Second Novichok suspect was allegedly named 'Hero of Russia' - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Second Novichok suspect was allegedly named ‘Hero of Russia’

Cybersleuthing group Bellingcat says it has found that two men that Britain suspects of poisoning former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were awarded Hero of the Russian Federation medals by President Vladimir Putin four years ago for conducting covert operations in Ukraine.

Releasing details about its latest findings on Oct. 9, 2018, Bellingcat said that Aleksandr Mishkin was decorated at around the same time as Anatoly Chepiga in 2014 — the year Russia seized Crimea and fomented separatism in eastern Ukraine, helping start a war that has killed more than 10,300 people.


A day earlier, Bellingcat said it determined that the suspect who traveled to Britain in March 2018 on a passport under the name Aleksandr Petrov is actually Mishkin, a military doctor employed by Russia’s military intelligence agency, widely known as the GRU.

The British-based open-source investigation group’s founder, Eliot Higgins, and researcher Christo Grozev told reporters at an event at the British Parliament that they found out that Mishkin had participated in covert operations in Ukraine and Moldova’s breakaway region of Transdniester.

People acquainted with his family said they thought the hero award was given for activities “either in Crimea or in relation to [former Ukrainian President Viktor] Yanukovych,” according to the Bellingcat report.

A CCTV image issued by London’s Metropolitan police showing the two suspects at Salisbury train station.

Bellingcat said it sought out hundreds of Mishkin’s fellow graduates at the Military Medical Academy in St. Petersburg, and that two remembered Mishkin, but they said that all members of the class had been contacted recently and told not to speak about him.

The organization added that The Insider, Bellingcat’s investigative partner in Russia, sent a reporter to the northern Russian village of Loyga, where at least seven people recognized photos of the man identified initially as Petrov as “our local boy” Mishkin.

The reporter heard that a woman identified as Mishkin’s grandmother had shown many villagers a photograph of Putin shaking hands with her grandson and was very proud of it.

Bellingcat said the reporter was not able to talk directly to the grandmother.

Bellingcat made waves in September 2018 when it said that Chepiga was the true identity of the other suspect, who had a passport in the name of Ruslan Boshirov, and that he was a GRU colonel decorated with the Hero award.

British authorities allege that the two Russians smeared a Soviet-designed nerve agent called Novichok on the front door of Skripal’s home in the English city of Salisbury on March 4, 2018, the day the former spy and his daughter were found incapacitated on a bench and rushed to the hospital.

Both survived after weeks in critical condition, but Dawn Sturgess, a woman who authorities said came in contact with the poison after her boyfriend found a fake perfume bottle containing it, died in July 2018.

The poisonings have added tension to already severely strained ties between Russia and the West, leading to additional U.S. and European Union sanctions on Moscow and to an exchange of diplomatic expulsions.

Russia denies involvement, but Bellingcat’s findings have added to the evidence against Moscow and exposed the GRU to ridicule.

Putin has insisted that the two men identified by Britain as poisoning the Skripals were ordinary Russian civilians.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Sending letters to Marine boot camp (2020)

Do you know someone who is going to Marine boot camp or who is already at boot camp? If so then your recruit is officially beginning their journey to becoming a United States Marine! Over the next 12 weeks, your recruit will be pushed beyond their limits and if successful be made into a Marine. Through this transformation, your recruit will need your support and motivation to help them succeed. Here is all you need to know about sending Letters to Marine boot camp.


MCRD San Diego Mailing Address

MCRD San Diego Mailing AddressSample Address
RECRUIT First Name, Last Name
#(st, nd, rd) BN “Company” Platoon ####
##### Midway Avenue
San Diego CA 92140-####
RECRUIT John Doe
1st BN Alpha Company Platoon 1000
38001 Midway Avenue
San Diego, CA. 92140-5670

MCRD Parris Island Mailing Address

MCRD Parris Island Mailing AddressSample Address
RECRUIT First Name, Last Name
#(st, nd, rd) BN “Company Name” Platoon ####
PO Box #####
Parris Island, SC 29905-####
RECRUIT John Doe
1st BN Alpha Company Platoon 1000
PO Box 16945
Parris Island, SC 29905-6945

What should I write in my Letters to Marine boot camp?

Over the next thirteen weeks recruits will be pushed beyond their limits and, if successful, transition into a United Staes Marine.

Mental and physical exhaustion will become a norm as the loved one you said goodbye to is transformed into a completely new person.

Mail call will be the most anticipated time of the day, and your recruit will enjoy receiving a lot of mail from your over the course of the next three months.

In case you ever face writer’s block, we’ve come up with some questions to ask your recruit when writing Letters to Marine boot camp.

1. What were your first thoughts when you got off of the bus and stepped onto the yellow footprints?

2. What time do your mornings start?

3. How delicious is the chow?

4. What has been the worst thing about boot camp?

5. If you could describe boot camp in one word what would it be?

6. How many recruits are in your platoon?

7. What’s the name of one friend you’ve made, where are they from?

8. On a scale of 1 to 10 how much fun are pugil stick battles?

9. What is one thing your platoon gets yelled at for the most?

10. What time do you normally get to sleep?

11. Have you been given a nickname?

12. Is there anyone in your platoon not receiving mail that I can write to?

13. Has it been hard to keep your rack area clean and in tip top shape?

14. What have you liked best about boot camp?

15. How hard is it to keep your M-16 clean?

16. How fast can you take your M-16 and put it back together?

17. What has been the funniest thing your DI has said this week?

18. What’s the best advice you have received at boot camp?

19. What was going through your head when you jumped off of the repel tower?

20. What is the dumbest thing you have seen or heard another recruit do?

21. Has boot camp been what you expected it to be?

22. What is your wish list of bases you would like to be stationed at?

23. What’s the first thing you want to do after graduation?

24. What homemade/fast food meal do you miss the most?

25. Are you proud of yourself? (You should be!)

Looking for even more ideas of what to write during Marine boot camp? Read our what to writing when sending Letters to basic training article.

Your Letters to your recruit don’t need to be long and they don’t need to be fancy. What’s important is that you’re sending mail to support them through this journey.

Sending Letters via the Sandboxx app, will get your message and photos into your recruit’s hands within a couple of days (we overnight your Letters directly to the ship). We also include a return envelope with every Sandboxx Letter so your loved one can write you back!

Ready to send your first Letter to Marine boot camp?

Send your first letter to Marine boot camp with the Sandboxx app, write your message, include a photo and hit send.

Save and attach our week one image below to give your recruit motivation for their first week at Marine boot camp.

Learn more about how your Sandboxx Letter gets delivered.

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

Articles

Mattis speaks out on Marine Corps’ nude photo scandal

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis released a statement condemning alleged sharing of nude photos by US military personnel, saying such behavior is “unacceptable and counter to unit cohesion.”


“The purported actions of civilian and military personnel on social media websites, including some associated with the Marines United group and possibly others, represent egregious violations of the fundamental values we uphold at the Department of Defense,” Mattis said, according to a statement obtained by Andrew deGrandpre at Military Times.

Related: Marines’ nude photo scandal is even worse than first realized

The statement comes just one day after Business Insider reported that every military branch had been affected by the nude-photo-sharing scandal, not just the Marine Corps.

Mattis added that the Pentagon was “taking all appropriate action” to investigate any wrongful behavior carried out by active-duty service members.

“Lack of respect for the dignity and humanity of fellow service members of the Department of Defense is unacceptable and counter to unit cohesion,” Mattis said. “We will not excuse or tolerate such behavior if we are to uphold our values and maintain our ability to defeat the enemy on the battlefield.”

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis answers questions from the press during a flight to South Korea., Feb. 1, 2017. | US Army photo by Sgt. Amber I. Smith

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller similarly condemned such behavior on Tuesday, saying in a video, “When I hear allegations of Marines denigrating their fellow Marines, I don’t think such behavior is that of true warriors or warfighters.”

The Pentagon has come under fire from the media and congressional leaders in recent days, especially after Business Insider reported that the scandal that prompted an investigation into hundreds of Marines who were accused of sharing naked photographs of their colleagues in a private Facebook group was found to be much larger than previously thought.

Also read: US troops may take prominent role in attacking ISIS capital

The practice of sharing such photos goes beyond the Marine Corps and one Facebook group. Hundreds of nude photos of female service members from every military branch have been posted to an image-sharing message board that dates back to at least May. A source informed Business Insider of the site’s existence on Tuesday.

The site, called AnonIB, has a dedicated board for military personnel that features dozens of threaded conversations among men, many of whom ask for “wins” — naked photographs — of specific female service members, often identifying the women by name or where they are stationed.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Wildlife flourishes where the worst weapons were once made

There are a number of highly polluted sites where the United States once built the worst weapons of war. On six of those sites, where the weapons were once built were some of the most lethal ever conceived by man, new inhabitants are beginning to thrive: animals like bears, ferrets, and endangered salmon. All find safe haven where humankind once threatened itself with extinction.


Mule Deer graze where the US once tested plutonium triggers, outside of Denver, Colo.

Amchitka Island, Alaska is now cut off from the rest of the world, now a part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. This island saw a number of nuclear explosions underground – where a large amount of radioactive material is still trapped. In Indiana, Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge was once Jefferson Proving Ground, where the Army fired off artillery for more than 50 years, including tons of depleted uranium rounds. In Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, the Army once built chemical weapons in the areas where the bald eagle built its nests.

Some of the places that are now protected areas may still be heavily polluted, however. Experts say they’re not all entirely safe for humans. This means some experts believe that 30 or so of the National Fish and Wildlife Service’s more than 560 wildlife refuges have some history with nuclear and/or chemical weapons and haven’t been entirely cleaned up.

It may take centuries for these areas to heal.

Animals used to just warn humans about sarin gas.

Government and private industry have spent around billion on cleanup efforts for the top six most polluted areas, but there is still more to come – much more. Washington state’s Hanford site was once the area where the United States produced plutonium for nuclear weapons. Cleaning up this mess could run the Department of Energy more than 0 billion for this one site alone.

Like Hanford’s contaminated soil and water, there are more sites to be cleaned and protected. Johnson Atoll’s coral reefs suffered under multiple atmospheric nuclear tests. What was once Rocky Flats, Colo. is now home to rare prairie grasses, endangered mice, and other species that once roamed freely across America. Cleaning up and protecting these site will ensure they may get another chance one day.

MIGHTY TRENDING

China celebrates 70 years of Communist rule with a military flex

In 1949, Chinese Communists under Mao Zedong finally managed to chase the Chinese Nationalists off the mainland and to Taiwan, where they remain to this day. After 70 years of communism and varying degrees of personal and economic freedom for the Chinese people, the Chinese are finally able to call Chinese Communism something of a success – and China doubled down on the formula, celebrating its platinum jubilee with a military parade, unlike anything it threw before.


Communists love a parade. Dictators do too. Few events are more associated with Communist dictatorships than a good ol’ fashioned parade of ground troops, tanks, and maybe some nuclear missiles. This trait was on full display in China on Oct. 1, 2019, as Chinese President Xi Jinping watched the armed forces of the People’s Republic of China goose step their way into the world headlines on China’s 70th birthday.

The Chinese President was dressed for the occasion, wearing the distinctive “Mao Suit,” popularized by the Chairman and founder of the PRC, a simple button-down tunic with baggy pants. The suit is a functional form of dress, encouraged by Mao for citizens of all social strata to wear. It soon became a symbol of Chinese communism. He spent part of the parade in a limousine, shouting encouragement at Chinese soldiers, who shouted catchphrases back at the leader.

A float featuring China’s national emblem travels past Tian’anmen Gate during a parade marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, on its National Day in Beijing, China Oct. 1, 2019.

(China Daily)

The parade itself was a showcase of Chinese capabilities, engineered to remind the world just what China’s capabilities are. Along with the standard presence of Chinese-built tanks, missiles, and even drones, the parade included China’s homebuilt DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile, a first for any Chinese parade. The ICBM is the world’s longest-range nuclear missile, capable of reaching the United States in 30 minutes with six to ten warheads per missile.

Also on display for the first time was China’s JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile, which is not capable of reaching the United States from Chinese waters, but provides China with its own complete nuclear triad. The two missiles are the most powerful weapons in the PRC’s arsenal. Also marching in the parade were 15,000 Chinese communist troops and 70 floats describing the history of China and the different cultural parts of the country.

Notably missing from the parade were any of the billion-plus average Chinese citizens who were shut out of the parade. Despite the celebrations, China isn’t the unified bastion of communism it appears to be, as it faces opposition in areas nominally under its control, including the Muslim Xinjiang Province, as well as Tibet and Hong Kong, where the Communist leadership is facing a mountain of protests to Beijing’s rule.

Taiwan, which China claims as an inseparable part of China, condemned the parade and the Chinese “dictatorship.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Coast Guard buoy bells are being stolen all over Maine

Expensive brass gongs and bells are being stolen from navigational buoys off the coast of Maine, and the Coast Guard is asking for help to track down whoever is pilfering them.

The sounding devices are used by ships and sailors to navigate, especially in low-visibility conditions. The sounding devices are attached to buoys and “play a vital role in the safe passage of ships and mariners,” the Coast Guard said in a release.

Six buoys have been hit over the past six months, according to Lt. Chellsey Phillips, spokeswoman for the South Portland Coast Guard Station.

“If a buoy doesn’t have all of its components, it can cause problems,” Phillips told the Portland Press Herald.

Lt. Matthew Odom, Waterways Management Division chief for Coast Guard Sector Northern New England, said the thefts reduce the reliability of the navigation-aid system and endanger lives.


The space in which a sound-signaling brass bell typically hangs on this offshore buoy is empty after the bell was stolen, off the coast of Maine.
(U.S. Coast Guard photo)

“They also create a burden and expense to the taxpayer for the buoy tenders and crews responsible for maintaining the aids,” Odom said in a statement.

The Coast Guard suspects the “high-dollar devices” are likely being sold to novelty stores or scrap-metal yards.

Federal officials are working with local police, retailers, and scrap yards to suss out those involved in the thefts.

Tampering with the navigational aids is a federal crime that can be punished with up to a year in prison and fines of as much as $25,000 a day.

The Coast Guard is seeking help from the public, asking anyone with knowledge about the missing sounding devices to contact Coast Guard Sector Northern New England.

Anyone with information that leads to a conviction could get up to half the value of the fine imposed, the Coast Guard said.

This is not the first time the Coast Guard has had to address the public about its buoys in New England.

In April 2017, the Coast Guard in Rhode Island asked people to stop shooting at buoys there. At the time, one Coast Guard crew found a buoy that had been peppered with 20 bullet holes and sunk, creating a navigation hazard.

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

Articles

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

For five years, Muqtada al-Sadr’s personal insurgent army fought American troops during the Iraq War and commited heinous crimes against Iraq Sunni minorities. Now, a decade later, the Shia cleric’s Sairoon Alliance is leading Iraq’s parliamentary elections. His populist candidacy upset the U.S. favorite, incumbent Haider al-Abadi, and al-Sadr is set to be the kingmaker in Iraq.


In the years following his two uprisings against American forces, the “radical cleric” (as he was often called in Western media) continued his fight against the Baghdad government and against Sunni insurgent groups in Iraq. He eventually withdrew from public life until 2012, when he made a comeback, rebranding himself as a leader intent on bringing Sunnis and Shia together.

For most of the Iraq War, however, he was intent on blowing Sunnis apart.

With the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq, al-Sadr also rebranded his Mahdi Army, forming the “Peace Companies,” intended to protect Shia believers from the strict form of Sunni Islam and personal violence inflicted upon Iraqis by ISIS. He continued his rebranding to become an anti-poverty, anti-corruption populist who rejects the outside influence of both Iran and the United States.

Al-Sadr’s stated purpose for Sairoon was clearing corruption, rejecting the sectarian quotas, and putting skilled thought leaders (aka technocrats) in key ministerial positions.

“The ascendancy of the list sponsored by al-Sadr shows that anti-establishment sentiment and anti-corruption have driven the choice of most voters,” said Rend al-Rahim, a former Iraqi ambassador to the United States. “None of the lists had an electoral program that outlined priorities and a plan of action. All used vague terms to lure voters. Many of the lists also used populist and demagogic tactics that played on the emotions of voters.”

Some American veterans of the 2003-2011 Iraq War are not happy with his 53-seat win.

Understandably, no one who fought the Mahdi Army or lost a friend in Sadr City wants him to wield legitimate political power in Iraq. But Al-Sadr didn’t launch a revolt in Iraq. He didn’t put a gun to Haider al-Abadi’s head to force him to step down. The cleric’s bloc was elected in a legitimate Iraqi election by the people of Iraq, none of whom were punished for not voting for Sairoon. The democracy we fought to establish in Iraq is functioning.

Sometimes the candidate you want to win doesn’t win, no matter who they might be running against.

Ask Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Al Gore, Bob Dole, Etc.

The peaceful transfer of power is another hallmark of democracy, and we should credit Prime Minister al-Abadi when he implored the people of Iraq to accept this change.

“I call on Iraqis to respect the results of the elections,” he said.

Iraq has bigger things to worry about than the United States’ opinion on their domestic politics. This was the first election held since ISIS was pushed out of Iraq — after decimating Iraqi infrastructure. The country also faces rampant unemployment, one of the main triggers of domestic terrorism in the region.

American veterans of the Iraq War should see this as a major victory. In the first post-Saddam election of 2005, with the start of the Mahdi Army’s rise to power, did we ever believe we would see the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr with purple ink on his finger?

And yet, here we are.

The biggest issue for the anti-Iran cleric will be integrating Iraq’s militia’s into its official armed forces and security structure — especially since most of those are backed by Iran. Iran has publicly stated it will not allow al-Sadr’s coalition to lead the government. Al-Sadr has made moves to align himself with the king of Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional adversary, to push back against the Islamic Republic.

Al-Sadr’s fight for power is far from over. Despite having ties to Iran, the Islamic Republic is no fan of the cleric, who has resisted Iranian influence in Iraq since the days of the Iraq War. And al-Sadr will no longer be able to criticize the government from the sidelines. Instead, it will be on him and his Sairoon bloc to guide Iraq to the future he promised to desperate Iraqi voters.

Articles

Here’s why the battle for Mosul could ‘mark the beginning of the end’ for ISIS

The battle for ISIS’ stronghold in Iraq has kicked off this week.


But if it’s not handled well, the long-term consequences could be severe.

“If handled successfully, Mosul could mark the beginning of the end of the Islamic State; if handled poorly, it could be yet another pause before an inevitable resurgence of terror,” said an online intelligence briefing from The Soufan Group, a strategic security firm.

Also read: Everything ISIS has lost at Mosul . . . so far

The Iraqi Security Forces don’t have enough troops to retake and hold Mosul and the surrounding area without help. So other factions — including Kurdish forces and Shia militias (known as Popular Mobilization Units) backed by Iran. If left unchecked, these other factions could use the battle for Mosul to further their own agendas.

Shia militias have been accused of reprisal killings, torture, and kidnappings when they have assisted in liberating other areas from ISIS. And Kurdish forces have been known to displace Sunni Arabs from their homes as they take control of areas they help liberate from ISIS. Turkey is also participating in Mosul operations.

ISIS fighters in Iraq | Photo via Flickr

“The military challenges of removing an entrenched foe in an urban warfare environment, while simultaneously protecting as many as one million civilians caught in the cross fire would be daunting in the best of circumstances,” said The Soufan Group intelligence briefing. “But lacking unified combatants and commands, Iraqi military considerations must always include every level of sectarian and ethnic concerns that could turn a military victory into a strategic defeat.”

In short, even if Iraqi forces manage to win the battle against ISIS in Mosul, they’re in danger of losing the war if there isn’t a solid plan in place to govern effectively and inclusively after ISIS leaves.

“Given the sheer size of Mosul — and its experience of savage rule at the hands of the Islamic State—revenge killing will likely be an issue in the days and months ahead,” said The Soufan Group intelligence briefing.

“The level of atrocities and outrages perpetrated against minority communities such as the Yazidi and Christians, as well as to the population at large, rank among the worst war crimes in recent history. A massive effort will be required to begin to heal what is a truly fractured city and society.”

A local Mosul historian who blogs about life in the city under the pseudonym Mosul Eye explained the stakes of the ongoing battle in a statement posted to Twitter on Thursday.

“The people of Mosul cannot trust what will happen during and after the liberation, and our concerns grow bigger every day,” the historian wrote. “The upcoming dangers are no less than ISIL. There are many factions who are trying to divide and to tear down our city, and turning it into parts where each part would be given to an ethnicity group, separating it from the rest.”

He continued: “History tells [us] that Mosul has always built its civilization upon an ethnically and religiously diversified population. It is impossible to imagine Mosul without its rich and diversified heritage, culture, history, and ethnicity.”

Mosul Eye recommended that the city be placed under international trusteeship with joint supervision from the Iraqi government and the US.

“We, the civilized people of Mosul, don’t want to hand our city over, after liberation, to the tribes or to the Kurds, or the Popular Mobilization Units, or any other faction that is out of the Iraqi government,” he wrote on Twitter. “We also believe that the Iraqi government alone is not capable of managing Mosul after liberation.”

Articles

This Journalist Nails The Reason Why Young Men Want To Go To War

Photo: Spc. Joshua Leonard/US Army


Going to war is not about the ideologies of the left or the right, it’s about becoming a man.

“I’m a journalist,” said Sebastian Junger – Oscar-nominated documentarian and best-selling author – in an interview with War is Boring. “I don’t put any political agenda into my work. I think the right wing tends to idolize soldiers – you can’t talk about them critically in any way. The left wing went from vilifying them in Vietnam to seeing them as victims of a military-industrial complex.”

Also read: Here’s What An Army Medic Does In The Critical Minutes After A Soldier Is Wounded

For young men, however, war is much simpler than a political agenda. Modern society doesn’t describe what manhood is and much less, what it requires. Joining the military fills that void by finding a peer group and purpose to their lives, according to War is Boring.

This generation has a track record for delaying the rituals of adulthood. They’re taking longer to finish school, achieve financial independence, marry and have children, compared with their parent’s generation, according to a New York Times article about millennials. Perhaps it’s a financial decision as the article explains, after all, we did just go through the great recession, or it’s young men devising their own rites of passage.

Photo: Wikimedia

Junger tells War is Boring that tribal societies have clear rituals and expectations of adulthood:

There’s a lot of initiation rites for young men around the world that involve torturing young men,” he explains. “So that young man can then demonstrate that he’s willing to undergo an enormous amount of pain in order to achieve adult status.

They could actually live untested lives, if left to their own devices,” Junger says. But “they don’t want 30-year-old males wondering about their manhood.”

But initiation rites help define the line between childhood and the adult world, and they define what manhood is. “We don’t have anything like that,” Junger says. “But I think it’s wired in us. It’s certainly wired into our language when we talk about, ‘C’mon, be a man about it,’ or ‘Man up.'”

The way Junger sees it, young men choose to fight, “Okay, if I go to war, surely I’ll come back a man.” When he asked why they joined, the common response was the terrorist attacks on 9/11, military family tradition, and the thought of becoming a man. Check out the full article on War is Boring.

Sebastian Junger is famous for his award-winning chronicle of the war in Afghanistan in the documentary films Restrepo

 (2010), Korengal 
(2014), and his book War WAR
 (2010). Here’s the official trailer for Korengal:

NOW: Medal Of Honor Hero Kyle Carpenter Just Gave An Inspiring Speech That Everyone Should Read

AND: SERE School Is About More Than Just Being Tortured

H/T: War is Boring

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Army orders two prototypes for new ‘light tank’ fleet

The Army plans to arm its force with more than 500 medium-weight Mobile Protected Firepower combat vehicles engineered to bring heavy fire support, high-speed mobility, and warzone protection for fast-maneuvering infantry.

The service plans to pick two vendors in the next few months to build prototype vehicles as an initial step toward having one vendor start full-rate production in 2025.

“Our plan is to award up to two contracts. Each vendor will build 12 vehicles and the we will down select from two to one. When we go into production, we will build 504 vehicles,” David Dopp, Army Program Manager, Mobile Protected Firepower, told reporters at the Association of the United States Army Annual Symposium.


Current Abrams tanks, while armed with 120mm cannons and fortified by heavy armor, are challenged to support infantry in some scenarios due to weight and mobility constraints — such as deploying rapidly by air or crossing bridges in a heavy firefight.

Senior Army leaders say that Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs), expected to operate in a more expansive battlespace, will require deployable, fast-moving close-to-contact direct fire support. Service and industry developers say the MPF is being engineered with a medium-class, yet strong 105mm cannon; this will enable attack units to destroy some enemy tactical and combat vehicles as well as infantry formations and some buildings or support structures.

Also, while likely not able to match the speed of a wheeled Stryker vehicle, a “tracked” MPF can better enable “off-road” combat.

SAIC MPF.

An M1A2 Abrams tank can typically be pushed to speeds just above 40mph — yet wheeled Strykers, Humvees and other combat vehicles can easily travel faster than 60mph. Therefore, engineering a vehicle which does not slow down a time-sensitive infantry assault is of paramount importance to MPF developers.

“MPF has to keep up with infantry. We did a lot of tracked and wheeled vehicle studies, and that is what led us to identify it as a tracked vehicle,” Dopp said.

The Army has a near-term and longer-range plan for the vehicle, which Dopp said still needs to integrate the best available Active Protection Systems. Service leaders

“We have a two pronged approach. We are trying to develop systems for the next fight and the fight after next with Next-Gen Combat Vehicle. At the same time, we want to modernize our current fleet to fight any war until we get there,” Maj. Gen. Brian Cummings, Program Executive Officer, Ground Combat Systems, told Warrior Maven in an interview.

Also, rapid deployability is of particular significance in areas such as Europe, where Russian forces, for instance, might be in closer proximity to US or NATO forces.

Tactically speaking, given that IBCTs are likely to face drones armed with precision weapons, armored vehicle columns advancing with long-range targeting technology and artillery, infantry on-the-move needs to have firepower and sensors sufficient to outmatch an advanced enemy.

On mobile protected firepower the Army said it wanted a 105 they were really interested in having alot of firepower down range for those light skinned medium kinds of tactical vehicles.

General Dynamics Land Systems Griffin I MPF Demonstrator.

General Dynamics Land Systems, is one of several industry offerings for the Army to consider. GDLS weapons developers tell Warrior Maven their offering is an evolution of its MPF Griffin I demonstrator vehicle unveiled several years ago.

“We did it with Griffin 1 for Mobile Protected Firepower it was a powerful tool for us to go back and redesign what we thought the Army really wanted,” Michael Peck, GDLS Director of Business Development, told Warrior Maven in an interview.

Other industry bidders include BAE Systems and SAIC. BAE’s offering is based upon improvements to the Army’s M8 Armored Gun System.

“Our infantry fights in close terrain, urban areas and remote locations, so a smaller lightweight vehicle that still provides superior protection was essential to the design of our MPF offering,” Jim Miller, director of Business Development at BAE Systems Combat Vehicles business, said in a company written statement.

BAE Systems.

For its vehicle, SAIC has formed an industry partnership; its offering includes an ST Kinetics armored vehicle chassis and a CMI Defense turret, SAIC data says.

The Army’s new lightweight MPF armored vehicle is expected to change land war by outmatching Russian equivalents and bringing a new dimension to advancing infantry as it maneuvers toward enemy attack.

Long-range precision fire, coordinated air-ground assault, mechanized force-on-force armored vehicle attacks and drone threats are all changing so quickly that maneuvering US Army infantry now needs improved firepower to advance on major adversaries in war, Army leaders explain.

Smith did not elaborate on any precise weight, but did stress that the effort intends to find the optimal blend of lethality, mobility and survivability. Senior Army leaders, however, ,do say that the new MPF will be more survivable and superior than its Russian equivalent.

The Russian 2S25 Sprut-SD air transportable light tank, according to Russian news reports, weighs roughly 20 tons and fires a 125mm smoothbore gun. It is designed to attack tanks and support amphibious, air or ground operations. The vehicle has been in service since 2005. US Army weapons developers have said their MPF will likely be heavier to ensure a higher level of protection for US soldiers.

When asked if the MPF deployment plans will mirror Army plans to send Strykers to Europe as a deterrent against Russia, Dopp did not rule out the possibility.

“MPF will go to support IBCTs….whatever they encounter,” Dopp said.

This article originally appeared on Warrior Maven. Follow @warriormaven1 on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

There are an estimated 10,000 spies in Washington DC

Of the more than 700,000 residents of the capital of the United States, 10,000 of those are actively working in the interests of a foreign power. The city is filled with federal employees, military personnel, contractors, and more who are actively working for the United States government, and some are working to betray its biggest secrets to the highest bidder.

It’s an estimate from the DC-based international spy museum – and it’s an estimate with which the FBI agrees.


If only it were this easy.

“It’s unprecedented — the threat from our foreign adversaries, specifically China on the economic espionage and the espionage front,” Brian Dugan, Assistant Special Agent in Charge for Counterintelligence with the FBI’s Washington Field Office told DC-based WTOP news.

According to the FBI, spies are no longer the stuff of Cold War-era dead drops, foreign embassy personnel, and conversations in remote parks. For much of the modern era, a spy was an undercover diplomat or other embassy staffer. No more. Now you can believe they are students, colleagues, and even that friend of yours who joined your kickball team on the National Mall. Anyone can be a spy.

Ever watch “The Americans”? That sh*t was crazy.

There are 175 foreign embassies and other diplomatic buildings in the DC area. In those work tens of thousands of people with links to foreign powers. This doesn’t even cover the numbers of foreign exchange students, international business people, and visiting professors that come to the city every year – not to mention the number of Americans recruited by spies to act on their government’s behalf (whether they know it or not).

The worst part is that spies these days are so skilled at their craft, we may never realize what they’re doing at all, and if we do, it will be much too late to stop them.

It would be super helpful if they wore their foreign military uniforms all the time.

“Everybody in the espionage business is working undercover. So if they’re in Washington, they’re either in an embassy or they’re a businessman and you can’t tell them apart because they never acknowledge what they’re doing.” said Robert Baer, who was a covert CIA operative for decades. “And they’re good, so they leave no trace of their communications.”

He says the dark web, alone with advanced encryption algorithms means a disciplined, cautious spy may never get caught by the FBI for selling the secrets that come with their everyday work, be it in government, military, defense contractors, or otherwise.

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How Iran-backed militias are running around in M-1 Abrams tanks

Several years ago, the United States debated supplying Syrian rebels with high-tech armaments such as anti-tank and surface-to-air missiles. Critics contended that the weapons might fall into the hands of US-designated “terrorist organizations.”


But it is in Iraq that the fear has become real: the US has armed American-killing Iranian proxies and terrorist groups with its best tank, the M1 Abrams.

The Popular Mobilization Forces, an umbrella organization of Iranian-backed Shia militias fighting the Islamic State group, have acquired M1 Abrams tanks given to the Iraqi army. Two PMF militias – the Badr Organization and Kataib Hezbollah – have posted pictures and videos of their fighters alongside M1 Abrams tanks draped with their banners and flags.

A US-made M1 Abrams tank can be seen with the flag of the Iranian-backed militia Kata’ib Sayyid al Shuhada. Image from the Long War Journal.

The tanks once belonged to the 9th Armored Division, the only Iraqi Army unit that operates the M1 Abrams. It remains ambiguous whether the militiamen in the videos are controlling the tanks themselves or just posing with them under the supervision of tank crews from the 9th.

“In the videos, the passengers in the tanks are wearing the 9th’s uniforms,” Iraqi Army spokesman Colonel Muhammad Baidani told The New Arab. “Taking pictures and placing flags on the tank alone is not proof of ownership.”

Baidani added that the Iraqi Armed Forces and the PMF conduct combined operations “in most battles,” calling allegations that the 9th had loaned the M1 Abrams to the PMF “untrue.”

But sources in the PMF told The New Arab a different story, explaining that the militias obtained the M1 Abrams in two ways: “Sometimes, the PMF asks for American tanks from the Iraqi Army, if Russian-made tanks are unavailable,” said Hussam al-Mayahi, a Badr engineer specializing in military technology and remote weapons stations.

Logo of Popular Mobilization Forces. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

“The PMF also seized some after the fall of Mosul and the second Battle of Tikrit, taking them from IS.”

During IS’ campaign across the east and north of Iraq, the militants managed to seize numerous M1 Abrams tanks, including at least ten during the Battle of Ramadi in 2015.

Jafar al-Husseini, a spokesman for Kataib Hezbollah, confirmed this story: “We captured the American tanks and other military vehicles from IS, who, in turn, [had] seized them from what was left by the Iraqi army. Now, they are under our control, and we are seeking more.”

He claimed that Kataib Hezbollah and other Shia militias now held all IS’ M1 Abrams tanks.

USAF Airmen load an M1A1 Abrams Tank into an Air Force C-5M Super Galaxy cargo aircraft. USAF photo by Roland Balik.

Other tanks appear to come straight from the 9th: “Tanks are provided to us according to the circumstances of the battles and offensives, before being returned to the Defense Ministry,” Karim al-Nuri, a ranking Badr commander, told The New Arab.

Al-Nuri says he has never seen the PMF directly use an American tank but, when shown the pictures and videos that Badr had posted, replied: “It’s important to take any tanks – whether Russian or American.”

If the US delivered M1 Abrams tanks to Iraq’s Defense Ministry despite knowing that they could be given to the PMF, the Pentagon might have violated the Leahy Law – which prohibits the US Defense and State Departments from providing military aid to security forces guilty of abusing human rights.

Army photo by Sgt. Aaron Ellerman

Human rights defenders accuse the PMF, including Badr and Kataib Hezbollah, of ethnic cleansing, summary executions, and other war crimes.

Iraq remains on the State Department’s list of countries with the most child soldiers, because of these militias who continue to recruit minors.

Kataib Hezbollah presents a wider dilemma. In 2009, the State Department designated it a “terrorist organization” for killing American soldiers, and the US Treasury Department labelled its founder, the Iraqi warlord Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a “specially designated global terrorist.”

Al-Muhandis works as an operative for the Quds Force, the sub-unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps responsible for extraterritorial operations on Iran’s behalf.

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Photo from CounterExtremism.com

“We have heard these reports and we are looking into them,” said a spokesman for the US-led anti-IS coalition, who emphasized in an email, “Department of Defense policies on the provision of military assistance to foreign military forces require that Iraqi Security Forces receiving equipment or training are strictly vetted in accordance with the Leahy Act as well as for associations with terrorist organizations and/or the government of Iran.”

These policies appear to have failed.

A State Department official admitted, “not all US-provided defense articles are under the control of the intended recipient ministry/unit. We are concerned that a small number of M1A1 tanks may be in the possession of forces other than the Ministry of Defense and Iraqi Army.”

“The United States has not provided these or other defense articles to the PMF.”

“Nevertheless, we understand that some equipment has come into the possession of the PMF, which are part of the Iraqi Security Forces by law, and have been used in the fight against ISIS. We will continue to press the Government of Iraq to act as quickly as possible to return these defense articles to their intended recipient ministry/units.”

US Army photo by Sgt. Aaron Ellerma

Despite acknowledging that the PMF had seized many M1 Abrams tanks in one way or another, the State Department declined to estimate just how many. It could not confirm whether it had lost track of how many tanks may be under the militias’ control.

The ranking Democrats and Republicans on the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, which oversee the sale of M1 Abrams tanks and other weapons to Iraq, failed to reply to repeated requests for comment by email and phone for this article.

In December 2014, several months after the Iraqi army had lost many of its M1 Abrams tanks to IS, the State Department agreed to sell it another 175, once the Defense Department notified the US Congress, which has spent much more time deliberating over tanks sold to Saudi Arabia than to Iraq.

For now at least, Iraq appears to have a continuous supply of the M1 Abrams for years to come. Al-Husseini, the Kataib Hezbollah spokesman, may just get his wish.

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The North Korean nuclear threat is looming larger

The only nation to have used nuclear weapons this century will be able to strike Seattle in four years, former CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden said on Wednesday.


“I really do think that it is very likely by the end of Mr. Trump’s first term the North Korean’s will be able to reach Seattle with a nuclear weapon onboard an indigenously produced intercontinental ballistic missile,” Hayden said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

Also read: As North Korea gets more ambitious with missiles, Japan looks to US for backup

“Now, will it be a high-probability shot, they have technical issues, so probably not. But then again, what kind of odds are you comfortable with when it comes to Pyongyang?” Hayden said.

So far this year, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has conducted 25 ballistic-missile tests and two nuclear tests.

Bruce Klingner, a senior research fellow of Northeast Asia at the Heritage Foundation and former CIA deputy division chief for Korea, says the North Korean threat isn’t four years away — it’s nearly here.

“Hayden is a bit behind the curve on the North Korea ICBM threat,” Klingner told Business Insider.

“After the December 2012 launch, the South Korean navy dredged up off the ocean floor the stages of the North Korean missile, Klingner explained. “South Korean and US officials assessed the missile had a 10,000 km range which covers a large part of the US.”

Fast forward to this year, on February 7, a month after North Korea’s purported hydrogen-bomb test, the rogue regime fired a long-range rocket it claimed was carrying a satellite for its space program.

The launch, which was largely viewed as a front for testing an intercontinental ballistic missile, was not only successful but also showcased the North’s technological advancements.

“After the February 2016 launch, experts assessed it could have a range of 13,000 km, covering the entire US,” Klingner said, which makes the Seattle range estimate “outdated,” he added.

According to Klingner, even the rocket with a range of 10,000 km would compromise approximately 120 million people.

A graphic showing the range of the North Korean rocket launched on February 7, 2016. | Courtesy of The Heritage Foundation

What’s more, in 2015, US commanders of US Forces Korea, Pacific Command, and North American Aerospace Defense Command publicly assessed that Pyongyang is able to strike to the US with a nuclear weapon.