This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war - We Are The Mighty
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This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war
The children of fallen troops and USNA midshipmen volunteers form a circle during a team building event at the U.S. Naval Academy on January 31. (Photo: TAPS.org)


Bonnie Carroll understands the cost of war as intimately as anyone in America – not the dollars and cents cost but the price paid by families for generations after warriors fall in battle. A few years after losing her husband in a military aircraft mishap in Alaska, Carroll turned her grief into action and founded the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, better known as “TAPS.”

Also Read: These Aging Vets Shared Inspiring And Sometimes Heartbreaking Wisdom In Reddit AmA’s 

“Twenty years ago there was no organization for those grieving the loss of a loved one who died while serving in the armed forces,” Carroll said while overseeing a recent TAPS event for nearly 50 surviving children held at the U.S. Naval Academy.  “We are the families helping the families heal.”

“Grief isn’t a mental illness,” she continued. “It isn’t something you can take a pill for or put a splint over. Grief is a wound of the heart, and there’s no one better to provide that healing than those who’ve walked this journey and are now trained to help the bereaved. And as they help others they continue their own process of healing.”

Carroll pointed out that TAPS has strong relationships and formalized memorandums of understanding with all of the Pentagon’s branches of services but that the mission of assisting survivors is best done by a private organization and not a government bureaucracy.

“We have protocols in place so that when a family member dies, the families are told that TAPS exists,” Carroll said. “They will not be alone.”

That wasn’t always the case. For the first three years of TAPS’ existence the organization had trouble breaking through the mazes that surrounded the entrenched (and generally ineffective) agencies charged with dealing with the families of the fallen.

That changed dramatically in 1997 after the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. John Shalikashvili, attended a TAPS gathering. “Hearing the stories and seeing the healing taking place was a game changer for him,” Carroll said. “When he got up to speak he said, ‘I really didn’t get it until I was here tonight. I didn’t realize how powerful this organization is.'”

And most importantly with respect to DoD’s responsibilities, the general said, “We can’t do for you what you must do for each other.”

Shalikashvilli went on to speak about the loss of his first wife 25 years earlier, which caused his second wife to lean over to Carroll and remark, “He’s never talked about this in public before.”

“In a room where he felt so safe, where he felt like he was in a place where you could share without judgment, he opened up,” Carroll said. “He got it.”

Shalikashvili went to the Joint Chiefs the following week and directed every branch of the service to connect with TAPS.

“We walk alongside the casualty officers,” Carroll said. “When they knock on the door, when they brief families on the benefits, they let the families know that there will always be comfort and care for them.”

The utility of TAPS was made evident on 9-11 when they moved into the space in the Sheraton across from the Pentagon where the FBI had been gathering forensic evidence. “As hope faded of finding remains, TAPS very quietly moved in,” Carroll said. “We were there for six weeks with peers to provide support for the families.”

On the day the family support center closed – all the remains that could be identified had been so, and some families would be going home without resolution – the general in charge said, “We are headed into war and don’t know what lies ahead.” He pointed to the TAPS staffers dressed in red shirts along the conference room’s back wall. “For those in the room who have lost loved ones, the red shirts will be there forever.”

“It was a wonderful hand off,” Carroll said. “Many of those families are still with us today.”

With a small percentage of Americans actually associated directly with the military, TAPS’ role has also been to educate a disengaged public. Carroll told an anecdote about a young boy who refused to wear anything to elementary school but the jeans he was given by his older brother – a soldier who was killed in combat shortly thereafter. The boy’s teacher sent a note home telling the mother that he would be sent home if he didn’t wear something besides those jeans. The mother was emotionally upset and unsure how to react, so she reached out to TAPS for advice.

“We contacted the school’s principal and suggested he help us educate the teacher on how to better deal with the child’s situation,” Carroll said. “We also recommended the teacher allow the boy to do a ‘show and tell’ to the class about his brother and his dedication and sacrifice.” The school took the TAPS staff advice and the situation improved for all parties – civilians and survivors – after that.

TAPS has a core staff of 77 people running seminars, a national help line, doing case work, and facilitating “Good Grief” camps (the organization’s signature offering). Ninety-two percent of the full-time staff are survivors of fallen warriors. The staff is supplemented by more than 50,000 volunteers nationwide.

On this day at the Naval Academy, surviving children team up with midshipmen mentors and do team building exercises in Halsey Fieldhouse and then break into smaller groups for discussions about loss and healing.

“One of my good friends lost her brother in Afghanistan,” Midshipman 4th Class Kyle McCullough, a member of the Midshipmen Action Group, said. “She told me about TAPS and how they helped her through a rough time with her family. When I heard [TAPS] was coming to the Naval Academy I jumped on the opportunity to come out and volunteer.”

For more information on the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors go to taps.org or call the toll-free TAPS resource and information helpline at 800-959-TAPS (8277).

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Commissioner Gordon From ‘Batman’ Is An Army Veteran

The extended promo for the new FOX series “Gotham” was recently released, and star Benjamin McKenzie hints at something to pay attention to: “That was war.”


I have long been a fan of Batman, and ever since my caped PJs as a kid, the Dark Knight still permeates my imaginatively geeky brain. But watching the trailer this week brought something to my attention that I’ve never caught before: Jim Gordon is a war veteran.

Also Read: These Military Veterans Created Your Favorite Comic Books

Was this just FOX’s attempt to market to the large and loyal military community? I did a little digging and it turns out that Commissioner Gordon was, in fact, U.S. Army Special Forces.

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war

Frank Miller’s 1987 storyline Batman: Year One follows Gordon’s transfer back to Gotham after 15 years in Chicago. He’s a man of integrity – which to my knowledge is in keeping with most Gordon depictions over time – and therefore doesn’t deputize Batman’s vigilante character.

But the Dark Knight is the only ally Gordon has against mob-controlled governance and a corrupt police department. So he keeps their partnership discrete. I imagine Gordon’s Special Forces history sheds light on his tolerance and understanding of the need for the Dark Knight, in the shadows, doing what simply needs to be done. Because in all the corruption and politics, who else is going to do it?

The reality is that Gordon is a character of moral regard and much more self-sufficient than modernized retellings have credited him with. He’s capable of hand-to-hand combat, facing off against corrupt fellow officers in his department. He’s as capable of violence as he is just. And together, he and Batman clean house in Gotham PD, quickly rising from Lieutenant to the infamous Commissioner we know and love.

So here’s to FOX for catching a key character attribute: veterans as civil assets. Gordon isn’t an over-praised war hero or a helpless charity case. He’s a cop. And he’s one of the good ones. If the trailer is any indication of Benjamin McKenzie’s incarnation, we have much to look forward to.

Season 1 of “The Origin Story” premiered Monday, September 22nd at 8pm.

NOW: This Group Works To Salvage Good From The Ultimate Tragedy Of War 

OR: This Remarkable Video Shows What It’s Like For Medevac Crews To Rescue Troops Under Fire

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why these morale patches caught the Navy’s attention

One of the best things about the military is its subculture and sense of humor. If you give any group in the military any leeway at all in regard to uniform wear, even the slightest bit, the chances are good that they’ll make jokes out of it. One such tradition is the morale patch. Usually worn during deployments and on aircrew, the morale patch is worn solely by the designation of a unit commander. They often make fun of some of the worst, most boring, or most defining aspects of a career field.

Recently, some Naval aviators got into hot water by wearing patches that may have been a little too close to political.


This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war

It’s not as if this is the military’s first Trump joke.

Many of the best morale patches often have a pop culture element to them. Some of them may have some kind of inside joke, or technical jargon. In the patch above, for example, a UARRSI is part of an aircraft’s in-flight refueling apparatus, specifically on the receiving end.

Related: 13 of the best military morale patches

Unfortunately for the Navy aircrew sporting the red patch and the “Make (blank) Great Again” joke, using an image of the President’s 2016 campaign slogan might be a little too political for the Navy’s top brass, with or without the “p*ssy” joke the Air Force used in the second patch above. No matter what the reason, the military is increasingly concerned about U.S. troops and their acts of political affiliation in uniform.

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war

Trump signed signature red “MAGA” hats for deployed troops during a New Years visit in 2018. What concerned brass then was that the White House didn’t distribute the hats, troops already brought them.

The Pentagon’s Uniform Code of Military Justice states “active duty personnel may not engage in partisan political activities and all military personnel should avoid the inference that their political activities imply or appear to imply DoD sponsorship, approval, or endorsement of a political candidate, campaign, or cause.” This expressed line may be the cause of the Navy’s ire with the red Trump aircrew patch.

More: 13 more awesome military morale patches from around the service

It’s possible that the aircrews were making a political statement, but it’s much more likely that the reference to the President and his 2016 campaign slogan is a pop culture one. Trump’s revival of the old 1980 Reagan election theme has permeated American culture since Trump adopted it and made it his own. Even the President’s detractors use some variation of the MAGA line to insult the President and his policies.

The problem is this time, U.S. troops were seen by members of the media sporting the patches during an official Trump visit to the USS Wasp in Tokyo Bay. The image of troops wearing the patch went viral, and people who don’t seem to know about the morale patch tradition called it “more than patriotism” and “inappropriate.”

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war

President Trump delivers a Memorial Day speech aboard the USS Wasp.

(U.S. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Shorter)

The Navy downplayed the patches officially, calling them “old news” but acknowledged it was conducting an inquiry to determine if the move was an overtly political act.

Articles

The US military took these incredible photos in just one week-long period

The military has very talented photographers in its ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. This is the best of what they shot this week:


AIR FORCE

Soldiers from the 193rd Infantry Brigade join Airmen from the 26th Special Tactics Squadron to execute a parachute jump as a part of exercise Emerald Warrior at Melrose Air Force Range, N.M.

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war
Photo: Airman 1st Class Shelby Kay-Fantozzi

A U.S. Air Force combat controller jumps out of an MC-130J Combat Shadow II during Emerald Warrior 2015 at Hurlburt Field, Fla.

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war
Photo: Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/USAF

NAVY

USS Freedom (LCS 1) pulls alongside USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) in preparation for a replenishment at sea training exercise.

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war
Photo: Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Ignacio D. Perez/USN

Air department Sailors stretch out the emergency crash barricade on the flight deck aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) during a general quarters drill.

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class E. T. Miller/USN

ARMY

Security Forces Squadron members of the 106th Rescue Wing conduct night-firing training at the Suffolk County Police Range in Westhampton Beach, N.Y., May 7, 2015. During this training, the airmen learned small-group tactics, how to use their night-vision gear, and trained with visible and infrared designators.

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war
Photo: Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Muncy/US Army

Army combat divers, assigned to The National Guard‘s 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne), maneuver their Zodiac inflatable boat through the surf at Naval Station Mayport, Florida.

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war
Photo: Staff Sgt. Adam Fischman/US Army

MARINE CORPS

KIN BLUE, Okinawa, Japan – Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force scout swimmers emerge out of the ocean and run to the beach during the Japanese Observer Exchange Program.

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war
Photo: Cpl. Ryan C. Mains/USMC

A Marine surveys land from a UH-1Y Huey as part of a reconnaissance mission in Nepal, May 4, 2015. Marines with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469, Marine Air Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force/Marine Corps Installations Pacific provided the UH-1Y Huey to support the Nepalese government in relief efforts.

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war
Photo: Lance Cpl. Mandaline Hatch/USMC

Marines assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division brace themselves against rotor wash from a CH-53E Super Stallion during Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course (WTI) 2-15 at Del Valle Park, The Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, California.

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war
Photo: Lance Cpl. Jodson B. Graves/USMC

COAST GUARD

A beautiful start to another weekend of Service to Nation for Coast Guard crews!

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war
Photo: USCG

U.S. Coast Guard Great Lakes crews partner withRoyal Canadian Mounted Police to ensure safety and security on the Great Lakes through the ‘Shiprider’ program.

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war
Photo: USCG

NOW: More military photos

OR: The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Articles

‘American Sniper’ Is A Must-See Film That Brilliantly Honors The Memory Of Chris Kyle

“American Sniper” opens looking down the barrel of a military sniper rifle. The view moves in close to reveal the bearded face of Chris Kyle (played by Bradley Cooper) behind the scope. He watches U.S. Marines below him searching houses before spotting an Iraqi mother and a young boy.


“She’s got an RKG Russian grenade, she’s handing it to the kid,” he says. And with that the audience enters the sniper’s world of split-second decisions. Will he kill a child in order to protect Marines?

Director Clint Eastwood interrupts the opening tension and goes back to Kyle’s childhood in Texas. He grows up, he attends school, he becomes a bull-riding cowboy.

Then he watches news coverage of the twin bombings of the U.S. embassies in Africa. The young Kyle is compelled to do something about it, and he decides to join the Navy to become a SEAL.

Eastwood doesn’t linger on these scenes for long. In short order Kyle finds himself an elite Navy SEAL sniper in Iraq with a his pregnant wife (played by Sienna Miller) waiting for him stateside.

The movie follows the Iraq war from Kyle’s perspective, often behind the scope of his rifle. There are plenty of action sequences, and all come off as accurate and authentic. The technical details of sniper life are meticulously captured.  But where the movie really shines is in the realistic portrayal of Kyle’s post-traumatic stress as it grows over his four tours to Iraq.

Military movies have a tendency to give a cartoonish view of the “damaged veteran” coming home from the war and losing it (“Brothers” comes to mind), but screenwriter Jason Hall and director Eastwood manage to avoid a similar outcome. And Cooper handles both the subtleties and the chaos of the warrior’s mind with a deft touch. No cliches here.

Watch WATM’s exclusive one-on-one interview with “American Sniper” screenwriter Jason Hall:

In “American Sniper,” we see a heroic man who endures terrible trauma in war, and like many, he’s affected by it. He’s distant, doesn’t really want to talk about what he’s done, and has problems connecting with his loved ones. A similar story plays out among real veterans with PTSD.

With the film’s more accurate portrayal of PTSD in Kyle, viewers are allowed to see how specific events — including another time later in the movie where Kyle has to decide whether to shoot and kill a child — end up shaping him as not only the deadliest American sniper, but also a man deeply affected by what he had to do.

Cooper’s brilliant portrayal will serve the uninitiated with a realistic look at post-traumatic stress and its affect on some veterans. Viewers will see that Kyle had problems, but ultimately he was able to manage it and become a better husband and father in the process.

With countless Marines saved by his efforts while watching over them in Iraq, the now-discharged Kyle meets with a Marine he’s trying to help overcome PTSD. And as we know, Kyle’s story doesn’t close on an uplifting note as he is murdered at a Texas gun range in Feb. 2013.

It’s a sad (and perhaps too abrupt) closing to an incredible film, but it serves Kyle’s legacy well. He lived and ultimately died trying to save lives.

Overall “American Sniper” is a very well-done war film, and Bradley Cooper brilliantly captures the essence of Chris Kyle.

MIGHTY TRENDING

NATO addresses Russian ‘military build-up,’ situation In Afghanistan

NATO foreign ministers concluded a two-day meeting on December 2 that paves the path for reforms within the transatlantic alliance as it faces twin challenges from Russia and China, as well as key decisions about the situation Afghanistan.

The meeting, held via videolink as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus, discussed how the alliance must adapt to new threats, including “persistently aggressive Russia” and “the rise of China.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on December 1 told reporters that the ministers discussed the Russian “military build-up” around the alliance and the mission in Afghanistan.

The Western military alliance “will have to take some hard decisions” about the mission when NATO defense ministers meet in February, he said.

A 67-page expert group report outlining suggestions about how to reboot the alliance noted that while NATO faced one big threat during the Cold War, it now faces two “systemic rivals” — Russia and China — along with “the enduring threat of terrorism.”

Speaking to reporters, Stoltenberg said the ministers discussed “Russia’s continued military build-up in our neighborhood, as well as arms control.”

He said NATO is adapting its deterrence posture “to address Russia’s destabilizing actions,” but the ministers agree that they must continue to pursue dialogue with Russia.

They also expressed support for preserving limitations of nuclear weapons and for developing a more comprehensive arms control regime, and welcomed talks between Russia and the United States ahead of the expiration of their bilateral New START treaty in February.

“We should not find ourselves in a situation where there is no agreement regulating the number of nuclear warheads,” he said.

The ministerial also included a meeting with the foreign ministers of Georgia and Ukraine on security in the Black Sea region and NATO’s continued support to both partners.

Foreign ministers also discussed developments in Belarus following nearly four months of pro-democracy protests and the situation in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh in the wake of a Russian-brokered peace deal that ended 44 days of fierce fighting between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces.

On Afghanistan, Stoltenberg said NATO supports the peace process while remaining committed to the mission to help fight terrorism.

But he added: “As we continue to assess the situation in Afghanistan, it is clear that we will face a turning point early next year.”

The security alliance risks an even longer-term engagement if the NATO mission stays in Afghanistan, and if it leaves there is a risk that it will become a safe haven for international terrorists again, Stoltenberg said.

“So, there is a price for staying longer, but there is also a price for leaving too soon,” he said.

NATO now has about 11,000 troops from dozens of countries stationed in Afghanistan. Their mandate is to help train and advise Afghanistan’s security forces.

But the presence of U.S. forces, which NATO relies on for air support, transport, and logistics, is scheduled to shrink by 2,000 troops to 2,500 by January 15.

Under a peace deal reached between the United States and the Taliban, all foreign troops should leave Afghanistan by May 1, 2021 if security conditions on the ground permit.

The policy report also suggested the Western military alliance find a way to stop individual countries vetoing policy decisions, as Hungary has done over plans for a deeper partnership with non-NATO member Ukraine.

Other recommendations included creating a consultative body to coordinate broader, Western policy toward China, holding summits with European Union leaders, and giving the secretary-general more power over personnel and budgets.

“NATO needs a strong political dimension to match its military adaptation,” according to the report, whose suggestions are not binding.

The document is to be presented to NATO leaders at a summit planned for next year. They could be included in an update to NATO’s Strategic Concept document, which dates from 2010 and sought to consider Russia as a partner.

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

Articles

This is why the military shouldn’t completely outlaw hazing

One of the best things about serving in the military is the camaraderie built with the men and women we serve beside. We depend on each other when we’re away from home, missing our families, and even fighting for our lives.


That’s why trust among service members is so important. And what better way to build trust than to eff with the new guy/gal?

More: This is why officers should just stay in the office

It might sound counterintuitive, but it works. An initiation rite is a way to challenge someone new in a safe but hilarious way and see how they handle tough situations. An added bonus, as in Jesse Iwuji’s case, is that it also communicates that there’s some fun to be had.

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war
Butterbars, am I right? (No Sh*t There I Was Screenshot)

As the junior ranking officer on his first ship fresh out of the Naval Academy, Iwuji was the perfect target. Check out this episode of No Sh*t There I Was to see how Iwuji handled his task of “lowering the mast” of the USS Warrior…

Leave a comment and tell us your favorite stories of messing with the newest person to the team.

Watch more No Sh*t There I Was:

Smooth talking your way through gear turn-in is a stinky proposition

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like

That time Linda Hamilton asked a Marine to the ball

This is a perfect example of how ridiculous boot camp is

Articles

This is how the Growler disables an enemy’s air defense system

In modern air warfare, having the biggest caliber machine guns or the best heat-seeking missiles around may not be the only reason a pilot wins a dogfight.


When a mission requires the opponent’s air defense system to be rendered useless so allied forces can get into enemy territory undetected, the EA-18G Growler gets called up.

Related: Here’s how the EA-6B Prowler rules the skies

The Growler is a key factor in every attack squadron because of its ability to shut down ground radar with electronic jamming.

It’s equipped with receivers built on to each wing tip which search for radar signals to locate the enemy’s surface-to-air missile systems.

Inside the cockpit, the Weapon Systems Officer monitors the computer system that scans, analyzes and decides whether the signals it picks up are either friend or foe.

If a threat is detected, the Growler activates one of three jamming pods stored underneath the jet’s centerline that overwhelms the ground radar by sending out electronic noise allowing coalition aircraft to sneak by undetected.

Also Read: This bomber made the B-52 look puny

But it doesn’t just jam the enemy’s radar, it also has the capability of delivering physical destruction as well.

The Growler comes equipped with an attack missile called “HARM” which stands for “high-speed anti-radiation missile.” Once this rocket is launched, it locks in on the ground radar’s electronic signal and explodes directly over its intended target.

The Growler’s impressive systems can locate, jam, and destroy enemy radar in under a minute.

Check out the Smithsonian Channel‘s video below to see the EA-18G Growler work for yourself.

(Smithsonian Channel, YouTube)
MIGHTY TRENDING

The Taliban keeps blocking NATO peacemaking efforts

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Taliban bases in Pakistan pose a “big challenge” to efforts aimed at bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan.


Stoltenberg told reporters Nov. 7 at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels that he regularly raises the issue in meetings with Pakistani leaders and will continue to do so.

“We have to address the big challenge that [the] Taliban, the insurgents are working also out of bases in Pakistan. And we have raised that several times. It is extremely important that all countries in the region support efforts of the Afghan national unity government and that no country provide any kind of sanctuary for the terrorists,” said the NATO chief.

Stoltenberg insisted if regional countries deny sanctuaries to insurgents the fight against the Taliban and terrorist groups in Afghanistan “will gain so much.”

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. (Photo by Magnus Fröderberg/norden.org)

He spoke just hours after a top Pakistani Foreign Ministry official again rejected allegations terrorists are operating out of her country.

Pakistan denies presence of safe havens

Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, while briefing a parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, said Islamabad told Washington in recent high-level bilateral talks that all areas in Pakistan have been cleared of terrorists.

Related: Things you need to know about al Qaeda, ISIS, and the Taliban

Janjua reiterated Pakistani forces will take immediate action if the United States provides “actionable intelligence” regarding the presence of terrorists in the country. She went on to assert terrorists are operating not out of Pakistan, but from across the Afghan border.

“In Afghanistan, 45 percent of the country is not under government control, which is why the Haqqani network and other terror groups do not need a safe haven in Pakistan,” Janjua said.

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war
Afghan National Police working in Kandahar Province’s Maruf district participate in training with members of Special Operations Task Force – South in Maruf, Afghanistan, Jan. 13, 2011.

NATO to boost support for Afghanistan

Stoltenberg reiterated NATO will continue and strengthen its financial and military training support to Afghanistan, saying the number of foreign troops in the country will be increased from currently around 13,000 to a new level of around 16,000 troops.

“We will not go back in combat operations, but we need to strengthen the train and assist and advise mission, the Resolute Support mission, to help the Afghans break the stalemate, to send a clear message to the Taliban, to the insurgents that they will not win on the battleground,” asserted Stoltenberg.

The only way the Taliban can achieve anything, he noted, is by sitting down at the negotiating table and be part of a peaceful negotiated political solution to the Afghan war.

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war
US, Czech, and Georgian soldiers receive a mission brief before conducting a security patrol led by Afghan soldiers in Parwan province, Afghanistan, May 8, 2015. (Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class David Wheeler)

The Islamist insurgency, however, has refused to engage in talks until all foreign forces withdraw from Afghanistan. The Taliban has instead intensified its attacks against Afghan security forces, particularly since US President Donald Trump announced his new strategy for breaking the military stalemate in Afghanistan.

Insurgent attacks on Afghan forces have killed hundreds of army and police personnel in recent weeks.

Articles

The Philippine military has wiped out an ISIS training camp

ISIS-linked militants in the Southern Philippines have conducted a series of violent clashes with government forces, killing at least 7 soldiers but suffering the loss of over a dozen fighters.


This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war
Philippine Marines train on automatic weapons in classes from the US Marine Corps. Photo: US Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jerome S. Tayborn

The militants come from at least three separate groups that have pledged allegiance to ISIS. One of the smaller groups launched an attack on a small army outpost on Mindinao, an island in the southern Philippines. The Philippine Army repelled the attack and then countered, killing 12 militants but losing six of their own soldiers.

The counterattack was aimed at an ISIS training camp. ISIS flags have been flying at camps on Mindinao for months, but it’s not clear if these are new camps or just new flags.

In fighting with other ISIS-aligned groups, including the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, the Philippine Forces lost another soldier but killed an unknown number of militants.

The group Abu Sayyaf was routed in Dec. 2015 when 300 Philippine soldiers with artillery and air support attacked the main camps and killed their leader, Najib Hussein. But, they’ve continued to attack government positions throughout the south.

“[Islamic State] influence is growing stronger and it is expanding,” Rodolfo Mendoza, a senior analyst at the Manila-based Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research told AFP.

Despite Philippine forces finding ISIS flags, bandanas, and other items on the battlefield, other experts assert that the Philippine groups’ allegiance to ISIS is just a ploy for the Islamic State’s money and weapons.

“It really has nothing to do with ideology,” Zachary Abuza, a professor at the National War College, told reporters. “This is all about resources.”

The groups involved in the worst of the fighting have existed for years longer than ISIS, and their violence has been going on for years.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 things you should know about Marine Corps Martial Arts Program

Marines are known for their proficiency in fighting, but not many people know that they’ve developed their own hand-to-hand fighting system, called the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. MCMAP combines several different styles with close-quarters combat techniques and Marine Corps philosophies to create something new.


While many, varying opinions exist on the program, it’s important to understand one simple thing: it’s only as effective as its wielder. In short, if you weren’t any good at fighting before you learned MCMAP, you’re still not going to be much good after you earn that tan belt.

So, for all of you who have no idea what MCMAP is all about, here are the broad strokes:

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war

A Martial Arts Instructor-Trainer demonstrates an arm bar.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Reece E. Lodder)

It’s comprised of several different fighting styles. 

Seventeen styles, to be exact. That’s right, seventeen different fighting styles cultivated from around the world were pulled together to create MCMAP. It includes techniques borrowed from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Taekwondo, and Krav Maga to name a few. Keep in mind, however, specific techniques were pulled from each and then adapted to be applicable for Marines in combat.

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war

A green belt with a tan Martial Arts Instructor tab.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Dylan M. Bowyer)

There are five belt levels

Before you walk across the parade deck at MCRD, you will earn your entry-level, tan belt. The other belt levels are, in ascending order, gray, green, brown, and black. A black belt, as in other martial arts, has varying degrees — 6, in the case of MCMAP. While most of the belt levels can be the subject of mockery, we highly recommend you don’t mess with a black belt.

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war

Sometimes you get a lecture, sometimes you run across base.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Melissa Wenger)

You learn about more than just fighting

MCMAP is also about studying warrior ethos and understanding that fighting is not just throwing a better punch than your opponent. To quote Marine Corps Order 1500.54A, which officially established the program in 2002,

“MCMAP is a synergy of mental, character, and physical disciplines with application across the full spectrum of violence.”
This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war

If you’re a grunt, you’ll likely be forced to ground-fight in rain.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Infantry Marines are generally required to earn a green belt

Or at least a gray belt. Typically, if a commander sees there’s open space in the training schedule and the armory is too busy to make you stand in line for 3 hours, you’ll be ordered to practice MCMAP. Most grunts earn their gray belt by the end of their first pre-deployment training cycle. Some are required to earn their green by the end of their second.

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war

The red tab indicates an MAIT.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Reece E. Lodder)

There are different types of instructors

There are Martial Arts Instructors then there are Martial Arts Instructor-Trainers. The main difference is a standard MAI can train other Marines to “belt up,” while an MAIT can train a Marine, whose belt level is at least green, to become an instructor.

To become an MAI, you must attend the grueling and unforgiving Martial Arts Instructor Course. To become an MAIT, you must attend the even more painful, more advanced Martial Arts Instructor-Trainer Course. Either way, your soul will never be the same.

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This soldier fought for pro-Russian separatists before joining the US Army

A former Russian-backed separatist in Eastern Ukraine recently completed U.S. Army training, Thomas Gibbons-Neff of the Washington Post reported Monday.


The 29 year old French-American citizen, Guillaume Cuvelier, reportedly spent his youth in the French far-right before going to Eastern Ukraine in 2014. During his childhood in France, he was a member of a neo-fascist group that broke from the National Front. The association presumably fostered his anti-European union views.

Cuvelier’s assumed the militant name Lenormand and fought for the Donetsk People’s Republic, a separatist region of Eastern Ukraine sponsored by the Russian government. A photo WaPo reviewed shows him standing shoulder to shoulder with a militant accused of orchestrating the shoot-down of Malaysian Flight 17.

After arriving in Ukraine, he also set up a unit that declared France is “a slave of the American Empire” and the NATO alliance is a “terrorist military alliance.” Cuvelier appeared to change his tune after going to fight with U.S. backed Kurdish militias in Iraq in 2015. He was eventually kicked out for beating a fellow American volunteer with a rifle. He then made his way to the U.S. to join the Army.

His status in the U.S. military is currently under review “to ensure the process used to enlist this individual followed all of the required standards and procedure,” according to a U.S. Army spokesman’s statement to WaPo.

When confronted with his lurid past, Cuvelier pleaded with Gibbons-Neff not to publish the story saying, “I realized I like this country, its way of life and its Constitution enough to defend it.” He continued, “By publishing a story on me, you are jeopardizing my career and rendering a great service to anyone trying to embarrass the Army. My former Russian comrades would love it. … so, I please ask you to reconsider using my name and/or photo.”

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7 special operations forces the military really needs

America’s operators are the best in the world, but they’re focused on kicking down doors, killing terrorists, and training allies.


Special Operations Command could use more flexibility, especially when it comes to future fights. Here are 7 new special operations units America needs:

1. Chairborne Rangers

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sandra M. Palumbo

As drones become more advanced, infantry robots will eventually reach the battlefield. Chairborne Rangers are the best Call of Duty players, honed into living weapons. They controls those bots and exist off energy drinks, potato chips, and enabling parents.

2. Schmuckatelli Recovery Group

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war
Photo: US Army Spc. Justin Young

This one is pretty simple. When “Schmuckatelli,” “Joe Schmoe,” or other lackluster troops get themselves locked up in jail or a Tijuana dungeon, the SRG swoops in on black helicopters to rescue them, by force if necessary.

3. Nuptial Prevention Service

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war
Photo: US Air Force Cpt. Angela Webb

The NPS interrupts weddings between troops and anyone they’ve known for less than 72 hours. They’re focused on unions where the potential spouse is a stripper or the service member is deploying within two weeks.

4. Expeditionary PT Belt Deployment Team

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war
Photo Illustration: Logan Nye, WATM

When troops are under fire, conducting an assault, or just running on a dark street and find themselves without a reflective or glow belt, the Expeditionary PT Belt Deployment Team is there to lend a hand and 6 feet of reflective plastic.

5. Space Team 6

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war
Screenshot: Youtube/Fi Skirata

Space warfare is coming, and Space Team 6 supports NASA from staging platforms in orbit. They’d train constantly to remove space pirates from interstellar vessels, board asteroid mining rigs, and destroy alien queens.

6. 1st Special POGs Detachment

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war
Photo: US Marine Corps Sgt. Dustin D. March

The most elite admin soldiers, waterdogs, and geospatial engineers are honed into a filing force that could clear the VA backlog in minutes or create tasty water from the Kandahar Air Field poo pond with just a mosquito net and iodine tablets.

7. Keyboard Rangers Division

This group works to salvage good from the ultimate tragedy of war
Exactly as bad-ss as most keyboard rangers. Image: memegenerator.net

Honestly, the Keyboard Rangers Division is just a way to corral all those Facebook and reddit commenters who keep talking smack about killing ISIS but can’t find a recruiter’s office to save their lives. Keyboard Rangers would be given access to computers that look completely normal, but don’t broadcast to the outside world.

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