russian pilots, is one of those aircraft that may not be at the cutting edge of technology, but still has seen widespread service around the world because it offers an effective and useful solution to the need to blast targets on the ground.

As such, its obvious stablemate is the American A-10 Thunderbolt II attack plane. But while the U.S. Air Force wants to retire the A-10 starting in 2022, the Su-25 is undergoing extensive upgrades to keep with the times.


Also unlike the Thunderbolt, it has been disseminated it all over the world and seen action in over a dozen wars, including in the air campaigns over Syria, Iraq and Ukraine.

Not only has Russia had a lot of experience flying Su-25s in combat — it has shot several down as well.

During World War II, Russia’s armored Il-2 Sturmovik attack planes, nicknamed “Flying Tanks,” were renowned for their ability to take a pounding while dishing it out to German Panzer divisions with bombs, rockets and cannon fire.

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge

An A-10 Thunderbolt II.

Unlike the U.S. Air Force in the 1960s, which was enamored with the concept of “winning” nuclear wars with strategic bombers, the Soviet air service, the VVS, placed more emphasis on supporting ground armies in its Frontal Aviation branch. However, no worthy successor to the Shturmovik immediately appeared after World War II

In 1968, the VVS service decided it was time for another properly designed flying tank. After a three-way competition, the prototype submitted by Sukhoi was selected and the first Su-25 attack planes entered production in 1978 in a factory in Tbilisi, Georgia. Coincidentally, the American A-10 Thunderbolt had begun entering service a few years earlier.

Like the A-10, the Su-25 was all about winning a titanic clash between the ground forces of NATO and the Warsaw Pact by busting tanks and blasting infantry in Close Air Support missions. This meant flying low and slow to properly observe the battlefield and line up the plane for an attack run.

Flying low would also help the Su-25 avoid all the deadly long-range SAMs that would have been active in a European battlefield. However, this would have exposed it to all kinds of antiaircraft guns. Thus, the pilot of the Su-25 benefited from an “armored bathtub” — ten to twenty-five millimeters of armor plating that wrapped around the cockpit and even padded the pilot’s headrest. It also had armored fuel tanks and redundant control schemes to increase the likelihood of surviving a hit. And in their extensive combat careers, Su-25s have survived some really bad hits.

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge

A Sukhoi Su-25SM at the Celebration of the 100th anniversary of Russian Air Force.

Despite the similarities with the A-10, the Su-25 is a smaller and lighter, and has a maximum speed fifty percent faster than the Thunderbolt’s at around six hundred miles per hour. However, the Frogfoot has shorter range and loiter time, can only operate at half the altitude, and has a lighter maximum load of up to eight thousand pounds of munitions, compared to sixteen thousand on the Thunderbolt.

More importantly, the types of munitions usually carried are typically different. The Thunderbolt’s mainstays are precision-guided munitions, especially Maverick antitank missiles, as well as its monstrous, fast-firing GAU-8 cannon.

The Su-25’s armament has typically consisted of unguided 250 or 500 kilogram bombs, cluster bombs and rockets. The rockets come in forms ranging from pods containing dozens of smaller 57- or 80-millimeter rockets, to five-shot 130-millimeter S-13 system, to large singular 240- or 330-millimeter rockets. The Su-25 also has a Gsh-30-2 30-millimeter cannon under the nose with 260 rounds of ammunition, though it doesn’t have the absurd rate of fire of the GAU-8.

The lower tip of the Frogfoot’s nose holds a glass-enclosed laser designator. Su-25s did make occasional use of Kh-25ML and Kh-29 laser guided missiles in Afghanistan to take out Mujahideen fortified caves, striking targets as far as five miles away. KAB-250 laser-guided bombs began to see use in Chechnya as well. However, use of such weapons was relatively rare. For example, they made up only 2 percent of munitions expended by the Russian Air Force in Chechnya.

The Su-25 was still packing plenty of antipersonnel firepower—and that’s exactly what was called for when it first saw action in Afghanistan beginning in 1981. The Su-25 was the workhorse fixed-wing attack plane in the conflict, flying more than sixty thousand sorties in bombing raids on mujahedeen villages and mountain strongholds. They often teamed up with Mi-24 attack helicopters to provide air support for Soviet armored units.

However, as the Afghan rebels began to acquire Stinger missiles from the United States, Su-25s began to suffer losses and the Soviet pilots were forced to fly higher to avoid the man-portable surface-to-air missiles. In all, some fifteen Su-25s were shot down in Afghanistan before the Soviet withdrawal.

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Su-25s were passed onto the air services of all the Soviet successor states. Those that didn’t use Su-25s in local wars—on both sides of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, for example—often exported them to countries that did. Frogfoots have seen action in the service of Macedonia (against Albanian rebels), Ethiopia (against Eritrea, with one shot down), Sudan (target: Darfur), and Georgia versus Abkhazian separatists that shot down several. And that list is not comprehensive.

In one notable episode, Cote d’Ivoire acquired several Su-25s and used them in its civil war. When the government of President Laurent Gbagbo was angered by the perceived partisanship of French peacekeepers, his mercenary-piloted Su-25s bombed the French camp, killing nine. Whoever ordered the attack didn’t consider that there was a French contingent stationed at the Yamoussoukro Airfield where the Frogfoots were based. The French used anti-tank missiles to destroy the fighter bombers on the ground in retaliation.

Russian Su-25 were back in action in the Chechnya campaign of 1994 to 1995, flying 5,300 strike sorties. Early on they helped wipe out Chechen aircraft on the ground and hit the Presidential Palace in Grozny with anti-concrete bombs. They then pursued a more general bombing campaign. Four were lost to missiles and flak. They were again prominent in the Second Chechen War in 1999, where only one was lost.

Of course, it’s important to note at this juncture that the Su-25 is one of a handful of Soviet aircraft that received its own American computer game in 1990.

Modern Su-25s

In addition to the base model, the Frogfoot also came in an export variant, the Su-25K, and a variety of two-seat trainers with a hunchback canopy, including the combat-capable Su-25UBM.

There were a number of projects to modernize the Su-25, including small productions runs of Su-25T and Su-25TM tank busters. But the Russian Air Force finally selected the Su-25SM in the early 2000s for all future modernization.

The SM has a new BARS satellite navigation/attack system, which allows for more precise targeting, as well as a whole slew of improved avionics such as news heads-up displays (HUDS), Radar Warning Receivers and the like. The Su-25SM can use the excellent R-73 short-range air-to-air missile, and has improved targeting abilities for laser-guided bombs. Other improvements reduce maintenance requirements and lower aircraft weight.

The National Interest‘s Dave Majumdar has written about the latest SM3 upgrade, which includes the capacity to fire Kh-58 anti-radar missiles, which could enable Su-25s to help suppress enemy air defenses, as well as a Vitebskelectronic-countermeasure system that could increase its survivability against both radar- and infarred-guided surface to air missiles.

Georgia and Ukraine also have limited numbers of their own domestically upgrade variants, the Su-25KM and the Su-25M1 respectively. You can check out the Su-25KM variant, produced with an Israeli firm, in this video full of unironic 1980s flair.

Speaking of Georgia, things got messy in 2008 when both Russia and Georgia operated Frogfoots in the Russo-Georgian War. The Georgian Frogfoots provided air support for Georgian troops seizing the city of Tskhinvali. Then Russian Su-25s assisted Russian armor in blasting them out. Russia lost three Su-25s to MANPADS—two likely from friendly fire—and Georgia lost a similar number to Russian SAMs. To the surprise of observers, however, the Russian Air Force did not succeed in sweeping Georgian aviation from the sky.

In 2014, Ukraine deployed its Frogfoots to support ground forces combating separatist rebels in Eastern Ukraine. They assisted in the initial recapture of the Donetsk airport in May, would be followed over a half year of seesaw battles ending in a separatist victory in 2015. Ukraine lost four Su-25s in the ensuing ground-attack missions—three were hit by missiles (one MANPADS, two allegedly by longer-ranged systems across the Russian border), and a fourth was reportedly downed by a Russian MiG-29. Two others survivedhits from missiles. As a result, Su-25 strikes were sharply curtailed to avoid incurring further losses.

In 2015, the Russian separatists of the Luhansk People’s Republic claimed to have launched airstrikes with an Su-25 of their own. Depending on who you ask, the airplane was restored from a museum or flew in from Russia.

The Iraqi Air Force has deployed its own Su-25s in the war against ISIS, purchasing five from Russia in 2014 and receiving seven from Iran that had been impounded during the 1991 Gulf War.

Finally, in the fall of 2015, Russia deployed a dozen modernized Su-25SMs in support of the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. Many observers noted that of the aircraft involved in the mission, the Su-25s were the best adapted for the close air-support role. The Frogfoot flew 1,600 sorties against rebel-held Syrian cities, and expended more than six thousand munitions, mostly unguided bombs and S-13 rockets. They were withdrawn this year, leaving attack helicopter behind to perform more precise—and risky—close air support missions.

Lessons Learned from Flying Tanks?

While it’s fun to admire high-performing fighters like the MiG-29 or F-22 Raptor, the unglamorous Su-25 has so far had a greater impact on a wide range of conflicts. We can draw a few lessons from its recent combat record.

First, the significant losses suffered by Su-25s demonstrate that without effective air-defense suppression and electronic counter-measures, low-and-slow ground support planes are poised to take heavy losses against Russian-made surface-to-air missiles deployed in sufficient numbers.

Second, observation of Russia’s Syrian contingent suggests that despite possessing a diverse arsenal of precision guided munitions, the Russian Air Force continues to rely primarily on unguided bombs and rockets for the close air support mission.

Lastly, aircraft capable of delivering punishing attacks on ground targets while retaining a good chance of surviving hits taken in return are going to remain in high demand worldwide.

This article originally appeared on Warrior Maven. Follow @warriormaven1 on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

US taxpayers have reportedly paid an average of $8,000 each and over $2 trillion total for the Iraq war alone

The human costs of war are huge and crippling. The financial costs can be, too.


According to a new estimate by the Costs of War co-director Neta Crawford, US taxpayers have paid nearly $2 trillion in war-related costs on the Iraq war alone.

Newsweek estimated that the total for the Iraq War comes out to an average of roughly $8,000 per taxpayer. The figure far exceeds the Pentagon’s estimate that Americans paid an average of $3,907 each for Iraq and Syria to date. And in March 2019, the Department of Defense estimated that the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria combined have cost each US taxpayer around $7,623 on average.

The Costs of War Project through Brown University conducts research on the human, economic, and political costs of the post-9/11 wars waged by the US. Stephanie Savell, a co-director of the Cost of Wars Projects, told Insider it’s important for Americans to understand exactly what their taxes are paying for when it comes to war-related expenses.

“As Americans debate the merits of U.S. military presence in Iraq and elsewhere in the name of the U.S. war on terrorism, it’s essential to understand that war costs go far beyond what the DOD has appropriated in Overseas Contingency Operations and reach across many parts of the federal budget,” Savell said.

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge
Iraqi Freedom

Breaking down the financial costs of the Iraq War

The Pentagon had been allotted approximately 8 billion in “emergency” and “overseas contingency operation” for military operations in Iraq from the fiscal year 2003 to 2019, including operations fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. However, Savell says the actual costs of the war often exceed that of the Congress-approved budgets.

“When you’re accounting for the cost of war, you can’t only account what the DOD has spent on overseas contingency funds,” Savell told Insider. “You have to look at the other sets of costs including interest on borrowed funds, increased war-related spending, higher pay to retain soldiers, medical and disability care on post-9-11 and war veterans, and more.”

According to their estimates, the cost of the Iraq War to date would be id=”listicle-2645054426″,922 billion in current dollars — this figure includes funding appropriated by the Pentagon explicitly for the war, spending on the country by the State Department, the care of Iraq War veterans and interests on debt incurred for the 16 years of the US military’s involvement in the country.

Crawford says that war-related spending in Iraq has blown past its budget in the 16 years military forces have been in the country, estimating a nearly 2 billion surplus in Iraq alone.

The increases to the Congressionally approved budgets were used to heighten security at bases, for enlistment and reenlistment bonuses, to increase pay to retain personnel, and for the healthcare costs of servicemembers.

Aside from the Defense Department costs, the State Department added approximately billion to the total costs of the Iraq War for USAID on Iraq and Syria. Meanwhile, 9 billion has been spent on Iraq war veterans receiving medical care, disability, and other compensation.

The US has gone deep into debt to pay for the war. That means it has interest payments.

As expected, that taxpayer dollars are going towards war-related expenses including operations, equipment, and personnel. But a surprising amount of the costs are to pay off the interest on the debt the US has accrued since going to war.

“People also need to know that these wars have been put on a credit card, so we will be paying trillions on war borrowing in interest alone over the next several decades,” Avell told Insider.

Since the US launched its “Global War on Terror” in Iraq and Afghanistan — and later Yemen, Pakistan, and other areas — the US government has completely financed its war efforts borrowing funds. A Cost of War Projects report estimated the US government debts from all post-9/11 war efforts “resulted in cumulative interest payments of 5 billion” on a trillion debt.

The financing method departs from previous international conflicts, where the federal government either raised taxes or issued war bonds to finance war-related expenses. According to Boston University political scientist Rosella Cappella-Zielinski, tax payments accounted for 30% of the cost of World War I and almost 50% of the cost of World War II.

Borrowing from both domestic and foreign sources, Crawford estimates the US has incurred 4 billion in interest on borrowing to pay for Pentagon and State Department spending in Iraq alone.

While the money spent on the Iraq War may seem staggering, the Costs of War estimates the US has spent over .4 trillion total on all of its “War on Terror” efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the related violence in Pakistan and Syria.

Defense Department spokesperson Christopher Sherwood told Insider that the Defense Department dedicates id=”listicle-2645054426″.575 trillion for war-related costs, with an average of spending .2 billion per month on all operations for the fiscal year 2019.

Sherwood said that the department’s costs go towards war-related operational costs, such as trainings and communications, support for deployed troops, including food and medical services, and transportation of personnel and equipment.

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge
Press conference in Al Fadhel

upload.wikimedia.org

The human costs of the Iraq War are even harder to track

The US invaded Iraq in 2003 on the belief that Saddam Hussein had, or was attempting to make, “weapons of mass destruction” and that Iraq’s government had connections to various terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda. Although the invasion initially had overwhelming support from the American public and the approval of Congress, it is now considered one of the greatest foreign policy blunders in US history.

189,000 soldiers were killed in direct war deaths and 32,223 injured, Cost of War estimated. Meanwhile, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of service members due to war-related hardships remain difficult to track.

The Costs of War Project believes calculating the total costs of war — economic, political, and human — is important to ensure that Americans can make educated choices about war-related policies.

“War is expensive — in terms of lives lost, physical damage to people and property, mental trauma to soldiers and war-zone inhabitants, and in terms of money,” Cost of War researcher Heidi Peltier wrote.

In 2016 and leading up to 2020, President Donald Trump has campaigned on a promise of pulling American troops out and ending “these ridiculous wars” in the Middle East. However, Trump deployed more troops to the country after an attack on the US embassy in Iraq.

The Pentagon originally requested less than billion of that amount for Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria — however, the Crawford believes that budget may be blown after more troops were sent into a war zone that was meant to be winding down.

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

Articles

Why alleged Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl doesn’t want a jury trial

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has decided to be tried by a judge — not a military jury — on charges that he endangered comrades by walking off his post in Afghanistan.


Bergdahl’s lawyers told the court in a brief filing last week that their client chose trial by judge alone, rather than a panel of officers. He faces charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy at his trial scheduled for late October at Fort Bragg. The latter carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge
Bowe Bergdahl in a photo after his capture by Taliban insurgents. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Defense attorneys declined to comment on the decision. But they previously questioned whether Bergdahl could get a fair trial by jury because of negative comments President Donald Trump made on the campaign trail.

Earlier this year the judge, Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance rejected a defense request to dismiss the case over Trump’s criticism of Bergdahl.

Potential jurors had already received a questionnaire including questions about their commander in chief, but defense attorneys weren’t allowed to ask jurors if they voted for Trump.

Rachel VanLandingham, a former Air Force lawyer not involved in the case, said defense attorneys likely felt limited in how they could probe juror opinions.

“They lost their ability to ask all the questions they wanted to ask, one of those being: ‘Did you vote for President Trump?'” said VanLandingham, who teaches at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. “They felt that was very important … for fleshing out whether a panel member could be fair.”

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge
Former President Obama and Bowe Bergdahl’s parents. (Photo from the Obama White House Archives)

Beyond concerns about jurors, she said Nance has so far demonstrated his objectivity.

“His pretrial rulings have shown that he’s fair,” she said.

Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban shortly after he left his remote post in 2009. The soldier from Idaho has said he intended to cause alarm and draw attention to what he saw as problems with his unit.

He was freed from captivity in 2014 in exchange for five Taliban prisoners. Former President Barack Obama was criticized by Republicans who claimed the trade jeopardized the nation’s security.

Bergdahl has been assigned to desk duty at a Texas Army base pending the outcome of his case.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Green Berets and foreign weapons… Like kids in a candy store

One of the perks of having a career in Special Operations units was the chance to be trained up and get to fire all manner of foreign, rare, and sometimes very old weapons that you will find still in use.

Special Forces weapons sergeants will be trained in a multitude of U.S. and foreign weapons, and know how to effectively put them to use if they are come across during a foreign deployment.


There is no shortage of weapons that you will come across in many of the Third World countries and some are amazing that they are still in use. And many of them shouldn’t be.

Once in South America, we came across an ancient Thompson submachine gun that looked straight out of Chicago in the times of Al Capone. The old M1928 Thompson with the vertical foregrip, the Cutts compensator, and the noisy 100-round drum magazine (the thing rattled loudly), no wonder the GIs of World War II hated it and opted for the 30-round stick mags.

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge

But the Chicago piano was probably last cleaned by Capone’s cronies when we came across it. It was rusted and in crappy shape. However, some Break Free and WD-40 will cure most anything. That said, we all took great delight in cutting that bad boy loose. In close quarters or in clearing buildings, it is still a pretty fearsome weapon. The only thing missing was the violin case.

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge
Thompson Submachine Gun, Model 1928A1, stored in a violin case (WikiMedia Commons)

The Panamanian military under Manuel Noriega had a lot of mini-grenades made by Argentina. If memory serves me well, they were stamped with FMK2. Slightly smaller than a normal frag grenade, you could toss those suckers quite a distance. They even came with a different fuse that could be used to fire from a rifle. After “Just Because,” we disarmed the military, and took away nearly all of their cool weaponry, including the Argentinian frags, and gave them rusty ass .38s that some bean counter found in a warehouse in the U.S., as the SF guys transitioned them from military to National Police. But that is a story for another time

But those frags were popular with the SF guys and used for another purpose, they even caught some fish off the coast after Noriega was sent packing to Miami. We’d call it fishing with “Dupont lures.”

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge
This replica of a Dutch V40 mini-grenade posted by OnyxSkyDV on AR15.com is a close approximate.

Another weapon that was a blast to shoot was one that is still being used today by the West German military. Back in World War II, the German MG-42 was feared by American GIs, who called it “Hitler’s bone saw” because of the incredible rate of fire the weapon had. The MG-42 had a cyclic rate of about 1550 rounds a minute, easily twice that of the Brownings that U.S. troops carried. The current M240B machine gun in use today has a cyclic rate of fire of about 600 rounds per minute.

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge
A German Waffen SS soldier involved in heavy fighting in and around the French town of Caen in mid-1944. He is carrying an MG 42 configured as a light support weapon with a folding bipod and detachable 50-round belt drum container. (WikiMedia Commons)

Originally chambered in 7.92 x 57mm Mauser ammunition, the obvious drawback of the weapon was that, because of the rate of fire, it overheated quickly and needed frequent barrel changes. Now, rechambered for 7.62 mm NATO, the West Germans still use it today.

We came across one of the originals in the WWII caliber with boxes of ancient ammo, it still fired and after putting some serious lead downrange (and setting the range grass on fire, yes it was dry season), it was no wonder why GIs feared it.

The biggest weapon I ever personally fired with the M40 106mm recoilless rifle. Our partner nation Honduras had an anti-tank company in the 6th Infantry Battalion up in the mountains near the border with Nicaragua. They would frequently get alerted up on the border because the Sandinista army units would threaten the border with their armored vehicles.

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge

I wrote about one such deployment there in an unintentionally comical piece for another publication. Prior to us being deployed there, our entire SF A-Team got some great training from the SWC Weapons committee on the 106 and then we took a few of them out to get some rounds downrange. The 106 will penetrate 12 inches of cold-rolled steel at about 300 meters.

So despite the guys from Range Control, telling us NOT to fire at an old bulldozer that was sitting there invitingly yellow with the blade dug into the ground…”Danger close” they said…we couldn’t resist. One of us, I will not divulge the name of the guilty party (on the grounds that it may incriminate me…er someone) put a 106 HEAT round right through that blade. Cut through it like a hot knife through butter.

But I think the most fun weapon I ever got to fire was the Russian made ZU-23-2.

ZU 23-2 AA gun firing.

Originally designed as an anti-aircraft weapon, the weapon was a towed 23mm dual weapon. It is towed on a small trailer that can be quickly transformed into a stationary mount. It was used to great effect by NVA and Viet Cong troops during the Vietnam war. Eventually, it was replaced by the ZSU-23-4, the tracked, light-skinned vehicle.

We were supposed to be firing both, however, the ZSU broke down with an electrical short so we just fired the ZU with the autocannons. It is simple and easy to operate and packs a tremendous punch. It is devastating to troops, buildings, and light-skinned vehicles.

While no longer used primarily as an anti-aircraft weapon, it is still in use today and can be found in many places mounted on pickup trucks as a technical. Large amounts of them can be found in Libya, Syria, Yemen as well as many other places.

Those are just a few of the weapons I came across and although I did get to drive an M-1 Abrams once, I didn’t get the opportunity to fire the main gun. Maybe another time…

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

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