President Trump made a surprise trip to Iraq this week - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

President Trump made a surprise trip to Iraq this week

During a surprise trip to Iraq, his first such visit with US troops in a combat zone, President Donald Trump says he has “no plans at all” to withdraw US forces from the country, where they have been present since the 2003 invasion.

Trump had not previously said he would pull US troops from Iraq, but the trip comes after he abruptly announced the withdrawal of some 2,000 US troops from Syria — a decision that reportedly prompted Defence Secretary Jim Mattis’ resignation — and reports emerged of plans to remove about half of the 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan.


Mattis, who will leave office at the end of 2018, signed an order to withdraw troops from Syria on Dec. 24, 2018.

Trump, accompanied by his wife, Melania, travelled to Iraq late on Christmas night, flying to Al Asad air base in western Iraq and delivering a holiday message to more than 5,000 US troops stationed in the country. He is expected to make two stops on the trip, according to The New York Times.

President Trump made a surprise trip to Iraq this week

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis.

(Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill)

The trip was kept secret, with Air Force One reportedly making the 11-hour flight with lights off and window shades drawn. Trump said he had never seen anything like it and that he was more concerned with the safety of those with him than he was for himself, according to the Associated Press.

The president said that because of gains made against ISIS in Syria, US forces there were able to return home. US officials have said the militant group holds about 1% of the territory it once occupied, though several thousand fighters remain in pockets in western Syria and others have blended back into local populations.

Trump said the mission in Syria was to remove ISIS from its strongholds and not to be a nation-builder, which he said was a job for other wealthy countries. He praised Saudi Arabia this week for committing money to rebuild the war-torn country. The US presence there was never meant to be “open-ended,” he added.

Trump told reporters traveling with him that he wanted to remove US forces from Syria but that Iraq could still be used as a base to launch attacks on ISIS militants.

If needed, the US can attack ISIS “so fast and so hard” that they “won’t know what the hell happened,” Trump said.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

7 great gifts for your military pet

You’ve covered the kids, your spouse, neighbors, your in-laws, and even snagged a little something for the mailman and school principal. As you’re making your list and checking it twice this holiday, don’t forget a favorite military pet!

The best gifts for pets are useful and practical items that might also benefit the pet owner in some way (think: hours of entertainment for an energetic pup or frisky feline). Here are the best gifts for pets this year:


President Trump made a surprise trip to Iraq this week

(PetFusion)

1. Interactive cat toy

This top-rated toy uses a cat’s natural hunting instincts to captivate their attention using a feather. Battery powered, the device mimics prey and mixes it up to keep pets engaged and anti-skid feet help to keep the gadget in place for any cat owners who might be worried about forceful felines.

President Trump made a surprise trip to Iraq this week

(Nite Ize)

2. Light up ball

Make fetch more fun with this LED light-up ball that promises hours of fun for your dog, even after the sun goes down. One bounce activates the color-changing toy and an easy-to-replace battery ensures playtime longevity.

President Trump made a surprise trip to Iraq this week

(Crown Paw)

3. Custom artwork

As it turns out, your pet can also be a military member….sort of. Crown Paw allows users to submit a headshot of their pet and then customize it into a regal portrait. All pets are welcome and users can choose from canvas themes like “The Admiral” or “The Colonel.” More than one animal in your house? Multi-pet themes like “The Officers” make gifting easy.

President Trump made a surprise trip to Iraq this week

(SmartBones)

4. Rawhide-free chews

Skip the rawhide for your pup this year and pick up some SmartBones, which are made from whole ingredients like vegetables and chicken. Enriched with vitamins and minerals, these treats not only taste delicious to a dog, but the natural motion of chewing helps to maintain healthy teeth and gums.

President Trump made a surprise trip to Iraq this week

(Design Dua)

5. Stylish beds

Help your pet get the best sleep of their lives without sacrificing your interior design style. These woven beds (and specialty pods for feline friends) are made from natural Elephant Grass and are handcrafted using traditional Ghanian craft techniques. Each basket comes with a fitted cushion and are available in a range of sizes.

President Trump made a surprise trip to Iraq this week

(Furbo)

6. Pet camera

The whole family will enjoy this wifi-enabled camera that allows you to drop in your pet when you aren’t home. Using an HD, wide-angle lens, the device allows users to see, talk to, and even dole out treats, to pets using an app on their phone. The bonus? A built-in sensor alerts pet parents to animal and human movement, so you’ll never wonder what your pet is up to all day again.

President Trump made a surprise trip to Iraq this week

(Rocco Roxie Supply Co)

7. Pet odor + stain eliminator

Alright, this one might be a gift for the pet parents and not the pet, but 10,000+ reviews speak to the power of this enzyme-powered stain and odor remover. Created to work for both cats and dogs, this formula is chlorine-free, color safe and promises to work or you’ll get a full refund. You will never stress about pets and rental carpets again!

Still at a loss on what to gift your favorite military pet? Quality time still ranks pretty high on their list — and maybe a few extra treats, too.

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

Articles

This special ops sniper challenge is the most ridiculous video you’ll see all day

Snipers are considered one of the most dangerous warfighters in the battlefield, taking out targets from concealed and undisclosed locations while homing in on prey that has no clue that they’re even in the crosshairs.


So who in their right mind would challenge a highly-trained sniper to a duel without having a weapon?

Answer: This freaking guy.

President Trump made a surprise trip to Iraq this week
Comedian and BuzzFeed Blue host Mike Carrier. (Source: Buzz Feed Blue/ Screenshot)

Related: WWI’s deadliest sniper was from Canada

You may have seen Mike on the popular show “Outsmarted” currently on the BuzzFeed Blue channel on YouTube as he attempts to outsmart some of the toughest minds and computer software out there.

In the episode “I Tried Escaping A Special Operation Sniper,” Mike challenges a retired Marine Corps sniper, claiming that he can evade the devil dog’s crosshairs in a wide open space for 10 minutes.

If Mike wins, he’ll eat his favorite candy — Reese’s peanut cup. But if he loses the duel, he’ll be forced to eat wet cat food.

President Trump made a surprise trip to Iraq this week
Yum. (Source: Buzz Feed Blue/ Screenshot)

Let the games begin!

Step 1: Mike stands out in the open and strips down a layer of his clothing. Underneath, he is wearing a Zentai suit which he finishes putting on.

What a nice beach bod? (Images via Giphy)

Step 2: A car pulls up next to Mike, and four other men with matching body types also wearing Zentai suits pop out. A decoy perhaps?

Yeah, it’s a decoy. (Images via Giphy)

Step 3: Mike and his team ignite colored smoke grenades which confused the sh*t out of our trained sniper.

The confusion draws out the sniper. (Images via Giphy)

Step 4: The decoys dance in a circle, bringing the sniper in for a closer look.

Ring around the rosy. (Images via Giphy)

Step 5: After showing off their incredible dance skills, the decoys pair off and hide under blankets.

Team work. (Images via Giphy)

Step 5: Time is up! The sniper shoots one of the decoys in the a**.

Shot directly on the right cheek. (Images via Giphy)

Step 6: The winner is! Mike.

It’s time to celebrate. (Images via Giphy)

Step 7: Claim your prize.

Looks delicious. (Images via Giphy)Check out Buzz Feed Blue’s video to watch this intelligent dude attempt to outsmart a retired Marine sniper.
(YouTube, BuzzFeedBlue)
Articles

Mattis threatens ‘overwhelming’ response if North Korea ever uses nukes

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis threatened an “effective and overwhelming” response by the US and its allies if North Korea ever uses nuclear weapons.


His remarks came on his first overseas trip to South Korea, where he met with his counterpart in the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Defense and other government officials.

“North Korea continues to launch missiles, develop its nuclear weapons program and engage in threatening rhetoric and behavior,” Mattis said. “Any attack on the United States, or our allies, will be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons would be met with a response that would be effective and overwhelming.”

President Trump made a surprise trip to Iraq this week
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis answers questions from the press during a flight to South Korea., Feb. 1, 2017. | US Army photo by Sgt. Amber I. Smith

He also praised South Korea — which has nearly 30,000 US troops stationed there — as a “lynchpin of peace and stability” in the Asia-Pacific region.

Mattis’ stern warning to the North is likely to be taken seriously, since Pyongyang often responds to the slightest provocation. For example, North Korea regularly threatens total war against its southern neighbor whenever the US and South Korean forces train together during annual exercises, which are regularly scheduled and known well ahead of time.

The secretary’s overseas trip was also another chance to push the South to continue with its deployment of the US’s powerful THAAD missile defense system, which would blanket the country with protection from conventional or nuclear-tipped missiles fired from the north.

MIGHTY MONEY

An easy 9-step car buying guide for the military spouse

It’s happened to the best of us. The second our service member boards that plane to deploy, Murphy decides to insert himself into our world.

It’s almost a given: someone gets sick, one of your spouse’s bills doesn’t get paid, or something inevitably breaks down…and often it’s our mode of transportation that ends up busting out on us.


If this happens to you, I PROMISE, you aren’t alone. But if your car breaks down, how are you going to do all of the things? Well, if there’s no getting around having to purchase a vehicle while your service member is away, we have some tips and tricks to help you through the car buying routine WITHOUT breaking your bank in the process. We realize that big purchases are usually done as a team, and these decisions should (when possible) be made together. Obviously, that isn’t always possible, but here are some things you can do if/when you find yourself squaring off with Murphy over your car.

President Trump made a surprise trip to Iraq this week

(Flickr / David Wall)

1. Power of attorney (POA)

If you plan on having your service member’s name on the loan or registration, you’ll want to make sure you have your POA handy. This legal document will allow you to act on behalf of your service member for transactions that would otherwise require their physical presence. NOTE: Depending on the financial institution you use to finance your vehicle, a general POA may not pass muster with their terms, so make sure you call to make sure. Some banks just require a faxed copy of the general POA, while others have a special form of their own or require a “special” or “limited” POA.

2. Research, research, RESEARCH!

What kind of vehicle do you need? How much can your family afford each month? Are their certain dealerships in your area that are known for inappropriate practices? These are just a few of the questions you should be asking yourself before you even think of stepping foot into a car dealership.

There are plenty of websites that will help answer these questions so that you’re better able at making an informed decision. One of the first things you can do is figure out the type of features you need and find a few makes and models to look over. It’s not just about the price…it’s about knowing what it is you’re looking to buy. Kelley Blue Book is a one stop shop that has plenty of research tools to help spin you up on the “must-knows” of car buying.

3. Get financed FIRST

When it comes to financing, it’s best to get pre-approved BEFORE you start your search. You aren’t required to know what kind of vehicle you’re purchasing before being approved for financing because the financial institution is approving you…not a certain vehicle. Make sure you understand the terms of your financing as well. If you end up negotiating, say, 00 off the sticker price of the car when you’re haggling with the dealer, that isn’t going to matter in the long run if your interest rate is out of this world.

4. Don’t rush

Buying a car is a big deal, so take your time and don’t rush the process. You need to make sure the car is everything you need/want, both literally and financially. Make absolutely sure you know exactly what your family can and cannot afford. If you find a car you want but it’s a bit over budget, other websites, like Auto Trader, might be able to find you the same car at a lower price somewhere else.

5. When possible, find the right time to buy

Of course there’s no real way to know when Murphy will strike…if we could plan that, Murphy’s Law wouldn’t even be a thing! But it doesn’t hurt to know that timing is everything in the car buying business.

Yes, There Really IS a Right Time to Buy

Of course there’s no real way to know when Murphy will strike…if we could plan that, Murphy’s Law wouldn’t even be a thing! But it doesn’t hurt to know that timing is everything in the car buying business.

The end of the month is usually a good time to buy because dealers often have a quota that needs to be met each month. Each car on their lot needs to be paid for at the start of each month, so car salesmen are looking to unload as many as possible to meet their quota. But buying a car at the end of the year is even better (though, again, Murphy can rarely be planned for).

President Trump made a surprise trip to Iraq this week

6. History reports are KEY

If you’re not out to purchase a brand new, right off the assembly-line vehicle, you’ll really want to get your hands on a vehicle’s history report. Don’t just take someone’s word that it’s “good to go” as is.

Most dealerships (if they’re worth a darn) will pay for the cost of a vehicle history report themselves, but you can do this as well. Car Fax is a great resource for consumers, and they provide a report that will tell you just about everything you need to know about the car: hidden issues, who owned it last, where it came from, etc. It does cost money to obtain a history report, but it’s chump change compared to the investment you’re making in a vehicle.

7. Don’t skip the test drive

Once you’ve narrowed down your choice(s), it’s time to take it for a test drive.

Sure, the car’s body looks fantastic, but the only way you’ll know that everything is in working order under the hood is if you take it for a spin. Listen for noises that shouldn’t be there, trouble shifting gears, service lights on the dashboard, etc. Many people will return to test drive in the evening, but if that isn’t feasible (because, you know…who wants to pay for a babysitter ON TOP of having to pay for a new car), a lot of dealerships allow you to take the car home for 24 hours to see how it works out. Either way, do NOT skip the test drive.

Again…Don’t Rush!

If you’re just not sure it’s the right vehicle for you or need a night or so to sleep on it, don’t rush it. Take the time you need to mull it over. This is YOUR money, YOUR time and YOUR choice; don’t let anyone push you around. Speaking of which…

8. Don’t be intimidated

It’s not uncommon to feel intimidated when buying a car…especially if that role isn’t really your jam (i.e. it is SO not MY jam). But there’s a difference in FEELING intimidated and BEING intimidated. If, at ANY point in the negotiation process, you feel uncomfortable, or don’t like how you’re being spoken to, SPEAK UP. You hold all the cards and the ball is in your court. If you don’t feel like you’re being treated fairly, tell the service manager. Or better yet…

9. Don’t be afraid to walk out

If you feel like you’re being pushed into signing a contract, or just aren’t picking up what the dealer is putting down…WALK IT OUT. There are plenty of other places that would love to have your business. Do not feel guilty about keeping your money, and your family’s financial security, safe.

This guide is a great way to get started on your car-buying adventure, but we want to add to it! If you have a strategy or a story about buying a car when you were flying solo, we want to hear it!

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Iran surprises world with completed combat jet

Iran has unveiled a fighter jet which it says is “100-percent” locally made.

Images on state television showed President Hassan Rohani on Aug. 21, 2018, sitting in the cockpit of the new Kowsar plane at the National Defense Industry exhibition.


It is a fourth-generation fighter, with “advanced avionics” and multipurpose radar, the Tasnim news agency said, adding that it was “100-percent indigenously made.”

State television, which showed the plane waiting on a runway for its first public display flight, said that it had already undergone successful testing.

The plane was first publicly announced on Aug. 18, 2018, by Defense Minister Amir Hatami, who gave few details of the project.

The United States has demanded that Tehran curb its defense programs, and is in the process of reimposing crippling sanctions after President Donald Trump withdrew from a landmark nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

Trump called the 2015 agreement, under which Iran pledged to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief, “the worst deal ever.”

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

A Virginia dairy farm that used to hold Army spies is now a winery

Fauquier County, Virginia, might not be the place you think of when you imagine covert ops training, but that’s exactly what’s happened at an isolated farmhouse and working dairy.

In use since 1803, “Vint Hill,” as it was initially known, had several owners before the Army purchased it in 1942 – just in time to train a group of service members in the fine art of espionage. Reframed and repurposed throughout the years, Vint Hill has served as one of the most essential intel-gathering sites you’ve probably never heard of.


History

Vint Hill is situated near the Signal Intelligence Service headquarters in Arlington but was far away enough from the city that its location and its purpose remained a secret. It was here that the Army housed its Monitoring Station No. 1, a covert spy base.

Established by the Army’s Signal Intelligence Service, the 701-acre farm was built in part because the Army needed a secure location near the SIS and a cryptography school.

The geography of Vint Hill was key in the Army’s decision to train there. Not only did it boast a quiet countryside vibe where trainees could really get into their coursework, but it also provided “quiet electromagnetic geology,” which made it the perfect place for intercepting radio signals. During WWII, that’s exactly what service members stationed at Vint Hill did.

Perhaps the most famous is the interception of a message from a Japanese ambassador to Germany. That message, sent in 1943, described German fortifications, contingency plans, and troop strength information.

Once the message was decoded, the information was instrumental in planning the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944.

The NSA recently released documents that further detail the influence that Vint Hill had on WWII planning. It was a crucial intelligence-gathering station throughout all of WWII and beyond.

After WWII

After WWII, Vint Hill became the first field station of the Army Security Agency, an arm of the NSA. The facility conducted signals intelligence operations.

Declassified Army intelligence lists Vint Hill as one of the largest intercept facilities in the world.

Not only did it serve as an intercept facility, but Vint Hill was also a signal school, signal training center, and a refitting station for selected signal units returning from or heading to deployments.

During and following the Korean War, the station’s footprint was expanded significantly, making it a major intelligence hub during the Cold War. Vint Hill personnel intercepted key Soviet diplomatic and military communication sent over teleprints that helped form and shape America’s military posture.

In 1961, the Army Electronic Material Readiness Activity moved to Vint Hill and took over the management of signals intelligence and electronic warfare maintenance for the Army Security Agency.

By 1973 however, Vint Hill’s mission had changed to research. Its main goal was to aid and assist in the development and support of intel and electronic warfare info gathering for the Army, DoD, and our partner allies. The EPA took over operations of Vint Hill’s photographic interpretation center from the DIA, and Vint Hill was renamed as the Environmental Photographic Interpretation Center.

However, that didn’t last long. By the late 1979s, Vint Hill was on the list of installations to be closed, and all projects on site were halted. A change in policy in 1981 reversed that decision, and Vint Hill remained open.

Serving as the “giant ear” of the NSA was the core focus of Vint Hill in the early 1980s and eventually became a development and testing site for signal equipment for the CIA and FBI. IN 1993, Vint Hill was once again on the chopping block. This time, the closure stuck. Most personnel were reassigned to Fort Monmouth and Fort Belvoir.

Vint Hill closed officially on September 30, 1997. Now, the site hosts several engineering and tech companies, including the FAAs Air Traffic Control System Command Center. There’s a Cold War museum open on-site, but most notably, the former intel-gathering installation is home to the Vint Hill Craft Winery and the Old Bust Head Brewery. There’s even a dance school and a gymnastics school run on the property. Talk about reinvention after time in service.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is the Air Force workhorse that proves a C-130 can do anything

The EC-130H Compass Call is an airborne tactical weapon system with a primary mission to disrupt enemy command and control infrastructures limiting adversary coordination and force management.

The aircraft is a heavily modified variant C-130 Hercules, one of the most important and longest flying airframes in Air Force history.

From the outside the aircraft may look like a normal Hercules, but internally the advanced electronic warfare and electronic attack computer systems enables the Air Force to locate, listen and jam enemy communications.


The effect of the non-kinetic denial is not permanent, but it provides the desired result of blocking the enemy across the electromagnetic spectrum.

The effectiveness of the Compass Call is in creating a fog of war for enemy fighters making them easier targets for U.S. ground forces.

President Trump made a surprise trip to Iraq this week
U.S. Air Force Capt. Frank Von Heiland, 41st Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron co-pilot, checks his oxygen mask on an EC-130H Compass Call aircraft at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan Sept. 12, 2014.
(Photo by Evelyn Chavez)

The Air Force is the only operator of the EC-130H and the Compass Call has been providing air space superiority over its 35-year operational life. The aircraft has demonstrated a powerful effect on enemy command and control networks in multiple military operations including Kosovo, Haiti, Panama, Libya, Iraq, Serbia, and Afghanistan.

Development and design

The EC-130H had its first flight in 1981, was delivered to the Air Force in 1982 and reached initial operating capability in 1983.

The aircraft’s EC identifier stands for special electronic installation transport.

A weapon of the Cold War it was original designed to provide suppression of enemy air defenses and spent its early years monitoring integrated air defense systems under the Warsaw Pact.

The aircraft is powered by four turboprop engines and has a flight speed of 300 mph and a flight range of nearly 2,300 miles.

The airborne tactical weapon system has been modified through the years with each update providing stronger avionics systems, radars and a more powerful digital signal analysis computers and subsystems.

The EC-130H aircraft carries a combat crew of 13 people. Four members are responsible for aircraft flight and navigation, while nine members operate and employ the EA mission equipment permanently integrated in the cargo/mission compartment.

The EC-130H fleet is composed of a mix of Baseline 1 and 2 aircraft.

President Trump made a surprise trip to Iraq this week
Tech. Sgt. Shane Kerns, 386th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron expediter, walks the wing of an EC-130 Compass Call aircraft while conducting a pre-flight check at an air base in Southwest Asia.
(Photo by Raheem Moore)

The Block 35 Baseline 1 EC-130H provides the Air Force with additional capabilities to jam communication, Early Warning/Acquisition radar and navigation systems through higher effective radiated power, extended frequency range and insertion of digital signal processing versus earlier EC-130Hs. Baseline 1 aircraft have the flexibility to keep pace with adversary use of emerging technology.

Baseline 2 has a number of upgrades to ease operator workload and improve effectiveness. Improved external communications allow Compass Call crews to maintain situational awareness and connectivity in dynamic operational and tactical environments.

Delivery of Baseline-2 provides the DoD with the equivalent of a “fifth generation electronic attack capability,” providing improved aircraft performance and survivability.

A majority of the improvements found in the EC-130H Compass Call Baseline-2 are classified modifications to the mission system that enhance precision and increase attack capabilities.

In 2017 the Air Force announced plans for a Compass Call replacement platform based off the Gulfstream 550 Airborne Early Warning aircraft. The new platform has been designated EC-X.

Operation and deployment

All 14 Compass Call aircraft are assigned to Air Combat Command. The 55th Electronic Combat Group consisting of two operational squadrons, the 41st and the 43rd Electronic Combat Squadron operates the EC-130H. The 55th ECG is a tenant unit of the 355 Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, which reports to the 55th Wing at Offutt AFB, Nebraska.

President Trump made a surprise trip to Iraq this week
U.S. Air Force Airmen repair engine one of an EC-130H Compass Call during Exercise BUSHWACKER on the flightline at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Aug. 26, 2014.
(Photo by Chris Massey)

The 55th ECG recently eclipsed 10,900 combat sorties and 66,500 flight hours as they provided U.S. and Coalition forces and Joint Commanders a flexible advantage across the spectrum of conflict.

Did you know

  • Since it’s introduction in 1954 there have been 54 modified variants of the C-130
  • The EC-130H was introduced in 1983 and began providing airborne attack capabilities in 1989 supporting U.S. Army Rangers during Operation Just Cause in Panama.
  • The EC-130H is one of four main U.S. electronic warfare aircraft, along with the EA-18G Growler, EA-6B Prowler and the F-16CJ Fighting Falcon, which form the Suppression of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD) triad.

EC-130H Compass Call fact sheet:

General characteristics

Primary function: electronic warfare, suppression of enemy air defenses and offensive counter information

Builder:

Lockheed

Power plant:

Four Allison T56-A-15 turboprop engines

Thrust:

4,910 prop shaft horsepower

Wingspan:

132 feet, 7 inches (40.4 meters)

Length:

97 feet, 9 inches (29.8 meters)

Height:

38 feet, 3 inches (11.4 meters)

Speed:

300 mph (Mach .4)

Range:

2,295 miles

Ceiling:

25,000 feet (7,576 meters)

Maximum takeoff weight:

155,000 pounds (69,750 kilograms)

Armament:

non-kinetic energy waveforms

Crew:

13 (two pilots, navigator, flight engineer, two electronic warfare officers, mission crew supervisor, four cryptologic linguists, acquisition operator and an airborne maintenance technician)

Initial operation capability:

1983

Unit cost:

$165 million

Inventory:

Active force, 14

This article originally appeared on Airman Magazine. Follow @AirmanMagazine on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Navy’s carrier-capable F-35C stealth fighter is now combat ready

The Navy has declared its carrier-capable F-35Cs “ready for combat,” a major milestone for the fifth-generation stealth fighter.

The Navy’s version of the F-35 has achieved initial operational capability (IOC), the Navy said on Feb. 28, 2019.

“The F-35C is ready for operations, ready for combat and ready to win,” Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller, commander of naval air forces, said. “We are adding an incredible weapon system into the arsenal of our Carrier Strike Groups that significantly enhances the capability of the joint force.”


This news follows an earlier announcement by the Navy in December 2018 that the service’s first F-35C squadron, Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, had completed the critical aircraft-carrier qualifications aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.

President Trump made a surprise trip to Iraq this week

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.

“The F-35C will revolutionize capability and operating concepts of aircraft carrier-based naval aviation using advanced technologies to find, fix and assess threats and, if necessary, track, target and engage them in all contested environments,” Rear Adm. Dale Horan, the director of the US Navy F-35C Fleet Integration Office, said in a statement.

With Feb. 28, 2019’s IOC declaration, which follows decades of testing and development, the Navy has joined the Marine Corps and Air Force, both of which have already declared their F-35 variants combat-ready. The Marine Corps was the first service to take the F-35 into combat.

“This milestone is the result of unwavering dedication from our joint government and industry team focused on delivering the most lethal, survivable and connected fighter jet in the world to the men and women of the US Navy,” Greg Ulmer, Lockheed Martin’s vice president and general manager for the F-35 Program, said in statement, CNBC reported.

Lockheed Martin developed the A, B, and C variants of the F-35 for the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy, respectively, with each version featuring different combat capabilities.

Recognized as America’s most expensive weapons system, the F-35 stealth fighter has faced constant criticism and numerous developmental setbacks, but now all three variants are officially ready to wage war.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

5 of the best surplus firearms that you can still buy

The world of surplus firearms is an ever-changing one. Remember when you could buy a Tula Mosin-Nagant M91/30 from a sporting goods store for $80 or a spam can of .30-06 M2 for…heck, when you could find a spam can period? The problem with surplus is that when the supply dries up, that’s it. On the flip side, it also means that new supplies will (eventually) hit the market. In the gun market of 2020, suppliers are having a hard time keeping anything in stock. It seems like everyone walked into their nearest shop and asked to buy something that goes pew. Naturally, the first things to go were the AR-15s and 9mm semi-autos. Soon, the odd stuff like Mini-14s and 9mm Makarovs started going too. Where people tend not to look is military surplus and police trade-in. While these firearms have usually seen a fair amount of use and can be found in varying conditions, their price reflects this and most are extremely affordable. Here are some of the best ones that you can still buy…for now.


President Trump made a surprise trip to Iraq this week

Try to find an M9 in as good a condition as this.

1. Beretta Model 85BB Cheetah

Starting this list off strong, how does a compact Italian-made police pistol sound? Oh, and they’ve barely been shot. Currently on the market is a large supply Beretta Model 85BB Cheetah police surplus pistols from Italy. Chambered in .380 ACP, the Cheetahs feature alloy frames, steel slides, and 3.81″ barrels. In typical Beretta fashion, they use a DA/SA trigger and a manual thumb safety. Despite its compact size, the heavy weight of its metal construction and limited 8-round magazine mean that the Cheetah isn’t exactly the best option for a carry gun. However, the weight does help to mitigate recoil, of which there isn’t too much thanks to its .380 ACP cartridge. Costing between 0-400 depending on the condition, these pistols are a great choice for collectors and shooters alike. Did we mention that they are also California-legal?

President Trump made a surprise trip to Iraq this week

Yup, the mag release is on the bottom of the grip on the other side.

2. Beretta 92S

Yes, another Beretta, another Italian police surplus. If you’ve spent any time at all in the U.S. military, you’ll be familiar with the Beretta 92 as the M9 pistol. Recently, the armed forces have begun the transition to the more modern M17 weapon system, so it’s entirely possible that we’ll eventually see an influx of mil-surp M9s on the market. In the meantime, the 92Ss are nearly identical. The supply that’s currently on the market is older, so you could see almost as much wear and tear on them as the M9 that you qualified with depending on the one you get…almost. The big difference is the magazine release which is the antiquated European style located on the bottom of the left side of the grip. Who thought that was a good idea? Can you imagine John Wick fiddling with that button? But, at under 0 for a full-size duty gun, these Berettas are a good choice for someone who wants a 9mm Parabellum over the .380 ACP of the aforementioned Cheetah.

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In Soviet Russia, one out of two gets a rifle. (Paramount Pictures)

3. Mosin-Nagant M91/30

I didn’t say you couldn’t find them anymore. Trending around 0-300, the Mosins on the market today are in decent shape and tend to be the less sought after Izhevsk models. That said, they seem to shoot just as well as the Tula models, not that you can find a Tula these days. Weighing 8lbs and measuring nearly 50″ long, a Mosin is a good choice for a wall gun or a piece of Soviet-era memorabilia. With its 5-round stripper-clip fed magazine, bolt-action mechanism, and the rising cost of 7.62x54mmR, the idea of a bug-out Mosin is a thing of the past. That said, if you’re willing to shell out the extra cash, you can pick up arsenal refinished Mosins with original wood stocks that are in excellent condition. These rifles can range anywhere from 0-600 and generally include the proper kit of a sling, oiler, tools, and bayonet. The bayonet is actually an important accessory since Mosins were zeroed at the factory with the bayonet attached. Just don’t expect to pick one up and shoot like Lyudmila Pavlichenko or Vasily Zaitsev.

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A Russian-made SKS from 1945.

4. SKS

Yes, it’s another Communist-produced rifle, but this time you have a choice of Russian or Chinese surplus. Designed in 1944, the semi-automatic SKS was a step up from the bolt-action Mosin. Chambered in the intermediate 7.62x39mm cartridge, more ammo can be carried for the SKS compared to the Mosin. However, the SKS was quickly overshadowed by the venerable AK-47. With its full-automatic fire capability and 30-round detachable magazine, the AK made the SKS obsolete by the 1950s. Of course, this didn’t stop Communist countries from churning out over 15 million SKS rifles. Like the Mosin, the supply of SKSs is starting to dry up, so prices are starting to rise as availability drops. 5-round magazine versions can be had for under 0, and even the 10-round versions are legal in California thanks to the non-detachable magazine.

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You might buy one just for the iconic ping, and that’s ok.

5. M1 Garand

It wouldn’t be a surplus list without the good old M1 Garand. Called the greatest battle implement ever devised by none other than General George S. Patton himself, the Garand was carried into battle across the war-torn cities of Europe, through the swampy jungles of the Pacific, and into the frozen hills of Korea. With its semi-automatic action and 8-round capacity, the Garand gave our troops an edge over the 5-round bolt-action rifles that their enemies carried in WWII. Today, M1 Garands can be purchased through the Civilian Marksmanship Program at their physical locations in Alabama and Ohio or online. While supply has started to dry up on these once plentiful rifles, they can still be had in Field Grade, Service Grade, or CMP Special conditions at prices between 0-1080. While surplus .30-06 Springfield has just about dried up and new ammo designed for the M1 seems to be out of stock everywhere, it is possible to shoot commercial loads safely with a gas plug accessory.

Whether you’re looking for a collector piece or just want to exercise your 2nd Amendment rights, surplus firearms are an excellent option to consider. Because of the ever-evolving landscape of the surplus market, it pays to keep your eye on it so that you can hop on deals as soon as they spring up.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is why the returned Korean War troops were draped in a UN flag

This past week, the 65th anniversary of the Korean Armistice Agreement, saw the return of 55 troops’ remains by the North Koreans to the United States. A U.S. Air Force C-17 flew into Wonsan, North Korea, to pick up the remains before returning them to Osan Air Base, South Korea.

The troops who received the remains wore white gloves and dress uniforms. The remains of the deceased were placed in boxes and each box was draped in the United Nations’ flag — not Old Glory. Now, before you get up in arms about it, know that there’s a good reason for using the UN flag.


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And so began the first of many wars between Capitalism and Communism.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. P. McDonald)

The Korean War began on June 25th, 1950, when the North sent troops south of the 38th parallel. Shortly after the invasion, the newly-formed United Nations unanimously opposed the actions of North Korea.

The Soviet Union would’ve cast a dissenting vote if they hadn’t been boycotting participation in the United Nations for allowing the Republic of China (otherwise known as Taiwan) into the security council instead of the People’s Republic of China (communist mainland China). Instead, the Soviets and the communist Chinese backed the fledgling communist North Korea against the United Nations-backed South Korea.

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The South Korean loss of life totaled 227,800 — quadruple every other nation combined.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Brian Gibbons)

Historically speaking, the United States was not alone in fighting the communists. Nearly every UN signatory nation gave troops to the cause. While America had sent in 302,483, the United Kingdom sent 14,198, Canada sent 6,146, Australia sent 2,282, Ethiopia sent 1,271, Colombia sent 1,068 — the list continues.

South Korea contributed almost doubled the amount of every other nation combined at 602,902, which doesn’t include the unknown number of resistance fighters who participated but weren’t enlisted. These numbers are astounding for conflict often called “the Forgotten War.”

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Since then, nothing has really changed except the regimes.

United Nations troops fought en masse against the communist aggressors. The North had pushed the South to the brink, reaching the southern coastal city of Pusan by late August 1950. When United Nations forces entered the conflict at the battle of Inchon, the tides shifted. By late October, the battle lines had moved past Pyongyang, North Korea, and neared the Chinese border in the northwest.

It wasn’t until Chinese reinforcements showed up that the war was pushed back to where it all started — near the 38th parallel. These massive shifts in held territory meant that the dead from both sides of the conflict were scattered across the Korean Peninsula by the time the armistice was signed on July 27th, 1953.

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North Korea hasn’t been much help as even they don’t always know which battle the remains were from. Which, you know, could have at least been a start.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kelsey Tucker)

The first repatriation of remains happened directly after the war, on September 1st, 1954, in what was called Operation Glory. Each side agreed to search far and wide for remains until the operation’s end, nearly two months later, on October 30th. 13,528 North Korean dead were returned and the United Nations received 4,167 — but these numbers were only a portion of the unaccounted-for lives. America alone is still missing over 5,300 troops. South Koreans and UN allies are missing even more.

Over the years, many more remains were found and repatriated. Throughout the process, South Korea was fairly accurate in the labeling and categorizing of remains. North Korea, however, was not. To date, one of the only written record of Allied lives lost behind enemy lines comes from a secret list, penned by Private First Class Johnnie Johnson.

His list — a list he risked his life to create while imprisoned — identified 496 American troops who had died in a North Korean prisoner-of-war camp. Though this list has been the basis for some identifications, it accounts for just one-fourteenth of American missing fallen.

Today, the names, nationalities, and service records of a still-unknown number of fallen troops have been lost to time.

Of the 55 remains transferred this week at Wonsan, none have been identified. There is no way of knowing who that troop was, which country they were from, or, to some degree, if they were even enlisted at all. Until they are properly identified, they will be covered by the United Nations’ flag to show respect, regardless of which nation they served.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Everything you need to know to start watching M*A*S*H

This article was sponsored by WGN America. Be sure to tune in to the All-Day All-Night M*A*S*H Marathon, Saturday, December 8th, starting at 9am/8am central.

The millennials out there know what I’m talking about. As kids, nothing made you keenly aware that your TV-watching session had run well past your bedtime quite like those distinctive opening chords and telltale yellow letters that meant a rerun of your parents’ favorite show was coming on.

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But now that we’re all grown up and don’t need a constant stream of slapstick comedy, cutesy characters, and teenage drama to sustain our attention, it’s time to revisit and start binge watching one of the greatest television shows ever made — and I promise your dad didn’t tell me to write this.

Before you dive in (you’ll thank me later), here’s what you need to know to start watching M*A*S*H.


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Inside a real MASH operating room during the Korean War, from a real-world Korean War doctor, Dr. Robert L. Emanuele of Chicago.

(Photo by Dr. Robert L. Emanuele)

A MASH was a real thing

In the Korean War, a MASH unit was a frontline medical unit, a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. Wounded troops would be treated by a medic or corpsman, then taken to an aid station if necessary. Once there, if they needed more care, they would be evacuated, sometimes by the newly-developed helicopter, to a MASH for surgery. These units were as close as ten miles to the front.

What later became a movie and a legendary TV show, M*A*S*H got its start as a book, written by Richard Hornberger under the pen name Richard Hooker. Hornberger was a real-life surgeon in a MASH unit and the book documented a few things the author says were based on real events — though he never says which ones.

While the setting of the series is important, it’s all the characters that really drive the show. Here’s who you’ll meet:

Alan Alda as Hawkeye Pierce.

Capt. Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce

Hawkeye is a talented surgeon and pacifist from Maine who was drafted at the outset of the Korean War. He won’t use a weapon but he’ll let himself be sent to the front line if it means it’ll save a life. Like almost everyone in the 4077th, he enjoys a drink after work, even going as far as constructing a still in his tent, nicknamed “the Swamp.” His nickname comes from the book, The Last of the Mohicans.

Wayne Rogers plays Trapper John.

Capt. “Trapper” John McIntyre

Trapper is Hawkeye’s best friend on the camp for the first three seasons of the show (actor Wayne Rogers left the series after season three) before being replaced by Capt. BJ Hunnicutt. Trapper, a former football player at Dartmouth, was drafted from a hospital in Boston and was sent home from Korea before the end of the first year. He shares a tent with Hawkeye and Maj. Frank Burns, and spends his spare time drinking and chasing nurses.

Loretta Swit as Maj. Houlihan.

Maj. Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan

Major Houlihan is the chief nurse at the 4077th, a career member of the Army Nurse Corps, and a military brat – her father was an artillery officer. She’s a by-the-book kind of officer and the most capable nurse in the OR, but she’s carrying on an illegal relationship with Maj. Frank Burns.

With Frank, she is constantly battling the practical jokes from Hawkeye and Trapper and doesn’t respect the leadership style of the 4077th’s commander, Lt. Col. Henry Blake, who she is constantly trying to undermine.

Larry Linville as Major Burns.

Maj. Frank Burns

In the U.S., Frank Burns is an Army reservist with his own successful practice who married into a wealthy family in Indiana. In Korea, Major Burns is carrying on an illicit affair with Major Houlihan and, with her, trying to undermine the authority of Lt. Col. Blake. Despite his higher rank, Burns isn’t respected as a doctor, having flunked out of medical school twice. His actions in and out of the operating room reflect his ineptitude in medicine and in life.

McLean Stevenson as Lt. Col. Blake.

Lt. Col. Henry Blake

Henry Blake is an Army reservist and the commanding officer of the 4077th who was sent to Korea after asking a general if he took cream and sugar with a coffee enema. Blake is also a skilled surgeon but a chronic alcoholic. He’s a friend to Hawkeye and Trapper and puts medical needs ahead of Army formalities. He knows he’s not the best choice to be a commander of anything, but asserts his authority when needed.

Blake was sent home in the third season of the show and replaced by Col. Sherman Potter for the rest of the series. But the producers famously wrote a final scene into the third season finale that only Alan Alda knew about as they were filming the episode. It wasn’t until they finished shooting the regular script that the actors were told, and they filmed the final scene where Radar announces that Henry Blake’s plane was shot down over the Sea of Japan.

Cpl. Walter “Radar” O’Reilly 

Gary Burghoff was the only actor to play his character in both the 1970 M*A*S*H film and the CBS television show. He’s the company’s enlisted clerk, and one of the only two enlisted recurring characters, the other being Cpl. Max Klinger. His nickname comes from the fact that he acts on orders before they’re given and can predict things before they happen.

Cpl. Maxwell Klinger

Corporal Klinger was only supposed to be an extra in one episode, but viewers loved Jamie Farr’s character so much he was brought back in the regular cast for the rest of the show. Klinger was drafted from Toledo, Ohio, and is constantly looking for ways to get kicked out of the Army, most famously trying to be considered crazy and get a section eight discharge for wearing women’s clothes.

Capt. B.J. Hunnicutt 

Captain Hunnicutt was a young doctor fresh out of residency when he was drafted and replaced Trapper John at the beginning of the show’s fourth season. Where most of the other doctors are loose with their morals when it comes to women and war, Capt. Hunnicutt is true to his wife and the Hippocratic Oath.

He still enjoys having drinks with his colleagues, though.

Col. Sherman Potter

Colonel Sherman Potter is also a fourth season replacement, coming in for the dearly departed Lt. Col. Blake. Unlike Blake, Potter is a career U.S. Army surgeon who pays closer adherence to Army regulations – though hardly as strict as Maj. Houlihan and Maj. Burns would like. He fought in World War I as an enlisted cavalry troop at age 15 who was captured by the Germans. He later earned a commission after going to medical school in the years between World Wars. He was also in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.

It’s not known how old Col. Potter is during the Korean War.

Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester III 

Major Winchester is a classically-trained physician and surgeon from an aristocratic family who isn’t accustomed to the “meatball surgery” performed at a MASH unit. He enters the show in season six as a replacement for Frank Burns who went crazy after Maj. Houlihan got married to someone else and was promoted out of the Korean War for it.

Winchester gets stuck at the 4077th after winning so much money betting against his commanding officer in Tokyo that his CO exiles him to the Korean War. He’s a much smarter, more conniving foil to Hawkeye and BJ’s antics.

Father Mulcahy 

Father Mulcahy is an Irish-Catholic chaplain at the 4077th and is surprisingly non-judgemental about the extramarital affairs of the unit’s doctors and nurses. Even though most of the staff is not religious (and Klinger is an avowed atheist), everyone treats the Chaplain with respect – even more because he tends to win all the base betting contests and poker games.

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Things like not saluting superior officers.

So, how do Army officers get away with all this stuff?

As you can imagine, talented surgeons were hard to find in the Army. Of course some existed, but in a war like the Korean War, the numbers of military surgeons working on the front lines were augmented by conscription – in other words, they were drafted. The doctors of a MASH unit were doctors first, then Army officers if time allowed.

Writers, actors, and producers of the TV show M*A*S*H actually spoke with and interviewed many MASH doctors at length to get ideas for the show, so at least some of the antics you see on the show were grounded in reality. Again, they never specify which ones.

Now that you’ve read this primer, the only thing left to do is dive into the show and experience it for yourself. And believe me, there’s a reason why the show captured the attention of an entire generation of TV fans.

Be sure to tune in to the All-Day All-Night M*A*S*H Marathon, Saturday, December 8th, starting at 9am/8am central.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Army wants robot attack tanks and ground war drones

The Army is engineering high-tech autonomy kits designed to give “robot” tanks and other armored combat vehicles an ability to operate with little or no human intervention, bringing new tactical and operational dimensions to the future of ground combat.

Unmanned systems, utilized in a fast-evolving, high-threat ground combat operation, could enable robot vehicles to carry supplies, test enemy defenses and even fire weapons — all while manned vehicles operate at a safer distance.

“A kit of hardware and software can be installed into different ground platforms to increase the level of autonomy,” Osie David, Chief Engineer for Mission Command, Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, told Warrior Maven in an interview.

The technology kits, which can integrate on a small unmanned ground vehicle or a wide range of larger combat vehicles, use emerging computer algorithms, on-board processing and artificial intelligence to gather and organize sensor information.


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Soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division explain the capabilities of the multipurpose unmanned tactical transport.

“Ground combat autonomy is the hardest level of autonomy possible. You are talking about shifting terrain and changing enemy movements,” Maj. Gen. John Ferrari, Director, Program Analysis and Evaluation, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-8, told Warrior Maven in an interview.

Robot vehicles, often referred to by Army weapons developers in the context of “manned-unmanned” teaming, are a fast-growing element of the developmental calculus when it comes to future combat platforms.

Having unmanned assets operating in tandem with manned assets in combat introduces a range of new tactics available to commanders. If robot “scout” vehicles could operate in a forward position to identify enemy threats or test defenses, manned tanks might be able to operate at lighter weights, making them faster and more maneuverable in combat.

In fact, senior Army weapons developers have told Warrior Maven that virtually all future combat vehicles now in development will likely be engineered with various new levels of autonomy.

Using things like embedded infrared optical payloads, unmanned vehicles can use machine-learning technology to process key combat details, independently organize them and then send information to a human in the role of command and control, David explained.

AI enables computers to instantly draw upon vast data-bases with millions of pieces of information to perform real-time data analytics before sending useful information to combat commanders.


The advantage is that combatant commanders can quickly receive integrated intelligence or sensor information from a range of sources, analyzed and condensed to enable faster decision-making.

“Instead of sending bits of information back up to a command post, the autonomy kits can enable sensors to perform detection and object identification in real time…and then push that information up to a human,” David said.

Also, advanced integrated sensors, fortified by AI and greater levels of autonomy, can connect aerial and ground assets to one another — to ID and hand off-targets, send real-time video of nearby enemy activity or pass other intelligence data to vehicle crews.

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Electronics Technician 2nd Class Peter Romines launches the unmanned aircraft system drone.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Melissa K. Russell)

It is certainly within the realm of the technically feasible for a future tank to simultaneously control a small fleet of unmanned robotic “wing man” vehicles designed to penetrate enemy lines while minimizing risk to soldiers, transport ammunition or perform long-range reconnaissance and scout missions.

In fact, Army modernization strategy documents specifically cite autonomy enabled platforms, speed and maneuverability as fundamental to future armored warfare.

“As the armored BCT fields new systems, it will replace main battle tanks, howitzers, and mortar indirect fire platforms. Far-term initiatives aim to solve the absence of the armored BCT’s ability to deploy rapidly. The Army assesses the feasibility and application of autonomous or semi-autonomous sub-systems, manned and unmanned teaming, and autonomy enabled combat platforms,” the Army documents read.

CERDEC and other Army entities are working on these projects with the Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center to prototype, test and advance these technologies. The current effort is an extension, or next-generation iteration, of a previous TARDEC effort described as “leader-follower” algorithms. This technology, evolved and successfully tested in recent years, enables an unmanned tactical truck or vehicle to precisely follow a manned vehicle in front of it.

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Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates learns how to operate an unmanned ground vehicle.
(DoD photo by Cherie Cullen)

The concept with “leader-follower” algorithms is to free up vehicle crew members such that they can focus on other pressing, threat-conscious tasks without needing to expend all their energy navigating the vehicle. These newer kits, however, bring the concept of autonomy to an entirely new level, enabling unmanned systems to maneuver quickly in response to fast-changing ground combat circumstances — without needing human intervention.

The current “autonomy kits” effort is a new Army program, slated to gain traction and begin testing this year, Army developers said.

“TARDEC will decide which platforms are used. Some sort of tank is being evaluated, as well as smaller platforms,” David explained.

David explained that the autonomy kits are now being worked on for the Army’s Next-Generation Combat Vehicle program — a future combat vehicle effort planning to engineer new platforms for the 2030s and beyond.

“We are closely tied with them (NGCV program) and we are looking to see how we can insert this kit onto these future platforms,” he explained.

The kits are also being engineered to help ensure that combat vehicles can continue to function in the event that GPS communications are jammed or destroyed by enemy forces. Gyroscopes and accelerometers, for instance, can help ground forces navigate in the absence of GPS, David explained.

“These technologies are focused on how you actually navigate and detect your position in a GPS denied environment where there is challenging terrain or an enemy is jamming you,” he said.

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

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