The insane life of this Holocaust survivor and Special Forces veteran - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

The insane life of this Holocaust survivor and Special Forces veteran

For most people, surviving the Holocaust in Nazi-occupied Europe would be the defining moment of their lives. Men like Maj. Gen. Sidney Shachnow aren’t most people. The Lithuanian-born Shachnow survived a forced labor camp and went on to join the U.S. Army, serve in Vietnam, and lead the Army Special Forces’ ultra-secret World War III would-be suicide mission in Berlin during the Cold War.


He was only in his mid-50s when the Berlin Wall came down. After almost 40 years in the U.S. Army, he was inducted in the Infantry Officer’s Hall of Fame and is still regarded as a Special Forces legend. He passed away in his North Carolina home at age 83 on Sept. 18, 2018. His life and service are so legendary, inside and out of the Special Forces community, that it’s worth another look.

The insane life of this Holocaust survivor and Special Forces veteran
A Young Shachnow (Courtesy of US Army)

Shachnow was born in Soviet Lithuania in 1934. In 1941, an invasion from Nazi Germany overran the Red Army in the opening stages of Operation Barbarossa. Initially greeted as liberators, the Nazis soon began their policy of Lebensraum – “living space” – to create room for German settlers to populate areas of Eastern Europe that Hitler believed should be reserved for the greater German Reich.

This meant the people already living in those areas, which included Shachnow’s native Lithuania, would have to be removed — either through physically removing them or extermination. The young Shachnow was not only a native Lithuanian, he was also from a Jewish family. He spent three years in the Kovno concentration camp. He survived where most of his extended family did not. When the Red Army liberated the camp, Shachnow fled West.

“After I finished that experience, I was very cynical about people,″ he told the Fayetteville Observer. “I didn’t trust people. I thought that there is a dark side to people. If you leave things to people, they’ll probably screw things up.″

The insane life of this Holocaust survivor and Special Forces veteran
Shachnow’s Basic Training Photo. (U.S. Army)

He escaped his past life on foot, traveling across Europe, headed west across the then-burgeoning Iron Curtain, and eventually found himself in U.S.-occupied Nuremberg. There, he worked selling rare goods on the black market until he was able to get a visa to the United States.

By 1950, the young man obtained his visa and moved to the United States, eventually settling in Salem, Mass. to go to school. He was ultimately unsuccessful there because he could hardly speak English. The place he did find acceptance was in the U.S. Army. He enlisted and worked to receive his high school education as he quickly gained rank. After he made Sergeant First Class in the 4th Armored Division in 1960, he earned a commission as an Army infantry officer. In 1962, he joined the outfit where he would spend the next 32 years: The U.S. Army’s Special Forces.

He put on his Green Beret just in time to serve in the Vietnam War. Assigned to Detachment A-121, he was at An Long on Vietnam’s Mekong River border with Cambodia. He served two tours in the country, earning a Silver Star and, after being wounded in an action against Communist troops, the Purple Heart.

While fighting in Vietnam, then-Capt. Shachnow was shot in the leg and arm. According to biographers, these both happened in a single action. He applied tourniquets to both wounds and continued fighting, trying to ensure all his men were well-led and came out alive. As he recovered from his wounds, he was sent home from his first tour, only to come down with both tuberculosis and Typhoid Fever. He recovered from those illnesses along with a few others.

After recovering from his wounds and illnesses, he returned to the United States, where he earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska and a promotion to Major. He was sent back to Vietnam, this time with the 101st Airborne, with whom he earned a second Silver Star.

In Vietnam he felt the very real heat of the Cold War against Communism but it would be his next assignment – on the front line of the Cold War – that would be his most memorable, most defining, most secret, and certainly the craziest. He was sent to a divided Berlin to command Detachment A, Berlin Brigade.

The unit’s orders were to prepare to disrupt the Soviet Bloc forces from deep inside enemy territory in the event of World War III. It was a suicide mission and they all knew it. To a man, they carried out these orders anyway.

For 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for years on end, the men of Special Forces Detachment A Berlin squared off against foreign militaries, East German and Russian intelligence agencies, and other diplomatic issues. They wore civilian clothes and carried no real identification — the very definition of a “spook.”

These men trained and prepared for global war every day of their service in Berlin. Capture meant torture and death, even in the daily routine of their regular jobs, and Sidney Shachnow was their leader. He was so successful that the reality of Det-A’s mission didn’t come to light until relatively recently in American history. When the Berlin Wall fell, he was the overall commander of all American forces in Berlin.

He was in command of the city at the heart of the country responsible for the deaths of his family members.

The insane life of this Holocaust survivor and Special Forces veteran
(U.S. Army photo)

After the Cold War, Shachnow went on to earn degrees from Shippenburg State College and Harvard as well as the rank of Major General. He commanded the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center, Army Special Forces Command, and became Chief of Staff, 1st Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, among other assignments. He was inducted as a Distinguished Member of the Special Forces Regiment in 2007. His autobiography, Hope Honor, was published in 2004.

He died in the care of his wife Arlene at age 83 in Southern Pines, North Carolina. Gone, but not forgotten.


Feature image: U.S. Army photo

MIGHTY HISTORY

How a destroyer won a World War II battle with only potatoes

The USS O’Bannon was named for the legendary Marine Corps hero Presley O’Bannon, who famously led a ragtag group of Marines and mercenaries in a daring overland expedition to surprise an enemy in North Africa. The World War II-era destroyer became a ship worthy of its namesake just a year after it was launched, surprising an enemy Japanese submarine – not with cunning or guile, but with potatoes.

Lots of potatoes.


The insane life of this Holocaust survivor and Special Forces veteran

O’Bannon would also serve in the Korean War and in Vietnam.

It’s not as if the O’Bannon didn’t have real armaments. The ship carried 17 anti-aircraft guns, torpedo tubes, depth charges, and .38-caliber deck guns. O’Bannon was a floating death machine. It just so happened that its potato store was all it needed in this one instance.

The ship had been running support missions in the Pacific Theater since it was launched the previous year. After the O’Bannon joined in the shelling of the Solomon Islands in 1943, it was cruising its way back to its home station in the middle of the night. That’s when it came upon the enemy sub known as RO-34.

The insane life of this Holocaust survivor and Special Forces veteran

RO-34 had no idea the Fletcher-class destroyer, a good-sized ship displacing 2,000 tons and carrying a buttload of weapons at its disposal, was in the vicinity. RO-34 was moving along, on the surface, as its crew dozed silently. O’Bannon had the drop on the enemy boat. And yet, despite the O’Bannon’s buttload of weaponry, the skipper decided to ram the submarine instead.

As the destroyer careened toward the submarine that was half its size, ready to send it to the bottom, someone aboard the U.S. destroyer surmised the sub could be a minelayer and take the O’Bannon to the bottom of the ocean in the resulting explosion. The ship turned rudder in a hurry, only to find itself now alongside its determined enemy. They were too close to use that buttload of weapons – or even their sidearms.

The insane life of this Holocaust survivor and Special Forces veteran

The Japanese naturally flipped the f*ck out when they realized they were next to an American destroyer. They scrambled, running for the ship’s deck guns, which were the perfect weapon to use on the O’Bannon. The fortunes of the battle just changed 180 degrees. They needed to buy time to keep the enemy away from the deck guns while creating distance enough to use their own weapons – they looked around for anything they could chuck at the Japanese sailors.

Luckily, they had been carrying bins of potatoes on the deck, and the Americans began to throw them at the crew of RO-34, who promptly began to flip the f*ck out once more. The half-asleep Japanese sailors thought they were hand grenades.

The insane life of this Holocaust survivor and Special Forces veteran

The thud of potatoes thrown at high velocity on a metal hull might have the sound of a grenade hitting a similar surface, but for those in doubt, remember what was happening to the Japanese crew. First, they were just woken from a deep sleep. Second, their alarm clock was a giant enemy ship coming at them at full speed. Third, they were likely confused as to why the Americans decided to come alongside them to throw stuff at them, rather than just shoot them. And finally, who throws potatoes in the middle of World War II instead of trying to kill the enemy? The Japanese had no way of knowing the thuds could be spuds.

The potatoes gave the O’Bannon time to get far enough away to use its real weapons, which it did, hitting RO-34 hard before the sub dove into the dark sea. The destroyer then moved over the submarine’s position and finished it off with depth charges.

The crew was later presented with a plaque to commemorate the potato incident – from the Association of Maine Potato Growers.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Air Force is finally designing female-specific flight equipment

The Air Force is working to redesign the gear used by female pilots across the force after facing challenges with current flight equipment.

“We have women performing in every combat mission, and we owe it to them to have gear that fits, is suited for a woman’s frame and (one) can be in for hours on end,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein at a Defense Writers Group breakfast, March 2018 in Washington, D.C.

The majority of the equipment currently worn by pilots was built off anthropometric data from the 1960s, a time when only men were in aviator roles.

The lack of variety and representation in the current designs have caused multiple issues for women, said Col. Samantha Weeks, the 14th Flying Training Wing commander, assigned to Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi.


Many of the uniform issues circulate around G-suits, flight suits, urinary devices and survival vests.

“The challenges other female aviators and I face are the fit and availability of our flight equipment,” said Capt. Lauren Ellis, 57th Adversary Tactics Group executive officer.

Limited sizes and accessibility often force aircrew to order the wrong size and have it extensively altered to fit properly, taking time and money away from the mission, Ellis said.

The insane life of this Holocaust survivor and Special Forces veteran

A participant of the Female Flight Equipment Workshop writes down issues women experience with current urinary devices at AFWERX Vegas, Las Vegas, Jan. 30, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailee A. Darbasie)

“All of the bladders on my G-suit need to be modified,” Ellis said. “It’s a lot of work for the Aircrew Flight Equipment, or AFE, Airmen. Even after they’re modified, the proportions don’t fit.”

G-suits are vital anti-gravity gear for aviators. The bladders in the suit fill with air and apply pressure to the pilot’s body to prevent a loss of consciousness during high levels of acceleration. Not having a properly fitted G-suit could lead to hypoxia followed by unconsciousness.

Ellis said ill-fitting flight suits are a common problem for men and women. Aircrew who are significantly above or below average height have a hard time finding suits that fit their body type.

Even if a woman found a flight suit close to her size, the flight-suit zipper is designed for men—not women. Female aircrew struggle with relieving themselves during flights because the flight-suit zipper isn’t designed low enough for them to properly use their urinary devices.

“There are flight suits that were designed with longer zippers for women, but they’re almost never available,” Ellis said. “It’s common for females to have to wait months to receive the flight suit they’ve ordered which causes them to have to wear the male one.”

The insane life of this Holocaust survivor and Special Forces veteran

Participants of the Female Flight Equipment Workshop review various flight-suits designs at AFWERX Vegas, Las Vegas, Jan. 30, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailee A. Darbasie)

Along with the possibility of injury and discomfort associated with G-suits and flight suits, women struggle to get their life-saving gear to fit accordingly. The process of ejecting is so powerful, even pilots with well-fitting gear are at a serious risk of injury. It’s important for aviators to be heard and the modernization of equipment for everyone continues, Ellis said.

“In certain situations, having ill-fitting gear, such as harnesses and survival vests, can result in a loss of life,” Ellis said. “If an aircrew member ejects from the aircraft with equipment that doesn’t fit, they can be severely injured or lose their life.”

The Air Force and Air Combat Command are working to find a feasible solution for aircrew members.

Part of the strategy to correct the uniform problem was to take part in several collaborative Female Flight Equipment Workshops at AFWERX Vegas. Female Airmen stationed across the globe traveled to the innovation hub and attended the workshops to explore areas of opportunity and come up with proposed solutions.

“The purpose of the workshops is to bring together female aviators, Aircrew Flight Equipment, Human Systems Program Office personnel and subject matter experts to understand the current products, the acquisition process and the actual needs from the field,” Weeks said.

Throughout the workshops, aviators participated in briefings, as well as discussions and exercises with the agencies involved in the design and distribution of their gear.

“The Human Systems Program Office acquires and sustains all equipment for male and female Airmen,” said Lt. Col. Elaine Bryant Human Systems Program Office deputy chief, assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. “We are committed to hearing our consumers’ voices, and we will make the changes necessary to our current process to meet their needs.”

The insane life of this Holocaust survivor and Special Forces veteran

Participants of the Female Flight Equipment Workshop discuss the advantages and disadvantages of multiple- piece body armor at AFWERX Vegas, Las Vegas, Jan. 30, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailee A. Darbasie)

The workshops established the communication needed between the consumer, designers and suppliers to reach a mutual goal of understanding and development.

“We now have some pretty clear actions coming out of the Female Flight Equipment Workshops,” Bryant said. “We’ve heard the feedback, and we want to make sure we have actionable things we’re accomplishing within specific time frames for our consumers.”

The Human Systems Program Office will strive to make progressive changes within their operations and better their acquisition process, explained Bryant.

“We will take the field up on their offers of coming out to the units and meeting the aircrew for whom we supply,” Bryant said. “We’ll ensure we maintain the lines of communication needed to better our program.”

Another major improvement for female aviators is the adoption of the Battlefield Airmen Rapid Resource Replenishment System, a centrally managed equipment facility. BARS is capable of shipping needed resources directly to female aircrew. Using this system will allow women to acquire the proper fitting equipment they need within an acceptable timeline.

“BARS is a step in the right direction,” Ellis said. “Everyone deserves to have equipment that fits them. There are certain things we have to adapt to, but as long as we’re trying to improve and modernize our gear, we can be a more ready and lethal force.”

“The Air Force has evolved over the years and continues to evolve,” Weeks echoed. “Female aviators entering the Air Force now will not have the same issues I had over the last 21 years.”

Information from an ACC news feature was used in this story.

This article originally appeared on United States Air Force. Follow @USAF on Twitter.

popular

Here is how a Chinook pulled off that amazing rescue on Mt. Hood

A video made the rounds awhile back of a CH-47 Chinook pulling off an amazing rescue on the slopes of Mt. Hood in central Oregon. If you’ve seen it, you may be wondering just how the heck that happened — after all, the Chinook is a very big helo that isn’t known for its maneuverability, like the Apache, or its versatility, like the Blackhawk. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and watch it below.


 

The maneuver used on Mt. Hood, an active volcano that reaches about 11,240 feet high according to the United States Geological Service, is not exactly unusual. This technique is known as a “pinnacle landing” and has been commonly performed by the Chinook in combat theaters, most notably Afghanistan. The concept is simple — execution, however, is not. To carry out this kind of landing, the CH-47 pilot will orient the aircraft so that the aft gear is on the terrain while the front gear remains in midair. Personnel and cargo can then be loaded (or unloaded) in otherwise treacherous terrain.

This same approach works for rooftops as well. This technique allows small units to be delivered to otherwise inaccessible locations, which is an awesome advantage for American and allied troops. According to a release by the Canadian Forces, the maneuver isn’t mechanically difficult, but requires a good deal of crew coordination as the pilots up front are operating blindly.

The insane life of this Holocaust survivor and Special Forces veteran
A Royal Canadian Air Force CH-147F Chinook, roughly equivalent to a CH-47F used by the United States Army, carries out a pinnacle landing during RIMPAC 2016.
(Sgt Marc-André Gaudreault, Valcartier Imaging Services)

 

“We are very reliant on the Flight Engineers and Loadmasters in the back to help land the aircraft — they are in the best position to pick the exact landing point and then provide us with a constant verbal picture of where the wheels are,” Major Robert Tyler explained in the release.

The insane life of this Holocaust survivor and Special Forces veteran
A CH-47 deposits troops while carrying out a pinnacle landing during the Battle of Tora Bora.
(Department of Defense)

 

One of the earliest recorded instances of employing this landing technique was in 2002, during the Battle of Tora Bora. That theater, in particular, is known for sheer cliffs and steep crags, making this technique an essential for depositing and extracting troops.

It’s not often that we see this maneuver get caught on video, which is what makes the recent Mt. Hood rescue such a rare affair.

The insane life of this Holocaust survivor and Special Forces veteran
While it is simple, the key to a successful pinnacle landing is coordination among the crew — practice makes perfect!
(US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Hoskins)

 

What’s most impressive about this is that the CH-47 in question was flown by National Guard personnel.

The CH-47, a transport helicopter, isn’t exactly known for its search-and-rescue capabilities, but if it weren’t for some political maneuverings, these types of rescues would be much more common.

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US Defense Chief says nukes still ‘bedrock’ of American security

Defense Secretary Ash Carter kicked off a visit to DoD’s nuclear deterrence enterprise, telling airmen at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, that DoD will invest, innovate and sustain to rebuild that enterprise’s capabilities that remain the bedrock of U.S. defense strategy.


The secretary spoke at a hangar on the flightline of the base. He thanked the airmen at the base, and by extension, thanked the thousands of other technicians who man, maintain, guard and operate the bombers, ICBMs, ballistic missile submarines and the command-and-control systems around the world.

“As you know, everyone has their role to play,” he said, “and while each physical piece is important, it’s really the people who make the whole greater than the sum of the parts.”

The insane life of this Holocaust survivor and Special Forces veteran
An unarmed LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at Launch Facility-4 on Vandenberg Air Force Base Calif. The Minuteman III ICBM is an element of the nation’s strategic deterrent forces under the control of the Air Force Global Strike Command. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Lael Huss)

The secretary emphasized throughout his talk with the airmen that America’s nuclear deterrence is the bedrock of U.S. security and the highest priority mission in the Defense Department.

“Because while it is a remarkable achievement that in the more than seven decades since 1945, nuclear weapons have not again been used in war, that’s not something we can ever take for granted,” he said. “And that’s why today, I want to talk about how we’re innovating and investing to sustain that bedrock.”

Carter has a long history with the nuclear mission, working in the 1980s on basing for the MX missile system. He speaks from experience when he says the deterrence mission has both remained the same and changed.

“At a strategic level, of course, you deter large-scale nuclear attack against the United States and our allies,” he said. “You help convince potential adversaries that they can’t escalate their way out of failed conventional aggression. You assure allies that our extended deterrence guarantees are credible — enabling many of them to forgo developing nuclear weapons themselves, despite the tough strategic environment they find themselves in and the technological ease with which they could develop such weapons.”

The nuclear deterrent also provides an umbrella under which service members accomplish conventional missions around the world, the secretary said.

But the nuclear landscape has changed and it will continue to pose challenges, Carter said.

“One way the nuclear landscape has changed: we didn’t build new types of nuclear weapons or delivery systems for the last 25 years, but others did, at the same time that our allies in Asia, the Middle East, and NATO did not,” the secretary said, “so we must continue to sustain our deterrence.”

Russia has modernized its nuclear arsenal, and there is some doubt about Russian leaders’ strategies for the weapons.

“Meanwhile, North Korea’s nuclear and missile provocations underscore that a diverse and dynamic spectrum of nuclear threats still exists,” Carter said. “So our deterrence must be credible, and extended to our allies in the region.”

North Korea is building nuclear warheads and the means to deliver them, the secretary said. The North Korean threat spurs spending on missile defense in the United States and the deployment of systems to South Korea, he added.

“We back all of that up with the commitment that any attack on America or our allies will be not only defeated, but that any use of nuclear weapons will be met with an overwhelming and effective response,” Carter said.

India and China are behaving responsibly with their nuclear enterprises, the secretary said.

“In Iran, their nuclear aspirations have been constrained and transparency over their activities increased by last year’s nuclear accord, which, as long as it continues to be implemented, will verifiably prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Carter said. “The last example I’ll cite is Pakistan, where nuclear weapons are entangled in a history of tension, and while they are not a threat to the United States directly, we work with Pakistan to ensure stability.”

Despite the changes since the end of the Cold War, the nature of deterrence has not changed, the secretary said.

“Even in 2016, deterrence still depends on perception — what potential adversaries see, and therefore believe — about our will and ability to act,” he said. “This means that as their perceptions shift, so must our strategy and actions.”

A large-scale nuclear attack is not likely, the secretary said. The most likely scenario is “the unwise resort to smaller but still unprecedentedly terrible attacks, for example by Russia or North Korea, to try to coerce a conventionally superior opponent to back off or abandon an ally during a crisis,” Carter said. “We cannot allow that to happen, which is why we’re working with our allies in both regions to innovate and operate in new ways that sustain deterrence and continue to preserve strategic stability.”

NATO is reexamining the nuclear strategy to integrate conventional and nuclear deterrence to deter Russia, he said.

Meanwhile, across the Pacific, the United States engages in formal deterrence dialogues with its allies Japan and South Korea, Carter said, “to ensure we’re poised to address nuclear deterrence challenges in Asia.”

Carter said the U.S. is taking steps to ensure that its nuclear triad — bombers, ICBMS and ballistic missile submarines — do not become obsolete.

“We’re now beginning the process of correcting decades of under-investment in nuclear deterrence,” the secretary said.

The Pentagon has underfunded its nuclear deterrence enterprise since the end of the Cold War, Carter added.

“Over the last 25 years since then, we only made modest investments in basic sustainment and operations, about $15 billion a year,” he said. “And it turned out that wasn’t enough.”

The fiscal year 2017 budget request invests a total of $19 billion in the nuclear enterprise, Carter said. Over the next five years, he said, plans call for the department to spend $108 billion to sustain and recapitalize the nuclear force and associated strategic command, control, communications, and intelligence systems.

The budget also looks to modernization, the secretary said. Plans call for replacing old ICBMs with new ones that will be less expensive to maintain, keeping strategic bombers effective in the face of more advanced air defense systems, and building replacements for the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, the secretary said.

“If we don’t replace these systems, quite simply they will age even more, and become unsafe, unreliable, and ineffective,” Carter said. “The fact is, most of our nuclear weapon delivery systems have already been extended decades beyond their original expected service lives. So it’s not a choice between replacing these platforms or keeping them. It’s really a choice between replacing them or losing them. That would mean losing confidence in our ability to deter, which we can’t afford in today’s volatile security environment.”

While these plans are expensive, they are only a small percentage of total defense spending, the secretary said.

“In the end, though, this is about maintaining the bedrock of our security,” Carter said. “And after too many years of not investing enough, it’s an investment that we as a nation have to make, because it’s critical to sustaining nuclear deterrence in the 21st century.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Everything you need to know about the protests rocking Iran

Iran was rocked this week by the largest protests in the country since 2009.


Pro- and anti-government demonstrators took to the streets starting Dec. 28, 2017, and gradually moved from the outer cities into the capital, Tehran, and Iran’s second-largest city, Mashhad.

At least 20 people were dead as of Jan. 2. As of Jan.1, six people were dead in the small city of Tuyserkan, two in the city of Dorud, two in the southwestern city of Izeh, and two in Lorestan province.

The protests have attracted global attention, and footage of the action has been shared hundreds of thousands of time on social media.

The demonstrations became so widely publicized that Iran blocked access to Instagram and a popular messaging app used by activists to organize and discuss the protests.

Here’s what you need to know about the demonstrations:

Demonstrators began taking to the streets on Dec. 28, 2017.

 

At first, they were protesting against Iran’s dire economic downturn and the skyrocketing prices of basic necessities like eggs and poultry.

As things gained steam, however, the demonstrations took on a more political edge, with activists accusing the Iranian government of corruption and calling on Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to step down.

The protests drew global attention as activists began posting photos and videos of the demonstrations to social media.

 

Footage of the action has been shared hundreds of thousands of time on social media. Some videos showed protesters chanting “Death to the dictator!” and “Death to Rouhani,” the Iranian president.

Other footage showed activists shouting slogans like “We don’t want Islamic Republic!”

As the demonstrations escalated, pro-government protesters flooded the streets on Saturday to counter the anti-corruption activists.

Iranian hard-liners who support President Hassan Rouhani, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the clerical establishment of the Islamic Republic came out in droves this weekend to retaliate against the demonstrators.

Demonstrations exploded after that.

 

Activists came out in full force after pro-government demonstrators rallied on Saturday.

The protests moved from outer cities into Iran’s capital city, Tehran. They also shook Iran’s second-largest city, Mashhad.

Police officers used tear gas and water cannons to disperse crowds as the demonstrations grew rowdier.

Also Read: Iran threatens to drop missiles on US bases if White House imposes new sanctions

And when that happened, state media was also forced to acknowledge that it had not initially reported on the protests on the orders of security officials.

“Counterrevolution groups and foreign media are continuing their organized efforts to misuse the people’s economic and livelihood problems and their legitimate demands to provide an opportunity for unlawful gatherings and possibly chaos,” state TV said of the protests.

But Iranian officials and state media added that citizens had the right to protest and have their voices heard on social issues.

Two people were killed overnight, becoming the first deaths attributed to the rallies.

That number grew to 12 deaths by Monday and at least 20 by Tuesday.

In addition to the 20 reported deaths, hundreds of protesters have been arrested since Thursday. One Iranian, who requested anonymity, told Reuters there was a heavy police presence in Tehran.

“I saw a few young men being arrested and put into police van,” he said. “They don’t let anyone assemble.”

On Sunday, Telegram CEO Pavel Durov said on Twitter that authorities had cut off access to the app.

 

“Iranian authorities are blocking access to Telegram for the majority of Iranians after our public refusal to shut down … peacefully protesting channels,” he wrote.

Activists were using Telegram to organize and discuss the protests, and they also used Instagram to share photos and videos of the demonstrations.

State media confirmed that both Instagram and Telegram had been blocked, with a source saying it was done as a safety measure.

The Iranian government is denying responsibility for the deaths and unrest.

 

Authorities said Iranian security forces were not responsible for the deaths and instead blamed Sunni Muslim extremists and foreign actors.

Rouhani said demonstrators had the right to protest the government, and he also acknowledged that some of the protesters’ grievances were legitimate. He added, however, that the demonstrations should not devolve into violence or anti-government chants.

“The USA is watching very closely.”

US President Donald Trump weighed in on the unrest this weekend.

“The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most….” he tweeted. “Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice. The world is watching!”

“Big protests in Iran,” he later added. “The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism. Looks like they will not take it any longer. The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!”

Trump continued tweeting about the Iran protests on Tuesday, writing, “The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime. All of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their “pockets.” The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights. The U.S. is watching!”

 

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said: “The Iranian government is being tested by its own citizens. We pray that freedom and human rights will carry the day.”

Rouhani pushed back on Trump’s remarks, saying the US president had no right to sympathize with protesters because he “called the Iranian nation terrorists a few months ago.”

Articles

That time Taylor Swift dropped in on a World War II vet

World War II vets often have tales of meeting Hollywood stars doing USO tours. Well, Clyde Porter has one that is a lot more recent.


According to a report by the BBC, Porter got something many vets wished they got from Ingrid Bergman (among others), 71 years after the end of World War II.

This visit was from none other than music superstar and sometime actress Taylor Swift!

Porter’s been a fan of Ms. Swift – one of her oldest – as a way to get closer with his grandchildren. He told a local TV station that he’d taken two of his granddaughters to some of her concerts.

Well, word got back to the superstar, and she decided to surprise Mr. Porter, who saw action in the European Theater of Operations.

And what a surprise it was! She dropped by the 96-year-old vet’s home, spending hours with the family, and giving them a private performance of her hit “Shake it Off.” Porter, who is fighting cancer, has expressed his goal is to catch a concert on Ms. Swift’s next tour.

Bravo Zulu, Taylor Swift! Here’s the video for the song she sang:

MIGHTY HISTORY

The 6 wildest conspiracy theories about Osama Bin Laden’s death

In a daring, well-documented nighttime raid, 23 Navy SEALs landed in an al-Qaida compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. They were there to kill or capture the world’s most wanted man. The entire operation lasted only 40 minutes and ended with the death of Osama bin Laden.

Or did it? That’s what the deep state, reptile aliens or any number of conspiracy theory boogeymen would want you to believe, sheeple. The truth is out there.


Imagine instead believing that the bin Laden raid wasn’t a result of years of research, intelligence work and training. Since there were no photos released to the public, some believe the government isn’t telling the whole truth about the “alleged” death of bin Laden in 2011.

The U.S. government’s reluctance to release the photos of his body and the immediate burial at sea didn’t help quash these theories, either.

You don’t have to go far on the Internet to find alternate theories about bin Laden’s death. And if this author is mysteriously killed in the coming weeks, you can be sure one of these is true. Definitely.

Osama bin Laden died in December 2001

Some say the world’s most wanted terrorist was suffering from Marfan Syndrome, a genetic mutation that affects the proteins keeping the body’s tissue together. bin Laden, according to former State Department official Dr. Steve R. Pieczenik, looked like a textbook case of the disorder. His tall frame, long limbs and long face all displayed classic symptoms.

The disease affects one in about 5,000 people and can cause sudden death and there is no definitive DNA test for it. Instead, doctors begin with judging the outward appearance of a suspected “Marfanoid” person — someone thin and often lanky, sometimes with spidery fingers and curved spines. Pieczenik claimed CIA doctors had treated OBL for Marfan, and the al-Qaida leader died just months after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Other claims say he died at the same time, but of renal failure, not Marfan Syndrome.

He didn’t die — he got a vacation.

Like all great conspiracy theories, this one is fact mixed with a healthy dose of fiction — but the facts make it just believable enough to catch on. During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the CIA flew Soviet-built weapons from Saudi Arabia to the Afghan Mujahideen during Operation Cyclone.

The conspiracy theory alleges that bin Laden became a CIA asset at this time. The CIA, partnering with Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence Agency, worked to build the mythos surrounding Osama bin Laden, so that fanatical terrorists would come to Afghanistan. Funded through the heroin trade, tacitly permitted by Pakistan, the CIA created a means to fight Islamic fundamentalism in one place.

The raid that killed bin Laden the terrorist was allegedly a means to let bin Laden the CIA asset retire. This is a theory backed by the Iranian regime.

Pakistan Captured bin Laden in 2006

This one comes from legendary investigative journalist Seymour Hersh. Hersh alleges that Pakistan’s ISI captured the terrorist in 2006 and used him as leverage to operate in Afghanistan. The ISI then sold bin Laden to the U.S., but forced them to stage the raid that killed him.

According to Hersh, when Navy SEALs arrived in Abbottabad, they were met by an ISI officer who casually walked them to bin Laden’s bedroom. The SEALs then riddled him with bullets, tore his body apart, and dispersed them throughout the Hindu Kush, just because.

Hersh’s sources for this story are both dubious and anonymous.

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Pictured: No Arabs. Definitely no Arabs here.

Bin Laden Didn’t Even Live In Abbottabad

In the London Telegraph, Abbottabad resident Bashir Qureshi dismissed the idea that bin Laden and his family lived in the area. Though the raid blew out the windows on his house, he still dismissed the idea, saying “Nobody believes it. We’ve never seen any Arabs around here, he was not here.”

The Pakistani press didn’t help. Newspapers in the country allege the raid was set up so U.S. forces would have an excuse to enter Pakistan. Former ISI officials seconded that idea in Western media, noting that someone was killed and removed by the U.S. forces during the raid, but it wasn’t bin Laden. The real bin Laden was already dead, they said, and the U.S. knew it … they just didn’t know where he died.

The U.S. Captured bin Laden Well Before 2011

Another theory promoted by the Iranian regime says that the U.S. captured and held bin Laden for years before finally killing him. Fearful that forcing the world’s most wanted terrorist to face trial in the U.S. could result in a hung jury or worse, an acquittal, the United States decided to execute him and stage his death as an elaborate raid.

This theory alleges that killing Osama bin Laden was a stunt by the Obama Administration in order to secure an election victory — even though the presidential election was more than a year away at the time.

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Science!

Bin Laden Was Literally Kept on Ice

In keeping with the “bin Laden was already dead, the United States just confirmed it” line of thinking, this theory states that the United States had either captured bin Laden after the raid on Tora Bora or that he died of renal failure well before 2011. The U.S. then allegedly froze his body in liquid nitrogen to wait for an expedient time to announce the “victory.”

The expedient times listed by proponents of this conspiracy include not clashing with the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton and knocking an episode of “Celebrity Apprentice” off the air so President Obama could thumb his nose at Donald Trump.

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

Articles

After months of political wrangling, Congress confirms the first openly gay Secretary of the Army

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Fanning at Fort Hood in September of 2015. (Photo: U.S. Army)


Sources report that the Senate Arms Services Committee has just confirmed Eric Fanning’s nomination to be Secretary of the Army. The nomination has been held up since June of 2015 when Senator John McCain, R-Az., threw a wrench in the process to protest Democratic changes to the nominations were forwarded and President Obama’s threat to veto the 2016 National Defense Authorization Bill. After that was cleared up the nomination was again thwarted by Senator Pat Roberts, R-Ks., this time over the idea that the prison at Guantanamo Bay might be closed and some of the prisoners transferred to Kansas.

Fanning, who is openly homosexual, became Air Force undersecretary in April of 2013 and served several months as acting secretary while the confirmation of now-Secretary Deborah Lee James was stuck in Congress. Before that, he was deputy undersecretary of the Navy and its deputy chief management officer from 2009-2013.

Former congressman and MSNBC television personality Patrick Murphy has been serving as acting Secretary of the Army for the last few months.

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘Top Gun 2’ will fly the F/A-18 Super Hornet, not the F-35

The actor Tom Cruise on May 31, 2018, tweeted a teaser for the long-awaited sequel to the movie “Top Gun” — and in doing so, he wandered into one of the most heated debates in modern combat aviation and delivered a savage burn to the F-35.

The original “Top Gun” film was nothing short of a revelation for the US Navy. People around the US and the world saw fighter jets in a whole new light, and naval aviation recruitment shot up by 500%.

A new “Top Gun” movie, now 32 years after the first, could again spike interest in combat aviation at a time when the US military struggles to retain and attract top talent. But for the most expensive weapons system in history, it already looks like a bust.

Here’s the poster for the new “Top Gun.”


Notice anything? The F-35C, the US Navy’s long overdue, massively expensive new carrier aircraft, is nowhere to be seen. Instead, the F-18 Super Hornet, the F-35’s main competitor, can be seen.

The F-35 community was not thrilled.

“Everybody that’s flown a fighter in the last 25 years, we all watched ‘Top Gun,'” retired US Marine Corps Lt. Col. David Berke, who flew F-35s and actually attended the US Navy’s Top Gun school, previously told Business Insider.

“Damn shame,” Berke said in response to the new movie’s choice of fighter. “I guess it will be a movie about the past!”

While experts agree that the F-35’s carrier-based variant, the F-35C, and its vertical-takeoff sister, the F-35B, represent the future of naval aviation, they’re just not ready for the big time yet.

The F-35B had its first operational deployment in 2018 in the Pacific, but the F-35C remains a ways off from adoption onto the US Navy’s fleet of aircraft supercarriers. Persistent problems with launching the sophisticated airplane off a moving ship have pushed back the schedule and resulted in huge cost overruns.

Meanwhile, the F-18 Super Hornet continues to do the lion’s share of combat-aviation work aboard aircraft carriers, and its maker, Boeing, has even offered an updated version of the plane that President Donald Trump entertained buying instead of the F-35.

In short, it’s an embarrassment to the F-35 program that mounting setbacks have pushed it out of a potentially massive public-relations boost.

“It’s a capable aircraft,” retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula, the dean of the Mitchell Institute of Aerospace Studies, told Business Insider of the Super Hornet. “It’s just last century’s design.”

He added: “It is a missed opportunity.”

Berke pointed out that the producers of the new “Top Gun” may have gone with the Super Hornet over the F-35 because the Super Hornet has two seats, which could facilitate filming and possibly on-screen dynamics.

The popular aviation blog The Aviationist also pointed out that Cruise is holding an outdated helmet and that the photo does not appear to take place at the US Navy’s Top Gun school. But Hollywood sometimes makes mistakes.

“Hollywood doesn’t build movies around what makes sense — they build movies around what makes money,” Deptula said.

But despite what might have come as a slight sting to F-35 boosters hoping a new film could help usher in what they call a revolution in combat aviation, both Berke and Deptula said they were looking forward to the film.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Army’s top 4 future weapons for destroying Russian forces

The US Army wants guns, big ones. The service is modernizing for high-intensity combat against top adversaries, and one of the top priorities is long-range precision fires.

The goal of the Long-Range Precision Fires team is to pursue range overmatch against peer and near-peer competitors, Col. John Rafferty, the team’s director of the LRPF who is part of the recently-established Army Futures Command, told reporters Oct. 10, 2018, at the Association of the United States Army conference in Washington, DC.

The Army faces challenges from a variety of Russian weapons systems, such as the artillery, multiple rocket launcher systems, and integrated air defense networks. While the Army is preparing for combat against a wide variety of adversaries, Russia is characterized as a “pacing threat,” one which has, like China, invested heavily in standoff capabilities designed to keep the US military at arms length in a fight.


The US armed forces aim to engage enemy in multi-domain operations, which involves assailing the enemy across the five domains of battle: land, air, sea, space, and cyberspace. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said the US desires “a perfect harmony of intense violence.”

Rafferty described LRPF’s efforts as “fundamental to the success of multi-domain operations,” as these efforts get at the “fundamental problem of multi-domain operations, which is one of access.”

“Our purpose is to penetrate and disintegrate enemy anti-access and area-denial (A2/AD) systems, which will enable us to maintain freedom of maneuverability as we exploit windows of opportunity,” he added.

Long-range hypersonic weapon and strategic long-range cannon

At the strategic fires level, the Army is developing a long-range hypersonic weapon and a strategic long-range cannon that could conceptually fire on targets over 1,000 miles away.

With these two systems, the Army is “taking a comprehensive approach to the A2/AD problem, one by using the hypersonic system against strategic infrastructure and hardened targets, and then using the cannon to deliver more of a mass effect with cost-effective, more-affordable projectiles … against the other components of the A2/AD complex.”

The strategic long-range cannon is something that “has never been done before.” This weapon is expected to be big, so much so that Army officials describe it as “relocatable,” not mobile. Having apparently learned from the US Navy’s debacle with the Zumwalt-class destroyer whose projectiles are so expensive the Navy can’t pay for them, the Army is sensitive to the cost-to-kill ratio.

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The Zumwalt-class destroyer

(U.S. Navy photo)

This cannon is, according to Rafferty, going to be an evolution of existing systems. The Army is “scaling up things that we are already doing.”

Precision Strike Missile 

At the operational level, the Precision Strike Missile features a lot more capability than the weapon it will ultimately replace, the aging Army tactical missile system.

“The first capability that really comes to mind is range, so out to 499 km, which is what we are limited to by the INF Treat,” Rafferty explained.” It will also have space in the base missile to integrate additional capabilities down the road, and those capabilities would involve sensors to go cross-domain on different targets or loitering munitions or sensor-fused munitions that would give greater lethality at much longer ranges.”

Extended Range Cannon Artillery 

At the tactical level, the Army is pushing ahead on the Extended Range Cannon Artillery, “which takes our current efforts to modernize the Paladin and replaces the turret and the cannon tube with a new family of projectiles that will enable us to get out to 70 km,” the colonel told reporters. “We see 70 km as really the first phase of this. We really want to get out to 120 and 130 km.”

And there is the technology out there to get the Army to this range. One of the most promising technologies, Rafferty introduced, is an air-breathing Ramjet projectile, although the Army could also go with a solid rocket motor.

The Army has already doubled its range from the 30 km range of the M777 Howitzer to the 62 miles with the new ERCA system, Gen. John Murray, the first head of Army Futures Command, revealed in October 2018, pointing to the testing being done out at the Yuma proving grounds in Arizona.

“We are charged to achieve overmatch at echelon that will enable us to realize multi-domain operations by knocking down the systems that are designed to create standoff and separate us,” Rafferty said. “Long-range fire is key to reducing the enemy’s capability to separate our formations. It does that from a position of advantage.”

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

These were the original political parties (and what they stood for)

The United States hasn’t always been a multi-party system. Today, Republicans and Democrats make up a majority of the political population, while institutions like Reform, Libertarian, Socialist, Natural Law, Constitution and Green Parties all come into play. But before there were donkeys and elephants, there were original political parties … and a debate as to whether the parties should exist at all. 

The First Party System

It began in 1792 with the country’s First Party System, which lasted until 1824. During this time there was the Federalist Party and the Anti-federalist party, which was known by several additional names, including the Democratic-Republican Party, and Jeffersonian Republic.

It’s worth noting that there were two parties based on talks among George Washington and his advisers, such as Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. However, these two advisers in particular were actually against political parties. So much so, they wrote the Federalist Papers, discussing the dangers of such allegiances. However, as time went on, they actually helped form the system itself, with Hamilton leading the Federalist party and Madison and Thomas Jefferson taking over the Democratic-Republicans. 

Federalists: Led by Alexander Hamilton, he was Washington’s Secretary of Treasury. His stance was a strong, unified government. He also wanted a central bank system, staying close with Britain, and keeping close lines of communication between rich landowners and the government. They eventually lost power by remaining too selective, with few men meeting their standards. 

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Portrait of Alexander Hamilton by Walter Robertson. Circa 1794 (Wikipedia)

Democratic-Republicans: Meanwhile, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson were opposed to the Federalist ideas. Hence, their original name of the Anti-Federalists. They wanted everything the Federalist party did not want: less government involvement, rights to vote by the common man, and freedom in the banking system. By 1800 they came into power as the Jeffersonians, effectively taking over the Federalists. However, around 1824, at the end of James Monroe’s presidency, its support dwindled. The sense of unity that was once among Americans died down and Monroe’s attempt to lessen political party led way to an entirely new system. 

The Second Party System

During this time, just after the election of 1824, new political parties were also in various stages of being formed, with certain states gaining more traction than others. This system lasted until the mid-1850s.

The Whig Party: Led by Henry Clay, a prolific politician who served in the Senate, House, and Secretary of State, evolved from the once Democratic-Republican Party. It was also evolved into the Anti-Jacksonian Party, the National Republican Party, and simply Republicans. 

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Henry Clay, founder of the Whig Party. (Public Domain)

Whigs wanted Congress to be the government’s executive branch. They grappled with others over the federal banking system — which eventually led to collapse and creation of state banks — and nepotism/favoritism among federal elected officials. With Whigs being for the former and against the latter. The party collapsed in the 1850s due to disagreements over slavery. 

The Democratic Party: Hailing from Andrew Jackson’s beliefs, the Democrats were formed in 1828, making it today’s oldest political party. During the Second Party System, Jackson was at the head of the movement, pushing for a strong presidential power. (They wanted the President to remain over other government branches.) And they were against the Federal Government’s bank, the Bank of the United States. They also disliked programs that were becoming more modern, as they believed it would be at the expense of farmers. Democrats were pro-slavery, believing that it was a practice that helped boost farming and its profits. 

The Third Party System

From the 1850s until the 1890s, the U.S. took on a third party system, featuring the previous Democrats and the newly formed Republican Party.

The Republican Party: Not surprisingly so, the Republican Party took its ties from the Whigs, which was once the National Republican Party. The Republicans are largely viewed to have had political success over this time. They claimed credit for winning the civil war and therefore saving the Union, as well as abolishing slavery. They also included several Whig mantras, such as national programs like banks, railroads, veteran pensions, and land grant colleges. Northern and Western states were mostly Republican-led, with certain states being more equally matched, like New York and New Jersey. 

The Democratic Party: This time period is considered the “Republican Interlude,” with the Democrats seeing most support in the South. The party gained from Reconstruction, and was eventually able to regain power of Congress when there was a national depression that took place in 1873. 

From then on, more states were added and therefore, the amount of land covered has also expanded. However, we continue to use these main political parties to this day. 

MIGHTY TRENDING

US quietly lowers threshold for conflict in the South China Sea

The US has been steadily ratcheting up the pressure on China’s sea forces in a way that could lower the threshold for conflict in the South China Sea, already a hotbed of tension and dispute.

The US is signaling a tougher stance toward the Chinese maritime militia, a paramilitary sea force disguised as a fishing fleet and known to harass foreign rivals to enforce China’s vast sovereignty claims in the contested waterway.

The Chinese maritime militia “thrives within the shadows of plausible deniability,” according to Andrew Erickson, a leading expert at the US Naval War College, but it can no longer hide like it once could.


The Department of Defense first called attention to the maritime militia in its 2017 report on China’s military power. The report explained that China uses its commercial fishing fleet to engage in gray-zone aggression, “to enforce maritime claims and advance its interests in ways that are calculated to fall below the threshold of provoking conflict.”

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(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Declan Barnes)

It wasn’t until this year, though, that the US really began putting pressure on the militia forces.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson warned his Chinese counterpart during a meeting in Beijing in January 2019 that the US Navy will treat coast guard and maritime militia vessels as combatants and respond to provocations the same way it would a Chinese navy ship, the Financial Times reported.

In March 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo publicly assured the Philippines that the US would come to its defense in the event that it was attacked in the South China Sea. “Any armed attack,” the secretary explained, “on Philippine forces, aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger mutual defense obligations.”

US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim clarified the earlier assurances on June 14, 2019, telling reporters that US security guarantees apply to potential acts of aggression by the Chinese maritime militia.

“Any armed attack, I would think that would include government-sanctioned militias,” the ambassador explained, according to The Philippine Star. He did not say what type of behavior would constitute an “armed attack.”

The increased pressure is intended to change China’s strategic calculus in the disputed waterway, experts argue.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

(Photo by Mark Taylor)

“By injecting greater uncertainty about how the US will respond to China’s grey-zone coercion,” Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the Financial Times, “the US hopes to deter Chinese destabilizing maritime behaviour, including its reliance on coast guard and maritime militia vessels to intimidate its smaller neighbours.”

At the same time, it potentially makes it easier for a lower-level dispute between China and its neighbors to escalate, especially considering the ambiguity surrounding both the US deterrence posture and the role of the maritime militia.

Incidents involving Chinese fishing vessels, potential members of the maritime militia, are frequent occurrences in the South China Sea. It is unclear exactly what kind of incident might trigger US defense obligations.

For instance, in April 2019, more than 200 Chinese fishing vessels allegedly swarmed Thitu Island, a Philippine-occupied territory in the Spratly Islands.

And, last week, a suspected Chinese vessel allegedly rammed a Philippine ship in the South China Sea, sinking it and then sailing off as nearly two dozen Filipino fishermen fought for their lives in open water.

China has denied allegations of misconduct.

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

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