How Afghanistan's version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst - We Are The Mighty
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How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

“No One Kills Terrorists as Fast as We Do”

Sheik Abdul Hasib is a stout Pakistani who chose to fight under the flag of ISIS in eastern Afghanistan. The area he chose as his redoubt is the border with Pakistan, not too far from where Osama bin Laden and the Arab-speaking jihadis chose to build caves and fight the Soviets in the ’80s. Now seeking to tax poppy growers in the Nangahar province and establish ISIS Khurahsan, the long-haired Pakistani Orakzai tribal fighters have been streaming over four mountain passes from the Khyber and Orakzai regions in Parchinar since 2015. Since then, they’ve terrorized the locals, beheading children and elders alike, and launched a number of violent attacks in Afghanistan.


How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
The Afghan anti-terrorist force began in Kabul and expanded to other major urban areas. Unlike the military, they’re trained by the world’s most elite counter-terrorism units to work in intense scenarios in which hundreds of civilians may be at risk. Photo from Recoilweb.com

GROWING THREAT

ISIS established a foothold in the Pakistan tribal areas in mid-2014 with the fracturing of the “little T” Taliban that was made up of former Pakistan-based Taliban fighters. Leaderless, they flowed northward into Afghanistan in 2015 when around 70 ISIS trainers travelled from Syria to school them in tactics, public relations, and ambushes. Led by Abdul Rauf Khadem, a former bin Laden confidant, ISIS began paying three times the Afghan government salary, and twice that of the Taliban. They launched their new sub brand, ISIS-Khurasan, with brutal videos of hapless villagers being blown up and other filmed executions. Islamic religion tradition insists that horse-mounted jihadis carrying the Black Flags of Khurasan will signal the retaking of the Holy Land and the end of Christianity. Not surprisingly, ISIS PR cameramen filmed chubby Pakistanis jogging and jerking along on Afghan nags carrying black flags in their videos.

The cash and the PR campaign worked. In September 2015, the UN estimated ISIS penetrated 25 out of the 34 provinces.

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
The Crisis Response Unit is legendary in Afghanistan. They’re never seen in public and stay on their base until a crisis occurs, and then they deploy in minutes directly into a hostage situation. Photo from Recoilweb.com

MOAB

When I met with Resolute Support commander General “Mick” Nicholson in December, he made it clear that although the NATO side of the war was treading water, the counter-terrorism fight wasn’t hindered by a lack of funding or increasing intensity. While the USA waited patiently for the election to end, General Nicholson made his move.

On April 13, 2017, the sky lit up above Achin and the ground shook through eastern Afghanistan as US special operations forces dropped a 12,000-pound MOAB munition that detonated above the exact area ISIS selected as their headquarters.

Nicholson’s air strike had maximum effect. The USA turned the ISIS fighter’s concealment and isolation into their damnation. About 90 fighters were killed instantly by the pressure wave and collapsing buildings.

Although the rank and file of ISIS K were decimated, the work of actually finishing the job was left to US ground operators and Afghans. Ten days later, at 10:30 p.m., 50 US Army Rangers and 40 Afghan commandos went in on the location of Sheik Hasib, gunning him down about a mile away from where the bomb went off in Mohmand Valley. As in all special operation ground missions, drones, AC 130s, F16s, and Apaches provided constant top cover and ISR support. Down below, air controllers coordinated the troops moving forward, calling out targets and hostiles for Afghan commandos. ISIS in the east was snuffed out like a candle.

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
(Photo from Recoilweb.com)

The top leadership and 35 members of ISIS were finally removed because they had crossed the line. They had carried out a devastating March 2017 attack on a 400-bed military hospital in Kabul in which ISIS personnel disguised as medical staff killed scores of people. Enough was enough.

Although MOAB was a global headline grabber and there’s every indication that America is getting back into the fight, much of the dirty work of killing terrorists face to face has been left to the Afghans. It’s for this reason that I visited a little-known counter-terrorism unit high above the hills of Kabul.

CRU 222

It’s Friday, the day off in Afghanistan, but Lieutenant Colonel Abdul Raqib Mubariz, the head of Afghanistan’s elite’s counter-terrorism team, has invited me over. He’s clean-shaven, tall, and eager to meet me. He runs the Afghan Crisis Response Unit 222, or CRU 222 for short. He’s unapologetic about his team. His and his men’s job is to kill terrorists in Kabul. Fast.

It’s a brutally simple idea taught to them originally by the SAS and carried forward in their training by American, and now Norwegian, commandos. When suicide bombers try to take hostages en masse, the unit’s mission is to get in and kill them without restraint. In their brutal experience, the faster they kill terrorists the lower the casualties.

Their spotless base sits on the old site of Camp Gibson, overlooking the outskirts of Kabul.

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
Kabul is the fifth fastest growing city in the world. Under the Taliban in 2001 the population was barely 1.5 million; today almost 4 million people call Kabul home. Photo from Recoilweb.com

Mubariz walks me around the camp and explains the unit has three groups, one active, one in training, and one in reserve. On operations they have a 60-man protection unit and three operations groups. They work 15 days on and 15 days off, and they’re set up to respond to a crisis quickly; their goal is to be out the door within five minutes of a call.

He expresses pride that his men can “assess a situation, form a plan, and have all the belligerents dead within minutes. Instead of the hours it used to take, now we can be ready in three minutes.”

To underline the seriousness and intensity of their task, he estimates that last year 97 of his 7,000-person, nationwide staff were killed. The high-casualty rate doesn’t faze his enthusiasm for the task.

The training for the anti-terrorist squad lasts four months with a dropout rate of 10 to 15 percent of the class. “We get better training than the commandos, but we work together,” Raqib tells me, talking about another Afghan special mission unit that operates in the rural areas of the country. “We recruit from all over the country.”

I want to understand how this unit ended the March 2017 hospital attack, the most brutal terrorist act after the recent bomb attack at Camp Shahin. He offers to have his men perform a demonstration.

The men roll up to a practice building in armored Humvees, dismount, and take a knee; they lay out a protective circle and deploy snipers. They set up a command and control center, gather intel, and agree on an entry plan. Then, the teams deploy and breach, clearing each room until they reach the top.

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
(Photo from Recoilweb.com)

The men are fast, aggressive, and their actions appear well rehearsed. But this is an empty building with a journalist sticking a camera in their faces, not a burning building with martyrs killing their way to a 72-virgin afterlife.

The 222 benefits from the knowledge passed on by foreign military advisors. Norwegians from the Marinejegerkommandoen were also on hand supervising and offering training guidance. The Norwegians declined to be officially interviewed, but 222’s opinion of them is effusive. “We love it when they taught us how to shoot off the back of motorcycles in the dark,” one commando laughs.

To understand 222’s tactical response to the Kabul hospital attack, I met with the officer (unnamed at his request) that led the hospital attack.

THE RESPONSE

The soft-spoken colonel describes the siege. “It was Wednesday, March 8, 8:45 in the morning. The first car bomb went off at 9 a.m. at the rear of the hospital. By 9:45 a.m. we were stuck in all kinds of traffic. We travel in armored Humvees, five men to a vehicle. We had to hit cars to get out them out the way. We were waved around to a different entrance from the normal entrance when the second car bomb went off.”

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
The remnants of a vehicle bomb during the March 8, 2017, ISIS attack on the Sardar Daud Khan Military Hospital in Kabul. (Photo from Recoilweb.com)

The eight-story pink Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan Hospital is in the Wazir Akbar Khan District of Kabul and is the largest military hospital in Afghanistan. Named after the last prime minister before the Soviets landed, the staff provides medical care to members of the Afghan military and their families. There are also two floors filled with wounded Taliban fighters along with a VIP wing; in addition, there are soldiers housed here who are wounded so seriously they can’t be sent home.

“It was complicated when we arrived on scene because we had more than 1,000 doctors, patients, and visitors.” The colonel says there were 400 beds in an eight-floor building and an unknown number of terrorists wearing suicide vests with grenades, knives, and rifles inside. “I was just thinking how we can protect civilians before we can kill the terrorists.”

The men ISIS sent to cause mayhem weren’t just suicide bombers, but fourth-generation suicide fighters called inghimasis, or “those who plunge” into battle. The four attackers were let into the hospital by an employee, the colonel tells us. They put on white lab coats and began to shoot indiscriminately, using knives to kill bedridden victims to conserve ammunition.

“Once the Afghan Army commandos arrived, I stopped everyone and explained how we can work together. We have British SAS tactics; the Afghan Special Forces uses American [tactics]. We have different training and tactics, and we could kill each other.”

The units deconflicted by leap-frogging each other as they cleared the buildings seven floors, floor by floor.

“We are clearing each room, but ultimately we run to the shooting,” says the colonel. “The problem was most of the victims were being stabbed with knives and [the attackers] were dressed in lab coats like many of the hostages. On the second floor we killed the third man; we shot him, and he blew up. Again we ran to the shooting. In various rooms, there were people hiding. The gunman had killed one or two people in each room.”

The responders killed another shooter on the fourth floor as he was hiding behind a bed. “We found another terrorist on the fifth floor. We shot him, and he blew up.”

Like many Afghans, and out of respect for the dead, he won’t describe the specifics of the dozens of victims. Most of the people had been killed with knives. Later I find out from one of the men who was there that a pregnant women, the wife of a military officer, screamed, “You can’t kill me!” He looks down and describes the brutality, “They cut out her child and then killed her.”

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
(Photo from Recoilweb.com)

Finally, there were 65 hostages on the top floor being held by the last gunman.

“I had heard shooting from the rooftop, and I requested an air drop,” says the Colonel. “The Mi-17 will carry 15 troops and can land on the roof where people were fleeing. Some were on the window ledges outside. [Our] snipers were using the windows, but there weren’t clear shots in the confusion. There is a green house on the top floor, and we went up and found the hostages.”

“We were using CS grenades and wearing gas masks,” he says. “It’s hard to see through the mask when you’re running and the smoke. So I aimed for his center of his vest and he exploded, killing some of the hostages.” When I ask him why he didn’t take a head a shot he looks up and just gives me a pained look.

“I think we were done by 14:00. We then had to coordinate the removal of the dead and wounded, and order ambulances since all the staff had fled.”

At the end, over 60 people were dead and roughly as many were wounded.

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
The attackers were trained in Pakistan and were reportedly told to kill as many people as possible before detonating their suicide vests. (Photo from Recoilweb.com)

UNDERSTANDING THE ENEMY

Colonel Mir Ebaidullah Mirzada from Kapisa province explains how ISIS recruits and trains for these attacks. “I was in military school in high school, then I joined CID police. I spent 31 years in the intelligence service,” he says. His job now is to make sense of these attacks and understand the enemy. That enemy, he says, is increasingly more foreign.

The history of the CRU also coincides with violent attacks launched from Pakistan.

“There was a series of attacks in Kabul in 2005. At that time there was no special unit. They sent police, members of the Afghan National Directorate of Security and the Army, and there were a lot of civilian casualties. It was then they decided to create the CRU. National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar established a division of special police when he was interior minister.”

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
The work of CRU 222 is not without sacrifice. In 2016, 97 members of the Afghan national anti-terrorism group were killed. (Photo from Recoilweb.com)

The first unit was 222. They started with 100 members; now they have around 7,000. Ebedullah was one of the originals. “We started with Hungarian and Bulgarian AKs, Russian PiKas (PKM), and Iranian RPGs. We swapped to Russian AKs [after] seven years with a gift of 20,000 AKs, and now, thanks to the US Embassy, we’re using M4s.

The men of the 222 still have to tape their flashlights to the barrel and make do with Chinese knockoff gear. They favor the bright green laundry bag camo pattern sprayed on their gear. It used to take three hours for the unit to jock up, and now it takes them less than five minutes to get out of their compound. Still, a Colonel gets by on $600 a month, and some of the men aren’t fully kitted. But they don’t complain. He pulls out the dossier on the attack on the hospital attack.

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
More than 70 percent of Kabul’s population lives in illegal settlements like these hillside homes built without permits or proper sanitation. These migrants include thousands of former jihadis returning from Pakistan. (Photo from Recoilweb.com)

“The attackers were from Pakistan, two from Tajikistan, and two were Afghan. The people know that Pakistan is behind this.” He takes pains to read the next sentence carefully.

“They trained for four months by Major Ahmad from ISI Punjab, in Mansehra near the military base at Rawalpindi. This information comes from the ‘other side,'” he noted with a smile. Manserhra is only 13 miles north of where bin Laden was found and killed in Abbottabad.

Recruiting is done from the madrasas, free religious schools sponsored by Sunni donors from the Gulf area.

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
(Photo from Recoilweb.com)

Mirzada lays out the training process. “They pass three steps to come. The first step is for ISI people who operated under the guise of being scholars who train young people. They identify those who respond to extreme ideology.”

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
Despite the steady stream of violent attacks, the people of Kabul go on with their daily lives. In 16 years the country has experienced dramatic growth and education. (Photo from Recoilweb.com)

“In the madrasa they’re separated, and when they say, ‘I want to be a martyr,’ they’re ready. Then the preparation work stops. They blindfold them and take them to a military base. There they’re trained about three months on weapons, explosives, and what destiny awaits them in paradise. Before the plan [takes] place they set up companies to provide fake IDs, transportation, and lodging. They transport them to Kabul without weapons.”

Typically, he says, they’re between 14 and 25 years old, mostly from poor families. Their family gets paid 400,000 Pakistani rupees, just under $4,000 US, after they’ve reached the end of their path to martyrdom.

“The handlers train them again to get used to the area where they speak Pashto,” Mirzada says. “There are also people who know Farsi. Once they learn the area, then they ship in the weapons. There are also people who are responsible to make the film. Even when they rush and fight, they’re always filming. Before they attack they film a speech and they get injections to make them brave.”

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
The elite reputation of CRU 222 attracts hundreds of young Afghan recruits; 15 percent will drop out during training. (Photo from Recoilweb.com)

One witness in the media insists he heard one of the men talking to “Mullah Sahib,” which sounds like Mullah Hasib, the head of the ISIS cell in Nangahar. The man gunned down after the MOAB was dropped by US forces. Mirzada closes the file.

When and if another hostage situation occurs, CRU 222 sits waiting for the call, stopwatch at the ready.

Articles

9 Movies Every Airman Needs To Watch

The invention of moving pictures was roughly coincident with the invention of powered flight, and over the years as Hollywood searched for plot lines they found plenty of material around Air Force life.


On the surface the appeal is and always has been obvious: airplanes. Duh. But movie studios understand that machines alone won’t get audiences into theaters (or these days onto Netflix).

Those who’ve served in the Air Force know all too well that life around the Wild Blue Yonder is about more than the hardware. It’s about the people and the things they overcome – like soul-crushing bureaucracies – to get the job done.

But it’s also about the action.

Here’s WATM’s list of nine movies every airman should watch, which is to say movies that every airman should know well enough to riff on among the buds in the lounge in the barracks or at the bar just outside the main gate. (And can you say “fire rearward missiles” in Russian?):

Dr. Strangelove (1964)

Plot: Base commander loses it and decides to order the wing’s bombers to attack Russia with nuclear weapons. President of the United States gathers his cabinet and other advisers in the War Room to try and figure out how to avoid Armageddon.

Reason to watch: Stanley Kubrick’s biting satire is hilarious, but more than that it nails the personalities of those at the top of the food chain and the dynamic between them. This one was years ahead of its time. And it also has some great B-52 crew coordination scenes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdJS1iatxmY

Iron Eagle (1986)

Plot: Teenage kid’s Air Force pilot dad gets shot down and taken hostage in the Middle East, and the United States government won’t help get dad out because he had trolled into enemy airspace. Kid enlists the help of a retired Air Force pilot (and friend of his father), and the two of them grab some F-16s and proceed to raise hell.

Reason to watch: Any military movie with Lou Gossett, Jr. playing a determined S.O.B. is money. “Iron Eagle” has a lot of cool visuals (never mind technical accuracy) and good action. Plus the lesson it teaches is important: You can get away with anything if punishing you would embarrass those in charge.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3npr0RKBucc

Twelve O’clock High (1949)

Plot: Likable CO of a hard-luck B-17 squadron is relieved after a disastrous mission. New skipper’s hard-ass leadership style threatens to tear the ready room apart. Ultimately both sides chill out and get the job done.

Reason to watch: Great World War II bomber action, and the leadership lessons are definitive in that they show the net effect on a command of a leader being too nice or too much of an asshole. And while this may not be a ringing endorsement, it should be noted that “Twelve O’ clock High” is taught at commands throughout the Department of Defense.

The Hunters (1958)

Plot: Restless officer is tired of being in the rear with the gear and, through happenstance and a series of networking coincidences, finds himself in an F-86 squadron at the height of the air war over Korea.

Reason to watch: Based on James Salter’s beautiful novel, “The Hunters” was Hollywood first attempt to portray Air Force life in the jet age. “The Hunters” has it all: burned out CO, confused chain of command, cocky junior officers, and significant others complaining about being ignored for the glory of air combat.

Fail Safe (1964)

Plot: Bogus threat triggers the launch of six Vindicator supersonic bombers (fictional aircraft portrayed in the movie by B-58 Hustlers). Launch codes are accidently transmitted to the aircraft, which sends them on an attack profile to Moscow. A series of missteps and bad logic prevents either side from calling the whole thing off.

Reason to watch: Plot resembles that of “Dr. Strangelove” but played straight. “Fail Safe” was the first major motion picture to tee up the idea that the system wasn’t perfect and things in the nuke weps world could go a smidge wrong from time to time. Also presents the cold reality that nuclear warfare has pretty serious consequences, something those who’ve signed up to participate in should have a sense of.

A Gathering of Eagles (1963)

Plot: This nuclear-age version of “Twelve O’ clock High” deals with the goings-on around a SAC unit that has just had the CO fired because of a failed inspection. New CO is career-minded and a hard-ass and that rubs the men under his charge the wrong way. Another inspection crisis with huge career implications leads all parties to figure it out in a good way.

Reason to watch: “A Gathering of Eagles” was made with the assistance of General Curtis LeMay to counter the perception created by “Fail Safe” and “Dr. Stangelove” that SAC was hosed up to the degree they could accidentally start a nuclear war. The Air Force in this one has its shit together, for the most part. Plus if you believe the best leadership lessons are discussed among men in towels ( a la “Top Gun”) you’re in for a treat.

Firefox (1982)

Plot: The U.S. and U.K. hatch a plot to steal a new Soviet airplane that can do Mach 6 and is controlled by the pilot’s mind.

Reason to watch: Clint Eastwood at his action-packed best. Plus, what initially came off as campy in terms of technical detail of the film seems viable today.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0S7uE7l_oA

Catch-22 (1970)

Plot: B-25 navigator stationed in North Africa during World War II wrestles with the tragedy, irony, and hypocrisy that surrounds him as the minimum mission requirement continues to rise.

Reason to watch: Early SNL alum Buck Henry adapted Joseph Heller’s classic WW2 novel for an American public that was at odds over the Vietnam War, evidence that it took nearly a decade and a half for the themes to resonate. In spite of the fact that parts of the story are over-the-top, the movie (and even more so the book) are prescriptive. Anyone who’s ever spent any time around the Air Force will recognize the personalities: Careerist buffoons, obtuse general officers, opportunistic (albeit very entrepreneurial) junior officers as well as the folks who are just trying to get the job done without going crazy are all here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G41SJUIawVo

Battle of Britain (1969)

Plot: A nation turns to its air force to hold back the Nazi hordes.

Reason to watch: Winston Churchill said it best when referring to the pilots and maintainers of the RAF: “Never have so many owed so much to so few.” “Battle of Britain” captures both the action of dogfights between Spitfires and Messerschmitts and the details of life in war-torn England. If you ever need to be reminded why an air force matters in modern times, watch this.

Got some movies you think should be on this list? Tell us on our Facebook page.

MIGHTY CULTURE

8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

Citizens of the United States of America tend go mildly wild when they celebrate the fourth of July. It was on that day, in 1776, when the Continental Congress adopted the Deceleration of Independence, severing our nation from the British Empire.

Most people commemorate this fateful moment with a nice, wholesome family gathering. Dads work the barbecue while telling awful puns and moms try to make sure the kids don’t hurt each other with sparklers. The evening’s merriment is capped off by watching the fireworks explode over the nearby lake.

Now, we’re not here to tell you that you’re doing things wrong — if you’re into that mundane, picturesque lifestyle, more power to you — but we are here to tell you that veterans like to go big. Real big.

Independence Day is what binds the veteran community. We may argue and bicker over little things, but each and every one of us loves this country and its people. In demonstrating that love, we tend to go a little overboard when partying on what is, essentially, America’s birthday.


How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

Just like the good ol’ days!

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Miguel A. Rosales)

Going to the range

Veterans and firearms go together like alcohol and bad decisions. When veterans get a free day off work, they might visit the firing range. When they get a day off for the 4th, they’ll be there for sure — you know, for America.

In this case, “firing range” is a pretty vague term. It could mean a closed-off, handgun-only range, a range out in the middle of nowhere that allows you to legally fire off a fully automatic, or, if you happen to be in the middle of bumf*ck nowhere, your backyard. Regardless of how we do it, it’s our little way of supporting the Constitution — through celebrating the 2nd Amendment.

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

Who doesn’t love watching 50 cannons go off?

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kevin Coulter)

Visiting military installations for the “Salute to the Union”

Every year, on the fourth of July, military installations hold a ceremony at noon where they fire off one gun for every state in the Union. Some of the veterans who once participated in those ceremonies come back many years down the road to see it again.

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

“You can eat all of that, right?”

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Kelcey Seymour)

Hosting massive barbecues

Burgers sizzling on the grill is the unofficial smell of the holiday. You can’t go anywhere in America without sniffing out some hot dogs, steaks, and whatever else the veteran is cooking.

The only downside is that veterans tend to go a little overboard on what they think is the “right amount of food” for everyone. Veterans prepare for the event that everyone’s going to eat a dozen burgers. Deep down, we know that’s not going to happen, but what if…

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

There are no safety briefs in the civilian world, but there probably should be…

(U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Kareem Abiose)

Drinking enough alcohol to relive barracks life

Sobriety is entirely optional on Independence Day. From the moment they wake up until they eventually pass out from taking too many shots in the hot summer sun, veterans spend the entire day drinking .

Of course, they should always err on the side of responsibility and remember all of the safety briefs they got when they were in. They’ve got the basics down, like “don’t drink and drive,” but they might forget some of the niche briefs, like “don’t get drunk and decide to shoot bottle rockets out of a metal pipe like a friggin’ rocket launcher” — so that’s probably still game.

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

But, you know, any of the veteran-owned t-shirt company shirts are open game!

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jack A. E. Rigsby)

Wearing unapologetically American clothes

It’s America’s birthday, so dress for the occasion. American flag hats, tank tops, underwear, you name it. Today, everything is red, white, and blue.

Technically, such articles of clothing are discouraged by the Flag Code, but it’s an expression of patriotism — and the First Amendment allows you to express yourself like that.

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

No 4th of July is complete without driving 110 down the freeway blasting “Free Bird.”

(Photo by Jon Callas)

Blasting American musicians

As much as Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, and Iron Maiden all kick ass, let’s reserve this day for America and American rock stars, baby!

Any party celebrating American independence should have a playlist featuring plenty of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Aerosmith.

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

If you’re doing it right, the neighbors should confuse your backyard for the show put on by the city.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Conroy)

So many fireworks…

Veterans refuse to be outdone by the neighbors down the road who think their puny little display of patriotism is the best way to celebrate America. If that veteran also happens to be an old-school artilleryman or mortarman, you’re about to see something special…

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

If you see one of our brothers or sisters with one of these signs, you can just ask them and let them know when you’re doing the fireworks. Just don’t be an asshole about it.

(WLKY News Louisville)

Chosing to avoid fireworks

Every year on social media, we see photos of signs placed in front of veterans’ homes politely asking neighbors to not set off fireworks get picked apart by the veteran community. You know what? A veteran choosing to spend America’s birthday exactly how they want to is veteran as f*ck, too.

Can’t stand large crowds of people and the traffic? Stay in. That’s veteran as f*ck.

Don’t want to be in a public place when loud explosions go off? You don’t have to be.

This is a day to celebrate America’s freedom. If you’ve raised your hand, there’s no way anyone can take your veteran status from you. Independence Day is about celebrating freedom. You celebrate it however you feel necessary.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Marines & sailors go the extra mile in charity ruck march

The day before Thanksgiving is a time many people spend with family and friends. This year, Marines and Sailors of 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division decided to spend their time giving back to the local community.

Approximately 200 Marines and Sailors with 2nd Recon and their families participated in a charity ruck march Nov. 27, 2019. The Battalion loaded up their packs with non-perishable food donations and hiked approximately six miles from the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune Main Gate to the United Way CHEW! House in Jacksonville, North Carolina.


“Without the support of the community we wouldn’t be able to support this program. In Jacksonville, Marines are the biggest part of our community and for them to be able to give back to the community is huge.” Shelly Kiewge, the community impact director for United Way

“We have a lot to be thankful for,” said Sgt. Maj. Joseph Mendez, the 2nd Recon Sergeant Major. “As Marines, we are guaranteed the basic things like housing and food. It’s important that we realize that not everyone in our local community has that opportunity.”

The event was organized by 2nd Recon to build unit camaraderie through physical training, and donate much needed food items to the Onslow County United Way’s Children Healthy Eating on Weekends program.

“It’s always important to help out the local community,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph DeBlaay the staff non-commissioned officer in charge of 2nd Recon training command. “For us, it lets the community know we’re here and easy to approach when needed.”

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. David Ford the assistant training chief with 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division reads off the total donations after a charity ruck march.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tyler Solak)

The CHEW! Program was created to provide bags packed with healthy food for children in need over the weekend who wouldn’t be fed otherwise. The program helps over 700 school-aged children.

The Marines donated over 3,800 pounds of food to the CHEW! program.

“I want my Marines to understand the importance of this. Not that it’s just a battalion mandated event,” said Staff Sgt. DeBlaay. “I want them to see the importance of why we’re doing this to help out the community and help out those in need.”

This is the second year the battalion has organized this event and plans to continue the tradition in years to come.

“When you join the Marine Corps you do it as a means to help people who traditionally can’t help themselves,” said Lt. Col. Geoff Hoey, battalion commander of 2nd Recon. “Whether it’s people in a different country or helping people here at home who don’t have enough money to put food on the table. It’s inherent to what Marines do — we help people in need.”

This article originally appeared on Marines.mil. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

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The Marines want self-repairing smart trucks

In the not-too-distant future, Marine Corps 7-ton trucks may be able to diagnose worn-out parts before they go bad, put in an order for a relevant replacement, and get the part 3D printed and shipped to their location to be installed — all without a human in the loop.


It’s an aspiration that illustrates the possibilities of smart logistics, said Lt. Gen. Michael Dana, the Marine Corps’ deputy commandant for Installations and Logistics. And the process has already begun to make it a reality.

In the fall of 2016, Marines at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri equipped about 20 military vehicles, including Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacements, known as MTVRs or 7-tons, and massive tractor-trailers known as Logistics Vehicle System Replacements, or LVSRs, with engine sensors designed to anticipate and identify key parts failures.

It’s a commercially available technology that some civilian vehicles already use, but it’s a new capability for Marine Corps trucks. Testing on those sensors will wrap-up this summer, and officials with IL will assess how accurately and thoroughly the sensors captured and transmitted maintenance data.

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
A Logistics Vehicle System Replacement at work. (DoD Photo by Lance Cpl. Joey Holeman)

If all goes well, the Marines then will work to connect the sensors with an automatic system that can order parts that will then be 3D printed on demand and delivered to the vehicle’s unit.

“How do we use that data and how do we link that back to our fabrication or supply network to make the system operate in theory without a person in the loop, to make sure we’re doing push logistics [versus] pull logistics,” said Lt. Col. Howard Marotto, a senior member of the Marine Corps’ logistics innovation team and the service’s additive manufacturing lead.

“Now we have the part there waiting when the vehicle gets back in from the convoy, or it’s already there a week in advance before we know we need to change it out. So that’s the concept and that’s what we’re going to try to prove with that.”

Dana, who spoke with Military.com in June, is eager to bypass maintenance supply chains that sometimes have gear traveling thousands of miles to get to a unit downrange, and inefficient logistics systems that create lag while maintainers wait for parts to arrive.

“If we had the ability to print a part far forward, which we have that capability, that reduces your order-to-ship time. And you then combine that with what we call sense-and-respond logistics, or smart logistics, which is … it can tell you with a predictive capability that this part is going to fail in the next 20 hours or the next ten hours,” Dana said.

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
3D Printing. (Photo by Jonathan Juursema.)

The goal of having trucks that can do everything but self-install repair parts is in keeping with the Marine Corps’ newfound love affair with innovative technology. The Corps recently became the first military service to send 3D printers to combat zones with conventional troops, so that maintainers could print everything from 81mm mortar parts to pieces of radios in hours, instead of waiting days or longer for factory-made parts to arrive.

For Dana, it’s simply time for the Marine Corps to cash in on technologies that industry is already using to its advantage.

“You look at Tesla, their vehicles literally get automatic upgrades; it’s almost like a vehicle computer that’s driving around,” he said. “My wife’s [2006 Lexus] will tell you when it’s due for an oil change. That predictive capability exists in the private sector. Hopefully we can incorporate it on the military side.”

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DARPA just announced it’s one step closer to building a hypersonic space plane

The Pentagon’s research and development shop is moving one step closer toward building a hypersonic space plane that could shuttle satellites or people into space in record time.


In an announcement on Wednesday, DARPA said that Boeing, which was selected for phase one of the project, would keep working on its advanced design for the Experimental Space plane (XS-1) program with additional funding for phases two and three.

While Phase One of XS-1 was more of a drawing board/concept phase, phases two and three are all about actually building a space plane and conducting flight tests, demonstrations, and hopefully, delivery of a satellite into orbit.

Here’s how DARPA describes what it hopes XS-1 may one day pull off:

The XS-1 program envisions a fully reusable unmanned vehicle, roughly the size of a business jet, which would take off vertically like a rocket and fly to hypersonic speeds. The vehicle would be launched with no external boosters, powered solely by self-contained cryogenic propellants. Upon reaching a high suborbital altitude, the booster would release an expendable upper stage able to deploy a 3,000-pound satellite to polar orbit. The reusable first stage would then bank and return to Earth, landing horizontally like an aircraft, and be prepared for the next flight, potentially within hours.

Related: Mysterious Air Force space plane lands after 2-year mission

Since it’s DARPA, the project is focused on national security, and there’s no doubt the Pentagon could save plenty of money and time by launching satellites via a low-cost space plane. But the agency also notes in its announcement that another goal is to “encourage the broader commercial launch sector,” and it will release testing data out to companies who are interested during phases two and three.

So it looks like the military won’t be the only ones having fun flying planes into space, Mr. Skywalker.

DARPA has been behind a number of huge technological advances that have made their way to the private sector, like the Internet, a ton of the components of modern-day computing, and GPS, just to name a few.

“We’re delighted to see this truly futuristic capability coming closer to reality,” said Brad Tousley, director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO), which oversees XS-1. “Demonstration of aircraft-like, on-demand, and routine access to space is important for meeting critical Defense Department needs and could help open the door to a range of next-generation commercial opportunities.”

Check out the demo video below:

Articles

The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Happy New Year’s! We didn’t do anything special. It’s the same basic idea from last year: 13 awesome memes from around the Internet.


1. Gen. Washington believed in proper accountability (via Team Non-Rec).

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
No one went anywhere in Valley Forge without their weapon and night vision.

2. When the pilot can’t find the KC-130 and has to stop and ask for directions:

(via Air Force Nation)

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
Now he just has to find somewhere to turn around and take off.

SEE ALSO: 5 real-world covert operations in FX’s ‘Archer’

3. Dream big, Marines (via Sh-t my LPO says).

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
If this were real, Starkiller Base would become the top re-enlistment destination.

4. Because professionalism and talent are completely separate traits:

(via Air Force Nation)

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
This saved screen probably got someone in trouble.

5. It’ll be great. A nice, country drive (via Military Memes).

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
Just remember to do 5 to 25-meter checks for IEDs at every stop.

6. Diamonds are a soldier’s best friend (via The Most Combat Engineer Man in the World).

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
Maybe do legs some days, just to balance it out.

7. It’s probably not a Facebook hoax this time (via Coast Guard Memes).

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
Finally, a ship perfect for all those unpatrolled puddles.

8. How combat engineers announce their arrival:

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
They probably didn’t bring cookies.

9. That lance corporal life:

(via Military Memes)

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
Don’t hate the lance corporal, hate the promotion system and attrition problems that leave you stuck with him.

10. 10 bucks says this was a profile pic within 24 hours (via Humor During Deployment).

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
Would’ve gotten more likes if the airmen carried weapons up there.

11. Try to be more specific, photographer (via U.S. Army W.T.F! moments).

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

12. Everyone makes fun of the PX Ranger until he’s the only one who gets to duel the Jedi wannabe (via Broken and Unreadable).

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

13. Yes, first sergeant hates you (via Marine Corps Memes).

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

Articles

A brief history of the greatest military benefit ever

This article is sponsored by Grantham University


How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
President Roosevelt signs the GI Bill in Washington DC in 1944. (Photo: White House archives)

The original GI Bill, officially known as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, was as much social engineering as it was a benefit of service. Congress was concerned about the impact millions of World War II veterans would have on the nation.

It hadn’t gone well after World War I. Discharged veterans got little more than $60 and a train ticket home, and their situation was made worse by the Great Depression. Congress tried to intervene by passing the World War Adjusted Act of 1924 (a.k.a. ‘the Bonus Act’), but it just made things worse in that — while vets were paid based on number of days served — most of them wouldn’t see a dime for 20 years. Disgruntled vets camped out around Washington DC (known as the “Bonus Army”) and refused to leave until they were paid. They were later kicked out of town following a bitter standoff with U.S. troops. The incident — ironically American troops fighting American military veterans — marked one of the greatest periods of unrest our nation’s capital had ever known.

So the return of millions of veterans from World War II gave Congress a chance at redemption. But the GI Bill had far greater implications. It was seen as a genuine attempt to thwart a looming social and economic crisis. Some saw inaction as an invitation to another depression. But the legislation wasn’t without controversy. Some shunned the concept of sending battle-hardened veterans to colleges and universities, a privilege then reserved for the rich.

Before World War II, college wasn’t an option for most Americans. Thanks to the GI Bill, millions who would have flooded the job market instead opted for education. In the peak year of 1947, Veterans accounted for 49 percent of college admissions. By the time the original GI Bill ended in 1956, 7.8 million of 16 million World War II veterans had participated in an education or training program.

The GI Bill encouraged vets to go back to school and, once they did, to move out of the city and into a new thing called “the suburbs” where they could afford to live courtesy of their no-down-payment VA home loans. No other legislation, not to mention military benefit, has shaped the nation as dramatically.

The Veterans Readjustment Benefits Act of 1966 changed the nature of military service in America by extending benefits to veterans who served during times of war and peace. At first there was some opposition to the concept of a peacetime G.I. Bill. President Dwight Eisenhower had rejected such a measure in 1959 after the Bradley commission concluded that military service should be “an obligation of citizenship, not a basis for government benefits.” President Lyndon B. Johnson believed that many of his “Great Society” social programs negated the need for sweeping veterans benefits. But, prompted by unanimous support given the bill by Congress, Johnson signed it into law in 1966.

Critics within the veterans’ community and on Capitol Hill charged that the bill did not go far enough. At first, single veterans who had served more than 180 days and had received an other than dishonorable discharge received only $100 a month from which they had to pay for tuition and all of their expenses. Most found this amount to be sufficient to pay only for books and minor fees, but not enough to live on or attend college full-time. Veterans of the Vietnam War felt slighted that the bill did not provide them with the same educational opportunities as their World War II predecessors. Consequently, during the early years of the program, only about 25 percent of Vietnam veterans used their education benefits.

The United States military moved to an all-volunteer force in 1973, and veterans continued to receive benefits, in part as an inducement to enlist. The GI Bill was again revamped in 1984 by Mississippi Congressman “Sonny” Montgomery, which is why that version is known as the “Montgomery GI Bill.” The Montgomery GI Bill was complicated and required that service members forfeit $100 a month in order to receive their education benefits.

In 2008 Senator Jim Webb began working legislation for a more comprehensive benefit in the spirit of the original GI Bill. The bill was officially called the “Post 9-11 GI Bill,” but it was more commonly referred to as the “new GI Bill.”

The new GI Bill provides for tuition, a book allowance, and a housing allowance. To qualify for the benefit, a veteran must have served at least 90 days of active duty service post-9/11, or have served 30 days and was discharged due to a service connected injury or illness. Veterans will be paid a monthly housing allowance based on the military’s Basic Allowance for Housing rate for an E-5 with dependents. (The living allowance can range from $1071/month in Bellville, OH, to $3,744/month in New York City.) The last and most novel feature of the Post 9/11 GI Bill is that currently serving troops have the opportunity to transfer education benefits to a spouse or a child.

Like any major legislation, the Post-9/11 GI Bill had some growing pains, most notably payments from the VA were slow in getting to colleges and in some cases veterans had to reach into their own pockets for periods of time to keep from getting disenrolled, but ultimately the benefit has proved to be a worthy heir to the original GI Bill, a benefit for both the veterans and the nation that will leverage their education and skills.

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
Grantham University was founded in 1951 by WWII Veteran Donald Grantham to provide other veterans a way to better their lives through distance learning. Today, Grantham continues this commitment by offering military students targeted, online degree programs in the most convenient, flexible and affordable manner possible. For more information go to Grantham University’s homepage.

Articles

Hilarious Hoax: A drunken sailor didn’t use a raccoon to pass a breathalyzer test

A hilarious incident report involving a Navy sailor using a raccoon to pass a breathalyzer test so he could drive his car home  was passed around on the internet like wildfire this week, but … it was too good to be true: It’s all a hoax.


A few days ago, WATM noticed an image being passed around, purportedly from an incident report from Camp Pendleton police, telling the full story of what happened after a sailor left the bar in San Diego. Here it is:

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

We were skeptical, though we read it and basically went all Ron Burgundy afterward (“I’m not even mad, that’s amazing”). It sounded quite unbelievable, and it also had a suspicious watermark in the background. The watermark reads, “Always Watching, JTTOTS,” the tagline and acronym for a Marine-focused Facebook page called Just The Tip, of the Spear.

Since it picked up steam and has hit quite a few websites — including making international news — journalists reached out to the military for comment on the incident (We’d love to know how these calls went). Here’s what they said:

“While humorous, it’s not real,” Eric Durie, spokesman for Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, told the New York Daily News.

“I called police records, and while they were highly entertained, they confirmed (the story) is absolutely a hoax,” 1st. Lt. Savannah Frank, a public affairs officer at Camp Pendleton, told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

So this story may not be true, but we have a strong feeling a drunk sailor will someday be inspired to try this.

NOW A REAL STORY: Marine gets arrested for throwing drunken foam party in Air Force hangar

MIGHTY TRENDING

Beloved Coast Guard veteran and crossing guard, ‘Mr. Bob,’ dies while saving two children from speeding car

Every child can tell you the name of their school’s crossing guard. At Christ the King Catholic School in Kansas City, KS, 88-year-old Robert James Nill, better known and loved as “Mr. Bob,” was one of the best.


Tuesday, Mr. Bob made the ultimate sacrifice for two of his students when a speeding car careened through the school’s crosswalk. The Washington Post reported that a few minutes before school started at 8 a.m., two boys in grades third and fifth stepped off the curb in front of the school. It was about five minutes before 8 a.m., five minutes until the first bell rang and Nill’s job ushering kids through the crosswalk would be over for the morning. Two young boys, in third and fifth grade, stepped off the curb. Nill motioned for them to step back, said school principal Cathy Fithian. He saw a black sedan speeding toward them and likely sensed it wasn’t stopping or slowing, despite Nill’s handheld stop sign and the school zone’s flashing lights. The two boys came running into Fithian’s office in tears, screaming for Mr. Bob. The principal consoled them and then went outside to find an awful scene as first responders swarmed the intersection, she told The Washington Post on Tuesday night.

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

“Mr. Bob,” Robert James Nill was the beloved crossing guard at a Kansas City, Kansas school.

Nill was struck by the vehicle and ultimately succumbed to his injuries.

Reports say the driver was likely speeding but did not flee the scene. The driver was taken to a nearby hospital and treated for injuries.

Nill served in the United States Coast Guard and following his service, went on to a career in banking. After retirement, he wanted something to look forward to every morning, to get him out of bed. His family told FOX 4 Kansas City that he felt young at heart and didn’t want to spend his golden years sitting around. “This was something I think he felt like he could help children and help himself feel good about what he was doing,” said Randy Nill, Bob’s nephew.

Being a crossing guard brought him that joy and sense of purpose. By the outpouring of support on social media, it is apparent that his joy and love of life were contagious.

“Bob was such a fixture at my children’s school,” Connie Lynn Worrell commented on Facebook. “We would wave at him every day and in the morning I always made sure to wave at him after dropping off the boys. This is truly heartbreaking. He will be sorely missed.”

Articles

The 13 funniest military memes of the week

The weekly, funny military memes rundown! Now with more Chris Farley!


1. Seriously, she’s been an E4 for decades. You’re not getting her (via The Salty Soldier).

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
Grandma’s gotta skate.

2. Air power for the win (via Pop Smoke).

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

SEE ALSO: Here’s who’d win if an Airborne brigade fought a MEU

3. Remember to drink lots of water with it and be sure to take a knee (via Devil Dog Nation).

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
If you’re really sick, you may need Ibuprofen as well.

4. When you finally realize you’ll never escape the barracks, not really (via Coast Guard Memes).

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

5. Why are all these people arriving at the same time as me? Don’t they know I have formation!?

(via Air Force Memes Humor)

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
Work faster, gate guards!

6. Seriously, should have joined the Air Force (via The Salty Soldier).

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

7. Ponchos and poncho liners have more uses than duct tape (via The Salty Soldier).

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
Wet weather and cold weather, shower curtain and towel, tent cover and blanket ….

8. Having duty is no reason to let your Tinder game suffer.

(via Sh-t my LPO says).

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
You still need to find someone to help you get out of the barracks.

9. Very close, sir (via Sh-t my LPO says).

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

10. It’s required that you keep the muzzle out of the water…

(via Do you even Marine, bro?).

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
… it’s recommended that you keep the water out of your nostrils as well.

11. Should’ve kept track of them a little better (via Sh-t my LPO says).

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
Lose them one more time and they’re getting an anchor attached.

12. From back when mustache proficiency and fighting proficiency went hand-in-hand:

(via Air Force Nation)

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
If he had grown a full beard, the Soviet Union would have fallen 5 years earlier.

13. The Marine Corps has a new retention strategy (via Military Memes).

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
It’s funny because it’s true.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Every current Presidential candidates’ stance on Afghanistan

There are a lot of people running to be the next President of the United States. And it’s not just Democrats crowding the field. In the coming few years, the President is going to have to figure out what the U.S. should do about its longest-ever war, the War in Afghanistan.


What to do about it is proving to be the biggest humdinger in all American history. It seems to be a war the United States cannot lose or win or forget – but whoever is in power in the coming Presidential term will likely feel the pressure to do something about it. There are currently too many candidates to list accurately, but we’ll mention the top names among Democratic challengers and include the latest challengers to President Trump’s GOP nomination.

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
Donald Trump

President Trump

The problem for the guy in the big chair is that he has to make decisions right now and anything he has in the works could be compromised by disclosing it to the public. All we can say for the President is that he recently scrapped a peace agreement with the Taliban over the group’s continued attacks and killing of U.S. service members in Kabul. According to the President, peace talks are “dead” as far as he is concerned.

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

Mark Sanford

Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford recently threw his hat into the ring to challenge President Trump’s primacy in the GOP race. The President declined to debate Sanford or his other challenger, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld. But when it comes to the war in Afghanistan, Sanford is a well-known budget hawk and is running as a fiscal conservative. It’s unlikely the expensive war will continue if a President Sanford starts cutting budgets.

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

Bill Weld

The republican, former Massachusetts governor, and 2016 Libertarian Vice-Presidential candidate has expressed anti-interventionist views on not just Afghanistan and Syria, but anywhere in the world.

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

Joe Biden

The former multi-term Senator and Vice-President to former President Barack Obama says he would bring U.S. combat troops home in his first term and keep a residual presence in the country for counterterrorism operations.

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

Cory Booker

The New Jersey Senator says he would bring American troops home from Afghanistan as soon as possible but remarked it would be necessary to ensure the country doesn’t become a safe haven for terrorists again.

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

Pete Buttigieg

South Bend Mayor and Afghanistan veteran believes it’s time to end the war with a negotiated peace agreement that keeps a special operations and intelligence presence in Afghanistan while bringing the rest of American ground forces home.

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

Kamala Harris

California prosecutor-turned Senator Kamala Harris believes a political solution is the way forward, preferably one reached in the first term of a Harris Administration. She says a withdrawal plan should be designed by military leaders and national security advisors while leaving Afghanistan on a path to stability.

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

Beto O’Rourke

The former Texas Representative who almost unseated longtime Senator Ted Cruz in 2018 believes in withdrawing all U.S. service members by the end of his first term. He says he wants to reach a responsible end to military operations and shift the U.S. priority to putting Afghans in charge of their own future.

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

Bernie Sanders

Sanders, the longtime Senator from Vermont, says he would remove U.S. military forces from Afghanistan “as expeditiously as possible,” using a coordinated diplomatic and political strategy to deliver humanitarian aid. A Sanders administration would maintain a political presence to help Afghanistan develop its economy and strengthen its central government.

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

Andrew Yang

The businessman and entrepreneur believes the United States gets no benefits from fighting in Afghanistan or any of what he calls America’s “Forever Wars.” According to Yang, Americans are sick of paying trillions, and watching thousands of Americans die without feeling any safer. A Yang Administration would help the country diversify its economy and prevent it from being a safe haven for terrorists.

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

Elizabeth Warren

During the third Democratic Primary debate in September 2019, Sen. Elizabeth Warren called for the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

“What we’re doing right now in Afghanistan is not helping the safety and security of the United States. It is not helping the safety and security of the world. It is not helping the safety and security of Afghanistan. We need to bring our troops home,” she said.

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A-10 pilot manages to ‘belly land’ his plane after nearly everything falls apart

After a routine training run in Alpena County, Michigan in late July, US Air National Guard Capt. Brett DeVries survived the perfect storm of malfunctions to safely land his A-10 Thunderbolt II on its belly without the benefit of landing gear.


During a training exercise where A-10 pilots practice dropping inert bombs and ripping the planes’ massive gun, DeVries’ gun malfunctioned. Moments later, his canopy blew off his plane as he flew along at 375 miles an hour, according to a US Air National Guard write up of the event.

The incredible winds smacked DeVries head against his seat, nearly incapacitating him. “It was like someone sucker punched me,” he said. “I was just dazed for a moment.”

Related: The ‘Chopper Popper’ scored the A-10’s first air-to-air kill…against an Iraqi helicopter

DeVries wingman, Major Shannon Vickers, then flew under his plane to assess the damage, finding bad news. The panels under his plane had been damaged, and it was unclear if he would be able to lower his landing gear.

Meanwhile, DeVries struggled against the wind and having everything loose in his cockpit. He could no longer benefit from checklists, which had become a liability that could now potentially fly out and get stuck in his engine.

DeVries, having the flight from hell, had two of his radios go down and had to communicate with Vickers and flight control on his third backup system. They worked together to find him a nearby spot to land and Vickers observed that DeVries would not in fact be able to use his landing gear.

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst
Capt. Brett DeVries (right) and his wingman Maj. Shannon Vickers, both A-10 Thunderbolt II pilots of the 107th Fighter Squadron from Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich. Vickers helped DeVries safely make an emergency landing July 20 at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center after the A-10 DeVries was flying experienced a malfunction. | US Air National Guard photo by Terry Atwell

“I just thought, ‘There is no way this is happening right now.’ It all was sort of surreal, but at the same time, we were 100 percent focused on the task ahead of us,” Vickers said.

Miraculously, thanks to the meticulous training A-10 pilots undergo and the incredibly rugged design of the plane, DeVries walked away unscathed, and maintainers will be able to fix the plane.

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