Here's how China's heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea - We Are The Mighty
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Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea

If you were wondering about why China didn’t bother to show up to that hearing at the Hague on their South China Sea island claims — when their boycott of the process only made the adverse ruling a guarantee — well, now you know why.


China, like Cersei Lannister from “Game of Thrones,” had no intention of accepting the consequences for their failure to take part.

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
China’s military installations in the South China Sea create a huge area that could possibly be turned into an air identification and defense zone. | CSIS ASIA MARITIME TRANSPARENCY INITIATIVE

According to reports from the Wall Street Journal and CBSNews.com, China has deployed weapons to at least seven of the artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea, despite a promise from Chinese president Xi Jingpin.

The report from the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative noted that satellite photos showed various anti-aircraft weapons on the islands. These join the 10,000-foot airstrips on the islands, which have operated J-11 Flankers. Two such locations in the Spratly Islands are Mischief Reef and Fiery Cross Reef, located about 650 nautical miles from the northernmost point of Hainan Island.

China has landed airliners on those islands – and if you can land airliners, you can land other sorts of heavy aircraft, like tankers, airborne radars, and H-6 Badger bombers like the one used to assert China’s “nine-dash line.”

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
Fiery Cross Reef air base. This air base and others could help bolster China’s aircraft carrier, the Liaonang. (Image taken from Google Earth)

In essence, China has turned these islands into unsinkable, albeit immobile, aircraft carriers. China’s J-15, for instance, has a combat radius of about 540 nautical miles, according to GlobalSecurity.org. By getting those unsinkable aircraft carriers, the J-15s (as well as J-11 and J-16 Flankers in the Chinese inventory) can now carry more weapons, and less fuel, and spend more time dogfighting their adversaries.

When combined with China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning, these bases greatly increase the striking power of the Chinese in the region. The Liaoning, like its sister ship, the Russian Admiral Kuznetsov, has a very limited aircraft capacity (about 18 Su-33 Flankers or MiG-29K Fulcrums for the Russian carrier, and a similar number of J-15 Flankers for the Chinese ship).

That alone cannot stand up to a United States Navy aircraft carrier (carrying 36 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and 10 F-35C Lightnings). The islands also provide alternate bases, to avoid those embarrassing splash landings that are common with the Kuznetsov.

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
Sukhoi Su-33 launching from the Admiral Kuznetsov in 2012. | Russian MoD Photo

However, these island bases, if each had a squadron of J-11, J-15 or J-16 Flankers, suddenly change the odds, especially if the Philippines refuse to host land-based fighters. Now, the Chinese could have a numerical advantage in the region against one carrier group, and inflict virtual attrition on the United States Navy.

The forward bases have caused concern from other countries, like the Philippines.

“It would mean that the Chinese are militarizing the area, which is not good,” the Philippine defense secretary told CBSNews.com.

The Philippines have been trying to modernize their forces, including with the recent purchase of a dozen KA-50 jets from South Korea, and the acquisition of second-hand Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters from the U.S. Coast Guard.

They still are badly out-classed by Chinese forces in the region.

The U.S. Navy has conducted freedom of navigation exercises in the South China Sea. In one of the recent operations, the USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) “conducted routine operations” while transiting the region, which is claimed by China. Navy surveillance and maritime patrol aircraft in the region had had a series of close calls with Chinese fighters, including an Aug. 2014 intercept where a J-11 came within 20 feet of a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon.

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) man the rails while pulling into Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, during a Naval Engagement Activity with the people of Vietnam, Oct. 2. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Allen Michael McNair)

Tensions with China increased when President-elect Donald Trump accepted a congratulatory phone call from Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen after winning the Nov. 8 presidential election. Trump had taken a tough line on trade with China during the campaign.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Watch these vets give their opinions about whether Hollywood gets the military right

WATM hosted groups of veterans to answer several questions about their time in the military. The vets kept it real when responding to topics ranging from relationships to recruiters.


In this episode, our group of veterans discusses whether or not Hollywood portrays the military accurately on the big screen.

Editor’s note: If you have ideas for questions that you’d like to see a group of veterans answer, please leave a comment below.

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Good news: Nuclear beer is safe to drink!

The first-ever detonation of a nuclear weapon occurred in the New Mexico desert on July 16, 1945. Just ten years later, the U.S. military conducted Operation Teapot, a series of fourteen nuclear explosions approved by President Eisenhower to test a few innovations in nuclear weapons, to make them more reliable, efficient, and compact.


Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea

They tested the effects of nukes on cratering, on aircraft, and one of the explosions, dubbed Project 32.2a, was used to determine the effect of atomic explosions on everyday things. Project 32.2a studied the effects of such an explosion on commercially packaged beverages – namely beer.

It may sound silly, but the researchers believed in the event of a nuclear war, the most widespread  source of potable fluids would be commercial beverages. We have to drink something after the nuclear apocalypse, after all. What is silly is that Teapot nuked the beverages twice, the first with a 20-kiloton yield and the second with a fifty percent increase.

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea

Both soft drinks and beers in bottles and cans survived both the blast and the air pressure as close to ground zero as 1270 feet. When the packaging did shatter, it was due to debris or collapsing structures. The researchers also tested the radiation levels of the beverages. The radiation level “was not great” in either drink and determined they were both safe to drink.

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
I mean… relatively.

Both could also be used as drinkable fluids in case of emergencies. The packaging of both drinks, however, showed much more induced radiation. The packaging actually protected what was inside.

Not The powers that be made sure some poor Joe, probably junior enlisted, took a drink just to make sure it tasted okay. Afer that, samples were sent to research labs. The taste results returned ranged from “commercial quality” to “definitely off.”

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
As if that would keep people from drinking found beer after the apocalypse.

For the sodas, the radiation turned the sucrose sugar into dextrose and levulose, a change that would happen to soda sitting on a shelf for six months anyway. All beverages retained their full carbonation, so look for irradiated beer at your next craft beer fair because hipsters are getting over PBR and no one is drinking nuked beer yet.

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
For the love of god, nuke them all.

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Here’s why the Army’s going to buy a lot of missiles and bombs next year

If Congress enacts the Trump administration’s 2018 budget request, many in the Army will be ecstatic. Weapons contractors, maybe not so much.


The $137.2 billion request ( $166.1 billion including overseas contingency operations funds) is up by 5 percent from a year ago. It would be the most money the Army has gotten since 2012.

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
Spc. Alan Yearby, assigned to 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, makes sketches of the terrain while manning a mortar fire position near Mosul, Iraq, Feb. 28, 2017. A global Coalition of more than 60 regional and international nations have joined together to enable partner forces to defeat ISIS. CJTF-OIR is the global Coalition to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alex Manne)

The budget is in tune with the priorities set by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis: Fix near-term readiness, but also make progress toward a more “modern, capable and lethal force,” said Army Budget Director Maj. Gen. Thomas A. Horlander.

The 2018 funding request is about “closing vulnerability gaps,” he said today at a Pentagon news conference. “This budget arrests Army readiness decline and sets conditions for future improvements.”

As expected, most of the money is going to personnel, operations and maintenance. The personnel account grows by $2.5 billion in 2018, and OM gets a $3.2 billion boost. Weapons modernization continues to be squeezed, with a modest increase of $600 million: procurement is slipping by $400 million but research and development is up by $1 billion from 2017.

Army personnel and readiness accounts increased significantly over 2017, while procurement declines slightly.

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea

Horlander ran through long list of modernization priorities, which mirror those cited in recent months by the Chief of Staff, Gen, Mark Milley, and senior Army leaders: Air and missile defense, long-range fires, munitions, mobility, active protection, protection of GPS navigation, electronic warfare, cyber warfare, communications and vertical lift. These capabilities are needed for the “A2/AD fight,” said Horlander, using the Pentagon’s codeword for Chinese and Russian weapons and tactics designed to deny U.S. forces their traditional advantages.

“Air missile defense and long-range fires are the most pressing capability needs,” Horlander said.

The budget, for instance, funds 131 Patriot missile modification kits, upgrades to the Avenger and Stinger air defense systems, 6,000 guided multiple-launch rockets, a 10-year service life extension for 121 expired ATACM surface-to-surface tactical missiles, 88,000 Hydra-70 rockets, 480 war reserve Excalibur precision-guided artillery rounds, and 998 Hellfire missiles.

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
(Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. John Portela)

The Army also seeks funds to overhaul and modernize the Holston ammunition plant in Tennessee. The RDTE request funds next-generations systems such as high-energy lasers. These are the type of weapons that will “enable the Army to retain advantage against advanced adversaries and address a broader range of threats, as well as deter or defeat near-peer adversaries,” said Horlander.

To fund a surge of missiles and munitions production, the Army has had to make tradeoffs. It cut Abrams modernization from 60 tanks last year to 20 in 2018. And aviation spending — helicopters and drones — drops from $5.2 billion last year to $4.5 billion.

Aircraft procurement dropped while missiles, tracked vehicles, and other weapons rose.

The major target of all these new munitions is the Russians, and the Army plans to continue spending big bucks on the European Reassurance Initiative, started by the Obama administration to shore up U.S. allies against an increasingly aggressive Russian posture. The 2018 OCO budget seeks $3.2 billion for ERI, a $400 million bump. The money would fund rotations of Army forces, including a full armored brigade, a combat aviation brigade, a divisional mission command element and logistics support units.

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
The Army’s budget is aimed in part at bolstering defenses against Russia.

The ERI and overall military support of European allies has become a rising concern on Capitol Hill. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry has directed thePentagon to study the cost of stationing Army brigades in Eastern Europe permanently, as opposed to rotating units there. “I’m not convinced it’s cheaper to rotate,” Thornberry said yesterday at the Brookings Institution. Rotations also create huge burdens on families, he said. Director of Force Structure, Resources and Assessment on the Joint Staff Lt. Gen. Anthony R. Ierardisaid the Pentagon has not begun to study that yet. “These are important questions we need to answer regarding ERI and our support of European allies,” he told me.

A growing concern going forward is how the Army will manage the elephant in its budget: its personnel account that continues to drain resources from everywhere else. With help fromCongress last year, the Army grew the active-duty ranks from 450,000 to 476,000. The addition of 26,000 troops inflates personnel costs by $2.8 billion per year. The kind of buildup that Trump has floated would bring 50,000 more soldiers into the force.

How would the Army cope financially? That’s a discussion now underway, said Horlander. After a strategic review is completed this summer, “we’ll have more information on what the true size of the force should be.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is why Yemen is a constant war zone

Yemen’s civil war has been raging since 2015 and has caused one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world, with more than 50,000 children dying so far this year, according to Save the Children.


Most died from hunger and disease, which has ravaged the poor Arab country, but many have been caught in the crossfire between the Saudi-backed government and Iran-backed rebel militant Houthis.

Tensions between the two groups hit a tipping point on Dec. 4 when Houthi rebels shot and killed Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
President George W. Bush welcomes Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh into the Oval office of the White House, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2005. (White House photo by Eric Draper)

Saleh, who held various positions of power in Yemen for 33 years, had been “playing factions off each other” for years, former Yemeni ambassador Mohamed Qubaty told Al Jazeera.

In May 2015, Saleh officially announced his alliance with the Houthis, and even helped them seize control of large land areas, including Yemen’s capital Sanaa.

But on Dec. 2, Saleh flipped his allegiance by offering to turn a “new page” with Houthi rival Saudi Arabia. He called the Houthis a “coup militia,” which they saw as the ultimate betrayal and the reason for his assassination.

Yet Saleh’s death is just the latest incident contributing to turbulent conditions in Yemen.

The Saudi-backed government first faced rebel Houthis in the 1990s

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
Houthi fighters in Yemen (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Yemen’s complex history is one of conflict and political rivalry that has continued for nearly a century.

The Houthi movement, officially known as Ansar Allah (translation: supporters of God), began in the 1990s as a theological movement that preached peace and tolerance in Yemen.

But in 2004, the group picked up arms and declared war on the government. An uprising occurred and government forces killed the Houthi’s leader.

Yemeni officials accused the Houthis and other Islamic opposition parties of trying to overthrow the government, but Houthi leaders dismissed the accusation and claimed they were defending themselves. They have long said they faced social and religious discrimination as well as political marginalization.

For the last decade, Houthi rebels and Yemeni government forces continued to clash periodically. Other factors, including an insurgence by a powerful Al Qaeda branch in Yemen and infighting between local tribes have fostered conflict and strife for years in the region.

Also Read: This is why Iran is smuggling boatloads of weapons into Yemen

A former Houthi spokesperson told local news in 2013 that the group’s ultimate goal is to build a “striving modern democracy” in Yemen.

Yemen’s presidents have struggled

In 2012, President Saleh stepped down and formally handed power over to his deputy, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, in an internationally brokered move to foster stability in the region.

Hadi struggled to keep Yemen afloat, which faced an increased presence of, and attacks by, Al Qaeda — some of which targeted government officials. Corruption was widespread and, at the same time, a third of the country lived below the poverty line and more than half were unemployed.

In 2014, the increasingly militant Houthis took advantage of Hadi’s struggling government and seized control of Yemen’s capital Sanaa.

A bloody civil war broke out.

A Saudi-led coalition supporting the government stepped in

Countries felt an international response was necessary.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia led a coalition of nine African and Middle East countries to intervene, backing President Hadi.

The coalition received logistical and intelligence support from the US and its allies, and launched air strikes targeting Houthi strongholds. It also implemented a naval blockade, limiting resources and aid into Yemen.

And a humanitarian crisis broke out

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
Yemen still has 350,000 displaced persons, although verifying this number is difficult.  (Image Julien Harneis, Flickr)

Since then, continued air strikes and the country’s tight blockade have affected lives in Yemen where it is nearly impossible for food, water and fuel to pass through.

According to UNICEF one child dies every 10 minutes from preventable causes like hunger and disease,

The United Nations has tried to broker peace agreements on several occasions, but with little success. In May, the UN’s envoy for Yemen told the security council that a peace deal was urgently needed, but confessed a deal was “not close” to being accepted by the warring sides who refuse to compromise.

In November, Saudi Arabia partially relaxed its crippling blockade to let aid deliveries through, but it had little effect on the country’s starving residents.

Relations deteriorated even further this week

On Dec. 2, former President Saleh offered to mediate the conflict and “turn a new page” with the Saudi-led coalition in exchange for stopping air strikes and ending the blockade that has crippled the country, according to the BBC.

However, Houthi rebels, who had formed an unlikely alliance with Saleh, saw the move as a “coup” against “an alliance he never believed in,” the BBC added.

Last weekend, a convoy Saleh was traveling in came under deadly fire from Houthi rebels. His death was confirmed on Dec. 4.

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
Sana’a in the wake of airstrikes. (Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Mr. Ibrahem)

What happens next?

With Saleh dead and his allied forces facing an intensified battle with Houthi fighters, the future of war-torn Yemen is uncertain, and hopes of putting an end to the bloody civil war look bleak.

According to analysts, the Saudi-led coalition’s fight against the increasingly brazen Houthis will likely intensify, Al Jazeera reported.

Joost Hiltermann, International Crisis Group’s Middle East program director, told Al Jazeera that the breakdown of the Houthi-Saleh alliance will “increase fragmentation and conflict by adding layers of revenge.”

Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi celebrated Saleh’s death as a victory against the Saudi-led coalition in which “the conspiracy of betrayal and treason failed.”

Saleh’s son, a potentially powerful figure in Yemen’s politically unstable climate, vowed on Dec. 5 to lead a campaign against the Houthi movement.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This WWII ace scored kills from every Axis country – and the US

Army Air Forces Lt. Col. Louis E. Curdes got a piece of every original signatory to the Axis Pact: Germany, Italy, and Japan. If that wasn’t outstanding enough, it’s how he got an American flag kill mark on his fuselage that earned him a place in military history — and maybe even the Distinguished Service Cross.



It’s not a mistake. The young, 20-something pilot earned every single one of his kill marks. He joined the Army Air Corps in 1942 at the age of 22 to fly planes against the Nazis. By 1943, he was a hotshot lieutenant scoring three kills against Nazi Messerschmidt Bf-109s, the workhorse of the German Luftwaffe, in his P-38 Lighting. That was ten days into his first assignment. Within the next month, he notched up two more kills, earning fighter “ace” status.

In August of that year, he ran into an Italian Macchi C.202 and shot that one down. Unfortunately, that was his last combat kill over Europe. He was shot down by Nazi pilots over Italy and captured by the Italians, resigning himself to spending the rest of the war in a POW camp.

But that didn’t happen. Italy capitulated a few days into Curdes’ internment.

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
Then-Lt. Louis E. Curdes.

Curdes was then sent to the Philippines and put behind the stick of the new P-51 Mustang fighter, going up against talented Japanese pilots. He was quickly able to shoot down a Japanese recon plane near the island of Formosa. His hat trick was complete, but that’s not where the story ends.

He and his plane, “Bad Angel,” were fighting over Japanese-held Bataan when his wingman was shot down over the Pacific. Soon after, he saw a C-47 transport plane, wheels-down, headed to land on the Japanese island. When he was unable to make radio contact, he tried to physically wave the transport off, but came up empty. So, rather than allow the American plane and its crew to be held prisoner by the Japanese, he used the option left: He shot them down over the ocean.

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
Baller.

Curdes skillfully took out one engine and then the other without blowing the entire cargo plane to bits. He was able to bring the C-47 down just yards from his downed wingman. Curdes returned to the site the next morning as an escort to an American “flying boat.” The pilot, crew, and its human cargo were completely intact.

Among the passengers he shot down was a nurse Curdes dated just the night before, a girl named Valorie — whom he later married. The story was rewritten by Air Force Col. Ken Tollefson in his book US Army Air Force Pilot Shoots Down Wife.

Internet legends say that he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for downing the unarmed cargo plane, but his citation was so ordered for actions while in the European Theater.

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
(Pima Air and Space Museum)

He still wins the best “How I Met Your Mother” story of all time, though. His P-51 named “Bad Angel” is in the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.

MIGHTY HISTORY

How Afghanistan got its bizarre panhandle

For a country that hasn’t been conquered since Tamerlane rolled through, Afghanistan has sure been shaped by all those who tried to control it. Today, there’s even a little strip of land in the country’s northeast that forms a panhandle – strange for such a small strip considering the major powers who fought for control of the area.


Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
Good luck getting there.

It was those major powers who created the panhandle in the first place. Today it borders China, Tajikistan, and Pakistan. But during a period of time in Afghan history known as “The Great Game,” those countries were parts of China, the Russian Empire, and the British Empire, respectively.

It was Britain’s way of containing a quickly-growing Russia.

A treaty between Russia and Great Britain in 1873 made the Panj and Pamir Rivers the border between the Russian Empire and Afghanistan’s northern border. In 1893, the Durand Line became Afghanistan’s border with British India. A mostly independent Afghanistan was a buffer zone between the two growing empires.

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
The red line through the center represents the British-imposed Durand Line.

The resulting narrow strip of land became known as the Wakhan Corridor.

It’s an area even more ungovernable than the rest of Afghanistan. At elevations as high as 17,000 feet in some areas, the area is inaccessible to most Afghans – and even the Taliban and the Soviet Union were unable (or unwilling) to fully move into the area.

The form of Islam practiced in the Wakhan is very hostile to the Taliban, a further explanation of the lack of central interference from Kabul.

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
A valley in the Wakhan Corridor.

The 3,500-mile area used to be a route along the Silk Road and was traversed by great historical figures like Alexander the Great and Marco Polo. People there still depend on trade, but this remote part of Afghanistan’s Badakhshan Province sees little in the way of tourists or even Afghan visitors.

Today the area has few roads, no government, and is home to roughly 12,000 nomadic and semi-nomadic people.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The coronavirus has spread to 3 US sailors aboard 3 different Navy warships

The coronavirus that causes the illness COVID-19 first appeared in central China but has since become a global pandemic, and it has infected three US sailors aboard three different Navy warships, the service said.


A Navy sailor assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer, at port in San Diego, California was the first sailor aboard a warship to be infected.

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea

Another sailor assigned to the USS Ralph Johnson, a guided-missile destroyer at port in Everett, Washington, tested positive on Monday, with another one assigned to the Littoral Combat Ship USS Coronado, at port in San Diego, testing positive Tuesday.

The three sailors are in isolation at home, as are individuals identified as having had close contact with them. Military health professionals are investigating whether or not others were exposed, and the ships are undergoing extensive cleaning.

The coronavirus has spread to more than 6,500 people and killed over 100 in the US. The number of US military personnel who have tested positive is significantly lower, but the virus continues to spread.

For the Navy, protecting its warships are a serious concern.

Last year, the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry experienced an unusual viral outbreak. Mumps hit the ship hard, infecting 28 people despite efforts to quarantine the infected and disinfect the vessel.

That was a vaccine-preventable illness. There is no available vaccine for the coronavirus, which has infected over 200,000 people and killed more than 8,000 worldwide. Sailors live in close proximity aboard Navy ships, and communicable diseases are easily transmittable.

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea

Navy ships are filled with personnel and are not exactly conducive to social distancing. The Boxer, for instance, can carry up to 1,200 sailors and 1,000 Marines.

Pacific Fleet is begging sailors to stay off ships if they feel unwell. “We don’t want sick sailors on our ships right now,” Cmdr. Ron Flanders, Naval Air Forces spokesman, told The San Diego Union-Tribune on Monday. “If sailors are feeling ill, they should notify their chain of command.”

While the service is taking this threat seriously, some questions have been raised about the Navy’s response to infections aboard warships.

Shortly after the revelation that a sailor aboard the Boxer had tested “presumptive positive” for the virus, military leaders gathered around 80 crew members into a small room for a half-hour meeting to discuss the importance of social distancing and other preventative practices, ProPublica reported Monday.

There have been other similar incidents.

Update: This piece has been updated to reflect the latest figures from the US Navy.

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

Articles

US special operators accidentally show off the gear used against ISIS

President Barack Obama announced that 250 more special forces troops would be sent to Syria to bolster U.S. efforts in the fight against ISIS. Their specific mission is not clear, but in neighboring Iraq, ground forces have provided fire support to Iraqi troops fighting to retake Mosul and have acted as advisors to Iraqi and Kurdish forces.


Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea

Meanwhile, the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command has conducted raids against ISIS in Syria, killing or capturing leaders of the terror group. In recent days, U.S. special operators were captured on video by France’s media outlet France24, as U.S. troops directed A-10 Thunderbolt strikes in support of Syrian Democratic Forces fighting to take the village of Shadadi from ISIS.

Shadadi is a border town that once served as the crossing point for ISIS fighter heading into neighboring Iraq. It was captured recently by Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units and Syrian Democratic Forces. The recapture took less than a week.

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea

The video keep the men’s identities secret, but shows the gear used against ISIS in the battle for the town. The small group of operators are seen carrying Remington’s Modular Sniper Rifle, an M-32 semiautomatic grenade launcher, and equipment that allows for them to call in airstrikes, acording to Twitter’s Abraxas Spa, who describes their feed as an “all-source analyst.”

 

One operator is using the Mk. 4 scope on a tripod while another is marking objects with the LA-16 laser marker. The LA-16 will guide bombs to targets on the ground using the handheld laser.

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea

The operators are also using a ROVER, Remote Operations Video Enhanced Receiver, which allows for troops on the ground to see a video feed of what aircraft overhead see. The Tactical ROVER-p can provide real-time imagery to a tablet.

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea

Articles

The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Memes, memes, memes! Here are the 13 funniest ones from around the military:


1. When the crew is tired of MREs, but first sergeant doesn’t understand:

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
Maybe drive through some mud on the way back.

2. The platoon isn’t scared of getting a little wet, are they?

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
What’s a 50-foot drop, then 50-foot climb among buddies?

SEE ALSO: These 8 TV characters would never survive in the real military

3. Elsa created an actual, functioning snowman (via Team Non-Rec).

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
You really thought she would never build an army?

4. Don’t be jealous, he had to turn the wrench a lot of times for those (via Sh-t my LPO says).

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
Sure, it was mostly because he turned it the wrong way the first dozen times, but still.

5. Remember to always keep your weapon pointed downrange and away from the cat (via Devil Dog Nation).

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
And don’t aim at your mom.

6. Next time a paratrooper calls someone a leg …

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
… remind them that the rest of the Army can’t get drug around by silk.

7. “Oh yeah? You ready to show me your life jackets now!?”

(via Coast Guard Memes)

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea

8. Marines do more with less, rah?

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
If you wanted armor, you should’ve joined the Army.

9. Reflective belts are always coming through in the clutch (via Air Force Nation).

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
They keep away bears, bullets, and now thieves, apparently.

10. The Air Force demands excellence of every recruit (via Air Force Memes Humor).

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
She can also do a better pull up than you, but maybe that’s why she joined the Marines.

11. Whenever the next Engineer Ball is held, I’d like tickets.

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
Not to the actual event, just the closing fireworks.

12. It’s chief’s least favorite dish (via Sh-t my LPO says).

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
Try it today with a side of sadness.

13. “You still have another foot before you hit the tree.”

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea

MIGHTY HISTORY

This WWII beer run was the greatest of all time

It took sixty five years for one member of the 101st Airborne Division Screaming Eagles to learn that his actions during the Battle of Bastogne were legendary, but not for heroism or bravery. It all started with a simple request for a beer – and the greatest beer run the world will ever see.


Vincent Speranza, Vince to all that know him, had joined the Army right after graduating high school in 1943 and was assigned to Company H, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne as a replacement soldier while the unit recovered from Operation Market-Garden.

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Shortly after training, Vince found himself in a foxhole in the middle of Bastogne, Belgium – cold, short on supplies, food, and ammunition. And surrounded by German troops.

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
A roadblock is set up with 30 caliber heavy machine gun, and a tank destroyer is ready for action near Bastogne, Belgium, Dec. 10, 1944.

“The first eight days we got pounded” by German artillery, he recalled. “But this was the 101st. They could not get past (us). They never set one foot in Bastogne.”

On the second day, his friend Joe Willis took shrapnel to both legs and was pulled back to a makeshift combat hospital inside a mostly destroyed church. Vince tracked him down and asked if there was anything he could do for his friend.

The answer was simple – Joe wanted a beer.

Also Read: This is how British pilots made beer runs for troops in Normandy

Vince told him it was impossible. The 101st was surrounded by Germans with no supplies coming in, they were taking artillery fire every day, and the town had been bombarded. But Joe wanted a beer.

Moving through the town, Vince, from blown-out tavern to blown-out tavern, went searching until serendipity hit. At the third tavern he hit, Vince pulled on a tap and beer came flowing out. He filled his helmet – the same one used as a makeshift shovel and Porta Potty in the foxhole – with all the beer he could handle and returned to the hospital.

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
Vincent Speranza with some bottles of Airborne Beer. (Photo from GI Jobs.)

Mission accomplished. Vince poured beer for Joe and some of those around him. When the beer ran out, they asked him to go for more.

As he returned to the hospital, Vince was confronted by a Major who demanded to know what he was doing.

“Giving aid and comfort to the wounded,” was the paratrooper’s simple answer.

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
Airborne Beer in action. (Photo from GI Jobs.)

An ass-chewing about the dangers of giving beer to men with gut and chest wounds lead to Vince putting his helmet back on his head, beer pouring down his uniform, and heading out.

While that could have been the end of it, the story continues 65 years later, when Vince returned to Bastogne for an anniversary celebration and learned that his epic beer run had been turned into Airborne beer, typically drunk out of a ceramic mug in the shape of a helmet.

Hear the story from the Airborne legend himself:

(Erminio Modesti | YouTube)
MIGHTY TRENDING

North Korea says Trump is ‘begging for war’

Tensions escalated along the Korean Peninsula early in December as U.S. stealth fighters prepared for a joint military drill with South Korea, with North Korea accusing the U.S. of having “nuclear war mania.”


North Korea made several statements about actions taken by the U.S. over the weekend.

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement, read on state TV, that President Donald Trump and his administration were “begging for nuclear war” by engaging in what the statement referred to as an “extremely dangerous nuclear gamble,” CNN reported.

The statement also said that if the Korean Peninsula and the world were to be pushed to nuclear war, the U.S. would be “fully responsible” because of its “reckless nuclear war mania.”

Read Also: F-35 fighters promise a powerful show of force for North Korea

Then, on Dec. 3rd, commentary run by state TV called the U.S.-South Korea joint air exercises a “dangerous provocation,” pushing the region “to the brink of a nuclear war,” according to CNN. North Korean media regularly threatens the U.S. and its allies and blames the U.S. for tensions on the peninsula.

The U.S. and its ally South Korea began their largest cooperative air exercise in history, dubbed Vigilant Ace, Dec. 4.

The U.S. Air Force said in a statement that F-22 and F-35 stealth jets had moved into South Korea over the weekend in preparation for the joint drill. About 230 aircraft and 12,000 U.S. personnel are expected to participate in the week-long exercise, which will include more stealth jets than ever before.

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea
Four U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II’s from the 34th Fighter Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, taxi down the runway at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 3, 2017, during exercise VIGILANT ACE 18. The annual exercise featured 12,000 U.S. personnel working alongside members of the Republic of Korea Air Force at eight U.S. and ROK military installations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Joshua Rosales)

According to the U.S. Air Force, the move is designed to boost the “combat effectiveness” of the alliance.

The White House national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said Dec. 2 the chances for nuclear war on the peninsula were growing, CNN reported.

“I think it’s increasing every day, which means that we are in a race, really, we are in a race to be able to solve this problem,” McMaster said in a conference in California, when asked whether North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile launch last week had increased the chance of war.

McMaster also said North Korea represented the “the greatest immediate threat to the United States.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

A U.S. service member has been killed in action in Afghanistan, the second American to die while supporting operations in the country in January 2019.

Officials with Operation Resolute Support announced Jan. 22, 2019, that the death of the service member, whose service branch was not identified, is under investigation.

It’s not clear where the service member was killed. Defense Department policy is not to release the names of those who died supporting combat operations until 24 hours after next-of-kin is notified.


This most recent death comes five days after Army Sgt. Sgt. Cameron Meddock, of the 75th Ranger Regiment, died from combat wounds at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany on Jan. 17, 2019. Meddock was shot during combat operations in Badghis province, Afghanistan, on Jan. 13, 2019.

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea

Sgt. Cameron A. Meddock, 26, of Spearman, Texas.

(U.S. Army Special Operations Command)

Earlier January 2019, Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan R. Farmer and Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon M. Kent were killed, along with an American DoD contractor and civilian worker, in a bombing in the northern Syrian town of Manbij. Three other American troops were wounded in the bombing.

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

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