NATO is relearning lessons from the Cold War to stop Russia - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

NATO is relearning lessons from the Cold War to stop Russia

Since Russia’s incursion in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014, the US and its NATO partners have worked to reverse the drawdown of forces that took place in the decades after the fall of the Soviet Union.

“After the end of the Cold War and the reunification of Germany, everybody, including the United States, had hoped for this period of partnership with Russia and a significant reduction in the threat of a conflict. It really was a lot of optimism,” said Ben Hodges, a former Army lieutenant general who led the US Army in Europe between 2013 and his retirement in 2017.


“But also one of the side effects was that everybody began to significantly disarm, including the United States,” Hodges said.

The tendency to reduce forces after a conflict is “understandable,” Hodges said. “The problem with that is because there was a widespread belief that Russia was going to be a partner, that we could start disassembling a lot of the infrastructure that was needed” for military operations in Europe.

NATO is relearning lessons from the Cold War to stop Russia

Polish Brig. Gen. Jaroslaw Gromadzinski, left, and Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commander of the US Army Europe, at Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany, Jan. 31, 2017.

(US Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Gertrud Zach)

The US Army alone saw its presence in Europe fall from about 300,000 troops during the Cold War to about 30,000 today. Bases were shuttered, and units were withdrawn or deactivated. In early 2013, the Army pulled its last 22 Abrams tanks from Europe, ending its 69-year run of having main battle tanks on the continent.

“So that left us with no armor force in Europe, and then of course … the maintenance and sustainment and all the things that are required to keep armored vehicles functioning was also dismantled,” said Hodges, who is now the Pershing Chair in Strategic Studies at the Center for European Policy Analysis.

But the absence of armor was short-lived. In January 2014 — two months before Crimea was annexed — 29 upgraded Abrams tanks returned to Germany to be part of a pre-positioned equipment set for use in training areas there and across Europe.

NATO is relearning lessons from the Cold War to stop Russia

A Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle completes an uncontested wet-gap crossing near Chełmno, Poland, June 2, 2018.

(US Army photo by 1st Lt. Ellen Brabo)

Since April 2014, land forces on the continent have taken part in Operation Atlantic Resolve , which the US Army in Europe has led “by conducting continuous, enhanced multinational training and security cooperation activities with allies and partners in eastern Europe.”

The US and its NATO partners have focused on redeveloping many of the capabilities they had during the Cold War — “so increased artillery and air interaction, maneuver, river crossings, all of these things,” Hodges said.

The change in focus “started under the Obama administration, after the Wales summit and in the Warsaw summit, where the alliance said we’ve got to transition to a deterrence posture vs. just assurance,” Hodges said, referring to NATO meetings in the UK in late 2014 and in Poland in summer 2016.

“So that meant increasing capabilities and capacities and regaining some of … what we call joint and combined warfighting skills that we used to have.”

Tanks, helicopters, and logistical units have all returned to Europe over the past four years, carrying out scores of joint exercises along NATO’s eastern flank. The Army has also launched nine-month, back-to-back rotations of armored brigade combat teams.

NATO is relearning lessons from the Cold War to stop Russia

US Army vehicles conduct a tactical road march in Germany during Combined Resolve X, April 22, 2018.

(US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Sharon Matthias)

“We no longer have an armored brigade in Europe, so we have to depend on the rotational brigade, and so you had to relearn how to maneuver, which by the way we used to do back during the Cold War quite a bit,” Hodges said.

“In Iraq and Afghanistan, [for] everything we were doing you had individuals or units come over and fall in on the equipment that’s already in place,” he added. “So this is a different [approach.] We’ve had to practice the deployment.”

A NATO internal report seen by German news outlet Der Spiegel at the end of 2017 found that the alliance’s ability to rapidly deploy throughout Europe had “atrophied since the end of the Cold War.” NATO forces would be unable to move troops fast enough and lacked sufficient officers and supplies in Europe, the report said.

NATO’s bureaucratic and logistical obstacles were highlighted in January 2017, when a convoy of US Army Paladin self-propelled howitzers traveling from Poland to southern Germany was stopped by German border police because the Polish contractors transporting them did not have the proper paperwork and had violated several regulations.

NATO is relearning lessons from the Cold War to stop Russia

Locals in Nachod, Czechia, watch US Army vehicles cross the Czech-Polish border en route to Lithuania during Exercise Saber Strike 18, May 30, 2018.

(US Army Reserve photo by Capt. Jeku Arce)

Over the past year, NATO has made a number of organizational and operational changes to address these problems.

The NATO internal report recommended setting up two new commands to streamline military operations. One would oversee operations in the Atlantic Ocean , supporting the movement of personnel and material. The other would manage logistical operations on the ground in Europe, facilitating movements across an alliance that has grown considerably since the Cold War.

The latter, called Joint Sustainment and Enabling Command, was approved in June 2018 by NATO defense ministers. German officials have already said it would be based in the southern German city of Ulm.

“This command is going to be responsible for the rapid reception and responsiveness and reinforcement of NATO forces to the eastern flank, or anywhere, actually,” Hodges said.

Germany’s location and transportation capacity makes it the ideal location for the command, Hodges added, calling it an “important step to improve our ability to not just move, but to reinforce and to further develop the logistics infrastructure that’s needed.”

NATO is relearning lessons from the Cold War to stop Russia

M1A2 Abrams tanks and other military vehicles are unloaded at the port in Bremerhaven, Germany, Jan. 6, 2017.

(US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Micah VanDyke)

“Some people have asked me, ‘Well, didn’t we do this for like 40 years during the Cold War?’ and the answer is yes, we did, except it was all in West Germany,” Hodges said.

“So the inter-German border was as far east as we had to go. Now with the alliance including the Baltic countries, Poland, Romania, the distance to go from our main logistical hub in central Germany to Estonia, for example, is the same thing as going from St. Louis to Bangor, Maine,” he said. “So it’s huge challenge logistically, and the infrastructure has got to be further developed to enable that.”

Several recent “firsts” for NATO forces in Europe illustrate that renewed focus on mobility.

In September 2017, the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team from the US Army’s 1st Infantry Division arrived in Gdansk, Poland, and with multinational brigades already on site in Eastern Europe, the unit and its firepower were NATO’s largest reinforcement in Eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War.

NATO is relearning lessons from the Cold War to stop Russia

US Army vehicles, including M1 Abrams tanks and Paladin self-propelled howitzers offload in Gdansk, Poland, Sept.14, 2017.

(US Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jacob A. McDonald)

When that unit disembarked in Gdansk, it was “the first time two armored brigades transition[ed] within the European theater, sending a full complement of soldiers and equipment into Germany and Poland in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve,” a US Army spokesman said at the time.

The 2nd ABCT also finished its nine-month stint with a first. In late April 2018, the unit carried out a tactical road march with over 700 vehicles on public roads between the Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels training areas in southeast Germany — the first time the exercise has been done at the brigade level in 15 years.

A few weeks later, the next force arriving for a nine-month rotation in Europe — the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team from the 1st Cavalry Division — disembarked at the port of Antwerp in Belgium, across the continent from its base in Germany.

By arriving in Western Europe, the force could practice maneuvering across the continent by road, rail, and barge.

“Sometimes what is old is new again, and that is coming in here,” Maj. Gen. Steven Shapiro, head of 21st Theater Sustainment Command, said at the time. “Antwerp and Rotterdam were major ports when we were operating during the Cold War … We are coming back to Antwerp in a big way.”

NATO is relearning lessons from the Cold War to stop Russia

A US soldier guides an M1 Abrams tank off a ship at the port of Antwerp, Belgium, May 20, 2018.

(US Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jacob A. McDonald)

NATO began adding ports to its repertoire about three years ago, Hodges said, and doing so had several benefits.

“One was to reestablish capabilities in all these ports, because the port labor force, they had to relearn how to unload Abrams tanks and helicopters and all, so we needed them to get back in the game, and we also frankly wanted to demonstrate that we could come in in a variety of different places,” he said.

“We’ve focused on Bremerhaven” in Germany, Hodges added.

“That would obviously communicate a vulnerability to the Russians or other potential adversaries, so we’ve used Gdansk. We’ve used Bremerhaven. We’ve used Klaipeda in Lithuania. We’ve used Thessaloniki and Alexandropulis in Greece, and Constanta in Romania,” he said. “Back in the Cold War, Antwerp and Rotterdam were important ports for us, and so I’m glad to see that US Army has touched that one again.”

But obstacles to NATO’s ability to move around Europe are still largely political, and it will require political action to resolve them, Hodges noted.

NATO is relearning lessons from the Cold War to stop Russia

Latvians view US Marine Corps HMMWVs during an event demonstrating military vehicles and gear involved in Exercise Saber Strike, in Liepaja, Latvia, May 30, 2018.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Adwin Esters)

“The ultimate way that this improvement in military mobility will happen is through cooperation and coordination between NATO and the European Union,” he said.

The EU has the right infrastructure — roads, bridges, and railways — as well as the mechanisms to encourage members to act and to apportion resources for them to do so. Hodges pointed to the EU’s recent formation of Permanent Structured Cooperation, or PESCO, for defense and security issues.

Identifying what needs to be done and what is needed to do it will still take time, however.

“This is just like a highway project in the States,” Hodges added. “This is going to take a lot of time in Europe, but at least now it feels like all of the nations have grasped the significance of it, and when you’ve got at the top level of NATO and the European Union addressing that … that’s encouraging.”

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

Articles

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you

Lee Hernandez wants everyone to call him or text him. Anyone and everyone in America.


The 47-year-old has undergone three brain surgeries but still suffers from strokes that affect his vision and cognitive function.

But a few notes from his military family are just what the doctor ordered.

NATO is relearning lessons from the Cold War to stop Russia
Lee Hernandez wants to hear from you. (photo by Arizona Veterans Forum)

As Lee lay dying in a Texas hospice, his wife Ernestine told the Arizona Republic that phone calls or texts are what brighten Lee’s day. It doesn’t matter who sends them.

He asked Ernestine to hold on to his phone one day in case someone called him. For two hours, no one called.

“I guess no one wants to talk to me,” Lee told his wife.

Lee Hernandez has trouble with speaking, so Ernestine figured that’s why people don’t take much time to attempt a conversation. So she reached out to a group called “Caregivers of Wounded Warriors” to get more texts and call pouring in.

He is a veteran of the Iraq War who served 18 and half years in the Army. He’s been fighting for his life for the last five years.

If you want to send Lee a message of support or just see how he is, be sure to reach out between 2 pm and 6pm Arizona time. Lee is now blind, but Ernestine will read your texts to him.

He can be reached at 210-632-6778.

Articles

Soldier faces up to 15 years for alleged air drop sabotage

A soldier has been charged in the 2016 destruction of three humvees that was shown in a viral video from Saber Junction 2016, meaning he faces up to 10 years in prison as well as dishonorable discharge for the willful destruction of government property as well as up to five additional years for making a false official statement.


Army Sgt. John Skipper serves in the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team’s 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment. He was charged in May for his alleged role in the destruction of the vehicles, according to the Stars and Stripes.

NATO is relearning lessons from the Cold War to stop Russia
173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team soldiers conduct exercises in partnership with NATO forces during Saber Junction 16, an operation that was marred by the destruction of three HMMWVs, which the Army now alleges was the fault of Sgt. John Skipper. (Photo: U.S. Army Pfc. Randy Wren)

The high-mobility multi-wheeled vehicles, commonly called humvees, separated from their pallets during an air drop. The mission was part of Operation Saber Junction 16, a massive exercise designed to test the 173rd’s readiness, improve NATO interoperability, and show America’s resolve in Europe.

A video of the incident released on social media showed the stunning destruction as a group of men cheered when each humvee fell. (Warning: Contains colorful language.)

Skipper will proceed to an Article 32 probable cause hearing, which plays out like a mini trial. Military lawyers for the prosecuting authority and the defense will be able to make arguments and present evidence in front of a preliminary hearing officer.

At the end of the hearing, the lawyers will make final recommendations on how they think the case should proceed, generally the prosecuting lawyers will push for general court martial and the defense will request less severe means such as administrative punishment or special court martial, which has less severe maximum penalties.

If the evidence against Skipper is determined to be great and the case is sent to general court martial, he could face up to 15 years for the combined charges. This is still better than he would face in the civilian courts where an additional $250,000 maximum fine could be added to the punishment.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is how many US troops would be wounded in a war with North Korea

US military leaders who attended a classified exercise in Hawaii learned that a war with North Korea could result in around 10,000 American combat-related casualties in the opening days, according to a New York Times report published on Feb.28, 2018.


The tabletop exercise (TTX), which tests hypothetical scenarios, lasted several days and included Army chief of staff Gen. Mark Milley and Special Operations Command commander Gen. Raymond Thomas.

Also read: North Korea warns that it’s ready for both war and diplomacy

While the number of troops who could potentially be wounded in such combat may be startling, civilian casualties were predicted to range from the thousands to the hundreds of thousands, according to The Times. The US stations about 28,500 troops in South Korea, while the capital of Seoul — which is in range of North Korea’s crude, yet devastating artillery fire — has a population of about 24 million.

Given the scope of a war, Milley said that “the brutality of this will be beyond the experience of any living soldier,” officials familiar with the TTX said in the report.

NATO is relearning lessons from the Cold War to stop Russia
(KCNA)

According to The Times, military leaders looked at various factors, including how many Special Operations forces could deploy to target nuclear sites in North Korea; whether the US Army’s conventional units could end up fighting in tunnels; and methods to destroy the country’s air defenses to pave the way for US aircraft.

Immediate tensions between North Korean and US-South Korean leaders appear to have subsided in recent weeks after the North’s participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. But US officials remain skeptical of North Korea’s diplomatic overtures.

Related: South Korea’s plan to convince President Trump to visit North Korea

Though various Trump administration officials have given conflicting statements on US policy, Trump said on Feb. 26, 2018 that he would be open to talks with North Korea “only under the right conditions.”

The US State Department also echoed Trump’s assertions: “Our condition is denuclearization,” spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

“Our policy has not changed. We have talked about this policy since day one of this administration; and that’s maximum pressure, but it’s also the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Iran just unveiled its new line of ballistic missiles

It’s finally here, the weapon we’ve been told was in testing and would soon be the undoing of Iran’s regional foes, wherever they might be found: the Dezful ballistic missile. The Islamic Republic’s state-run news agency, Sepah News, unveiled the new weapon on Feb. 7, 2019.

The new 2,000-kilometer missile comes just one week after Iran successfully tested another surface-to-surface weapon, the 1,350-kilometer Hoveizeh cruise missile. The new missile is able to strike U.S. military bases in the region.


Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps has been working on the new weapons in preparation for the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Revolution that ousted the imperial Shah Reza Pahlavi and installed Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as the Supreme Leader of the new Islamic Republic of Iran.

NATO is relearning lessons from the Cold War to stop Russia

The the Hoveizeh cruise missile. Kassif.

(Mehr News Agency)

Iran’s newest weapons are said to be twice as destructive as the most powerful weapons in its current arsenal, the Zolfaghar missile. Iran has used this weapon to strike ISIS targets in Syria. The United States and United Nations have been urging international partners to keep arms embargoes and economic sanctions on Iran in place to stop these weapons from being developed.

Displaying this missile production facility deep underground is an answer to Westerners … who think they can stop us from reaching our goals through sanctions and threats,” Revolutionary Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said from an underground bunker.

The Islamic Republic has continued to abide by the terms of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – also known as “the Iran Nuclear Deal” – which did not cover the development of missile technology. These new missiles were partly responsible for the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA. The state’s European partners have not withdrawn.

Iran says the missiles are in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which calls on the country to refrain from “any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.” Iran says the Hoveizeh and the Dezful missiles comply with both the JCPOA and Resolution 2231.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Mighty Milspouse: Meet Claire Dieterich

As a West Point cadet, Claire Dieterich thought she would be career military. She commissioned as a Military Police officer in the U.S. Army in 2010 and met her now-husband, Kevin, while she was stationed in Washington state. During her time on active duty, she deployed to Afghanistan and shortly before her five-year contract was up, she gave birth to her first child and decided to take life in a different direction.


“Leaving active duty was an easier decision than I thought it would be,” she shared. “While I loved my time in the Army and am so proud of it, I knew that it wasn’t the long-term lifestyle that I wanted for myself or for my family. I [transitioned into working] as a project manager and oversaw projects that put fire alarm and security systems in schools and hospitals. While I did enjoy that I was making local schools and hospitals safer, especially as a parent myself, it wasn’t something I wanted to do long-term.”

It was in this period of transition that a lightbulb went off for Dieterich.

NATO is relearning lessons from the Cold War to stop Russia

(Courtesy of Claire Dieterich)

“When I was pregnant with my second child and working in corporate America, I knew that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom before he was born,” she explained. “But I also wanted to create something as an outlet for my passion of cooking that I could grow into an actual job. From this, ‘For the Love of Gourmet’ was born!”

For The Love of Gourmet is a website founded on the basis that delicious food does not have to be hard or take all day to prepare.

“I’ve always loved to cook, and I am a big believer that cooking good food doesn’t need to be difficult. When I was working full time and as a mom, sometimes it truly is hard to get dinner on the table,” Dieterich said.

NATO is relearning lessons from the Cold War to stop Russia

(Courtesy of Claire Dieterich)

Dieterich’s recipes, complete with mouth-watering photography, range from dinner to dessert, snacks, drinks and entertaining spreads.

“I wanted to share the simple joys of cooking with others and encourage everyone to get into the kitchen even if they previously didn’t enjoy or didn’t have time to cook,” she shared.

Today, Dieterich navigates life as a veteran, military spouse and mom of three in Seattle, Washington.

NATO is relearning lessons from the Cold War to stop Russia

(Courtesy of Claire Dieterich)

What piece of advice would you give to fellow military spouses?

Find your tribe and hold them close. I didn’t have kids yet when my husband deployed, and it was very, very lonely. I had just moved to Washington and didn’t know anyone yet, and the man I loved was on the other side of the globe. The friends that I made got me through that deployment. Having been the person deployed and the person who has been the one home, I can say that it is much harder to be the person here waiting and worrying. My friends made sure I stayed busy; we went on weekend trips and explored the Pacific Northwest together. And my second part of advice is to find a hobby for yourself. I started running ultramarathons in college, but when my then-boyfriend now-husband was deployed I ran even more. I trained hard and did a lot of races, ultimately laying the groundwork for me to achieve my goal of running the Badwater Ultramarathon. My running goals gave me something to focus on.

What is your life motto?

You can achieve your dreams. And also, it’s OK if those dreams change. At 20 years old, I thought I would be in the Army for 20 plus years. At 25, I thought I would climb the corporate ladder. And at 30, I was a stay-at-home mom to three kids with a food blog that I wanted to grow into something big. I’ve achieved all that I’ve wanted to, but my dreams have also changed as I have changed. That doesn’t mean I’ve failed at a previous goal, it just means I’m focusing on a different one.

If you could pick one song as the theme song of your life, what would it be and why?

It’s so hard to pick one song, but because it is my boys’ favorite song, I will have to go with “High Hopes” by Panic! at the Disco. I think it’s such a fun, upbeat song about working hard and achieving your dreams. Not to mention it’s a great song to run to!

What has been your toughest professional challenge?

Hanging up my uniform for the last time was hard. Even though I knew I didn’t want to continue serving my country in that way, it was still a big part of my life that came to a close and there were a lot of emotions wrapped into that. I spent years working hard to get into West Point, then years working hard there, then years serving my country. I met my husband through the military. I live in a place that I love and may have never traveled to had I not been in the military. I am who I am today because I was in the Army, even though I no longer serve. Even though it was the right decision to close that chapter and start something new, it was still hard for it to be over because I had worked so hard to get there.

What’s your superpower?

I’m a multi-tasker and can organize my day to ensure I get everything done that I need to. That means I wake up two hours before my kids do to work out and edit blog posts. It means I have adventures with my kids in the morning and test recipes when they nap. I plan out my day to take advantage of the time that I have to ensure everything gets done. I’m not unstoppable, I definitely take afternoons off when I need to, but for the most part, I feel really balanced and happy to be able to focus on my family and also something outside of my family that I’m passionate about and want to grow.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

The man from Sugar Land, Texas with a passion for travel and teaching children doesn’t seem like a stereotypical ISIS recruit.

Warren Christopher Clark, a black, Texas native who sent a cover letter and resume to ISIS as early as 2015, the New York Times revealed, was captured in Syria by US allies. His goal was not to become a militant or fighter, he later told NBC News. He just wanted to teach English.

Clark, who was charged Jan. 25, 2019, for material support to ISIS, may not be the type of person who comes to mind at the mention of ISIS. But a study published by the RAND Corporation, which analyzed US-based jihadist terrorism activities in the post-9/11 era, shows that the Texan represents aspects of the new reality of terrorism.


“The portrait that emerges from our analysis suggests that the historic stereotype of a Muslim, Arab, immigrant male as the most vulnerable to extremism is not representative of many terrorist recruits today,” the report says.

The changing face of terrorism

That US citizens pose the greatest terrorism-related threat within the US is not a recent development.

In 2015, the George Washington University Program on Extremism reported that of 71 people arrested for ISIS-related activities in the US in that year, 58 of them were US-born citizens.

NATO is relearning lessons from the Cold War to stop Russia

The GWU study for the most part matches a trend reported by RAND, which independently found that as ISIS gained influence in the post-9/11 era, the number of US-born recruits drawn to jihadist terrorism started to grow.

Of the 152 US persons with known affiliations with ISIS, RAND found that 106 were citizens born in the US.

Comparatively, only 59 of 131 al-Qaeda affiliates were US-born citizens.

In another revelation, RAND showed US-based ISIS recruits have become more racially and ethnically diverse as the group gained influence, and are notably more diverse than those with known al-Qaeda affiliations.

About 65% of US-born ISIS recruits since 2013 are either African-American/black or Caucasian/white. This is a shift from the group’s earlier years, and an even more radical shift from those persons drawn to al-Qaeda.

ISIS has a broader appeal

Aided by the internet, terror organizations began targeting more vulnerable populations over time, specifically young and socially alienated people who find a sense of belonging in a far-away group.

While ISIS has a far more sophisticated understanding and usage of social media, al-Qaeda has shown an ability to tap into the vortex of the internet — RAND reports that the number of “terrorist-related websites exploded from 100 in 1998 … to approximately 4,300 by 2005.”

In that year, ISIS was still in its infancy.

Even so, al-Qaeda’s marketing typically appealed to a narrower field of recruits in terms of religion, race, and nationalism. ISIS, on the other hand, appealed to a wider range of people. Heather Williams, the lead author for the RAND study, told Business Insider that Clark represents an increasingly common type of recruit who is not necessarily drawn to violence, but some other component of terrorist organizations.

“There were people who fit that before, but they are more frequently fitting that profile now,” Williams said.

Terrorism may be changing, but experts caution against reliance on stereotypes

Clark, the 34-year-old teacher from Texas who was recently captured in Northern Syria, doesn’t quite fit into any stereotypical “terrorist” category.

NATO is relearning lessons from the Cold War to stop Russia

Warren Christopher Clark, who was captured in Syria in early January 2019, sat down with NBC News.

(NBC News)

Clark is a US-born American citizen. According to an interview with NBC News, he did not initially leave the US with intentions of joining ISIS, but sought travel opportunities that ultimately drew him to Turkey, Iraq, and then Syria.

He told NBC that he never took up arms for ISIS and was even detained by the terrorist organization after trying to defect, maintaining that he was drawn to ISIS out of curiosity, not a desire to become a militant.

“The take-away is that the ties [people drawn to ISIS] have to the terrorist organization can be very loose,” Williams said.

The RAND report was published in December 2018, nearly a month before Clark’s capture. But Williams said his background is a good example of the range of individuals answering ISIS’ call.

“A great number of the individuals studied were lured to the call of jihad in Muslim lands abroad rather than domestically; whether adventure seekers or inspired by misguided senses of religious duty, they were not necessarily aggrieved with the US homeland,” the report states.

Still, Williams cautioned against stereotyping a particular profile, especially one based on nationality.

“I don’t think that’s a productive diagnostic tool, and can also lead to bias,” she told Business Insider.

The Trump administration’s travel ban, which targets many Muslim-majority countries, is not necessarily a helpful counterterrorism policy, Williams said, and may even be a distraction.

“If [law enforcement agency] perceptions are based on history, there is validity but they should recognize the shift.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Coast Guard addresses missed payday, how to get help

To the men and women of the Coast Guard,

As you are aware, much of the government, including the Department of Homeland Security, remains unfunded, and it is not clear when this lapse in appropriations will end. In the coming days, our service will begin to pass critical military and civilian pay-processing milestones necessary to meet regular pay cycles. Unfortunately, without an appropriation, a continuing resolution, or another legislative measure, the Coast Guard will not be able to meet the next payroll.

Let me assure you your leadership continues to do everything possible, both internal and external to the service, to ensure we can process your pay as soon as we receive an appropriation; however, I do not know when that will occur. Moreover, many of you may be aware of proposed congressional legislation that separately provides pay for the Coast Guard. I cannot predict what course that legislation may take.


NATO is relearning lessons from the Cold War to stop Russia
(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Matthew Masaschi)

I know you have many questions during this difficult time. As the commandant mentioned, please do not hesitate to reach out to your chain of command, the chief’s mess, the ombudsmen network, our chaplains, as well as other resources. In addition, I encourage you to visit the Coast Guard’s website that has the most up-to-date resource links and frequently asked questions at https://www.dcms.uscg.mil/budget/. I encourage you to frequently revisit this website as it will be updated as new information is learned and additional FAQs are developed.

I can announce the Coast Guard Mutual Assistance board just approved an increase to interest-free loans with a focus on the junior workforce. Now, E-5 and below, GS-6 and below, and wage grade equivalents are eligible for a loan up to a maximum of id=”listicle-2625970578″,000 for those with dependents and 0 for those without dependents. Personnel in other paygrades may also qualify if dire circumstances exist. If you require this assistance, please check with your CGMA representative to apply.

Please know that your entire senior leadership team is pursuing every possible avenue to mitigate the effects that this unprecedented event is having on you and your families. In similar fashion, I implore each of you to take an active role in caring for your fellow shipmates and their loved ones. Thank you for your continued dedicated service to our nation.

Semper Paratus,
Adm. Charles W. Ray
Vice Commandant

This article originally appeared on Coast Guard All Hands. Follow @USCG on Twitter.

Articles

US-led forces executed the largest single airstrike of the year against ISIS’ oil business

In one fell swoop, a series of aerial strafing and bombing runs destroyed 83 oil tankers belonging to ISIS forces in Syria.


USA TODAY reports that after a pilot witnessed a gaggle of vehicles in the oil-rich, ISIS-held region of Deir ez-Zor province, US-led coalition forces sent a surveillance aircraft to provide intelligence on the area. After confirming the targets, A-10s and F-16s were scrambled to dispense more than 80 munitions against the vehicles.

After the dust settled, an estimated $11 million worth of oil and trucks were destroyed in the largest single airstrike against ISIS forces in Syria this year.

NATO is relearning lessons from the Cold War to stop Russia
A convoy of ISIS-owned fuel tankers burn after being targeted by a Russian airstrike. | Screenshot via Guerrilla TV/YouTube

“You’re going to have multiple effects from this one strike,” said Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian.

The vehicles, which were reported to have been out in the open, may be indicative of the declining state of ISIS’ leadership and control. After a series of devastating airstrikes from both coalition and Russian forces, ISIS militants have grown accustomed to evade aerial threats by avoiding traveling in large convoys; however, this latest lapse in judgment could be a sign of worse things to come for the militants.

“This is a very good indication that they’re having trouble commanding and controlling their forces,” Harrigian explained to USA TODAY.

The bombing campaign, otherwise known as Tidal Wave II, was enacted to wipe out ISIS’ oil market that was generating more than $1 million a day during its peak.

At the beginning of this operation, coalition aircraft would drop leaflets on the oil tankers prior to their bombing runs to provide the option for drivers to escape. However, after new military rules were implemented, leaflets are no longer required to be dropped.

Instead, pilots are now firing warning shots to indicate their arrival.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is how Vietnam War veterans will be honored at the World Series

On behalf of the upcoming film Last Flag Flying, Amazon Studios partnered with We Are The Mighty to donate two World Series tickets to a lucky veteran in the Los Angeles area.


When Army veteran Greg Alaimo was told he’d won tickets to the World Series, he couldn’t believe it. “You won’t believe it either!” he told We Are The Mighty.

Alaimo, a Vietnam War veteran and Bronze Medal recipient, had assisted the Los Angeles Dodgers in finding recommendations for Vietnam War veterans for their Hero Of The Game. After Alaimo received the final list (which includes men like Medal of Honor recipient Ray Vargas and Charlie Plumb, who was a POW for 6 years during the war), he realized he wanted to meet the men on it.

“The heroes they chose are amazing. I called my contact and thanked him for allowing me to participate. I then asked if I could purchase two tickets. He regretfully indicated no tickets were available. I wanted to visit with those chosen for this is the first time the Dodgers have honored Vietnam veterans at a World Series.”

NATO is relearning lessons from the Cold War to stop Russia
Alaimo and his unit Bravo 1-7 on stand down in Bien Hoa, home of the First Infantry Division, The Big Red One, just below Saigon. (Photo courtesy of Greg Alaimo)

That’s when Amazon teamed up with We Are The Mighty to give out another set of tickets.

“When I was contacted about winning the tickets I thought it was a joke. I’m holding two great tickets for [Game Two] and I’ll meet those representing all Vietnam Vets — amazing.”

They’re not the only “amazing” ones. Alaimo has an impressive service history himself — during Active Duty and beyond. After fighting in Vietnam with the First Infantry Division, Alaimo returned home and became “the go-to guy” if veterans need help. A member of American Legion Hollywood Post 43, Alaimo says it’s important for him to connect with the veteran community because he doesn’t want them to be treated the way he was after he returned from Vietnam.

“They need to know we respect them and are grateful for their sacrifice, as well as the sacrifice of their families.”

Alaimo will be taking his good friend, and fellow veteran advocate, Charlie Cusumano with him to the game. We asked who they’ll be rooting for:

“Duh????? Go Blue! DODGERS!!!!!”
MIGHTY TRENDING

Kim Jong Un brought his own toilet to the Singapore Summit

Kim Jong Un has arrived in Singapore ahead of a historic summit with US President Donald Trump — and he brought his toilet.

The North Korean leader is said to always travel with several toilets, including one in his Mercedes.

Daily NK, a South Korean website focusing on North Korea news, reported in 2015 that “the restrooms are not only in Kim Jong Un’s personal train but whatever small or midsize cars he is traveling with and even in special vehicles that are designed for mountainous terrain or snow.”


The publication quoted an unnamed source as saying, “It is unthinkable in a Suryeong-based society for him to have to use a public restroom just because he travels around the country.” Suryeong is a Korean term meaning “supreme leader.”

NATO is relearning lessons from the Cold War to stop Russia
Kim’s toilet.
(KCNA photo)

So, why does Kim always travel with several lavatories at his disposal? According to The Chosun Ilbo, a South Korean newspaper, the portable toilets “will deny determined sewer divers insights into to the supreme leader’s stools.”

The secrecy of the North Korean leader’s health is, apparently, paramount.

“Rather than using a public restroom, the leader of North Korea has a personal toilet that follows him around when he travels,” Lee Yun-keol, a former member of a North Korean Guard Command unit who defected, told The Washington Post.

Lee explained, “The leader’s excretions contain information about his health status so they can’t be left behind.”

Kim’s urine and fecal matter are periodically examined to check for illnesses and other health indicators, according to Daily NK.

US-North Korean relations have seemingly come a long way in the past few months — it was only January 2018, when a top authority on North Korea suggested that the US should bomb Kim’s personal toilet to put fear in him.

“It will send an unmistakable message: We can kill you while you are dropping a deuce,” Jeffrey Lewis wrote.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Germany turns to foreigners and teenagers to solve shortages

Germany’s military has been struggling with a variety of organizational and technical problems, like equipment shortages, debates over funding, and troop shortfalls.

Manpower in particular is a lingering issue for the Bundeswehr, which has shrunk since the end of the Cold War and further reduced after mandatory military service was ended in 2011.


From a high of 585,000 personnel in the mid-1980s, German troop levels have fallen to just under 179,000 as of mid-2018. In 2017, the Bundeswehr had 21,000 unfilled positions, and half of the force’s current members are expected to retire by 2030.

In mid-2016, Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said the Bundeswehr had to “get away from the process of permanent shrinking.” (Women weren’t allowed to be in the armed services until 2000.)

Von der Leyen said she would remove the 185,000-person cap on the military and add 14,300 troops over seven years — a total that was upped to 20,000 in 2017.

NATO is relearning lessons from the Cold War to stop Russia

Ursula von der Leyen with German soldiers during a visit to the Field Marshal Rommel Barracks, Augustdorf.

One method under discussion to bring in those new personnel is recruiting citizens of other EU countries.

That approach has general support among the governing parties, though not without qualifications. Defense experts and politicians have said that any foreign recruits should be offered citizenship, lest the force become “a mercenary army.”

Another strategy that has been underway for some time is the recruitment of minors. The Bundeswehr has mounted a media campaign to bring in Germans under 18.

The military’s official YouTube channel has over 300,000 subscribers, and its videos have garnered nearly 150 million views.

The Bundeswehr Exclusive channel, which posts video series, has more than 330,000 subscribers, and its videos — like the six-week series called “Mali” that followed eight German soldiers stationed with a UN peacekeeping force in the West African country — have drawn more than 68 million views.

The service is also active on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, among other social-media sites. The army’s recruitment spending in 2017, about million, was more than double what it spent in 2011.

And since that year the service has signed up more than 10,000 minors, according to Reuters. 2017 saw a record 2,128 people under the age of 18 sign up, 9% of all recruits and an 11.4% increase over the previous year.

“I wanted to experience something and to get to know my own limits, to see how far I can go,” said Marlon, who joined the Germany army a few months before he turned 18.

Because of his age, he needed his mother’s permission to join, which she was happy to give. He told Reuters that she is now pleased that her formerly messy son is now more organized.

‘This is not a normal profession’

After the destruction of World War II and the division of the Cold War, the military is still a controversial topic for Germans. Many are skeptical of the service, reluctant to spend more on it, and wary of overseas military operations.

The Bundeswehr still struggles with the legacy of the Nazi Wehrmacht, and instances of far-right extremism in the ranks strain civil-military relations. Some military officers wear civilian clothes to and from work to avoid the stigma attached to their duties.

There are also some Germans who don’t see their country as under threat and are ambivalent about military issues.

That attitude may be changing among younger Germans.

A recent survey of 20,000 students there found that the military was the third most attractive place to work, behind the police in first place and sports brand Adidas. Marlon told Reuters that a career in uniform was much more appealing than working on a car-production line.

NATO is relearning lessons from the Cold War to stop Russia

A German infantryman stands at the ready with his Heckler Koch G36 during a practice exercise in 2004.

But the recruitment of minors has proved to be an especially contentious issue.

Some politicians and children’s rights advocates have criticized the government for the approach, describing it as misleading and decrying the precedent it could set.

The record recruitment numbers indicate that von der Leyen “clearly has no scruples,” Evrim Sommer, a legislator from the pacifist Left Party, said in early 2018, after requesting Bundeswehr recruitment data.

“Young people should not be used as cannon fodder in the Bundeswehr as soon as they come of age,” Sommer added at the time. “As long as Germany recruits minors for military purposes, it cannot credibly criticize other countries.”

Ralf Willinger from the children’s rights group Terre des Hommes told Reuters in August 2018 that recruiting minors is “embarrassing and sends the wrong signal.”

“It weakens the international 18-year standard, encouraging armed groups and armies from other countries to legitimate the use of minors as soldiers,” he added.

Germany military officials have said their recruitment efforts are in line with international norms and stressed that they need to compete with private-sector employers to attract personnel.

The German military also has rules in place about what minors can do while in uniform. While they undergo training like adult recruits, they are not allowed to stand guard duty or take part in foreign missions, and they are only allowed to use weapons for educational purposes.

The Defense Ministry has also said that minors have the ability to end their service any time in the first six months.

To some, those stipulations don’t change the fundamental nature of what the military is training minors to do.

“This is not a normal profession,” said Ilka Hoffman, a board member of the GEW Union, which represents education and social workers.

“In no other profession does one learn to kill, and is one confronted with the danger of dying in war,” Hoffmann added. “That is the one difference.”

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

Articles

US military commanders want more US troops for Syria fight

General Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, told Congress more U.S. troops may be needed to support the Syrian Democratic Forces’ offensive to capture Raqqa.


During testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on March 29, Votel said U.S. forces may need to increase “all-weather fire support” — military terminology for artillery support.

NATO is relearning lessons from the Cold War to stop Russia
Tension is high in Syria; recently a Russian air strike unintentionally struck U.S.-backed Syrian Arab forces fighting against Islamic State militants. (YouTube screenshot: Kurdistan24.net)

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces militia coalition, made up mostly of Kurdish and Arab fighters, is leading the ground offensive to capture Raqqa away from the control of the Islamic State, also known as ISIL, ISIS and Daesh, with the help of the U.S.-led international coalition.

“We have recognized that as we continue to pursue our military objectives in Syria, we are going to need more direct all-weather fire support capability for our Syrian Democratic Force partners,” Votel told the committee. “We have not taken our eye off what our principle mission is, which is to advise and assist and enable our partners. Help our partners fight, but not fight for them.”

There are about 1,000 U.S. special operations forces, Marines, and U.S. Army Rangers in northern Syria helping train and support local militias as they work to surround and isolate Raqqa before launching the offensive to take the city.

“The Syrian Democratic Forces have almost completed the isolation phase of Raqqa operations and will, in the coming months, begin operations to seize Raqqa, dismantling a key node in ISIS’ external operations network,” Votel told the Committee.

The U.S.-led international coalition against the Islamic State on March 30 said the Islamic State’s annual revenue decreased from an estimated $1.9 billion in 2014 to $870 million last year.

The SDF on March 26 captured the Tabqa airbase as they approach to seize the Tabqa dam, the largest dam in Syria which is a key source of electricity for the region.

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