Once powerful al-Qaeda terrorists are losing in Syria - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Once powerful al-Qaeda terrorists are losing in Syria

For the first time since its meteoric rise in 2012 amid the chaos of war, al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria is in retreat, battling rival militant groups in the north and fighting for survival in a key foothold near the capital, Damascus.


Over the past three weeks, the extremist group has been driven from nearly all of the northern province of Aleppo, losing dozens of fighters in battles there and in nearby Idlib province.

Also read: US air attack appears to have killed a senior member of al-Qaeda in Syria

The fighting poses a major challenge to the militant group, already beset by infighting and a string of assassinations that have taken out some of its top leaders. Unlike previous battles in which al-Qaeda-linked fighters were able to quickly crush their opponents, the fighting has been particularly fierce, with the militants losing dozens of villages.

The al-Qaeda-linked coalition known as the Levant Liberation Committee is still one of Syria’s most powerful armed groups, with fighters numbering in the thousands.

Once powerful al-Qaeda terrorists are losing in Syria
The general commander of Ahrar al-Sham, Mohannad al-Masri, center, visiting fighters in rural western Aleppo, Syria. (Militant Photo)

While the U.S.-led coalition and Russian-backed Syrian troops have focused on driving the Islamic State group from the country’s east, the al-Qaeda-linked group has consolidated its control over Idlib, where it remains the strongest force despite its recent losses there.

After the defeat of IS, al-Qaeda is seen as the main jihadi group that rejects any peace talks to try to end Syria’s seven-year conflict. Its presence in northern Syria and in the Damascus suburbs of eastern Ghouta has provided a pretext for President Bashar Assad and his Russian backers to wage war against opposition-held territory, since various de-escalation and cease-fire agreements have excluded al-Qaeda.

More: Drone strike kills suspected al-Qaeda militant in Yemen

Several hundred al-Qaeda fighters holed up in eastern Ghouta have become a burden to the armed opposition battling government forces there, which has pressed the extremists to leave the area for their stronghold in Idlib in order to avoid the current crushing offensive.

The group’s presence has also raised concern in nations from Turkey to the United States that fear the global network founded by Osama bin Laden could use its presence in northern Syria to launch terrorist attacks around the world.

Once powerful al-Qaeda terrorists are losing in Syria
Ahrar al-Sham fighters holding positions in the countryside around the northern Syrian town of al-Bab, Aleppo province, Syria.

The recent fighting appears to have been triggered by the February 2018 assassination of a senior al-Qaeda official, Abu Ayman al-Masri, who was riding in a car with his wife when members of a rival militant group, Nour el-Din el-Zinki, fired on their vehicle, killing al-Masri and wounding his wife.

The killing led to battles in Aleppo and Idlib that have raged for the past three weeks.

The shooting was preceded by the merger of Nour el-Din el-Zinki and the ultraconservative Ahrar al-Sham, both former al-Qaeda allies now turned enemies.

Related: Special operators just rescued a high-profile prisoner from al-Qaeda

Amid the recent battles, the new coalition, the Syria Liberation Front, has forced the al-Qaeda fighters to retreat west to Idlib.

The insurgents say that the war against al-Qaeda will not stop until the jihadi group is crushed in Syria — an ambitious goal. It is also a striking statement, considering the rival groups once turned to al-Qaeda’s experienced and battle-hardened fighters for support in the battle against Assad’s forces.

Once powerful al-Qaeda terrorists are losing in Syria
Militants of the al-Qaeda-linked coalition known as Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, gathering in a village in Idlib province, Syria. (Photo by Ibaa News Agency)

Yazan Mohammed, a media activist based in Idlib province, said that although al-Qaeda has lost some territory in the recent fighting, the group is far from being defeated.

The al-Qaeda fighters are “not scouts. They are an organized and powerful group,” Mohammed said.

In recent years, tens of thousands of rebels and civilians from around the country have fled to Idlib or been forced there by government troops, raising concerns that the presence of al-Qaeda will give the government a pretext to storm the province under the cover of Russian airstrikes as it has elsewhere, including in Aleppo in late 2016 and in the current offensive in the eastern suburbs of Damascus.

More reading: Al-Qaeda leader tells Iraqi Sunnis to prepare for long guerilla war

Brett McGurk, the top U.S. envoy for the coalition battling IS, said in 2017 that Idlib is the largest al-Qaeda haven since bin Laden’s days in Afghanistan.

“This war will not stop,” said Bassam Haji Mustafa, a senior official with the Nour el-Din el-Zinki group. “This is a real war against al-Qaeda, its extremist ideas and terrorism.”

After the recent battlefield losses, a senior al-Qaeda commander, Abu Yaqzan al-Masri, released an audio asserting the militant group will soon crush the offensive and the focus will again be “to fight infidels,” an apparent reference to the West.

Once powerful al-Qaeda terrorists are losing in Syria
A tank with markings of the ultraconservative Ahrar al-Sham militant group, that was captured by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, in Idlib province, Syria. (Photo by Ibaa News Agency)

The commander’s comments coincided with a counteroffensive in which the al-Qaeda affiliate regained some villages it had lost earlier, although its presence in Aleppo province has almost ceased to exist.

Local activists said the al-Qaeda counteroffensive was backed by members of the Turkistan Islamic Party, a powerful group consisting mostly of jihadis from China’s Turkic-speaking Uighur minority.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks Syria’s seven-year conflict, says the fighting that broke out on Feb. 20, 2018, has killed 223 fighters on both sides, including 132 from al-Qaeda’s affiliate.

More: The US military will stay in Syria without new authorization

Despite losing dozens of villages in the recent battles, it is unlikely that al-Qaeda will be defeated easily in Idlib, where the militants have crushed many of their opponents in recent years.

“They will not be able to defeat the Committee,” said Abu Dardaa al-Shami, who sometimes fights with the al-Qaeda affiliate but refused to take part in the current battles, saying he only fights against government forces.

“This is mission impossible,” he said.

Articles

North Korea warns that its new ICBM will send shivers down America’s spine

Pyongyang tripled down on Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s claim that North Korea is close to testing an intercontinental ballistic missile Wednesday.


“We have reached the final stage of preparations to test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile,” Kim said in his New Year’s address, adding that, “Research and development of cutting edge arms equipment is actively progressing.”

“The ICBM will be launched anytime and anywhere,” the Korean Central News Agency said Sunday, quoting a North Korean foreign ministry spokesperson.

Once powerful al-Qaeda terrorists are losing in Syria
The launch of satellite-carrying Unha rockets is watched closely, since it’s the same delivery system as North Korea’s Taepodong-2 ballistic missile, which was tested successfully in December 2012 and January 2016. (Photo: Reuters/KNCA)

“Just because the U.S. is located more than ten thousand kilometers away does not make the country safe,” the Rodong Sinmun, the primary publication of the ruling Worker’s Party, asserted Wednesday.

“Soon our ICBM will send the shiver down its spine,” the paper warned. “There is nothing we are afraid of. In the future, phenomenal incidents to strengthen our national defense power will take place multiple times and repeatedly.”

“We have miniaturized, lightened and diversified our nuclear weapons, and they can be loaded on various delivery systems to be launched anytime and anywhere,” the Rodong Sinmun boasted.

In response to any such theoretical action, the U.S. promises shoot down a North Korean ballistic missile “if it were coming towards our territory or the territory of our friends and allies,” Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said Sunday.

“If the missile is threatening, it will be intercepted. If it’s not threatening, we won’t necessarily do so,” Carter explained Tuesday.

The effectiveness of America’s missile interception capabilities is debatable.

The U.S. has a “limited capability to defend the U.S. homeland from small numbers of simple” North Korean nuclear-tipped ICBMs, the Pentagon’s weapons testing office warned in its annual report, according to Bloomberg.

“I am very confident in the systems and procedures” the U.S. Northern Command “will employ to intercept a North Korean ICBM were they to shoot it toward our territory,” Vice Admiral James Syring, director of the Missile Defense Agency, told reporters.

Pyongyang “has set the goal of developing miniaturized nuclear weapons that can fit atop a missile capable of reaching the U.S. by the end of 2017,” former North Korean diplomat Thae Yong-ho told Yonhap News Agency Sunday.

“North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won’t happen!” President-elect Donald Trump tweeted a day after Kim made North Korea’s ICBM ambitions clear.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How the VA failed to report bad providers who were still working

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs failed to report a number of medical providers, whose privileges were revoked, to national databases, according to a Nov. 27 report by the independent Government Accountability Office (GAO).


The GAO reviewed five of the VA’s 170 Medical Centers “after concerns were raised about their clinical care.” It found that VA officials did not report eight of nine doctors it found should have been reported.

The GAO report examined 148 providers from October 2013 to March 2017 and found that more than half didn’t provide documentation of reviews to the National Practitioner Data Bank or state licensing boards, as required by VHA policy. Also, the medical centers did not start the reviews of 16 providers for months to years “after the concerns were identified.”

Also read: It’s high time veterans have access to weed

“Depending on the findings from the review, VAMC officials may take an adverse privileging action against a provider that either limits the care a provider is allowed to deliver at the VAMC or prevents the provider from delivering care altogether,” the GAO report said.

Once powerful al-Qaeda terrorists are losing in Syria
Marines, veterans, and care providers watch as the American flag is walked to the flagpole at the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center in Phoenix, AZ. (Photo by Sgt. Justin Boling)

At the five unidentified hospitals, providers weren’t reported because VA officials “misinterpreted or were not aware of VHA policies and guidance related to the NPDB and SLB reporting processes,” the report said.

“At one facility, we found that officials failed to report six providers to the NPDB because the officials were unaware that they had been delegated responsibility for NPDB reporting.”

Related: The VA might actually be getting its act together

The report found that two of four contract providers — whose privileges were revoked and were not reported — continued to provide outside care to veterans.

“One provider whose services were terminated related to patient abuse subsequently held privileges at another VAMC, while the other provider belongs to a network of providers that provides care for veterans in the community,” the report said.

Nearly 40,000 providers hold privileges in the centers.

Once powerful al-Qaeda terrorists are losing in Syria
In the last few years, the VA is undergoing a string of reforms, aimed a ultimately providing better services to our nation’s veterans. (Photo courtesy of VA.)

GAO is making four recommendations for the Veterans Health Administration: To document reviews of providers’ clinical care after concerns are raised, develop timely requirements for reviews, to ensure proper oversight of such reviews, and perform timely reporting of providers.

The GAO said the VA agreed with its recommendations.

The Nov. 27 report is the latest in a string of reforms aimed in recent years at the Veterans Affairs Department.

In October, a USA Today investigation that found the VA had concealed medical mistakes and misconduct by health care workers.

After the newspaper report, Rep. Phil Roe, R- Tenn., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, asked GAO to investigate. A hearing on the findings is scheduled for Nov. 29.

In 2014, lawmakers spurred reform after it became known that some veterans had died while awaiting care at a medical center in Arizona.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Top 5 veteran influencers you need to check out this Veterans Day

The title of “influencer” is almost cringe-worthy these days. From entitled social media personalities who complain when they have to pay full price at a restaurant, to the viral hot takes from people who are pandering to their audience, there’s definitely plenty of “cringe” to go around.

But what about the veteran social media personalities who are out making a positive difference, or at least making your day a little brighter? You know, the ones who aren’t thriving on division or ego, but rather on their own talent to entertain and inspire.


This Veterans Day, We Are The Mighty is highlighting the top five veteran influencers that we think you should really be paying attention to. From modest followings to millions of followers, these are the service members who turned their trigger fingers into Twitter fingers … who went from dropping bombs to dropping dope memes … who went from … sorry, I’ll stop. Just make sure you check them out!

Justin Lascek | @justin.lascek

Recently severely wounded. Green Beret Medic.

Justin is a relative newcomer to the social media scene, but with just a single photo, he inspired millions of people and established himself as someone worth following.

On Sept. 6, 2019, he posted a photo to Instagram from his hospital bed. Wearing his green beret, a pair of sunglasses, and an epic beard, he flexed for the camera while almost completely naked, covered in fresh scars, and missing his lower legs. The caption read:

“Six months ago, give or take a day, my life was changed. Chaos. Pain. Survival. Scared. I’m going to die. Tell her I love her. Wish I had been better. Everyone do your job. In 2018 I wanted to die. I figured my luck would run out after the close calls on the first trip. And it did. But brothers and sisters, known and unknown, kept me here.

And I’m alive. And since the blast, I have never wanted to die. I was strapped into the Skedco during a hellish movement for the boys. The sun was in our faces. I gripped their hand and knew I didn’t want to die.

And I’m alive. It can be surreal when the reality hits. But my soul isn’t in turmoil. There was so much uncertainty last year, but now it’s clear without wavering or uncertainty.

Because I’m alive. Cheating death and myself gives an understanding of how special life is. Not just for me, but everyone. Especially you, the one who hurts, the one who thinks death will end the pain. I see you. Stay with us a little longer.

And be alive.”

It’s hard to read that and not be inspired, and we have a hunch that his 39,000 followers on Instagram agree with us. The post ripped through timelines and news feeds like a lightning bolt, and he has continued to publish even more motivational posts since then. He might still be recovering from his wounds, but this Special Forces medic continues to be ‘Doc’ by inspiring the masses.

Astin Muse | @amuse31 & @ArmyAmuse

Former Drill Sergeant. Current Army Recruiter. Entertainer.

If Astin Muse weren’t still in uniform, she’d probably be a star on Saturday Night Live. This U.S. Army drill sergeant turned recruiter has made herself military-famous with hilarious sketch comedy that she films herself and posts on the internet. The sketches range from sarcastic observations about life as an NCO, to hilarious reenactments of basic training buffoonery.

The military hasn’t always made it easy for her to pursue laughs though. Muse has had to go to battle with military leadership trying to shut her down, citing obscure military regulations as a way to clamp down on her social media profiles. Fortunately, she’s been able to continue the comedy with a few compromises that really hasn’t affected the quality of her sketches. With 128,000 followers on Facebook and 29,000 followers on Instagram, there are plenty of people who appreciate her brand of comedy either way.

The best part? She frequently offers actual career advice to her active duty followers who need an objective outside opinion. Afterall, she’s a non-commissioned officer in the greatest Army in the world first, comedian second!

Jack Mandaville | @JackMandaville

Writer. Entertainer. Vietnam veteran. Best friends with Scott Stapp. Single mom. Compulsive liar.

We seriously don’t understand how Jack Mandaville isn’t an A-list comedian celebrity yet. With only 33,000 followers on Instagram, this former Marine and Iraq war veteran is a once-in-a-generation talent that, so far, the veteran community has been able to keep to ourselves.

He started off as one of the founding writers behind the infamous DuffelBlog satire website, before going on to work at RangerUp where he and fellow funnyman Pat Baker cooked up hilarious internet videos on the regular. After stealing the show as one of the supporting cast in the feature film “Range 15”, Jack has gone on to produce near-daily internet marketing videos for companies like StrikeForce Energy, Black Ops Grooming, and Black Rifle Coffee Company by day, and headline Vet TV’s “Checkpoint Charlie” series by night.

If you like to laugh, if you appreciate brutally honest humor that takes no prisoners, or you’re just entertained by a man that clearly has no shame, then Jack Mandaville is a must-follow.

Jennifer Marshall | @Jenn13Jenn13

Private Investigator @deepsourceinvestigations. Host @thecw. Max’s Mom in Stranger Things 2. Actress. Patriot. Veteran. Volunteer for Pinups for Vets.

With acting credits on hits like Stranger Things, Hawaii Five-O, and NCIS, Navy veteran Jennifer Marshall is a serious talent making her way through Hollywood. But there’s more to the sailor-turned-actor than meets the eye: She volunteers for non-profit Pin-Ups for Vets, and before that, she spent time teaching in East Africa. As if that wasn’t enough, she’s also a private investigator for Deep Source Investigations in California.

With 12,000 followers on Instagram, Marshall offers a peek behind the curtains of the many productions she has worked on, while simultaneously advocating for a variety of veterans issues that often go unresolved, or even worse — unnoticed. And if you like what she has to say on Instagram, then you’ll love her as a host on The CW’s “Mysteries Decoded”!

Vincent “Rocco” Vargas | @vincent.rocco.vargas

Army Ranger. Drill Sergeant. Border Patrol Officer. Actor on FX’s The Mayans. Author. Entrepreneur.

You may know him as Ranger Vargas if you served alongside him during his time at 2nd Ranger Battalion, or even Drill Sergeant Vargas if you had the pleasure of going through Basic Training with him at the helm. But most reading this probably know him as “Rocco” from his Article 15 Clothing days making satirical military comedy videos alongside Mat Best and Jarred Taylor.

But these days, he’s known for his role as “Gilly” on FX’s Sons of Anarchy spin-off Mayans M.C. Vargas did the near-impossible when he landed that role, as many Youtube sensations never quite make the jump into a traditional acting career. The show is in its third season, and promises to be just the start in what will likely be a long acting career for the combat veteran-turned-thespian.

If you’re one of his 146,000 followers on Instagram, then you also know that he keeps himself busy on and off the set. He’s published multiple books, hosts the Vinny Roc podcast, and founded Throwbacks Barber Company — now open and cutting hair in Utah. This is one veteran on the go, and is definitely worth keeping up with on social media!

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Elizabeth Dole Foundation competition proves ‘military kids have talent’

A virtual competition gave military kids the opportunity to show off their talents in the wake of ongoing closures and cancellations from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Elizabeth Dole Foundation hosted an inaugural talent contest that allowed military kids “a chance to have fun sharing their special talents,” Steve Schwab, CEO of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, stated in a press release. Military kids from across the country submitted recordings of performances including solo and group vocal performances, dance performances, and comedy.

Organizers of the event say the idea came after sourcing input from caregivers.


“A few weeks into the coronavirus pandemic, we decided to survey our community of military caregivers to see what it was they needed during this time,” Austin Courtney, Director of Communications for the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, said.

At the top of list of needs was personal protective equipment, but the foundation was surprised by what came next according to the survey results.

“We found our community was looking for ways to keep spirits up, to keep their families entertained; they said they needed something to look forward to,” Courtney said.

The foundation took that feedback and got to work, coming up with “Military Kids Have Talent” — a spin on the popular TV show.

“In the midst of COVID-19, so many special moments have been canceled — from dance recitals, school concerts and sporting events to graduation ceremonies, celebrations and other major milestones. Our kids have been going through an especially tough time, so we wanted to create this opportunity for them to share their talents virtually,” Courtney said.

The foundation began accepting video talent submissions earlier this year, receiving more than 200 videos from nearly all 50 states. And the talents featured in those videos were just about as diverse. In addition to singers, dancers and pianists, the group had wide variety of unique submissions.

“We had stand-up comedians, puppeteers, actors performing monologues, harmonica players, artists who created wonderful paintings on video, even a young chef showing off his cooking skills,” Courtney explained.

The foundation narrowed those submissions down to 36 amongst five age categories and produced a special episode featuring actor Jocko Sims as the host of the online event.

After the episode went live, friends, family and fans had two weeks to vote via text for their favorite talent. Voting Winners were selected in five age categories.

“It brought people together virtually in these times when we can’t be together in person,” Courtney said.

That was the case for Addyson Tabankin of Clifton Hills, New York. The 10-year-old pianist, who’s been playing for five years, won her age group.

“I like playing songs from movies and musicals,” Addyson said.

Addyson’s dad is deployed to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait and has been away from home since January.

“Normally, during a deployment, we’re able to get out and do things to help make the time pass, but COVID-19 has made that tough,” Addyson’s mom, Jenn, said.

But because the talent competition was virtual, dad watched Addyson perform, despite being more than 6,000 miles from home.

“I think it’s really great that they took this opportunity to acknowledge the kids, and who are probably having a harder time than usual during this pandemic,” she added.

Once powerful al-Qaeda terrorists are losing in Syria

Kormeri Sohui Jones, 8, of Enterprise, Ala., played the piano in the competition. (Military Families)

For Kormeri Sohui Jones, 8, of Enterprise, Alabama, much of the draw was the opportunity to compete.

Despite only playing the piano for eight months, Kormeri has already entered state and local piano competitions.

“She’s a competitor, she’s got that competitive spirit, and when I saw there was going to be a military kids talent contest, I thought it was fitting that she at least try it,” Kormeri’s dad, Willie, a retired Army military police officer said.

Kormeri admits she prefers performing and competing over practicing, and plans to enter the contest again.

“It was a stiff competition, and all I want to say is good luck next year!”

Additional age category winners included:

  • Wyatt, Shane, Luke, Heidi Winchester (6 and under) – Fayetteville, North Carolina (dance)
  • Raegan Lawson (12-14) – Greenwood, Indiana (singing)
  • Cameron Davis (15-18) – Jacksonville, North Carolina (singing)

While nothing is concrete, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation hopes this is the first of many future “Military Kids Have Talent” contests.

“The foundation will do everything it can to do this again next year. We saw how much joy it brought to these kids. And it brought so much joy to us, to be able to give kids a reason to smile right now,” Courtney said.

However, even if the world is in a place where gathering together is safe, an in-person talent competition still may not be practical.

“Military kids live all over the world, and we want as many kids as possible to participate, so we see this event remaining virtual.”

Follow the Elizabeth Dole Foundation on Facebook for information on resources and future events.

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.


MIGHTY TRENDING

How the North Korea summit can still blow up in the US’ face

President Donald Trump is less than one month away from making history as the first sitting US president to meet a sitting North Korean leader — but it’s increasingly looking as if he’s ill-prepared and sailing toward embarrassment.

Trump has of late talked up his work on North Korea, crediting himself with creating the conditions for talks through a hardline policy. But that self-congratulation could come back to haunt him.


North Korea has in 2018, pursued diplomacy with its neighbors on the back of a vague promise to denuclearize. Pyongyang’s apparent wish to make peace with Seoul after Trump’s nuclear brinkmanship throughout 2017, shocked much of the world and has generated Nobel Peace Prize buzz for the president.

But now Trump worries his meeting with Kim Jong Un “could turn into a political embarrassment,” The New York Times’ David Sanger reported, citing administration officials.

In early May 2018, with only weeks until the historic summit, North Korea flipped on the US and South Korea, blasting them both with a series of complaints that seemed like a tantrum.

Sanger reported that Trump had questioned whether he should even go through with the summit and hastily spoke on the phone with South Korean President Moon Jae-in for reassurance.

Once powerful al-Qaeda terrorists are losing in Syria
Kim with a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile.
(KCNA photo)

Trump has so far stayed the course with the summit, which would represent a major part of his foreign-policy accomplishments as president. For Kim, meeting a US president is a legitimizing win, lending his country previously unattainable international credibility.

But instead of Kim hoping the US grants him that legitimacy, it now appears Trump is the one trying to hold onto a meeting that North Korea appears willing to ditch.

Additionally, Trump is reportedly not thrilled about preparing for the summit, which is expected to cover not only the issue of nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula but virtually every major flashpoint in East Asian geopolitics.

Time quoted a senior administration official as saying Trump “doesn’t think he needs to” prepare that much for the summit with Kim.

Trump may have been misled

But if Trump is ill-prepared for the summit and it does blow up in his face, he can share some of the blame.

“It increasingly looks like the Moon administration overstated North Korea’s willingness to deal,” said Robert Kelly, a political-science professor who’s an expert on North Korea.

He added: “Moon likely exaggerated this to tie Trump to a diplomatic track to prevent him from backsliding into 2017’s war-threats which scared the daylights out of South Koreans. If Trump were less vain and had allowed his national security staff to vet the NK offer, he might have learned this.”

Once powerful al-Qaeda terrorists are losing in Syria
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in

It has been reported that Trump came dangerously close to striking North Korea in 2017. In doing so, he may have scared South Korea, not North Korea, into negotiations.

South Korea has reasons to push for diplomacy with North Korea, not least of which is that its citizens would be likely to bear the brunt of the suffering and death if war broke out.

The stuff could hit the fan

On June 12, 2018, in Singapore, Trump is set to face a task like never before in meeting Kim.

North Korea has measurably gained from its diplomatic offensive by forging closer ties with China — and, as Trump has acknowledged, seemed to get Beijing to ease off sanctions. Trump’s main achievement on North Korea thus far has been getting China to adhere to international sanctions.

Kim’s unwinding Trump’s win on the North Korea front with a sophisticated diplomatic ruse could prove embarrassing to Trump before the midterm elections in 2018, when he’ll look for a boost for the Republican Party.

North Korea experts fear that failed talks could lead the US to an even more militaristic path, possibly even to war against Kim.

Trump’s newly appointed national security adviser, John Bolton, has long advocated war with North Korea — and has been partly blamed for the recent collapse in diplomatic progress.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of April 6

Well. The world still isn’t doing too great right now and the ghost of Nero is somewhere out there presumably fiddling. Another week of social distancing, binge-watching shows you never thought you’d care about and there’s still a shortage of sh*t tickets as we haven’t even gotten to the apex of this pandemic.

The news seems bleak at the moment but there are cases of folks coming out the other side of this sickness. In particular, two WWII veterans – Bill Kelly, 95, and Bill Lapschies, 104. Now, I’m not the type of guy to bring up “feel good” fluff pieces for the sake of feel-good-ness. I bring them up because their interviews are both perfect responses of what you’d expect from the Greatest Generation’s vets.


Kelly responded with a, “I survived the foxholes of Guam, I can get through this coronavirus bullsh*t!” and Lapschies, who celebrated his 104th birthday with a full recovery, says he’s “pretty good. I made it. Good for a few more!” After some internet sleuthing, Lapschies does appear to be the oldest survivor of the coronavirus from what I could find.

Just goes to show you that even in the worst moments, veterans of all eras have an instinctual habit of keeping a stiff upper lip and a sense of humor. Speaking of which, here’s some memes…

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FQIllj8C4cfLXqbGgPcdPLh6WCVUCnk91pDGrLeLWSIFpE31H-NHrRC–E_mNi-I59RaO5YH18Z3YpugfeccC22Wy3WvLEG6Q5UBLV35a&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh3.googleusercontent.com&s=164&h=c78275c191ee8b8784df9f849e95a9ba338275c29b25916e41e16b86d6c3e806&size=980x&c=2126619738 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FQIllj8C4cfLXqbGgPcdPLh6WCVUCnk91pDGrLeLWSIFpE31H-NHrRC–E_mNi-I59RaO5YH18Z3YpugfeccC22Wy3WvLEG6Q5UBLV35a%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh3.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D164%26h%3Dc78275c191ee8b8784df9f849e95a9ba338275c29b25916e41e16b86d6c3e806%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2126619738%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F2VIu63I2cy_grmaYVLdjCJJr8Un1pqwxoAQNv0utWonDHaZhzfuGVvbSsNCf9LPS5hfdyGc4nnwJpR9wQTurFTVtBBCEdVKd6XLtST3c&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com&s=431&h=dd359a77c27d42ad737512e8ab7a3d4faeeb7a881c22ec0555107433ca2beadb&size=980x&c=3913971255 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F2VIu63I2cy_grmaYVLdjCJJr8Un1pqwxoAQNv0utWonDHaZhzfuGVvbSsNCf9LPS5hfdyGc4nnwJpR9wQTurFTVtBBCEdVKd6XLtST3c%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh5.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D431%26h%3Ddd359a77c27d42ad737512e8ab7a3d4faeeb7a881c22ec0555107433ca2beadb%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3913971255%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via US Army WTF Moments Memes)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F9X8PTtFg4KmzXYeCgxQdQWU8Aaubgquk0woNULDTUxqdEKCOCPFM_vVW7dqkdMNtHYtuwIKDvDEVLc9oyDmkjGpJdqddG6GYuXeOI9-eoONE6UoCQ8v3Dxnz6FZUboRNoq3GE6wSNN1TVbdCQg&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh4.googleusercontent.com&s=313&h=2b50dc9a6c04866b8158e8b7ef5810c0765f8487d030ee38eddeff6760219e11&size=980x&c=4061223321 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F9X8PTtFg4KmzXYeCgxQdQWU8Aaubgquk0woNULDTUxqdEKCOCPFM_vVW7dqkdMNtHYtuwIKDvDEVLc9oyDmkjGpJdqddG6GYuXeOI9-eoONE6UoCQ8v3Dxnz6FZUboRNoq3GE6wSNN1TVbdCQg%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh4.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D313%26h%3D2b50dc9a6c04866b8158e8b7ef5810c0765f8487d030ee38eddeff6760219e11%26size%3D980x%26c%3D4061223321%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Call for Fire)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F27XsANH7eZx2WDZogswJVg_ewi3BATwXczF_WOf8ZWI4lY53Obomtm38fKE5Fkz4UX4lG-j4dNPqtcV5zaoHFKlw1Owhx3P59FOLHTnC&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com&s=695&h=800bf4604a245dbe8b92319c4e428e2655972c5a10d75b68cc4ee5d590677cd0&size=980x&c=4195607866 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F27XsANH7eZx2WDZogswJVg_ewi3BATwXczF_WOf8ZWI4lY53Obomtm38fKE5Fkz4UX4lG-j4dNPqtcV5zaoHFKlw1Owhx3P59FOLHTnC%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh5.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D695%26h%3D800bf4604a245dbe8b92319c4e428e2655972c5a10d75b68cc4ee5d590677cd0%26size%3D980x%26c%3D4195607866%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Not CID)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F_2DNZmZWW4k3P9Noq_WZBojyqZx4ZujnVcjLlA6repCAiMzHISn8S1H9-C36nDP4lCqPqkKVX5YHBVWYVrIPGLcFpmviY_Lk3aXvH0ut9kaFpiCQjvI_3T26E4pFVLeG2lsP_wtOckV1lrKneQ&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh4.googleusercontent.com&s=661&h=7b996c9012d15a65e9b1801f377f3cbf07b0bb3802ca9e80326c031e18cd981a&size=980x&c=760328673 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F_2DNZmZWW4k3P9Noq_WZBojyqZx4ZujnVcjLlA6repCAiMzHISn8S1H9-C36nDP4lCqPqkKVX5YHBVWYVrIPGLcFpmviY_Lk3aXvH0ut9kaFpiCQjvI_3T26E4pFVLeG2lsP_wtOckV1lrKneQ%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh4.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D661%26h%3D7b996c9012d15a65e9b1801f377f3cbf07b0bb3802ca9e80326c031e18cd981a%26size%3D980x%26c%3D760328673%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FB9m8xKqUjECW39CqB0963OUmBsN4zTvxn2vWJUqkO812Otf-rSA7xmSvAA6ch2AgxQ4GIrZOpnAFkFff2GoEa-DHqADzHGaV9FHvuvgi81lDWm4voBiW-lYDNTz6AQFc4dewbFVsdOXGdq5HNQ&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com&s=633&h=5b80f4d0f9db5f909ece7a5a924f66e6da6f98830d121b568120ee5cef37af16&size=980x&c=3730290334 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FB9m8xKqUjECW39CqB0963OUmBsN4zTvxn2vWJUqkO812Otf-rSA7xmSvAA6ch2AgxQ4GIrZOpnAFkFff2GoEa-DHqADzHGaV9FHvuvgi81lDWm4voBiW-lYDNTz6AQFc4dewbFVsdOXGdq5HNQ%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh5.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D633%26h%3D5b80f4d0f9db5f909ece7a5a924f66e6da6f98830d121b568120ee5cef37af16%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3730290334%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Infantry Follow Me)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FkHfCndy8lhkwH51R4X5k2vJKFgeNPD9jL8tfZVsZShk8_4hjK7kIV_AKVVtULn1jD13gfIrNP7ExY5VL2CdtF4_NuGL-_DIqiUofEqAW&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh4.googleusercontent.com&s=704&h=51d4ae39cdde2b16dacd8728b9b8a8c8cbd659f03547e6ede5e1afdeeebd88cf&size=980x&c=3645598018 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FkHfCndy8lhkwH51R4X5k2vJKFgeNPD9jL8tfZVsZShk8_4hjK7kIV_AKVVtULn1jD13gfIrNP7ExY5VL2CdtF4_NuGL-_DIqiUofEqAW%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh4.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D704%26h%3D51d4ae39cdde2b16dacd8728b9b8a8c8cbd659f03547e6ede5e1afdeeebd88cf%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3645598018%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via The Army’s Fckups)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FtxmfXXYS6PCIsgOUbOjBtD-mxjpu8akIwwR0hw-8QFhraSnsnylsz_YdW8oHnDqYbyZx9q6OKMuwQaiIfGHRtbNRu6_5Ms8Zv4iy25Eb&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh6.googleusercontent.com&s=205&h=b5d2466cc118c8ab606d12dca715307ced9d0cb4cb213fd20a7ac46bf71969fa&size=980x&c=269199374 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FtxmfXXYS6PCIsgOUbOjBtD-mxjpu8akIwwR0hw-8QFhraSnsnylsz_YdW8oHnDqYbyZx9q6OKMuwQaiIfGHRtbNRu6_5Ms8Zv4iy25Eb%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh6.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D205%26h%3Db5d2466cc118c8ab606d12dca715307ced9d0cb4cb213fd20a7ac46bf71969fa%26size%3D980x%26c%3D269199374%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FxRX-PpTu_BreJfwC2uNx9UmzzO66uYsAPf9phuzFqxbxdjdxb3oznuAiRC8lJ-HqhQCR7suNyGH_9X1re7en-zofcHhW1CwjetJMxZ18iVKiYVOJ26Vt1hY317pJ6CwYx619xPTbrBXD_m5qnQ&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh4.googleusercontent.com&s=864&h=d02e9c7feb700fbeac0d3948287b2ec3eddf6ea92f7aed2f472e86c4ccc9ec7b&size=980x&c=3127796663 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FxRX-PpTu_BreJfwC2uNx9UmzzO66uYsAPf9phuzFqxbxdjdxb3oznuAiRC8lJ-HqhQCR7suNyGH_9X1re7en-zofcHhW1CwjetJMxZ18iVKiYVOJ26Vt1hY317pJ6CwYx619xPTbrBXD_m5qnQ%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh4.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D864%26h%3Dd02e9c7feb700fbeac0d3948287b2ec3eddf6ea92f7aed2f472e86c4ccc9ec7b%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3127796663%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Lost in the Sauce)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FTsrurzZI0-z77ONqEhmNMRbcNSduAqswIBq6hMZpJDL-cJyNpZEOYdGkBqtGBPUyxv8_K-u9_otw0LvBfL3jPUyBwTCTTMiHk5vL2OzX&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh3.googleusercontent.com&s=496&h=bcc1373f7c00e6a28215480754bd9127e9e4b5159a56accbe90153186d7e3cc0&size=980x&c=2989457201 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FTsrurzZI0-z77ONqEhmNMRbcNSduAqswIBq6hMZpJDL-cJyNpZEOYdGkBqtGBPUyxv8_K-u9_otw0LvBfL3jPUyBwTCTTMiHk5vL2OzX%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh3.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D496%26h%3Dbcc1373f7c00e6a28215480754bd9127e9e4b5159a56accbe90153186d7e3cc0%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2989457201%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FJhKGfl3qHvr1Wxm7NPpnYggO7V5zNLn7nbGH-w-dVFI3AzwEIe3KZrX3BE-ZUpZ9EORmcdpqD4HtMgbOIOr4igcXj10nAnJh7AAh_XXvkUmCzj7reW_4hoy7mZNBGbX0BUXfzUcO3OoMgUmJow&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh6.googleusercontent.com&s=328&h=46f5923b30e5d68fea0468cca378e1beb90f6821a1fb1819e41cce1aaa90054c&size=980x&c=2409445835 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FJhKGfl3qHvr1Wxm7NPpnYggO7V5zNLn7nbGH-w-dVFI3AzwEIe3KZrX3BE-ZUpZ9EORmcdpqD4HtMgbOIOr4igcXj10nAnJh7AAh_XXvkUmCzj7reW_4hoy7mZNBGbX0BUXfzUcO3OoMgUmJow%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh6.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D328%26h%3D46f5923b30e5d68fea0468cca378e1beb90f6821a1fb1819e41cce1aaa90054c%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2409445835%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via ASMDSS)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FVk4RszNGPDeMQD4CuNpgsAAjWJ6pgF-OLAZOmPx2Y8dDAo9nAJzb0AoVaM9tXfCuB6BNjvof7AJdXnFD5r-4PscQvic9fjeolRfblftPQqZKLy3KPJjYDh5Dp1iF_F5tJ6BBfAtyJc-rbGZ98g&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh6.googleusercontent.com&s=80&h=4fef32d67c7f832a1cc945623644afd78b6bc2f9cf473d71876ad13317fcc9e6&size=980x&c=2629253364 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FVk4RszNGPDeMQD4CuNpgsAAjWJ6pgF-OLAZOmPx2Y8dDAo9nAJzb0AoVaM9tXfCuB6BNjvof7AJdXnFD5r-4PscQvic9fjeolRfblftPQqZKLy3KPJjYDh5Dp1iF_F5tJ6BBfAtyJc-rbGZ98g%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh6.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D80%26h%3D4fef32d67c7f832a1cc945623644afd78b6bc2f9cf473d71876ad13317fcc9e6%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2629253364%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Fmp1uNQRRAJhQI-I7A5wPtkGn-jcAIo26DV5oAg6I0klqr9QzHFSVWjrVLlgKMY6L_pqi-Vxc6Om2kQ-GJk6K1UoKV4Uue0WiNPWfXqDg&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh4.googleusercontent.com&s=311&h=3292ad3fadf9bdc6ad502748da08eddb4adbd05fa8032b2dc95a1869d58e8725&size=980x&c=1299052381 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Fmp1uNQRRAJhQI-I7A5wPtkGn-jcAIo26DV5oAg6I0klqr9QzHFSVWjrVLlgKMY6L_pqi-Vxc6Om2kQ-GJk6K1UoKV4Uue0WiNPWfXqDg%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh4.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D311%26h%3D3292ad3fadf9bdc6ad502748da08eddb4adbd05fa8032b2dc95a1869d58e8725%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1299052381%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

MIGHTY TRENDING

Wounded Marine vet Alex Minsky found a new life as an underwear model

Alex Minsky joined the Marine Corps with every intention of making a career out of it, but that plan was changed by an insurgent IED. Now he’s found a new life in the fast-paced world of male modeling.


Alex Minsky joined the Marine Corps right after high school, intending to stay in for the long haul. He’d spent most of his life as the troublemaker, but when that stopped at seventeen, he was left with little direction and no idea where to go from there.

When he entered, he had an inkling that he would be good at it. As infantry, he was deployed to Afghanistan with the intention of fighting the Taliban, but on his first deployment, his truck ran over an IED.

After time spent in a coma and losing his right leg, he woke up frustrated at the slowness of his recovery. He itched to get back into the fight, but doctors informed him that, due to severe brain trauma, that probably wasn’t an option. Without direction once again, he turned to alcohol.

After several DUIs, he was forced to get help. It was this period that showed him that when he was drinking, he was only running away—and he didn’t want to run away anymore.

He found that fitness was directly related to his sobriety, and his life only improved from there. He works as a fitness trainer and a male model, and since then he’s spent his career running toward things, instead of away.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Check out this Royal Marine’s real-world Iron Man jetpack suit

Life imitates art once more, this time in the form of former Royal Marine-turned inventor-turned entrepreneur Richard Browning. Working from his Salisbury, UK garage, the inventor founded a startup that invented, built, and patented an individual human flight engine that comes as close to Iron Man as anything the world has ever seen – and Richard Browning is as close to Tony Stark as anyone the world has ever encountered.

Browning set out to reimagine what human-powered flight meant, and came out creating a high-speed, high-altitude flight system that has the whole world talking.


In the video above, Browning visits the United States’ East Coast aboard the Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth, the largest aircraft carrier in the fleet. Technically, he gets to the coast first, departing the carrier via Gravity’s Daedalus system, the name given to what the world has dubbed “the Iron Man suit.”

Of course, the suit is far from the arc reactor-powered repulsor engines that double as energy weapons featured in the comics, but the Daedalus flight system is still a marvel of engineering that has set the world record for fastest speed in a body-controlled jet engine powered suit. That record was set two years ago, and by 2019, Browning made real improvements to the system. The first system was a lightweight exoskeleton attached to six kerosene-powered microturbines. He flew 32 miles per hour to break that record in 2017. In 2019, he flew the suit at 85 miles per hour.

Today, the suit is entirely 3D-printed, making it lighter, stronger, and faster.

“It truly feels like that dream of flying you have sometimes in your sleep,” Browning said. “You are entirely and completely free to move effortlessly in three dimensional space and you shed the ties of gravity.”

In November 2019, Browning flew the suit from the south coast of England to the Isle of Wright, some 1.2 km. This may not sound like much, but it broke another world record, this time for distance in a body-controlled jet engine powered suit. He says the suit can fly at speeds up to 200 miles per hour, but it’s just not yet safe to attempt those speeds. It turns out, it’s just not so easy to control the suit. It takes a massive amount of sustained physical effort to counter the thrust created by the arm engines.

Browning himself is an ultramarathon runner, triathlete, and endurance canoeist. He cycles almost 100 miles a week, including a 25-mile run every Saturday morning, as well as three “intense” calisthenics sessions every week just for the strength and endurance to fly his invention.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How advisors could win the war in Afghanistan instead of combat troops

US military troops in Afghanistan have begun working with smaller Afghan units to prepare them for a more aggressive offensive against the Taliban next year in a push to break the stalemate in the 16-year-old war, the top US commander for the Middle East said Oct. 12.


While acknowledging there is still much more to be done, Army Gen. Joseph Votel sounded a more optimistic tone, saying he is seeing some positive trends in the Afghan’s fight.

As more older Afghan commanders leave or are pushed out of their posts, younger leaders are taking over, he said, adding that the forces are conducting more operations and going on the offensive more often. As a result, he said, officials are seeing the number of casualties start to go down.

“I think we’re still very keen to break the stalemate and that’s what this effort is about here,” Votel told reporters at his US Central Command headquarters. “I’m not declaring victory here with this – but I think some of the steps we’ve taken … are positive steps that are moving us in that direction to break the stalemate.”

Once powerful al-Qaeda terrorists are losing in Syria
Commander, US Special Operations Command Gen. Joseph Votel. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Russell.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress last week that he still considers the war a stalemate. But he and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis assured lawmakers that the plan to increase US forces in Afghanistan and beef up military support to the Afghan units will pay off.

Congress members, however, have expressed skepticism and frustration with the Pentagon, and complained that they haven’t gotten enough information on the administration’s new strategy for winning the war in Afghanistan and bringing greater stability to the broader region.

President Donald Trump in August approved a Pentagon plan to deploy as many as 3,800 additional US forces to Afghanistan, where there are already more than 11,000 serving. The additional American forces will be used to increase efforts to advise and assist Afghanistan’s forces, including putting advisers with smaller Afghan battalions, which they call Kandaks. Doing so puts American troops closer to the fight, but military leaders say it will allow them to better help the Afghans improve their ability to fight insurgents.

Once powerful al-Qaeda terrorists are losing in Syria
Lt. Col. Patrick Gaydon, battalion commander of 5/2 Brigade Special Troops Battalion, thanks the Soldiers from 562nd Engineer Company for their hard work and dedication during their time in southern Afghanistan. Photo by Spc. David Hauk.

Votel said the advisers will help those Afghan units get ready for next year’s fighting season.

The US troops would also be used to beef up US counter-terrorism operations against al-Qaeda and a growing Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan, as well as the Taliban and other extremist groups.

The added American troops have already started moving into Afghanistan, including a significant number of Army soldiers and some Air Force personnel who went in with an extra six F-16 fighter jets. The Pentagon, however, has repeatedly refused to even provide estimates of how many of the additional troops have deployed, despite promises that the department will be more transparent with the American people about how many US service members are serving there, in harm’s way.

Once powerful al-Qaeda terrorists are losing in Syria
Col. Henry Rogers, 455th Expeditionary Operations Group commander, walks to his F-16 for a sortie with the 421st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Nov. 27, 2015. USAF photo by Tech. Sgt. Robert Cloys.

Mattis told reporters traveling with him on Oct. 11 that more than a dozen NATO allies have agreed to boost their commitments to Afghanistan, although some may just be a symbolic increase.

The Taliban, meanwhile, continues to be a resilient enemy, launching a series of high profile attacks — including a recent rocket assault at the airport in Kabul while Mattis was on the ground in the country.

Mattis and other senior leaders say they need to increase the military effort in the country in order to force the Taliban to the negotiating table where they can get a political resolution to the war. On Oct. 12, Votel said he is hopeful and believes that peace talks are possible.

Articles

These ‘Pin-Up’ girls entertain veterans with burlesque shows and sexy calendars

 


“It was 2006, I was working in hotel management,” Gina Elise says. “There were all these stories about the Veterans Administration struggling to treat returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. I wanted to do something to support them and to support the hospitals who treated them.”

Gina Elise is the founder of Pin-Ups for Vets, a non-profit whose mission is based on producing WWII-style pinup calendars to support hospitalized veterans and deployed troops. After four years, she quit her job at the hotel to work with veterans full time. She has produced nine annual calendars since, but her efforts don’t stop at just calendars.  Elise and her unit of celebrities and women veterans are currently on a 50-state VA and military hospital tour. To date, the pinups visited 6,000 veterans at their bedside.

“Attitude is a huge part of recovery,” says Shannon Stacy, a former Marine Corps Flight Surgeon and the 2015 calendar’s Miss April. “I think its great that an organization like this can come in really make a difference in patients lives, on top of what the doctors and nurses do.” Stacy can appreciate how attitude affects recovery, as she is also currently an Emergency Medicine Physician.

“On the surface, we’re shooting a fun, artistic calendar,” Elise says. “Under that, we’re supporting a cause that should be important to all Americans: supporting our veterans.” Most importantly, Pin-Ups for Vets buys medical equipment for VA and military hospitals and sends morale-boosting care packages to deployed American troops around the world.  So far, Pin-Ups for Vets donated more than $50,000 of state-of-the-art rehabilitation equipment to VA military hospitals nationwide.

“My grandfather was a World War II veteran,” Elise recalls. “They used to paint this art on the nose of planes to boost morale for the guys going into battle to remind them of what they were fighting for.”

“When you think about the fact these soldiers painted these women on the sides of aircraft, and it gave them the confidence to go fight,” says Jovane Henry, a former Marine Corps Photojournalist and 2015’s Miss July. “What’s more empowering than that? I think it’s great. It’s a continuation of service for me. Serving was one of the greatest experiences of my life and I’m happy to be able to continue that service through Pin-Ups for Vets.”

The spirit of Pin-Ups For Vets also promotes volunteerism at Veterans Hospitals, supports homeless Veterans in shelters, and boosts morale for military wives and female Veterans with makeovers and clothing.

The recent launch party for the 2015 calendar, the first to feature 12 veterans, was held at the American Legion in Hollywood (Post 43) and featured a burlesque show headlined by an all-veteran pinup revue.  It was the first of its kind. Jennifer Campbell, who worked a .50 cal in a US Army transportation unit participated in the show, but saw it as a family event.

“It gave us a chance to jump into a different period of time,” Campbell recalls. “My great aunt was a WWII poster pin-up girl. It was fun seeing the transition from then to now.”

The burlesque troop, “The Dollface Dames,” performed a variety of numbers. It was a vintage burlesque show, true to its 1940’s heritage, complete with dancing, feather boas, hula-hoops, singing, even a shadow silhouette erotic dance.

“There’s no hard, fast rule that says I can’t be a hard-charging Marine and a lipstick-wearing pinup,” Henry states. “So I choose to be both.”

 

Learn more about Pin-Ups for Vets and purchase the calendar at PinUpsForVets.com.

 

MIGHTY TRENDING

This Marine found a way to turn his MREs into home-cooked meals

Keeping the troops well fed is a big part of how the military works, and Navy veteran and pop-up chef August Dannehl knows this better than most. In the WATM series “Thank You For Your Service” Augie cooks a four-course meal for his fellow vets, and each course is inspired by a veteran story from his or her time in uniform.


In this episode David Burnell remembers the times when he was a Marine, and he learned to enjoy a self-made concoction of mac and cheese using the jalapeño cheese packet and spaghetti noodle pack from the MRE.  Here’s the recipe that chef August cooked together for David:

Habanero Mac and Cheese w/ Truffle, Leek and 3 Cheeses

Inspired by MRE Jalapeño Cheese Packet and Spaghetti Noodles

Ingredients

Salt and Pepper to Taste

1 Tsp. Olive Oil

1/2 Stick Unsalted Butter

1/4 Cup AP Flour

2 Cups Whole Milk

1 Cup Half Half

1 Tsp. Sweet Paprika

1 lb. Conchiglie (or shell pasta)

1 Cup Shredded Gruyère Cheese

1 Cup Shredded English White Cheddar(sharpest available)

1 Cup Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese

2 Tsp. Truffle Puree Preserves (or oil)

1 Large Leek

1 Large Habanero

2 Tbls. of Green Onion (for garnish)

Prepare

Prepare the leek by splitting down lengthwise and soaking in cold water for 20 mins. Then shake out all silt from the leaves, discard the top, dark-green part and chop the rest.

Boil pasta in large saucepan of salted water until not quite al dente, about 2 minutes less than the package instructions. Drain and transfer to large bowl and dress with olive oil.

Seed and stem Habanero then julienne into tiny slices. Place into bowl of hot water and let steep for 1 hr (this removes some of the heat from the chili).

Make the cheese sauce by bringing a large saucepan to medium-high heat and melt 4 Tbs. butter. Add leaks and habanero and sweat for 5 mins.

Add flour and paprika and cook until no visible flour remains, about 2-3 mins. Whisk in milk and half half and large pinch of salt and bring to boil then simmer whisking out any lumps, about 4 minutes.

Add truffle puree and all cheeses and stir until smooth.

Once smooth, add pasta to sauce and mix until incorporated.

Add salt and pepper to taste and let stand 5 minutes before service.

Add pinch of sliced green onions for garnish and serve.

Articles

These 3 soldiers fought their way back to the front lines after losing legs

Typically, an amputation ends a military career. For a long time, most any level of amputation was considered to make a service member unfit for combat. As of last summer, only 57 amputees had returned to conflict zones and most of those stayed at a desk.


These three men wanted to get back into the fight.

1. The Ranger who swore he’d still be a squad leader

Once powerful al-Qaeda terrorists are losing in Syria
Photo: US Army Special Operations Command

Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Kapacziewski was in an armored vehicle when insurgents threw a grenade into it. Kapacziewski survived the blast with serious injuries. After months of surgeries and casts, he attempted to walk on his right leg again and heard the pins holding it together snap. Soon after, he asked doctors to remove it.

Also, watch: Bryan Anderson’s Amazing Story Showcased in ‘American Sniper’ 

Over the months and years that followed, Kapacziewski (a.k.a. “Joe Kap”) relearned how to do the basic tasks required of Rangers . He ran, rucked, parachuted, and completed Army drills with his prosthetic leg. Since his amputation, he has conducted four combat deployments and even earned an Army Commendation Medal for pulling an injured soldier 75 yards during a firefight.

2. The paratrooper who led an airborne platoon with a prosthetic

Once powerful al-Qaeda terrorists are losing in Syria
Photo: US Navy Lt. j.g. Bryan Mitchell

1st Lt. Josh Pitcher finished relieving himself on the side of the road, closed his fly, and heard the loud pop of a small roadside bomb. Two days later, he was in a hospital in Germany, promising to return to combat despite losing his left leg beneath the knee. Before he could even try and return to active duty, Pitcher had to kick a pill and drinking habit he got trying to deal with the pain after his surgeries. But, he learned how to do his old job with his new leg. Less than two years after his injury, he returned with his unit, the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, to Afghanistan. A few months later, he took over a 21-man platoon and led them for the rest of the deployment, most of it trudging through the mountains in the northern regions of the country .

3. The captain who calmly reported his own double amputation

Once powerful al-Qaeda terrorists are losing in Syria
Photo: US Army SGT Joe Padula

When then-1st Lt. Daniel Luckett’s vehicle was hit by an IED in Iraq in 2008, a squad leader called up to ask if everything was all right. Luckett calmly responded, “Negative. My feet are gone.” Two years later, Capt. Luckett was with the 101st Airborne Division again; this time in Afghanistan. He uses a small prosthetic to assist what remains of his right leg. A much larger one serves as his left. His second day with his first prosthetic, he attempted to walk away with the leg. Doctors tried to get it back, but Luckett convinced them to let him keep it. He would go on to earn the Expert Infantry Badge during his efforts to prove he was still an asset. After successfully earning the award, the soldier was promoted to captain and allowed to deploy with his unit as part of the Afghan surge.

Do Not Sell My Personal Information