Iran’s judiciary says the country has executed a man convicted of providing information to the United States and Israel about a top Iranian commander later killed by a U.S. drone strike in Iraq.
“Mahmud Musavi-Majd’s sentence was carried out on Monday morning over the charge of espionage so that the case of his betrayal to his country will be closed forever,” the judiciary’s Mizan Online website reported on July 20.
Iranian authorities in June said Musavi-Majd passed on information about the whereabouts of Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) elite Quds Force, who was killed in a U.S. air strike near Baghdad in January.
The judiciary said last month that Musavi-Majd’s death sentence had been upheld by the Supreme Court and would be carried out “soon.”
The execution came a day after three men linked to anti-government protests last November received stays from the death penalty amid a massive social-media campaign calling for Iran to halt state executions.
In retaliation for Soleimani’s killing in the early hours of January 3, an Iranian ballistic-missile strike on an Iraqi air base left some 110 U.S. troops suffering from traumatic brain injuries.
Hours later, Iranian forces shot down a Ukrainian passenger airliner taking off from Tehran, killing all 176 people on board. Iran blamed a misaligned missile battery and miscommunication between soldiers and superior officers.
Iranian officials did not say whether Musavi-Majd’s case was linked to Iran’s announcement in the summer of 2019 that it had captured 17 spies working for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
It said some of them had been sentenced to death.
The report comes after Iran’s judiciary announced on July 14 that a former Defense Ministry worker convicted of selling information to the CIA had been executed.
Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said on July 14 that Reza Asgari had been in touch with the CIA during his last years serving at the Defense Ministry and sold the agency information about Iran’s missile program.
Esmaili said Asgari was executed a week earlier, adding that he had worked in the aerospace department of the Defense Ministry and retired four years ago.
A recent online protest against executions has been joined by many Iranians — including ordinary citizens as well as intellectuals, former politicians, and prominent artists.
In the face of the protest, Iran’s judiciary ordered a retrial for Amir Hossein Moradi, 25, Said Tamjidi, 27, and Mohammad Rajabi, 25.
Their lawyers said they were maintaining hope that the sentences could be reversed.
But the head of Iran’s judiciary, hard-line cleric Ebrahim Raisi, downplayed that possibility.
“You should listen to protests, but unrest and riots that endanger the country’s security are our red line,” Raisi said on July 20.
The three were among many who were arrested in a brutal crackdown against demonstrators who took to the streets in dozens of cities and towns across Iran in November 2019.
Analysts said the social-media campaign was unprecedented in its scope and the level of participation of Iranians both within and outside Iran.
Amnesty International recorded 251 executions in Iran during 2019, making Iran second to China in state executions.
You and your family sacrifice a lot in serving the country. Missing big events like graduations, birthdays, and even births themselves are not uncommon after you raise your hand and swear to protect and defend the Constitution. Private businesses recognize the sacrifices made by American service members, and often give special discounts to the men and women of the armed forces. Here are some of the best discounts out there to save you and your family some dough.
1. Disney Parks
While the Disney parks offer a small discount on regular ticket prices, the real deal here is Disney’s Armed Forces Salute ticket. The Salute ticket is a special offer that has been offered yearly since 2009. In previous years, the Salute ticket has been offered at both Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida.
However, with Disneyland still closed as of the writing of this article, Disney is only selling 2020 Salute tickets for Disney World. That said, when they were available, 3 and 4-day Park Hopper Salute Tickets were sold for 4 and 4 respectively. Compared to the standard prices of 5 and 5 respectively, that’s one heck of a salute from the mouse. At Disney World, 4, 5, and 6-day Park Hopper Tickets are available for 5, 3 and 1 respectively, whereas regular prices for these tickets are in the 0 range. Take note that, though the ticket is sold as a Park Hopper, park hopping is not currently allowed in Disney World. Normally, Park Hopper Plus Tickets are also available under the Salute ticket and give guests access to other Disney locations like the Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon Water Parks. However, like the Disneyland Tickets, Park Hopper Plus Tickets are not currently being offered. While there is no guarantee that Disney will continue the Salute Ticket for 2021, 2020 Salute Tickets can be purchased until December 18, 2020 and are valid until September 26, 2021.
Best known for its yoga apparel, the Canadian-based athletic wear retailer shows its appreciation for service in a big way. Though the prices of their products can run a bit high, Lululemon offers a whopping 25 percent for military service members and spouses. It’s worth noting that this discount also applies to first responders. Unfortunately, this discount cannot be applied online. However, it is valid on sale and clearance items…and Lululemon outlets. Trust us, there are some serious deals to be had there.
It’s surprising how many service members walking around on base wearing Nike products don’t know about the company’s military discount, especially since it’s double the more common discount of 10 percent. That’s right, your next pair of Nikes could be 20 percent off with your military ID. Like with Lululemon, the discount is still valid on sale and clearance items as well as outlets. However, unlike Lululemon, Nike offers the discount online as well through SheerID verification. After verifying your service, you’ll get a one-time code that you can apply to your online order, and the process can be repeated for future orders. Yes, it’s an extra step, but not a terrible sacrifice of time for 20 percent off. Like with in-store purchases, the discount can also be applied to sale and clearance items online. Whether you’re looking for new running shoes or a pair of Coyote Brown SFB Tactical Boots, don’t forget to apply your military discount when you’re shopping for something with the Swoosh.
(SeaWorld Parks Entertainment)
4. SeaWorld/Busch Gardens
Through the Waves of Honor program, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment offers service members free admission to any of their parks. The annual offer also includes free tickets for up to three dependents. Tickets are acquired online and verification is done through ID.me. The offer applies to SeaWorld San Diego, SeaWorld San Antonio, SeaWorld Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa, Sesame Place Langhorne, and Discovery Cove.
While this discount isn’t substantial, it made the list because of its relative obscurity. Apple offers a veterans and military purchase program through an exclusive online storefront. After verifying your service through ID.me, you’ll be granted access to a separate online store with the 10 percent discount applied to all items available for purchase. Since many military bases are a few hours’ drive from an Apple store, an online purchase may be more convenient.
This list is by no means all-inclusive and the discounts and offers mentioned are subject to change. Whatever you’re in the market for, be sure to see if there’s a military discount or offer that you can take advantage of. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to inquire about it. After all, any discount or offer is in appreciation of service.
The Green Beret Foundation has a new Executive Director. Brent Cooper is dedicated to transforming the perception of the Green Beret through education, innovation and an epic new video.
Cooper assumed leadership of the Green Beret Foundation in 2019. Almost a decade before that, he spent his career chasing what he called the corporate ladder. Although highly successful, it was never really what he deemed enough and left him feeling like he was living a life without purpose.
Cooper wanted to serve his country his entire life. At 30 years old, he knew if he didn’t do it soon it would be his biggest regret. So, he joined the Army with his eye on the coveted Green Beret. “If I was going to join the military – I wanted to be among the best,” he said with a smile. Two years after enlisting, Cooper completed the Special Forces Qualification Course.
Established in 1952, the United States Army Special Forces are the renowned and elite Green Berets. On April 11, 1962, President John Kennedy stated that the Green Beret was, “A symbol of excellence, a badge of courage and a mark of distinction in the fight for freedom.”
Cooper served as a Commo Sergeant in the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. He spent five years serving the Army, eventually leaving to focus on his family. Not long after earning his MBA, Cooper found himself back in what he termed the “hamster wheel of the corporate world,” unfulfilled. “I severely underestimated how much I would miss serving something bigger than myself,” he explained.
That was about to change.
“When I got out in 2015, I received a coin and a patch from them [the Green Beret Foundation], but I knew absolutely nothing about the Foundation,” Cooper shared. Once he saw the job advertisement, he dove into researching and really liked what he saw. Three months and multiple interviews later he was offered the position and never looked back. “I feel extremely blessed and that for the first time, I am exactly where I am supposed to be,” he shared.
The mission of the Green Beret Foundation is to provide vital support to Special Forces soldiers and their families. Since its inception in 2009, GBF has invested over million and served over 13,000 families. Cooper admitted that most people, especially Green Berets, don’t even know exactly what the Foundation does – something he has made it his mission to change.
On his first day, Cooper put two questions on the white board in his office. “I told everyone that these questions would guide every decision that was made. The first question was, ‘Does this service our soldiers?’ and the second, ‘Will this make our donors proud?'” he shared. Cooper believes that if they always do the first thing, the second will easily follow.
With that vision now guiding the Foundation, Cooper set out to educate and change mindsets. “Many people don’t even know who Green Berets are to begin with. For me, it’s been a constant effort of focusing on communicating effectively who they are to both the civilian and military populations,” he said. Cooper said that although Green Berets are known as the quiet professionals, it doesn’t mean they need to be silent.
It is with that in mind that led Cooper to spending his first year as Executive Director revamping the Green Beret Foundation logo, website and even the promotional video. The original video itself was about nine years old and in his mind, didn’t adequately showcase the role of a Green Beret or the Foundation itself.
“What I really wanted to convey was something that the regiment could be proud of. That shows who Green Berets are… in a different light. Not just the cool guy stuff either, because Green Berets are warrior diplomats. They actually solve conflict by talking first,” Cooper explained. He shared that Green Berets have a strong focus in humanitarian work for allied countries, something most people may not be aware of.
The role that the Green Berets serve in for this country is both extensive and vital. One thing the public may not realize is that they are embedded within other Allied nations’ military forces, dedicated to preventing terrorism and training through Foreign Internal Defense. “If we can demonstrate that Green Berets are warrior diplomats and teachers first, that will resonate. It’s very difficult to do in a six minute promotional video, but I think the first minute really demonstrates that,” he said.
Green Berets also have a higher mortality rate in combat.
In 2019, almost 65 percent of soldiers killed were Green Berets. Since 9/11, Green Berets have accounted for the majority of casualties in the Special Operations’ community as a whole. “These numbers demonstrate that they are in a lot of conflict. They are the first ones in and the last ones out,” Cooper explained.
The Green Beret Foundation remains committed to supporting wounded Green Berets, those in need and the families of the fallen – something the new promotional video deeply showcases. The foundation has also doubled down on their dedication to serving transitioning Green Berets, supporting them as they head back into civilian life.
Cooper stated that when you ask a soldier to do the things Green Berets do, you need to be there when they are done with the job to support any fallout. “These are the tip-of-the-spear guys, the ones who suffer the most. This inevitably means they are going to need the most support. These long-term effects, the visible and invisible scars… it’s lifelong,” he said.
It is with all of this in mind that Cooper says he works as hard as he does and asks the same of every person within the Foundation stating, “We have a mission and that always comes first. It is bigger than any one of us and we are going to continue to do the right thing, which is serving Green Berets and their families.”
Often as the direct memories of events fade, our ability to place them into context and understand their meaning only increases. It only makes sense, then, that some of the best writing about the Civil War, the World Wars, and Vietnam is happening now.
As you prepare your reading lists for holiday travel or look for items to give to family and friends, we present our choices for this year’s best books on Military History.
5. Grant By Ron Chernow
Ron Chernow is an exceptional writer. Among his achievements have been an exceptional biography of Alexander Hamilton that served as the foundation of the Broadway show. His portrait of the Ohio general is equally beautiful. Chernow delves into the relationships and temperament that made Grant a terrific leader as well as his lifelong belief in emancipation.
Grant was a quiet, even shy man, who had concern even for animals, yet was called a “butcher” during the War. It was tacitly assumed that Robert E. Lee was the great General of the Civil War for years and that Grant was merely lucky to have been on the right side of history. The facts do not perfectly align with that viewpoint. Lee may have been a very good strategist, but several skilled men before Grant tried and failed to do what he did. Chernow’s biography gives wonderful insights into what made Grant different.
4. Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam by Mark Bowden
In the early part of 1968, the 400,000 strong armies of the North Vietnamese and Vietcong launched a general offensive against South Vietnamese and American troops, which, at the time, numbered 1.3 million. The American strategy had been to win a war of attrition in which the enemy reached a point where the number of soldiers being killed exceeded the number of new recruits, making clear the hopelessness of continuing the struggle. With that mindset, the American military elite, politicians, and journalists were shocked by the aggressiveness of the offensive. After the initial shock, the South and the United States regained control of the situation and 60,000 Communist troops died by the end of the year.
Of all the targets of the Tet offensive, the assault on the city of Hue was the most consequential. Hue was the third largest city in Vietnam and at a key logistical point in the country. While the fighting that began with the Tet offensive was generally over within a week, the battle for Hue lasted six weeks and the urban bloodbath changed the war.
Bowden does a wonderful job telling this story from the perspective of the ordinary soldier who fought for his life while being burdened with poor leadership.
3. Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941 by Stephen Kotkin
A brilliant recounting of the disastrous period of 1929 and 1941 in the Soviet Union, in which Stalin maintained his absolute grip on power, but whose purging of the military and terrible economic policies almost cost the Soviet Union the war with Germany that started in 1941. What is remarkable is how Kotkin is able to tell the tale from the viewpoint of a monster like Stalin and never loses his readers’ attention.
2. Alone by Michael Korda
Alone follows one of the heroes of history, Winston Churchill, as he rallies a country and averts disaster at Dunkirk before getting help from the previously neutral countries of the Soviet Union and the United States.
1. Sons and Soldiers by Bruce Henderson
An incredible story that few had heard before its recounting by Bruce Henderson, author of And the Sea Will Tell. After escaping Hitler’s clutch, about 2,000 Jews trained at Camp Ritchie in Maryland were deployed in Europe as a key intelligence asset during the War. This is their story.
US military hero dog “Cena,” a 9-year-old Black Labrador who served as a bomb detection dog in Afghanistan and saved the lives of his handler and uncounted other American warriors, ended his service July 26 after a battle he could not win with bone cancer.
Cena died peacefully in the arms of his battle buddy, former Marine Corps Cpl. Jeff DeYoung, in their hometown of Muskegon, Michigan.
The two first met during Improvised Detection Dog training in Virginia in July 2009. They were deployed to Afghanistan later that year and during their service together, the two were part of Operation Moshtarak in February 2010 that was the largest joint operation up to that point.
DeYoung and Cena typically led the way as U.S. troops trudged through the rugged and treacherous sandscapes of Afghanistan. Cena was trained to detect more than 300 different types of explosives and if he smelled something suspicious on patrol he alerted DeYoung, who would then call in an explosives technician to safely remove or detonate the bomb.
Cena and DeYoung ate together, slept together, and fought together, forging a deep bond between them.
“Once I laid down on top of him to protect him from gunfire,” said DeYoung. “I carried him through a freezing cold, flooded river on my shoulders.”
Cena and Corporal DeYoung (Photo from American Humane via NewsEdge)
DeYoung’s protectiveness of Cena was repaid many times over. Each military dog is estimated to save the lives of between 150-200 servicemen and women during the course of their career, and one of those lives was DeYoung’s. Suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress and the recent loss of several close comrades in combat, DeYoung tried to take his own life. But Cena intervened and saved his comrade from committing suicide.
Despite their seemingly unbreakable bond, DeYoung and Cena were separated unceremoniously without even the chance for a goodbye when DeYoung left military service and Cena continued working through three deployments. For four years, DeYoung suffered nightmares and flashbacks, missing Cena every single day.
Finally, when Cena was retired for a hip injury, the two were brought back together in an emotional reunion made possible with the help of American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization, which has also been working to support the U.S. military, veterans, and military animals for more than 100 years.
Since then, DeYoung and Cena have served as military ambassadors for American Humane, traveling around the country to raise awareness about the importance of reuniting service dogs with their handlers, and how the dogs can improve and save the lives of veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress.
“Military Working Dog Cena is a true American hero and an inspiring testament to the life-changing power of the human-animal bond,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane. “He will be greatly missed by all those who knew and who owe their lives to him. His work and his example will live on in the memories of all who knew him and were touched by his story.”
“Cena was family to me,” said DeYoung. “It’s always been him and me against the world, and losing him has devastated me to my core. Goodbye, my most faithful friend. I will never forget you.”
If true, the battle may mark the deadliest encounter between the Cold War rivals in decades.
While the Kremlin has declined to comment, and no independent party has yet verified the reports, U.S. and Russian aligned forces have fought on opposite sides of the Syrian conflict and in close proximity for years.
If the U.S. did kill Russian military contractors, it falls short of killing official Russian service members, which could escalate into a larger war.
But the loss of Russians in Syria may still blacken the image of the Kremlin’s intervention in the six-year civil war, which it portrays as peacekeeping and inexpensive.
Russian media said Russian private contractors and pro-government forces advanced on oil fields in the eastern Deir el-Zour province and were targeted by the United States.
“Pro-regime forces initiated what appeared to be a coordinated attack on Syrian Democratic Forces east of the Euphrates river,” Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said in a statement, referring to the SDF, which the U.S. has trained, equipped, and backed for years.
The river acts as a border between the coalition and Russian and Syrian forces, and the Pentagon also described the SDF location as well-known, and that therefore the attack wasn’t a mistake.
Syrian regime forces launched a coordinated attack that included about 500 regime troops, 122mm howitzers, tanks and multiple launch rocket systems on the U.S.-backed SDF headquarters in Deir al-Zor province approximately five miles east of the Euphrates River.
The U.S.-led coalition responded with “AC-130 gunships, F-15s, F-22s, Army Apache helicopter gunships and Marine Corps artillery,” according to Fox News reporter Lucas Tomlinson.
The Pentagon said that the attack wounded only one SDF soldier. Days later, a U.S. jet destroyed a Russian-made T-72 battle tank that had fired on U.S. and SDF forces, the Pentagon told Business Insider.
Spirit 03 is a revered name in the AFSOC community, often spoken of in hushed and pained tones. It was the call sign of the last AC-130 gunship shot down in combat.
The story of Spirit 03, whilst sad, was also one of heroism — the kind you’d find in the US Air Force Special Operations Command community. It was a story of American airmen putting the lives of their brothers in arms engaged in grueling ground combat above their own.
On January 29, 1991, over 2000 Iraqi troops under the direction of Saddam Hussein streamed into the Saudi Arabian city of Khafji in an attempt to draw American, British, and Saudi forces into a costly urban battle which would tie up Coalition troops until the Iraqi military had time to reorganize and get themselves back in the fight.
Just days before Khafji fell, American surveillance jets had detected large columns of mechanized Iraqi units pouring through Kuwait’s border in a mad dash towards the city. Though the warning was passed on, Coalition commanders were far more focused on the aerial campaign, which had seen the virtual annihilation of the Iraqi Air Force.
Thus, Khafji fell… but it wouldn’t be long until Saudi forces scrambled to action, barreling towards their seized city to drive the occupiers out. American and British aerial units were soon called into the fight, and in record time, engines were turning and burning at airbases within reach of Khafji while ground crew rushed around arming jets for the impending fight.
Among the aerial order of battle was a group of US Air Force AC-130H Spectre gunships — converted C-130 tactical transport aircraft that were armed to the teeth with a pair of 20 mm M61Vulcan rotary cannons, an L60 Bofors 40 mm cannon, and a 105 mm M102 howitzer. These Spectres, based out of Florida, were eager to be turned loose, planning on adding any Iraqi tanks and armored vehicles they caught around Khafji to their kill tallies.
On the 29th, Iraqi mechanized units moved towards the city under the cover of night, repeatedly engaging Saudi elements set up to screen inbound enemy ground forces coming in from Kuwait. The Spectres were already in the air, racing towards the fight and running through checklists in preparation for the destruction they were about to dish out on Saddam’s armored column.
Within minutes of appearing on station, the AC-130s leapt into action, tearing into the Iraqi column with impunity. What the enemy forces had failed to realize was that Spectres — living up to their name — operated exclusively at night so that they were harder to visually identify and track, and the gunners aboard these aircraft were incredibly comfortable with that. Spectres began flying race track patterns in the sky, banking their left wing tip towards the ground as their cannons opened up.
Despite the AC-130s inflicting casualty after casualty, the resilient Iraqi invasion force continued to advance to Khafji and managed to briefly take over and lay claim to the city. American and Saudi ground combat units, including Navy SEALs, Army Special Forces, and Marine artillery and infantry elements responded in kind, and launched a blistering offensive against the Iraqis as night turned to day and the AC-130s returned to base to rearm, refuel and wait for nightfall to resume hunting.
On January 30th, Spirit 03, one of the AC-130s, was loaded for bear and launched with the intent of providing Marine forces with heavy-duty close air support. Spirit 03 arrived on station and started hacking away at targets. In the hours around dawn on the 31st, the AC-130s were recalled to base when radios lit up with numerous calls for fire support from the beleaguered Marines on the ground.
An Iraqi rocket battery needed to be dealt with quickly.
The crew of Spirit 03 took charge of the situation immediately, judging that they had enough fuel and ammunition left for a few more passes. Not quite out of the combat zone, the aircraft turned around and pointed its nose towards its new target. It was then that all hell broke loose. A lone shoulder-fired, surface-to-air missile arced towards the AC-130, detonated and brought down the aircraft.
There were no survivors.
In the months and years that followed, the loss of Spirit 03 was investigated and then quickly hushed up. Some indicated that the official report blamed the crew for knowingly putting themselves in danger by continuing to fly in daylight, allowing themselves to be targeted.
Others knew that the story was vastly different—that the 14 men aboard the AC-130 knew that they were the only ones in the area able to provide the kind of fire support the Marines needed, and so paid the ultimate sacrifice while trying to aid their brothers in arms.
US Air Force A-10 Thunderbolts are back in the Baltics, practicing for rough landings on improvised runways as a part of Saber Strike 18, the annual exercise where NATO and partner forces work to improve their ability to operate across Europe and with NATO’s forward-deployed battle groups.
In early June 2018, A-10s from the Michigan Air National Guard’s 107th Fighter Squadron, based at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, practiced landing and taking off from a rural highway in Latvia and an abandoned runway in Estonia.
During the Cold War, highways were considered an option for fixed-wing aircraft, as standard airstrips were likely to be targeted first in the event of conflict. But the A-10s only recently resumed the exercise.
“The requirement that we’ve been tasked with to be able to force project into battle spaces where the assumption is that the enemy is going to immediately try to destroy or limit capabilities on known airfields,” said Air Force Maj. David Dennis, the detachment director of operations for the 107th Fighter Squadron.
“So the A-10 has been tasked with being able to forward deploy into areas a little bit more austere,” he added, “whether they’re old airfields, riverbeds, old highways, whatever the case may be, so we continue to provide close air support to the guys on the ground.”
The 107th Fighter Squadron is currently deployed to Latvia. Working with members of the 321st Special Tactics Squadron’s combat controllers, the 107th’s A-10s carried out landings and takeoffs from an abandoned runway in Haapsalu, Estonia, on June 7, 2018.
The exercise is part of Saber Strike 18, the latest version of a US Army Europe-led training exercise involving NATO countries and partner forces. This year’s iteration focuses on improving land- and air-operational capabilities, with the additional goal of training with NATO’s enhanced forward presence battle groups.
(US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. David Kujawa)
NATO’s enhanced forward presence battle groups have been deployed to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland over the past two years and are made up of units from various NATO member countries. They are still on station in those four countries and now number over 4,500 personnel in total.
“We’re landing on Estonian soil, so we have Estonian defense forces here, providing security. We have local fire departments on standby, in case there is some sort of incident,” Dennis said. “So it involves a host of people.”
Austere-landing exercises contribute to the goal of providing close air support. “So day five, day six, day ten of the war, the assumption is that the airfields that the Air Force has been operating out of are probably compromised in some manner,” Dennis said.
A US Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II, assigned to the 107th Fighter Squadron from Selfridge, Michigan, practice landing on a non-operational, austere runway in Haapsalu, Estonia, during Saber Strike 18, June 7, 2018.
“So in order to continue to force project, and to continue to drop bombs and protect the troops on the ground, we’re going to have to find other suitable means with which we can continue our combat operations,” Dennis added. “So they would literally truck in the bombs, the bullets, all the things they need to, to austere environments, like an old airfield, a highway, whatever have you, so that we can continue to operate and ultimately save lives on the ground.”
US Air Force Staff. Sgt. Clinton Kennedy, combat controller assigned to 321st Special Tactics Squadron in Mildenhall, England, checks an A-10 after landing in Haapsalu, Estonia, June 7, 2018.
The A-10, introduced in the 1970s, was a key component of the NATO’s frontline defense during the Cold War. It served as the main antitank platform and was equipped with heavy armaments, like the AGM-65 Maverick missile and a 30 mm Gatling gun, and was heavily armored itself in order withstand ground fire.
US Air Force Staff. Sgt. Clinton Kennedy, combat controller assigned to 321st Special Tactics Squadron in Mildenhall, England, marshals an A-10 after landing in Haapsalu, Estonia, June 7, 2018.
A-10 pilots were given a coloring book to help train them to recognize Soviet tanks. The book, filled with deadpan humor and titled “What you always wanted to know about the T-62 but were afraid to ask,” color-coded sections on Soviet vehicles to instruct pilots on which parts to target and which to avoid.
“The point of the article is to highlight for newly assigned pilots the improved vulnerabilities of the tank from a side or rear attack,” Andy Bush, a retired A-10 pilot, told War is Boring in 2014. Bush said he had “no idea who wrote it or where.”
Cold War planners were not optimistic about the A-10’s chances in a war. In the 1980s, the Air Force planned to put 68 A-10s at each of six forward operating bases in West Germany. Their estimates assumed a 7% loss rate for each 100 flights, meaning each forward operating base would lose at least 10 A-10s every 24 hours. At that rate, the roughly 700-plane A-10 fleet would be shot down in less than two weeks.
US Air Force Tech. Sgt. Alex Goulette, crew chief assigned to 127th Wing maintenance squadron in Selfridge, Michigan, and Staff. Sgt. Clinton Kennedy, combat controller assigned to 321st Special Tactics Squadron in Mildenhall, England, communicate with A-10 pilots about landing in Haapsalu, Estonia, June 7, 2018.
Current tensions with Russia are far from the level seen between the Soviet Union and the West during the Cold War. But the austere-landing exercise and other drills are meant to keep pilots and aircrews sharp and reassure allies.
A US Air Force A-10 practices landing on a non-operational, austere runway in Haapsalu, Estonia, June 7, 2018.
“Why did we choose Haapsalu over other areas? Inside the country of Estonia, essentially inside the Baltic region … it’s part of reassuring our NATO alliances,” Dennis said. “We continue to force-project airplanes, not just the A-10 but other NATO assets, all throughout the Baltic region. So what we have done is we’ve analyzed different areas, not just inside of Estonia, but also in Latvia and Lithuania as well, that are suitable landing sites.”
US Air Force Staff. Sgt. Clinton Kennedy, combat controller assigned to 321st Special Tactics Squadron in Mildenhall, England, marshals an A-10 after landing in Haapsalu, Estonia, June 7, 2018.
There are three important training objectives, Dennis said.
“The first is, trust the pilots right? So the larger Air Force in a whole needs to trust that the A-10 pilot group is capable of executing this in a very important mission set.”
“The next thing is the pilot trusting the airplane. As you operate this these sort of austere environments, the pilot has to have confidence that he or she can actually land in these environments, and execute the operation safely.”
“And the third, and I think equally as important, is we exercise the Special Tactics Squadrons, and other people that are involved in controlling us, and keep them proficient and current.”
Even in a training situation, landing on rough surfaces poses risks. “The airplanes can blow tires. The concrete isn’t as well grooved. In this case, the concrete is not even nearly the same as it would in a normal airfield,” Dennis said. “So there’s a lot of challenges that, physically, the airplane will face when … the rubber actually meets the concrete.”
US Air Force Master Sgt. Wolfram Stumpf, public affairs assigned to the 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard, records an A-10 Thunderbolt practice landing on a un-operational, austere runway in Haapsalu, Estonia, June 7, 2018.
“There’s a lot of detailed planning that goes into ensuring that all of these areas have been properly looked at,” Dennis added. “The Special Tactics Squadrons have a very methodical way with which they come and analyze and basically evaluate these landing surfaces.”
US Air Force Staff. Sgt. Clinton Kennedy, combat controller assigned to 321st Special Tactics Squadron in Mildenhall, England, checks the runway for foreign-object debris after A-10 landed in Haapsalu, Estonia, June 7, 2018.
The A-10, however, is the best plane for this kind of job. “The reason the A-10 does this is because it was designed to do this,” Dennis said. “In the design phase of the actual airplane, [there] was the consideration for this type of environment. So landing gear all the way up to the high-bypass engines, that sit above the airplane, all of that is specifically designed so the airplane is not just survivable, but can operate in these austere environments.”
US Air National Guard photos by Staff Sgt. Bobbie Reynolds
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Along with Flash Gordon, Joseph Campbell, and about a million other things, George Lucas was inspired by The Searchers when he created Star Wars. The director even slid a few subtle references to the film into A New Hope.
The star of The Searchers, of course, is John Wayne, so it’s cool in a full-circle kind of way that his grandson is now officially part of the Star Wars universe.
Brendan Wayne got his start in the family business in a 2001 episode of Angel, and since then he’s appeared in a lot of movies and TV shows, from Fast Furious to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to Sons of Anarchy.
In The Mandalorian, the younger Wayne appears in episodes three through six as one of the doubles for the titular character. The Wayne family is now officially part of a blockbuster world their paterfamilias helped inspire.
All in all, this is very cool, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention another less cool way the Wayne family inadvertently altered the course of Star Wars history in a way that many fans did not appreciate.
George Lucas specifically cited John Wayne in the thought process behind altering the Han-Greedo standoff in A New Hope so that Han shoots second.
Han Solo was going to marry Leia, and you look back and say, “Should he be a cold-blooded killer?” Because I was thinking mythologically — should he be a cowboy, should he be John Wayne? And I said, “Yeah, he should be John Wayne.” And when you’re John Wayne, you don’t shoot people [first] — you let them have the first shot. It’s a mythological reality that we hope our society pays attention to.
John Wayne was such an influential actor that he was synonymous with a certain rugged moral masculinity, something many fans would argue led Lucas astray when he altered A New Hope to make Solo more Wayne-like. Lucas tinkered with the scene yet again, it became one of the biggest stories on Disney+ launch day, though you could hardly blame John Wayne for either kerfuffle.
You also can’t blame Brendan Wayne, whose presence in episodes 3 through 6 of The Mandalorian is the kind of cool trivia that will make fans happy, not angry.
This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.
A US soldier stationed in South Korea has “tested positive” for COVID-19, the military said in a statement on Wednesday morning.
The 23-year-old unnamed male soldier is in self-quarantine at an off-base residence, the US military added. Health officials are investigating whether others were exposed, as the soldier had visited several US bases in the country, including Camps Walker and Carroll, in the past week.
The incident marks the first time a US service member tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
United States Forces Korea “is implementing all appropriate control measures to help control the spread of COVID-19 and remains at risk level ‘high’ for USFK peninsula-wide as a prudent measure to protect the force,” the military said in a statement.
A 61-year-old widowed US military dependent was previously found to have tested positive in the country on Monday, prompting US forces to raise the risk level to “high.”
The woman visited a post exchange, the military’s shopping center, at Camp Walker in Daegu, where South Korean health officials have cautioned there was a “high possibility that COVID-19 could spread nationwide.”
“We are going to begin to limit all soldier movement,” US Army Col. Michael Tremblay, the garrison commander of Camp Humphreys, said on Tuesday.
South Korea is addressing an influx of confirmed coronavirus cases, which have passed 1,100 in the country. At least 11 people there have died of COVID-19.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday issued a travel advisory warning that people should avoid all nonessential travel to South Korea.
To oust a dictator as terrible as Liberia’s Charles Taylor, some warlords committed even more heinous crimes. Taylor is now serving a 50-year sentence in the UK after being convicted of 11 war crimes in the Hague in 2013.
Joshua Milton Blahyi went by a different name when he controlled the streets of Liberia’s capital of Monrovia during its 14-year civil war. Going into urban combat wearing nothing but sneakers and a crazed look, he earned the title “General Butt Naked.”
Warlords in the streets of Liberia from 1989-2003 were given names based in popular culture. It spawned such nicknames as “General Bin Laden” and “General Rambo.”
While “General Butt Naked” may sound laughable as a nom de guerre, the warlord’s methods were anything but funny. Of the 250,000-some Liberians killed in the conflict, Blahyi estimates he is responsible for at least 20,000.
The crimes he freely admits to don’t stop there. He recruited children to act as his street enforcers, teaching them that killings and mutilations were all part of a game. And so they would also fight naked in the streets of Monrovia. Blahyi himself was a teenager when the conflict broke out.
Anecdotal evidence of the atrocities committed by “General Butt Naked” is numerous and graphic.
When Taylor was finally ousted in 2003, the man once known as “General Butt Naked” began a new life as a pastor. These days, when he isn’t preaching, he visits the families of his victims and begs for forgiveness — complete forgiveness. He doesn’t want lip service; he wants the biblical forgiveness that comes from the victim’s heart.
Those victims don’t want any part of it. Only 19 of the 76 families he has visited heard him out. The remainder goes about as well as one might expect.
At least one former soldier will attest to the work of Blahyi’s NGO, “Journeys Against Violence.” Luke Barren told Reuters that he earned his job as a mason because of Blahyi’s effort. Other say Blahyi’s whole enterprise is a farce combined with a cash grab.
The former warlord walks free where Taylor is imprisoned because of jurisdictional rules in The Hague. The court can only prosecute war crimes committed after its founding in 2002. There was never a special tribunal for prosecuting war crimes in Liberia, as there was from Rwanda, Cambodia, and the former Yugoslavia.
In the opening days of 1991’s Operation Desert Storm, ships and aircraft from the United States, Great Britain, and Canada, intercepted the Iraqi Navy as it tried to flee into Iran. The resulting battle in the waters between the Shatt al-Arab waterway and Bubiyan Island was one of the most lopsided naval engagements in history, and the Iraqi Navy essentially ceased to exist.
Desert Storm did not go well for Iraq.
Operation Desert Storm kicked off in earnest on Jan. 17, 1991 as Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces refused to leave Kuwait, the neighbor it invaded just a few months earlier. When the deadline to leave passed, Coalition forces took action. One of those actions involved massive naval forces in the Persian Gulf. In the face of this overwhelming opposition, Iraq’s Navy decided to follow the example of Iraq’s Air Force.
They would immediately gear up, head out, and attempt to escape to Iran and away from certain death. Unlike the Air Force, the Navy never quite made it.
Iraq’s Air Force: Property of Iran.
Allied naval forces were actually the first to respond to Iraqi aggression. A joint American-Kuwaiti task force captured Iraqi oil platforms, took prisoners on outlying Iraqi islands, and intercepted an Iraqi attempt to reinforce its amphibious invasion of the Saudi Arabian city of Khafji – those reinforcements never arrived. Instead, the ships they were on were annihilated by Coalition ships.
Any remaining Iraqi Navy ships tried to escape to Iranian territorial waters in a mad dash to not die a fiery, terrible death. They were counting on the idea that small, fast, and highly maneuverable missile craft could make littoral waters too dangerous for heavy oceangoing ships.
Back when Battleships weren’t museums.
In the end, upwards of 140 Iraqi ships were either destroyed by Coalition forces or fled into the hands of the Iranian Navy. American and British ships, British Lynx helicopters, and Canadian CF-18 Hornets made short work of the aging flotilla, in what became known as the “Bubiyan Turkey Shoot.”
The only shot Iraq’s navy was able to fire in return was a Silkworm missile battery, from a land-based launcher, at the American battleship USS Missouri. The missile was destroyed by a Sea Dart missile from the UK’s HMS Gloucester, rendering it as effective as the rest of Iraq’s Navy.