Can community engagement prevent veteran suicides? - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Can community engagement prevent veteran suicides?

Social isolation and feelings of loneliness are associated with suicidal thoughts. Consequently, the more people feel disconnected from their friends, peers and colleagues, the more isolated they become.

One antidote for social isolation is social connectedness. That is, people coming together and interacting. But there’s been little research on suicide prevention programs that target social connectedness.


Dr. Jason Chen of the VA Portland Health Care System is leading a study to establish a stronger sense of social connectedness for Veterans at high risk of suicide. He’s doing this by increasing their participation in community activities.

Chen and his team have been identifying the community engagement needs and preferences of Veterans who have been hospitalized and evaluated for psychiatric conditions. Specifically, the team interviewed participants within a week of their discharge from an inpatient psychiatric unit. They discovered Veterans analyzed for psychiatric conditions, such as PTSD, are at much greater risk than other cohorts of taking their own lives within three months after leaving the hospital.

Dr. Jason Chen

Veterans Affairs

Social connection could decrease suicidal thoughts

“When working with Veterans, I noticed that many didn’t have social connections,” Chen says. “We know that feeling connected to others can be a form of protection against suicide. So I thought to myself, if the Veterans I work with don’t have many connections, perhaps we could help them create new connections through community activities. My hope is that by helping Veterans increase their engagement in community activities, they’ll feel a stronger sense of social connection that will, in turn, decrease their level of suicidal thoughts.

“The first part of our study was to learn more from Veterans about what gets in the way of connecting. For example, we interviewed 30 Veterans to learn about their past experiences connecting to the community and their thoughts about what would get in the way in the future. Our Veteran sample varied in age from their 20s through their 70s. The average age was 48. We wanted to understand a broad range of experiences across different eras of conflict and generations.”

Suicide prevention is VA’s top clinical priority

Eventually, Chen and his colleagues plan to create clinical toolkits for VA and community figures. The toolkits will focus on increasing social connectedness for Veterans in this vulnerable population.

VA considers suicide prevention its top clinical priority. The most updated analysis of Veteran suicide rates, issued in 2016, notes Veterans accounted for 18% of all deaths from suicide among U.S. adults. This compares with 22% in 2010.

Chen and his team have identified patterns of Veterans’ needs and preferences for social connectedness.

“Veterans appear to be interested in a broad range of activities,” he says. “However, they noted having difficulty knowing how to access these activities and how to make new social connections. Within our sample, Veterans have discussed needing more hands-on support for engaging in community activities. They generally value and believe these activities are important for their wellness and recovery. But they could use extra support for navigating logistics and interactions with new people. We plan for this support to come from a Veteran peer support specialist. That is a Veteran who has undergone his or her own mental health recovery and is now helping support other Veterans with their experiences.”

Working with communities

Researchers are partnering with communities to provide a broad range of activities tailored to the interests of Veterans who are at high risk for suicide. These activities include engaging with Veterans or non-Veterans in the Chinese martial art tai chi or outdoor activities, such as fly fishing or playing music.

“We do not have good evidence that any one type of activity is more protective than another,” Chen says. “They’re worthwhile as long as folks develop a sense of belonging and feel like they’re giving back to others.”

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Giving birth while your spouse is deployed

Having a baby is supposed to be a happy and joyous time. You imagine having a perfect delivery with your spouse by your side, and grandparents filling the waiting rooms. Within our military community as we understand all the change of plans that may happen, we are often forced to plan for a different scenario. A plan that includes giving birth to our sweet bundle of joy while our husband is half a world away on deployment.


As a first-time mom it can sometimes be devastating to think that you won’t have everyone together during this time. You will be angry and upset and wonder if there is any miracle that can happen to bring your husband home to join you. Sometimes it can happen, but other times the timing just does not work out. This is something that my family has now experience twice during our military journey.

My husband was deployed in 2007 as part of the troop surge in Iraq on a 15-month deployment when we welcomed our oldest into the world. While I was giving birth, my husband was patrolling the streets of Baghdad. I had this huge fear with this being our first child that my husband would be home for the birth, but I would not deliver in time before he went back. If that happened, then our son would be 8 months old by the time he returned home. Due to this fear of mine, we opted to have my husband come home on his RR after the due date to ensure he had time with his son and to meet him. So, when it came time to deliver, two of my friends and my mom joined me in the delivery room.

In 2010, my husband would again be on deployment when we were due with our second son. This time we planned for my husband to be home for the birth on his RR during his 12-month deployment to Iraq again. We had this perfect plan about him being home a week before hand to make sure there was adequate time for us to all be together. In true military fashion I would go into labor early this time and have our child 2 days before my husband landed back on US soil. This time I would call a friend who lived an hour and a half a way to come join me during labor and delivery. My husband would learn of the birth of our new son when he called me right before boarding his plane from Kuwait to Germany on his way home.

Twice my husband met his children as newborns next to airport security.

While giving birth without your husband with you is not a plan anyone wants to prepare for, it is often one we need to consider. While it does completely suck, there are things you can do to lessen the hard blow of your spouse not being with you.

  • First, know it could be a possibility. Knowing that this scenario might happen will help lessen the disappointment blow if it becomes reality. Having that realistic expectation can help put other plans in place so you will not be giving birth alone.
  • Make your contingency plan. If your spouse cannot be there with you then who can be? Having a close friend, sister or your mom as your support person can make a big difference and makes sure that you will not be by yourself. Find someone who either already plans to be in town during the time or has a flexible schedule to be there.
  • Use that technology. We have come a long way since my experiences in giving birth without my husband. Now we have the ability of facetime, video chat, and other apps that can allow you to skype your husband in and have him still be apart of the moment. Worst case is that you video it for them to watch later.
  • Make your husbands presence known in the room. I had several pictures of my husband throughout the room, and one taped to the side of the plastic clear crib the hospital uses. I also had several of his shirts that smelled like him – one I wore at times, and the other was used as a sheet, again in the hospital’s plastic clear crib. For me, it was important for our sons to know their dad was still with them.

As a military spouse we are used to planning, making a back up plan, and a back up to the back up plan. If you think there is any chance of the possibility that your spouse might miss the birth due to a deployment or even a school (because we know flights can be delayed), make the plan now. Having it in place and never needing it will be much easier than scrambling at the end.

In whatever plan that happens, just know that it will make for a beautiful story!

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Trump set to double tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods

After a handful of quiet days in President Donald Trump’s trade war, it looks as if a further escalation may be on its way following reports that another round of tariffs on China could be announced imminently and a statement from the Chinese government saying it is readying a retaliation.

According to Bloomberg, the Trump administration is considering levying tariffs of 25% on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods shipped to the US, a move that would inevitably deepen tensions between the two nations. Trump so far has publicly threatened 10% tariffs on this tranche of imports.


Citing three sources familiar with the plans, Bloomberg said the US would raise its threat to 25% tariffs as a means of getting the Chinese government to enter into negotiations to de-escalate the conflict, which has seen tit-for-tat tariff impositions largely on industrial goods.

The increased tariff proposals could be announced in a Federal Register notice as early as Aug. 1, 2018, one of Bloomberg’s sources said.

The US has already placed 25% tariffs on about billion worth of Chinese goods, and it has just finished consulting on another set to be imposed on goods worth billion. It earlier imposed tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from China and other countries.

Can community engagement prevent veteran suicides?

White-hot steel pouring out of an electric arc furnace.

Goods already affected by Trump’s tariffs against China include batteries, trains, and ball bearings, but they could extend to more consumer goods if further tariffs are imposed. You can see a full list of goods subject to tariffs here .

Before his latest tariff threat, Trump previously signaled a readiness to “go to 500,” or impose tariffs on all 5 billion of goods coming from China to the US.

“I’m not doing this for politics — I’m doing this to do the right thing for our country,” he told CNBC during the interview in which he made that threat. “We have been ripped off by China for a long time.”

The latest reports of Trump’s willingness to increase tariffs on China were met with anger in Beijing, with a government representative accusing the US of attempting to “blackmail” China. The government also made clear that it was willing to hit back at any additional tariffs.

“US pressure and blackmail won’t have an effect,” Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said, according to Reuters. “If the United States takes further escalatory steps, China will inevitably take countermeasures and we will resolutely protect our legitimate rights.”

Things look better for Europe

As the Trump administration ratchets up its threats to China about rising tariffs, the worst of its conflict with the European Union over trade appears to be over, after last week Trump climbed down on imposing tariffs on European automobiles imported by the US .

During a meeting in Washington, DC, on July 25, 2018, Trump and the European Commission’s president, Jean-Claude Juncker, agreed to the beginnings of a deal meant to lower tensions between the two parties.

“This was a very big day for free and fair trade,” Trump said in a press conference after the two met .

In the meeting, the EU agreed to import more American soybeans and liquefied natural gas. The two sides committed to work to lower industrial tariffs and adjust regulations to allow US medical devices to be traded more easily in European markets.

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

Articles

‘The Fighting Season’ nails the gritty realities of the Afghan War

Can community engagement prevent veteran suicides?
Photo: DirecTV


“The Fighting Season,” is a six-part documentary from actor and veteran supporter Ricky Schroder and DirecTV. But it’s not just another war documentary.

The series culls out many of the hard-to-explain details of deployment in Afghanistan — the frustrations and setbacks and small victories. And in so doing, it gets it right.

“The Fighting Season” drops the viewer into the war without injecting any pretense or agendas. The film captures the nuance of asymmetric war, how soldiers suss out the difference between friendly locals and insurgents. It shows how the bad guys build an ambush against a backdrop of relative calm.

Can community engagement prevent veteran suicides?
Photo: DirecTV

The infantry platoon talks about how happy they are that the Afghan National Police didn’t accidentally shoot them when the American platoon approaches the Afghan base in the dark. An American security team is in open disagreement with their colonel about how to complete their mission. The American’s sense of progress takes a major step backward as an Afghan National Police sentry allows a vehicle with an armed passenger right through their checkpoint in Kabul.

And the documentary feels like Afghanistan. It’s gritty and unpolished. The soldiers smoke, dip, and cuss. They forget to wear eye protection.

It feels like being back on the FOB and at the outpost.

“The Fighting Season” will debut on Audience Network Tuesday, May 19 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

In lieu of a traditional advertising campaign, DirecTV is pursuing a social media campaign using the hashtag #TheFightingSeason. For every post with the hashtag, they’ll donate $1 to Operation Gratitude.

NOW: The most-epic military movie ever needs your help to get made

AND: Nepal was hit by a huge aftershock – these photos show the US military response

MIGHTY CULTURE

Honoring the warrior spirit: The National American Indian Veterans Memorial

“We may have been a conquered people, but we were not a defeated people, and our warriors will always rise to the call of battle.” – Hopi leader

“The Native American Veterans Memorial is for healing,” monument designer, Cheyenne and Arapaho citizen, peace chief, and Vietnam veteran, Harvey Pratt said.  In addition to serving with the 3rd Marine Division in 1963, Pratt worked in law enforcement over 50 years. His career consisted of being a renowned forensic artist and he is now a multimedia artist inspired by his heritage. When asked why he and so many Indians voluntarily join the military, Pratt explained their warrior tradition of defending their people and homeland, despite the history of oppression by the U.S. government.

Can community engagement prevent veteran suicides?
Designer Harvey Pratt

“God gave this land to the Indians first and so this is Indian country and will always be Indian country. Our blood is spilled all over this country and world, fighting for this country. We will always fight for this land.” Pratt described the design, stating not only could his great-grandfather, Edmund Guerrier, a Sand Creek massacre survivor, recognize its symbolism, so could his children, grandchildren and every member of America’s 573 tribes. 

Located at the entrance of the National American Indian Museum in D.C. and surrounded by gardens, a paved, lit path will lead visitors to a large stainless-steel circle mounted on a stone drum fountain. The symbolism of a drum’s beat, reverberating through the rippling water, will be a call for healing across the land. And on ceremonial occasions, the circle’s base will ignite in flame.

Pratt explained how the round design is timeless and in sync with the other features of the memorial, symbolizing the cycle of life and death and nature’s connection with everything. He detailed how the site will also include four benches for visitors to sit and reflect. And spaced according to the four cardinal directions, four lances will point skyward with feathers in the four battle colors of white, yellow, red, and black, as well as battle streamers. 

Veterans, family members, tribal leaders, and visitors will have the opportunity to tie their own prayer cloths to these lances. 

He concluded, “Although the memorial is for American Indians, ‘war mothers,’ and their families, all vets are welcome to come feel the power and strength and to feel blessed.” Dr. Herman Viola, historian, curator emeritus at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, and senior advisor for this memorial, explained the significance of the monument, with Indians serving since the Revolutionary War at a greater percentage than any other ethnic or racial group – currently almost 19 percent.

Viola described their history of service. American Indians are “fiercely patriotic,” he said. They have been at “the forefront of our nation’s military conflicts despite the fact that until WWII many tribal people were not citizens and could not vote in their own country.” For example, “Though not liable for the draft during the Great War, of the “10,000 Native Americans who served in the Army and the 2,000 who served in the Navy… three out of four were volunteers.” And “World War II witnessed an even more remarkable wave of American Indian patriotism… All told, 10 percent of the country’s Native population of 350,000.” This included one third of able-bodied men, ages 18-50, as well as 800 women. 

“In fact, had all eligible Americans in the United States enlisted in the same proportion as did tribal people there would have been no need for a draft,” Viola said. “It is an exemplary record of military service that continues to this day.” Viola ended by relaying the words of a Hopi leader speaking on the importance of appreciating the sacrifices made by Indians and their families. He said “The fact American Indians are fighting for this great country of ours needs to be recognized. We may have been a conquered people, but we were not a defeated people, and our warriors will always rise to the call of battle.’” 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeCOrPTLQFc&feature=youtu.be

A virtual dedication took place Nov. 11, 2020: https://americanindian.si.edu/nnavm/

MIGHTY TRENDING

Iran claims its military controls the Persian Gulf

“Everything north of the Strait of Hormuz is under our control,” said Ali Fadavi, a senior commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. If that’s true it would mean the Islamic Republic controls the flow of one-fifth of the world’s oil passing through the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran also says it controls the American Navy.


Can community engagement prevent veteran suicides?

Let’s see how that works out for Iran.

“American battleships in the region are under the complete control of Iran’s army and the Revolutionary Guards,” Fadavi told Fars News Service, without providing any further details. While Iran isn’t going anywhere near the recent rocket attack that struck the Green Zone just a few days before the IRGC Navy commander made the statement, the provocations against American forces in the region appear to continue.

Meanwhile, the United States is increasing its presence in the Gulf region, sending bomber aircraft along with three more ships to bolster its forces. The Pentagon is also weighing a plan to deploy five to ten thousand more troops to the region.

Can community engagement prevent veteran suicides?

The Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group entered the U.S. Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf in 2016

Iran has approximately 20,000 men from the Navy of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps stationed in and around the Persian Gulf, manning missile boats, torpedo boats, and even speedboats. Of most concern to the ships of the U.S. navy and its allies, however, is the number of coastal and aircraft-fired anti-ship missiles in the region. On top of the IRGC’s naval assets are the approximately 15,000 men and Marines aboard the the dozens of more traditional ships – frigates, destroyers, corvettes – in the Gulf.

As for the buildup of American troops in the Gulf, Iran recently said the power posed by the force have turned from threats to targets.

“If (the Americans) make a move, we will hit them in the head,” A senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander told the Iranian Students’ News Agency .

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Marine Corps could soon have its first female infantry officer

It took a while, but the United States Marine Corps could have its first female infantry platoon commander soon. The milestone will be possible if a lieutenant currently taking part in the Infantry Officer Course graduates on Monday.


According to a report by the Washington Post, the candidate just finished a three-week combat exercise, the last of the graded exercises in the grueling course. Prior to this female candidate, at least 30 others have entered, but failed to graduate for one reason or another.

Can community engagement prevent veteran suicides?
Pfc. Christina Fuentes Montenegro is one of the first women to graduate infantry training with Delta Company, Infantry Training Battalion. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Paul S. Mancuso/Released)

After graduation, she will command an infantry platoon, usually with three squads of Marines. The integration of women into ground combat roles with the Marine Corps drew controversy due to actions by then-Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus who was an outspoken proponent of the change. Mabus criticized a Marine Corps study showing that all-male units out-performed gender-integrated units in nearly 70 percent of the tasks.

Mabus’s comments drew fire from Marine Sgt. Maj. Justin Lehew, a Navy Cross recipient from Operation Iraqi Freedom. Lehew’s Navy Cross citation noted that he led the team that rescued survivors of the 507th Maintenance Company, the unit in which Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch served with at the time, and also ran back and forth to retrieve Marine casualties from a destroyed amphibious assault vehicle.

Can community engagement prevent veteran suicides?
Sgt. Major Justin LeHew aboard a P781- RAM/RS Amphibious Assault Vehicle at Camp Shoup, Kuwait on March 17, 2003.

The Infantry Officer Course is seen as one of the toughest schools in the U.S. military, and roughly one out of four officers who enter the course do not compete it. Earlier this year, three female enlisted Marines were assigned to an infantry battalion. At least 10 women have graduated from the Army’s Infantry Officer Course.

Articles

This Marine sniper threw the enemy’s grenade back to save his brothers

His team spotted by insurgents and forced to take cover in an abandoned compound, Marine sniper Joshua Moore went against his instinct when two grenades landed next to him, throwing one of them back at the enemy and holding off insurgent fire until help could arrive.


Moore, at the time a Lance Corporal, was later awarded the Navy Cross for his actions.

Moore was part of a scout sniper platoon during a mission in Marjah, Afghanistan, in March 2011, when insurgents targeted his team.

The Marines fell back to a nearby compound, but enemy machine gun rounds soon sliced through the air, wounding two of them. After taking cover, Moore felt two objects hit him in the back. When he turned he saw two grenades lying in the sand.

Related video:

He reached down, grabbed the first grenade, and threw it back out the window where it detonated just a moment later. He went for the second but noticed it was covered in rust and was likely a dud.

The young sniper would later say that he was, “scared out of my mind, but I knew we had to do everything possible to get everyone home.” Despite the brush with death and under the continuing threat of incoming fire, Moore crawled from the building and held off the enemy until a quick reaction force arrived.

Can community engagement prevent veteran suicides?

He went to the north where the enemy attack was heaviest and began aiding the wounded and returning fire. He used an M4 with an attached M203 grenade launcher to suppress fighters where he could find them.

The arrival of a quick reaction force and another sniper platoon allowed the Marines to finally gain fire superiority, evacuate the wounded and fall back to their patrol base.

Moore was meritoriously promoted to corporal less than two months after the battle and was awarded the Navy Cross in Nov. 2013.

“It’s an honor to receive an award like the Navy Cross. But to be honest, I was just doing my job,” Moore said after the ceremony.

Since then, Moore has been promoted to sergeant and assigned as an instructor at the scout sniper basic course. He told Stars and Stripes that he often shares the story of the engagement with his students, but that he avoids talking about his medal.

“That honestly not the important part,” he said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Watch how bulletproof these ‘Star Wars’ inspired helmets are

Military equipment is notoriously cheap and can sometimes fall short of expectations when in the hands of the dirt-eating grunts who use them the most. But, every once in a while, a company comes by and makes something that not only lives up to its potential, but manages to make its way into the hearts of troops everywhere (things as wonderful as the M27 are few and far between). So, when DevTac developed the Ronin Kevlar Level IIIA Tactical Ballistic Helmet, we wondered how effective it really was.

Thankfully, Dr. Matt Carriker, a veterinarian and fellow gun enthusiast, put the helmet to the test on his YouTube channel, Demolition Ranch. We’ve covered a previous video of his where he tested Army helmets, seeing just how bulletproof they really are, but does this Boba-Fett-looking helmet stand up to the test?

Let’s find out!


Can community engagement prevent veteran suicides?
This thing just looks awesome. (Demolition Ranch)

 

Before the test, Dr. Carriker goes over some of the basic features of the helmet to provide a baseline of what to expect. Some of those features include armor plating — some parts Level II, others Level IIIA. Allegedly, the helmet is able to withstand most bullets shot from a pistol.

Can community engagement prevent veteran suicides?
You never know if you’ll catch a ricochet in the face while squirrel hunting. (Demolition Ranch)

 

Dr. Carriker starts off easy and light, hitting the helmet with a .22 LR fired from a suppressed pistol, then moving onto a .22 Hornet round fired from a Taurus Raging Hornet. The results for both are the same — some chipped paint but no penetration, which is what we hoped would happen given such a small bullet.

Can community engagement prevent veteran suicides?
There are some scratches and holes, but nothing went all the way through. (Demolition Ranch)

 

Next, he hits it with a .410, shooting a Charles Daly Defense Honcho. The lenses are supposed to stop a shotgun blast, and they do, but they get shot out. Afterwards, like a true, red-blooded American, he double fists a pair of Maxim 9s to hit the helmet with 9mm rounds. Still no penetration.

Can community engagement prevent veteran suicides?
We might have to get one for ourselves here… For professional reasons, of course. (Demolition Ranch)

 

After seeing that 9mm ain’t going to cut it, Dr. Carriker goes on to test a .357 magnum round shot from a Desert Eagle. After that, he picks up a .44 magnum and then, later, a .45-70 Government round shot from a revolver. The results for all three, despite doing significant damage to the helmet, were the same: no penetration.

If you don’t believe it, check out the video below and see the action for yourself:

MIGHTY TRENDING

Germany might be considering a nuclear bomb

President Donald Trump’s relationship with Europe has been characterized by him attacking NATO for what he perceives as failures to meet the defense-spending goals alliance members have agreed to work toward.

A consequence of this newly contentious relationship is more interest in Europe in domestic defense capacity. In Germany, that interest is going nuclear.


Can community engagement prevent veteran suicides?
(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

At the end of July, prominent German political scientist Christian Hacke wrote an essay in Welt am Sonntag, one of the country’s largest Sunday newspapers, arguing Germany needed to respond to uncertainty about US commitment to defending European allies by developing its own nuclear capability.

“For the first time since 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany is no longer under the U.S.’s nuclear umbrella,” Hacke argued, according to Politico Europe.

“National defense on the basis of a nuclear deterrent must be given priority in light of new transatlantic uncertainties and potential confrontations,” Hacke said. Divergent interests among Germany’s neighbors made the prospect of a joint European response “illusory,” he added.

Hacke is not the first in Germany to suggest longstanding ties with the US have fundamentally changed.

In June, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Europeans “need a balanced partnership with the US … where we as Europeans act as a conscious counterweight when the US oversteps red lines.” Maas compared Trump’s “America First” policies to the policies of Russia and China.

While concern about Trump is very real, Germany is treaty-bound not to develop nuclear weapons, and discussions of doing so are seen as little more than talk.

Can community engagement prevent veteran suicides?

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas

(Sandro Halank, Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA 3.0)

“Germany developing nuclear military capability, a nuclear weapon, a nuclear deterrent, will never be in the cards ever,” said Jim Townsend, an adjunct senior fellow in the Transatlantic Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.

“Things nuclear are always hot in Germany,” said Townsend, who spent eight years as US deputy assistant secretary of defense for European and NATO policy. “This is not something that’s going to change and all of a sudden the Germans are going to think seriously about developing a nuclear capability. That’s just not going to happen.”

Others in Germany were also dismissive.

Journalist and defense expert Christian Thiels described the discussion as “a totally phony debate” and referred to Hacke’s argument as a “very individual opinion.” The same question was discussed “by very few think-tankers media people one year ago,” he added, “to zero effect.”

Wolfgang Ischinger, head of the Munich Security Conference and a former German ambassador to the US, argued that Germany’s pursuit of nuclear weapons would set an undesirable precedent.

“If Germany was to relinquish its status as a non-nuclear power, what would prevent Turkey or Poland, for example, from following suit?” he wrote in a response to Hacke. “Germany as the gravedigger of the international non-proliferation regime? Who can want that?”

German plans to phase out nuclear energy likely preclude the development of nuclear weapons, Townsend said, and, as noted by Marcel Dirsus, a political scientist at the University of Kiel in Germany, politicians who can’t convince Germans to support spending 2% of GDP on defense are unlikely to win backing for nuclear weapons.

This is not the first round of this debate.

Not long after Trump’s election, European officials — including a German lawmaker who was foreign-policy spokesman for the governing party — suggested French and British nuclear arsenals could be repurposed to defend the rest of the continent under a joint command with common funding or defense doctrine.

In mid-2017, a review commissioned by Germany’s parliament found Berlin could legally finance another European country’s nuclear weapons in return for protection.

There have been suggestions that “what Europe should do is depend on the French, the French nuclear capability, and the Germans pay into that and thereby kind of fall under the French nuclear umbrella,” Townsend said.

“Well, that’s not going to happen either,” he added. “As cool as it sounds for a think-tank discussion, in reality the French would never do that.”

French President Emmanuel Macron has advocated closer defense cooperation between France and Germany, but Paris has in the past expressed reservations about ceding control of its nuclear weapons. (The UK’s plans to exit the EU complicate its role in any such plan.)

Townsend said the debate was unnecessary, given that its premise — the loss of US nuclear deterrence — was unfounded.

“Trump notwithstanding, the US nuclear guarantee is not going anywhere,” he said. “No matter where we might be domestically as we talk about Europe or as we talk about NATO, we’re not going. Our nuclear guarantee is going to be there.”

But Trump has changed the way Europe thinks about its defense. Some welcome discussion of Germany acquiring nuclear capability, even if they don’t support it.

Ulrich Speck, senior visiting fellow at the German Marshall Fund in Berlin, said on Twitter that while he didn’t favor “Germany becoming a nuclear state,” he did believe “there is a debate looming with the many question marks over the US with Trump, and that it’s better to have the debate. Germany needs to think through nuclear deterrence.”

“It’s crucial for Germany and Europe that we have a strategic debate,” Ulrike Franke, an analyst with the European Council on Foreign Relations, told Politico Europe. “What Germany is slowly realizing is that the general structure of the European security system is not prepared for the future.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of May 4th

Still no news about Kim Jong Un – even after TMZ reported (yet didn’t confirm) his death on April 25 and everyone outside the Intelligence community has been coming up with their own theories, whether he died during a botched heart surgery to whatever because he missed two major holiday appearances.

I don’t know. The logical side of my brain says that he’s probably smart enough to know that being a dictator of the country with rampant malnutrition, horrid living conditions and legalized crystal meth is doing far worse when their only trading partner is the epicenter of a deadly pandemic. He’s probably been self-isolating like everyone else in the world (except his countrymen).

But I’m still hoping the methed-out cardiothoracic surgeon did him in. Anyways, here are some memes…


[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FfXfP7chjl69hDOwqmnqkNylJREx1kxCycu42hXyU_tw60OPTLwq10oP3rTtHW7KJQ1-sfn5oI3MsUrfj6L7ZRBSCKs8pY6JiXgOCM3vt9cMVwMp3keyV63Olo_MnYeWOdL0fW7k7Mw4WdBkAOA&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh3.googleusercontent.com&s=605&h=054f021ffa79e3f8ce3fbaa724215df03565548434db675397c422564283b83c&size=980x&c=3096972227 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FfXfP7chjl69hDOwqmnqkNylJREx1kxCycu42hXyU_tw60OPTLwq10oP3rTtHW7KJQ1-sfn5oI3MsUrfj6L7ZRBSCKs8pY6JiXgOCM3vt9cMVwMp3keyV63Olo_MnYeWOdL0fW7k7Mw4WdBkAOA%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh3.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D605%26h%3D054f021ffa79e3f8ce3fbaa724215df03565548434db675397c422564283b83c%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3096972227%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FOSYnxykuyMRjJghzBGBf0Pa_3Pm3P_MGvqNT7eO77QomTOXr1IFJQoGTxtT4LqUMNlgKO3MP7oBTUvviJKoC-Gcif_JnFd2ygI5tTea-Ivg0qqzwZvd5SZIEgVCXJ6YkdUBRh7W1x4f7u-d1Mw&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh6.googleusercontent.com&s=264&h=8c61bde129a424f7ff9d7085fe29f8ba5491dfdec948127ea38e8712a9d78948&size=980x&c=4179019291 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FOSYnxykuyMRjJghzBGBf0Pa_3Pm3P_MGvqNT7eO77QomTOXr1IFJQoGTxtT4LqUMNlgKO3MP7oBTUvviJKoC-Gcif_JnFd2ygI5tTea-Ivg0qqzwZvd5SZIEgVCXJ6YkdUBRh7W1x4f7u-d1Mw%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh6.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D264%26h%3D8c61bde129a424f7ff9d7085fe29f8ba5491dfdec948127ea38e8712a9d78948%26size%3D980x%26c%3D4179019291%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FuZdG86Gasx3QkOw_tlmrRHo6wzD1d_t7unnR0k07L_BWXLhDLhWNyJPSupLwLJ1WfdYRH18W-q6NTC2qCt6Tdb0N5hQwaKhPWKsdo6kXCyBt4J5eCeoiTucecb4m1wya9bx6b0m5lc09r1mONA&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh4.googleusercontent.com&s=881&h=fa3a3fe0d3e132d763dd2d323bd04a28cabb531f973678afdf47a2e72175b318&size=980x&c=2319782301 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FuZdG86Gasx3QkOw_tlmrRHo6wzD1d_t7unnR0k07L_BWXLhDLhWNyJPSupLwLJ1WfdYRH18W-q6NTC2qCt6Tdb0N5hQwaKhPWKsdo6kXCyBt4J5eCeoiTucecb4m1wya9bx6b0m5lc09r1mONA%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh4.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D881%26h%3Dfa3a3fe0d3e132d763dd2d323bd04a28cabb531f973678afdf47a2e72175b318%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2319782301%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via US Army WTF Moments Memes)

Can community engagement prevent veteran suicides?

(Meme via Call for Fire)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F8RSqW4JsJH_LbCXyllW9WlCr4JGB5FRR1BUvWX8a9FSfKSNCs1fUhTStYtZfxS9UKW84TehQazw5rVVGHVsFnRClV7baa2Hb5n2N0msjRCNDHubtwYRh0AXJ1tdvAlJuMdfyyPRZN4YMkhWuSw&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh6.googleusercontent.com&s=166&h=4f4352fa42f72976394e739f05fe0b76a68deb85b28d542fa58f7cef4d4279a1&size=980x&c=2088771281 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F8RSqW4JsJH_LbCXyllW9WlCr4JGB5FRR1BUvWX8a9FSfKSNCs1fUhTStYtZfxS9UKW84TehQazw5rVVGHVsFnRClV7baa2Hb5n2N0msjRCNDHubtwYRh0AXJ1tdvAlJuMdfyyPRZN4YMkhWuSw%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh6.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D166%26h%3D4f4352fa42f72976394e739f05fe0b76a68deb85b28d542fa58f7cef4d4279a1%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2088771281%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Infantry Follow Me)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FnkuP-sou9Pv3-zKrigf2swdC8b4B8yGnnnWeDcv6XkCKTr9E4zNBOD2kwYPfa6ciKE3WS9JbPR82Xi3lZXGP2rk2DtICxKrrf9Fvt428&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com&s=919&h=79de20ab640cf57dc1d6a34fec6822d5a846aae5b956458174cd42248cd51b96&size=980x&c=2613342247 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FnkuP-sou9Pv3-zKrigf2swdC8b4B8yGnnnWeDcv6XkCKTr9E4zNBOD2kwYPfa6ciKE3WS9JbPR82Xi3lZXGP2rk2DtICxKrrf9Fvt428%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh5.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D919%26h%3D79de20ab640cf57dc1d6a34fec6822d5a846aae5b956458174cd42248cd51b96%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2613342247%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via The Army’s Fckups)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FuVvTLoPfSJaLE2lpSTdu9ua1LFJKmklEXjI-AultsLctRtLeJxSXHUEQSY3p-YAFSNKPdCanCAHyIE0sCjM71pU_8oOt5Ego3frR8FFtoztRrGwIMm04UQszt1d-kqy6kDmpq14vobJ1QDlcFA&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh6.googleusercontent.com&s=9&h=ee9ce776a481645a6f1d0440301b4419a238b5a56a17a7b8ffa07cd906d2714e&size=980x&c=3573263540 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FuVvTLoPfSJaLE2lpSTdu9ua1LFJKmklEXjI-AultsLctRtLeJxSXHUEQSY3p-YAFSNKPdCanCAHyIE0sCjM71pU_8oOt5Ego3frR8FFtoztRrGwIMm04UQszt1d-kqy6kDmpq14vobJ1QDlcFA%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh6.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D9%26h%3Dee9ce776a481645a6f1d0440301b4419a238b5a56a17a7b8ffa07cd906d2714e%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3573263540%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FlCnNjfwe9QT_-N8HaDyrUpWLQITEdmfknbFsaOt24roFUiEYkPVY4GmjHY3281dR7Bvewu9S1lkk6DGcd878XGjd0GzPtQTfH7_yVZmq&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh6.googleusercontent.com&s=165&h=533bf8b0aba4aba244706c5424ae48115184f3d50bcc848b8a83103d9f6d283e&size=980x&c=1398079424 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FlCnNjfwe9QT_-N8HaDyrUpWLQITEdmfknbFsaOt24roFUiEYkPVY4GmjHY3281dR7Bvewu9S1lkk6DGcd878XGjd0GzPtQTfH7_yVZmq%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh6.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D165%26h%3D533bf8b0aba4aba244706c5424ae48115184f3d50bcc848b8a83103d9f6d283e%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1398079424%22%7D” expand=1]

(Tweet via the Madlad himself, Gen. Jay Raymond)

Can community engagement prevent veteran suicides?

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FbxOztQ2_LFAuq1lY0Df5VHbMwFvjsk93IWVh9W2pyl6r2t4_zm0sAvQ3vjaGp17aNpQGzZvjd5ugET8U7BEC2tR4ZuhlVevmOZKRalFDo9xgJtoZj6jRwytyQFQ5m2KnQ4mqdxNSJ5u06zw-9Q&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com&s=1016&h=e65752688eace76531a207a053764ed76b10334d0dcf62f615c2141951c9daa3&size=980x&c=4193862130 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FbxOztQ2_LFAuq1lY0Df5VHbMwFvjsk93IWVh9W2pyl6r2t4_zm0sAvQ3vjaGp17aNpQGzZvjd5ugET8U7BEC2tR4ZuhlVevmOZKRalFDo9xgJtoZj6jRwytyQFQ5m2KnQ4mqdxNSJ5u06zw-9Q%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh5.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D1016%26h%3De65752688eace76531a207a053764ed76b10334d0dcf62f615c2141951c9daa3%26size%3D980x%26c%3D4193862130%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via VET Tv)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F7_YMJkq0vczNxC6_EmTojmXWX7DDBt9bL9IaHfJfV42Sk8iAYUhRXl-ZdKE66T9WGPc7Fi0Nxm8wL_037653f3XgRKpGyNqfFpGs7OVGVyTFXjX67aXlWobO_sJUQIAq5JnrSujsbhm19-GjQg&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh3.googleusercontent.com&s=394&h=e57290aceabf47b52b75767544b44077a2e7cdb2ec73c22e3ea5154798e5bca4&size=980x&c=4208256651 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F7_YMJkq0vczNxC6_EmTojmXWX7DDBt9bL9IaHfJfV42Sk8iAYUhRXl-ZdKE66T9WGPc7Fi0Nxm8wL_037653f3XgRKpGyNqfFpGs7OVGVyTFXjX67aXlWobO_sJUQIAq5JnrSujsbhm19-GjQg%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh3.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D394%26h%3De57290aceabf47b52b75767544b44077a2e7cdb2ec73c22e3ea5154798e5bca4%26size%3D980x%26c%3D4208256651%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Uniform Humor)

Can community engagement prevent veteran suicides?

(Meme via Private News Network)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FGkpF-bNXDZv9sqDJNk5J1A9Vr7UNPaurq9uvL47v-Y9G7OVnHwaJHxSWuHCMPCfuSgakfU1SoiQpTUFC5n3hLzuHG9OBdaP7FV50NTW6pD_fhrdA11u0vVeOXd4FAC_yaz1HrhC7O8KEe97L4g&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com&s=823&h=41d69a11b6e33729be424fcae4497782aaa3312cfcb864be9b3fec81b70a019f&size=980x&c=1330717844 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FGkpF-bNXDZv9sqDJNk5J1A9Vr7UNPaurq9uvL47v-Y9G7OVnHwaJHxSWuHCMPCfuSgakfU1SoiQpTUFC5n3hLzuHG9OBdaP7FV50NTW6pD_fhrdA11u0vVeOXd4FAC_yaz1HrhC7O8KEe97L4g%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh5.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D823%26h%3D41d69a11b6e33729be424fcae4497782aaa3312cfcb864be9b3fec81b70a019f%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1330717844%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

Articles

This makeshift armored vehicle is actually an ISIS suicide bomb truck

As anti-ISIS forces retake Mosul and march on Raqqa, more and more of the terror group’s mystique is falling away. It’s hard to be the international bogeyman when your forces are suffering defeats across your caliphate.


Can community engagement prevent veteran suicides?
Not pictured: ISIS victories. (Photo: CJTF Operation Inherent Resolve YouTube)

But one of ISIS’s most prominent battlefield weapons is still deadly frightening, the armored vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. While VBIEDs were already common in Iraq and Afghanistan, ISIS upped the ante by creating especially effective armored versions and then employing them like artillery — softening their enemy’s lines and breaking up attacks.

Can community engagement prevent veteran suicides?
A captured ISIS vehicle-borne improvised explosive device is displayed where it is held by the Kurdish Peshmerga in Iraq. (Photo: YouTube/ Sky News)

For the Iraqi Army, the Kurdish Peshmerga, and other anti-ISIS forces, understanding these weapons is a matter of life or death. But typically, the weapons are destroyed before they can be captured, either because the soldiers hit it with a rocket, tank, or artillery round, or because the operator triggers his explosive cargo.

This makes it relatively rare that a suicide vehicle is captured intact. But there have been a few, and Sky News got the chance to tour one of these captured vehicles during the Iraqi military’s initial punch into Mosul.

The vehicle, captured by Kurdish Peshmerga, had been heavily modified with the removal of any unnecessary weight, the addition of thick, heavy armor, and the installation of a massive amount of explosives.

See the full tour of the vehicle in the video below:

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia says it just whacked 4 top ISIS leaders in Syria

The Russian Defense Ministry says it has killed four Islamic State commanders in an airstrike targeting the extremist group outside Syria’s eastern city of Deir al-Zour, including a former senior security official from Tajikistan.


The ministry said in a Sept. 8 statement that 40 militants were killed in the air strike, including Abu Muhammad al-Shimali, who is responsible for foreign IS fighters, and Gulmurod Halimov, a former Tajik Interior Ministry commander.

It said the airstrike targeted a gathering of IS warlords in an underground bunker near Deir al-Zour.

“According to confirmed data, among the killed fighters are four influential field commanders,” the ministry said.

Can community engagement prevent veteran suicides?
Gulmurod Halimov. Screengrab from TomoNews US YouTube video.

Halimov, often referred to as the IS “minister of war,” is a former commander of the Tajik Interior Ministry’s riot police, known as OMON, who had received US training while serving in that position.

He made an online announcement in May 2015 that he had joined IS.

Tajikistan has issued an international warrant for his arrest, and the United States has offered $3 million for information on his whereabouts.

The Russian Defense Ministry said Halimov was present at the meeting of IS warlords and was fatally wounded in the air strike. It said he had been evacuated to the Al-Muhasan area, 20 kilometers southeast of Deir al-Zour.

There have been several unconfirmed reports from both northern Iraq and Syria since 2015 that Halimov was killed while fighting alongside IS forces.

Can community engagement prevent veteran suicides?
Russian Tupolev Tu-160 bombers. Photo from Wikimedia Commons user Alan Wilson.

Tajik authorities have repeatedly rejected those reports, saying they think he is still alive.

Heavy fighting continues between Syrian government forces, backed by Russia, and IS fighters seeking to reinstate a siege of Deir al-Zour.

Russian President Vladimir Putin this week congratulated his Syrian counterpart, Bashar al-Assad, after Syrian state media said government troops had broken the three-year long siege of the city by IS forces.

In the months after Russia began a campaign of air strikes in Syria in September 2015, Western officials said it mainly targeted not IS militants, but other opponents of Assad.

Do Not Sell My Personal Information