5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic

The three Russian journalists who were killed in the Central African Republic (CAR) had arrived in the war-torn country to investigate the reported presence there of a shadowy Russian paramilitary force whose units are said to have fought in Ukraine and Syria.

Colleagues of Orkhan Dzhemal, Aleksandr Rastorguyev, and Kirill Radchenko say the trio were making a documentary about the private Russian military company Vagner, which French and Russian media reports had previously reported to be operating in the CAR.

CAR officials say the journalists were ambushed and killed by unidentified assailants.


The Russian government has never officially confirmed the presence of Vagner employees in the African country and denies that the firm’s contractors act on Moscow’s orders. The private military firm is reportedly controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a longtime associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, though Prigozhin has previously denied that he is linked to the company.

Here are five things you need to know about Russian military contractors working in the CAR.

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic

Anti-Balaka militia in Gbaguili.

1. Why are Russian contractors there?

The Central African Republic, one of the world’s poorest countries, has been subjected to a UN Security Council arms embargo since 2013, when an armed, mainly Muslim coalition known as Seleka seized power. Christian armed formations fought back, and the violence saw thousands killed and hundreds of thousands forced to flee their homes.

In 2016, Faustin-Archange Touadera was elected president of the CAR, but much of the country remains controlled by various armed formations, primarily ex-Seleka fighters and the Christian alliance known as Anti-balaka. The UN established a peacekeeping mission in the CAR in 2014.

In December 2017, Russia secured an exemption to the Security Council arms embargo, allowing Moscow to deliver arms and training for what a UN panel of experts describes as part of a multinational effort — including the European Union Military Training Mission — to boost the capabilities of the CAR’s military and security forces.

“Our only request was that the Russian delegation submit additional information on the serial numbers of the weapons…so that we can track weapons going into CAR,” AFP cited an unidentified U.S. official as saying at the time.

2. How many are there, and what are they doing?

In December 2017, Russia notified the Security Council committee overseeing the CAR arms embargo of the involvement of 175 Russian “instructors” in a training mission, according to a report by a UN panel of experts issued in July 2018. Of those personnel, 170 were identified as civilian instructors, while the remaining five were from the Russian military, the report says.

According to the panel, Russian instructors have been involved in a range of tasks, including: escorting convoys of building materials for hospitals; providing security for hospitals donated by Russia; and training police officers as a requirement for equipping them with Russian weapons.

The panel also said that a Russian national had been appointed as a national security adviser to Touadera and that the Russian is “engaging with armed groups” to discuss issues including “disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, national reconciliation,” and the sharing of revenue derived from the exploitation of natural resources.

In June 2018, two government soldiers and one Russian instructor were wounded in an attack by militia fighters while traveling to the south of the country, the panel said.

3. Why is Vagner said to be operating in the CAR?

Several media reports over the past year have indicated that Vagner contractors may be working in the CAR. In March 2018, a reporter for the Russian news site Znak.com visited a facility reportedly operated by Vagner outside the southern Russian city of Krasnodar. The reporter cited a military veteran who lives in the town where the facility is located as saying that Vagner mercenaries were set to be sent “to Africa” for a “training” mission.

Two weeks later, the Russian Foreign Ministry publicly discussed the 175 Russian “instructors,” saying they had been sent to the CAR in “late January-early February,” but without indicating whether the civilian personnel were employees of Vagner or another military contractor.

The Russian investigative journalism news site The Bell in June 2018 cited an unidentified source as saying that Vagner employees were training CAR forces. And in July 2018, Yevgeny Shabayev, a leader of a Cossack organization who says he visited Vagner fighters injured in a deadly February 2018 clash with U.S. forces in Syria, published a letter stating that private Russian military contractors have operated in the CAR and “an array of other African and Arab countries.”*

An editor at the Investigation Control Center, the outlet funded by billionaire Kremlin foe Mikhail Khodorkovsky that financed the investigation conducted by the three journalists killed in the CAR, said on August 1, 2018 that the team had reached the facility where they believed Vagner operatives were stationed but were told they needed accreditation from the country’s Defense Ministry.

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic

The president of the Central African Republic, Faustin-Archange Touadera.

4. What is Russia’s interest?

Russia says it is seeking to restore peace in the CAR with the provision of arms and training to government forces.

“Russia’s assistance is carried out as part of the common efforts of the international community to strengthen the national security units of CAR,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Artyom Kozhin said in a March 22, 2018 statement.

But Moscow has also made no secret of its economic interests in the country’s natural resources.

“Russia is exploring the possibilities of the mutually beneficial development of Central African natural resources,” Kozhin said. “The prospecting-mining exploration concessions began in 2018. We believe these projects will help stabilize the economic situation in CAR, promote the construction of the infrastructure, and serve as a basis for drawing additional investment to the country’s economy.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with Touadera in the Russian city of Sochi in October 2017, with the ministry saying that the officials “reaffirmed their countries’ resolve” to bolster bilateral ties “and pointed to the considerable potential for partnership in mineral resources exploration” and energy.

Putin met Touadera in St. Petersburg in May 2018, with the Russian leader saying that Moscow “will be happy to consider various plans to boost our relations, first of all in the economic and humanitarian fields.”

5. What impact is Russian presence having?

While Russia touts its weapons shipments and training efforts in the CAR as an effort to stabilize the country, the report by the UN panel of experts released in July 2018 said that new weapons obtained by government forces have motivated rebel militias to boost their own stockpiles.

“The recent acquisition of weaponry by the Government has created an incentive for the active rearmament of ex-Selaka factions,” the report said.

The panel added that armed militia representatives had told them that “since the government had opted for the military option (training, rearming, and attacking) instead of the political process, armed groups needed to be prepared.”

The experts’ report noted a worsening of the security situation in Bangui and Bambari, citing “serious outbreaks of violence, including in areas where the situation had previously improved.”

*Correction: This article has been amended to clarify that Yevgeny Shabayev’s letter stated that private Russian military contractors, not necessarily Vagner, have operated in the Central African Republic.

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

Articles

This is how Kim Jong Un picks Pyongyang’s traffic cops

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un — already notorious for a “Hangover”-style blackout — has now managed to pull a page (or two) from the playbook of disgraced former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes.


According to a report from the Washington Free Beacon, the dictator requires that applicants to the highly-respected Pyongyang traffic cop corps must be between 16 and 26-years-old, at least 5-feet, 4-inches tall, a high school graduate, and not married.

Attractiveness and health are also job requirements. Successful applicants will get about 3,500 North Korean won per month – a good salary by North Korean standards but which amounts to about $30.

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
A Pyongyang traffic cop in the rain. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The status of those women goes beyond their high pay. They reportedly are given preference for careers and post-graduate studies, free housing and health care, and about 60 percent more food than the average North Korean citizen.

Men in North Korea compete fiercely for the affections of the Pyongyang Traffic Girls, or “PTGs,” and there is even a website devoted to them.

Why these women get such solicitude is unknown. The London Daily Star reported that speculation centers around an incident three years ago when one traffic cop reportedly saved the life of the “tubby tyrant.”

The cop was reportedly named a Hero of the Republic, the highest honor North Korea can give, but the North Korean government has refused to explain the circumstances, leading to speculation that the incident involved either a traffic accident or an assassination attempt.

The traffic cops man about 50 posts in the North Korean capital.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Why the Navy backed off railguns (and China should too)

The prototype Chinese railgun is the first technical demonstrator of the tech on a ship at sea, but there are real reasons why the Navy is slow-rolling the railgun, and it’s unlikely that China has broken the code on how to make railguns viable.


First, for anyone who isn’t up on what railguns are, they’re a type of naval artillery that uses massive amounts of electricity to propel the round instead of a chemical reaction (read: gunpowder). This would be a major improvement in logistics and safety as the Navy would no longer need to ship bags of gunpowder around the world, but the best advantages come in range and lethality.

Railguns can hurl rounds very far. Navy engineers have said they think they can reach 230 miles with current technologies. And when the rounds hit the target, they’re going so fast that the total amount of damage on a target is like it was hit by a missile or a massive, high-explosive warhead but the fast-flying rounds can also pierce most armor and even underground targets and bunkers.

Oh, and the rounds are super cheap, costing about ,000 dollars per shot while the missiles they could sometimes replace are usually 0,000 a shot or more. Also, this hasn’t been proven yet, but railguns might be able to fire as fast as every 6 seconds.

Rain. Of. Fire.

So, railguns can fire up to 10 times as far as conventional artillery with a safer round that does more damage when it hits the target. And this isn’t theoretical — railguns have actually achieved these things in Navy tests. Time to put them on ships before China can, right?

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic

High-speed photograph of Navy prototype railgun firing.

(U.S. Navy)

Not exactly. Because while railguns are a huge step up from conventional artillery and have a lot of advantages, there are also some serious drawbacks. First, they need a decent amount of deck space as well as a ton of space below decks. That’s because the guns require a ton of electricity, up to 9 kilowatt hours per shot. That’s how much energy an average U.S. house uses over 7 hours. The only surface ships with that kind of power on tap are the three Zumwalt-class destroyers and aircraft carriers.

Meanwhile, the weapons have improved in maintenance requirements in recent years, but still need new launcher cores every 400 shots and barrels every thousand.

But the biggest problem is the range. While a 230-mile range is phenomenal for artillery, it’s still a paltry reach compared to missiles. Tomahawk cruise missiles can reach between 810 miles and 1,550 miles depending on the type, and China’s “Carrier Killer” DF-26 is thought to strike at 1,200 miles or more. Meanwhile, a carrier-launched F-35 has a 1,380-mile range that can be extended with aerial refueling.

A railgun fires during testing at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 2016.

(Monica Wood, Fort Sill Public Affairs)

So, were railguns obsolete before they were launched? No. There are still plenty of niche uses for the railgun, and the Navy has slowed development but is still pursuing the weapon. Accurate railgun fire could intercept enemy missiles and fighter jets for cheap, possibly while plugged into the super capable Aegis combat system.

And while railgun-equipped ships would likely be too vulnerable to missile strikes to be “door-kicking” ships that take out enemy defenses on day one of a conflict, they would still be very valuable for shore bombardment, strike missions, and other tasks after the first week or so of a war, after the worst of the enemy’s missiles are taken out.

So why is China pursuing the weapon so hard? It’s unlikely that it has solved the power-generation problems of the railgun. And the U.S. is working hard to get the barrels right so they could fire 1,000 rounds instead of the 10 or less that were standard pretty recently. There’s a chance that China is still struggling with that and similar problems.

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic

An artist’s illustration of a Navy Joint High-Speed Vessel with the prototype railgun installed for testing.

(U.S. Navy)

But being the first navy to put a railgun to sea has already granted China a pretty great and relatively easy propaganda victory. The country has worked hard on their technology in recent years in order to be seen as a great naval power, potentially positioning themselves as an arms exporter while deterring conflict.

And the U.S. will have to prepare for the possibility that the railgun is for real. The first pilots to fly within the ship’s range if a war breaks out have to reckon with the possibility that a 20-pound shell might be flying at Mach 7 towards their aircraft at any moment. Missile attacks against a fleet with the ship will have to decide whether to concentrate on the railgun or an aircraft carrier or another combatant.

But, again, this could all be China exploring the tech or bluffing, but with none of the breakthroughs needed to make the weapons viable in combat. If so, they would be wise to concentrate on the many other breakthroughs their military could use for an actual fight.

MIGHTY HISTORY

6 reasons why being a Roman Legionnaire would suck

The Roman Empire stretched from modern-day Syria to modern-day Spain. To maintain that amount of real estate, you have to have an amazing military to protect it. The Roman Legion was one such force.

But every military that has made its mark on history was notorious for rigorous training and extremely harsh conditions that make today’s toughest Special Operations training look like Air Force boot camp. Here’s why, in reality, being a Roman Legionnaire would’ve sucked.


5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic

Suddenly, Sergeant Major doesn’t seem so far away.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Judith L. Harter)

Minimum enlistment requirement

It was 25 years. These days, when you sign the dotted line, you’re in for a minimum of four years and you have the option to stay longer to earn a pension and retirement benefits. The average Roman Legionnaire was expected to serve 25 years — no exceptions.

The retirement benefits, however, involved getting a nice piece of land within the empire to spend the rest of your days — If you don’t die first, that is.

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic

It doesn’t make this suck any less, right?

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brennon A. Taylor)

Long, forced marches… Every day.

If you think the 20-kilometer hike you just did last Wednesday, the 25 kilometers you had to do the night before Christmas leave, or the 30-mile hike you did in Korea sucked, just think about what you’d have to do as a Roman Legionnaire. These guys had to carry their entire kit 90 miles, every day.

This kit included their armor, weapons, shield, and a backpack, which contained the equipment needed to help build camps. Additionally, they had to carry their rations and cooking gear.

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic

Remember this? It would be more regular as a Roman Legionnaire.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Carlin Warren)

Marching cadence

Remember those 90-mile forced marches we mentioned? Imagine your company commander calling cadence the whole time. Well, that’s what Centurions did for their Centuries. They would call, “right, left,” the whole time, starting with the right, of course, because the left was seen as wrong or evil.

That’s why issued rifles are made for right-handed war heroes.

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic

The amount of training probably saved a lot of lives…

(History Answers)

Weapons training

In the Roman Legion, you wake up in the morning and eat breakfast with your seven tent mates and then you do a little weapons training. By a little, we mean a lot. You’re training every morning with your gear and wooden weapons and shields that weigh twice as much as your regular gear, constantly going against your friends to become a much better warrior.

This is a good thing, but you know you complain about three-day field ops. Yes, you do.

The pay was salt

And you thought your steady income and clothing allowance was bad. Granted, the Roman Legion did pay their soldiers but, at the time, salt was worth quite a bit. So, a soldier would get paid in salt.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FEKU9dpJaJTXLq.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.giphy.com&s=0&h=581a4a9fd34cc78e09410d8d43eea0624e3725ff08111e5366544cb8957e5122&size=980x&c=2866231099 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FEKU9dpJaJTXLq.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.giphy.com%26s%3D0%26h%3D581a4a9fd34cc78e09410d8d43eea0624e3725ff08111e5366544cb8957e5122%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2866231099%22%7D” expand=1]

Gunny Hartman would’ve had a great time, though.

The hazing was terrible

If you think your seniors duct-taping a mattress to you and having you take a leap of faith from the third story of your barracks was bad — it was so much worse the Roman Legion.

Remember those annoying Centurions from the marches? They carried a vine branch to whip the disobedient and it was totally okay for them to do so. Getting whipped for stepping out of line is pretty mild considering your friends could stone you to death for being a coward or trying to desert — and that’s only barely scratching the surface of Roman Legion punishments.

Articles

20 private security contractors that hire vets with the skills

WATM recently posted an article (inspired by 13 Hours: The Secret Heroes of Benghazi) about transitioning out of the military into a career in private security contracting.  That feature generated a great deal of interest and discussion. Based on that, we did some intel and came up with this list of 20 private security firms for those interested in taking the next step:


1. GRS

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
Image: YouTube

GRS is the private security contractor that employed the surviving operators who’s personal accounts are featured in 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. GRS is designed to stay in the shadow, work undercover and provide an unobtrusive layer of security for CIA officers in high-risk outposts.

2. ACADEMI

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
ACADEMI operators training. (Image: ACADEMI)

ACADEMI, formerly known as “Blackwater,” was founded by former Navy SEAL Erik Prince in 1997. Prince is famous for explaining his firm’s purpose by stating: “We are trying to do for the national security apparatus what FedEx did for the Postal Service”.

3. SOC

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
Image: SOC

SOC is ranked as one of the global Defense News Top 100 List of defense companies and has provided security services for over a century. It provides security, facility management and operation, engineering, explosive ordnance storage and disposal, international logistics and life support services. Customers include the U.S. Department of State, Energy, Defense and Fortune 500 companies.

4. Triple Canopy

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
Image: Triple Canopy

Triple Canopy was founded by former U.S. Army Special Forces operators and today, more than 80 percent of its employees have served in the U.S. military. Most of its security specialist positions require experience in military operations, military police, security police, emergency medicine and more.

5. Aegis

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
Image: Aegis

Aegis security and risk management company serves over 60 countries around the world with clients including governments, international agencies and corporations. Aegis runs a global network of offices, contracts, and associates and provide security from corporate operations to counter-terrorism.

6. Blue Hackle

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
Image: Blue Hackle

Blue Hackle is a security contractor to multiple sectors including oil and gas, mining, construction, and governments. They provide stability to commercial enterprises, as well as developing governments, according to its website.

7. GardaWorld Government Services

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
Image: Garda World

GWGS specializes in protecting U.S. government personnel and interests wherever they’re needed. They train in security, crisis response, risk management and close protection.

8. ICTS International N.V.

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic

ICTS International N.V. was founded in 1982 by security experts, former military commanding officers and veterans of government intelligence and security agencies. They set the standard for the aviation security industry.

9. AKE Group

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
Image: AKE Group

AKE Group provides security and consultant services ranging from emergency evacuation and crisis response to kidnap avoidance. They provide close protection to war reporters, executives and VIPs.

10. G4S

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic

G4S was founded in 1901 in Denmark and today has operations around the world in over 100 countries with more than 611,000 employees. G4S goes where governments can’t—or won’t— maintain order, from oil fields in Africa to airports in Britain and nuclear facilities in the U.S., G4S fills the void. It is the world’s third largest private-sector a employer and commands a force three times the size of the British Military, according to Vanity Fair.

11. Armed Maritime

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
Image: armed maritime security

Armed Maritime Security offers services to commercial and private vessels operating off the east and west coast of Africa, the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. Its board of directors consist of former diplomats, Army and Naval Officers from Britain, Finland and Sweden. Its security teams are drafted from current, serving members and former members of the Swedish, British, Finnish Elite units.

12. Control Risks

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
Image: Control Risk

With operation in over 150 countries around the world, Control Risks provides security services to governments, fortune 500 companies and private citizens. It specializes in cyber, operational, maritime and travel security in hostile areas and actively hires people with experience in military, law enforcement, business consultancy, security services and intelligence.

13. Beni Tal – International Security (BTS)

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
Image: BTS Security

BTS serves military and government organizations with its own private military. It has expertise in guerrilla warfare and non-conventional terrorism and provides solutions for land, air, naval and intelligence forces.

14. Blue Mountain

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
Image: Blue Mountain

Blue Mountain is a UK based private security contractor that specializes in private, government and commercial protection. Its close protection operators are designed to blend seamlessly into family and professional life for true incognito security.

15. Chilport (UK) Limited

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
Image: Chilport

16. Chilport specializes in Canine security and training. It supplies dogs for search and rescue (SAR), drug sniffing, bomb detection and more.

16. GK Sierra

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
Image: Wikimedia

Based in Washington DC and Portland, GK Sierra gathers intelligence for the CIA. It has operators around the world specializing in corporate investigation, intelligence, digital forensics and encryption.

17. Prosegur

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
Image: Prosegu

Prosegur is one of Spain’s leading security contractors with over 158,000 employees around the world. Its clients consist of entities in non-English speaking countries in Asia, Europe, Oceania and Latin America. It specializes in manned guarding, cash in transit and alarms.

18. Andrews International

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
Image: Andrews International

Andrews International is a Los Angeles, CA based company with services around the world. It provides armed and unarmed security to government services and the department of defense.

19. Erinys

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
Image: Erinys

Erinys provides security services to gas, oil, shipping and mining companies in Africa and the Middle East. They provide regional and country expertise by hiring and training locals.

20. International Intelligence Limited

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
Image: International Intelligence Limited

International Intelligence employs former law enforcement, military and intelligence personnel to operate in hostile environments. It offers private investigation, intelligence, surveillance and forensic services to corporations, government agencies, embassies and police forces.

The real vets turned private security operators from the 13 Hours film explain their experience during the attack on Benghazi. The part about being a private security operator starts at 01:15.

Articles

13 funniest military memes for the week of May 19

Another week down, another flurry of military memes from the comedy blizzard that is the internet.


Here are 13 of the funniest we found:

1. Huh. Didn’t know “Queen of the Bees” was a new MOS (via Pop smoke).

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
A couple of stings will remind you that you’re alive pretty quickly.

2. Guess someone is rucking home (via Team Non-Rec).

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
And that’s not how you carry a helmet.

ALSO SEE: 7 things you should know before joining the infantry

3. Sure, you’ll look fabulous until that first splash of hot coolant or grease (via Sh-t my LPO says).

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
Oh, and you don’t look fabulous. You look like an idiot.

4. Pretty unfortunate fortune cookie (via Sh-t my LPO says).

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
Especially if the cruise gets extended.

5. It’s a rough gig. Ages you fast (via Sh-t My Recruiter Said).

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
Not sure how he lost that eye, though.

6. Seriously, every briefing can be done without Powerpoint (via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting).

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
And if you choose to use Powerpoint, at least punch up the briefing with some anecdotes and keep the slide number low.

7. Think the platoon sergeant will notice? (via Team Non-Rec)

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
Just keep your eyes forward and only the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th ranks will see it.

8. God, Romphims took over the military pretty fast (via Weapons of Meme Destruction)

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
Photoshoppers must have been working overtime.

9. We’re all the same. Except for these as-holes (via Weapons of Meme Destruction).

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic

10. It’s all fun and games until someone has to clean up (via Valhalla Wear).

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
Did anyone else notice the uniform change in this meme? You’re Marines while you’re shooting, but you’re Army when you’re cleaning up.

11. Oh yeah? You completed selection and training but decided against the green beret? (via Decelerate Your Life)

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
You can’t refuse Special Forces until they offer you the tab, and no one turns it down right after earning it.

12. “Headhunter 6? Never heard of her.” (via The Salty Soldier)

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic

13. You poor, stupid bastard (via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting).

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
They’re all equally bad.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Sending Tom Hanks get well vibes with this top 10 tribute

Well, the coronavirus got one of our favorites. Oscar winning actor, amazing fun guy and a man who has gone out of his way to bring amazing stories about our American heroes to the screen told us late Wednesday that he and his wife Rita came down with the COVID-19 bug while in Australia.

(Yes, we know there are a lot of stories that need to be covered, but we want to add a little levity too.)


We were putting out an article about the release of the trailer to his new movie Greyhound, which featured some amazing action scenes from the Battle of the Atlantic, and wanted to also give a shoutout to Tom by giving a ranking of his top 10 best films.

This was hard. There are too many good ones and a lot of great characters. Not everyone reading this will be happy. Don’t blame us! Blame Tom for making so many great movies. Before we do, we also have to shout out his great TV career before he even became a big movie star. He was on the Love Boat, had the great show Bosom Buddies, and even had a martial arts fight with Fonzie.

Honorable Mentions

On the list of greats but just missing the cut are Sleepless in Seattle, Bachelor Party, That Thing You Do!, Turner & Hooch, Charlie Wilson’s War, Road to Perdition. All great with some awesome scenes, but as you will see the rest are hard to top.

**There are spoilers, so don’t get mad if you haven’t seen a movie yet and continue to read.**

Big (1988) – Piano Scene

www.youtube.com

Big

When we were kids we all wanted to be grown up. When we grew up, we kinda wished we could be kids again. Arguably, no movie sums this up as well as Big. The great comedy from 1988 had Hanks as Josh Baskin, the kid that made a wish (Zoltar still creeps me out) and grew up overnight. He realized how good he had it and went back to being a kid, but not before giving everyone the two songs they must try to play whenever they see a keyboard.

Fedex – Cast Away Commercial

www.youtube.com

Cast Away

“We never turn our back on it and we never ever allow ourselves the sin of losing track of time.”

The FedEx man who was all about time and efficiency, Hanks’ character Chuck Nolan has the misfortune of becoming a modern-day Robinson Crusoe. Stranded on a deserted island with his thoughts and a volleyball named Wilson, Nolan adapts to life alone before realizing he doesn’t want to die alone.

Also, extra props to FedEx for taking the movie and giving us one of the funniest Super Bowl commercials of all time.

I’m Tired Boss | The Green Mile | SceneScreen

www.youtube.com

The Green Mile

Hanks is masterful as Paul Edgecomb, a death row prison guard who encounters a life-changing man in John Coffey. He initially is dismissive of Coffey and tries to ignore him, although he is still drawn to him. As he gets to know him, he realizes that a mistake has been made and now has to deal with the fallout of what he learned. An allegory of the story of Jesus, the movie has moved many to tears.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2undcZx2MFo
Captain Phillips get rescued by navy seals movie scene

www.youtube.com

Captain Phillips

“Look at me, I’m the captain now!”

The line gave birth to plenty of memes (especially for us military types) but the movie is pretty well done. Hanks plays the title character and delivers an amazing performance of a by-the-book guy that keeps as cool a head as he can when dealing with pirates. As cool as the Navy sniper who made that awesome shot.

Philadelphia (1/8) Movie CLIP – I Have A Case (1993) HD

www.youtube.com

Philadelphia

For his role as Andrew Beckett, Hanks won his first Academy Award. Playing a man dying of AIDS who sues his employer for wrongful termination, Hanks gave a performance of a lifetime while educating the world at the time about the humanity of AIDS sufferers (especially in the LGBT community) in the early 90s. His transformation from a young vibrant man to a dying shell of his former self changed Hanks from the comedic actor of the 80s to the powerhouse thespian that he’s been for the rest of his career.

Apollo 13

youtu.be

Apollo 13

“Houston, we have a problem.”

Playing Jim Lovell, Hanks teams up with Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon to portray the almost disastrous Apollo 13 mission. The special effects and cinematography are amazing, it’s directed by Ron Howard so you know its good, and the rest of the cast back on Earth deliver amazing performances (failure is not an option, right?)—but Hanks is the rock of the movie. Showing steady leadership the entire time, from when things are great, to when the shit hits the fan, to when you just have to sit back and pray, Hanks brings it on home.

There’s No Crying In Baseball [Full Scene HD]

www.youtube.com

A League of Their Own

“There’s no crying in baseball!”

Jimmy Dugan yelling at poor Evelyn is the icing on the cake for probably the best comedic performances of his career. A drunk has-been, Dugan gets the chance at redemption managing a team of female ball players during World War II. The journey from uninterested drunk to cynical doubter to teetotalling motivational manager is pretty fun to watch until Dottie drops the ball.

Toy Story 3 – The Furnace

www.youtube.com

Toy Story (1, 2, 3, and I guess 4)

In a movie that literally changed the way animation was done, Hanks gave us one of the most endearing and lovable animated characters of all time, and then three more times after that. Playing the favorite (until Buzz shows up) toy of Andy, Woody is the boss of his own toy universe. When we were kids, we all imagined how our toys would be if they came to life. We all imagined they would be like Woody. How much did we love him and his buddies… you know you just about lost it at that scene in Toy Story 3, don’t lie.

Bubba Goes Home – Forrest Gump (4/9) Movie CLIP (1994) HD

www.youtube.com

Forrest Gump

You can say Pulp Fiction should have won Best Picture that year. You can say Jenny is a truly evil person. You can say that the movie is overly sentimental. But who cares? It is still an amazing film that shows the journey of America through the life of a simpleton. Hanks is a ping pong player, runner, star football player, shrimp boat captain, and a whole bunch of other things.

But his portrayal of a soldier in Vietnam and his relationships with his friends Bubba and Lt. Dan resonates with every veteran. Holding one buddy in his arms as he dies and being there for another as he lives is a journey most of us can relate to.

Saving Private Ryan (1998) Epic Opening Scene

www.youtube.com

Saving Private Ryan

“Earn this.”

That. Opening. Scene. There have been plenty of great war movies over the years, but this one made you feel as if you were there. The opening was so powerful some D-Day veterans had to take a step outside. In the midst of that opening, we are introduced to Captain John Miller. Miller is the guy we wish was our Commanding Officer and the guy we would follow into combat. Follow, because as a true Ranger, he led the way up until the very end. Hanks’ portrayal as the teacher turned warrior is his best performance to date.

So what’s your favorite Tom Hanks movie?

Comment and let us know!

And feel better Tom and Rita!!!

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard team up to rescue fisherman in the Pacific

Earlier in October, the Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard worked together to save the life of a 73-year-old mariner in the Pacific Ocean.

In the morning hours of October 2, the Lady Alice, an 84-foot commercial fishing vessel sent out an emergency message. It was sailing approximately 150 miles east of Hawaii when one of its crew got sick. The victim’s fellow sailors notified the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, that the 73-year-old man was suffering from what appeared to be a stroke.


Despite administering medication to the victim, his shipmates were concerned that his situation might deteriorate. It was then decided that a team of Pararescuemen would jump next to Lady Alice and provide emergency medical care to the man.

A few hours later, three PJs from the 129th Rescue Wing jumped with their gear from an Air Force HC-130 Combat Talon II and then boarded the fishing vessel. Upon assessing the patient, the Air Commandos determined that he needed more advanced care and that a medical evacuation was necessary. The Navy was then called in, and an MH-60 Seahawk chopper from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 37 transported the patient directly to the hospital.

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic

Pararescuemen assigned to the California Air National Guard 129th Rescue Wing transfer a patient from an HH-60G helicopter to land-based medical facilities. This image shows an older rescue by the unit (U.S. Air Force).

“One of the greatest difficulties when dealing with cases in the Pacific is distance,” said Michael Cobb, command duty officer for Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu in a press release.
“This is why partnerships with our fellow armed services are so important out here. The Coast Guard, Navy, and Air Force all have different capabilities and through teamwork, we were able to aid a mariner in need.”

Throughout the operation, a Coast Guard HC-130 from Air Station Barbers Point provided regular weather updates and general support.

The 129th Rescue Wing is part of the California National Guard.

This is another successful non-combat rescue operation for the Air Force’s Pararescuemen. Recently, and in two separate incidents, PJs saved a man and his daughter and a teen hiker who had gotten lost in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest.

This rescue operation showcased the interoperability between the three services, an interoperability that becomes ever more relevant and important. Great Power Competition (GPC) is the era of warfare, in which Russia, in the shorter term, and China, in the longer term, are the main threats to U.S. national security.

China currently fields the largest navy in the world. Although the U.S. Navy is aiming at a 500-ship fleet by 2045, it will be some time before that strategic vision turns into an operational capability. As a result, inter-service cooperation and interoperability are of the essence to enhance the overall effectiveness of the military.

The victim was the master of the Lady Alice. In a ship, a master is responsible for navigation. The rank used to exist in the Navy as well (it was a warrant officer position) but has long been replaced by the currently active rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade.

The rank of Master also appears in the popular film “Master and Commander,” starring Russel Crowe which takes place in the Napoleonic Wars. That version of the rank, which was between the rank of Lieutenant and Post Captain, was active in the Royal Navy during the Age of Sail and was given to officers who commanded a ship not large enough to merit a master or a captain (in rank).

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


MIGHTY HISTORY

Why the US used an island-hopping campaign in World War II

In World War II’s Pacific Theater, the United States had a big problem: the operating area was humongous. In one sense, it’s no surprise — the Pacific is the world’s largest ocean and they needed to get across that ocean in order to defeat Japan. But Japan had also occupied a lot of bases in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands during the inter-war period (and illegally fortified them). Finally, the Allies needed a way to deal with the fierce Japanese force, but they needed to do so without endangering the “Germany first” grand strategy for defeating the Axis.

This problem proved extremely difficult. The Japanese, at Guadalcanal, in the Philippines, and elsewhere, had proven to be fierce fighters on the ground. It was painfully obvious that fighting island to island on a campaign across the Pacific would take a lot of time and cost many lives. But at the same time, the Japanese bases had to be neutralized.

In 1943, after Guadalcanal had been cleared, Admiral William F. Halsey and General Douglas MacArthur began planning the next phase of the offensive in the massive ocean, with the ultimate objective of taking out Rabaul, Japan’s major base in the south Pacific.


The first plan they came up with would have required additional forces drawn from efforts in Europe. That, of course, didn’t fly with politicians.

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic

Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers fly over an atoll in the Pacific during the island-hopping campaign.

(US Navy)

Instead, the answer to the Pacific question was to grab a few key bases and then use air power and submarines to cut off the other Japanese installations from resupply and reinforcement. The term for this was “island hopping” or “leapfrogging.”

There were two primary benefits to this strategy: First, it could be accomplished with fewer troops. Second, it meant the cut-off enemy forces couldn’t be pulled back to reinforce important objectives, like the Philippines.

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic

Bases seized by the Allies were used to launch strikes that targeted enemy supply lines. One of the most famous actions was the Battle of the Bismarck Sea.

(USAF)

The targeted bases in the island-happen campaign were selected for two purposes: First, they were the jumping-off points for the next “hops” towards Japan. Second, they served as bases for forces that had the job of plastering the now-isolated garrisons left behind. This was what John Glenn did while serving in World War II.

While plans originally called for capturing Rabaul, the decision was made to bypass it after successfully seizing some other locations where Allied forces could build airfields.

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic

John Glenn’s World War II service included a combat tour striking bypassed Japanese garrisons in the F4U Corsair.

(US Navy)

The island-hopping strategy worked. In less than four years, the United States had forced Japan’s surrender. While much of history focuses on the hotly-debated use of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the ability for America to deliver those weapons hinged on some very strategic leapfrogging.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Marines hold rifle and pistol competition on Okinawa

The competition allowed Marines stationed in Japan to test and enhance their shooting abilities.

“The concept of every Marine a rifleman goes back to our basics,” said Sgt. Christian Lee Burdette, an ordinance maintenance chief with Marine Corps Installations Pacific. “We learn basic infantry skills before we learn our military occupational specialty. Every Marine in general has the capabilities to engage any threat with a weapon. With this training, it provides that confidence for a Marine to engage effectively.”


The first day of the competition included a brief morning class to brush the competitors up on their marksmanship knowledge followed by competitors zeroing their rifles. Zeroing is the process of calibrating the rifle combat optic, so the weapon is accurate to where the shooter is aiming. The shooters’ zero is essential, as a faulty zero can disrupt a shooters’ ability to hit their target.

The following week allowed the shooters to practice the various courses of fire. To complete certain courses, the shooters were forced to shoot with their off-hand and eye.

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic

U.S. Marines competing in the Far East Marksmanship Competition engage targets at Range 18 on Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan Dec. 13, 2018.

(Photo by Pfc. Brennan Beauton)

“It puts you into unknown situations, instead of just shooting on a flat range and known distances,” said Sgt. Shane Holum, an emergency service crew chief with MCIPAC. “You have multiple targets and you are shooting and moving. You have to work through problems and malfunctions.”

The final week was for score. All of the shooters’ shots were marked and recorded. Marines were able to compete as an individual, a team, or both. Each shooter had to complete the standard Marine Corps rifle and pistol qualification course along with other courses. The additional courses required shooters to fire and maneuver obstacles, and switch weapons while engaging targets at different distances.

Sixteen teams competed on Dec. 13, 2018, in a rifle and pistol competition. To enter and compete as a team, each team must include four shooters. A team must have an officer and a first time shooter. The first time shooter must be at least a noncommissioned officer.

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic

A U.S. Marine shooter and spotters assess the target in the Team Pistol Match finals at Range 1 on Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan Dec. 13, 2018.

(Photo by Pfc. Brennan Beauton)

“Any command that is stationed on Okinawa or mainland Japan can come out to the competition,” said Staff Sgt. Stephen Ferguson, an instructor and competitor for the Marine Corps Shooting Team. “You can bring as large as a team as you want, or bring a single shooter. Either way, you can come out and compete.”

The Marine Corps Base Camp Butler’s team won the team rifle competition. The Communication Strategy and Operations Company on Camp Hansen won the team pistol competition, the same day the unit became officially activated. On Dec. 14, 2018, the MCB rifle team was presented with the Calvin A. Lloyd Memorial Trophy, and the CommStrat pistol team was presented with the Shively Trophy.

“Annual qualification is once a year,” said Sgt. Cameron Patrick, an instructor and competitor for the Marine Corps Shooting Team. “Shooting is a very perishable skill so we want you to not just do the qualification, but to try and get out and practice on your own time. Actually refine your skills by yourself. Don’t wait for that one year to come around.”

The top 10 percent of shooters are invited to participate in the United States Marine Corps Marksmanship Championship Competition in Quantico, Virginia, in April 2019. From there they will be evaluated to see if the individual has the qualities of becoming a member of the Marine Corps Shooting Team, according to Patrick.

The Far East Competition is held annually on Okinawa. Marines that want to participate are encouraged to sign up early as slots fill up quickly.

This article originally appeared on the United States Marine Corps. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The insane victory that inspired the Confederate army’s only medal

The Confederate Army had better things to do than decide how it would award medals to its fighting men. In that era, Americans weren’t really into medals and ribbons, as it was considered a very European military tradition. The Civil War changed all that. The brutality of the war, combined with the feats of heroics performed by those who fought it inspired the need for such awards.

That being said, the Confederacy had its heroes as well, but aside from a Confederate Congressional “Roll of Honor,” nothing much was ever done in terms of awards and decorations – until the Second Battle of Sabine Pass.


5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic

Sabine Pass is a small outlet from Lake Sabine that pours into the Gulf of Mexico, bordering both Texas and Louisiana. During the Civil War, it was a lightly defended Western outpost, far from the central fighting of the war. As a result, the shoddy earthwork fortifications at the pass had mostly old smoothbore cannon to defend it, eight guns in total. But then the French installed a pro-French Emperor in Mexico, opening the possibility for Confederate supplies to reach Mexico by rail, then onto Europe under French-flagged ships, completely circumventing the Union blockade and providing the South with crucial money, arms, and supplies.

The Union sent 5,000 troops, 18 transports, and four armed gunboats to capture the pass and cut the South off from French Mexico. Defending the fort were the Jeff Davis Guards, named for the Confederate President, 47 Irish immigrants from bigger cities in Texas, and well-trained and drilled artillerymen. This was the largest amphibious assault ever taken by the United States until this point so you’d think the Union would have come prepared. You’d be wrong. So wrong.

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic

Only the lightest of the Union ships could enter the river, due to the shallow nature of the entryway. Four steamers and 150 Union sharpshooters were to cross the sandbars then take out the fort and its guns so the rest of the Union force could take the town and then move on to Houston. That never happened. Instead, accurate cannon fire from the fort hit one of the steamers in her boiler, disabling another and grounding the USS Arizona. The two ships surrendered, and the rest of the invasion force ended up running back to New Orleans.

In all, the battle last 45 minutes. The Davis Guards fired 137 rounds from their eight guns, dwarfing the Union’s rate of fire and ensuring those guns couldn’t be used for weeks after the battle. The handful of Confederates then went to capture the Union troops on the disabled ships, taking 315 Union troops prisoner. The Union forces suffered a further 19 killed and nine wounded at the cost of zero casualties to the Confederates. It was the most lopsided victory of the war.

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic

Richard Dowling, commander of the Davis Guards, wearing his medal.

Grateful Texans decided to reward the men for not only staying at their posts in the face of overwhelming odds, but for actually winning. They cast medals from Mexican silver coins, engraving “DG” on one side with a Malta Cross and the date of the battle on the other. It was hung on the uniform by a green ribbon, representing the Irish heritage of the fort’s defenders. In all, 47 were awarded to the men, with two more awarded to their officers, and one struck just for their namesake, Jefferson Davis. Davis ensured the Confederate Congress authorized the medal for wear, the only medal so authorized.

The President had his on him when he was captured after the war’s end.

MIGHTY TRENDING

N. Korea put US college student in terminal coma – then charged the US $2 million

North Korea demanded $2 million from the US for medical care provided to Otto Warmbier, a US college student who was detained in Pyongyang, where the young man slipped into a mysterious coma from which he would never awake, the Washington Post’s Anna Fifield reports.

North Korea required the US to agree to paying the $2 million before releasing Warmbier, according to The Post, but the bill went unpaid immediately after Warmbier’s return.

North Korea sentenced Warmbier to 15 years of hard labor in the country’s notorious prison camps that harbor thousands of political prisoners. His alleged crime was trying to take a poster from a hotel. North Korea deemed this a “hostile act against the state.”


He was released in the summer of 2017 after several rounds of negotiations with the North Koreans. When Joseph Yun, the State Department’s go-to guy on North Korea at that time, and Michael Flueckiger, a doctor, arrived in the North Korean capital, they were surprised to find that negotiations were far from over as Warmbier lay unresponsive in a North Korean intensive care unit.

“I didn’t realize what a negotiation it was going to be to secure his release,” Flueckiger reportedly said, explaining that the North Koreans expected him to write a report on the care Warmbier had received. While the doctor dealt with that issue, Yun was being handed a million medical bill.

North Korea billed US million for care of Otto Warmbier

www.youtube.com

Yun called then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who called President Donald Trump. Yun was instructed to sign off on the bill, two sources told The Post.

Warmbier’s family celebrated the boy’s return, but that joy was short lived. Warmbier died shortly after returning, as doctors saw no way to save him.

North Korea claimed Warmbier contracted botulism and went into a coma after taking a pill to help him sleep, despite reports that he was tortured. At the time, doctors examining Warmbier found no evidence of physical abuse. Flueckiger reported that the Warmbier had received “really good care,” an observation the Warmbier family disputes.

“Would I have lied to get him out of there? Maybe I would have. But I didn’t have to answer that question,” he revealed.

The president previously tweeted that Otto “was tortured beyond belief by North Korea.”

Later, Trump would take Kim’s word for it that he had no knowledge of anything bad happening to Warmbier. This prompted a firey rebuke from the Warmbiers.

Fred and Cindy Warmbier, Otto’s parents, sued North Korea over their son’s untimely death. A US judge ruled in their favor, stressing that it was appropriate to punish North Korea for the “torture, hostage taking and extrajudicial killing of Otto Warmbier.”

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

Articles

The Navy made these incredible photos to show present day Pearl Harbor compared to the day of the attack

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
The Mahan-class destroyer USS Shaw explodes in the background after the attack on Pearl Harbor. U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan


On Dec. 7, 1941, the US Naval fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii suffered a devastating attack from the air and sea.

The Japanese assault began at 7:48 a.m., resulting in the death of 2,402 Americans, numerous injuries, the sinking of four battleships and damage to many more. Surprised US service members who normally may have slept in on that Sunday morning, or enjoyed some recreation, instead found themselves fighting for their lives.

Now, 74 years later, the US Navy is remembering the “day of infamy” with a series of photographs that compare scenes from that horrifying day to the present.

Defenders on Ford Island watch for planes during the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan

The battleship USS California burns in the foreground as the battleship USS Arizona burns in the background after the initial attack on Pearl Harbor.

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan

Defenders on Ford Island watch for planes during the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan

Sailors on Ford Island look on as the Mahan-class destroyer USS Shaw explodes in the background.

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan

A view of the historic Ford Island control tower from 1941. The tower was once used to guide airplanes at the airfield on the island and is now used as an aviation library.

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan

The Mahan-class destroyer USS Shaw explodes in the background after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan

The battleship USS Arizona burns in the background during the attack on Pearl Harbor as viewed from Ford Island.

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan

Hangar 6 on Ford Island stands badly damaged after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

5 things to know about Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic
U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan