A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte followed through on numerous threats to end his country’s Visiting Forces Agreement with the US on Tuesday, notifying Washington of his intent to withdraw, triggering a 180-day countdown.


On Friday, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said he thought the two sides could reach a political resolution, but recent history suggests the pact’s demise could be an opportunity for China in a strategically valuable region.

Since taking office in 2016, Duterte has repeatedly criticized the US and US officials. The US, which ruled the Philippines as a colony in the first half of the 20th century, remains close with the Philippines and is very popular there — as is Duterte, who had 87% approval in December.

But the Philippine president nevertheless decided to end the VFA, with his spokesman saying it was “time we rely on ourselves” and that the country “will strengthen our own defenses and not rely on any other country.”

While President Donald Trump said he didn’t “really mind,” the US Embassy in the Philippines said it would “carefully consider how best to move forward,” and Defense Secretary Mark Esper said it was “a move in the wrong direction.”

Asked on Friday about the decision, McCarthy touted US-Philippine ties.

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A Philippine marine looks through the sights on a US Marine Corps M777 towed 155 mm howitzer at Colonel Ernesto Ravina Air Base in the Philippines, during exercise KAMANDAG 3, October 12, 2019.

US Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. Donald Holbert

Washington and Manila have “a long history” of working “very hard together” and of “very strong” military-to-military relations, McCarthy told an audience at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. “We have about 175 days to work through this diplomatically. I think we can drive forward to an end state that will work out for all of us politically.”

The US and the Philippines are also bound by the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, but ending the VFA would undercut those and the legal standing US forces have when in the Philippines.

The latter effect would endanger hundreds of military exercises and other military cooperation. US Special Forces troops have been stationed in the Philippines to help fight ISIS-linked militants, and the US military has trained there with other countries in the region. The Philippines has also hosted US troops deployed as part of Pacific Pathways, which is meant to allow US and forces in the region to build stronger partnerships and readiness.

Asked about the effect of the VFA withdrawal on US basing and training, McCarthy said Friday that “conversations are underway” particularly among the White House and State Department.

“The VFA, by changing that would change basically the freedoms that you have to do the training,” McCarthy said, “but this is a very close ally, and we would work through that, but it’s basically [changing] the protocols of how you would work together if it actually goes through.”

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F5bb8f45dac0a63720f3f4e02%3Fwidth%3D1300%26format%3Djpeg%26auto%3Dwebp&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.insider.com&s=461&h=e1068bd36d8cf0ac85bdb90175ead720a1df44c362b1c7578598d1b273bd8667&size=980x&c=2487424571 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F5bb8f45dac0a63720f3f4e02%253Fwidth%253D1300%2526format%253Djpeg%2526auto%253Dwebp%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.insider.com%26s%3D461%26h%3De1068bd36d8cf0ac85bdb90175ead720a1df44c362b1c7578598d1b273bd8667%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2487424571%22%7D” expand=1]

US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jovanny Rios guides a Philippine marine in a combat life-saver drill during KAMANDAG 2, in the Naval Education Training Center, Zambales, Philippines, October 2, 2018.

US Marine Corps/Pfc. Christian Ayers

Day 181

There a number of reasons the VFA may ultimately survive. Philippine military and security forces value the relationship, under which they receive military assistance, training, education, and weapons.

Philippine officials have suggested a need to review the VFA “to address matters of sovereignty” but have stopped short of advocating withdrawal. Duterte’s foreign secretary also indicated on Tuesday that the announcement should be seen as a jumping-off point for such negotiations, saying “other reactions have been idiotic.”

But it’s not the first time the Philippines has pulled out of this kind of deal. In 1991, it did not renew a mutual basing agreement, leading to the closure of Naval Base Subic Bay, the largest US base in the Pacific, and the withdrawal of US forces.

Manila “quickly discovered that after it did that it was rendered largely defenseless with its limited military capabilities, and China actually started taking very bold actions in the South China Sea, including the occupation of the Mischief Reef,” Prashanth Parameswaran, a senior editor at The Diplomat, said on The Diplomat podcast.

“We’re now left in a situation where we’re not just hypothetically talking about what might happen,” Parameswaran added. “We actually have a historical record about what happens when the alliance goes through periods like this.”

Duterte has won concessions on other issues by pushing on Washington, Parameswaran said, calling a similar outcome this time the “optimistic scenario,” but in light of the impulsiveness of both Duterte and Trump, there remains “an element of risk.”

Agreements like the VFA take time to negotiate and ratify — after ending the basing agreement in 1991, the two countries weren’t able to establish the VFA until 1998 — and other countries in the region, like Australia and Japan, can’t replace US military assistance to the Philippines, leaving Manila weaker in the face of Chinese ambitions.

“That is the big, worrying scenario about Day 181,” Parameswaran said, “because the Philippine military, it’s building up in terms of its capabilities, but it’s still one of the weakest militaries in the Asia-Pacific, and that’s going to be laid bare on Day 181 if this doesn’t get sorted out.”

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

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8 of the best dog breeds for veterans with PTS

When heroes come home, sometimes they need a hero of their own. In canine form, that is. Service dogs are invaluable to veterans and civilians alike. These loving, four-legged friends provide emotional support, understanding and protection, and they deserve much more credit than we give them. That said, getting a service dog is about building a partnership. Veterans coping with PTS need a dog that matches their personality and needs, so choose your service dog carefully. Ideally, a service dog to support someone with PTS should be: 

  • Intelligent
  • Intuitive
  • Calm under pressure
  • Driven to learn
  • Social
  • And emotionally intelligent

All service dogs are trained, but psychiatric dog breeds are particularly good at assisting those with depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions. These 8 breeds are some of the best options out there. Take your pick! 

1. Standard Poodle

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge

Stop laughing! We’re not kidding. The standard poodle really is an excellent choice for those with PTS. Poodles are one of the top therapy breeds. Highly intelligent and diligent, poodles can learn complex skills, and they possess an innately strong sense of emotional intelligence. They are wonderful at comforting owners and love hugs- and who wouldn’t want to hug a fluffy poodle? Poodles are also a great choice for households with allergy-sufferers because they shed very little and are considered hypoallergenic.

2. Labs

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge

The lab is easy-going and extremely versatile. Combined, their intelligence and loyalty allow them to learn how to handle the ups and downs of PTS. A lab’s well-balanced personality allows them to keep a level head and, in turn, be a steadfast partner for their owners. They always try to see the best in themselves and find a way to please their owner. Dating back to the days when they were trained as game dogs, they live for approval. Their determination to please is perfect for someone who needs a dog they can rely on. 

3. Golden Retrievers

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge

Golden Retrievers are a classic choice. They’re loyal, playful and have a naturally sunny disposition. Their tail will be wagging while they comfort you with a nudge and a hug. The Golden Retriever is also adept at reading quick shifts in their owner’s emotions, responding to subtle changes at the drop of a hat. Retrievers are the perfect choice for veterans with kids in the house since they’re very patient and more tolerant of rough handling than most breeds. 

4. Border Collie

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge

If it’s one thing a Border Collie has plenty of, it’s intuition. Border Collies have a long history of leading and retrieving. Because of this, they’re highly tuned in to their handler’s signals, forming a deep emotional bond with their owners. In fact, when Border Collies don’t have a job to do, they tend to get a little antsy. They’re most comfortable when they’re serving others, so Border Collies are well-suited to providing physical comfort during traumatic episodes. Not only will Collies comfort you, but they’ll motivate you to get up and be active each day. It’s hard to say no to a collie that wants to go for a walk! 

5. Pit Bull

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge

Pit Bulls are one of the most misunderstood breeds on the planet. Despite their vicious reputation, Pit bBulls are dedicated to their owner’s needs and show compassion in stressful moments. With proper training, Pit Bulls can be obedient, help manage their owner’s condition and hold a powerful emotional presence to deliver much-needed comfort. Pit Bulls are low maintenance in terms of grooming, which is a plus for vets with physical limitations.  The only downside? Pit Bulls have been stereotyped as being aggressive, so some airlines may not accept them as support dogs. 

6. Pomeranian

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge

Pomeranians might be a surprising choice for a PTS specialty breed, but this pint-sized doggy has more to offer than meets the eye. Personality-wise, these tiny creatures are filled with energy and love. Their intelligence and high energy levels allow them to partake in intensive training and learn quickly in comparison to other breeds. Pomeranians are compact, travel-friendly and family-friendly, which is great for owners who are short on space or don’t have time for long walks. The only thing to watch out for is the grooming requirements for these puffballs- much like their long, luscious fur, the brushing and bathing duties are pretty intense. 

7. German Shepherd

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge

There’s a reason German Shepherds are one of the most common military working dog breeds, and they’re an absolutely perfect choice for PTS. The German Shepherd is fully equipped to spring back quickly from stressful situations with their owners. With the right training, they can learn to detect episodes and panic attacks before they even happen and diffuse the situation. Their signature move is pawing at the owner to alert them of triggers and divert their attention from a potential flare-up. German Shepherds are also some of the most loyal, obedient and dependable dogs you can own. They’re very gentle and sweet toward their favorite humans, but they’re also highly protective. If you’d like a service dog that can double as a guard dog, a well-trained German Shepherd is probably your best bet. 

8. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge

This majestic breed little breed is typically seen as a standard lap dog, but it has immense potential for those with PTS. In fact, one of the Spaniel’s most valuable characteristics is its ability to form an intense bond with its owner. That’s why spaniels are often called “velcro dogs!” Unlike many other small dog breeds, Spaniels are quiet and collected. They handle high-pressure situations well in comparison. They need proper training like any service dog, but they can become wonderful emotional support pets with the right education.

MIGHTY TRENDING

North Korea has a meltdown over South Korean military drills

North Korea’s top negotiator called South Korea’s government “ignorant and incompetent” on May 17, 2018, in the latest installment of Pyongyang lashing out at the US and Seoul for essentially carrying out business as usual.

Ri Son Gwon, the North Korean negotiator, slammed South Korea for participating in military drills with the US, following up a series of statements on May 15, 2018, when Pyongyang canceled talks with Seoul and threatened to cancel a planned summit with President Donald Trump.


While North Korea commonly complains about US and South Korean military drills, which it sees as a rehearsal for invasion, the timing of the recent complaints struck many as odd.

The drills in question, called Max Thunder, have been going on since May 11, 2018. North Korea endured four solid days of the drills before saying anything about them. In fact, one day into the drills, North Korea announced it would invite foreign journalists to cover the destruction of its nuclear test site.

But on May 15, 2018, that all changed with North Korea slamming the drills and their inclusion of the US’s B-52 nuclear-capable bomber, something which regional media had reported. The Pentagon told Business Insider that the B-52s were never scheduled to take part in the drills.

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge
B-52
(Photo by Michael Weber)

Before Max Thunder, two other massive drills had taken place in April and May 2018, with hardly a peep from Pyongyang.

In past months, Kim, who reportedly said he “understands” why the drills were going on, had gone forward with peace talks without asking for them to be toned down.

Nevertheless, North Korea cited the drills as its main reason for canceling talks with South Korea.

“Unless the serious situation which led to the suspension of the north-south high-level talks is settled, it will never be easy to sit face to face again with the present regime of South Korea,” Ri said, according to Reuters.

In a separate statement from North Korean media, Pyongyang said it couldn’t open up its country or work with others.

“It is a lesson shown by the past history that it would never be possible to write a new history of opening up the prospect of the country and nation even though we may sit with those without trust and confidence and without manners,” it wrote.

Kim, what are you doing?

Kim Jong Un began and led his country toward peace and diplomacy with South Korea and the US beginning in his 2018 New Years’ address. Since then, he’s put on a spectacular diplomatic offensive and made history by leaving his country for the first time since taking power to meet at least twice with China’s President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

But since May 15, 2018, North Korea has begun a marked backslide towards the old rhetoric of hostilities, and it all kicked off with a meltdown over days-old military drills.

As for why North Korea may have went back to tough talking points, read here.

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

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That time a British soldier held back 6,000 enemy troops with beer bottles

There’s probably no greater argument in favor of issuing bottled beer to troops in combat than the story of William Speakman.


In 1951, the 24-year-old Speakman volunteered for service in the Korean War.

He initially joined the Black Watch Royal Highland Regiment, but was attached to the 1st Battalion of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers during his time in Korea.

 

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge
William Speakman in Korea, 1951.

 

By 1951, the war had turned on the UN troops fighting in the peninsula. After near annihilation along the Korea-China border, Communist forces were bolstered when China entered the war for North Korea.

Later that year, William Speakman and his unit were somewhere along the 38th parallel – the new front – on a freezing cold, shell-pocked hill along the Imjin River. It was known as Hill 317.

On Nov. 4, 1951, Speakman’s unit was suddenly pummeled by intense Chinese artillery and a tide of overwhelming human wave attacks.

What happened next earned William Speakman the nickname “Beer Bottle VC.”

 

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge
Speakman’s medals, which he donated to South Korea in 2015.

 

Speakman, a junior enlisted infantryman acting without orders, led a series of counter-charges to prevent his position from being overrun. He and six other men from the King’s Own fought an estimated 6,000 oncoming Chinese infantry troops. Speakman himself began to hurl as many grenades at the Chinese waves as he could, even after suffering multiple wounds.

He ran to and from a supply tent 10 times over the course of four continuous hours to replenish his grenade supply.

“It was hand-to-hand; there was no time to pull back the bolt of the rifle,” he told the Telegraph. “It was November, the ground was hard, so grenades bounced and did damage.”

His cache of grenades didn’t last forever, of course. When he exhausted his unit’s explosives supply, he turned to any other material he could find to throw at the enemy horde, which included rocks and a steady supply of empty beer bottles. He and his six buddies were able to hold off the Communist onslaught long enough for the KOSB to withdraw safely.

“I enjoyed it, actually, it’s what I joined up to do,” Speakman said in an interview with the Royal British Legion. I volunteered for Korea and joined the KOSB… we did what you’re trained to do as a soldier. We fought that night and did what we had to.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ej6au6duwnM

Speakman remembered Queen Elizabeth II presenting him with the Victoria Cross for his actions on Hill 317.

“When I got it, the king was alive,” Speakman said. “But he was very ill. He awarded me the VC but he died. So I was the queen’s first VC… I think she was nervous. And I was very nervous.”

Only four VCs were awarded during the Korean War and Speakman is the only living Victoria Cross recipient from that war. Though Speakman went on to serve until 1967 and fought in other conflicts in places like Italy and Borneo, he wants his ashes to be scattered in the Korean DMZ.

 

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge
HRH The Duke of York meets Chelsea Pensioner Bill Speakman, VC. (Duke of York photo)

 

“When I die, this is where I want to be. Nowhere else,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

MIGHTY MOVIES

This is why there’s no excuse for Hollywood to screw up military uniforms

Every time a new Hollywood blockbuster comes out about the military, veterans and active duty service members get defensive — and for good reason.


The military is very detail-oriented and the veteran community can spot every mistake in technique, procedure, or uniform wear. It pains us watching films that can’t even get the amount of flags on our uniform correct.

Related: 62 glaring technical errors in ‘The Hurt Locker’

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge

 

As much of a master craftsman as Stanley Kubrick was when creating films, he’s not without his flaws. For instance, that scene in Full Metal Jacket when Joker is doing pull-ups and then Private Pyle gets hell for not being able to do one.

But Gunny Hartman should have been on Joker’s ass just as much since none of his should have counted (although it could be argued that it was a character choice by late, great R. Lee Ermey, a former Marine Corps Drill Instructor and Hollywood’s truest bad ass, just so he could f*ck with Pyle sooner.)

The film doesn’t exactly shine the best light on the reality of the Vietnam War, but at least in Full Metal Jacket, the uniforms are on point. According to the original Title 10, Chapter 45 section 772 line (f), actors may wear armed forces uniforms as long as it does not intend to discredit that armed force, and in 1970 that condition was removed altogether.

Back in 1967, Daniel Jay Schacht put on a theatrical street performance in protest of the Vietnam War. He and two other actors put on a skit where he “shot” the others with squirt-guns filled with red liquid. It was highly disrespectful but he did manage to get the uniform correct. After being sentenced with a $250 fine and six months in prison, he brought it up to the Court of Appeals and eventually to the Supreme Court.

It was ruled that, as distasteful as it was, his performance was protected under the First Amendment. The Vietnam War protester inadvertently helped troops by taking away any excuse to not get our uniforms right in film, television, and theatrical performances. Now there is no gray area. Hollywood has no excuse to not get the uniforms right.

 

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge

So what gives? There are far more films that try to portray troops as righteous as Superman, but have them pop their collar.

The reason films like Full Metal Jacket, Forrest Gump, American Sniper, and Thank You For Your Service get it right is because they handle the military with respect. The producers, director, and costume designers listen when the military advisor speaks. They hire costume designers like Keith Denny who have handled military films before to do it right.

Military advisors have been gaining more and more respect in the industry. Because without them, well, the film turns into a drinking game for troops and vets — and they do not hold back their vitriol.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This is the amazing life of the veteran with the most apt tattoo

There is perhaps no photo more iconic to the Post-9/11 generation of warfighters than the one that graced the cover of a Stars and Stripes article in 2011. The article, which was about how MEDEVAC pilots have a single hour to get wounded troops to medical facilities, went viral arguably because of the this photo. The powerful picture was of a critically wounded Pfc. Kyle Hockenberry and the tattoo across his ribs, which reads, “For those I love I will sacrifice.”

The photo quickly spread across both social and print media and his ink became the rallying cry for all American troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.


A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge

It just so happened that Stars and Stripes journalist Laura Rouch was also on this flight.

(Photo by Laura Rouch, Stars and Stripes)

Kyle Hockenberry had always wanted to serve in the U.S. Army. From the time he joined, he had one phrase in the back of his head that he felt compelled to have permanently etched on himself. He graduated basic training in January 2011 and was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division’s 4th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment “Pale Riders” who would deploy to Afghanistan the following month.

As many troops tend to do right before shipping out, he got some ink. He had the iconic phrase tattooed onto his ribs. By February, he was at Forward Operating Base Pasab outside of Haji Rammudin.

Then, on the 15th of June, 2011, a pressure plate triggered an IED while Pfc. Hockenberry was moving to cover. It would take both of his legs above the knee and his left arm above the elbow. The blast would also take the life of his friend, Spc. Nick Hensley. He was immediately rushed to the medical facility at Kandahar Air Field.

Laura Rouch of Stars and Stripes was on-site with the crew of Dustoff 59 for her article. Saving Hockenberry was no easy feat.

“They began working on him immediately. They started cutting his clothing off and as they’re getting tourniquets on, they cut away his uniform and this tattoo emerged. I saw the tattoo and it just reached up and grabbed me.” explained Laura Rauch to the Marietta Times.

The severity of the blast and commitment of the flight medics were in constant conflict. Hockenberry’s heart stopped three times and each time the crew pulled him from the brink. He entered a coma as he reached the hospital. Rouch held hold onto the article until Hockenberry recovered enough to give his blessing for publication.

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge

And of course, the still proudly rocks the hell out of the greatest military tattoo.

(Vanilla Fire Productions)

Hockenberry was then transported to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas to begin walking the long road to recovery. In time, he would marry his loving wife, Ashley, and be promoted to corporal before being medically discharged in 2013. The pair welcomed a happy baby boy, Reagan, in 2016.

Recently, he has been working closely with documentary filmmakers Steven Barber and Paul Freedman on an upcoming documentary, World’s Most Dangerous Paper Route. The film is an inside look and history of Stars and Stripes. Heavily featured in this film is the iconic photo and the incredibly badass life of Kyle Hockenberry.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This vet’s military experience made him the perfect host for ‘Special Ops Mission’

Army and Air Force veteran Wil Willis arrived in Los Angeles in 2009 to pursue a job as a TV show host for the Discovery Channel. His time as a pararescueman and as a special operator with the Army’s 3rd Ranger Battalion gave him the bona fides to debut in the military reality show “Special Ops Mission.”


In this episode of the WATM Spotlight Series, Wil recounts his unusual transition from door-kicker to TV personality during a photo shoot with Marine photographer Cedric Terrell.

In the military, Wil went from 3rd Ranger battalion to Pararescueman, so when he moved to Los Angeles to become a TV host, he understandably was lacking the adrenaline he was used to. He bought a motorcycle, both to circumvent some of the struggles of LA traffic and for his own peace of mind.

Having wrecked and rebuilt the bike three times, he considers it a piece of himself. It represents the kind of person he is: always prepared for challenges, aware that he’s a cog in a larger wheel, just like he felt when he was in the military. As long as he’s doing his job, the whole plan will come together.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Amazing behind the scenes facts about Rambo – from Stallone himself

John Rambo was almost any other throwaway movie veteran. But luckily for the character – and fans of the Rambo series – the script for First Blood was in the hands of Sylvester Stallone. For Sly, something felt a little off about the story. So he asked real Vietnam veterans what was missing.

And movie history was made.


Sly gets input from veterans when it comes to writing “Rambo”

Given John Rambo’s place in the action movie pantheon, First Blood isn’t the shoot-em-up action movie someone might expect. In between the fight scenes, it’s a poignant remark on the treatment of Vietnam veterans, a wound that was still fresh when the movie was released in 1982. It started life as a book, but John Rambo’s speech at the end – the words that bring the entire story and its message together – wasn’t in the book. Stallone added it with the input from Vietnam veterans. It was a message that resonated with Vietnam vets in their own words.

Sly didn’t stop there. For the sequel, where Rambo is sent to Vietnam to rescue POW/MIA still in captivity, Stallone reached out to vets at Soldier of Fortune Magazine to talk about Vietnam War prisoners that might be held over. For the third, he tapped troops with experience in Afghanistan. He did the same to learn more about the decades-long civil war in Burma.

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge

Stallone reprising his iconic role a John Rambo in Rambo: Last Blood.

Stallone’s favorite ‘Rambo’ weapon isn’t the trademark knife

There are a lot of now-iconic action scenes where John Rambo is using weapons to great effect. The large survival knife from First Blood is legendary, but Rambo has a whole cache of other tools. He uses the compound bow in every Rambo movie to come after, an M60E3 with one hand in First Blood Part II, and who could forget the time he uses a Browning M2 to first obliterate a Jeep driver at close range before taking out half of Burma’s army in 2008’s Rambo.

For Stallone, the latest weapon resonated most with him. Rambo is short on time in Last Blood and has to fashion a few weapons for himself. Among those is a “vicious” weapon crafted from a spring on a car for use in close combat. Stallone calls it a “war club” with the emphasis on war.

“That thing talks to me,” the actor tells We Are The Mighty.

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge

Imagine all the places this pitchfork is gonna go.

John Rambo enlisted in the Air Force first

Sorry, Big Army. Before Rambo joined the U.S. Army’s most elite Special Forces unit, he crossed into the blue. It wasn’t just something he did for a few minutes before realizing he wanted to be in the Army, either. John Rambo did two tours in Vietnam as a combat helicopter pilot and even received the Medal of Honor before he ever thought about being in the Army.

According to the man who plays Rambo himself (in the video above), John Rambo got into a fight in Saigon with a bunch of Special Forces guys who told him that anyone could fight in the sky. So Rambo went to Fort Bragg as soon as he could, reenlisting so he could join the Army’s Special Force. In the film, you’ll see John Rambo in Air Force blue.

Catch Rambo: Last Blood in theaters starting Friday, Sep. 20, 2019.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

The Air Force’s X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle is back on the ground after completing its latest record-breaking unmanned mission in space.

The experimental, clandestine space plane landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Oct. 27, 2019, after more than two years in orbit, the service said in a release. This was the X-37B’s fifth space mission. Its last orbit ended in May 2017 after 718 days in space.

“The safe return of this spacecraft, after breaking its own endurance record, is the result of the innovative partnership between government and industry,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said in a statement. “The sky is no longer the limit for the Air Force and, if Congress approves, the U.S. Space Force.”


This was the second time the X-37B landed has landed at the Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility. It took off for its fifth mission on Sept. 7, 2017.

While its pay loads and most of its activities are classified, the Air Force said at the time that the mission would carry “the Air Force Research Laboratory Advanced Structurally Embedded Thermal Spreader (ASETS-II) payload to test experimental electronics and oscillating heat pipe technologies in the long-duration space environment.”

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge

The Air Force’s X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Mission 5 successfully landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility Oct. 27, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo)

The space plane “conducted on-orbit experiments for 780 days during its mission, recently breaking its own record by being in orbit for more than two years,” the release said. That brings the total number of days spent on-orbit for the X-37B to 2,865, officials said.

The last two missions have pushed the boundaries for a test vehicle, originally designed to spend up to 270 days circling the Earth.

What the X-37B does is literally a matter of rocket science. According to the service, the X-37B is exploring the practicalities and risks of “reusable space vehicle technologies” while also experimenting with space technology.

Under the purview of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, the test vehicle can autonomously reenter the atmosphere and eventually land horizontally on a flight line.

“This program continues to push the envelope as the world’s only reusable space vehicle,” said Randy Walden, director of the Rapid Capabilities Office.

“With a successful landing today, the X-37B completed its longest flight to date and successfully completed all mission objectives. This mission successfully hosted Air Force Research Laboratory experiments, among others, as well as providing a ride for small satellites,” Walden said Sunday.

In July 2019, the service’s former top civilian gave a glimpse into the space plane’s mission.

Air Force X-37B spaceplane successfully returns to earth after 780-day mission

www.youtube.com

Speaking about space awareness and deterrence at the Aspen Security Forum, Heather Wilson described the vehicle as a “small version of the [NASA space] shuttle.”

It “can do an orbit that looks like an egg and, when it’s close to the Earth, it’s close enough to the atmosphere to turn where it is,” she said at the time.

“Which means our adversaries don’t know — and that happens on the far side of the Earth from our adversaries — where it’s going to come up next. And we know that that drives them nuts. And I’m really glad about that,” she added.

Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer and astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told Military.com that Wilson’s comments on its movement may shed light on “a previously secret orbit-related capability,” and explained that the aircraft’s movement likely throws an adversary off, even if just for a short time.

“The dip into the atmosphere causes a change in the timing of when it next comes overhead. So [trackers’] predictions are off, and [they] have to search for it all over again,” McDowell said at the time.

The Air Force is preparing to launch the sixth X-37B mission from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, in 2020.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

See the newest American aircraft carrier under construction

The USS John F. Kennedy, the second of the Navy’s Gerald R. Ford-class advanced nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, reached 70% completion in late February 2018, according to shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls.


Like the first-in-class Gerald R. Ford, the Kennedy’s construction is being done with a modular technique, in which smaller parts of the ship are welded together to form larger chunks, called superlifts, that are then hoisted together.

Also read: This is why bigger is better when it comes to aircraft carriers

The latest construction milestone came when crews at Huntington Ingalls’ Newport News Shipbuilding dropped an 888-ton superlift — a 171-foot long, 92-foot wide section composed of berthing areas, electrical-equipment rooms, and workshops — into place between the carrier’s bow and midship.

Below, you can see footage of the superlift being moved into place by the company’s 1,157-ton gantry crane at Dry Dock 12.

(marinelogcom | YouTube)

 

The latest superlift took 18 months to construct and it “represents one of the key build-strategy changes for Kennedy: building superlifts that are larger and more complete before they are erected on the ship,” Mike Butler, the program director for the Kennedy, said in a Huntington Ingalls press release.

Construction on the Kennedy started in February 2011, with the “first cut of steel” ceremony at Newport News. The ship’s keel was laid in August 2015, and it hit the 50%-constructed mark in June 2017, when crews moved the 1,027-ton lower-stern section — containing rudders, tanks, steering-gear rooms, and electrical-power-distribution rooms — into place.

Related: Navy’s new USS Ford carrier likely to deploy to Middle East or Pacific in 2020s

“We are pleased with how construction on the Kennedy is progressing, and we look forward to additional milestones as we inch closer to christening of the ship,” Butler said in the February 2018 release. The Kennedy is set to launch in 2020.

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge
USS Gerald R. Ford. (U.S. Navy photo)

Like the Ford, the Kennedy contains an array of advanced features, including the Electromagnetic Launch System and Advanced Arresting Gear, both of which assist with launching and landing aircraft. (The Ford lacked one notable feature: urinals.)

The Ford, however, was delivered to the Navy two years later than planned and cost about $12.9 billion — 23% more than originally estimated.

The Government Accountability Office warned in summer 2017 that the $11.4 billion budget set for the Kennedy was unreliable and didn’t address lessons learned during the building of the Ford. The Pentagon partially agreed with those conclusions.

In August 2017, Huntington Ingalls completed the first-cut-of-steel ceremony for the third Ford-class carrier, the USS Enterprise.

Articles

Hollywood legend Jimmy Stewart was a World War II hero

Today I found out Jimmy Stewart was a two star general in the United States military.

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge


In 1940, Jimmy Stewart was drafted into the United States Army, but ended up being rejected due to being five pounds under the required weight, given his height (at the time he weighed 143 pounds).  Not to be dissuaded, Stewart then sought out the help of Don Loomis, who was known to be able to help people add or subtract pounds.  Once he had gained a little weight, he enlisted with the Army Air Corps in March of 1941 and was eventually accepted, once he convinced the enlisting officer to re-run the tests.

Initially, Stewart was given the rank of private; by the time he had completed training, he had advanced to the rank of second lieutenant (January of 1942).  Much to his chagrin, due to his celebrity status and extensive flight expertise (having tallied over 400 flight hours before even joining the military), Stewart was initially assigned to various “behind the lines” type duties such as training pilots and making promotional videos in the states.  Eventually, when he realized they were not going to ever put him in the front line, he appealed to his commanding officer and managed to get himself assigned to a unit overseas.

In August of 1943, he found himself with the 703rd Bombardment Squadron, initially as a first officer, and shortly thereafter as a Captain.  During combat operations over Germany, Stewart found himself promoted to the rank of Major.  During this time, Stewart participated in several uncounted missions (on his orders) into Nazi occupied Europe, flying his B-24 in the lead position of his group in order to inspire his troops.

For his bravery during these missions, he twice received the Distinguished Flying Cross; three times received the Air Medal; and once received the Croix de Guerre from France.  This latter medal was an award given by France and Belgium to individuals allied with themselves who distinguished themselves with acts of heroism.

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge

By July of 1944, Stewart was promoted chief of staff of the 2nd Combat Bombardment wing of the Eighth Air Force.  Shortly thereafter, he was promoted to the rank of colonel, becoming one of only a handful of American soldiers to ever rise from private to colonel within a four year span.

After the war, Stewart was an active part of the United States Air Force Reserve, serving as the Reserve commander of Dobbins Air Reserve Base.  On July 24, 1959, he attained the rank of brigadier general (one star general).

During the Vietnam War, he flew (not the pilot) in a B-52 on a bombing mission and otherwise continued to fulfill his duty with the Air Force Reserve.  He finally retired from the Air Force on May 31, 1968 after 27 years of service and was subsequently promoted to Major General (two star general).

Bonus Facts:

  • Both Stewart’s grandfathers fought in the American Civil War.  He also had ancestors on his mother’s side that served in the American Revolution and the War of 1812.  His father served in the Spanish-American War and World War I.  His adopted son, Ronald, was killed at the age of 24 as a Marine in Vietnam.
  • The full list of military awards achieved by Stewart are: 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 4 Air Medals, 1 Army Commendation Medal, 1 Armed Forces Reserve Medal, 1 Presidential Medal of Freedom, 1 French Croix de Guerre with Palm.
  • As a child, Stewart was a Second Class Scout and eventually became an adult Scout leader.  He was also the recipient of the prestigious Boy Scouts of America Silver Buffalo Award, of which only 674 to date have been given out since 1926.  Of the other recipients besides Stewart, 14 have held the office of President of the United States.
  • A brigadier general is equivalent to a lower rear admiral in the navy.  A major general is equivalent to a rear admiral and is typically given 10,000-20,000 troops to command and is authorized to command them independently.
  • U.S. law limits the number of general officers that may be on active duty at any time to 302 for the Army, 279 for the Air Force, and 80 for the Marine Corps.
  • Eligible officers to be considered to promotion for the rank of brigadier general (one star) are recommended to the President from a list compiled by current general officers.  The President then selects officers from this list to be given the promotion.  Occasionally, the President will also nominate officers not on this list, but this almost never happens.  Once the President makes their selection, the Senate confirms or rejects the selected individuals by a majority vote.
  • The name “brigadier general” comes from the American Revolutionary War when the first brigadier generals were appointed.  At that time, they were simply general officers put in charge of a brigade, hence “brigadier general”.  For a time in the very early 19th century, this was the highest rank any officer in the military could achieve as the rank of major general (two star) had been abolished.  The rank of major general was later re-established just before the war of 1812.
  • At Princeton, Stewart excelled at architecture and was eventually awarded a full scholarship for graduate work by his professors as a result of his thesis on airport design.
  • Stewart and Henry Fonda were roommates early in their careers.  Later in life, they still shared a close friendship and, when they weren’t working, they often spent their time building and painting model airplanes with each other.
  • Jimmy Stewart also was an avid pilot before his military service.  He received his private pilot certificate in 1935 and used to fly cross-country to visit his parents.  Interestingly, when he did so, he stated that he used rail road tracks to navigate.
  • Stewart was also one of the investors and collaborators who helped build Thunderbird Field, which was a pilot training school built to help train pilots during WWII.  During the WWII alone, over 10,000 pilots were trained there.
  • After WWII, he strongly considered abandoning acting and entering the aviation field, due to personal doubts that he could still act.
  • His first film after the war was Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life which, at the time, was considered somewhat of a flop with the public, though it was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Stewart.  Partially due to this film’s poor showing at the box office, Capra’s production company went bankrupt and Stewart began to further doubt his ability to act following the war.
  • On January 5, 1992, It’s a Wonderful Life became the first American program ever to be broadcast on Russian television.  A translated version, courtesy of Stewart and Lomonosov Moscow State University, was broadcast to over 200 million Russians on that day.
  • Stewart went on to act in several flops, as well as several critically acclaimed films, and by the 1950s was still considered a top tier actor over all.  This was important because in 1950 he became one of the first top tier actors to work for no money up front, but rather a percentage of the gross of the film.  Others had done this before, but it was rare and generally only lower end actors on the tail of their careers would agree to this.  He did this on the movie Winchester ’73 where he had asked for $200,000 pay to appear in that movie and Harvey.  The studio rejected, so he countered that he’d work for a percentage of the gross.  He ended up taking home nearly $600,000 for Winchester ’73 alone.  Hollywood’s other top-tier stars took noticed and this practiced began becoming the norm for top tier actors.
  • By 1954, Stewart was voted the most popular Hollywood actor in the world, displacing John Wayne.  He also was the highest grossing actor that year.
  • Stewart was also known somewhat for his poetry.  He frequently would appear on Johnny Carson’sThe Tonight Show and would read various poems he had written throughout his life.  One of his poems, written about his dog, so moved Carson that, by the end, Carson was choking back tears.  Dana Carvey and Dennis Miller, in 1980, parodied this on Saturday Night Live.  These poems were later compiled into a book called Jimmy Stewart and His Poems.
  • Later in life, Stewart appeared in The Magic of Lassie (1978), much to the dismay of critics and the general public, as the film was a universal flop and seen to be beneath him.  Stewart’s response to them was that it was the only script he was offered that didn’t have sex, profanity, or graphic violence.
  • Stewart’s final film role was as the voice of Wylie Burp, in the 1991 movie An American Tail: Fievel Goes West.
  • Stewart devoted much of the last years of his life to trying to enhance the public’s understanding and appreciation of the U.S. constitution and the Bill of Rights as well as promote education.  He died of a blood clot in his lung on July 2, 1997.  Over his life, his professions included a hardware store shop-hand; a brick layer; a road worker; an assistant magician; an actor; an investor; a war hero; and a philanthropist.  He also held a bachelors degree in architecture from Princeton.

MIGHTY TRENDING

DARPA held a contest to identify evil propaganda robots on Facebook and Twitter

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge
We Are The Mighty | YouTube


The US military has enlisted academics to fight a new enemy: Twitter bots.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) held a special contest last year to identify so-called “influence bots”  — “realistic, automated identities that illicitly shape discussion on sites like Twitter and Facebook.”

The fascinating 4-week competition, called the DARPA Twitter Bot Challenge, was detailed in a paper published this week.

The paper minces no words about how dangerous it is that human-like bots on social media can accelerate recruitment to organizations like ISIS, or grant governments the ability to spread misinformation to their people. Proven uses of influence bots in the wild are rare, the paper notes, but the threat is real.

The contest

And so, the surprisingly simple test. DARPA placed “39 pro-vaccination influence bots” onto a fake, Twitter-like social network. Importantly, competing teams didn’t know how many influence bots there were in total.

Teams from the University of Southern California, Indiana University, Georgia Tech, Sentimetrix, IBM, and Boston Fusion worked over the four weeks to find them all.

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge
A Twitter bot post | Twitter

With 8.5% of all Twitter users being bots, per the company’s own metrics, it’s important to weed out those bots who go beyond just trying to sell you weight-loss plans and work-at-home methods, and cross the line into politics.

But actually making that distinction can be a challenge, as the paper notes.

Sentimetrix technically won the challenge, reporting 39 correct guesses and one false positive, a full six days before the end of the four-week contest period. But USC was the most accurate, going 39 for 39.

How to detect a robot

DARPA combined all the teams’ various approaches into a complicated 3-step process, all of which will need improved software support to get better and faster going forward:

  1. Initial bot detection — You can detect who’s a bot and who’s not by using language analysis to see who’s using statistically unnatural and bot-generated words and phrases. Using multiple hashtags in a post can also be a flag. Also, if you post to Twitter a lot, and consistently over the span of a 24-hour day, the chances you’re a bot go up.
  2. Clustering, outliers, and network analysis: That first step may only identify a few bots. But bots tend to follow bots, so you can use your initial findings to network out and get a good statistical sense of robot social circles.
  3. Classification/Outlier analysis: The more positives you find with the first two steps, the easier it is to extrapolate out and find the rest in a bunch.

A key finding from the DARPA paper, and very important to note, is that all of this required human interaction — computers just can’t tell a real human from an influence bot, at least not yet.

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge
We Are The Mighty | YouTube

The good news, say the authors in their paper, is that these methods can also be used to find human-run propaganda and misinformation campaigns.

The bad news is that you can expect a lot more evil propaganda bots on Twitter in the years to come.

“Bot developers are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Over the next few years, we can expect a proliferation of social media influence bots as advertisers, criminals, politicians, nation states, terrorists, and others try to influence populations,” says the paper.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Things you should know about how ISIS lost Raqqa

After months of fighting, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have conquered Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State’s so-called caliphate and its last major stronghold in the Middle East.


But the victory by no means indicates that ISIS is defeated, and enormous ethnic challenges still lie ahead for the embattled country.

Here’s how the Raqqa campaign was won, and what lies on the horizon for Syria:

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge
Iraqi special forces are moving closer to the city center of Mosul to knock ISIS out of Iraq. (Dept. of Defense photo)

The campaign to retake Raqqa from ISIS (which seized the ancient Syrian city in early 2014) officially began in November 2016, several weeks after the campaign to retake Mosul, the group’s stronghold in Iraq, was announced.

Source: The Independent

SDF spokesman Talal Sello said the campaign would consist of “first liberating the countryside around Raqqa and isolating the city, and second taking control of the city.”

As per Sello’s description, the SDF advanced south from their territory in northern Syria, capturing ISIS-held villages east and west of Raqqa all while buoyed by American airstrikes. In addition, a key target was the Tabqa Dam on the Euphrates River, which the SDF also seized in May.

Although the Syrian Democratic Front is dominated by Syrian Kurds, the units deployed to fight in the Raqqa campaign were 70% Arab, according to the SDF. This was done to foster ethnic solidarity between soldiers and the majority-Arab city and environs of Raqqa.

The Syrian Democratic Forces that led the Raqqa campaign is a coalition of various militias, however it has always been led by the Kurds.

The undisputed leaders of the SDF are the Popular Defense Units, or the YPG, a Kurdish militia with ties to the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) in Turkey, along with their all-female companion force, the YPJ. The YPG first gained US support during the Battle of Kobane in 2014, when the group handed ISIS its first battlefield defeat while defending the Kurdish town on the border between Syria and Turkey.

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge
YPG fighters near Raqqa. (WATM file photo)

The SDF was created in order to bring non-Kurdish groups that live in northern Syria, including Assyrian Christians and especially Sunni Arabs, into cooperation with the Kurds to create a single, moderate coalition to defeat ISIS. Yet inter-ethnic problems remain.

Source: Channel News Asia, the YPG and the Washington Post

Despite SDF’s secular, democratic nature and US backing, the group has been accused of war crimes. Although the YPG has denied such allegations, The Nation has reported that the group has expelled Arabs from conquered villages at gunpoint. The United Nations also disputes these claims, saying that these expulsions were for civilians’ safety and did not constitute ethnic cleansing.

In addition, clashes have occurred between the YPG and Assyrians in Kurdish-held territories.

In July, the SDF began the most arduous part of the Raqqa campaign — conquering the city itself. A combined ground and air assault began on Raqqa, and with it came vicious urban warfare and hundreds of civilian casualties.

Because Raqqa is an ancient city, fighting ISIS amidst its small, winding streets proved difficult for both the SDF and their American air support. ISIS used urban guerilla tactics as it had in other places like Mosul, Iraq, making the SDF’s campaign to clear the city from fighters a long, frustrating task.

The presence of civilians made airstrikes and troop movements even more difficult — despite precautions, Amnesty International has reported that “hundreds” of civilians had been killed by US airstrikes in Raqqa, which had begun before SDF ground troops were able to move in. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has reported that 789 people have been killed by US bombardment in Raqqa between June and August alone. Two hundred of them were children.

Worst of all, however, not only was ISIS using civilians as human shields and moving through underground tunnels, but they also murdered anyone in the city trying to escape through sniper fire and mortar bombardments.

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge
SDF fighters among rubble in Raqqa. Photo from Voice Of America.

After months of brutal urban warfare and heavy resistance from ISIS fighters, the SDF declared victory in Raqqa on October 17 after seizing the national hospital and the city stadium, where the last ISIS fighters were stationed.

Amid the celebrations, though, the SDF is still in the process of clearing landmines and other explosives from the area, and although it warns that there may still be 100 ISIS militants hiding amid the city’s rubble, nearly 6,000 fighters surrendered as the group’s resistance was in its final hours.

Nevertheless, Arabs in Raqqa were the main celebrants after ISIS’s defeat.

“Raqqa is free, free! Daesh go out,” said a man named Abdullah, according to The Daily Beast. “We kicked them out.”

The SDF’s victory in Raqqa diminishes ISIS’s presence in Iraq and Syria to only a few border territories in the desert. The Islamist group no longer has access to the large cities they conquered when they rose to international prominence in 2014.

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge
This map from approximately April, 2015, shows who controlled what areas in Syria. ISIS is show in black. (Image Wikipedia)

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge
This undated map shows a massive decrease in the territory controlled by ISIS. (Image Wikipedia)

However, there remains much work to be done in Raqqa. With a large displaced population and reconstruction costs mounting, the SDF is now faced with the task of dealing with the Raqqa campaign’s fallout.

From the prelude to the battle of Raqqa in June to its conclusion this week, a group of Syrian activist journalists known as Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently has documented more than 3,829 airstrikes, 1,873 civilian deaths, and 450,000 displaced people in the city.

In addition, RBSS estimates that 90% of the city has been destroyed by the months of fighting.

Reuters reports that the SDF has set up the Raqqa Civil Council in order to oversee security and reconstruction efforts in the city, however funding from the US and other sources has so far been insufficient.

Sources: Reuters

“We gave our city as a sacrifice for the sake of defeating terrorism,” Ibrahim Hassan, who heads reconstruction for the RCC, told Reuters. “It’s the world’s duty to help us.”

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge

In addition to logistical concerns about the future of Raqqa, socio-political ones remain as well.

It is unclear how the Syrian government, which is also conducting campaigns against ISIS in northeastern Syria, will react to the SDF’s vast zone of control. The group, along with the Kurdish-dominated Federation of Northern Syria, hopes to establish its own country in the area, a move that would surely be met with hostility from Damascus.

Kurdish moves toward independence in neighboring Iraq after the fall of ISIS there were met with exactly this kind of aggressive resistance from the government in Baghdad.

Now that ISIS’s territorial control has been shattered, Syrians in Raqqa say it is critical that the resumption of basic services, reconstruction, and social integration are pursued quickly so as to prevent a local insurgency from taking shape as it did in Iraq following the 2003 US invasion.

As the dust settles in the battle against ISIS in Syria, the next phase of the conflict will undoubtedly be about who will control what as zones of power begin to be established for a post-war Syria.

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