Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

US Special Forces troops reportedly took part in a previously undisclosed firefight in Niger, two months after a battle that killed four US soldiers in October 2017.


The undisclosed firefight on Dec. 6, 2017, first reported by The New York Times, was between a coalition of US-Nigerien troops and a group believed to have been Islamic State militants.

Also read: This is the general demanding answers for the families of the soldiers who died in Niger

Eleven militants were reportedly killed and no coalition forces were killed or wounded, according to US Africa Command spokeswoman Samantha Reho. She added that two of the militants were wearing suicide vests.

“The purpose of the mission was to set the conditions for future partner-led operations against violent extremist organizations in the region,” Reho said in The Times. “There was no aspect of this mission focused on pursuing enemy militants, and the combined force was postured to respond as necessary in case contact with the enemy occurred.”

But according to an anonymous military official familiar with the incident, the mission was to sweep through a potentially dangerous area so that Nigerien troops would be able to build an outpost.

Though Reho did not disclose why the Defense Department did not notify others of the incident, a House Republican aide told The Times that other lawmakers were notified of the December 2017 attack after it occurred.

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger
A US Army Special Forces weapons sergeant and a Nigerien soldier. (Photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros)

Lawmakers previously pressured the White House and Pentagon for more information on the circumstances surrounding the ambush in October 2017, after military officials appeared to leave several congressional leaders in the dark.

“That’s not how the system works,” Sen. John McCain of Arizona said to CNN in October 2017. “We’re coequal branches of government. We should be informed at all times.”

The firefight was initially referenced in an unclassified report given to lawmakers this week as part of a broader report on the legality of using military force, according to The Times. The report notes that US-Nigerien troops were attacked “by elements assessed to be part of ISIS,” and that coalition forces “responded with armed force in self-defense.”

More: New photos may show ambushed US troops killed in Niger

US Army Brig. Gen. Donald C. Bolduc, the former commander of US Special Operations in Africa, said that US troops and local training partners were attacked around 10 times from 2015 to 2017, The Times reported. Though enemy combatants were killed in these attacks, no US troops were reportedly killed.

The incident highlights some of the danger in conducting military operations in West Africa, just as military officials aim to curb the number of riskier missions. US Army Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, and Sgt. La David Johnson were killed in October 2017 after they were ambushed by ISIS-affiliated militants.

MIGHTY TRENDING

A WWII airman’s remains will come home after more than 70 years

An Airman who served with 555th Bombardment Squadron, 386th Bombardment Group, 9th Bomber Command, during World War II was accounted for Jan. 22, 2018.


Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. John H. Canty was one of eight crewmembers aboard a B-26 Maurader on a nighttime bombing mission from Easton Lodge-Essex, England, against targets near Caen, France. His B-26 was shot down between the villages of Baron-sur-Odon and Gavrus, France, on June 22, 1944.

According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, all eight crewmembers were killed in the incident. Because the location of the crash was in German-held territory, U.S. forces were unable to make a detailed search for the crew at the time of their loss.

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger
Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. John H. Canty, 555th Bombardment Squadron, 386th Bombardment Group, 9th Bomber Command, poses for a photo during World War II. (Courtesy photo)

“These service members have been missing for up to 75 years, in some cases,” said Sgt. 1st Class Kristen Duus, DPAA public affairs noncommissioned officer in charge. “We have spouses, children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, who continue to hold out hope that their service member will be identified and can be returned with the full military honors they all deserve.”

DPAA is an agency within the Department of Defense whose mission is to recover missing personnel who are listed as POW or MIA, from all past wars and conflicts and from countries around the world.

“This mission is important because it is our obligation to fulfill our nation’s promise to provide the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel to their families and the nation,” Duus said.

DPAA relies on partnerships with agencies around the world and utilizes their laboratories for identification. In cases where the agency conducts excavations, they take teams to locations to excavate crash and burial sites. This involves anthropologists, augmentees, medics, analysts, and photographers to ensure every aspect of the excavation is properly conducted and documented. If remains are found, they are sent to the lab for DNA analysis, dental comparison and anthropological analysis.

Also Read: This is how the remains of a WWII hero made it home after 75 years

“I have spoken with families after their loved ones have been identified and they have expressed an overwhelming sense of gratitude as well as comfort,” concluded Duus.

Canty’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Normandy American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Interment services are pending and more details will be released approximately 10 days prior to scheduled funeral services.

MIGHTY TRENDING

No one is afraid of Russia’s advanced fighter plane in Syria

Russia deployed two Su-57 advanced fighter jets to Syria in a move widely seen as a marketing ploy for the troubled plane that’s struggled to attract international investment, but they recently hinted at another purpose behind the deployment.


The Times of Israel reports that Russia gave a “covert warning” to the Jewish state by saying the Su-57 will serve as a deterrent “for aircraft from neighboring states, which periodically fly into Syrian airspace uninvited.”

The veiled warning comes after Israel and Syria had a heated air battle with Syrian air defenses downing an Israeli F-16. Israel said that it took out half of Syria’s air defenses in return.

In an opinion piece in The New York Times, Ronan Bergman reported that Israel planned a larger response to Syria’s downing of their jet, if not for a “furious phone call” between Russian President Vladimir Putin, Syria’s ally, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Also read: Russia’s new Su-57 ‘stealth’ fighter hasn’t even been delivered yet — and it’s already a disappointment

But whatever the two heads of state said on the phone, it’s unlikely the Su-57 had anything to do with it. The Su-57, as it is today, doesn’t pose a threat to Western fighters despite being Russia’s newest and most advanced fighter jet. It awaits a pair of new engines and has significant problems flying and releasing bombs at supersonic speeds.

“I don’t think anyone is too worried about a kinetic threat from Su-57s over Syria in its current state,” Justin Bronk, a combat aviation expert at the Royal United Services Institute, told Business Insider.

Bronk pointed to problems with the Su-57 integrating its radar into data the pilot can actually use in the cockpit, and difficulties in getting the jet to drop bombs properly, calling it “far from combat ready.”

Though the Su-57’s advanced and “innovative” radar set up could pose a threat to US stealth aircraft like the F-22, also operating in Syria, by scoping out its radar signatures and helping inform future battle plans, it’s just not ready for a fight with Israel, the US, or even Turkey.

A commercial for a struggling Russian military export?

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger
Vladimir Putin. (Photo from The Russian Presidential Press and Information Office)

Another Russian official gave Russian media an additional reason for the Su-57’s presence in Syria that seemed to confirm Western analysis that the deployment is a marketing ploy and test run for the unproven jet.

The official said the jet had a “need to be tested in combat conditions, in conditions of [enemy] resistance.”

Yet another Russian official said in Russian media that “as we helped the brotherly Syrian people, we tested over 200 new types of weapons,” which have included very advanced systems like submarine-launched cruise missiles designed for high-end warfighting.

Related: Russia’s new stealth planes will be nuclear strike aircraft

But as Bronk pointed out, “the only declared combat which the Russian air contingent in Syria is engaged in is bombing rebel and Daesh forces in support of Assad’s ground forces,” which he added was “hardly relevant for the air-superiority optimized Su-57.”

Essentially, all Russia’s air force does in Syria is bomb rebel ground targets. In years of fighting, the bombings have only demonstrated one occasion that the target had anti-air defenses. On that one occasion, the rebels downed a Russian Su-25.

As a result, Bronk said the Su-57s “will no doubt fly above 15,000 feet to avoid” those missiles, meaning the new Russian jet won’t really be flying in combat conditions, only bombing defenseless targets.

Not really in combat, not really a threat

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger
If Russia wants to talk about stealth combat jets, Israel has a few of its own. (Major Ofer, Israeli Air Force)

So, why do they need a next-generation, stealth fighter built to dogfight with US F-22s and F-35s that isn’t ready for combat yet? Bronk said the bombing campaign in Syria is “absolutely not the mission set [the Su-57s] are designed for.”

Retired US Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula, now the Dean of the Mitchell Institute of Aerospace Power Studies, told Business Insider that it’s a chance for Russia to test out its new jet where they “don’t have to pay for training ranges,” and concurred with Bronk’s assessment that the plane is not yet able to fully fight.

While Russia may have found a frugal way to boost the profile of an airplane they’re desperate to sell by testing it out in Syria’s almost eight-year-long civil war, nobody familiar with the state of the plane would take it seriously as an air-to-air threat.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is the US military’s only search-and-rescue dog

In 2010, airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard deployed to Port-au-Prince, the capital and most populous city of Haiti, in response to a magnitude 7 earthquake that impacted millions.

“With the destroyed airfields, it was difficult for many government organizations to land aircraft and provide assistance,” said Master Sgt. Rudy Parsons, a pararescueman with the Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron.

The airmen were able to get on the ground and assist in clearing the airfield thanks to their special capabilities, but they soon faced more complications.

“Local sources were telling people that there was a schoolhouse that had collapsed with about 40 children inside,” Parsons said.


“A team of special tactics airmen went over and started looking through the rubble, just carrying these rocks off, looking for these missing kids. A few days into the search, (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) was finally able to land. They brought a dog to the pile and were able to clear it in about 20 minutes. There was nobody in that pile.”

“It had been a couple days of wasted labor that could’ve been used to help save other lives,” Parsons continued.

“It was at that time that we kind of realized the importance and the capability that dogs can bring to search and rescue. Every environment presents different difficulties, but it’s all restricted by our human limitations. Our current practice is: Hoping that we see or hear somebody.”

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

Callie, a search and rescue K-9 for the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, during an exercise at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, July 17, 2019.

(US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

In response to scenarios like the Haitian earthquake, Parsons spearheaded a new approach, developing the squadron’s Search and Rescue K-9 program. The effort, launched in 2018, is designed to increase the capabilities of disaster response teams in locating and recovering personnel through the use of specially trained canines.

After several months of preparation, the unit acquired its newest member, Callie, a 26-month-old Dutch shepherd, making her the first search-and-rescue dog in the Department of Defense.

She has now earned multiple qualifications to accommodate the specific skillset of the 123rd STS, including helicopter exfiltration and infiltration, mountain rescue (rappelling plus ice, snow and alpine maneuvers), static line and freefall parachute insertion.

“Callie is trained in live-find,” Parsons said. “She goes into wilderness, collapsed-structure or disaster situations. She’s trained to detect living people, find them, and alert me when she’s located them. We react accordingly, mark the spot and begin the extraction of those people.

“The unique function that we can provide by developing Callie is that we can get her to places that nobody else can get to,” Parsons added. “That’s the biggest benefit that we really saw value in. In the situation like the earthquake in Haiti, we can get her in there, and those days in difference could be the difference in somebody’s life.”

Before Callie’s introduction to the unit, the method of search and rescue in urban settings involved probing and digging with drills and cameras. According to Parsons, this slow and sometimes unreliable method only added tools, weight and difficulty to the process.

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

Master Sgt. Rudy Parsons, pararescueman for the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, and Callie, his search-and-rescue K-9, land at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, July 17, 2019

(US Air National Guard photo Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

Master Sgt. Rudy Parsons, pararescueman for the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, and Callie, his search-and-rescue K-9, during an exercise at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, July 17, 2019.

(US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

Tech. Sgt. Rudy Parsons, 123rd Special Tactics pararescueman, and his search-and-rescue dog, Callie, ride a UH-60 Black Hawk as part of Callie’s familiarization training at the Boone National Guard Center, Frankfort, Kentucky, Nov.29, 2018.

(US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

Master Sgt. Rudy Parsons, pararescueman for the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, and Callie, his search-and-rescue K-9, complete a parachute insertion into Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, during an exercise, July 16, 2019

(US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

Tech. Sgt. Rudy Parsons, 123rd Special Tactics pararescueman, and his search-and-rescue dog, Callie, ride a UH-60 Black Hawk as part of Callie’s familiarization training at the Boone National Guard Center, Frankfort, Kentucky, Nov. 29, 2018.

(US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

Master Sgt. Rudy Parsons, pararescueman for the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, and Callie, his search-and-rescue K-9, during an exercise at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, July 15, 2019.

(US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

Master Sgt. Rudy Parsons, pararescueman for the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, and Callie, his search-and-rescue K-9, during an exercise at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, July 17, 2019.

(US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

Callie, a search-and-rescue K-9 for the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, alerts Master Sgt. Rudy Parsons, her handler, after locating a simulated casualty during an exercise at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, July 17, 2019.

(US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

Tech Sgt. Rudy Parsons, pararescueman for the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, and Callie, his search-and-rescue K-9, rappel down a cliffside at Louisville, Kentucky, as part of Callie’s familiarization training, Dec. 7, 2018.

(US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

Master Sgt. Rudy Parsons, pararescueman for the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, and Callie, his search-and-rescue K-9, during an exercise at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, July 17, 2019.

(US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

Master Sgt. Rudy Parsons, pararescueman for the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, and Callie, his search-and-rescue K-9, during an exercise at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, July 17, 2019.

(US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

Callie, a search-and-rescue K-9 for the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, rides a UH-60 Black Hawk aircraft as part of her familiarization training at the Boone National Guard Center, Frankfort, Kentucky, Nov. 29, 2018.

(US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

The 123rd SAR K-9 program was funded by the Air National Guard innovation program, meant to enable Airmen to make positive, meaningful change and drive a culture shift toward innovation.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Putin delivered a threatening sermon against Russia’s enemies

Boasting that Russia’s nuclear arsenal has already surpassed its competitors, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a fire and brimstone warning to his nuclear rivals Oct. 18, 2018.

In the event of a nuclear war, “the aggressor should know that retaliation is inevitable, and he will be destroyed,” Putin said at an international policy forum in Sochi. “We would be victims of an aggression and would get to go to heaven as martyrs. They will simply drop dead. They won’t even have time to repent.”

“We have run ahead of the competition,” he bragged.


“No one has precision hypersonic weapons. Others are planning to start testing them within the next 1½ to 2 years, and we already have them on duty,” Putin claimed, potentially referencing the Kinzhal air-launched hypersonic missile.

The Avangard hypersonic boost-glide vehicle, which Putin said can travel up to 20 times the speed of sound, hitting a target “like a meteorite, like a ball of fire,” is set to enter service in the near future.

This weapon can reportedly carry a conventional or nuclear warhead with an explosive yield ranging from 150 kilotons to one megaton, the Russian news outlet TASS introduced in March 2018.

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

The Kh-47M2 Kinzhal air-launched hypersonic missile being carried by a Mikoyan MiG-31K interceptor.

The US military, facing competition from both Russia and China on hypersonic weapons, is scrambling to catch up. The Army, Navy, and Air Force are jointly working to develop advanced hypersonic systems for next-level warfighting. The US is also interested in modernizing its nuclear arsenal.

While Putin delivered his message focused on the nuclear destruction of Russia’s enemies, he insisted that his country would never strike first.

“Only when we become convinced that there is an incoming attack on the territory of Russia, and that happens within seconds, only after that we would launch a retaliatory strike,” he said. “It would naturally mean a global catastrophe, but I want to emphasize that we can’t be those who initiate it because we don’t foresee a preventive strike.”

Russia dropped its “no-first-use pledge” in the early 1990s, writing a new nuclear doctrine with certain loopholes and exceptions.

The Russian “people are ready to defend our sovereignty and independence,” Putin added, “Not in every country are people so eager to sacrifice their lives for the Motherland.”

The Russian president’s tough and damning rhetoric comes amid heightened tensions between Russia and the US and its NATO allies.

Starting late October 2018, US forces, along with NATO allies and partners, will take part in a massive war game involving tens of thousands of troops, as well as numerous vehicles, ships, and aircraft. The drills are designed to send a strong deterrence message to Russia.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Putin buys WWII tanks for propaganda boost after T-14 program fails

Russia put on an intimidating show of force in 2015 by unveiling the T-14 Armata main battle tank, which represented a bold new design billed as an unstoppable NATO tank killer.

Russia was to make and field 2,300 T-14s by 2025, but as of 2019 only has some 100 on order and less than two dozen operating in tests, The Diplomat reports.

Four years later, Russia has scrapped plans to reproduce the tank that sputtered and stalled in Moscow’s Red Square in the 2015 Victory Day parade, and found an older tank to do its job instead.


Russia on Jan. 10, 2019, announced it had bought 30 WWII-era T-34 battle tanks from Laos, which it said were combat-ready, but would be used in parades and making WWII movies.

As The Drive pointed out, this means Russia will buy more of the 70-year-old tanks than it will of its new T-14, and it indicates how Russian President Vladimir Putin has changed course after failing to modernize his military.

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

A Russian Army T-14 Armata tank.

T-14: The NATO killer that died in budget cuts

The T-14 in 2015 cast a menacing figure. Russia, previously crippled by debt and still shrugging off the collapse of the Soviet Union, had updated its main battle tank, something Western countries had only done incrementally.

While the US was adapting its M1 Abrams tank to urban combat against weaker enemies in Iraq, Russia had devised a tank designed to kill other tanks.

With automatic loading, an unmanned turret, reactive and active armor, and a bigger gun than any Western tank, Moscow had announced its focus on a return to the kind of conventional ground war that rocked Europe throughout the 21st century.

But like with many Russian defense projects, the bark proved worse than the bite. In the following years, Russia announced the T-14 wouldn’t see mass production. Instead, Russia would upgrade its capable T-80 and T-90 tanks which were seeing combat in Ukraine and Syria.

While the upgraded T-90 tanks proved effective in those battlefields, they lacked the propaganda boost of a new, unstoppable tank afforded Putin.

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

A World War II-era Soviet T-34 tank during the 2018 Moscow Victory Day Parade.

Pivot to the past

Putin’s bet on the T-14 as the future face of Russia’s military power failed, but, ever resourceful, Russia has now pivoted to the past.

Soviet tankers with T-34s in the eastern front of WWII fought in grueling battles that eventually saw Adolf Hitler’s Nazi forces overwhelmed and the Soviet flag planted atop the Reichstag in Berlin.

Putin has frequently tried to revise and leverage the Soviet’s hard-fought success in World War II to bolster nationalism and support for his aggressive government, which stands accused of war crimes in Syria and backing separatist forces in Ukraine.

A state-funded film titled “T-34,” which tells the story of a Russian tank crew escaping a Nazi camp, smashed box office records in Russia in January 2019. The Associated Press reported that any criticisms of the film have been silenced.

Now Russia will seek to use the T-34s in other propaganda spectacles, it said.

Russians have every reason to be proud of their country’s massive sacrifice in WWII and the tanks that have operated for seven decades.

But the tanks, be they T-34s or T-14s, won’t lift Russians out of poverty or allow them to enjoy any new opportunities.

Nor will they fight in wars, as they’ve always been pawns in a propaganda game deftly executed by Putin to scare the West with paper tigers and feed the public with empty stories of bygone greatness.

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

Articles

ICE detained this Afghan man who helped the US military

Rights groups are calling for the release of an Afghan man with a special visa given to those who assist the United States military overseas who has been held by immigration authorities for nearly three weeks.


Abdul, whose full name is not being revealed for security reasons, arrived at the Newark, New Jersey airport on March 13 as part of the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program. Afghans who are in life-threatening danger are eligible for this status. 

“Border agents coerced him into signing away his fundamental rights, even though the federal government understood his life was in danger in Afghanistan because of his service to the United States,” Jeanne LoCicero, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.

The man and his family had previously been attacked by the Taliban armed group. U.S. immigration authorities are trying to deport him. 

Abdul, who holds a sponsorship letter from a retired U.S. Army sergeant, worked as a cashier for five years at a cafeteria next to the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul until February, shortly before he departed for the United States.

Instead of a warm welcome, Abdul was detained on arrival.

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger
Customs at Ramstein Air Base. (Photo: Jeremy Bender/ Business Insider)

“If they had stamped his passport, he would be a lawful U.S. resident,” Jason Scott Camilo, an immigration lawyer representing Abdul, told Al Jazeera.

Camilo said the Afghan was initially interrogated for 28 hours by agents from the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs (ICE) agencies. 

The lawyer said Abdul was without legal counsel for more than a day. He was held in “a big waiting room. There’s a couple of jail-like cells without beds…he couldn’t sleep,” Camilo said.

Shortly before his scheduled deportation, the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) filed a case on Abdul’s behalf, which was denied. It then filed an emergency appeal and a court placed a temporary stay on his deportation pending a review of his case. 

Abdul has since passed an initial interview for refugee status and is awaiting a court review in mid-April. However, he remains locked up in the Elizabeth Detention Center, a private facility contracted by ICE.

Betsy Fisher, IRAP’s policy director, said Abdul’s detention is part of a larger clampdown on the Special Immigrant Visa program.

In December 2016, then-president Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act, which only allocated 1,500 more SIV visas. With so few visas available, Fisher explained, interviews for applicants at the U.S. embassy in Kabul ended on March 1. 

“There are roughly 10,000 people still waiting for SIVs,” Fisher told Al Jazeera. “The fact that applicants are now in indefinite limbo because Congress has failed to provide the number of visas we knew were needed is a disgrace and abandonment of our allies.”

Abdul is the second Afghan SIV recipient to be detained in March. On March 4, a family of five that had been granted approval to move to the U.S. because of their father’s work was detained in Los Angeles. 

Al Jazeera contacted ICE and CBP for comment, but did not immediately receive a response.

Articles

A UK intelligence source based information about Iraq chemical weapons on a Nicolas Cage movie

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger


A UK intelligence agency might have based part of a report on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction on a movie starring Nicolas Cage, according to a government report released Wednesday.

The report contends that Britain’s involvement in the Iraq war was based on “flawed intelligence and assessments” that were “not challenged” when they should have been. The 2.6-million word document, known as the Iraq Inquiry, or the “Chilcot report,” is the culmination of a huge investigation that former Prime Minister Gordon Brown launched in 2009.

One volume of the inquiry focuses on the UK’s evidence of Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction. These intelligence assessments turned out to be false, as both the US and the UK discovered after the 2003 Iraq invasion turned up no such weapons.

The inquiry notes that two Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) assessments from September 2002 were called into question months later. Some within the intelligence agency, which is also known as MI6, began doubting the source of the information that was included in the assessments.

The intelligence reports stated that Iraq had “accelerated the production of chemical and biological agents.” Officials believed the source of this information was reputable.

But one of the reports mentioned glass containers that supposedly contained the chemical agents the Iraqi government was supposed to possess.

Here’s the relevant section from the Iraq Inquiry:

“In early October, questions were raised with SIS about the mention of glass containers in the 23 September 2002 report. It was pointed out that:

  • Glass containers were not typically used in chemical munitions; and that a popular movie (The Rock) had inaccurately depicted nerve agents being carried in glass beads or spheres.
  • Iraq had had difficulty in the 1980s obtaining a key precursor chemical for soman [a chemical agent].

“The questions about the use of glass containers for chemical agent and the similarity of the description to those portrayed in The Rock had been recognized by SIS. There were some precedents for the use of glass containers but the points would be pursued when further material became available.”

The movie the report refers to is the 1996 Michael Bay action thriller, “The Rock,” starring Nicholas Cage playing an FBI chemical-warfare expert. Sean Connery plays a former British spy who teams up with the FBI agent to prevent a deranged US general from launching a chemical-weapons attack on San Francisco.

The Iraq Inquiry goes on to state that intelligence officials were meant to do further reporting on the questionable intelligence contained in the September 2002 report.

By December, doubts emerged within SIS “about the reliability of the source and whether he had ‘made up all or part of'” his account.

Later that month, there were still “unresolved questions” about the source of the chemical-weapons intelligence. But the UK was under considerable pressure to produce evidence of these weapons.

Jack Straw, the former foreign secretary for the UK, was reportedly concerned about “what would happen without evidence of a clear material breach” of Iraq’s December 2002 declaration that it did not have weapons of mass destruction.

SIS eventually determined that their source was lying about the supposed chemical agents, but intelligence officials did not inform the prime minister’s office, according to the inquiry.

While chemical weapons are different from weapons of mass destruction, these intelligence reports still informed policy-makers’ opinions of the extent of Iraq’s weapons programs. And the evidence of these weapons programs was eventually used as a justification for going to war in Iraq.

David Manning, a former British diplomat, told former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair in December 2002 that there was “impatience in the US Administration and pressure for early military action” in Iraq, according to the inquiry.

“There were concerns about the risks if the inspections found nothing,” the inquiry noted. UK and US officials also worried about “the difficulties of persuading the international community to act if there were a series of ‘low level and less clear-cut acts of obstruction’ rather than the discovery of chemical or biological agents or a nuclear program.”

The inquiry states that Manning told Blair: “We should work hard over the next couple of months to build our case.”

Blair reportedly said the UK would “continue to work on securing credible evidence” that then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein “was pursuing [weapons of mass destruction] programs.”

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This Navy SEAL could be the next top spy

Joseph Maguire was, until very recently, the U.S. Director of the National Counterterrorism Center. This was a fitting position, because, in a past life, Maguire was Vice Admiral Joseph Maguire, a Navy SEAL and former commander of SEAL Team Two, bringing American counterterrorism policy home to the bad guys. Now, he’s temporarily taken over the Office of Director of National Intelligence.


Not only did Maguire command one of the teams to take the storied moniker SEAL Team Two, he also would one day command the entire Naval Special Warfare Command based in San Diego, Calif. From there, he oversaw eight Navy SEAL teams, three special boat teams, and their support units, just short of 10,000 people at a time when the United States was engaged in two wars abroad and U.S. special operators were finally beginning to infiltrate and destroy the insurgent networks operating inside Iraq.

But even after his 36 years in the Navy came to a close, he didn’t stop serving the special warfare community. He put his command and administration skills to work, helping the warfighters affected by the wars he oversaw.

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

One of Maguire’s first post-military jobs was as President and CEO of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, a nonprofit that specializes in helping special operators and their families get help funding their college tuition. The foundation also works to help the families of fallen warriors in the special operations community get an education by providing scholarships of their own, as well as grants and educational counseling. Maguire is not just a brass hat – he knows a thing or two about getting an education through hard work. He didn’t go to Annapolis, he went to Manhattan College, a small liberal arts college in his NYC hometown.

During his career, he also attended the Naval Postgraduate School and became a Harvard National Security Fellow, where he no doubt brought his hands-on experience in keeping America secure to the cohort.

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

What you’ll read about Maguire is that his assignment to the post of acting Director of National Intelligence comes “as a surprise to the intelligence community.” But that doesn’t necessarily mean Maguire isn’t qualified to hold the post, only that his ascendance to acting DNI was unexpected. Besides his national security fellowship, the former SEAL and Vice Admiral has worked at the National Counterterrorism Center as Deputy Director for Strategic Operational Planning from 2007 to 2010. This means he was a part of National Security Council’s Counterterrorism Security Group that entire time.

But just because he’s acting in the post of DNI doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll stay there. Many temporary appointments have been very temporary in recent weeks, including the former acting Secretary of Defense.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US special operations forces may be stretched to the limit

The US military’s growing reliance on special-operations units from its service branches may be straining those forces to a breaking point.


The US currently has around 200,000 troops deployed abroad. Roughly 8,600 of them — about 4% — are special-forces operators. They are deployed on missions ranging from training and advising to assaults and raids against enemy positions.

As of the beginning of 2017, US operators were deployed to 70% of the worlds countries, according to US Special Operations Command, or SOCOM.

The large number of deployments have officials in the Pentagon and Congress worried that members of the special-forces community may lose their edge on the battlefield.

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger
A U.S Naval Special Warfare Operator observes a Ukrainian SOF Operator during a weapons range in Ochakiv, Ukraine during exercise Sea Breeze 17, July 18, 2017.

Members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees voiced their concerns at the Special Operations Policy Forum November 15th in Washington, DC.

“I do worry about overuse of SOF,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, referring to special-operations forces. “They are increasingly an organization of choice because SOF is very effective.”

“How many missions can you send them on? How many times can they do this? I think that’s what we don’t know,” added Rep. Adam Smith, the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee.

“The operational tempo is so incredible,” said Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “The idea that you would have within six years, multiple deployments, some people every six months to deploy, that in and of itself causes lots of consequences,” he added. “And we haven’t seen a break in those deployments.”

Also Read: US special forces struggle to keep up this pace

Lawmakers have proposed a number of solutions. Among them are providing operators with more resources to deal with potential physical and mental-health issues; giving the train, advise, assist roles to more conventional units; and trying to delegate some of the diplomatic aspects of special-operations missions to diplomatic professionals, like those in the State Department.

The most obvious fix — increasing the amount of operators in the military — faces two problems. First, the US military is having difficulty bringing in new recruits, and second, simply adding more soldiers into the ranks of elite units may require lowering standards, which that could decrease their lethality.

“We cannot sacrifice quality for quantity,” said Reed. Nonetheless, lawmakers from both parties agree that increasing operator numbers is a good first step.

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger
Photo by Staff Sgt. Craig Cantrell

Some branches of the military are looking for ways to bring in more personnel as well. Last month, the Army announced it would be increasing bonuses for soldiers, and the force is likely to maintain some flexibility in its recruiting standards. (A report earlier this month cited an Army memo saying the force would offer waivers for some mental-health conditions; the Army disputed the report, saying the change was only administrative, and rescinded the memo.)

SOCOM is also reportedly investigating the possibility of using nutritional supplements, and perhaps even performance-enhancing drugs, to push the abilities and endurance of its forces beyond current human limits.

SOCOM leaders have emphasized that their units are still capable of conducting current operations and handling threats around the world. However, the fear of wear and tear is increasing, and most officials seem to agree that it is never to early to address the issue.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Check out these great camo patterns from around the world

Militaries around the world use camouflage to evade detection by the enemy in all kinds of environments, from jungle and desert to city streets.

Avoiding detection is often a matter of life and death, and the patterns and colors are dictated by the environment where troops expect to operate.

Some work better than others, but all patterns are designed to help troops blend in with their surroundings.


Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

British Soldiers use a compound as shelter during an operation in Afghanistan.

(Photo by Cpl. Daniel Wiepen)

1. Desert camouflage

Desert camouflage has gone through a host of updates since the war in Iraq began, in an effort to make troops harder to spot in sandy and dusty environments there.

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller speaks to Marines during a town hall in Shorab, Afghanistan, June 28, 2018.

(Photo by Sgt. Olivia G. Ortiz)

2. US Marines wear a digital pattern with small pixels.

MARPAT, as the camo pattern is known, is widely viewed as one of the best concealment patterns because of the small, digitized pixels.

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

US and Romanian soldiers discuss an operation during a multinational exercise in Poland in June 2018.

(Photo by Spc. Hubert Delany)

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

A Russian soldier participates in an exercise in February 2018 in Belarus.

(Russian Ministry of Defense)

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

Dutch troops pictured during NATO exercise Trident Juncture.

(Photo by Hille Hillinga)

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

Belgian and German soldiers conduct weapons proficiency training in Norway during Exercise Trident Juncture.

(Allied Joint Force Command Naples)

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

Sailors from the HMAS Warramunga pictured during an interception of a suspect vessel in the Arabian Sea, where they seized approximately 100kg, or 220 pounds, of heroin.

(LSIS Tom Gibson Royal Australian Navy)

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

Sailors attached to the USS Blue Ridge fire M16 rifles during qualification training at Camp Fuji.

(Photo by Mass Communications Specialist Seaman Ethan Carter)

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

Army students in a cold weather operations course prepare for training in Wisconsin.

(Photo by Scott T. Sturkol)

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

Army students in cold weather operations course prepare for training in Wisconsin.

(Photo by Scott T. Sturkol)

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

A camouflaged Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle sits under a tree in Poland.

(Photo by Spc. CaShaunta Williams)

11. Militaries have creative ways of concealing vehicles, like this infantry carrier.

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

Articles

The Pentagon wants an ‘aerial dragnet’ to find enemy drones on the battlefield and in US cities

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger
DARPA


The Pentagon’s research and development outfit wants to stop “UAS-enabled terrorist threats” with a new system it’s calling Aerial Dragnet that would track slow, low-flying drones — or what the military calls unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

“As off-the-shelf UAS become less expensive, easier to fly, and more adaptable for terrorist or military purposes, U.S. forces will increasingly be challenged by the need to quickly detect and identify such craft,” the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency said in a news release. “Especially in urban areas, where sight lines are limited and many objects may be moving at similar speeds.”

DARPA is soliciting proposals for the program, which seeks to provide “persistent, wide-area surveillance” of multiple drones on a city-wide scale.

Drones have become a mainstay on the battlefield — especially where the US is involved — but many other countries have, or are producing, drones for use in combat. Then there are the smaller, off-the-shelf types, which have even been used for surveillance purposes and to deliver explosive devices by terrorist groups like ISIS, for example.

The proliferation of drones is going to continue, so it looks like DARPA wants a sort-of “super drone” that will tell US forces where all the other little ones are on the battlefield. That is a ways off, since the the Aerial Dragnet research program will take more than three years, after which it’s up to the Pentagon on whether any of the research is implemented in the field.

“Commercial websites currently exist that display in real time the tracks of relatively high and fast aircraft — from small general aviation planes to large airliners — all overlaid on geographical maps as they fly around the country and the world,” Jeff Krolik, DARPA program manager, said in a statement. “We want a similar capability for identifying and tracking slower, low-flying unmanned aerial systems, particularly in urban environments.”

Krolik also works on another DARPA program called “upward falling payloads” — a way of parking drones in sealed cases on ocean floors around the world, where they can be remotely activated to “fall” up and take a look around should trouble occur.

DARPA said the program is mainly designed to protect deployed troops, but the system “could ultimately find civilian application to help protect US metropolitan areas.”

The agency is hosting a proposers day on September 26, and full proposals for those interested in getting the contract are required by November 12.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why the Navy’s new warship tumbled into the water sideways

The newest Freedom-class littoral combat ship, LCS 19, the future USS St. Louis, was christened and launched in Marinette, Wisconsin, on Dec. 15, 2018, when the 3,900-ton warship tumbled into the icy water of the Menominee River on its side.

Freedom-class littoral combat ships are among the few ships in the world that are launched sideways.


That method was used “because the size of the ship and the capabilities of the shipyard allow for a side launch,” Joe DePietro, Lockheed’s vice president vice president of small combatants and ship systems, said in a statement.

“The ship has a shallow draft (it requires less than 14 feet of water to operate in) and is a small combatant (about 381 feet long), and can therefore be side launched, where many other ships cannot.”

LCS 19 Christening and Launch

www.youtube.com

“Our partner Fincantieri Marinette Marine has delivered more than 1,300 vessels and has used the side launch method across multiple Navy and Coast Guard platforms,” DePietro added. “The size and capacity of the vessels under construction enable use of the side-launch method.”

Lockheed Martin got the contract to build the ship in December 2010, and the name St. Louis was selected in April 2015. It will be the seventh Navy ship to bear that name — the first since the amphibious cargo ship St. Louis left service in 1991.

LCS 19’s keel was laid in May 2017, when the ship’s sponsor Barbara Taylor — wife of the CEO of the St. Louis-based company Enterprise rental car — welded her initials into a steel plate that was included in the ship’s hull.

On Dec. 15, 2018, Taylor christened the ship by smashing a bottle of champagne on its bow and then watched the warship tip over into the water.

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

The Navy’s LCS 19 tipping back toward shore after being launched, December 15, 2018.

(RMS Videography/Vimeo)

“LCS 19 is the second ship we’ve christened and launched this year,” DePietro said in a release, adding that the defense firm’s shipbuilding team had “truly hit its stride.”

“We completed trials on three ships and delivered two more,” DePietro added. “Once delivered to the Navy, LCS 19 will be on its way to independently completing targeted missions around the world.”

Lockheed has delivered seven littoral combat ships to the Navy and seven more are in various stages of production and testing at Fincantieri Marinette Marine, where LCS 19 was launched on Dec. 15, 2018.

While LCS 19 has been christened and launched, it won’t become part of the Navy until it’s commissioned. At that point, the name St. Louis will become official.

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

The Remote Minehunting System and an AN/AQS-20 mine-hunting sonar are brought aboard the littoral combat ship USS Independence during developmental testing of the mine-warfare mission module package, January 7, 2012.

(US Navy photo by Ron Newsome)

The Navy’s littoral-combat-ship program is divided into two classes. Freedom-class ships are steel monohull vessels that are slightly smaller than their Independence-class counterparts, which are aluminum trimarans by General Dynamics that have a revolutionary design.

The LCS is meant to be a relatively cheap surface warship — about one-third the cost of a new Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, according to Lockheed — with a modular design that allows it to be quickly outfitted with a variety of different equipment suited for different types of missions.

While both classes are open-ocean capable, they are designed for operations close to shore, with modular packages for their primary missions of antisubmarine warfare, mine countermeasures, and surface warfare against smaller boats. (Issues with the LCS program may lead to its mine-countermeasure assets being deployed on other ships.)

Special Forces struck back at ISIS in Niger

Crew members of the littoral combat ship USS Little Rock man the rails during the ship’s commissioning ceremony, in Buffalo, New York, Dec. 16, 2017.

(US Navy/Lockheed Martin)

The LCS is also meant to carry out intelligence-gathering, maritime-security, and homeland-security missions and support for Marine or special-operations forces regardless of its installed mission package.

The LCS program has encountered numerous problems however, including controversy about cost overruns, issues with design and construction of the first models, and concerns about their ability to survive damage in combat. Late Sen. John McCain was a vociferous critic of the LCS program’s expense and mechanical issues.

The program has also faced more conventional hurdles. The USS Little Rock, the fifth Freedom-class LCS, was stuck in Montreal for three months at the beginning of 2018, hemmed in by winter weather and sea ice.

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

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