Here's what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum - We Are The Mighty
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Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
(Photo: Ward Carroll)


Just over two weeks after the Commander-in-Chief Forum aired during prime time on NBC, IAVA chief Paul Rieckhoff is still recovering from the event, riding the high of having had a big hand in pulling it off but also weathering a substantial wave of social media criticism — much of it from fellow veterans — about how it fell short.

 

 

“What the critics don’t understand is events like this are a four-way negotiation,” Rieckhoff says over the phone while riding an Uber between Newark Airport and Manhattan after attending a “VetTogether” — a gathering of IAVA members — at comedienne Kathy Griffin’s home in Los Angeles. “It’s us, the network, and each of the candidates. Anybody can walk away at any time. Concessions are made on all sides to pull it off.”

Rieckhoff and his team started planning the forum about two years ago using Pastor Rick Warren’s “Conversation on Faith” as a model.

“He brought the candidates to his church one after another for a one-on-one conversation,” he says. “It was widely watched and really drove the issues front and center.”

The IAVA wishlist had a few key elements: It should take place around 9-11. It should take place in New York City “because of the media traction,” Rieckhoff says. And it should take place aboard the USS Intrepid, the retired aircraft carrier docked on the Hudson River at midtown.

They also knew it needed to happen before the final three debates.

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
(Photo: Ward Carroll)

“We’re politically savvy enough to know that’s it’s all about the art of the possible,” Rieckhoff says. “The idea that you’re going to get the candidates for three hours and get everything you want is not grounded in the reality of the landscape.

“The idea was straightforward,” he continues. “Bring together the candidates where vets could ask the questions on as big a stage as possible. Respect to the American Legion and VFW, but nobody watches their conventions but them.”

Two cable networks expressed interest in airing the event, but Rieckhoff held out for something bigger.

“It needed to be as big as possible in order to attract the candidates,” he says.

In early May NBC offered an hour in primetime. Another major network indicated interest but “dawdled,” as Rieckhoff puts it, so IAVA accepted NBC’s offer. Right before Memorial Day both candidates agreed to participate. But at that point, the work was only starting.

“It was a constant negotiation with the campaigns right up to the event itself,” Rieckhoff says. “They were always threatening to pull out if they didn’t get what they wanted.”

And among the negotiations was agreeing to who the host would be. IAVA made a few suggestions, NBC personalities with some experience in the defense and foreign policy realms. The network and campaigns came up with their own option.

“The campaigns preferred not to have hard-hitting questions, and NBC wanted somebody who’d resonate during primetime,” Rieckhoff says. “Suffice it to say Matt Lauer was not IAVA’s choice.”

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
(Photo: Ward Carroll)

But Matt Lauer got the nod, and for the first hour of the Commander-in-Chief Forum, he fumbled his way through the format, dedicating a disproportionate amount of time to issues other than those of critical importance to the military community. His poor performance in the eyes of viewers even spawned a hashtag: #LaueringTheBar.

 

 

“We would’ve like the opportunity to separate foreign policy from veteran’s policy,” Rieckhoff says. “Matt Lauer found that out the hard way.”

But beyond that Rieckhoff is pleased with the outcome of the forum.

“Plenty of folks may be criticizing the event or the host,” he says. “But the bottom line is every critic or whatever got an opportunity to talk about their perspective on the issues because this thing happened.”

The broadcast was viewed by 15 million people, and Rieckhoff believes that the overall impact needs to be framed in terms much bigger than that.

“The reach has to be considered beyond the ratings of the show itself,” he says. “It was the entire day prior, the day of, and at least one day afterward where every morning show, every newspaper, and every columnist was writing about vet issues.”

That sense is shared by IAVA board member Wayne Smith, an Army vet who served as a combat medic during the Vietnam War and went on to be one of the founders of the Vietnam Veterans of America. He was seated in the crowd during the forum.

“I come from a generation of war vets who had no voice for decades, who were rejected by vets from previous wars not to mention the nation at large,” Smith says. “I was blown away by the brilliance of this forum, this first time we had the undivided attention of both candidates. I hope this is the first of many.”

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6 ridiculous things POGs do at the range

Yes, #notallPOGs and all that. But seriously Persons Other than Grunts, the range rules aren’t that crazy. First, learn to safely handle your weapon. Second, learn to fire your weapon. And third, get off the range without embarrassing yourself.


Unfortunately, these 6 things manage to pop up every time POGs go to the range en masse:

1. Targets that look like they were hit with birdshot

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
Photo: U.S Army W.T.F! moments Facebook

“Are you changing your sight picture?”

“No, sergeant.”

“Shut up. Yes, you are.”

2. Truly baffling weapons malfunctions

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
When your soldier declares a weapons malfunction but his magazine is just empty.

The Army’s acronym for fixing weapon problems, O-SPORTS, is only effective against actual weapons malfunctions. It does little for operators who load their magazines upside down or don’t realize they can run out of ammunition.

3. So. many. safety. violations.

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
GIF: YouTube/Gigan2004

See how this guy lowers his weapon when some schoolchildren move in front of him? And he doesn’t have to be told to not point his weapon at something he doesn’t want to shoot? Yeah, it’s not very complicated, POGs. All weapons should be pointed up and downrange when they’re not being aimed at targets. Stop flagging each other on the range.

4. MRE Alternatives

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum

When infantry goes to the field, they bring MREs and possibly even sleeping systems and tents to stay out there for a few days. Some POGs will at least bring MREs while others … others make arrangements with a gut truck or ice cream van.

5. “Easter basket” helmets and other uniform violations

 

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
Yeah, you better buckle that chin strap, John Wayne. Photo: US Army Sgt. 1st Class Michel Sauret

Helmet chin straps dangling like the soldier is in a John Wayne movie, troops carrying helmets by the chin strap like it’s an Easter Basket, mirrored sunglasses, armor lacking rank insignia or name tapes, the potentially catastrophic uniform violations are everywhere. It’s all a sergeant major’s nightmare.

6. “Clean” weapons that will never be accepted by an armorer

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
Photo: US Army Pfc. Nathaniel Smith

POGs will always declare their weapon clean after 30 minutes and then be surprised when the armorer turns them away to re-clean before they can turn in. Have you cleaned the star chamber with pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until you went mildly crazy? Then it’s not clean yet.

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Admiral fired for watching porn didn’t realize how many hours he’d been at it

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum


Two months ago Rear Admiral Richard Williams was found guilty of violating orders and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman after evidence showed that he’d spent numerous hours viewing porn on a government computer during a training exercise aboard a Navy ship.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Williams implied during testimony that he didn’t start off with the intention of viewing porn but that he was drawn there by pop-up advertisements. “It started as pop-ups, but then I navigated,” Williams told investigators.

Data gathered during a routine computer sweep conducted by the Navy Information Operations Command showed that during the six days Williams was aboard the USS Boxer (LHD 4) in the summer of 2015 he watched four hours of porn. Later, in December, he was on the ship for five days and watched in five hours of porn.

When confronted with those stats Williams replied, “I didn’t know it was this much.”

Williams was serving as the commander of Carrier Strike Group 15 at the time of his infractions. He earned his commission in 1984 after graduating from the Rochester Institute of Technology and served as a surface warfare officer for much of his career.

Along with being removed from his post, Williams was also issued a punitive letter of reprimand, an extra level of discipline that indicates the Navy considers moral crimes more egregious than professional errors like running a ship aground or causing a collision at sea.

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Meet ‘Viper’ – the newest F-16 Fighter

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
Photo: Lockheed Martin


Meet the F-16V ‘Viper’ – the newest, most advanced fighter in the F-16 family that has just made its maiden flight.

The latest version of the F-16 introduces numerous cutting-edge enhancements.

Made by Lockheed Martin, the fourth-generation aircraft is often referred to as the Fighting Falcon. The F-16 can travel speeds faster than Mach 2 – that’s more than 1,500 mph. The aircraft is just under 50 feet long and has a wingspan of about 31 feet.

The F-16V flew with Northrop Grumman’s advanced APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) and Northrop’s Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) for the first time last week.

Northrop’s SABR AESA fire control radar provides next-gen air-to-ground and air-to-air radar capability. The technology supports countering advanced threats. These AESA radars are also used by the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II.

SABR works by scanning electronically, rather than mechanically. This helps reduce the need for moving parts. The receiver, exciter, and processor functions are all contained in one replaceable unit. According to Northrop calculations, their advances produce three to five times greater reliability than current fire control radar systems.

SABR’s electronically scanned beams mean faster area searches. This also means earlier detecting, tracking and identification of targets at longer ranges. All-weather targeting and situational awareness have all been enhanced.

“BIG SAR” is SABR’s Synthetic Aperture Radar capability for larger areas and high definition. This mode gives pilots remarkable detail of their target areas. The digital map displays can be tailored with slew and zoom.

The tech automatically scans SAR maps to exactly locate and classify targets.

Viper also features a new cockpit Center Pedestal Display, a more advanced mission computer and other mission systems enhancements. This tech is expected to give the aircraft a big leap in capability.

There are more than 4,550 F-16s supporting the U.S. military and its allies.

Ballet dancer turned defense specialist Allison Barrie has traveled around the world covering the military, terrorism, weapons advancements and life on the front line. You can reach her at wargames@foxnews.com or follow her on Twitter@Allison_Barrie.

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That time a group of officers got drunk and trashed Naval Aviation’s culture forever

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
It seemed like a good idea at the time, but this guy would grow to regret wearing this t-shirt.


The word “tailhook” didn’t always have a place in American pop culture infamy. There was a time when it simply referred to the piece of hardware under a Navy airplane that allowed it to stop by catching a wire strung across the aircraft carrier’s flight deck. And there was also a time when the Tailhook Association was regarded as the most relevant and professional not-for-profit among all of those that cater to the military community.  But that changed dramatically in the wake of the Tailhook Association’s convention in Las Vegas in 1991.

It’s no secret that military aviators are a type-A bunch, and in many ways Naval Aviators are the most spirited among them. And that spirit is what gave rise to the Tailhook Association in 1956 when a group of carrier-based flyers threw a keg into a bus and drove down to a beach in Baja where they told tall tales for a couple of days.  From there the association grew its membership and got more official, building a headquarters in San Diego and publishing a popular quarterly magazine titled The Hook.

As the years went on the Tailhook Association became increasingly known for one thing over all others: the annual convention in Las Vegas, commonly referred to as “Hook,” as in “are you going to Hook this year?” The convention, which was held at the Las Vegas Hilton, was known for two things: it’s professional panels and the parties in the suites on the third floor.

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum

Parties in the suites were hosted by various units like Top Gun and the Naval Air Training Command along with a rotating list of squadrons and competition was keen among them. Some featured drink specialties and signature food like “Cubi Dogs” and others went the risque route with leg shaving booths and even strippers. It was all viewed as innocent fun, the kind of offline frolicking that the members of the community had earned as a function of their achievements as skilled warfighters.

There’s a big difference between racy things that might happen between consenting adults and sexual battery, and in 1991 Hook crossed the line. The victory in Desert Storm combined with a record crowd caused an atmosphere on the third floor that was downright mean-spirited if not criminal.

Most of the reports of misdeeds centered around “The Gauntlet” on the third floor — the line of douchebags on either side of the hall who pawed passersby as they attempted to make their way between suites.  According to reports after the fact the harassment ranged from catcalling to full-up inappropriate touching and tearing off of undergarments. By 3 am in the morning no female was safe going anywhere near the third floor.

After the convention was over reports started to trickle out regarding the conduct of the bad actors on the third floor of the Hilton. Two things came together to trigger an internal investigation: A female admiral’s aide named Paula Coughlin was put off by her boss’ insensitive response to her claim that she’d been a victim of sexual battery, and she went to internal Navy authorities with an official complaint. At the same time, the head of the Tailhook Association gathered the Navy’s active duty aviation leadership to conduct an “after action” session that allowed the media to get wind of the animal acts that had happened.

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
Paula Coughlin, the JO who launched the investigation after her boss blew her off.

When it was all said and done, 83 women and seven men stated that they had been victims of sexual assault and harassment during Hook ’91. The ensuing investigation was overzealous and hamfisted and struck those on the inside as politically motivated, which caused squadrons to close ranks, which made the investigators and those above them resort to increasingly draconian measures.

Insiders labeled the effort a “witch hunt” as officials with a mandate to clean up the culture showed up to their spaces and told aviators to change their callsigns (no one was allowed to be called “Chunks” anymore, for instance; or if your last name was Dover your callsign couldn’t be “Ben”) and even a squadron was made to change its age-old and war-tested name from “The Pukin’ Dogs” to “The Dogs.”  (It was later changed back after the political winds lightened a bit.)

Flag officers had their careers ended for simply being in the Hilton never mind anywhere near the third floor.  COs were fired for having their charges present.  The perpetrators were never really found and punished, but most evidence pointed to flight students who’d never made a carrier landing and Marine aviators from a squadron that didn’t officially exist anymore because the model they flew was decommissioned. (Neither of those groups were really tailhookers, either.)

Meanwhile progressive lawmakers and other influencers used the scandal to forward their agendas. Female integration of carrier-based commands, including pilots and NFOs, was mandated at a great cost of both funds and focus. Many conservatives and retired officers alleged that in ending the careers of over 300 officers, the Clinton administration had gone far beyond punishing wrongdoers and had used the scandal as a pretext for carrying out a purge of the officer corps.

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
There’s a fine line between humor and sad truth.

Former Navy Secretary Jim Webb, speaking at the Naval Academy said, “When the Tailhook investigation began, and certain political elements used the incident to bring discredit on naval aviation as a whole, and then on the Navy writ large, one is entitled to ask… Who fought this? Who condemned it? When a whole generation of officers is asked to accept … the destruction of the careers of some of the finest aviators in the Navy based on hearsay, unsubstantiated allegations, in some cases after a full repudiation of anonymous charges that resemble the worst elements of McCarthyism … what admiral has had the courage to risk his own career by putting his stars on the table, and defending the integrity of the process and of its people?” (Wikipedia)

“The essence of that warrior culture has been severely diluted in this decade,” former Blue Angel’s commanding officer Bob Stumpf said, himself a victim of the scandal because he was there, not because he was guilty of any bad conduct. “Politically inspired social edicts enforced since Tailhook ’91 have rendered a ready room atmosphere so different now that it is nearly unrecognizable… Pilots are hampered in their ability to train as warriors by the policies of their senior leaders. They are faced with social experimentation and double standards in training. Experienced pilots are forced to qualify certain trainees who may or may not demonstrate established quality standards. This leads to distrust and resentment, two powerfully harmful factors in terms of unit morale, and thus military effectiveness.”

Former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman (a winged Naval Aviator as well) felt that the scandal had removed the necessary swagger and confidence from the navy’s aviation culture and replaced it with a focus on social issues. But current Navy leaders will say that gender integration has been a success and that Naval Aviation has never been more effective, and they point to things like the Tailhook Scandal and credit them with accelerating the changes for the better.

However the changes netted out, these days you won’t find a fighter pilot with the callsign “Puke” anywhere, and that’s a shame.

Now: The Army is kicking out a Green Beret who saved a child from being raped

 

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This self-driving ship might be a game-changer for Marines

Getting supplies to Marines ashore is growing more complex as new threats reach the space between ships and the beach, so leaders are looking to high-tech self-driving ships to get the job done.

The Navy’s mysterious 132-foot-long autonomous Sea Hunter vessel could move fuel, ammunition, and other heavy supplies from large ships out to small teams of Marines, sea service leaders said May 8, 2019, at the Sea-Air-Space expo outside Washington, D.C.

“If we can do what we’ve demonstrated with Sea Hunter … with logistics, to program that connector to meet that force at a location to sustain them and provide them with what they need, that is where we’re going to have to practice, practice, practice and learn and adapt our structure to be responsive to that,” said Rear Adm. Jim Kilby, director of warfare integration.


Sea Hunter recently traveled from California to Hawaii and back again with hardly anyone operating aboard the vessel.

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum

Sea Hunter, an entirely new class of unmanned sea surface vehicle.

(US Navy photo)

Marines and sailors recently practiced sustaining ground troops operating at various points ashore during a massive amphibious exercise called Pacific Blitz. During that exercise, it became clear they must leverage the distance unmanned vessels can travel without risk to personnel, Brig. Gen. Stephen Liszewski, director of operations for Marine Corps Plans, Policies and Operations, told Military.com.

“The unmanned piece is the untapped potential,” Liszewski said. “We know that is one way we can get after this ability to operate in a more distributed and lethal environment.”

Ideally, the services would use a mix of drone aircraft and unmanned ships to get the job done, he added. There are times when they’ll need the speed and range of unmanned aircraft, he said, but they can’t carry everything.

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum

Sea Hunter, an entirely new class of unmanned sea surface vehicle.

(US Navy photo)

“With a surface connector, you’re going to be able to move larger volumes of things, particularly if you’re talking ammunition or bulk liquids like water or fuel,” Liszewski said. “Clearly, aviation speed or range is what you get, but it’s not one or the other. You’ve got to have both [surface connectors and air assets].”

The Navy Department is planning big investments for unmanned technology. Its billion shipbuilding budget request for 2020 included funds for two large unmanned surface ships.

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

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6 tips we learned from ‘Ferris Bueller’ on how to ‘skate’ in the military

Ferris Bueller is the ultimate skater.


Skating is an art form which most people will never fully learn — until now. In 1986, Paramount pictures released “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” which taught countless teens how to play sick and get out of school.

Written and directed by the legendary John Hughes, the film focuses on a teenager who embarks on an incredible journey throughout Chicago while being unknowingly stalked by his high school principal.

While taking the day off, Bueller and his two friends learn more about themselves in a day than they would ever expect.

Related: 8 tips for ‘skating’ in the military

So check out our list of how Bueller taught us the art of the skate.

1. Be convincing

First, come up with an epic excuse why you’re unable to partake in a military activity (like going to work), and make sure you sell that sh*t like Bueller sold being sick to his parents.

Getting a “Sick in Quarters” slip is the goal if you’re in the military.

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
I hope I look sick enough. (Source: Paramount/Screenshot)

2. Use your assets properly

Unfortunately, Bueller doesn’t have a car to drive himself around. So once he officially earns his day off via his parents, it’s time to get on the phone and find someone to pick you up.

Skating should be a team effort, but make sure you repay the favor and help someone else skate on another day.

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
Come over to the barracks and pick me up. (Source: Paramount/Screenshot)

3. Know the loopholes

Here, Bueller hacks the school’s computer absence program and changes how many days he has been absent. You probably won’t have this ability unless you have a special security clearance, but the moral of this story is to understand your limits.

For instance, if your boss isn’t going to be around — you’re not going to be around. Get it? Good.

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
Knowing the loopholes will get you far in life. (Source: Paramount/Screenshot)

4. Have an epic backstory

During roll call, Bueller’s name is called out several times before this hot girl (Kristy Swanson) gives the teacher a bullsh*t reason why he isn’t in school. It works well during military roll call when the service member calling out names just wants to get on with the day and not hear any excuses — another loophole.

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
How could you not trust this face? (Source: Paramount/Screenshot)

5. Play the role

In the event you get an unknown phone call or run into someone outside your skating circle, divert into the sick mode ASAP.

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
Remember act sick. (Source: Paramount/Screenshot)

Also Read: 11 hiding spots for an E-4 to sham

6. Make it a team effort

Ferris uses his best buddy Cameron to impersonate his girlfriend’s dad to get her out of school. Now, you probably won’t have to do all that, but it’s awesome to have military friends who are willing to skate alongside you that you trust.

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
Our favorite hypochondriac, Cameron Frye. (Source: Paramount/Screenshot)

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is what it’s like to visit America’s Gold Star Families

In 2018, Navy veteran Anthony Price burned through more than 450 gallons of gasoline and three sets of tires. He spent more than 700 miles in the rain, many days in temperatures above 100 degrees, and at least one day in the snow. He did all of it to honor the families who lost a loved one to America’s wars. And he’s going to do it again in 2019, as he has for the past six years.


Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum

The Gold Star Ride of a lifetime.

Price began his ride for Gold Star families in 2013 as a means of calling attention to those families and saying thank you in his own way. Since then, he has been to more than 44 states, enduring extreme temperatures and conditions just to ensure the families of fallen service members are taken care of. As the Gold Star Ride website says, “We ride because they died… We do the work that our fallen heroes would do if they hadn’t fallen for all our freedom.”

Soon the Minnesota-based Price and his fellow riders were a full-fledged nonprofit, dedicated to the mission of helping those in need. Gold Star Riders actively support, comfort, and provide education benefits to Gold Star Families throughout the United States directly with personal visits via motorcycle. They also vow to partner with any group who actively helps these Gold Star families.

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum

Price literally even wrote the book on the subject, “Yours, Very Sincerely and Respectfully.” the story of their 2018 ride, which covered 18,000 miles over 58 days, visiting 64 families of fallen troops. The proceeds of which go toward the Gold Star Ride Foundation.

“The families themselves are not looking for any stardom or any fame or any glory,” Price says. “They’re just looking for someone to remember, to remember a huge sacrifice.”

The title of Price’s book is a reference to Abraham Lincoln’s “Bixby Letter,” a letter the 16th President penned to Mrs. Lydia Bixby, a widow believed to have lost five sons during the Civil War. In it, the President is said to have written his regret at her loss and his attempt to console her by reminding the mother of the Republic they died to save. He ends the letter with “Yours, Very Sincerely and Respectfully.”

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum

Price in an interview with a Fox affiliate.

The letter is an apt reference, as Price describes on commercial producer Jordan Brady’s Respect the Process” Podcast. Price mentions that he would talk to twenty or so people a day, on average, for two months straight. He found that 19 of those 20 didn’t know what a Gold Star Family was. In one case, even a Gold Star Family did not realize they were a Gold Star Family.

To be clear, a Gold Star Family member is the immediate family of any military member who lost their life in military service – mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, wives, and children.

“One of the reasons we do this is because no one else was doing it,” says Price. “Every once in a while I hear someone say ‘you’re adding an element that makes [the loss] a little more palatable… the work you’re doing is helping me make sense of the tragedy I have to go through.'”

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US asks Europe to deploy more troops for ISIS fight

Declaring the group’s destruction its top Middle East priority, the Trump administration on March 22 urged coalition partners to contribute more to forces who are retaking Iraq’s second largest city and readying an assault on the extremists’ self-declared Syrian capital. There was no apparent announcement of a new overall strategy, however.


Addressing top diplomats of the 68-nation coalition, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for new ideas to expand the against IS in the Iraqi city of Mosul and accelerate the campaign to chase from Raqqa, Syria, while preparing for the complex humanitarian and political consequences of both efforts.

Yet Tillerson did not propose, at least in his public remarks, a new approach, beyond noting the increased U.S. role in each country. As the officials were meeting at the State Department in Washington, the Pentagon announced that it provided an airlift for Syrian taking part in an west of Raqqa, in an escalation of U.S. involvement. At least one country participating in the meeting, France, voiced frustration that Tillerson and other U.S. officials had not offered specifics.

“I recognize there are many pressing challenges in the Middle East, but defeating is the United States number one goal in the region,” Tillerson said. “As we’ve said before, when everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. We must continue to keep our focus on the most urgent matter at hand.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Ababi said victory was finally within reach.

“We are at the stage of completely decimating ,” al-Abadi said, using the Arabic acronym for IS.

Nothing Tillerson outlined departed significantly from the Obama administration’s strategy, which focused on using local forces to retake territory along with efforts to disrupt IS recruitment and financing, and the blueprint of the multilateral effort seemed unchanged.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said he was disappointed the U.S. hasn’t outlined a more detailed plan, particularly for Raqqa’s future. He said he understood Trump’s administration was still formulating policy, explaining that he will be more concerned if decisions aren’t made before the end of April.

“We are expecting some further clarity from the U.S.,” he told reporters, citing France’s desire for the city to be run by moderate opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad and not the country’s Russian-backed government. He also wants to hear what America seeks from U.N.-led talks on a broader political settlement to the six-year civil between Assad’s and various groups.

Tactics for the are complicated in Syria, where a partnership with Kurdish has prompted difficult discussions with Turkey, which sees them as a national security threat. The Pentagon made clear that in Wednesday’s near Raqqa, U.S. forces were still in a support role.

Tillerson said the United States would play its part and pay its fair share of the overall operation. But he said other nations, particularly those which have faced IS or IS-inspired , must contribute more militarily or financially.

He said increased intelligence and information sharing could overcome traditional rivalries between different agencies and governments, and advocated an enhanced online effort to halt the spread of extremist views, especially as the group loses ground in Iraq and Syria.

Although Tillerson alluded to the intensified campaign, he said the Trump administration was still refining its strategy. As a candidate, Trump spoke broadly about radical changes to the approach adopted by then-President Barack Obama. As a president, Trump has moved more cautiously.

“A more defined course of action in Syria is still coming together,” Tillerson said. “But I can say that the United States will increase our pressure on and al-Qaida and will work to establish interim zones of stability, through , to allow refugees to return home.”

The reference to “zones of stability” appeared to stop short of “safe zones,” which the U.S. has been extremely reluctant to commit to enforcing in Syria, even as Trump and others have raised the idea at various times.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Hungary’s foreign minister said he liked what he heard.

“We are enthusiastic about the new U.S. strategy,” Peter Szijjarto said, adding that he saw Trump’s administration determined “not only to against , but totally eliminate .” He said his country would send 50 more to Iraq, taking its contribution to 200.

As the become more encircled, the mission will change. Officials expect in the coming months to see the dissipation of surviving into underground cells that could plan and mount throughout the Middle East, South and Central Asia, Europe, South America and the United States. Washington has been trying to get NATO, coalition and other partners to take actions to adapt to changing threats.

“As we stabilize areas encompassing ‘s physical caliphate in Iraq and Syria, we also must prevent their seeds of hatred from taking root elsewhere,” Tillerson said. “We must ensure cannot gain or maintain footholds in new regions of the world. We must online as aggressively as we would on the ground. A digital caliphate must not flourish in the place of a physical one.”

Associated Press writer Bradley Klapper contributed to this report. 

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The US military took these incredible photos this week

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:

Airmen from the 33rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron load a missile-guided bomb into an F-35A Lightning II at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Oct. 16, 2015. Flightline munitions load training allows crews to practice in a realistic work environment.

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
Photo by Senior Airman Andrea Posey/USAF

Staff Sgt. Christopher Rector, a 459th Airlift Squadron special missions aviator, keeps his eyes on the water off the coast of Tokyo Oct. 28, 2015. The crew delivered simulated medical supplies to Miakejima Island, showcasing Yokota’s ability to augment the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s disaster relief efforts.

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
Photo by Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Baker/USAF

ARMY:

U.S. Army Soldiers, assigned to 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, act as opposing forces during react-to-contact training, part of Exercise Combined Resolve V at U.S. Army Europe’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, Oct. 29, 2015.

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
Photo by Sgt. Brian Chaney/US Army

U.S. Army officer candidates, from the Minnesota National Guard Officer Candidate School, conduct a 10-mile ruck march at Camp Ripley, Minn., Oct. 25, 2015.

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Photo by Staff Sgt. Anthony Housey/US Army

NAVY:

STRAIT OF MAGELLAN (Nov. 1, 2015) Sailors take photos on the flight deck as aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) transits the Strait of Magellan. Washington is deployed as a part of Southern Seas 2015.

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Bryan Mai/USN

MAYPORT, Fla. (Nov. 3, 2015) The Chinese Jiangkai II-class frigate Yiyang (FFG 548) pulls into Naval Station Mayport. USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) will host China’s People’s Liberation Army-Navy [PLA(N)] for a routine port visit to Mayport, Fla.

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Photo by Lt. Stephanie Turo/USN

PEACHTREE CITY, Ga. (Oct. 31, 2015) Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Trevor Thompson presents the Star-Spangled Banner during a demonstration at The Great Georgia Air Show. The Navy Parachute Team is based in San Diego and performs aerial parachute demonstrations around the nation in support of Naval Special Warfare and Navy recruiting.

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Photo by James Woods/USN

MARINE CORPS:

Trinity Marines fire the BGM-71 missile during exercise Lava Viper, one of the staples of their pre-deployment training, at Range 20 aboard Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, Oct. 24, 2015. Lava Viper provides the Hawaii-based Marines with an opportunity to conduct various movements, live-fire and tactical training.

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
Photo by Lance Cpl. Harley Thomas/USMC

A Light Armored Vehicle attached to 4th Marine Division, sits on the horizon during exercise Trident Juncture 2015 in Almería, Spain, Oct. 30, 2015. The exercise provided an opportunity for Reserve Marines to gain experience within their military occupational specialty and demonstrates their readiness in conjunction with other foreign nationals.

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
Photo by Cpl Gabrielle Quire/USMC

COAST GUARD:

Ready, aim, fire! Crewmembers aboard Coast Guard Cutter Halibut remain proficient by conducting annual 50-caliber machine gun training off the coast of California.

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Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrea Anderson/USCG

Surf’s up! Take a ride through the surf all week as U.S. Coast Guard Station Quillayute River, one of 20 USCG surf stations, hosts our official Instagram account:http://instagram.com/uscg

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
Photo by USCG

Articles

See if you can spot the camouflaged Marine watching you

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Can you see him? He sees you. | YouTube | Brent0331


Effective camouflage can be the difference between life and death in a combat situation. And for U.S. Marine Brent Downing, camouflage is also an art. An expert in camouflage techniques, Downing runs a YouTube segment called the “Camouflage Effectiveness Series” in which he documents techniques from militaries around the world.

Downing’s ability to hide in plain sight is amazing. We have compiled screenshots from some of his videos below. See if you can see him, because he sees you.

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
YouTube | Brent0331

 

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
YouTube | Brent0331

 

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
YouTube | Brent0331

 

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
YouTube | Brent0331

 

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
YouTube | Brent0331

 

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
YouTube | Brent0331

 

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
YouTube | Brent0331

 

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
YouTube | Brent0331

 

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
YouTube | Brent0331

 

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
YouTube | Brent0331

 

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
YouTube | Brent0331

 

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
YouTube | Brent0331

 

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
YouTube | Brent0331

 

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
YouTube | Brent0331

 

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
YouTube | Brent0331

 

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
YouTube | Brent0331

MIGHTY TRENDING

The new ‘Snowflake’ recruitment ads for the British Army are actually ingenious

The British Army has had many iconic recruitment ad campaigns over the years. From Lord Kitchener’s, “Your Country Needs You” that became the basis of nearly every other recruitment poster to WWI’s famous, “Your chums are fighting. Why aren’t you?”

Today, the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom are at some of the lowest numbers in centuries. Now, they’re trying out a new recruitment strategy:


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(British Army)

On the surface, it might seem belittling to potential recruits and, to be fair, that’s how most people are interpreting it. But if you take a step back and read the full poster and evaluated the entire campaign as a whole, it’s actually brilliant.

The poster above is a part of the British Army’s “This is Belonging” campaign, which also includes TV ads that showcases young people who feel undervalued in their jobs. Other posters also call for “me me me millennials” and their self-belief, “binge gamers” and their drive, “selfie addicts” and their confidence, “class clowns” and their spirit, and “phone zombies” and their focus.

It’s a call to action to a younger generation that may not believe they’re right for anywhere. The TV ad for the binge gamer shows the person being scolded for playing too many games, but he keeps pushing himself after every “Game Over.” Next, the commercial cuts to this same gamer as a soldier, and he’s pushing himself further and further. At its core, that’s what this campaign is really about.

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I don’t want to be the guy to point it out, but… the oldest millennials are now 37 and the youngest are 25. Let’s not get them confused with Gen-Z, the 17 to 24 year olds that are more commonly associated with these stereotypes. Just sayin’…

(British Army)

British Army recruiters have long labelled service as a means to better one’s self. Sure, it’s patronizing to call a potential recruit a “me me me millennial,” but it’s also breaking conventional by attributing a positive quality, “self-belief,” to that same person — a quality desired by the military.

The reception has been, let’s say, highly polarizing. One side is complaining that it’s demeaning and desperate while the other is complaining that the British Army doesn’t need snowflakes. The bigger picture is that it’s a marketing strategy geared towards getting the attention of disenfranchised youth who just happen to be the perfect age for military service.

Since it was just released, only time will tell whether it’s effective in bringing in young Brits. But it has certainly gone viral and everyone is talking about it, which was definitely the objective.

Articles

This secret World War II raid kept the Germans from getting nukes

Just before midnight on Feb. 27, 1943, a team of 10 Norwegian commandos crouched in the snow on a mountain plateau and stared at a seemingly unassailable target. It was a power plant and factory being used by the Nazis to create heavy water, a key component for Germany’s plans of developing nuclear reactors and a nuclear bomb.


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Photo: Wikipedia

The Norsk Hydro plant was surrounded by a ravine 656 feet deep with only one heavily-guarded bridge crossing it. Just past the ravine were two fences and the whole area was expected to be mined. On the factory grounds, German soldiers lived in barracks and walked patrols at all hours.

As a bonus, the whole area was covered by a thick layer of snow and the men were facing two causes of exhaustion. Six of the men were worn out from five days of marching through snow storms after they were dropped 18 miles from their planned drop zone. The other four men were survivors of an earlier, failed mission against the plant. They had survived for months in the mountains on only lichen and a single reindeer.

Still, to keep the Germans from developing the atom bomb, they attacked the plant on Feb. 28. The radio operator stayed on the plateau while the other nine climbed down the ravine, crossed an icy river, and climbed the far side soaking wet.

Once at the fence, a covering party of four men kept watch as the five members of the demolition party breached the first and then second fence lines with bolt cutters. The men — wearing British Army uniforms and carrying Tommy guns and chloroform-soaked rags — arrived at the target building.

Unfortunately, a door that was supposed to be left open by an inside man was closed. The team would later learn that the man had been too sick to go to work that day. Plan B was finding a narrow cable shaft and shimmying through it with bags of explosives. The covering party provided security while the demolition team split into two pairs, each searching for the entrance.

Lt. Joachim Ronneberg and Sgt. Frederik Kayser were the first to find the shaft. When they couldn’t immediately find the other pair in the darkness, they proceeded down the shaft alone and pushed their explosives ahead of them.

Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum
A historical display showing the Norwegian saboteurs planting explosives on the water cylinders. The mannequin in the back represents the night watchman. (Photo: Wikipedia/Hallvard Straume)

They dropped into the basement of the factory and rushed the night watchman. Kayser covered the man with his gun and Ronneberg placed the explosives on the cylinders that held the heavy water produced in the plant.

Suddenly, a window shattered inward. Kayser swung his weapon to cover the opening but was pleased to find it was only the other demolition pair, Lt. Kasper Idland and Sgt. Birger Stromsheim. They had been unable to find the shaft and were unaware that the others were inside. To ensure the mission succeeded, they had risked the noise of the breaking window to get at the cylinders.

Idland pulled watch outside while Ronneberg and Stromsheim rushed to finish placing the explosives. Worried that German guards may have heard the noise, they cut the two-minute fuses down to thirty seconds.

Just before they lit the fuses, the saboteurs were interrupted by the night watchman. He asked for his glasses, saying that they would be very challenging to replace due to wartime rationing. The commandos searched the desk, found the spectacles, and handed them to the man. As Ronneberg again went to light the fuses, footsteps approached from the hall.

Luckily, it wasn’t a guard. Another Norwegian civilian walked in but then nearly fell out of the room when he saw the commandos in their British Army fatigues.

Kayser covered the two civilians with his weapon and Ronneberg finally lit the 30-second fuses. Kayser released the men after 10 seconds and the commandos rushed out behind them. Soon after they cleared the cellar door, the explosives detonated.

Jens Poulsson, a saboteur on the mission, later said, “It sounded like two or three cars crashing in Piccadilly Circus,” according to a PBS article.

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Cylinders similar to the ones destroyed at Norsk Hydro. Photo: flickr/martin_vmorris

The cylinders were successfully destroyed, emptying months worth of heavy water production onto the floors and down drains where it would be irrecoverable.

The teams tried to escape the factory but a German guard approached them while investigating the noise. He was moving slowly in the direction of a Norwegian’s hiding spot, his flashlight missing one of the escaping men by only a few inches. Luckily, a heavy wind covered the noise of the Norwegian’s breathing and dispersed the clouds of his breath. The guard turned back to his hut without catching sight of anyone.

The team left the plant and began a treacherous, 250-mile escape on skis into Sweden, slipping through Nazi search parties the entire way.

Germany did repair the facility within a few months and resumed heavy water production. After increased attacks from Allied bombers, the Germans attempted to move this new heavy water back to Germany but a team of Norwegian saboteurs successfully sunk the ferry it was transported in. One man, Knut Haukelid, participated in both the factory and the ferry sabotage missions.

Hydro-Norsk-norwegian-heavy-water-production-facility-raid The SF Hydro, a ferry that was destroyed by saboteurs when the Nazis attempted to move heavy water with it. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Germany’s shortage of good nuclear material during the war slowed its research efforts to a crawl. This shortage and the German’s prioritization of nuclear reactors over nuclear bombs resulted in Nazi Germany never developing atomic weapons.

NOW: This top secret operation was the World War II version of ‘Weekend At Bernie’s”

OR: This top-secret green beret unit quietly won the Cold War

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