Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage

A former U.S. Army’s Special Forces officer has been arrested in Alexandria, VA, and charged with passing secrets of American military units and personnel to the Russian military intelligence arm (GRU) for over a decade.

Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins, 45, was recruited by Russian intelligence operatives as he considered himself a “son of Russia,” according to a 17-page indictment that was released after his arrest.


John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security said that,

“Debbins violated his oath as a U.S. Army officer, betrayed the Special Forces and endangered our country’s national security by revealing classified information to Russian intelligence officers, providing details of his unit, and identifying Special Forces team members for Russian intelligence to try to recruit as a spy [sic]. Our country put its highest trust in this defendant, and he took that trust and weaponized it against the United States.”

Debbins is the second person this week charged by the Justice Department for transmitting U.S. secrets to a foreign country. In the other case, a former CIA officer in Hawaii (Alexander Yuk Ching Ma) was arrested and charged with spying for China.

Debbins first agreed to spy for Russia back in 1996 when he was an ROTC cadet. His mother had been born in the former Soviet Union and Debbins told Russian GRU operatives who were trying to recruit him that he considered himself “a son of Russia.” He had told his Russian handlers that he considered the United States “too dominant” in world matters and that it “needed to be cut down to size.”

The GRU gave Debbins the code name “Ikar Lesnikov.”

In 1997 he married a Russian woman, the daughter of a Russian military officer from the Russian city of Chelyabinsk.

After graduating from the University of Minnesota and being assigned to a Chemical Co. in Korea, Debbins returned to Russia. He briefed his handlers on his unit, its mission, and personnel during a subsequent visit to Russia.

He offered to take a polygraph test for his handlers when they asked if he was working for an American intelligence agency. He told them that he wished to leave the military, but they encouraged him to stay. They further urged Debbins to apply for and join the Special Forces. He was told that “he was of no use to the Russian intelligence service as an infantry commander.” Debbins passed Special Forces Selection (SFAS) and the qualification course (SFQC) and was assigned as a captain in the 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (1-10 SFG).

On another trip to Russia, he briefed his GRU contacts about his SF unit, its personnel, locations, and mission. Debbins had his security clearance suspended and command of his A-Team revoked for an unspecified security violation in 2004 or 2005. He then left the military in 2005 with an honorable discharge, according to the indictment.

In subsequent meetings with his GRU handlers, Debbins disclosed information about his unit’s deployments to Azerbaijan and Georgia that were deemed “SECRET/NOFORN.” Debbins also gave the GRU the names of his former team members knowing that the Russians sought the “information for the purpose of evaluating whether to approach the team members to see if they would cooperate with the Russian intelligence service.” He also passed the names of two American counter-intelligence agents who tried to recruit him for an operation.

Once his active duty service was over he began to work for a Ukrainian steel company in Minnesota through his Russian contacts. He remained a member of the Reserves until 2010. During this time his security clearance was reinstated by an Army adjudicator, although he was warned that his family and business connections to Russia might make him “the target of a foreign intelligence service.”

Debbins was a “true believer” and not motivated by monetary gains. In fact, when the Russians (who are notoriously cheap in the intelligence world when it comes to paying agents) offered him id=”listicle-2647079043″,000 he initially declined it stating that he “loved and was committed to Russia.” He only reluctantly accepted the money as “gratitude for his assistance to the Russian intelligence service.” At a 2003 meeting, he was given a bottle of Cognac and a Russian military uniform.

The Justice Department did not divulge how it came to know that Debbins was spying for Russia. His last contact with his handlers was in 2011 when he told them that moved to the D.C. area (Gainesville, VA).

He will be indicted formally on Monday. He faces life imprisonment if convicted.

“The facts alleged in this case are a shocking betrayal by a former Army officer of his fellow soldiers and his country,” Alan E. Kohler Jr., FBI Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division, said in a statement.

The entire indictment can be read here.

This article originally appeared on SOFREP. Follow @sofrepofficial on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 10 most popular US states for off-the-grid living, according to HomeAdvisor

HomeAdvisor has identified the 10 most popular US states for living off the grid.

The home improvement site used an algorithm to comb through Instagram posts tagged #offgridliving, focusing on posts with location data, to identify where off-gridders are congregating.

Off-grid living involves disconnecting from the electric grid and pursuing an independent lifestyle without relying on municipal services like water supply.


Not all off-gridders are showcasing their life on social media, HomeAdvisor acknowledges, but the #offgridliving hashtag is a good place to go “hunting for signs of life” in the off-grid community, the company said.

Motivations of casual off-gridders vary but generally include wanting to “get away from it all for a while” and lead an “eco-conscious life,” HomeAdvisor wrote.

Here, in ascending order, are the 10 most popular US states for off-grid living, according to HomeAdvisor.

Editor’s note: The legality of living off-grid can vary by county within a given state, so be sure to check local laws if you’re thinking of going off-grid.

10. New York

ercentage of #offgridliving posts: 3.46%

Off-grid tip: Diane Vuković, an author and writer for the blog Primal Survivor who regularly updates a list of off-grid laws relating to water, electric, and waste in each of the 50 states, deemed New York “one of the strictest” when it comes to regulations.

“However, this does not mean it is impossible to go off-grid in New York,” she said. “It just means that you will likely have to do a lot more research to find a place where off-grid living is allowed and get numerous permits, licenses, and inspections.”

Source: HomeAdvisor

9. New Mexico

Percentage of #offgridliving posts: 3.71%

Off-grid tip: The Earthship Biotecture in Taos, New Mexico, is an off-grid community that has made headlines over the years for its eye-catching designs. Founded by Michael Reynolds in the 1970s, it consists of self-sufficient, solar-powered homes and buildings made with upcycled material like car tires and glass.

Source: HomeAdvisor

8. Utah

Percentage of #offgridliving posts: 3.73%

Off-grid tip: Utah Homestead Properties, a brokerage specializing in self-sufficient homes, highlights Utah’s vast wilderness, affordable real estate prices, and “independent, self-sufficient mindset” as reasons why the state is a great place to set up an off-grid life. The arid climate and extreme temperatures require off-gridders to get creative about heating and cooling, but there are “lots” of builders in the state that understand how to work around these challenges, the company writes on its website.

Source: HomeAdvisor

7. Alaska

Percentage of #offgridliving posts: 4.14%

Off-grid tip: Alaska’s microgrid laws are “very progressive,” Vuković wrote for Primal Survivor. “However, off-grid solar may not be feasible in many areas of the state where there isn’t much daylight during winter,” she added.

Source: HomeAdvisor

6. Florida

Percentage of #offgridliving posts: 4.24%

Off-grid tip: Reports of a woman who was evicted from her off-grid home in Cape Coral, Florida, back in 2016 have contributed to the belief that off-grid living is illegal in Florida, according to Vuković and the blog Off Grid World.

“Many people have exaggerated on a story going around the internet that Florida doesn’t allow off grid living, but the story is completely false,” Off Grid World wrote in a recently updated post.

In reality, living off-grid in Florida is legal: Residents can set up off-grid solar power systems, collect rainwater, and with permission, install compost toilets, Vuković wrote.

Source: HomeAdvisor

5. Hawaii

Percentage of #offgridliving posts: 4.46%

Off-grid tip: “Although unplugging from public utilities isn’t practical everywhere, the mild temperatures; abundance of sunshine, wind, and rain; and fertile soil make Hawaii an attractive place to go off grid,” LiAnne Yu wrote for Hawaii Business magazine in November 2017.

The Big Island, or Hawaii Island, is home to several established off-grid communities. “Living off the land here is a way of life,” Sean Jennings wrote of the Big Island on his blog Homesteadin’ Hawaii.

Source: HomeAdvisor

4. Oregon

Percentage of #offgridliving posts: 7.37%

Off-grid tip: One of Oregon’s notable off-grid communities is the gated Three Rivers Recreation Area. Spanning 4,000 acres near the Metolius River arm of Lake Billy Chinook, it comes with its own marina and airstrip. It is home to 600 properties and between 75 and 80 full-time residents, according to Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty.

Source: HomeAdvisor

3. Arizona

Percentage of #offgridliving posts: 8.64%

Off-grid tip: In 2019, early retirees Steve and Courtney Adcock settled down at an off-grid home in the Arizona desert powered by solar. “Residential solar energy systems aren’t cheap, but they are game-changers,” Steve wrote in a blog post. “Solar power systems save money in the long run, include a tax credit in the US and, of course, it’s clean energy. We love not having an electric bill.”

Source: HomeAdvisor

2. Colorado

Percentage of #offgridliving posts: 9.57%

Off-grid tip: A popular Colorado destination that draws a steady steam of novice and veteran off-gridders is San Luis Valley in Alamosa County, Tom McGhee reported for The Denver Post. “Mountains carve the sky in all directions, and the promise of cheap land and life beyond the confines of civilization lures many. It is dream land beyond the reach of electricity and other infrastructure considered necessary by most,” he wrote.

Source: HomeAdvisor

1. California

Percentage of #offgridliving posts: 12.91%

“If you live in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or San Diego, you may well have an off-gridding Instagram-user right next door,” HomeAdvisor wrote of the most popular state for off-grid living, according to its report.

HomeAdvisor describes the #offgridliving asethetic as a happy medium between a plugged-in life and homesteading. “You’ll still find baskets of eggs, but they’re surrounded by bushcraft knives, off-road vehicles, and ornate water filtration systems,” the company said.

Source: HomeAdvisor

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


MIGHTY TRENDING

Army Private’s Medal of Honor sold for more than $15,000 by German auction house

A Medal of Honor awarded to an Army infantryman for heroism during the Spanish-American War has been sold for $14,000 euros, or nearly $15,500, a Munich-based auction house confirmed Thursday.

The sale comes after advocates including Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and the National Medal of Honor Museum staged a late campaign to stop the auctioning of the medal, saying it damaged the dignity of the nation’s highest award for combat valor. It belonged to Pvt. Thomas Kelly, who earned it in 1898 while fighting in Santiago, Cuba.


But the German auction house Hermann-Historica, which is not bound by U.S. law, went through with the sale. The listing site shows just one bid; the medal ultimately went for four times the starting bid of 3,000 euros.

Bernhard Pacher, managing director of Hermann-Historica, told Stars and Stripes that he had previously sold four Medals of Honor, and added that the seller was a private individual “looking to beef up his pension.”

Reached for comment Thursday, a Hermann-Historica employee confirmed the medal’s sale but asked that further queries be sent by email. An emailed query did not receive an immediate response.

While the sale and barter of the Medal of Honor is illegal in the U.S., the law is not binding on international sellers.

Dave Knaus, a spokesman for the National Medal of Honor Museum, told Military.com that the museum is looking into who bought the medal and contemplating future steps. He said the museum is currently compiling historical data on other medals that have gone missing or changed hands.

Efforts to locate a surviving relative of Kelly, who died in 1920, had not been successful, Knaus said.

According to Kelly’s medal citation, he “gallantly assisted with the rescue of the wounded from in front of the lines and while under heavy fire from the enemy.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

South Korea scrambles to intercept Chinese fighters

South Korea scrambled fighter jets after five Chinese military aircraft entered the country’s Air Defense Identification Zone, or KADIZ, on Dec. 18.


The deployment of two Chinese bombers, two fighters jets, and a reconnaissance plane follows South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

A South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff official said the Chinese planes entered Korea-claimed airspace from the southwest — and also flew into Japan’s Air Defense Identification Zone, or JADIZ, South Korean newspaper Maeil Business reported.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage
An armed Chinese fighter jet flies near a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon patrol aircraft over the South China Sea about 135 miles east of Hainan Island in international airspace. (U.S. Navy Photo)

“After our military noticed the aircraft approaching the KADIZ from the west, we used a hotline with the Chinese military to confirm whether or not it was Chinese military aircraft, and to take countermeasures,” the South Korean official said.

South Korea scrambled F-15K and KF-16 fighter jets in response to the incoming flights — two Chinese H-6 fighter jets, two J-11 fighters, and one TU-154 reconnaissance aircraft.

Chinese aircraft last flew in Korea-claimed airspace on Jan. 9, when they deployed six H-6K bombers, a KJ-200, a propeller airborne early warning and control aircraft, and a Y-9 reconnaissance plane.

Also Read: China’s version of the F-15 Strike Eagle is a huge ripoff

The Chinese flights came as Beijing’s foreign ministry said the summit between Xi and Moon was a “success,” South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the two sides agreed to “improve and develop the relationship” and to “respect the interests of our neighbors.”

The summit in Beijing was eclipsed by brutal beatings of South Korean photojournalists, which were met with protests in Seoul.

“Chinese security guards kicked Korean journalists in the face and engaged in a group attack,” protesters said Dec. 15. “It is a barbarous act, and it is hard to believe it could happen in a civilized country.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Navy chief goes home on medical support mission

For some, reunion is a simple and hollow engagement ­— existing in great frequency, and holding little weight on an individual’s life. For others, it is a sought-after moment, a serendipitous experience that is immediately followed by the feel of a warm embrace and serenaded by sobs of joy. The latter has the undeniable potential of being a rock-solid memory, one that would never be forgotten. This feeling is amplified considerably when someone reunites with the one place that gives them all the comfort and joy in the world; home.


In this case, Chief Personnel Specialist Angie Burns, from Cali, Colombia, reunited with the country of her birth when the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) arrived in Turbo, Colombia, Nov. 14, 2018. Burns was born in Cali, Colombia, several hours south of Turbo, and feels that this mission is important to her and all of her countrymen.

“It’s a great experience for me to see all of this,” said Burns. “I always hear about missions like this, but I haven’t done one yet. Especially coming down to Colombia where I know there are so many people in need.”

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage

Chief Personnel Specialist Angie Burns shows Juan Sebastian, a Colombian boy and former patient, a map during his tour of the hospital ship USNS Comfort, in celebration of his 10th birthday.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jacob Waldrop)

In 1994, Burns moved to the U.S. to follow her mother when she was 13 years old. She lived in New Jersey in her mother’s home and in the community. She barely spoke English before joining the Navy in 1999.

“I was not really exposed to it that much,” said Burns. “All of my friends spoke Spanish. All of my friends were Colombians. You always find the comfort zone and the comfort zone for me was to still be around Colombians and people who spoke Spanish. So, there wasn’t really a need for me to speak English prior to the Navy, because everyone spoke Spanish.”

Fast-forward 19 years and Burns is underway with Comfort supporting Enduring Promise 2018 as the deputy dispersing officer. Along with her daily duties of managing money for the ship and the crew, Burns found a niche that has been highly sought after on the mission; translating for Comfort’s leadership.

Any part she can do to help the Comfort team work to complete the mission at hand, she is happy to support.

“The mission is mainly a medical mission and I am not in that field,” said Burns. “I can’t take someone’s blood pressure. But, it’s an honor to be out here and helping whoever needs it with the little bit I can give to the mission.”

Burns has enjoyed her time being back in Colombia and believes that this mission has been making a great impact on people’s lives in this part of the world.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage

Chief Personnel Specialist Angie Burns gives Juan Sebastian, a Colombian boy and former patient, Task Force 49 patch during his tour of the hospital ship USNS Comfort, in celebration of his 10th birthday.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jacob Waldrop)

“I spoke to some of the patients and they are so grateful,” said Burns. “They don’t get tired of telling you how grateful they are. One day, a little boy was onboard and I was translating for him. Everywhere he and his mother went, they kept saying they were so grateful and thanking everyone for everything we were doing for her son. I think that we are making a great difference.”

In a couple of days, Burns will say, “goodbye” to Colombia and will continue to support the Enduring Promise mission in Honduras during Comfort’s next scheduled mission stop.

Comfort is on an 11-week medical support mission to Central and South America as part of U.S. Southern Command’s Enduring Promise initiative. Working with health and government partners in Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, and Honduras, the embarked medical team will provide care on board and at land-based medical sites, helping to relieve pressure on national medical systems caused partly by an increase in cross-border migrants. The deployment reflects the United States’ enduring promise of friendship, partnership and solidarity with the Americas.

This article originally appeared on the United States Navy. Follow @USNavy on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is what your wardrobe on mandatory fun days says about you

For better or worse, you’re going to find out basically everything about your brothers- and sisters-in-arms. The longer you serve with them — the more field ops, the more deployments, and the more random BS — the more you’re going to learn all the tiny, little details about your fellow troops.

But if you want a crash course on the personal life of any other troop, look no further than how they dress whenever they’re given the option to show up in civvies instead of the uniform. Sometimes it’s at the recall formation at 0200 on Saturday morning and everyone’s just rolled out of bed. But when it’s a “mandatory fun” day with the unit, troops tend to get a bit… uh… creative with their wardrobe selection.

Here’s what your choice of mando-fun outfit says about you.


Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage

Look at them. Being all successful and sh*t.

(U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Aux. Barry Novakoff.)

Average civilian clothes 

Nothing really stands out about this troop. They’re probably the type to stay in, honorably discharge, get into a nice school under the GI Bill, and become a productive member of society. There’s nothing really bad you could say about them but, man, these guys are boring as hell.

They may fit in with world when they’re on leave, but in the unit, they’re the odd one out — because they’re not what society considers odd like the rest of us.

There’s a 50% chance that all of these guys’ military stories are about other (more interesting) people.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage

They’re probably 98% more likely to also being too lazy to even change from the work day before…

(U.S. Army photo)

Basically the uniform, but with blue jeans and without the top

If this troop has been in any longer than one pay period beyond basic training and still dresses like they’re barely satisfying the minimum requirement to be “out of uniform,” then they’re lazy as f*ck. The longer this troop has been in, the less of an excuse they have — they get a clothing allowance that specifically includes extra cash for civilian clothes.

It’s literally the one time the military gives you money and says, “go buy yourself something nice” and this troop wasted it on booze, video games, or strippers.

These bums have a 98% chance of asking you to spot them until payday, saying they can “totally” get you back (but never will).

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage

If they do wear a kilt in formation, they have a 100% chance of asking you, “do you know the difference between a kilt and a skirt?” before mooning you.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by SSgt. Marc R. Ayalin)

Over-the-top, ridiculous clothing

This troop has been eagerly awaiting the moment they’re told they can wear civilian clothes. This dude is the platoon’s joker while in uniform, so don’t expect that to change when they’re given the freedom to wear whatever.

You can never really predict what they’re going to show up in. Maybe they’ll wear a Halloween costume in April. Maybe they’ll show up in a fully-traditional kilt. Maybe they’ll just wear that mankini thing from Borat.

These bros also have a 69% chance of repeating a joke if you don’t laugh at it, insisting that you must have missed it the first time two times.

Overtly moto clothes

It’s not entirely uncommon for troops to start up clothing lines when they leave the service. Hell, we even got into the veteran-humor t-shirt game to help pay the bills. Warning: shameless self-promotion here.

But there’s just something odd about troops who wear overly-Hooah, I’m-a-Spartan-sheepdog-who-became-the-Grim-Reaper-for-your-freedoms shirt when everyone in the unit knows you’re a POG who just got to the unit. We’re not knocking the shirt (because that’s something we should probably start selling sooner or later…) but, you’re not fooling anyone.

These boots are 1% likely to actually be a grunt.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage

This was your first sergeant ten years ago… and ten days ago…

Same style you had before you enlisted

That moment you enlist is probably the last time you really give a damn about clothing styles. So, your closet is (probably) still full of clothes that you might get around to wearing some day. We get it. But it gets kinda sad the longer you’ve been in the military.

Dressing like a background actor in Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8r Boi” music video may have been cool back in the day, but when you see a salty, old first sergeant try to rock that look it’s… just depressing.

These dudes have a 75% chance of reaching 10 years, saying, “what’s another 10 anyways?” to themselves, and immediately regretting that decision.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage

Civilian clothes don’t have a standard, but if they did…

(U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. John Ross)

Business casual with a “high and tight”

When the commander puts out the memo saying troops can wear whatever they want as long as they’re in formation, these guys kind of break down. Freedom of choice is a foreign concept to them.

What they chose to wear is, essentially, another kind of uniform: a muted-color polo tucked into a pair of ironed khakis, a brown belt, and loafers — and maybe a branch hat that they picked up at the PX because they’d have an anxiety attack if the open wind touched their bare head.

This guy has a 99.99% chance of also trying enforce some sort of clothing standard when there isn’t even a need for it.

Articles

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

For five years, Muqtada al-Sadr’s personal insurgent army fought American troops during the Iraq War and commited heinous crimes against Iraq Sunni minorities. Now, a decade later, the Shia cleric’s Sairoon Alliance is leading Iraq’s parliamentary elections. His populist candidacy upset the U.S. favorite, incumbent Haider al-Abadi, and al-Sadr is set to be the kingmaker in Iraq.


In the years following his two uprisings against American forces, the “radical cleric” (as he was often called in Western media) continued his fight against the Baghdad government and against Sunni insurgent groups in Iraq. He eventually withdrew from public life until 2012, when he made a comeback, rebranding himself as a leader intent on bringing Sunnis and Shia together.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage
For most of the Iraq War, however, he was intent on blowing Sunnis apart.

With the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq, al-Sadr also rebranded his Mahdi Army, forming the “Peace Companies,” intended to protect Shia believers from the strict form of Sunni Islam and personal violence inflicted upon Iraqis by ISIS. He continued his rebranding to become an anti-poverty, anti-corruption populist who rejects the outside influence of both Iran and the United States.

Al-Sadr’s stated purpose for Sairoon was clearing corruption, rejecting the sectarian quotas, and putting skilled thought leaders (aka technocrats) in key ministerial positions.

“The ascendancy of the list sponsored by al-Sadr shows that anti-establishment sentiment and anti-corruption have driven the choice of most voters,” said Rend al-Rahim, a former Iraqi ambassador to the United States. “None of the lists had an electoral program that outlined priorities and a plan of action. All used vague terms to lure voters. Many of the lists also used populist and demagogic tactics that played on the emotions of voters.”

Some American veterans of the 2003-2011 Iraq War are not happy with his 53-seat win.

Understandably, no one who fought the Mahdi Army or lost a friend in Sadr City wants him to wield legitimate political power in Iraq. But Al-Sadr didn’t launch a revolt in Iraq. He didn’t put a gun to Haider al-Abadi’s head to force him to step down. The cleric’s bloc was elected in a legitimate Iraqi election by the people of Iraq, none of whom were punished for not voting for Sairoon. The democracy we fought to establish in Iraq is functioning.

Sometimes the candidate you want to win doesn’t win, no matter who they might be running against.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage
Ask Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Al Gore, Bob Dole, Etc.

The peaceful transfer of power is another hallmark of democracy, and we should credit Prime Minister al-Abadi when he implored the people of Iraq to accept this change.

“I call on Iraqis to respect the results of the elections,” he said.

Iraq has bigger things to worry about than the United States’ opinion on their domestic politics. This was the first election held since ISIS was pushed out of Iraq — after decimating Iraqi infrastructure. The country also faces rampant unemployment, one of the main triggers of domestic terrorism in the region.

American veterans of the Iraq War should see this as a major victory. In the first post-Saddam election of 2005, with the start of the Mahdi Army’s rise to power, did we ever believe we would see the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr with purple ink on his finger?

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage
And yet, here we are.

The biggest issue for the anti-Iran cleric will be integrating Iraq’s militia’s into its official armed forces and security structure — especially since most of those are backed by Iran. Iran has publicly stated it will not allow al-Sadr’s coalition to lead the government. Al-Sadr has made moves to align himself with the king of Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional adversary, to push back against the Islamic Republic.

Al-Sadr’s fight for power is far from over. Despite having ties to Iran, the Islamic Republic is no fan of the cleric, who has resisted Iranian influence in Iraq since the days of the Iraq War. And al-Sadr will no longer be able to criticize the government from the sidelines. Instead, it will be on him and his Sairoon bloc to guide Iraq to the future he promised to desperate Iraqi voters.

Articles

These are the 11 biological weapons the Soviets wanted to use on the US

World War II and the Cold War brought out the worst in everyone. So it should be a surprise to no one to find out the Soviet Union developed biological warfare agents almost as soon as the dust from the October Revolution settled.


Despite being a signatory to the Geneva Convention of 1925 – which outlawed chemical and biological weapons – and the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, the Soviets had dozens of sites to develop eleven agents for use on any potential enemy.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage
Guess who.

The Russian Bioweapons program would be the most capable, deadliest program in the world. It was complete with viruses and pathogens that were genetically-altered and antibiotic resistant, with sophisticated delivery systems.

When the Soviet Union fell, the scientists at these facilities lost their jobs and their work became vulnerable to theft, sale, and misuse. Enjoy this list!

Category A Agents

Category A agents are easily weaponized, extremely virulent, hard to fight and contain, and/or have high mortality rates. They have the added bonus of being an agent that would cause a panic among the enemy population.

1. Anthrax

For most of us post-9/11 veterans, Anthrax was the one that could have been all too real. In the days following 9/11, letters containing Anthrax spores were sent to members of Congress and the media. Subsequently, troops deploying overseas to countries like Afghanistan and Iraq were given a course of Anthrax vaccines.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage
Thanks, assholes.

Anthrax can present in four ways: skin, inhalation, injection, and intestinal. All are caused by the Bacillus anthracis bacteria. Before antibiotics, Anthrax killed hundreds of thousands of people, but now there are only 2,000 or so worldwide cases a year.

The mortality rate is anywhere from 24 to 80 percent, depending on which type you get.

2. Plague

Ah, plague. The biblical weapon. This one makes a little bit of sense. Since the Soviet Union would most likely go to war with Western Europe, the best weapon to use would be something that regularly wiped out more Europeans than the Catholic Church.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage
There was a time when everyone expected the Spanish Inquisition.

Plague works fast, incubating in two to six days, with a sudden headache and chills at the end of the incubation period. Gangrene and buboes (swollen lymph nodes in the armpit and groin) are the best indicator of plague.

There are other symptoms too, but after two weeks, it won’t matter. Because you’ll be dead.

3. Tularemia

Never hear of Tularemia? Good for you. Tularemia is one of the many reasons you shouldn’t touch dead animals. It’s a nasty bug that can survive for long periods outside of a host.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage
Like any Kardashian not named Kim.

Tularemia can enter the body through lungs, skin, or eyes. It can present as a skin ulcer, but the most dangerous form is when it’s inhaled. Pneumoic tularemia will quickly spread into the bloodstream, killing 30-60 percent of those infected.

4. Botulism

This is deadly neurotoxin, the deadliest substance known. It was used as a biological agent by Japan in WWII and was subsequently produced by almost every biological warfare program – for a good reason. Botulism is easy to produce and presents in 12-36 hours once in the body.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage
This is why you don’t eat food from bulging cans.

In an aerosol infection (like a bioweapon attack), even detecting botulism could be difficult. Treatment is mainly supportive, there is little that can be done once symptoms start to present. The only known antitoxin even produces anaphylaxis, which means it can only be administered in a hospital setting.

5. Smallpox

Smallpox is the disease that won the new world for the Europeans, more than guns, horses, or booze. It killed off 90 percent of the indigenous population of the Americas, whose immune systems were unprepared for it.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage

The World Health Organization announced the eradication of Smallpox in 1980. The smallpox vaccine was developed in 1796 and after the eradication of the disease, widespread vaccinations were halted. This gave the Soviets the idea to rigorously pursue it as a weapon.

6. Marburg Virus

The Marburg Virus is a hemorrhagic fever, in the same family as the Ebola virus, the deadliest of hemorrhagic viruses. In an unprepared population, the mortality rate can be as high as 90-100 percent. So if you’re unfamiliar with Marburg Virus, imagine someone making Ebola airborne and killing you with it.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage
Just let me choose how I die, please.

While an experimental vaccine and treatment for Marburg Virus has been developed and shows promise, it’s still untested on humans. So why did the Soviets design a type of virus that could be loaded into an ICBM warhead and kill people in days?

Because they’re assholes.

Category B Agents

Category B agents are also easy to transmit and/or virulent among a population, but is less likely to kill or cause panic. Still, they should be taken seriously. Some, like Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis can have lasting effects.

7. Glanders

Glanders can enter the body through the skin and eyes, but also via the nose and lungs. The symptoms are similar to the flu or common cold, but once it’s in the bloodstream, it can be fatal within seven to ten days.

I’m not going to include a photo, because it’s really gross to look at.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage
Stupid Glanders.

The bacteria is at the top of the list for potential bioterrorism agents and was even believed to be intentionally spread to the Russian Army by the Germans in WWI. The Russians allegedly used it in Afghanistan during their ten-year occupation.

8. Brucellosis

This is usually caused by drinking raw milk or imbibing other raw dairy products. If an animal has brucellosis, they’re transmitting it to you. It’s also an inhalation hazard that can affect hunters dressing wild game. Symptoms are flu-like when inhaled and soon inflame the organs, especially the liver and spleen. Symptoms can last anywhere from a matter of weeks to years.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage
First Vietnam, now Brucellosis.

Brucellosis was once called both “Bang’s Disease” and “Malta Fever.” It has been weaponized since the 50s, with a lethality estimate of one to two percent. Just kill me with fire if I have the flu for two years.

9. Q-fever

Like most of the agents on the list, Q-fever is also spread via inhalation or contacts with infected domestic animals – unless the Russians bombed your town with it. The agent can survive for up to 60 days on some surfaces.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage
No, Q-Bert didn’t die from Q Fever. Don’t be silly. It was cancer.

When the American Biological Weapons arsenal was destroyed in the early 1970s, the U.S. had just under 5,100 gallons of Q-fever.

10. Viral Encephalitis

The worst part about this agent is that there is no effective drug treatment for it, and that any treatment is merely supportive – meaning that there is no way to treat the cause of the disease, only to manage the symptoms.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage
Pictured: how your body determines your response to Encephalitis.

The incubation period is fast, one to six days, and causes flu-like symptoms. It can incapacitate the infected for up to two weeks and cause swelling of the brain. Up to 30 percent of infected persons have permanent neurological conditions, like seizures and paralysis.

11. Staphylococcal Enterotoxin

Staph infections are pretty common but as a biological agent, it’s stable to store and weaponize as an aerosol agent. At low doses, it can incapacitate and it can kill at higher doses. The biggest concern is that a mass infection of a population is extremely difficult to treat effectively.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage
There’s at least one surefire treatment.

This agent can infect food and water but is deadliest when inhaled. High doses of inhaled Staph can lead to shock and multi-organ failure. Symptoms of any dosage appear within 1-8 hours.

Category C Agents

Category C consists mostly of potential agents, but the Soviet program didn’t use any of the C category as we know it today. This category includes virulent but untested (for biowarfare) agents like SARS, Rabies, or Yellow Fever.

Articles

Meet the Marine Corps’ new precision-guided mortar round

The Marine Corps and Raytheon are developing a new precision-guided 120mm explosive mortar round so that forward deployed forces can more effectively target and destroy enemies from farther distances than existing mortars.


The weapon is designed to shoot up into the air in a vertical trajectory before identifying, tracking and exploding and enemy target upon decent to the ground. The vertical landing allows the weapon to achieve great precision, Raytheon officials said.

Also read: This ‘Marine’s Marine’ was best known for his deadly skill with a mortar tube

Called the Precision Extended Range Munition, or PERM, the program is test firing a GPS-guided mortar round able to extend the range of today’s mortar weapons from about seven kilometers to about 16 kilometers, Paul Daniels, Raytheon Program Manager, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

“This doubles their range and gives them precision,” Daniels added.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage
Raytheon

The extended range could provide a key tactical advantage because 16 kilometers stand-off distance from the enemy could enable Marines to destroy enemy positions without themselves being vulnerable to incoming fire.

Raytheon was recently awarded a qualification and production contract by the Marine Corps, which plans to use the new weapon as part of its emerging Expeditionary Fire Support System, or EFSS.

This system is put together to allow forward-deployed Marines to quickly maneuver into enemy territory with precision firepower and mobility. EFSS can deploy on board an MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, a CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter or travel from ship-to-shore as part of an amphibious operation, among other things. The new weapon will serve as part of the Corps’ fires triad which includes 155mm artillery rounds, 120mm mortars and Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, or MLRS.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage
Lance Cpl. Kyle J. Palmer (left), holds a mortar tube steady as Lance Cpl. Samuel E. Robertson (right), mortarmen with the 81mm Mortars Platoon, Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, grabs another mortar round during a joint live fire exercise, July 14. | Photo by U.S. Marine Corps

PERM can fill what’s called a needed “capability gap,” because there may be some targets that are not suitable for larger 155mm artillery rounds and are better attacked by 120mm mortars.

Precision mortar fire could bring tactical advantages for Marines in combat, particularly in condensed urban areas or mountainous terrain where elevation might separate attacking forces from the enemy.

“Mortars are particularly useful. They have a very high angle and rate of fire. They can fire almost straight up,” Daniels said.

For instance, the precision targeting technology integrated into PERM could allow forces to attack enemy positions in urban areas without risking damage to nearby civilians; this kind of attack would not be possible with today’s unguided 120mm mortar rounds.

“It will be ready within a couple of years,” Daniels said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russian power in Europe is more dangerous than ever

The former top U.S. Army commander in Europe said Russian battlefield tactics in eastern Ukraine show sophisticated integration of drones, electronic warfare, and mortar and artillery, posing major challenges for Ukrainian forces.


Retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges also said on Jan. 24 that U.S. and European allies should do more to publicize Russia’s capabilities on the ground in eastern Ukraine, including the region historically known as the Donbas.

Hodges, who retired as commander of the U.S. Army’s European forces last year, made the comments in Washington, at the Helsinki Commission, a U.S. government agency charged with monitoring human rights in Europe and elsewhere.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage
Commanding General of U.S. Army Europe, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, shares a toast after receiving an award from the Hungarian Defense Force. (Image from DoD)

The United States and its NATO allies have helped train and supply the Ukrainian armed forces since the outbreak of fighting in eastern Ukraine in April 2014. About 250 U.S. soldiers are helping in the training, Hodges said, plus Canadians and other NATO allies.

‘Diplomatic solution’

In all, more than 10,000 people have been killed and more than 1 million displaced in the conflict pitting Ukrainian forces against Russia-backed separatists.

Russia has repeatedly denied its forces have been involved, or that it has supplied weaponry or equipment, assertions that independent observers and journalists have largely debunked.

Hodges said the recent U.S. decision to supply Ukraine with more sophisticated weaponry, including Javelin anti-tank weapons, was important for persuading the Russians to negotiate an end to the conflict.

“There has to be a diplomatic solution to this,” he said. “Russia has to, at some point, agree to stop supporting the separatists or pull out to allow the re-establishment” of Ukrainian control of its border with Russia.

Also Read: Finland once snuck inside the Soviet air force to bomb Russia

Electronic warfare capability

In eastern Ukraine, Hodges said, there are about 35,000-40,000 Russia-backed fighters, and around 4,000-5,000 are actual Russian military officers or commanders.

He said many of the tanks and vehicles operated by both Ukrainian and Russia-backed forces are now covered with reactive armor, a specialized type of plating designed to protect against rocket-propelled grenades and weapons other than small arms.

He also said Russia-backed commanders have honed tactics that include using drones, artillery, and electronic warfare. That’s allowed Russians forces, for example, to eliminate Ukrainian mortars and artillery units. He said one Ukrainian unit that was using a U.S.-supplied radar was taken out by Russian rocket fire with surprising speed.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage
Quadcopter drones are readily available to both military and civilian buyers and may play a large role in future conflicts. (USAF photo by Kenji Thuloweit)

“The [Russian] electronic warfare capability; again that’s something we never had to worry with that in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Ukrainians live in this environment,” he said. “So you cannot speak on a radio or any device that’s not secure because it’s going to be jammed or intercepted or worse, it’s going to be found and then it’s going to be hit.”

“Certainly we have the capability to show everybody what Russia is specifically doing in the Donbas, that would be helpful to keep pressure on Russia, to live up to what they’ve said they’re going to do,” he said.

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This is what makes a ‘Fister’ so deadly

Nestled inside infantry units moving against the enemy is often a single artilleryman who is arguably one of the most lethal fighters on the battlefield — the forward observer.


These soldiers, usually assigned to a Forward Support Team (the FiST), are known as “FiSTers” and are the eyes and ears for naval artillery and artillery gun lines across the world.

The fisters carry inside their helmets knowledge of every gun capable of reaching their areas of operation, including how fast the weapon can fire, what kinds of rounds it has at its disposal, and what effects those rounds have on targets.

They use this knowledge to support the infantry and other maneuver units. When the friendly element finds and engages the enemy, the fister gets to work figuring out how to best bring artillery to bear.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage
That’s the smile of an artilleryman about to jump into combat with world-class infantry and then blow up everything stupid enough to get within range. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

Often, this involves getting the machine gunners and riflemen to corral the enemy into a tight box that can easily be hit with airburst artillery, causing shrapnel to rain down on the enemy dismounts.

If enemy armored vehicles are rolling towards the line, the forward observers can call down specific rounds for penetrating a tank’s top turret armor or for creating a smoke screen to block friendly vehicles from view.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage
This thing shoots what the fisters tell it to. (Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Gregory Gieske)

Many observers go through training to learn how to best use weapons deployed from helicopters, jets, and other aerial platforms. This allows them to start targeting enemies with hellfire missiles and the 30mm cannons of A-10s and AH-64s.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage
The Apache can engage targets on its own, but it listens to calls from fisters on the ground, too. (Photo: Ministry of Defence)

Marine observers and Army observers trained in joint fires can call for help from naval ships. While the Navy has decommissioned its massive battleships, there are still plenty of cruisers and destroyers packing missiles and 5-inch guns that are pretty useful for troops ashore.

It’s the forward observers that get those missiles and shells on target.

Forward observers direct the fires of all the big guns that can’t see their targets. And that’s what makes them so lethal.

MIGHTY TRENDING

ISIS’ last town in Iraq falls to Iraqi security forces

On Nov. 17, Iraqi forces backed by the U.S.-led coalition retook the last town in the country that was held by the Islamic State group, more than three years after the militants stormed nearly a third of Iraq’s territory, the Defense Ministry said.


At dawn, military units and local tribal fighters pushed into the western neighborhoods of Rawah in western Anbar province, and after just five hours of fighting, they retook the town, according to Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, the ministry’s spokesman.

Related: Defeating ISIS is hard; preventing ISIS 3.0 could be harder

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi congratulated his forces on retaking Rawah. In a statement released on the afternoon of Nov. 17, Al-Abadi said Iraqi forces liberated Rawah in record time and were continuing operations to retake control of Iraq’s western desert and the border area with Syria.

Rawah, 175 miles (275 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, lies along the Euphrates River Valley near the border town of Qaim that Iraqi forces retook from IS earlier this month.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage
The city of Rawah, Iraq. (Photo from Flickr user Jayel Aheram)

U.S.-led coalition forces supported the operations to retake Rawah and Qaim with intelligence, airstrikes, and advisers, coalition spokesman Ryan Dillon said.

IS blitzed across Iraq’s north and west in the summer of 2014, capturing Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul and advancing to the edges of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. Later that year, the United States began a campaign of airstrikes against the militants that fueled Iraqi territorial gains, allowing the military to retake Mosul in July this year.

Also Read: Iraq to ISIS: surrender or die

All that now remains of IS-held Iraq are patches of rural territory in the country’s vast western desert along the border with Syria.

IS has steadily been losing ground across the border in Syria as well where its so-called “caliphate” has basically crumbled with the loss of the city of Raqqa, the former Islamic State group’s capital, which fell to the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in October.

Both the U.S. and Russia have embedded special forces with their respective partners and are supporting their advances with airstrikes. Russia backs Syrian government forces of President Bashar Assad.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage
Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) meets with Syrian President Assad. (Photo from Moscow Kremlin)

The last urban areas controlled by the militants in Syria are parts of the border town of Boukamal and a patch of territory near the capital, Damascus, and in central Hama province.

Syrian government forces, backed by Russian troops and Iranian-backed militias, originally pushed IS out of Boukamal earlier this month, but the militants retook a large part of the town, mostly its northern neighborhoods days later. Since then, IS has repelled government forces trying to push back into the town.

Meanwhile, U.S.-backed Kurdish-led forces are also approaching Boukamal from the eastern side of the Euphrates.

Despite IS’ significant territorial losses, the group’s media arm remains intact, allowing it to still recruit supporters and inspire new attacks. Iraqi and American officials say IS militants are expected to continue carrying out insurgent-style attacks in Syria, Iraq, and beyond.

Articles

Claims that North Korea can destroy the US could be based on a science fiction book

Tensions over a potential war between North Korea and the United States are mounting every day.


The “hermit kingdom” is boasting through its state propaganda that it could destroy America. Any claim by North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho to “create a balance of power with the U.S.” is considered laughable.

All of this chest thumping holds as much weight as the unicorn lair in Pyongyang, Kim Jong-il’s first time golf record, his “totally original” invention in 2000 of the hamburger, and the CGI effects used in the their latest propaganda video.

But in an astounding claim, Pyongyang’s version of Pravda (fun fact: pravda means “truth” in Russian) says it can destroy the US in many different ways, but most notably with an electromagnetic pulse weapon.

Whether or not this claim is true, here’s a breakdown of what their military actually looks like. They have around a million active duty personnel using cheaper versions of an AK-47 (Type 88), 67 year old fighter aircraft, and dwindling allies.

Son of Russia: Former Special Forces officer charged with espionage
This is the NK Type 88. Sh*t folding stock, automatic, and a helical magazine. Yep. Seems efficient.

An impressive claim, by 2017 military standards, is its two satellites in orbit. It’s debatable if they actually have an EMP device on them, but it is known that nuclear weapons also give off an an EMP blast on detonation.

The concerns of their nuclear capabilities, non-state allies, artillery and rocket launchers are real. Even if their nuclear warheads could theoretically reach the US, the devastation it would cause to our allies is the only reason they haven’t been obliterated and South Korea hasn’t become a island yet.

Former Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) said during hearings before the 2008 Congressional EMP Commision that he believes that a electromagnetic pulse weapon detonated in Nebraska could kill 9 out of 10 people in the aftermath and ensuing chaos.

This lead former CIA director R. James Woolsey to say in an op-ed piece for The Hill that one of two North Korean satellites could deliver such a blast.

Problem with this is that Bartlett was directly quoting an early release of William R. Forstchen’s “One Second After” — a science fiction novel about the collapse of society. But as we all know, emotions beat facts in fear mongering.

Let’s hope for the diplomatic solution. But if not, well, it only took us five weeks to take on one of the largest, strongest, and most funded militaries in 1991.

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