Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again

The Russian military has made a new claim about the downing of a passenger jet over the war zone in eastern Ukraine in 2014, asserting that the missile that brought Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 down was sent to Soviet Ukraine after it was made in 1986 and never returned to Russia.

Defense Ministry officials made the claim at a news conference in Moscow on Sept. 17, 2018, in an apparent attempt to discredit the findings of an international investigation that determined the system that fired the missile was brought into Ukraine from Russia before the Boeing 777 was shot down on July 17, 2014, and smuggled back into Russia afterward.

Kyiv swiftly disputed the Russian assertion, which a senior Ukrainian official called an “awkward fake,” while the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) said that it was still waiting for Russia to send documents it requested long ago and that Russia had made “factually inaccurate” claims in the past.


In a statement to RFE/RL, the Dutch government said it had “taken notice of the publications in relation to the press conference by the Russian Ministry of Defense.”

“The Netherlands has the utmost confidence in the findings and conclusions of the JIT,” the statement added. “The JIT investigation has broad support by the international community. The government is committed to full cooperation with the criminal investigation by all countries concerned as reflected in [UN Security Council] Resolution 2166.”

Speaking to RFE/RL’s Russian Service in an interview, the founder of cybersleuthing outfit Bellingcat accused Russia of “lying about the content” of videos it used as evidence, and said there was “absolutely no way to know” whether the records it cited are genuine.

All 298 passengers and crew were killed when the jet, which was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed in an area held by Russia-backed separatists in the Donetsk region.

The tragedy caused an international outcry and deepened tensions between Moscow and the West following Russia’s seizure of Crimea and support for the militants in their fight against Kyiv’s forces after pro-European protests pushed Moscow-friendly Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych from power.

The JIT also found that the Buk missile came from Russia’s 53rd Antiaircraft Missile Brigade and was fired from territory held by the Russia-backed separatists.

Many of the JIT’s findings have been corroborated or supported by evidence gathered by journalists and independent investigators, such as the British-based Bellingcat.

The Russian Defense Ministry officials claimed that some of the evidence used by the JIT, including videos investigators used to track the path of the missile from Russia to Ukraine and back, was falsified. They cited alleged evidence whose authenticity and accuracy could not immediately be independently assessed.

Citing what they said were newly declassified documents, the Defense Ministry officials asserted that the missile was manufactured in Dolgoprudny, outside Moscow, in 1986 — five years before the Soviet Union fell apart — and was sent by railway to a missile brigade in the Ternopil region of western Ukraine in December of that year.

“The missile belongs to the Ukrainian armed forces and never returned to Russian territory,” said Lieutenant General Nikolai Parshin, chief of the Defense Ministry’s missile and artillery department.

In Ukraine, National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov said Russia’s “statement alleging that the missile that downed MH17 had a Ukrainian footprint was yet another awkward fake [issued] by the Kremlin in order to conceal its crime, which has been proven by both the official investigation and by independent expert groups.”

Earlier, Bellingcat’s Eliot Higgins cast doubt on the allegation that video footage was doctored by investigators, writing on Twitter that the Russian Defense Ministry “should probably know we have the original version of the video they’re talking about at the moment.”

“And we’ve never published it. And the JIT has it,” Higgins added in successive tweets.

In a statement on Sept. 17, 2018, the JIT said it would “meticulously study the materials presented as soon as the Russian Federation makes the relevant documents available to the JIT as requested in May 2018″ and required under a UN Security Council resolution.”

The JIT said that it asked Russia to provide “all relevant information” about the incident back in 2014, and in May 2018 “specifically requested information concerning numbers found on several recovered missile parts.”

The investigative body said that it had “always carefully analyzed” information provided by Russia, and in doing so “has found that information from the Russian Ministry of Defense previously presented to the public and provided to the JIT was factually inaccurate on several points.”

Bellingcat’s Higgins echoed that statement, telling RFE/RL’s Russian Service that “the Russian Ministry of Defense has a long and well-established track record of lying and faking evidence.”

“So, really, there is absolutely no way to know that this information is genuine,” Higgins said. He also disputed the claim that videos were doctored, accusing the Defense Ministry of making “purposely misleading” statements about video evidence and “just lying about the content.”

The new Russian assertions follow several other attempts by Russia to lay blame for the downing of MH-17 on Ukraine, including initial suggestions — now discredited — that the jet was shot down by a Ukrainian warplane.

The 298 victims of the crash are among more than 10,300 people killed since April 2014 in the war in eastern Ukraine, where fighting persists and the Moscow-backed militants continue to hold parts of the Donestk and Luhansk provinces despite internationally-backed cease-fire and political-settlement deals known as the Minsk Accords.

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

Articles

This quadruple amputee is opening retreat to help other wounded warriors

Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills awoke in a hospital on his 25th birthday to learn that an explosion in Afghanistan had robbed him of all four limbs. He later told his wife to take their daughter and their belongings, and just go. He didn’t want her saddled with his burden.


“She assured me that’s not how this works,” Mills said, “and she stayed by my side.”

Family support aided his recovery, Mills said, and now a foundation he created is bringing others with war injuries and their families to Maine to continue their healing while surrounded by others who understand what they’ve gone through.

The retreat at the lakeside estate of the late cosmetics magnate Elizabeth Arden will be dedicated this weekend after an overhaul that included accessibility upgrades.

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again
Staff Sgt. Travis Mills discusses his foundation’s resort on a Maine television program. Screenshot: YouTube/CentralMaineCATV

Mills uses his personal story to offer encouragement: “I don’t look at myself and pity myself. I tell people to never give up, never quit, and to always keep pushing forward.”

The soldier’s life changed abruptly on April 10, 2012, when a bomb that evaded detection detonated when Mills unwittingly dropped his backpack on it.

The blast disintegrated his right arm and leg, shredded his wrist and blew several fingers off. His left leg dangled.

As life drained from him, Mills used what was left of his remaining hand to make a radio call for help for the others.

“My medic came up to me and I tried to fight him off, saying, ‘Doc, you’re not going to save me. There’s really no reason to keep trying. It’s OK. I accept what happened. Just tell my family I love them, and don’t waste your time,'” he told The Associated Press.

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again
DoD photo by Fred W. Baker III

At the field hospital, his remaining leg came off with his pants as he was undressed for surgery. Two days later, his left arm was removed.

When it came to recovery, Mills said, the support of his family was just as important as top-notch medical care. His wife remained with him. Their 6-month-old daughter lifted his spirits. His father-in-law lived with him at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and oversaw construction of a home adapted for his disabilities.

“Without my wife and daughter, I can’t tell you that I’d be sitting here today doing as well as I’m doing,” he said. “That’s why we do what we do. Because we believe there is more healing with the family and other people in the same situation.”

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again
(TravisMills.org)

His wife, Kelsey, pregnant with their second child, said her husband has been competitive since his days as high school football captain in Vassar, Michigan. He was always the “life of the party,” she said, which helps to explain his charisma, enthusiasm, and constant jokes.

“He’s always had a strong drive, and getting injured was like a challenge to him to overcome it,” she said.

These days, he travels 165 days a year, delivering motivational speeches, and it seems there’s little he can’t do thanks to grit and advanced prosthetics. He’s gone skydiving, participated in adaptive skiing and mountain biking, and paddled on lakes. He’s written a book, “Tough As They Come.”

The retreat is an extension of Mills’ work at Walter Reed, where he lifted others’ spirits while recovering from his wounds over a 19-month period.

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again
Walter Reed General Hospital. DoD photo by Samantha L. Quigley.

This summer, 56 families will be served free of charge.

They’ll kayak, go tubing, and fish, allowing injured soldiers and Marines to see that they don’t have to sit on the sidelines during family activities, Mills said.

Nearly $3 million in cash and in-kind contributions have gone into the camp, building on a pilot program. Mills hopes to raise enough money to create a permanent endowment.

Craig Buck said his son-in-law knows that not all injured military personnel have received the same family support. “This is his way of paying it forward,” Buck said. “That’s the reason we built the retreat.”

hauntedbattlefields

These base residents say ghosts haunt their houses

Costumes, candy, Halloween parties, and trick or treating are common ways to celebrate All Hallows Eve. Another way some choose to take part in is by going to a “haunted house.”

For some, haunted houses are all too real.

Many Team Shaw members have heard rumors of some buildings on base that are supposedly haunted, but few have actually had experiences with the paranormal. The following stories have been told by Shaw housing residents who claim to have had encounters.


“The old base housing was very haunted so I’d say yes it’s possible the new ones are too,” said a Team Shaw spouse. “We had so many creepy experiences in the old housing. My oldest would scream bloody murder and just point at something in his room and refuse to go in there. At night, we’d lay in bed and could hear something downstairs slamming cabinets closed.”

Others said they have seen floating orbs of light on camera, had home devices turn on by themselves and heard doors open and close or bangs in their home.

Another member said she is “creeped out” but has come to terms with the entity in her home. Whenever she decides to turn in for the night, she now says, “Alright haunts. I’m going to bed. It’s time for you to go on home.”

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again

(Flickr photo by PROMichael)

In August of 2015, Heather Ingle, Team Shaw spouse, moved to Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, with her active duty husband and two young daughters.

“When we came here, (the girls) were refusing to sleep in their room,” Ingle said of her new home. “(My youngest daughter) was still pretty young, and she wouldn’t even go in there,”

“They just would not go in the room,” said Ingle. “(My eldest daughter) kept saying, ‘There is a scary lady in there.’ I told her, ‘There is nobody in this house. There’s nobody in here.’ We would just battle night after night after night that they wanted to sleep in bed with me, both of them.”

During this time in her life, Ingle was working in Columbia, South Carolina, and would get home late, while her daughters would stay at a friend’s home until she was able to pick them up and take them home.

Ingle stated one night she and her daughters got home around midnight after a long day of work. Her children were exhausted, but still argued to sleep with her in her bedroom.

She, then, went into their bedroom, closed the door, and screamed at whatever entity was there to go away, saying it wasn’t welcome here. Then, Ingle shouted out a blessing she was told to use by a friend.

According to Ingle, ever since that night, there have been no experiences. The girls do not see the ‘scary lady’ anymore.

So, if Team Shaw members hear someone shout “Boo!” while enjoying a “haunted house” this Halloween, look around. There may not be anyone there.

This article originally appeared on DVIDS. Follow @DVIDSHub on Twitter.

Articles

Former sex slaves are getting payback on the ISIS sleazebags who held them

Yazidi women who were enslaved and terrorized by ISIS have formed a military unit known as the Sun Brigade to hunt down the fighters and condemn them to Hell.


Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again
A military trainer teaches Yazidi and Kurdish women how to fire machine guns during basic training. Screenshot: YouTube/BBC News

ISIS fighters believe that they will not be allowed into Paradise if they are killed by a woman, a fact the Yazidi women of the Sun Brigade are happy to exploit.

ISIS fighters brutally committed a campaign of forced conversion and genocide against the Yazidi religious minority. After overrunning a Yazidi village, ISIS killed the men and took able-bodied women and girls as sex slaves. When one Yazidi slave gave birth, she was not permitted to feed her newborn son, according to Fox News. When the baby cried, the woman’s ISIS master beheaded him.

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again
Xate Shingali shows other Yazidi women how to handle firearms during a display for visiting CNN journalists. Screenshot: YouTube/Hiwa Marko

Some Yazidi women want to punish ISIS for what they did to their people. Xate Shingali, a 30-year-old folk singer, leads the Sun Brigade. The Sun Brigade is part of the Women’s Protection Unit, abbreviated as the YPJ, an all-female branch of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units.

Many volunteers have friends and relatives kidnapped by ISIS. One of the unit members told CNN, “We are Yazidi. We are women. And we will destroy you and anyone who touches our women and dirties our lands.

The Yazidi women share the sentiment of the Kurdish women. CNN interviewed a 21-year-old Kurdish YPJ commander, known as Tehelden – the Kurdish word for ‘revenge.’ ‘They believe if someone from Daesh [IS] is killed by a girl, they won’t go to heaven. They’re afraid of girls.’

The Sun Brigade has been manning observation posts and training in small unit tactics on Sinjar Mountain, the site where IS killed many Yazidi civilians who sought refuge there in 2014.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Space Force to include National Guard

The U.S. Space Force will incorporate National Guard units that already have a space-related mission, according to the head of Air Force Space Command.

“We rely very heavily on the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve forces, and that’s going to continue in the future,” said Air Force Gen. John “Jay” Raymond during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee to become the new head of U.S. Space Command.

“They operate really critical capabilities. They provide a capacity, a resource capacity, and we’re going to rely on them. They’re seamlessly integrated,” he said June 4, 2019.


In March 2019, officials announced that Raymond had been nominated to lead U.S. Space Command. Pentagon officials said at the time that, if confirmed, he would continue leading Air Force Space Command along with U.S. Space Command. The current Senate version of the Fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act legislation would also require Raymond to lead Space Force for at least a year.

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk discusses U.S. space operations with Gen. Jay Raymond, the Commander, Air Force Space Command, and Joint Force Space Component Commander; and Gen Terrence O’Shaughnessy, the Commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, April 15, 2019.

Guard units across seven states already have space missions, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, said during the hearing. That includes roughly 1,500 airmen conducting space-related operations in Ohio, Alaska, Colorado, Florida, New York, Arkansas, and California.

Raymond’s comments come as other officials want to make sure there is a place for the Guard in the Space Force structure.

Last month, Air National Guard director Lt. Gen. L. Scott Rice said that, while details are still being worked out, ANG units are “all in” for space operations.

During an Air Force Association breakfast in Washington, D.C., Rice said the Pentagon is looking to leverage the state forces that already have space-related operations.

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again

U.S. Air National Guard Lt. Gen. L. Scott Rice, Director of the Air National Guard (right) answers questions from airmen of the 142nd Fighter Wing during a town hall session at the Portland Air National Guard Base, Portland, Oregon, March 2, 2019.

(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

“My job is to make sure it works. How would I present the operational piece and the bureaucracy for a new Space Force? I would do it from those seven states. I would not do 54 states and territories of Space National Guard,” he said.

However, the Air National Guard is setting up two new space squadrons in two more states, which would also be incorporated into the Space Force structure in the near future, Rice said.

“We are looking at standing up more capability for space control squadrons in the Pacific,” he told reporters after his presentation at the breakfast, as reported by Federal News Network.

“We are under review on where we are going to do that and how we are looking at that. The timeline is within the next month, two new squadrons in two new states.”

He did not reveal the locations under consideration.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Marine’s big catch earns him $200,000+ in prizes

Days after winning the prestigious Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, the excitement had not left John Cruise’s voice.

“The biggest fish I caught before this tournament was an 849-pound giant Atlantic bluefin tuna,” said Cruise, a major in the Marines. “I’ve caught many bluefin in the 600- to 700-pound range over the years, but that marlin is a special breed. What a feat, I’ll leave it at that.”


Cruise, 47, is the captain of the Pelagic Hunter II, a 35-foot outboard. He and mates Riley Adkins and Kyle Kirkpatrick won with a 495.2-pound marlin that they battled for 5½ hours Friday. That catch was only two-tenths of a pound heavier than the second-place fish and earned Cruise’s boat more than $223,000 in winnings.

The Big Rock tournament began June 8 and concluded Saturday in Morehead City, North Carolina. It attracted more than 200 entrants, including Catch 23 — a yacht owned by Michael Jordan. The Hall of Fame basketball player’s crew brought in a 442.3-pound marlin early in the tournament.

The Pelagic Hunter II was one of the smaller boats in the field.

“We have boats up to 85, 90, 100 feet that fish the tournament that have crews of eight or 10 people,” said Crystal Hesmer, the tournament’s executive director. “For a 35-foot boat … to bring the winning fish to the dock is just heartwarming and wonderful.”

Cruise, a major stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, has run a charter-boat company for 12 years. He followed his father, who fought in the Vietnam War, and his uncle into the Marines and has served for 22 years.

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again

Growing up in New Jersey, his love of fishing was sealed about the time he received his first rod when he was 5 years old.

“The buzz has been beyond belief,” Cruise said of winning Big Rock.

The Pelagic Hunter II competed against boats with far wealthier owners, larger crews and access to greater technology. Because of their sheer size, bigger vessels can handle unfavorable weather or ocean conditions better.

Still, despite being a first-time entrant who said he had not fished for marlin before the tournament, Cruise did not lower his crew’s expectations. He told Adkins and Kirkpatrick that he expected to win.

“I don’t play around, man,” he said.

Shortly after the winning marlin hit the lure, Cruise said it jumped between seven and 10 times. The big fish was on the surface, about 50 miles out in the Atlantic Ocean, when another boat almost ran over it. Just as the crew got the marlin close to the boat, it suddenly turned and went deep underneath the water.

The fish came up and went down a few times before the Pelagic Hunter II boated her.

“It was an exciting battle,” Cruise said.

Cruise said his crew lost a much larger fish earlier in the tournament when it snapped the line. They measured the marlin they brought to the docks and knew it did not meet the tournament’s 110-inch requirement to qualify.

They were unsure whether it would exceed the 400-pound minimum until the official weight was announced.

“She looked thick,” Cruise said. “She looked big, but we weren’t sure.

“We were just in shock, and we’re still on Cloud 9. We’re stunned, and we’re enjoying the moment.”

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

popular

The hilarious reactions to Germany getting knocked out of the World Cup

Despite a visibly less dominant string of qualifying matches and a questionable performance early in the group stage, as the reigning World Cup champions, when it came to the 2018 tournament, Germany could not be written off by any means. When you think about it, after handing Brazil a sound 7-1 whooping in the semi-finals in 2014, how could one even imagine that they wouldn’t even make it out of the group stage this year? Well, after a stunning 2-0 loss to South Korea — of all the teams — Germany is going home and the internet is going nuts.


For starters, Fox Sports Brazil’s reaction is both petty and priceless. Still, that 7-1 L Brazil took in 2014 is by no means better than going out in the first round. It’s better to go out early than be a world-renowned team that chokes and gets smashed in the semi-finals, especially considering the fact that Brazil had beaten Germany when it really really mattered so many times in the past, but I’m digressing here.

The American Outlaws, a band of next-generation US Soccer fans are actually offering Germany a seat on the couch of embarrassingly crippling defeat.

Maybe Americans were just generally elated that someone else besides them blew it when they didn’t have to?

Speaking of couches.

But, South Korea still isn’t even that good!

When you think about it, Germany deserved this, they just didn’t seem to play that hard.

The fans are pissed.

The fans are shocked.

But, it’s been a weird week in general anyway.

Meanwhile, everyone who stood to benefit from their elimination *cough cough* England and Mexico, are turning all the way up right now.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiK1whjBOrs

www.youtube.com

Still, it’s not like Germany’s exit is unfounded. This is the third World Cup in which the reigning champs have gone out in the first round. Italy did it in 2010 and Spain did it in 2014. Plus their exit gives less experienced but talented teams like Mexico and South Korea a chance to prove themselves in the round of 16 and that’s something to be excited about.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

Articles

A new congressional report hints that Russia has better tanks than the US

The M1A2 SEP Abrams has ruled the world of armor since Operation Desert Storm. But that was over 25 years ago – and tank design innovation hasn’t stood still.


In fact, everyone is trying to get a better tank — particularly the Russians. Well, if a major tank in your inventory had a very poor performance like the T-72 did in Desert Storm, you’d be looking to upgrade, too.

And the upgraded tanks could have an advantage over the M1A2, according to a Congressional Research Service report.

Russia’s first effort at an upgrade was the T-90 main battle tank. According to Globalsecurity.org, the T-90 is an evolutionary development of the T-72. It has the same gun as the tank that flopped during Desert Storm, but it did feature some new survivability enhancements, like the TShU-1-7 Shtora-1 optronic countermeasures system.

The tank saw a lot of exports, most notably to India, which has plans to buy up to 1,600 of these tanks, according to Sputnik International. Syria used T-90s acquired from Russia in 2015, according to Al-Masdar News, and Algeria also has a substantial arsenal of T-90s, according to a report from Russia’s Interfax news agency.

The T-90, though, is not quite capable of standing up to the Abrams, largely due to the fact it is still an evolved T-72.

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again
T-90 with the Indian Army (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The T-14 Armata, though, is a very different beast. According to Globalsecurity.org, it bears more of a resemblance to the Abrams and Leopard 2 and has a remote-controlled gun in an unmanned turret. Specs on that site note that it not only has a new 125mm gun, but also carries two AT-14 anti-tank missiles. According to the London Telegraph, British intelligence has claimed that “Armata represents the most revolutionary step change in tank design in the last half century.”

Ben Barry of the International Institute for Strategic Studies noted that the combination of the Armata’s ability to take a larger gun in the future and its active protection system could be game-changers.

T-14 Armata (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

“This has the potential to greatly reduce the firepower of Nato infantry. Of course, there are few Armata yet, and it is not clear how rapidly they will enter service,” an IISS land warfare specialist and former British army brigadier told the Telegraph. “But as they do, they will increase the effectiveness of Russian armoured forces.”

Could the Armata take down the Abrams? That remains to be seen. It’s not like the Abrams has stood still since it was introduced in 1980. And an M1A3 version is reportedly in development, according to a 2009 Army Times report.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The surprising reason most troops who die in the military don’t die in combat

There are things that can annoy you during your time in uniform, like PowerPoint presentations, waiting to be released for the weekend, and that private who clearly needed a waiver to get in. Wait, that’s not a private, that’s a lieutenant!

And then there are things that can kill you.

The US military has been at war for nearly 20 years, and anyone who has wanted to test their mettle in combat has had the chance. Thanks to modern battlefield medicine and overwhelming fire superiority in most situations, American service members are coming home alive at rates that have never before been seen in the history of warfare.


Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again

US Army soldiers fire 81mm mortars during a fire mission in an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, Nov. 6, 2019. US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alex Manne.

Unfortunately, it’s not just bullets and IEDs that can — and do — kill our men and women in uniform. In fact, 74% of all US military deaths since 2006 have had nothing to do with combat.

1. Training. Train like you fight, fight like you train. It’s a good ethos to have in the business of war, but unfortunately, realistic training can have unintended consequences. Most recently, eight Marines and one US Navy sailor were killed when their Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) sunk during training off San Clemente Island. This isn’t a common occurrence, but in 2017, 14 Marines and one sailor were hospitalized after their AAV hit a natural gas line. The last death occurred in 2011 after a Marine died while trapped in a sunken AAV in Oceanside Harbor.

Training accidents happen on land and in the air, too.

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again

Special Forces Soldiers from the US Army’s 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) conduct an AAR after Counter Improvised Explosive Device training at Panzer Local Training area near Stuttgart, Germany, June 10, 2020. Photo by Sgt. Patrik Orcutt, courtesy of DVIDS.

Between 2015 and 2018, the US Army suffered 14 fatalities from vehicle rollovers. That number spiked in 2019, with eight soldiers killed in rollover accidents. According to a US Army safety brief video, vehicle training accidents kill more on-duty soldiers than any other single reason, with inadequate unit driver training programs contributing to 68% of these mishaps.

Airborne operations are inherently risky and are considered the most dangerous training the military conducts on a regular basis despite rigorous risk mitigation procedures. So far in 2020, there have been at least two deaths, preceded by four in 2019. The fatalities affect conventional and special operations troops alike while conducting both static line and military free fall training across the US Army, US Navy, US Marine Corps, and US Air Force.

Training accidents are readily apparent in how they impact the force, while other issues are not so obvious — or forgivable.

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again

Senior Airman Frances Gavalis, 332nd Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron equipment manager, tosses unserviceable uniform items into a burn pit, March 10, 2008. US Air Force photo by Sr. Airman Julianne Showalter.

2. Toxic exposure. Although burn pits have been reduced to an oft-joked about condition of wartime service, their impacts on service members who served overseas are real. Toxic exposure from burn pits is difficult to track, but one organization says they have recorded at least 130 deaths from the more than 250 burn pits that were used across Iraq and Afghanistan. Many compare the issue to how Agent Orange afflicted veterans of the Vietnam War. Like Agent Orange, the full effects of burn pits will likely take decades of research before it’s impact on veterans is fully understood.

If you’ve deployed to Afghanistan, you’ve probably heard about “Mefloquine Monday” and the nightmares it causes. Due to the areas of the world the US military regularly deploys to, a variety of malaria medications have been used for decades, with some having detrimental effects on service members. Mefloquine, in particular, was considered so dangerous that the FDA put a “black box” warning — its most strict measure — on the drug in 2013. It’s difficult to attribute how many deaths are a result of the drug, but the drug’s effects on the brain may be contributing to suicide rates.

Military housing has come under fire in recent years for failing to address issues ranging from black mold to lead poisoning and even asbestos poisoning. The problem affects everyone in the military umbrella, from junior enlisted soldiers in barracks to families living in on-base housing. Despite multiple lawsuits, the US military still grapples with some leaders not taking the issue seriously — even though it’s now affecting service members’ children.

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again

Members of the Uzbekistan National Guard show a US special operator de-mining techniques during exercise Invincible Sentry in the Tashkent region of Uzbekistan, Feb. 22, 2020. Photo by Staff Sgt. Steven Colvin, courtesy of DVIDS.

Depleted uranium has also affected multiple generations of US military personnel, with many suffering through cancer and other afflictions after being exposed.

Most recently, government documents revealed that the military knew Uzbekistan’s K2 airbase was poisoning service members stationed there.

“Ground contamination at Karshi-Khanabad Airfield poses health risks to U.S. forces deployed there,” said the classified report obtained by McClatchy dated Nov. 6, 2001. According to a 2015 Army investigation, at least 61 service members have been diagnosed with cancer or died after serving there, but that number does not include special operations troops at the secretive base.

There are many organizations available to help service members who have been impacted by toxic exposures. Veterans who are experiencing unexplained health issues are encouraged to reach out for help.

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again

Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general, and US Senator John Cornyn take questions from reporters during a press conference outside the main gate at Fort Hood, Texas, April 3, 2014. US Army photo by Sgt. Ken Scar, 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.

3. Fort Hood. K2 isn’t the only base responsible for death in the military. Fort Hood is quickly becoming known as one of the most dangerous places to be stationed in the US Army after a rash of murders and busted prostitution rings have been exposed. Twenty-three soldiers assigned to the Texas base have died this year alone; only one of those deaths happened in combat. The murder and dismemberment of Spc. Vanessa Guillen thrust Fort Hood’s issues into the national spotlight this year, and now multiple investigations have been initiated to find answers about why the base has devolved.

4. Suicide. Suicide afflicts both active duty troops and veterans alike. Between 2006 and 2020, 4,231 active service members died of self-inflicted wounds. In 2017, 6,139 veterans committed suicide, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. The reasons for taking one’s life vary, but over-prescription of opioids, toxic leadership, marital problems, and financial problems are all common reasons cited. Fortunately, the military has started to take the mental health crisis more seriously in recent years, with many senior leaders stepping forward to talk about their own struggles and encouraging troops to reach out for help if they need it.

Many of these issues can only be mitigated by calling out problems when they happen and being proactive about avoiding safety shortfalls. If you see something, say something. These problems won’t go away on their own.

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.


MIGHTY MOVIES

Unrealistic war movies that still nail military life

It’s no secret that Hollywood has a knack for getting the military wrong in war movies. Whether it’s diverging from reality in movies that are “based on a true story” or it’s pretending grenades create massive fireballs when they explode, the movie industry will always favor drama and spectacular visuals over realism… and to be totally honest, I’m cool with that.

Over the years, I’ve devoted a great deal of my professional life to analyzing the way narratives take shape in the public consciousness. I’ve dug into how different nations leverage media to affect public perceptions (I even wrote a book about it). I’ve explored the ways cultural touchstones like exchanging engagement rings manifested inorganically in corporate board rooms. I’ve even pointed out the ways World War II propaganda still shapes our dietary choices. That’s a long-winded way of saying that my professional interests have long been tied to exploring the undercurrent in mass communications, and further analyzing the ways that undercurrent can shape our perspectives of the world.


With the understanding that I’ve devoted so much of my time to exploring the narrative behind messaging, you can probably imagine that I can be a real party pooper when it comes to watching war movies. Like most vets, I get frustrated when I see uniforms worn incorrectly or when dialogue between service members feels forced or clunky… but unlike many vets, I also can’t help but look past the surface level messaging to try to figure out what filmmakers are trying to say with their choices in presentation.

Film, like any art form, is really an exercise in evoking emotion. When we really love a movie, it’s almost always because we loved the way the movie made us feel as we watched it. Whether we were excited by incredible action sequences or we were enraptured by a budding romance, it’s the experience, our experience, that we actually cherish. Good filmmakers know that, so they often choose to place a larger emphasis on creating an experience than they do on recreating a realistic event. Good movies aren’t good because they’re real–in other words–they’re good because the feelings they create are.

When a movie sucks, however, it’s usually because the director fails to evoke real emotions in the viewer. Bad filmmaking can be just as realistic or unrealistic as good filmmaking. Warner Brother’s famously bad “Green Lantern” movie, as a good example, is often made fun of for its use of an entirely CGI costume on Ryan Reynolds. You might think that’s because CGI costumes are just too unrealistic to be taken seriously… until you realize that most of the costumes you see in the wildly successful Marvel movies are entirely CGI as well. The difference isn’t that one is realistic while the other isn’t–the difference is that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is better at making you care about its characters. Iron Man’s CGI suit simply becomes set-dressing for the character that you’re emotionally invested in.

Marvel isn’t the only studio to get the feeling right, even when it gets facts or realism wrong. In fact, there are a number of war movies that manage the same feat.

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again

(Warner Brothers)

Full Metal Jacket (the first half)

Marines, in particular, tend to hold the first half of Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket” in high esteem, and we tend to disregard the second half of the movie as an auteur opining about Vietnam (in a way that doesn’t leave the audience nearly as invested in the characters). Depending on who you ask, they’ll tell you that Marine recruit training is exactly like the movie or not like it at all–and that likely has a lot to do with individual experiences and feelings from one’s own time at the depots.

But whether you ever had to choke yourself with a drill instructor’s hand or not, most Marines feel a distinct kinship with J.T. “Joker” Davis’ platoon. It’s safe to say that most of us didn’t see a fellow recruit shoot our drill instructor in the bathroom (or head, as we call it), but that scene does capture something about recruit training that’s not easy to articulate. For many of us, Marine Recruit Training is the first place we’d ever been where violence is a commodity. We’re learning to fight, to kill, and when you begin broaching the subject in your mind, the experience can be jarring. I recall distinctly the first time I ever truly thought about taking another person’s life and what it would entail, and it was inside a squad bay just like the one you see in “Full Metal Jacket.”

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again

(Paramount Pictures)

The Hunt for Red October

If we’re grading war movies on realism, it would be tough to gloss over the fact that Sean Connery’s Marko Ramius is a Russian submarine captain that talks with a thick Scottish accent. But in terms of capturing the reality of the Cold War as a feeling, “Red October” hits the nail right on the head.

In real life, would we pull a CIA analyst out of his cubicle and drop him into the ocean to climb aboard a nuclear submarine hot on the tail of a rogue Russian captain? Probably not–but by doing so in the film, “The Hunt for Red October” effectively captured the sense of urgency, confusion, and distrust that characterized so much of the Cold War for both American and Soviet officials. Many defense initiatives in the U.S. were driven by concerns that the Soviet’s had developed a technological or strategic advantage, and in a real way, intelligent men and women like Jack Ryan devoted their entire lives to both offsetting those perceived capability gaps, and of course, to preventing nuclear war amid an international, nuclear-fueled, staring contest.

“The Hunt for Red October” may not be the most realistic exploration of Cold War tensions, but it expertly crafts the feeling that permeated the defense community throughout the conflict.

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again

(Universal Pictures)

Jarhead

I won’t lie to you, I still take great issue with certain elements of “Jarhead” — specifically its depiction of Marines as singularly driven by the desire to take lives. However, as an exploration into the emotional ride that is Marine training and service, the desire to get a confirmed kill in “Jarhead’s” second act that I find so abrasive actually perfectly captures the feelings so many service members and veterans have about not seeing combat.

The vast majority of people in the military never take that “kill shot” “Jarhead’s” Anthony Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal) is so focused on, and to be honest, lots of service members wouldn’t want to–but therein lies the point. “Jarhead” is a war movie that tells the story of training extensively for a job that you never get to do, and then returning to a world full of other people’s expectations that you know, inside your head, you’ll never amount to.

Lots of veterans find that they don’t feel “veteran enough” after their time in uniform is up. Maybe they didn’t see combat, or they didn’t see as much combat as others. Maybe their job had them mopping floors in Japan instead of kicking in doors in Iraq, or maybe they never left the wire during their time in the sandbox. Whatever the reason, many veterans (and even active service members) carry a chip on their shoulder created by society’s expectation that we all return home like John Rambo. The truth is, every veteran is veteran enough–but “Jarhead” does an excellent job of sharing that insecurity on film.

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again

(Sony Pictures)

Tears of the Sun

This nearly forgotten 2003 action drama starred Bruce Willis as Lieutenant Waters, a U.S. Navy SEAL charged with leading his team into Nigeria to evacuate a U.S. citizen and medical doctor amid a bloody coup d’etat. When Waters and his SEAL team arrive, however, the doctor refuses to leave without the rest of the members of her small community who will likely be wiped out by rebel soldiers in the area.

What follows is a fairly unrealistic depiction of how military operations are carried out, complete with bloody last stand on the nation’s border in which many of the SEALs ultimately give their lives to protect the fleeing civilians. The movie is, to be honest, some pretty heavy handed American military propaganda (honestly, some of the best war movies are), but it’s precisely because of that arguably jingoistic idealism that this movie so effectively captures the feeling that drives so many of us to sign our enlistment papers.

Most folks in the military chose to join because of a combination of personal interest and idealism. We could use a good job, some help with college, and benefits for our families–but we also want to make a difference in the world. We want to help protect not just our nation’s people, but the ideals our nation represents. “Tears of the Sun” is a story about American service members giving up their lives to do what’s right, and because of that, it strikes the patriotic chord in many of us in a way that resonates deeply, even if the movie itself isn’t a masterclass in filmmaking.

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


MIGHTY TRENDING

The Taliban tried to kill the top US general in Afghanistan

Gen. Scott Miller, the top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, on Oct. 18, 2018, narrowly escaped a bold, deadly insider attack the Taliban claimed responsibility for.

Miller at one point drew his sidearm during the attack, but did not fire, according to CNN.

The attack took place in Kandahar, and led to the death of Gen. Abdul Raziq, a powerful Afghan police chief.


Several other Afghan police and officials were killed or wounded, and three Americans were wounded in the incident as well. The assailant was reportedly killed in the firefight.

Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Smiley was among the Americans wounded in Oct. 18, 2018’s incident and is recovering from a gunshot wound, a NATO spokesman confirmed to CNN on Oct. 21, 2018. Smiley is in charge of the NATO military advisory mission in southern Afghanistan.

The attack highlights just how insecure Afghanistan is, and came just two days before the country held national elections.

It was an astonishing moment in a conflict that recently entered its 18th year, and perhaps the most embarrassing piece of evidence yet the US is badly losing the war.

The Taliban hoped to kill a US general to get America to leave Afghanistan

The Taliban said Miller was one of the targets of the attack in addition to Raziq, but the Pentagon denies this.

A Taliban commander told NBC News if it had been successful in killing Miller, who emerged from the attack unscathed, that President Donald Trump would’ve withdrawn the roughly 15,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan. The Taliban still feels the attack was a “major success” due to the death of Raziq.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Friday described the loss of Raziq, whom the Taliban attempted to kill dozens of times, as the “tragic loss of a patriot.” But Mattis also said the attack hasn’t made him less confident in the ability of Afghan security forces to take on the Taliban.

Despite the Pentagon’s efforts to downplay the significant of this attack, it’s a sign of how emboldened the Taliban has become via major gains over the past year or so.

The war has reached its deadliest point in years as the Taliban gains ground

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in July 2018 claimed Trump’s strategy in Afghanistan is working, and he suggested pressure from the US military and its allies was pushing the Taliban toward a peace process. But the reality is much different.

Oct. 18, 2018’s attack came just one day after a Taliban suicide bomber targeted a NATO convoy close to Kabul, the Afghan capital, killing two civilians and injuring five Czech troops.

At the moment, the Taliban controls or contests roughly half of all the country’s districts, according to the US military. But many military analysts claim approximately 61% of Afghanistan’s districts are controlled or threatened by the Taliban.

There have been eight US military deaths in Afghanistan in 2018. This is a far-cry from the deadliest year of the war for American in 2010, when 499 US troops were killed.

But civilian casualties are reaching unprecedented levels in Afghanistan, a sign of how unstable the country has become over the past year or so. The war is on track to kill over 20,000 civilians in Afghanistan this year alone, according to data from the Uppsala Conflict Data Program, meaning the conflict has reached its deadliest point in years.

America’s ‘forever war’

There is still no end in sight to this war, which costs US taxpayers roughly billion per year, and the US government is running out of answers as to why American troops are still fighting and dying there.

The conflict began as a reaction to the 9/11 terror attacks and the Taliban’s close ties to Osama bin Laden, who has since been assassinated by the US.

At this point, Americans born after 9/11 are old enough to enlist in the military with parental consent, and will have the opportunity to fight in a conflict sparked by an event they couldn’t possibly remember.

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

Articles

The 13 funniest military memes of the week

It’s the typical Friday schedule: Memes, then shamming, then safety/Libo brief. Just don’t let anyone task you for weekend duty.


1. “Don’t say hanging out in the barracks, don’t say hanging out in the barracks …”

(via Air Force Memes and Humor.)

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again

2. For the Air Force, just finding the gym is worth 50 PFT points (via Air Force Nation).

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again
Using the equipment properly is a senior NCO skill.

3. D-mnit, Schmuckatelli. You’re not really supposed to answer that (via Team Non-Rec).

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again
Now there is so much more paperwork.

4. The Army was trying to help you …

(via Team Non-Rec.)

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again
… but you just had to ask for tattoos and black PT socks.

5. When you absolutely, positively need chief to know you’re out of uniform:

(via Sh-t my LPO says).

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again
The only way he could stand out more is with a strobe light.

6. Not everyone can be a high-speed, low-drag, turbojet-driven airframe (via Air Force Nation).

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again
Besides, the little guy can takeoff from dirt roads like they’re international airports.

7. “You can’t dismiss my Scottish heritage like this, staff sergeant.”

(via F’N Boot.)

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again
He might’ve gotten away with it if it weren’t for the white socks.

8. Never go full Hooah! in a job interview (via Grunt Style).

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again

9. The Navy calls this “The Coast Guard cuddle.”

(via Sh-t my LPO says.)

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again
The Coast Guard: Sort of like a military branch, sort of like a lost puppy.

10. “Never leave a Marine behind …!”

(via Marine Corps Memes.)

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again

11. He’s just trying to keep his boots clean for inspection, chief (via Sh-t my LPO says).

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again
If you want to be haze grey and underway, just leave him to his painting.

12. Camouflage + PT Belts = Victory

(via Team Non-Rec.)

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again
DARPA is working on a vehicular PT belt that could revolutionize mechanized warfare.

13. You will never be first because the warrant officers start leaving before the Libo brief starts (via Team Non-Rec).

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again
But keep trying.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia and Syria hate this U.S. base but can’t touch it

Russia and the Syrian regime warned the US in early September 2018 that they planned to carry out counterterrorism operations near a key US garrison in southeastern Syria known as al-Tanf, where several hundred Marines have been stationed since at least 2016.

But the US responded with a live-fire exercise, and the Russians backed down.

In fact, the al-Tanf garrison has long drawn the ire of Moscow, Tehran and the Syrian regime — but all they’ve been able to do is complain about it.


The US is “gathering the remnants of the Islamic State at this base in order to later send them wage war on the Syrian army,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said in late September 2018, according to Sputnik, a Russian state-owned media outlet.

“According to satellite and other surveillance data, terrorist squads are stationed [at al-Tanf],” Russian General Valery Gerasimov told Russia’s Pravda in late 2017. “[Terrorists] are effectively training there.”

Iran’s Press TV also cited Gerasimov’s quote a June 2018 article titled, “US forces training terrorists at 19 camps inside Syria: Russian expert.”

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem

Without any real evidence, US adversaries have lobbed many rhetorical attacks against the US forces for supposedly harboring or training terrorists at al-Tanf.

Damascus and Russian state-owned media even claimed in June 2018 that the US was preparing a “false flag” chemical attack “identical to the kind that took place in Douma” at al-Tanf.

“The U.S. led Coalition is here to defeat ISIS, first and foremost, and that is the objective of the presence in at al-Tanf,” US Army Colonel Sean Ryan, a spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, told Business Insider in an email.

“No U.S. troops have trained ISIS and that is just incorrect and misinformation, it is truly amazing some people think that,” Ryan said.

The US has trained Syrian rebels at al-Tanf, namely a group called Maghawir al Thawra, which “is fairly secular by regional standards and has been at the forefront of the fight against ISIS,” Omar Lamrani, a senior military analyst at Stratfor, told Business Insider.

Russia tries to explain away MH17 missile once again

Members of Maghawir al Thawra and a US Army soldier repair a water well in an-Tanf.

But the “claim that the US is training ISIS and like-minded groups at al Tanf is certainly absurd,” Lamrani said.

“To the Russians and Iranians, almost any group fighting against the Syrian government can be labeled a terrorist group,” Lamrani said.

So why do Russia, Iran and the Syrian regime care so much about this garrison?

“I’d say that the primary reasons why Iran cares about it so much is, again, it blocks the Bagdhad-Damascus highway,” Lamrani said, which Tehran uses to transport weapons to Damascus, where the Syrian regime is based.

“The reason they want the land route is that it’s easier to bring [weapons] across land in greater quantities, and the shipping route is very vulnerable to Israeli interception, and the air route is expensive and often gets hit by Israeli airstrikes,” Lamrani added.

Moscow, on the other hand, is upset about al-Tanf because “it’s the last area in Syria where the United States is involved with rebels on the ground that are not Syrian Democratic Forces,” Lamrani said.

The Russians and Syrian regime have “open channels” with the SDF, and want to negotiate — not fight — with them, Lamrani added.

But Moscow, Tehran and the Syrian regime’s ire might go beyond just styming the flow of weapons to Damascus and training rebels.

“There’s a history at that garrison at al-Tanf,” Max Markusen, associate director and an associate fellow of the Transnational Threats Project at CSIS, told Business Insider.

“I think that the Syrian regime, the Russians and Iranians, would see it as a [symbolic] victory if the United States pulled out of there than just sort of tactical level objectives,” Markusen said, adding that there’s much resentment for the US having trained rebels at al-Tanf too.

But they’re not foolish enough to kinetically force US troops out because “the costs of escalation are too high,” Markusen said.

So they’re relegated to discrediting the al-Tanf garrison.

Going forward, “we will continue to see an escalation of rhetoric,” Markusen said, but “I don’t there’s going to be a major outbreak of conflict.”

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

Do Not Sell My Personal Information