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The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback

Before 9/11, the last time American forces fought on horseback was on January 16, 1942 when the U.S. Army’s 26th Cavalry Regiment charged an advanced guard of the 14th Japanese Army as it advanced from Manila.


The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback
Philippines! F*ck Yeah!

After the terror attacks of Sep. 11, 2001, the United States demanded the extradition of Osama bin Laden from the Taliban, then the recognized government of Afghanistan. When the Taliban didn’t cough him up, the U.S. military went to work.

Official combat operations started on Oct. 7, 2001 in the form of airstrikes and Tomahawk missile strikes against suspected al-Qaeda training sites near Kandahar, Kabul, and Herat. On Nov. 16, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced “we have had limited number of American forces on the ground for weeks.”

He was talking about the Horse Soldiers, U.S. Special Forces attempting to secure Northern Afghanistan with the Afghan Northern Alliance.

The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback

The elite troops were there to connect with and advise the Northern Alliance fighters who had been fighting the Taliban government since 1996. They were just in time. On Sep. 9, 2001, al-Qaeda operatives assassinated Ahmad Shah Massoud, the longtime resistance fighter who led wars against the Soviet Union and later, the Taliban (Massoud even tried to warn Western leaders about the 9/11 attacks). He rejected the Taliban’s strict interpretation of Islam and was the able political and military leader of the Northern Alliance. When the Americans arrived the Alliance fighters were ready to avenge Massoud. The only way to get around the country was on horseback.

For some of the American commandos, it was their first time on a horse.  “It was like riding a bobcat,” Lt. Col. Max Bowers (Ret.) told CNN.

Sergeant 1st Class Joe Jung, the team’s medic and sniper, was thrown from his horse, broke his back, and continued with the mission. “I would not allow myself to be the weak link,” Jung said. “It’s not in my nature, and it’s not in any Green Beret’s nature.”

Bowers carried a piece of the World Trade Center during the entire mission and months later, buried it with full military honors at Mazar-e-Sharif.

The commandos’ horses were trained by the Northern Alliance warriors to run toward gunfire. Charges pitting Alliance forces against the Taliban were much like those centuries ago, but the fighters used AK-47s instead of sabers.

Air Force Combat Controller Master Sgt. Bart Decker used laser-guided airstrikes to support Alliance forces. Abdul Rashid Dostum, leader of Alliance forces, referred to one of the female navigators on an AC-130 gunship providing close air support as the “Angel of Death.”

The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback

During the Battle of Mazar-e-Sharif, Jung treated Taliban fighters. The special forces let one go, allowing him to tell other Taliban fighters he was treated humanely and they would be too. This led to mass surrender after the battle. After Mazar-e Sharif, Jung heard an odd accent among the wounded at a prison camp.

That voice came from John Walker Lindh, the infamous “American Taliban.” The Taliban POWs would later rise up against their captors, capturing the arsenal at Mazar-e Sharif, killing CIA operator Mike Spann, the first casualty of American operations in Afghanistan.

It took two months for the Allied forces to defeat the Taliban government.

Kentucky sculptor Douwe Blumberg created a monument of the horse soldiers in his studio in 2011, in honor of the entire military special operations community. That statue, the American Response Monument, is now at the World Trade Center site in New York.

The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback
De oppresso liber.

NOW: 8 post-9/11 heroes who should have received the medal of honor — but didn’t

OR: Never before seen photos show Bush Administration officials right after 9/11  

 

MIGHTY HISTORY

These soldiers built 3 tanks in a night to face the entire Nazi ‘bulge’

On Dec. 18, 1944, Pfc. Harry Miller was cold, exhausted, and covered with grease. His hands were numb from the cold and he was bone tired after working all night. He and his fellow Soldiers from the 740th Tank Battalion had toiled around the clock to piece together three American tanks from an ordnance depot in Belgium.


With only the three refurbished tanks, Miller and the 740th was asked to stop the 1st SS Panzer Division, the German spearhead in the Battle of the Bulge.

Related video:

Even before the Germans launched their surprise Ardennes offensive that December, Miller was not thinking about Christmas. His only thought was on keeping warm, he said. Northern Europe had been gripped by record-breaking cold.

The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback

When the German tank columns first approached, Miller and his fellow Soldiers were in Neufchateau, Belgium, but they had no tanks. At the beginning of the battle, the 740th was ordered to proceed to an ordnance depot in nearby Sprimont. Miller was hopeful, as he believed tanks would be issued at the depot. However, upon arrival, there were no functional tanks.

Depot personnel had left town in a hurry, leaving all of their equipment and tools behind. Miller and the 740th worked throughout the night and by morning, three tanks and a tank destroyer rolled out the gate. They were ordered to Stoumont to stop the German advance.

Also read: This is the massive Nazi sneak attack at the Battle of the Bulge

The 740th’s three tanks faced the lead element of Battle Group Peiper and the 1st SS Panzer Division. One M-1 Sherman tank fired and destroyed a German Panther. A second Sherman destroyed a second German tank. A third tank, a restored M-36, destroyed a third German tank. With the three German tanks out of action, and the narrow road blocked, the attacking German column retreated. Thus, a few restored tanks within their first one-half hour of combat had turned the tide of the German attack.

Miller was part of a specialized unit. A few days later he crewed one of six Sherman tanks that formed the Assault Gun Platoon. His tank had a 105mm gun.

The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback

During much of the Battle of the Bulge his unit supported the 82nd Airborne Division.

Miller remembers the snowfall was especially heavy. Members of 82nd were cold and exhausted. Marching through four feet of snow was laborious. A few lucky Soldiers from the 82nd jumped on his tank to hitch a ride to avoid walking in the deep snow. Suddenly the tank took on enemy fire. When they heard audible dings from enemy bullets hitting the tank, the 82nd Soldiers scrambled off to take defensive positions.

The Battle of the Bulge lasted from Dec. 16, 1944 to Jan. 25, 1945. It was the last major German offensive campaign on the Western Front during World War II. For the Americans, out of 610,000 troops involved in the battle, 89,000 were casualties. It was the largest and bloodiest battle fought by U.S. troops in World War II.

The 740th Tank Battalion was formed at Fort Knox, Kentucky, on March 1, 1943. It had mostly men from Texas and Oklahoma. They trained at Knox and at the Desert Training Center in Bouse, Arizona.

Leaders: 8 amazing facts about General Douglas MacArthur

Miller is a veteran of 22 years in the Army and Air Force. The Columbus, Ohio-native had always wanted to serve in the Army and enlisted at the age of 15 in 1944. Besides being a veteran of World War ll, he served in the Korean War with Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters, in the communications center.

The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback

Miller later served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War with the Strategic Air Command. He was in charge of codes and cryptology used for command missions, including bombing runs in Vietnam. He retired from the Air Force in January 1966 as a senior master sergeant and a communications operations superintendent.

Upon retirement, Miller worked as a private investigator, director of security and safety at St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and as a safety inspector at the University of Texas in Arlington, Texas, where he again retired in January 1989. He took up jazz and swing drumming lessons at age 69 to play with Seattle, Washington bands.

Miller, 89, resides at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C. He laments that out of 800 Soldiers from the 740th, only six were able to attend this year’s reunion on Labor Day.

Miller said he is proud of all of his military service and wishes he could do it all over again. He advises Soldiers who are serving today to stay in and retire.

Articles

8 awful songs that make combat camera troops want to die

You let us tag along on your convoy. You let us raid a house in the stack. You watched our ass while our head was in a camera viewfinder. You even let us eat your food. So when you ask us for some of the footage of the unit in action we’re happy to oblige.


The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback
You see how combat camera has to face the opposite direction of where all the grunts are looking? We kinda owe you one for stopping whatever comes that way.

When you want us to make a music video of it, no problem, even though we know using copyrighted music is illegal. We want you to keep letting us roll with you…and for you to keep saving our asses.

But then one of your officers tells us to use one of these eight songs and it makes us die inside.

1. Drowning Pool — “Bodies”

This is by far the most overused song ever paired with combat camera footage (with “Soldiers” a close second). And it’s not just commanders asking combat camera to do this. Civilians do this ad nauseam.

That video has more than a million views. A MILLION. I don’t understand the enduring popularity of this song, but if there’s a better or more obvious song about killing a lot of people, I haven’t heard it.

2. Saliva — “Click Click Boom”

A full 20 percent of YouTube is probably the same video footage of the military with this Saliva song — this Saliva song about how great the lead singer’s childhood was and how totally awesome it is that he’s on the radio now.

I wish Beavis and Butthead were around to rip on this band. Still, it does make it pretty easy to edit a video fast, even if I feel like a complete hack afterward.

3. Outkast — “B.O.B.”

Civilians also like to make videos with this song. Which is understandable but, except for the title “Bombs Over Baghdad,” it’s not really about anything military related.

The only lyric the casual listener probably understands for most of the song is “Bombs Over Baghdad,” so when you send it to your mom, she gets the point of the video, and can’t really hear about the struggles of Andre 3000 and Big Boi’s pre-stardom struggle.

4. Chad Kroeger ft. Josey Scott — “Hero”

The singers from Nickelback AND Saliva. Enough said. Good lord this song was so big in 2002-2003. You’ll be just as proud of a video featuring you clearing houses to this song as you are your trucker hat collection and your flip phone.

This song was supposed to be an uplifting anthem for the first Spider-Man movie but it’s the most depressing song I’ve ever been asked to use in any video ever. I bet if you asked Kirsten Dunst what the low point of her career was, it would be that she didn’t have the choice to be excluded from this music video.

5. P.O.D. — “Boom”

Another band who sings about how they’re a band now. If you haven’t noticed the trend, guitar riffs and shouting “boom” were super popular in the early 2000s.

P.O.D. is the MySpace of metal. They’re still around but no one knows why.

6. Toby Keith — “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue”

This song is so cheesy, I’m actually surprised Chad Kroeger didn’t write it, but maybe there are some things even Pop Rock Jesus won’t do. Some of you might think this song is awesome but I doubt you’d play it at a party in front of all your friends.

Also Toby Keith got more awards and plaques from military units just for singing this song than some people got for actually enlisting after 9/11.

7. Godsmack — “I Stand Alone”

Forget for a moment that the frontman sounds like Adam Sandler’s impression of Eddie Vedder. This song’s lyrics read like they were translated from Nepali by Google Translate. Also, unless your unit is the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae (it isn’t), you definitely don’t stand alone.

8. AC/DC — “Thunderstruck”

Ok, this isn’t an awful song. I mean, I get why you might want six minutes of your squadron or platoon blowing things up to AC/DC. But, aside from the opening minute and a half or so, this is could be any AC/DC song. All AC/DC songs sound like this. That’s why we love them.

Special Award:

Nazareth — Hair of the Dog

To be honest, this request only happened once, but do you really think any young Marine is going to love watching themselves on a dismounted patrol to this song?

Why not just have me choose something from Chicago’s greatest hits? If I gave any grunt a music video of themselves with this song, they’d beat my Air Force ass so hard.

There’s no joke here, I’d just get my ass kicked.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Unit Cartoonist’s account of the ‘Spooge Banger’

Master Sergeant George Hand US Army (ret) was a member of the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, The Delta Force. He is a now a master photographer, cartoonist and storyteller.

(The featured cartoon courtesy of the author. A flash-bang is a concussion grenade that does not produce primary fragmentation, only extreme sound and blinding flash that serves to stun an enemy momentarily upon a room entry.

Depicted is a team preparing to enter a room of unknown threat posture, substituting the flash-bang preparation drill with a can of “explosive” spray adhesive. “Lid’s off!” replaces the usual “Pin’s out!” referring to the flash-bang’s safety pin whose removal is the last step before throwing the grenade.

In the final scene, the threat is neutralized by the exploding can of “spooge” rendering the threat stuck to walls, floors, and other incapacitating postures.)


The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback

(A typical Flash-Bang grenade used by Law Enforcement; no fragmentation, just loud extreme loud noise and flash. Flash-Bangs are categorized as non-lethal riot control devices.)

“Spooge” somehow became the nickname for the cans of spray adhesive we used to stick paper targets, bull’s eyes, and the like to a target stake downrange. It simply was the quickest and most convenient way to stick paper to cardboard and get on to the business of sending maximum rounds down range on a near-daily basis.

The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback

(In all its glory, the 3M Super 77CA Multipurpose spray adhesive can)

Spray adhesive was for paper on cardboard. For attaching cardboard to a wooden target, slat roofing tacks were used. Roofing tacks are a short nail with a very wide and flat head. It happened that when our Delta brother, Cuz, was hurriedly attaching a fresh target paper he noted his target backing was pulling apart from the wooden target slat.

The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback

Not wanting to lose the time to run the 150 meters back to the target shed to retrieve a proper hammer, Cuz decided that the spooge can already in his hand possessed sufficient merit to serve to pound in the tack. Within a few smacks on the roof tack with the bottom edge of the can it burst, completely engulfing his head and face.

Cuz’s ballistic eye protection was glued to his face, and his hair was covered. He staggered around blindly and calling out:

“Little help… a little help over here — we have a situation!”

We quickly engage in the attempt to pull his eye protection away from his face so he could see again, a ponderous and painful process.

“Well guys… that’s why we wear this safety equipment, you know?” he recited flatly, mimicking a certain redundant preaching that was certain to result from the incident.

“Cuz, I think you better just head on straight home from here and see about getting that spooge out of your hair; there’s not much else you can accomplish here… unless you want to finish hammering that nail with a fresh can…” our Troop Sergeant joked.

As fortune would have it, Cuz’s Mrs. was a hairdresser and knew just how to work the glue from out of Cuz’s hair and off his face. She did a remarkable job; when Cuz returned to work the next day, there was not so much of a hint of the adhesive in his hair, a vision that I found truly extraordinary.

For sure I endured the nagging and pining need for a cartoon to portray the event. As bizarre as it was, it was sure to be a cinch to find the humor…the humor in a can of target spooge that blew up in Cuz’s face like a… a flash-bang grenade. There it was; the vision in my head of spooge cans replacing bangers in a tactical building entry, the bad guys glued to the walls, floors, and fixtures. I stuck a fork in it *cuz* it was done.

Soon enough, I felt Cuz’s eye on me for a time, then he finally approached me when I was alone; I felt I already knew what was coming and was right:

“Yo Geo… this isn’t going to find its way into the cartoon book, is it?”

Oh, the shame! Yet again a man was missing the glory of being immortalized in the Unit cartoon book. I had to remind him; I had to remind them all that they WANTED to be in the cartoon book for the balance of time, though it might not be a thing they recognized immediately. I had to explain to Cuz the same way I had to explain it to every candidate:

Just because you got hurt or injured or humiliated due to an unfortunate blunder committed while on the job… do NOT think you should get a pass for that from the unit Cartoonist. That will not happen — if you dance you’re going to have to pay the band, and if you have to pay the band you might as well make sure it plays your favorite tune!

“Recall if you will that the cartoonist has a measure of reputation to maintain with his public. The fact that you make the cartoon book is purely a business decision, one entirely devoid of any emotion or sympathy… a cold, impersonal, heartless business decision. I am the cartoonist; I AM THE BAND!

MIGHTY MOVIES

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles

Creating a realistic battle scene — whether it’s from World War II or the Napoleonic Wars — demands technical know-how and precise attention to detail.

Paul Biddiss, the military technical adviser on the upcoming World War I movie “1917,” taught the actors everything they needed to know, from proper foot care to how to hold a weapon, “which allows the actor to concentrate on his primary task. Acting!” Biddis told Insider.

Biddiss has worked on projects from a variety of time periods — “large Napoleonic battles through to World War I, World War II, right up to modern-day battles with Special Forces,” Biddiss said.

Read on to learn about how Biddiss prepared “1917” performers for the gruesome, grueling warfare of World War I.


The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback

(Air Force photo by Senior Airman Javier Alvarez)

Biddiss spent 24 years in the British military before finding a career in film.

Biddiss, a former paratrooper, started his film career as an extra on the movie “Monuments Men.”

Since then, he has worked on projects like “Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation,” HBO’s “Catherine the Great,” and “The Crown.”

“I always tell people military film advising is 60% research and 40% of my own military experience added in to the mix,” Biddiss told Insider by email.

To prepare for a shoot, Biddiss obtains authentic training manuals appropriate to the conflict.

“I like to first understand the recruitment and training process, the rank structure and attitude between the ordinary ranks and officers,” he said. “This helps me better understand the battles and tactics used by the men and what must have been going through their heads at the time.”

That helps him structure a training program appropriate to the conflict, and safe for the performers — even when he’s short on prep time.

“When tasked to train 500 supporting artists for [the BBC’s] ‘War and Peace,’ I only had three days to research Napoleonic warfare and prepare a safe structured training program before flying out to Lithuania to train the men before a large battle sequence.”

The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback

Director Sam Mendes with actors Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay on the set of “1917.”

Training on “1917” started from the ground up — literally.

“Foot care was one of the first lessons I taught George [MacKay] and Dean [Charles Chapman], the importance of looking after their feet daily,” Biddiss said, referring to two stars of “1917.” “Basic recruits are taught this still even today.”

Trench foot, a common condition in World War I, is caused by wet, cold, and unsanitary conditions. It can be avoided by keeping the feet dry and clean, but left untreated it can lead to gangrene and amputation.

“The boys were wearing authentic period boots, walking and running in the wet mud all day and if not addressed early would have cause them major problems on set,” Biddiss said. “I taught them how to identify hot spots on the feet where the boots rubbed, taping up those hotspots to prevent blisters and applying talc and clean socks at every opportunity.”

The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback

A battle scene in “1917.”

Battle scenes require a lot from performers, but Biddiss said he “would never dream of asking an actor to do something I was not physically able to do myself.”

“I naturally train most days to keep myself in shape” and to instill confidence in his abilities, Biddiss told Insider.

“It’s not a good look if you’re a military adviser and you’re carrying around excess weight” and get winded after a short walk, he said.

The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback

Shooting a scene from “1917.”

(Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures)

With hundreds of extras, making sure all the performers were right for the movie was a massive task in itself, Biddiss said.

“We first ran local auditions,” Biddiss said. “I then ran assessments before boot camps to make sure we had the right people who not only looked right, but were coordinated and physically robust to take on the task.”

After the performers were selected, “I started with basic arms drill to test coordination, fitness to test stamina,” he said. “Then to weapon handling, historical lessons, and tactics.”

“There so much attention to detail, like I’ve never seen before on set,” Biddiss said.

The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback

Mendes with Chapman and MacKay on the set of “1917.”

Biddiss has to teach the performers how to look and feel both natural and accurate when using their weapons.

Weapons handling is one of the main hurdles in preparing an actor for battle.

“There could [be] over 500 supporting artists on set with bayonets fixed and firing blank rounds,” Biddiss said. “The blanks used are very powerful and can still do permanent damage, so if time is not invested in training it could all go horribly wrong.”

It’s also one of the things he notices other productions often don’t get right. Biddiss said he notices performers never reloading their weapons or always having their fingers on a gun’s trigger.

The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback

MacKay in a scene from “1917.”

Throughout the production, the mindset of the performers has to be just like that of a soldier, Biddiss said.

“I like to impress on one aspect,” Biddiss said. “Fear and anger.”

“I tell actors and supporting artists that they need to show both feelings on their faces when about to act a battle sequence,” he said. “Fear of dying, but anger towards the people who have brought them to this situation.”

“There is nothing ninja about soldiering,” Biddiss tells the performers he trains. “You have one job. Close in and kill the enemy.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Taliban attacks kill 26 in Afghanistan

Taliban militants have stormed security posts in western Afghanistan, killing 21 police officers and pro-government militia members, officials said on Jan. 7, 2019.

The attacks occurred late on Jan. 6, 2019, at checkpoints in two different parts of Badghis Province, which borders the Central Asian nation of Turkmenistan, provincial officials said.

Abdul Aziz Bek, head of the Badghis provincial council, said 14 police officers and seven members of pro-government militias were killed, while nine were wounded.


Jamshid Shahabi, a spokesman for the Badghis provincial governor, said at least 15 Taliban militants were killed and 10 wounded in the fighting.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said in a statement that militants killed 34 members of the security forces and pro-government militias and seized many weapons and ammunition.

The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback

Afghan Border Police at Islam Qala in western Herat Province.

Meanwhile, a roadside bombing has killed five civilians and wounded seven in the country’s eastern Paktika Province, an Afghan official said on Jan. 7, 2019.

Nawroz Ishaq, the provincial governor’s spokesman, said the attack occurred in the Jani Khail district.

No one claimed responsibility for the bombing, but provincial official Mohammad Rasoul Adel blamed the Taliban, saying the group had left the bomb in a village square.

Taliban representatives and U.S. officials are scheduled to meet this month to discuss the withdrawal of foreign forces and a possible cease-fire.

Officials from the warring sides have met at least three times in recent months to try to agree on a way to end the 17-year war.

The Taliban says it is fighting to oust the Western-backed government and restore strict Islamic law.

The United States and its allies say they want to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a haven for international Islamist militants plotting attacks in the West.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Trump vows to keep the US leading in all things space

U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to maintain U.S. dominance in space as China, Russia, and other countries make advances in the race to explore the moon, Mars, and other planets.

“America will always be the first in space,” Trump said in a speech at the White House on June 18, 2018, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence and the National Space Council advisory body he created in 2017.

“My administration is reclaiming America’s heritage as the world’s greatest space-faring nation,” Trump said. “We don’t want China and Russia and other countries leading us. We’ve always led.”


While the United States has dominated in space since the 1969 moon landing, China recently has made significant advances, while Russia — which at the beginning of the Space Age in the 1950s had the world’s most advanced space progam — recently has mostly stagnated amid budget cutbacks.

Trump said he wants to stay ahead of strategic competitors like China and Russia, but he said he wants to nurture the space ambitions of private billionaires like Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, and Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com and the Blue Origin space company.

The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback
The founder of SpaceX Elon Musk
(Photo by JD Lasica)

“Rich guys seem to like rockets,” Trump said. “As long as it’s an American rich person, that’s good, they can beat us,” he said. “The essence of the American character is to explore new horizons and to tame new frontiers.”

In his latest directive on space matters, Trump called for the Pentagon to create a new American “Space Force” that would become the sixth branch of the U.S. military — a proposal that requires congressional approval and is opposed by some legislators.

“We are going to have the Air Force, and we are going to have the Space Force, separate but equal,” Trump said.

The U.S. armed forces currently consists of the Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, and Coast Guard.

“When it comes to defending America, it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space, we must have American dominance in space,” Trump said.

The Pentagon, where some high-level officials have voiced skepticism about establishing a separate Space Force, said it will work with Congress on Trump’s directive.

“Working with Congress, this will be a deliberate process with a great deal of input from multiple stakeholders,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said.

Since his election, Trump has repeatedly vowed to send people back to the moon for the first time since 1972 — this time, he says, as a preparatory step for the first human missions to Mars in coming decades.

He has also promised fewer regulations to make it easier for private industry to explore and colonize space.

The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback
(NASA)

The U.S. commercial space sector already is booming under NASA policies that have shifted the role of the government away from being the sole builder and launcher of rockets for decades since the 1960s.

The U.S. space agency now mostly sees its role as working with private space companies like SpaceX and Orbital ATK to develop new space capabilities and carry them out.

SpaceX, which NASA currently pays to take cargo to the International Space Station, and Boeing are expected to start regular astronaut missions to low-Earth orbit in 2018.

Since 2012, when NASA’s space shuttle program ended, the U.S. space agency has also relied on Russian Soyuz spaceships to transport astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station.

Trump has said he wants to privatize the space station after 2025 — another idea viewed as controversial in Congress — so Washington can spend more on NASA’s plans to return astronauts to the Moon and eventually to Mars.

“This time, we will establish a long-term presence” on the moon, Trump said on June 18, 2018.

NASA is working with private industry on its most powerful rocket ever, called the Space Launch System, to send astronauts and their equipment to the moon and one day, Mars. It also wants to build a lunar outpost.

While seeking to create a new Space Force at the Pentagon, Trump also signed a directive on June 18, 2018, handing the Pentagon’s current authority to regulate private satellites to the Commerce Department.

He also issued a directive on space-traffic management, which is aimed at boosting the monitoring of objects in orbit so as to avoid collisions and debris strikes.

A statement released by the White House said the move “seeks to reduce the growing threat of orbital debris to the common interest of all nations.”

The Defense Department says there are 20,000 pieces of space debris and 800 operational U.S. satellites circling the Earth, a number that grows every year.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Arctic sea lanes could become the 21st century Suez and Panama Canals

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on May 6, 2019, claimed that melting sea ice — which scientists warn is a sign of potentially catastrophic climate change — is set to open up new “opportunities for trade” by shortening the length of sea voyages from Asia to the West by as much as three weeks.

Speaking at a meeting of the Arctic Council in Rovaniemi, Finland on May 6, 2019, Pompeo described the Arctic as the “forefront of opportunity and abundance.”

“Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade,” he continued. “This could potentially slash the time it takes to travel between Asia and the West by as much as 20 days,” he said.


“Arctic sea lanes could become the 21st century Suez and Panama Canals,” Pompeo said.

As well as shortening journey times, Pompeo stressed the “abundance” of natural resources in the region which are yet to be fully exploited. “The Arctic is at the forefront of opportunity and abundance,” he said.

The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

“It houses 13% of the world’s undiscovered oil, 30% of its undiscovered gas, an abundance of uranium, rare earth minerals, gold, diamonds, and millions of square miles of untapped resources, fisheries galore.”

Pompeo made the remarks May 6, 2019, at a meeting of the Arctic Council, which comprises nations with territory in the Arctic Circle: The United States, Russia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. He warned Russia and China against attempting to exert control over the region.

“Do we want the Arctic Ocean to transform into a new South China Sea, fraught with militarization and competing territorial claims? Do we want the fragile Arctic environment exposed to the same ecological devastation caused by China’s fishing fleet in the seas off its coast, or unregulated industrial activity in its own country? I think the answers are pretty clear,” he said.

Pompeo’s upbeat remarks on the economic opportunities offered by melting sea ice come as federal government agencies report that the amount of sea ice in the Arctic region is rapidly shrinking.

The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback

Ice floes in the Arctic Ocean.

(NASA)

Last week, the National Snow and Ice Data Center said in its monthly report that in April 2019, Arctic sea ice levels reached a record low for that time of year. The sea ice contracted by 479,000 square miles from its average extent between 1981 and 2010 to 5.19 million square miles, the center said.

In its December annual assessment of the Arctic, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned that warming air and ocean temperatures were “pushing the Arctic into uncharted territory.”

It said that rising temperatures in the Arctic were impacting the jet stream, which has been linked to extreme weather events, including a series of severe storms that battered the east coast of the United States late last year.

In a study published in the scientific journal Nature last year, scientists said that not only were coastal communities threatened by rising sea levels caused by melting ice, but shrinking ice sheets could accelerate climate change, causing extreme weather and disrupting ocean currents.

Pompeo’s remarks come on the same day that the United Nations in a report warned that climate change caused by humans had played a a role in placing one million animal plant and animal species at risk of extinction in the next decade.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

VA listed as top employer of veterans

Glassdoor, one of the world’s largest job and recruiting sites, recently singled out seven top employers of veterans and their families, and it’s no surprise that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) made the list, along with Booz Allen, Home Depot, Southwest Airlines, and others.

A total of 123,608 veterans — more than 30 percent of the workforce — work at VA, according to the latest federal government data. Glassdoor said veterans choose VA careers for its generous employee benefits, such as tuition assistance and loan repayment. A physician quoted in the article commended VA for its “great mission, incredible benefits (and) good work/life balance.”


Through the Transitioning Military Program, VA also has well-paying careers specifically for veterans with healthcare skills. Veterans of healthcare fields successfully work as health technicians, Intermediate Care Technicians (ICTs), mental health providers, nurses, physicians, and support staff in other healthcare occupations.

The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback
(Department of Veterans Affairs)

ICTs, for instance, are former basic medical technicians, combat medic specialists, basic hospital corpsmen or basic health services technicians applying their skills to care for fellow veterans. (Meet ICTs Ryan White, Anthony Juarez, and other VA employees.)

Choose VA today 

Other benefits of a VA healthcare career include 36 to 49 days paid time off per year, depending on the leave tier, and the ability to apply military service time to a civil service pension, participate in a 401(k) with up to 5 percent in employer contributions and gain access to a range of exceptional health insurance plans for individuals and families.

Are you transitioning from the military? See if a career with VA is the right choice for you.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

6 new UCMJ articles that went into effect this year

A host of changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice became effective Jan. 1, modernizing definitions for many offenses, adjusting maximum penalties, standardizing court-martial panels, creating new computer-crime laws, and much more.

The changes strike a balance between protecting the rights of the accused and empowering commanders to effect good order and discipline, said Col. Sara Root, chief of the Army’s Military Justice Legislation Training Team.

“We’re pretty excited,” Root said. “It’s a healthy growth of our military justice system.”

Root and three members of her team spent the last year traveling to 48 installations to train 6,000 legal personnel and law-enforcement agents about the changes. Her two-day classes included everyone from judges to law clerks, and privates to generals, she said, and even 600 from other military services.


Codifying Changes

Many of the changes came about after a review by the Military Justice Review Group, consisting of military and criminal justice experts whose report made recommendations to Congress.

“We’ve had a lot of changes to our system [over the years], but piecemeal.” Root said. She explained that the Review Group convened to take a thorough and holistic look at the system to standardize military law and update the Manual for Courts Martial.

Many of the MJRG’s changes were incorporated into the Military Justice Act of 2016, the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, and then Executive Order 13825 signed by the president March 8. Additionally, Secretary of the Army Mark Esper signed a directive Dec. 20 that clarifies definitions for dozens of offenses taking effect this week.

“We’ve really needed that much time,” Root said, from 2017 to now, in order to train all members of the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Those attending her classes then needed time to train commanders and others on the installations, she added.

Adultery Changed

One of the changes replaces the offense of adultery with “extra-marital sexual conduct.” The new offense broadens the definition of sexual intercourse, which now includes same-sex affairs. The amendments also now provide legal separation as a defense.

In the past, service members could be charged with adultery even if they had been legally separated for years but were not divorced. Now legal separation from a court of competent jurisdiction can be used as an affirmative defense, Root said.

Also in the past, prosecutors had to prove traditional intercourse to obtain a conviction for adultery, Root said. Now oral sex and other types of sexual intercourse are included.

The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback

Recruits with India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, prepare and practice for their initial drill evaluation on Peatross Parade Deck Sept. 14, 2018 on Parris Island, S.C.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Dana Beesley)

Protecting Junior Soldiers

UCMJ Article 93a provides stiffer penalties for recruiters, drill sergeants and others in “positions of special trust” convicted of abusing their authority over recruits or trainees.

The maximum sentence was increased from two years to five years of confinement for those in authority engaging in prohibited sexual activities with junior Soldiers. And it doesn’t matter if the sex is consensual or not, Root said, it’s still a crime.

Article 132 also protects victims and those reporting crimes from retaliation. An adverse personnel action — such as a bad NCO Evaluation Report, if determined to be solely for reprisal — can get the person in authority up to three years confinement without pay and a dishonorable discharge.

Computer Crimes

Article 123 provides stiff penalties for Soldiers who wrongfully access unauthorized information on government computers. Distributing classified information can earn a maximum sentence of 10 years confinement, but even wrongfully accessing it can get up to five years in jail. Unauthorized access of personally identifiable information, or PII, is also a crime. Intentionally damaging government computers or installing a virus can also bring five years in the clinker.

Article 121a updates offenses involving the fraudulent use of credit cards, debit cards or other access devices to acquire anything of value. The penalty for such crimes has been increased to a max of 15 years confinement if the theft is over id=”listicle-2632036233″,000.

If the theft is under id=”listicle-2632036233″,000 the maximum penalty was increased from five to 10 years confinement, and this crime also includes exceeding one’s authorization to use the access device, for example, misusing a Government Travel Card.

Cyberstalking is also now included as a stalking offense under Article 130 of the UCMJ.

The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback

Support for military sexual assault victims and the number of reported offenses have increased in recent years, resulting in more investigations and courts-martial involving sexual assault charges.

(U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Samuel Morse)

Courts-Martial

A “bench trial” by a judge alone can now determine guilt or innocence for many offenses. Almost any charge can be referred to such a forum, except for rape and sexual assault, which requires referral to a general court-martial. However, if the offense has a sentence of more than two years, the accused has a right to object to such charges being referred to a bench trial and could request a special or general court-martial.

If found guilty at a bench trial, Root said a Soldier cannot be given a punitive discharge and the max sentence would be limited to no more than six months forfeiture of pay and no more than six months confinement. The judge can still adjudge a reduction in rank.

“It’s a great tool that we’re really excited to see how commanders use it out in the formations,” Root said.

More than half of the cases in the Army actually are settled by plea agreements in lieu of a contested trial, Root said. Commanders have always had the authority to limit the max sentence with a plea agreement, but she said now they can agree to a minimum sentence as well. This might result in a range for the judge to sentence within, for example, no less than one year confinement, but no more than five years confinement.

If a case goes to a non-capital general court-martial, the panel has now been standardized to eight members. In the past the size of the panel could vary from five to an unlimited number, but often around 10-12 members. Now each general court-martial must begin with eight panel members, she said, but could continue if one panel member must leave due to an emergency during trial.

Special courts-martial will now be set at four panel members. A court-martial convening authority can also authorize alternate members to be on a special or a general court-martial, she said.

Capital offenses such as murder require a 12-member panel.

For a non-capital court-martial, three-fourths of the panel members must agree with the prosecution to convict the accused, she said. For instance, if only five members of an eight-member panel vote guilty, then the accused is acquitted. A conviction for a capital offense still requires a unanimous verdict.

Expanded Authority

Congress expanded judges’ authorities to issue investigative subpoenas earlier in the process, for example, to obtain a surveillance video from a store. One of the most significant changes is that now military judges can issue warrants and orders to service providers to obtain electronic communications such as email correspondence.

In the past, trial counsel had to wait until preferring charges to issue investigative subpoenas. Now, with the approval of the general court-martial convening authority, trial counsel can issue subpoenas earlier to help determine whether charges are necessary. For electronic communications, the government previously had to rely on federal counterparts to assist with obtaining electronic communications.

“Being able to have these tools available earlier in the process is going to be helpful for overall justice,” Root said.

The changes also call for more robust Article 32 hearings to help the commander determine if an accused should go to trial, she said. For instance, a preliminary hearing officer must now issue a more detailed report immediately after an Article 32 hearing’s conclusion. In addition, both the accused and the victim now have the right to submit anything they deem relevant to the preliminary hearing officer within 24 hours after the hearing specifically for the court-martial convening authority to consider.

Aimed at speeding up the post-trial process, immediately following a court-martial, audio can now be provided to the accused, the victim, and the convening authority in lieu of a verbatim transcript which will be typed and provided later, but prior to appeal.

A number of other procedural changes are aimed at making the military justice system even more efficient, Root said.

More changes

More changes to punitive offenses also take effect this week. For instance, the definition of burglary has changed to include breaking and entering any building or structure of another, anytime, with the intent to commit any offense under the UCMJ. In the past, burglary was limited to breaking and entering the dwelling house of another in the nighttime.

The penalty for wearing unauthorized medals of valor has increased from 6 months to a max of one-year confinement along with forfeiture of pay and a bad-conduct discharge. This includes wearing an unauthorized Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Purple Heart, or valor device. The maximum penalty for wearing any other unauthorized medal is still only six months.

Regarding misconduct that occurred prior to Jan. 1, the changes to the punitive articles are not retroactive, Root said. However, some of the procedural changes will apply to cases that were not referred to trial before Jan. 1.

All members of the JAG Corps are trained in the changes and ready to go, Root said.

“We’re pretty proud that our commanders are really at the center of this,” she said, “and it just gives them some more tools for good order and discipline.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

TrueCar partners up with DAV and Team RWB to give cars to wounded veterans

Last year, TrueCar teamed up with DAV (Disabled American Veterans) to put on the DrivenToDrive program and awarded U.S. Army Veteran and Special Forces medic Major Peter Way the keys to a new, adapted van at the closing ceremony of Team Red White & Blue’s Old Glory Relay on Veteran’s Day.

In May, 2018, they did it again, awarding ret. U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Goodrich a new 2018 Honda Ridgeline. Goodrich is a veteran of the Iraq War, during which he sustained traumatic brain and leg injuries. After traveling the long road to reovery, he dedicated his life to helping other veterans through the use of art therapy — and the DriventoDrive program gave him the perfect tool for the job.

Now, TrueCar is teaming up with DAV and Team RWB to do it again. This Veterans Day in San Diego, California, the DriventoDrive program is going to award another new car to another courageous vet in need — and they need your help.


Submit your DrivenToDrive application here.

The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback

Mike Goodrich receiving his new 2018 Honda Ridgeline.

An estimated 4.9 million veterans have a service-connected disability according to the U.S. Department of Labor. But, as many brave veterans like Way and Goodrich have shown, that doesn’t stop them from lifting up their communities.

The CEO of DAV, Marc Burgess spoke on the program earlier this year,

“DAV is grateful to partner with TrueCar and their DrivenToDrive program, which is designed to help the brave men and women who served our country regain their freedom and independence. Awarding a vehicle is a special way to recognize the sacrifices a veteran made and dramatically improve his or her quality of life. We’re additionally grateful to TrueCar for supporting DAV’s mission to honor our heroes and make them aware of the assistance we provide at no cost.”
The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback

TrueCar wants to know what drives you. When applying, entrants should talk about the nominee, any details regarding his or her military experience and injuries sustained (if any), and what goals he or she hopes to achieve with a new vehicle.

All applications are then evaluated by a panel and, eventually, one winner is selected.

The ability to drive, especially in the United States, is a symbol of independence. It gives you the ability to go your own way — and TrueCar wants to give that freedom back to someone who worked to protect our freedoms back home.

If you’d like to enter for a chance to win (or nominate a deserving veteran in your community), be sure to visit the DrivenToDrive website — but act quickly. Submissions are open between now and October 8, 2018, at 8:59:59 PM PT.

Articles

This company is turning these old tanks into modern killers

The M60 Patton was America’s first main battle tank and a heavy-lifter for the U.S. from its adoption in 1960 to its final retirement in 1997. It’s still in service in allied countries around the world and Raytheon has come out with a modernization kit to get it ready for 21st-century combat.


The Raytheon M60A3 Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) features a 950-horsepower engine (a 200-horsepower improvement), a 120mm main gun, new fire control and targeting systems with thermal and day sights, and more reactive motors to move the turret and main gun.

Replacing the old, 105mm M68 rifled gun with the L44 120mm smoothbore cannon is probably the most visible and important part of the SLEP upgrades. The L44 is also known as the M256, the main gun on the M1 Abrams main battle tank that America uses today. It features greater range and penetrating power than the M68 it is replacing.

The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback
GIF: YouTube/arronlee33

The upgraded electric motors will allow crews to respond more quickly to enemies spotted on the battlefield than the old hydraulic motors. They also do their job more quietly, reducing the chances that the Pattons will be spotted as quickly in combat.

The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback
GIF: YouTube/arronlee33

Meanwhile, the new, 950-hp engines will allow the tanks to reach more places more quickly, giving commanders better tactical and strategic options on the battlefield.

Finally, the sights on the tank are a leap forward for it, allowing crews to quickly and reliably engage targets with their larger cannon.

The tanks featured in a Raytheon video about the SLEP also seem to feature armor upgrades, but Raytheon hasn’t commented on what new capabilities the armor gives.

Of course, this is still an old dog learning new tricks and M60s would struggle against the most modern tanks on the battlefield. For Raytheon, it seems to be about giving customers who can’t afford new tanks an upgrade option rather than making the M60 a peer to Abrams, Leopard, or Armata tanks.

For countries who field the M60 and aren’t yet ready for a tank acquisition program, the SLEP offers a chance to deter aggressive neighbors without breaking the bank.

Articles

New monument will honor Vietnam helicopter crews

A new monument at Arlington National Cemetery, near the U.S. capital, will honor American helicopter crews who flew during the Vietnam War.


The Military Times reports Congress has approved the monument, which will be near the Tomb of the Unknowns.

The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback
(Photo from Wikimedia)

Spearheading the memorial campaign is retired Air Force Lt. Col. Bob Hesselbein, who flew AH-1 Cobra gunships in Vietnam. Hesselbein says Arlington has the greatest concentration of helicopter-crew casualties from the war.

Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin says the monument will create a “teachable moment” for people to understand the story of pilots and crew members. The U.S. relied heavily on helicopters to transport troops and provide support to ground forces near enemy soldiers in Vietnam.

The nonprofit Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association is paying for the monument.

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