Lethal insider attack on U.S. troops expected to continue - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Lethal insider attack on U.S. troops expected to continue

In the wake of the second deadly insider attack in Afghanistan in 2018, experts say that these incidents are an unfortunate reality of the train, advise, and assist mission: that U.S. troops cannot avoid living among killers in disguise.

The latest suspected green-on-blue attack occurred Sept. 3, 2018. Killed in the attack was Command Sgt. Major Timothy Bolyard, the top enlisted soldier for the Army’s new 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade, a unit designed for Afghan advisory missions. One other service member, who was not identified, was wounded. Afghan security personnel or insurgents wearing Afghan uniforms are suspected in the attack.


In July 2018, an insider attack killed U.S. Army Cpl. Joseph Maciel of South Gate, California and wounded two other U.S. service members, who were operating in the Tarin Kowt district of Afghanistan’s south central Uruzgan province.

Since 2007, insider attacks have killed 157 coalition personnel, according to the Modern War Institute at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The institute did not break down the numbers to show how many of the victims were U.S. personnel.

“It’s going to happen,” Jason Dempsey, an adjunct fellow for the Center for New American Security, told Military.com. “You are talking about a security force of about 300,000-plus. You’ve got changing loyalties, you’ve got desertion rates up to 25 percent … dudes are flowing out of the Afghan military nonstop.

“There is absolutely no way to stop it.”

Anthony Cordesman, the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said he is surprised that there have been so few of these attacks.

Lethal insider attack on U.S. troops expected to continue

U.S. Army Cpl. Joseph Maciel of South Gate, California.

(US Army photo)

“It’s one thing to look back and say, ‘there were some of these incidents when you had 100,000 Americans in the field, but right now they are almost the inevitable option for the Taliban,'” Cordesman said.

“We have to understand — this is a war; it is a war being fought on an ideological level and ethnic and sectarian level. … I don’t want to say that this means you can disregard these sort of attacks, but I think given the numbers it’s not surprising that they are taking place. It is surprising that [the numbers] are so low.”

The U.S. presence in Afghanistan is now mainly dedicated to the train, advise, and assist missions working with Afghan forces that in many cases have never worked with U.S. personnel before, experts maintain.

“As an advisor, your primary means of force protection is your direct Afghan counterpart and it’s your direct Afghan counterpart who has the pulse on his organization,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey, an Army infantry officer who deployed twice to Afghanistan, said he investigated a green-on-blue incident in 2012 that left two U.S. contractors dead.

“A U.S. unit just showed up and hung out at a checkpoint with a bunch of Afghans, and there was a hothead in the group of the Afghans who the Afghans knew didn’t like Americans,” Dempsey said. “He was fighting the Taliban, but he didn’t like the Americans.”

An argument ensued and a “point-blank firefight broke out,” Dempsey said.

The investigation revealed that the Afghans said “if anybody would have told us that the Americans were going to show up, that dude wouldn’t have been there,” Dempsey said.

The U.S. military is investigating the Sept. 3, 2018 attack, as it does with all attacks of this nature.

“Almost inevitably, when there is an incident like that, people on both sides almost have to overreact,” Cordesman said. “First, you have to send a message that there is discipline and retribution; second, you have to reassure people and third essentially take time to investigate because what can be just a one case could become far more dangerous if there is any kind of cell.”

Trust is something that “you are always building and rebuilding,” Cordesman added.

The Sept. 3, 2018 insider attack occurred a day after Army Gen. Scott Miller assumed command of Operation Resolute Support. The change of command comes at a time when Taliban forces have increased their attacks on high-profile targets and rejected the recent offer for a ceasefire from Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

Currently, there are about 15,000 U.S. and 6,400 NATO troops serving in Afghanistan.

“You have a very narrow, small part of American society taking all these risks for us,” Cordesman said. “We can’t eliminate those risks and be effective.”

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

Articles

The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Just a few more hours until LIBO. To help you keep your noses clean until then, here are 13 funny military memes:


1. Do not leave privates unsupervised for even a moment (via The Salty Soldier).

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Now he has to go to the aid station. Better have a specialist escort him.

2. Marine assaults aren’t what they used to be (via Sh-t my LPO says).

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At least negligent discharges aren’t a big deal anymore.

SEE ALSO: Forget ‘Suicide Squad,’ this was America’s ‘Suicide Division’

3. Learn some discipline, boot (via Linda Glocke Will Destroy ISIS).

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Also, hope you had insurance.

4. There are certain situations where it’s okay to correct your buddies (via Coast Guard Memes).

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Or, wait till formation. He’ll figure it out.

5. Ermagerd!

(via Sh-t my LPO says)

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Seriously, join the Air Force.

6. When you really wish the dog would take point …

(via Military Memes)

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… but he’s too smart for that.

7. Meanwhile, cats are not okay with ground pounding (via Air Force Nation).

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They prefer the sky.

8. “No sergeant, I haven’t gained any weight.”

(via Air Force Nation)

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The humidity probably shrank it.

9. All privates are suddenly doctoral students when the regs come up:

(via The Salty Soldier)

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10. It’s called improvisation, and the Marine Corps prides itself on it (via The Salty Soldier).

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If you wanted factory pillows, you should’ve joined the Air Force.

11. Bet you wish you had the desert camouflage uniform now, huh?

(via The Salty Soldier)

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Maybe throw a poncho or woobie over yourself.

12. It’s all “Chair Force” jokes until someone needs an A-10 gun run.

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Just remember to thank CCP after you thank God.

13. Pretty sure all other branches get most of their recruits when the Air Force is out of office.

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The Army recruiter gets his when literally all other recruiters are out of office.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This Iranian official says the nuclear deal collapse is ‘dangerous’

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has told domestic entrepreneurs that the collapse of the 2015 nuclear deal would have “very dangerous consequences” for the country.

“We can talk the deal up, or talk it down. But we should know that a failure of the deal will have very dangerous consequences for us,” Zarif told a meeting of entrepreneurs at the Iranian Chamber of Commerce in Tehran on June 24, 2018.

“This is certainly not the [Iranian political] system’s choice,” said Zarif, who helped write the landmark deal with six global powers.


Zarif did not specify what the damages would be, but he said a failure of the deal could leave Iran politically isolated.

U.S. President Donald Trump in May 2018 pulled his country out of the landmark nuclear deal that provided Iran with relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

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U.S. President Donald Trump
(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Trump said he was unhappy with the terms of the deal and with Iran’s continued testing of ballistic missiles and its support for militants in the Middle East.

Iran has denied it backs insurgents in the region and said its nuclear program was only for civilian purposes.

Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia also signed the deal and have pledged to remain in the accord.

However, many companies have pulled out of Iran for fear of being hit by U.S. sanctions if they do business with Tehran.

Iran has been negotiating with European Union leaders and other officials in hopes of keeping the deal alive and of receiving economic assurances.

President Hassan Rohani is expected to visit Switzerland and Austria in July as part of Tehran’s efforts to ensure continued European support for the deal.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

Articles

New House bill proposes providing veterans with service dogs

A new bill introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Ron DeSantis would pair eligible veterans with service dogs provided by the VA system.


“Thousands of our post-9/11 veterans carry the invisible burden of post-traumatic stress, and there is an overwhelming need to expand the available treatment options,” DeSantis said in a statement. “The VA should use every tool at their disposal to support and treat our veterans, including the specialized care offered by service dogs.”

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A Marine assigned to the Wounded Warrior Battalion West at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, learns to groom Ona, a dog from the Hawaii Fi Do, Sept. 23. Hawaii Fi Do trains dogs as either service dogs or therapy dogs and they visit wounded service members, which in turn helps relax the service members as they recover from mental or physical wounds. The dogs and U.S. Marines get together every Friday for training and enrichment. The Marines learn to train the dogs and the dogs help relax the Marines and put them in good spirits.

The Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) Act is a five-year, $10 million program to give post-9/11 veterans with a service dog and veterinary health insurance. The veteran must have been treated for PTSD and have completed an established evidence-based treatment. They must remain significantly symptomatic, rating a 3 or 4 on the PTSD scale.

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Adamari Muniz, 10, and her family meet a service dog at the Defense Commissary Agency here July 29. Milk-Bone and the DCA will donate a dog to Adamari, who suffers from epilepsy. A service dog can alleviate many of the tasks she finds difficult and give her more independence in that she will not have to ask for constant assistance.

Service dogs are known to be effective in treating veterans with anxiety disorders, physical pain, and other limitations. The animals are proven to give new life and independence to recovering veterans.

MIGHTY TRENDING

First parts of Russian S-400 missile system delivered to Turkey

Turkey’s Defense Ministry says the first parts of the S-400 Russian missile defense systems have delivered to Ankara and deliveries will continue in the coming days.

Ankara’s deal with Moscow has been a major source of tension between Turkey and Washington.

The S-400 consignment was delivered on July 12, 2019, to the Murted air base outside the capital Ankara, the ministry said, in a statement.

The announcement immediately triggered a weakening in the Turkish lira to 5.7 against the dollar from 5.6775 on July 12, 2019.

“The delivery of parts belonging to the system will continue in the coming days,” Turkey’s Defense Industry Directorate said separately.

“Once the system is completely ready, it will begin to be used in a way determined by the relevant authorities.”


Russia’s Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation confirmed the start of the deliveries, while Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on July 12, 2019, that “everything is being done in strict accordance with the two countries’ agreements,” and that “the parties are fulfilling their obligations.”

The Pentagon is scheduled to hold a press briefing on July 12, 2019, to outline its response to “Turkey accepting delivery” of the S-400 system, it said in a statement.

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22T6 loader-launcher from S-400 and S-300 systems.

The United States has said that if fellow NATO member Turkey does not cancel the S-400 deal by July 31, 2019, Ankara will be blocked from purchasing the next-generation F-35 fighter jets.

Washington has urged Turkey to purchase the U.S.-made Patriot missile system instead.

NATO has yet to react officially to the Turkish announcement, but an alliance official speaking on condition of anonymity told the AFP news agency that the 29-member bloc is “concerned about the potential consequences” of the purchase.

U.S. President Donald Trump met with Erdogan on the sidelines of last month’s G20 summit in Osaka, urging him not to proceed with the purchase of Russia’s advanced S-400 air-defense system.

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S-400 surface-to-air missile launcher.

Erdogan told Trump during their meeting on the margins of the G20 meeting in Japan that former U.S. President Barack Obama did not allow Ankara to buy Patriot missiles, an equivalent of the S-400s.

Washington has already started the process of removing Turkey from the F-35 program, halting training of Turkish pilots in the United States on the aircraft.

Ankara plans to buy 100 of the jets for its own military’s use.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

China could join the ranks of the world’s most dangerous nuclear arsenals

The Chinese military is moving toward fielding a nuclear triad, the Pentagon warns in a new report.

China appears to be close to completing its triad, meaning it will have the ability to launch nukes from land, air, and sea. A developmental air-launched ballistic missile could complete the triangle, the Department of Defense reports.

A true nuclear triad is about more than just the possessing the platforms and weapons, though.

“To have a true triad involves doctrine, it involves training, a lot of things,” Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver explained. But, he added, the Chinese military is “heading in that direction, toward having capable delivery systems in those three domains.”

Here’s what a complete Chinese “nuclear triad” might look like.


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Chinese DF-31 ICBMs.

On land, China has intercontinental missiles capable of striking the continental US.

China has approximately 90 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in its nuclear arsenal, according to the Pentagon.

These include the silo-based DF-5s, the road-mobile DF-31s, and roll-out-to-launch DF-4s. China is also developing the DF-41, a powerful new road-mobile ICBM capable of carrying multiple independent warheads.

China also has a number of nuclear-capable medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, such as the DF-21 and DF-26. While the ICBMs with their greater range could be used to target points in the US, these weapons could be used against US targets across the Pacific.

These assets are under the control of the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force.

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Chinese H-6K bomber.

In the air, China has bombers capable of carrying nuclear missiles.

In its 2018 report on China’s military, the Department of Defense revealed that the People’s Liberation Army Air Force had been re-assigned a nuclear mission.

“The PLA is upgrading its aircraft with two new air-launched ballistic missiles, one of which may include a nuclear payload,” the Pentagon explained in its 2019 report. “Its deployment and integration would, for the first time, provide China with a viable nuclear ‘triad’ of delivery systems dispersed across land, sea, and air forces.”

The Diplomat reports that this new ALBM is a two-stage, solid-fueled ballistic missile with a range of 3,000 km designated by US intelligence as CH-AS-X-13. The weapon has been tested aboard a modified H-6K bomber identified as H6X1/H-6N.

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Type 094B Jin-class ballistic missile submarine.

At sea, Chinese submarines are capable of carrying nuclear missiles.

China has four operational Type 094 Jin-class submarines, with another two being outfitted at Huludao Shipyard, the Department of Defense reports. These boats are armed with JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missiles, what the Pentagon calls China’s “first viable sea-based nuclear deterrent.”

China has already started testing new, longer-range JL-3 SLBMs that will arm the next-generation Type 096 submarines.

It is unclear if Chinese ballistic missile submarines conduct deterrence patrols, but the Pentagon operates on the assumption that they do. These assets are under the control of the People’s Liberation Army Navy.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

NovaPoint Capital provides investment management with integrity

Joseph Sroka isn’t just an investment specialist, he’s a military veteran and business owner with a passion to assist the veteran community. He is the Chief Investment Officer of NovaPoint Capital, a firm he co-founded, which provides investment management for individuals, businesses, and non-profit organizations.


Before getting into the number crunching and chart watching of the investment world, Sroka served as an infantry officer in the Army. After graduating from West Point in 1988, he was stationed in Berlin, Germany and was witness to the iconic fall of the Berlin Wall, reunification of Germany, and collapse of the Soviet Union. As a person who was inspired to serve by Ronald Reagan, seeing the end of the “Evil Empire” seemed like a good time for a career change.

“I grew up in the aftermath of the Vietnam war and was in middle school during the Iran hostage crisis,” Sroka recalls. “President Reagan brought pride back to the country and the military. I was proud to serve.”

After earning his MBA, Sroka spent time working in equity research at investment banks, hedge funds, and asset management firms in Chicago, New York, and eventually Atlanta, the city he now calls home. The investment management industry has proven as lively as the military. Sroka was working at 4 World Financial Center, across the street from the World Trade Center, on 9/11 and helped evacuate his colleagues at Merrill Lynch from the building. He has also managed through the volatility of the markets during the 2008 financial crisis.

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Joseph Sroka

His deep experience in the industry helped him develop the tools he needed to go into business with his partner, Alan Conner. Together, they decided the goal of NovaPoint Capital was to provide individuals and institutions with disciplined and transparent investment management.

We’ve both seen the ugly side of the business over the years,” Alan explains, “Excessive fees and complicated investment products seem designed to benefit the investment firms and the brokers, rather than the clients. It is very satisfying to run a firm where we truly put the client first.

As a boutique firm, they offer an aspect that is often lost when dealing with larger firms: the opportunity to build a personal one-on-one relationship directly with their clients. This structure provides clients with direct access to the manager who is handling their money and not sales representatives or relationship managers who are twice or three-times removed from the actual investment.

They recognize that a lot of trust that comes with handling investments. NovaPoint seeks to provide all clients, large and small, with complete transparency in how their money is invested. They have used technology to simplify the process and give clients a window into what the team at NovaPoint is doing every day.

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NovaPoint shows they are purposeful and disciplined when it comes to the strategies they put forth. Both owners understand discipline. Sroka as a West Point graduate and Army Ranger, Conner as an endurance athlete and three-time IRONMAN triathlon finisher. Conner sees “the discipline in our investment process as a simple extension of the discipline we have in our everyday lives.”

Being a veteran-owned business, NovaPoint understands the value the veteran community provides to the country’s economy and wants to encourage other veterans to pursue their investment and financial goals. To help veterans achieve these goals NovaPoint Capital takes a few proactive steps. They offer special discounts on standard fees as well as waiving minimum investment requirements for veterans. They extend these offers to include retirement plans for other veteran-owned businesses as well as non-profit organizations that serve the veteran community. Additionally, NovaPoint contributes one day of revenue every six months directly to veteran charities.

Beyond discounts and waived requirements, Sroka personally continues to serve veterans in his community by being a mentor through organizations like Veterati and FourBlock. “I am a huge believer that the current generation of transitioning veterans are going to be the leaders in the U.S. economy for decades to come,” Sroka said. He is also working to bring a Bunker Labs chapter to Atlanta to help military and veteran entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses in the area.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Secretary of the Navy caught carrying a weapon in a combat zone

After Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer made a special holiday appearance with troops deployed in Afghanistan, people in the military community took notice, and exception, to a picture of him with a pistol holstered on his thigh.


According to the Marine Corps, Spencer addressed a group of servicemembers at Camp Shorab, Afghanistan, on Saturday, Dec.23 with other top Marines, including Marine Corps commandant Gen. Robert Neller and Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Ronald Green.

A photo of the gathering shows a group of servicemembers listening to Spencer, who appears to have a pistol that resembles the Beretta M9 — a standard-issue pistol used by many in the military — on a holster attached to his right thigh.

“Can someone explain why the [civilian] head of the Navy is wearing a sidearm,” CNN correspondent Barbara Starr asked on Twitter in response to the photo.

 

Spencer was reportedly offered the pistol and ammunition from Marine commanders, according to a Navy spokesman cited in a San Diego Tribune report.

“He was offered the weapon to carry while he was traveling around [Afghanistan] and he accepted that offer,” the spokesman told The Tribune. “It was not something that he specifically requested and it was offered to everybody on the travel team.”

Senior military officials and VIPs are typically accompanied by an armed military personal-security detachment (PSD) or contractors for visits to combat zones. While it would not be out of the ordinary to see a uniformed senior military official carrying a pistol in a combat zone, as a civilian, some people viewed Spencer himself carrying a weapon as an unorthodox move.

Spencer was sworn in in August to become the Navy Secretary — a president-appointed and Senate-confirmed position held by a civilian to oversee all of the Navy’s operations. As a former H-46 Sea Knight pilot in the US Marine Corps, Spencer would have most likely been familiar with a pistol; however, would most likely not have been the M9, which was fielded to the military after he completed his service.

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Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer speaks with Marines and Sailors assigned to Task Force Southwest at Camp Shorab, Afghanistan, Dec. 23, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Lucas Hopkins)

“It’s odd for a senior civilian political appointee to carry a weapon in a combat zone,” Phillip Carter, the director of the Center for a New American Security’s Military, Veterans, and Society research program, told The Tribune. “But if you’re going to carry then you should do so safely, with proper training, including both weapons [qualification] and [rules of engagement] training.”

Some saw his decision to arm himself as a form of showboating:

 

 

 

 

Also Read: Former Marine Corps captain is new Navy Secretary nominee

While others pointed to the inherent dangers of being in a combat zone:

 

 

 

Although the military is allowed to issue firearms to trained federal civilian employees, it was unclear whether Spencer received authorization from appropriate leadership or if he was certified to carry a firearm, The Tribune reported.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia threatens US with nuclear doomsday device

Russia’s military and state-sponsored media have reacted with a fire and fury of their own to the news that the US will exit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), one of the last barriers preventing a full-on Cold War-like arms race in Europe — and there’s already talk of a nuclear doomsday device visiting the US.

The INF Treaty banned land-based nuclear-capable missiles with a range between 300 and 3,200 miles in 1987 when Russia and the US had populated much of Europe with intermediate-range nuclear missiles. The ban eliminated this entire class of missiles and went down as one of the most successful acts of arms control ever.


The US and NATO concluded recently that Russia had spent years developing a banned nuclear-capable weapon, thereby making the treaty meaningless. The US responded by saying it would withdraw and design its own treaty-busting missiles. Russia said it would do the same, though many suspect they have already built the missiles.

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United States President Donald Trump.

(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

But Russia’s response to the US didn’t stop there.

A BBC review of Russian newspapers, some state-owned and all adhering to state narratives or censored by the Kremlin, revealed some truly apocalyptic ideas.

“If the Americans deploy their new missiles near Russia’s borders, and in response we deploy ours, then of course, the risk of [nuclear] conflict rises sharply,” an arms-control expert told one paper.

“If US missiles are deployed in Poland or the Baltic states, they’ll be able to reach Russia in minutes. In such an event, the way Russia currently conceives using nuclear weapons, as a retaliatory strike, becomes impossible, since there won’t be time to work out which missiles have been launched against Russia, what their trajectory and their targets are,” he continued. “This is why there is now a temptation for both us and for them to adopt the doctrine of a preemptive strike.”

The expert said the INF Treaty’s demise means both the US and Russia now have to consider nuking the other at the first sign of conflict because missile attacks won’t be as predictable as longer-range salvos from the continental US and Russia’s mainland.

But the expert neglects to mention that US and Russian nuclear submarines can already fire from almost anywhere at sea, already confusing targets and trajectories and taking minutes to reach Russian forces.

Finally, Russian media turned to what’s quickly becoming a propaganda crutch in communicating Moscow’s might: the doomsday device.

Океанская многоцелевая система «Посейдон»

www.youtube.com

Russia recently said it built one of the most devastating nuclear weapons of all time in the form of an undersea torpedo with a 100-megaton nuclear warhead that’s designed to be unstoppable against all missile defenses and create tsunami-size waves, and a radioactive hellstorm that stomps out life on earth for thousands of square miles for decades.

Since they announced the weapon, they’ve already used it to threaten Europe. But now with the INF Treaty in tatters, a military expert told a Russian paper that the doomsday device could see use.

“It cannot be excluded that one of the Poseidon with a 100 megaton nuclear warhead will lay low off the US coast, becoming ‘the doomsday weapon.’ Thus an attack on Russia, will become a suicidal misadventure,” the paper said.

The paper also declined to mention that the US and Russia’s nuclear posture already guarantees any mutual nuclear exchanges would lead to the total destruction of both countries.

Russia’s Poseidon doomsday device doesn’t change the mutually assured destruction dynamic between Washington and Moscow. It provides only a way to destroy more natural life in the process.

Russia’s media may swerve into bombast, but Russia’s actual military has already announced plans to build more weapons and extend the range of weapons to counter the US in what experts peg as the next great nuclear standoff.

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

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This former Green Beret wants to fix the NFL

Green Beret Lt. Col. Brian Decker led a unit in Iraq. Then he was assigned to run the Special Forces Assessment and Selection program in North Carolina. He decided to improve the Army’s selection process and reduce the washout rate for men who made it through the initial screening.


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Decker wanted to develop tools that would allow the Army to identify soldiers who could make good decisions in chaotic situations and have the necessary devotion to teamwork. He overhauled a process that had been static since its launch in 1988 and introduced new standards that collected over 1,200 data points on each candidate, including physical and mental processes. After three years, Decker’s program had reduced the washout rate by 30%.

He met former Cleveland Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski when the coach came to a Special Forces camp looking for training tips. That turned into an reciprocal invite to Browns camp. Team president Joe Banner was fascinated by Decker’s philosophy and convinced him to retire from the Army and join the team as a special advisor, in hopes that Decker’s analysis could help correct the NFL’s notorious 50% failure rate for first round draft picks.

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Decker ran the Special Forces Assessment and Selection program in North Carolina. | Ricky Rhodes

He kept the job even after the Browns fired that management team. Their successors kept him on and he spent a couple of years advising the team on its draft. How did that turn out?

ESPN.com’s Seth Wickersham tells Decker’s story in a 3600-word profile that details Decker’s career and investigates how his football project has been going. It’s definitely worth a read.   

MIGHTY TRENDING

US and its allies are poised to invade ISIS capital in Syria

American military officials say U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have pushed within three kilometers of Islamic State’s de facto capital in Syria, and that the major battle for control of Raqqa “could begin in the coming days.”


Speaking to reporters from Baghdad, Colonel Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the U.S.-led counter ISIS coalition, said the SDF was “poised around Raqqa” after gaining 350 square kilometers from IS in Syria in the last week.

The forces are within three kilometers of Raqqa to the north and east and within about 10 kilometers of the city to the west, Dillon said.

“The fight for the city could begin in the coming days, “a U.S. military official separately told Voice of America on the condition of anonymity. “The encirclement of Raqqa is almost complete.”

The U.S. military confirmed earlier this week that it had started distributing weapons and vehicles to Syrian Kurdish fighters in preparation for the Raqqa battle.

That move has placed the United States at odds with NATO ally Turkey, which contends the SDF’s Syrian Kurdish militia is a terrorist group affiliated with the outlawed PKK, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a terror group that has been battling the Turkish state for many years.

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Syrian Democratic Forces march in Raqqa in 2016

Dillon said the SDF had instructed Raqqa citizens to leave the city ahead of the fighting, with nearly 200,000 people already displaced. Camps for displaced citizens have been established around the Syrian city, Dillon added, with SDF screening sites in place to prevent IS militants from escaping among the fleeing civilian population.

Meanwhile, U.S. military officials said Iranian-backed pro-regime forces were continuing to violate a deconfliction zone set up around the al-Tanf army base, where special forces are training Syrian militias.

Dillon said the coalition had communicated to the “small element” of forces that they were considered a threat and needed to leave the zone.

“We want them out of there,” he told reporters June 1 from Baghdad.

Also read: The US is supplying weapons to Kurdish fighters in Syria

Dillon said the forces violating the deconfliction zone had stopped establishing defensive positions after coalition airstrikes targeted their tanks and equipment two weeks ago, but had remained a little more than halfway into the established zone, which has a radius of 55 kilometers from the al-Tanf base.

“It’s not like they’ve dipped their toe into the deconfliction zone. They’re well inside it,” said Dillon.

Additional pro-regime reinforcements have not entered the deconfliction zone, Dillon said, but forces just outside the zone at al-Tanf are reinforcing their positions and bringing in combat-type assets, including tanks and artillery systems.

“All these things put together present a threat to the coalition forces,” he said.
MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia putting the screws on BBC in media spat

Russia’s media regulator, Roskomnadzor, says it has started checking the legality of the BBC World News channel’s Russian operations and its websites, following a statement by British media watchdog Ofcom that Russia’s RT television channel had violated impartiality rules.

Roskomnadzor said on Dec. 21, 2018, that the goal of the verification is to establish whether the content of the BBC operation is consistent with Russian laws.


The statement comes a day after Ofcom said it was considering sanctioning Russia’s state-financed RT, saying it had broken impartiality rules in seven programs in 2018, including coverage of the poisoning in Britain of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

Britain blames the Russian government for the poisoning of the Skripals in the city of Salisbury in March 2018.

Russia has repeatedly denied that its agents were behind the poisoning and accused British intelligence agencies of staging the incident to stoke what they called “Russophobia.”

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Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Skripals survived the poisoning, in which a Soviet-made military nerve agent known as Novichok was used.

Two other British citizens were exposed to the same nerve agent in June 2018, apparently by accident; one of them, Dawn Sturgess, died.

Ofcom since 2012 has repeatedly found RT to have breached its rules on impartiality and of broadcasting “materially misleading” content.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow on Dec. 21, 2018, that Roskomnadzor’s move was in response to Ofcom’s announced checks of RT operations.

“Many have questions for the BBC regarding its biased coverage of some events, as they are covered not like a media outlet should do but in a preprogrammed and biased way,” Peskov said.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova hailed Roskomnadzor’s move, writing on Facebook that “it is high time to do that.”

“…the British government’s blatant interference in the activities of Russian medias outlets (constant propaganda against the RT channel, attempts to defame our reporters and so on) leave us no choice but to give a tit-for-tat response,” Zakharova wrote.

The BBC said on Dec. 21, 2018, that it worked in full compliance with Russia’s laws and regulations to deliver independent news.

“As everywhere else in the world, the BBC works in Russia in full compliance with the country’s laws and regulations to deliver independent news and information to its audiences,” said a BBC spokesperson.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Someone tried to donate a grenade launcher to Goodwill

Okay, let’s imagine you’re going through your stuff to see what you want to donate to charity. First, there’re the old clothes that you haven’t worn in a while. Then there’s that kettlebell sitting in the corner from your last effort to get in shape. And finally, there’s the grenade launcher…


Don’t laugh — a grenade launcher was donated to a Florida Goodwill shop, according to ABC7.com. When the employees realized what they had, they called the police. Explosive ordnance disposal experts rendered the situation safe.

A spokesman for the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office told WATM that what had been donated was “an airsoft grenade launcher used primarily for paintball.” The spokesman, Dave Bristow, admitted that he had no idea what the launcher’s ultimate fate would be. A UPI report indicated the launcher resembled the M203 grenade launcher.

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Aviation ElectronicÕs Technician 3rd Class Awail Hassen loads a high explosive point detonated 40MM grenade round into an M203 grenade launcher during a live-fire exercise on the fantail of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Gary Prill/Released)

However, this isn’t the only time armaments have surfaced where you might not expect them to. One former Marine recounted how the staff of Tierrasanta Elementary School, which opened in 1974, ended up on a first-name basis with the members of various local explosive ordnance units. The school had been built on an impact area in the former Camp Elliot, where the 2nd Marine Division had been training. Thirty years after the war, kids would find unexploded bazooka rounds and grenades and bring them in for show-and-tell.

The list doesn’t stop there. In 2016, Hurricane Matthew unearthed a number of Civil War-era cannonballs. Army explosive ordnance disposal personnel from Joint Base Lewis-McChord also had to deal with Civil War munitions in 2015. That same year, Air Force EOD personnel from Mountain Home Air Force Base dealt with a 150-year-old battlefield souvenir that became a family heirloom.

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This Civil War-era round was discovered in Washington state in 2015, then rendered safe via controlled detonation by Army EOD personnel. (U.S. Army photo)

Uncovered UXO has been far more common in Europe, with significant finds cropping up in both the United Kingdom and Germany in 2017. BALTOPS naval exercises have repeatedly uncovered UXO during mine countermeasures exercises in 2009, 2011, and 2012.

Should you come across UXO, a slight modification of the four rules of the National Rifle Association’s Eddie Eagle program makes sense: Stop, don’t touch, get away, and call police.

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